Monday, December 31, 2007

A Birthday Boy

December is truly a busy time for our family. There were four birthdays in our immediate family this month in addition to the usual hubbub of parties and family get-togethers that make up what is the month of December.

I am very relieved to be done with my huge project list and on to the fun stuff Really, all projects are fun but when I can work on them at a leisurely pace, that is even more fun! I will have to take photos of all of the great fabrics that I received for Christmas to add to my stash. Yahoo!

My sweetie pie's second birthday was on Saturday the 29th. I can't believe that it was two years ago I was in the hospital holding my first baby boy in my arms. Time really flies! So, to celebrate his big day and to also illustrate his love of anything that has to do with transportation, I made this little shirt. Illustrated by myself and using an iron-on transfer that I ran through my inkjet, I think that this little shirt turned out great! It was so much fun that I've decided to share the design with anyone who has a special little one out there with a birthday coming up. Be sure to check back in a while as I will have more versions of this design available for those not turning two.

Here are some shots of the shirt in action:
Cooking up a batch of special birthday goulash.

Creating some artwork that bears a striking resemblance to a Jackson Pollock painting:

I forgot to add this last little "beauty" on my last post about Christmas gifts. The bag is made in soft corduroy with the fun circle patterned cotton as the accent pleat.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Party #1 Down, More to Come...

Isn't getting together with family this time of year fun? Okay, maybe not so much fun for everyone but for us, it was a great time. We just came back from family Christmas party #1 and will be taking some time off tomorrow before we rush off to the next holiday. We have been so busy this month, that we forgot to take the cushions off of our porch furniture before the snow came. Oh well! I think it looks very pretty - sort of like a Symphony in White still life by Whistler. Or maybe not.

Okay, so I can show some of my gift photos now that they have been given. Below are the many zip pouches that I was able to whip out for the many teachers at our day care center. I was nervous about giving these as gifts but they were met with lots of praise so I am glad they made the girls happy.

This little monkey went to my sweet niece, Naomi, along with one of the plush balls. I kept the other one for Ava to munch on.

Here is the monkey getting her first bit of lovin' from her new owner.

I hope this post finds everyone happy, healthy and having some fun with family and friends. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Cookies ...

Are frosted. Finally! I had a little too much fun with the pastry bags and toothpicks. But that's how you dress up a cookie that's lost its shape in the baking process.

I hope everyone is having a great and productive weekend!

On the path...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thoughts on Fine Arts and Play Dough

I am still not finished with most of my handmade Christmas gifts and I haven't really had much to post or had time to post this month and thought, mistakenly, that most other bloggers like me would be the same. But I was wrong! These super women are baking (I've yet to get my chilling dough out of the fridge), knitting, sewing, crafting, decorating, donating to charity and feeding their families at the same time. Holy cow.

I, on the other hand, am contemplating this watercolor sketch. It's the last official time I took up a paintbrush to create art (rather than do touch-ups around the house). I was pregnant with my first child (who is now almost 2 - gasp!) and was waiting for his arrival. So about this time of the year, two years ago, I got out one of my old art history books and started watercolor sketches just for something different to do. I never really finished up this sketch because Chandler came and life has never really been the same since. For the better of course.

So, in the basement sit my watercolors, oils, stretcher bars, canvases, fine art papers, charcoal, stained glass, etc. Upstairs I have crayons, paper and play dough. It's pretty great - check it out!

As for decorating, all we had to do was put up the tree, put up the lights and plop the star on top to really geek out our toddler. Every morning when we come down the stairs, he points to the star and says, "Big Star!" and sometimes does a little dance at the foot of the tree in all his toddler joy. It's not that much work for us and gives the giggles to our boy so it's great. Oh, and also in the basement - our Christmas decorations.

And one of these days, soon I hope, I will get up a few photos of my Christmas projects so I can join the fray. But for now, we're just chillin' and keeping it simple.

Traveling down the path...

