Tuesday, September 30, 2008

cookie cutter

Sometimes it's about the process. It's definitely a form of meditation for me to work on my sewing projects, kind of like running or mtn. biking is also meditative for me. At times though, I feel twitchy and I just want to whip something out fast. It's really more about product and I NEED that sense of accomplishment. Some days (you know the ones), the greatest accomplishment was getting the bed made. So once in a while, I just need the finished product.

This elephant is one of those. I traced a cookie cutter we had onto the front of one of his sister's previous outfits, hoping to make it appear a little more boy. Poor guy, I know, dressed way too often in his sister's hand-me-downs. I popped the outfit into the hoop and did the embroidery in about an hour. There were times when I was walking around behind him, still sewing, while he explored outside.

I'll admit, in the quest for the finished product, I often have to get creative with how I'll achieve that. Sometimes the kids are fully involved and then somehow the project just has to get put to the side. I remind myself to be present, and enjoy what I have on those occasions. Really, what I have is so good.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I love to draw with thread

A bag for myself... finally. I don't get around to making things for myself as often as I probably should. I had a blast quilting this. I think one of my favorite things to do is free motion quilt. It is soooo liberating. It's like sketching, only with thread. The texture and dimension that thread create on an Amy Butler fabric is phenomenal. I've cut some of these bags out to sell, so now I just need to get busy and sew them up.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Wow. Thanks for indulging me in my ranting yesterday (if you read my post.) I am a passionate person and whatever that passion is focused on at the moment... look out. Come to think about it, my husband and kids are passionate people. Whatever we feel, we seem to feel strongly and you can pretty much tell, even if you're standing on the other side of the street. When we walk in, I can't imagine anyone thinking, "what a peaceful family." Nope, we feel strongly, whether it's joy, frustration, sadness, or anger. I'm with the right guy and kids, that's for sure.

It's fall in the garden around here. Crisp and cool. There are some tomatilloes and peppers working their way to full size. The basil and arugula are in their prime. Some zinnias and asters are smiling at us. The last of the tomatoes are giving themselves up. These are pictures from yesterday. Today is cool and rainy... perfect naptime weather.

I had a special night with my long time friend and college roommate. She treated me to Lucinda Williams, now how about that?! It was fantastic to share a bottle of wine and catch up with someone who knows me inside and out before the show. And the show, well how can you sum Lucinda up in one word? Passion, yes definitely... passion.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The world is not coming to an end.. I think.

What a frustrating day yesterday was and I was fully consumed by the anxiety of it. I'm getting worse rather than better at dealing with my stress... no, that's not true. The stressors have been on the increase lately and it is difficult to remain calm. So... I'm warning you in advance, this is not a Susie Sunshine kind of post.

I waited for a total of 3 hours in gas lines yesterday. During the last hour of my wait the fuel light was shined orange every time I turned the car on to inch forward. (My fuel light means that the tank is "EMPTY", not "sure, there's more... this is just a warning.") Yes, in Asheville and the surrounding area, we are experiencing a gas shortage which has led to a total frenzy for everyone. There is no gas; people are mobbing the station when they see a tanker pull in. There are fights breaking out at gas stations, traffic jams on the highways, cars being towed having run out of gas, and just a general chaos. I wish that I had thought to bring my camera yesterday to take a picture of the line that I was in. Instead, I give you a picture of my friends the bee and the ladybug hanging out in perfect harmony on my flowers. Wouldn't want you to join me in my anxiety.

I am bad for tapping into other's emotions too easily. I can be one big sponge that just sucks it all up. It's easy to do right now. Big things are amping this country up and with good reason. We're facing a possible recession, and we have a political actress parading for a possible vice presidential office when we desperately need strong leadership and change in this country. Did anyone catch the clips from last night's interview on CBS with the illustrious Alaskan? I heard snippets on NPR and let me tell you, your blood pressure would be elevated right now too. Things such as this make it difficult not to be consumed by worry. Oh, and did I mention that yesterday someone stole my friend's commuter bike from outside her workplace? It was a junk bike for heaven's sakes! What is wrong with people?!

I am proud of myself for going for a run/jog with that last half hour I had left of free time after my gas adventure. The weather yesterday was magnificent. I soaked up the bright blue sky and the mountains, letting my legs work out my frustrations. It was just what I needed. Then, the bitter irony is that I hopped back in my car, guzzled up my new hard-earned gas, and went to pick up my little guy from his program.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Walk

This is one of my favorite things to do with my kids in the afternoons. It seems that our little ritual falls by the wayside in the hottest part of summer. We are worn out from swimming and sun, and there is too much poison ivy on the trail to safely navigate. It is a hallmark of autumn for me when we resume our afternoon walks. And what little adventurers we are on these walks! It is so nice, because we live in the woods and we just walk out the door. I realize I am lucky and I feel so grateful for our lifestyle.

