31 March 2010

So flattered!

My friend Char over at Crap I've Made just alerted me to this:


Guess who's listed in there?  Moi.  Me with the 8 commenters.  Lol.  So flattering!!!  And Char of course is in there, too.  Of course!  And probably some other blogs I love.  I haven't seen it for myself yet! 

Here's what it says:


How nice to get recognized in this ENORMOUS market.  Seriously!  Thanks Quilter's Home!

30 March 2010

Antique lace flower necklace





I am so excited about today's tutorial.  I made this necklace for Easter.  I've had the lace piece for a long, long time.  It was my great grandmother's and I don't know what she used it for.  It came in her jewelry box unattached to anything, full of possibilities.

Here's what you need:

a piece of sturdy lace, or portion of a doily
ribbon (3 kinds - one for the necklace part, one for the flowers, one for the loop closure)
beads/pearls/buttons
ribbon and thread
hot glue

And here is what I did.  I formed flowers from some 1.5 in. wide wire rimmed ribbon.  I folded it in half lengthwise and wound the ribbon clockwise (folded side UP) into circles, to the size I wanted my flowers to be, hot gluing just a dab as I went along to hold it together.  I added the embellishments (a bead, a button, a pearl) and attached the flowers to the antique lace with hot glue.  Then I attached some 3/4 in. wide ruffly (of course!) ribbon as the necklace part to either end of the lace using hot glue.



Finally, I fashioned a closure with a fabric covered button and tiny loop of ribbon.



So fast, so easy, so UNIQUE.  Don't you think?  I got tons of compliments on it at church on Sunday.  Looked great with these darling flip flops from Target:


Enjoy!







Show and Tell Green


28 March 2010

ZOOMA Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday morning I had the privelege of running the ZOOMA Austin half marathon with 4 of my running friends.  It was the most fun race I have run so far.  It was held in Bastrop near the beautiful Lost Pines Resort (which my husband and I stayed at for Valentine's weekend).  I have been running with a couple of these girls for years now, and we managed to recruit some other unsuspecting runners from church to join us for this race (muahahaha!).  We wore matching t-shirts, tie dyed purple, and were easy to spot along the course.  It was fun hearing cheers for "Team Purple"!

The Austin ZOOMA is known for its hilly course.  We were sufficiently freaked out in our preparations for the challenge.  But we trained well for it, and it paid off.  As the miles ticked off we were in awe of how great we felt.  I, for one, am a very serious runner.  I get in the zone and am so focused that I usually miss some of the visual details of the race course.  But I felt so free at the start of this race that I found myself taking note of the beautiful scenery and goofing off with my friends... I even did a few grand jetes (that's ballet talk) down one of the hills.  Lol.

My spirits stayed high until mile 9 or so.  I'd had some tightness in my right calf but usually any little aches or pains I feel(if any) are pretty short lived and I am able to stay loose and get through it alright.  I knew however from a  chiropractor appointment the day before that my muscles were tight, "injury prone tight" as the doc put it.  So I spent most of the day before the race stretching and got a massage.  Well, the tightness increased after mile 9.  We hit our last hill somewhere just before or after mile 10 and I decided to walk it, hoping it would naturally stretch out the muscle so that I wouldn't have to walk off course and stretch it while standing still, thus losing time.  My team slowed down for a bit with me.  I was relieved while walking but when I began running again I started getting sharp pains in my calf muscle.  This resulted in me slowing down overall, after which my legs began feeling heavy, and I just lost momentum all together.  My team pulled ahead of me further and further and I was feeling pretty discouraged.  I did the best I could though - walking, then running.  Tried picking up my pace a little as mile 12 approached... I could still see my team and thought maybe I could close in the gap with a little will power. Soon a cramp set in and I found myself hop/running by the time I reached the finish line.  But I crossed that finish line, and only 6 or so minutes behind my team. 

