Wednesday, June 27, 2012

such is life

Hello again. As does happen in this little life of mine, things have gotten in the way of all the great plans I had for this blog. Life got in the way. I truly admire people with several kids, a tidy house and still time to craft and blog. I just can't get my rhythm right. A lot of that has to do with a lot of personal struggles I'm dealing with at the moment. I've still got my little blog book where I keep jotting down ideas and features and projects and ways to attract readers. Hopefully one day I'll be able to put it all to use. I still fully intend on having a very active blog; I'm just accepting that right now is not that time. Right now I need to focus on healing my family and myself. Some people can soldier on through the tough times. I'm learning to accept that I can't keep up with everything and have to set some things aside in order to give my full attention where it's needed. Thank you to those of you who continued to come check out my little corner in blogland. I hope you're still interested when I get my feet back on the ground and am able to come back full time. I'm hoping you'll still see an occasional FO post just so you know I'm still alive and kicking over here. Until next time; live in the moment, hug your children often, and take deep breaths while standing still.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

a year of Christmas: March edition

I picked a super cute little project this month from Stitch magazine. It's a little elf baby. I'm still not sure on all the rules about posting photos from other publications, so I'm going to tell you how you can see what I'm talking about. Go here, and then click on the Table of Contents tab. You'll see the little elf baby in the upper left of the page displayed. Go ahead, I'll wait for you... Did you see? Isn't he cute? And did you notice that I took you to the page for the digital download so you can get your own copy of Stitch to work along with me? You're welcome. Ha!

Now I'd love to say that I'm going to make one of these for each of my boys, but I know me, and I know I'll be lucky to get one done before mid-April, so I'll stick with one for now. Off I go!

FO: a year of Christmas: February edition

 Well here I am again. Late with a post. Are you shocked? Okay, stop laughing. I was going to blame this one on the short month, but I really can't. Not only was it a longer short month than normal, but that wasn't really my problem. I started thinking about this one in plenty of time, around the 10th. Then all of a sudden it was the 29th and I had a week of headaches that kept me from doing much of anything that required lots of concentration and eyestrain. (In case you read this post, they weren't migraines. They were just painful enough to be really annoying and to keep me from doing things to make them worse. OTC drugs don't touch them, and I really can't justify taking the good stuff when I can do everything but the stuff I do for me.)

Anyway, enough moaning, and on to the FOs. I finished these a couple days ago, and finally had some good light today to photograph them. I love these little birds. This is a great pattern. It's pretty quick (for fiddly items, that is), and so far, I've not had one turn out wrong. I love that they each look a little different from each other; with their own little personalities, if you will.

yup, that's a view of my studio in the background. I know, I gotta work on the photos more.

Since I'm a silly girl who thinks too much about things, I matched them. The two on the right are for the kids, with the matching bellies. Mine has the red belly since I thought that print looked more feminine, and mine and Mr. R's have hangers that match the kids' belly's.

 I haven't decided if I'm going to embroider these like I did these. I'm leaning toward yes... 
(would it be cheating to use that as a project one month?)

The other reason I was late getting these done is because I've been a knitting fiend lately. If you have multiple hobbies, do you find that you seem to get more involved with just one at a time? Or do you spread your time evenly between your crafts? I've always considered myself 'shortly passionate'. I will dive into something with everything I have, but then fizzle out pretty quickly and move on to something else. I've finally excepted that about myself and see it as a quirk instead of a flaw. So, look for some knitted FO's coming up shortly. Oh, and look for March's Christmas project too. I better get busy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

a year of Christmas: February edition

 I decided upon my February Christmas project. I've had fabric to make the birds from this book (click on the first photo to see the birds) for a while now, but I didn't expect I'd get them done for this past Christmas.

