Thursday, December 27, 2007

Super Plants! Er .... Pins!

I scored this vintage Wonder Woman plant pot years ago (I can't remember when/where ... maybe college? maybe even high school). It's a small ceramic pot with an old skool image of Wonder Woman, wielding her lasso and saying, "Super Plants." It's always made me laugh. Up to now, I've always just had it sitting on my desk or shelf and it's been randomly filed with loose change or thumbtacks. I had a brief moment of inspiration last week, though, when I was sewing at my desk. I had a small tomato pin cushion and tossed it aside. It landed in the pot and all of a sudden, the pot's purpose became incredibly clear.

I happened to have some fabric left over from my failed Spaceboy attempt (pictures coming soon) that worked perfectly. I followed the Creative Juice tutorial, though I was initially a little hesitant to hot glue the fabric and stuffing in place. I realized it needed that, though, and figured I could always scrape away the hot glue if I changed my mind.

I doubt I will.

Now it not only makes me smile, it's highly useful. My new box of pins coordinated perfectly. Random little surprises like that are my favorite things in the world.

Off to do some super sewing with my super pins!

PS - A photo!? Why, yes! My Christmas wish was granted, and I finally have a new camera. Lookout for loads of catch up posts with way too many pictures in the coming days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Redefining "cool" - these guys know where it's at

I just read a great article in the Washington Post - it's all about teenage boys taking up sewing and discovering that their newfound skills bumps up their coolness factor among peers. Now that's some awesome news.

From the article:
"Far from being ridiculed, the boys find themselves being the toast of the playground."


"According to the winter issue of Sewing Today, a 1997 study of 100 grade-school children found that sewing not only increases creativity but also helps develop patience, perseverance and problem-solving skills. Watching TV, on the other hand, was found to decrease those abilities."


"I think sewing is a dying art, especially when it comes to young men," she (Janice Rankins) said. "I want boys to help keep it alive."

I can't wait to get my son on the sewing machine, and it's good to see that he may not have to fight so hard against negative stereotypes as he gets older.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Dear Santa ....

Please - oh - please - oh - please bring a new camera for Christmas. I'm too visually inclined, and though I've been making loads of fun things this last month, my inability to properly photograph and post them has left my blog ... lacking.

So - a camera. It would totally rock.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Purchase with a purpose

Relative to most crafty sewing types, my fabric stash is pretty .... small. I have a decent sample of fabrics in there, but it pales in comparison to some of the fabric stashes I've seen paraded on the blog circuit. I'm frugal. Cheap, if you will, and I rarely splurge on anything that's more than about $4/yd. I keep thinking that's a good idea, and that I need to make new things *only* from what I have in my stash.

But that's left me in a rut. And even though I have this somewhat mediocre stash of fabric staring back at me, I still hesitate to jump in and make something. I think it's because I like most of the fabrics, but I don't like, like them. Maybe I liked them in the store, and even still appreciate what initially drew me to them, but I can't look at them and see their purpose. They were fun to find, fun to buy and fun to bring home, but once I got them home I had no idea what to do with them.

So tonight I figured out what I needed to do to get jazzed about the fabric I purchase and actually jump into making something with them within a few days of bringing it home.

Purchase. with. a. purpose.

I have a stockings class coming up with Leslie this week. I need to make a stick horse for Ben for Christmas, and I'm making eye pillows for teacher gifts. My stash wasn't cutting it. It turned out that I actually needed to get to the fabric store and buy some fabric for these specific projects. I also happened to have several 50% off coupons I could use at Joann's, so even the frugal cheapskate in me was ok with it.

I was in and out of Joann's in less than 20 minutes (and that included waiting in a huge line for cutting). I got exactly what I needed, didn't meander, and I even treated myself to some wool felt (can you believe I've never treated myself to wool felt? I told you. I'm ... frugal) since I was getting everything else so cheap.

