On the Future of “That Crafty Cara”

My blogging experience began on a different blog where I chronicled daily life with my young children. It evolved into a homeschooling blog as they aged into homeschooling. Then the horrific back injury happened, my children started attending public school, and my homeschooling blog…didn’t fit anymore. I tried to force it to become a lifestyle blog, but I was in no shape for that sort of topic because I was basically bedridden and it’s hard to showcase your cooking and decorating skills when you’re mostly just watching Netflix in one of two locations in your home as you heal. Once I got strong enough to sit in a chair, I started piecing quilts because it was one of the few things that I liked enough to actually motivate me to get out of bed and push through the discomfort and pain of regaining those muscles.

I blogged about my quilting adventures on my dusty homeschooling/lifestyle blog for a bit before deciding to do a clean break and start a new blog devoted entirely to my creative pursuits. I got super lucky and Fat Quarter Shop sent me an email about six months into my “I’m going to be a legit craft blogger” experiment, asking me if I wanted to participate in a sew along series. I first saw the email while I was sitting my van in a Walmart parking lot, and I could not drive home for a few minutes because I was sobbing big, fat, excited tears. I was absolutely delighted! And I’ve done sew alongs with them off and on through the past six years. I am very proud of that partnership.

The ambassadorship for Blank Quilting last year was EPIC. So much fun in a much needed time–being stuck at home with nowhere to go and boxes of fabric showing up on my doorstep every other month? Um, yes please!

But, if you noticed, I stopped doing those collaborations after my (amazing) September quilt. There was a lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes in the Brooke home throughout 2020, and it just reached an all-out overwhelm by October, so I had to resign from the Blank Quilting ambassadorship, which absolutely broke my heart. And since then, I’ve been working on patching up all the things that went sideways. It’s been a long year since then, and I’ve been very busy with physical therapy and tending to other things that I don’t want to talk about in this space. AND I finally went all-out on a flower garden, which I enjoyed immensely. (But whew…gardens are intense!)

And I’ve been wondering throughout this entire past year what I should do with That Crafty Cara. Keep plugging along as a craft hobbyist and use this space to showcase my projects? Knuckle down and attempt to turn it into a moneymaking endeavor? Walk away?

While I was weeding and pondering, I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to walk away, but that my focus needed some adjusting because my focus as a crafter has shifted. I niched down hard on quilting in 2015, but I didn’t include “quilting” in my online handles because I knew that I wasn’t “just” a quilter. I am an all-around creative, and I knew that eventually I’d want to shift to something else and take a break from quilting. Hence the choice of “crafty” to describe myself, and not “quilty.”

But I’ve been afraid to lean into that shift because I’ve been afraid I’d lose followers and opportunities to do cool stuff with cool quilt-related brands. Quilts have been my thing for the past six years. So I’ve tried to force it this year, et voila, I haven’t been motivated to do anything creative. It could be the state of the world and all the burnout from dealing with that, it could be that we have a lot of quilt tops in our house that need quilting and I’m overwhelmed by them, it could be that I like to cycle through my interests, and it could be that, spoiler alert, I’m a human being who likes to explore new things.

So…

…consider this my declaration to the world and myself/apology letter that I’m going to do a little bit of exploring in the next little while. There may be very little quilt content going on, or I might start working on them again in a month because I am relieving myself of the pressure to perform, and, by indulging in this act, it suddenly allows the quilty mojo to return. Who knows?

If the events of the last eighteen months have taught me anything, it’s that the only person’s happiness I have control over is my own. And if something is feeling “off,” that’s reason enough to pause and explore why that feeling is happening.

So…

…let’s press pause and do that.

Where should I start first?

How to Plan a Birthday Dress

I mentioned in my last post that I’m going to sew myself a dress for my birthday. I mentioned it for various reasons, most of them being that if I say out loud, I’ll feel like I need to actually do it, and by saying it’s for my birthday, it also gives me a deadline and I just can’t seem to function without a deadline breathing down my neck.

Do you get project paralysis when you’ve got a blank canvas in front of you? Too many choices, so you can’t actually narrow down what the heck you’re going to do? This is totally me, and I find that it works best to take any limitations into account, because limitations help hone your choices by booting out the choices that simply won’t work.