If you've been following along, you'll know I made these birds for my two nieces (see them here). I loved how they turned out, so I thought having one for each of us would be nice. Plus, they aren't very Christmas-y, so working on them in February won't feel like absurdly drawing out the holidays. *smile*

So who's joining me? Come on, get Christmas crafting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

book review: The Key to Taking Pictures Like A Professional Photographer

Have you seen this beautiful book yet? I have several photography books, but none are as simple, honest, and beautiful as this one. I've read so many that are better served as a coffee table book, offering not much more than pretty pictures. I've read others that are so complicated and lengthy that it's hard to remember what technique they were talking about by the time you've finished reading about it.

This book is so easy to read; Katie talks right to us as amateur/hobby photographers in a conversational manner. She shows two versions of the same image and explains why one is better. What I like about that is that she's showing us the most common mistakes (that I make, anyway) and how to correct them. Katie shows us what gear she uses and why and even included a whole chapter on editing.

I've read this book (I have the e-version) twice so far, and I keep going back to reread sections and to browse Katie's lovely photos. She has just released a handy guide on exposure that can be carried in your camera bag. Right now, she's having a 20% off sale on both the e-book and the hardcover. I might just have to cave and buy the hard copy... Katie also has workshops which are on the top of my list for when I move back to the US.

If you love taking photos, but are disappointed with what you're getting from your camera, I highly recommend this book. I definitely find myself reaching for my nice camera more often now that I can make better use of the settings and get better images. I just wish I had more time to go out and practice!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FO: a year of Christmas, January edition

I actually finished these about a week ago, but being wiped out with a 4-day migraine sort of delayed my life in general for a while. I'm officially recovered [finally] and am getting caught up on my blogging, sewing and knitting now that the house is [sort of] under control.

I really like these cute little ornaments. I completed them in about two evenings while listening to the tv, since it's hard to watch tv and see where you're poking a sewing needle at the same time.


One thing I will say, if you plan to make them, is to use thin tracing paper as your template, or find a way to transfer the design directly onto the felt. I had a heck of a time tearing the tracing paper away without distorting the felt and stitching. Also, the paper moved around a bit, causing some of my stitches to be crooked, but a bit of spray adhesive on the paper might have prevented that. My favorite thing about them is that the snowflake is stitched up with thread from a tin that belonged to my great-grandmother, hence the discolorations on the thread.

I'm not sure what I want to do for February's project. I'll have to go through my pins and magazines again and let you know what I decide on.

Friday, January 27, 2012

please learn from my mistakes

We interrupt this craft blog to bring you a lesson in learning lessons.

I know you'll forgive this random post as you always do when I chatter on about things other than crafting. Yesterday was just a horrible day, with such a strong lesson learned, I just had to share. For those of you who don't know, I get migraines. I know, it's a headache, suck it up, right? No. These are crippling, head-splitting, nauseating, vision-blurring, deafening, limb-tingling, writhing in pain migraines. During a full-blown attack I can hardly speak (the sound of my voice sounds like a megaphone in my head), I need the lights off, I need no noises at all, and I need to be in bed until it passes. I used to get them once a week, at varying degrees (not all of them render me incapacitated).

Cue migraine drugs. Now, I've been getting migraines for about 12 years. I've only had a drug that works well for me for about 6 years. The rest of that time was spent trying out different drugs and elimination diets, and keeping a migraine journal and pretty much becoming useless to the world anytime a bad one hit. Those bad ones can last days. Trying different drugs was interesting. I had one that caused a NEW migraine the instant it wore off. Another made me hallucinate. Some didn't work at all. The drug I take now is so wonderful. I take it when one starts coming. If any of you get them, you know you can tell. Some people have funny pains, or tingling, or vision disruptions, or auras. Some unfortunate people just suddenly have severe pain that wasn't there 30 seconds ago. As soon as any of those things happen, I take my medicine. Usually within 30 minutes, I can feel it starting to work. Most days, that's it. I'll even forget later on that I ever had a migraine that day. Some days, if it was a real stinker, I'll feel the drug still working throughout the day. I don't know how to describe that feeling, but I can tell you without a doubt that I wouldn't be standing at that moment if I hadn't taken it.