And when I got home, I was more motivated to make stuff than I've been in weeks. It turns out that I just need to purchase things with a specific purpose so I can jump right in to them. And I didn't even buy anything too spectacular - some felt, some brocade, some thread - but nothing that was over-the-top fabulous in terms of aesthetic appeal.

I love random browsing of fabrics as much as the next person, and goodness knows that special, yummy fabrics are a treat, but for now at least, I have to realize with my limited sewing/crafting schedule, it makes more sense to just get exactly what I need. Where I used to think that a growing stash would inspire me, I've come to realize that it can actually overwhelm me and freeze me in my tracks.

But the purchase with a purpose? Now that is inspirational.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Staplers gave me freedom

(I've shamelessly stolen this plea for submissions from Kari's blog. 'Cause 1) no one says it like Kari and 2) I'm sleepy and need to get off the computer. Kari, my apologies for only being creative enough at the moment to at just come up with a different post title.)
My friend, Kari, has hustled me and some friends into helping her start up a zine. We're going old school - Kinko's, staples, glue sticks, the works. What we need now are submissions.

So, without further ado, please let me introduce you to:


Aprön needs your stuff. We’re a brand-new quarterly zine searching for esoteric crap to fill our inaugural edition. Short fiction, non-fiction essays, chunks of dialogue, weird and exciting recipes, knitting ideas and instructions, photographs, collages, comics, stain removal tips… whatever you’ve got, we want to see it.

The only requirement is that your piece evokes a feeling of affection. The same kind of affection you feel for your crazy aunt and her askew lipstick. This is a quirky comfort zine with a pinch of Schadenfreude. It mixes media and metaphors all while leaving you with a pleased bloated feeling.

Email submissions to apronthezine AT gmail DOT com. If you need to mail something, let me know and I'll send you the address.

Also, we can’t pay you. Yet. We will give you free copies of the zine, though, so you can brag to your friends. Sometimes ego is more than important than groceries.

Aprön. Tie one on.

PS. If you know anyone who wants to advertise in the zine, please email me. The rates are obscenely cheap.

PPS. If you want to subscribe to the zine, or be informed when its published, or just get lovingly spammed by me and my crazy friends (kidding. kidding.) send a note to apronthezine AT gmail DOT com and we'll add you to our email list.

Spaceboy, stockings and other things to get the creativity flowing

So I'm still in a bit of a rut, just 'cause I've got so many things floating around in my head at the moment, but I'm happy to report I've still squeezed in a little time for crafting here and there. My stinkin' camera is still out of commission, and there's no chance of remedying that until Christmas (at least). So for now, all I've got is my laptop camera. Apologies for the crap-a-liscious pictures.

I started a Spaceboy this weekend. I got the pattern last month at Maker Faire (my first Wee Wonderfuls pattern!) and have been itching to make one for my friend's son. I got the pieces cut out and embroidered the face, but he's still in pieces. Hopefully I'll be able to stitch him over the holiday break.

And in the "I actually get *paid* to do this!?" category, I made a stocking last week as a sample for Leslie's Stockings class. No picture for now (see first paragraph) but Leslie let me raid her stash of amazing wool felt and vintage sequins, and I came up with an owl design based on an Enid Collins purse. Gah! Why am I doing an owl ... again!? I don't know. I get sick of seeing them around, but still find some strange desire to craft with them. Who knows why.

And, again in the "I actually get *paid* to do this!?" category, I've just started on as a contributor at BurdaStyle. I'll be supplying random sewing news feeds just about every day. Victory! I have a "valid" reason to justify my blog addiction! And I'm already feeling the crazy urge to sew an entire wardrobe. Between new Project Runway and spending loads of time on the BurdaStyle Web site, I suddenly feel like I need to buy/make a dress form! (On a side note, if you have an favorite fashion/sewing/pattern blogs or web sites you want to share with me, please drop me a line at averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com. I'm subscribed to a million,and have loads of Goole alerts set, but don't want to miss anything. Send! Send! Send!)

