Yule Cross Stitch

Tis the season to park your butt on the couch and watch all the traditional holiday movies: Die Hard, Scrooged, Hogfather, etc.  Why not put some of that time to use by stitching a small ornament or festive wall hanging?  I’ve put together a short gallery of cross stitch samplers that is certain to make your nights merry and bright, at least until the eggnog kicks in.

More Embroidered Paper Art

I’ve been playing around with making paper and now have a good sized stack of sheets.  There’s something very satisfying in taking all the junk mail, school flyers, paid bills and telephone books and turning them into something else.  Plus, shredding paper is very soothing.

I really enjoyed the embroidered gift cards and holiday cards I made last year, so I’ve been playing around with other embroidery work.  Other than cross stitch, I’ve never gotten into embroidery on fabric.  I always viewed embroidery as too difficult for me to learn.  But switch the medium to paper and all of the sudden I’m spending hours on the internet researching different stitches to try.  Go figure.

Below is a gallery of the embroidered paper art I’ve done so far.  I’ve been playing around with various stitches, some beading and stickers.  I like the depth and texture of the images.  And I’ve even gotten to the point where I’m okay with the back of my work looking like a shattered bird’s nest.  When I’m not trying to make the back look as good as the front, it takes off a lot of the pressure and I can enjoy the process.

The hardest part is poking the holes.  I have to be careful not to tear the paper, not to poke myself, and not losing my needles.

I’ve got some other ideas for designs.  I want to play around with flowers and leaves in the paper.  I’ve got several specimens from the yard being pressed right now.  I’ll post more pictures as I make them.

 

Spiral Garden

A few months ago I got sucked into Pinterest, despite my long time resistance. I get annoyed by any platform that requires you to sign up for an account to view the content. But with Pinterest boards being the top results for searches, I finally broke down and signed up. I understand why it is such a popular site. Crowd powered research mixed with social media makes for a powerful and extensive source of information.

Which is where I learned about spiral gardens.  It started with this picture.  I was immediately taken with the idea of an herb garden that is vertical and circular.  Our backyard is all angles, which I have been trying to soften with curved beds and features.  I also wanted to relocate my turtle shrine from behind the arbor vitae in the back to somewhere more prominent.   With that in mind, we set out to work.

Keeping with the motto of “Use what you have.” we started with collecting rocks, stones and pavers from around the yard.  After thirteen years in this house, I had amassed quite a collection of yard masonry.  To that haul I added a clay pot that had cracked over the winter.  Half of the pot went to the spiral garden and the other, smaller half, was used to make a toad house.

Putting the spiral took about two days of laying stone and adding in soil.  The dirt came from two other raised beds we had dismantled.  Ben provided worms he scrounged from the overturned dirt.  I added bark and leaf debris to the space between the rocks and the wood fence, as well as inside the back of the pot, to provide a habitat for bugs and other garden fauna.

To keep our dog, Enya, from climbing into the spiral from the sides, I moved two other large pots to flank it.  They’ll be useful for mint or other plants that need to be contained.  The turtle went on top of the pot and we called the whole thing done.  I would like to propagate moss on the stones and the turtle, but that’s proven a bit difficult.  Enya, the dog who treated the compost heap like a salad bar, found the moss slurry (moss and buttermilk blended together) and licked most of it off the rocks I had spread it on.  I may have to put some fencing up to keep her out until it has gotten established.

Now all that is left is to plan what will go on the spiral while I wait for planting time.

Puppy Love

This is the look of a dog who has come home!
This is the look of a dog who has come home!

In October 2001, my ex-husband and I brought home Trixie.  She came to us from the West Suburban Humane Society.  A lab terrier mix, the Society put her age at five months when she was found roaming stray.  She’d been in their care for three months, due I am sure to the fact that she had an atrophied front paw that left her limping.  What she may have lacked in four good feet she made up with character.

This dog has been with me for nearly fifteen years.  In fact her birthday is today.  I can’t imagine my life without her.  She has kept me company, made me laugh, comforted me when I was sad, herded me to bed when she thought I was staying up too late.  When we would take her to the dog park, she would find the biggest, baddest dog there and play fight them until she was either defeated or victorious.

Trixie and Enya
Trixie took to having a sister pretty easily.

When we brought Enya, another kind of rescue dog*, she welcomed the big goof to the family.  When Charlotte was born, she kept a cautious, but curious distanced, never knowing what to make of the squalling, squirming thing we had brought home.

