30 May 2010


To celebrate the end of V and my school year, all three of us went to an indoor Ferris Wheel across town. It's pretty impressive, and also, it's named Ruby.
V and $haun have ridden this many times together, so she and I went first. She was sooo excited to show me this fancy thing. And also, she really wanted to see Daddy when our car stopped on top.

I, on the other hand, have apparently developed a fear of heights since my last Ferris Wheel ride. There were lots of white knuckles. Do you know how much a 4 year old can move on a Ferris Wheel? Can you read this, from the seat in front of us? In the RED CAPITAL LETTERS?

V can read, but seemed unconcerned by this clear warning. Finally, I told her I was kind of nervous. She patted my back with her little hand and said, "It's okay, Mama. I'll take care of you."
Really, though, I need to stay on the ground from now on. Who else will take the photos? And don't these two look ridiculously happy?

27 May 2010

Underappreciated; or, my second post on dandelions this month.

I know they're weeds. I know they spread like crazy and all my neighbors have way fewer of these in their yards than we do. But maybe it's because they're weeds that they're so awesome. What other flower do school children get to pick without ever being scolded? And make up games about? (We had one involving the almighty dandelion predicting whether or not you liked butter. Because that cosmic puzzle is one that we just can't solve without assistance). And make crowns and mama bouquets and wish upon?

I just think these are mighty pretty. That's all I'm trying to say.

23 May 2010


Today is my birthday. In years past, I've done the stereotypical blogging list, which you can see here, if you want. But to mix things up this year, instead of 37 random things about me, I decided to write a list of 37 things I want to do in the next 37 years of my life. So here we go. These are in no particular order, but I tried to list things that are actually humanly possible (as opposed to "go back in time and hug my dad once more" or "walk on Mars").

1. Get a new tattoo in honor of V.
2. Go on a cemetery tour in New Orleans.
3. Go to Europe.
4. Take a painting class.
5. Swim in the ocean.
6. Eat award-winning gorgonzola cheese.
7. Learn to weld.
8. Build a swing set/play house for V.
9. Let go of all my old shame/guilt for stuff that doesn't matter to anyone but me.
10. Take $haun to Vegas.
11. Have a wee camper and live in it for at least a month, perhaps travelling the country ala Steinbeck in Travels with Charley.
12. Take a few sabbaticals
13. Teach a class on circus freaks.
14. Publish a paper zine again.
15. Have a healthy, well-adjusted dog to take with for #11.
16. Grow a watermelon.
17. Visit Johnny Cash's grave.
18. Master blackjack.
19. Eat a fresh artichoke, steamed, with Tenessa.
20. Get a professional massage.
21. Get that new-fangled lasiks surgery.
22. Go to England.
23. Go to Hawaii.
24. Have a regular poker night.
25. Take V to a Broadway Musical.
26. Write a country music song.
27. Help Dan and Tenessa move back to Fargo.
28. Learn to play bass guitar.
29. Go to Graceland.
30. Live in a house with a turret.
31. Find Tim Johnson and Shannon Welch, twolong lost friends (from college & elementary school respectively).
32. Watch the series finale of LOST.
33. Have a drink with a celebrity I respect.
34. Write to Loretta Lynn and tell her I love her.
35. Bake a cake from scratch.
36. Spread my dad's ashes somewhere good.
37. Go to Casa Azul to see where Frida Kahlo lived.

Some of these are time sensitive, like #8 or #34, but otherwise, I have until I'm 74, so I think this is doable. What do you want to before you're 74?

17 May 2010

The last of kid's clothes week. I think.

I found these denim capris at Saver's the other day for $2. (I thought they were $1, but I can't remember what color is 1/2 off, so I paid the full $2). Anyway, they were a grown up size 13, but I don't care about that. What I cared about is cutting them down to V's size. So I did. They are a bit long for capris, but the girl grew 3 inches in the last 6 months. By the end of the summer, I reckon they'll be perfect. V has loved flamingoes since I stayed at the Flamingo in Vegas last May. Nothing like wholesome influences for child rearin', I always say.

