Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Edition 2011

During this especially festive time of year, I like nothing better than to hole up with my sewing machine while my children dismantle the kitchen cabinets. As they develop their independent play skills, I happily busy myself with making whimsical but practical gifts: tote bags; felted coffee cozies; and Velcro pouches that hold anything and everything from pacifiers to popcorn.

There are babies on the horizon (not mine, thank goodness), so I’m also making gifts—crinkly soft baby blocks and baby leg warmers from women’s socks. And the toddler pillow is hot this year: use as a huggably discreet teddy bear substitute; throw a couple on your sofa for a pop of color; leave one on the sofa to rest your head as you recline. Have a really lame pillow fight in which no one gets hurt but each party is mildly annoyed!

I did my fabric shopping at Spool and for cotton webbing (straps), upholstery weight fabric, and seasonal fare featuring pine cones on snow laden branches and a creepily cute Santa Claus who appears to be strong arming a reindeer.

Here’s a nifty gift idea via the Purl Bee: Tuck a Starbucks gift card into a coffee cozy and give to your favorite teacher (or private tutor). It’s also a welcome sight peeping out of the top of your significant other’s stocking.
Baby leg warmers make great toddler ARM warmers. These cost $1.00 to make.

Another satisfied customer napping on a toddler pillow.
I wish I had some witty observations on life and a new alcoholic beverage to review, but alas this holiday season paired with my tutoring duties has SAPPED my brain and creative energy. My arduous sewing schedule doesn't help, either. I hope my few but faithful readers enjoy this cozy time of year & forgive me for my somewhat boring post!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A note: For the time being, I am shunning garments. They are never the right size; the drape is all wrong; and they suck up too much of my most precious resource--brain power. Henceforth, I will be featuring crafts, home decor, and assorted kids & baby projects that I will make for friends.

As the days grow mercifully short (earlier bedtimes!) and the nights colder, I find myself shunning Pimm’s & ginger beer and instead sipping a small glass of decent red wine. I just want to warm my cockles—is that too much to ask for? Perhaps a hot toddy will be in order soon. Too bad that I don’t know what that is, but it sure sounds cozy.

Readers may recall my earlier foray into the stuffed bird world, in which my birds resembled not so much winged creatures but reptiles. Had I been asked to provide figures for a Pleistocene-era diorama, my “birds” would have fit right in as the early half-fish, half land crawler that Darwin described to horrified Victorians. They would have shuddered upon first glance of my creations, as well. The moniker “O’Connor’s (Loch Ness?) monster” comes to mind.

Well, I am happy to report that my birds, based on a lovely free pattern on Spool’s website, look less like scary bottom dwellers and more like actual birds! The one feature I have trouble keeping defined is the pointy beak. As a result, a few of them are hooded falcons or birds with nasal congestion (stuffy beaks!). The birds make great soft toddler toys; mobiles; and Christmas ornaments.

"Sooo...are you a falcon, or what?"
"Up yours!"

Speaking of warming one’s cockles, one of the best ways to do this is with a mini pillow. These toddler-sized pillows are the perfect size for your preschooler to use at naptime, but did you know they are also great to use on planes, trains, and automobiles if you are a weary adult? I rarely travel, so I’ve been taking mine to bed as a comforting stuffed animal replacement. Pattern Patti on Etsy shows you how to not only sew the case but also the pillow inside of it. So far, I’ve made a kid-themed case, a Christmas one, and a normal one. You could sew one for every holiday and season. The small dog on your gift list this December will appreciate his fashionable body pillow, perhaps with his initials appliquéd upon it?

Other projects in the works: A Victorian needle & sewing case; soft baby blocks; and eco-friendly, reusable snack bags made out of laminate cotton! Join me next week, as I try my hand at the lost art of hand sewing and give my machine a well-deserved rest.

Finally, I leave you with an oddly touching picture of my daughter during her preschool's Halloween parade. She's a shy little girl in crowds. I don't know why, but this picture makes me sad and happy at the same time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who Is Number One?

