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When Kalen realized that his birthday dinner party was approaching quickly, he began making plans.  “We have to make decorations!  Can I have a banner, Mom?”

A banner?  Sure.  I’ve been wanting to make a pennant banner for a while anyway…and wouldn’t it be neat if it were a permanent one that we could hang up every time one of us had a birthday?

Of course, it had to be made out of materials on hand, but hello, we’re living with my mother!  Being a lifelong artist and craftsperson, she’s always a good great phenomenal resource for this kind of project.

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She and I are also a great brainstorming team, and she manages to turn my ideas into great end products.  Some felt, paint, and ribbon (plus a few days of work) later, and voila!

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Behold our two-sided Family Birthday Banner, courtesy of Grandma Wanda!

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The letters are done in Aunt Bertha, which I think is such a fun font for a celebratory banner.  Thank you, Mommy.

Mother’s Day has presented me with the opportunity to attempt something I’ve been wanting to for awhile.  I’ve long been intrigued by knitalette‘s beautiful crochet-covered stones.  I could see them as something Mom would like, which she quickly confirmed when I showed her the photos a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, I sat down with stone, thread, and hook in hand.  While Mom was in the dining room working on collages with the boys, I fiddled away in the living room…and was able to present her with this a short time later:

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I’ve not had much luck with freeform crochet in the past, but this medium  worked well for me.  I’m quite happy with the results, and Mom is even happier, having requested a small pile of them.  Success!

Yesterday, I made a stone.

Today, I made time.  The boys and I spent a nice portion of the afternoon on the back porch, reading and drawing and coloring.

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Nicky had Book Fair books to devour, and I’m reading yet another historical fiction set around the British monarchy.  Kalen was incredibly patient with us, flipping through Nicky’s new Pokemon guidebook for some time before finally asking to play a game.  I sheepishly put my book aside and “encouraged” Nicky to do the same.  When Kalen realized he had our attention, the game idea was quickly scratched in favor of coloring.  True to their forms, Nicky chose a coloring book, and Kalen grabbed a sketchbook.

Nicky likes being inside the lines.  Kalen likes making his own lines.

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When I was a little girl and unable to let go of my perfectionism, I preferred coloring books, too.  I still like them, but I’m now able to embrace non-realism in my own drawing…to view drawing as an extension of my ever-present doodling rather than trying to make my hands create precisely what my eyes see.

It’s a wonder what an hour with crayons and markers will do for your morale.

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Making R2: Day Four

Embellish.

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Head outside for a photo shoot.

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Split your handsome face with a grin, because you have the coolest. Valentine’s box.  Ever.

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Fin.

(P.S. Want to see how Nicolas’s R2-D2 Valentines Day Box came together?  Check out the posts here, here, and here!)

In considering the softie-making trend in the craft community, I sometimes find myself thinking wistfully about the cute little end products.  Then, I give myself a mental shake and remind the wistful little part of my brain that my goal is to declutter and make things with useful purpose.

Still, they’re so cute.

I thought I would share the first softie ever made for me.  When I was born, my mother’s brother made Sugar Bear for me.  I think (given the butterfly “tattoo” patch on the buttock that has not been photographed in order to maintain ursine dignity) that Sugar Bear was meant to be a girl, but he was always a “he” to me.

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Uncle Lyle doesn’t, at first glance, seem to be the softie-making type.  He’s an athlete and a coach by trade, a father of sons, and now a grandfather of grandsons.  But he made me Sugar Bear.  A softie.

Compared to the incredibly-designed and perfectly-assembled softies I see floating around craft blogs these days, I suppose Sugar Bear’s dual-toned felt and two-dimensional structure don’t rate as a grand achievement.  However, as a gift made by a man in his twenties for his first niece, I think it’s pretty darn great.

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Look at that shy smile.  I can’t look at it and not smile, myself.

(And, as an aside, take a look at how the color in that brown DMC floss has held up.  33 years, countless moves, many runs through the dryer for dust removal, and thousands of hours of sunlight streaming onto my bed (and now my younger son’s bed), and it’s still a dark, rich brown.)

Easy Three-Step Process for Getting Phone and Internet Service Restored

  1. Drive twenty minutes to your parents’ house to use their computer.
  2. Post to your favorite message boards and your blog that you have no internet access.
  3. Return home and wait patiently.  Service will be restored within thirty minutes.

So, there you go.  Easy enough!

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Posts by Aimee:

Two deadlines for projects loomed this week.  Jason’s aunt is having a baby, and MIL leaves for the baby shower on Friday.  I had begun a project for the little guy in September, but it was far from completed.  Monday night saw me doing this…

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And ending up with this wonky little fellow…

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It’s the Celestine Crochet dodecahedron (Technically, according to Wikipedia, it’s a Small Stellated Dodecahedron.), crocheted in Jo-Ann Sensations Soles & More sock yarn.  It’s adorable, even if none of the points are exactly the same shape as any of the other points.  I think I messed up some of my counting.  I don’t think our new little baby cousin will notice, though!  I had originally intended to fill it with something rattly, jingly, or crinkly, but I just didn’t think about it late Monday night while I was finishing it up.  Oh well.

