Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Belated Birthday

The past couple of months haven't felt very inspired. I hadn't sewn anything between when my Dad fell and when I whipped up Sarah's Cat in the Hat costume the beginning of March. Working on that sort of got me in the mood again though, for which I'm thankful. Especially since I was overdue with a birthday gift for a good friend that always gets something handmade. I finally got around to finishing this tote bag this past week, which was a good thing, as we were meeting for a belated (very) birthday lunch on Friday.

This bag is based on the Odekake Tote bags that I made a slew of to give as Christmas gifts. The pattern and instructions are from the Fall 2009 issue of Stitch Magazine. I used the measurements for the bag and applied the same principles to assembling it, but embellished it with some happy buntings blowing the wind. It's a great way to use up some of those itty bitty scraps that I once thought were meant for the trash can, but now can't imagine tossing.

I might be wrong, but I think there might be more of these bags in my future...........

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day

My girls seemed to be under the misguided idea that a little leprechaun was going to pay them a visit and leave treats, treasures and what have you for them today. Between all the other magical visitors that we have, I honestly could not let another squeeze in under the door, but I did whip them up some special shirts to wear to school today. Just a simple four leaf clover shape attached with Ultra Heat'n Bond. Yes, not enough time to even stitch over it, but I had other fish to fry (so to speak) last night as well. In the end, they were happy and I'm ignoring the fact that the price of the plain green t-shirt was the same as the ones made for St. Patrick's Day. At least theirs were original and momma-made.

Tomorrow I'll show you that other proverbial fish.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Celebration

For once, our morning did not revolve around clean blue jeans. With their input earlier in the week, I got to assemble their outfits/costumes for today, in celebration of Dr. Seuss' 107 th. birthday.

The past two years I've had it easy, I've suggested that Rachel be a "Who", she's gone for it, we've pulled out full skirts, striped tights, fun hair and called it a day. This year, when I suggested that Sarah also be a "Who", I was shot down. She wanted to be the Cat in the Hat.

...but of course - why would we want to use existing items we have at home that can be put together the morning of, when we could have momma whip up an entire costume for us. Of course that's what I did, because it's her first year to dress up for the celebration and tomorrow is her own special day. Despite the costume taking most of last evening to make, it still came together rather quickly and easily. If I had actually employed math in figuring out the hat, it might have come together even more easily, but math and I try to avoid each other. Her top half is just a black t-shirt that I was happy to find on sale for half off at Hobby Lobby this week, setting me back a whole $1.50. I just cut an oval of white felt and stitched it to the belly, then used sharpie around the edges to blend the two together. The ears on the hat, I regret. They will be coming off this afternoon. The hat is also large enough that it fits me as well (oops), so maybe it will get some use again some time.....but probably not. I will add that the entire costume (with the exception of the black leggings) was off by 10:30, meaning more time was spent making it than was spent wearing it. She said it was the tail that made it hard to sit in a chair ( it was attached to the bottom of the shirt and secured up over her right shoulder).

At least Rachel went easy on me with yet another incarnation of Cindy Lou Who. Putting her hair up like this, which she never lets me do, makes me really want to cut it short so that I can see that sweet face that's always hiding in hair. And to be honest, given the chance, this is how I'd dress her every day. She'll be having none of that though because rest assured she packed blue jeans in her backpack "just in case".

I also wanted to add an update on my Dad. He's doing much better. His strength in his right side has returned, his ability to find the words he's looking for is greatly improved and at first encounter he seems "normal". He is still having memory issues though and often says or does things that just aren't typical for him. He's also a tidge cranky (ok, maybe more than a tidge) and seems to be lacking some sensitivity (in his personality, not in sensation). This makes it hard for my Mom, who's not quite sure what the final outcome will be, but all in all, things are looking much better.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Coming Back Around

While I have not passed out as of late, I feel like I've been quite out of it. Two and a half weeks ago I got a call on Saturday morning from my mom. My dad had passed out while walking the dog at night and fallen and hit his head. I experienced a similar incident with him this summer, when he passed out at the city pool with the girls and I and hit his head on the steps to the water slide. At first we thought we were in for an experience like that - he would be sent to the nearest major city that specialized in trauma cases, be monitored for a couple of days and then come home. Except this time it was different. He had a severe brain bleed and there was a lot of swelling on his brain. He could talk, but just in short, curt words. His heart rate was also out of control (part of the problem that caused him to pass out). It was scary.

A week later he was discharged and sent not to the rehabilitation facility they'd said they'd send him to, but home, with just my mom to care for him. That was a Friday. At his first meeting with his PT and OT on Monday, both agreed that he should not have been sent home. After some phone calls on Tuesday, they were able to get him into a rehab facility on Wednesday. He was there for five hours before being sent via ambulance back to the hospital. He has stopped using his right hand, his right foot was dragging and his right arm was swollen and cold to the touch. Another CAT Scan showed more swelling and what turned out to be a second brain bleed. He was not in good shape. Thankfully, a week after arriving back at the hospital, he has been released to rehabilitation. As of this morning, his swelling on the brain is decreasing and he's regaining use of his right arm and hand. His speech and cognitive skills have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that with lots of therapy, the dad I know will be returned to me.

So, all my artsy craftsy ideas have sort of been consumed by fear, worry, concern, dread - you name it. I've laid in bed and watched more mindless TV in the past two and a half weeks than I've seen in years. I'm feeling optimistic now though and might actually get something accomplished soon. I cannot say that the quilt on dad's lap was made by me though. A good friend of my mom's belongs to a quilting group that makes these "prayer quilts". The centers of the blocks have a tie that remains untied until a visitor says a prayer and ties it. A neat idea, I thought.