And, finally, as though the creative opportunities weren't flowing fast enough (one of the manymanymany things I'm thankful for this holiday) my friend Kari asked me to help her launch a new zine called Aprön for the spring. Leaping Lizards! Finally! My high school dream of working on a zine is coming true! Fifteen years later ... but still. Best of all, Kari makes me laugh like crazy, and understands (nay, *encourages*) my random spewing of Annie quotes. I'm going to make a separate post with all the details and call for submissions. I'll be working on the production end of things, and contributing a craft column called, "Toast is the New Squid." Funfunfun. Serious. Fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stitch Wrap Up and busting out of a craft rut

Who else was at the Handmade Mecca that was Stitch this weekend? Holy smokes! My brain was spinning from all the cool things, people and inspiration. I was there working for Leslie, and we had fun workin' our corner booth. For almost eight straight hours, the stream of traffic was constant, and I roamed a little bit and gawked at amazing purses, the coolest ties I've ever seen (made from old school kid Star Trek bedsheets!) and got giddy when I'd stumble upon a booth from someone I've read about or heard about. It was a blast.

And even though I was surrounded by inspiration all day (and night!) on Saturday, I have still been finding myself in a craft rut. I think it's because I've just had a lot of work to do, but -DANG- I just have not been feelin' it lately. I have a whole list of stuff I want to make for gifts, another of just fun things I want to try, and then I look around and notice (again) that there's a pile of clean clothes that have been sitting on my chair for almost two weeks waiting to be put away. And the roadblock goes up. I think I need a day or two to just TCB and then the creative juices will get flowing again.

I hope.

Friday, November 2, 2007

And the test results are ....

Thanks for the sweet comments about AK's testing stress and crafting for her comfort. I am beyond thrilled to report:


She got in the car after school today and was proudly toting her test with a 100% score and a big smiley face. She even got a "Super Speller" award that was signed by the assistant principal (a super cool guy whom she loves, so this was like having a celebrity sign something for her!)

She said, "Mama, it was the blue bird!" I reminded her that her father also studied really hard with her this week, and we did lots of practice tests. Later, when she was telling my mom about her success, she said, "It was because papa helped me study, and mama made me a bird!"

Damn, folks. I don't have many successes as a parent, but I'm taking this one. And to hear her acknowledge Chris and I working together to help her succeed..... guh. It killed me.

Her teacher was fine with her having the bird, and let her keep it on her desk while she took the test. AK even mentioned that the bird "told" her how to spell one of the words.

Can she get sent to the principal for cheating with a softie?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Crafting for Comfort

As a kid, I only went to the principal's office one time. I'd gotten in trouble on the school bus for being loud and not staying seated. I was terrified - absolutely terrified. I was a pretty good kid, and being sent to the principal's office was akin to being branded with a scarlet letter.

Shortly before I made my visit, my sister gave me something very special: a pencil. The pencil itself wasn't very special (not covered in favorite characters or freshly sharpened or anything) but she told me that if I held on to that pencil while I was in the principal's office, I'd be just fine. She said I could hold it and think of her and know that I was going to be ok.

It made all the difference in the world. I held that pencil so tightly, I had marks grooved on the palms of my hand. I made it through my sole visit with a principal relatively unscathed.

Twenty-five years later, I get to return (or at least pay forward) the favor. My daughter has a test tomorrow. It will be only the second test of her entire life. Her first was last Friday, and it went ... not so well. She was so scared, she started crying, and then freaked out when tears got on her paper.

AK is a people pleaser and a perfectionist - already. It scares the crud out of me, and it's entirely foreign to my own way of thinking (grades? eh ... I wasn't that worried about them). I doubt I'll be able to fully change this feature of her personality, but I'm going to go ahead and start giving her some coping mechanisms and see if that can help ease some of her stress.