It is the quiet of the woods that I relish, but I also delight in watching my kidsas they run and explore. It's pretty neat now that there are the two of them. They sometimes interact more with each other during these walks than they do with me. Often, I am just an observer to their exploration together. On this particular walk this week, we found a black snake. This is a picture of my kids watching it as it worked it's way to the creek. Can you see it coming out from under the log? You'll need your glasses! They had absoulutely no fear of it because we used to have a corn snake as a pet.

Having a snake as a pet was a unique experience for me. I had always been really skittish around snakes. It was real growth for me to become comfortable around Suzi (the snake, as named by my daughter.) My daughter also learned so much from that experience. She fed Suzi dead mice because that is what corn snakes eat. She got to see Suzi shed her skin several times. She watched Suzi grow and we looked up information when we needed it to increase our understanding. Plus, it was the really special daddy/daughter thing. I didn't mind being on the sidelines while I got my fear under control and worked at embracing the wonders of snakes. After about 6 months, we all agreed that it was time to return Suzi to her natural habitat. We released her in our shed where it is mouse heaven. I cried, really, I did! We hope that someday we will see her again, and she is still often talked about in our home.

And now my big girl is helping teach her little brother about snakes. They know not to touch any snake unless given adult permission. She understands that there is a difference between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes; she'll tell you all about it. I have to say, it is a rare moment that a two year old and a five year old are such quiet observers. It was right at the end of our walk and provided perfect closure to an excellent adventure.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mallory... the other dress

You know, after reading yesterday's post, I thought it best that I add a thing or two. I am not super woman and anyone that meets me could surmise that in about a minute. I felt like I came across as kind of snobby if you don't know me well. It's not that my daughter prances around in only homemade clothes that all match perfectly. She doesn't. Every time she does choose to wear one of my dresses it is with various kinds of clothes bought from Target (or handed down if we're lucky.) All of those clothes have been made in foreign countries, plus the fabric that I purchase most likely is too. I don't have my head in the clouds or the sand. My son is clothed in pretty much nothing made by me, other than an occasional appliqued t-shirt. He is one rugged hand-me-down wearing mess and making clothes for him has been totally unnecessary thanks to good friends with sons.

Focusing on two days of handmade dresses is about a shift that is taking place in my life. So, in a crazy way, I am processing. I do not have the time that I once had to do this thing that I love. I have started working part time and have two active kids to keep up with. My life has shifted and wrapping my mind around that is easier said than done. I miss sewing dresses for my girl right now. I even have some sweet fall fabric that has been set aside for some time, but it may not happen soon. Limited time and energy is hard for me to accept. But balance is important, and so is sleep. Short of cutting sleep out right now, there is no more time left in a day. I am accomplishing all that I can.

So... moving on to cover my entire repertoire of dresses. This one is an A-line with a few pleats in front. I love the buttons down the back, but my fancy Bernina makes the holes for me and sews those buttons on. I know, it is cheating and I appreciate this after having a machine from the sixties. The pattern is another from Children's Corner called "Mallory." It is a great dress sleeveless or layered with shirts and turtlenecks. My daughter wears it with tights, leggings, and pants. When it gets short it looks super cute as a smock-like top with pants; she is still wearing the first ones I made her two years later. The pattern comes with 4 separate patterns for the size range 1-4 and 5-8 so you can use it for 4 years! I love the economy of the dress. In this size range I sewed another in yellow elves which you can see in this post.

After this, no more long posts about dresses. It's an easy promise to make since I just exhausted my range of knowledge on two patterns alone. See? I told you I haven't been sewing all that long. My biggest regret would be not starting to sew dresses for her until she was three. These years have passed so quickly.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mary De dress

It was a nice weekend, but I was ready for my big girl to return to school today. It was a busy weekend filled with lots of good time and activities with the kids, but I need to get at least one or two things done around here. That may be difficult to acheive with a two year old whizzing around, but I'm hopeful.

A friend asked me if I was going to post these dresses and I did in this July post. I didn't spend much time on it though, so here is the expanded version. I am embarassed to admit that I really LOVE to make my daughter dresses. It fills me with joy to see her trotting through her day to day activities with one of my dresses on. Whether she is running at top speed (and she runs like a gazelle), creating art work, or playing with her brother I could watch her for hours. It is something extra special to watch her do any of these things in a dress that I made for her. I love it that these dresses are now just a natural extension of her wardrobe. I love not buying from a foreign country for the clothes that I put on her back. I love having made her something that is so sweet and so functional. So... I am always crossing my fingers that she will not outgrow her love of dresses.

