Saturday, November 28, 2009

Creepy Experience

I just had a weird online privacy issue happen today. You might want to read about it, especially if you put a lot of photos up online. You can find it over at Clever Mamas , Kris and I's much neglected (of late) parenting blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In the Meantime

I have been enjoying . . .

The grand adventures of Dr Zucchini and Captain America. Dr Zucchini is a quirky mad scientist / superhero based on a character from "Word Girl". He mostly fights Dr Gross Toes and eats and chats with the Waitress (aka me) at his favorite resteraunt and makes lego inventions in his secret lair. He has several costumes, all of which require the red goggles -- either on his forehead or over his eyes. Previously he has had a super long excersise mat as a cape, but it proves to be impractical for everyday use, so then he settles for baby legs as arm guards, mittens, shorts, and the goggles.
Egg nog in my morning cup of coffee. I know, coffee when pregnant, you ask? Well, my hands were swelling up and now they're not. So I consider that to be a double win. The egg nog is just a bonus.

A few more days with this little lad. He really only gets these three months of time alone with mom during his brother's school days. I'm trying to make the most of these sweet little moments together.

On Wednesday we were driving a train. Well, he was supposed to be driving the train, but then decided the was "too busy cutting", so the train had to wait at the station while the driver finished cutting the paper and distributing it on the track.

The lack of snow . . . aside from those few weeks I've been able to wear my Birkenstocks this entire pregnancy.

Getting to finish my quilt. I should be able to show you tomorrow. I quilting is really not as elaborate as I'd like, but at this point I'm willing to sacrifice excellent craftsmanship for prompt baby and little boy snugglability. I'll have lots of other quilts to do awesome quilting on.

Sleeping for 6 hour stretches. It'll be a long time before I do that again.

Still Waiting . . .

now at 40 weeks and counting. I think I still have two weeks left, but because I went into labour and then back out of it on Saturday and everyone in town heard about it, people are acting like I'm WAY overdue. The church ladies have got bored of waiting and have started sending food over anyway, and our answering machine message now says "You've reached the Chapmans. There is no baby yet. You may leave a message." For a day or so it said "You've reached the Chapmans. We are in the process of having a baby. If you want to leave the baby a large cash donation, please leave a message after the beep" because so many people were calling us, but we thought it might be inappropriate if, say, someone was calling about a dire-ly ill relative Dave had to go visit.

Yep, there I am. Not so cute anymore. Just very, very pregnant.

Its ironic, because last time around I had such a fast, sudden labour, and this time I've been having contractions on and off for days. Of course, I had a brutal cold when I was pregnant with Aaron, so I might have been so busy coughing that I didn't notice them. Or maybe I just coughed him right out. Not sure.

What has been arriving at a lovely rate, however, are my quilt blocks from the International Stash Busting Bee! I got a block Friday, two Monday, two Tuesday and one Wednesday. I sent out the big flowers, and look at all the beauty I received back:

If we have a girl, I may not have to go to much effort to make her a quilt after all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Arg, arg, arg!

Although I am really really happy with this:

I am less than happy that when I lay the backing pieces down, it seemed that I had extra fabric. So I foolishly cut all the centre pieced pieces a little shorter, so I would have a little bit of extra of those fabrics left. And now my backing is two inches too short. And since I used up every last smidgen of the red peony fabric in that top and bottom border, I don't really want to cut an inch off each side to make it fit, because I like the proportions precisely how they are now. I really wanted to baste this tonight, because you can't really baste a quilt when a rambunctious almost 3 yr old is running over it while you try to work. Well, quilt, you will have to wait until tomorrow now. Sigh. I would love to get this quilt done before the baby comes, so it can be my two am snuggle quilt. It doesn't look like that's going to happen, unless baby waits three or four more days, though. Sigh. Ah well, the important things are done, anyhow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our little baby corner

Our house is kind of funny. We have three bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs. But between water seepage and evil cats, and terrible siding and thin carpets over concrete floors, our basement is not the nicest of places. Because we don't own the house, we're not really willing to spend the money it would take to make it better, so aside from getting rid of the evil cat and fixing the eaves troughs, we haven't done much. This means that although we have lots of theoretical space in our house, we don't have much bedroom space in practical terms. One room is Dave's study, and we like being able to close the door so that our books don't get spread all over the house and damaged and the bookshelves don't get climbed on. One room is the boys' room, and one is ours. When Aaron was born, the boys' room was only technically theirs -- they both still slept with us, and it just contained their clothes and the tv and the spare bed. But now, they actually sleep there, and the room is full of their stuff.