We were driving home from school today, and the subject of her Friday spelling test came up. She instantly clinched up and started to wail. I knew that feeling all too well. I jumped in and asked if I could make her a little something that she could carry with her to school and either put it on or in her desk to help keep her calm while she takes the test tomorrow. I told her it could be like me being there with her.

She was all over that idea, and quickly came up with the idea for what she wanted: a blue bird (I have a blue bird of happiness figurine on my desk, and she loves it). She was specific in her design request - a flying bird, wings spread wide, no feet, black eye and a black beak.

Fortunately, she is not in to perfection regarding the things I make for her. She just gets tickled that I make anything at all. I whipped up this little blue bird tonight while watching shows, and it's anything (anything!) but perfect.

I take that back. It's anything but perfectly made, but it's perfect for what she was needing. She asked if I could bring it up to her room and put it in her bed when I finished it (this is something she always asks me - if I'm making something when she goes to bed, she requests that I put it on her pillow when I'm done). It's tucked in by her tonight, and hopefully will be tucked in her desk tomorrow. We still need to check with the teacher to make sure it's ok if she brings it to class ..... Here's hoping there are no tears tomorrow.

P.S. - Sorry for the quality of the image - our camera broke last week. It stinks when I have to scan something that's poofy. But .... this means that we might be getting a new camera for Christmas, so I'm not too bummed .....

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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Always be prepared ... to craft

When I was a kid, I tried a lot of extra-curricular activities. There was guitar, piano, archeology, theater, space camp, baseball, swimming ... it seemed that every year I had a new activity to explore.

The one thing I didn't do - and deeply regret not doing - was Girl Scouts. I can't remember why I never joined a troop - my guess is that my mother was much like I am today: pretty stingy with how many activities she'd let her daughter engage in at one time. Call me lazy (I like to think I'm just super aware of the energy that is required to maintain a busy activity/school schedule, and know my limits) but I have a one-big-extra-activity-and-that's-it rule about my kids. Whether it was time or money that kept me from doing Girl Scouts as a kid, it was something I always really wished I could do.

One of my best friends was in a troop lead by her mother - an incredible artist and craft guru. I would have killed to be in that troop. They were always doing such cool things - especially crafts. Oh the crafts! Egg carton worms, plastic berry basket projects, paper mache! Oh dear paper mache! (can you believe I've still never done paper mache!? I know, it's sick.)

So from a very early age, I knew I wanted to lead a Girl Scout troop for my daughter. And finally, the time has come. I spent all day yesterday at Girl Scout Leader Training. And while there was no direct talk of crafts (we were more concerned with business/safety training) I could feel the crafty possibilities bubbling up.

And don't forget the cookies! My fabulous co-leader, Anna, has agreed to handle all the cookies sales. Which is perfect, given her rockin' blog is called "Cookie Madness." Between the two of us, we'll have some fantastic crafting and cooking going on in our troop. Be prepared to see some of the fruits of our labor (and fun) here.

*These images are from a 1975 Junior Girl Scout Handbook that I found at Half Price Books last week. It is choc full of really cool stuff! :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Silly Fun Crafting

Silly Fun Crafting
Originally uploaded by burb_mama
I have a few things I've been wanting to post about ... and I will. But for now, just some fun, silly crafty goodness.

(Click on the picture at the right to see a larger version and click to individual images ... if you're into getting up close and all)

When Sister Diane first posted her Glove Monsters, I was giddy at her brillance. The she went and posted a tutorial and I knew I had to make one. Fortunately, Target happened to have knit gloves in the Dollar Spot this week, so I grabbed a pair. This little guy (gal?... not sure) was a blast to whip up while watching TV on the couch. My favorite part is the hair. I'd cut open the cuff of the glove to unfold it for more height (per SD's tutorial) but when I tried to gather it at the top, it just wasn't working for me. I ended up just stitching straight across, which left just a flat piece of cuff sticking up at the top. I decided to see what would happen if I clipped along the ribbing of the cuff.

