Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't Let Me Miss The Moment

Today was beautiful.

It reached 70 degrees by eleven AM.

It was supposed to rain all day - and it DID rain, in the afternoon! - but this morning was beautiful.

Maggie and I went to lunch at our usual Monday-luncht Mexican restaurant, with Abigail chattering away the entire time, talking about everything under the sun. :) After lunch we walked down the sidewalk to the Jo-Ann Fabrics to buy orange buttons (!they make my heart happy!) and on the way we passed the window of the beauty school where a friend attends. We saw her in the window, thought about knocking on the window and waving, but didn't want to make fools of ourselves (or her, lol) so instead we texted her to see if she wanted to go get coffee at the cafe next door on her break.

While we were waiting for a response, Anna called - she was close by, driving home from a doctor's appointment - so we invited her to join us.

And that was how all four of us, plus my beloved baby girl, came to be sitting outside on the sidewalk of the cafe, all of us drinking our beverage of choice (a raspberry truffle latte, a brownie smoothie, and - for me - the very best iced sugar-free caramel latte I have ever had in my life. Seriously. And a cake ball for Abby) soaking up the warmth and the beauty and the incredible sweetness of a two-and-a-half-year-old face covered in white chocolate and sprinkles, and the fellowship of each other's company

It was a beautiful moment, and in the middle of it I sat back and realized it was beautiful. I'm not good at recognizing beautiful moments while they're happening - I often look back and think wistfully to myself, "That was a good moment. I wish I had taken a little more time to just enjoy it."

After our little coffee klatch, Abby and I dropped Maggie off at her occupational therapist's, and went back to the house. On the way, Abby turned to me and said very plaintively, "I want a nap!" Wish granted! We arrived home just as it started to rain, and I tucked her into her crib, cozy with her penguin blanket, her stuffed tigger, and her beloved "el'phant". We blew kisses to each other and she made Tigger blow kisses, too. :) As I whispered, "I love you! Have a good nap!" and tiptoed out of the room, she rolled over and fell asleep instantly and was still sleeping when I left, lulled to sleep by gentle raindrops on the roof.

As she napped, I finally got the sidebar button - the one I have been playing with for awhile, but couldn't make work - to work. Perfectly.

Chris came home fifteen minutes early, so I got to come home before Yoga class, sit on my bed for twenty minutes in an absolutely peaceful house, and eat apple slices dunked into caramel-flavored organic greek yogurt.

Did I mention that only good food - healthy food, yummy food, nourishing food - has passed through my lips today?

Then I went off to class, where I did many things I couldn't do two months ago. I have muscles now that I didn't have two months ago, a confidence in my body's capability, a confidence that lets me explore that capability and find the boundaries. I did two new poses tonight that I haven't done before!

I came home, enjoyed a cup of perfectly-brewed chamomile tea. I can almost feel the hot bath I'm about to run for myself, and I'm anticipating the smooth coolness of my mattress.

I'll tell you a secret - today did not start off looking so great. I couldn't sleep last night - I know because I kept checking my alarm clock, desperately wishing I could slow time down so I could get some sleep before the week began. It never happened. After hours of "resting" (but not sleeping) I got up, posted this status to my Facebook page: "It's so much nicer when you begin the day by waking up, not just getting up!"

But somewhere along my morning drive to work, I decided to just live in being tired for today. So often I spend so much time trying to get out of whatever undesirable position I'm in, I forget that there's always the option to tough it out, live through it, and wait for it to pass. I didn't get a nap today - turns out I didn't need one, but if I'd been focused on "fixing" today I would have fretted about my lack of sleep all day.

Even the less-than great days remind you of what's important. I bought the first energy drink I've drunk in at least six months today. I literally stopped dead in front of the cooler when it suddenly struck me that I lived on those things, often multiple cans of them, a year and two months ago. I remember the hopeless despair I would feel because it was literally impossible, working my shifts and living in this house, to get the sleep I needed to feel sort of alive the next day. Day after day afterdayafterday... A missed night of sleep is nothing. Life is great!

