Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where have I been?

Just stitching away, away, away, in my little sewing room. . . because of this:

So super-excited!   And it just didn't seem real until I actually held the magazine in my hands!   This has been such a fun experience, and I'm really grateful for this opportunity.  The best part?  I've "met" so many awesome people.   I love the funny or sad or bittersweet stories of furry companions that some have shared with me.  When I'm up 'til 3 a.m. stuffing catnip into tiny mice, those stories remind me that there's a human being behind every cat, and these little toys bring them joy, too.   And that makes me happy.  :-)  Thanks, ReadyMade!

But we are attempting to do other stuff, too. . . .

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More shirt love? Yes, please!

"Cooking College"-bound!

The lovely swap angel, Calabaza, sent these sweet shirts to Monkey 7 last week. He is DELIGHTED, so we had to do a quickie photo shoot. . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A few news. . . .

New tote. . . .

Also. . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm working extra-hard on this one.   We've had a tough year.  Moving, loss, stress, illness, hospitals.  I tend to throw myself great big pity parties, but I've recently learned that that only brings me more misery.   I'm trying to focus on my blessings in everyday life, and there are multitudes.   (And not just because it's Thanksgiving!)  ;)  Being a tactile person, it helps me to write things down, and these writings also serve as daily reminders of my many, many blessings.

My children could certainly benefit from reflecting on their blessings as well, so we've created our family Gratitude Tree.  (I was inspired by this post.)   Seeing our tree grow makes my heart warm with joy. . . .

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hoopy goodness

While I love the baby shirt swaps, I think I've found a new obsession:  hoop embroidery!   I've participated in two rounds so far, and have received such lovely hoops!  In this second round, I received a beautifully sweet and simple poppy. . . .

My partner is an amazing artist.  (Please drop by her colorfully delightful blog!)  The poppy has a special, private meaning for me, and the colors and design are so just. . . me.   I love it!

What I made. . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Shirt insanity!

You knew it was coming.  Yep: the Week of Baby Onesies Swap on Craftster!  It's my favorite swap, and I always look forward to it.  I love trying new techniques, improving old ones, and challenging myself to try new designs.   I crafted for larger kiddos this round, so no actual baby onesies.   (The girl shirts are for a private swap, and for an older child.) 

The accomplishment I'm most proud of this round?  Conquering my fear of sewing knits!  I made long sleeves for several of these shirts, using thrifted shirts for the fabric.  (This striped fabric was once a cute Gap top!)  I didn't even break out my serger, and they all turned out great!  Most of the girl shirts were inspired by themes, shirts or other items on my partner's wists. . . . 

Plus. . . .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Too cute to be spooky

I'm still here!  Really!  And I am doing much better these days.  I even tried blogging yesterday, and again this morning, but something was wonky with uploading photos.  And what good is a blog post without some photos?  (And as soon as I type that, suddenly pictures upload.  Hm.)

(Some of the Monkeys in their homemade Halloween costumes. . . the older kids made their own again this year!  There's Flo, the Progressive girl, two singers from Skillet, and a couple of fiesty ninjas.  And a peek at a kitty cat's left foot.)

The post-that-wasn't-meant-to-be was written about tiny houses, and my obsession with them. . . fabric ones, paper ones, wood ones.  I even joined the Tiny House Swap again, so I could make a tiny house!  (And remember - these houses had to measure less than 4" x 4" x 4".)  But first, let me show you the sweet little house I received from my partner, sazzra. . . .

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lost and found: felt badges and vintage sheets

Lost. . . .

I had big plans, big ideas.  I opened another Etsy shop, wanting to fill it with hand-embroidered felt goodies.  I would focus on badges, brooches and teeny banners to share and give to others -- an award and merit badge sort of theme.

Buuut, I lost momentum.  I lost the desire.  And I really just don't have the time.  :(

So I want to share some merit badges I had made for a swap (which actually inspired me to open the shop in the first place!)  They're about 2.5" to 3" in size. . . . lots of fun, teeny tiny stitches!

I couldn't stop smiling as I stitched these. . . .

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I am not OK

I am not OK.

If you asked, I would probably tell you that I am. But that would be a lie.

You see, I am not OK with losing my three babies. I think of them, miss them, every single day.  But their deaths became a catalyst for radical, unforeseeable change in me.  Change both terrible and beneficial.

Monday, October 11, 2010

UbaFest! A 16th Birthday party, plus a mini-tutorial

Last night's UbaFest was a success!

What is UbaFest, you ask?  Only my dear Monkey 1's sixteenth birthday party. . . the campfire edition!  Which means:  a relatively inexpensive, simple, mostly handmade shindig, with the main focus on family and just being together.  We feasted on tender smoked brisket (slowly cooked by my mother-in-law) and homemade potato salad, s'mores and red velvet cake balls.  Plus {unfortunately} lots of junk food.  We played lots of silly games, and chatted and laughed 'til we cried.  Simple, but so much fun.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stitching away the hours. . . the monarch butterfly

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted!  I'm so sorry. . . .  I wanted to post, really, but I just didn't have anything interesting to show or tell or share.  Seriously, no one wants to hear "oh, our hens laid 5 eggs today" or "Owen is in a pour-out-all-liquids-on-any-surface phase."  So I spared you the mundane, until I finally had something pretty to share!