BRILLIANCE! It curled all on it's own, and in 30 seconds, the monster's personality popped forth. (Can you pop "forth"?) It was so much fun.

I'd also nipped a little hole when I was clipping the seam of the cuff, so I stitched it roughly to make a "scar" on the face. That was fun. I can't wait to make another one. I'm so glad gloves come in pairs (aside from obvious reasons) because these little guys are addictive.

Then I had the chance to go to a Shrink Art class tonight at the Work*Shop (in love with this place!) and I had such a blast. I brought along my stash of Sublime Stitching transfers, and they made great patterns to trace, color and shrink. Next thing ya know, I've got a rad pair of robot earrings, some smoking flame earrings, and a sweet, stylish swallow pendant.

I told my husband I'd be home at 9:00 tonight. I got home at 11:00.

Time evaporates when I'm crafting ... and that's just how I like it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

That's it. I'm hooked.

Mom and I took a crochet class at Craft-O-Rama last night (FUN place, and so much yummy fabric and fun stuff and great people) and it was a blast. I really enjoyed working with yarn and the hooks (I have this strange love for the actual *motion* of moving the hook in and out of the loops of yarn) and I had fun practicing a bit once I got home.

I'm still working on how to hold the yarn/hook/piece - it gets confusing to me. And, of course - like most beginners - I have the tendency to go waaaaay too tight. I'm also still a bit confused on identifying each stitch and spot where I need to push my hook through. My things got a bit wonky because I kept missing stitches or adding stitches. I admit it, I was chatting too much and not paying close enough attention. That's my only fear with crochet - can I chat or daydream while I do it? So far, I feel like I need to count a lot and pay attention. Two things I tend to avoid when crafting.

Mom had loads of fun and did really well. She was a little nervous and cracked lots of jokes about how "badly" she was doing. Give it up mom, you were rocking like nobody's business. Own it!

And what makes learning a new craft even more fun? How about having the sweetest little dog you could ever hope to meet curled up in your lap while you crochet? The teacher's dog (named Olive) sat in my lap for the first half of the class. I'd scratch her belly and snuzzle* her head and then get back to stitching. Every once in a while, she'd bop me with her head or paw, looking for some more lovin'. She even got tangled in my yarn. Nothing says fun and cozy like crocheting with a cute pup in your lap.

*Snuzzle is a technical term meaning to smoosh your nose into the dog's head and kisskisskisskisskiss while making idiotic lovey noises. In case you didn't know.

Monday, September 17, 2007

oooooh ... fun stuff!

Good stuff comes in threes, I think.

  1. Last week I received a stack of vintage embroidery transfers from a fabulous woman in England. There are some really cool ones in there, and I'll scan them as soon as I get a chance. The bonus: they came the day after my birthday, so it felt like a little birthday gift. Plus, I love getting mail, so .... it was just a really rad package.
  2. Moxie and the Compound is hosting an awesome Project Runway viewing/contest. How freaking cool is that? It's times like these when I wish I had any grasp of garment design/construction. I'm so tempted to enter one week just for kicks.
  3. I found out today that I came in third place in a little naming contest I'd entered. Let me tell you, third feels FANTASTIC! I entered on a whim (the sewing studio owner decided to change the name of her sewing class business and asked for suggestions, then people voted on those suggestions.) and wasn't too confident in my entry (Third and Thread, because her studio is on 3rd street) but what do you know, I came in ... THIRD! And I won a $75 voucher toward classes with her. That's freaking awesome! I took an embroidery class from her about a year and a half ago, and she was so fun. I've wanted to take more classes, but haven't had the budget for it. Now I can. Woohoo! What to take, what to take...... I swear, I could take sewing/crafting classes every day of my life and not get bored.
And this week is when I'm taking the crochet class with mom - can't wait. And I'm working on a birthday gift for my best friend, so that's fun. And I finished the dish towel for my grandmother-in-law over the weekend. And I read Doodle Stitching (fantastic!) cover-to-cover. And I found out about a fun shrink plastic class at the Work*Shop.

