Monday, May 07, 2012

Child's Ruffled Garden Apron Gift Set

Sometimes I find it hard to shop for children who appear to own every item Toys 'R Us carries. And more often than not, I find myself with limited time with which to create unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. I mean, let's face it...who really has an over abundance of time on their hands? I sure don't.

So, what can a mother do in this situation? Meet the situation head on.

This past Friday I headed to Jo-Ann's to pick up the fabric and bias tape so I could sew a gardening apron for the neighbor girl's birthday. I know this family enjoys spending time outside and they have a garden so I felt inspired to create a garden apron and fill it with supplies.

childs ruffled garden apron gift set 2

Chloe helped me pick the perfect fabric. I opted for a duck fabric for the weight and durability.

childs ruffled garden apron gift set

We filled the three pockets on the front of the apron with gardening tools (Fiskars $.88 each at Home Depot), cute garden stakes (Michaels), gardening gloves and hat (Michaels), a water bottle (Michaels.) because you really need to make sure and drink plenty of water while working in the garden, a little watering can (Michaels) and some packets of seeds (Home Depot).

childs ruffled garden apron back ties

I sewed the bias tape in such a way that it doubles as the neck loop and the ties for the back of the apron. I will post a tutorial in the next couple of days so you can make this apron if you like.

childs ruffled garden apron

childs ruffled garden apron 2

It literally took me 1 hour to whip this darling apron up. Such an easy project for a quick gift when you are out of time and the party is that very evening. Of course, you will need an hour or so to shop for supplies to put inside the apron, unless you the apron is the gift itself. Either way, any budding green thumb would love this little apron. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

The War on Cat Hair

(Disclaimer: If you have a weak stomach, I strongly urge you to move on to another blog or website today. I don't know if I am even going to be able to handle what I am about to post. You have been duly warned.)

As many of you long time readers know, I have a little floor fetish. My floors must be immaculate at all times. I know...I know. Tough job, right? You should feel sorry for me. VERY sorry! This is pretty near impossible. Consider for a minute the fact that I have 3 cats. Yes, that's right. Three. T-H-R-E-E. Now you see why keeping the floors immaculate haunts me? Especially a person in my condition? (with that whole floor fetish and all)

I hate sitting down on the couch in my Sunday best to enjoy one last cup of coffee before church, only to rise covered in little hairs. UGH!

James hugs my shoulders and leans way in to give me a peck of a kiss before he leaves for work in the morning. Nothing but my shoulders and arms are allowed to touch his body for fear of cat hair jumping from my clothes to his. UGH!

Nothing is worse than dropping a gummy worm while watching a movie only to receive a mouthful of cat hair when you retrieve and insert it into your mouth. The 10 second rule does not apply in our house. If you drop food, consider it gone forever. This applies to furniture and clothing as well as the floor. If you drop it, its gone. UGH!

Well, its time to do battle. Clean freak style.

Chloe picked out the Libman Freedom Floor Duster from the grocery store the other day stating it would be perfect. I agreed and purchased it. Monday I began my twice a day dust mopping of the kitchen floor. Today Chloe suggested a thrice a day dusting. I may have to take her advice. We shall see. I have also proceeded a counter attack. Every time I enter the kitchen, I wipe down the counters and stove with vinegar water and a paper towel.

But the carpet and couches. UGH! 

James suggested (after listening to my complaints yesterday) that I try vacuuming twice to see how much I pick up the second time. He thought that if I continued vacuuming over and over that maybe after a while the vacuum would cease to pick up stuff, rendering the floors immaculate.

So, this morning I did just that. I vacuumed the entire house. Twice.

Here is what came out of the vacuum after the second sweep.



Okay. So what makes that pile of cat hair, dirt and who knows what else so incredibly disgusting is the fact that I vacuumed AND steam cleaned my carpets this past Monday. I vacuumed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Today is Friday and this was my second time through. Only the second time. (I emptied the canister before I went through again.)

Please know that I take this extremely serious. The cat hair wants a battle and a battle it will have. I don't play around. I will prevail. I will win. I will be able to hug my husband while he is wearing black in a loving and warm embrace. I will. You have not seen the last of me, oh evil cat hair!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sweet Extravagance...My New Design

To feel the flow of yarn through my fingers once again. To daydream of style and grace and watch it come to life in my hands. The feeling of satisfaction and pride when I stitch the last round. When I hold up my finished creation and hear my daughter sigh with pleasure. I missed these feelings. I really did.

