Monday, July 28, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 18 & 19

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 18: Large photos for our walls. I waited around a few months for a good coupon code and was finally able to order three 20x30 and one 12x18 prints at an affordable price. Paired with coupons and sales for the frames I was finally able to add family photos to our walls that were begging for them. The two on top are above our bed, the black and white one is in our wild bathroom and the one on the right is on a wall in our dining room area. We have a long way to go to fill our walls in a way that feels right, but these have made a huge difference and make me really happy. 

Project 19: A larger knit blanket for my girl. This is the giant project that kept me away from others for so long, but it was worth every stitch as I love how it turned out. I saw something similar on Purl Soho ages ago and it never left my mind for long so I knew one day I would have to do a version of it. I finally found the colors I wanted with Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton and got to work - a few months later here we are. I could have saved time using larger needles, but I didn't want to wait until I could get them so used what I had. It did take longer using 7s instead of 10s, but it makes for a nice tight knit and a super cozy and comfy blanket to snuggle under for story time.

Are you a knitter? Have you knit anything lately? I do love the time with yarn and needles, but am thinking I need to become better acquainted with my sewing machine too for a few projects that can be finished in a night or two rather than a month or two. I would probably get more sleep that way at least!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Good Stuff

Summer has been moving along quickly and I know before we know it we will be welcoming in our next season. The other day the air was perfectly cool, with a light breeze and warm late afternoon sun streaming down and at that moment I almost thought Fall had already come and started daydreaming about those cool walks outside with a sweater to keep me warm, the days of open windows and cool breezes, the snuggling up with some knitting and a hot cup of tea when the sun goes down early in the day. Then I snapped back to reality, picked some goodies from the garden and gave thanks for bare toes and sun on my skin, for I do love a good trip to the pumpkin patch but am in no hurry at all to get there. Our summer has been filled with lots of time in the garden and yard, trips to the farmer's market, weekly trips to our library to complete summer reading club and take in the community gardens there, and mostly just trying to stay afloat while working on keeping our house in order and all seven of us alive.

One of our dogs, Jasper, has been sick since the beginning of the year and we have tried just about everything to make him well. Many trips have been taken to the vet with an equal amount of phone calls to check-in and plan the next thing, he has been on eight different medications and been given more natural remedies we have researched and we are currently working on switching him over to a different food in hopes that maybe just an allergy could be at the root of it all. Our next step is contacting a specialist to set up an appointment to check for polyps or a tumor and going from there - poor pooch is only four years old but he sure is having it rough. He started life stricken with parvo at only five weeks old and we nursed him to health in our kitchen, E sleeping near him on a camping pad at night. Half of his litter didn't make it but our swirly wonderful boy pulled through and I can't help but wonder if this current illness is so stubbornly hanging around due to his system being so compromised at such a young age, but all we can do is keep moving forward, loving him well and trying to get him healthy, so here's hoping we have more answers soon.

Luckily the rest of us are healthy and while I sometimes feel like there are too many piles on my plate we get by and have fun and we are all looking forward to some possible changes for our family in the next few months - ones that give me a bit of hope that there is a way for us to get to a bit more stable footing and a bit deeper happiness, but more on that later if there is anything more to say. Here's hoping!

Lately I have been so very grateful for other women in my life. You see, a bit of that deeper happiness has already been wiggling it's way in since connecting with other moms around this time last year. Over the year since I first walked in to a local nursing mom's group I have found so many other women who I am now happy to call friends. Other women I can count on and turn to and cry with if the need arises. Women and their families we can camp with and dream with and talk about crafting and gardening and anything else under the sun with. It's what I always knew I was missing but never felt there was true hope in finding. Sometimes my upbringing gets the best of me and I cower into myself feeling as if I am just extra, that really my presence isn't all that important in a given interaction or group, but if I am honest I try to let myself feel the care coming my way from others, to allow myself to feel welcomed and loved and to try to give that back in the ways I know how. Some of us have committed to getting together at least once a week and it often turns into two and seeing the bonds forming between our children, as well as ourselves, gives me hope for a happier future for all involved. There was a time a couple of weeks ago when I was sick and we had to stay home by ourselves and it really sunk it what a difference this community has made in both of our lives. When she was a baby I was constantly lonely but with my siblings living out of town, my mom working full time and no friends with kids I felt a bit hopeless and as if things would always be that way. Knowing there was nothing more to lose and that soon it may be even harder I took a chance and walked into a meeting and on the way home I cried, but then I went back week after week and slowly the connections started falling into place and here a year later it is hard to imagine it has only been that long. Us moms get to the point pretty quickly, allowing vulnerability sooner than one might otherwise be accustomed to and it was pretty easy to find the ones, those ones you know you have more in common with than just changing diapers and running on two hours of sleep, those ones you connect with beyond being a mom - not just because you are a mom - and I am so glad to have found a few of my own. I look forward to an endless amount of years of friendship and am grateful every day for having found them. And now? Now with my family all back and fresh friendships in our lives I feel like my cup is so much fuller of the good stuff.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 15, 16 & 17