I would also mention that I am NOT a pill-popper. If there is a better, safer, more natural way to deal with something than a pill, I will try it (I have tried any natural headache remedy I could find). Except with migraines. I do NOT mess around when it comes to these. Until now. And oh how I regret it. So here's the thing: The drug I use only comes 6 to a box. I probably need to take it 2-3 times a month. So I have to get it refilled quite regularly. That's a big nuisance for me because I have to order it and have my husband pick it up since I don't have a car. So far, I've been on top of making sure I don't run out. When I finished my last box, I kept neglecting to order more. I don't know why. Mr. R even reminded me a couple times. I still didn't do it. I still don't know why.

One of my triggers is not getting enough sleep. Yesterday the kids both woke up at 5am. I held them off for a bit, but finally had to get up with them. I already knew I was in trouble. I showered, Mr. R left for work, and I was hoping for death. I didn't get off the couch except to feed the kids and change Monkey's diapers. Around noon, I knew I couldn't manage on my own anymore. I could barely open my eyes. Mr. R came home and got my prescription to take and get filled. To make a long story short, I didn't get my medicine until about 5:30 that evening. I had suffered for about 12 hours. I had moments where I was almost physically sick. I had moments where I didn't know what to do with myself because the pain was so intense. It hurt to lay my head down. It hurt to keep it up. My arms tingled and I couldn't feel my hands. I haven't felt pain that severe in a long time. I caused Mr. R to miss half a day of work, I couldn't look after my kids. If anything had happened during the day before Mr. R got home, I wouldn't have been able to do anything. I was useless. And it all could have been avoided.

Worst of all, I'm still suffering. If I take the drug when I should, at the beginning of an attack, it's never not worked for me. Yesterday, taking it 12 hours in, I had to take a second dose; something I've never had to do. Today, I'm still extremely nauseated, light-headed, and still have a mild headache. Each task I attempt requires several breaks. I napped with the kids. I haven't eaten much.

Why am I telling you this? I guess there are two reasons. First, if you suffer from migraines, go to the dr. Now. There is no reason for you to suffer. Great strides have been made when it comes to migraine drugs. If you're like me and don't like to take medication, get over it. You save yourself a day or more of agony. I used to be conservative with the pills. In the US, on the insurance we had, they still cost around $45, for 6 pills. It's different in the UK, but once I had kids, I got over the price issue and just took them when I needed to. I didn't want to suffer and make my kids suffer too. I get migraines often enough that I would miss several days a month with them. Before you go to the dr, it's smart to keep a log of your migraines. If you get them quite often, also track what you eat. I used to keep a spreadsheet or a little notebook. I would make an entry every time I ate anything, and any time I had any type of headache. Put down the level of pain (on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10), if you had an auras or precursors, how long it lasted, and if you took anything for it, and if it worked. Write down anything else you think is valid (other medications taken, menstruation, exercise, etc). More info is better than not enough.

Second reason for my tale is to remind those of you already taking medication for migraines (or anything else for that matter) not to run out. I know that's a dumb thing to say, but I think one of the reasons I slacked with mine was because I thought maybe they didn't get that bad anymore. I thought maybe I could just rest a bit and it would go away or that I could take something OTC and it would go away. I was so very wrong. Don't risk it. Get the goods and keep them handy!

Now back to our regularly scheduled crafting...

To that effect, I finished January's a year of Christmas, I just need to take photos and post it. Hoorah!

Friday, January 20, 2012

a year of Christmas

I mentioned yesterday that I'd be back today with a new feature. Here I am, so ppffftt to you doubters who thought I wouldn't show. *cheeky grin*

Anyway, let me explain my idea. Each year (as long as I'm not bogged down with baby blues or just settling in a new country, or both), around November, I start browsing through all the Christmas crafts showing up all over the craft stores and online. I make a huge list of projects I just MUST complete that year before Christmas. Then, by and by, the list doesn't get completed; usually because I'm working on gift-making, and because the list I create is so absurdly long, not only do I not NEED so many decorations, I just don't have the time either. So I came up with a plan: A year of Christmas.

