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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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…

IMG_3137

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…

Boxing, Fencing, Star Wars and Froglegs

My daughter is the proud mother of three children. She is a single mom with an incredibly tough job on her hands. When you have to be both parents, sometimes life can be a little tricky. Especially if you have boys. Or girls. Or both.

Froglegs is almost seven. He has learned all kinds of cool things in first grade. And we do our best to broaden his horizons. You know…expose him to other cultures and foods and sports and anything else we can cram into his head.

He is generally very excited to learn things. Especially if it involves weapons or things that could BECOME weapons.

This morning I heard a tap on my bedroom door. I was still trying to grab a few more minutes of peaceful slumber.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me. Froglegs.”

I invited him to come in and cuddle with me for a few minutes. He chose Papa’s side of the bed (Papa was already up and leaving for work.)

I noticed that Froglegs had on his new boxing gloves. Hmmm…Must have been his way of protecting me in Papa’s absence. He went right to sleep and I finally got up and got my day started.

Now, you must remember that Froglegs has a “thing” for Mario. Also for Star Wars. And recently, he went airborne trying to slamdunk a basketball.

the boy can jump

Football is not high on our list of encouraged sports (even though I am a die-hard Packers fan) because of the risk of injury. But he has starred in soccer and baseball already, and well…he rides a bike and a skateboard…

But we were all a little surprised when he announced that he wanted to learn to FENCE. Seriously, how does he even KNOW about fencing??? That surpasses all of our previous deposits of other-culture-important-to-know experiences.

This afternoon, Froglegs had a conversation with his mom. Oh to have been a fly on the wall!!!

“So When I’m 10 I can fence?”

His mother replied, “Yes, but you know you’ll be using real swords. But they train you so you don’t kill anybody…”

Twenty seconds of silence. Something was ticking and blinking in that boy’s head.

” Whoa! Wait, so you don’t use a light saber to fence? Whoa!!! I will play basketball instead.”

So, the boy learned an important lesson today. Fencing is no good without light sabers. But maybe we should let him watch Zorro…

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!

Changes

The season is changing here in the midwest. And I am very thankful, let me tell you! After the Winter that wasn’t, we had such an awesome Spring that changed into half of a great Summer. Unfortunately, Summer turned into the Drought/Heat Wave of 2012.

But NOW, the air is brisk. Leaves are changing color and beginning to fall off the branches. Acorns and black walnuts are falling off the trees. Squirrels are scurrying. I have enjoyed seeing several large flocks of migrating birds visiting my bird feeders here and there. It also means that the hummingbirds and butterflies have journeyed to their Winter homes down South.

I continue to coax a bit of life out of the garden…hoping for some color for a few more weeks. And am still awaiting the opening of the mums.

Yesterday…FROST on the windshields! It was so wonderful!

There is something about this season that I find absolutely INVIGORATING! Coffee is especially great on those cold mornings. Snuggling under the blankets (and not suffering from heat flashes) and actually having a fire in the fireplace. I love this weather.

It isn’t just the weather that is changing.

Froglegs has learned to READ! It is a special experience now at bedtime to hear him reading to his brother and sister. There are times that childhood changes are mixed with sadness at the loss of that baby sweetness, but I must say hearing a child learning to put letters and words together is something very, very special for this Nana.

I remember when my oldest child learned to read. Shopping for groceries suddenly took A LOT LONGER because she wanted to read every. single. sign. On each and every aisle, every time we went into the store. You could see the smiles on other parents’ faces…they knew exactly what was happening. Such pride in those first successes at reading.

And pretty soon we were struggling to keep up with her. She read every book she could lay her hands on. She sacrificed recess to work on her school work. It had to be PERFECT in her mind. You know how those perfectionists are, don’t you?

Eventually, all three of my children were reading. Some enjoyed it, others tolerated it. Even my oldest one eventually began to HATE it because reading changed from something almost magical into the whole “read a book, write a report” scenario, and the joy of reading was temporarily lost. For about 15 years…

But now, she is a mommy and reads to her own baby…continuing to see those developmental changes for herself. They live so far away, but it was so much fun to get to hear her when they visited us over Labor Day.

And every day, I now get to enjoy listening to Froglegs reading his stories to me, and trying to sound out the words. And even better, trying to read his original stories that he writes out on his fabulous drawings.

I guess, for me, this season of Fall/Autumn has always meant “school”…memories of learning and playing with friends and reading contests at school and gold stars on worksheets… The awesome changes that came from LEARNING new things…

And…since it is Fall, I am reminded that I continue to learn…just how awesome God is, how very blessed I am, and how thankful I should be…

I hope I never get tired of learning. Are you still learning?