December 30, 2011

New favorite craft: gift card holder.

It's the gift that says, "I didn't know what to get you!" Unless the gift card is what they put on their wishlist, and if that's the case then you're welcome, mom.

I finally found a use for the piece of red and silver double-sided paper I've been saving for who knows how long. Ever since that time I went to the scrapbooking store because I had a coupon and ended up buying nine other things. That one time.

I cut the festive cardstock so that it would fit in a necklace box and I could wrap it like a real present. Then I punched holes in it for the ribbon and button closure. The inside ends of the ribbon and button thread are hidden by the white insert, the edges of which I brushed with a powder-blue ink using a sponge. Then I stamped a line of snowmen in the same blue ink and drew over parts of each one with a clear sparkle pen.

The card itself is held in by pocket made of the same double-sided paper. You can follow this template and just use your own dimensions and omit the top flap. Rounded top corners make it look nicely finished. The only potential trouble was in getting the margins around the white insert to remain even as the envelope is folded shut. Cutting the white paper *just* shorter than the red/silver helped.

File it under "Projects that are pretty quick, pretty cheap, and pretty cute."

December 28, 2011


Yes! I finished it! The day after Christmas on my shiny new Brother sewing machine that Hubs gave me. 

If you don't count the new sewing machine, which I don't, I literally spent $0 on this quilt. The only thing I didn't have was batting, but I decided to skip it because I doubt my machine (old or new) would be able to go through it. The myriad clothing patches on the front and sweatshirt knit on the back make a nice weight, and it's super soft.

Somehow - I really don't know how - it turned out beautifully. I ironed a total of two seems, did very little measuring, and was working mostly with stretchy fabrics that I don't know how to handle. Yet the blanket is quite square, the perfect size, and I had just the right amount of fabric lying around for the backing and contrast strips. It was meant to be.

December 16, 2011

Hung with care. Hanged with care?

I think I've just discovered that "Twas the Night Before Christmas" is grammatically inaccurate.

Well, crafting apocalypse or no, I had to finish A's stocking. It is nearly as large as he. Which, by the way, is huge. I was looking at his growth charts and he's almost seven inches longer than when he was born five months ago. SEVEN. INCHES.

Boom. Once again, I have a project that proves I might benefit from a little planning in my life. There's ... a lot going on. But I like the size and shape and I'd use the pattern again.

The largest of our stockings, A* will probably come to believe that means he should get more stuff in it. Sorry, dude.

I was going to put a red felt "A" on it, because they all have some sort of graphic element, but a baby just doesn't need a scarlet letter on his stocking. I probably should have gone without the big white stripe then, but by the time I decided to forgo the "A" it was already done. So the tree (conveniently shaped much like an "A") was made of felt and ribbon.

*Referring to August as "A" is going to get confusing, isn't it?

December 8, 2011

Crafting apocolypse?!

Not yet. But I fear the end is nigh.

Ok, that's probably not true. It's just the knitting thing isn't working out right now. I think - I'm not really sure.

See, my hands are in real rough shape right now due to allergies. In fact, my allergies and I just celebrated our one-year anniversary of getting to know each other. It's a roller coaster relationship. Every time they come back - swearing they'll be nicer and won't drink as much - I'm all "here we go again," and I try kicking them to the curb with tubes of hydrocortizone and other such topicals. But they just keep reappearing. I work with them, and they follow me to shopping malls, restaurants, friends' houses ... and they hide out in my own house, too. I need a restraining order.

Anyways: yarn. I know all the ingredients of my Seventh Generation products because it is a good company that isn't all wrapped up in crazy legal hoo-ha like claiming a list of ingredients is "proprietary." Well, Tide, your precious property was keeping me up at night itching the backs of my knees.

ANYWAYS ... yarn. I do not know the exact ingredients of any of the yarns I use. How do you even go about finding such information? Obviously the label says "wool" or "cotton" or "acrylic" and so forth, but what kinds of substances might be added in the processing and shipping of the yarn? I don't know, and the internet (I can't believe I'm saying this) has failed me. If the internet cannot solve this for me, my life and entire college education is meaningless.

Is the yarn of A's stocking irritating my digits? I can't just stop making it, so tonight I did something totally nerdy and very annoying - I knit with rubber gloves on.

November 12, 2011

It could probably hold an apple and a few candy canes.

The stocking is officially underway.

My sister and I always got an apple or an orange in the bottom of our stockings. A new toothbrush, too. And candy. Little foil-wrapped Santas and gold coins, a candy-cane tube of red and green M&Ms if we were really lucky. And then some kind of small wrapped gift on top - a CD or movie tickets.

