I just popped in to show off our most recent mother/son joint venture. B and I collected acorns and acorn tops this fall, and over the months our collection had dwindled down to 5 little acorn hats. This is what we did with them.B was super nervous about drawing faces that small, and wouldn't even attempt it unless I was lightly pinching the tail end of the sharpie. I think he did an amazing job. He made a Mama one, a Daddus one, and a "the boy" one. Then with the extra tops and wooden balls we made bearded guys. Cuz, beards are awesome. Did you really have to ask?I wish we had collected hundreds of acorn tops, I'd love nothing more than to decorate a future christmas tree with just these guys. Next year, maybe, if my child labor force isn't on to my by then.
Stop Right There, Mom. Do Not Read Any Further. Besides, shame on you if you decide to start reading my blog one week before Christmas. I mean really!
Wrens always remind me of my grandma, though she probably doesn't know that. I was sitting at her sewing machine, looking out her window when I identified my first wren. Not that that's a huge deal for bird watchers, but it was memorable for me as I was just learning to ID the various backyard birds of our area. So anyway, since I've been enjoying these papercutting projects, I decided a little wren for my grandma to supplement her gift would be just the ticket. Here's the result.It's a little larger than the crows, about 5 inches across. My challenge now is finding a way to package all these pieces so that they'll be safe and flat, but without incurring the expense of framing. I'm still scratching my head a little about this. Any suggestions would be warmly appreciated.
The other X-acto project I finished this morning is a little different. I wanted to make something graphic and woodland themed for my mom. She loves cards and paper products, and she makes gorgeous ones herself, so I decided to put my own spin on a set of note cards and envelopes. It's set of 6, 3 hedgehog cards, 3 fox cards. I'm pretty excited about these, although cutting the envelopes (which are NOT origami paper) got old right quick. I've got a sore index finger to show for it, despite the super sharp Martha Stewart brand cutting blades I picked up last night. Seriously, like butter.Anyway, more to come soon. I have a stack of things I won't be able to post till after the holidays, but there's some good stuff in there. You'll see.
Dad! If you chose today of all days to start reading my blog, Stop Now, you're about to spoil your own Christmas surprise!
So, in all my rambling, I forgot to mention that the Laughing all the Way design was made with cut paper shapes. The whole thing was done in less than an hour of relaxo couch time. So fun, right? The happy accident associated with all of this, is that my colored paper stash was dangerously low, so I had to dip into my origami paper instead. Eureka! Origami paper is ridiculously strong, it doesn't pull or tear, it has no grain to speak of, and it's white on the back for optimal sketching. After this discovery, and still being a little buzzed from the success and ease of my last papercut project, I decided to try my hand at something a little more complicated. I put away the scissors, pulled out the trusty exacto, and made this for my dad. Cool, right? It's pretty small, the design is just under 4" square. Obviously, the design of this took a little more time. But I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the cutting went. And I could do the whole thing without leaving my couch throne. Yeah, turns out I may have been a little overly optimistic about the morning sickness going away. Even so, I'm at least feeling motivated, and with having scaled back my usual holiday madness, I actually have time to play. With things like sharp blades. Woohoo!
I'm rapidly approaching the 12 week mark and I don't know if things are turning around for me, or if the Christmas deadline has lit a toasty fire under my rump, but I had a pretty darn productive weekend. Of course, my phone was out of commission, which probably added a few extra hours to each day. My house looks like people actually live here (and maybe would even want to,) B and I made paper snowflakes and taped them to the windows, I wrapped, and sketched, and cut, and infused, and even snuck in a snowball fight. Pretty good, right? And I was actually hungry. I told Zion Saturday morning that I'd gladly rip out a throat or two if any unsuspecting schmuck walked by with strawberry mochi. Go figure.