I absolutely loved stitching this piece.  I was inspired by this photograph, and I stitched it up for {what else?} a Craftster swap.  (If you want to be totally wowed, check out the gallery.)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gearing up to kill the paper addiction

Slowly but surely (and I mean sloooowwwly)  I'm making some progress on my Stash Buster / Going Greener To-Do List.  I've decided to whittle a bit at our paper towel habit.

We use paper towels for cleaning, for wiping up spills, for dinner napkins, for a lazy lunch "plate."  We use A LOT of paper towels.  This is going to be one hard habit to break.  

I've spent some of the Labor Day weekend cutting, pressing, pinning, pressing, sewing (repeating) a giant stack of cloth dinner napkins.  Here are the few finished napkins. . . .

. . . from this giant pile I've cut so far.  (That's my machine under there, somewhere.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

How exciting!

One of our hens finally laid her first egg!  There was quite a celebration among all the Monkeys when they found it.  OK, OK.  I squealed a bit, too.

And then. . . .

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life is going along....

Not too much excitement, but just enough.

Monkey 5 found this little guy in our yard!  We let him go immediately, of course.

Some good news. . . .

in the cold, clear spring water at Balmorhea

Christine is doing very well.  I think we are finally close to a diagnosis!  Her new specialist believes that she has been misdiagnosed (again,) and a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan are on the horizon!  Your prayers are being heard. . . . thank you for all your prayers, words of encouragement and support.

More news. . . .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Changes: chickens, sewing, and crafting

Out of the twenty chicks we purchased this spring, which were plainly labeled "pullets," by the way, thirteen of them were roosters.  THIRTEEN.  And they were very mean, very aggressive, always fighting to be top rooster.  They began attacking the Monkeys and me, so it was time to make some changes.  The Dirty Dozen of Evil Roosters had to go.   I had to remind myself that this was for the good and safety of my family, and for the good and health of the flock that we are keeping.

Now that the mean roosters are gone, the change in our hens (plus the one remaining rooster) is incredible.  Night and day!  They're so docile and gentle, and are pleasant to be around.  Maybe now the hens can sit in peace, and have a moment or two to actually lay an egg.

Another change. . . .

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tiny: time stolen and wondering. . .

As I sipped my coffee and perused my favorite blogs this morning, I found myself wondering, "how do these women find the time to do all this stuff?" 

My Monkeys hit the ground running early in the mornings, as I drag my tired, old body out of bed to shuffle to the coffee pot.  To be sipping my coffee and reading blogs is pretty much stolen time to begin with.  And then there is school, chores, chickens, etc., until the kids are in bed around 8 or 9.  I then have the evening hours to work, sew, create... but usually, I'm just too tired, or want to unwind.  A lot of unwinding.   I don't have the time to make stuff everyday, and then post beautiful, inspiring pictures about them everyday.  I very much wish I did, but that's not life for me.  I'm beginning to suspect that if I were to accept that fact, perhaps life would be... simpler.  But still:  How do you do it??

So, today, all I have is this.  Tiny lizards caught by tiny hands. . . .

Friday, August 13, 2010

Out of control, and a new plan

I was sitting in my sewing room last night, and I looked around.  It's approaching Hoarders status.  Floor to ceiling stacks and bins and piles of fabrics.  So many beautiful fabrics, untouched.  Many have been hanging around for 3, 4, 5 years.  Why?  It's so wasteful. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I love Etsy.... Reason No. 5,897

Beanie lovingly handmade by Liz, of The Lavender Lizard, for my gigantic-noggin'd Monkey.  We love it. . . and it hasn't left his head even for a second!  Thank you!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

And recently.... a bit of construction

Another fairly random post about stuff going on around here.  I hope to get back to some craftier posts soon, but until then. . . .

Last week, my skilled, creative, and very generous family blessed us with a new roof and ceiling for my laundry room.  The laundry room is actually a small building right next to our house -- not attached to the house at all.  I know.  It's odd.  But it works.

Anyway, it was a total laundry shack. . . 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Silent movie bag: Nosferatu

I love silent movies.   I once read a review of the silent German film, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, and decided to check it out.

Let me first say that I'm not a fan of horror films, but I did enjoy Nosferatu.  It was so creepy.  I should also mention that I don't really like vampires, especially vampires of the new Twilight / True Blood fads.  I suppose that makes me an oddball, but I'm fine with that.  Nosferatu is the original, old-fashioned, evil, stinking kind of vampire, so if you decide to watch the movie, keep that in mind.  And I do recommend the movie!

All that brings me to this....

I recently organized the June Birthday Swap on Craftster, and chose to make one of the birthday girls a messenger bag.  She is a big fan of the old-school movie monsters, so I jumped at the chance to make a creepy Nosferatu bag!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Breathe: a relapse and a little sewing

Lately I've been rushing around, hurrying, procrastinating, worrying.  I'm trying to remember to breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  That helps.

