Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Canada Day!!!!!

To all my friends, wishing you a very Happy Canada Day.

Here is a free embroidery (or colouring) pattern to craft your own Mountie Bear. Please don't sell this pattern nor sell anything you make with this pattern...cause the mounties might come after you and they always get their man person.

Share and share alike

After reading this post from the brilliant Forever Mommy from Planet Mommy it occurred to me that each of us mums have cottoned onto some gems in raising our kids--whether it be things that work for teaching hearing impaired kids vocabulary, helping foster attachment in kids with attachment disorder or just plain "raising them the way you want them to go."

Want to share some of your stellar parenting ideas? Come on and jump in! I'll start:

1) Pie Shop. Set up your living room as a pie shop. Cooking area at the back, cash register and counter at the front. You don't need great props. Just grab a dining chair for the counter and a bench or table for the cooking area. I make picture cards for four different kinds of pie and add sign language. You could write them down if you have readers or print out pictures from the Internet.

Divide up your kids into customers, cashier and cooks. After one turn everyone rotates. Mum and Dad should be the first customers. Drive up to the shop erratically. Order 15 pies. Eat them all there. Roll on the ground groaning. Mix it up. Have stuffed animals come by for pie. Have the animals fight over who is next in line. Have fun!

2) It's a hurricane. We all love this game so much. Everyone in the family sits on the couch. Daddy announces that the radio says a hurricane is coming. Quick! Grab your stuff, we've got to drive north. Grab stuffed animals, blankets, funny things. We have a papasan chair we all pile into. Daddy drives. Some of the animals are on the hood. Of course, there is lots of turns, twist, everyone trying to stay in the car. We stop suddenly and we're at our "cabin." Everyone piles out...and then gets to spread their blankets and camp on the floor that night. The next morning drive back home. This is perfect for a Friday night.

3) White Water Rafting. Our girls will beg for this game. Place a crib mattress on the floor. Don't have one....improvise. Everyone piles on including stuffed animals. It should be crowded. Mum holds onto kids. Daddy starts the raft down the river. First it's calm then oh no! Rapids. Daddy jerks the mattress all different ways while Mummy tries to keep the kids from falling in the water. All children are saved if they fall off. Stuffed animals occasionally don't make it. Repeat calm to sudden rapids until everyone is laughing so hard they cannot breathe.

Okay, your turn. Share the good stuff!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This is why I make softies

You think there's going to be a picture of a little girl sleeping with her teddy bear, a boy playing with his stuffed dog, a teen hanging on to an old, much loved tiger. But no!

What you get is a sob story. We live in a 1945 sq ft house built in 1946 in which everything was painted peach and green (originally) and nothing was built in a normal (interpret as reasonable) way. The hot and cold water facets are switched. The house was wired completely wonky when we moved in and there's not one square corner in the place. Every single window is slightly a different size. You get the idea.

Needless to say, things happen in a house like this. Uhm...like....the toilet was leaking and we had no idea. And now, unexpectedly, we have encountered a large area of the flooring which must be totally replaced. And Head Honcho spent the weekend chipping out floor board and treating the world's worst mold while I kept the girls outside. Oh, and there's an old half bath upstairs but this is the only main bath...with a tub...in our house. You do remember we have four young girls, right?

While outside I noticed that fungus has attacked our tomatoes. All but one tomato plant. Of 25 plants. And they all have to be destroyed. All....have....to...be....destroyed. Whaaaaaa!

At times like this I need a break. I need a release. I need a means of coping.

That's why I make softies. Because everyone needs something to make her smile.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's a bird, it's a plane...

No! It's Super Uper Duper Bear! What we need at this moment: a super hero with a heart of gold...although her paws are a bit sticky.

(I thought a blog which says it's about a softie maker might just should feature a softie now and again. :-D)

Beary Patriotic

I finally finished this little banner....just in time for the 4th of July party at our house next Sunday.

Here's the way I went about putting it together: While on our family vacation in May I drew this little bear on white fabric with a wash-away pen. At that point, I didn't know what it would be. Once I had it finished, rinsed and pressed (a big shout out to kimmymade for blogging about the importance of pressing, a step I used to omit but really makes a massive difference) I started playing with it against different fabrics.

