Thursday, January 31, 2008


At first it was hard to believe that Wednesday was a photo-worthy day.

It seemed that I spent the majority of the day on the phone. I'm not a phone person.

But I did do a little bit of cutting.

And a little bit of sewing.

And there was some vacuuming between phone calls.

A friend's homemade banana bread. Yum. And yes, it's half gone already. Hey, it was a miniature loaf.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Every morning starts with at least one cup.

A new hairdo.

For me, too.

Chinese food. Or at least what Americans think of as Chinese food.

Monday, January 28, 2008


This morning we woke up to a winter wonderland.

Blue skies, freezing temperatures, and 4-5" of snow (that's a lot in western Washington).

It's especially a lot when you're 35" tall.

The world's cutest and least effective catching position.
Also works as a bear imitation.

We couldn't play all day, though. Monday just wouldn't be Monday without laundry.

"Seriously, Mom, do you ever put the camera down?"

A snow day is the perfect opportunity to get some things done around the house - like hanging this shelf. It's finished to look "rustic" - you know, sanded a little bit so the wood shows through the paint? I'm not convinced. It may get a coat of paint. We'll see.

Paperwork. There's no time like the present.


Sunday afternoons are pretty quiet at our house. This is a good thing, because Sunday mornings and evenings have a tendency to be kind of hectic. Here are a few glimpses of our Sunday.

Toddler collage art.
See, saving magazines does come in handy eventually!

"Mom, you're disrupting the artistic process. Again."

Devil's Food cupcakes, compliments of my husband. That's just about as good as it gets, folks.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Facing My Fears

Hi, my name is Holly and I hoard fabric.

I do. I love textiles and oftentimes view fabric the way others view art. I love the textures, the colors, the design. A really beautiful piece of fabric, alone or combined with others, can take my breath away in the same way that an amazing painting can. Does that seem odd? I guess I view textile arts as, well, just And paying attention to the details of textile art has actually helped me to appreciate other forms of art more. I can't claim to understand it all. I'm not an artist and have never taken an art class in my life (I opted for an art history class to fulfill my Fine Arts requirement in college). But learning about fabric has given me a greater understanding of and appreciation for design elements, color, and detail. Now I can see a perfect joint in a woodworking project that my husband has done, and I am amazed by how beautiful it is.

But back to my fabric hoarding. My fabric stash is disproportionately large in comparison to the amount of sewing that I do. I tend to save things anyway. I'm not sure if that habit goes back to my childhood, when my family didn't have much in the way of material goods. That's all fine and good, but there is a difference. When you don't have much, you really use the things that you do have. We didn't throw much away when I was a kid, but we didn't stash things, either. We used everything. Now I am an adult and there is, thankfully, no struggle to have my material needs met. I'm still in the habit of saving everything. The difference now is that I don't need to do that. Our daily needs are met without a tremendous amount of scrimping. All those things that I save...they just sit there, largely unused and taking up space. My fabric collection is no exception. In fact, it is the reigning queen of the packrat kingdom in my house.

I have fabric that I am afraid to use because then it will be gone. Classic packrat, yes? You would think I'd grown up during the Depression, not the 1980s. Well, I've recognized this bad habit and have decided to change it. So here are some pictures of things I've made entirely from my stash. The top picture is a small tote bag. I had intended it for a young friend's birthday, but I'm not thrilled with some of the details (I used the thread that was in my machine, white, when orange or yellow would have looked so much nicer for the topstitching), so I think it will be my daughter's library bag. The second picture is of some throw pillows made from a vintage tablecloth. I really love embroidery and bought the tablecloth because I just loved the careful details. Naturally, it did not fit my table. It sat on my shelf for months. Then I measured the designs and ironed the cloth in preparation for cutting it. Then it sat on my ironing board for days. I sometimes hesitate to cut into new, mass-produced fabric in my stash. Imagine my hesitation to cut into a vintage, handmade piece! But I finally did. I cut out 12" squares, added borders, and attached soft pink envelope backs. I think that this was a good exercise for me. Now instead of having a beautiful but unused tablecloth, I have two very functional, pretty pillows. I won't be keeping these particular pillows for myself, but that's beside the point.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still Here

I am still here! Didn't mean to be away for quite that long. Life has been busy these last few weeks. I'm always frustrated with myself when our schedule gets too busy. We try to keep close tabs on our time, to not let ourselves get so busy that we're too busy for the things that are really important. We try to be available for and flexible with appointments, meetings, etc. I used to work in a medical clinic, and I remember how difficult it was to work with patients who said they needed their appointment to be on Wednesday at 3:30. No exceptions. Not only did that make it nearly impossible to see them (a lot of people seem to think that doctors are just sitting around waiting for patients), but it also made me feel kind of sorry for them. I would hate to have such a rigid schedule! And so I try not to.

The danger in having a flexible schedule, though, is overcommitment. (In the early days of staying home with my daughter, people would comment on how wonderful it must be to have so much free time. I always tried to gently tell them that my time was flexible, but it was not free. Free time to me meant deciding whether to watch TV or read a magazine. Flexible time meant deciding whether to run errands or give the baby a bath first.) I have not yet come to a place where I immediately recognize my own flexible plans as being just as valid as scheduled appointments on the calendar. If I have planned a day at home to clean and do laundry, and someone asks me to do something, chances are that I'll say yes. Or, more often, I'll agree to an event on a "free" day without paying attention to the fact that it's the only free day for two weeks. That's when my first priority, my family, suffers. We suffer not only from lack of clean clothes and dishes, but also from lack of time together, relaxed time to just enjoy one another. When we're rushing from activity to activity, errand to errand, then our precious few minutes in between at home are spent getting ready for the next calendar event, and we miss out on quiet meals, toddler tea parties, jam sessions with kazoos and tambourines, even slow-paced trips to the mailbox with stops to examine pinecones, squirrels, and rain puddles.

