Monday, October 31, 2011

Show & Tell

I spent the weekend at a cabin in the woods with a bunch of crafty ladies. There was scrapbooking, quilting, jewelry making, sewing, stamping, ancestor researching, crocheting... and eating. Three whole days and nights of doing whatever we wanted to do. I can't show you some things because they're gifts, but here's a few of the things I made that I can show you:

 I was going to make a bunch of different amigurami like these in 3s for juggling kits for Christmas for nieces & nephews, but I don't think so anymore. Anyone wanna buy a juggling book? I'll give you a great deal!

A repurposed pair of jeans into a bag for current yarn projects.
Can you see the vintage sheets I lined them with, above? I love that material!

And potholders I made from some scraps someone passed on to me.

Not colors I would normally pick, but they were already half sewn. I used thermal fleece inside and as thin as they are, they really do protect from heat. They sound a little crinkly.
I just left a raw edge that I pinked. I hope the edges hold up, or else I'll have to throw some binding on. After being married almost 20 years, all our potholders are about that old, and trashed, burned, or stained from the BBQ, I may have been the most excited about these!

And I made a little chapstick holder for Grace. It's chapped lips season and I hope this well help her always have chapstick with her!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remember these?

I always wanted to wear these in Jr. High but my mom wouldn't allow me to have long enough hair to get the 'right' look. I was very sad. Sad enough that I remember it 30 years later, and with it the jealousy I felt for a certain classmate who had the long, blond, straight hair I always wanted, instead of my dishwater, curly, short mop...

(Pause for a moment at the poignancy of the memory...)

When I saw the lovely ribboned barrettes someone pinned on Pinterest, of course I immediately put this project on my list. Grace and I made them last night.

The trickiest part is starting them, so I did that, but then Grace could easily do the braiding while I held the barrette steady. You can see some imperfections, and we packed more braiding on them than necessary, but we both like the result!

Here's a tutorial, case you're interested. (Really, if this memory has stuck with me all these years, you don't want your daughter to live under a cloud like I have, do you???) The only difference we did, other than extra braiding, is we started on the other side of the barrette so the ribbons would end up hanging from what will be the bottom, it made more sense to me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tip for living well

At a work meeting, after a co-worker described the redundancy purposely built into the university's network system, he was asked some questions about the design. He said that this allows for a "more graceful fault tolerance" when a network switch goes down. As we are talking about the network on a busy university, this is understandably important. There are classes that can't even be taught without internet access. So our IT staff is constantly, proactively working on ways to minimize failure.

The phrase he used stuck with me. 

A more graceful fault tolerance.

I want a more graceful fault tolerance. 

I want more (additional)

graceful (characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, etc.)

fault (a defect or imperfection, an error or mistake, a misdeed or transgression)

tolerance (patience, sufferance, forbearance; liberality, impartiality, open-mindedness)


And I hope you can have one for me, too. Mm'k? Thanks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


 Are you making gifts for Christmas this year?

It's only 67 days away.

In 8 days I'm going on a crafting weekend with a bunch of women. I think most of them will be scrapbooking. But not me, I sold all my stuff in favor of digital scrapping. But I do have a bunch of stuff I'd like to make...

But how do YOU narrow it down? Do you make a bunch of the same thing for everyone? Do you make unique things for each person? Do you eschew all things home-made and  buy gifts, or gift cards?

I'm starting to get a little stressed out about it!!! 67 days, people!

My husband wants one of these iPhone thermometer thingies for Christmas. They actually look pretty sweet. But I bet I can't make one of those.

67 days, people!

What are your Christmas projects? (And tell me you are even less prepared than I am. Please?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We stood outside watching our kids jump on the trampoline. One of the parents shared his trampoline memories with us. (Unfortunately,) I can't get it out of my mind.

He and his siblings would strip down to their underwear, squirt Dawn dish soap all over the trampoline, put a sprinkler underneath so it would spray through the mesh, and jump around on it in big garbage bags. He called it, "Who will die first?"

Crazy picture, huh? If it weren't October in Minnesota, I might try something similar... And I would NOT tell our insurance agent!

