Monday, February 25, 2013

The Stella Quilt

What do you do when you forget about a birthday party and have no gift?  Well, apparently I think it's a good idea to try and make a quilt 24 hours before said party!
If you follow my Facebook Page, then you've seen that I've been working on a mighty quilt for us lately.  I'm very close to finishing quilting it and hope to have it completely bound within the next week but we'll see!  Anywho, my original goal was to finish OUR quilt this past weekend when I had the bright idea to start this one Saturday afternoon for a precious two-year-old daughter of a friend of ours. 

It was pretty simple, really.  I cut out her name in pieces of scrap fabric that I had leftover from various projects.  I zig zag stitched each letter on alllllll around the letter.  They already have started and will continue to fray as time passes. 

What got the ball rolling was this cat sheet I had.  This little lady doesn't have any cats of her own but LOVES cats (much like me ;) so I figured a kitty quilt would be perfect!  I actually HAD these sheets when I was a little girl but these are not those exact ones.  I happened to be at the shelter one day last month dropping off some things when a woman came in to donate alllllllll of her cat themed stuff.  Most used things, we pass along to other animal charities that can use or sell used stuff.  As we were going through the bags, we came across these sheets and I quickly laid claim to them if nobody else wanted them.  They were mine.  I even got a matching coffee cup!  :) 

With the foundation for red and white established, I sought out something that would work to stitch those letters onto and remembered this piece of pretty white fabric that I bought at Made a while back.  They have tons of baskets filled with vintage fabric that continue to get me in trouble ;)  I don't have many solid fabrics AT ALL so it as like it was meant to be that I had this one!

After I stitched the letters on and sandwiched all of my pieces, I started stitching!  I just did a big rectangle around the letters (TOTALLY not a symmetrical rectangle but it worked) and then did lines straight out from there in red thread.  Easy peasy and simple.

I had some vintage red bias tape that had never been opened that said it measured 9 feet long which I knew would be perfect for this!  Uh, well, once I started pinning it, there wasn't enough!  Apparently this quilt was 10 feet around!  I'm SO bad at gauging that!  So I sat for a while trying to figure out what to do without going to the store to buy more when I decided to make my own bias tape!  I did it out of some vintage polyester fabric that was kind of thick and kind of a pain but I made it work!  And now I know how to make bias tape and am currently working on some for our quilt :)  This quilt ended up being 3 feet by 2 feet; perfect for a little toddler!

I was lucky enough to have the mister hang out with a very well-behaved little girl Saturday so I could bust this thing out.  I think it only took about four hours from start to finish!  It was a fun project and I think it's safe to say that I'm now addicted to making quilts!  See my first quilt here.  Maybe one of these days I'll actually take a class and learn how to do them *for real*....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm Not Super Woman

Lately, I've had lots of people say to me, "I don't know how you do it all!"  Here's the secret:  I don't.  I can't.  I have tons of help, firstly.  My mom has been a godsend, watching Rio while I teach or have various meetings and the mister is an angel taking her for a while after work or on the weekends so I can tend to other things (grading, estate sales, sewing, filing, long baths...) and have a little break.  

I've always been good at time management and multi-tasking which have played such an important role for me lately.  I try and plan things out a day in advance and schedule accordingly to the best of my ability.  I'm learning that you can't plan for everything though.  Diaper business as you're walking out of the door sets you back a bit, ailing cat knocking over random things leads to a chore you didn't plan for, fussy baby during dinner time means cold food for one of us or a usually good sleeper having a not-so-good night means tired parents the next day.  But I try to have a good attitude about it all and try to remind myself that one of these days, she'll be grown and gone and I'll miss aspects of this hectic time, that people understand why it takes me longer to respond to an email and why I can't participate in everything I did before.  I am a super woman right now, but I'm not Super Woman.  I'm human.

The older she gets, the more I realize that sooner than later, I will have to cut back on some stuff to keep my sanity.  Two jobs, two side businesses, three boards, a wife, a mother and a person as her own.  Something's got to give somewhere.  But I'm passionate about everything I'm involved in and everything I am which makes those decisions next to impossible for me.  I'm sure when the time is right, I'll know what must change and I'll make that change.  For now though, I'll keep on trucking, will take my random thirty minutes of freedom when I can get them and will enjoy a beverage here and there with some deep breaths, thankful thoughts and positive reflections.  
We're lucky. This is precious time. For all of us.  And I'm loving it all.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Two Of Those Outfits: Patterned Polyesters

Whirlwind.  That's how I describe life right now.  These pictures are barely even a week old but it feels like forever ago! 