Last week I found a WIP (barely started) in my bedroom drawer that I began back in September. I completely forgot about it. Sad, right?

Well, I pulled it out and proceeded to work on it over the weekend. I finished the last stitch Tuesday morning. Chloe really did ooh and aah over it. There is no feeling in the world like that of someone oohing and aahing over something you just made for them.

Sweet Extravagance Glamour Shot

Chloe asked me to edit these photos with the new Photobucket glamour shot filter. She exclaimed over and over that she feels like the queen from Mozart's Magic Flute opera when she wears this ensemble. The headband was a last minute addition. I had just enough leftover yarn to whip it up and let me just say...I think it perfectly completes the ensemble.

Sweet Extravagence Headband

Sweet Extravagance Shrug

Oh yes. There is nothing quite as sweet as extravagant ruffles and lace on a beautiful little girl.

Sweet Extravagance Ensemble

Sweet Extravagance Ensemble 2

Sweet Extravagance Ensemble 3

It feels so good to design again. I really have missed crocheting.

Sweet Extravagance Shrug Back

The only difference between now and 3 years ago when I designed my last dress is that now I am taking my time. There is no rush. If something doesn't look right, I have no problem ripping it out and trying again. There is satisfaction in seeing something I made and knowing that if I saw this pattern on a website I would want to purchase it. I can't say that for all of my designs but it certainly holds true for this one.

Sweet Extravagance Shrug Side

Oh my goodness. I love this design. I can't wait for you all to be able to crochet this for your darling daughters and granddaughters. The layers of ruffles. The lacy skirt. Ohhhhh...I am dying of sheer pleasure here.

Sweet Extravagance Sleeve Ruffles

The website transformation is moving along nicely. My goal for the Grand Re-Opening is next Friday, May 11.  I have most of the pages created. I still need to figure out how to add my shopping cart onto them though. Part of the transformation will be the release of some children patterns. I am in the process of re-sizing my Pure Sweetness Line into children sizes. That means crocheting up sizes to fit Chloe for a prototype and then typing up the patterns. A lot of work, but it will be totally worth it. I don't think having an empty children pattern page for 5 years helps my google search stats.

Well, I have a lot of work to do so I need to run along. I also have a 7 year old's chocolate chip fiasco in the kitchen to amend.

Confessions of the Chronically Shy

This may come as a complete shock to some of you, others...maybe you've figured it out already but I am just going to say it anyway.

I am shy.

Painfully shy.

Did you know that about me?

Maybe you didn't because I work very hard to hide it. But alas, against my better judgement it comes out when I wish it wouldn't it and at the most inopportune times too. Here are some confessions of mine. Maybe these confessions will help you better understand me and the other shy people of the world.

1. I feel extremely uncomfortable talking in large group settings. I also feel extremely uncomfortable when that large group setting is focused on me because someone else is talking to or about me. I just don't like big groups. (Note: a big group is more than 2.......)

2. I like people. I know that sometimes it may look like I am a recluse and want to be left alone. But actually, the opposite is true. I like to have people around. A lot. Just in small quantities.

3. I don't feel comfortable starting conversations. I get tongue-tied easily and I often say things I regret later.

4. I talk when I get nervous. The more nervous I get, the more I talk. I try to get myself out of this painful situation but the harder I try the worse it gets. I am sorry if you have ever been on the receiving end of my nervousness. If you have met me in person then you most definitely have experienced this pathetic affliction a time or two.

5. I say moronic things when I am nervous.

6. If at any time I feel uncomfortable, my stomach begins flipping and twisting in somersaults. My body shakes uncontrollably and I feel quite nauseous like I need to get to the bathroom NOW because I am about to be sick. This sick feeling worsens as the situation continues and I then feel as though I am about to pee my pants. This is affected by nervousness too. Once this level of nervousness is reached, I can no longer think or speak intelligently. My only thought is to flee.

7. Don't assume that because I am not speaking while in a large group setting that I am not enjoying myself. Actually, the opposite is true. In this situation it is safe to assume that I am 1) happily listening to the cheerful banter around me and 2) quite pleased because I am not saying anything moronic.

8. I write much better than I speak. (At least I hope I do.) I use a thesaurus and I edit multiple times until it sounds just right. Sadly, I am unable to edit my speech. (I wish I could invent a rewind button, giving the user the ability to reword things after they leave the mouth. It would only need to rewind a few seconds, a minute tops. It would save many relationships.)

