Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blogging with Integrity: Where I Stand

Hi!  I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  We had a good time at our house.  I cooked for just seven of us, and we played Pictionary that night.  What a blast!  I always forget how fun that game is! 

OK.  I have something I just have to get out there.  I guess I have to put out a disclaimer first, though: I'm NOT judging anyone.  Other bloggers can do whatever the heck they want, it really has no effect on my life.  I'm not in this "blog thing" for any reason except that I enjoy talking about myself and showing off my projects to the people on the computer.  ;)

I came across this post on Crafterminds the other day.  Another disclaimer: I love Crafterminds!  Awesome blog.  This is nothing against them, or anyone.  Just...just go read the post.  I want to know what you think.  If you are a blogger, or a blog reader - I want to know what you think.

Here is the comment I posted:

 Wow. I have such mixed feelings on reading these confessions! Yeah, it’s nice to be reminded that other bloggers are not “perfect.” And the confessions are funny! Not sayin’ they’re not. 

But on the other hand, it also makes me wonder why I bother. If I faked finishing projects just to get a good pic for my blog…well I could have a heck of a lot more projects to show. 

Sponsored posts are bad enough to read (come on let’s be honest); now I have to wonder if the blogger really likes the product or not? Eww. Sorry, but eww. 

I’m proud to say that everything on my blog is the real deal. It’s a small blog and I don’t churn out fantastic creative project posts every other day, but oh well! It’s kind of disappointing to know that now, I have to wonder about other bloggers “if they really did that” or not. This whole thing just makes me think twice about the whole blogging thing in general. Kind of a bummer.:(

I hope this doesn’t sound judgmental. I’m really not judging – people can do whatever they want! We all have our reasons for doing what we do. I’m just kind of disappointed, that’s all.


What do YOU think of all this?

Edited to add: 
Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but I noticed that my comment (on the Crafterminds blog) has been removed, as well as the rather defensive response to it.  Um...wow.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Do you do Christmas cards?

*Family members!  If you want to be surprised, don't look at the picture below.  ;)*

So, we're doing Christmas cards this year for the first time in probably 2-3 years. I won't even get into it...well, OK, I will. 

EVERY year, the issue is one or both of the following:

a. we don't have a good (or any) picture of all 6 of us.  In my opinion, once you have kids, you need to send out a picture of them for The People.  The People do not want a lame card with no pic; they want to see the kids!  But I have popular and busy stepkids with better things to do than pose for family photos, OK?  And we don't all live under the same roof.  AND I'm not a "Kodak moment" kind of person.  I often forget my camera and have to rely on more responsible family members to send me the pics that they take.  I'm ashamed to say that I currently have more stinkin' pictures of tutorials - my hands putting fabric through a sewing machine, for instance - than I do of my own precious family.  How SAD is that?  More on that later...oh trust me.  More on that later.  So there's that.


b. we don't have (read: I don't like to pry open our proverbial wallet to spend) the cash for STAMPS, let alone the cards. I remember when stamps were .22 cents! How annoying that everything is so expensive now.

This year, however, the planets have all aligned.

We have GREAT pictures of all 6 of us, taken professionally at the beach this summer.  I got a killer deal from the photographer, who included his print release as a part of the package. NOT that I think we have to have "professional pics or nothing" to send out...we just happen to this year. 

Also, when I ordered my kids' school pictures this year, I was so happy because if you ordered them online (which I always prefer to do anyway...writing checks is such a pain) (yes, that is grammatically correct.  It just doesn't sound like it is.)...um, where was I?  If you ordered them online, you got a $20 credit at Shutterfly.  Well, I ordered two packages, so I got a $40 credit!  Woo-hoo!  That definitely softened the blow of having to drop $44 on school pictures.  Ouch.

