Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chickenfest and Corn and Clover

We spent a few weekends this month with various members of my husband's big old family at annual summer events - Chicken Fest and the Corn and Clover Carnival. Sounds like we are serious farm folk, huh? Here are some great photos from both events - all provided by my sister in law Jody. I neglected to bring a camera to Corn and Clover, and her shots from Chicken Fest were so much better than mine, that I opted to just use hers for this post. In case you are visiting, Thanks Jody! Glad to have the memories!

First Corn and Clover Carnival. This is an event hosted by the city of Hinckley where Dave's parents now live. These shots are from the parade portion of the festivities.

I'm not sure who the random strangers are in the background, but here are Miss Rowan and me (on the edge) looking glam in our shades.

Griffin regaling the parade folk with his cute wave in a blatant attempt to get more candy.

Yep - my rough and tumble boy playing on a rusty barrel, we sure know how to have fun. Love how this shot shows the locals perched atop the building behind him. I guess the Corn and Clover parade demands the locals strive for getting the best views possible.

Rowan and her cousins Isobel and Phoebe watching the parade. These three are so dang cute...

Now on to Chicken Fest. Chicken Fest is an annual party hosted by Dave's cousins at their former chicken ranch (they have a website here). Besides fun, games and enough food to feed a small nation, it is John Deere heaven for little boys, big boys and many grown men.
Here is Griffin in the barrel train, obviously much enjoying a ride.

During the tractor parade, pretty much everyone gets on one of the zillion John Deere tractors and rides around for awhile. Here are Dave and Rowan on one.

Here is Griffin and his cousin Kyle on a tractor as well. I think Griffin spent about 1/2 an hour riding around like this. I'm happy to report that he has now dropped his Incredible Hulk infatuation and is back to loving John Deeres. It is a bit quieter to have him making tractor noises than screaming "Hulk Smash!!!" all the time.

It makes me kind of sad that after these events occur each July, it feels we start counting down to the end of summer. Our summer seems so short here... but we try to fill it with as much as we can!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tadpole Photo bags

I'm sure I've mentioned my wonderfully talented friend Brooke who takes the most amazing photographs. Oh, like these and these of my lovelies, to show you a few. Well, awhile back, she or I (not sure who's idea it was to begin with) thought up an idea to incorporate her photographs with fun, bright fabrics and make photo bags. Lots of photographers offer photo purses, but Brooke was looking for something a bit different to offer her clientele. Enter me...serial dabbler. I said I would make up a few for us to play around with and try out. It has taken me a month or so (or 2 ) to finally finish putting some samples together. Whew! Hooray! Picture me sitting here typing, much too tired, but thinking of throwing hats and other things in the air and dancing for joy! *sigh*
Here are some shots of them.


Brooke's for work... with her logo and website included.

Brooke's for play/real life... Aren't here kids adorable?

Ellen' this color combination.

Mine.. Hooray!
I had finished these 2 a while back. I did not let me use my own until they were all done.

These three were just done today.

Here is me attempting to get them all in one shot. I know it is a bit wonky and crooked, but I have limited places in doors to hang all of them at one time.

Aren't her photos seriously fantastic? I love them, and tried to make the bags show them off as best I could. You'll note, that the photos I took of the bags, like most of mine, are sadly taken in the late hours of the night, or wee hours of the morn, since that is when things get finished around here. I'm guessing Miss Photographer may shoot a few later on that will make me remove these shots in embarrassment :)

While it was a larger undertaking than expected, I learned a few things:

1) Sewing your own concoctions involves math. While I am appreciative of the college calculus that I took many moons ago, I am more used to using patterns and not adding in my own seam allowances... so this part of sewing caught me a bit off guard. More than one time. And more than 2. Ack.
2) Coming up with fabric choices that I like is easy. Coming up with ones that others would like is a bit harder. I second guessed my choices again and again. It is more accurate to say I fourth and fifth guessed myself. Honestly, the fabric selection for each photo bag was the hardest part. I stuck with fabric from Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks line, as well as the lovely chandeliers from Tina Givens' Zazu collection. I added in some polka dots from Joann's, used thrifted fabrics for the interiors, added some vintage buttons, lots of fusible fleece and interfacing, magnetic clasps, washable and printable fabric sheets to print the lovely photos on, and finally, some Scotch Guard to preserve the photographs a bit.
3) Pockets rock - but they take a bit of time. If I ever am bored, I swear I am going to create like 50 pockets to throw on to any purse I make going forward. They really wreck my momentum. Just when I think "Here we go, things are finally cut out and patch worked together!" there is a pocket to sew somewhere. I debated not using them for the samples, but c'mon, we all know how essential they are in a handbag.
4) Each of the bag I made was for a person that I know at last reasonably well. That helped me think through the size and fabrics I chose (though not easily, see #2). Trying to even start to think through how to make these going forward is painful. I mean it. If we decided that the bags work well and are something she would offer, each would be custom made for Brooke's clients. So how do I limit/offer fabric choices? Size choices? What is reasonable payment for my time and blood/sweat/tears? How do so many crafty ladies figure these things out? And why does it seem so daunting? I give big kudos to those self starters out there who have carved out their own niche or business.
I'm happy with them overall and can't wait to use mine and see how it holds up! I plan to deliver these to Brooke's house in the morning...they will just be there waiting for her when she wakes up if all goes according to plan. Kind of like the tote bag amazing would that be?

