Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I just looked at my thermometer, and it is reading -38. That is not including the windchill. Just thought all you people in British Columbia and places like Texas and the Carolinas might like to laugh at me now. Needless to say, we are not going anywhere. And Dave is installing a block heater. Today. No more car-not-starting silliness.

I have a ridiculous Chapman adventure to post, but not right now, as Aaron just ran out of noodles and is going to start trying to climb out of his highchair any second now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Jeremy's Storybook Quilt

Finally, I finished this quilt and then after gazing at it for a few weeks and saying to myself "well, there's no use sending it BEFORE Chistmas, because Kris won't get it in time anyway so I'll just keep it and admire it", and then "Well, now they're in BC, so there's no use sending it until they're home", I finally mailed this quilt off and today Kris received it.

Kris and I's friendship started as many of my best friendships do -- as a complete disaster. We were working together on a play, along with my good friend Jonathan, and we would all go out after the play. We were the same age, only 14 days apart. She was totally hip with everything that was going on in popular culture, while I have always been a bit of an anti-establishment, anti-whatever-is-cool-at-the-moment kind of girl. So we would be out for after-rehearsal snacks and Ricky Martin would come on. I would grumble "oh my goodness. what is WITH Ricky Martin. I am so tired of this song. I don't understand why anyone would listen to this!" and Kris would say "Really? I just caught his concert in Seattle two weeks ago." We would be talking about tatoos and I would say, "What I don't understand is women who get tatoos on their abdomens. Like, hello, ever heard of stretch marks?" and she would say, "Actually, Jill, I have a tatoo on my abdomen." And so it continued with me chronically annoying her and her chronically tripping me up.

Eventually, though, she started showing up everywhere and dating my friend Jonathan, and we discovered that we actually did like each other. In particular, we both really liked movies. I discovered that she loved old movies. And I asked a fateful question: "Have you ever seen Fred and Ginger movies?" She said no, and I said, "But you have to!" and so we decided to watch the movies together -- all of them.

From the moment we saw Ginger swank into a railway station in a cute, '30s pencil-skirt-suit and promptly get her skirt stuck in her heavy suitcase and chirp, "Porter! Porter!" we were hooked. Thus began our journey into the silly world of the 1930's dance musical extravaganza. My personal favorite is the one where Fred is a sailor, and there are several silly numbers where the crew, having nothing better to do, brushes up their large group tap dancing number skills. How can you not love that?
It is in honour of this obsession (and Kris' second son, Jeremy) that this quilt was born. All the fabrics are 1930's reproduction prints. The moment I saw the sailor print and the abc block print (Kris taught Kindergarden) featured in the same series, I knew it was going to be for her baby's quilt. I chose the pattern becuse the diamond is such an iconic art decco motif, and Kris loves art decco (and its also from the 20s and 30s).

The backing fabric was going to be just red flannel, but I thought that might be a bit overwhelming, so I found the monkey print to go with it, which is also kind of retro and cute. Kris says she loves it and that its very snuggly, so it all good. Happy birth / almost birthday Jeremy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gone South

Dave and I decided last winter that we would need to take a week off in January or February and go somewhere south so that we could recharge our sun and warmth batteries in the middle of the winter. We were thinking about Mexico our South America somewhere. Then we finished our summer vacation, and realized that was not realistic. So a month or so ago we were thinking of going to stay with our friend Scott's parents in LA . . .but then we looked at the price of flights. So we went south to Winnipeg.

Its pretty sad when Winnipeg is south. I must say its not any warmer, but there might be more light, and there's definitely more civilization. I've mostly just been visiting family so far, but I have already indulged in ethnic food, Starbucks lattes and a wander through Chapters. Ahh, civilization.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I think I need to start collecting Calvin and Hobbes books. Not just for entertainment, but for tips from Calvin's mom. Andrew has been on a vegetable strike all week and you know how I broke it? I disovered that if you cut the bulbous bottom parts of a red pepper just right, they look like snakes.

In other parenting news this week, Andrew is now obsessed with knights. I don't really mind this, beign a medeival / fantasy junkie myself, but I do get tired of confiscating "swords". I bought a little "How to be a Knight" book from the older kids section of our bookstore, and he found it and started getting us to read it to him. Now he will spout things like, "Oh mommy, you need to get me dressed so I have some proper padding under my armour" or "First Aaron has to be a page or groom before he can be a knight, mommy".