So, we have a time limitation with the birthday deadline: Saturday, May 8th (Not my birthday, but I want the dress done for the Sunday before my birthday) which gives me roughly four weeks. In all honesty, my creative brain totally thinks I’m going to be done with this in a week. My logic brain is worried I don’t actually have enough time to finish this because hi, it’s spring (gardening), school sports are starting up again for some of my kids, I have another secret project that’s going to be taking up a lot of my times, and OH YEAH I HAVE FOUR KIDS. (The four kids yelling thing is something my BFF keeps stage-yelling at me every time I get down on myself for not being “more productive.” I’m supposed to now always yell it whenever I’m thinking of things that I need to take into consideration when thinking about starting new projects, according to her.)

The fabric: Kokka Natural Garden Voile, purchased from Miss Matatabi during a sale in December. I have a rule that if I gasp out loud because a fabric or yarn is so beautiful, that I really need to figure out how to buy some. I gasped at this, saw it was on sale, and bought the rest of it. Not sorry at all. STALKS OF LAVENDER, people! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Another limitation is the amount of fabric I have for this dress: 4 3/8 yards (8 meters). I know that seems like a lot of fabric, but it’s not because a) I am a full skirt addict, and b) I’m a plus-size gal with a lot going on up top. Of course, I want to do a beautiful circle or pleated skirt that swooshes around, but I just don’t have the yardage for it. I think I’m going to have to go with an A-Line skirt, which isn’t my favorite…but I can’t fight the reality of yardage amounts. It was end-of-bolt, so I got what I could get, and there’s nothing else I can do about it.

Two other limitations: Modesty (Has to have sleeves and hit below the knee), and I don’t really want to spend any more money on extras for this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to line this because it is voile, but I’m hoping I already have something on-hand for that. I might buy 1/2-1 yard of a coordinating fabric, if my heart gets set on a contrast extra, like a Peter Pan collar, or cuffs, or a midriff section or something like that.

I haven’t made myself a dress in quite some time, and my measurements have changed a lot since then, so it might be a good idea to keep things simple–basic bodice, short sleeves, a-line skirt. There’ll need to be something extra, but I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be just yet. I’d like this dress to be prettily functional; nice enough for church, and not too nice for wearing to the grocery story on days where I want to be cute as I go about my errands.

OK…that’s not too tough. I’ve done it before! (Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me close to year to get it done like I did with the last one, k?)

Goals for this week:

  • Choose pattern
  • Make muslin
  • Adjust pattern
  • Buy lining, if needed
  • Cut fashion fabric and lining

It’s a big list, I know. Any progress will be good progress.

What spring projects are you thinking about right now?

Cobwebs

I’ve wanted to sit and type out a post for months, but I’ve entered this weird realm where it feels like I don’t have anything worth saying–quilty advice is easy to Google, I’m careful about what I share about my kids online, and my personal thoughts on a million subjects are too precious to cast out into the world to be trolled. But, oh, I miss writing and I miss reading blog posts.

I’m thinking I’ve just gotten out of the habit and everything feels scary because everything feels unfamiliar now.

So let’s clear some cobwebs and make way for some new and shiny posts, yes?

