Life in Progress – Spring has Sprung

March 26, 2009 § 2 Comments

Although I have made dire predictions in the past, I do believe that Spring is here. I know this because I finally looked at my collection of silver trees and snowmen and thought “that’s ridiculous”. I finally got the urge to redo the decor, open the windows and get out the fresh, clean, floral-y candles.

But along with that, Spring brings the return of my “single motherhood” as Brian started rehearsals and performances for his show, Lend Me A Tenor up in Arlington Heights. He was gone every day from 6 pm to 11 pm, and after Charlotte went to bed, I was left to my own devices, finally able to delve into some crafting once again.

Charlotte began complaining that she missed Daddy. It occurred to me that I hadn’t done any straight up scrapbooking in ages, so I followed the lead of Art Junk Girl and decided to alter an old board book into a Daddy and Charlotte book. She has 5,000 books and FOUR copies of Goodnight Moon, three of which are board book versions (which aren’t even the full story). So I took the one that was in the worst shape, applied Gesso to each page and the covers (it sounds so easy, but trying to keep all those pages apart so they don’t become one giant Gesso block is a reeeeal logic puzzle.)

goodnightmoongessobook

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Gesso dried, I painted over the pages in a white/gray acrylic paint coat just to give it an artsy look, not so screaming white. More updates as this book grows.

charleyinthebox

Charlotte, no doubt taking after her mother, has grown quite fond of setting herself up in boxes. She puts the box where she’d like it to be (in my bedroom while I’m putting on makeup… heretofore referred to as MAYMUK, which is her pronunciation), then she gets inside and asks for someone to bring her a blanket, a binky and some juice. I mean, let’s lay our cards out on the table here…it looks cozy.

I haven’t sewn in a while, but when I saw the super cute, super easy Kid’s Kimono over at Habitual, I knew it would be my first foray. I wasted approximately a yard and a half of fabric making that first kimono, screwing up the binding, the neckline, I tried to put a lining in it for the chilly spring and ended up making a twenty five pound kimono that was so stiff that Charlotte couldn’t put her arms down when she tried it on. I publicly laughed, privately swore, and tried again. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE DO, RIGHT?T TRY AGAIN. You know my motto kids:

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. But then give up, there’s no point in looking ridiculous.

I trimmed the pattern and made a summer wrap shirt out of it with velcro closure instead of tie closure. I like it, although it’s a bit low cut for a two year old. It’s a bit low cut for a thirty year old, but maybe she’ll grow into it.  I must give credit and laudation to one Ms. Angry Chicken, whose tutorial on attaching bias tape without swearing is what got this shirt made. 

spottyshirt

I have also started working on the world famous Twirly Skirt from House on Hill Road, but from the looks of it so far, I doubt I’ll be posting any pictures. They say practice makes perfect, but really, all I’d like is for practice to make half way decent. I’ve never asked for much.

The Crafty Crow is an awesome website, an aggregate of all the children’s crafts and art projects in the history of the world.  And pal, I’m not talking about macaroni necklaces and paperchains for Christmas.  This stuff is off the hizzy as far as learning, fun, creativity and originality.  Charlotte loves her some bathtub fun, particularly tub crayons and tub paint.  I bought her the Spongebob Squarepants soap paint set for christmas which she used up entirely in about two weeks.  It was 8.00.  So I took a cue from Wee Life, featured on the Crafty Crow and made up some homemade tub paint from cornstarch, clear dish detergent and food coloring. 

tubpaint

I chose the new Palmolive Pure & Clear not only for the color purity, but because it’s gentle and fragrance free and all that.  I was temporarily stumped on how to store the paint.  I had a set of six mini gladware containers in my grocery cart until I got to the beauty needs department (which I never skip.  EVER.  I always find a beauty need I need.  I could shop the cosmetics/bath/hair section of a drug store for three hours).  There I found a travel kit of four three ounce plastic shampoo containers IN A CLEAR PLASTIC ZIPPER POUCH for only 2.00.  Score.  The paint stays nice and neat in the containers and the containers stay nice and neat in the pouch.  Hooray!

Don’t be fooled.  I don’t all of the sudden love spring.  But for some reason, this spring arrived just in time with my creative energies and the bonus of having time to myself is allowng for some fun experimentation.  I think I’ve come up with my first product for Etsy (I’ve been stewing over what sort of shop I’d like to have over there), and i’m in the secret lab prototype stages of that, and the fresh air brought a new burst of writing energy that I’m trying to take advantage of.  I love crafting and cooking and sewing and drawing, but in truth, writing is my truest, deepest passion, and when I was without that drive to do it, I was lost.  So I hope this feeling sticks around.

Happy Spring!

                                

 

 

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Beware the Temptations of False Spring

February 12, 2009 § 6 Comments

It happens every February, and like my father’s April Fool jokes, I fall for it every time, even though I tell myself (out loud even) that I shouldn’t.  Like a bad boy in a leather jacket who drives a motorcycle, I am fished in by False Spring.  Its warm breezes curl their smoky white fingers under my chin, leading me on tip toe down the primrose path until, like a sixteen pronged innoculation needle, a killing frost descends and turns those primroses into little brown crispies on the ice covered sidewalks.

The joke of it is, I don’t even really like spring, to be honest with you.  To me, spring is raininess, cloudiness, grey, mushy, slush. It’s the discovery of long lost dog feces garnishing the yards of the neighborhood, the smell of rotting leaves and worms and some dead thing that was caught in the ice like a fossil.  Spring is a reminder that the days of sweating from morning till night are just around the corner.  Spring means shopping at JC Penney with your mom for Easter Dresses.  