School is in full on 'school' mode.  Huh?  Well, I'm officially giving out grades and students are officially getting excited/flustered/inspired all at once.  It's a fun time but it's also a busy time!  In speech, I videotape alllllll of their presentations and discussions.  I do this for a few reasons.  For one, I think it's important to view themselves after a presentation to see how they can improve and to see what they did well.  In fact, we have them evaluate themselves in addition to our evaluations.  They hate it (as we all hate seeing and hearing ourselves on video) but ultimately, they learn tons from it!  I also record them so they can share their speeches with family and friends back home if they so desire.  I believe there's a large number of them that do :)  Finally, I record their work for grading purposes!  I go back and watch them allllll again and again so I can give them my best feedback and so I don't miss anything!  I love doing that but it sure takes up quite a bit of time, especially with thirteen students this semester!  I spent many a-nap times this week grading while watching group discussions.  Exhilarating ;)

For Monday, I wore a vintage dress that I picked up from a local shop a while back.  It had a number of holes in it so I got it for pennies.  The holes were a cinch to fix.  I totally won on that transaction.  I even wore this dress when I was moderately pregnant too :)  I'm not sure where the cardigan came from - Target clearance maybe?  The tights were a recent Target clearance purchase and the shoes are actually Birkenstock shoes that I bought in Germany almost eleven years ago.  They need a bit of polishing but they still rock in my book regardless.

Wednesday was a beautiful day which I chose to get a little vintage-y with as well.  I wore this jacket the first day of school recently.  It can be worn a number of different ways but I never take advantage of that so I gave it a whirl another way.  The pants have also been seen before.  I lurve them.  The polyester tank is one I have had for longer than I can remember.  I have no idea where I got it but I do know that it's literally been around the world with me!  The pattern is a psychedelic one complete with floating women's heads.  Slightly awesome.

This week was also a big week with Valentine's Day and my sister coming into town.  For V-day, we dined at home, recorded video of the kid laughing and just enjoyed kicking back.  Twas nice.  We spent much of Saturday with family as well as a good chunk of today. 

I did manage to find a *little* time to sew as well as play around with sprucing up this online space.  I needed a bit of a change.  I feel like I'm due for lots of change right now.  Best to start with the blog :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Two of Those Outfits: Navy, Peru and Thoughts on Outfit Blogging

I document my outfits and even I'll admit it's weird.  So why do I keep doing it?  I've been thinking about that question lots lately.  For two years now, I've shared most of my teaching outfits, maternity outfits and other random get-ups in between.  Strange, right?
There are a few reasons why I enjoy this process and why I've kept it up.  First, I obviously like clothes.  Somewhat to an obsessive state.  I also like being a bit different with my wardrobe.  From as far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to dress differently than those around me such as wearing nothing but broom skirts and hippie dresses for two years in high school STRAIGHT.  (In later years I learned that some people thought I was Pentecostal due to my long hair and constant dress wearing!) Sure I shop at big box stores here and there (in fact both of these outfits are retail) but I really get my kicks searching for clothing at estate sales where vintage, handmade and unique items are hiding in dark closets.  It's a compulsion.  Shopping that way saves us money, fulfills my treasure hunting needs and helps me to maintain that 'different' feeling that I seek.

So why do I photograph what I wear?  It's a challenge.  It encourages me to continue to be creative with my wardrobe and allows me to look back at a day that may have otherwise become a blurred memory.  Now with having a baby, finding time to tend to myself is even more scarce which makes dressing for myself even more of a challenge.  I welcome the challenge though and intend to not lose my weird self, no matter how busy with life, baby or work I may be.  Also, it keeps me healthy!  Through these photos I can easily see differences in my body which encourages me to keep things in check :)

So yeah.
Back to these outfits.  Last weekend the mister had some work on his car done so we packed up the stroller and headed to the mall.  I hadn't been to the mall in over a year!  We intended to just do some walking there but happened upon a Gap sale where I got this dress and a few tops on clearance.  The dress already paid off - not only did I wear it to teach in but I repeated the outfit and wore it again on the news to talk about My Furry Valentine, a fundraiser for StreetCats tomorrow.  The tights and booties were Target clearance items and the belt was a gift that my sister picked up in Peru a few years ago.  I left the belt off for the news :)
Also a Gap + Target + Peru ensemble was what I wore on Wednesday.  The necklace was one I used to wear in high school during those hippie days. 
The boots I bought from a former student whose mom recently arrived to visit from Peru for a few months.  With her she brought many accessories which my student posted on Facebook.  I jumped on these boots.  SO comfortable, different, handmade and awesome.  I'm in love with them.
My sister and her man come to visit next week and she'll get to put the title 'Auntie Afton' to use!  Excited to have her here and for these two important ladies to meet.  Until later!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Two of Those Outfits: Almost Colorless

My body is strange to me right now.  And that's a strange sentence to write.  I either grab clothes that are too big or too small but never just right.  Goldilocks? 