Aaron, on the other hand, is obsessed with dangerous and prohibited things and also telephones. One of his favorite activities is to be carried around the kitchen and talk about which things are dangerous and which are not. We point to the knife "knife, sharp". "ouch" and the oranges "oranges, they're okay" "o-anj", then the pots "ouch?" "only when they are on the stove top. Over here, not hot. Over here, ouch, hot" "ot". I was holding him in one hand while putting rice and water in a pot to cook today, and he kept pointing to the rice and saying "ouch". So I said, Nope you can put your hand in it." and as a joke he kept just touching it with the tip of one finger (like I do to show a cup is hot) and sa ying "ouch" and looking alarmed. I just hope my worse fear is not realized -- a child with Dave's taste for danger and my lack of common sense. We shall just have to watch and pray.

Monday, January 14, 2008

What I've Been Making Lately

I have been busy switching back and forth between projects and not really getting any completed. But I'll show you what I've been up to anyway. First, I made a couple of these blankets. They're very basic -- green dotty minkee on the top and white flat minkee on the bottom. I basically bought a metre of 54' minkee in each colour and divided it in half. Then I stitched them together, flipped them inside out and topstitched around the edges to make a little soft baby blankie. I THOUGH this was going to be a quick, easy way to make a blanket for my friend who just had a baby and a friend who is due in March. But I underestimated how fussy minkee is to work with. The outside is super soft and fuzzy, but the inside is this slippery synthetic stuff, so you have to cross pin every inch along the entire blanket edges so it doesn't bunch up while you're sewing it (that means you put pins both vertically and horizontally instead of just perpindicular to the edge of the fabric). Then you have to pull all those pins out as you go . . . . Then, just to make things more fussy, my cat decided to jump up and sleep on the second one when I was in the middle of pinning it. So I didn't realize that she had caused the bottom fabric to shift until AFTER I pinned and stitched it all together. Then when I flipped it inside out, I noticed that the white fabric was really awful and bunchy. So I had to pull the whole thing apart, re-pin and sew it. So: In theory, two little minkee blankets should be a quick one to two hour project. In reality they took me about five or six hours. Bu they are really really soft and snuggly. This is the roll of layers that will be a little baby quilt for Arden and Judith's new little one, Jon. It is a really sweet, simple pattern from the book "Last Minute Patchwork and Quilting Gifts" and I found some nice, snuggly flannel for one side and a cute nursery rhyme print for the other side. I did all the pinning for it, but then I decided to do the minkee blankets first, becuase my friend Taryn was having her baby any day . . . so there it sits, forlorn and unfinished.
But before I finish that, I have to turn this stack of fabric into a quilt for my dad. He turned 70 on January 1, and I decided that he should get an old man lap quilt in honour of that prodigious event. So I have been gathering these fabrics for a while, and perusing the internet and the book mentioned above for a nice, fairly quick pattern. I decided that I'm basically going to take the fabric you see at the bottom and cut it into three 10 inch strips. Then I'm going to cut freehand strips of the fat quarters and make two long "coin" type strips to be sandwiched in between those strips. Sounds confusing, but really its not. Again, I was waiting to finish the minkee blankets, and now this is next on my list of things to do. Especially since we are going to Winnipeg on Sunday, and I would like to have this finished so I can tie and bind it while we're there.
I was also very excited because I got these in the mail the other day. One of my favorite fabric shops, Keepsake Quilting brought in some Freshcut fabrics as a web exclusive. But I guess they're shop is mostly only visited by old ladies, because they were selling off the fat quarter packs for $11 each. Since you can hardly find this fabric anywhere becuase it is in such huge demand, I decided I had to buy some. In fact, I loved it so much when I got it that I then proceeded to get the farics on your right in half yard cuts as well. The ones on my left are really pretty, but not really in "my" colours, so I'm going to have to find someone who likes pretty pints and magentas and greeny-blues (what would you call that colour, Lisa?). I also got another yard of the brown - pink - green flecks, which finishes off the fabrics I need for my almost all paisley quilt that I'm going to make for myself someday.
Oh yeah, and I've been waiting until I finished these to post them, but I don't seem to be getting around to doing the embroidery on them (Andrew wants to "help" me sew and Aaron wants to try pull all the bits of felt off as I try to embroider them on), so I will post them anyway and then post the control panels later. This is ARC-1 (Andrew's Robot for Christmas -1) and BJ-1 (Beefy Jim 1 -- the grey robot actually has less stuffing thatn the multi-coloured one, but he just looks big and beefy, so I decided that his name should reflect that). These are some of my favorite fabrics in my super-bright and funky fabic stash (as opposed to my funky yet sophisticated fabric stash). Apparently I have to make a lounge suit for Rich out of the rest of the lime green.
Well, speaking of craftiness, I should be off doing some sewing intead of sitting here typing. I want to finish my dad's quilt top and make a laptop cover before I leave for Winnipeg on Sunday. Probably wishful thinking, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Sock Puppet

This is Sock Puppet. Anna Irish made him for Andrew, as one of her first knitting projects. For about six months, it sat in my hats and mits organizer, becuse Andrew was really scared of it. But now he's getting to that stage where scary is good. So when we found Sock Puppet while organizing my laundry room, Andrew took to him instantly and gave him a terrible personality.