I do love when kids make their own fun, though! Here's to imagination!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flashback Friday

It's windy, rainy off and on, and the Friday of a busy week where we've all been fighting fall colds and other crud. I just want to snuggle up with my family, watch movies, nap...

Last weekend, Micheal, Micah, and I watched the movie Thor together and for a couple minutes Micah and I were on the same bed under different blankets. I jokingly snuggled up by him and he was so, SO uncomfortable. And I was so sad.

And Grace will snuggle with me for about 4.87 seconds before she's on to the next thing. Unless it's in the middle of the night or early morning hours, then she's like a giant (baby) squid who is suctioned right to my side. And who can enjoy it then?

I remember when everyone was younger and liked each other. Like this:

(7 years ago)
Or this sick day:

I hope you have a great weekend! I'll be taking our princess to Boo at the Zoo tomorrow, which means I'll be  hemming a ballgown tonight!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hotpads & Pictures

I made a fabric basket for a friend, and every time I looked at the scraps I thought about what I should use them for. They weren't big scraps, so they turned into this:

It was surprisingly challenging to make these random. I'd like to think that my difficulty means that I am a meticulous crafter, but it probably just means that I am a control freak. ;o)

These are backed with repurposed denim with another layer of (way more worn) denim and scrap of batting inside. And the quilted top is sewn to a scrap layer of fleece, so 4+ layers. And then I dropped them off for my friend because, made out of 'her' material, they felt like they were hers.

We had Grace's kid birthday party at the roller rink last Saturday. Only half the kids could skate, but they were troopers and kept getting up and trying when I would have quit. In their goody-bags we put some glowing bracelets, a sticky hand thing, candy, and a container of goo. Grace and I made the goo ourselves (find a basic recipe here), colored it blue and purple, added extra fine glitter and put it in dollar store containers. The goo was a hit! (And if I had planned ahead, it would have been even cheaper to pick up the glue during back to school sales!) And Grace got to pick a pair of gloves to go with her 'I had a skate party tshirt.' She had to wear then to school on Monday. (And insists they are warm and that she could wear them all winter! Ummm, no.)

Flashback to the 80s!

Micah's been sick, wearing lots of sweats, and doing lots of this.

Everywhere we go, Grace wants to pose with something.

And then she likes to flip through them so she can make decide if they are 
facebook-worthy or not.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My heart is full

Today (now yesterday) is National Coming Out Day and for the third year in a row I spent my lunch at the annual NCOD luncheon at UMD. There always two speakers: one college student who is usually a member of the UMD GLBTQ community, and a staff/faculty/community member with some affiliation with said community. I love their stories. Often heart-breaking, these stories are frequently interspersed with tales of bullying and being ostracized from family and peers. These stories also include moments of triumph and chance meetings of encountered compassion. (Because who wants to listen to a story where nothing ever resolves, where everything stinks and even the tiny seeds of hope sewn in our souls when we were younger are smothered?) So these stories give hope. (And often a politically rallying refrain for a the current issues. NOT the point of this post, so please, let's not go there.) And these stories give us an opportunity to extend compassion. We are invited into their story.

One of my favorite moments in one speaker's story: He had 'been out' for a while but hadn't told his Grandma yet. And he wanted to, and it was hard, but he finally mustered up the courage to say, "Grandma, you know I'm gay, right?" and she looked at him and said, "Everyone needs someone to cook supper for," and they never spoke about it again. I love that!!! No condemning, no picking at the details of right or wrong, no disowning, just love and the understanding that relationship is important.

We have a newer person in our church and small group. She's single, black, and a mom of 5 who has a whole story behind why she's in our community, moving here with 'the clothes on their backs' and not much else. They recently rented an apartment that actually fits their family and it made their meager possessions even more obvious as they had been doubling up on beds and eating picnic style in an empty dining room. From the outside, this family might appear like a few demographics people like to rip on... (AGAIN, not the point of this post...) but when you get to know them, they are just another family in need, or just like you and just like me.