So, since we didn't want to move all Dave's stuff into the a-cursed basement (he hates our basement and it would make him very grumpy), and the baby will be sleeping with us anyway, I decided that we would take the horrible doors off our closet and use the corner it created for the baby's stuff.

Here it is: two hanging sweater organizers in lieu of drawers, a change table and some wall pockets.
The bottom of the change table has all the cloth diapers and covers, nicely organized in my new fabric baskets (with Aaron we used the make-piles-and-hope-they-don't-collapse-into-each-other method. It wasn't very effective). And the wall pockets will hold the snappis (the non-poky modern version of pins) and diaper cream and the like (with Aaron we used the line-it-up-along-the-edge-of-the-change-table-and-hope-it-doesn't-get-knocked-off method. Again, not terribly efficient at 3 am). Voila -- one changing station. I just need some creams and a bucket with a lid to act as a diaper pail and we're done.

I must say I am quite proud of these wall pockets. I made them based on the design in Handmade Home, Soulemama's second book. She suggests using a repurposed wool blanket, but I couldn't find one around town (land of polyester again) so I used a vintage pillowcase I found, which fits nicely and is just heavy enough. The pockets are bits of fabric from my stasth.

Andrew decided he wanted to help me applique the bird onto the one pocket, and I used my very rudimentry embroidery skills to stitch the word on the other.

So there you have it. Not Appartment Therapy, or Martha Stewart by any stretch of the imagination. But not bad for me, considering my general lack of decorating / organizing skills.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No baby yet, but lots of nesting.

No, I haven't had the baby and just forgotten to tell you all.

I have however, finally figured out a way to kick my other children out of my bed (again) without buying anything new. You see, while we were on vacation, Andrew and Aaron shared a bed or mattress everywhere we went. So Andrew got used to sleeping with someone again, and he didn't want to give it up. But he has a single bed, so him and Aaron couldn't really share it. The end result was that everyone was back in our bed, and we were getting squeezed out.
It was really a simple solution. Well, simple for me, and a bit more complicated for Dave. But I let him go away for a full week a couple of weeks ago, so he owed me at least a morning's worth of moving and carting:

We moved out guest bed / futon back into Andrew's room, and now the boys sleep together in there. Now we have room for the baby in our bed. Yay!

I am also still sewing like a mad woman. I am about 25 back stitches and 4 nails away from finishing the little changing area I've set up, then I can take some photos, but here's one of the parts I like the best:

These baskets are awesome. I am so tired of buying plastic bins that my children manage to destroy in weeks or days, that I am just going to buy crates or make more and more of these. They are really roomy, and only take a few hours to put together once you know what you are doing. The big bonus is that they have quilt batting on the inside, so they use up all those odd bits of batting I have stacked in the basement closet.

The pattern was a PDF from maya*made . You can also buy them in her shop, along with lots of other beautiful things. And she has a great blog, too. Definitely worth checking out. The inside of mine is some natural canvas I picked up at my local fabric shop, and the outside is some cordoroy I have kicking around. Oddly enough, aside from intensely coloured quilting cottons, my other fabric obsession is cordoroy. When I find one I like at a decent price I tend to buy metres of the stuff. Like, two or three metres of it. After all, you never know when you're going to need 3m of baby blue fine whale cordoroy, right?

In any case, I digress. I shall show you my whole changing area tomorrow after I finish my wall pockets.

I am also still working on this:

I was at a bit on an impasse, so I posted it on Flikr and asked for all my wonderful crafty swap buddies opinions. I got some good suggestions, so I'm not almost finished to top. One of the things I love about Flikr and the internet is that I posted the photos first thing in the morning here, during my morning "its 5:30 am and I'm not awake yet to do anything useful" internet surf, and I got responses from people in Europe right away who were probably doing their "Its late at night and I don't feel like going to bed but I'm too tired to do anything useful" internet surf.

