Monday, July 30, 2012

Chance Encounters

A friend of mine lost her teenage son to leukemia today.  I haven't spoken to this friend - ever.  I've never met her in person.  Yet I've known her for over 9 years and have been there during many of her major life events - bankruptcy, divorce, her son's diagnosis, bone marrow transplant and now his death.  If that seems strange to you, you probably aren't a blogger.

I met my friend online over nine years ago when I was a SAHM.  We both sold children's clothes on Ebay.  There was a big group of us - women in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Washington and Ohio.  During Hurricane Katrina, we were online with one of our friends who was in Slidell with her two kids waiting for her husband before she evacuated and another who fled to Florida during her third trimester and returned to find nothing left of her home in Port Arthur.  There are many other stories, including my own, but you get the idea.  Blogging wasn't quite as popular then as it is now, so most of our conversations took place in a chat room format.  Eventually we created private chat rooms, especially for one particular friend, because she always seemed to draw the trolls.

It's really hard to explain to someone how you can be so involved in the lives of people you have never seen in person.  Sometimes I can hardly understand it myself.  Yet today I find myself in tears, worried about how she will make it financially.  I worry about her loss of faith during her son's illness.  I'm not sure how she can make it without leaning on God.  I'm also worried because her son was her life.  She is disabled and doesn't work outside of her home, so it's going to be a lonely place for her.

I do know that she has plenty of friends around the country, just like me, and we are all praying for her tonight.  Many of us will send her cards and a little money or a gift card to help out.  I just hope and pray she will reach out to at least one of her friends who, like me, have never met her in person.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's ON!

I said I was going to be an Olympic junkie.  Yep, about 15 hours of TV coverage in so far.  I've seen beach volleyball, volleyball, table tennis (we all know it's just ping pong), archery, soccer (which I love to watch in fast forward), swimming and biking (another sport I love watching in fast forward).
So far the best part was the Opening Ceremonies.  We recorded all 4 1/2 hours and watched every minute.  For those of you who live under a rock and didn't see it, here are the highlights:

1.  The Queen jumped out of a plane with James Bond (you had to be there)
2.  Mr. Bean played "Chariots of Fire" with the London Symphony Orchestra (my son's personal favorite)
3.  The Industrial Revolution creating the 5 Olympic rings
4.  The fast pace of the Parade of Nations and the tiny tiny graphic that showed the location of each country by showing it in relation to the U.S. (for the truly geographically challenged)
5.  Paul McCarthy, Paul McCarthy and Paul McCarthy singing "Hey Jude" with the crowd (although I don't think the young Olympians had ever heard it)

Some of the huh? moments:

1.  The Queen agreed to jump out of a plane
2.  The "girl meets boy" concept through a dance set of the 70s through the 90s.
3.  The HORRIBLE Beatles cover band, especially the lead singer who sang every note flat.  It was especially embarrassing because Paul McCarthy was in the stadium.
4.  The goofy costumes and signs for the girls carrying the names of the countries in the Parade of Nations
5.  The homage to the British National Health Service.  Huh??

There haven't been very many personal stories about the athletes just yet, which is a bummer.  I'm assuming it's because the networks are just trying to cram in as many sports as they can.  There were a couple about bicyclists, including the piece on how biking is a huge deal on the tiny Isle of Mann between England and Ireland.  The site of all these young children cycling (we would call it spinning) was very interesting.

Perhaps the most interesting sport I've seen yet is fencing.  I watched a couple of matches with women fencers.  It looks like the ultimate Wii game - you have all the electronics and beeping, but you also get the physical exercise.  The fencers score points by touching their electronic foils (swords) on their opponent's torso body padding (looks a lot like a bullet proof vest to me).  You know a fencer scores a point because a big beep goes off and their helmet lights up (very Tron-like).  It's cool for a while, but between the beeping, the French speaking referees and the screaming fencers, it gives you a headache after a while.

So, that's my first Olympic report.  Are you watching?  What's your favorite part?


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Puppy Love

Last weekend Mackenzie and I finally made it to "As You Wish," a place where you paint your own ceramics.  I love these places.  There are so many things to choose from.  We both chose dog dishes with double sides - one for Shellie and one for Brodie.

You paint three coats of paint, but it's not easy to tell the ultimate color because at this stage it all looks pastel.
We had an awesome time.  Here's what our designs looked like when we finished.

Once you finish painting, you have to leave it for a few days so they can coat it with glaze and fire it in the kiln.  Here's the completed products. Mackenzie's

If the dishes look a little spotty or dusty, it's because the dishes were filled with dog food before I could get a picture.  I had to wait until they were almost empty.