(Our daughter discovered that she could "make hands" after eating a piece of sticky lemon cake.)

I certainly don't want to sequester myself or my daughter at home all the time. We need to pursue friendships, to take educational opportunities, to give of our time in a charitable capacity. In fact, I think that it is altogether possible to spend too much time at home. But the effects I'm feeling right now aren't from too much time at home. You would think that, two and a half years into this stay-at-home role, I would have mastered the art of time management. I haven't. I'm afraid that somewhere in my mind, despite the fact that I believe this job of parenting is important and should take top priority over every other role that I have, there is still a nagging whisper that says I can do parenting and homemaking tasks any old time. It says that setting aside time to play outside with my daughter is a luxury that should take second seat to a meeting at church. It says that the things on my "Home" to do list should come after the things on my "Work" and "Church" to do lists. This leaves me feeling stressed, cranky, dissatisfied, and unorganized. There is an abrasive, unhealthy tension when stated priorities don't match active priorities. I always feel calm and content when I take care of my family and my home first. Of course, that's not to say that other commitments should be neglected. I believe firmly that once we commit to something, we need to see that commitment through. (Provided, of course, that it is not a harmful or immoral activity.) I also don't mean to say that we should forgo outside activities just because we don't feel like doing them. I really believe that service to others, whether formal volunteer work or baking a batch of cookies for a burdened friend, is very important. I believe that, for Christians, corporate worship and involvement in a local congregation is important. For those with kids in school, I believe it is important to be involved in your child's school. Those are some things that we shouldn't ignore because we don't feel like doing them. But there has got to be a balance, you know? We don't have to be on every volunteer board, every church committee, every school trip. Overcommitting doesn't get things done! (I have strong opinions on the popular idea of multi-tasking, too, but that's another post.)


I'm really rambling here, and probably not making much sense. Does anyone know what I mean? Jane at Yarnstorm recently quoted her former English teacher as having said, "You don't know what you're thinking until you can say it." I like that. By that standard, though, I only sort of know what I'm thinking on the subject, given the blathering of the last few paragraphs.

I need to go and wash those lemon cake handprints off my front window.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cleaning Out

Everybody wants more space, but nobody wants to give up their stuff. ~ Andy

I'm in purging mode. The new year usually does that to me. I think it's mostly due to the space that comes at the end of the holiday season. November and December are full of special events on the calendar, special foods, special decorations. Come January, the calendar opens up; we renew our commitment to eating simple, wholesome foods; and I, for one, am always amazed by how open and clean and bright the house looks once the Christmas decorations come down. All that space is refreshing and light and freeing, and I am usually inspired to find even more of it. Thus, purging.

Andy and I attacked the play room this past weekend. It was terrible. It had become a big toy closet, and our daughter rarely played in there. In one of those lovely moments of congruence, we started talking about creative and imaginative play, child development, and the value of order in a child's life. I believe that play is a child's work, and that children play and learn better when their environment is orderly and beautiful. So we went to work. We filled two big bins of excess stuff - one with toys that are good but too young for our daughter (to save for any future siblings), as well as current toys that we'll rotate through the playroom; the other with toys of which to dispose. Every remaining toy was given a home. It is amazing to already see a big difference in the way our daughter plays. Now that Mrs. Potato Head has all of her parts gathered in one place, our daughter plays with it frequently. She has spent hours putting together her train tracks and her USA floor puzzle. She has been riding on her rocking horse, which hadn't been used in a really long time (too hard to rock a horse when it is surrounded by toys).

It's really great to be able to use that room in the way we had originally intended. We implemented the rule that our daughter cleans it up every night before bed, which she thinks is great fun. Now I'm inspired to do more in there...I'm thinking her original artwork on the walls, maybe a bin of colored rice, a more attractive way to store her books...this may quickly become my favorite room in the house!

Monday, January 07, 2008

This is The Day

Today is the day which I have been dreading for more than two years. Today I am armed with juice boxes, paper towels, a stack of size 2T pants, a pile of training pants, Clorox spray, carpet deodorizer, and treats.

Today we start potty training in earnest.

Heaven help us.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year Sewing

I've made my list of things I want to make this year. Neither of the items below are on the list, and yet they are the only things I have made so far in 2008. Hm. Maybe "focus" should have been my resolution? Yesterday my daughter asked for a tool belt. I'm not sure if she saw her father wearing one or if she saw one on TV or what, but she wanted one. So I made one for her. It is very girly, but a tool belt nonetheless. She was excited at first, kept asking what I was making, wanted to try it on as soon as it was done. Then she put one of Daddy's screwdrivers in a pocket, leaned forward so the screwdriver was poking (and hurting) her leg, and immediately declared that she no longer liked the tool belt and wanted to take it off. Ah, well, 27 seconds of entertainment is better than nothing.

This pillow is made of the same fabric from which I made my daughter's curtains a while back. The "E" didn't turn out the way I wanted. If you're thinking, "Hey, that E looks an awful lot like a transposed 3", well, then, you're right. Since using fusible applique requires that you cut out the reverse image of what you want the finished applique to be, I decided to take a shortcut and just use a big 3 for my E. Even my two year old, the recipient of the pillow, took one look at it and said, "Oh, there is a three on my pillow!" Yeah.