  • I don’t think I’ve worked on a single quilt since before Christmas. Last year was A LOT of quilts, and I am burned out on them for the time being. The tops and their backings are sitting in a huge pile in my craft room, waiting for me to save up funds to send them out to the quilter, or get so tired of them that I take on the onerous task of quilting them myself.
  • I have been knitting a lot, and, weirdly, it’s almost ALL UFOs, which is awesome because the more in-progress projects I wrap up, the less pressure/guilt I experience. For the amount of unfinished projects I have, you’d think it wouldn’t bother me, but the guilt piles up and causes me anxiety some days. The UFO I’m working on now has been in the works for years, and it’s been one of the biggest guilt-inducers in the collection, so I’m really glad that I’m putting in the time to get it to the finish line.
  • I’ve also been sewing some clothes. I was starting to get going with that right before I got chosen for the Blank Quilting ambassador thing, and clothing-making went into the freezer for all of last year as a result. There’s something about a change in the seasons that always has me wanting to make clothing, and with spring singing its lovely tune outside my window each morning, I am in full-on spring sewing mode.
  • 2020 caused some major shifts in my perspectives on life. As we slowly move back towards a feeling of normalcy, I am not sure how to reconcile a lot of my newly-forming conclusions with the vestiges of what my life revolved around before the pandemic. I’m not ready to talk about these thoughts and feelings in a public setting as of yet, but I figured just mentioning that I’m experiencing this might bring some comfort to anyone out there in the world who may be feeling lost in regards to how they’re going to run their lives once things get going again, now that they’ve been deeply disturbed by the behavior of people (they once thought they respected) during the course of the last year. It’s unfortunate that so many of us are looking to revamp our social circles during a time where we literally cannot meet new people. But I am optimistic that, once things really get going good again, I will be able to find my tribe without sacrificing my personal integrity to fit in.
  • Y’all…raising teenagers kind of sucks. I don’t even think my kids are particularly troublesome, either. I hypothesize that most mid-life crises happen whilst parenting teenagers–you’ve dumped the last 10-15 years of your life into nurturing toddlers/preschoolers/kids who think you are amazing, and then suddenly they think you’re the lamest person in the room and they do a really poor job of hiding the body language that says exactly that. What do you do with that message?!?! I know–you question just what the heck have you done with your life all this time and was it worth it because these people that you created can’t stand you, yet still need instructing because they absolutely cannot adult. Doesn’t feel good. But you know it’s a phase and it will pass, but it still feels like crap to experience it and calmly instruct said grumpfaces about the civil ways to disagree, the civil ways to live with people who are annoying you that day, how to extricate yourself from a family activity without being a snot, and how to communicate why in the world you think not doing your chores is a valid option (because sometimes it is, but if you don’t communicate it BEFOREHAND, I guarantee you that we are going to have problems).
  • I cannot stop thinking about pretty spring dresses. I need them all.
  • I’m going to make myself a dress for my birthday and I am ecstatic about it.
  • I made a pencil skirt for Emms and it’s adorable and now I need one for myself as well.
  • I have a lot of emotional baggage when it comes to clothing and fashion. The messages in my head about clothing and dressing well…they are unkind. Especially when you consider that you wear clothes every day of your life. Why do we make each other feel bad about the clothes we wear if they’re not hurting anyone? The more I untangle this convoluted argument in my head, the sadder I get over all the joy I’ve denied myself over the years because of messages that I “couldn’t” wear something, or “shouldn’t” wear something because of someone else’s opinion. No more, my friends. No more.
  • We get this one life. And I am sick of procrastinating my own joy so that I can better hold myself to distorted views of what a woman should be, what a woman should look like, what a woman should act like, what a woman should allow into her life. I’ve been shoulding myself to death for ideals that I no longer find valid.
  • There’s something about having teenaged daughters and knowing that they’re getting ready to head out into the world, and looking around and realizing that the culture they’re surrounded by just isn’t good enough for them. And that you cannot stomach raising your son to perpetuate those harmful philosophies on other girls. I didn’t see it when I was young because I was the frog in the water that was slowly reaching boiling, but I’m now the chef with the frogs in my hand and there is no way I’m going to throw them into the pot and allow them to slowly boil to death.
  • And I guess I’ll stop there. Dentist appointments and all. Drastic philosophical reversals still demand sound teeth.

The 12 Week Year: Figuring out your Life Vision

I read The 12 Week Year during lockdown this year, and my life has dramatically changed as a result. I’ve read handfuls of goal-setting and time-management books over the years, and found much to like about them, but I cannot shut up about The 12 Week Year. Anyone who I can get to listen to me will hear about this book because, finally, I now know what I want out of life and how to create a plan to get it.

I’ve seen this book around for a few years, but the title, The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, led me to believe it was more of a business-y/efficiency/time management manual, and I’m a mother of four–I have figured out how to eke as much as I can out of my days already, thankyouverymuch. Pass.

But then I saw a random review of it online and the reviewer said it helped them define what they wanted out of life and helped them figure out a plan to actually work on the things that would get them there. And that “helped them define what they wanted out of life” line…I wanted that. So I borrowed it via e-loan from my library (because quarantine!) and…it just spoke to me, especially chapters 3 (The Emotional Connection) and 13 (Establish Your Vision).

I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, and I know about “beginning with the end in mind” and prioritizing the important tasks and mission statements. I’ve also read Getting Things Done and written down my random “5 Years from Now” and “Someday” goals/ideas.

But never had I ever sat down and brainstormed about what I want out of life or what a great life would look like for me. Which is such a simple exercise that I feel like an absolute moron for not ever making the connection to do it on my own. What would a great life look like to me? If I could have everything I was interested in, and everything went right and I did have it, what would that look like?

I had plenty of ideas of what other people had told me a great life entailed; some things I thought were good and some things I would never be interested in in a million years, but I didn’t know what my personal core-of-my-heart desires were, and if you don’t know what you actually want out of life, it’s pretty stinking hard to make a plan to live your best life…because you have no idea what that is.