Whew! Super fun crafty goodness all over the darn place!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Thrift Find is complete

Whew - wrapped her up last night. The flower border got frustrating after a while, and I have to admit that I cheated and didn't cut and finish each one - I just strung on to the next one. So, the back is .... not perfect, but considering that I'm framing her - no one will ever see that. I love the way she turned out, though! I used little sequins around the border - something I haven't done before - and I like how they turned out. They were super easy to work with. AK keeps saying she wants her hung up in her room .... is it totally wrong that I want her in my office/craft room? Argh.

We're heading up to my husband's grandparent's house today for a loooong road trip (up and back in one day). I've stamped a tea towel with one of my favorite designs so I can stitch a little something for his grandmother on the way up there.

Happy weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Crafts from the past

Since I was crafty before I started this crafty blog, I thought I'd pull up some projects I've done in the past. Plus, it's a laundry day, and I'd actually like to try to sew something before I have to pick up the kids, so I'm slacking on actually posting a new project. Here's one of my faves from a while back that made me laugh.

I give you: CraftsterWoman! (the text below is copied from my original posting of this project on Craftster.)
In a couple of hours, I'm heading out to see Leah at the Work*Shop here in Austin. She's doing a book thing, and there's going to be a surprise craft swap of some sort. I had a random hit of inspiration in the shower last night, and came up with a "Craftster Woman" (think: Wonder Woman with a glue gun) accessory set. It must have been meant to be. I had all the materials I needed on hand, my freehand cutting of a felt glue gun silhouette rocked on the first try, and I was able to complete the set (and a matching tote bag to wrap it in) throughout the day, while hanging with the kids. All pieces are wearable (the headband has squeeze clip barrettes that I pirated from my daughter's old bows, the cuffs have button fasteners) and the image of "Craftster Woman" on the tote bag has the glue gun, scissor and spool details morphed into her costume. She's off to save the word one craft at a time! Enjoy. It was fun to make. Hopefully someone who shares my slightly lame sense of humor will get it tonight and will model it. I'll have to take my camera.

The event was great! If Leah is coming to your hometown (or close by) you must go! You'll have fun, meet crafty folks, and get to make some cool stuff. The craft swap was great, and I am pleased as punch that Lisa (co-founder of The Work*Shop Austin - very cool place) picked the Craftster Woman set. It was insanely perfect. The woman OWNS and spends most of her time in a C-R-A-F-T S-H-O-P, folks! It was right up her alley (which was good, because I was afraid that someone might get it and think I'm really weird) Can I say how completely stoked I was that she not only donned the ensemble, but wore it all evening. How cool is that! Here she is looking ready to fight off bad craft vibes with her cuffs. I added a note to the bag that said something like "The head band will keep you focused while crafting. The lasso will rope in good ideas, and the cuffs will deflect any self doubt you have while crafting." or something to that effect ... I was writing it while my kids were crawling on me, so I don't remember. Fun stuff!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Signs your kid watches too much Stylelicious

What can I say? The kid's a regular Andie Walsh. She dismantled a Barbie dress to make a new outfit for her Tinkerbell dress. (ripped the bodice off the skirt, dug up this net business from some other character of hers, added a headband from a My Little Pony) I seriously think she got the idea from watching Stylelicious with me. I'm surprised she didn't use the phrase "gussied up" when she was describing her work to the family.

Monday, September 10, 2007

You are now free to craft about the cabin

I just returned from a blissful weekend away with my mom and sister. My mom treated us to a birthday weekend at an amazing place in South Carolina - four days with out the kids, spa treatments, wildlife river boat excursions, great food .... luxury beyond my wildest dreams. (side note: thank you, Chris, for being such a champ with the kids all weekend long - you ROCK!)