Our goal had been 2:20.  They finished around 2:29 and I came in just under 2:35.  Wasn't my fastest finish time, but it wasn't my slowest either1  And given all the hills, I am proud of my all-in-all performance.  But I have a desire to start AND finish a race as well as this one felt in the beginning.  I have definitely improved in my last 18 months of running, that much is obvious to me.  So I have high hopes for future races!

I don't have a lot of pictures to share this time, beleive it or not I was not the one with a camera!  These were taken using my iPhone, and when my friends email me some others, I'll be sure to add them.




23 March 2010

T-shirt makeovers part 3

Sorry for the lulls in this t-shirt series.  Last week was Spring Break for us.  And I had a great time spending the week with my kiddos and doing little else but that!

My last t-shirt makeover is for you!  I found this sort of slub knit shirt from a couple years ago that had totally lost it's charm. And whaddaya know,  slub knit is IN, not only that but it's IN along with flowers and lace and other dainty Anthropologie-like details.  And here is my version of that look.

I love all the gunmetal and metallic influences I've been seeing on the racks.  So I went with that sort of neutrality on the shirt, even though it's Spring and I've been itching for color.  Looks like gray and shades of it might stick around a bit longer, anyway!

Here's what I used:

old tee
ribbon (see pic below)
lace
tiny pearl beads
needle/thread
fabric glue
No Fray



And here's what I did.  I made flowers out of the lace as shown below.  I folded the lace inward toward where my flower center would be, it was sort of like putting darts in it every inch or so, and as I went I shaped the lace into a circle.  Whipped a few stitches through the center being sure to catch all the folds.






I then took a sheer cream colored ribbon and used No Fray on the edges.  Folded it in half as shown below and then again into quarters.  This hides the center of the lace flowers.  Whipped a few stitches through and added some pearl beads to the center to polish it up.



Then I formed my leaves.  I folded my ribbon (use the No fray on the edges first!) 4 times back and forth, like an accordion or fan, as shown below.  Stitched the sides closed so that it opened up a little in the center, looking like a leaf!






After I placed my flowers where I wanted them on the tee, I stitched each one in the center and around some of the edges - to help the flower lie that way I wanted it to and to prevent it from curling up when I wash it.  Once the flowers were stitched on I stitched the leaves on in between the flowers and reinforced them with fabric glue so they'd stay perky and so they wouldn't pull or stretch the fabric.






This tee looks great with my new shimmery gladiator sandals and rolled up boyfriend jeans.  It also looks great with a long gray chiffon shirt and heels and sparkly jewelry!  Love that versatility!

Linking up:

Show and Tell Green

15 March 2010

T-shirt makeovers continued

My house is back in order and I have been itching to share some new ideas!  Not to mention - finish my t-shirt series.

So here is another little girl's tee tutorial.  Probably the easiest, sweetest little t-shirt ever!


I used remnants of old handkerchiefs for this one.  And the inspiration for this design came from this little dress at Chasing Fireflies:



Here's what you need:

a t-shirt (the one I used is Garanimals brand from WalMart - $3.50!)
pieces of handkerchiefs, cut as wide/long as you want (ribbon or fabric would also look cute!)
a piece of ribbon to attach your tied off hankies to
Fray Check/No Fray
fabric glue
needle/thread

Measure your ribbon (the one you'll be attaching the hankie pieces to) to be the same length as is the width of your tee.  I used velvet to mix up the textures a little.  Also, I chose to attach mine diagonally across the bodice of the tee, rather than horizontally as pictured in the Chasing Fireflies ad.  A t-shirt was a bit small for 2 rows, at least in my opinion, and 1 row looked a little weird just straight across.  Placing 1 row, diagonally, added just the right touch of whimsy!  

After you decide how to lay your ribbon, begin tying your hankie/fabric/ribbon pieces and lining them up on the ribbon.  This will help you gauge how many pieces you'll need to tie.  Use fray check on the ends and let dry before moving on.

