Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tulips, real and paper

Here's a reflection-filled shot of the tulip Elliot made out of a coffee filter on Sunday. The picture shows bits of our living room (including the radiator that Astrid and Elliot sit on all winter), my silhouette, our porch swing and the plastic table we use for outdoor art projects, the houses across the street, and our Mazda 5. There's also a pastelly butterfly to the left of the tulip--I think it's one of Astrid's.

Of course, as nice as Elliot's flower is, our *real* tulips are the stars this week. Elliot and I (with some help from Astrid) planted about 250 assorted bulbs in October; so far, we've enjoyed yellow and purple crocuses, big and small narcissi, dark blue hyacinths (my favorite!), and now this explosion of tulips. We're still looking forward to purple allium.

Elliot has *another* baseball game this evening. We'd all be excited, except that it's currently about 45 degrees out, and will probably be more like 40 by game time. Brrrrr. It's weird to walk past beautiful spring flowers when we're wearing winter coats.

Finally, here's the picture Astrid took last weekend from our picture window. I like the angles in this shot.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

One More Thing on Sunday Night

I found my camera's memory card, so I'm going to post one more thing:

This is what I'm sending my sister Lora for her 40th birthday (gee, I just typed "30th"--even my fingers can't believe that we are 42 and nearly 40!). I worked on this linoleum block print (called "Sisters and Moon") for....hmm....at least a month. I'm pretty happy with how it came out. I don't think Lora reads this (if you do, Lora, please let me know!), so the surprise won't be spoiled.

Window Garden

When Elliot was much littler--actually, before Astrid was born--he and I used to put up seasonal displays in our living room's picture window: autumn leaves, paper snowflakes, and his favorite, the springtime garden. He started asking me a couple of weeks ago if we could do it this year; I could understand why, as we had such a long and miserable winter that the springtime has really seemed like a time to celebrate. But I was so busy with other things--work, starting up my own sewing again, and most recently, helping with the round of baseball-related rituals (Elliot's season started April 19, and he's already played four games!)--that I didn't see the window garden happening this year.

This morning, though, Astrid wanted to make some art, so I got out a little stack of Mellitta coffee filters, our liquid watercolor paints, some crayons, and eyedroppers, and we made lovely butterflies for the window. Elliot joined us about a half hour into our work--today was the last day of religious education (what we used to call CCD), and his class got out early, so he had time to play around with us before he had baseball practice--and he suggested that our butterflies really need some flowers to visit. Before we knew it, we had about ten butterflies, grass, and four different kinds of flowers to put up in the window. While Elliot was playing ball, Astrid and I taped everything up.

Afterwards, she and I walked to the supermarket to get $50 worth of fruit and vegetables for her school. We both had our backpacks (hers is very small) and two nylon shopping bags; she didn't fuss once on the five-block walk home, and, as she emphasized, she "never put her side of the bag down, even though it was really heavy." (This picture, incidentally, is a charming shot of Astrid when she was about 19 months old--she was skinny, REALLY fussy, and almost unbearably cute, even when filthy with ice cream, as she was during much of the block party at which this photo was taken. Now, she's no longer so skinny, she's somewhat less fussy, but still quite cute.)

I digress. Back to what I want to say: I love midday on Sundays. The day feels nice and long when it's 12 or 1. Around 3, though, I start to get anxious, because there's just so much to get done, and I've usually already tired myself out doing what I felt like doing. Tonight I made a dinner that was way too ambitious: chicken kabobs with lots of vegetables, rice, and cinnamon-squash muffins. While the chicken was marinating, I took Elliot to Old Navy to choose a bunch of t-shirts (he is sad because he has outgrown many of his favorite ones; he brightened when he saw that we were buying his new shirts in the men's department....I can't say I was as excited....). We enjoyed analyzing Wilco songs in the car. Then, when we were home, he was famished and I was absolutely hustling to get dinner together....while doing laundry and getting the kids' lunches made for Monday. By the time we were done eating and cleaning up, I was grouchy, grouchy.

The other day I put the memory card for our camera somewhere in my backpack, and I haven't found it yet. Once it resurfaces, I'll have pictures to post. I made four peasant blouses for Astrid this week, finished a slinky-knit top I started for myself back in December, and completely redid a black, pebbled-crepe bias-cut skirt that was way too big for me. Both the top and skirt look great. It's been a very happy week for sewing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Sunday was my birthday (#42!). On a bit of a whim, I decided to go to the International Quilt Festival at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. (People who live in or near Chicago may have the same Rosemont associations that I have: it's a mob town, it has lots of strip clubs because of its proximity to O'Hare Airport [I'm not sure why stripping and big airports seem to go together, but it was the same way in Denver, where I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s....].)

I've been wanting to go to a big sewing or quilting expo for a couple of years, but the timing has always been bad--either Elliot had two baseball games in a single weekend, or my boss needed me to attend meetings for her on the days when a convention was in town. I found out about this one just a couple of days before it happened, so there was no opportunity to worry about whether I'd be disappointed at the last minute.

Cut to the chase: I had so much fun! I was there for about five hours, totally on my own (though I found myself wishing that my sister-in-law Carrie was with me--I think she would have had fun looking at the amazing art quilts, especially the nature-themed ones). I loved the quilts--even though I'm not a great (or disciplined) quilter--and I got ideas for new quilts to work on. I'd be lying, though, if I said that the exhibits (which were *totally fabulous*) were the high point of my trip. It was definitely, definitely the shopping I enjoyed most. There were vendors selling everything from the divine (Burmese silks, vintage Czech glass buttons, sewing patterns from the 1890s on) to the tacky (Poo Pourri toilet deodorizer, rhinestone studded reading glasses, lots of American flag-themed quilt patterns) to the intriguingly technical (YLI fusible thread [which I bought], $7000 long arm quilting machines, environmentally friendly batting made of corn).

My favorite booth by far was Color in Stitches, where I bought cloth-covered buttons by Lilac Bow Yoke. It took me forever to decide which sets of buttons I wanted to go home with; not surprisingly, I bought too much. At other booths I bought a grab bag of vintage cloth, fat quarters of Judie Rothermel's Art Deco series, plus some fat quarters of Japanese cottons and smaller bits of cotton kimonos.

The selection of vintage (and antique) patterns at one vendor's booth (and I'm blanking on the vendor's name) was amazing. I came away with one for me , and one for Astrid (I can't get the photo to load, but it's an early 60s pair of clam diggers and a "shallow necked sleeveless over top with patch pockets"--the kind of thing I might be able to adapt to make it reversible. I will do almost anything to avoid having to make facings....I hate wearing clothes with facings, so it seems like useless work....)

Perhaps my favorite moment of the day--the one that made me feel like I'm part of a real, not just virtual, community of sewers--was when a 20-something young woman said, "Hey, Mom!", and at least five women answered "What?" Only one of them was *her* mom, but they were all mothers of daughters. Everyone was laughing, and then I heard an older voice call out, "You should hear what would've happened if she'd said, 'Hey, Grandma!' We outnumber all you moms!" I thought about the summer playclothes I was dreaming up for Astrid at that very moment, and I felt close to all those mothers and grandmothers in a way that I usually don't, because I don't usually get to talk with them.

Speaking of mothers who sew with and for their kids, today I received my very own copy of Amanda Blake Soule's new book, The Creative Family. Thanks, Carrie and Tony! I can't wait to read it.