Wednesday, June 27, 2007

project clean house: part II

Whew! Seriously - definitely more orders the second time around following my Martha appearance. Muchos gracias! Finally got all my packages off in the mail yesterday - that's always the best feeling in the world. I should have photographed my mountain of parcels. Thanks to the husband, I was able to crank everything out over the weekend while he was entertaining little Mr. Three-Year Old.

[And, for the record, I did not, as Ms. Martha suggested, come home to a "mountain of diapers". The husband was very offended by that - and I should have answered her differently - something like, "Oh no! My man is quite capable of taking out the diapers!!!" - but, I was just too star struck to actually comprehend anything Ms. Martha said to me]

So! Back to Project Clean House! Once or twice a year, I go around and touch up the walls. Downside to an appreciation of color is that touch-ups are slightly more time consuming. Green wall here, blue wall there, grey up there, yellow over here...and, you get the picture. So I've started keeping small amounts of my wall paint in old frozen yogurt containers. Paint a little swatch on the top to indicate what's inside and I'm set for an afternoon of touch-ups! As you can see, our walls are prone to marks of all kinds - crayon, chalk, pen...even, ahem, butter. Yes, we had a butter incident.

So now that that's done, I can move onto more exiting things - like, organizing the kids' closet! Or, on second thought, it might be nicer to plant that berry patch I mentioned in the previous post. Or project backyard, or project floors, or project window coverings.

We are off to la la Los Angeles for a birthday weekend. Guess who's one year older? I look forward to celebrating with all my guys with a stay in our favorite hotel, a visit to the Getty perhaps?, tour of the Disney Concert Hall maybe?, a game at Dodger stadium (perfect that my San Diego Padres just happen to be in L.A.) and a fun dinner with old friends.

Friday, June 22, 2007

simple planter

After living in this house for 4 years and saying to myself that I would plant myself a cutting garden, I can now say that I finally have done just that. Dahlias, Zinnias and Cosmos. I always had big plans to build raised planters in back - but who has time for that, right? So after a little brainstorming at Home Depot, I picked up a few supplies to make a simplified planter. I like how it turned out and appreciate how simple it was to do. In fact, I was able to put this approximately 5' by 5' space together quickly enough to maintain my son's attention span and give him a chance to enjoy the actual planting of flowers.

I picked up a bundle of redwood stakes (about $8 for a bundle of about 24 - way more than needed) and 4 8-foot lengths of thin redwood boards. No nailing required - I just pounded the stakes in with a hammer and used them to sandwich the boards. Super simple.

If I get caught up with orders, I think another planter with strawberries right next to the cutting garden would be really nice. But, one thing at a time...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

want to risk stains?

This is the napkin design I've been working on (progress mentioned in previous post). This picture really could have used my nice silverware - but, I was too lazy to pull it down. Oh well. I like how when folded, the blue and light brown accents my china, but when you open it up there's a colorful surprise:

But don't be too impressed - I only finished one. After finishing it, I was thinking about how long it's been that I've worked on a project for myself and how much fun it is working on something knowing that I'll be keeping it. And now several days have passed and I haven't done another one. That's the problem with projects for myself - back-burner syndrome.

Well, I'll eventually find the time I'm sure. Although, now I'm beginning to think they're too nice for napkins. Do I really want to risk stains? Maybe I'll only use them when I'm serving up white wine with something sauce-free. No red wine and spaghetti dinners with these!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Martha + Me

The lovely Ms. Martha is playing my segment again today! It's fun to have my inbox full again - wonderful messages, orders and newsletter sign-ups. Feel like that day back in April is happening all over again. What a treat!

So if you missed it the first time, check it out today. Check your local listings.

Sidenote: My mom was so stunned that I happened to wear the same color blue shirt as Martha. Totally unplanned and it wasn't exactly a standard shade of blue either.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

oxymoron to a mother's vocabulary

I received a nice comment yesterday from another new mother out there with the creative bug. Thanks Amy! (see her precious creations on Etsy)

It occurred to me that there are probably a lot of moms out there trying to find the perfect balance between babies/kids and creative time. I know it was a huge inspiration for me to find other mothers out there doing all kinds of fun things with their free time (those two words are an oxymoron to a mother's vocabulary, aren't they?) - like My Paper Crane and Wee Wonderfuls, to name but just a couple. I think I had finally found that nice balance just before my second one came along. I was able to spend an hour here and there working on my projects. Now I'm struggling again to finish anything, but I have faith that I'll regain that rhythm. For now, it's all about trying to squeeze in little mini arts-and-crafts sessions whenever I can. This morning, I'm determined to start cutting some fabric for some cloth napkins I've been wanting to make. I've had this fabric printed for weeks now with the intention to make napkins. (I'm always so embarassed to lay down folded paper towels when we have people over for dinner) I'm sure it'll take me all day to cut my pieces at the pace I'm going. Cut one piece, fix breakfast, cut another piece, feed the baby, cut another, change a diaper, and so on. With time, I just might be able to cut two pieces in between those cries for mommy - but until then it's slow and steady that wins this race. To all those other mothers out there, don't lose hope. You'll start to find the time too. I encourage you to keep trying - even though some days you feel like you'd rather pull out your hair. Once you get that good rhythm, it's worth it to have that outlet. Knowing you have that special project to work on as soon as baby is napping is enough to keep you going. Was for me, anyway.

