My FIRST DIY

There are a lot of DIYers out there nowadays. Apparently, the new IN thing is to do it yourself and then brag about it and write a “tute” and “pin” it on Pinterest.

I am not quite that immersed in the whole post and brag stuff on Pinterest, but I DO wholeheartedly live my life in the DIY realm. And I love, love, love Pinterest. (My husband is not quite as much of a fan…it just means more work…)

Let’s face it…I have more time and junk than money, and I am married to someone who views our roles in this way: I am the composer and he is the performer; I am the architect and he is the contractor; I am the designer and he follows my plans. And believe me, we make some pretty remarkable music together…when he follows the music and is in the right key. Or as long as this designer fully communicates the plan and has thought through all the ins and outs…

It wasn’t always this way. My need to save junk from the dumpster created a lot of opportunities for Superman to show exactly what he was/is made of…and I think he now actually loves all the positive reinforcement that gets showered on him for all of his hard work.

At least, I¬†think he likes it…except for when I say, “I have a great idea…” and he is already in the middle of another of my great ideas. Sigh…my brain runs way too fast for my own good…

But once upon a time, he didn’t know about DIYs and didn’t really know how to build or fix much of anything. I probably didn’t either, but I thought I did…

I met my husband in September of 1978…I was a freshman in college and he was a big man on campus senior…there were a lot of things that we shared in terms of common interests, but not everything.

Let’s just say we grew up in two very different worlds…suburban St. Louis vs. middle of nowhere Nome, Alaska. Malls vs. Catalogs. Style vs. Necessity. Trees vs. Tundra. Hot Humidity vs. Frozen Precipitation. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables vs. Canned Everything.

How we hit it off is kind of still a mystery, since he thought clothing should only be blue and brown, and well…I love colors…all of them.

When we met, he looked just a little bit like Napolean Dynamite…

The ORIGINAL Napoleon Dynamite...

The ORIGINAL Napoleon Dynamite…

Tundra Man...note the cool dude shades and the super wide diy leather watch band...stylin' Nome style

Tundra Man…note the cool dude shades and the super wide diy leather watch band…stylin’ Nome style

But after we had been dating for awhile, things changed a little bit…and after almost two years, we successfully added TAN into his color scheme…And when we got married, well…the afro was significantly reduced in size, but not totally gone…

Wedding Day...new shades, new hair, new watch...mustache...yep

Wedding Day…new shades, new hair, new watch…mustache…yep

By the time we got married, he figured out that he really looked a lot better (not that he CARED) in the clothes I picked out, and he really didn’t enjoy buying his own clothes…(chuckling)…the floodgates of color opened…eventually adding in GRAY!

Little by little, colors became no big deal and we started working on patterns … colors were, and are, still a bit of a problem because he doesn’t understand that all blues cannot go together, nor should he EVER concoct his own outfit unless it was previously combined by ME…we still experience the major fail from time to time…

But now, he usually has hair that is sort of tame…although the afro returns fast if the hair gets too long…his glasses are not huge anymore…nor are they shaded…and when he wears a watch, it is a normal watch that is bought at a store…the whole sock issue is still problematic as he really likes his white-over-the calf athletic socks…

But I threw them away…hehehehe…

Before and After…what a handsome job on my first real DIY…

Nathan 3

Nathan 6And he even smiles while he works…
I sure love this guy!
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Sew…Curly Top Turned 3…

Yep, made her tutu ;)

Yep, made her tutu ūüėČ

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Can you believe it? That crazy, twirly-tomboy girlie whirlwind is now three years old. I am still trying to recover from her birthday.

You see, her mother likes BIG birthdays on the odd numbered years…for some reason my daughter has an aversion to even numbers. But she is absolutely in love with prime numbers.

So, Curly Top’s mama had some big ideas for this child’s birthday. Most of them involved me, my sewing machines, all my time and creativity for about two weeks.

Right before Valentine’s Day…

Problem. I was already making my little cherubs special pillows for Valentine’s Day…

You see, I like to do random little things that are somewhat unexpected (oops, that is mildly redundant), and I was trying to perfect my pillow-making, so they each got one that was specifically geared toward their room colors and interests…sort of.

What little boy doesn't love Lightning McQueen?

What little boy doesn’t love Lightning McQueen?

