Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poppies (Looking Forward to Spring)

Finally finished a project I started a year and a half ago! There's an artist I like who 
uses square shapes in acrylic to paint North woods scenes and I wanted to try and do 
that with textile. It didn't turn out like I envisioned, but it's still interesting. It's about 
9x14" and made mostly from re-purposed materials.

Laying it out.

Quilted the poppy pieces.

Filling in the background, mosaic style.
I backed the tiny pieces with Pelon.

It's harder than you think it'd be to be random.

Done and ironed on. It sat like this for almost 1.5 years.

Light gray tulle over the top.

Machine embroidered grassy shapes and wispy cloud shapes everywhere, and edges 
trimmed and finished.

Free motion embroidery...

Cut petal shapes and melted the edges of organza and sewed on by hand.

Finally done!
The camera isn't catching the detail of the bright red,
and it is squared off but my hands must be crooked,
but you get the idea.
Love finishing projects!!
(I also finished a stack of mending, which feels equally good
because I hate that mending pile!)

Friday, September 13, 2013


Picking up my sewing machine after getting if fixed, I saw this horse:

This happy guy would walk a little, tossing his head merrily, 
and then run around his corral. 
And then do it all over again.
His obvious joy was infectious and I found myself smiling to myself.
It didn't matter that he was going in circles.
He didn't seem to mind that no one was watching him,
cheering him on.
He ran for the joy of running.

Oh how I want to be this like horse! 
Feeling the wind ruffle my short hair,
the ground under my feet,
the fresh air in my lungs.

I can do that too.
I can stop being so hard on myself 
and start pursuing JOY! 
If the point of running is to catch joy,
instead of focusing on how I can only go this far,
I will have achieved something -
something worth keeping!

So, today I'm motivated.

I also had a recent discussion with a friend
about creating and the awesome e-class I'm taking.
I told her some of my nerves about being able to accurately interpret
images from what I see to the textile art I am so passionate about.
She's crafty, should really be a designer,
and she gave me some great advice that's been rolling around my brain:
"Don't give up. Keep working on it."
But then she gave an example of something she was working on,
and how she hated it half way through, but she kept going,
completed the project, and now it's something she loves,
something she's really proud of.

I think I've been giving up too soon.
I need to keep going, keep working on it, 
trust the process,
trust that time and practice will help me improve.

I can apply that to running.
I can apply that to creating.
I can apply that to spiritual growth.
I can apply that to my marriage.
I can apply that advice.

Talk about the right words at the right time. =0)

Here are some pictures I snapped in the last day for inspiration:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 which some things happened and were accomplished...

Some general housekeeping:

Micah had his wisdom teeth out, went OK, a couple days of more pain than
we'd hoped, looking particularly jowl-y here.
He told me yesterday, surprise in his voice,
"There's no pain today!" 13 days post surgery.

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Teacher gifts for Grace's last year teachers are finally done!
I'd started these, my machine's tension got gorked up, 
and I put them away for a while.
Happy these are done.
My first attempt to thread sketch.

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Grace, first day of 3rd grade!!
What went in the locker this years was a big deal:

 This is by the front doors of her school:
I think we should all embrace this!
I know I'm going to try.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Turns out I do love them...

Isn't that nice? One of the things on my heart lately is that I really do love my kids. You'd think this shouldn't be a surprise. I guess I'd say it's not a surprise, but I've recently had confirmation. And confirmation of something so sweet is nice!

Let me explain:

18 years ago, we had Micah. 37 hours of labor ending with a C-section. I 'missed' the after birth cuddle on my chest. In fact I remember very little from that day. I know Micheal and our families got to cuddle him and see his hand and foot prints taken, I remember the Dr. proclaiming that he had 'out door plumbing!'... I didn't feel like it was sad that I'd missed out on pushing a baby from my body. And in fact, there are some women with whom I stopped talking about his birth because I was done hearing that it was 'too bad.'

I breast fed for 7 months the first time and 14 months the second time. Sometimes I brought our baby to bed and dozed with them because I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. But I couldn't wait until they were in their own bed, permanently. I don't want a family bed, I want to sleep with my sweet husband, alone.

When Micah started kindergarten, my husband was able to get him to the bus while I was at work. He stood with him, watched him get on the bus, waved, jumped in the car and followed the bus 3 blocks to school, and then he cried. I brought Grace to her first day of kindergarten. I didn't cry. I was excited she was in school.

Micah just graduated from public school. And our daughter is in public school. I firmly believe that my children are better for NOT having ME home school them. It's just not my gift. And I love that they are going somewhere to learn from someone who IS gifted in teaching.

We talk to our kids about sex and advocate sex ed in school. Since we've already talked about it, and continue to talk about it, there aren't any big surprises here.