In my family we would always open gifts on Christmas Eve, but the stockings were reserved for Christmas morning and it was probably the one day of the year we were allowed to eat candy at/for breakfast. I hope August has the same good memories I do. But not the cavities ...

November 9, 2011

HandmadeMN Fall Market 2011: the goods.

I have been terribly remiss in keeping my Egret Effects Etsy shop going since the schnooglefritz was born, and there was no way I could have gotten myself together to be a vendor at the latest market - but that's ok. I went, I browsed, and I purchased.

There were many, many things I wanted. But I went with useful items and am very pleased. I only have a picture of one of the items and it borders on too much info, but the cute fabric you see here is what my new nursing pads look like! And they are awesome and that is all I will say.

I also got another wet bag to keep in the diaper bag for dirty clothes and such. It is also awesome. If I may rant about baby products for a moment, not all wet bags are created equal. The ones from certain large retailers are ok, and those are the ones we registered for, but if you *accidentally* put them in the dryer the plastic lining might crack or get a hole in it because it's cheap plastic. The one we got as a gift from a friend's co-op has the same lining as my new one - much nicer and sturdier, yet somehow more pliable.

I really wanted to indulge in something for myself, but I resisted. The Wild Dog Studio booth kept beckoning ... love her silver stuff.

November 7, 2011

The quilt pieces.

In my last post about the quilt I'm making, I ... was too boozed-up to include a picture. The pieces are all different sizes depending on the article of clothing they came from, so there will be lots of trimming. And then lots of sewing and measuring and possibly swearing. We shall see.

November 4, 2011

I think this is my first boozy post.

Aaaaand hopefully the last. But I recently realized that since the baby sleeps for like nine hours every night, I could've been having a drink before bed this whole time! For like the last month! Scheisse, my kid is awesome. Sailor Jerry!

I also recently realized that it's been a while since I've attempted to craft something I have no idea how to do and will probably fail at. So I'm making a quilt! I'm pretty sure I've already messed it up. I asked hubs the other day if he wanted to see what I was working on, and he was all "do I have to," and I was like "yes." I showed him how I had laid out the pieces of fabric I cut from old baby clothes that were too stained for my very fashionable infant to wear, and he was all "I think those pieces are way too small." Of course they're small; they're from baby clothes. Thanks for the excitement and encouragement dude.*

I'm going to have to buy batting, but other than that I'm going to try not to spend ANY money on this project. For one thing, Augs does not need another blanket. Also, it might end up being a disaster. Also, using whatever I have around makes me feel like some sort of handy pioneer woman. Like when I needed something really long to reach the cobwebs at the ceiling of our stairwell and I duct-taped the Swiffer to the broom handle. Make do, that's what I always say.

*Hubs is encouraging. And in all fairness, I am totally doing this wrong.

October 20, 2011

Does it count as crafting if you do it all online?

Well, it's creative, right?

So we have this sweet alphabet book made by Auntie Becky and I recently decided to make one of a different variety, because I am addicted to Shutterfly.

I've been having fun coming up with the objects I'll take pictures of August with to represent each letter, and the other day I did our first test shots. This is probably my favorite: F is for Frame...

He was not as pleased. Another preview: Y is for Yarn...

Of course.

October 5, 2011

I'm knitting, I swear!

Sometimes while I'm feeding the baby. Wrong? Maybe. Efficient? Yes. Other things I do while feeding the baby: watch TV, blog, play games on my phone, feed myself.

I knit a security blankie for a friend's baby but forgot to take any pictures, and I'm still working on August's stocking. Stay tuned.

September 15, 2011

Happy Christmas?

It wouldn't be if I hadn't remembered that I need to make my baby a stocking. It would've been real sad to hang my stocking, hubs's stocking, and Penny's stocking and then fill them with candies only to realize I missed the opportunity to add one more vessel of sweet holiday excuses. This - not the pressure to get out greeting cards or the idea of potentially having to drive through a blizzard because we've run out of butter after just one batch of spritz - would ruin Christmas. That or my arrest after I *lose it* at work because I've heard Vince Guaraldi's (Charlie Brown's) "Christmas Time is Here" one too many times.

This is the classic pattern I'm using from Patons. We'll see how different mine looks...

August 29, 2011

Drawings 40 and 41.

Another horrible picture of more *totally awesome* drawings.

In defense of the hideousness of my tulip, I'd like to mention that I hate tulips. As much as you can hate a flower. They're just always all "I bet we can sprout and bloom before any of you other slow-poke flowers this spring! Just like last year and every year since we were genetically altered to do so!* Ha ha!" Geez. No, I prefer more humble flora who take their time. Like moss roses. Specifically orange.