Bubba is really into Cars. Actually all the boys seem to like Cars…probably why they fight over Mater the Tow Truck and Lightning McQueen’s bright red car…

But even better is the screaming that takes place between Bubba and Curly Top when all the children are suppose to hail her as Queen and Bubba chimes in with his “I’m Lightning McQueen!” which is met with “No! I am the Queen!” and it just loops around over and over and over and over…

IMG_2539 IMG_2538

Are you a morning person? Or a night person?

Are you a morning person? Or a night person?

And who could forget about Vesuvius? That Irish-Italian spitfire who cannot be adequately impersonated by a mere portion of the day–NO–for HIM the song “Night and Day, You are the One” comes to mind. He begins my child care day with his big grin (usually) and draws it to a close.

He shines like moon and stars and streams light…or maybe I should say ‘screams’ light…he is the most vocal child in my care.

Then there are the little girls…Australia and Cookie. One is graduating to preschool at the end of this school year, and the other is just this tiny wisp of a child.¬†Australia loves purple. Also pink. So what could be more perfect for this little girl???

Sweetness with a vintage button...

Sweetness with a vintage button…

 

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Cookie has a room that is shades of pinks and blues…she is the prize of her family…you know, first granddaughter and all, I know you understand…I make fun of her dad all the time…slightly over-protective and all. And tonight…she is taking her first swim lesson. She just took her first steps over the weekend. Soooooo….

A rose is a rose is a rose...

A rose is a rose is a rose…

So I managed to get these all finished in time for Valentine’s Day, but then there was Curly Top and her birthday…ugh…

I owed her a quilt for her big girl bed. The fabric had been sitting around. I started with the squares right before Christmas, but I was sick for so many weeks and just couldn’t get to the quilt.

Even though the daughter of MINE nagged me about it…like every 10 minutes.

So…I got cracking. And I finished it. Not only the quilt, but just look and see…

Pillow case, Throw Pillow and Quilt

Pillow case, Throw Pillow and Quilt

IMG_2550 IMG_2554 IMG_2555 IMG_2557 Once I got the quilt finished, I decided to make a matching pillow case. I had already given the little pillow to her for Valentine’s Day.

I was pleased…she was pleased…and even the mama was happy. But her parting question to me was when was I planning to make HER a quilt?

Suddenly, I am feeling a little tired…

 

 

 

Hoarders…

My daughter says I have a problem.

I say she is wrong.

She says the first stage is denying there’s a problem.

I say she doesn’t have a clue.

You see…I love fabric. Especially vintage fabric. I don’t think there are many fabrics that I can’t imagine doing something with that will tickle my fancy.

Isn't this pretty?

Isn’t this pretty?

What I don’t seem to have in excess is free time. Actually, I don’t think I have had any since my first grandchild was born, and he is almost seven.

So my fabric has been holed up. Some of it hasn’t seen the light of day for a good many years.

Until recently…

Redwork panels done by my grandmother...

Redwork panels done by my grandmother…

My father was going through my grandmother’s hope chest and came across a number of quilt squares of redwork that she had done as a child. If you look really closely, you can see her tracing lines that were done by hand.

I wish I knew how old she was when she did these…it would just add to the beauty of their history.

I decided the time had come to use some of my precious hoard of fabric to do something with these…

You must understand that while I LOVE to sew, I am self-taught. That does bring to mind the question of exactly how much I can teach myself…Let’s just say that the things that I am confident doing are the things I like to do the most, and that variations on that theme take me a little further in my skills.

But I don’t do zippers. Nope. Not a bit. And I really would like to learn. One of these days.

I started pulling out my beautifully organized tubs of fabric…color-coded in clear containers, stacked like a rainbow on a huge storage shelf in my “craft” room. I basically just store my stuff in there and pull it out to the dining room when it is time to work…

My daughter hates it…

The first thing I made turned out to be my favorite.

My favorite month...

My favorite month…

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I was born in February…just barely…on Leap Day…Last year I became a teen;)! And, of course, Valentine’s Day is in February. And so is Curly Top’s birthday. So much fun going on, so I took some time making this pillow for me. Kind of like a birthday gift to myself.

Some of these fabrics were bought sight unseen on Ebay. They carry a pretty good assortment of vintage and retro fabrics, and since I hold onto my fabrics until the right idea pops into my head…well, if the colors aren’t perfect, eventually I will find a great match and make it into something.

