Sunday, February 28, 2010

Laundry Day

Winter does not want to let go.

It's been raining for the past bajillion days and this morning it was snowing.

I looked out my picture window, saw the trees glistening and went out on to the back porch to see more. The sun was out, the flurries were blowing around in the air and they started to cling to the laundry line.

I ran inside and grabbed my camera. I kept shooting until they melted away.

It was 40 degrees after all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is getting warmer, the snow is all gone, the grass is green and the water is pouring out the downspout.

Spring's a-comin'.

Now if only those pesky little snowflakes would go away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

I've got high hopes for tomorrow. I have a whole day with nowhere to go so I plan on sewing most of it. I've been looking at projects and have picked out a few to try.

We had silhouettes done when we were on a cruise last year. The cruise line hired a silhouette artist to offer her services for free. She did one of each of us and I just have to transfer them to fabric.I really like this pillow but I think I'll change it a little bit. I want tree trunks and leaves, not flower stems and flowers.
My, what a good use of little scraps of material. And linen, glorious linen, how I love thee! This is a must have.
I. love. this.
Okay, I know the pic above and below this are not sewing projects but I found them today and want to try doing this. I'm going to try it out on the (very large) wall going up the stairs to the second floor. Vintage men's pant hangers. Who knew they'd be so useful? This idea came from the summer 2008 issue of O at Home.
What a cool way to display some art and not mess up your walls.

So, you see, I have a very busy day tomorrow.

But don't tell sissy.

She thinks I'm working on her tote bag, like the one I made myself.

Er, maybe the day after tomorrow, dear sissy.




Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Write Stuff

We had the first meeting of our creative writing group today at the library. Eight teens, evenly split between guys and girls, came and wrote for half an hour. They shared what they wrote, they laughed, they ate cookies, and I think we all had a fantastic time.

They're such good storytellers and I don't think they know it yet. I had them write down their first memory, what age they were at the time and then number their sheet for every year after that. They had to try and remember something from every year.

It was cool to hear what they remember. But also a little bit sad. Some of the memories had to do with divorce, death, fights, broken bones. Other memories were funny, like the teen who remembered using an expletive at age two. They loved that.

They didn't write much down on their papers, only a word or sentence. A few had a short paragraph written for some years but not many did that.

But...

When they started sharing their memories, the storytelling that poured forth from their mouths was incredible. They couldn't just read the word or sentence, they had to tell the story behind it. I pointed that out to them and saw a few looks of amazement on their faces.

It was a great moment.

I wrote down my memories too. However, I had way more than they did. These guys are only 15-17 years old. I did pretty good up until age 30, after I had K. Then I summarized age 30-44 with, "Yelled at my kids." They laughed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sisters

Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister. ~Alice Walker

I've been thinking about sisters all day. My sisters are so important and I don't think I tell them often enough how much they matter to me.

We lost our mom when we were 25, 24, and 16. It was the most horrible thing our family has ever gone through. I look at my own daughter, turning 16 soon, and I don't know how my youngest sister made it through that time without her mom. I hope I was there for her. But my fear is that I was off, living my life with my new husband.
We all survived. It's been hard. We don't have an older female to ask some of those questions that women need to ask each other. Things about childbirth. Things about babies. Things about teens. Things about "the change".

We ask each other these things.

But none of us is an expert in older womanhood. So we muddle along, trying to reason out a lot of it. Most of the time we do okay, but sometimes we just miss our mom.
Sisters don't need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and sighs - that can undermine any tale you're telling. ~Pam Brown

I look at the picture above and I know what my sisters are thinking. My middle sister is thinking "Could you please take the picture now? I'm getting tired of standing here trying to smile naturally," and my youngest sister is thinking "Take the d#%$ picture NOW."

We have such a shared history. No one knows our stories like our sisters. No one else will remember Mom the way we do. And no one else will grieve for her like we do.

I love my sisters.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Speak Teen, pt.1

"Mom, can you bring home some food?" J. asks when I call home this afternoon.

"No. Put Dad on the phone." Keep your voice firm and don't invite conversation.

"Mooooooom, we need food." Let the whining begin. It will continue until your tone of voice says I-mean-business-buddy.

"We have food. Look in the fridge." You can attempt to reason with them but it's usually not successful.

"No. I mean food," say J. "Like, cookies."

"No, I'm not bringing home cookies. They're junk food and we don't need it." I usually try reasoning a couple times before giving up.

"Puhleeeeeease. We neeeeeeed cookies."