There are a lot of different kinds of gold medals, so mine is just as valid as any. I chose to use this one as a comparison because I thought it funny that for some reason, even though the image is clearly a likeness of the Dalai Lama, I thought it was Michael Caine at first.

*I don't know that they've been genetically altered. Hasn't everything?

August 23, 2011

Is it that time of year already?

August (the month) is more than half over and the stores have fully merchandised their back-to-school supplies. August (the baby) is six weeks old and has changed a lot since he was born. I shant go into a litany of his isn't-my-baby-amazing developmental feats, but I will remark simply that it's fascinating to think of how much he'll change in yet another month. Kids will be making use of their newly sharpened number twos and my baby will be smiling and probably potty trained and I'm sure I'll be dusting off my long underwear as the temperature begins to dip below 60 degrees.

I'm reflecting on this because the coming cooler seasons conjure the image of knitting and watching the latest television programming and snuggling under a blanket. Whether or not this vision of coziness is attainable with a small being under foot, I'm feeling like making plans for all the knits I'd like to make.

True, I have not picked up any knitting in the last two months. But I do want to get moving on August's giraffe and maybe I'll make him a little pilot hat. At the very least I'd like to spend hours and hours on Ravelry searching for and saving patterns for sweaters and toys and socks and all kinds of assorted goodies that I'll never get to - but, like knitting in front of our gas fireplace with the TV on and a mug of cocoa beside me, it's nice to think about.

Also nice to think about: greenness. Trees and grass and all the lovely green things of summer are still here and I love it. Strange to think about: if you live in the southern hemisphere Christmas is in the summer.

August 14, 2011

Drawings 37-39.

I don't have a lot to say about these other than that my submarine is far superior to real submarines.

August 10, 2011

Drawings 34-36.

Get ready for more drawings; they're the easiest creative thing to get done around here, unless you count bouncing your entire body around to sooth a baby while also bending over so as not to spill a third cup of dog food all over the floor, because both creatures are ravenous but only one needs to complete its morning routine of going directly outside after eating lest it poop on said floor. Don't judge me for feeding the dog before the child; you wouldn't want to clean up the waste of two dependents either.

So. Somehow I found it easier to take pictures of the next several installments rather than scan them, which resulted in poor images. I guess I was going to be uploading pictures anyways and the drawings might actually look *better* this way, all fuzzy and washed out.

That dude is surprisingly happy for not having his head in the clouds so much as being hanged by the clouds.

Yeah, that's a balloon.

Ahhh, real art.*

Honestly? I actually think this is a decent pencil drawing of something TOTALLY UN-DRAWABLE.

* I wish I could credit the artist but I can't because, as you know, I get all these comparison photos from Google Images and this photo is linked to someone else's blog and it's not credited there. Soooo, I'm passing the buck. Take THAT journalism school!

July 28, 2011

The Onion really is an accurate news source.

Firstly, let's all knock on wood several times.

Ok. I haven't had a panic attack in a long while. Although I did get pretty anxious on the tour of the labor and delivery unit, and that's what prompted me to do this post on a 2009 article from The Onion. I was going to do it before the birth in anticipation of totally freaking out and losing my mind as I spent hours and hours in slow labor, but it turns out that super fast and intense labor doesn't leave you time or energy to freak out and lose your mind. So that's good.

I cut out the article two years ago and saved it in case I ever had to describe a panic attack to someone, which has not happened and even if it had I don't think I want to start collecting newspaper clippings. I know hubs doesn't want me to start collecting newspaper clippings. So I scanned it before realizing you can just read the article online. Whatever. Now I can throw it away and you'll all know what's wrong with me when I'm facing some sort of child-related crisis.

July 25, 2011

Finn's first.

One of the benefits of "popping" out August a little early is that I was then able to attend Finn's first birthday!

Check out his cute shirt made by his mommy!

July 22, 2011

0 months?

Love these stickers we got from Auntie Becky that you put on a onesie every month to document the first year. "Zero months" doesn't really make sense to me, but I just do what the stickers tell me. I guess I should have stuck it on him the day he was born, but I'm a couple weeks late. I've been busy sitting around.

I haven't made anything lately (surprise!), but *technically* I spent the last nine months creating a human. Also an entirely new, disposable organ. The nurse showed us the placenta. It was cool, but not as cool as the human.

July 15, 2011

Huh. Didn't expect to give birth the next day.

