Thursday, February 28, 2013

.this moment.

Right now I am...

* praying the chickens recover from their respiratory issues and we can go back to eating eggs

* Listening to Emagene tell me about Tinkerbell

* thinking of all the last minute party shopping to be done

* hoping the weather forcast for Saturday's event keeps improving

* feeling the chill in my toes

* looking at a massive pile of laundry

* noticing the return of the blue jays

* dreaming about garden activities to be enjoyed once the birthday party is a thing of the past

* drinking my fifth glass of water since waking 4 hours ago. Yay for hydration!

* remembering the To Do list and not getting overwhelmed

* being literally pushed out of my chair by a child excited to get on with day.

* wishing you a wonderful day!

Preparing for a party

It's my girls birthday today. Saturday she will be celebrating the completion of her third year. As I shared recently, she wants a Minnie-themed party. Here are some of photos of the prep work for this late winter garden party.


Monday, February 18, 2013

inner workings of my brain, part 2

Last time I shared a tiny bit of my spiritual journey. (If you missed that post, you can see it here.) I started here because I believe that how one defines the mystical or spiritual element of life dictates how one views pretty much everything else. In short, I needed to share a piece of my foundation with you before I started sharing all the branches that make up my tree of life. To go into the details of my foundation would be like describing all the particles in soil. Its not necessarily an enjoyable, or helpful, read and should probably be limited to conversations over beer or on a shrink's sofa, either way keeping some things out of print.

That said, here is a tiny bit more.

I was homeschooled. Those of you in my age bracket understand the stereotype that came with that statement in the early 90s: socially awkward, quiet little church-mouse, overly protected and/or sheltered, etc. This stereotype, while not in itself is necessarily a negative, does not fairly fit all homeschoolers. It is nonetheless what most people I've encountered think of when they hear "homeschool." Fortunately, some of you in my age bracket are spending a great deal of time and energy changing that stereotype and considering - or doing- homeschooling for your own children. Because of this shift, homeschooling itself has changed. Multiple varieties of "doing school" have become the norm. While not everyone comprehends all aspects of each variety, the fact that homeschooling is discussed at large is a huge step forward from when I was teased about it as a kid.*

So with this new perspective, I've given up my vow of never homeschooling my kid in exchange for a dedication to reevaluate our options every year. Currently, I guess you could say we are "Unschooling." A regular week for us includes art projects, sewing projects, cooking, grocery shopping, chores, board games, reading, playdates, animal care, gardening and mickey's clubhouse. If I took the time to separate all this into government approved subject headings, as some states require homeschooling parents to do, we're covering all the basics of school curriculum. Once the weather warms up we'll get back in the pool and see if swimming lessons are needed. This kind of let's try it and see what happens mentality is the basic curiosity that we are all born with. I don't want to squash it by adding deadlines to learning just yet. So we take it one day, month, year at a time and do our best to be present, while thinking of the future, and see what happens. We ask a lot of questions and search out answers together. We spend too much time in front of the tv for a few days and then spend the next few days or weeks doing everything that crosses our path. From what I've read, that's fairly standard human behavior for first world homeschoolers.

Coupled with my spiritual belief that a specific religious expression doesn't work for everyone, Unschooling also believes that a set way of learning doesn't work for everyone. We all learn and remember the subjects we are interested in. Spending years grinding on subject matter because someone says it's important but it is not interesting is a disservice to children who are built to run around, explore, touch, smell and be thoroughly immersed in their curiosity. My goal is to keep this love of life alive in my child and give ourselves the freedom to admit when this approach to learning isn't working for us anymore. I assume that around the middle school years, when the overwhelming need to feel included in a peer group starts to surface, we may start looking into homeschool co-ops, reevaluate the happenings within the public (government run) school system, or really encouraging sports or fine arts classes. If I were to guess today what those arts and sports would be I would say guitar lessons, dance classes and swim team. But I'm open to interest shifts ;)


If you're interested in learning more about Unschooling, pick up a book written by John Holt (Like this one) or the Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith.

You may also find this website interesting:

For more on homeschooling in general check out this empowering overview The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child, by Linda Dobson

* My sincere hope is that I did not offend anyone with my take on how I was stereotyped growing up. Homeschooling can and is for anyone who wants to make it work, no matter their view on life, opinion of proper public etiquette of children or religious affiliation. I am extremely grateful that this is no longer the picture that jumps to the forefront when the word "homeschooler" is thrown around as I spent a great deal of energy trying to "prove" myself as a outgoing, fun-loving, open-minded artist in a hugely middle-class Christian suburb. I was so adament that people knew the Real Me and not Me the Homeschooler that I often didn't tell people I was homeschooled to save myself the trouble of having to disprove the stereotype. That said, anyone can do anything, if they put their mind to it, including homeschooling your kiddos.

Monday, February 11, 2013

rag rug from tshirts

As America waited for the ballots to roll in, my nervous jitters kicked in. As I said on my facebook status, "I hate election day! 12 hours waiting for everyone else to decide my fate."  So to focus my energies on something positive and keep a nervous stomach at bay I finally started the rag rug I've been talking about for over a year.

