A Stitch Insanity.

I've been working on this for awhile now. It's called "Thinking" by Aimee Ray at littledear and I fell in love with it at first sight. I bought it and printed it and felt ovewhelmed and put it in my pattern file.

When I actually became overwhelmed, I found the pattern and started from scratch tracing and such...maybe as a catharsis...maybe because I like pretty things...maybe because I don't know what to be when I grow up and embroidery is something I am good at. Scratch that...extraordinary at. I can stitch the shit out of whatever is put in front of me. It completely agrees with my 50/50 left brained/right brained-ness. Perfectly neat with perfect colors yet crafty and artistic.

I adore this pattern because it represents how I feel All. The. Time. Kids and lunch and put that down! and dishes and octopus and stars and am I a good mom? and ohemgee the last season of The Closer is soooo goood and can I just take a nap without something getting destroyed*? And also I really want a pink bouffant like that lady in Are You Being Served.
Part of it could be summer, right? The kids are home, I scheduled no classes or activities. Just the boys loose on the house and my sanity. Every once in a while, I venture out to the Trader Joe's with them. Which becomes a nightmare...they ditch me then cry when they're lost...they don't want Starbucks, they want Starbucks...they sneak ground turkey into the cart when I'm not looking...Then I get home and they take off, into the bowels of the house, let the dog escape, and eat the entire bag of honey pretzel sticks I just bought.
I finally get five minutes to myself and Hartwell comes in and asks if I bought batteries for his Wii. No, I didn't. "Why not? You just lie in your bed all day."
So I make quesadillas, (they wanted peanut butter and jelly), pour some glasses of milk, (they wanted juuuuuice boooooxes), and then after one bite, "I don't liiiiike it! Can I have dessert?"
Of course not, what kind of mom would I be if I didn't put up at least a little fight, I think as I hand them a bag of cookies and go back to finish my five minutes of peace and diet coke.
Not that we don't have fun. The other day I spent a good fifteen minutes in a conversation with them about cemeteries and death and, "Why do they bury people's bones?" and "How do they know your name for the stone if you're dead?"
This makes it very difficult to have any kind of career epiphany. Or hobby. Or thought of your own. I'm too busy explaining funeral etiquette.
That's why I started this project. Something for me. Which doesn't frustrate me or take too much concentration. Something pretty I didn't have to buy. Something I'm good at that makes me feel like I accomplished something.

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
                                                                                -Guillame Apollinaire

And maybe, much like this:
becomes this:
I will figure it all out.


Garden Salad

Our little garden is starting to pay off! Free (ish) carrots and a child eating vegetables!

Although now I have to stop them from eating all the carrots.

Tiny. Pink. Different. Better.

We live in an old house. Not terribly old, just like 85. So if she were human, we would be really proud she made it this far. But Willard Scott wouldn't be announcing her birthday or anything. Along with the old age, she also has a very interesting personality. And she has some digestive problems. The basement sink backs up whenever the washer drains. We called to have a plumber come out to give her a colonic and realized that we had the messiest of messy basements. I girded my loins and went into my little basement workshop and started to clean. And paint.

Here is the before:
Before I added my sewing machine and plastic bins, this red room was a music room for my husband. He had a couple of guitars and amplifiers and I didn't want to hear it. Hence the red and green. I really, really wanted a leopard rug, but at the time they just weren't around.

After the kids were born and I was a stay-at-home mom, I decided to move his guitars out and move my creative stuff in. So that's what I did. There's more about it here.

That was three years ago, which means that now my drafting/cutting table was stacked with discarded projects and scraps of paper, the floor was covered in tiny bits of fabric and an occasional pin, and the boxes I use for shipping were procreating somehow and taking over.

So I cleaned and vacuumed and painted. I just used what I had that was light. Which was the pink from my kitchen cabinets. I didn't spend any money on this makeover. It's amazing what a little cleaning and reorganizing can do!

So here it is now. It's not magazine ready. But I love that I have my own crazy space to do what I need to do.

Onto the tour!