No one told me that sewing would lead to harder drugs! Yes, I’m talking about QUILTING. It starts innocently enough, with the so-called “mini quilt": perhaps a quaint American flag with a teddy bear appliqué, followed by an antiquing soak in a tea bath. Then you move on to ninepatch, log cabins, and star blocks, followed by courthouse steps and the notorious bear’s paw! Before you know it you are shopping alternately at three different fabric stores weekly so that each one doesn't sense your longing desperation.

I’m hardly an addict—yet. Last night I made two coasters. I don’t have smaller rulers yet, so I’m finding it hard to precisely cut the fabric. Wonky, but charming. As I noted previously with my primitive stuffed bird, if a blind Amish woman missing an arm made these, I could sell them on Etsy.
Holds one glass...

Big enough for two Pimm's Cups!

Another recent discovery is Pimm’s Cup No. 1. Don’t know if there’s a No. 2 or if it is equally delicious. Picture, if you will, an English meadow at twilight. Then, add  a smidge of the West Indies circa 1760, 25% alcohol, and a few drunken peasants. Yes, it tastes that good. I mix a generous fingerful with ginger ale. Then, after a few delicate sips, I guzzle it.
Aperatif, or mother's helper? Does anyone care?
Other projects: a sewing machine cozy, the concept of which I adore. You can make a cozy for almost anything, or anyone, for that matter. I’m measuring my children so I can sew cozies for them while they are not in use but I still want them to retain their general shape. Along these lines, cozies are perfect for items you may be a bit embarrassed about. How about a Pimm’s No. 1 bottle cozy? We already have a beer cozy, though designed to keep the beverage cold as opposed to hidden. A dog or cat cozy could keep shedding hair contained. An enema cozy? I've gone too far.
Sew cozy!

I’m taking a sleeveless nightgown class on Thursday at Spool. Hopefully, this will turn out better than my pajama pants: I measured incorrectly so they fit me more like unbelted prison pants than playful loungewear. Why do my sewing projects always end up as evil caricatures of their intended selves? Beginner’s luck, I guess.

Friday, September 9, 2011

You're A Parent Now--Don't Eff It Up

Although I don’t get to do it a lot, I love talking to other moms—or at least eavesdropping on their conversations—because I often feel clueless about kid-related issues. What can I feed David Baby? Where can I buy reasonably priced baby clothes? Is it normal for my 3-yr old to tell me that she wants to “hit me and put me in a fishtank?” (Answers: Almost anything he is able to chew and swallow; H&M; No, she’s destined to be a serial killer).

Some answers, however, are harder to come by. Very little about parenting is instinctive. Also, unless you gush, "I just love everything about it," or "It's the best thing that ever happened to me" no one wants to hear how conflicted you feel because it's hard for them to know how to respond.  We learn a lot from the way WE were parented as children. Great if you had enlightened, unflappable parents who set appropriate limits that enabled you to reach your full potential as a productive, happy human being. Not so good if you happen to have had a messy, somewhat dysfunctional upbringing by two average people who meant well but should have both been on anti-anxiety medication. I suspect that most people fall into the latter group!

What you discover about being the parent you would like to be is that it is very hard. Life gets in the way. The weather, your spouse, and your 2-yr old seem to be conspiring against you to sabotage your best efforts to hold it all together. The problem with this view is that life is just as it is; there is no grand conspiracy. The one aspect I know I can improve is my perspective. It is so hard, but very worth it.

The book that has altered my perception is Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D. I only just started reading it, and already several key tenets are helping me mend my conflict-wrought relationship with my 3-yr old daughter:

To discipline means to teach. It does not mean to cajole, threaten, or punish. Approach conflict as an opportunity to help your child learn a skill that will personally serve her best interests in the long run.

