I’m going to start this post with a confession: I sold my Yellowstone. I’m still having some mixed feelings about it, but I think it was the right decision. It needed maintenance that I wasn’t giving it, and it seemed we never had time to use it. It was sitting there in my driveway making me feel guilty, so one morning I decided to “declutter” it. It was gone within twenty-four hours to new owners who are going to be a better match for it. They have big, exciting plans for it involving plumbing and roofing solutions that were beyond me. I may take a little break and then decide I’m ready for the Scotty Serro I’ve been hankering after ever since I sold the red Fleetwing, but in the meantime I turned the spot in my driveway that used to be trailer parking into an outdoor seating area. It’s already gotten more use in a week than we’d spent in the trailer in the last year, so it was probably the right thing to do. I think.
Meanwhile indoors, I made lavender sachets for my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother for Mother’s Day. I printed the kids’ photos onto printable fabric, then made little cotton bags to hold bulk dried lavender I bought online.
Each grandmother got a full set of all three kids to freshen their drawers.
We made cards to round out the gift, using the kids’ thumbprints to put petals on the flowers. How did people get Mother’s Day ideas before Pinterest?
Oops! I put this post together a couple weeks ago, right after Valentine’s Day, but somehow never posted it.
As part of my new year organizing efforts last month Dorothy and I made a stash of birthday cards to have ready as we need them this year. My efforts were a little more conservative in their color combinations; hers are photographed here. We got out craft punches, decorative scissors, glue sticks, plain card stock and a pack of decorative scrapbook paper and then had a good time. I printed out a couple colored pages full of assorted well-wishes and we combined those with our own handwritten messages. Usually our local homeschool community holds a Valentine party where the children exchange cards like they would in school. This year the event didn’t come together, but we held our own little Valentine “party” for the alphabet. Worth has been very keen on practicing his letters lately, so I’ve been trying to encourage his interest with a few little games like this one. First the kids made an envelope for each letter, then we “seated” them by snaking the envelopes (in alpha order) across the room. Then I gave them a mixed up set of cards I’d printed off, which were really picture/letter cards, 2 or 3 per letter, and let them deliver the cards to the correct letters. To make it more of a game I told them I secretly loved one letter best, and they had to figure out which one I’d given the most Valentine’s cards to. Worth delivered with enthusiasm, accidentally practicing his letters as he went, and Dorothy had a nice exercise in alphabetical order. They discovered that my most beloved letter was “M” for “mom.” Heh.
Has it been almost a month since I’ve blogged? I can’t believe it! I haven’t lost interest, but somehow this school year I haven’t been able to build this into my schedule. I should, because I get a cozy little sense of accomplishment when I look back over my blog pictures, and sometimes when there is kid crap all over the floor and my dog is barking at the mailman and my son is peeing on the floor…well, I just need that sense of accomplishment! So I’m stating for the record that I AM going to blog three times per week until I get caught up on some of these projects I want to record.
First off, I’ve been obsessively covering things with scrapbook paper. I don’t “scrapbook” in the sense of sticking photographs on cute paper and adding stickers, but I do love to buy those big, awesome stacks of scrapbook paper they sell in crafts stores. Those pretty 12×12 sheets can be used for anything! Lately I’ve been recycling containers, such as this pretzel tub I’ve turned into a dog treat jar, by gluing scrapbook paper on them and then covering it with clear contact paper, which protects the paper and allows me to wipe the surface clean. This jar sits on top of my fridge and looks much better than the Target bag that was holding dog treats up there before.
This is not a crafty thing but is just a favorite recent photo. Kentucky is partaking in this Midwest cold snap, and we’ve never been happier homeschoolers than on these frigid mornings when we can roll out of bed and light a fire and read books by it in our pajamas. I snapped this photo a couple evenings ago, when the kids were ending the day basically the same way we started it.
Disclaimer: This post is coming from the slightly OCD Renata that once brought you trailer textiles and a camper fridgie. What can I say? I get focused on one thing and beat it to death. I’ll clean the bathrooms some other week; right now my energy is consumed with Camper. It’s not a bad life, really.
First, I got stuck under a grumpy 2-year-old at my computer and needed something to do while I sat there and held him. So I created a camper graphic to put on a new yard sign for our campground. Here it is.