When you walk in, you can see my drafting table right away. I purchased an extra large cutting mat to cover it and lined it up with the horizontal bar on the bottom. It's great because I can more easily line up my ruler for cutting. Which makes the worst part of sewing go lickety-split.
Just up behind the cutting table is a little cabinet. It's sort of built into the wall. But also there's about two feet of space behind the paneling. Very mysterious!
Here it is open. Forgive the dark photo, when I turned on the light, it looked like an instagram filter. I wiped out the old cabinet and then laid down some old mat board to line the shelves.Then I filled the cabinet with fabric and felt.
When I first opened the cabinet, I found this little beauty. It still works. You set the dollar amount, place some paper inside and pull the lever. Then it prints the amount on the paper.
Let's take a little turn and see what other treasures we can see. That's right, a yellow cabinet! Surprised? Okay, the toilet. I live in a house with three gentlemen. And I have one bathroom. Imagine the smell of a gas station bathroom after an inebriated rugby team stopped by and you'll get close to what I deal with daily. When I originally created my sewing room, I placed the drafting table over the toilet and we shut the water off. The boys were still in diapers and I was an idiot. I wanted to hide the toilet and make it truly a creative room. After the pipes backed up, the toilet leaked a little and I thought,"maybe we need a second toilet." So we asked the plumbers to help us fix it and I redesigned the space to allow for um,...private time.
And the before. Boy that yellow cabinet is YELLOW!
But roomy!
Right below the yellow cabinet and window are what I refer to as "the stairs to no where." I just use them to stack things. They actually do lead somewhere, the backyard, but were paneled over at some point.
This is the window above the stairs next to the yellow cabinet. I opened it and you can see the backyard.
Here it is from the outside. Covered in roses. I wanted to show you the size. It's around three feet tall. My bedroom window is right above it.
Close-up! Now you can see it's a mini dutch door! The window opens, but the door does not. Because of the paneling. There's a little ledge the boys sometimes use to play restaurant.
Here's a view into the window. You can barely make out the drafting table. It's kind of delightful as a little kiosk, non?
If we turn a little more, you can still see the toilet and the bookcase I placed for privacy. Otherwise when you walk in, you would immediately see everything. Like, EVERYTHING. The bookcase faces out and is on a pedestal I made of bricks and old shelves. The bookcase is particle board and would turn to mush if the toilet overflowed. And I'm not taking any chances.
Turn once more and you can see another door. This door leads to the water heater and the furnace.
But there's another surprise in store. It also has earthquake supplies and a faucet to no where! But the tub possibilities make me so happy! Another bathroom, with tub?! I would cry...
Using my amazing detective skills, I discovered the two feet of space behind the paneling. So I tore off a panel to see what was actually there. Like every rich person, all my secrets are behind the fake Renoir.
There's a tiny window, conduit and a giant cabinet. I was hoping to pull out all the paneling and just create a giant desk using the foundation as a base. Our foundation is waist high and I used part of it to hold up the current desk. The other side of it rests on the plastic drawer unit. But, as I stared at the wall and cabinet and tiny window, I decided it would have to wait. I replaced the panel and sighed deeply.
My dream is to someday turn this room into a full or even 3/4 bath for the boys. And the rest of the basement would be their bedroom. The entrance to our basement is outside and downstairs. You have to leave the house and then re-enter below. But this would mean the boys would have their own space. Like Mike Seaver's apartment over the garage in Growing Pains. Except it's a bedroom below the house. And Alan Thicke refuses to answer my phone calls.
Here is a shot of the other end of the basement. I'd show you more, but even clean, it's not very photogenic. The entrance it just to the left. The door bangs the washer when you open it. The whole space is very wabi-sabi and interesting. Though you can't help but daydream the possibilities.


That's right! A new header! And it only took a really long time!

Last night I decided to make a new header. And I wanted it embroidered. And a rainbow. I printed out the name and traced it with a disappearing ink marker onto a spare piece of muslin. Then I watched "The Pelican Brief" and stitched it using the split stitch. My favorite stitch because it's very forgiving.

When I was finished, I wet a paper towel and and blotted up the marker. But the towel was too dry to disappear the marker, so I re-wet it with the water I saw in a glass on the side table. Then put it aside to let it dry.