Monday, December 10, 2007

In a Holiday Tizzy

It feels like it has been so long since I've been able to do a decent post. Being a mother of two under the age of two makes it really hard sometimes to do anything. Some days, a major goal of mine is to just luxuriate in an evening shower - I do look forward to them when I can get one in (Sorry, this is too much information.). A lot of the thanks can go to sweet hubby because he stands on the lookout for crying kiddos while I lock myself in the bathroom for a while.

I made these cute, cute balls last week from a pattern I got from the Grand Revival Designs blog. Check it out - these were so much fun to make! I don't think the recipient of these plush balls will be reading my blog anytime soon so I feel that it's safe to post these. I used some leftover fabric scraps and ribbon and they turned out great! The ribbon is for little hands to grab a hold of and either chew or use them to throw the balls - wheee! I hope she'll like them. I just have to make the smallest size to round out the duo to a balanced trio and I'll be done with this project.

Another reason I haven't really posted in a while is because it's so DARK here in Michigan so early. I have to get really creative in my basement and with Photoshop but really, natural light does so much better. I have quite a few items to check off my list in about two weeks before D-day but it's very fun.

I got my yarn in the mail today - yahoo! I'll be finishing hubby's cable knit scarf in no time. However, I did find a great new little project that I hope to start on sometime for some little one, or maybe my little ones. It's a fair isle cap for babies. I also found a CUTE pattern for an earflap hat for babies/toddlers from Julie.

See you soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Vintage Knits

Don't you just LOVE used bookstores? You don't? Well, you should hop into a few once in a while - you never know what you'll find. Beth, you would like this little shop but I'm not sure if you and I popped in there when you were last in East Lansing. The shop I'm referring to is called the Curious Book Shop. Ava was sleeping in the carrier on one of our long walks we would usually take this past summer, so I decided to go in and found these dandies. Aren't they grrrrrreat?

This is the bookstore that I have call me whenever they get in any C.S. Lewis books so I can get as many Chronicles of Narina series in the old, original (and correct if you ask me) order. But, once in a while it's just fun to browse the shelves. I found their crafts section at the back and ran into these beauties. I LOVE the styles in here. Well, I probably won't be crocheting a large, yellow jacket-thingy with baby blue ribbon for myself anytime soon, but some of the baby and toddler knits in here are truly adorable. Check out these cuties...

I really think that this pattern looks doable. I love the bonnet but Ava's growing so quickly, I hope her head won't be too big by the time I actually get this done.

Just look at these vintage babes:

I love the little girl's hat - so adorable. Although, she's all bundled up from the waist up, but look at the bare legs! At our current 25 degrees here, it makes me shiver. Perhaps the weather for this knitter/designer would be more appropriate for her getup.

I'm almost done with hubby's double-sided cable knit scarf. We tried it on tonight and decided that we needed one more ball of yarn to finish it off. Just waiting for the yarn to arrive in the mail. Sooooo, since I had to order another ball, I couldn't let a whole mail order go to waste so I got some of this and this too. I'm gonna try a dishcloth pattern from this book and try out this picot dress for next summer. Okay, I tend to overbook myself but it's fun. Wheeeeeeee!

On the path...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Down time...

A lot of my life these past couple of months has been comprised of a striking contrast between chaos and completely relaxed down time. There is rarely anything in between. Since all of my fabrics and craft supplies are in the basement (a no kiddo-zone), I usually reserve my sewing time to the evenings when every one is in bed.

I love this picture because it perfectly captures those fleeting moments of snuggle time. Chandler just went down for his nap and Ava and I decided to see what was going on with the neighbors and whether or not any squirrels were out and about. I love doing this with her because we can be so close. It's at these times that I try so hard to imprint on my mind what she is like right at that moment, at four months, before these baby years slip away. In this picture I can still hear her little breath as she works hard to hold her head up and look around. I can hear her coos as she does her running commentary on what she sees.