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 15: Simple swing set for our family. We didn't want a large framed set for the limited space we have in our yard, so we looked up plans and ideas and E put them into place to build the wood frame, adding a swing our daughter received for her birthday and another swing with brackets that can hold up to 350lbs so any adult we know could enjoy some swinging too. We then dug out the dirt, lined the edges with pavers and moved lots of wood chips in to fill in underneath. Grass would have been perfectly fine, but we have a dog that loves to dig and dig and dig, so we were trying to minimize the amount of tripping holes and the amount of mud being tracked into our home, so this is perfect. I requested a hanging planter on each end to brighten the place up and then we called it complete. 

Project 16: Water Table. I wanted something simple for outdoor water play but didn't want another big plastic thing in our backyard or to spend the money on one, so I found this under the bed box we already had and E and I put our heads together to settle on a simple plan and he found enough scrap wood to throw it together one night while I put our daughter to bed. This table is used every time we are outdoors by our own family and any visiting children and I love the simplicity of it. When the weather turns cooler it could also be used for sand/gravel/dirt. I'm thinking dirt with different rocks scattered throughout so our rock loving girl can go hunting for them.

Project 17: Pin Cushion. This one is plain and simple enough. Just a quick little project for a quick feeling of accomplishment. Plus, I'd been saving this little milk glass cup around for this purpose for ages, so glad to finally throw it together. 

Where has your creative energy been directed lately? Any fun creations or plans for those to come?


Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 12, 13 & 14

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 12: A children's/sensory/fun garden in the corner of our larger garden. We thought our sweetest would enjoy a place of her own to dig and play while we worked on planting and weeding. These days there are marigolds along the edges and we need a lot less clothes when visiting and it is serving its purpose well...on some days. There is much more interest on our daughter's part in ripping up the purposefully planted items than digging in her special plot of earth, but we do hang out together in there from time to time and her cousins all love to dig and play in there as well.

Project 13: Book/Toy ledges for our girls room. These are super simple but also super effective and useful. Here's a link to a tutorial. The books and toys are constantly rotated by tiny hands and she has also found it to be a useful spot to place her water bottle at night.

Project 14: Wooden sheep and pig. We finally got our hands on a scroll saw so I was excited to sketch out these two and get to work. They are made with scrap oak from another project and the details were made with a wood-burning tool with the color being added on with basic watercolors and then covered with a homemade wood cream. I hope to make more in the future, but will use a softer wood to see what the difference is. 

I have a bit of catching up to do as one of my most recent projects kept me away from others for a bit, but I have no doubt I will make it to 52 by the end of the year and I will be interested to look back on all I have done. 

Have you been working on any projects of your own lately? 


Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 9, 10 & 11

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 9: A 16x20 frame for our bathroom. Just a quick first-time-is-all-I-am-doing brush of the words "you are beautiful and strong" on watercolor paper and mounted on scrap fabric then put into an already had on hand frame that was black but re-painted white for this purpose. This one didn't cost anything and it may not be the perfect script, but it does make me smile each time I am greeted with it.

Project 10: A knit rainbow cat for my gal's Easter basket. I was craving a project and had some sock weight yarn with no purpose so did a search on ravelry and settled on this project. If I can ever find a link to it I will be sure to add it for anyone who might be interested. It was a quick knit with it all being knit in one piece aside from the arms and tail and seams being added for the legs and ears and would make a quick and easy new baby gift. I would use a different yarn in the future and try to sew the face on before filling or use different methods, but it was a fun and quick project to make a dent in that ball of yarn. 

Project 11: An "Imagine" banner for the wall above my daughter's art table. This was another use-what-you-have project using scraps of floral fabrics and a couple packages of tiny bias tape I had on hand.

More to come!