Unfortunately, we aren't in any position to financially help, but I could put a word out. And did - social networking to the rescue! And people heard and helped! In a big way. From church friends, work friends, and even friends from high school gave: a double bed with new mattresses, a twin captains bed, 4 dressers, a standing cabinet, a love seat, a curio cabinet, 3 lamps and a picture, a large dining room table, a kitchen table & 4 chairs, 4 other kitchen chairs, a bookcase, 3 night stands, an end table, a bunch of curtains/drapes, and I'm sure I've forgotten something! And then, one of our men's groups from church moved all this furniture into her 2nd and 3rd floor apartment, installing curtain rods and reassembling furniture! And it all happened because someone (not me!) took the time to notice someone in need and invite them in! Someone chose to become part of their story. The tears in the eyes of the teenager who finally had a place to put her clothes and the wide-eyed amazement on the face of this mom who hasn't had a bed to herself in years told me that the story of their life had changed.

Somehow, we need to start seeing people. We need to see the people around us who are in need - any kind of need. We all have the opportunity to speak into someone's story. At the close of the NCOD luncheon yesterday, someone said, "I don't have to add anything, please pay attention (to what's going on). And if you are paying attention, you should be outraged." I agree. And I would add '... and you will see opportunities to extend compassion, and change a story, change a life."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stinkin' Thinkin'

(* this post has been in-progress since 9/27! I've been processing, and needed the space to let it breath and not rip on my family, who did nothing wrong...)

I was dry. Not sure how else to describe it. Something was wrong and I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Micheal noticed it, too, but since I couldn't really see it, I could tell him what was wrong.

I finally had an epiphany; I was walkin' in that stinkin' thinkin' and didn't even realize it.

Here's how it went:

My gram had a scheduled surgery and was unable to recover. She died. And we did all the family things, and it actually went as well as these things can go. And in this whole process, I went to a place I rarely go and saw people I rarely see, but who knew me as a child and knew my mom when she was alive so there were many, "You look like her," "I still miss her," and other visual memories. And of course the whole thing was hard and emotional.

And then we all went home, our house guest left and life returned to normal. Except it wasn't. Having lost both parents now, I'm familiar with grieving.  And this was different. Obviously, grief was involved, but this was something wrong - everything was wrong.

And then someone prayed for me, and I could suddenly see it: like a silly band that snaps back to it's original shape when you release it, I was suddenly living as a person who hadn't received my identity from Jesus. I know better than that. But I did it anyway. Just being in the place where my old feelings and habits were formed was enough to send me back. And I couldn't even recognize it. I was stinkin' thinkin', and it felt almost normal.

In his book, 12 Steps with Jesus, Don Williams likens this to there being well-worn paths in everyones brain (my paraphrase). Some people follow a well-worn path and drink too much alcohol when they are reacting to life, or eat too much, or don't eat anything at all, or sleep too much, or whatever their chosen 'medication' is, and if we want freedom from these things, we need to forge new paths to healthier things - ultimately Jesus. I had habitually taken the well-worn path that I grew up cultivating, and it was so familiar that I couldn't even see that I had taken a wrong turn.

Last week I heard a dear friend counseling her daughter on how we all have some 'hookedness,'
 that we are all 'hookable' and one of our primary tasks is to recognize when we are hooked, and respond appropriately. Sometimes it's by avoiding situations that you know will hook you. Sometimes you can't do that and you need to go into them, armed with the knowledge that you have a choice in your response, and knowing ahead of time what you will do is helpful! I had been hooked.

The idea of getting hooked on things makes me think of me, and you, wearing the finest cashmere, carefully dyed and knit into a masterpiece - the perfect sweater in color, style, gauge and size. And then we walk around everyday, dodging obstacles made out of Velcro, just getting hooked left and right.

Combining analogies never works well, but let me give this a try:
What if I let God say which path to take, let Him guide me through and around these Velcro obstacles? What if, instead of my old, unhealthy habits and self-protecting reflexes, I trusted Him to lead me? What would that look like?
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5
 What are your well-worn paths? What hooks you?