And, for the record, it's taken me more than a half hour to write this. Write a sentence, plop pacifier back in mouth, another sentence, "Mommy, I want to show you something!!!", another sentence, rescue my fabric from the 3-year old's grip, and so on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

wasted the Martha wind

And I wonder why it always takes me so long to get anything done...
I sat down to complete a project knowing I only had about 45-minutes to do so and what do I do? Tear apart the entire sewing machine so that I might be able to fix that little resistance I feel every time I try to backstictch.

But at least it worked. The sewing machine really is running so much better now - purring like a kitten. And, yes, it was in due time - it'd been ages since I'd oiled and maintained my machine. Just last week I was thinking I should buy a new one so I wouldn't have to bother with the old one - which is just plain silly.

Once the machine was working wonders again, I put together this little zippered pouch with the pieces I posted in yesterday's blog. I just put it up in my Etsy shop. With the pace I'm working at these days, I think it's better for me to start selling through Etsy. I sort of feel like I've wasted the Martha wind in my sails - but with the 4-month old quickly learning how to say, "HEY! Look at ME!!!!", I've got to start admitting I don't have the time for any kind of major dedication to the shop. At this point, it's one little piece at a time. Sorry Ms. Entrepreneurial Martha. Just can't do it right now. Soon, soon. Fixing to shine soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the next big thing?

I've been having a hard time dedicating spare moments to creative activities - mostly because there are no spare moments to be had. I'm quickly reaching that point where the window on Me Time is closing. The littlest one isn't sleeping nearly as long as he did in his newborn phase and the older little one is starting to become aware of the fact that Mommy now has to be shared. But, in teeny tiny moments here and there, I have been experimenting with felting again. You might remember my post awhile back about making felted beads. Doing the same thing here, but with different shapes. Have NO idea what I'll do with these little pieces. It's just random creativity.

I really do need to find some time for nurturing that creative bug again. I find myself feeling frazzled and worn down after too much time away from my projects. The bigger little one will be starting a couple mornings of play school soon, so maybe that will help. Plus, I feel like all the dust has settled from Martha and it's time for me to figure out what I want to do next. The next big think, if you will. (note: I did not make it on Fred Flare's The Next Big Thing ...darn!) So wish me luck in finding the time to be creative today. And to you, I present the same challenge - Go make something!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

project clean house: part I

First phase of Project Clean House: the junk drawer(s). I have this old hosier in the kitchen. In the past it's been my baking cabinet - where I kept all the four and sugar and such. But when little hands learned how to open these drawers and I tired of vacuuming up spilled sugar, it became a junk cabinet. All the billions of pens that make their way into the house, little pads of paper, take-out menus and old greeting cards galore.

First task was to clear everything out. Had a basket on hand for all those little items that didn't belong in there. It was so rewarding to hit the bottom of each drawer. I'd come across some things and think, why in the world didn't I just throw this away to begin with? (goofy address labels from organizations seeking donations, appliance instructions written in Italian, and coupons coupons coupons that expired months and even, in a couple cases, years ago)

Then I put down some new striped contact paper and I started organizing all the contents. When thinking about containers for dividing pens from paper and recipe cards from catologs, I considered building wooden boxes, but decided against it because I knew that would take too long and become a project all it's own. Then, shear genius occurred to me: baking pans!

My baking pan drawer never opens readily. It's stuffed, and one pan or another always blocks the drawer from pulling out. And how often do I bake cakes anyway? Once, twice, at most maybe three times a year? (yes, this is a problem - there should definitely be more cake) So I started sorting through my pans and found that they were the perfect shapes and sizes for holding post-it pads, paper clips, pens, recipe cards and all that other miscellaneous junk that finds its way into the junk drawer. And when the time comes that I need my baking pans, I'll temporarily dump the junk somewhere else, bake my cake and then organize all over again. So - two birds with one stone: baking pan drawer less over-stuffed and junk drawers are now organized.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

most perfect of perfectionists

I’ve been thinking about how happy it makes me to open the hall closet now that it is all organized and clean and completely functional. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how happy it makes me. So I’m motivated to apply the same cleaning and organization to the rest of the house. Hey, if putting a towel away in the newly clean closet makes me this giddy, what would I be like if the entire house were in order? Mary Freekin' Poppins dancing about and singing with the birds I'd be.