In any case, I'm hoping I can get at least the quilt top done before the baby comes. And since I"m trying to use up the fabric I already have, it may end up being backed in the rest of that 3 m of baby blue cordory.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Play with Swords

Play with Swords
Originally uploaded by Just chaos
Posted on the ever amusing "Stick Figures in Peril" Flikr Group.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taking the Plunge (and what makes me happy about Handmade)

For my birthday, I spent an afternoon and evening in Saskatoon by myself. I decided to do all things that I enjoyed, rather than rushing around trying to "get things done". Ironically, this was in huge contrast to my last trip to Saskatoon .

I managed to avoid the mall all together -- a good thing to do when you're 8 months pregnant and barely fit into your maternity clothes -- and mostly wander down Broadway st., the area where a lot of the cool little shops can be found. I picked up a fun new hat, and some arm warmers, and then drove a little further down the street to get this:
One skein of chunky Alpaca wool, and one pair of size 10 bamboo needles. It was funny because when I asked the lady to show me the wall where they had chunky wool, she walked me over to the wall that had a lot of acrylic blends and fuzzy things, and basically told me that it was good to pick something pretty smooth and not too fuzzy for my first try. So I went and wandered down the wall and found that on the other side were all the Saskatchewan alpaca wool. It was so soft and cozy, I decided I had to try it. I brought it to the counter and asked the lady, "Will this be easy to knit with?". She responded, "This will knit up like a dream. This will be addictive."

While in Saskatoon I also indulged in two decaf pumkin lattes, and had an excellent wrap with grilled veggies, this fantastic salsa and melted feta cheese. Yum. It was a great day.

On a more recent note, this is what our couch has looked like for the last couple of days:

My feverish son snuggled under the very first quilt I made. The quilting is starting to unravel on this quilt; it has been dragged around so much in the last 4 years. But it reminded me of why I love making handmade things for my family and friends. I love being able to wrap my children up in things I have made for them. I love sending out soft, snuggle-y reminders of love to those who are too far away for me to see regularly. It becomes a tangible symbol of something I often find hard to express in words.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Repurposing Change Pads

So, I have these old change pads:
As you can see, they've seen better days. The fabric on them is all pilled, and has picked up lint from everything that passed it by. Not only that but they've picked up this odd, crunchy feel to them. I figured that with a little refurbish, however, I could still use them for our new baby. So I cut out some flannel around the same size as the change pads, and decided I would just stitch it to one side so the baby would have something soft to lay on, and we would use them for a third time around.

That is, until I stitched the first one together, and started cutting an edge off so I could flip them inside out:
Are you asking "What is THAT?". Yeah, so was I. That is these crusty little shards of plastic stuff. I don't know if it was originally vinyl or what, but it is now these horrible, hard yellow things that break apart to the touch. I don't think I want to be laying my baby anywhere near those. I feel bad that I used them for the other two boys, laying them right on top of that vinyl nastiness.

Since I live in the land of polyester and plastic, I have a few fleece blankets kicking around. Every time I have a baby I am given about 10 more. I decided that they are water resistant enough to be the back of some new change pads:

Conveniently enough, I didn't even have to guess at the size, because the flannel top was already cut to the size of my old change pads. I just had to cut the blankets to approximately the same size and stitch them together. So, yeah, if you want to make some, put your two layers right side together. Stitch around the edges, 1/2 inch from the edge, leaving a space. Flip, press, and topstitch. Ta da -- cute new change mats.

My Present Definition of Satisfaction:

Finding all the Playmobil knights' hair. Their little open, empty heads disturb me -- its like they accidentally left their brain laying around somewhere.

My Present Definition of Frustration:

Having a son too sick with the respiratory flu to be able to get the H1N1 flu vaccine. And hoping he doesn't have the H1N1 flu. AND having the vaccine offered AFTER the H1N1 has already run through said son's school once.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Creative Update

I have been a busy bee again, while my computer was in the shop. There were a few things I wanted to work on, but the tutorials for them were on my computer, so they have had to wait, but I got some more of my to-sew list done.

First off was finishing Lisa's baby's quilt. My friend Lisa lives in Columbia at present, and is due at the same time as me. Her mom is going to visit in Dec, so I have been working on a quilt to send with her. Lisa's older daughter, Morwyn, received one of my first quilting efforts . It was pretty funky, and Lisa loved the pattern, but the colours were definitely more in my crazy, bright colour preferences than in Lisa's more subtle, sophisticated favorite colours. And when I offered to make her last quilt, I had no idea how long it would take to stitch all those @$%& double flying geese that make the tesselating fish pattern.

