Thursday, April 30, 2009

Project Runway Bham Take 2

Our night and our sewing projects were huge successes! I love my dress so much, and though I frequently envied the way my friends could put their arms above their heads, I was feeling super cute in my dress. Amelia re-purposed an old sheet turned tablecloth into a springy chic and youthful high waisted bubble skirt. Shirley's lime green corduroy knee length skirt was perfectly executed from a pair of pants (if I hadn't seen the pants myself, I wouldn't have believed she'd made it.) Plus my beloved sister came out with us, she didn't make her clothes, but she did make the night perfect.
I made a knee length cotton dress with a ruffled collar, and a little cropped vest. I completely fancied myself an updated Lizzie Bennet, and not just because my sexy husband is prone to bouts of Darcy-esque crankiness.Here we all are, pretty cute right? So much fun, thanks ladies.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Notes From the Sewing Table

Tomorrow night 3 women will don budget handmade garments, made in the past day or so, and celebrate their successes or drown their failures with cocktails at a posh locale. Hopefully this time, one of these women will have the forethought to bring a camera. Here's a brief preview and a rundown of the lessons learned from this 2nd installment of Project Runway Bham.

-Elastic is not just for old men's waistbands, it also comes in handy if you prefer to actually move your arms.

-Zippers, while seemingly fancy, are only optional for those who can dislocate their shoulders at will.

-Furthermore, picking up contortionism may make me a better seamstress, just as undertaking more projects like this will undoubtedly make me a better contortionist.

-Atrociously giant puffed sleeves are really easy to make, especially when going for a dainty Lizzie Bennet sleeve.

-When you're going for "deconstructed" and end up with something that just looks "demolished", Fray Check is your best friend.

-Hand stitching isn't ghetto, it's couture.

PS I don't have a sewing table, unless your definition of table includes a bit of cleared off carpet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bargain Blooms

Back around Valentine's day, when I first set off on my wee garden adventure, I took a gamble and brought home 2 clearance plants, $.50 violas to be precise. I was pretty convinced that buying the rejects was a rookie mistake, but I was wrong. Those two straggly things have become this wild cascade of blooms and fragrance. I love them. My whole "garden" is coming to life, and though my fingernails seem perpetually ringed in potting soil, tending to it feel less like work and more like meditation. I guess I'm just saying that I get it now. I respected and admired gardeners and their toil before, but now I get it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Zenesta Jones

I've picked up my knitting needles again after a couple weeks of neglect. They clicked and scraped with a certain tinny ring while my finches chirped and peeped along. The great achievement of the evening was not the completed mohair inches, but the deluge of memories that those combined sounds inspire.

My Great Grandma Nessie was an avid knitter and kept all sorts of finches, especially Zebras, in every corner of her house. She also wrapped gifts in brown paper bags with excessive scotch tape and hi-lighter scrawl. She'd always kiss us on the tops of our heads, and used phrases like "Go outside and blow the stink off." I was fortunate to have her in my life until I was teenager, and as such feel like I should be able to recall more about my time spent with her.

But knitting helps me to feel closer to her, and when my nasturtiums bloom, I'll throw some petals in a salad in her honor, and just maybe, Mother's Day will bring a few Zebra finches into my life. Their distinctive meep may help me unearth a few long buried memories.
Okay, by some serendipitous awesomeness, this is the only picture I have of her on hand. This is probably circa 1970, and that handsome mustachioed man is my dad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turns out...

...non union workers will totally work on a Sunday. If you need a miniature road built in your yard, I know a guy.
We had a great weekend with the grandparents and their gardening trowels.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Good Times

I suppose most people believe themselves to have been weird children, so I'll spare you that morsel of egotism. Instead I'll just say that at recess I was rarely found on the jungle gym or with any athletic equipment, but instead building a hillside dugout abode for a much cherished pebble. On vacation, I could be found with a hot glue gun and a pile of tiny found shells making minuscule sea monsters. At home, most likely, I'd be at my desk surrounded by a cast of miniature Fimo characters. Polymer clay was something like my first great love.

