Monday, October 29, 2007

Crafts from the Past: Or why I don't make costumes for my daughter

OK, correction, I did actually make my daughter's costume this year, but it was a simple one. I have, however, resigned from making any remotely complicated costumes for my daughter ... ever since the Lady Train disaster of '04.

At that point in AK's life, she was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, and was watching Thomas and the Magic Railroad on a daily basis (a horrifying viewing experience, except for the strangely charming performance by Alec Baldwin). She adored Lady Train - the magic "girl" train that appears and somehow produces gold shavings behind her when she treks down the track (and that's one of the least weird things about the movie).

So it was decided, or really -announced-, that AK would be Lady Train for Halloween that year. I thought this would be a great chance to get crafty and come up with some kind of cool costume for her. I pieced together boxes, paper plates and paint stirrers, coated everything with loads of spray paint and topped it off with gold glitter accents. I figured out how to fashion some elastic straps so she could wear the contraption, and finally presented it to her - sure that she'd gleefully respond and request to wear it non-stop on through 'till Christmas.

You can guess how things went instead. She thought it was fine, tried it on for a second, and then - when it came time for the big Halloween party - she wore it all of five minutes. She refused to put it back on, and it was tossed aside. It lived out in the garage for a few months while I waited for her to suddenly decide it was "cool" and that she had to wear it.

That never happened.

Since then, I've been reluctant to even toy with the idea of making a costume for either kid. I did pull one together for AK this year - but it was easy. Black Beauty requires just a leotard and tights, some fake fur tacked on as a tail, and some felt ears and a mane tacked on to a headband. Not much to mess up there.

So for now, my costume-making abilities are spent on other people's kids, where I don't have to really worry if they wear them or not.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Last-Minute Costume Creation

You know that friend of yours who waited a little longer to start having kids than you did? And you just kept hoping they'd have a kid so you could be parents together and do fun kid things with them? And then they did have a kid, and you were overly excited that you finally got to share parent/kid stuff with them?

That's how it was with one of my best, longest-known friends, Lara. We met in the bathroom of Crockett Elementary School in 1982, and have been pals ever since. We went to camp together, hung out in high school theater together, and were in each other's weddings. So when she finally jumped in to motherhood (5 years after I'd taken the plunge) I could not wait to start sharing fun parenting experiences with her.

I had the chance to do something really fun for her last week. Her daughter, O, was needing a Halloween costume, and Lara asked if I had any ideas on putting together a chocolate chip cookie outfit. The crafty wheels started turning, and this is what we came up with one afternoon. We were able to complete it in one nap session - it's amazing how fast you can work when the kids are sleeping.

I've created a mini visual tutorial through Flickr - all you need is some felt, a tiny bit 'o poly fill, and you're on your way to a yummy costume.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stuffed with fun

I had yet another fun, fabulous class with Leslie tonight. It was called "Monsters, Dolls and Plush Toys" and it was a blast. I'm tired, and my back hurts from bending over the table, hand stitching eyes and beaks and wings, but I'm stoked with what I brought home.

Yes, owls are over done. But I just couldn't help myself.

And aside from coming home with a super fun little plush-o-love, I also FINALLY mastered the blanket stitch and learned the secrets to the perfect ladder stitch (hidden stitch) close. I had all sorts of new worlds opened to me tonight. So much fun!

But I'm pooped. I'm heading to bed to snooze and try to come up with how I'm going to fight my daughter for this little dude in the morning.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Buh Bye Maker Faire

Buh Bye Maker Faire
Originally uploaded by burb_mama
Thanks to my friend, Jam, who had an extra ticket, I was able to go to Maker Faire this afternoon. (thank you, JAM!) I'd really been wanting to go, but couldn't really afford tickets. It was super cool.

- Chatting with Jenny Hart at the Sublime Stitching booth
- Watching a guy knit with drumsticks ... or was he drumming with knitting needles? I don't know, but there was drumming and knitting being done together, and that was cool.
- Chatting with Jenny Ryan of Craftzine and Felt Club fame. She was super sweet and so darn adorable. It was fun when we made the connection that I was the zombie embroidery girl, and she was the writer who posted that project to the Craftzine.

I ended up treating myself to an early Christmas gift of a subscription to Craft magazine, and I'm stoked that I no longer have to drop hints to my family that that's what I want for Christmas.

I would have loved to participate in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama, but I just didn't have the time to dedicate most of a day to it. Maybe next time. I did peer through the chain link fencing they had up around SORR longingly .....

I've been working on a couple of projects this weekend, and will be posting new stuff soon. Keep an eye out fo a tutorial on how to make a chocolate chip cookie costume. It's one you can easily churn out at the last minute. ....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jewelry-Making Bliss

I promise I'll eventually quit gushing about my new job, but for now I'm still all kinds of giddy. One of the (many) perks of the job is that I get to take free classes with Leslie. I didn't waste any time taking advantage of that one. Last night, I spent 3 and a half blissful hours creating fun jewelry and meeting some super cool folks. The bead yummieness just would not stop. She had hundreds and hundreds of delicious beads. The possibilities made my head absolutely spin. I've never been a crazy bead person, or overly interested in making jewelry - I tend to be of the fiber-loving persuasion - but I could have stayed up all night long swimming in the beads, eye pins and clasps.