Really, I should explain, she is a total "tom boy" if that term can even sum her up. She runs like the wind, she can climb like nobody's business, and she is unafraid of insects, snakes, or really anything else for that matter. She rides a bike in a dress... she will do anything in a dress and to this point has preferred it that way. But I am sensing a subtle turning of her tastes now that she is in public school and it kind of twists my heart. Plus, I really don't have the time right now to "pop" out a dress.

I have this terrible habit that I'll admit. I make dresses from the same two patterns. I love to sew, but despise the time it takes to figure out anything new. I HATE reading directions, but I will do it for necessity's sake. I'd rather intuitively manuever my way through a project. It about kills me to slow down and read the directions. I like the process and the product, not the directions.

These are all variations on the theme of the same dress pattern. I love this dress.... she loves this dress. It's a "twirly" dress and what little person doesn't love to twirl? Plus, it's perfect as a sundress or to layer with a t-shirt underneath. I've been making this dress since size 3 and now she's a big 5. It's called Children's Corner "Mary De". It comes with two seperate pattern sizes so that you can use it for a couple of years. I always feel that I've gotten my money's worth. It is a smocked dress pattern but I don't prefer that, nor have time to learn it. Instead, I substituted the front yoke with the front lining panel and added rick rack, ribbon, or embroidery. The cat embroidery is from Jenny Hart's "Sublime Stitching". The options are really quite endless. Should you ever give this one a try, I'll coach you through the substitution of the front panel.

Alrighty then, I have avoided dishes and laundry for long enough. Plus, I really want to get in a nice walk with my little guy so it's time to scoot. Have a great week, friends!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall in the South

Wow. I just had the nicest nap. What a difference that can make! It was just an hour, but all week long I have been needing that. I haven't posted in a while because something funky was going on with blogger; I was completely unable. I discovered this one afternoon after wasting about an hour trying to post one day. Some times you just have to throw in the towel. I could have screamed with frustration. It was just a crazy week. Since school started, I am struggling to figure out a sane rhythm for our days.

Today is spectacular here. It is a perfect fall day and we're looking forward to more tomorrow. We spent a really nice morning with my sister, her boyfriend, and her daughter. It was incredible to watch my niece running after a soccer ball. She scored three times during the game and is a total natural. We are a family a soccer players (my sisters, my grandfather, etc.) so my sister and I cheered with secret pride. It was so fun to see one of our brood excel, and excel at a sport that we love with passion.

I've been meaning to mention for a while a book that I finished at the beach. It's written by a woman in Asheville, NC. By the cover, she looks to be about my age or younger. Her name is Sarah Allen Addison and the book, "Garden Spells." She also wrote "The Sugar Queen" which I intend to read. "Garden Spells" was a lovely book filled with magical realism and plenty to make your heart feel good. It wasn't mushy or without depth, just lovely in it's own sweet Southern way. Definitely a nice read.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For What It's Worth

After going through a ridiculously anxiety provoking experience with our daughter regarding her health, I can say that she is just fine. I really have no desire to spend a great deal of time going into detail, so instead I will tell you what I learned. I learned to ask more questions before acquiescing to medical tests for my children. I also learned that it is incredibly hard not to be consumed by fear when it comes to my children's health and welfare. Balancing this fear with the need for more information is no easy task. I am not blaming myself or others, but I will do it differently should there be a next time.

On the flip side, I am thoroughly enjoying teaching my class at present. It is on diversity and the topic thrills me. My students are embracing the material I present to them, and much critical thinking and excellent discussion has ensued. I love it. I share lots of media clips and you tube videos in the classes. One of the clips I thought to share with you all was a Bill Moyer's interview with Newark mayor, Corey Booker. I was completely inspired by this interview and my students were too. One of my favorite parts is when he says that the incredible richness of America is our diversity. He says that it's important not to be "homogenized" and I believe this. He tells people to look at what they can do personally to affect change around them. Whenever I am tempted to insulate myself, I remind myself that for better or for worse, I am a part of this community and this country.

That said, I will happily remove myself from the social issues of this world when we go for a walk this afternoon after my little guy wakes up. The cardinal flower is blooming now. Fall is so near.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This past weekend

We had a health scare on Friday with our little girl, so I spent the rest of the weekend reigning in my anxieties. Once you become a parent there is no going back when it comes to fear. I will just go ahead and admit it... I am terrified of harm coming to my children. It is the one aspect of my life for which I can't seem to find a place of serenity and letting go. I do not want to lose anyone that I love. So... when there are unknowns with your kiddies regarding their health what better thing to do than get outside and focus on the beauty all around you? At least, that's all that I know to do. Fake it till you make it. I tried hard to let all of my anxiety seep out into the sky and enjoyed the magnificent joy of my beautiful daughter. I did my best to stay in the now and not worry about what might be.

