Keep it Simple. Stupid.

I started this post over a week ago and due to family illness, a birthday, and a blizzard that crippled the region, I was forced to set aside blogging and sewing.


Norah had to stay home from school for a few days because she came down with a gastrointestinal virus – AGAIN.  This is the second occurence of this vile illness that we have experienced in the span of two weeks.  Apparently, parents are sending their kids back to school too soon.  The problem is so bad that the school nurse sent email instructions on proper hand washing, hygiene and guidelines for returning kids to school after an illness.

While cruising the internet for color pages to print for Norah [yes, I am a brilliant and perfect parent who never lets her child consume simple sugars or watch television], I came across an ad for dishwasher detergent with a link that promised to provide techniques for proper dishwasher loading.  Well, WHOA!  Hold.The.Phone. [There are some who believe that my dishwasher-loading-skills are sub par.]  So, what a treat to stumble upon these instructions, and better yet, they included: *wait… for… it…* . . . an illustrated diagram! I was beginning to feel things were really turning around for me. 

The instructions were very detailed yet succinct; laying out each step so that should you fall off the face of the earth and lose all domestic capacity, you could jump right back into dishwasher loading and not skip a beat.  They were also very positive and reassuring, never using “you” statements to point out your loading flaws, which I found very comforting.  Instead, they soothingly relayed what damage your mislaid dishes could pose to the energy efficiency of the dishwasher, your priceless Tupperware or, God forbid, THE environment.  The instructions even went as far as to advise not to put forks and knives handle-down in the utensil basket, in order to prevent any unintended impalement during loading.  Good to know.  Not long after I’d settled into the soothing guidance of each step, I soon realized that these are the exact procedures I use for loading!  Okay, well, most of them.

I was speaking to a client on the telephone the other day and she kept telling me: “Keep it simplestupid.  Just keep it simplestupid.”  She wasn’t calling me stupid [which is what I keep telling myself], but providing instruction regarding the work she requested.  It took every bit of restraint for me not to remind her that she was requesting this from a law firm.

Gotta go – time to take Norah’s temperature and heat up some canned soup.  If I have time, I’m going to unload the dishwasher!


Attention to Detail

I hated taking notes in school.  It wasn’t the information or the act of writing, it was the speed and inherent sloppiness and errors which ensued that I found so troubling.  I was obsessed with the quality of my notebooks, the notebook paper and the line of my pen; ball point versus a roller ball, medium point versus fine line.  The notebook paper had to be college ruled and no spiral bound paper for this gal! 

Then there was the legibility and style of my handwriting to take into consideration: cursive or print.  How could such quality supplies suffer from the speed and lack of care that real-time note taking required?  I would often rewrite pages of notes so that they were perfect, nothing lined out or, God forbid, carried over to the backside – gasp!  This “issue” presented a problem for me when I began the math and science courses required for my major in college.  Who knew a math problem could carry on for pages?  Don’t even get me started on drawings we had to execute in labs for biology and genetics…  Troublesome.

I now use Word to micromanage my document formatting obsession.  Mine and others at work, as a matter of fact.  Unfortunately, I have not found pattern software [affordable to the common sewer such as myself] to put into draft what I want for pattern design or modification.  But, I’m okay with that – I can draw fairly well and I’ve let go some of those Type-A tendencies.  Plus, it just takes too much time to be too obsessive compulsive.

Actually, I have gotten pretty savvy at figuring out what I want to sew and most of the time can measure, cut and sew an item without noting my own pattern or purchasing one to follow. I believe this is only because my sewing consists of basic shapes and construction.  Design requires that I capture information, preferably in sketches and patterns, so that I can tweak its execution and manipulate the construction with fewer errors.  So, I am back to noting my information on paper and stuffing my sketches into folders on my shelves for future reference.  No Waterman fountain pen or 30# smooth finish bond for these sketches; I have been reduced to pencil and paper.  Well, Staedtler drafting pencils and overly priced graph paper –come on!! – I can’t let go that easily!!

Here’s a peak at the newest Owl.

This is my motivation for a lined cosmetics bag for my mom.

Mr. Who

My eyes flew open this morning at about 1:15 (yes, that would be AM).  My immediate thoughts were: why am I awake and what’s wrong?  Actually, those are always my first thoughts, always.  The first reason being the most obvious: I’m a mother.  But my new second is burglars (which now bumps a death in the family to third place).  Our next door neighbors were burglarized the week after New Year’s.  I’ve made up all sorts of scenarios and justifications as to why their house was “hit” rather than ours and have successfully calmed my own fears – so far.  But… the fear of being burglarized is lurking and at the ready for occasions such as this.

So there I lay, ears finely tuned to the sounds of our house and Darrell’s measured breathing.  Then I heard it: “whooo-who-who”.    And again, “who-who”.  This is not the first time I’ve woken in the night to this sound.  It’s an owl.  He (I’ve decided that the owl is a “he” and, just so you know, the bunny in our yard is a “she” – just because).  So he has been in our neighborhood for years, but I’ve only been up in the night to hear him a handful of times.  He was going at it pretty loudly and with a measured pace; I swear it sounded as if he was on the deck outside our bedroom.  I wish Darrell could borrow his unit’s night vision goggles  – it would be cool to see him in one of our orchard trees (the owl – I’ve already seen Darrell in our trees). 

