January 31, 2009

Some New Kitchens

A super-fun one from Amy - love, love, love those curtains!

And an industrial-themed one from Erika - the faucet is awesome (says someone who didn't even attempt to add one!).

Thanks for sending these in!

January 30, 2009

Quickie Kids' Art Smock Tutorial

Thank you so much for all the comments about Martha! You guys rock. I will post another reminder closer to the day the show airs.


Art smock front 1

I whipped up a little painting smock for Lara yesterday because every time she asks to paint in the house I immediately become stressed about the messy clothing sure to occur. I know those little paints say "washable," but trust me - they really aren't.

Here is how I put this simple smock together.

1. Start with a large men's button-down shirt, made of a woven rather than knit material. It helps if the shirt is medium rather than light weight fabric because otherwise the paint will just seep through. Cut out the front of the shirt, following collar, shoulder, sleeve, and side seams.

tutorial - art smock - 1

2. Put the two shirt front pieces together, with the original left side on the right and right side on the left, so that the arm hole curves line up into a U-shaped neckline.

tutorial - art smock - 2

3. Sew the pieces together, and then cut off the excess part of the new shoulders (I just measured against an existing shirt, and then allowed another inch for wiggle room). Hem the newly formed shoulder and neckline, and then be happy that the original shirt hems are still there and so you don't need to keep hemming all the way around.

tutorial - art smock - 3

4. Cut two rectangles out of the rest of the shirt (I used the back placket for this and it worked really well to keep the pieces the same size without having to measure), each approximately 1.5-2' long by 5-6" wide. Fold each rectangle in half lengthwise and sew up along the long side and one of the short sides. Turn inside out, creating two long tubes each with one sealed end. Position each unsealed end on the wrong side (this is very important, otherwise your smock will turn into a robe) of the smock and attach about 5 inches away from edges. In the picture, the red lines are the sewing lines - sew a secure box seam, and do not sew the whole length of the tube to the smock.

tutorial - art smock - 4

5. Cut two triangles about a foot long, and 3/4 as wide as the shoulder. Hem these and attach to the shoulder, flush with the neck opening. You're done!

tutorial - art smock - 5

6. From the back, the smock will tie in two different places - around the neck, and around the waist.

Art smock back

7. From the front, even if your daughter reaches across her wet paints to reach something from the other side of the table, you'll be able to smile without simultaneously gritting your teeth. Ta-da! Problem solved.

Art smock front 2

January 29, 2009

Where Have I Been?!? Part the Second

Well? Out with it already!

I spent this past Monday and Tuesday preparing for and then taping a segment for the Martha Stewart Show! I am still not quite over the adrenaline, let me tell you. The show is taped live, and the broadcast will be on February 18th - I hope you all watch! I will be demonstrating my Little Cardboard Furniture, and building one of the chairs with Martha as part of a show with several kid-oriented crafts. So, so, so exciting!

Obviously I can't show you any of the actual episode yet, but here are some backstage photos that my intrepid lovelies Alexis and Deidre took. Thanks so much for coming, girls!

No Martha dressing room is complete without a beautiful collection of all sorts of vases. I love the juxtaposition with the more utilitarian office phones and computers directly below this display.

Here I am getting my makeup - definitely the most relaxing experience of the day. The show's makeup artist, Deborah, is an unbelievably kind and gentle person, which is a wonderful way to be when you are trying to make people look confident to be on TV!

And here, in a few surreptitious shots of the TV, the rehearsal of my segment with the producer Lenore, who was just the best. She is an island of calm in a sea of chaos - and really, it was absolutely amazing to see just how hectic putting together a live TV show actually is.

January 28, 2009

Where Have I Been?!?

Seriously, what gives, right?

Well, last week, my mom, Lara, and I went to sunny, cold Florida for a bit of a break. It was a lovely time, but the days ranged from 78 degrees to 30 degrees.... not exactly the summery getaway we had planned on.