Everybody says it all the time, but it's so true. These years do go by so fast and they are gone before you know it. Try as I might, I can never get enough time with these babies but I am enjoying them so much. I both mourn and celebrate the passing of time because although they are growing out of one stage, they are going into another, equally exciting one.

It's so great to be a mom.

The Heavens Have Opened Up, and In My Lap Fell...

A new sewing machine!

Actually, it didn't just fall into my lap but it may very well seem like it since I've only been out a sewing machine for about a day and a half (Gasp!). My very first sewing machine - yahoo! Of course, I do feel bad that I'm giving back my Mom her broken one, but I guess I'll have to make her something nice on this machine.

Considering that I've only worked on a machine older than 10 years my whole life and ones that don't always work well (my finger still hurts from where Grandma's machine bit me the other day), this new one is a beaut. My sweet, darling hubby said that I should pick one out for Christmas, so that is what it did. Of course, that makes his shopping super easy and since he readily agreed to let me get this one, that tells me that he hasn't bought anything for me yet (I've already got all of his gifts - he picked them out already!). So, he's happy ... I'm happy.

Whew! Who knew that buying a sewing machine was like buying a computer? I had to buy a computer recently for work because I am a contract graphic designer, so my computer is my livelihood. That was easy compared to this. My head was reeling with all the options available out there and comparing all the notes took a while. But I was just so darn excited to get a new sewing machine, I didn't care. I finally found a good deal on a slightly-more-than-basic machine - no computer screen, no embroidery - that will do overly fine for me.

And what the heck is this? Drop-in bobbin loading? You more seasoned sewers will probably be chuckling when you read this, but I had no idea this kind of stuff was available. I probably should play more in the sewing machine department of my LFS (local fabric store).

This. Is. So. Cool.

That also means that I have finally completed my two quilt blocks in half the time. I also had time to run upstairs to put the passie back in the baby's mouth two times (she was down for the night but needs a "passie-pop" once in a while to settle back down) and talk with my mother on the cell phone while I made these puppies and was still finished in record time. Yahoo!

That also means that I had to add to my stash to finish these quilt blocks. This is all I had in the way of "stash" for cotton fabric:

This is what I bought to finish out the other quilt block (I hope I have enough). I am sure all of you out there would agree that it's not a bad thing to add to your stash, even if it's for a stash-busting project!

Here is quilt block #2. Not to shabby considering I didn't rip out the yucky seams from ye olde sewing contraption. I just went for it. Some squares didn't line up but it looks pretty good.

Here is quilt block #3. Triangles are hard! I ended up not cutting part of one triangle right and so the middle of this block isn't really right at all, but it still looks good if you stand a couple of paces back!

So, my drama was short lived but I appreciate the encouraging comments from everyone. I'm back on track and should be posting more frequently now that the holidays are coming up. Handmade gifts all around!

Back on the path...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oh, no!

My sewing machine has died ... DIED! Actually, it's my mother's sewing machine that she lent to me. I inherited my grandmother's 35-year old Kenmore sewing machine and since that didn't always work very well for me, mom decided to lend me her machine.

While working on my quilt block, her machine stopped working. I actually don't know the names of the parts very well, but the area with the bobbin started snagging the thread so badly that the needle wouldn't move anymore. I took out all the parts down there, cleaned it, reassembled it according to the manual, and ... nothing. It clogs every time.

I actually had some time to work on things tonight and decided to drag grandma's machine out of retirement. After many unsuccessful attempts at trying to sew up the blocks for quilt block 2, a bleeding finger and the tension button changing on me mid-sew, I quit. AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

Here is my sad, sad quilt block #2.

I had so many plans for that machine. I thought I could at least get another year out of that machine before I started looking at investing in a new one. I don't want a cheapie but I don't want the most high-end machine either. I make things like handbags and clothing as well as some crafts on the machine and that's it. Does anyone have any suggestions for a new machine? My sweet hubbie says that I could have one for Christmas if I find one that I like that isn't too outrageous of a price.