Anyway, one of the projects I bustled over was this year's Laughing all the Way. The past few years we've made wine at Whatcom Winemakers, which has been a huge hit, and we've always called it Laughing all the Way. When word leaked that it wasn't happening this year, there were a few sour Anderson faces. So, in the interest of keeping everyone pleasantly imbibed this year, we're infusing cranberries in vodka. Fancy pants call this "Danish Schnapps". I call it "will it keep till June? Cuz it looks freakin' delicious." The label always features a little Beckettesque figure doing something wintry, and this year, having about 1/10 of the energy needed to draw a detailed portrait, I went all Ezra Jack Keats on it. I'm so happy with it, and B is particularly thrilled with the cameo of a certain well loved fox. I'm thinking about making gift tags too, since we'll only have bottles for a few people this year.
Sorry if I'm spoiling the surprise for a few folks by posting this, I'm just feeling so good about being up to my old tricks again. Please be a good little elves and keep the label and the drink to yourselves so others will be surprised Xmas morning. Thanks!
**UPDATE** Vodka labels, gift tags, and a new seasonal header? I'm totally getting my money's (err... time's?) worth out of this puppy.
Check it out! B and I made snow globes. This project took quite a bit more hands on work by yours truly (I've yet to trust my toddler with epoxy) but he made all the executive decisions, wielded the eye dropper, added the glitter... you know, all the fun stuff. Here's the stuff we used. There are tutorials for this all over the internet and, for the life of me, I can't remember which one I liked best. Sorry about that. This was just super fun. Recently B picked up the phrase "Ohmygosh!" and he squeals it ever time he upends one of these little jars. We had a whole pile of wintry plastic flotsam, but B couldn't part with a single walrus or polar bear. I'm a little bummed we don't have an arctic fox snowglobe, but Beckett's happy. He now has his snowglobes and a pile of new animal toys.
So... just because I'm personally stepping out of the handmade holiday game this year, doesn't mean I can't benefit from putting another (much smaller) pair of hands to work. Child Labor, you say? How dare you! I'm simply a wildly clever and festive mother. Ahem.Beckett made these, similar to these, with remarkably little help. I made the polymer clay carrot noses the night before, cut the arms to size and turned the kid loose. He had picked out the clay, the buttons and the pipe cleaners himself and was all kinds of amped about this little project. So, I just kicked back, hummed along to the Muppet's Christmas Carol, and watched, in wonder, as all these little guys appeared. Unfortunately, my evil plan to use these snowmen to add a warm fuzzy personal touch to my internet purchased gifts was thwarted. Thoroughly. My little cohort decided, after the fact, that we should probably just keep them all. So far, he hasn't budged.
We did another little project today, but I didn't snap any pictures during the 2-3 hours of daylight we had up here in the taiga. I'll get them posted soon, and hopefully a few more little numbers we've got cookin' around here.
I was told, no ordered last weekend to post something, anything, just some puff to get the seasonally inappropriate jack-o-lantern off the top spot. So here goes. I am pregnant, due June 30th. I am epically pregnant, actually and spend most of my time horizontal. The rare vertical moment is generally spent scouring the internet for tear-worthy scraps of a few favorite tv shows. It's pretty embarrassing. Things I never would have cried over a few weeks ago make me gush, which given my general ice queen-ness (which was totally amplified in my first pregnancy- yikes!) is pretty fun. A pair of figure skaters skating to Once Upon a Time in the West made me weep, as did some cheesy youtube fan-made Being Human video.
I'm medicated now, after some drastic weight loss and a sudden and profound intimate relationship with my bathroom floor, but the meds cause comical drowsiness. I almost passed out open-mouthed in my mashed potatoes last Thursday night (thank you, Jose, for your watchful gaze and quick giggle reflex.) I'm keeping more than just 7up down, but still have that super fun sea-sick feeling, which might be a problem if I could get off the couch, but alas...
So, basically, I'm exhausted and miserable and happy and finding unbearable beauty everywhere I look. My house is a mess, my dog is sad, my son is neglected, and my husband takes it all with a certain calm amusement. He's like Eric Northman right now... mmm. Oh yeah, and I'm trying to downshift all of my Christmas project dreams into internet shopping reality. Sorry folks, I might have to put my usual "handmade holidays" on the shelf for this one. But anything exciting I complete (or even attempt) I'll post. Happy December, everyone! B and I totally cooled out to the Comcast Yule Log today, 'tis the season and all.