Discipline yourself first, then your children. As an adult, I realized how little self-control I exercise and how much my children witness this unpleasant aspect of my character! In my case, it manifests itself in how I react to life’s daily inconveniences: being stuck behind a slow, stupid driver; or having to wait for my low blood sugar to rise at the most inconvenient time; or suffering a perceived social slight. After I recognized that MY reactions often mirrored those of my toddler in their extreme nature, I immediately began to re-examine my worldview. It will take longer than to finish a chapter to do this, but I welcome the challenge to genuinely grow into a positive role model for my children.

When you are upset, you are always focused on what you don’t want. How can you facilitate your child’s positive behavior rather than telling him what you DON’T want him to do?

I started reading this book a week ago; my relationship with my daughter has already brought me more joy than it has in a year. She has not changed, but my perspective has begun to shift. It is not about being more permissive but rather about setting parameters without using bribes, threats, and ostracism—none of which were working, anyway.

No sewing projects to speak of. Who has time to sew when you're trying to improve yourself? I am taking a class this Sunday to make a pair of adult pajama pants (er, I mean loungewear), so we’ll see how that goes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

In Which I Smear Coconut Oil on My Son’s A$$

After my son David was born, I joined an online breastfeeding forum. Initially, I appreciated the supportive atmosphere. Many moms offered advice that most health professionals are not aware of because they fall outside the tightly defined boundaries of conventional medicine.  I tried a number of suggested remedies with some success. One recurring thread was the use of coconut oil.
Another random sighting of a fetching headband.
Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t be a one upper”? Well, that’s how most of the forum regulars operated. If someone extolled the virtues of one organic compound, another mom would immediately intervene, touting a purer, even more “natural” option. 
There are many very natural byproducts that I want nowhere near my person, like bat guano. Poisonous plants and jellyfish are natural, too, but unless a large pharmaceutical synthesizes them first, Mother Nature can keep them. And do not get me started on natural disasters! Recently we have been inundated by a series of them--an earthquake and an imminent hurricane--that I am not ashamed to take a stand here as anti-natural disaster.
Vaseline, Eucerin, and Aquafor are so yesterday! Plus, they allegedly contain “toxic” chemicals. The ultimate one upper is not compost, bird crap, or butter—it’s coconut oil.

Coconut oil is solid at room temperature.  It is sometimes used as a cooking oil because it has a high smoking point. Some people swear by its healing, super nutritive properties as a body and facial moisturizer. It may be true that it is better for you than butter because it is a “good fat,” much like avocado. If you’ve never fried your French toast in coconut oil, you are missing out on a delicious treat! If you have never slathered your baby’s butt in it, you ain’t missing much.
Lest you eat from this jar...

After buying a jar from Whole Foods, I regularly applied it to David’s derriere. Truthfully, it works no better than Eucerin, but it smells yummy. Not sure, though, that I want my son to smell like a macaroon. My initial doubts, however, have been confirmed via rigorous scientific inquiry: You are no better or worse off using a commercially prepared cream. It may in fact be easier, as coconut oil is hard to scoop out with your fingers, and it doesn’t go on smoothly.  Also, unless you regularly wash it off, it goes rancid quickly; who wants to smell like a rotting coconut? That, by the way, is a rhetorical question.
NEXT TIME: Surviving natural disasters through fun sewing projects! If ever FEMA requires cute headbands and adorable earbud pouches to aid the affected, I will be their go-to gal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Sew a Supercute Skirt for My Kid So She Can Torture Me in Style

Its beauty was not marred by a later incidence of incontinence.

He's got Bette Davis Owl bedroom eyes!
Who knew that the terrible twos would lead into the *@#$%& threes? Not I. For unknown reasons, I believed that the irrational behavior that causes a two-year-old to act against her best interests would magically disappear as said toddler approaches the age of three. Not so. At age three, my daughter’s newfound physical and verbal abilities have enabled her to campaign more effectively against her best interests.  A recent brunch out featured her hurtling over booth seats, much to the chagrin of her parents and aggrieved restaurant patrons.  I am counting the days to full-day preschool. My husband is looking into the possibility of Swiss boarding school for tots. I'm sure it will all work out for the best!