My other deadline this week is for a gift exchange in my June Mommies group.  I don’t think my recipient reads this blog.  I hope she doesn’t, because the pictures are going up!  (If you are a June Mommy, and your name starts with ‘C’, stop reading!  Close this window!!)

I began working on this right after I finished MIL’s birthday present.  It’s the same pattern, the Easy Peasy Crochet Bag, but this time worked in Crazy Yarn.  (Leftovers from odd skeins, cut into lengths between one and six yards long each.)  Again, I held three strands together.

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I got ambitious and went for the embellishment on this one, too.

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The felt and embroidery floss I had on hand for another holiday project, and the button’s from my stash.  The lining this time is from an old button-down shirt Mom gave me.

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I’m pretty thrilled with the whole project.  If my name started with a C, I’d be half tempted to keep it for myself and find something else to send to Cheryl.

In direct opposition to the verse at the end of yesterday’s post, I bought the boys’ Halloween costumes this year.

Every year, it’s a dilemma…make or buy?  My preference would usually be to make, but it doesn’t always happen that way.  Sometimes it is a matter of “I just can’t make something look as good for the same price.”  Sometimes I actually realize my limits.  And sometimes, I do make them, usually with Mom’s help.  This year, the boys wanted to be Darth Vader and Bumblebee (a Transformers character).  I got both costumes, on sale, for around $20 combined at Party City.  Could I have made them?  Probably.  Would they have looked as authentic?  Definitely not, especially for the price.  So this year, we bought.  And the boys are thrilled.  Ecstatic, even.  And isn’t that the point?

I mentioned yesterday that I love Halloween.  I owe this love to Mom and Dad.  Mom often made our costumes, and sometimes bought.  I remember fondly both our handmade witch’s costume and my Gene Simmons mask.  (I was in Kindergarten, I think?  Maybe first grade?  That my mother let her five-or-six-year-old daughter wear a plastic KISS mask is just awesome.)  The house was always decorated.

When I was about four, I had a Halloween party for my little friends.  Daddy dressed up as the Incredible Hulk.  (Back then, there was always an “Incredible” preceding the “Hulk.”)  Mom made a shiny, round jack o’lantern pinata.  I ran through the house, screaming gleefully with my friends, eventually hiding under the dining room table from Dad in his green body paint, torn jeans, and an old blouse of mom’s that he had put on and ripped at the seams, just like Bruce Banner.

Dad also acquired a fabulously creepy old man mask, with matching gloves (gnarly old hands).  Every Halloween, he would wear a black suit, the mask & gloves, a cape, and a top hat.  We had half the kids in the neighborhood convinced that our “Uncle Creepy” visited every year in October.  He would sit in Mom’s old bentwood rocker on the front porch, next to a cauldron of candy, and move ever so slightly.  Sometimes, the garage would be decorated, Mom would dress as a Vampiress and lie on a spare twin bed brought out for the occasion, and – after we’d patrolled the neighborhood for candy – Heather and I would hide behind a sheet, rattling the snow chains.

But I digress.  I love dressing up for Halloween.  If I had my way, we’d dress in theme each year.  I managed to get all four of us in one theme only once:

The boys’ costumes were white thrift store turtle necks and king sized pillowcases, draped with cheesecloth.  Jason’s and mine were courtesy of ebay.  Nicky hated this costume once we got it done – seeing his own face painted really freaked him out!

Another triumphant year for handmade costumes in theme was 2004.  That Halloween fell in the brief period where both boys’ love of Thomas the Tank Engine overlapped.  I really didn’t like the two-dimensional Thomas costumes available on the market, so Mom helped me with this one.  She also adapted an Uncle Sam pattern to make Kalen’s Sir Topham Hat costume.

Apparently, it was all a little much for Nicky…

I was so darn proud of that Thomas face.  LOL

Last year, we split the difference.  One reused, handmade costume for an excited little boy, and one store-bought Dementor costume for an excited bigger boy.  (Note that this was also the year their mother was on-the-ball enough to have them dress up while it was still daylight for a decent outdoor shot.  I finally got it right, on the 8th Halloween…)

Upcycling: the process of using something that would generally be discarded to create a new, useful item.

According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things.  I like it.

For months, I’ve been meaning to buy acryclic wall pockets – one to go on either side of my monitor inside my enclosed computer desk.  Thanks to inspiration from the Upcycle group on Ravelry, I’ve been looking at things around my home in a new light.  Last night, a Honey Nut Toasted Oats box and some paper left over from my paper scrapbooking days came together to make this:

Cereal Box Wall Pocket

Cereal Box Wall Pocket

Much prettier than acrylic, don’t you think?  Cheaper, too.  Now I just need to make one for the other side.

My boys

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