Of course, I had to bring along some crafty fun. Nothing says luxury and relaxation like being able to craft for hours straight, uninterrupted, and listening to your favorite music. I didn't do much stitching while we were at the resort, but the airplane travel was the perfect place to plug in my headphones and get lost in the floss. I even ran in to a woman who was knitting on the plane. She'd just taken a knitting class this week and was working on a dishcloth. I love meeting crafty people at 35,000 feet in the air.

And when I got home - more fun! Chris got the books I was wanting for my birthday (in addition to one I'd sneaked a peek at last week) and the kids made fun cards for my birthday. It was a blast.

With the new books, I have all kinds of inspiration and ideas for things I want to make. Ack - what's that feeling ... oh yeah, Craft Overload. It's the topic of Sister Diane's latest CraftyPod, and you should listen to it. Her shows are always great, but this is one of my absolute favorites. Go listen ... NOW!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

She's designing projects now

AK and I were driving around the other day and all of a sudden, she started spitting out ideas for craft projects.

"I know! I know! You could make a reindeer and then a sleigh and then put velcro on the reindeer and then have a thing from the sleigh that attaches to the velcro so if you wanted to take it off, you could .... and and and"

Holy cow. She's designing craft projects. She's thinking in craft projects. She's looking around at stuff she has and thinking about stuff she wants, and she's figuring out how to do it - craft style. It's not just, "I wanna sleigh!" - she's figuring out how to craft what she wants.

How cool is that!?

And tonight, she started digging through my scrap box and pulled out some fleece from one of Ben's old baby blankets. She grabbed some other supplies and set to work - creating a custom-designed blankie for Ben. Since she didn't have any sewing stuff handy, she started taping pom poms, pipe cleaners and foam shapes to the blanket. I think she said they were animals - I'm not sure.

The best part was when she stood up and said, "See, mama, you could do this for one of your projects." Next thing you know, she'll be writing tutorials and posting them for download.

I love being around a crafty kid!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Stitchin' with mom

Despite the fact that my mom used to be an embroidery whiz (stitching nearly every piece of clothing she owned in the 70s and since amassing a collection of embroidered clothing that has lead us to wonder if we need to have some type of intervention) she hasn't picked up a needle and floss in nearly three decades.

I guess floss addiction is genetic, because it didn't take much for me to get completely addicted to the craft after I took a class with Jenny Hart at the Work*Shop back in April. Since then, I've been stitching almost every single day, and mom's taken notice.

At first, she just admired the work - laughing about seeing her daughter doing something she used to do, doting on my work (uneven stitches and all) the way only a mother could. Then she started dropping hints that perhaps she'd like to try her hand at embroidery once more. Of course, in the same breath of her hints to try the craft again, she'd mention all the reasons she shouldn't. She didn't want to buy the supplies if she ended up not liking it (um ... embroidery is one of the more budget-friendly crafts you can pick up) and was worried that her aging eyes wouldn't be good for stitching (even though she has some crazy-cool bifocals) and she thought, "why would I need to stitch anything when I have everything I need?" (she's beyond practical)

But the floss is hard to resist. Finally, I just said, "Mom, I have an extra blank tea towel and a transfer I know you'd love. Let me stamp it for you and we can stitch together." She was thrilled.

We were out at the ranch last night, and once the kids were tucked in bed, she and I piled on to the couch and started to stitch together. I showed her the back, split and stem stitch. She practiced on a piece of fabric I started stitching on, but had decided to ditch. When she got stuck, she turned to the Sublime Stitching book for back up. It was so much fun.

And I have to say, I felt awfully colonial sitting in the ranch house living room (that's very log-cabin-ish) and stitching up a storm. Having my mom there with me, sharing in the experience - it all made me feel very connected to the long history of women crafting together.

All that from a little floss, some needles and fabric? Not bad for a holiday weekend.