Sitting on the path, with a twisted ankle...
- JS

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Quick Little Tote

Handbags ... handbags. I really love handbags and I come by it honestly. For my first birthday, as recorded in my baby book, I received somewhere in the neighborhood of four purses as gifts. Whenever I purchase or make a new handbag my husband always says, "Whew! You were getting a little low." That stinker.

This particular handbag is for a little girl turning two. We missed her birthday so I had this ready for her when she came over to visit with her Mommy and Daddy. Ema, the birthday girl, and my son Chandler love to play together and had a good time. I could tell because of all the laughing and squealing going on.

Anyway, I showed the new bag to Ema and she promptly flung it over her shoulder and said, "See you Monday!"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know, I know. This picture looks very different from a traditional Thanksgiving table. That's because it is. I haven't posted anything for a while and taking pictures of my new projects is very difficult because I have to go outside to get great light and it's snowing! So, I'll have to wait until next week to get some pictures up of my hand knits, jammies for the kiddos and some bags I'm working on.

This picture looked festive enough for a holiday post. It is from a wedding shower that I hosted a while back and my little dining room has never looked better. Don't you think? Mmmmm ... it's making me want a huge slice of that red velvet cake.

Yes, I also know that I have a quilt block to do this week too. That should be up on the site soon as well. Take

Thursday, November 15, 2007


That is a picture of me starting, hesitating really, on my very first quilt block. I am sure that for those of you that know me, you'll be surprised to learn that I have never done this before, especially if you've seen all of the wacky handbags that I've sewn in the past. Quilting has always intimidated me because I never could seem to get the blocks to line up or to get the stitches straight. Is it right? Is it not? Is it right? I think it's right. Maybe I measured wrong. Hold on ...

I decided to participate in the Quilt-A-Long that Amandajean is hosting on her blog. It looks like a lot of people have signed up to do the quilt-a-long and it will be so much fun to see everyone's progress. I love getting ideas from other crafters!

Woo-hoo! This meant that I would be able to use some leftover scraps of my favorite fabric. I've used it for a diaper tote and a changing pad and was wondering what else I could use it for without looking like a walking bolt of fabric. Yea!

Whoops ... that is what happens when you get too cocky. I had completed my first few pieces and then this happened: I stitched the piece the wrong way. Good thing I've invested in a few good seam rippers.

All fixed.

Hooray! My very first quilt block. That wasn't so bad. Some of the squares don't line up perfectly but who cares? This isn't too shabby in my opinion. Once the 12 weeks are up and I'm ready to put my quilt together, I hope that Amandajean is ready for a million questions about backs, binding, batting and the actual quilting. Or, I could just pay someone else to do it, but what fun would that be?

Heading down the path...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I'm the Mary, You're the Rhoda!

"Inventing Post-It notes was totally my idea."

I often have so many plans for what I'm going to accomplish in the evening when my baby goes down for the night. There I was, rocking her back to sleep for the umpteenth time while channel surfing when I came across "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" playing on one of the local channels.

Romy and Michelle are high school buddies who have been living the single life together in California as happy-go-lucky twenty-somethings. Desperate to make good impressions at their ten-year high school reunion, the girls try to lose weight ("All I've had to eat for the past six days are gummy bears, jelly beans, and candy corns!"), get a job and find boyfriends. All in two weeks!

There are times when I really wish I would have used Romy's line when being picked up by a less than savory guy, "I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood." That would have worked.

Why am I bringing up Romy and Michelle? Well, even though they went to their high school reunion claiming to have invented the Post-It note as a ruse to make themselves appear as the most successful girls in their class, they really did have an underlying talent - sewing! ("We're going out tonight and I don't have anything to wear and I don't have time to sew anything new!")