When I saw the doodle against this red fabric I knew it would make a great 4th of July banner. I pulled out rick rack, trim, ribbon, etc and later buttons and played with placement. I have to stop myself from rushing through a project. Sometimes everything comes together all at once but usually a project is improved by a few days of "mulling time." Don't you think?

This same doodle could be used just as nicely for a Valentine's Day decoration or card, a birthday card/decoration. It would even look sweet in a baby's room. Change the heart on the flag and you have a million other possibilities. Pretty cool, eh?

After I tweak things a bit, I'm going to put the bear pattern up for free on flickr. I'll post the link next week in case you want to make your own beary banner.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stitched Up

Yippee! Thursday means My Creative Space. I know I always provide the link but, seriously, go over there and check out other entries--dripping, positively gushing with sparkling new ideas, whit and zest! Yes, get your zest today.

Last week I completed this project for a Brown Owls sewing badge. It gave me an idea to make this--a cover for my Book of Common Prayer.

Warning: mild discussion of religion to follow.

Recently, during a lecture on the history of Christianity, I was introduced to "The Jesus Prayer." Used by the Eastern Orthodox Church among other denominations, it's most common form is: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

My focus these days has been on being the hands of God--remembering to pray and then do. I love the verse from Micah 6: 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

So I altered The Jesus Prayer a bit to reflect my current thinking. Just a personal little project that I really loved completing and will enjoy using.

End of mild discussion of religion.

The other projects: remember the flowers which were to be a 4th of July wreath? Well, I decided to go with a throw pillow instead because I've decided to redecorate my bedroom in red, white and blue. I'm not massively patriotic, I just like the way the colours look together, particularly red and white. (Wait, those are the colours of the Canadian flag. Perhaps this all started in my youth.) It may take me until next year to finish all the flowers and crochet the white background but I do think it will be nice when it's finished.

And, lastly, I've got to start working on making some summer clothes for the blythe dolls.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flower Power

This weekend I was cruising around the internet (beep beep) when I stumbled upon this great pattern on this great blog.

Love, true love. I love to crochet with cotton. I love cute patterns. I love easy, quick, small projects I can do in between massive disasters like spilled milk, sisterly fights and missing shoes. I love making these.

Then, Spudly, my oldest daughter, made a revolutionary suggestion (pun intended, snicker, snicker): why don't I make some for a wreath for the door...like a 4th of July, Independence Day sort of wreath. I've got the yarn so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hooo Hooo Hoorah!

Remember how I told you about those funky crafting divas The Brown Owls? Well, they sure are funky...and very busy hosting meetings all over Australia these days. I thought it would make me feel sad to be a world away but it's actually fun to read about all the things they get up to.

The Brown Owls are sort of like Girls Scouts or Girl Guides. There are projects to complete for different badges. I completed the crochet project. Now, I've tackled the sewing project. Truth be told, we were supposed to make this as a pencil holder but....uhm...I'm not much for transporting pencils around...it's sort of the computer age and all. But crochet hooks...that's entirely a different kettle of swedish fish. This makes the perfect crochet hook holder, organizer and transporter. Wahoo!

(You did notice the owl fabric, the owl embroidery and the fact that I actually posted about something I said I would, right? Right!)


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Can We Get Some Order Around Here

How do you eat corn on the cob? Do you eat all the way around or side to side? Me, I gnaw all over the place--a little here and bit there.

How do you mow the lawn? I go side to side....for about five minutes. Then I go in a big square. Then, I go kitty-corner. And then I can't figure out where I've mowed so I always leave a few strips of grass I've missed.

Are you seeing a pattern here? I believe I am fundamentally unable to organize myself. I start on projects and then I start on more projects. Pretty soon I can't remember what I was doing.

My question is: am I the only person in the universe like this? If there are any other former "neurotic, organizationally-challenged" people out there, how did you reform? Is there hope for a person who just cannot move in a straight line from point A to point B without visiting points C, D, E and F in the process?

Right now it would be nice if one of you piped up and told me Einstein was like this. It would make me feel better. Plato? Pluto?

I've created a list of things I want to do each day--breaking down cleaning the house, schooling the girls, and crafting into small bit size chunks. I've had my list for three days. And the most I've hit of the 8 items is three. This is depressing. See why I spend my time playing with dolls?