So after much playing around and trying out different card designs today, here's the one I ordered:
Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.
Yay for Christmas cards!  Stamps are still .44 cents, darn it. That's the only thing.  But oh well, everything else worked out great so I guess I can suck it up this year and just do it.  ;)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Highs and Lows: Cheerleading Edition

Well, let me tell you, I had no earthly clue what we signed up for when we signed our 8 year old Abby up for competition cheerleading.  How silly of me to think that this would be a good and fun experience for her!  I know many of you have been following the ups & downs of "she made it!"..."she might be bumped off"..."no she made it again"..."no wait"..."Ok she's on the squad for real this time..."  So once we got past all that nonsense, the squad was able to buckle down and learn their routine...more or less.   40-some practices between August and November.  Can you believe that?  As the chief taxi driver, I can definitely believe it.  ;) 

The last few weeks of this have been really emotionally draining, but let me try give you the cliff-notes version:

That's Abby on the right - the taller one. :)
 About 2 weeks ago, the head coach stepped down.  (Ding! Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead!) Of course it was right after the ONE parents' meeting that I was unable to attend. Don't know first-hand what happened there.  We were so happy - assured Abby that practices would be a lot better now, without this woman's sarcasm and abrasiveness.  She was just really rude.  Sure, she knew cheerleading, but did not have a clue how to coach kids.  So we were really happy that she was gone.  Well, sort of.  About a day later, we found out that she was coming back "to assist with tumbling" or whatever.  Oh, great. 

A practice or two later, Abby came home crying.  Again.  This doesn't happen every time, but it has happened enough.  She said that the "new" head coach told them that their formation "sucked," and they made the girls "run around the gym until their sides hurt."  I was like, whaaaaa????  (After talking to another coach, I found out that they had to do 3 laps around the tiny gym - not that it makes it OK, but they were never told to run "till their sides hurt.") 

I told all this to DH, and he said what I was thinking, too: "let's pull her off the squad."  I was like, YES!  She'll be so happy.  Enough is enough.  So we went up to her room to tell her this "good" news...and she was not exactly happy about it.  Her first competition was in 4 days, and she really wanted to compete.  Oh.  Not expecting that.  But I can totally understand.  She has put in all the hard work, and she wants to experience the payoff.  So this was our solution:  she doesn't get dropped off at practice anymore.  One of us stays there the entire time, "closed practice" policy be damned.  These coaches obviously can't be trusted to treat these girls right.  After a lengthy and tiresome phone conversation with the "new" head coach, she agreed to let me or DH stay there during practice.  I did have to play the "If I can't be there then neither can Abby" card - which I was dead serious about - and I think when she realized that I was serious, she relented.

The older girls on the squad LOVE her!  It's really sweet to see them all treat her like a little sister.  I'm thankful for that.
 Sat through two practices, everything was fine.  Great!  ...Right? 

So.  Yesterday was the first competition.  What a thrill to see our girl out there on that floor!  She did great...the whole squad did great.  We were so proud.  :)   So they came in last in their division...honestly, who cares?  They did so great.

Tonight, back to practice.  As we walk into the gym, the parents get pulled into a side room, off the gym, for a meeting.  I figured it was about the upcoming competition next weekend, no big deal.  Well I looked down into the gym and saw the OLD head coach there, barking at the girls.  The NEW head coach was up with us, the parents.  She gives us this song and dance about how "we all owe [old head coach] an apology and a 'thank you' for all the work she's done."  I almost guffawed right out loud.  Then she told us that "some parents" (meaning, ME) have been asking if they can sit in on practices.  In a very attitudinal way, she told us that there is no way they're going to allow that, and if we can't "get behind the coaches" and comply, then they don't want our girls there, and not to bring them to the next practice.  Then she started to walk out of the room!  I said "hey, [new head coach], are you really not open to discussion on this?"  She gave me a nasty look and said no.

I stepped outside to call DH.  We discussed it for less than 5 minutes.  He said that he was 100% behind me.  So I went into that gym, packed up Abby's stuff, and quietly motioned for her to come with me.  And we left.  And that's the end.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pretty New Oven Mitts

I am in the middle of a luxurious 4-day weekend right now.  Yesterday my kids had off from school for parent-teacher conferences (and of course today is Veterans' Day), and I'm lucky enough to have a job where, if my kids are home from school, then I get to stay home, too.  Yesterday I spent the day doing big-time cleaning. This morning I spent it sewing.  Now we're watching the Wizard of Oz, with the smell of Creamy Tortellini Soup in the crock pot.  I could get used to this!  (Too bad we'll be ending the day with a 3-hour cheer practice...more on that later, maybe...read my highs and lows on Sunday, I'll tell you all about it.)