I’m really hooked on the Lazy Days Skirt, available at Oliver & S . It’s so simple and lovely. Designed for beginner sewers, it doesn’t require a cut-out pattern. The elastic waist creates natural gathers.  At least she will look good being bad.
I also sewed four earbud pouches. I downloaded the pattern from Pattern Patti on Etsy. Her directions and step-by-step photos were clear as can be.

Velcro, I shake my fist at thee

A revelation: the results of most sewing projects, unless you make PJ pants or a shirt, are girly. Fabric choices are more often feminine than not. They cannot be made masculine by any stretch of the imagination.

Even if I found black fabric emblazoned with bleeding skulls pierced by a Morningstar (actually, this sounds fairly manly!), a pouch is inherently girly. A real man doesn’t worry about tangling his earbuds! He just tosses them into his briefcase or stuffs them into his jacket pocket with nary a care! A girl, on the other hand, is mindful that their $30 price tag means she’d better take care. She lovingly sews a pouch with a Velcro enclosure (damn you, Velcro! But I’ll get to YOU later) with a lovingly selected outer fabric and a complementary liner fabric. Must teach myself to sew on snaps…

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pillowcases Smell Like People! And Other Unpleasant Revelations

I made a pillowcase dress this weekend. The good news is, it turned out the way it was supposed to. The bad news is, it turned out the way it was supposed to. Clearly there is an aspect of refinement to the pillowcase dress concept that eludes me; it looks like a toga for toddlers. True, you can make a “pillowcase style” dress for any size little girl, but again, why would you when with a few safety pins and an old sheet you can whip up an honest to good toga?
"Should I tell mommy it smells?"

The pillowcase dress enthusiasts also fail to mention that pillowcases smell like people. Think about it: you put your big, fat, smelly head on one every night. While you sleep, it absorbs your hair grease. After you mourn all of life’s lost opportunities, it soaks up your muffled tears. I’ll tell you what, this endeavor has helped me see the necessity of weeding out one’s linen closet. Damn the expense, I am not going to sleep on another smelly pillow—or is it pillowcase? If they both smell, I’m screwed. I don’t want to buy more pillows.

Another big downer is that lately I have been feeling less like a mother and more like an unpaid, psychiatric nurse. One of my patients is psychotic and refuses to take her medication; the other is affable, but highly dependent. I feel guilty for feeling this way, but it’s really wearing me down. After they go to bed, I’m too tired to be domestic; I can barely watch Real Housewives. However, I DID manage to bang out another gorgeous mod headband!
The thread and elastic of my sanity.

My husband has suggested that we hit the road to sell them to hipster chicks at Lollapalooza, or Coachella or wherever the crazy kids are listening to live music these days. His real agenda, of course, is to get away from our kids! At this rate, I will be lucky if I make it to WXPN headquarters. I hear there are a lot of 40-something moms there who appreciate handmade goods.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Answer a Reader's Question and Sew Myself Silly

Gertrude Perter Malone, a reader from Syracuse, NY, writes: “You claim to know a lot about sewing. So, smartie pants, do ya know what a bodkin is?” Thank you for your interest, Gert! And yes, of course I know what a bodkin is, thanks to the magic of Wikipedia. Also, never use colloquialisms (ya) with me or I will block you from my site.

The primary definition is  “A blunt thick needle with a large eye used esp. for drawing tape or cord through a hem.” In fact, I could have used a bodkin the other day whilst sewing a small skirt for my daughter. Unfortunately, I did not yet know what a bodkin was, so I used a safety pin instead to pull the elastic through the waistline.
I sure could use a bodkin about now.