Stitch the tied pieces one at a time along your ribbon, leaving a little space in between.  Maybe a pinky's width.  Once that is done, attach your ribbon to your tee. ( I chose to glue mine on with fabric glue because I didn't want any stitches to show. )


And there you go!  Enjoy!

Linking up:

The Girl Creative


Making

11 March 2010

Repost: Somebody needs to bake the cookies.

Check out this article somebody recently shared with me (and tell me what you think in your comments):


It’s funny, the way I get so cerebral about homemaking. You’d think that, after talking to my mom and her friends — now in their 80s — I’d be more down-to-earth about it all. Certainly that’d be the case when I heard what a chore it was and how happy they were when they could finally stop cooking, cleaning, and raising kids (not all did, to be sure, but enough did). Right?

Having been raised in an era of ├╝ber-options for women, I might never have looked back, never considered homemaking a thing to be valued. Or, at the very least, I would understand the socio-political consequences of relegating any one gender to a life without many translatable career skills. It’s risky, to be sure.

I mean, how many women found themselves on the short end of the stick after their husbands took off for greener pastures? Or even if they didn’t leave (and many wished they did), how many women found the daily chores of homemaking brain-numbing to the extreme?

Certainly we know the stories of lonely and frustrated suburban women downing cocktails and Valium in their meager stabs at freedom.

Someone needs to bake the cookies.

So why do I keep revisiting this thing called “homemaking” (or, more rightfully, “householding”) in my head? Well, because I believe we threw the baby out with the bath water.

I believe there is much to be found in a life of home stewardship, but to find it, we will have to challenge many of our assumptions and stereotypes. We will have to question our notions of success and how they have been dialed into an otherwise unexamined economic doctrine.

But mostly, I make the case because I am a woman with enough chutzpah to do so. Without a doubt, if this movement gets any traction there will be legions of naysayers to challenge “the right of return” I am calling for. But I am not afraid. I’m butch, and I bake cookies.

I’m a mother and wife, but not because I’m afraid to be otherwise. I am making a case for revisionist gender politics as it relates to homemaking. Some are good at it and some are not, and it has nothing to do with what’s under your skirt (as it were).

Now that I’ve made that clear, I want to connect the dots, or revise the dots:

1. Householding is not a gender-specific act

2. Householding seeks to revise small-scale systems of home economics

3. Householding eschews fast food, fancy packaging, and marketing hype

4. Householding requires a connection with natural systems

5. Householding sees value in the domestic

6. Householding eschews “economies of scale” as maligned systems

7. Householding seeks a healthy environment, family, and community as a barometer of its success

8. Householding refuses the commodification of everyday skills

9. Householding is something I’m trying to understand.

In essence, I am making a call for a return to the home as a political act, an economic stance, and a spiritual movement. I am making a call for a return because we need one. I am making a call because the more creative minds we put to the task, the better the solutions. I am making a call for a return because someone needs to be home when all the “important” work out there is done. Someone needs to meet our children at the door and listen to their stories. Someone needs to create the quiet, safe, and unhurried spaces of our inner lives.

Who shall it be now?

Let me be honest: Sometimes the effort is brain-numbing, but other times (most of the time) it’s infused with the renewed logic of home stewardship and sustainable economics. Certainly our current economic crisis has shown us just how fragile/corrupt the mainstream system is, but we did not need the crash to see it. Not if we wanted to think through it.

These days, when I go to the grocery store I look at products with new eyes. From an anthropological perspective it amazes me to see how effectively they (whoever they are) have turned everything I can do for myself into something they will do for me — for a price.

But what is the price? What has been the price of jobbing out our lives? What has been made of the environment? What has been made of our families? What has been made of our spirits, our economy, and our souls? Those are rhetorical questions, because most of you know the answers.

Certainly some have found themselves returning home for reasons outside their control and are struggling. Others (and their numbers are growing) are making a conscious choice to do so. Whatever the reason, I believe a great opportunity for transformation is upon us.