Anyway, this morning I made a set of oven mitts for myself.  My old ones were narsty!  Not to mention, the "protective" lining had somehow come apart from the outside, so if I forgot to double up on hot pads before getting something out of the oven, I'd burn myself.  Nice, right?  Ugly and non-functional! And yet, they've been hanging in my kitchen for who-knows-how-long. 

Check out the newer, younger model(s):

I went to Joann's with the intention of buying some Waverly fabric - the same as I used in my friend's chair cushions - but I found this, and it was significantly less expensive, and I thought it was just adorable. 

I followed this tutorial.  It was really easy to put these together.  The one change I made was, I used a different fabric for the lining, not wanting to "waste" this cute fabric.  Does the lining look familiar?  ;) 

Next week, I'll be linking these up to the Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge hosted by Sara at Sew Sweetness.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Needle Book

So, speaking of embroidery, I'm getting ready to start my ill-fated map of the United States tonight.  I can't wait!  I love maps, atlases, globes...all of it.  I can name every state capitol, too, and I'm darn proud of it.  ;)

When I finished up my recent project (the orange/red/yellow flower embellishment thingy from my last post), I needed a place to put my needle.  The pincushion is out of the question, because LITTLE FINGERS in my house like to push needles way down into the pincushion, never to be found again.  I often go into my sewing room to find all the pins in my pincushion arranged in some clever way, or in a pattern, or ALL pushed down...who needs Toys R Us?  I think I'll just get the kids a pack of pins this Christmas. 

So I made this little needle book out of felt and covered it with some scrap fabric - which was actually a cloth napkin from the Dollar Tree - isn't it cute?

I have to admit, I lifted this idea 100% from this post on Betz White's blog.  It's kind of similar to an exact replica of her needle books.  I love everything she does.  Just want to give credit where credit is due.  ;)

This would be a perfect little gift for all of my friends who do needlework!  Except that I don't have any that I know of.  Boo-hoo!

I can't help it.  I love to link.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Misadventures in Embroidery

I like to refer to cross-stitch as my "gateway" craft.  It's what started it all for me.  It was the summer of 1996 - the only reason I remember this, is because the Summer Olympics were on TV.  I had just broken up with some loser boyfriend, and was all upset about it.  I needed something to distract myself.  So I went to Joann's, wandered around, and bought a bunch of stuff from the cross-stitch aisle.  I thought I'd make a wedding gift for my friend.  I ended up cross-stitching a Precious Moments bride & groom.  :) I was SO PROUD of that thing!  And more importantly, I was totally hooked.  I cross-stitched a LOT after that.  Always working on a project.  I think when the kids came along, that's when the needlework went away.  (Need I explain?)  I found other things to kind of be creative with - sewing being the biggest one - and when I learned to knit, it felt SO RIGHT to me.  I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but I realized it was something for my hands to do. Since developing carpal tunnel is on my bucket list, this is just perfect.  Just kidding.

Anyway, so fast forward a couple more years (like, now), and I started reading Allison's blog (she's going to think I'm a stalker because I mention her on here so much - I'm not!  I promise!!!), and looking at needlework on Pinterest (wanna see my "needlework" board?), and realizing that it's not all just Precious Moments and fruit baskets and horse heads anymore.  There is a lot of really cool, modern designs out there.  And I figured, hey, my kids are old enough now, they know not to try to eat the needles...maybe I'll try this again! 

So I thought I'd try embroidery - I didn't feel like messing with a cross stitch pattern just now.  Here are some things I've been doing over the last few weeks.

Here's the first thing I embroidered.  It's OK, you won't hurt my feelings.  I know it sucks.  Well, those blue lazy daisies in the middle are good.  But the rest?  Not good, ha ha!  But I wasn't expecting it to be great; just wanted to try something out.  Apparently I was on a learning curve with the "stem stitch." 
After playing around a bit on some scrap fabric, I moved on to this.  Better, right?  :)
Check out the French Knottage...not too shabby!

The curved orange line is done in stem stitch - can you tell a difference from my teapot?  Ha ha!