I hope I get some sleep tonight (I think I probably will). But even if I don't, I know that my capacity to run with little or no sleep is great. That they manufacture Red Bull and Rockstar and, if all else fails, coffee, for the days when you need a little extra "oomph." And that beautiful moments sometimes happen on inoportune days - you can let them slip through your fingers... or you can grab them. Savor them. Laugh - and let the rest go. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Picture Post

What's a blogger to do when she gets a bad case of "blogger's block"? Carry a camera around all morning and do a picture post, that's what! :)

I've been enjoying the beautiful roses Natalie brought me for Valentine's Day. I removed the leaves and trimmed the stems and put them in a low vase on my bedside table with two glass bottles from our Valentine's Day dinner celebration.

They've brought me lots of beauty, but in the last two days I could tell they were beginning to wilt - however, the flowers were still nice and tight, so I decided to dry them so I could keep enjoying them. :)

Sooo pretty!
I turned them upside down and arranged them in the way I wanted them to dry.

Then I took some twine and wrapped it tightly twice around the stems.

I flipped it over once to make sure I liked the arrangement.
Then I tied it tightly - cuz I have learned from experience that the stems shrink a bunch when they dry.

You have to dry them in a darkish dry place... and our upstairs unfinished/unused bathroom shower fits the bill!

All tied up!

I'll leave them there until they're fully dried, then I can put them back on my bedside table and enjoy them indefinitely! :)
While I was at it, I also dried the petals of the purple roses from a friend's bridal shower. These didn't hold up as well as the dozen roses and began shedding petals the day after I brought them home, so rather than dry the entire rose, I plucked the petals.

I spread them out in a thin layer in a bowl and put them in the bathroom with the others.
When they're dried, they'll be super fragrant. I'll crochet two small heart doilies, lace them together with ribbon, and stuff them with the petals to make a sachet, then return it to her with a note explaining what's inside. I've made these for myself before and I enjoy keeping the smell of good times as a keepsake! :)
Maggie, Anna, and I went out to dinner on Thursday and popped into Target, where I found these adorable bunny rabbit baskets. I bought one of each so I could come home and duplicate them. My family doesn't really celebrate the bunnies and chicks aspect of Easter, but as rabbit owners for over ten years we sure love our bunny stuff! :)

I was also looking for a small stuffed lion for Abigail. Every week we go to gymnastics, and she digs through the piles and piles of stuffed animals to find one specific tiny stuffed lion. When she finds it, she squeals with delight, holds it up, and says "Hiiiii, lion!" and then carries it around with her the entire class. :) She's always sad to leave it behind, though, so I wanted to find her her own to keep.

Isn't it cute?
Of course, while I was looking for a stuffed lion, I found this stuffed owl and just had to bring it home. :)

He's currently living on top of my copy of "The Hobbit". I do so love owls. :)
My littlest cousin Kathryn Rose is being baptized tomorrow, and I wanted to bring her a toy since I know she's at that age now - roundabout five months - that toys become important. :)
What could it be?

A stuffed chickie! Isn't it cute? :) I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I hope Kathryn loves it as much as I do.

Here's my Driftwood Cap that I finally finished. :) I added an edging around the bottom but otherwise I followed the pattern exactly. I can't wait to wear it out of the house!
And so far that's pretty much been my weekend. :)
Btw, I have decided to do one original craft tutorial a week for the month of March, in honor of National Craft Month. :) I finished the first one today and it'll be posted on Tuesday, March 1st. Not gonna tell you what it is but... it's super cute, and after I finished three of them for the tutorial, I went back and made four more! :) The other tutorials will be posted on March 8th, March 15th, March 22nd, and March 29th. I'm going to be putting up a list on the sidebar, so keep an eye out! :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Was it really just three days ago that I posted about how thrilled I was to have a 72 degree day?

It was... so imagine how crestfallen I was to wake up this morning to THIS?

I guess I can admit now that I let my imagination go just a little bit over the weekend. I started dreaming of gardening, of warm days, of tank tops and flowy flirty skirts... but I guess I'll have to wait a little longer to get down the spring clothes bins, the sandals, and the potting soil. Apparently spring is still a little ways away.