Our kids don't have food allergies or other health concerns that have made us pay close attention to where they go, who they see, and what they eat. And I'm thankful. And honestly, if my kid had a runny nose, I probably still brought them to the church nursery, and that may have kept someone else's kid out. But we live in Minnesota, where it's Winter, for 8 months. Everyone has a runny nose. (Please note that I'm not talking about exposing someone with an immune condition to something virulent, or bringing a pb&j sandwich somewhere regardless of allergies.)

We immunized our kids. And I have read the studies on both sides of the issue. Micah had the chicken pox, Grace was immunized. They will both get the HPV vaccine when it's appropriate. And meningitis. And we get the flu vaccine every year, and it's never made us sick.

We have friends who won't allow their kids to be alone with any people other than family. Like Grace could not be upstairs in the living room with their son, when she was 5. So those kids would sit downstairs, missing out on playing, because of some rule, because I'm untrustworthy, because I don't know why.

We make or advise our kids to talk to their friends when there is an issue, when there are hurt feelings, to apologize when they've caused hurt feelings. We have the same rules with our kids and their teachers. For Grace (3rd grade now), I've gone to her teachers with her to model how we talk to them to bring up a concern, and now she gets to do it herself. I will rarely call the school.

All these things, the strong emotion other parents seem to have about some of these topics, and advocating that our kids learn make wise choices, had me second guessing our parenting style. We avoid harmful things with our kids while still allowing them to live in the world, to prepare them for when we aren't making those decisions for them, or with them. We are all about the debrief, often asking things like 'What do you think God thinks about that?', 'Would you do that again or what will next time look like?', or 'How can you change that outcome?'... Since we've talked to our kids about sex, it's not a big stretch to talk about something like homosexuality, because the subject isn't taboo. Or safe sex. Or babies. Or anything.

Anyway, I guess I was feeling like my feelings about some of these topics weren't strong enough, weren't making me a good parent, weren't reflecting the love I 'should' have for our kids. And how sad that other people's opinion can make us feel less than adequate. There are just so many voices talking at once about how we raise our children, it's confusing, and frustrating, and noisy!

It's been impressed on me lately that I'm not right, and you're not right, we all are doing the best we can with the information we have, distilled through our experience, polished by our mistakes. I'm not less, you're not less. We all love our kids, let's stop comparing. Instead, I'm going to try to enjoy this parenting gig and keep doing the best I can.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is it art?

My mind is swirling with images of textiles and fiber, colors and textures... I just want to create! I feel surprisingly brave.

I've always been 'crafty,' according to my mom, and into making 'that craft crap' says another relative. I like sewing, crocheting, and other crafts. I love re-purposing old items, used items, and giving them new life. OR new materials and textiles.

(Here are a few examples of the awesomeness I can't get out of my mind. Check them out and then come back here, OK?)

I love the art that Deborah O'Hare makes, check out her technique blog here. Amazing!!

And Kayla Coo's embroidery on felted wool makes me want to lay down and roll in her beautiful fields - no that's not a euphemism.

And it's not all nature inspired, check this piece of goodness out! Love it!

I want to sew words like supercutetilly!

And birds like Tara Badcock! (She does these freehand with her machine and hand embroiders embellishments! Holy cow!)

And houses.

And funky flowers.

And pretty poppies for a friend...

The big question seems to be, "Am I a looker, just an appreciater and pinner, or do I have the guts to try something artistic?" I want to try! I just had my machine tuned up and a tension issue fixed, and I bought a clear acrylic flat-bed table for it. I purchased these cute little curtain clips and hung a line next to my work area:

Because who wants to sit in a corner looking at a plain wall? I'm hoping this will help keep me motivated if I can see projects in process. Right?

I'm finally working on completing teacher gifts for Grace's last two years (she had the same teachers so it's not quite as bad as it sounds! Stinkin' gorked up tension!). These will be little wall hangings. They are some of my first attempts to free motion draw and use some of my favorite materials, re-purposed jean fabric. Yeah.

I think they'll be cute. But I can't really say I'm happy with them. They'll be OK and I think it'll be hard to give them away. Not because I can't bear to part with them, but because I hate not giving away something PERFECT.

Micheal says I'm to hard on myself and need to channel a little Bob Ross. If he made a 'mistake', it was just turned into another tree, or a cloud, or a rock... He just went with it. He said:

People look at me like I'm a little strange, when I go around talking to squirrels and rabbits and stuff. That's ok. Thaaaat's just ok.

You can do anything you want to do. This is your world.

People might look at you a bit funny, but it's okay. Artists are allowed to be a bit different.

The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.

We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.

Maybe in our world there lives a happy little tree over there.

Here's your bravery test!

