Thursday, December 22, 2011

work in progress...

Running on little sleep.  Still so much to do. The end is in sight, yes, but I won't be happy until I have a few more projects completed.  I've been working on everything all at once - bringing each project up to an equal level of completion..  But at this point I think it would do some good for my morale to actually finish something, wrap it and slide it beneath the tree.  If I can stand it, I think I'll try another almost-all-nighter so that come Christmas Eve I can find myself in a deep slumber along with the kids.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 6

T-shirts for Robbie's entire class.  What was I thinking?!?  I had the kids write their names and I put these on the back of the shirts with their class logo ("The Cheetahs") on the front.  I love silkscreening, but doing shirts is something else entirely from doing fabric.  I was on pins and needles every single time I printed each of 25 shirts, twice (front and back!).  I smudged 2 and had to face the outrageous line at Michaels to buy new shirts.  But it's done now.  They'll be ironed tonight to heat set the ink and then passed out at tomorrow's class party.  Oh, and the teacher gets a canvas bag with the same images. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 5

Lots and lots of owls.  Every year I stitch up ornaments to give away.  Last year's ornament was much more labor intensive.  These little owls take some time, yes, but I think I might actually finish all that I need, unlike last year.  I've made around 25 so far and have about another 20 to go.  Some get stuffed and those that will go in the mail remain flat.  I drew up a faux bois background with a little family picture and these get adorned with the owls.  Time for me to get back to stitching!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

a southern california christmas parade

It isn't a parade without...

the marching band,

a bag pipe band,

and some horses

(these horses were spooked by two jets doing a fly-by)

It isn't a Vista, California parade without...

a tank,

some low-riders,

the Yellow Deli bus,

and, of course,


(and a few precious candy canes)

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 4

Just put the finishing touches on a couple coin purses I've been carrying around with me to crochet while at Robbie's tennis lesson, Finn's gymnastics class or in the car between picking up one and/or dropping off another.  I'm very jealous of the crochet-buffs out there who can stitch up huge blankets or sweaters.  Small little projects like these are more my speed... for now, anyway.  Maybe someday I'll work my way up to a really complicated project.  This Christmas, though, two little watermelon purses will make their way under the tree for giving away.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 3

First it hit Robbie, then Finn and now me... miserable with a cold.  So I'm taking a break from sewing today and started making some jewelry.  It's a nice, quiet project.  A good thing to do with a hot cup of tea.  Hoping I bounce back quick.  Still quite a lot to do.  But if I don't, at least the ladies will get some pretties for their ears.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 2

Continuing to stitch my way through the hours.  Here's what I've got in store for all the good little boys... patchwork snakes!  My boys have picked up stuffed snakes from the zoo and just love them.  I like them a whole lot better than the rubber snakes - which, in a certain light, can look too much like the real thing.  Apparently, when I was maybe 6 or so, I ran out into the backyard screaming to my parents, "There's a snake in the bathtub!!!"  They amused me and followed me into the house only to discover that there was, indeed, a snake in the tub.  So maybe this is why I'm slightly fearful of snakes in the house.  But bright, colorful, fat and sleepy snakes?  No problem.

In other handmade holiday news, I'm finding that laying out the Christmas quilt to align with the back is going to be tough. Every time I try to position my pieces a little someone thinks I'm setting up a special holiday nap spot. I'm beginning to think that seasoned quilters must not have cats.

Monday, December 12, 2011

handmade holidays 2011: handmade gifts from my little workshop, day 1

 This weekend kicked off the start of my handmade holiday.  My work room is becoming quite the little workshop with piles of fabric stacked for making toys and bags, pretty beads ready to become jewelery, crochet yarn in the process of being whipped into cute coin purses and an enormous Christmas quilt that is ready to sandwich.  There's also THE LIST... my to-do list, with all my projects parceled out over the next 12 days.  Christmas Eve is going to be busy visiting with Family and friends, so my 12-day countdown to December 24th has begun.  Lot's to do!  

I'm making several of these adorable Molly Monkey dolls from a pattern provided by Larissa Holland on her blog mmmcrafts.  My boys have even begged for pirate monkeys, so I hope to have time to be able to finish those in time to put under the Christmas tree.  Like I said, lot's to do.  Aren't the little shoes precious?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

before thanksgiving there was a birthday: a clone trooper party!

Every year becomes especially busy for me right after Halloween when I go into birthday party planning mode.  This year, our growing boy turned 8.  And it seems like the fascination with Star Wars (and with the Clone Wars, in particular) may be something that actually sticks around a little longer than did the obsessions with trains, then dinosaurs, followed by Lego.  So this year we had ourselves a little Star Wars the Clone Wars Clone Trooper party.  Early on in the planning process I was quickly schooled by the Birthday Boy that the trooper I was drawing was actually a Storm Trooper, not a Clone Trooper. I responded sarcastically with something like, "Oh yeah, like anyone knows the difference... they're both black and white and carry blasters, right???"  No.  So upon further examination and explanation, I saw the difference.  It's all in the helmet.  So the Storm Trooper cookie cutter I had would require some alterations.  Nothing some icing couldn't fix.

[A Star Wars lesson for other confused Moms out there: Check out the cookies in the photo above. Storm Trooper is on the left and Clone Trooper is on the right.  Clone Troopers are good - they fought the bad guys BEFORE Annikin fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Storm Troopers are bad - they fought for Darth Vader.  Isn't is clear now?]

 For party favors I silkscreened Clone Troopers onto wood for stand-up cutouts and onto fabric for some Clone Trooper plush.  These were both customizable by the kids.  We put out some sharpies and the kids could color and design their troopers.  This is something my son loves to do with his Star Wars figures.  I love watching him hunched over a figure with his paints, creating new designs.  So I thought this activity would be a perfect way for him to share his hobby with the friends at his party.  And, it's something the kids could take home... something that wouldn't find itself on the floor of the car or between the couch cushions.

The party was a success.  Robbie and his fellow troopers all seemed to have a pretty good time.  And we were so lucky to squeak by without the rain that was in the forecast.  All week before the party I was constantly checking the weather forecast, excited when "Rain Likely" was reduced to "Chance of Rain" and finally down to "20% Chance of Showers".  And as my optimistic husband reminded me, that simply meant we had an 80% chance of no rain. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

discovering california with a thanksgiving in the kern river valley

This year we began what I'm sure will become a tradition for years to come.  We loaded up the minivan with Legos and Star Wars Toys and trekked up North about two hundred and fifty miles to my parents' new vacation home deep in the hills of Lake Isabella and the Kern River Valley.  It was great to explore an area of California that was completely new to me.  The kids were ecstatic that snow was only another twenty minutes up the mountain in the outer edges of the Sequoia National Forest.   We did some hiking in the BLM (land protected by the Bureau of Land Management) and climbed the river-polished boulders of the Slippery Rock Picnic Area.  I loved studying the Oak Trees, Manzanitas and pine cones.  Our drive up took us through Los Angeles, over the "Grapevine" and into the San Juaquin Valley before making our way up the mountain East of Bakersfield.  Coming home, however, we decided to go down the Eastern side of the Sierras and drive through the Mojave Desert on Old Highway 395.  It was such a beautiful drive.  I think we'll always go up and down that way from now on.  The Joshua Trees were spectacular and I always love seeing those long, long freight trains that travel through the desert.  I feel like we really took in the full scope of California's landscapes- golden hills spotted by burly California Oak Trees, green river valleys accented with bright yellow Fall foliage and desolate desert pierced by lonely highways and railroad tracks.  I'm very thankful to have had such a beautiful week with my Family and I'm inspired to discover more of California's secret pockets.