Sock puppet is mean. He eats everything. He's not allowed to go to church becuse he's too bad for church. He makes annoying sounds that Andrew is not allowed to make ("It wasn't me, mommy, it was Sock Puppet"). He grabs Aaron by the back of the shirt and drags him out of the way. Sock puppet is a big bully.

Now we get to the nearly theological question Sock Puppet presents: Would Anna still have made Sock Puppet if she had known he would turn out to be such a disreputable character?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Years' Resolutions

I always try to have time to take stock of my life two or three times a year. The two minimums are new years and just before September (which I still consider to be the "unofficial" start of the year), and if I can, right around Pentecost (Lent usually brings some new insight with it).

This year, as I was taking stock of my life, I had a flash of insight. This is how my brain works -- it just accumulates bits and pieces of information until it has enough to culminate and recombine into some sort of intuitive brilliance. It happened while I was having a miserable day and had tossed the boys into the sled and was dragging them downtown. I was trying to pick up a few odds and ends to finish off my Christmas present crafts. I was really grumpy because I hadn't done everything I needed to do for Christmas, and my children were driving me mad (thus the sled ride) and all seemed to be in complete disrepair. I realized that what I needed in my life was more joy.

Even the things I was supposed to enjoy -- my children, my little sewing projects, my youth group job -- had become chores. I had set such high expectations for myself and chosen such complicated ways of doing things that I couldn't keep up with my own ambition. I was exhausted because I was staying up late making complex presents for people. I was worn out from trying to entertain my three and a half year old, when I could be teaching him how to play with his brother or with his toys. I was getting frustrated with my housekeeping, but I was expending so much energy worrying and being frustrated that I wasn't actually doing anything about it. So instead of filling my life with joy and peace, I was filling my own life with frustration and anxiety.

So, my new years' resolution is to live my life more joyfully. To make less complex gifts (I always want to make sure that my gifts are interpreted as handmade = thoughtful instead of handmade = cheap, but I don't need to go to quite the lengths that I do), to keep my house clean and organized enough that we can find things when we need them (this means putting things away right away, instead of procrastinating), to get enough sleep so I'm not crabby with the kids, and to take a few moments each night to pray, stretch and write in my journal so that I feel like my spirit is organized and ready to go the next morning. I know these things don't SOUND like most people's definition of joy, but I think they are the pre-conditions that will lead to joy. If I am not carrying around the mental and emotional weight that comes from all this confusion and clutter, I will have room left inside me to be joyful.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Lappy has arrived!

There he is, the Lappy. While not quite as high quality as Strongbad's Lappy ( it is a close second.

Although for some of you a laptop might not be that big of a deal, you must remember that I grew up in a family of computer fanatics. Dave and I are the only Cook-related household that up until now did not have one compuer per adult. My dad had personal computer (a Rainbow, I beleive) in 1984 or maybe earlier, a modem in 1990 and he soups up his computers like other men soup up their cars. I remember he used to get these giant sized computing magazines that he would pour over when I was a teenager, and I always, always used to love looking at the laptops. At that time I was planning on becoming a writer, so it would be an invaluable tool to have a computer with me at all times. I hoped that I would receive one as a graduation from highschool gift, but I got married, so I got my wedding paid for and a sewing machine instead (not that I'm complaining -- I still use that sewing machine and I wouldn't be able to say that about a laptop from 1993). So this Lappy is a fulfillment of a long time dream of mine.

So far I'm pretty happy with the Lappy. I got it for a decent price -- computer, word perfect, router and wireless printe for all under $1000, and about $180 worth of rebates to come back to me soon. It was the only Boxing Day sale computer I could find for under $1000 that had SRAM, which means its actually faster than our desktop computer. And its very pretty and has all kinds of clever Japaneese features (right now I have a bamboo forest as my wallpaper).