Whew. Whaddaya think about V's new clothes? What should I sew next?

V's guide to dandelion wishing

First, pick a good, full dandelion with a long stem.
Then blow.And blow.
Don't forget to wish, too!Keep blowing!

Ah. Wasn't that fun?
Hope all your wishes come true this week!

14 May 2010

Kids clothes week, Day 5

Skirt #3: from an orange table cloth we had our wedding reception. Bloomers #2: to keep Dora et al covered up, and look cute, and allow my girl to do her somersaults like she wants to.
And pants #3, in an upholstery weight, denim-like fabric I bought before V was a year old.

Man, I'm kinda tired. I'll try to do one more batch tomorrow, and then provide you with a full list of finished projects. I'm not trying to make you feel bad, if you're not a sewist or you haven't felt like doing this project. I'm just tooting my own horn, because for once I've committed and followed through. If it weren't so rare, I'd be annoying myself by now.

Kids clothes week, Day 4

Here we have pants #1 of 3; bloomers #1 of at least 2; and shirt #2 of 2. The bloomers are necessary because if she doesn't wear tights, her Dora the Explorer underpants tend to be too easily revealed, even with the longish skirts I make her, and her preschool has a no-character policy. Oops!

Close up of the ruffle detail on the capri pants. The ruffle is from a roll of 4 different 1.5-2" pre-made ruffles I found at our local thrift store sometime in the last couple of years. I knew I wanted it to go on her clothes, but I wasn't sure how to do it. Kwik Sew came to the rescue again, and just by looking at their ruffled skirt, I kind of figured it out. They look super cute on, but my model was uncooperative, I'm afraid. Here is today's shirt. After day 3's success with knits, I got a little cocky, and cut and sewed this one within 90 minutes. It's terrycloth, which is cuddly in theory, but I'm not entirely convinced it works in practice. We'll see how well it wears. But I love the design and the colors so, so much. I actually have enough of this left to make myself a skirt.

I think I'll end the post there, because I'm pretty sure my sister just spit Mello Yello through her nose. She just doesn't appreciate my fashion sense.

Thanks for reading my nerdy sewing posts!

Kids clothes week, Day 3

I was going to do one post on days 3, 4, and 5, but the number of pictures I want to post would make that unwieldy. So I'm breaking this into 2 or 3 posts, for your viewing pleasure.The green long-sleeved tee above might not look that complicated, but it's the first thing aside from very basic nightgowns that I've ever sewn with knit. I was ridiculously nervous: though I've been sewing for almost 20 years, it's all been with quilting or upholstery weight cottons, and knits are a whole different beast. It requires a different kind of needle, moves through the machine differently, and is all around just plain different. And where I come from, "different" does not usually equal "good."But I followed the directions (from this lovely Kwik Sew for Children book that my aunt Shirley gave me when V was wee), with great trepidation. And it worked! I could hardly believe it. She wore it and the bicycle skirt (which she has proclaimed her favorite) to school today.
The other project I completed for day 3 was an embellishment of her existing sweatshirt. It's still that funny spring-time weather here, when it's often in the 40s on our way to school, but in the mid 60s by 11:30 when I pick her up. This warm sweatshirt (99 cents at my favorite thrift store, and it's brand new...) is perfect. But boring. Until now.
V picked the fabric, the size, and the placement, and it's the first thing I've sewn for her that Shaun is totally thrilled about, too. I mean, Shaun likes all the things I sew, but he loves this.

Yes, we know it looks like the TV show. Yes, her real name is V. This is her jacket. Any questions?

12 May 2010

Clothes sewing, Day 2

Skirt from vintage bicycle print. Check. Skirt from sweet birdie print. Made too short. Added 4" flounce to make it decent. Check.
Photographed three of the four finished items on the clothesline. (V refused to take off the bicycle skirt once she had it on). Check.
V noticed the grass was extra long, and decided to make a quick grass angel.


10 May 2010

In over my head, as usual.

