Friday, January 30, 2015

Rio's Play Kitchen

Let me tell you a little story.  When I was in my twenties, I was living in Oklahoma City working on my undergraduate degree.  At the time, I had three part time jobs - a nursery worker in a church, a student secretary in our school's Humanities Department, and a sales gal at a store called Earth Home in the nearby mall.  It was the only time I've ever worked in a mall and boy was that an experience!  The store sold things like wind chimes, nature sound cds, healing stones, and the like.  I enjoyed the store and the folks I worked with but wasn't the biggest fan of mall life (although I DID meet David Lee Roth while working there, so......) but am glad I did experience it.  Anywho.  One day in our backroom, there was an exceptionally large pile of things to be transported to the communal dumpsters, including an office chair and this particular (very heavy) display cabinet.  I drove a very tiny car at the time but I was bound and determined to get those two pieces of furniture back to my apartment.  And I did, even if it meant driving with chair wheels in my face.  The chair lived with me for many years but didn't stick around as long as the cabinet.  Over the past fifteen years, this piece of furniture has been used for anything and everything but for the last few years, it lived in our garage as a catch all.  When we started discussing getting rid of it, I immediately starting thinking of converting it to a play kitchen for Rio.  Our goal was to have it completed for her birthday (beginning of October) but that whole unexpected-buying-and-selling-and-moving-business pushed this project to the back burner.  I was dead set on having it completed by Christmas and by golly we did!

It was crazy simple, just took a little time.  We bought a dog water bowl that seemed proportional to the cabinet, a little hook for a towel, and the least expensive faucet that we could find.  That's all we purchased for the project.  We did put a little foam adhesive on the bowl lip so it would be a bit more secure.  We wanted to make sure it was still removable in case a little someone decided to actually put liquids in it.  :)  Brent sanded things down and cut out the necessary holes while we tried to decide how we would paint it.  Since we're a painting factory at the new house, we had tons and tons of various colors to choose from to use.  We wanted to make sure to use colors found in her room already so it would fit in well.  Painting took some time; that puppy soaked that paint right up!  Plus, when working with multiple colors, dry time was critical between coats.  I made the curtains on Christmas Eve, of course, and Brent secured them with a few screws and some electrical wire.  Done and done!

I'd say the kitchen has definitely been a hit.  It timed perfectly with her creative play really starting to develop so she's been preparing us many meals and serving us much tea lately.  It really makes me happy to know that I saved this thing from the dumpster so many years ago and now, it's truly been given new life.  We have a little dresser that I painted some years back that I'm ready to change and I believe it would make the perfect stove/oven for her.  There just might be a part two to this project!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Soul House

A while back a friend came to visit us at our new house.  I had given her the address but then just told her to turn on this street, drive a few blocks, and you'll see the house on your right.  You'll know it's the house.  And she did.

We've only been living in the new place barely five months but it feels like we've been here years.  It feels like home.  It felt like home from the get go.  I mean, I guess there's a reason or two why we dropped everything and bought it out of no where.  It was the house.  My soul house, if you will.
I find it entertaining that with every transition in life, you are constantly asked about it.  Like when you are pregnant, you quickly learn the questions you'll be asked a million times over within that ten month period.  I'm finding those same, but different, questions with the house.  Do you love it?  Are you all unpacked?  All moved in yet?  How's the house?  I never know how to answer them.  Maybe I'm making it harder on myself than I should be.  It's just that I have a world of emotions and thoughts that are wrapped up inside of me regarding the house and the move. 
I wrote a post about the house that I never published about three months ago that I went back and read today for the first time.  My voice and words were overwhelmed.  We'd just completed the removal of five trees (which I totally cried for) and were preparing to have the chimney purged of the layers and layers of newspapers from 1982 that had filled it for the past 33 years.  The original owner that we bought the house from passed away suddenly during that time and while we'd only met him twice, we were connected through the house.  I wish I'd had the opportunity to know him better because he was filled with stories, lived a life worthy of a movie, and was creatively inventive, which I fully appreciate.  He was obviously much loved by his family and neighbors.  I had guilt for making changes, for taking his beloved home, and for being someone new on a block that never changes.  I've since moved past those feelings but for a while, they were intense and plentiful. 

After his death, his son gifted us with these photos of the house being built.  I'm not sure he'll ever know how much we cherish them.
In response to some questions I receive about the house, I say that we have a decade's worth of work to do.  They chuckle, I smile but then I let them know that I'm not joking, we have that much work to do.  I'm not even sure I could begin to list what all we've done so far - new flooring everywhere, the (saddening) removal of trees which will lead to other projects we must do, painting in 30% of the house (still so, so much to do), replacing various appliances, plumbing lovin', chimney TLC, and last week we obtained a massive dumpster to clean out the sheds and the attic.  There's a reason or two why we got the house at such a steal.  We've got structural issues to address, drainage matters to figure out, more painting than I even want to think about, total electrical overhauling, and so. much. more.  We don't even have a hallway floor right now.  But all of that is ok.