Any time ya learn, ya gain.
Fine, some of those aren't applicable, but they make me happy. Can I be OK with less than perfect? Can I just go with it? Can I show someone without exclaiming over all the mistakes they can't see?

Can I have the courage to start, knowing it won't meet my high standards?

I've registered for the Wild Courage e-course facilitated by Stephanie Levy, and I'm excited! If nothing else, I hope to become more and more motivated, and become braver, bolder, and filled with courage to try my hand at artistic textiles. I might even document some of it here.

And I'm going to try to be OK with whatever the end result is, however people label, and enjoy the process.

Well, the little clock on the wall says we're just about out of time. God bless you my friend!   ~Bob Ross

Monday, July 15, 2013


I was driving in a construction area the other day and the stop signs were a bit back from the intersection. I stopped, started to ease forward, and another car came from the left with out even slowing at their stop sign, and beeped at me!  I'll admit I was a little put out because I know she didn't stop, I was watching her come up the hill. I got a quick surprised look and point at her stop sign in before she went by, and was kind of proud of myself for being so fast in my reaction. It seems like I never have a quick response, and I almost never honk at anyone, they are usually gone before I even think of it.  This other driver, she was a fast honker!She must drive with her hand on the horn.

When someone honks at you, it usually means something along the lines of, "Careful, eh! You're about to mess up my car, my space, my day! Back off! Do you see me?!?"

There was a woman who worked in my department who always had more to do than anyone else, she was always running to get her stuff done, she was always running to her other job - proving she worked harder than anyone else... She was always emitting these big, breathy sighs to emphasize her frustration and unhappiness. She lived with her hand on the disgruntled horn of her life. And I stopped going to the same meetings with her if I could avoid it.

I know a family that plays favorites. There is one person who is the 'golden' person who can do no wrong, whose welfare is everyone's first concern, whose popularity is of the utmost importance to promote. All other family members are second class citizens and now it's gone on to the next generation... That family lives with their hand on the horn of someone else's car.

Some people have a political horn. Or a church or religion horn. Or a family horn. People inherit horns; they are passed down for so many generations that people can't even remember why they should honk anymore. Horns are picked because they are pretty. Or they make someone sound important. Or they are loud enough to persuade other people, some people forgo the cute little VW bug horn to carry around a bullhorn... There are probably as many horns are there are people - we all live with our hand on the horn of something. Even abstaining from honking is a special kind of honker. We're all honkers, you and I. 

Maybe we should consider what kind of honker we want to be.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Supernatural Love Hormone

Sometimes I can't relax when something is out of place. I'm not super neat and definitely not a germaphobe, but if a picture is hanging goofy on a wall and it's in my line of sight, I'll fix it so I can stop looking at it. Because there is something inside of me that can't let that stuff go.

My husband likes to take his socks off with a big, satisfied sigh of contentment when he's done for the day and ready to relax. Knowing how I have a compulsive problem with random things being out of place, this often bothers me. How can I be expected to rest my mind with random dirty socks in my line of sight? And now, our 8 year old has picked up this sock habit and I often find her socks in the kitchen (on the table - really?!?), the living room, the bathroom, wherever she slowed down after walking in the door.

Seemingly completely unrelated to either my strange neurosis or socks, is the Good Sex classes and Premarital Sex Class that Micheal and I have been teaching. In all our research (wink, wink... or not), one of the best things to learn about and teach has been the Love Hormone. Our bodies produce Oxytocin, but more at certain times, like sex and giving birth, and though it's still being studied this great hormone has some great side effects, like:

evokes feelings of contentment
reduces anxiety
increases feelings of calmness and security around your mate
protects against stress
increases trust
reduces fear
increases empathy
increases generosity

One of my personal observations of the Love Hormone in action involves those socks. Those stinking (not really), messing up my view, socks. I notice that when those things are bothering me, the answer isn't to get ticked off and blow up. It's not even to get up and pick up the socks. It's usually to choose to be more intimate with my spouse. Whether that's actually sex or not doesn't seem to matter. By choosing to be intimate, choosing to be in close emotional, physical, spiritual proximity, I suddenly and inexplicably have extra grace and forgiveness for the socks on the floor. Or the whatever that didn't get done, and most other things that would irritate me, cause anxiety or stress, and generally make me really unlikeable. The love hormone kicks in. I love me some love hormone!

Both surprisingly, and not surprisingly, I'm learning that this is true in my relationship with God. When I choose to press into my relationship with Him, our relationship is better. AND, because He cares about more than just our relationship, I find that I am infused with grace, forgiveness, love, mercy... I get frustrated, angry, emotional, human... and I spend time with God, get some of that supernatural love hormone, and I can suddenly make it through the day.

Something to think about! Got love hormone?