Here is the costume that I literally shed blood, sweat and tears over in my mad Halloween dash. It's B's Totoro, and no part of creating it went smoothly. Despite it being so freakin simple, I hit snag after snag. The grand blooper cherry on top of this blooper sundae, is that B absolutely refused to wear the thing. He's a funny sensitive guy, and as stubborn as his mom, and something tweaked in him and there was no talking him into it. I almost cried, after all the frustration I had putting it together, then I remembered that I'm the parent, and to behave myself. He ended up happily trick or treating in his trusty Totoro hoodie, and all was well. He has the candy loot to prove it.
So, I got home with about 48 hours of costuming left before the big day. Miraculously, I finished our fox masks. They turned out so slick, so much cooler than I expected, and they were so fun to wear. In other words, I like them. About half way through, they looked like a big pile of CRAFT. Maybe even KRAFT. Like I would be pulling out the puffy paint and Mod Podge any second. But once the entire mask was covered in the crepe paper it looked lovely. My mom tried to steal them Sunday morning to hang on her wall. For those of you who know my mother, you know that no mere craft gets wall space in her home. It's the highest form of flattery. (She also took these pictures. She says, "it's all in the paws.")These masks were made with Crayola Model Magic built up on a blank mask form, then papier mache, paint and finally crepe paper according to the instructions here. I love the relief and the texture, and am a little obsessed with the way crepe paper stretches and bends. Amazing. My poor family will probably just be getting a mask menagerie for Christmas. The rest of our costumes were equal parts made and found. They were warm and comfortable, and though we wore them out to great party and were seen by friends, family and strangers alike, I feel like I didn't get enough time as Marian. I may start wearing leather vests and shawls around town just for the hell of it. I could just be that girl.Look at my Robin Hood, sans mask. How handsome is he? He can swash my buckle any time he likes. Word.
Ok kids, I finally have a minute to say that this Fall, and even the end of the Summer, kicked my ass. I never realized how much of my free time (read: sanity) came from afternoon toddler nap time, and evening toddler bed time. But, of course, the apple doesn't fall far from the insomniac mother. It's been months of bed time battles, really a full scale war, culminating in a parental white flag of surrender. Beckett no longer naps. Which means Beckett is often cranky. Which means I am too.
So I have little time to write, and less time to do anything about which to write. And when you throw in an emergency babysitting week in California (to care for my niece) I didn't even get a chance to post all of the things I have been up to. I'd still like very much to do that. If you don't mind hearing about Halloween costumes after the fact, I'll be posting my successes and failures over the next few days.
I spent the morning building the form that I'll be using to make our fox masks, and at the end I had some extra white modeling material. You know, that spongy Crayola stuff that air hardens overnight? So Beckett and I had a crazy fun project session, making "ghosties" out of the leftover clay and some buttons and beads. Aren't they killer? But even B's wonder-filled inventions couldn't break me out of my standard anal M.O. Insert some sentiment about a leopard and his spots here. Anyway, once the ball got rollin', we started making a bunch of little paper cut-outs (which became a garland), and pulling out the Halloween decoration box, and before I knew it, we had a full blown seasonal display in the kitchen. See? I can play home-maker. Scratch that, I'm a lousy housewife. One look at, or taste of, Zion's birthday cake last week would prove that. But I do know how to have a spontaneous good time with my son. And I like to think I make being domestically stunted look good. Word.
A Value Village, to be precise. Check out this perfect Sherwood Forest sweater I picked up today, not in the costume section. Seriously.And this sweet leather jacket that's about to be turned into a lady-outlaw's vest and a quiver or two. It looks pretty sharp on old Helen, wouldn't you say? Helen, you minx. Mild mannered dress form by day. Pam Grier look-a-like by night?Here's the working palette. So much potential, and so much potential for failure, not to mention so much leather. Eee! I'm so excited.