Our dogs like them too:



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

Good morning!  If we were having coffee today . . .

I would let you know that I wanted to be here today via vlog, but just couldn't figure it out.  I actually used the excuse with myself that I couldn't get the video to load, but because we're good friends, I'll admit to you I was plain chicken.

I would tell you that I've been using whey protein as part of my diet and coffee is an excellent medium for whey protein - I know you wanted to know that :)

I would tell you how dry it's been here in Arizona.  We've only had about 1.5 inches of rain in the Phoenix area since January.  We average about 7.7 inches a year, but it's obvious we won't make that total this year.

I've been reflecting the dryness of my environment.  I'm feeling a bit dry.  I don't have much to say so some days it is getting hard to blog.  I've slowed down my creative endeavors a little.  I have more than 4 projects in the works right now, but I don't see any being completed in the near future.  You know, the less you're able to accomplish, the more you get stuck in the mud because your wheels are spinning but you're not moving.

I know this dry spell has to break soon.  I know we'll get some rain eventually in Phoenix.  I also understand that other places (and people) are experiencing dry spells.  Sometimes it's a little hard to keep watching the clouds.

Rain down - rain down - keep those umbrellas handy!


Coffee Dates is a concept from Alissa at Rags to Stitches.  Drop by and pull up a chair every Friday - better yet, come over to Rags to Stitches and catch the whole coffee crowd.

In Honor of the Olympics . . .

The Summer Olympics begin on Friday in London.  I love the Olympics.  I could settle in front of the TV, eat stuff an Olympian would never look at and spend the day moving less than the Olympians will do stepping up to begin their event.  I think we love the Olympics because it's a sense of national pride and the athletes and their stories are so compelling.  When I was a kid we only had one channel that would have Olympic coverage.  Today there are probably about 5 or so different NBC stations that will be showing many of the events.  I plan on getting my DVR warmed up.

In honor of the Olympics, Mackenzie made a ribbon baton from my stash.  And so, I present Miss Mackenzie in her ribbon gymnastics/dance routine (turn on your own inspiring/patriotic music, cause you can't hear ours on the video):

Boy, I bet you are ready for some world class athletics now!  Throughout the Olympics I'll check in like Bob Costas to let you know my favorite moments.  Go Team USA!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Etsy Finds

Now that I'm an Etsy seller, I'm enjoying browsing around.  If you have never shopped Etsy, you are truly missing out on some amazing products.  If you like online shopping for the holidays (cause it's never too early to start Christmas shopping), you really should try Etsy.  You are guaranteed to find one of a kind items.
Today I'm starting with a color theme of red and turquoise.  One of the best things I like about visiting Etsy is the homepage.  They use product picks from users to design a homepage, usually based on color.  The result is gorgeous.  Here's my version of items in red and turquoise - every item is under $50!  This should be fun because I'm using Pinterest to link to Etsy and then tweeting about the pin on Twitter.  If you like the item, just click through to Pinterest and then on to Etsy!  Social media at its best!

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

I could go on all night, but my laptop is about done and so am I.  I wish I could show you so many more.  If you want to see for yourself, visit Etsy and type in color schemes or the type of item you are looking for.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Keep watching here for more Etsy finds.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

If we were having coffee today ...
I'm sure our conversation would be all about the massacre in Colorado and how tragic it was for the victims.
I imagine our conversation would turn to the issue of gun control and the pros and cons of that issue.
We might even pray together for the victims and their families.
We would probably mention the 3 month old who was injured in the theater.  As moms we would probably wonder why anyone would take an infant to a loud action movie at midnight.
We would wonder what kind of person would do this to innocent people.
Most of all we would be sad and probably unable to speak about anything else this morning because everything else seems so trivial.
Even if we can't meet for coffee today, let's say some prayers together, OK?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Old Clock

This is my grandmother's clock

It doesn't work, but I remember it in my grandmother's house and then in my house as a child.  Women in my family are strong.  My grandmother raised five girls after my grandfather died - the oldest girl was about 14.  My mom has been gone for a couple of years now, but another one of the surviving sisters, my Aunt Hope died last week.  That leaves only two sisters left.  This is a picture of four of the sisters in about 1934, a couple of years before my grandfather died.  My Aunt Betty isn't in the picture because she wasn't born yet.  My mom was the smallest one on the left.  The picture has been colorized, but you get the idea.