Then today I found these totally awesome mid-century Samsonite suitcases at an antiques/junk store and bought them because I’m traveling by air on a trip next month and clearly I needed these old blue cases to avoid confusing my luggage with everyone else’s on the conveyor belt. The wheels and handle still work perfectly, the lining is intact, the keys were included, and the metal is shiny and perfect. I get the feeling they were mostly stored instead of used. The original “Ladies’ and Men’s Packing Guide” was still tucked into the big one, advising me to “use shoemitts of fabric” to pack my shoes. I swooned, because I’m into that kind of thing, you know? The original Samsonite tag was also still on the big case, never inscribed, but I think I’ll tuck it away with my packing guide for posterity and decided to make my own instead.
I went to print out the card to tuck into my new homemade luggage tag (the fabric is a laminated cotton) but couldn’t find a design that seemed right on the Avery website, although I often find really great printables there. Then it struck me that this was an excellent opportunity to use my own new graphic, so I designed a card with it and stitched it in. I think it looks perfect, and now I’ll have a little piece of my camper with me as comfort when I’m trying not to vomit at 32000 feet. (Campers=good; flying=bad.) Then I decided that my children need t-shirts with the same graphic (don’t they though?) and maybe even me too. So I headed over to Cafe Press, where I discovered that it is cheaper for me to offer my own graphic as an item for sale and subsequently buy it myself than it is for me to just privately design and purchase my own product. Sort of annoying. But why not? Most of my search engine traffic here is from people who google campers, so maybe they need Renata-designed camper merchandise too, right?
So in case you happen to fall into that category here is the link to my brand-new Cafe Press store, where you too can join the vintage-camper-graphic-wearing crowd. Or something. Who knows what’s next? Maybe I can convince Cafe Press to start offering fridgies.
Now that my book-binding supplies are dusted off maybe I’ll use them more. I made this little book for an old friend who was recently married. It served as a sign-in book at the reception. I covered davey board with pretty paper from a local art supply store in the colors of the wedding.
I printed a cover page with their event information and lined inside pages on my home printer, which could be set to print oddly-sized pages. I purchased acid-free sketch paper for the inside pages and then cut them to the size I wanted before I printed on them. I sewed the sheets together with linen thread before gluing them in the cover. It felt nice to supply something small and handmade for the wedding that the couple could use as a keepsake. I was amused when my daughter and nieces all took the guestbook very seriously at the reception and each signed her name individually.
I just keep forgetting to put these photos up. Last month we observed the same spring break as our local public schools. For families who send their kids offsite to school, spring break can be an opportunity for family fun and togetherness. As homeschoolers, I decided the kids and I could use the opportunity to take a break from each other! Each morning I packed them off to one or the other of their grandparents’ homes, where they ate too much dessert and took “field trips” as varied as Chuck-e-Cheese and a train history museum, then came back home at dinner time. While they were gone I spent five solid days painting at home. When I’d gone through the rooms after we moved in, removing wallpaper and adding color, I skipped some of the more time-consuming, lower-impact jobs. Over spring break I went back and did the more thankless jobs, finally finishing up the horrid living room ceiling (it actually looks halfway decent now–I’d photograph it but it just looks like, you know, a ceiling), and painting doors, trim, and window casings. This house already had light painted trim and I unified it by using glossy white on all of it. I know there are differing opinions on trim paint, but I love the look of crisp, white trim and doors. It’s so fresh and offsets the painted walls so well. Plus the glossy surface is easy to clean, which is important with kids and pets.
I had another lingering paint project outside. We’d painted the garage door and the light above it last year, but the decrepit white shutter on the side of the garage was still peeling. I painted it red too and it looks much better. We’ve still got a long way to go on improving the outside of this house (hello crumbling tile on the porch!), but every small project moves us in the right direction. I can see the garage from my family room with the Kiki Pinata curtains, so now the view outside kind of matches.
So I think my seasonal allergies are officially killing me, and perhaps my blog as well. I’m so groggy but can’t sleep well, and I can’t stay up late for my solo creative time either since I’m so tired–all of which means that I’m just not getting quite as much done as I used to, and I feel all red-nosed and nasty. I’ll quit complaining now, but I’d like it noted that it is not cute or vintage or handmade or (since this comes up so often on my blog) sexy to have a stuffy nose for three weeks straight. Not one bit. Bleah.
Moving on, I’ve actually managed to get a lot done in the past few weeks anyway even if some of it may never make it into my little record here. This is my sweet family at Easter brunch, one of us popping decongestant pills as needed.