The second definition is used far less. It dates back to the Renaissance period in Europe, when men wore codpieces to protect their nether regions. Gentlemen of less means who could not afford a codpiece wore a bodkin, or half a codpiece. Naturally, the bodkin offered only half the protection of the codpiece. It was also not considered as stylish. Examples of the bodkin that survive from this era are on display at London’s British Museum.
Now, on to my latest sewing projects! I wanted to continue to sew useful items that a beginner can complete but that test my developing skills. Coasters fit the bill. These are great to practice stitching straight, applying ric rac, and working with cotton batting.
 Before the coasters, I made two headbands, which have always given me a headache. However, they are so pretty I am willing to give them another shot. I’ve made two so far—one for me, and one for a friend.


Coaster in action.

Both of these appear in the 1960s Mod section of the book Sew Retro: A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution (Judi Ketteler, 2010). Not only does she take you step-by-step through each project, she also traces the role of sewing in American society since the early 1900s. The sewing timeline is cool, too; I did not know, for example, that the Cleveland Fabric Shop changed its name to Jo-Ann Fabrics. I guess the owners felt that "Reich & Rohrbach" wouldn't convey the right tone in 1943.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

World's Greatest Dad Has World's Suckiest Son

The truth will set you free, but also might make you naked.

I have admired Robin Williams since his Mork and Mindy days. He reminds me of my own dad, teddy bearish and wise, except for his past cocaine use. He has come a long way, of course, since his rainbow suspenders days. I really wanted a pair of those, by the way, but lacked the chutzpah required to pull off the look.
In World's Greatest Dad (2009), Williams is Lance Clayton, who holds the world’s two completely thankless jobs: he’s a parent AND an English teacher. His teenage son Kyle is a douche bag. I’m sorry, but his odiousness goes way beyond the usual adolescent personality defects. Kyle’s main extracurricular interest is watching hardcore German porn. At school he bullies girls. He's a horrible student. He thinks all music is "gay." Often trailed by his long-suffering, introverted friend Andrew, but he mainly just hangs out in front of his computer monitor.
Lance gets no love—or even begrudging like—from Kyle, but maintains a cheerful disposition.  His professional life is unfulfilling, too. Popular fellow teacher Mike gets published in The New Yorker on his first try, while Lance’s rejected manuscripts pile up on his desk at home. Perhaps worst of all, Lance’s hot art teacher girlfriend starts responding to Mike’s romantic overtures!
Things start to get really interesting for Lance when Kyle dies. Yes, World’s Greatest Dad is a comedy! A dark, dark comedy in which a strange twist alters the trajectory of Lance’s life for the better. Bobcat Goldwaite directs. Refreshingly unpretentious and sweet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nellie Olsen Fesses Up, Everyone Laughs

Alison today, reveling in her cult "bitch" status.

Little House on the Prairie (LHP) was one of my favorite TV shows growing up. Of course, I had major crushes on Almanzo, Laura’s husband, and Blind Adam (Mary’s man), whom I wanted to take care of in the worst way. I also wholeheartedly fell for the Judeo-Christian values of work hard, be nice to your neighbor, and hate Nellie Olsen with the burning passion of one thousand fires.  I even had my mom sew me a lace-trimmed nightgown (and nightcap, for pete's sake) that looked just like Mary's and Laura’s. The reality?  The set was in the California desert, not Walnut Grove, Minnesota; the crew drank hard liquor on the job; and Half-Pint and Nellie were best friends!
Reading Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim is like visiting the factory where your favorite hotdog is made; you’ll still eat it regardless, but after they scrape the rat tails in, you may look at your dinner a bit askance henceforth. LHP is still a perfect example of how a television show can impart good values AND tell a great story with likable--and not so likable--characters. 
Arngrim has written a hilarious book without being snarky. Her love and respect for her co-workers is clear. She also balances her humble tome with funny anecdotes and heart-wrenching personal confessions regarding her unconventional childhood. Among the LHP “secrets” she reveals….

1.       Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary) was a cold bitch

2.       Nellie's blonde ringlets were actually an itchy, painful WIG literally pinned to her scalp

3.      Landon was the only actor on the set allowed to bare skin. Suspenders barely grazing his nips? Sweat glistening on his chiseled pecs? His long, curly mane of dark hair rippling in the wind? Yeah, LHP was definitely for ladies of all ages—this I knew!

