Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cool Find of the Day

We've seen all kinds of cool things on the beach this week. Lots and lots of beached jellyfish, some as big around as a large pizza, and in low tide this evening we found dozens of tiny cupcake-sized ones. We've seen a dead puffer fish, a dead sea tortoise (missing his head - UGH!), and a dead ghost crab, all very cool things for little boys to marvel at. And tonight, while walking off the delicious dinner we had at Backwaters on Sand Key (yum!), we found this "blue button jellyfish"! We had overheard some people talking about them yesterday but we weren't sure if it was something they saw here at the beach or somewhere else. Now we know! I looked them up and technically they're not really a "jellyfish". They're a chondrophore, which is the same type of creature as a Portuguese Man-of-War, an organism made up of a bunch of small organisms. So cool!

Life's a Beach

We're finally here and having a really good time despite the less than spectacular weather. I have to keep reminding myself, "it's better than Wisconsin". The sun is out and the temps are favorable, it's just the wind - relentless. The wind is coming from the north, so it's brisk to say the least. Today is much improved over the last two days, you no longer need a sweatshirt on while you're trying to get a tan. And the next several days are supposed to be warmer and warmer still, but I'm not sure if the breeze will die down or not.

Here are a couple shots of the kids on the beach.

I think my 13 year-old has learned a valuable lesson on this trip...when your mother insists that you put on sunscreen, listen to her even though you're a teenager and you think she's stupid. Sometimes she knows what she's talking about, and she didn't want you to have to look like this on your second day at the beach, trying like heck to keep any sliver of sunshine off your back.

And this one, he's been busy digging his way to China, building the Taj Mahal of sand castles and cleaning the entire beach of "cool shells". Plus, he wears sunscreen when his mother tells him to.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Few Last Minute Things

We're leaving in a few days for a much needed week in the sun. I've been trying to scratch things off my "to-do" list so I have a clean slate to come home to. Yesterday I finished my sister's cute wallet...we spent a good amount of time talking to each other on the phone, both of us scouring the internet together looking for the perfect fabric for her. I'm really happy with her choices and I know she will be, too. The fabric is from the Wild Thyme collection by Carolyn Gavin. It's so fresh and spring-like and I just adore the illustrations.

And now it's "thyme" to put away the bins of fabric and tidy up the shop so I can be at peace as we're backing down the driveway, our minds focused on the warm sand and sun, the smells of the ocean and the anticipation of a relaxing week away from it all.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Celebrating Spring

I've been sewing my little fingers to the bone, trying to get some last minute things done before we leave for vacation. My mother's birthday was over the weekend and she's been coveting the new bird fabric in my shop so I encouraged her to pick out a style of bag she wants for spring. It's SO cute! I think she's going to LOVE it!

I've also been forgetting to put up a picture of the bag I made for myself. I am always so busy making things for other people or the shop, I rarely make anything for me! I finally sat down a week or two ago and put this bag together using some of my all-time favorite fabrics - I love it so much that the last bag I carried used the same fabric only in a different color scheme. I absolutely die for these colors together, they just ooze warm weather and sunshine, don't you think?

Friday, March 19, 2010

quick post - new bag

Here's the new bag I finished yesterday. I have had several of my friends confess that while they love my handbags, they really want one that closes completely with a zipper. Ok, that's not the easiest thing to design because the whole concept of the bag coming together at the top often interferes with the rest of the overall shape. I have done a few bags with flap closures which I love but apparently no one else does because I haven't sold a single one. The slouchy hobo style seems to be prevalent on Etsy and in stores, it's a style that doesn't seem to fade out of fashion, but I find them a little boring. So, I decided to try and combine the two styles, Hobo and Messenger, along with the coveted zipper, and this is my first result.

I'm quite happy with it, actually. I think the size is right, I might not interface the lining next time to reduce some of the structure a bit. I like the way the top folds over to form a "faux-flap", I always love incorporating lampwork beads into my bags, mostly because my super talented mom makes them. Now we have to wait and see if anyone else likes it...stop on over to my etsy shop for more views of the new cute bag!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My IKEA Road Trip

I went on a short trip last weekend with a friend to Chicago and spent the day doing what every woman wants to do in Chicago - SHOP! I am in the Chicago area several times each year to visit my in-laws but the visits are usually not long enough to work in a trip to one of the fab local malls. So, instead I just stare longingly out the car window every time we drive past Ikea, promising myself that someday I will get to go inside.

That "someday" turned out to be last Saturday. My lovely friend Sue is always up for an adventure, particularly if it involves escaping from her husband and two kids for the day, so we were up and out the door by 6:30 (that's A.M.)! Sue and I are very compatible shopping partners, which is crucial when you're trying to blast through Ikea, Home Goods, Marshalls, The Container Store and Crate and Barrel, all in one day. We had lots of laughs, some really good margaritas at lunch and both of us found some really great deals.

Sadly, I did come home without the one thing I really wanted to find - a salmon-colored fluffy throw to, well, throw over the back of my cute new settee in the living room. I want/need to bring some of the sofa color (which is salmon, Not Pink, but still a brave color choice, I know) over to that sitting group but I cannot find what I'm looking for - anywhere. I'm afraid I'm going to have to raise my own sheep, dye my own wool and weave my own darn blanket to get what I want.
"Help, I need a pretty salmon throw to drape over me!"

This is the new lamp I picked up at Ikea. It's kind of a stretch for my decorating style but I thought it might add a little funk to the room. Steve actually likes it too, and he doesn't like anything that comes from Ikea (I didn't know this until after I married him). He likes it enough that he thinks we need another one for the opposite corner of the room! Go Figure!