Functionally, this house works incredibly well for us.  Going from the smallest bathroom in the world (seriously) to a three bathroom house makes us feel like royalty.  We can flush the toilet at night without worrying about waking the kid!  Having a work room with sunlight and room to fling large pieces of fabric about is heavenly.  Having a wall of west-facing windows so I can watch the sunset every day is soul-enriching.  Having all of my clothes stored in one room for the first time in 8 years is materialistic, yes, but awesome.  Having multiple neighbors that immediately made us feel like family is a gift.  We love our new house and the things that are making it a home.
This is a house we plan on being for many, many moons so we've got time.  We want to do things right and we can't do them all at once so we do them as we can and we enjoy every moment in the house regardless of what still needs to be done.  It'll get done eventually.  Part of the fun of a fixer-upper is the progress.  Progress we'll make.  Progress we are making.  Progress we've made.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Caped Crusade

When we knew we were moving, I first packed up my work room.  I knew I'd be inundated with a million other house projects and I didn't want the distraction that a room full of fabric would most certainly bring.  I don't think I realized the longing that I would have to get back into making but it was there and it was strong.  That was July.  I didn't unpack my work room in the new house until close to October.  And then I just stared at things.  It took a while to find my sewing mojo.  It took me a while to even get the room arranged.  We were so wrapped up in everything else that my energy was zapped when it came to making.

At Rio's birthday party she wore an adorable little cape that I'd randomly come across months before she could even fit into it.  I suddenly found myself hyper-motivated to figure out how to make adult-sized capes so I could have my own.  I had sewing motivation finally!  I figured it out, fell in love with it and proceeded to mass produce them, as seen by these samples.  This was actually my first pattern to completely draft and edit on my own, which I'm pretty proud of!  Somehow, I let sharing them here fall through the cracks.  A few were sold at Indie Emporium and the rest I shipped on over to Out on a Limb in Oklahoma City.

The moral of this cape-y story?  Don't force creativity as it will find you.  At least, that's what works for me!  And capes are wardrobe gold.  Fact.

I've since moved on from my cape assembly line to more quilt-y creations but I have a sneaking suspicion that more capes are right around the corner.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Zodiac Placemats

I wasn't really on top of my gift-giving this Christmas but I did finish a few handmade gifts that made me feel some sort of satisfaction.  Example A:  These zodiac placemats for my sister and her mister. 

A little while back, Afton expressed interest in having me make them a bed quilt.  Well, large-sized quilts are quite the undertaking and at the time, a large project like that just wasn't in the stars for me so I went small. 
My sis is quite into astrology while I just float about.  I know loads about my sign, Libra (which is also Rio's!), but that's pretty much it.  I picked up this stellar zodiac fabric at an estate sale some time ago and fell in love with it immediately.  I think it calls for a special project for just the right person though so onto the shelves it went until this project popped into my head.
Af and her man recently moved into a little bungalow and had a house-warming party.  Since that's a few plane rides away from us, we had to miss the festivities but I still wanted to help welcome them to their new abode somehow.  This little project fulfilled the need for a housewarming and a Christmas gift.  

Cutting out their respective signs, Cancer and Taurus, I created two complimentary placemats that are meant to be used and (slightly) abused.  I made bias tape from the only fabric I inherited from my great granny, Cleo, and use it very sparingly.  This seemed like the perfect project to use it on.
I backed them both with the same fabric, one I found in the epic warehouse pick.  I also must mention (or mustn't I?) that the orange/blue combo was subtly suggested to me a while back by them so when the crab and the bull showcased those colors, I went with it, obviously.  I did a little free motion stippling, which I really haven't done in quite some time.  I missed it. 

Not the most involved project, nor fancy but to me, and hopefully my sister and her mister, a special one that will be around for a while.  It's also a project that reminded me how much I miss building quilts, something that I've been rediscovering full force in my downtime.  I'm having fun, and it's much needed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Life with Rio: 2.25 Years

You guys probably forgot that I even had a kid, didn't you?  ;)  Well, we do have one running around and she's a spitfire!  It seems like overnight, she turned into a walking, talking, person with a full blown personality and opinions for days.  It's been entertaining, to say the least. 

It's strange though.  I had a moment the other day where I was standing in her current bedroom thinking about how we left the baby Rio behind at the old house.  This house, this us in this house, has never known baby Rio.  She's a part of us deep down but here, she started out as a toddler and that's so bizarre and equally awesome!

So let's get down to the things she does that blow me out of the water.  She counts to 10, clear as day!  I did not teach her that.  I believe cartoons did.  Yes, she watches cartoons in spurts and they have been lifesavers through the past six months when our world was nonstop craziness.  I have no cartoon shame.  In fact, Peppa Pig is the shit.  Yeah, I said it. 