I got a bunch of craftiness done this week. Here's a recap:
  • An embellished T
  • A sunglass case
  • An embellished skirt from this tutorial (except for the flower and the distressing... I wanted a little more polished look)
  • My "Flowers and Pearl, Tulle and Chain" necklace
  • And... just because I wouldn't want my crochet hooks to get lonely... I began this Driftwood Cap for myself. Cuz, you know, apparently spring is gonna be a while coming. And in the meantime, my head is cold. :)
Did you know that March is National Craft Month? I'm going to seize the excuse and try to get as many projects done as possible!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flowers and Pearls, Tulle and Chain

Flowers and pearls, tulle and chain... time to make a necklace!

  • At least an 18" strand of glass pearls, plus a few pearls in reserve (I used five, but depending on the size of your pearls, you might only need 1-3).
  • 22" metal chain
  • 2 crimp beads
  • A 2 1/2"X14" strip of fabric, plus a small (1"X1" or so) circle of the same material
  • A 6"X14" strip of coordinating or contrasting tulle (you could even use just one color - it would look great with all the contrasting textures!
  • A zipper at least 9" in length, in a coordinating or contrasting color
  • Thread to match, and a needle
  • A hot glue gun with clear or matching glue
Okay, here we go!

Take your strand of pearls and divide it into two strands, one 10" and one 8" (don't forget to reserve a few pearls for later!). Take one end of both strands and thread it through a crimp bead, through the last link of your chain, and back again through the crimp bead. Use pliers to squish the crimp bead flat, and thread the ends through the first pearl on the strand. Repeat on the other side, but don't worry about hiding the end of the thread - it'll be covered up by the pendant, anyway!

You should have something that looks like this:

Set it aside for awhile while we switch gears and make the flower pendant.

Cut a 2 1/2"X14" strip of fabric.

Fold it in half lengthwise, and gather it, using either needle and thread or a sewing machine. The easiest way I (a sewing dumbo) have found to do this is to set the stitch length to the maximum, stitch, then pull the threads to create a ruffle. My sister, who is a sewing expert, has a foot for her machine that automatically ruffles the material. It's pretty easy to do with a needle and thread, too.

Once you have it tightly ruffled, pin the edges together and sew...

...then flatten it out. You should have a "flower".

Do yourself a big favor and take a moment to iron it. It'll save you a lot of grief later!

Now take your 6"X14" strip of tulle, fold it in half lengthwise, then in half again, and ruffle it just like you did your fabric - but don't sew the edges together!

You should have something like this - make sure the "flower" is ruffled tightly.

Fold the edges over each other slightly, then get out your needle and thread and hand-sew it to the fabric flower. You don't need to go overboard - just a few stitches to tack it all together.

Your flower should look like this:

Set it aside, and let's work on the center.

Take your zipper and dismantle/unzip it, so that you have one side of the zipper.

Ruffle it exactly like you did your fabric and your tulle (stitch as closely to the edge as possible for best results). As it ruffles, it should automatically fold up into a flower.

With your needle and thread, start at the center and sew it in place. This is probably the trickiest part of the whole thing. Take lots of tiny stitches!

You end up with a flower that looks like this one the back -

- but, luckily, like this on the front!

Nice! Grab those pearls you reserved at the beginning of this project, and sew them into the center of your flower. I used six, but you can use more or less depending on what size pearls you are using.


Take your hot glue gun, heat it up, and glue your zipper into the center of your tulle and fabric flower. Let it cool.

Lay your flower face-down on your workspace, and position the chain/pearls over it (the connection between the chain and the strands of pearls should be right over your flower). Using lots of hot glue, glue the chain to the flower, then cover with the circle of matching fabric.

It should look like this:

You're done!

This is such a fun piece to wear or give to someone special!

This particular necklace I made for a friend's birthday, but now that I see it, I can't wait to make one in black for myself. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter Respite

Today was 75 degrees warm out. Seriously. I so needed this, it feels like God graciously gave me a little vacation just cause he knew I needed it sooo badly. :)

I crossed some invisible line sometime this week. I am now officially feeling better. Even though I have been "not sick" for awhile, my energy was wiped out, I just wasn't feeling "well", I was tired of feeling this way, etc. It seemed to take forever to get over it - I don't know if I got sick because I was feeling blue, or if I was feeling blue because I was getting sick - I don't really care about the causality. I do know that sometime in the middle of the week my energy returned, my zest returned, life started feeling fun again, and now I'm back. Thank God!