My Aunt Hope lived in far southern Illinois in a area where people knew each other.  She raised six children with my Uncle Sam and they were well known in the community.  They had the house on the hill.  I remember that house - big with two stories and lots of bedrooms.  I can still see it now as I close my eyes.
I didn't get to go to the funeral, but my two sisters did, as well as my oldest brother.  My two older siblings were born in the middle of a large group of cousins (about 9 within 5 years).  They all lived in the same area of southern Illinois and all used to gather on that house on the hill.  I've seen old home movies with lots of kids running around during Easter egg hunts with my aunts standing by, except my Aunt Hope who was chasing after the youngest child of the group.

On Facebook, one of my extended cousins, who also did not attend the funeral, wrote a nice memory of my aunt.  She received nearly 40 comments, mostly from non-family members who remembered my Aunt Hope.  It was truly touching to see the broader impact she had on the entire community.

My mother and her sisters were part of a generation that is waning.  My cousins don't live in the same area - we are scattered all over the United States.  Our kids didn't have that house on the hill where they all gathered.  It's a bit sad, but it's O.K. because we all have pictures, old movies and most importantly, the pictures and movies in our mind.  It's important that we share those with our kids so they know where they're from even if they've never been there.  I know I remember.

Rest in peace Aunt Hope.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Folding It Up

Everybody has household chores.  I'm lucky I have a great husband who does a lot of them.

One job that I was forced to do have is to fold the laundry and put it away after Kent washes it.

I hate folding laundry.  The only thing I hate worse than folding laundry is putting it away.  We are constantly doing laundry and it piles up.  We had to buy extra laundry baskets because we had too much laundry.  On the rare occasions when all the laundry is clean, I have nowhere to put all the clean clothes.  (How is it then that I never can find anything to wear?)

Did I mention . . .  I HATE FOLDING LAUNDRY!

Today I bit the bullet because Kent did ALL the laundry (in one day).  As of now I have all of it folded, but it's sitting on the living room floor while I "take a break".  In a minute I have to find a way to get all of our clothes crammed put away in our drawers and closets.  Gee, that's going to be fun.


It's keeping me from frantically running retreating to my craft room until I finish, and at the rate I'm going it will be bedtime before I get to go in there.


Oh well, I better get back to it.  It's no big deal, right?  It's not like I hate abhor detest dislike it [wink]


Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

If we were having coffee today . . . I'd start by ordering a Diet Coke (diet, you know)

I would tell you how excited I am to open my Etsy store, Pretty Pretty Cindy.
I would also mention how intimidating it is to join the very talented people on Etsy.
I'm worried that I will become obsessed with creating solely for stocking an online store instead of making the things that give me joy.
Creating things really does give me joy.

On another note, I might ask you whether you have any personal experience with braces, either you or your children.
My son had an expander and partial braces installed a couple of days ago.  He isn't experiencing much pain, but he is very upset thinking about how fixing his teeth will be a 4-5 year ordeal.  He cried thinking about it and neither me or my husband could make him feel better.
You know when my kids cry, it makes me cry too.  Does that happen to you too?

I would probably ask you to pray for my family.  My nephew and his wife lost a baby at 20 weeks.  My aunt died the other day.  She was elderly, but it's never easy losing your mother no matter how old you are. 

Gosh, I had a lot to say today.  I hope I let you get a word in edgewise.


Coffee Dates is a concept from Alissa at Rags to Stitches.  Drop by and pull up a chair every Friday - better yet, come over to Rags to Stitches and catch the whole coffee crowd.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Checker Afghan

This has got to be one of the best crochet afghans I have made.  It's a Boucan stitch - you can see a video on YouTub with a tutorial on how to make it.

I used three colors to make this - a deep purple, a seafoam green and a variegated yarn can incorporated both colors and a few more.  The stitch requires you to intertwine rows so it is dense (and warm).  It does use a lot of yarn, so I used a pound skein in the  purple and green (obviously I had to use more of the regular skeins in the variegated color).  It also requires that you change the color at the end of each row, which can look messy while you are making it.

I used a crab stitch in a nice cream to go around it.  I end up with a bit of a wavy look, probably because it's not so easy to work in non-stitches.

I may just have to make another one of these.  In the meantime, you can find this one in my Etsy store.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Etsy - Pretty Pretty Cindy

O.K., I've been talking about it for a while now, I'm sure some folks are thinking it would never happen.  But it did!  Pretty Pretty Cindy is open for business!  There are only a few items in the store right now, including:

and a Boucan Checker Afghan I haven't written about yet (but will soon!).
I've got more coming - some cute little girl dresses and lots of headbands.
I have to give credit to my fabulous product photographer Kate from Songs Kate Sang.  She has the most beautiful blog - gorgeous photography and inspiring messages.  Make sure to visit her and tell her I said Hi!