Happily, Arngrim did not go the way of so many 1970s child stars. Instead of dabbling in drugs and porn, she became an early advocate for people with AIDS when it was anything but fashionable. Later, she pushed for legislation to protect victims of incest. She attributes her normalcy to Michael Landon, who ran a tight ship but had a kind heart.

This autobiography is not just for lovers of LHP; Arngrim's wacky sense of humor is universal. But I admit it is great fun as she gently busts the myths surrounding the cult favorite...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feeling down? Sew a Napkin...or Three

Since my harrowing encounter with my cute but fierce shoulder bag (which I beat to a pulp before our reconciliation), I have decided to stick to two-dimensional, smaller projects. Like...napkins. We don't have any napkins at my home, so this project will be put to actual use. Yes, unlike the pillow and light summer blanket I made for my daughter's plastic pigs and clownfish, the napkins can be used by human beings.

The rather long pink napkin protects the lap area from greasy bits of falling food, whereas the smaller yellow macaroni-wheel design allows one to delicately dab the mouth from time to time without looking like Henry VIII. Thank you, Spool fabric store on 19th and South Streets for your fabulous array of fat quarters!

Handmade napkins make very nice holiday gift (guess what my relatives are getting this year). I also find that making them lowers my stress levels! It takes about 30 minutes each from start to finish.
I always drop bits of food in my lap.
Smaller napkins look better folded. For neater people.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pie, Tee-Shirts and Napkins

This weekend I made a blueberry pie; two napkins; and a tee-shirt bag!
The pie that almost alarmed the fire department
The blueberry syrup dripped in the oven, creating plumes of smoke. I heard sirens in the distance, but fortunately they were headed for a real fire somewhere else.

 Also on Saturday night I made a tee-shirt bag following directions from Vanilla Sky's crafty blog. The shirt was too tight but has a neat Asian-y pattern that is quite appealing. I sewed gussets in the bottom to make it more boxy and less sack like.

"S'alright? S'alright!"
Sewing a napkin, step by step. By step 3 you should end up with a Senor Wenceslas mouth. If you don't know who that is, go on YouTube. A man smeared some lipstick on his hand and made it talk in the voice of Charo. The hand even had a wig! Comedy has come a long way since the 1970s, for sure.

Don't get too close; it might bite
I also finally beat my bag into submission. My bag's safety word was "backstitch." The directions were sketchy, in my opinion, so I winged it after obtaining outside assistance. My initial experience was so traumatic, I am not sure I will even use it.
Sew around all sides, right sides facing.

Dinner is served
After turning napkin right side out, sew around all sides again,
 this time closing mouth.
Cut corners

Friday, July 22, 2011

Master of the Burp Cloth

Fat Quarters: Not a neighborhood in New Orleans.
But of the grocery tote bag? Not so much. To the left are a few Fat Quarters I picked up at Spool, my local fabric & sewing store extraordinaire. I think they call them that because they are about one-quarter of a yard. Turns out they are the perfect size for, among other things, burp cloths.

A burp cloth is a multipurpose, reusable wipe for drool and baby spit up as well as a nursing cover up if you're playing it discreet. This was much easier and faster than sewing a baby blanket, and it's fun to play with the Fat Quarters to see which colors and patterns will go well together! Here are my first two.
Going to two new moms in Turkey.
Although my baby blanket was well received, I'm going to be focusing on burp cloths for the next couple of months. That's where the big bucks are!!

As for my first grocery tote effort--meh. I got to a certain step in the simple pattern, but then my brain could not wrap itself around the directions well enough to finish. This time, though, I did NOT bang my head against any wooden objects, opting instead to sew my finger to the shoulder strap as punishment. Now THAT'S progress.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Practice Your Drunken Sewing

It's time to retire my idol, Don Music, who expected to hit all the right notes on the first try. Practice, Don, practice! I finished my first big sewing project last night, a big baby blanket for my friend Charlotte. Rhys Williams hopefully will debut August 11, when he will begin his life preparing to take over the future empty space left by Hugh Grant. Does his name not sound like a British actor poised to star in every BBC period piece production?