I had a lot of fun using up some remnants that I got for about a quarter…

Looks just like my dogs...Joe Bear, Dia and Belle

Looks just like my dogs…Joe Bear, Dia and Belle

I love birds...

I love birds…

My gardening moved indoors...

My gardening moved indoors…

Some of these fabrics are so old I don’t even remember where or when I got them.

But I do know about the white chenille on the February pillow…When I hemmed my grandmother’s bedspread for her about twenty years ago, I saved the portion that had been cut off…

See?

Grandma's old bedspread and Grandma's old redwork...these mean a lot

Grandma’s old bedspread and Grandma’s old redwork…these mean a lot to me…

So…when my daughter starts calling me “hoarder” and threatening an intervention, I believe I will take her by the hand and drag her to my room so I can remind her about the good things that come to those that wait…

Dancing Eyes, Prepare to Meet Your Maker…

Remember that blog post about finally finishing my first crochet project? The one that took about 8 years to complete?

Remember how I stated I was already beginning my next project, that it was for an as yet unborn baby? And that it would be completed WITHOUT FAIL before the baby’s due date?

I bought the most beautiful, silky yarn. Probably too silky for my level of expertise (or lack thereof)…but it was so pretty and soft, and seemed just perfect for a newborn.

Isn’t it so pretty and silky?

I jumped in right away…I wanted to get it finished before Thanksgiving so I could start some other projects, and I didn’t want it to be sitting around wondering its ultimate fate. You know, like the 8 year afghan…

The problem I discovered with this yarn was how slippery it was to crochet…stitch after stitch, and it never looked like I was making any progress. I was 4 skeins into the project yesterday. That’s roughly three weeks of work…with me steadily working each day. I had to buy more yarn because I could tell it would never be enough to cover a baby.

Pretty, but doesn’t look very big, does it?

So yesterday I sat on the couch…crocheting away. Dancing Eyes was cutting paper. How he manages to scale cabinets is truly amazing…all in search of scissors. I looked up to see him cutting paper in front of me. I took the scissors and put them in my basket and continued with my project.

About five minutes later, I had to turn it around for the next row…GASP!!!

There was a HOLE about 4 inches in diameter…loops laying on the floor. Apparently Dancing Eyes had managed to snip the loops while cutting his paper and neither one of us knew it had happened.

I was ready to send the little guy up to meet his Heavenly Father right on the spot. The hole was such that it would be no easy repair, even for someone who is experienced. Trust me when I say that I do NOT have the requisite skills for undertaking that repair. I considered that justifiable homicide might be in order.

Yes, I do still love him ūüôā

My Facebook friends offered their condolences and suggestions. Some were a little concerned for the fate of the perp…Not to worry…

After dinner, I was researching methods of repairing holes in crochet…and I decided that even if I couldn’t make a neat patch, I would just finish it off, practice stitches on it and use it here for the little babies I watch every day.

Not a very pretty repair, is it?

While I was working on the hole, Dancing Eyes came over and watched me.

“I’m sorry I made the hole in the blanket,” he said in his little happy but somber voice.

“I forgive you,” I replied.

“I forgive you too, Nana.”

Now I was a little confused about this, so I asked, “You forgive me for what?”

“I forgive you for being sad about the blanket,” was his very honest reply.

Hmmmm, that was interesting to think about. Me being sad was hard for him and probably made him feel even worse.

I was thinking about the attribute of mercy. There were so many references regarding God’s mercy toward us on Sunday morning, and here it was Monday evening and I was in a situation that was requiring mercy. Instead of judgment, there was mercy and forgiveness for my little buddy.

Extending that mercy didn’t mean that I “forgot” about the hole and all that work down the drain. It also didn’t mean that the hole never happened. What it meant is that my little Dancing Eyes did not have to bear the penalty of making that hole. I did not punish him or “send him to meet his Maker.”

In a more perfect example, God didn’t and doesn’t hold me in judgment for my sins but extends His mercy to me. How hard could it be for me to share that same mercy with my little guy?

But God goes so much further in His mercy…He says that my sins have been cast into the depths of the sea. That He no longer remembers my sin, nor holds it against me. His mercy is COMPLETE. Full. And FREE to me. It was at great price for His Son, Jesus. A sacrifice that cannot be measured in human terms.

Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes that’s good enough for me!

He has extended to us all that magnificent gift of mercy…not giving what is deserved. He has also blessed us even further with His gifts of grace and love. Undeserved blessings, so freely given to all who would believe. Forgiveness. Life. Peace. All these flow outward from His original sacrificial gift of mercy.

That baby quilt will mean an awful lot more to me now with its patched hole than a perfectly crocheted blanket ever could. Like the scars that my Savior still carries in His body, that patch will be a reminder of mercy, love and grace.

Have YOU experienced that peace that results from God’s gift of mercy for you?

Ephesians 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Finally!

My daughter taught me to crochet about eight years ago. At the time, we lived in a condo, with a really pretty cottage-country bedroom. The quilt on the bed was very nice, one of those mass produced supposed to look handmade patchwork quilts.

It actually was quilted, pieced and all, just not that unique, but I really liked it. So I decided what we really needed to add the finishing touch to a really sweet room was an afghan laying at the foot of the bed.

So my NellyBelle taught me how to single crochet. If you read my last blog post you will remember my past as a perfectionist. When I began the afghan, I didn’t understand that the tighter the stitches, the harder it would be, the longer it would take and the more yarn it would need to fit my queen-sized bed.

And the first several rows of stitches have no spaces between them. NO AIR and NO LIGHT. Perfect if you live in Antarctica. I do not. I live in the swanky, humid, confused weather-patterned Midwest.

See those lovely, perfectionist stitches?
Clearly PRE-grandchildren…;)

We moved out of the condo. The lovely quilt became the guest room quilt and eventually fell apart. I experimented with many new color schemes, and eventually found the afghan in all its unfinished mess. I did a few rows and eased up on the stitches. It went a little faster, but I just couldn’t quite get the hang of the whole turning part. Or how to knot the skeins together when one ran out.

Starting to loosen up a little by this point…

I realized at some point that I really didn’t have time to finish it, so it got buried in a closet somewhere. Life has a funny way of forcing the readjusting of priorities and projects. No more of that Urgent-Important, Urgent-Unimportant, Not Urgent-Important or Not Urgent-Not Important quadrant stuff for making good use of time. Not in Nana Land, anyway.

NellyBelle has since married, finished her residency, had a baby, bought a house and made her own toys for her little guy. My afghan was still a sorry mess.

Meanwhile, Superman and I decided to dedicate a room to my sewing and crafting and dreaming and writing. While emptying out the entire room and closet, Superman found the incomplete afghan project. I decided it was way past due on finishing this thing. I had too much time invested in the crazy thing to just throw it away, and I wanted to at least finish it and be done. I attacked that afghan with gusto.

I loosened up on the stitches, and it actually made the afghan “feel” better–not so hot or heavy. I considered turning it into a dress, but realized I would be one long lasting hot flash, and the world is just not ready for that. Talk about global warming! (Now that I think about it, I think that global warming could almost certainly be attributed to how much longer women are living and how many hot flashes we are all contributing to the atmosphere. Maybe the scientists could come up with a healthy solution for that??? Like, TODAY?!?!?!)

Digressing…anyway, in the last three weeks, I have tackled the turning problems and the loose stitches, and how to join the yarn AND made up a finishing edge that doesn’t look bad. All things considered. I don’t know if it is even a legitimate stitch, but if it wasn’t before, it is NOW!

Don’t you just love the way I tripled the stitches to edge the thing?

So now I have an orange/brown/blue/cream bedroom. My living room is grey/green/blue/cream and the afghan is lavender/periwinkle/green/dk green/cream. Hmmmmm…

I think I am ready to start a SMALLER project now…

Don’t tell her, but I am giving it to my mom. She thought it was so pretty when she saw me working on it, and it will be just perfect for her when she gets a little chilly. I even made sure the loosened stitches wouldn’t let the toes sneak through. And my dad? Well, he can’t appreciate the colors but I would imagine she will share it with him too…

Contrasting the old on the right with the new on the left…sigh…so glad it is finally finished!

Ugly Treasures

I like to dabble in photography, and I take thousands of pictures, hoping to take that perfect one. Some are special. Some are blurry. Some are awful.

But honestly, I have a really hard time deleting my images. They are kind of like those boxes of mementos that I keep–treasures that somehow are too precious to discard but for some reason are still stuck in a box rather than out on display.