I fell so in love with my new bracelet that I wore it when I dropped B off at school this morning - even though I hadn't showered (had I brushed my teeth? I don't even remember) and was wearing sweats and Chris' "Bats Need Friends" t-shirt.

What? That can work. Right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stitching the Undead

I've been uber busy with web stuff and starting my new job (um, hi ... it ROCKS) - so something has had to fall behind. You'd think the crafting would, right? Nah. In my line of priorities, crafting comes in waaaaay above things like laundry, house cleaning and exercising (all much to my husband's dismay. eh) I actually have some gifts and things I'd like to make for the holidays, but - no - again I chose what should technically be a lower priority thing to do: stitching for the Feeling Stitchy October challenge. Not that it's not important or fun, but when you've got heaps of responsibilities, it probably shouldn't dominate them, right?


I almost didn't participate, because I knew things were going to be hectic this month, but when an idea hit me as I was falling asleep the other night, I knew there was no stopping it. I had been wondering what I would stitch, because even though I love Halloween, I don't love "typical" Halloween stuff (pumpkins and whatnot) and was trying to think of something more fun and ... gory.

And then it came to me.

I'm a big fan of Floresita - I love her amazing embroidery and her incredible generosity to scan, clean up and post vintage transfers for folks to use. One of those transfers struck me when she posted it ... and not in a good way. The Workbasket Jitterbug Girl always seemed a little creepy to me. Something about her face ... that smile ... those somewhat vacant eyes. On the surface, she seemed like a clean-cut, wholesome gal, but I saw her true identity underneath those carefully placed dimples.

And so she became ... Zombie Jitterbug Girl.

I must confess that my stitching on this project is sub-par. I had to zip through it in just a couple of evenings (thank goodness for DVRd My Life on the D-List marathon). I took a lot of shortcuts, and the back is a MESS! (grandma would be horrified!) But she's fun, and it's strangely satisfying to stitch something just a tad gruesome. Completing her has helped finally get me in a Halloween mood. The hot weather around here has been pissing me off and keeping me from getting into the spirit of things. Nothing like a severed head to remedy that!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Kismet in Action

Oooooh, I'm so happy over here. I love when things come together so (well, pretty much so) effortlessly - such that you just can't deny it was "meant to be."

I've been looking for a job. Nothing big - just a part-part-time gig that would help bring in a tiny bit of consistent income and could get me out of the house some. (Guh! I just really need to get OUT of the house!) But I also knew that I didn't want to take just any job where I'd end up in an office doing something boring. I'm sure it would be "fine," but I wasn't really willing to settle for "fine" just for a tiny bit of income. I wasn't ready to put myself somewhere where I would be miserable.

So - I reached out to a couple of friends who work in the crafty/creative fields here in Austin and just kind of casually said, "hey, if you happen to hear of any crafty/creative jobs around, let me know." In my mind, I had the following criteria:

  • The job would need to be part-part time - I still need to be able to keep up with my web clients
  • The boss would need to be fun and super creative
  • I would be able to use my skills, but learn some new stuff, too
  • I need to go somewhere else to work and then not have to bring the work home with me (mentally or physically)
  • Hours would need to be flexible so I can do things like pick kids up from school
  • A crafty/creative place would be ideal - and, frankly, having all these qualities would make it a dream job.
I wasn't too hopeful. I can't imagine there are many jobs that would meet most (or all) of the things I was looking for, but I said, "to heck with it" and sent all that out in to the Universe. (how Secret of me)

Two days later, Lisa forwarded an email from Leslie Bonnell, who was looking for a new studio assistant. Yep, that Leslie Bonnell, that studio that I blogged about back in September - the one I won third place in the naming contest. The place I love!

So all of a sudden, I have the chance to apply to be Leslie's assistant. The job description felt like I was reading bullets off my dream job checklist - Mac person (check), writing skills (check), sense of humor (check. right?), interest in sewing and design a bonus (big check), two days a week to work (checkcheck!). And the best perk of all: FREE CLASSES. That's right, I get to take free classes from her.

The job description was better than I could have imagined.

Of course I applied, and then interviewed. It turns out I had a ton of competition. Leslie has a great reputation, and even though this isn't a big, full-time position, it was highly sought after. I spent the weekend checking email and my cell phone every 10 minutes, hoping for news. I finally sent off a, "Hey, not to seem corny or weird, but MAN do I want this job!" (not in those exact words, mind you) email. I heard back on Tuesday - I GOT THE JOB!

I have not been this excited about something in a really long time. I can.not.wait. I could go on and on even more, but let's just leave it at: this is the perfect job for me right now. I can't help feel that it's just an amazing opportunity, and - most important to me right now - it will be an incredible bunch of FUN. My husband doesn't get that (sadly) - he asked why I wanted the job so badly, and I said, "Oh! Because it would be so much fun!" And he just stood there - it simply does not compute with him. Your primary desire for a job is to have fun? What's that about? Oh sad, sad, sad, sad sad. What can I say, I married a scientist/CPA - what should I expect! ;-) Seriously, though, I love him.