But still, here we are pretending to frolic in the warm breezes (check out how my mom is dressed compared to how Lara is dressed.... the real weather is somewhere between the two):

One of the wonderful moments was getting to watch the inauguration together with many other hotel guests. I found it quite moving. I actually teared up during that moment when the orchestral piece was playing and Michelle gave Obama's shoulder a little squeeze. I find them to be such a wonderful team of two people who clearly love and respect one another in a profoundly connected way. The speech made an impression on me also, all that stuff about immigrant parents slaving away so their children can live the good life (and knowing that for Obama it comes from personal experience, not just as a throwaway line). Lots of touchstones for me.

Thank you so much, everyone, for all your lovely good wishes on the future little one! I was so touched to see all the comments.

Oh, and tomorrow? More of where I've been and why I haven't been posting. Stay tuned for the excitement!

January 16, 2009

New Stencil Art!

Oils - Jane with Wanted posters

How totally awesome is this photo of Misha's aunt Jane, from back when she was Chief of Police? She's so badass with all those Wanted posters behind her. Love how this turned out - hope she does too!

Oils - Amy's son

Here's is one of Amy's cutie pie son. Love those chubby cheeks!

January 14, 2009

The Bag That the Cat Was In

A boring, unworn, and relatively unflattering grey sweater is now a bit more fun with some lace trim!

grey sweater with lace

The blue fabric is just regular quilting cotton, cut into two-inch strips and fed through a bias tape maker. The lace is salvaged from a somewhat odd organizer meant to hang on a hanger (what tiny objects do you put into a closet into lace pockets?)

grey sweater with lace (detail)

How cool are these buttons? Thanks, Lex! I was waiting for the perfect place to put them.

And now I think it's time to let the cat out of the bag, since I don't think I can take camouflaging photos any more:

Whoo-hoo! A tiny baby being baked as we speak! Hence all the baggy shirts being made of late...

January 12, 2009

Mr. Forty-Two Roads Makes Dinner


Mmm..... this vegetable lasagna came out as good as it looks. Pretty impressive for trying to make one for the first time! I'm feeling like someone's secret talents are going to mean that someone is going to have cook dinner more often...

January 11, 2009

Little Yellow Riding Hood

Dadie's yellow sweater 1

Lara is finally big enough to wear this beautiful sweater knitted by her great-grandmother Dadie. I have no idea about the pattern, or actual yarn name, but it is incredibly soft and I love the boucle quality of the stitch. Lara insisted on keeping her hood on the whole time - as would of course befit Little Yellow Riding Hood.

Dadie's yellow sweater 2

Maybe this will encourage the other knitters in the family to step forward and create... hint, hint :)... or at least teach me how to do it again, since I've entirely forgotten what little I knew about this craft.

January 7, 2009

Inspiring Creativity

I'm feeling a bit of creative drag these days. Maybe it's because I am immersing myself more in the dissertation, maybe I'm just tired after the holiday hoopla - either way, I'm not really feeling it very much right now. But it amazes me how different my fount of creativity is from Lara's - how for her, there is no need to define a motive for making beyond what strikes the fancy at any given moment.

Painting with Lara

I love learning through her the evolution of our most basic drives. The need to make seems completely universal. It is fascinating that it is such a primal drive, that it is in fact not necessity that is the mother of invention as the proverb would have it, but that instead invention precedes need, purpose, goal, and exists most primordially as a force that propels play and exploration. "Mommy, see what I made?" Lara asks frequently, holding up with equal pride a couple of stuck together legos, some complex project from daycare, a toy arrangement, or pointing to one of her artworks that we hung on the wall. Yes, my love, I do see what you made. And I know exactly the deeply warm satisfaction of looking at it that you feel - after all, isn't that what this blog is, me asking all of you to "see what I made"? I am so happy you already get to have that feeling.