Creating new economies, home economies, economies based on reasoned and prudent systems of supply, demand, production, and consumption, will take a hands-on, homemade revolution. It will take a stepping-down from the mainstream marketing matrix. It will require a re-evaluation of wants and needs. In the end, it might well require a radical new legion of butch cookie makers to challenge the dominant economic paradigm.

Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about.

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I've been thinking a lot about my decision to be a stay-at-home-mom lately. What has worked for me, to keep that "brain-numbing" feeling at bay, is to find time to do things that I enjoy, that utilize my skills, and that make me feel whole. I could also say more than "just a mother" but nobody is just a mother. Motherhood isn't "just" anything. It is, as Fasonfest said, a contribution to society. I have found joy in balancing motherhood with a life outside of it. But I have always put my family first. And feel it is close-minded, after all women have been through, for this choice to still be challenged on many levels. Which I find interesting, because also as Fasonfest said, I may not have valued the choice I went on to make without having so many more options open to me than perhaps were open (or at least welcome) to generations before me. I feel more open-minded because I've embraced the possibility that "homemaking" just might be a noble cause. Get around the fact that I have 4 (gasp) kids, and look at the fact that I take pride in what I do, in being a woman for which the world is my oyster. My friend Catherine is working on a dissertation and in her research shared with me that there was a brief movement of cultural feminism in the 70s, in which the nature of a woman was glorified, the idea being that spirituality, intelligence and power emerge from the essence of (undervalued) femininity.

Well put an apron on me and call me Donna!

ETA: A year later the economic aspect of staying at home hits a little closer to home.  It is a huge sacrifice in so many ways to do so.  But I am not complaining.  I still feel certain that not just "householding", but family raising, is a noteworthy contribution to the world.  It's nod is coming, I can feel it.  It's apparent in the growing focus on the father as co-nurturer, it's apparent in the efforts to go green and live a more simple life.  We're slowly getting back to our roots, aren't we?

09 March 2010

Repost: Inside the mind of a mother

I realized today that just because my life is chaotic right now doesn't mean my blog need be neglected.  So I looked back to my posts from last March and some of my favorite evers were there!  I'll be reposting a few of them this week while I get back on my feet (preferably with new carpet beneath them). ;)

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Let's face it, "some things are better left unsaid". A mother rarely reveals what she's really thinking. Am I right? Because - how embarassing that we might actually have real thoughts of running away, or tossing the china against the wall.

I recently saw a column where a woman had written in to ask why her friend, who had children while she did not, couldn't find the time to just pick up the phone and call her every once in a while. After all she was home all day. She wanted to know what really kept her so busy and tired all the time. Here's a portion of the response given to her: "When you have young kids your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, cleaned, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any of which produced check-out line screaming. It's needing 45 minutes to do what it takes others 15. It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, cosntant relegation of your needs to the second tier. It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense. It's doing all this while currently teaching virtually everything - language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity,creativity. Empathy. Everything. It's also a choice, yes, and a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend who wouldn't judge you, complain about you or marvel how much more productively she uses her time."

What was I saying about not revealing all your true thoughts? Well, thank goodness for this columnist who said everything I wish I could say. And more. I could get a lot of use out of this as a rote response to the ever old "What did you do today?".

One of the hardest things for me, at least, is keeping the self talk in check (Surfside anyone?). It's a neverending battle for some of us. We unceasingly compare ourselves to others, or our children to others' children, our homes to others' homes, our husbands to others' husbands, our decision to be moms to others' decisions to, well, not. Add to that this unspoken need to defend that decision. Because if we're going to complain about how hard it is, or be exhausted all the time, then why did we choose to become mothers in the first place?

You can believe in what you're doing, know that you were meant to be a mother in this instance, and still not be to thrilled to face some days. I think that's completely normal no matter what you're doing with your adult life. But oh the mom guilt! The negative thoughts... "You shoudn't feel that way. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, a calling." Phooey. I remember a friend once telling me she needed to take a "mental health day". How clever I thought. And she was dead serious. She did it. I could definitely benefit from one of those every now and then. All I'd need is a quiet house, all to myself, to just sit and think, or not. No biggie.