I just lent my copy of The 12 Week Year to a friend, promising her that it will totally help her figure out her life vision. Only problem is, as I was reading through it while walking over to her house, I realized that the book doesn’t actually spell out the whole “figure out your life vision” exercise…and that maybe I had actually put a lot more effort into that part because I wanted to desperately figure it out for once and for all, so I figured I’d write a post to explain my process before my friends think I’m talking crazy about how this book is going to help you figure out your life direction and then not being to figure out how I came to that conclusion.

So, here it is, my Thanksgiving gift to you:

How To Figure Out What YOU Want Out of Life

Materials Needed:
*A ruled notebook
*A writing utensil
*~3 hours of uninterrupted time
*Optional: A copy of The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (not really needed for this exercise, but it will be absolutely amazing in helping you start working on the things you figure out with this exercise)

1: Get comfy in a place where you won’t be interrupted. Open your notebook and write “ASPIRATIONAL VISION (Long-Term)” across the top of the first page. Below that, write “The Life You Deeply Desire”.

Now, write down the following seven categories, with a few blank lines in between them for listing ideas:

Spiritual
Spouse (or Relationship or whatever works for you)
Family
Community
Physical
Personal
Business

These are the seven areas of “life balance” listed in the book. (Depending on which version you’re reading, they may have different names. I noticed that they were a little different between my e-loan from the library vs. my purchased hard copy.)

Take a few minutes to think about what a great life would look like in each of these categories in ten, twenty, fifty years. What would you like to be able to say those areas included in your life? What would you like them to look like?

Write down those thoughts next to the category they apply to. Don’t limit yourself here, it’s just brainstorming your pie-in-the-sky happy thoughts. No one is ever going to see this, so be free with your dreams.

2: On the next page, write:
THREE YEAR VISION
A: What needs to happen in the next three years to move towards long-term vision?
B: What would a GREAT personal and professional life look like, three years from now?

Now you’ll write an “area of life balance” category (spiritual, spouse, family, community, physical, personal, or business) and then under that heading write “A:” and then list everything you can think of that needs to happen in the next three years to move towards the long-term vision you wrote down on the first page of your notebook for that category. (You’ll be flipping back to that page A LOT throughout this exercise!)

When you finish listing all those things, start a new line with “B:” and write down what a GREAT life in that particular category would look like, three years from now.

For example, on my first page/ASPIRATIONAL VISION, under the category of “Physical,” I wrote:
Physical: Healthy weight, would love to be able to run, as pain-free as possible, no meds.

A couple of pages later, for the Physical category, I wrote:
A: Lose weight, keep doing physical therapy, strengthen full-body, build up walking plan to running plan, control eating
B: Wake up and work out hard without fear of injury, can run. Move fluidly, no pain. Eat healthy diet–lean meats, lots of produce. Don’t crave junk. Food is healthy and good–don’t feel deprived. Kids are healthy. Ankles don’t swell and bones in feet don’t ache. Back doesn’t ache, and I can move easily.

A special note for the “personal” category: Because there were so many, unrelated topics in my aspirational vision for my personal life (read: hobbies and interests), I had to organize that section differently when I came to it. Let’s say you list, among other things, the three ideas of “can speak other languages,” “can play musical instruments,” and “travel.” I organized this category like this:

6. PERSONAL
A. What needs to happen in the next three years?

I. Choose & learn languages
a. Spanish
b. Mandarin (or Cantonese?)

II. Musical Instruments
a. Piano: Keep practicing & progressing
b. Bagpipes: Find a teacher, rent a set, start learning
c. Other instruments?

III. Travel
a. Brainstorm/Research
b. Save $$$
c. Learn appropriate languages
d. Photography equipment/skills

B. What would a great life look like in this category, three years from now?

I. Languages
a. Can hold basic conversations in Spanish and Mandarin(?)
b. Can read easy books in target languages

II. Music
a. Piano: Can sight-play hymns
b. Bagpipes: Be a member of a bagpipe group and perform with them
c. Other: Violin? Play prelude @ church

III. Travel
a. Know of places I want to see/excited about specific areas/attractions
b. Savings for trips building up/have an amount that gets automatically deposited
c. Progressing in languages
d. Offered opportunities to travel because I’m good at what I do at work
e. Have the photography equipment to take good pictures, and I’ve practiced enough to do a really great job at it

(No, I don’t actually want to learn to play the bagpipes; I just thought it’d be a great way to show how to brainstorm about something out of your comfort/knowledge zone.)