Brown and Blue

On Tuesday I picked up some fabric from Joann's (thanks MH for the gift card! Very generous of ya!) to make another Lickety Split bag. I found fabrics in my favorite color combination - brown and blue. This was a baby shower gift - perfect since this is a fantastic stroller bag. (I can now attest to this myself, since I lugged mine to the zoo of the few places the 4 year old little man still wants a stroller.)
Here is one side:

Here is the other:
I used some of the ric rac from my mother in law on the pockets.

This one went together faster then my first - I'd say it is a good hour or so to make, maybe a bit more. I was interrupted on this one a few times (when am I not?) but got done before I was overly sleepy. Ever get that feeling to keep going when you are sewing? OK, most of my friends who read my blog don't sew, but substitute something you like to do instead, maybe reading? Or drinking beer? Regardless, I did not want to call it quits, so I looked for a quick project, one that did not involve changing thread or sewing machine feet or cutting out a new pattern. For a couple of reasons, I decided to make a quick pillow. There is a piece of embroidery I made a long time back that has been sitting in my sewing hutch looking at me, begging me to do something with it (reason #1 to sew the pillow) for a few months. It is from a free hand sketch of a rowan tree...I did another on a dress for Rowan a while ago as well. I used the left over scraps from the bag and quickly concocted a pillow cover to slip over an existing pillow that somehow got chewed on by the dog (reason #2 for sewing the pillow). Here is the Rowan tree pillow...

Here is a close up of the Rowan Tree...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mini Vacation

We took a few days off and ran north for a brief water park adventure last weekend. We also played tourist and walked around Canal Park for awhile. Seems like we don't ever do the tourist stuff in the towns you frequent :) About time we did!

Here are some shots from the weekend.

We finished off the weekend with Dave's family's annual Chicken Fest. Yep, for reals. I'll post some shots of that later on!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New bag

After finishing up the neck ties (which I'm saving to post about with actual wedding photos) for a friends wedding party, I gave in and allowed a bit of selfish sewing. I made myself a new bag! Check it out!

I used Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks fabric - fortune in oilcloth - and the Made by Rae Lickety Split bag pattern. I've been hoarding this fabric for just the right project and this bag worked wonderfully. For the inside, I used red ticking and some AH from the stash for pockets. I don't know that I'll reverse it often, because I like the oilcloth so much, but it is a nice contrast.

The pattern was easy to follow - took about 2 hours start to finish. A good "nap time" project. I think any others that I'd make would whip up faster, but I was being ultra safe because I did not want to have to seam rip the oilcloth. My only "delays" were caused by a few broken needles and pocket placement. I pinned the pockets on a few times until I felt that they were right. Since I matched the pockets to the main fabric, this was probably not necessary, but I wanted it perfect.

I used the bag all weekend and can attest to how versatile it is. I was able to stuff it full of my camera, kid gear, a book and a knitting project. It holds a ton of stuff. The pockets are perfect to keep things organized both on the outside and inside of the bag. Lastly, using the oilcloth allowed me to carry it worry free while chasing kids around the water park we took them to. :) Here is a close up of the exterior pocket and ric rac.

And the interior fabrics...

And Miss Rowan loves it too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some dabbling...old faithfuls.

Yep - I admit it. As you may have guessed from the oh! so creative blog title, I tend to dabble in things. I dream of becoming a hard core garment sewer, or making intricate quilts, or designing funky and hip hand bags. But, honestly, when it comes down to it, I'm in things for the quick thrill and more instant-type gratification. This may be due to the limited amount of time there is in the day for any personal type activities, as the monsters tend to distract a bit. While I have very grandiose ideas about what I WANT to sew, and fabric and pattern purchases to back these up, I tend to stick to a few faithful sewing projects that work well for me.

So, what do I actually craft or sew when I need a quick gift? One of my 2 fall backs usually fits the bill, Rae's Buttercup Bag and Irene's Classic Tote (as seen on Sew Mama Sew). Serious, these 2 are so quick and easy I really don't need directions for either anymore. They are my old faithfuls, and while both were free patterns/tutorials I promise I make both more because of how happy they make me to sew, not because I'm cheap, er, thrifty! (Note:I think Rae's sells an larger version of the Butter Cup Bag pattern now that offers up a license to sell handmade Buttercups as well).

I made the Butter Cup bag for my sister in law's birthday a week or so back. She watches my monsters for me on days I work, and has since they were both born. She has the patience of a saint and I feel so lucky to have her in our lives. She actually deserves a small island, but I thought I'd start with a purse. I modified the pattern a bit by increasing the size by 30%, elongated the strap a bunch and I used the leftover decor weight fabric I have in the stash... so I did not have to face it at all.