During my separation and divorce, Trixie stuck by me.  She slept with me on the futon in my office.  There was never a doubt that she would stay with me.   And when Stephan and I started getting serious, I made sure that he understood the dogs came with the package.

The years show with Trixie now.  She has a hard time getting around much of the time.  White has taken over much of her muzzle and chest, and her fur is patchy and red-rimed in places.  But she eats and cuddles and loves her family just as much as she always has.  She keeps my feet warm at night.  She nudges me when she wants attention and won’t take no for an answer.  She follows us around the house, from room to room, despite the obvious discomfort it causes her at times, just to be near us.  She is my dog.  There are no others like her.  And she is mine.

 


*Her previous owner was a neighbor of ours who couldn’t keep her any longer.

Beneficial Interaction with your Kids

Being part of several Stay-at-Home Dad groups, I get to see a very different side of raising children than the environment I was raised in, particularly many different individuals telling their story or asking for assistance, or just plain making fun of their situation.  Laughter, shared with a group, is a healthy thing.

This post is inspired by one of them, a journalist who writes about fatherhood (among other things, but mainly about being a dad) called DadScribe (www.facebook.com/DadScribe).  He brought up an interesting comment about Minecraft (Pocket Edition, since he references iPads) which of course pulled me in.  It was simple and quite humorous and to paraphrase: he didn’t know anything about Minecraft, but if he did, he’d leave signs from the mobs to his kids like, “Eat your carrots. Love, the Creepers” or other things along those lines.

Not only did it give me a good laugh, but it also got me thinking.  This is a two birds with one stone moment. I mean, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who actually likes and knows a bit about Minecraft.  I wouldn’t have had that if it weren’t for my daughter’s love of it.  There are nights where the two of us will settle in for an hour of Xbox Minecrafting (http://idiorhythmic.com/vikingdad-minecraft-blues-74-tools-lava-death/) and have a great time.

The ‘a-HA!’ moment came when I thought to myself, “Sure, there are things that Charlotte likes that I’m not really into, but it’s really great that we have Minecraft (and other stuff, like RPG’s, Archery, Boffer weapons) to do together.”  It’s like I’m able to be a cool Dad AND I get to do something I like.  I’m pretty lucky, but the point I’m getting at here is that there are things that aren’t as cool or as fun, or that we just simply don’t have the time to learn, but there are still ways to get involved and be that cool parent.

There may be things your kids really enjoy that they can just go on for hours about that mean nothing to you, because either it’s not your thing or you just don’t have the time to learn.  That’s OK.  We don’t have to be involved in every facet of our kids’ lives. In fact, it’s probably good that we’re not. Anyroad, just because we don’t know how or that it isn’t really our thing doesn’t mean we can’t get involved.  If nothing else, it shows your kid that you really care and can be a good laughing point in the future, “remember that one time when Dad tried to play Minecraft and got pushed off a cliff by a cow?”

So, with that in mind, if your kids like Minecraft and you know nothing about it, I’ve included the below tutorial (though please forgive the less than professional screenshots)where you can have a little bit of fun pranking your kids with signs(for the Pocket Edition, meaning the one the tablet):

 

 

Embroidered Gift Tags

The thing with being crafty is that you are always looking for new things to try.  You find yourself with a bunch of chipboard from various projects and you found a couple of bin full of embroidery thread you stashed away years ago and you wonder “What the heck am I going to do with all this?”  These days, you can just head to the Internet and find someone, somewhere, who has done something cool with those materials.*  Which led me to the embroidered card tutorial over at Design Sponge.  After I had made a couple, I found myself with lots of leftover chipboard.  Too small for cards, but too large to just chuck.  With the holiday season coming up, I decided to try my hand at making embroidered gift tags.

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Thanksgiving/Thanksgaming 2014

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Most of my fondness comes from my childhood.  I remember every year heading over to my grandparents’ place, where the rest of our extended family had gathered.  Cousins ran around while my grandma, mother and aunts got the dinner ready.  Everyone brought some dish or dessert (mostly desserts).  Around two o’clock the food would be laid out, buffet style, over kitchen counters and the isle and then took seats at one of the many tables set up throughout the house.  Yes, there was an adults’ table, and several kids’ tables.  After was more running around for the kids, football for the adults and hours devoted to seconds and thirds.  Come the evening, after board games and pinochle, the leftovers would be parceled out.  We’d all head home, stuffed and happy.

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Booktree 2013