SO, this time around, I decided to make her something that was simpler to put together, but with a softer pallate. So, I took a big gulp, and cut into my small Lightening Bugs stash and the co-0rdinating colours of my Mendoccino stash, and started putting this sweet little quilt together. Lisa loves the ocean, so I went for a mostly ocean theme again, with lots of fish and squid and sea horses. She is also of Finnish ancestry, so the gnomes are sort of a nod to her whimsical, Scandanavian sensibilities. The horse fabric on the back was a bonus -- it is super soft, and I found it on clearance, before Heather Ross announced that she wasn't designing any more fabric.

This quilt is SO soft, I want to keep it and take it to the hospital with me to wrap my newborn in. But I shall refrain, and let Lisa enjoy that.

It is small, about 32" x 40ish". It is quilted with my walking foot in random vertical and horizontal lines to break up the blocky feel of the rows. And yes, it is the same basic "pattern" (8 1/2" wide by random lengths rectangles, organized into four rows) that I used for my Craft Hope quilt .
And the binding, which in my mind totally pulls the quilt together, is from the local fabric store -- I love it when that happens.

I was also required by my biggest patrons to invent some superhero costumes. I know, I know, I could have went out and bought something. But I get tired of costumes that they want to keep wearing for months after, but that only last for about 2 days after Halloween and then fall to pieces. Or that they can't get into themselves and so I spend an hour a day putting them in and out of their costume five hundred times a day. So, we used the capes we already had, I whipped up some shorts a la The Creative Family tracing method, out of some old t-shirts, and we freezer paper stencilled some shirts. I know that's not really Batman's symbol, but I couldn't remember what it looked like, and Aaron is too little to care yet.

And yes, it was a classic Canadian Halloween, and the boys had to wear jackets under their shirts, and add mitts, touques and Sorel boots to their costumes. Even superheros need to be well proteced in a snow storm.

Last night, I just finished my new diaper bag. You might remember (if you're one of my two original readers) that I made the green one when Aaron was born. But it is getting ragged on the edges, and has a big ink stain on the back. I really liked the shape and size of it, however, so I decided to just make another one.
There is no applique on the front yet because the baby is sitting on my spine and cutting off the circulation to my arms, and so my hands are too numb for hand work right now.

The lining in this bag is a Tina Givens print I've been saving for something special for a long time. I love it -- in real life the background is this brilliant yellow, and the red is more of a deep fuschia pink. The outside fabric is two pairs of brown cords. I'm a little aggrivated that they are not quite the same shade of brown, and one has a red undertone while the other has a blue undertone. I don't think many other people will notice, however, so I'm not too worried.

The tricky thing about this bag is that the handles are also the side of the bag. This makes the lining part a bit fussy. Last time I had a lot of problems with the sides, and made a whole bunch of mental notes of ways to make it easier to put together. Unfortunately, I didn't make an physical, hand written notes or instructions (just some scribbled diagrams and cutting measurements), so I made a whole bunch of different errors while putting the handle/sides on again. I'm still not sure I could explain to you what I did. In fact, when I stitched the top edges of the body of the bag to the handles for the second time, I did it wrong all four times. Twice. But the finished look is clean and elegant -- no extra seams or messy, unfinished edges anywhere, so I'm pretty happy about the finished product.

I also love this back pocket for my stuff that is stitched into the sides of the bag, so that only the top is seperate from the body of the bag. It always makes me so happy.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Lappy has had a successful transplant

and we're up and running again! Apparently my hard drive was developing blocks, and so the whole operating system crashed. Fortunately, my local computer guy was able to rescue all my data and install a new hard drive. He even put the Lappy back together again better than Toshiba did when they did repairs, so all my keyboard keys work and the DVR drive no longer rattles and vibrates. Hooray for computer mechanics!

So, I didn't lose any bookmarks or documents or photos. I just had to actually spend time with my husband and children and get stuff done for two weeks.

Wouldn't you know it, I finished a quilt while I was gone, put a zipper in a second hand jacket for Andrew (my first big zipper project) and almost finished a new diaper bag. Next on my list after that is refurbishing our change pads, making a stuff organizer for the wall, and making a bunch of storage bins. If I can get all that done before Baby #3 enters the scene, I will be ecstatic.

Baby #3 obviously doesn't understand how much work I have to do, because s/he insists on leaning against my spine, making my arms all tingly and clumsy. Ah, the things we undergo for the sake of our children.