We're getting down to the wire now, and while the list of possible Halloween costumes was growing daily, nothing we came up with clicked. I thought about just doing this, because the whole mask+ stylish clothing = costume thing appeals to me like crazy. But as birds would be too obvious, and as we're really digging foxes around here, I wanted us to be foxes. Or the fox and the hound? Or the fox and the crow? Last night it hit us like a ton of bricks. Robin Hood and Maid Marian as foxes, a la Disney, but with our own BBC inspired take on it.I have a huge girl crush on Marian from the BBC's Robin Hood, played by Lucy Griffiths. Huge girl crush. Not only is she DARLING, but she's the first Maid Marian to be fierce and adept, instead of wasting away under a veiled dunce cap in a tower. Her costume design is so stellar. It's decidedly modern (hellooo hoodies!) but elegant and a little course (hellooo burlap!) As for Zion - Quiver? Yes. Tights? No. Though we do have an amazing pair of brown leather pants I'm dying to see him in. We have to rock the whole fox thing, and it's a costume, so it can't be too modern or obscure. All in all, I'm shooting for something in between this... and this...Mmm... yes please. I'm so excited. It's a good thing payday is soon, because I can't wait to start shopping for this. In fact, Zion should probably hide the car keys until then. I'll post more as things start happening.
We here at Moth and Sparrow would like to apologize for our absence of late, for our absurd busyness, and for those of you who have attempted phone calls, for having left our phone charger in Seattle. We would also beg your patience for us having left our camera there too, so even though we now have a few minutes to blog, we won't have any fresh photos for you, dear readers, until next week. So sorry.
A hawk flew into my urban apartment last night, just before sunset. No, I'm not kidding. No this isn't some fiction writing exercise. He looked a lot like this guy, just a little redder. He came in my kitchen window, I'm assuming to make an evening snack out of my pet finches, and ended up trapped, flapping madly between glass and cage. When I heard the ruckus, I assumed it was a pigeon. I mean, what else would it be in this wonderland of brick and blacktop? I rushed over to usher it back out the open side of the window, when I noticed the size, smooth striped feathers. Like an idiot, I started talking to him, "My god! You're beautiful! What are you?" and so on. He stopped dead, perched on the window sill, and leveled me with a sharp yellow stare. Holy Crap!
Outwardly calmed by some serious inner chaos, I grabbed him with both hands at his shoulders, knowing full well that I'd most likely lose a finger in the process. I held him for just a second, if that, just enough to show him his escape, and let go. He stretched his wingspan, flew to the chimney at the back of the roof, and perched, his lean frame and powerful legs silhouetted. Again like an idiot, I tossed some steak out the window for him, and only succeeded in scaring him away. Well done, Claire, and I don't mean the steak.
My first thought was that it was a red tailed hawk, but I started doubting myself. After consulting the best and brightest bird brain I know, and spending many hours with Google Images, I'm still stumped. I know what you're thinking, What color was his tail? His tail was hidden behind the birdcage while he was trapped, and when I had him in my hands, I assure you I only saw beak and talons. He was small, though, for a red tailed, maybe 15" or 16" long. Had that lovely brownish-red coloring, a compact body and was really leggy. My working theory is young red tailed hawk. I'd love suggestions, though.
This tops the list of crazy/ amazing things things that have happened to me. I'm still buzzing, and trying to even process the event. You can be assured that there will much hawk-inspired madness around here for some time. Including the following bit of spousal conversation...
"Why didn't I take a picture of him?" I sigh, longing for some memento of this wild experience. "Because you're not a complete asshole," my raptor-like husband replies. Touchee. We laugh.
*** Update *** I've now learned that young red tailed hawks have bright yellow eyes that darken with age, and that adults stop feeding their young in late summer, which causes the new fledgling hunters to make, well, amateur mistakes this time of year (i.e. going after caged birds in a human domicile.) They can be as small as my visitor and can have larger leg to body ratios. (Hey, I can relate, puberty legs are hardly unfamiliar to me.) So now, I'm pretty well convinced he was as suspected, a juvenile red tailed hawk.