So I can't wait to take and post about classes. That's one thing I'm most excited about. I've mentioned before that I could just take crafty classes every day and never get tired of it - I'm about to test that theory. I'm taking a plush class from her in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'll start training with her next week.

Eeeeps! I'm so excited! I'm all Jr. High Girl here, and I don't care. :-D

Friday, October 5, 2007

Crafts from the past: The Pinkalicious Stick Horse

This week has been nuts for me because my son is out of school for Fall Break. It was an unusually busy week for work and other stuff, so I haven't had much time for crafting and posting about it. You guessed it - another installment of Crafts From The Past.

Don't laugh, but here in Texas, our kids get out of school for Rodeo Day.

Seriously, I said don't laugh!

It used to astound and confuse me, until I became a teacher and learned that so many kids (especially in the small-ish West Texas town where I grew up and was teaching) would be absent on the day of the rodeo, that it made economic sense to close the schools that day.

Quit freaking laughing at us!

Anyhow, March always signals Rodeo time, and last year at my daughter's school, they had huge Rodeo Day festivities. Parents were asked to bring a stick horse for their child for things like mock barrel racing and calf roping. (seriously) I don't know when or why it struck me to make one for my uber-girlie daughter, but I did. And I was really happy with how she turned out.

My daughter's been playing with the stick horse (hobby horse? I like stick horse) a lot lately. She's in a HUGE horse phase. We watch The Saddle Club I actually like it. (shhhh!) She rides the stick horse everywhere and does horse shows with it out in the back yard. My son and nephew have now requested stick horses of their own, and I'm thinking those will be Christmas gifts. We'll see.

Enjoy the stick horse - the project that spontaneously came together, and has been one of the most loved, most used, most fun projects I've done.

I also posted this project to Craftster when I first made it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Take notice

September's ATC theme for the Creative Mom Podcast exchange was "signs." And though I had my idea for the card when I first heard the prompt, I dragged my feet the entire month and ended up not creating the card until October 1st. (Ouch! Slap my hand, Amy ... I hate being late on these things ... really, I do)

I stalled on making the card, because I was afraid it wouldn't make sense to anyone else but me. I finally just decided to run with it, and when I sat down to make the card all the pieces I needed fell right in to place. My mom would say, "It's a sign! This is the card you need to make!"

So, speaking of dear old mom.... she's a "signs" kinda gal. Everything (and I mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g) can be a sign to her. When Amy first mentioned the ATC theme, my mom's face instantly popped into my head.

And so did her "purchase cardinal."

You see, when my mom and dad were shopping for a house here in Austin, and visited the one they ended up buying, it wasn't the beautiful architecture, the fine craftsmanship or the prime location that sold mom on the house. No, she noticed and loved all those things, but wasn't quite certain ... until she stepped outside and a cardinal flew up and landed on a bush by the front door.

"It's a sign! It's a sign! This is the house!"

And so was born the family joke of the "purchase cardinal." Anytime we have a big decision or big purchase to make, we often call for him. "Oh purchase cardinal, where are you!? Give me a sign!"

And though we mercilessly tease mom about her "signs," the truth is, I love that she notices these little things. With all the big, important details flying around, mom notices these little things. And I love that.

So ... signs ... notice them. :)

PS - the image and text on the card are from a children's literature book. The blue tape is some kind of scrapbooking (?) tape I scored in a grab bag from the thrift store. I outlined the bird with some red glitter glue, 'cause even a bird needs some bling.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Another reason I love the fall: New Episodes of my Fave shows

I've been cranky the past few weeks, because it's still hot as all get out here in Austin. I keep reading friends' blogs, talking about cooler weather, sketching beautiful fall scenes, and yet here I am in 92+ degree weather, sweating like a crazy person. Fall is my favorite time of year. I honestly get insanely happy when it's cool, gray and windy. Here? It's hot, sunny and .... sunny. That should be a good thing, but I don't buy it. Is there an opposite disorder to SAD?

So if I can't get my fall fix from weather or foliage, at least I can get it from the happy arrival of the fall TV season (sad, I know). New episodes of Craft Lab and Creative Juice started today. I've got the DVR locked and loaded to record them all, and I'm hoping it doesn't go wonky and mess up. I actually got to watch the recorded Craft Lab while I ate lunch today. Lots of glittery fun with the Crafty Chica. I haven't been a fan of glitter in the past - perhaps because I've really only played with the cheap, big stuff - but their glitter projects looked way cool.

In non-craft television goodness, I was happy to see the return of The Office and SNL last week, and I can.not.wait. to see the new season of 30 Rock. Seriously, the funniest TV show I've ever watched. (keep in mind that I've never watched Arrested Development. I know. I KNOW! We didn't have cable for almost 6 years. I'm behind. Sue me.)

Other Fall Craft Goodness in Austin:

Someday, when we retire to Portland, I'll actually get to enjoy a Real Fall. Until then, I'll just make do with these gems.