Summer break, back in the days of grade school, used to be a time of metamorphosis. I always wanted to show up in September with new hair, new clothes or 20-pounds lighter. Of course, new clothes, for me, often meant spending my summer vacation behind the sewing machine. Not always a good thing - I’ll never forget that first day of school in 7th grade when the groovy pants I’d sewn split in the rear during the very first class of the day. I spent the entire day walking around with a shirt tied around my waist. (why does stuff like that always happen to me?)

I want this to be a summer of transformation. Not only to clean out clutter and organize so I can find things when I need them (I spent months looking for my son’s immunization card – I ordered a new one, and wouldn’t you know it… I found the old one in my files that very same day – the perfect place for it, actually, but I never thought to trust that I might have actually put it in the right place) So, this summer, it’s a place for everything and everything in its place. And I also want to work on dressing the place up a bit. Make every nook and cranny an intentional design decision. I’m always green with envy when I see what other people have done with their home – especially creative decorating like this. My new project: take on a tiny space a day – a junk drawer, even – until I can call this a house I’d be proud of. I house I’d invite Martha to even.

Which reminds me of 3rd grade. A girl I went to school with always showed up with perfect pigtails tied up with crisp bows to match her prettiest of all pretty dresses. I pretended she was my best friend - that I would go to her perfect perfect house for slumber parties. I imagined that if she ever came to my house, I'd have to clean and organize my room a bit. On the weekends I'd spend hours folding my socks (no sock balls because I imagined that she never rolled her socks but had drawers and drawers of perfectly folded socks). Five years later we actually became really good friends. And yes, her world was nearly just as perfect as I imagined. We're friends to this day and I'm desperate to see her house now that she has a baby. Can't still be perfect, can it??? But, alas, she lives so far away so I'll just have to imagine that even the most perfect of perfectionists allows some amount of chaos into their lives when baby arrives. That makes me feel just a little bit better about myself to think that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

my secret garden

At Buccaneer Beach Park (love that name) the other day, we ventured down a path I'd never taken before. It went under the railroad trestles and wandered alongside this little creek. And you know me and my drawings and paintings - any kind of marshy place is so inspirational. It was this wonderful little secret path backed right up against all the grime and grit of town. It's always fun when you discover something that was right under your nose the whole time.

Friday, June 01, 2007

infatuation factor

A few weeks ago I admitted to a few people that there are three closets in my house that are such clutter zones that I'd be horrified if anyone saw them. I think the conversation went something like -"Dawn you are SO organized" - and I had to admit that my organization days have long gone. This is especially pathetic when you consider the fact that this house only has four closets! So, over the weekend, I tackled Project Hall Closet:


Yeah, it became this place where I'd just shove stuff three seconds before someone was coming over. There were piles of things that were actually intended for the Goodwill - I love the feeling of sending things off on their merry way. Seems my Goodwill pile is perpetually replenishing itself. So (drumroll please)...


You see? I actually did have a use for all those dresser drawers I saved when we tore apart the non-functioning part of my son's dresser months and months ago. Sure it was a hassle having them stacked in the garage, threatening to teeter with every passage, but I think it was worth it. One holds sheets, the other washcloths and another pillow cases. (by the way - I realize there is nothing very creative in organizing one's closet ...but it's the closest thing to genius I've had time for this week)

In the past week I've developed a couple new obsessions. The first is On the Lot. It's the perfect reality competition for those who just aren't into Idol. Undiscovered directors compete each week with short films they have just a mere few days to create. America watches, votes and directors with the fewest votes go home. What's especially neat is that you can watch the episodes online. This is great because I have a computer and no TV in my studio.

The second obsession is with this:

It's a t@b trailer. It's so cute! Wouldn't be an eyesore in the driveway, light enough so our Honda could pull it and would be the end of the search for that replacement tent pole that snapped during the Jalama windstorm on our last camping trip. Big question is - how long do I have to wait to know that this would be a good purchase? I feel like I'm always rushing into things. "OH! We MUST get that!" When I saw a pasta maker on sale, I daydreamed about making homemade pasta for every single meal. So I bought it, and it's now been probably a year since I've made my own pasta. Insisted that we had to get a coffee maker with an espresso machine - I'll never have to go to Starbuck's again! After about a week of intense espresso brewing, I quickly fell back into the Starbuck's groove. Oh, what else what else? Can't think of it, but you get my gist. So, question is long do I wait for the infatuation factor to wear off so I can think smart?

Okay, that's my boring post for the day. I've just been so knee-deep in Mommy duties that there hasn't been a second for anything creative and fun. Calgon, take me away!!!