This week I'm going to try really hard to get organized. I'm going to take it day by day. And in that vein I will tell you some of the things you will read about on my blog this week: Making a crochet hook holder for a Brown Owl sewing badge, crocheting cotton flowers and the newest Crochet Hope project.

Hang onto your hats and let's see if an old dog can learn a new trick.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dolls, Dolls, Dolls

I warn you: this is about Blythe Dolls, the ones which look like they are either possessed or need Prozac. There is nothing else in this post. Okay? Warned.

Remember how I said I had bought a Petite Blythe doll and how it would be the only one I ever owned because they are so expensive and there are so many better ways to spend my money? Well, I lied. Or rather, I didn't yet know what the future held.

Yesterday my long awaited second petite blythe arrived. She's an Aloha Spirit, rescued for a very low price. I've renamed her Hibiscus Ann.

And then today my third Blythe arrived, again a rescued petite. She is a Shanghai Season, renamed Pepper Lynn.

Ahhhhhh....this is SO FUN! I feel just like a kid again. I know, I know. It's not like I was ever going to win the Most Mature Adult contest. I make and hang out with softies. But still, it's fun playing dolls--especially taking pictures.

And just in case you think I'm really a nice person, let me tell you a secret: I don't let the girls touch my dolls. How mean is that? Okay, there's basically nothing in this house but medicine, mail and my sewing supplies that the girls can't touch. We've got no fine china, no expensive living room set. The girls play wherever, get into whatever. That makes it all the more fun to tell them hands off! And it's good practice for them to learn that even Mummy has a life of her own...well, a little bit of one. :-D

I'm off to tuck my dolls into bed. (The girls are long since asleep.) Good night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Sticky Situation

I admit that I have no idea what I'm doing. Actually, that statement applies to most of my life but this time I'm referring specifically to my attempt to sew vinyl.

There has got to be a secret. The stuff sticks as it is feeding through the sewing machine and I think it's too stiff to hand sew. Hmmmmm..... the mysteries of the universe: where is Jimmy Hoffa, why does North Korea's leader look like an Elvis impersonator and how do you sew with vinyl.

If you know the answer to any of these questions: dish!

(Why the vinyl? I'm trying to figure out a way to create bookmarks which are stiff and which protect the delicate embroidery stitches. This sample: Howling at the Moon, which is my own design, didn't turn out too badly but I know there has got to be a better way of sewing them....perhaps buried with the Amelia Erhart's body.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

B Mobile: My Creative Space

My three special needs daughters see enough doctors/specialists to staff a hospital. And the hospital these doctors happen to already staff is the large university hospital across the state. Translation: a lot of time on the road. A...lot....of....time.

Making the best out of a tedious situation, I have learned to take "work" with me. It's been a learning curve--packing the essentials but not extras. There's nothing like hitting a "project road block" when you've still got 100 miles of real road to go. I've found that keeping my materials in small bags and boxes all the time helps me grab what I need fast when it's time to hit the road. Also, I like to keep emergency supplies with me at all times: cotton yarn, g size crochet hook and scissors. At least I know I can make a washcloth or two in a pinch.

This week I'm working on an afghan which will be going to an orphanage in India via Craft Hope. I'm doing more embroidery doodling. And I'm still working on the summer bar-b-cute banner and the 4th of July bear.

For more glimpses into other creative spaces click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Words and Pictures: B Rosy

Today's B object: beautiful blanket....made as a gift especially for Stinkerbell by the wonderfully thoughtful, awesomely talented kimmymade. Isn't it great? And let me tell you, Stinkerbell loves it.

Here she is all rosy pink on the very first day of the summer that it was (finally) warm enough to swim. (In the wading pool.)

Don't worry--I did not let her take the blanket into the pool nor let her get it dirty. It's sooo soft and sooo cute--got to keep it extra special nice for bedtime.

(Yes, I made the bear--Clyde--a Once Again bear.) More Rosy Words and Pictures can be found here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

B Independent

Remember me saying everything is about B's these days? Well, we continue with this banner featuring the incomparable darling designs of WildOlive.

When you have a stressful event coming up in your life how do you prepare? I tend to duck off the Responsible Road to lope through the Meadow of Creativity.