When I posted last, I was 38 weeks and one day and thinking, "gee, I feel like this baby might be early." And then he was born. Here is a short account for those who like to hear about births. The rest of you can gawk at this picture and just imagine that the angels sang a chorus and we were spontaneously transported to the hospital where he just appeared in the bassinet next to my bed.

August Robert Bernard was born at 1:11 pm on Saturday, July 9, 2011. I had woken up to pee at 4:30 am that day, but something was a little different from the usual mid-night run. Sure enough, half an hour later I was contracting. For some reason I was not convinced this was it. By 6:00 or so I was not a happy camper - yet still not convinced. Meanwhile, hubs knew what was going on and got into full I-better-get-as-ready-as-possible gear. He was setting up the bassinet, cleaning the kitchen, tidying the dining table, somehow all while comforting me as I began to writhe every few minutes.

By 8:00 I decided that we needed to go to the hospital even though I feared getting there and being told this was just false labor or that we should've stayed home because it would several more hours before anything important started happening. I wasn't sure that I could endure several more hours of this, or believe that "real" labor might be harder. And so I made my delirious way to the car, although now I have no recollection of how I was able to manage it.

I had been imaging how this car ride would go for a couple of weeks and figured I would be berating hubs for hitting too many bumps and making my whole achy belly jiggle. In fact, I noticed zero bumps - I only knew that I was undoubtedly going to explode and FINALLY I embraced that this is happening.

There was only one moment of bickering, and it was over where to park. Really, it was just that hubs was going to park in the ramp as we had planned and it was very suddenly clear to me that I would not make it from the ramp to the ER. Indeed, as I walked the ten yards from our metered car spot to the doors, I was wondering what would happen if I just collapsed in the driveway. I didn't though.

Fast forward through almost passing out at check-in and being wheeled up to labor and delivery triage... the nurses got me on a gurney and started doing stuff. I don't know what, but it was all just a horrible way to torture me while denying me the drugs I always said I'd *try* to do without but now desperately needed. Check number one: 4 cm. Check number two about 30 minutes later: 10 cm.

Suddenly they were all, "let's get her to a room!" But they didn't know which because there had been no time to plan. We stopped in a few doorways before settling on a room. The hurry to get me into a delivery bed was quite cinematic. And then I proceeded to push for four hours.

I think there are a few reasons for this... 1) we hadn't had a chance to call anyone and my mom and sister needed time to get there; 2) like so many first-timers, I had to figure out how to push when it was both the last and first thing I wanted to do; and 3) it had all gone so fast and was so intense that my body was already wrecked - it was definitely what they call "back labor." Which means unbearable, hip-bursting excruciatingness.

I won't detail the actual delivery, but will say that I did feel it all. At many times during the process I thought, "I'm never doing this again," and other such dramatic beliefs that trauma induces. I'm not taking it back so far, as you can clearly see that I have not yet achieved the forgetting they talk about.

When August came out, they put him on me and the only thing I remember thinking was that I've never felt anything so soft. There were cheers from the room. My head was otherwise white noise. He didn't cry, he just looked around like, "well, here I am." And he was so soft. Apologies for the ridiculous mushiness, but suddenly my existence meant something totally different than what I'd ever known, because a human being was made. From nothing. I'm still trying to understand.

7 pounds, 8 ounces
19 1/2 inches long
14 inch head cir.

Six days later we've come home and are doing all the things new parents do, and August is just doing his little baby things. Except for rolling over. He totally rolled from his front to his back at five days old.

July 8, 2011

38 weeks yesterday.

And here I am at the pool the day before with my sister's kids - Maxie using the "profundity of my rotundity"* as a nice place to rest.

*Quoted from an actual statement made by hubs on an earlier occasion when he ran into me because he had underestimated my new size.

July 6, 2011

The room is totally ready to not be used for like two months.

Tomorrow is 38 weeks! Translation: every moment becomes a waiting game. When will the real contractions start? Will I ever stop having night sweats? Am I ready for child-birth (um, no. Duh.)? Am I ready for parenthood? From a planning standpoint, perhaps. BEHOLD! The place where the child will eventually sleep but who knows when:

I admit that I might get real sick of green and yellow, but overall the room is a pleasant place to be. I can only hope the nugget feels the same. Because I'm not redecorating anything based on the whims of an infant. Unless he's going to help me make new pillows, curtains, chair cushions, and wall art. I hope he's a grateful baby. And a quiet one. And a clean one. Oh, God.

Apparently I never posted about the recovered chair cushions, or the last two pillows, or the wall hoops. So here are a few detail pics of that madness:

The chair *before* in all its pink, straw-textured glory...