And…that’s it. When you’re done with this exercise, you’ll definitely be prepared to follow the rest of the 12 Week Year plan and start moving forward wisely towards goals that actually mean something to you. The book tells you how to set it all up and track it, so there’s no point to me reiterating it here.

Writing down and figuring out your life vision is the keystone of this goal-setting system. I remember when I was in the middle of my first 12 Week cycle, and in the depths of despair over my (seemingly) sluggish progress towards my goals, and wondering if I should just give up or if any of it even mattered, and I happened to read through whatever chapter said that part of my planning/strategic time each week should include re-reading my life vision and checking and seeing if I was still emotionally connected with it.

So I did. And I cried. Because, YES, I wanted to be able to say that my life consisted of those things! It gave me the psychological boost to keep showing up and performing the actions I knew I needed to do to move towards those goals. I was even able to condense my vision down into two sentences after that, and I repeat those two sentences to myself all the time because they make me excited to keep doing the hard work that will eventually get me to those goals.

And the beauty of having written this all down in a notebook? You can use the remaining pages for figuring out what goals you’re going to work on in future 12 Week cycles, keep track of your tactics, and all that other good stuff. All my brainstormings, to-do-lists…in that one notebook. Easy peasy.

I hope this clears up any confusion anyone may have had about what I’ve been talking about!

(If there’s interest, I can also write a post about how I choose what my next goals are going to be, and how I plan my week so I can actually find time to work on my goals.)

On Sewing Face Masks

Oh my goodness, I will never forget this year and a lot of those memories will revolve around all the face mask sewing I’ve done…and have yet to do.  It occurred to me last week, given that my kids are slated to return to school in the autumn for 2-4 days a week, depending on what school they attend, that I need to get my behind in gear in regards to mask production.  I’ve done some mathing and decided that I need to sew up fifty-two masks to comfortably outfit my family of six.

Here’s my reasoning:

#1: I’ve been out in public, wearing my mask like a good girl, and I’ve noticed that those things can get pretty damp, if not downright soggy, after 3-4 hours, so I’m going to send my kids to school with two masks each day and instruct them to swap them out at lunch.  Soggy masks are hot and make your skin itch, yuck. So, two masks for each day scheduled for on-campus learning per child = 4-8 masks per kid.

#2: I’m planning on doing a massive “mask washing” day once a week because I prize my sanity. You should wash your mask after each wearing, which means more masks because of the once-a-week laundry schedule. (Note to self: Set up a mask bucket to hold used masks in the laundry room.)

#3: We’ve had the problem of the kids forgetting to bring a mask with them when we go places and having to drive back home to get their masks, so I want a full family set of masks in each vehicle.

#4: I want a full family set of masks set up by the front door for all the reasons I can’t think of, and to serve as a replacement set for the inevitable losing of masks.

All in all, it works out to fifty-two masks, split amongst the six of us in their specific ways. Ughhhhhh.  But we had a fun time having a family fabric pull in the craft room:

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I broke down and bought the Creative Grids mask template, and it is awesome, I love it so much.  I was able to cut out all my family’s fabrics lickety-split and I’m almost done cutting out the linings when I find myself with free time.  If you’ve got lots of masks to make, it’s a good investment. (And an 18mm rotary cutter…)

Requests to sew masks for others are starting to trickle in, and I imagine that they’ll increase as we get closer to the start of school, but I’m saying no to them all until I get my family’s masks done.  I keep telling myself that that is the sane thing to do, but it still makes me sad to decline.  But it’d be terrible for me to say I’ll make them and then not get them done and those families having to scramble at the last minute to find masks for school.  I’m only one woman, and my first priority is my own family members.  It is my hope to make some extras to sell/give away later, but we’ll have to see how the rest of the summer shapes up for that aspiration.  Summer vacation with nowhere to go and most things closed is really testing my patience as a parent…sigh.  Some things you get through, and some things you just get dragged through until they’re done…

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…like sewing face masks.  😉  (Tula Pink Fairy Dust and rainbow top-stitching makes it a whole lot more fun to do, though.  Highly recommended.)

(And if I get these masks done and my school district decides to follow in San Diego’s footsteps and cancel anyway, I. will. not. be. O. K.)

Thursday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closures

I am not very uplifting today.

And I wrote a blog post detailing all the reasons as to why I’m in a terrible mood, but then I decided to delete it all.  You don’t need to read about my bad day or listen to my anxieties.  That’s not going to really help anyone here.