"NO. Now put your father on the phone." In my best I-mean-business-buddy voice.

"Fine." J. snaps. "But Dad's not here."

Click. Disconnected phone line. End of conversation and I'm still relatively sane. That's the goal when talking teen - making sure your sanity is intact when you come out the other end of the conversation.
I stop at the grocery store on my way home and feel guilty about not having cookies in the house for my teens. So what do I do?

I buy two packages of cookies.

Fast forward three hours. J. has just come up from the basement where he was running on the treadmill.

"Hey, do we have any healthy snacks?"

I looked at him over the top of my glasses.

"Don't buy junk snacks anymore, Mom. I want to start eating healthy."

Aaaaargh.

I failed the language lesson. And I haven't even said anything.

More Random Thoughts

This young lady is another niece, M. She and her mom live far, far away from us and we don't get to see them very often. We see them more over the summer since we spend a good chunk of time at the beach and they live on the beach. They're so lucky. I'd love to live near a beach.

But I'm getting off track.

M. just turned 13 (eeek!) and came to see us so we could have cake with her. Well, really, she came for the presents but we had cake, too. K. and I went shopping with M. and her mom on a snowy, blowy night. We found lots of good things on sale.

Happy shoppers, happy night. We stopped at Starbuck's and had a caramel apple cider.

Only the BEST drink ever.

It's like drinking apple pie with melted vanilla ice cream on it.
I got this cool pencil pouch at Barnes and Noble last year.

Wow. That was pretty random.

There is a train of thought behind that picture, though.

The caramel apple cider we had at Starbuck's was at a Starbuck's inside a Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble made me think of this pouch. This pouch reminded me I had to a take a pic a day picture today and voila! it all tied up rather nicely.

Choo, choo. See, my train came full circle.

Anyway, isn't that pouch perfect for a librarian? I use it to hold my knitting accessories.
When I uploaded my pics tonight, I found these from Sunday morning. My nieces and I made rainbow pancakes for breakfast. K. wouldn't wake up or she could have made them with us.

But she showed up for the eating of the pancakes.
We had to stack them up just so. We're not obsessive, no sir. But it looks prettier that way, don't you think?
Mmmmmm. They were good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What Happens at Auntie's...

My nieces are having a sleepover at Auntie's . Our motto is "What happens at Auntie's, stays at Auntie's". This is to protect me them from their mother. Sissy gets a wee bit cranky when she finds out they had oreo cakesters for lunch and root beer floats for dinner.

Of course they had a real lunch, I'll tell her. We had stromboli for lunch and spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

I just don't make them eat those first. Because sometimes dessert needs to come first. As Erma Bombeck once said, "Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."

At Auntie's, we are not going down on a sinking ship eating asparagus.
The girls want to craft when they come to my house. Gee, I wonder why?
I found a cute project to do with them while browsing through etsy this morning. We had to pick out some floral material and went to Gramma for that. She's the queen of material.

So we cut out fabric, sewed, snacked, took breaks, sewed some more, visited the Man out in the workshop, snacked some more, dragged the Man up into the attic because it's kind of cool up there, got our hair curled by cousin K., had a lollipop or two, and then said "Auntie, isn't our pillow finished yet?'



Auntie took several deep breaths and told them to get their little behinds back in the sewing room and FINISH THEIR OWN PILLOWS.

Just kidding. But I did say they had to help finish the pillows by stuffing them.
Aren't they cute? The pillows, I mean. They're houses with windows on the top, a door and flowers along the bottom. Each girl has her name embroidered on the front door and "from Auntie" stitched along the bottom. They made me put that on there.

Honest, sissy.

After that, we had to help K. get ready for a sweet 16 party she's going to tonight. She needed lots of help, like choosing between diamond or pearl earrings and tan pants or a tan skirt. It's a good thing we helped her. Heaven only knows what she'd have looked like without us.We had a great day and a tasty supper. We laughed some, and we played some, and we jumped some.

Auntie's house is fun.
But don't ask K. She doesn't live at Auntie's house. She lives at Mom's house. That house isn't so much fun.

Right, K.?


Friday, February 19, 2010

Lovin' My Job

Worked thirteen and a half hours today. My teen group had a "read-a-thon" today which ended at ten o'clock tonight. They are a fantastic group of teens and I'm not sure I could have done it with any other group.

They had a few rules - no talking, no moving around. I let them have iPods when they convinced me they couldn't read without them.

I think I was bamboozled.