And what was I working on last night? It was a fun little find from a thrift store visit earlier this summer. It came in a pack with some yarn and a giant needle. There were two panels - one of a boy and a mushroom, one of a girl and a mushroom - but the boy panel was partially completed with the yarn. I tried stitching with the yarn on the boy panel, but didn't like it. I decided to cut the panels apart, and just do the girl side in floss. I wasn't particularly attached to it, but now that it's about 80% done, I am in love with it. I can't wait to frame it and put it up.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Early craft - RIP Weekly World News

This is one of my first crafty things I made. I made it sometime in high school or college - I can't remember which. A few copies of the fabulously hilarious Weekly World News, a clear glass and some Mod Podge, and I had the raddest desk accessory ever. It's embellished my desk while I studied, when I was a teacher, and now resides in my home office. It's a great conversation starter. But really, with headlines like, "She's covered in hair, but had a wonderful personality" why wouldn't it be. This week marked the last printed issue of Weekly World News, and while WWN will still be available online, collaging with a print out won't be nearly as fun.

RIP WWN hard copy. Our crafty cravings will miss you.

I'm so not crafty ....
so why am I starting a craft blog?

Most of my crafty friends are clear on where they get their crafty-ness. Typically, their mother and/or grandmother crafted with them as children, and they've been crafting ever since. Until recently, I denied my crafty nature. I've sworn - most of my life - that I am "so not crafty." Regardless of the fact that I was decoupaging pictures of Mork and Mindy to my side table in college, I saw no craftiness in my past or future.

Somewhere, I had knowledge of the fact that both my grandmas were master seamstresses, that one grandma could crochet and knit like nobody's business, and that my mother - in typical 70s fashion - embroidered anything that stood still and macramed her little heart out.

But why did I feel no connection to crafting, or have any desire to craft?

I blame my mom for both neglecting my craft potential, and feeding it. We never really crafted together when I was a kid. She wasn't the type to save peanut butter jar lids to make Christmas ornaments, and we never once made paper mache. I think by the time I came around, she was burned out on crafting. In her words, "How many needlepoint pictures can you hang on the wall?" By the time I was a kid, she was in to other things - like breadmaking. And so, my crafty influences and training would have to come later.

Occasionally, I'd find my way in to a craft or hardware store, and that tingly sensation of standing in awe of possibility would overwhelm me. I'd sometimes pick up supplies, but lacking anyone to craft with or any guidance, I'd get frustrated with the process and results. Instead, I just swore I was "so not crafty."

So when did I embrace my crafty side? I can't remember exactly, but I think it was partly during a sewing class I took (a year after my mom gave me my first sewing machine) a few years ago, and I know that Craftster had a lot to do with it. A friend clued me in to Craftster, and with my first visit, I was absolutely hooked. Finally, cool crafting, and even cooler crafters. A community full of ideas, lessons and support - I was smitten.

Over the last several years, I've taken sewing classes, embroidery classes, expanded my collage skills, learned about ATCs, and indulged in the inspirational goodness of Flickr. This year, I've become completely addicted to craft blogs/podcasts, magazines, and have had the opportunity to connect with fun crafters across the country. I'm hooked. No more denying it. I am so crafty. So very crafty.

And the best part? Aside from having a creative outlet, something to soothe my mind, a fun connection to other people, my mom is finally getting crafty again! She's been watching me embroider non-stop for months, and now she's finally taking embroidery up again for herself! In two weeks, we'll be taking a crochet class together. The crafty blood line is running strong now. My daughter is picking it up, too, and with a Girl Scout troop we'll be starting later this fall, we're sure to have some fun whipping up crafts.

So I'm a newbie-ish crafter with an old crafter's soul. And no matter how many times my husband rolls his eyes at the fabric stash, or friends say, "Why would you spend hours making something for your kid you can buy at the store." the crafty denial is done with. This girl has craft in her blood, and it's time to let it flow.