You know how, when you are awake late at night, your mind starts to think about stuff that it really shouldn’t?  That started. It went something like this:  Why would the owl choose to be in our yard? Do we have mice and small animals in our yard for him to eat?  Wait a minute… do we have a small rodent problem? Or, perhaps a large rodent problem?  Do I need to call an exterminator?  Do exterminators do yard vermin control?  What about those sounds I heard the other night in the attic, not far from the dryer vent?  Is the dryer vent clogged?  Has the dryer vent become dislodged from the side of the house?  Is the bathroom vent dislodged from the roof and all the steam going into the attic? And so on.  The owl stopped and luckily I went back to sleep not long thereafter.

This is Norah’s owl that I made for her – she calls him “Mr. Who”.  I have noticed that owls have picked up in popularity lately and I have seen quite a bit of fabric and projects with owl themes.  I’m going to make another and call her “Mrs. Who” – unless Norah comes up with another name.

A couple of my fabric choice combinations:

That one reminds me of owls –  because of the circles.  I think I’m leaning more toward this:

I’m really liking the pink/orange/yellow combination.

Oh, and look who was waiting for me at my front door today when I got home!  She’s now standing proudly in my sewing room.  I have a feeling that this thing is going to scare the @#$% out of me one of these days as I come barreling into my sewing room, eyes half closed in the early morning hours before work to do some ironing!


Yikes, my walls look so white!  Hmmmm….


Back in the “olden” days, I would love to go to the library or a local bookstore (better for latte sipping) and pick out a generous stack of crafting and sewing books that I could devour while tucked away in a quiet corner.  I would jot down ideas and then emerge hours sometime later, blinking in the bright light of day as I made my way back to my car, motivated to take on innumerable projects.

Fast forward to last year and with similar enthusiasm, I could be found pleasantly engrossed in other sewer’s and crafter’s blogs.  Not that this was a bad thing – but access to my laptop and my own espresso machine lent to a blog-following habit that was bordering on obsession.  An hour A good chunk of time would pass, and with just a few clicks I crossed several nations and removed myself from my point of origin tenfold.  I realized that I was spending way too much of my idle time observing how other people were living their lives via their blog entries and sewing projects, all the while accomplishing nothing in my own world of sewing and writing (sounds remarkably similar to reality TV viewing ~ another time-passing pleasure of mine ~ but I’m not ready to join “Real Housewives of Vantucky” just yet.).  Bottom line: I needed to get my butt off the couch and back into my sewing.  Born from this epiphany came two of my (many) New Year’s resolutions.  Number 3 – Sew! and Number 6 – Blog about my Sewing.

The labor of love for today was completing this small gift for Erika.  It is a fully lined cosmetics bag and the lining has a coating of my favorite new sewing notion:  Iron-On Vinyl!

Erika – I hope you love this as much as I do!  If I had not blogged about it, it would be in my bathroom instead of on its way to yours!!

Work in Progress

I bought this fabric because it made me think of my sister, Erika.  I often purchase fabric that I love without any project or pattern in mind.  After spotting this at JoAnn fabric, I knew I had to have it and knew exactly what I wanted to make for Erika.  I just hope she likes “it” and can use “it”.  “It” required fusible stabilizer ironed on the back of the piece shown above.  I was having a tough time and then realized my difficulties were because I have yet to replace that useless ironing board!!

I ordered this baby and it’s slated for arrival on Wednesday.  She’s my size and I have to say the resemblence is uncanny!  Seriously, though, after months of talking myself in and out of buying a dress form, I finally decided that if I want decent product, I will need this in my stash of tools.  I’m trying to come up with a good nick-name for her – suggestions welcomed.

Norah crafted this little item while keeping me company in my sewing room the other day. **smile** Happiness is being six.

One step forward…

and two steps back.

Just when I start getting projects finished… along comes a sale at the fabric store.  I popped into Hancock Fabrics for some alone-mom-on-my-own-time.  Sale or not, I intended only to browse.  I accidently left the store with a bag of treats!!

Like this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

and this (good serger project!):

and some iron-on vinyl.

 To offset the resulting greed spree, I purchased some iron-on vinyl, so that I can continue my quest to save the environment.  I put together a couple vinyl-lined snack bags for the “wet” snacks like apple slices and cucumber wedges that Norah enjoys for snack time.

I feel better already!


Last weekend we visited a local chain store, which I will call the “Empty-a-Wallet-Workshop”.  I avoided this store with much success until last year when Norah was invited to a birthday party at this store.  The experience, much to my chagrin, was pretty neat and Norah had a blast.  However, I was floored by the quantity and extent of accessories and clothing one could purchase to adorn their “stuffy”.  This weekend’s trip was prompted by an unexpected visit from AuntiE (my sister Erika) and a trip to the local mall. 

AuntiE generously offered to purchase one outfit and I then added that I would throw in the shoes to complete the look.  After much a ton hemming and hawing (and murmered comments to my sister at how stupid we were not to have thought of this genious idea), we left with a cheer leader outfit and a pair of silver glittered “pumps”.  The outfit was $12.50.  The shoes were $7.50.  While this doesn’t seem like much – this is usually what I might spend on my own child for clothing – yes, I’m cheap.  Why?  Because it takes Norah less than 4 weeks to either put holes in the knees of her pants, spill stain-remover-proof liquids down the front of her shirts and less than two weeks to put holes in the toes of her shoes.

I decided I would sew an outfit for her dog.  She wanted a ballerina gown and this is what we ended up with.  The supplies cost me all of about $3 and the colors and fabrics Norah chose on her own at the fabric store – a trip we both enjoy.