In my line of work we're not given bonuses or cash incentives, we're not even guaranteed a certain number of hours a week. We are, almost always, guaranteed an XL t-shirt in a horrible color proving we showed up to load-out the show and needed to be herded in a way helpful for the road crew. While, pregnant, one or two XL t-shirts were nice to have around. 25 was a bit too much. In the last 2 years, I have given away what I could, cut the logo out of the rest and was left with this pile.

I have made one other rag rug out of  an old sheet, torn pajamas bottoms and a undershirt. It turned out well, although it required way too much sewing for the amount of stress I needed to redirect. Sadly, I can no longer find the tutorial I used for it online. I am guessing it went to Pinterest, which I am avoiding for the time being for the sake of my already limited freetime and my addiction to the internet.

So, based on memory, I cut off the seams of the shirts and cut the rest into 1 inch strips. Some the pieces, mainly from the sleeves, were too small for using so I handed E a small pair of fabric scissors and these pieces so she could "help."
Next I grabbed my needle and thread and sewed the first three pieces together. Then I found a safety pin and pinned the beginning of the braid to my laundry basket and spent the night braiding an unknown length of t-shirt waste as CBS kept 'projecting' what the country would do. (Why do they do this? I only want the truth. Stop telling me that someone wins a state because 82% of votes are counted and one guy is up by 2%! its still so close!! What about that surprise touchdown in the final minute? Gah! Keep braiding...) When the length of fabric got near the end, I would snip a small hole near the bottom of the original piece and a small hole near the top of the new piece. Then laying the new piece ontop of the old piece so the holes overlap, sew the end of the new piece through the holes from the back. This should cause the ends to knot and lay flat, though mine didn't always want to blend seamlessly together.I believe it was due to some holes being snipped a little to large.
That's how big the braid got on election day. I started just after dinner and stopped when Obama started his speech, so the greater part of 5 hours I do believe. I have since (this was in November) added purple and am working on the final border. In the meantime, to get the border right, I have paused in braiding and am lacing it all together. Basically I am taking quilting thread and weaving the sides together. I am using quilting thread because that's what I had in the house. Carpet thread is the thread of choice if you don't plan on backing your rug, which I don't. I prefer the Spring wash-and-flip method of keeping the rug-wear to a minimum. Once I get near the end of my current length of braid, I will add a black and pale blue border only one stripe wide before tucking and sewing the end shut.

So, weaving the sides together? you ask. Well, the beginning is tricky to explain, but not to do... I'll try to explain. Taking a sail needle pass a length of thread between two pieces of the braid along the seam holding it all together. Tied the thread to itself in whatever kind of knot holds in together. I chose a bowlin knot with a half-hitch. Laying the braid on a flat surface start tightly coiling for a circle rug. take your threaded needle and pass it through the loop of braid across from the knot you just tied bringing the point back toward the beginning.

Then you weave the sides, careful not to roll or twist the braid, by binding the edges of the braid where they meet, forming little Vs.I do this by entering the braid from the center and pulling the thread back to the outside, hiding the thread along the inner edge of the fabric. Pulling the thread snug, but not tight, so the braid will fit close together without binding, curling or gapping. Depending on your relation to the center, you may need to take two loops from the outer edge for every one on the inner to minimize buckling. If you're like me and braided under stress, your braid will reflect that and not be braided with even tension.

And now, after two months of letting this post sit and stew, I have finished my t-shirt rug. It took a total of 13 XL t-shirts minus logos and is roughly a meter in diameter, possibly larger. It was immediately put to good use. It took awhile to finish due to strategic napping by certain small ones in my world, but it's done!! Just in time for my next project to arrive in the mail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


As I lay awake at 4am this morning, my weary brain began drafting several blog posts that my fingers, eyes and bed companions were grateful I was not writing at that hour. I managed to fall asleep -a miracle these days- and woke with a little more clarity as to what I want to share today. I spent some of those wee hours debating between self-pitying rants to go back to sleep whether I should share a cooking blog, a crafty a blog, or a mindful blog. Since all three would take all day and i am trying to be present with my family when they are awake, I'm limiting myself to one. For now. You know how I tend to ramble.

Anyway- as you may have noticed I go through anti-technology phases. These times away from are usually spent crafting, cooking, actually connecting with humans through phone calls, coffee dates, planning and executing of rituals, etc. In the few weeks after being sick, my life has been full. Full of meaningful moments that were not missed by staring at a 2X5 inch screen or altered by focusing on the need to photograph the moments.

Having a steady job away from the house requires more of my focus when I get home to maintain healthy relationships with my family and animals. I know it sounds silly but I can tell the chickens notice when they haven't seen me except to tuck them in at night. How much more does my daughter notice my schedule change! With this in mind, the cooking together has been just that, cooking together. Not worrying about photographing it to share with the faceless void called the Interwebs.

This morning I found myself wondering about this Interweb. How much of my Self do I want to put on this machine and leave vulnerable to the faceless masses? It's a delicate thing this blog concept, one I keep redefining for myself. So with that, here are a few pictures that I don't believe I've shared before and a tiny news flash about the garden: the potatoes we thought we lost with the Christmas snow are now 3" tall! And we have a chicken with gape worm. Awesome. I caught it too late and the home remedies aren't working so it's off to get antibiotics and see if I can convince the hen to take them...