January 7 - 1

From the first, creativity is also interpretation. "I'm a Mummer too! Now I'm going to dance," accompanied this ensemble during the parade on New Year's Day when it was too cold to see the regalia'ed men in person and we instead happily watched it on TV. Headband, sash, bracelet, sometimes a cape, sometimes fancy shoes - creative recasting of the self into ephemeral roles without purpose or order, just as a way to try the whims of the imagination on for size.

I wonder if that kind of creativity can be recaptured or approximated. I'm not sure I could do it. You?

January 5, 2009

Please Support the Handmade Toy World!

I keep meaning to post about this - and no better time like the present. Today is the last day to get in your comments to the Consumer Products Safety Commission regarding the new mandatory testing for all items made for kids under 12 that is going into effect in 35 days.

There is a ton of info out there on this, but basically because of the recent toy safety scares in the last year, the CPSP has written up a crazy-rigid testing procedure that will pretty much wipe out handmade toys and items for kids under 12. The rules are well-meaning, but the way they are written right now they are completely ridiculous: all items for sale, handmade or not, would have to be tested by a 3rd party and it would be so cost prohibitive (about $4000/toy) that handmade items would perish and so would the shops that carry handmade items for sale.

What can you do?

The Handmade Toy Alliance site has a ton of information, including online petitions, documents to send to senators and congressmen, etc. It fully explains the restrictions and proposed changes to the wording of the CPSC act to make it handmade friendly.

If you feel so inclined, please, please, please get in your comments and online petitions today and hopefully this won't go into effect the way it is written now. Thank you!

January 4, 2009

Happy New Year, Everyone!

A little Lara learning letters to greet 2009:

I just realized that I haven't compiled a Lara-isms list in quite some time - and that of course makes me feel doubly guilty since she is so funny every day and I frequently wish that our whole house were wired with a 24 hour video feed of her doings. Thus, in no particular order:

- Lara has recently figured out how to get most of her clothes on and off by herself (pretty much everything except pants that have buttons or hook closures). This results in comical combinations of multiple pairs of pants on over one another, a sudden urge to spend the day in the house in winter mittens, or a decision to put her puffy jacket on over her sleepy in the morning to traipse around the house. This is in combination with the various accessories and accouterments that transform her either into a princess (that's usually accomplished with some kind of head drapery) or, more recently, a Mummer (a look that includes a headband, belt, and sash made out of Misha's ties).

- Recent forays to restaurants have Lara bringing me various toy food platters on her forearm, "Like a waitress, Mommy! I'm bringing you this cookie just like a waitress!" ... this comment may also reveal something about our peaceful-restaurant-meal bribery program.

- There is a lot of ordering around of everyone these days, but each fiat is accompanied by a winning "Pleeeeaase!" that tends to get results. Now Lara has also figured out what to say after her commands have been carried out, but she tends to do both parts: "Thank you, Mommy, for putting on the movie, you're welcome! You're welcome, Mommy!" She is also quick to prompt us when we are supposed to say thank you - pretty much after she condescends to do something we ask: "Sweetheart, please put your boots away." "[while throwing them into the closet] Thank you for putting them away nicely!"

- She has internalized all our nicknames for her and calls herself by them hilariously. I won't list them here. You all know why.

- Lara can now actually talk on the phone to all her family. Mostly the conversation is just sweets, especially when talking to Daddy at work. "Hewo? Hi, Daddy. I'm playing wif Mommy. I love you Daddy! I miss you! I want to eat pasta but it's not ready yet. It's cooking. Mommy is cooking the pasta for me! I love you Daddy!" You can probably imagine the hearts of all our long-distance family members melting at the tiny voice on the line. I love that I can hand her the phone without her instantly managing to hang up.

- I keep meaning to record this fun fact for posterity: Lara has trouble with words that start with a multiple consonant combination beginning with "s" - she turns the whole string of sounds into "f." Thus we get a lot of requests for "finging on the fings on the playground!" I love it.

Hmm... that's all I can think of for now. Perhaps Mr. Forty-Two Roads will add some more.