How it will work:
I've made no ridiculous list this time. Currently I think my list has five small projects on it, mostly ornaments. Each month I will pick one item from the list to complete. That way, by the time Christmas comes this year, I'll have several new pretties to display. Since I've given myself a month for each one, and so far have picked small projects, it's something I should easily be able to keep up with.

For January, I've decided to go with the ornaments that I originally wanted to make for this past Christmas, since I already have the components together to make them. They are these, from Wild Olive. So cute and simple. I'll show mine off when completed.

Maybe some of you would like to join me in A year of Christmas? I'll be picking projects in a variety of medium so surely I would pick at least one that would suit your fancy? Or pick your own thing to work on. Then link up in the comments for all to see. Come on. You know you want to...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Christmas! Happy New Year!

Yea, okay. So I'm a little late with both of those greetings. As I mentioned, my family came for the holidays. They were here almost three weeks. While they were here we had: 3 cases of food poisoning, 1 stomach bug, 1 trip to A&E, 1 case of travel sickness, 1 bad two-day trip, and 1 ceaseless head cold. Luckily we got most of that out of the way before Christmas, so the rest of their stay was much more pleasant. So please forgive my absence [again, ahem].

Paper fir tree made for an origami-loving neighbor, following this video.

If you remember, I had a little list I wanted to complete before Christmas. Here's the list and how I fared:
  -Complete a certain pair of stuffed items for two boys for Christmas - DONE!
  -Make stockings for said boys - DONE!
  -Finish any custom orders from Etsy - DONE!
  -Make a sweatshirt for Scooch - Still not done. I took a little break from sewing.
  -Make ornaments for our mini tree - I didn't make any ornaments, but I have a plan for that. Plus, my dad found little toys to hang on the tree instead and I thought it looked rather cute, and fitting for us this year.

Stockings for my boys, made from Noodlehead's pattern here
I made them longer so the top was folded over.

I'm pleased with how I did. We also got loads of cookies made. Well, I say we, but Mom did most of it, along with cooking us dinner every night AND cleaning up EVERY night AND doing all our laundry. Yup, my mom rocks. I know, you're jealous. Too bad, she's mine. *evil grin*

Crappy night photo of this bag by Punkin Pattern, made for a tween boy friend of mine.

The reason for my sewing hiatus was due to the three custom orders I last completed. Since I had gotten out of the swing during the holidays, I cut stuff the wrong size, sewed stuff together wrong, and even put the wrong buttons on two of them. So I decided to take a week or so off. Now I'm itching to get back in there. I've been inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Katy, of No Big Dill (she's amazing by the way. with 6! little ones she still sews and blogs and is just so darn sweet all at the same time!) talked about her resolution to finish up standing projects. Luckily my unfinished pile is rather small, but I'm definitely ready to take care of it. So in between something new (including some new stuff for the shop), I'm going to finish up something old that has been laying around, waiting to be finished. Most things are sooo close to done that I could realistically finish two or three in an evening.

Small version of Style C of the Perfect Zip Bag from Oh, Fransson! for a girl friend of mine.

Small version of Style A of the Perfect Zip Bag from Oh, Fransson! for same girl.

Buttercup Bag by Made-By-Rae for same girl (I know, lucky girl, right?)

As far as my own resolutions go, I know myself well enough to not make any. My resolutions list always ends up being too long, with unrealistic tasks, that goes unglanced at from about 2 Jan on. So I set myself goals as I see a need for them. One at a time. Sometimes I meet them. Sometimes I don't. I've learned to cut myself some slack. *smile*

Fat Dragons for my boys. I like them more than they do.

Tomorrow (yes, tomorrow) I'll be back with a new, year-long feature. I know my track record for features on this blog is laughable. I do plan to complete this one, as well as revive the others. Here's to sticking with things! (And no, that wasn't a resolution either, just a pledge to be a better blogger.)