Now all I have to do is design and sew up a funky carrier for it so I can lug it around to the park and the local coffee shop and not be worried bringing it in the basement. Hmm . . . off I go to craftster to find some clever laptop carriers.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I should never subscribe to a magazine

because whenever I do they cancel it! A couple of years ago I finally decided to subscribe to "Organic Style", which was pretty cool, and they cancelled it as soon as I did. Now they've cancelled Blueprint, which is the most awesome magazine and the only non-quilting mag I've bought all year, and I had just subscribed to it! Why don't any good magazines ever last? Why do terrible rags last year in and year out and new, interesting magazines targeted to younger audiences die so quickly.

Maybe I should start subscribing to all my least favorite magazines.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Meet the Olives

These are the dolls I made for Beatrice and Marie. Marie is my god daughter, and I know her mom likes getting hand made gifts, so I made these dolls for the girls. I got the great pattern from wee wonderfuls and had a lot of fun putting them together. They are a bit more fiddly to construct, but much less time goes into stuffing and decorating them than does into the robots.

Here they are climbing off the chair. Their recipients are still at that age where clothes are considred an optional novelty when they are around the house, so I liked the idea of making it look like the dolls' underwear was peeking out.

And this is just a ridiculously cute shot of Aaron. Notice his lovely walking bruises. He had a matching set for the Christmas Eve service. He loves this chair. He will pick an item -- a scrap of cloth or paper, a truck, whatever, and go and sit in his chair and play with it and sing to himself for the longest time. Of course "in" the chair is a relative term -- he stands on the chair, climbs on and off the chair and sits in the chair, all while waving around his objet de jour. Does he really have to become a toddler? Can't he stay like this?

Christmas comes how many times in a year?

Meet Santa. I know he looks a bit young for the job, but trust me he's getting lots of practice. Every day since Christmas, Santa has been practicing giving presents. I have been given plastic balls, orange crates, my own Christmas cards and many other wonderful gifts in the last week. Santa also goes in the basement and demands that I get him coaco and load his sleigh for him. What I think is the most ironic about all this is that we don't even DO the Santa thing. Someone just gave Andrew a really cool pop-up book about Santa and away he goes. We grocery shopped in this hat, we rode on the sled and went for coffee in this hat and I narrowly avoided having it worn during church on Sunday. Ho ho ho.

Christmas Round Up -- with very askew pictures

I suppose there is some way to turn all these pictures around, but it is not within my patience at presence to discover it, so bear with my sideways pictures.

A week before Christmas things really got started. Andrew and I made gingerbread cookies

And put another sticker on our VERY classy advent calendar:
Then Andrew's little friend came over and the two of them ate icing and sprinkles -er, I mean decorated cookies -- together.
We set up the Christmas tree. Aaron was especially excited about being able to see both the tree and the reflection of the tree in the window. He just kept pointing and saying "ights! ights!"
He was also pretty excited about the ornaments. We had suspected this would be the case and so took the precations of moving the boys' drawers out of their room and putting the Chistmas tree on top of it. As long as we don't leave any drawers open (as Aaron will use them as a step up to the tree), we're still good.
The next day the weather warmed up and we actually managed to have a sucessful ride on the sled. I put my bag in the back behind the little bump, then Andrew leaning on the bag and Aaron leaning on Andrew. This was much more agreeable arrangement for everyone. On the way back Andrew got out and pretended to be a horse and pulled the sled, which was also good.

Here are the boys in their matching sweaters all ready for the Christmas eve service. They managed about 10 min. of the service and then were overwhelmed. They both fell asleep waiting for Dad to be ready to go home.Christmas morning. Andrew was pretty excited about the blocks. He said "NOW I will have enough wood for building!" He loved the chocolate money in his stocking and his robot (I'll post pictures once I'm done the embroidery on them) best, but was pretty happy with the blocks, too. Aaron really liked all the paper. He spend all morning waving it around and shredding it.Boxing day we had our sumptuous Christmas feast with the Hetkes. I made a very good turkey (if I do say so myself) and a great apple pie, while Sharon supplied veggies and potatoes. A good and delicious time was had by all.

On the 27th I purchased my Christmas present -- a new laptop (hooray!) which means I should be able to post more often without too much collateral damage to our bookshelves and computer cords. I tried to buy locally, but was informed by the guy at the local store that they had sold out of the one I was looking for before Christmas and had not brought in any more since they don't make any money on boxing day anyway. So now I am eagerly awaiting my personal Santa to drop off my present.

So, all in all a sucessful holiday. It was fun making the big meal, having people over and starting and continuing holiday traditions that we can carry on with the boys as they grow. Hope you all had a great Christmas, too.