This love was quite suddenly rekindled last weekend when I was in dire need of decorative mushrooms for a birthday terrarium. Then last night, with a glass or two of wine bubbling through my bloodstream and easy spousal conversation bubbling through the air, I picked up the leftover clay. I made two more mushrooms, a crow shaped bird, two wrens (one more wren-like than the other) and a large and small owl. So friggin' fun. And I love how the white looks against my mosses. They're all pretty tiny. The biggest of them all is the large owl which towers at a whopping 1 1/2". The wrens are about 1/2" high. I'll post pictures once I get these guys situated with the other terrariums and then, I promise, this will be a moss-free blog for a while. Though perhaps not clay-free for some time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are You Ready Boots?

Start walking! Er, sewing.Shirley posted this, which includes a not-so-subtle nudge for me to follow suit. She's calling it Project Runway Bham. Which is a pretty accurate representation, except that we pulled off our version with half the time, no budget and no dapper gentlemen offering advice or calling, "Make it work!"

As both of us have aquired sexy new boots in the last few months, and as sexy boots are not the most practical of motherly footwear, we decided that our boots needed a night out as badly as we did. Thus was born the idea behind Boots Night Out. As I mentioned, last week was Shirley's Spring Break which provided the opportunity for us to finally have this night out.

Perfect right? Wrong. Very wrong when said new boots are red, not the easiest color to pair with existing wardrobe pieces. Very very wrong when the wearer of said new boots has lost 35 lbs in the last year and therefore has a pretty scrawny (and mostly toddler friendly) wardrobe to work from.

So, with equal parts goading and encouragement from my friend (who showed up in a lovely feminine skirt of her own making) I got to strut, I mean strut, into our swanky destination in this bird dress.First off let me say I'm no seamstress. I'm a sloppy sewing mess who has never successfully worked from a pattern. Hell, I've never successfully read a pattern. But I love fabrics, I love surface design and I get a BIG kick out of creating patterns. The fabric I used is a curtain from Urban Outfitters, 100% cotton and a little sheer with a reproduction French 1930s bird print. I've had it for years. It's my favorite, the darling of the fabric collection. Seriously, how cute is this?
The whole thing took me less than 6 hours, and feels like a pretty great success. It's as simple as a dress can be. Cookie cutter front and back, two little tucks by the armpits, a ruffled bottom and a tie at the back. It made me happy, and more importantly, it made my boots happy.

PS Shirley didn't wear her new boots. Poor boots.

PPS Putting the dress on the mannequin solved all the awkwardness of trying to photograph myself, but I learned 2 important lessons. 1, the mannequin's shoulders are wider than mine, and 2, clothes can make a familiar mannequin absolutely terrifying to a 2 year old.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Shirley Bear!

Not only is the fmr. Miss Moss an expert surprise spoiling snoop, but her Spring Break fell the week before her b-day. This meant 2 things - 1- that the time I otherwise would have spent working on her birthday gifts was spent with her planning, plotting, projecting and generally inspiring each other into an impotent frenzy. 2- that she had those hours together to question, pick and drop hints till I had no birthday surprises left. Here's what she got, even if she saw 'em coming from a mile away.
A moss nest with quail eggs to go under her bell jar and a candy dish terrarium with little Fimo mushrooms. Why didn't anyone tell me that Fimo isn't just for 10 year olds? Not only is it remarkably easy to manipulate, it's also the most successful baking I've done in years.