So at this point I've got all kinds of confidence.  And I think, I've got this.  So I ordered an iron-on transfer pattern from Etsy.  And I realize that my sense of confidence may be a little...well, inflated.

I learned a new stitch or two.  That's in my brain now.  Which means something had to go, to make room for this new knowledge.  The fact that PLASTIC MELTS WHEN UNDER A HOT IRON was, as I found out, the bit of info that drew the short straw and got tossed overboard.

Why yes, that unsightly blob IS permanently melted-on USPS packing tape.  Why do you ask?  
I couldn't find the masking tape, OK?  Oh, also, I didn't think to cut out the seller's logo from the pattern  before ironing it onto the fabric.
Can you even imagine my IRE at this point?  No, you can't.
 Oh, and?  I'm not very good at ironing patterns onto things.  Observe:
Double ugh!
 "Luckily," the pattern instructions said that you may be able to get another use out of it, if you apply heat for a little longer.  So I try that.  It didn't work.  :(  Well, I paid money for this thing, and I'm not paying for it again to get a new one.  So my job now is to deal with the mistakes and make it work!  I have some ideas...but I'm open to ideas, too. 

Linking up:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Highs and Lows: It's November already??? edition

I like to keep my "Highs and Lows" posts sporadic and unpredictable, just to make things exciting around here.

HIGHS for the week:
1. Trick or Treating was fun this year.  Check out my cute kids!

We recycled Abby's Alice in Wonderland dress from last year, which thankfully still fit, and just made her a different apron, and gave her some ruby slippers.  And Toto.  The ruby slippers were such a pain to make!  I thought it would be much easier than it was.  I spray-adhesive...d some shoes (that she doesn't wear) and sprinkled red glitter on them.  You'd THINK that would be really easy.  It wasn't.  I don't recommend it. 

Nolan wanted to be a cat, originally.  I talked him out of it.  When I was young, I rode the bus with this kid who thought he was a cat.  I can't have my son going down that path.  I don't know if I was being a good mother, or a bad mother (by not letting him be a cat) - but I don't care.  So his second choice?  A black crayon.  Can do!  Is he not the most adorable crayon ever???  That's just a big piece of posterboard with felt covering it, and then felt for the "crayola" logo.  I sewed overall-type straps on, and it velcro...d closed in the back.  My favorite part of this costume is that hat.  Too stinkin cute!

2. This weekend was the annual event at my church called "Chocolatta."  It's a thing that our women's ministry does...basically, we pack into a big room, and people bring all kind of chocolate desserts as far as the eye can see, and we just have a great time! Lots of talking and laughing and visiting, and there's usually one or two women who speak and give their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives.  Some friends of mine and me made it a girls night out.  I even did my makeup for the occasion.  ;)

I'm sure there were more highs; I'm just having a hard time remembering what happened this morning, let alone the whole past week...

1. You cannot imagine the cheerleading drama that has taken place in this week alone.  I can't even get into it without raising my blood pressure.  Had I known it was going to be like this, there is NO WAY I would have encouraged Abby to sign up.  NO WAY!  It will be a cold day in you-know-where if I ever sign her up for this again.

Again, I'm sure there were more lows...I'm just not remembering much right now.  Oh well, you can listen to me gripe any old time!

(Linking to Life, Crafts & Whatever.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Help me decide!

Which bear is best?
Well, there are basically two schools of thought...
WRONG!  It is a Black Bear.

Sorry...don't know where that came from.  ;)

Anyway, I'm entering a contest!  It's called So You Think You Can Sew, hosted by Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night.  I have to submit a project that I think best shows my sewing skills.  I know what I think took the most skill, but it's hard for me to look at my own projects objectively.  So I'm putting it to a vote.  Can you guys help me out?   What do you think would have the best shot at getting me into a competition?

Here are the three projects I think are the best, in terms of sewing: (in no particular order!)
Spring Top
Ava Bag
Chair Slipcover

Look at the posts if you want, or just look at the pictures.  And if you would be so kind, would you please vote for one of them, in the sidebar to the right?  Thank you so much!  You can only imagine the process I put my husband through when I can't decide on which shoes to wear...