What I think is important about today is granting permission to the bad days to exist.

Which is not the same as granting bad days permission to ruin things later.  And it’s not  granting myself permission to feel like a failure because an unpleasant situation felt unpleasant.  It’s also not granting myself permission to use a bad day to justify being rude or mean to someone else.

Because bad days don’t take time off because a shiny new germ is tap-dancing its way across the globe.

If it’s not acceptable behavior when things are going well, then it’s not acceptable behavior when things are going bad, either.

The bad days are going to still happen, even amongst all this idyllic staying at home and having my family gathered around me all close.

And I still get to decide how I’m going to act and react, in spite of the anxiety I may have or the rudeness I may see other people using and justifying.  Turbulent times do not condone turbulent tempers.

The novelty of the situation is wearing off, as evidenced by the short words people have had with each other today.  As evidenced by the rumors that are going around.  It felt like conversations today, both online and in-person, have the slightest whiff of panic about them.  Which I guess is to be expected…but I’m not going to add to it.  I’m in charge of that decision.

I’m going to finish watching a movie, I’m going to say my prayers, and I’m going to get a good night’s sleep.

And then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do the things that I know make for a good day.  And hopefully it is a good day.  We shall see…

…I wish you a good night’s sleep and very good day tomorrow. Because tomorrow has the potential to be a very, very good day.

Wednesday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closure

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The kids gathered around the dining room table for their first formal day of “online learning” this morning.  The girls were left to their own devices (and I only had to reprimand one of them during the course of the day for goofing off before they were done with their schoolwork) and I had Nathaniel work on his stuff in my craft room so I could keep an eye on him, which was needed a few times.

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00100sportrait_00100_burst20200318095105345_coverBecause I was waiting to see if I’d get a package from Jaftex today, I didn’t want to start cutting out a dress or anything big, so I whipped up a couple of hair scarves from a pattern I bought when I went to Sew Expo a couple of weeks ago.  (And I have no idea why my hair looks so short in that photo, but it’s definitely making me think that a chop-off would look super cute!)

The kids were all pretty much done with their work by the time the “school bus lunch” alarm went off at 10:35am.  Our district is making sure all the kids eat during this break by delivering breakfasts and lunches via the bus routes, so we headed over to the bus stop and the kids were happy to say hi to their bus driver when she came ’round.

While we were waiting for the lunches to arrive, the FedEx truck rolled on up to my house and I had to wait a whole ten minutes before the bus came and I was able to retrieve my package from the front porch!  The agony!

 

Because, yep, that package contained fabric.  Adorable farm animal fabric that will work spectacularly well for a baby gift for a friend and her impending arrival:

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So. cute.  I love those little sheep, and that green print that just begs for some fussy cutting.  I think I’ve settled on a pattern, which won’t be as involved as I would like; but, I wasn’t planning on making a quilt in the next six weeks, so it’s got to be a bit of a quick sew so I can still fit in all my spring clothing sewing.  Whew!  Busy hands leave little time for wandering thoughts, so I’m thankful for the plethora of projects at this anxiety-provoking time!  It’s going to be a cute little quilt.  Plus, this collection–“Best Friends Farm”–has both a quilt panel and a soft book panel to sew up, too.  Lots of cute little projects to share with you over the next little while!

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Well, good night, dear readers.  I hope this is a peaceful time for you; a time to reconnect with family and a time to spend in a little bit of self-reflection.

And if it can’t be that, then I wish you wonderful success with whatever it is you choose to use to diffuse your stress.  Lucky me, I’ve got a kid who stress bakes, and she made some absolutely delicious soft pretzels this afternoon.  I wish you the kind of happiness that comes from eating a soft pretzel on a sunny day with your family.  Whatever that is for you, I hope it’s happening.  Stay healthy and safe!

 

Tuesday, Week #1 of Covid-19 School Closure

Last week, the State of Washington announced that it would be shutting down the schools in Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties for six weeks.  Guess where we live?  😉

Our school district has been absolutely awesome though–all students in grades 2-12 have a Chromebook to use at home, AND the district will be delivering breakfasts and lunches for free via the school bus routes.  How amazing is all that?!?!  I’m so, so happy for everyone who depends on school breakfasts and lunches for their kids.  One less thing to worry about during a time where there’s lots about which to worry.

