Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Shelves, Finished

I finally finished painting our living room shelves.  Here they are, in their full glory.

I think I'm in love.  I can't believe the whole project from shelves to paint was under probably $30.  Big win.

Meanwhile, I stash-busted out a patchwork window shade for Elly's side of the car.  He's pretty bothered by the sun and we have a long car trip coming up.  He picked out the fabric himself from my stash.

The car isn't home now, but when it is, I'll get some pictures of the shade in action.  Ellis is a bit disappointed that it can't fly.  I'm not sure where he got the idea that it would.  In any case, I'm pleased with it and am looking forward to seeing if it works.

I'm also working on embellishing the napkins made from a repurposed ring sling.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Anne Dissolves, Everybody Wins

The other day, Ellis and I did a science activity inspired by No Time For Flashcards.  It went pretty well.  On Wednesday, we went and did a very similar science activity at my good friend Anne the Chemistry Teacher (Among Other Things)'s home.  It was freaking awesome.

Anne has a different approach to science than I do.  Whereas I just put my materials in whatever I have handy, Anne has professional chemistry equipment and teaches my child the term Erlenmeyer Flask. 

(For the record, I personally learned this term from The X-Files.  Ellis does not yet watch The X-Files.)

Anne also favors labels. 

As an approach, it works.

See?  The kids were really involved in the activity.  They did it for minutes on end, a clear sign of a successful activity.

Like Ivy's dress?  Buy it from my friend Jane of Thumb & Pinky!

But the important lesson that I think I learned (on top of now understanding that dissolving involves ions and polarity) is that even with the best laid plans, my child will still end up just mixing everything together.  The fact that he did that last time wasn't due to some failing on my part, it seems.

Is it possible that this is just who he is?

And that I am just who I am?

And that we are perfectly suited just because?  I'm going to go with yes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Long Overdue Mama Wristlet

Many long years ago, maybe 5, I made myself a wristlet purse to use as a wallet.  And use it I did.

It was a good purse but its time has passed.

I dug into my stash for the fabric and the zipper making this a stash busting project.  As you can see, I still really need zipper installation practice.

I'm pleased with how it came out.

Although next time I won't sew the strap on upside down.

I feel like I should make ten more so I can really get the hang of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Vacation Play

Ellis and I are in Summer Vacation mode.  I have to say, it's exhausting.  I'm working on getting us into a rhythm.  He's a very busy person, so I'm in a perpetual search for activities.  Here's what we came up with on Monday.

Coffee filter butterflies.  We were inspired by this post on No Time For Flashcards.  Because I knew he wouldn't want to wait for glue to dry, we used our Do-A-Dot markers instead of glue and glitter.  

These markers have actually turned out to be way more awesome than I thought they'd be.  Something about them really appeals to Elly.  He uses them in all kinds of creative ways.  I'm sure you could buy cheap Bingo doppers instead of these fancy markers, but I'll pay extra for washable ink, oh yes I will.

And since we were finished with this by 9:30 in the morning, we needed another project to keep us going.  He's really into science projects these days, so back we went to No Time For Flashcards (sorry I can't find the post again) and we experimented with dissolving.

We used coffee grounds, peppercorns, quinoa, cumin, and sugar.

I will not post the picture of after he dumped the entire concoction on the floor. Or of the dishes filled with coffee grounds and peppercorns currently piled in my sink.

He didn't fully grasp the concept of dissolving.  Either I didn't explain it very well or he was more interested in just the doing than in the thinking.  He was convinced the peppercorns dissolved.  They did not.  We will do a follow-up activity at some point, to see if he gets the idea more fully.  He did, however, enjoy noticing what did or did not float.  So maybe that'll be our next activity.  After I do these dishes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mindful Sewing

I think I can sew now for real.  I've been machine sewing for around 10 years.  Sarah showed me how to use a machine and I pretty much taught myself after that, although my friend Robin recently showed me the better way to install a zipper.  I feel pretty confident using my machine and I'm good at making artsy craftsy stuff, but I've never felt confident about my ability to sew from patterns.

First, I've never really been sure if I'm doing it "right".  Second, it takes a kind of precision that is problematic for me.  Third, it takes time and space, two commodities often in short supply around here.

When people ask if I can sew on a machine, I have usually qualified it with how I'm self-taught and blah, blah, blah undermining myself all the way.  This is not a useful habit.  I'm working on changing it.

Enter Mama Art Week-end.  Robin's pattern making workshop gave me a greater understanding of how patterns work and how to use them.  I also learned to draft my own.  Then I decided to make some sun bonnets by drafting my own pattern.  To get the pattern just right, I made the bonnet over and over, adjusting the pattern and my technique each time.  I noticed that the bonnet came out much better if I cut carefully and pinned carefully.  I began to actually enjoy these processes that led me to a better finished product.

Historically, I pin minimally.  It's so fussy and irritating.  It takes so much time.  It takes away from my creative flow.  I have come around to more pinning over time because otherwise things just get messed up, but I've always resented it.  How annoying.  Let's get to the sewing part.  Guess what?  The pinning is the sewing part.  Who knew?  You did, probably, but I would never have believed you.  I had to learn it for myself.

While sewing bonnets yesterday, I realized I liked the pinning and fussing over getting my pattern pieces lined up just right.  Maybe it was partially the ownership of having made the pattern myself.  Maybe it was my greater understanding of how the pattern fit together that helped me to see how the pinning and fussing was an integral part of making the piece work.  

I also turned down the speed on my machine for the first time.  I usually have the thing cranked all the way up so I can get things done fast.  It also makes me feel cool to just zip through my seams.  Except.  Except my machine needs servicing and the tension and the feed dogs are a bit wonky turned way up, so going fast was resulting in a less even line.  Except getting the curves of the piece just right was almost impossible at top speed.

And not to get too Psych 101 on everyone, but I think there was something else going on in my rushing the process.  I think that I was building in excuses for when things didn't turn out just right.  And I think I was rushing the process because I wasn't confident in what I was doing and I wanted to get past that feeling as quickly as possible.  Sort of, "Let's just get this over with already."

This feels like a big realization to me.  Let this be my official endorsement of mindful sewing.