With this warm weather came a burst of creativity and in-the-moment-ness. :) Last night, as Maggie and I were heading out for our weekly sister date, we decided randomly to text Chris and Natalie and Abby and see if they'd like to go to dinner with us. They did! So not only did I get to hang out with loved ones, I got to see my girlie a bit more. Which is great, since I have Monday off (federal holiday - how can they DO this to me, lol? :)) so I only have three days with her next week.

After dinner, Maggie and I decided together that we needed some coffee, so we drove across town to the only open non-Starbucks coffeehouse. It was excellent coffee. Then we decided we needed to duck into Joann Fabrics to pick up some more crafty supplies, then we remembered we needed to go to Target. We couldn't remember what for, but we hoped that it would come to us as we walked around. It never did, but we found some other good stuff we needed to make up for it, lol. I found a couple of good sports bras on clearance, plus a lamp for my room since my last lamp decided to become an electrical hazard. Maggie found picture-hanging adhesive strips.

It was such a nice night we decided to walk down to the grocery store instead of drive, which in hindsight was a bad idea since it meant we had to lug plastic bags of groceries back. :) I stocked up on my favorite good foods - low/no fat cheese, lean lunchmeat, nonfat milk (organic this time - Maggie convinced me it was worth it, and I tasted some today, and it totally is! Also, Natalie swears it stays fresh longer, which is nice since I'm the only one drinking it), diet ginger ale, Eggbeaters, and some really fresh looking Honeycrisp apples. So psyched about this week!

I had a whole list of projects I wanted to do this weekend. First on my list: embellished T, in the style of this embellished tank. I knew I didn't want it to look exactly like this, but I was using it for inspiration.

I started off with this long-sleeved T from Target that I already owned (cept mine is black and white):

I bought 1/2 yard of black lace - it was originally $14.99 a yard, but it was the ONLY lace I liked, so I used my 40% off coupon, which brought it down to around $4. Much better! I also bought a package of glass "peals" for under $1 on sale, and 3" of black tulle for twelve cents. :)

I carefully cut the lace into two strips, aligned them along the neckline, and stitched the top down to secure it. I cut the tulle into 3"X3" squares, gathered them, and stitched them around the neckline, then used stitch witchery to tack everything down. I hand-knotted the pearls around the lace and voila! A sweet top! I'm excited about wearing this!

I have more sewing projects to do, but by the time I finished my T the warm weather was calling to me, so I abandoned them in favor of some gardening, albeit the very wimpy, indoor, pot kind. :) I have no green thumb whatsoever, but last year I wanted to learn how to raise plants, so I started pots of seedlings. Most of them died, and the ones that survived were pretty puny. Eventually I threw them all out and bought already-grown houseplants. Now that I've been able to keep them alive for a year, I'm ready to try some more seeds. :)

This little "spider plant"was given to me by a friend from church, who heard my gardening woes and brought me a seedling from her plant and assured me that I could not kill it. She was right! It's a hardy little plant, and best of all it's begun to sprout little - whatchamacaums? baby plants? - so today I pulled out some smaller pots and gave the babies their own pots.

This plant I bought last year on closeout at Wal-Mart. Somebody told me that the shinier and harder a plant's leaf it, the least water it needs regularly, and probably needs less sunlight as well. I have no idea if this is true but the rule seems to have worked in this case!

I had no idea how big this plant had gotten til I went to repot it. Big strong roots FILLED the bottom of the pot! I had a slightly larger pot on hand, but pretty soon it's going to either need to go outside or I'll need a MUCH bigger pot.
Oh, the possibilities... This particular pot is filled with Cilantro (coriander). I love cilantro! I'm "growing salsa" since it's so low-cal and healthy (filled with antioxidants) so this is a must.

I commandeered this strawberry flat box to grow tomatoes in. I love tomatoes!

Here's my French press watering can, lol. It broke last year and I repurposed it.

Last week after Mags and I got home from our friend's purple-themed bridal shower, I was feeling artsy and whipped up this little purple flower. Isn't it cute? I can't figure out what to do with it yet - headband, pin, or bracelet? :)

Hopefully I'll get to the rest of my projects this weekend, but if not, that's ok, too. The weather is incredible, and I'm enjoying every minute of it!