Online learning begins in earnest tomorrow morning, so we’ll start getting an idea of what to expect in our daily lives pretty quick.  With my kids being on the older side, I’m really hoping that it will be painless.  It’d be great if I could just weather this whole thing out with just a lot of sewing, but schoolwork help is the top priority if I truly do have to make a decision about how to spend my time.  (Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that…)

I might also receive a package from Blank Quilting/Jaftex tomorrow–they sent out an email today saying that, because they’re releasing so many new collections in the month of April, they’re sending fabric to everyone, even if it’s not your month to receive fabric.  I’m scheduled for odd months, and I actually just sent off my March quilt to the quilter, so this is an appreciated surprise for me.  It looks like April is *the* month for their Halloween collections, so the odds are in favor of Halloween fabric.

But I might not receive a package?  I cut off the tip of my finger a couple of weeks ago, and had to send an email saying that I might fall behind on my March quilt, so there’s also a chance that they don’t send me anything because of that?  I don’t know.  There are many questions in my life at the moment and I’m doing my best to just roll with the punches.  (Finger is almost all healed up, thank you for your concern.)

I’m hoping to get a lot of spring clothing sewing done in the next few weeks as well.  I just finished up a dress for Ren, but still need to photograph it.  She was supposed to wear it when she sang with the youth choir for stake conference, but that was cancelled.  So I said she should wear it when she played a flute solo in church this coming Sunday, but then all church was cancelled.  So she wore it last Sunday for our first “church at home.”  I’d like to sew up two more dresses for her, plus a dress or two or three for me, a skirt for Emily, some Easter ties for my guys, and a hoodie or t-shirt for Rachel.  Truthfully, I’ll be lucky to get more than one of those things done, but I like big to-do-lists, so there you go.

Perhaps I’ll try to blog a little more during all this craziness–I find that I’m checking in online a whole lot more than usual these days, and it’s nice when a new post or the like pops up.  I assume it’s the same for you, dear readers, and that you especially appreciate posts that aren’t politically-divisive, religiously overbearing, or some obviously-not-true “cure” for Coronavirus.  (Spoiler alert: Gargling saltwater will not kill the virus…)

I wish you all a good evening, and hope that you’re finding uplifting ways to fill your days.  I also wish you good health, peace, and full bobbins.  Good night!

Autumn Update

Hello friends!

Because I’m quite sure you wouldn’t get all giddy over a post that chronicled which boxes I unpacked and where I put the stuff that was in them, I figured it was better to not update you until I had something creative to show you.

I’ve had no inclination to sew, knit, whatever, AT ALL, and I’ve been OK with it because the more I look back on the past twelve months, the more I realize that we went through A LOT of stressful stuff, and it takes energy to deal with all that stress, which came from my creative reserves.  Happy moment, though: This last week I had a brilliant little moment where I wanted to make something.  That feeling has been absent for months, so I’m grateful that things are calming down enough that my interest in crafting is starting to come back.

201811117370910250702226081I did grit my teeth and make my youngest daughter a Little Red Riding Hood costume for Halloween because I did have time for it, and her little brother decided to be a wolf so he could match her, and I think they were adorable!  Her costume was an exercise in frustration–I could not locate the pattern in her size ANYWHERE.  And my best friend rode in for the rescue and bought the pattern* at her local JoAnn Store, not realizing that it came in adult OR child size, and sent me the adult size.  (Oh gosh, we laughed…)  So the costume ended up being the Adult Small skirt, minus five inches around the waist; a plain white t-shirt with aspects of the original costume appliqued onto the shirt; and I tracked down a different pattern** for the cape/hood.  She was so pleased with it all, and totally didn’t care that it was a crazy hodge-podge costume.  A woman stopped me at the school Halloween party to liberally compliment me on the costume, so I’m pretty pleased with the experiment.  (And totally want to make more things edged with eyelet lace!  Such a sweet look!)

20181103_145518-01And right now I am eyeballs-deep in making linen napkins for my Thanksgiving table because I’ve always wanted linen napkins and I have no crafty deadlines on my plate at the moment.  It’s been so. much. fun. researching hemstitching and heirloom sewing, and oh my goodness, do I love me some beautiful heirloom sewing.  So much drooling.

BUT…I massively underestimated how long these napkins were going to take, mostly because I didn’t think ironing the hem allowances was going to take twenty minutes PER NAPKIN.  Four more napkins to press before I actually get to meet needle to fabric!  Ugh!

But look at this gorgeous view from my new craft room’s window…it’s so nice to have something besides a window well to look at!

