Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Book

For my birthday last month, I got the Alabama Stitch Book. I love love love this book. First of all, you can make the projects inside without buying any new fabric since they use old cotton jersey t-shirts. "Upcycle" is a catch word I've been seeing more and more this year, and all these projects are upcycled. What is better than taking something ugly or stained or ill fitting and making it into something beautiful? Will has way too many t-shirts, so I've been happy to clean out his drawers. I have a few t-shirts which are either too big, don't look good, or have holes so they've gone to the Alabama Stitch Project pile too. Natalie Chanin, the author, suggests starting with the bandana, but my t-shirts weren't quite wide enough so I began with the journal cover. I made patchwork covered Moleskine journals from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts for Christmas gifts this year, and thought the leftover boring brown journals would be the perfect thing for which to make a stitched and reverse appliqued journal cover. The second thing I love about this book, is that you don't need to be perfect. If your stitches aren't all the same length or a line of straight stitching isn't quite straight, it doesn't matter. Natalie also gives you the option of leaving your knots on the outside as a decorative effect. All these imperfections add to the Alabama Chanin look. I loved sitting on the sofa for the past two nights watching movies, sewing the outlines of my petal shapes, then clipping out the insides. When I sewed the last stitch on my journal cover, I was sad because I loved working on this project so much. I need to buy some more colors of carpet/buttonhole thread today since my hands want to get busy again.

2008 was a good year. Agnes was born, and we all love her more than I thought was possible. McLemore Auction Company had a lot of success and the path is continuing into 2009. Will is being recognized professionally and has some new exciting opportunities coming up. Ely started a Montessori school which he adores and thrives in. Listening to the US elect Obama was a moment I can't even attempt to describe. As for me, birthing a baby, becoming a mother again, and watching my children grow and change were all very special. But the unexpected I will take with me into the new year is a deepened joy of working with my hands. The world of craft blogs has motivated and inspired me to make, to sew, to embroider and to create.

I'm looking forward to filling up my new stitched journal with the details of 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post Christmas Cookies

This is what happens when you never find the time to bake and decorate the sugar cookie dough you made.

They tasted just as good after the holiday, we had the freedom to use some of our non Christmas and Hannukah cookie cutters, and we had an activity to do this week of winter vacation.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After or How I Missed Seeing Nicole Kidman in Person Because I am Tired

I should be working on some gifts thatdidn'tquiteneedtobefinishedbeforeChristmas, but I don't have the energy. Instead I'm contemplating eating another cookie or cleaning up some of the toys strewn around or working gifts for next year, like Amy's cross stitch. Christmas is exhausting. I think this is because I'm a parent with a child who now understands what the holiday and Santa Claus are all about. Before, I could be a slacker. But this year, illusions for two children had to be kept it. Ely is determined that Santa will come again tomorrow night or the night after, and he is going to be so disappointed again tomorrow when the tree is bare underneath and the stockings are still empty. If he knew his mother wouldn't survive two nights of Santa, he might be a little more understanding.

This morning I went shopping in search of some clothes that are stylish and fit me. At home I have some clothes that fit, many clothes that don't fit, some clothes that are stylish but have stains of unknown origin, and many clothes that are way out of style. Having a baby and nursing impacts the amount of your wardrobe you can wear in a bad way. I need the guts to get rid of all the nice clothes I have from 5-9 years ago, because I think I will never wear them again. Maybe in the New Year. Mom told me the mall opened at 8am. I was there at 9am.

My sister in law is in town with her boyfriend, so they did a big tour of Nashville. We met them at Carnton Plantation in Franklin. Carnton was near the Battle of Franklin in the Civil War and turned into a hospital. Several generals died at the house and thousands of men died in the battle. A confederate cemetery sits next to the house. When I first visited the plantation as a girl, there was nothing but fields all around it. Now, there is a country club butted up to the property, and a subdivision (Hearth at Carnton) you have to drive through to reach the drive for the house. There are still beautiful fields in front of the house, and although it was cloudy and a little windy the warmer weather made it pleasant to walk around the grounds and revisit a place I hadn't been to in a long time.

Ely wouldn't let me take his picture:
Agnes didn't mind:
Afterwards we went to another historic house, The Carter House, in downtown Franklin. I was tired and cold and Agnes was cold, so we stayed in the car and I read a few more pages of 2666. When Will came back to the car, he said "Guess who we saw?" and I said "Nicole Kidman." Apparently I guessed right, and she and Keith Urban were on a tour of the house. My mother-in-law saw them a few days ago as well. In the whole scheme of things Roberto Bolano is probably better everyday than a celeb sighting. When Will and Ely ran into Nicole Kidman, Ely was dancing around doing the potty dance and holding his crotch (he refused to go at the last place). Nicole looked right him! She was either thinking "This is what I have to look forward to" or "Get that boy to a bathroom."

So, tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will try and make the 1.5 batches of cookie dough I have in the fridge into post-Christmas cookies. Tomorrow, I will try to put the new socks away and fold the tissue paper. And tomorrow, I will try to sew the rest of this year's gifts. Though I might still work on a cross stitch for next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful day.
Hope you did too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our stockings are hung...

and our candles are lit!

Happy Christmas Eve and 4th day of Hanukkah.

Now, I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I used to want to take picture.

It's funny how things change. I used to be obsessed with photography. OBSESSED. I looked at every magazine and book I could get my hands on. I went to galleries and museums looking for photographs. If I was in an antique store, I would walk by all the glass cases hoping to find a tintype or a daguerreotype. I waited each week for the photo-eye newsletter to tell me about the new books being published. If I traveled to another city, I searched out photography shows at galleries or museums. I would drive to Atlanta the last weekend of a show at the High Museum. I drove to New Haven the last weekend of the MFA show. I spent all day in Chelsea and ended up with a hurt foot due to all that walking. I wanted to be a Fine Art Photographer more than anything else.

But then I got sick and didn't know it for a long time. And I was lonely being by myself all the time. I might have been lonely and depressed because I was sick, but it seemed like a lot of it had to do with photography. I got sick of hauling around heavy equipment and having to load and reload film all the time. And then I moved and lost my darkroom. And then I was pregnant, and didn't want to be around chemicals. And then I was nursing and didn't want to be around chemicals. And then I was pregnant again and still nursing, and I no longer wanted anything to do with chemicals. And the prices of everything went up up up. I have so much film in the fridge waiting to be processed, waiting for me to think we finally have enough money to pay the mortgage, the bills, and develop film. And now we have the digital SLR which is fun and easy. Nothing about my film cameras was easy. I no longer want to be a Fine Art Photographer and that is okay. I've known for a while that is in my old life, the life I left when I chose to be well and be happy. Photographer may still be on my tax return as profession but it probably shouldn't be.
Yet, I still have a strong desire to make. But making to me now is about taking something like fabric or yarn and turning it into something useful or pretty or both. Making doesn't seem to be very related to capturing. The more I spend my time with my hands making, the more I want to spend all my time with my hands making.

I still love to take photographs when the urge hits, though the urge comes to me not very often. There have been some afternoons in the past few months where I saw a tree I wanted to photograph the same way it looked in my eyes or I saw my children playing together and laughing and knew I wanted something that captured their smiles and crinkled eyes and expressed laughing and joy without needed any sound. I know I need to dig out those rolls from deep freeze and see if anything comes to life. I have a feeling I will see a lot I don't remember, and since time passes so much faster now I need something to bring those past moments back to me. I think 2009 needs to be the year of bringing photography back to me. Somehow, somewhere it will be on my resolution list. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I always forget...

how busy the end of the year is!

November has three birthdays and Thanksgiving. December has one birthday, school holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. Add that to the normal work, family, school, church, and meeting stuff just means we are plain busy. I've tried to simplify the holidays over the years to counteract the busy-ness. We stay at home - now easy since we live in the same city as our parents. We no longer send cards or have a party. We have minimal decorations and only inside the house. Hanukkah is about lighting candles and latkes. Gifts are pared down. I have always liked to give handmade gifts, which means time spent sewing, knitting, or cooking but not shopping. I use recycled wrappings. We get a real tree, but only the week before Christmas and keep it up for two weeks. We do bake but only one or two special treats like decorated sugar cookies. I'm trying to make family-centered traditions Ely and Agnes will remember fondly.

Last year, Will and I started a new family tradition - Christmas Eve Eve dinner. My mother grew up in a family with Swedish and German roots, so they did most of their celebrating and gift opening on Christmas Eve (though she remembers how much she hated traditional Swedish dinner). We still follow that tradition and cook a special meal and open presents with my family on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is spent opening presents and eating with Will's family at his parents' house. Will used to have Christmas Eve supper at his great-aunts' house. Aunt Ruth and Aunt Lois would always buy corned beef and rye bread from Schwartz's Deli for sandwiches. He remembers the meals fondly, and we thought it would be nice to have a similar dinner for our families at our house. Christmas Eve and Day are already spoken for, so we decided Christmas Eve Eve would be the night for our Reuben dinner. I've added potato-leek soup to the menu , we now buy our corned beef and rye bread at Goldie's Deli (the successor to Schwartz's), and the evening usually ends in a rowdy game of Mexican train domino's. It's a nice way to spend more time with our families in a fun, but low key way.My parents are gave us new carpet as our holiday gift this year, and it was installed last week. It's hard to believe three years passed while we "renovated" our den, but it is done (well 90% done) and we can use and live in part of our house again. Ely and Agnes spent many hours romping around the new room, and playing peekaboo around and end table. They had so much fun, I had to capture their smiles in a photograph. Looks like I also captured two sweet matching faces. I'm looking forward to lots more fun and memories in the new room.