Dorothy’s dress was a joint venture by me and my mother. Mom sewed a simple tank dress out of white eyelet and I crocheted colorful little flowers to decorate it. I used cotton embroidery thread so the scale of the flowers would match the eyelet fabric, then made a very large one in worsted weight yarn for her hat. She looked sweet and pretty and it was fun to do a project with my mom for my daughter. Now the white dress has chocolate stains all over it, so I’m trying to devise a creative laundry solution!
I sewed my own dress from McCall’s M6027. I fell in love with this fabric at Joann’s a couple months back and finally got around to stitching it up a couple days before Easter. I think it is a Lisette poplin. The pattern worked up very easily on the serger–no messing with clipping around the bust or fussing with how all the skirt godets line up. The serger magically makes it all smooth. The problem with this pattern didn’t arise until I tried the thing on and realized the shoulder straps are set too far apart for my frame. I re-serged here and there, clipped, stitched and tucked and finally got the bodice so tight and the straps so ridiculously high that I couldn’t put my arms down when the back was zipped up. Right at the point I was read to throw it in the trash I took the scissors and cut big chunks out of the fabric under the armpits and that was when things finally started to improve. I sewed it back together and it fit acceptably well. The straps are still not in quite the right place for my shoulders and something around the arms looks a bit uneven, but if I keep the cardigan on no one will notice! The fabric is so pretty it is worth it. I altered the pattern a bit and re-sewed the dress out of a thrift store sheet to see if I could get the straps right on a second go-round. I love the theory of the pattern with the swishy skirt and the quick serger seams. I want to sew it out of this fabric and have it be a “cocktail” dress, in a breezy casual summer cotton. It went better the second time but then bagged a bit in the front. If I get my courage up I’ll order the fabric and do it one more time, with hope for a perfect fit.
My last Easter project was a gift to my church. Our pastoral staff organized an Easter vigil this year, a unique and special service that involved traveling around all the grounds of the church and involving various lay and clergy readers. They needed two three-ring binders in which to stash the materials for the readers and someone thought of me because I sometimes do book-binding. It’s much more satisfying to make books with more attractive bindings–traditional stitching or screw posts–but the three-ring kind was serviceable here so that’s what I did. It was fun to get back into a craft I haven’t spent much time on lately. I hadn’t even purchased book board in Dorothy’s life, but I was encouraged to find that I could buy it locally. I decorated the binders with illustrations drawn for the service by another church member, which I then embossed with powder and heat. I think this project will inspire me to do some more books in the upcoming months. I made a baby book for Dorothy but haven’t done the same for Worth so that seems like a good place to start.
Every year since Dorothy has been a baby we’ve hosted a 4th of July-themed bash in our back yard for her small friends. We had the 2010 event a couple days ago, and it was a success. This year we featured do-it-youself face (turned into body) painting, the dress-up box (even more exciting outdooors in 100 degree heat!) and other yard games. I wanted to make some version of the locally-popular game cornhole (basically bean-bag toss) that would be easy for preschoolers, so I stitched up some homemade bean bags before the party.
I used a set of coasters as a template to cut 8 fabric squares (leftover scraps from the matching outfits of last week), stitched them right-sides together leaving a small opening on one side, turned them right-side out, filled them with dried beans from the pantry using a small flexible cutting board as a funnel (see top photo), then hand-stitched the openings closed. Then I spray-painted two lines in the grass about 10 feet apart and put the bean bags on one side and a laundry basket on the other. The kids didn’t actually end up playing with it much–the draw of the face-paint was too strong–but I kind of liked the idea and will probably use it again at smaller gatherings when there is less competition for attention. I think it would be a fun multi-generational game.
Here’s Dorothy with self-painted cheeks and arms. We like the crayon-style face paints because the kids can paint themselves easily and it washes off with no more than a baby wipe. By the end of the party, some kids were almost fully naked and had paint from one end to the other!
After the party we had to return to reality with a jolt–27 children and 21 adults left, then we had three hours to clean the house and evacuate for a real estate showing. Ugh. No feedback, so I assume that after all that effort the prospective buyers were not interested.
Yesterday was much calmer. The party over, Dorothy went off to spend the day with her newly-relocated grandparents. I took Worth to his 4-month checkup (75% percentile in height and weight!), then he slept undisturbed by sister all afternoon while I got caught up on various quiet tasks and made some invitations to his upcoming baptism and brunch. It’s certainly not necessary to send invitations to the small, close crowd of family and friends who will be included in this day, but doing so does seem to set apart this event as something extra-special. I printed a Filippo Lippi painting from the internet (for personal use) that I’d admired at the Uffizi in Florence before I was married and taped it to a little message I printed on cardstock.