9. Smile. It lets me know you like me and everything is okay. If you don't smile at me, I'll naturally think you are upset. I'll remember every stupid thing I've ever said to you (see numbers 4 and 5) and never again have the courage to approach you (see number 6 in case you wonder why it would take courage). A smile also lets me know that I don't have toilet paper dangling from my skirt or that pink hair-bow left in my hair from the makeover my daughter gave me this morning.

10. Talk to me. I like to be talked to. I like people, remember? (See number 2.) I simply get nervous. A. LOT. The cure is for the person on the other end to just smile at me and talk conversationally to me. If I feel like someone truly cares about me, I will be drawn out of my nervousness.

That's it for now. I hope these confessions help you in dealing with me or someone afflicted with the same disease as me. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Extending Reciprocal Grace

When James had his mountain biking accident followed by a seizure this past fall, I sat in the emergency room longing to call/text every single person in my contact list on the cell phone. I wanted to post a status update on Facebook asking all my friends for prayers. I wanted everyone I knew to come visit us during our three day stay in the hospital.

But it wasn't about me.

James was the one suffering the hospital stay. He was the one being poked and prodded and imprisoned in the bed. And he didn't want anyone fussing over him. While I would have been comforted surrounded by my friends, James would have felt...well...under the spotlight, so to speak. He would have felt extremely uncomfortable.

We are told, quite often, to obey the Golden Rule.

"Do unto others what you would have others do unto you."

But the problem with that rule is, what if they don't appreciate the same thing you do? What if I had invited all of James friends to the hospital room to cheer him up. I would have been following the Golden Rule, right? I would have wanted tons of visitors and so I would merely be doing what I would have wanted, right?

Of course that happens when you take this Rule at face value. But you can't do that, you see. You must take it to a deeper level.

To do unto others as you would have others do unto you, you must look at their feelings. Would I want James to do something that made me uncomfortable? Would I want him to broadcast personal information about me when I asked him not to? The answer is no! So, in return, I would not do anything to make James uncomfortable. But that involves knowing James and understanding what actually makes him uncomfortable. I cannot assume that we have the same levels of comfort or even the same desires.

But situations get sticky very quickly, don't they. 

I mean, think about it for a minute. If you lost a loved one, what would you want your friend's response to be? What words of comfort could they offer you that would ease your suffering? Now step back for a moment and ponder this. That which comforts you  might bring pain to someone else in the same circumstances. While one person would appreciate their friends coming and sitting with them for days on end to help them through the situation, another may need time alone, in bed with only their tears and grief. If I lost James, I would feel completely abandoned and alone if no one came to stay with me during my grief. But not everyone is like me. Someone else might feel invaded or bombarded by the attention and really just want to be left alone for a while.

I appreciate phone calls from my friends. I like it when people call "just to check in" on me. Those little acts of kindness speak volumes to me. I will not call people when I need something. I feel like I am needy when I do that. Other people feel differently than I do. They feel like these "checking in" phone calls are an invasion and if they needed something they would call and ask. So, how do we do unto others in these situations? We must step outside our own comfort zone to reach people where they are and in a way that means something to them.

Take a look around you. There are so many people hurting. So many people in pain, going through extremely difficult circumstances. But how can we reach out to them, comfort them, obey the Golden Rule without hurting them further? This is my question. I think about it a lot. Because I am not good at this. I am terrible, in fact. I don't know what to say when someone tells me they suffered a miscarriage. I can't think of the right words of comfort when a friend loses a loved one. I don't know how to help someone grieving. I try and fail, because no matter what I do, it isn't right.

But do you want to know something? This may come as a surprise to you, but here it is.

I don't mean to hurt people.

I don't walk around with harmful intentions stored up in my heart. I really don't. I say what I think would help. I try to follow the Golden Rule, the deeper aspect of it. But you know what? I say things I regret sometimes. I don't always get it right. In fact, I would go so far as so say that I rarely do get it right. And that's where I ask for reciprocal grace. Could we, as Christians, stop assuming that everyone is out to offend us? Could we maybe begin assuming that people actually mean well? They might not say exactly what you want to hear at that moment, but you know what? They are trying. I am trying. We are all trying. We all need grace. We need it offered to us and we need to offer it in return.

I guess it all boils down to what the famous Love Chapter says about it.

"Love is not easily angered."
- 1 Cor 13:5

And let's remember what we are told in Colossians 3:13

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."