This morning, as I awoke to fighting boys and a hot sun burning through my window, I discovered a weird stain on the muslin. Underneath the embroidery, there was a dark edged water spot. Which is when I realized the "water" I had used had a little bit of tea in it. It was John's melted iced tea water. Because,...of course

Okay, no biggie, I can probably just blur it out. I smoothed the fabric and photographed it anyway. But it was so wrinkly...and yet smooth in the middle where the hoop was. Did I want to iron it? Never! I never iron. So I did the next best thing,...and quite possibly the first best thing. I crumpled it and added a coffee ring.
Which is when "practically imperfect in every way," hit me. Living in a house with boys and dog and mess and chaos, I cannot craft without a piece of all that getting in it. And I should be embracing my wabi-sabi-ness.

I almost went with "practically inperfect in every way," but I wasn't sure if you knew me well enough to know that I know it's "imperfect." (A friend of a friend recently posted to facebook, "Enjoying a candlenight dinner." And not ironically. And as previously mentioned, I never irony).

Oregon: Part Four: Hugs and Voodoo

Are you still with me? A week long vacation in pictures and words is longer than I thought!

At the end of the week, we decided to revisit our favorites. And Seaside was the favorite. Not a favorite? The song the taffy guy sings at the corner. "If you want candy...,"he sings it all day and it gets crammed in your head like so much taffy in your teeth.

Seaside, Oregon is very much a seaside town. Like the Santa's, Cruz and Monica it has a carnival like atmosphere with rides and arcades and salt water taffy. Durning our last adventure, everyone rode the bumper cars. This time: tilt-a-whirl:
I know I look like I'm smiling, but I think it's more like the smile you smile when you've resigned yourself to death.

Our next stop was the arcade. Grandma bought everyone a $5 game card and they went bananas. John claims he "had to dance," on Dance Dance Revolution because Hartwell put money in and left. Sure John, just like Grandma had to steer the pirate ship for Max and Beckett.
Since this jaunt was also to celebrate Max's birthday, he got to choose one more activity. He chose paddle boats. And if I never sit in another paddle boat again, it will be too soon.

The Paddle Boat Guy warned us that with the wind and the current we would be paddling upstream and we all still stupidly paid the $35 for an hour. We look sort of happy in the photo because we were laughing at how hard it was to paddle upstream with sore legs. (The Astoria Column does not mess around).
Five minutes later we were out and PaddleBoatGuy offered to let us use the bumper boats since we were so bad at paddling. So he made it up to Max, who was happy to drive the bumper boats instead. Max and Grace did pretty well, while poor 6 year-old Hartwell had trouble steering and cried the whole time. It was a helluva day at sea, sir!
After the Seaside happiness, we wanted to go to Hug Point one more time and frolic and play the Oregon way.
I should mention the boys both got new tie-dye shirts...
I guess that's why they call it Hug Point.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's a rain dance:
The boys finally found the squirt guns in Grandma's beach bag.

And one last photo of the adorable gateway to the sea:
The next morning we drove into Portland to spend some time before our flight. Hartwell will never pass up a bathroom or a drinking fountain. And Oregon water is tasty enough for me not to freak out when he puts his face in it. Not the bathroom, the drinking fountain.
But the real reason we came to Portland: Voodoo Doughnut. Where the "magic is in the hole" and "good things come in pink boxes." You know, for kids!
The line was super long and wrapped around all Disney-style. But we all happily waited, knowing that the sugar would be delivered soon.

Finally, someone who understands my kitchen color choices!
Menu and color inspiration:
The Voodoo Doughnut:
We may have over ordered. That's two layers.
This and the merry-go-round were the highlights:
I don't know how my dad can look so grumpy holding a box of doughnuts:
After the sugar rush, we walked through the Portland Saturday Market. I wish I had more spending money. I saw too many things I wanted.
The boys loved these headband situations. We were at this booth awhile.

We had a great time and were busy planning our next trip on the flight home. Did you know you can rent yurts?
A lot of the things we did, I realize now, could be done in Southern California. The beach, the market, tasty local food, arcades and tilt-a-whirls. So while we had fun crabbing and exploring the temperate rain forests and doing silly touristy things away from home, this trip reminded me that I should do more silly touristy things nearby. Like go to the beach more. And ride on the tilt-a-whirl. And drive an hour to eat a delicious doughnut.