My children take piano lessons from an older gentleman in our ward. He and his wife have children which are mostly grown and on their own now. So in other words, their house is quiet. Sometimes I sit at the bottom of their stairs and listen to the tail end of my kids' lessons. They have a set of windchimes on their porch that produces such lovely tunes, and has such a calming effect on me. The first time I noticed the sound, I huffed inside of my head "I know I'd never hear those lovely chimes were they hanging on my porch. My kids are too freaking crazy and loud." This thought soured my mood and for the next few days I found myself looking forward to a future when I could enjoy such tranquility.

That day could be now. And I do WANT to live in the now. I don't really want to escape, but for just a few daily moments perhaps. I need to make the time. I need to feel okay with needing that time. I need to speak up every once in a while and say "I need a mental health break!" "I need some time with my windchimes!" Lol. But most of all, it's needs to be heard and respected.

I think most moms feel this way - but we all think we're the only one that feels this way. If we felt important enough to express our needs or our frustration without fear of being misunderstood or judged maybe we'd realize it's normal. We're not alone.

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I am happy to report that 1 year later I have made a 180 degree turn when it comes to speaking up and saying "I need to get outta here for a bit!"  Good news, eh?  How about you?

08 March 2010

is this thing on?

Well it feels like it has been forever since I blogged or commented on a blog.  Sorry bout that!  We've had a CRAZY weekend.  The pipe connecting our water heater to the house broke Friday night, which resulted in some flooding.  And I had to go out of town Sat. morning to do a photo shoot in Houston.  I basically returned home Sun. night to a totally turned upside down life, home and family.  Anyway, I should be back to my crazy crafting/blogging self soon, just not today!  Lol!  I'll be back, though!  Promise. :)

04 March 2010

T-shirt makeovers

I've got a few fun t-shirts makeovers to share over the next week.  The first is one I made for my little girl.

materials needed:
plain child sized t-shirt
old t-shirt, any size will do
needle/thread
buttons
fabric/ribbon to cover buttons
fabric glue
hot glue


First, I cut an even width of hem from my old t-shirt.  This will be used to form flowers.  *By using the hem of your tee, you automatically have a finished edge on your flower.  Otherwise you'd need to surge your edges.  Also, I used one of my t-shirts because I wanted lots of length to make full, ruffly flowers.  But any old t-shirt belonging to a child or adult will do.  The less length you use, the less frilly your flower will look.  (For example, on the biggest flower shown in the photo of the final product below, the top layer flower is less frilly because I used less length on it.)


To form the flowers, stitch like so, cinching as you go to determine how close you want your ruffles to be.  When you flower is as full/big as you desire, secure the 2 ends together to form a circle.

I then covered some mismatched buttons with ribbon using hot glue, to create the center of the flower.  You could also use fabric to cover them, but this ribbon print worked well with my colors, and I kind of like the imperfect way it folded over the edges due to the ribbon being a little stiffer.

Hot glue the finished button to the centers of your flowers.  Stitch the flowers to your t-shirt (this one was $3.50 at WalMart!).  You may wish to sew a backing onto the flower first, for more security.  I plan to reinforce mine with fabric glue.


Cute, huh?  Next up?  Another little girl's tee using old handkerchief remnants!

01 March 2010

How do you do it all?

Let me start by saying that I am not tooting my horn here.  I don't think I am any more amazing than the mom next door.  But I do get asked, often, how do I do it all?  It makes me feel a little self conscious, because I don't want to be seen as that woman.  I want to be seen as a real person, who struggles and simply does her best.  Not some overachieving perfectionist.   It is true, I enjoy having a nice, clean house and I enjoy going all out for my children's birthday parties.  I have a lot of energy and I will try my hand and work to excel at a lot of things in my life.  It's just who I am.  Not something I am trying to portray or some image I am trying to maintain.   But there are a few things I've discovered along the way that have made my life easier.  Some of them are probably already habits for many of you!  But here they are.