And a freezer paper stenciled bluebird shirt. The super soft cotton on this shirt got a little testy with me. I forged ahead hoping its recipient doesn't notice the goofs that seems so flagrant to me. Sorry Shirley, for not making you a shirt for Christmas, and for giving you an imperfect one now. Also sorry for making it a bird. Seriously, I tried to make something happen with poppies or squirrels or acorns, but all I could do was bird. It wasn't for lack of trying, or lack of affection, just a lack of creativity on my part.So here's to you, Mama Bear! Happy Birthday and thanks for giving me the excuse to play with some old and new friends. Freezer paper and exacto, moss, glass, quail eggs, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and polymer clay. We missed you so much today, and won't be able stand being away much longer. As soon as B's snot runs clear, we'll be breaking down your door. Count on it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Best egg hunt EVER. Not only did we spend Easter with some amazing folks - Beckett's favorite brother/cousin/uncle/friend Truman and his family - but we also spent Easter at an amazing home. Seriously, check this place out. It's the ancestral home of the Torrance family whose matriarch passed away about a year ago. The real estate photos accurately capture the grandeur, but not necessarily the charm. It's been my favorite house for years, and I'm thrilled to have been able to spend a few more hours there before it's out of the family.B cared more about the magnifying glass he found in the house, than he did about any robin's eggs, chocolates or HotWheels that the Easter Bunny may have left. He ended up with an impressive haul, so he must have known what he was doing. Still it wouldn't have killed him to take it a little less seriously. Hercule Poirot in pastel or Philip Marlowe with malted milk balls. What can I say? That's my boy.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

La Terrarium Trema

These are just the windowsill residents. The nightstand colony is awaiting a new arrival, and therefore asked to not be photographed.

Monday, April 6, 2009

To a Certain Way of Thinking...

...I had a very productive weekend. Sure, the laundry never made it past the sorted piles stage, but I managed to dip my fingers into a plethora of project pies - framing, reframing, painting, writing. Considering the fact that my little family spent the vast majority of Saturday and Sunday out in the rare April sun, I'm really quite impressed with myself.
In addition to all these pleasant distractions, I moved some wall art around, worked on my sweater, dismantled a stellar antique clock and finally suitably arranged my terrariums, but that'll have to wait till tomorrow. My mosses deserve a post of their very own.

PS Pardon the Moth-heaviness of my examples, but have you noticed the title of the blog which you are currently reading?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sign of the Times

Yesterday when my beautiful 2 year old woke up from his little 2 year old nap, he dazedly snuggled his little 2 year old body into my arms and uttered 2 words that have no business escaping a 2 year old's mouth. He said, "da 'conomy, Mama, da 'conomy." If Marcel Dzama's video hadn't already broken my heart for the day, that certainly would have.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No One Does It Like You

I've long been a fan of Marcel Dzama's "watercolors" and have caught a snippet here and there of his video collage works. Being familiar with his often dark subject matter, and being a junkie for the visceral response his work stirs, I fancied myself well prepared for his new music video for Department of Eagles - No One Does it Like You. I was wrong. The vehemence of feeling is almost unbearable.
I've watched it 5 times now, hoping to dispel some of the lingering sensitivity. But each time I view it, I seem to drop a few more tears than the time before. Recommend falls so far short of what I'd like to convey. But I'm grasping at air for a better word. This video has left my stomach tight, my chest swollen and laden. I think viewing this should be mandatory, but should come with a Surgeon General's warning.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The April Fool

On a few occasions I misplace sentimental attachments to holidays. Halloween, to me, is a night for unabashed Valentine-esque romance. Valentine's day I treat like Easter with spring planting and morning baskets of chocolates and cuteness.

April Fool's day is my father's day. On no other day of the year do I miss being at my parents house like I do on this day. Growing up, my dad would appear on this most sacred of mornings, with socks stuffed down the front of his backwards jeans, calling himself "The Man with Two Butts." Despite the second rear, The Man with Two Butts was surprisingly inconspicuous and got away with pulling all manner of pranks on his unobservant daughters.

Here's to you Dad. Happy Foolish Father's Day! I'm hoping that some clerical error leads to April 1st falling on an unexpected number of weekends during Beckett's childhood. No child of mine will be deprived of salt on his corn flakes! Thanks for teaching me the value of a good black pen, that long distance driving is an experience in space-time and that the wonder of childhood has no age limit. Not to mention all the other things you've taught/been for me that can't be put into any concise language. I love you, Buddy!