Can you tell I have a blue/brown fixation? As a side note, I just bought Rae's Lickety Split bag pattern - a PDF download you can get here for a mere pittance (um, $6 that is, pittance, I tell you). Adorable. Rae writes things up so well and her directions are super user friendly...Can't wait to try this one out!

Next, I made a tote for my mother-in-law's birthday gift. I gave it to her this past weekend - a bit late, but better late... well, you know. I had recently bought the Jane Market Bag PDF pattern from the Posie Gets Cozy blog (love her blog too) so I ended up using some of the techniques from this pattern (pin tucks on the 4 corners and changed how I did the base by cutting out the corners before sewing) on the Classic Tote. Here is the tote.

I used thrifted fabrics and a vintage button and made a flower pin that can go anywhere on the bag (or anywhere at all, I guess, if you are feeling creative).

Last up, not sewing, but surely a staple in my craft arsenal. Rowan's school friend came to spend the day with us last week and the girls needed a quick craft to keep them out of trouble, so we made Freezer Paper stencils. Yep another "Old Faithful" that I love for their "Fast and Easy" factor. While I did not get a shot of Nicole's shirt before she left, here is Rowan's.

I found the unicorn stencil here...and the heart is just free hand (like you could not tell).

I'm in the process of finishing up 5 neckties for a friend's wedding.... so more crafting will have to wait until they are done. My unfinished list is becoming legendary around here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Family goodness

What a great family I have - look at these wondrous gifts of late...

After the parade on the 4th, my mom picked me up a berry bowl, handmade by my Uncle Brian (Lundberg Pottery, Moose Lake MN). I have a small confession that when I read crafty blogs and see what others make or buy, I have a gargantuan urge to have these things as well. Anyone else? My aunt made a funny comment that these amazing crafty ladies could show us a craft with bodily waste and we'd be like "Oh, Fantastic! I need to get some of that too!!". Ha! I realize all the coveting thy neighbor stuff is bad and all, but I think it is more to do with not even knowing some of these things exist prior to the blog post. That is my story anyway. Take the berry bowl, for example. I saw this post a few months back on the House on Hill Row blog. Until then who had heard of such a thing? But, obviously, I knew I wanted, er, needed one. Lucky for me there is a potter in the family (potter? pottist? hum, guess I should ask) and he knew all about berry bowls and had some on hand. Great isn't it??

Oh, and the strawberries were another family gift. Fresh from the St. Paul Farmer's Market - given to us by my sister-in-law Michelle. Delish.

A brief stop to my in laws produced a ton of vintage sewing stuff... leftover goodness from my husband's Grandmas and other family. Look at some of this fun stuff I got.

I love how all the prices are like 15 cents on the packaged things (note - I could not find a "cent" sign on my keyboard - huh.). Some favorites are the thread - love the wooden spools. These will join my others in a large glass jar I smile at each day.

Love this dress pattern - and it claims to be a "jiffy" to sew. We'll see!

My mother-in-law also gave me a few children smocks/aprons made by the Great Grandmas. Here is Rowan in the wrap smock. Not sure what the applique says or is, but it is fun.

I'm thinking this will need to be copied into a pattern and made into a dress... one more project for the list! Here is the wrap/back side. (Maybe you caught a glimpse of my lovely rain barrel as well? That too was a "family gift". Dave gave it to me for our 8 year Wedding Anniversary this June. I had meant to post about it then, but got distracted...)

Last up, a drafted pattern on newspaper for another child apron smock. It will be fun to try out as well. I think the paper is from 1954 or so, based on the car ads.

Look what a close up of the newsprint revealed. In the "Help Wanted" section, I smirked when finding that the ads were sectioned out by "Help Wanted -Female" and "Help Wanted - Male".
Suppose that is enough posting of random family gifts. We've got a busy errand day, a lawn to mow and then a zillion things to sew. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Fourth!

We had a great Fourth of July... hope you did too! Just some random thoughts and photos to share...

Here are my two monsters (Griffin furthest left and then Rowan next to him) and their cousins (Oliver and then Chloe) just before the parade. The kids helped craft their own Firework shirts ("how to" below) and I sewed up a few parade treat bags and a "huivi" for Rowan (headscarf - per the Finns in our family).

Griffin hugging the Moose Lake Moose!

Iced coffee with Baileys - hum! Oh, and aren't the coffee cubes fun?

Griffin with his you can tell, running very fast!

Rowan's thrifted boots ...

The parade bags up close...the initials were perfect to keep the candy coordinated and organized (and to make sure I took turns when stealing the tootsie rolls from them).

Ok - so check out my sister's ideas to make decorative kid shirts for the Fourth. We went with the stamping of fabric paint idea - and she came up with some fun stampers. The stars are corrugated cardboard cut into stars and reinforced with Modge Podge. The fireworks are various pasta noodles glued to cardboard. The "Ooos", "Ahhhhs" and "Ohhhhs" were freezer paper stenciled on.

I'm not sure who says "Eeeeee!" when a firework goes off, but we were running out of exclamatory sounds!