Romy and Michelle's "cutting edge" outfits got them noticed at the reunion by one of their classmates who was a style editor for Vogue - I think. (I had to put Ava down again and couldn't watch the rest of the show.) So, they ended up with their own clothing line and a boutique ("Have a Romy and Michelle day!"). How cool is that?

As a little girl, I was always designing and sewing new outfits for my Barbie dolls from scraps of fabric Mom had lying around. I never used a sewing machine for these, but would painstakingly hand sew all of the clothes. I think my biggest achievement was sewing a peasant-like bustier out of some leftover velvet fabric Mom used to cover our dining room chairs. Barbie never looked so good.

I have never been brave enough to just concoct a whole outfit, sew it up and then wear it! But, I have wanted to try something for my kids. Never fear! I will probably use a pattern. If I didn't, I'm sure the results would be scary. Much scarier than the Star-Treky dress Romy is sporting in the picture above.

Have any of you ever tried making your own outfits? I'd love to read your stories.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Little Birdie Told Me

Viruses galore! These past two weeks I have been taking care of my little ones who have come down with the hand, foot and mouth virus. It's a nasty little virus that leaves blister-like sores on, you guessed it, your hands, feet and mouth. Poor Chandler's tongue was raw at one point. Being the giver that he is, little sister, Ava, has the virus as well.

So, with all the time we have at home, we've been hanging out and watching the birds on our back porch birdfeeder. We have had an awful time with belligerent squirrels dominating the feeder in the past and breaking it apart to get to the seed. We used to have a wire feeder, which has all but rusted with broken wires (courtesy of the overfed squirrels) poking out everywhere. Now we have a nice, new feeder full of safflower seeds. Since using those seeds, I haven't seen a squirrel once but the birds love it!

Someone else enjoys watching the birds as well. Too bad you have that loud bell on your collar Eddie!

Since the kiddos have been home and not feeling their best, I haven't really been able to tackle any new projects but there are so many bouncing around in my head. Hopefully my next post will show some progress on another project.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pressing On

Well, it looks like I will not be able to upload my nifty header image that I created especially for this blog. I've been trying to figure out how to post the header for weeks now and have decided to wait on the good folks at Blogger to figure that out for me. Apparently there is a glitch that needs attention.

But a fun header does not a good blog make, so in that spirit, I've decided to forge ahead and get my blog all caught up on my projects and what I've got in the hopper.

Above is a sweet little dress that I recently finished knitting for baby Ava (3 months) from this PATTERN. It took me such a long time to get the bow on and threaded through the wrap portion of the dress and it ended up not looking right. Ava doesn't mind though, and she loves sucking on the brown, velvet ribbon. It was really supposed to tie the two portions of the neck together, but that didn't actually happen. She looks cute in it though and I'm thinking that this will be a good outfit for her 3 mo. photos.

I've also decided to tackle what I thought was the arduous task of cable knitting. How wrong I was! I selected a great double-sided cable knit scarf from this BOOK for Joel and it ended up being so incredibly easy! I'm working on it 5 min. here and 5 min. there and should have it finished for him probably in May sometime.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Welcome to the Creative Path!

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope you find what you are looking for whether that is a helpful tip, a creative spark or just a laugh. I chose this particular title for my blog because I am not necessarily devoted to one particular type of creative activity all the time. Well, I take that back, right now I mostly love to knit, sew and write, as those are the only occupations that I can stop and start easily. This is essential when you have two children under the age of two to care for.

However, I have many more interests that I hope to share on this blog. I am not a master of any of these creative endeavors. I have not been knitting for years but have been writing for almost half my life and have never been published (except for a horribly butchered 50-word article in an online travel magazine -sigh!). I don't have my own fabric lines or write designer knitting patterns (wouldn't that be cool though?). I make frequent mistakes in my projects and will happily post those along with my triumphs for all to see and discuss. I am hoping that this blog will spark others to go off and be creative as well as draw helpful tips and ideas from the visitors to my site.

Thanks for stopping by and please, join me on the Creative Path!