The chair *after*...

Victory is mine! Seriously never thought I could pull off something like this with limited sewing knowledge and a tendency to rush through things. I did have some good advice though. The pillows...

Love making pillows. So easy and fast; and I'm going to keep making more and more because I've always wanted to have a "pillow room." Hubs knows this. It will probably be located under the basement stairs someday and I will lounge in there with snacks and a book and make people answer riddles if they must knock on my door. And finally, the embroidery hoops made with fabric scraps from the pillows and the crib bumper...

So I used two of the four crib bumper pieces between the hoops and the pillows. Now that I guess I've officially started "sewing," I'm wondering what to do with the rest. But really it'll probably be another five years before I sew anything again.

July 4, 2011

I get a lot of weird looks at the brewing supply store.

Cause I look like this:

Actually, people stare at me a lot no matter where I go. Creepy. Here's another angle for you:

You're welcome. That's from 36 weeks, which was actually a week and a half ago so now I'm *technically* full term. Wowza. Why would a lady giant with child be at a brewing supply store? Because hubs is crafty, too!

He's been brewing beer at home for maybe a year, sometimes with buddies who also work for the government - so they've named their endeavors "Red Tape Brewing." Eh? Eh? With that type of cleverness they could be journalists.

This is what's been creeping up the side of our house, trying to get in and fill our air with hoppy beer smell. Fitting that I should post this on July 4th; Independence Day. Poor hops have nothing left to climb, but hopefully they'll still yield enough flowers to get a batch out of.

Hubs has brewed his own recipe a few times with, I think, excellent results. I'm no connoisseur, having been out of the beer-drinking loop for the better part of a year, so perhaps any sip that hits my lips is like a sweet, sweet college memory. But really, I think it's just pretty good beer. And this is why I bring up the beer-craftiness going on in my house:

KEGERATOR. Built from a freezer, a home-made wooden tap collar, and whatever else goes into making kegs operate. I don't know. There's pressurization and tubes and the whole beer-making process is actually quite scientific and that's why I don't participate. I just go to the store and endure the glances of all the people who are hoping that they don't need to be judging me and if any of them talk to me they'll find that I have not been involved in any kind of unhealthy boozing behavior but that I do look forward to being able to have a beer once in a while. Except when that time comes I'll probably opt for a margarita.

July 1, 2011

Sm'Orr shower craftiness.

Once again I have to recognize my family for their generosity and general brilliance. My mom and sister threw us a shower last weekend, which was at my house and I totally recommend this because then you don't have to load all the stuff into the car to get it home. Here are the handmade gems bestowed:

It strikes me as very odd that our baby's room and some of his accessories have a bee theme - because what is scarier to a kid than bees? I guess the doctor. But bees are pretty scary. Regardless, illustrated bees are usually cute and so the theme remains and my mom cross-stitched one on a onesie. She also cross-stitched the Twins emblem without a pattern. Pretty impressed.

Every kid needs a blankie or three. You never know which one(s) they'll attach themselves to, but having a Patt-made blankie is a special tradition. Our friend has made one for all three of my sister's kids and, in fact, is making a new one for Laura because hers is just a tangle of threads at this point. So we must treasure the beauty of this knitting before it is bitten, yanked, spilled on, and generally loved to death.

Patt also made these super cute booties. You would think she weren't traveling the world for work or taking care of her own house and dog. Geez.

And my cousin Amelia, who is 13 (I think), knit this little blankie! Adorable; she probably spent hours and hours on this and I never even see her! But apparently she's getting a "babysitting license" this summer so that's going to have to change.

Becky outdid herself again by creating this amazing alphabet book out of a fabric letter set and a bunch of quilting prints. It's bound with just a ring and grommets. Chewable, droppable, throwable. She has pics of all the pages on her blog and they're worth checking out.

Aunt Dorothy did this cozy bear quilt. She couldn't make it to the shower but was very sweet to send something. She's been crafting for years and years and has done countless shows. I didn't realize she was a seamstress because I'm more familiar with her floral designs, but there you have it. Multi-talented.

And this one isn't from my family shower - it's from a shower with "the planner ladies:" the folks who got to know hubs while he was in grad school and/or their wives. Heidi, a domestic inspiration, sewed this plushy ball somewhere between caring for two young kids, recovering from cancer treatments, and probably making tortillas from scratch. She'd be an amazing women if she did half as much.

So I'm feeling a lot of love and support and am so grateful for the Bernard, Gray, and Orr families - plus all our friends who've been cheering us on all this time.

Stay tuned for the alien tentacles AND.....the nursery reveal!