The napkins are going to be lovely, with mitered corners and hemstitching.  I’m seriously in love with them.  That bit of brown fabric and thread in my craft-room-view photo is the start of one of them.  It’s a gorgeous chocolate brown.  So pleased!

And then it’s on to Christmas crafting, which I was really hoping to not do this year, but something went wonky with my bank transfers to my Christmas savings account when we moved, and there is much less in that account than there should be, so I’ma gonna have to get creative with supplies already on-hand.  Boo/yay

I’ll probably start writing a bit more, now that things have started to settle.  It was such a mistake to think I’d be able to paint everything upon moving in–I’ve come to the decision that I’m going to tackle the house room-by-room, because it’s driving me batty to not have a single “finished” room in this house.  I’ve been working on my youngest daughter’s room, and it’s looking pretty cute.  I’m excited to share that when we finally reach the finish line!  (You can have a housewarming party five years after you move in, right?)  😉

But I am hosting Thanksgiving this year, and there could be as many as twenty people attending, so it’s all about the napkins and the cleaning and the cooking for the next two weeks.  (And my dining room table that was supposed to be delivered in August?  And then October?  They changed the delivery date AGAIN…to December.  Fan-freakin’-tastic.  We’re eating Thanksgiving dinner on folding tables this year.  So classy.)

I hope the onslaught of the holiday season is treating you all well!  I look forward to seeing your posts and photos of what you’re working on in these next weeks!

*Red Riding Hood Costume: McCall Pattern #M6187
**Substitute Cape/Hood: Simplicity Pattern #8729

There is a House in Washington

So, yes, our family made it safely to Washington almost two weeks ago.  We rolled into town just as the fireworks for the Fourth of July started going off, and it felt like the state was welcoming us with gusto.  (And added the much-appreciated side effect of lighting up the heavily-treed highway that was tough to navigate…but the cats weren’t big fans of the fireworks and may have peed…a lot…in their carriers.)

 

We signed the papers for our Washington home the next morning and officially had the keys by lunch.  My aunt made a beeline for us and helped us unload our truck and trailer, and our ward helped us finish the huge task later that evening.  We’ve been screeching, “Where is the [insert a million different items here]?!?!” ever since.

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20180713_131255Where we’re living is *lovely.*  It’s a little removed from Suburbia-proper, but only by a little bit, so running to the grocery store/Costco/Home Depot takes minutes, and the drive is lush and green and has a crazy spectacular view of Mt. Rainier the entire way.  Sometimes I have to sit and wait for the dairy’s cows to cross the road to get to their next milking, and there’s rivers, and hydrangea, and four different types of purple or pink flowers in bloom by the roadsides right now (Fireweed, Sweet Pea, Foxglove, and a plant that looks like Butterfly Bush) and I just…get so happy to see familiar plants again.  I figured out plants in Utah, but these are what I grew up with and can name without thinking because my dad taught them to me when I was in preschool.

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We’ve had family over TWICE in one week for dinner, which is crazy amazing and as fun as you’d expect, and we get to attend a family wedding this weekend because we don’t live fourteen hours away anymore.

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The house is bigger than our last house, which I’m loving a lot–six people in our old house got old about six years ago, so the extra space is much-appreciated by all of our family’s members.  Unfortunately, though, this house is painted in a very warm and earthy color palette, and I lean toward the cool and ocean-inspired color palette.  And the ceilings are painted the same color as the walls…the same, sand-brown light-absorbing color…even the twenty-feet-up ceilings in the front room.  Yep, I gotta paint ’em all…and that sand-brown color is just dark enough to warrant two coats of primer every. time.

So I’m busy for the rest of the month, and probably for most of August as well.

But it’s OK, because at the end of all the painting my kids will all have bedrooms with fully-finished walls painted the colors of their choosing, and everything will be just as lovely inside as it is outside.

We went and got our library cards today, which really does make you feel like you truly “belong” in your town.  And I forgot to turn on Google Maps for the drive home, but it didn’t matter because I got home just fine, with no special mental gymnastics.  I pulled up to this house in this new state without help, and my kids clambered out of the van like they always do, helped by dumping our purchases onto the kitchen table before running off to binge-read their library books like they always do, and in that moment it was clear: This house in Washington is now our home.

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Probably still a bit of time before Happy Crafting Times can recommence, but with each newly-unpacked box and newly-painted wall, I’m getting closer to reopening the fun conversations I get to have with my crafty friends!  I’ve missed you!