And if you looked at the picture of my parents (taken on my mom's birthday - happy birthday mom!) and thought "That man looks familiar...". Then maybe you're remembering the creepy, old neighbor from Home Alone. As my dad ages, he is being "recognized" out in public more and more, but no that is not my dad hanging with Macaulay Culkin.

On a brighter note, we welcomed an eight year old into our family this past Saturday. Well, she was previously our seven year old, but she's graduated now. She also shares a birthday with my dad, which makes it extra special (we think). We were blessed with an incredibly beautiful weekend - temperatures in the high 60's, blue skies and good times. We spent time at the park as a family, walked next door for pizza and scored ice cream - our first outside ice cream of 2011!

Now to plan the slumber party for five 7 and 8 year olds this Firday. Why am I tired already?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pancakes for Breakfast

It's Saturday and the kids let us sleep in - they deserved a treat. I do try and make something yummy for breakfast on the weekends, just to break up the monotony of the cereal, yogurt, oatmeal that we eat regularly during the week. Today it was pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes (you can guess who put in that request). It's OK though, these pancakes are actually pretty good for you - even with the chocolate chips!

The recipe is based on The Little Red House's recipe for Blueberry Pancakes. We have made them and they are yummy as well, but chocolate chips won out this morning. I dropped the cornmeal to 1/4 C and added 1/4 C oat flour (oatmeal ground in a coffee grinder does the trick) and also added 1 t. of vanilla. I only sprinkled about 5-6 chocolate chips per pancake, so it doesn't take many and no one complained. Of course they did ask for whipped cream, which I nixed. If you are looking for more wholesome, healthy recipes, be sure and check out The Little Red House - I've tried several of her recipes and they have all been yummy. Happy eats!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What You See is Not What You Get

It was with great eagerness this year that I packed away the Christmas decorations. I don't know what it was about them, usually I'm sad to see them go, but this year they were closing in on me. Maybe it's that they're the same every year, maybe it's that they really clutter things up (not that we aren't typically covered in clutter anyway), who knows, but they were driving me nuts and New Years Day they were gone.

So, of course, the next day my five year old came to me and wanted to know when we'd be getting the "winter decorations" out. Apparently she loves a good decorating jaunt. "We're not" sounded a bit too grumpy of an answer, so I told her we didn't have any "winter decorations" per se. Smart cookie that she is, she proposed that we make some. So we did. Well, at least one.

I did some googling and flickring to see what I could see, and finally decided that we'd make a coffee filter wreath. This fit the bill because A. I liked the looks of it B. Little people could help and C. I had the materials on hand. They are simply, coffee filters (a bunch) - we used the basket shaped - I'm not sure if the conical ones would give the same effect, hot glue and a wreath form. If you don't have a wreath form, improvise - a wreath shape cut out of cardboard or foam core would work as well.

I watched this Martha Stewart video to get the gist of it, but rest assured there's not much to "get". Simply take two coffee filters, one on top of the other, fold them in half and then make sort of an ice cream cone shape out of the half circle. Fuss with it till you've got a shape you like, and open the layers up to make it fuller.

Fold the tip of the ice cream cone up, about 1/2" and flatten that out so you have a flat area to glue to your base. I glued a row opening outwards and then glued a second row opening towards the center of the wreath (tips pointing in the opposite direction of the first row). This made the wreath nice and full and sturdy.

And there you go, our winter decoration. I stuck the bow in (which could stand to be bigger) with a T-Pin and hung it with ribbon that's also secured with T-Pins. The beauty of that - come Valentine's Day, the ribbon can turn red or pink, come Easter it can turn spring green or light blue, come fall it could be black or orange. You get the idea.

Yes, the five year old did lose interested before it was all done and yes, she did break my glue gun while sitting right next to me (it wasn't on), but she's still happy with the results and so am I. Now I've got lots of other ideas on how to vary this - coloring the filters, glittering the filters, heart shaped forms, embellishing the wreaths, etc. Goodness knows, I need a few more craft ideas for my spare time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let it Snow!

This was the sky last night (Sunday) as we waited with great anticipation for the predicted snow storm that was to sweep through the South. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, I was so giddy. Twice this morning, as I drifted in and out of sleep, I dreamt that we actually didn't get a big snow fall, just a measly splatter of snow that was already melting. I was apologizing to the kids over and over (in the dream) while feeling disappointed myself.

I was however, not disappointed. We got a healthy 6.5 - 7" of beautiful, powdery snow overnight. Someone said it was snowing at the rate of 2" an hour at one point. I was asleep and cannot verify this fact, but can say that at 11:30 PM there were teeny, tiny, practically invisible flurries listlessly drifting down that made worried that mother nature wasn't going to come through for me. Clearly she kicked into high gear later on.

My kids are eager, anxious, impatient (or maybe just kids) - call it what you will, but while most people were still in their pajamas enjoying the view from inside, we were already outside. Thankfully we are blessed to have neighbors with children very similar in age who joined us not too long after we set out to explore our street.

We spent several hours outside today, and appreciated that our neighbors shared their sleds with us. We are also lucky enough to live at the top of a steep road - the few cars that did brave the road this morning established excellent grooves for the sleds to travel in. Some serious sledding was done!

For some of us, a sled wasn't even necessary, it was just fun to roll around and become caked in snow (she does have multiple layers on), eat snow, sit in snow and just revel in the wonderful miracle that is snow!

We took indoor breaks to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies in the afternoon and shared a big pot of chili together this evening. What more could a person ask for on such a magical day? If anything was left undone today, we've got another snow day tomorrow to cross it off the to do list!

Until then, I think I know some little girls that are going to sleep very soundly tonight!