First, I basted my two contrasting fabrics (wrong sides facing each other) and cotton batting. After another hour of trying to keep my seam allowance aligned with my machine's needle, I had a blanket.
Blanket after adding zigzag decorative stitich around border; only slightly askew.

What has my first baby blanket taught me? The same lesson Don Music's head lumps do.
After two hours and some swear words, voila.
You aren't going to get better at anything if you spend all your extra time beating yourself up or comparing yourself to Martha Stewart. It isn't perfect; the tell-tale signs of drunken sewing are there, though I was 100% sober. It is really hard to keep a decorative border stitch straight through three layers of fabric. After I crank out a few burp cloths, though, I just may straighten myself--and my zigzags--out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pillows for Pigs

I've been practicing with my sewing machine. It's not as easy as it looks. Before you can sew a three-dimensional lobster cozy, you need to sew straight and clean. Behold:

Instead of veering wildly, my straight stich is finally in line! If you don't share my excitement, stop reading right now; it's not going to get more interesting for you.
Excited by my newly acquired skills, I cobbled together this small, small pillow:

This pig was kind enough to model my creation. He was tired out anyway from running away from a plastic wolf, so it was a win-win situation all around. Note the way I tucked in the edges after stuffing said pillow:

If you have a cat, he might use this pillow to rest his chin on after a night of feline wilding. For an extra frisson, lace the stuffing with dried catnip.

Monday, July 11, 2011


My recent foray into the world of crafts has produced decidedly mixed results. Behold the folk art bird.

This poor little guy died just to avoid being mishandled by me any further, and he constituted my second attempt. Also, my sewing machine caught some of his wing; he ended up with a flipper rather than a wing, so I've nicknamed him "Nessie." (Loch Ness monster, whom you never hear a peep about these days). He could also be a primeval half fish half reptile creature emerging from the primordial slime to land on my Raymour & Flanagan sofa.
My first bird, being handsewn, suffered a bird lobotomy. colostomy, and tracheotomy, which is to say he oozed stuffing. No one told me that sewing a 3-dimensional object would be so hard! So I tried my hand at a 2-dimensional nature scene to hang on my daughter's wall.

Much better! In case it isn't obvious, this rich tapestry depicts a wily fox half-hidden by tall grasses as he stalks a neighborhood chicken (off-tapestry). Large snowflakes fall in the light of a full moon. Oddly, the flakes resemble bits of moon, and remnants of dried glue dot the grasses. It's best to simply suspend disbelief to appreciate this scene. I can almost envision the spying Polonius eavesdropping behind this noble arras! If he were 12 inches tall, that is.

Note on my first bird: I used cheap flannel. Maybe this, paired with my rudimentary sewing skills, resulted in the fraying?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My favorite optimists.

Embrace the Negative

My baseline is negative. Some people have a Pollyanna outlook that colors their every experience. At the very least, they do not let flat tires and whining children get them down. Me? I am the muppet banging his head on the keyboard. Ouch. My only saving grace is my sense of humor. Since I was very young, my cynicism has always been a rich source of humor. It has kept me from completely succombing to the grouchy dark side.

Children, however, do not appreciate the humor that is borne from extreme annoyance. The semi-Pollyanna outlook is definitely preferred. The only individuals who can pull this off successfully are Mormons, for whom I have much respect. Did you know that all kids at heart are staunch conservatives? They want their parents to be together; they crave regular meals; routines are comforting rather than boring. Unlike most conservatives, however, children are optimists. They are without cynicism. I have been a conservative all my life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Attention Banditos, Commie-Pinkos, and Rabble Rousers! Are you planning a revolution? Have you considered the importance of ACCESSORIZING your political aspirations? I just learned how to make this JAUNTY SCARF. Order in bulk now and pay only $5 per unit! I will customize per your color specs.