She is in charge of feeding the animals, and does so with pride.  She is way into potty training even if we're not as into it as she is!  Her vocabulary is vast and hilarious.  Thanks to Peppa and her British accent, some things Rio says have a British tinge to them and it's adorable.  "Daddy", "hold tight", and "of course" are my favorites.  Oh, and she knows her name.  It's Ri-Ro.

She's taken a sudden liking to pink which I'm coping with and learning to embrace despite my disdain for the color.  ;)  She doesn't seem to need our help as much getting dressed and undressed and her method for putting on socks absolutely blows me out of the water.  It's genius and bizarre. 

This gal has a thing for music, just like her dad and auntie.  Daily she'll find herself at the drums, piano, or with her guitar going to town while singing her heart out.  Couple that with a duet with her dad and I'm pudding.  There are several Christmas songs and Happy Birthday that she sings all. of. the. time.  And most of the time, she wants you to sing along.  And we do.

She's very methodical in her play.  Things are stacked and re-stacked a million times over.  Toys are assorted by size and color is always noted.  But in the midst of the very deliberate and orderly placing of toys, there is much creative, pretend play which is fairly new and quite awesome to witness.  This is tea time below.  Even the pets had some.  We drank more tea than I've ever had before.

About two months ago, we said good-bye to the binky.  It just sort of happened.  She still talks about it being broken and going in the trash.  Around that same time, we moved shops with my folks, she got her shots (and sick!), and dropped napping all together.  In the past month and a half, she's officially napped once.  That's mighty exhausting for us adults, folks.  Seriously.  If I seem more ragged lately, blame it on that absence. 

Her memory is astounding as well.  It's been over two months since Sammie has passed and almost one since Opal has passed and she talks about it often.  When we drive past the vet, which is near our house so we pass it often, she says "Opal doctor" or "Sammie doctor sleeping".  It's hard for me, honestly.  But it's also impressive to me that she's remembering, and verbalizing, all of these moments. 

She's really, all in all, such a joy and such a fun kid to have around.  Sure she has her moments, but don't we all?  We're just winging this parenting thing and some days, I really feel like we're acing it while other days, well, we just suck at it.  But I think, I hope (!!) that's a normal parental feeling.  We're learning every day, just like she is. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Later, 2014!

2014.  What a freaking year.  Things started out just swimmingly well.  I stepped back from so many commitments, and made specific goals to focus on myself, my family, and Bifftastica.  I said no more Alliday and was excited about all of the freed up mental space that and my changes would bring about.  Life was fairly uneventful for the first half of the year.  So much so that around June, I started thinking it was TOO much of a calm, peaceful year.  I distinctly remember wondering what the second half of the year would bring.  Well, it brought more than I ever imagined it would.  Emotional roller coaster is the cliche phrase that readily jumps in my head.
Not only did we buy a house unexpectedly from an estate sale but we also sold our first beloved house without any worry.  We packed up our world and immediately began working on everything imaginable in the new house.  During this time, Brent took a HUGE professional exam and passed (!!!) and I was back to teaching for the fall semester.  In addition to moving our home, my folks packed up their shop (remember, Brent and I both work there with Rio in tow) that they built from the ground up and, after 30+ years of being in the same location, moved just a few blocks over to a gorgeous new location.  Lots of work, lots of change all around. 

Sadly, 2014 was a year that we said goodbye to too many.  Three majorly inspirational people in my life passed away.  Tex, Ravi, and Herb taught me more than they will ever know and truly changed the way I look at so much in the world and myself.  My two remaining great aunts passed away within a short amount of time of each other.  My memories of them will forever be gifts.  Two of the losses that are still incredibly raw for me are Sammie and Opal.  I'm sure you've picked up how important our animals are in our world.  They are my therapy.  They are deeply missed.  Vera is working overtime healing me from those losses. 

There was SO much goodness within the year though.  It wasn't all doom and gloom!  Pardon the repetition but our house changes, while chaotic and busy, were absolutely amazing.  I learned that our family can go through all sorts of stuff and not break down in the madness.  In fact, I truly believe we're stronger from it all.  Rio turned 2 and watching her grow and become a little person has been mind-boggling and amazing.  She's pretty stellar, to say the least. 

In my teaching life, I was honored to be asked to write curriculum for a course I love leading.  I'll always be growing as a teacher and look forward to the journey.   And the food.  Best perk of the job.

Creatively, things were grand.  I made many quilts, including my biggest to date!  I escaped to a sewing retreat and had the time of my life.  I fell deeper in love with sewing and love that I'll always be learning in that craft.  It's humbling.  Then there was the big surprise - there WAS an Alliday!  I changed things up significantly and am thrilled with how things turned out.  It warrants its own post soon.  While I didn't hit every single one of my creative goals, I did achieve many and am very proud of what I did accomplish.  Pats self on back.

So, 2014, you were a wild ride.  I'm not too sad to see you go but I'm glad you taught us what you did.  Tell 2015 to be a little more gentle and we will be too. 
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