Monkey 2 has had a severe relapse, and could use some prayers.  (My new readers can read about the beginning here and an update here.)  We have more, new doctors added to the team, but still do not have a diagnosis.  I know there are so many people out there with sicker children, worse circumstances, scarier prognoses.  I try to remind myself that we are truly blessed, and every day is a gift.

Sewing helps, too.

I've been stash-busting like crazy.  Most of the pouches in my shop now are made from fabric I've had on my cutting table for 2 or 3 YEARS.  It feels great to be using them up!   Although, I'm a little sad to see this one go. . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I hate my new camera, and some stuff I don't hate

My simple, trusty, and very cheap Samsung point-and-shoot has served me well for a few years now.  It has recently developed a hiccup of switching to video mode (or some other mode) at random moments.  It was bothersome, but didn't prevent me from taking photos when I needed to. 

But then one of my sweet Monkeys signed up for a photography class with our local 4-H.  I imagined her fumbling with the camera, in front of other watchful teens, while it beeped and blinked and switched in and out of different modes.  How embarrassing that would be!  So I thought a new, simple, and very cheap replacement camera was in order.

Oh, how I hate my new camera.  It tries to overthink and outsmart me.  It fiddles with focusing, with lighting, even when I tell it not to.  It's anything but simple. 

But maybe my daughter will get some good use out of it. 

New stuff shot with crummy new camera. . . .

Monday, July 12, 2010

Catch Up, Part 2

As promised, here's the entire series of calaveras from the Mexican Kitsch Swap!  These are all made from little wooden trinket boxes, plus polymer clay, fabric, paint, paper, glitter (lots of glitter) and some beads.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Catch Up, Part 1

Let's play catch-up, shall we?  Blogger is acting so oddly this morning, that I'll break this into two posts.  My brain can only handle so much aggravation!  GRRR!

I received this sweet embroidered piece from prttynpnk in an Embroidery Swap back in March. . . .

I had begun working on my partner's piece, and then this happened:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back to work

We enjoyed our little staycation, and now it's time to [reluctantly] get back to work. We homeschool year-round, so it's also time for back to school.

For school, I whipped up a bunch of zipper pouches for the kids, using both new and reclaimed fabrics, mostly scraps. Each child received a bunch of new pens and pencils, and a box of crayons, most of which are already missing. (What do they do with them, eat them? Seriously!)

I have gone back to work in my shop, as well. I'm working slowly, but I'm enjoying it.
But oh, this messenger bag. . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I think I love West Texas

When you think of west Texas, you may picture cacti, dusty pastures, mesquite trees and oil rigs. That's what I pictured, when I heard we were moving out here last November. And I wasn't wrong. West Texas does have all of those things -- but there is so much more.

I realized this arid region has its own beauty, and maybe you have to look a bit harder, or a bit closer, to find it. But it's here, and it's amazing.

I was first pleasantly surprised by its amazing sunsets. . . .

Then its clear blue skies and warm winds. . . .

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Catrina pincushion tutorial

The tutorial. . . .

I've included the basic instructions for the catrina pincushion on Craftster.  I apologize in advance if it's not easy to follow. It was originally designed for my own thought process, and I wasn't really planning on anyone else using it. You know? So it may not be of any real use. ???

The pattern. . . .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Busy, and not: projects and updates

Lately, we've been busy, but not. We haven't traveled, scurried, bustled or hurried. But we have sewn, baked, constructed, planted. I love that right now, our lives are peacefully chaotic. I don't feel rushed, but I am happily exhausted by the end of the day. Here are a few photos of some of our projects. . . .

Some sewing. . . .

These totes are finally listed in my shop. Finally.

Plus. . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Roosters abound

Kind of a random topic, I know. I've had several rooster themes pop up over the last few weeks, so I thought I'd put them together into one post. Here we go!

A little rooster I made for the Mexican Kitsch Swap. . . .

...a little wooden trinket box from the craft store, plus some paint, glitter (of course,) polymer clay, fabric, paper and a plastic toy rooster. (My kids will never miss it!)
This is one of a series of boxes I made for my lovely swap partner, who teaches high school Spanish. She wanted some art for her classroom, so I designed this to be handled, touched, opened and closed.

Inspiration can come from the oddest, most unexpected places. . . .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sugary sweet

We made a simple cherry pie the other day. . . it was amazing! We cheated and used 2 cans of cherry pie filling (gasp!) but made the pie crust from scratch. It's not as hard to make as you may think. . . .

I've always used the Joy of Cooking recipe for Basic Pie Crust, omitting the butter. If you don't have this cookbook, this recipe is pretty close to what I use. The secret to melt-in-your-mouth pie crust? Ice water. Seriously. And handling the dough as little as possible. Try it, and you'll be amazed at the difference these two tiny little details make!
For extra yummy-ness, just before baking the pie, brush the crust with milk, and sprinkle with sugar, or cinnamon sugar. The crust will crisp up just that much more, and it's sooooo good.

And more sugar. . . .

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