We are hosting our house church at our place on the 4th of July weekend. Instead of doing things like repainting the bathroom and clearing out cobwebs I have been busy making decorations. Okay, right--not such a bright idea but which would you rather do?

And maybe all the decorations will be so cute that no one will notice the pealing paint and the dust....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

B Bold

If you are familiar with Veggie Tales then you know that Everybody's Got a Water Buffalo. Of course, the problem is that everyone does not have a water buffalo (unless you happen to live in Asia.)

But Softie Maker Extraordinaire that I am (applause) I am working on making sure everybody does have a water buffalo.

This is the proto type. I need to tweak it a bit. Say hello to Linh--which means Gentle Spirit in Vietnamese. Isn't she fun? And best of all she's a Once Again animal made from an old turtle neck that had stretched out at the bottom. Yes, indeed--from turtle to buffalo in one easy step.

Check back here for the free pattern as soon as I get the kinks worked out. (And no, that does not make Linh a kinky buffalo.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

B Natural--My Creative Space

Summer is here...uhm...sort of. I know I say that weather in the Frozen North is nine months of winter and three months of very thin ice but, seriously, we do usually have a bit of summer. I said usually because I don't think it's going to happen this year. Haul out the blankets, it's cold!

Despite the frostier than norm temps, the girls and I have been spending loads of time outside. That means My Creative Space looks something like this. When the clover blossoms--ehem....yes, our yard is 90% clover and 90% dandelions--I find myself crocheting less and embroidering more.

The light is better this time of year for embroidering. (I do not need bifocals she said as she paddled up da nile.) And, while it's nice to drape a thick afghan-in-progress over me in the winter, it's usually too hot to get up close and personal with blankets this time of year.

I never thought about it before but there are seasons even to crafting.

Today, I hand-stitched some tiny rick-rack around my bear embroidery doodle. This will be a 4th of July decoration soon. I worked a bit on a late season afghan which will be going to the Pregnancy Resource Center as part of Mars Hill Knit Together. And there are some more of the flags, in progress, featuring the embroidery patterns of WildOlive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

B Major

There's a little girl who is about to get a big surprise.

Stinkerbell, as discussed numerous times before, has some brain damage. She doesn't talk--at all. Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks ago, she started singing along to the radio. Okay, she makes a "whawha" sound instead of singing words but she is singing....and having herself a good ol' time. She's waving her hands, throwing back her head, closing her eyes, belting it out.

She only likes the music of one singer: Dierks Bentley. Mostly, she likes the song "Sideways" although she does sing to "Every Mile a Memory" and "What Was I Thinking." Yep, she's selective. Just this morning, as we left the doctor's office (the next surgery looms sometime this summer), "Sideways" was playing when I started the car. Squellllll! Hands Clapping! Big Smile! Yep, she's a DB fan.

Dierks Bentley is going to be playing here in town this month at the famed B93 Birthday Bash. The local country radio station brings in a bunch of acts for a two day sell-out party at the fair grounds. I think Stinkerbell would be really excited to see her guy in concert but there was no way we could wait in line for tickets. She doesn't do "waiting" well.

I wrote to the radio station, told them a little about Miss Stinkerbell, included a photo and asked if we could have tickets. I figured it was possible but not likely. Wowzer! The next day they contacted me and now Stinkerbell and I are headed out on the 21st to see Dierks Bentley in concert. Wowzer. Aren't people just amazing? I cannot believe how nice B93 has been to us.

Now, I know what you are thinking: that I'm the one who really wants to see Dierks Bentley. Not true. I do like his music and I think he's a nice guy. I love that he got my silent girl singing. But I'm not a concert goer normally. I'd rather listen to the cd in the quiet of my own home but, for my sweetie pie Stinkerbell, going to see Dierks Bentley is music to my ears.

B Nutty

After reviewing all the things I want to blog about I have determined that they are all "brought to us by the letter B." So hang onto your hats while we whip through things to B happy about. (Yes, I ended that with a preposition. Yes, I homeschool my children. Prince Charles is already investigating.)

First, here is one of my doodles--Acorn Squirrel, stitched up, and made into a Bookmark. I never have enough bookmarks and I have way too many embroidered pieces sooooo...it's a win, win.