After I had Rio, I dropped almost all of my baby weight right off of the bat with the exception of ten stupid pounds.  I think most are in my ladies with maybe a few in my gut and I've hit the point where I'm ready to get rid of them.  My problem though is that the way I planned to lose that baby weight isn't an option now.  You see, when I was preggo, I didn't have any problems with my feet like most pregnant ladies.  No swelling, no weird shoe size issues, nothing.  Well, four months post pregnancy and my feet hurt me daily.  It's so strange!  My right heel gives me fits more times a day than I can count and my left foot has a painful issue all its own.  My goal was to run the St. Patrick's Day run again but I'm just physically unable to train right now and I'm mighty bummed about it! 

Anywho.  I'm having to get used to sore feet, a few extra pounds and a different body type for the time being.  My closets are all sorts of crazy right now ;)

I found this dress at the Flea Market a few weeks ago for a whopping dollar.  It was the back that sold me on it but it's just a tad too big so I think it will be heading to the bye-bye pile.  Speaking of, I'm toying with getting a booth at the Flea Market a few times this year to try and move some of my vintage clothes, scarves, belts and other random stuff.  For cheap.  What do you think?

The first full week of classes went well but I must admit, I'm exhausted!  (you can probably tell that by my writing this evening ;)  On top of teaching, working at the shop and raising that baby of ours (who isn't sleeping like she used to!), I've also been busy working with the cat shelter on their annual fundraiser event, being interviewed for the paper about our fuzzy family and am getting ready for some more live tv spots to promote the shelter.  Oh, and I started making a large quilt this week because, you know, that just make sense ;) 

I'm finding that I'm having to figure out what I'm going to wear the night before as the mornings are just too filled to fiddle with outfits.  It's often that I go to sleep thinking about what I can piece together.  I even do it with Rio's outfits.  My poor, poor brain.  That poor, poor baby.  ;)
This outfit was comfy (as was the striped dress) and easy to put together in my dreamlike state.  Clearance jeans from Target (with a gold sparkle to them!), made-by-me shirt, old booties and gifted H&M scarf.  Now onto figuring out what will go on this new body tomorrow...

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fuzzy Friday: Babies and Animals

Before the thought of even having a child was anywhere close to being in my head, I would always ask friends with newborns how their animals were handling the transition.  I've even been known to throw dog bones into baby shower gifts so everyone would feel special, fuzzy family members included.  I've always been concerned with how EVERYBODY adjusts to have a new baby in the household, especially the animals.
Over the years of volunteering for StreetCats, I witnessed more cats being returned than I can count.  The reason?  'We had a baby.'  I'd always wait for the end of that thought like the cat bit the baby or the cat is peeing in the crib but there was rarely any other reasoning.  

I committed to two of our cats before I ever even met Brent and together we committed to one more cat and Mondo before we ever even had Rio.  I've spoken about this a bit before but I thought a bit more could be said since we've now been living with four animals AND a baby for four months.
Yes, it's a lot.  There have been times an animal has woken up baby after a fight to get her to sleep.  There's ALWAYS someone in my lap or under my feet.  I'm certain she's ingested at least a pound of cat hair and she's been walked on and licked by many a-four-legged-friend.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Just recently she's begun actively paying attention to the animals, with Vera being her favorite.  She's even starting smiling at Vera this past week.  Mondo sleeps by her bed at night and when she sleeps with us, Vera spoons her.  Sights too precious for words.

Not even two months after Rio was born, we found out Pimmy's kidneys were failing.  She's gone downhill fast, way too fast.  It's been a very emotional ride for me.  Finding out her condition meant changes for us around the house.  Fluids, special medicines and specialized feedings were thrown into our routine but baby in the house or not, I'd do it all because I made that commitment to her a decade ago.  The hardest part of it all is not being able to hold her as much as I'd like since my arms are typically consumed with baby.  But at the same time, I think Rio has been a sort of gift to help me not be focused on Pimmy's decline but rather to be focused on making the most of each day with our entire family  It sucks, for lack of a better word.  It sucks hard.  Every day is a gift and I remind myself of that often.
To wrap things up, I love our busy household, humans and animals.  I love that we are raising Rio with the animals and I love (and am grateful) that they have been so accepting of her.  They are each a special gift to our lives.  Our lives certainly wouldn't be as exciting without them.  Lucky doesn't even begin to explain it.
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