I do not have a set cleaning schedule.  I clean as I go.  As tired as I may be, I do not put off clearing/wiping down the table after a meal.  Or vacuuming after the kids have tracked in a bunch of dirt and grass.  Or putting away the toys at the end of the day (and my kids help with this). 

If you had to pick one area of your house that you want to keep spotless most of the time, what would it be?  Perhaps a visible area to all drop in visitors?  Perhaps the area you spend the majority of your time?  For me it is my kitchen.  I like having a clean table and clean counters and a clean floor.  That means I clean it every day.  My living room is a close second since it is attached to the kitchen, so I always clean the floors in both rooms.  Having an area that I feel is always clean makes me feel like I keep a clean house.  Even if the playroom is a disaster.

Chuck the junk mail immediately (preferably into the recycle bin).  If you cannot afford it, do not browse the catalog.  Or they will begin to pile up as you "hope" to be able to make a purchase sometime soon.  I hate piles.  I usually have one, inevitably, but I go through it regularly and anything I haven't looked at in a week gets tossed or shredded.

Every time I go usptairs, I take a pile of stray toys with me.  Our playroom is upstairs, but that doesn't keep my kids from wandering downstairs with a toy every once in a while.  If I didn't do this, by the end of the day/week there would be a huge untidy mess downstairs, and it might have only started with a few legos!

Always have a calendar with you.  In all honesty I am still working on this one.  It never fails that I double schedule things if I do not have a pocket calendar with me as I am scheduling a check-up, appointment, photo session, teacher conference, etc.

Wipe down the faucet/ sink area with the hand towel after you wash your hands, and wash your hand towels often.  My kids haven't quite caught on yet, but this reduces how often I have to clean the bathrooms.  We also squeegee our walls/shower doors every day.

Plan a girls night with some friends every week.  Just do it!  Don't think about the million thigns you should be doing, give yourself a break and you will come home with a better attitude and desire to stay on top of your to-do list.

Have a hobby.  Or two.  Something that makes you feel like you.  Personally, I have 7: music, photography, interior design/crafts/art, reading, baking, party planning, running.  But I am not doing them all at the same time!  Music and photography are my main source of income, and running is how I stay fit.  The others fit into my life as I have or make time for them.  And sometimes they fit nicely into mothering.  What kids don't like to run?  Sometimes I take mine with me.  What kids don't like to make stuff?  Sometimes I give my kids a project to work on while I am working on mine.  What kids don't like to bake?  Sometimes I let them help me with new recipes.

Say no once in a while.  "It is not requisite that a man run faster than he has strength."  Easier said than done, at least for me.  But the world will not fall apart if you don't help out with the school carnival.  And while I believe it IS important to give back, nobody will think anything of you for not getting involved with every little event. 

Be flexible.  Nothing makes an inconvenient situation worse than an unbending personality.  Things happen!  Try not to whine about it.  Just keep moving.

Be grateful for a supportive husband.  This is key for me.  When I get asked how I do it all, I should be saying: it's not all me, that's how!  I have a husband who encourages me to do what I love, what will in turn make me a better mom, wife and self.   He thinks I am a great mom, so when I am feeling inadequate I know he doesn't think that of me.  I show him gratitude by spoiling him a little... bringing home his favorite drink from Sonic, letting him pick out a favorite dinner for the week's menu, giving him a break from the dishes (one of his many contributions around the house), encouraging him to go see a pointless violent movie with some friends, or even just saying "Thank you, I couldn't have done it without you."

Take a deep breath.  Getting overwhelmed is easy for a mom.  Realize you have to let something go once in a while.  Sometimes I think that if I took the time to sit down and write a list of what I want to have accomplished that day, and then alongside it what is realistic, I'd save myself a lot of frustration.

Most important, enjoy yourself.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  That is why I try and make the most of every moment.  There is joy in every little thing if you take the time to recognize it.