We went to this amazing farm. I love the name... Hickory Nut Gap Farm. My dad has gathered hickory nuts for as long as I can remember. He dries them and cracks them with a hammer. Then he meticulously picks all of the nut meat clean with a sewing needle. I've tried it and I have to tell you, this is no easy task. So the fact that this gap is named "Hickory Nut Gap" has always filled me with sentimental joy. I have driven through this gap many times in the past almost 20 years and each time I am reminded of the smell, feel, and taste of hickory nuts because they are part of my upbringing.

It was really a lovely fall afternoon for Western North Carolina. This farm has been passed down within a family for decades and you can feel the heritage seeping through the soil. We were a part of a menagerie of little girls. Some knew each other and some didn't, but it didn't matter. Within the first half hour you would have thought they all grew up together, knowing one another for their entire lives. That is the magic of children. They don't even have to talk. Suddenly they're just holding hands, laughing, and running, sharing, and playing. It all comes so naturally and there are no percetible formalities. It was just what we needed. Isn't it incredible how often you receive exactly what you need?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Who doesn't love sock monkeys, I ask you? I've been throwing together a few more bags recently. I just really couldn't resist a sock monkey on pink. I remember when my daughter was born and for the entire first year of her life, she wore zero pink. This was in part because we did not know her gender until she was born, thus forcing folks to give us lots of yellow and green clothing. The other piece of it was that my husband and I were pretty firmly against the gender specific color... pink. This makes me laugh hard now. It is amazing all of the ideas that you have when the first comes into the world. Ideas abound about how you will raise them and what parents should and should not do. I have learned so much in five years of parenting. Letting go of pink is the least of it, let me tell you. We have many amazing moments around here and many not so. It's a roller coaster nearly every day. I should charge admission. A friend of mine that I don't see as often as I did this summer has taken to keep track of me through my posts. She lamented over the phone one day that her morning had not been nearly as idyllic as mine was in my post. I almost choked. "That's just blogland!" I exclaimed. It would be difficult, time consuming, and fairly dull if I shared the downsides of any of my days. Of course I would rather write a quick blurb about the positive than fixate on the negative in a blog post! So rest assured, folks... it's crazy around here. We look just like these monkeys most days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

fairies and their unicorns

My little girl is pretty obsessed with fairies and unicorns/horses. It's the sweetest thing. Naturally, I support her completely in her belief in the fairies that inhabit the yard. We have fairy havens every where and gifts for fairies are left nearly daily. It's pretty wonderful.

So... back in April I traced this unicorn and fairy from one of her art stencils. These stencils are made by Lyra out of Germany. My daughter has used them to created all kinds of work and loves them. Incidentally, another favorite from the same company is their gel crayons. Now, these are amazing. They are similar to oil pastels and come in vibrant colors. They are water soluble so after coloring with them she paints with water on a brush. They mix and blend... a little artist's dream.

But, I digress. The shirt was finally finished in August at the beach. For the record, I love doing freehand embroidery and it really doesn't take all that long. It's cheap too. Especially if you have a stash of all your mom and grandma's old thread. The reason this little project took so long was because it was a big work on a stretchy surface. I wish that I had embroidered on broadcloth and appliqued that on the t-shirt. Hind sight... sigh.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

more bags... finally!

Well, it's taken me a little while, but I'm finally putting a few more bags in the etsy shop this week. Check it out if you get a chance. I got the Erin McMorris bird fabric for this bag from an etsy seller at poppy fabrics. Her name is Jennifer and she is lovely to work with should you be in need of some fabric. I will shop with her again. I would love to have yards and yards of this bird fabric... it is just soooo sweet. I think it's a brown robin, no?

Friday, September 5, 2008


Well, I just found a bannana in my purse that I was supposed to have consumed for breakfast today. The worst part was that the fruit flies found it before me. Gross.

That pretty much sums up the hectic nature of my week. Maybe next week will be a better one for blogging. We'll see. I'll leave you with a quote that I came across when I was with my sister to pick out her wedding invitations. (You can find a good quote in the wierdest places.) It was an epiphany for me because I find that with kids, work, and responsibilities it is hard to find my peaceful center. So here it is, written by an unknown author:


It does not mean to be in a place

where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of these things

and still be calm in your heart.

Isn't that nice? I thought so.