I love how different this squirrel is, designed by me, compared to the squirrel in the Bunny Stitch Along piece designed by PolkaDot Bunny. Isn't it amazing the way one subject can be treated in so many different ways?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Now Where Did I Put My Brain

I've been working non-stop around here plus the girls have been accomplishing all sorts of awesome stuff. I've got a lot to blog about but...my mind is mush. I'm going to have to make a blog list. Oh my. Am I the only one in the universe so disorganized?

The only thing that comes to mind right now is: I finished the embroidery on the Bunny Stitch Along. I love the way it turned out although I do wish my satin stitch looked less wonky and more...satiny. Check out this to see some beautiful versions of the same pattern. I particularly like the redwork one. I'll be making mine into a hot pad.

Monday, June 8, 2009

IF: Cravings

Illustration Friday Theme: Craving

Throughout the lesson on reptiles all the teacher could think about was turtles.
(Turtle sundaes: chocolate, caramel, pecans over vanilla ice cream)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lovely Lemons and a Pig Pin

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday???? This amazing, lovely, perfect painting which I won on a WildOlive giveaway. Ahhhh....I've been all into lemons and oranges this summer. It's already up in my studio--sewing room where it shall be included in My Creative Space next Thursday. If I forget, remind me, okay? I love it! Thank you Mollie! (BTW, any package that comes wrapped in paper and string is going to be stellar just on that account.)

Currently, my creative space is in disarray--or messy--or a pig pen which reminds me of this: my brand new pig pin feature the character of the summer: Suey Pig. It's so much fun to wear fun stuff that you've made yourself. Wahoo!!! Oink! Oink! Oink!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two for One

Time is short but my blog posts never are so...I'm going to try to hit two messages in one post.

The fine folks at Sew, Mama, Sew! are celebrating Sewing Machine Month. They're giving away a beautiful new Viking. I actually don't want the machine because I have Flossie. Flossie and I have an understanding. She doesn't tell anyone my secrets and I keep her as top queen bee.

Don't tell Flossie but I'll let you in on one secret: I taught myself to sew...on Flossie. I had one semester of home ec in junior high, memorable only because I backstitched an entire seam as well as my thumbnail. Yes, really. But, later in life, I wanted to learn to sew, I wanted a machine and Head Honcho ever so sweetly agreed to get me one. After nervously looking around one sewing machine shop, we went with a moderately priced model. Little did I know what a little beauty she really was.

Flossie is an Elna 2004. She has about 18 stitches, bobbin winder, a couple of different feet. I think the stitch dimensions are something like 4 mm and 5 mm. I've had her for about 10 years, maybe a bit more. She was about $100 when I got her brand new.

Enough tech stuff: bottom line is she is great. I read the instruction manual, threaded the machine, got her going and we've never stopped. Mostly, I use a straight stitch. I mess with stitch length a bit. Otherwise, I don't change much. I have used zigzag and some of the decorative stitches. I've never tried a button hole. She and I hang together about six hours per week--sometimes a lot more than that--and she has never once complained. She just gets on with the job.

There's not one single thing I dislike about Flossie other than that they no longer make her so if she ever breaks...don't think about it. I don't want an embroidery machine. I don't quilt. I don't need anything computerized or fancy. I just need a hard-working, plain kind of gal like my Flossie.

Second, I'm going to take my first shot at My Creative Space: the part of the show when I show you the mess that is my work area and admit to only a small fraction of the projects I'm currently completing. (Check out the link to see more creative spaces plus Kootoyoo's awesome blog.)

Here you see my sewing table. There's my work "basket" which is a clear plastic tub full of floss and embroidery projects. There's my lightboard (homemade by my father) underneath two new projects. I'm participating in the first ever Bunny Stitch Along. And I'm making a bunting for our breezeway using this great fabric and patterns from WildOlive's Bar-b-cute pattern. There's probably a bunch of other junk in the pictures. What you won't see is a heart cause I forgot to add one. Cringe. It's my first time opening up to the truth about the chaotic way I work; sorry about that.

There you have it: deep dark secrets from the softie maker on Mulberry Lane.

The Hunt is On!

Here's one of the embroidery "sketches" I did while on our road trip. I love foxes.

I think I'm going to do more and make them patches on a quilt-blanket.