I  must have been in the mood for lighting because this lamp caught my eye at Home Goods and there was no way I was leaving without it. What a find! It is the perfect marriage of both color groupings in that room. The salmon from the sofa and the green and deep brown/purple from the slipper chairs. Love it!

And now I'm officially broke, which means I need to get my butt in front of the sewing machine. I'm just finishing up a new bag style today, I'll show you a preview tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Learning Curve is Steep

I love to learn how to do new things but I'm especially challenged when it comes to using a computer. Which is why I get extremely excited when I teach myself how to do something new and fancy using my shiny, super-sexy macbook.

This odyssey all started when my mother decided to take me up on my offer to set up a shop for her on Etsy. In order to have a nice looking shop, you need a pretty shop banner. I paid someone to make the banner for my store and I love it, but I want to know how to make a good one all by myself.

I have never worked with Photoshop because I just couldn't justify the expense for the little use I have for it, but I have always wanted it really bad. So, after some sleuthing around on-line, I discovered that there is a mac version of Gimp. Hooray! If you're not familiar with Gimp (I wasn't until yesterday), it's a sort of Photoshop wannabe with the best feature of all - it's 100% FREE!

So, there I was, pushing the download button and off to the races I went, ready to make my fancy banners and anything else I could think of. Except I barely made it to the first turn. I'm not sure who's less intuitive, me or Gimp, but it was a struggle. The on-line manual is not my friend, so I turned to youtube to see what I could find. After watching about 15 different tutorials, I finally figured out where I had been going wrong (something to do with "open as a layer" instead of just "open") and voila! Within 20 minutes (plus the 5 painful hours I'd already spent, but we won't count that) I had my first test banner.

It is ridiculous how proud I am of this thing. I know it's simple, but I did it all by myself!! I can't wait to get started on something for Pickadilly Beads!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back off dude, I'm a mommy

Ok, I have a thing against blogging about negative issues, there's enough junk out in the real world and I don't need to add to it with my little blog.

But something happened to me tonight that has crawled under my skin and won't leave.

My seven-year-old had swimming lessons tonight at a small local pool. After his lesson, he went into the small men's locker room to change out of his suit and I waited outside the doorway.  As usual, he didn't dry himself off well and was having trouble getting his trunks off (the exact opposite problem from yesterday, see previous post). He called out from the locker room saying he needed some help  so I replied "ok, I'm coming", and walked in to help him out.

Now understand, there are NO adults in the pool during these lessons except for the instructors, all of whom were in the pool at the time, so I felt it was completely safe to walk in and give my son a hand. When I walked in, there was another parent, a dad, in there helping his son who was maybe 4 years old, and another young child who was in the bathroom stall changing clothes. I walked over to my son, pulled off his trunks, told him to finish drying off and get dressed and then I left the locker room and stood by the door. After a couple minutes, the dad and son walked out of the locker room and the dad comes up to me and says, "We are very uncomfortable with you walking into the locker room like that".

Ok. Who says that? What did he think I was going to do when my son calls for me from the locker room? Yes, his son might have been in some stage of nakedness when I walked in, frankly, I didn't notice - I was focused on my kid. Besides, his boy is FOUR!!

Not wanting to make a scene in front of my child, I just looked at him and said, "OK", but I must have had "that look" on my face because another mother (the mother of the boy in the stall) who was sitting there caught my eye and mouthed to me, "what's going on?". I don't even know this woman but she could tell something weird was happening, so I told her about what he said to me. She couldn't believe it either...Ugh! On the way home I thought of a hundred things I would have liked to say to that jerk, like:

Maybe I'm uncomfortable with a weirdo like you in the locker room alone with my son!


How 'bout you take it up with the parents of the boy over there - he has two mommies - how would you prefer they handle the locker room issue?


I believe you need to rethink your choice of swim club, freak. Your kind isn't welcome here.

I can't wait until next week when I waltz right into the men's locker room, whether my son needs me in there or not!


Yesterday, the kids and I spent a really fun day in a huge indoor water park a short 45 minute drive from home. Aaron brought a friend to run around with and the only time I saw them all day was when they came looking for food! Evan and I buddied up together and splashed and played. We spent lots of time in the lazy river where his main agenda was to try and get my tube to float under each waterfall, thoroughly drenching me and giggling his head off. Thankfully it was not a crowded day and we rarely had to wait in lines over 5 minutes to get on most rides. The longest line we found was worth every minute as Evan took his first try at indoor surfing. I was nervous for him, he was stoked. I was sure he wouldn't even weigh enough to keep the boogie board under him but it didn't take long before he was belly boarding with style and had everyone in the crowd clapping for him. And then his swim trunks started to slip down! He was trying to hold on to the board with one hand, pull his trunks up with the other! It was so darn funny! His tiny little cheeks kept peeking out and by the time he fell off the board, I think everyone got a shot at his cute butt! He was embarrassed and elated all at once! Such a great day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

more on the bird theme...

This is the bird fabric I'm crazy about. The photos aren't the best (still trying to figure out how to be a photographer AND a bag maker) but it's going to be one lovely purse. I'm a bit worried about it being on a white background. Lots and Lots of Scotchguard, I guess. I can't wait to get started, but I have a bag for neighbor Becky to finish first. Hers will be a spectacular red, black and cream bag. Love it!

Hot off the Machine

Just a quick note to show you what I've been working on this week. My sister, Meredith, called to say several of her friends fell in love with the wallet I made her for christmas, so they placed orders for their own. So Nice! They chose nice bright spring colors and I think they all turned out great! It was also a great chance for me to work some more on my photography...I still suck at it but each time I get behind the camera I learn a little more. Right now my new light box is providing me with new challenges but I am going to learn how to use it even if it kills me.