This week, my little buddy Froglegs became so excited and animated because he saw this very large yellow butterfly.

“Hurry, Nana! Get your camera! Come see this butterfly. It’s HUGE!!!”

I obviously have my little buddies well-trained at identifying those picture-worthy subjects. I hurried in to get my camera, hoping not to miss it.

It was a very windy day, and the poor butterfly was really flexing his muscles to hang onto the butterfly bush. (That bush is a topic for another blog post.) I snapped several pictures, but the wind was interfering with my shots.

And then, my battery died. Great. Just great.

Later in the day, I uploaded the photos to my computer to check them out. I felt a mixture of semi-satisfaction and disappointment. I don’t believe a single one of them was clear that didn’t also feature a weed, the neighbor’s trash can, her newspaper or the brand-new asphalt on the road. It didn’t look like any of them were frame-worthy.

Bummed would be an understatement.

I left the photos alone and did nothing. I moped a little. It had been a somewhat unpleasant day and I had a lot of mulling over going on. I had so many thoughts running through my head, and honestly, blurred pictures didn’t stack up too high on my list of significant failures.

But…as the day dragged on, the pictures became an escape for me. I was bound and determined to turn them into something semi-beautiful. After all, it was a gorgeous yellow swallowtail, the loveliest shade of yellow. It was stunning, to be honest.

So I messed around with my Canon photo editing software. I don’t even have Photoshop. As I experimented, God started bringing so many thoughts and verses to mind. And a-tweaking I went.

The mundane and ordinary became sublime. When looking at it through a different set of “eyes” I could see beyond the failures of the photos. Just take a look…

Can you even see the asphalt? Do you see the weeds? Or the garbage can and newspaper?

No. And you know what? These photos are a great example of what the blood of Jesus does to us…God does not see us as those miserable creatures bound by sin. We are not hopeless, ugly wretches.

We are His treasures. Loved and beautiful. Full of life and hope. When we are able to look at our lives through God’s filter of redemption and unconditional love, we can see ourselves as He sees us.

I pray that today, you will see yourself through His eyes of forgiveness and redemption.

Gold

It’s all about the gold, isn’t? Gold medals, the gold standard…we attach a lot of value to the idea of gold…

Hearts are as pure as gold, silence is golden…

Women are accused of being gold-diggers…

Someone who is effective in making things happen is said to have the Midas touch…

So and so is “golden”…

Gold Medal flour…

Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois, thought his position was golden because he would be able to sell President-elect Obama’s vacated Senate seat…and that cost him a lot more than a bag of gold!

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow guarded by a lucky¬†leprechaun…

Given the current events of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, I thought I should put forth my best effort in recognizing an amazing unsung hero…

I am awarding this gold medal as a shared award–kind of like a team award. This gold medal recognizes someone willingly taking full advantage of new opportunities for personal development–above and beyond their natural skill or interest. I can honestly say that this person has proven repeatedly that it has nothing to do with his personal interests or needs, but rather those of his behind the scenes partner.

Many years ago, this individual left his humble hut behind and attacked with gusto many new and uncharted projects that would have escaped him were it not for the impetus behind all those uncharted projects. He developed a love of digging up plants and moving them to other yet-to-be-dug holes. He discovered new ways of getting brand new clothing ruined by dirt and grime faster than anyone in history. He never met a paint brush he couldn’t leave without layers of clear-cut evidence of the history of his handiwork.

He has graduated from building plywood crates to ship appliances overseas to mastering multiple kitchen projects, even an entire basement. Becoming well-versed in load-bearing walls and their removal, he has come to expect a wall to come down in every home he has bought.

He is a painter extraordinaire, whipping out his paint gear and attacking the house with colors he can’t even pronounce, repeatedly.

There is only one remaining medal event for him–tree removal–but he is ineligible to compete in that event due to his past experience involving a ladder, a tree and a chainsaw. Because of his serious violations, he is forever forbidden from competing in this event.

So it is with great pride that I award the Gold Medal for Outstanding Taker of New Opportunities to my own husband, Superman. I joyfully share that award with him as the impetus behind those repeated opportunities to extend his knowledge and skill in areas for which he has no natural interest. Please stand and join me for the playing of our National Anthem.