I am a strange bird.  I enjoy shopping.  Wait. I LOVE IT.  I love the social event of shopping, a “girl’s day of shopping” a “shopping spree”, “christmas shopping’, “back to school shopping”.  I love GROCERY shopping so much I include it on my list of hobbies.  I love when stores tell me to “STOCK UP”.  I love paper shopping bags with logos on the outside.  I remember when my friend Marlo and I would go to Eastview Mall with our…thirty dollars or so, wanting to go on a giant spree.  We’d buy 1/2 off hoop earrings at Express and then ask if we could have the BIG shopping bag, because who doesn’t love the look of carrying armloads of bags out of the mall?  All that could make it better would be a fresh bunch of flowers wrapped in paper, a long french bread and a hat box (and some celery*).  What I do NOT like about  shopping is trying things on.  This is why the majority of my clothes come from Target and Old Navy. I know precisely what styles and sizes fit me in those stores and I don’t have to try them on.  I eyeball it, hold it in front of me, see if it can be thrown in the washing machine and purchase it.  I hate dressing rooms.  I’m an impatient person, and i don’t like to waste time DOING things that I don’t like DOING when I could be somewhere taking a nap.  I hate the whole procedure of taking off your coat, your purse, your clothes, shoes, taking the thing off the hanger, figuring it out, looking terrible in it and knowing that a gaggle of security people are laughing their faces off at you behind the mirror while you strike a pose and say “HI, YES, How are you?” which is something my mom and sister and I do when we try on clothes for some reason.  You have to see how your body looks saying “Hi, yes.”  Maybe I’d like trying on clothes more if I were at least six sizes smaller, but as it is, it’s just a big series of “NOPE, YOURE STILL TOO FAT! TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR, ORSON!”

So imagine then my torture when my mother used to take us out to buy Easter dresses.  I don’t remember my sister’s attitude, so we’ll just say it was bad, because she and my mother were like those trick magnet dogs, flipping around and resisting each other, never occupying the same point.  But I, the usual nerd ‘good child’ who let my mother dress me in grey courdoroy when I was thirteen, engaged in a particular act of rebellion when it came to clothes shopping. First of all, you had to try everything on.  Then you had to come out and let mom see it, and pull it around and “HOW’S THE CROTCH FITTING?  DOES THIS MAKE YOUR CROTCH LOOK FAT?”   Then she’d pull VIOLENTLY on the waistband to see how much room was available.  If you couldn’t pull the waistband out wide enough to put a cat in it, they were too tight.  Because remember, “IT’LL SHRINK”.  Everything shrinks.

By the end of our day of shopping I had reached an unusual level of frustration while trying on a ridiculously stylish, early eighties PANTSUIT with a peach colored patent leather belt about 1/2″ wide. 

“LET ME SEE IT,” Mom called from out in the middle of the store.  That was the catch.  She didn’t wait outside the dressing room door.  She was out looking for more things to force me to try on.  “COME OUT HERE.”

So, in an effort to show my hatred of the whole shabang, I got down on all fours, and, like a dehydrated man crawling through the desert, I dragged myself out of the dressing room and across the floor of the juniors dress department, past salespeople, customers, other girls my own age.  I turned up the vocals as my mother came into view.  Groaning and whimpering to really illustrate the torture I was being put through; the torture of pantsuits, of PANTY HOSE, of white mesh/net hats and teeny white patent leather purses.  If my goal was to make a scene:  I was victorious. To this day, it mortifies my mother to look back on that afternoon.  

Spring also has Easter.  Although I am a lifelong Christian from a Christian home, lovin the Lord, letting Jesus take the wheel…I…I don’t like Easter.  The severe importance of it scares me.  Are we allowed to joke around on Easter?  To laugh and have fun?  It’s never been a favorite holiday, and ever since I was a kid when I saw the statue of Jesus covered in a back shroud at church, Good Friday has really freaked me out.  It scared me so much I didn’t want to go back to church on Sunday to see the ‘black ghost Jesus’. 

HE’S NOT A GHOST,” my mom yelled, tapping her foot. “THE WHOLE POINT OF EASTER IS THAT HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD TO SAVE US. THAT’S THE MIRACLE OF EASTER! NOW GET IN THE CAR!

So I guess the point here is, even though I don’t like spring, by the time February rolls around I’m so sick of the brutal wind, ice and snow of Chicago winter that a taste of warmth, a lighter coat, a brief glimpse at the sun are enough to drive me into a brief, unheard of, put-a-wallet-between-her-teeth optimism that says MAYBE THIS YEAR SPRING HAS COME EARLY!  Maybe this year it’ll be sunny and warm!  Maybe this year I’ll find a flattering dress for Easter Church!  Maybe this year…everything is different. 

But the snow always comes back, the gray black slush lining the streets, the wind pulling your hood right back off your head, turning your umbrella inside out.  The sky returns to its gloomy state of freshly erased chalkboard as we inevitably step into a puddle that looked 1 inch deep but really was a storm drain.

 The thing about false spring though is that it comes at just the right time.  It reminds you that while your troubles are not over, all is not lost, that the days indeed are getting longer, that there’s grass somewhere under that blanket of gloom, that Jesus isn’t a ghost anymore and empire waist dresses are flattering on everyone.  So while I urge you to keep a cool head about yourself during this warm, deceptive week…you can still enjoy it while it lasts.  Reminds me of a quote I have taped to the fridge:

“Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened!”

~ Dr. Seuss

Stay warm!  

 

 

*a very select few will get this joke.

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