But they were quiet the whole time. Except for when I fed them pizza, cookies and soda. Then the noise level went up a wee bit. Most of the time, though, they were quiet as church mice.

Reading.

On a Friday night.

Hmm.

I didn't think they could do it but they took this read-a-thon very seriously. And made a little money for their group from the pledges they collected.

I love my job.

Random Thoughts

Playing with the flowers the Man gave me for Valentine's Day. I love daisies. Simple. Understated. Plain.

Like me.

I heart the Man.
Playing with the yarn after I finished playing with the flowers.

It was a slow night here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ballard Inspired Valentine Flower Pillow Tutorial

Sissy brought this pillow to my attention because she wanted one but didn't want to pay $75 for it from Ballard Designs. We pulled out our favorite expression, "We can make that..." and off we went to the fabric store.

To make this pillow, you'll need: 1/2 yard linen, assorted scrap fabrics, 12" grosgrain ribbon, pillow form, button, thread to match your pillow top/bottom and a darker green thread than the fabric for your stem and leaves, embroidery floss in a color to match the pillow top, disappearing ink fabric marker.

We made a 16" pillow so we used 16" pillow forms. I cut the material exactly 16" so it would be a bit over stuffed. I really wanted that button to tuft in the center.
Cut two pieces of linen, 16" x 16". Set aside.
We used various household items to get the four graduated circles: tupperware, drinking glasses, cereal bowls and tin cans. After cutting out flower circles, set aside. I cut out the leaves freehand.
After cutting out the four circles from your fabric scraps, you need to place them in the center of the pillow. I do it this way - fold the linen in half and then in half again.
Make a mark at the center point with a disappearing ink fabric marker. The center point is that double folded corner (in the pic on the bottom) at the bottom of the picture.
Do the same with the flower circles. Lay them out one on top of the other and carefully fold them in half and then in half again. Mark the center point of the flower and lay it on top of the center point of the pillow top. Pin and sew in place.
Lay out grosgrain ribbon and leaves on pillow top and pin in place. Using the darker green thread, zigzag stitch along the sides of the flower stem and the leaves.

The completed pillow top.
Place the two pillow pieces together, right sides facing each other. Pin and sew a 1/4" seam around the edge of the pillow, making sure to leave a large enough gap on the bottom to stuff in your pillow form. Turn inside out, stuff pillow with pillow form and pin the open bottom seam together.
Using a ladder stitch, close the bottom seam.

To attach the button, thread about 24" of embroidery floss on a needle and go into the pillow from the back panel, coming up in the center of the flower. Make sure to leave about a 6" tail coming out the back. This required a little pushing and pulling of the needle because my pillow was pretty densely stuffed. Thread the button on the floss and go back down into the center of the flower, pushing the needle out the back panel close to where you started. Gently pull on the threads a bit to tuft the pillow and then tie them together and knot the floss when you're happy with the tufting!

Fluff it up and you have a new pillow.
This is a good thing. I love it. Love. It.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Warmth

Remember I was telling you about the afghan that I saw at Anthro and had to have?

Here it is. It's coming along. It lays out in my lap just perfectly, keeping me cozy and warm the whole night.

But it is getting a bit bulky. Harder to turn around now when I get to the end of a row. I'm building some arm muscle wrestling with this thing and it's not even half way finished.

But it's oh-so-warm. A perfect project for a February night.
My other sissy is visiting from far away. She made me lay it over her lap so she could see how warm it was. She thinks it should be going home with her.

Oh no.

Another sissy trying to steal my things.

I have to watch them closely. They have sticky fingers. They better not touch my things or I'm telling Dad.

When he comes back from Florida in May.

So there.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remembering Lincoln

An old pic of K. when we were in D.C. visiting the Lincoln Memorial. She didn't get what this huge statue of President Lincoln was all about. After walking around for a while reading various wall panels, she finally sat down and leaned back against a column. She looked over at us and said, "I don't get it."

The Man and I rolled our eyes, sighed and decided it was going to be a long week of sightseeing in D.C.
Fast forward three years and we're back in D.C. visiting the same Lincoln Memorial. This time she managed to stay on her feet but leaned against every available column.

Another long week.My men are history buffs. Their favorite channel is the History Channel. The Man and J. thought this was the best vacation ever. They loved all the information panels.

They. read. every. panel.

I started looking for columns to lean against.
D.C. is a great place to visit. It's clean, easy to get around, and best of all, the national museums are FREE! We visited twice and loved it both times.

There's a lot of columns in that city. We leaned against most of them.