Picking up books from the library's hold shelf, I noticed a remarkable "B" shelf co-inhabitant. Bopp, Hailey R. Now, I'm sure that Mrs./Ms. Bopp gets this all the time, but as she's a stranger to me and I to her, I couldn't help but be wildly amused. Here's to you, Hailey Bopp, thanks for making my day. I needed it.
(For those readers well versed in cult mass suicides, I apologize for my post title's mixed reference. I know that was Jonestown and not Heaven's Gate, but "Come on in, the vodka's fine" just doesn't have the same resonance.)
Check out this friendly spirit of the forest Zion and I happened upon whilst trekking through the woods at Larrabee State Park today.I made the egregious error of talking to B about Halloween a full 2 months early. Woops. He was absolutely thrilled at the prospect of dressing up as Totoro, (his current favorite character) and absolutely devastated that he had to wait for his costume. So, to tide him over, I put Totoro's face onto an old hoodie. It's just felt and a pair of buttons, all stuff I had around. This is the kind of work I'd have normally done by hand, but since I've been getting so friendly with my machine lately, I gave it a go and it totally paid off. I was able to do this whole thing, from first sketch to last stitch, in the duration of one nap (and surprise the hell out of my son.) He had what one might call a spaz attack - running to the mirror, squealing with delight, and then demanding that I sing the Totoro theme while he jumped on the bed. He patently refused to take it off, only agreeing to lower the hood on rare (and often sweaty) moments. This is easily the most successful 45 minutes I've spent in some time. Maybe ever. Did I mention the squealing?
I may be an artist, but I am no craftsman. Most of my sewing is something more like Pacific Campaign medical tent sutures. But this is the first time I've made a series of garments instead of sending my sewing machine back to the closet abyss after the first passionate and fumbling project. Lo and behold, I'm friggin' improving. I can actually sew a straight line today, which I couldn't last week. My pattern drafting is getting better, too. So today, I made this skirt. It's corduroy. Made with 6 skirt panels and a waist band, and even features ornamental stitching (which I definitely couldn't do last week.)
Here's my second attempt at a top. Much more successful. I'll actually wear this baby out into the world. I did the bulk of the work on this last week, and stared at it for 5 or 6 days. It's pretty cute, but it's also pretty rough. Particularly when you compare it to the skirt I made today. Which I can't wait to post, so I think I'll do that right now.
Over 5 weeks ago the quintessential clothes horse, Amelia, started this new experiment. No buying clothes. Which, for her, has been torture, and as she's my #1 partner in shopping crime, it's been a little bleak for me, too. But it has kicked started this whole sewing frenzy, making new things, altering old ones, and updating a few bargain thrift finds. Unfortunately, this first attempt was an epic disaster. I'm talking the Day After Tomorrow of sewing projects. Seriously. At one point, the tidal wave in Manhattan point, my machine started hemorrhaging vital steel organs. To make matters worse, I had cut into this fabric that I'd been hording for years, so I couldn't just throw in the towel. I stuck with it and, many choice expletives later, I had this top. It's cute on the hanger, not quite cute on the body, and nowhere near cute enough to be worth the ordeal, but it's done. At this particular era of my life, that's a tremendous achievement.
So, I promised myself I wouldn't post again until I had legitimately made something. And, while I still haven't technically made anything, I have started many many things. I suppose that's close enough. After a few trips to thrift stores and a thorough delve into my own closet, I have a number of alteration projects going, plus a few "from scratch"sewing machine battles currently being staged. I even busted out the RIT dye today which, maybe more than anything else, makes me feel like my old self again.
What's extra fun is that the majority of these things are within a certain color concept, making me feel like I'm working on a Fall Collection, instead of a housewife's to-do list. I'll post more as these things reach completion.