Thursday, March 29, 2012

Project! Spring Thaw and Easy Bird Feeder Craft

Little by little the snow is getting smaller and smaller outside. Now the banks may only come up to our knee caps instead of our thighs, but that's still something, right?

Outside our tiny back deck we have a group of birds that we've named "Bob, Larry, Bojangles, and Sue." Two were Veggie Tales inspired, and two were country music inspired. Go figure.

It's been a few months since we last saw them all, but we got to know them pretty well over the summer. This morning Boo saw one of them and just about lost his adorable mind in all of his excitement. He then informed me that they were incredibly hungry and we needed to feed them. Our last attempt to feed them ended up with a cheap yard sale dish falling off our balcony into the snow below, so we needed another option.

Yes, we had peanut butter, but we lacked pinecones. What do crafty moms do when there are no pinecones on hand? Well, they grab toilet paper rolls, it seems. No lie, there were about fifty different tutorials all singing the praises of feeding your wild birds with the likes of a Charmin roll. Guess what? In a house of five, we have PLENTY of those!

The craft couldn't get more simple and the photos show that even I could do it and snap photos at the same time. I even get the honor of introducing you to Bojangles in that last shot. He's my favorite, but that could be the Jerry Jeff Walker fan in me. It's true.

Ingredients and supplies? Too simple.

an empty roll or two from a toilet paper roll or a paper towel roll snipped in half
ribbon or string or purple yarn (like I had on hand)
peanut butter and some sort of spreading mechanism (butter knife? cake spatula?)
bird seed (had it!)

Tie a pretty bow through your roll. Spread on the peanut butter and apply seeds. Then get outside and feed your hungry birds!!

1. Our man Boo and our supplies.

2. I tied the string first and it seemed much easier that way!

3. The odd-smelling combination of peanut butter bird seed! It sticks to fingers, so be ready with the wipes.

4. Impatiently waiting for our lunch guests.

5. Mr. Bojangles! You're here! We've missed you!

Happy Spring to you, wherever you are!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Feeling very Dickens-ian there. Did you catch that?

I spent the past week teaching creative writing to second through fifth graders at a local elementary school and am still recovering. Wow. They're some of the most creative, spontaneous, exhausting creatures God ever made. Truthfully.

I came back altered, I'd say. I look at young writers differently now (way more capable than I ever gave them credit for), and I look at myself differently. It became apparent that I'm most myself when I'm in a position that interacts with other humans and where I feel like I can make the tiniest bit of difference. Not that I can't achieve both of those in my current situation (though it's a struggle in my industry), but just the fact that I haven't been. Eye opening. Made me realize I need to live my days where I come home tired and spent from giving everything I had that day and I can't say that I always do that.

The week also ended on a bit of a sour note. If you'll recall, my husband was laid off this past month. Yikes. It's a nasty situation and I get myself angry just thinking about, so I decided a few weeks back to leave it in God's hands and not stew. So this is me not stewing. However, an email from our landlord Friday afternoon informed us that he's going to sell the place immediately and it's going on the market soon. Like next week or something. Sure, we have a place, technically, until May 1. But c'mon. Really?

Lost job, lost home. What the hell?

We've made plans to move out of Alaska recently, but they were much slower plans. Seems now that we're in a place where we need to move much quicker. And if I can't find a position to relocate us, well, we're selling everything we own like a bunch of gypsies and arriving in Texas with our clothes and hopefully our dog. It sounds dismal and sometimes, during the darkest hours of the night when I can't sleep, it feels that way. But for the most part I don't feel like we're being jerked around yet, that it's all part of a bigger, more meaningful plan.

But damn, ya'll. How about some good news soon, eh?

Once I quit pouting and stewing, I spent the weekend sewing my hiney off. Maybe I'll toss the blankets and dolls on the new Etsy shop and try to grow our "Boogie Back to Texas"fund. Maybe I'll just add more stuff to our already HUGE pile of stuff we can't take with us. And yes, I have moments of panic where I look at my beloved books and piles and wonder how on Earth I'll be strong enough to purge all but the barest of bare essentials.

And then a tiny voice in my head reminds me that the dream is more valuable than the stuff and I take a breath.

So there we have it. Highs, lows, in betweens. In the meantime, here are some more photos from this past week. My minions are kinda adorable, even if I do say so myself.

1. It should be noted that the above photo was taken on Friday. Not Christmas Eve or even in January. Nope. Friday, end of March. Spring time, even. Holy moly.

2. She is her daddy's girl in most senses of the word. They adore each other, and rightfully so.

3. What boy doesn't love baseball bat-sized icicles?

4. Our house grows teeth. How about yours?

5. My Boo. My constant travel companion. So much so that we call him Mama's "road dog." I think it's some sort of reference to "Road House," because my husband uses the term interchangeably with "Wade Garret."

Have a blessed week!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Few Days With a New Camera

Our new Olympus arrived in the mail a few days ago and I am having So. Much. Fun. A few shots from around our house, and even a house cleaning tip for you. Enjoy your Sunday!

1. A rock animal bird monster thing that our Boo created over the weekend. We had to buy the rock, of course. Alaska's rocks have 89 feet of snow still on them. Grumble....