Crazy stuff happens in blogland. Mostly I just observe, but it's been declared kids clothes week, and as I need to make V's summer wardrobe, I figured this was as good a time as any. The rules are we're all supposed to spend at least an hour a day this week sewing clothes for our kids. Me and about 248 other people have signed up, and now that I went and publicly said I would, I figure I'd better. But today I didn't have a whole hour to spend with the sewing machine, so instead I cut things out and picked out fabric and patterns. I have big plans, I tell you, and I'll list them at the end here. I did have about eight minutes to sew, so I whipped up these sweet pajama pants. Using this basic tutorial and a pair of V's leggings, I cut the sleeves off a nifty thrift-store men's XL long sleeved t shirt, sewed the crotch seam, folded over a waistband for elastic, and wala! Sorry for the poorly lighted photos: these were taken right before bed, because that's when I had my eight minutes. V's a tall 4 year old, and I had to cut past the sleeves into the body of the shirt. I was worried the stripes would make things too weird, but they came together so that it looks like an intentional design. If I were a less honest blogperson, I'd totally pretend I meant to do that.

She absolutely LOVES them (but she hates the camera flash...hence the face) and wants a shirt to match out of the leftover material. So I know what my first part of tomorrow's sewing will entail...and then on to my to-do list:

2 skirts

2 dresses

3 pairs of capri and/or full length pants

at least 2 shirts

It will likely take me more than 5 hours to sew all of this, but I can make a good start, and once I get rolling, I tend to not stop until I run out of elastic or her dresser's full, whichever comes first. Tune in tomorrow for more sewing excitement!

04 May 2010

Shoes for my friend Georgia

My sister Jess and I often exchange e-mails several times in a day: when we're puttering around the internets, we sometimes run across stuff we want to share with each other. She sends me links to shiny things or gift ideas for our mom for mother's day; I mostly send her links to weird stuff. And shoes. So, so many shoes. I love shoes. I am the cheapest woman on earth except when it comes to shoes. I looooove shoes. Lately, I especially love these shoes:
Lookit them! Look. At. Them. Aren't they pretty? And you can go here and see them from various angles. Check out that heel and the sole! I'm pretty sure that's faux bois! Who wouldn't love to walk on fake wood?? Well, I would, anyway. (Get it? I wood. Bwah ha ha). Red is my favorite color, and they look comfy, and they're on sale for 60% off. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?

So I sent the link to my little sister, and you know what she said? Do you know what she said about my New Favorite Shoes in the Whole Wide World?

She said they "seem too girly-part looking to me. ew."

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. I send my sister a link to the best shoes on the planet, and she tells me they look like lady bits.

Now what am I supposed to do? Do I walk away from my New Favorite Shoes in the Whole Wide World? Do I pretend her e-mail response got lost among the tangly world wide web? Do I order the shoes and wear them around just my sister, singing "Vagina shoes! Vagina shoes!" in a high-pitched freaky voice?

Yeah, that's what I thought, too.

02 May 2010

End of semester rant

I know I shouldn't take it personally but when they hand in research papers that we've been working on for six weeks, that I've taught them how to do correctly every step of the way, and the papers are utter, total garbage, but I do take it personally. Every. single. time. At first I think maybe I didn't teach them well enough. Maybe if I'd said it differently, or one more time...and then I think perhaps they just misunderstood....and then I realize that they just don't care. At all. One student, in his final paper, a formal research essay, wrote the sentence "That seems pretty damn good to me." Others use the letter u for the word you. So I sit and try to figure out why in god's name they think this is college level work?

And then I remember that they don't care, obviously, so I shouldn't either.

I have to remind myself that some, even many, of them do the research, and the writing, carefully and thoughtfully, and come up with things I've never considered and concepts they should be proud of. So why don't I focus on those? Why don't the ones that make my heart sing, that remind me of what it is I'm trying to do with my professional life, why can't I take those personally?

I have to work on not caring. That's hard for me.

01 May 2010

V's guide to chucking rocks.

First, find a good, solid rock.

Then....execute the toss (good follow through is key)........hitch up your britches.......enjoy the splash......and give yourself a hand!
Then do it over and over and over and over until your grandma calls you in for supper.