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.