2. Me and the minions. They're cute, aren't they?

3. That's her mad face. I think it's awfully cute.

4. I've noticed lately my "citrus cleaner" smells like chemi-lemon and it CREEPS ME OUT. Lucky for me, Vanessa (a friend from high school who has got to be the craftiest creature alive) recently posted this citrus cleaner recipe on her blog, Tried and True. I love that girl. I love her blog, too. Most of all? I think I'm going to love a lemon cleaner based on real lemons.

Here's hoping your week is a great one!


Friday, March 16, 2012

At last! Lulu is here...

Well, and by "Lulu" I mean that legless doll part conglomoration I was calling "Maisie" last weekend. (See here.) The pattern came from a book by the very talented Hilary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls fame and I. Love. Her. Stuff. It's true.

The pattern was relatively easy, even for a noob sewer like me, although I have to admit that while I spent the last few steps attaching the various body parts by hand, I was thinking to myself "self, there's got to be an easier way." And I think there might be. So for future creations, I might work on tweaking that bit because let's face it, folks, I am not the neatest of hand stitchers. I suck at it, actually.

But the directions were pretty straight forward and now I look at fat quarters in a whole new doll house fashion/coordination light. It's tons of fun. The finished product was supposed to have a pony tail sewn in there, but in all my excitement, I totally forgot to attach it. And then when it came time, I was so sick of poking myself and making my thumb bleed, I decided against hand sewing one on. I left her with a cute "pixie" haircut...sorta like my girl 'Kenna has herself. To compensate for the lack of flowing locks, I dug out an applique strawberry I had in the sewing box from a year or so back when I swore I was going to knit the world's cutest baby blanket (which currently sits in my basket as the world's cutest oblong washcloth. Whatever.)

The strawberry did it's part and I think Lulu is divine. The name, by the way, is courtesy of big brother Andrew. He simply said "she should be Lulu" and she was. Amazing powers, that boy has. He then stated that he wanted one too, and when I pressed and asked him if he really wanted a girl "dolly," (I was more than willing to make him one), he paused and changed his order.

"I want a monkey."

And there it is.

Add to that the "dragon blanket" Boy Wonder ordered, and there go any plans I might have for the next few weeks. My chldren have spoken, folks. I am but their humble, sewing, bloody-thumbed servant. I included a recent "smile" face photo of Kenna just for kicks. And to show you just how much that girl's got me wrapped around her baby fingers. Who wouldn't sew for her?

Have a great weekend!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Humble Fabric Beginnings...

I'm calling her Maisie. And even though I forgot to sew in her pig tails before sewing the body together, I still think she's on her way to perfect. Call me biased. All that's left now is the hand sewing steps and I had my fill of tangled thread yesterday...the finishing touches will wait til a little later this week.

But I was excited. And I wanted to share.

Happy Monday!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Me and My Sewing Machine

A long time ago, before Boo was born (you know, my three year old?), I taught myself to sew. Well, technically, the Singer DVD included with my machine and my most awesomest of awesome husbands who took Home Ec in middle school taught me to sew.

It wasn't fancy by any means. A rag quilt here, a burp cloth there. When Boo was born I was a wise little blackbird and refocused on my writing. (I'm sure the student loans as a reminder did nothing to urge me on to use the craft I was paying so dearly for...)

It's been a good two years since I dusted off my simplest of simple sewing machines, but last weekend I did. I hauled out my old fabric stash, I organized the old projects that I'd left in stick pin limbo.

Oh, sure, I forgot how to thread the needle and I boned it on the bobbin once or twice, but eventually, I was able to sew a very simple fleece blanket for the Boo. (See the picture? He loves "beep beeps" of any flavor, so the fact that these are farm machines and he's never seen a farm means nothing to him. I am a rockstar!)
And thanks to one of the cutest books I've come across in a long, long time, I began to sew again.

It was a bumpy re-start, but it happened. From there, I was inspired to try a real project, and thanks to Kasja Wikman's book "Scandinavian Stitches" (a random buy from, thankee verra much!), I was hooked. Again.

I made two teensy projects, which, in hindsight could have worked against me. See, I'm not the greatest at small turns and tight corners...I'm more of an "open road" sort of sewer (read it: long, long stretches of flannel material all pinned out before me. I love blankets!)

The first project I attempted was the Spring Bird. In the fabric stash I'd found, there lived some vintage pillow cases my mama had sent me. One of them I actually recogniz
ed as my old pillow case from when I was in middle school. A few snips and stitches and one button eye later, and I had an adorable, Scandinavian spring bird for the mantle. (I've mentioned my family's heritage is very, very Norwegian before, haven't I? I'm sure I have...once or fourteen times.)

Wikman's approach at quilts and stitched art is whimsical and a ton of fun...just up my alley. I
have a few more projects dog-eared in the book that I'm planning, including some appliqued quilts and a few more pillowcase birds. All of these are building blocks on my way to my ultimate destination...a rag doll for Miss Makenna.

I dream in rag doll color combinations. I live for the day that I don't sew out of bounds around a
gently-curved head or get my embroidery thread knotted into an oblivion when I'm trying to stitch an eyebrow. Someday soon...

In the meantime, here's a picture of me and my Boo. I'm wearing yellow and I'm
smiling. It's about as close to Springtime in Anchorage as we'll get this month.
And Boo? Well, he's smiling because he's been in big-boy undies all week. My man....

Happy Spring melting to all you luckier folks!