I would love it if you could come by and check out Pretty Pretty Cindy. If you've already visited, thanks! Come back often - you never know what "pretties" you might find.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Watermelon A-Line Dress

This was the first creation in my dress making mania.  As I mentioned there, I bought Wendi Gratz' book Absolutely A-Line which has some easy yet amazing takes on the simple A-line dress.  This was the first "altered" one I tried.
I've had the watermelon fabric for a while, but never got around to making a summer dress.  As you can see, the dress is the basic A-line, but I added a contrast band and ruffle peeking out the bottom.  That ruffle is REALLY ruffled - I don't think I would try to make a ruffle that tight again.  To make it even harder, this was the last sewing project where I made ruffles with the "baste and pull" method.  You use two long stitch baste stitches parallel to each other with long tails on either end.  Then you gently pull to gather the fabric the way you would like it.  This bottom ruffle had so much fabric and had to gather all the way around the hem, that the "old-fashioned way" was the last time for me.  After this project I bought a ruffle foot for my sewing machine.
I love this dress!  I made it in a size 5 to sell in my Etsy store, but now that I see it, I wish I would have made it in my daughter's size.  (If you have a daughter in a size 5, feel free to drop by tomorrow during the grand opening of "Pretty Pretty Cindy.") One of the things I love about these A-line dresses is that you can wear it in the summer sleeveless and then in the fall and winter will a shirt underneath like a jumper.  

Doesn't it just make you want to go to a picnic?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Coffee Date

If we were having coffee today . . .

I would tell you how my kids are growing up so fast.

I would ask you whether being with your kids made you remember being the same age.

Do you know I have memories of being their age that I never remembered before?

It's the strangest thing . . . but makes me feel so connected to them

and not quite so  . . . old.


Coffee Dates is a concept from Alissa at Rags to Stitches.  Drop by and pull up a chair every Friday - better yet, come over to Rags to Stitches and catch the whole coffee crowd.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Upcycled Girl's Gauze Dress

I haven't done much up cycling (taking old clothes and making new ones), but after doing a simple project with a denim skirt, I wanted to do something a little more challenging.  I found this adorable white gauze skirt at Goodwill in a junior size 9-11 without any stains or rips.

I wanted to downsize the skirt so it could be the bottom portion of a girl's size 6 dress.  I also wanted to keep the hem of the skirt because of the pretty tulle on the bottom.  I cut off the top of the skirt so I had the length I needed for the length from the bottom of the bodice to the hem.

For the bodice, I used an A-line pattern, although it might be easier to use a pattern that has separate bodice and skirt pieces.  I cut out the underskirt so I could use it with the new skirt.

I measured the bottom of the bodice and compared it to the circumference on the top of the skirt.  I figured the measurement on the skirt should be double the measurement of the bodice so I could put in gathers at the top of the skirt.

The measurement of the top of the skirt was way too big, so big in fact that I cut the side seam and then cut the excess (vertically).  I did the same thing with the underskirt, although I cut it so the waist measurement was much closer to what I needed.  I sewed up the side seams of the new skirt and underskirt separately (do not sew them together at the side).  

I used a new tool on this project - a ruffle foot for my sewing machine.  It looks like an implement of torture and isn't the easiest to attach or use - but I'm getting used to it.  I will admit it does make the process go faster.  I made the gathers so the skirt fit the bodice.  I sewed the underskirt and the bodice to the gathered skirt at the same time - a little difficult to keep it all even while sewing, but then I only had to have two seams at the top of the skirt.  I made a couple of rolled satin roses and braided (twisted) some rid-rac for the waist.  Here's the (almost) finished picture.  (I really thought I took another picture of the finished product, but evidently I didn't.)  Here it is with the pins still in the rid-rac:

I couldn't be more pleased with it.  It's so airy and comfy.  I would hate working with gauze and tiers from scratch, so this was an easy and inexpensive alternative.  Can't wait to see it on one of my little models before I get it in my Etsy store.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fabulous Fourth of July Shirts

O.K., this is a post I recycled from last year, but considering that hardly anyone read my blog then, I don't feel too bad.  Enjoy!

For the Fourth of July we had some friends over and I had this fabulous idea of making patriotic t-shirts for the whole family - me, Kentster, CJ and Kenzie.  It was such a fabulous idea I stayed up late to make them with brand new t-shirts I purchased - 2 navy blue, 1 red and 1 white.  Briana at Sweet Peas and Bumblebees was the inspiration for the project and I used the awesome digital graphics she suggested from Summertime Designs.  In fact, it was such a great idea that I also found a graphic online to use for Kentster's shirt.

First, you do need to launder the shirts before putting transfers on them.  For the transfer, I used fabric transfer paper from Avery.  They come in different versions for light colored and dark colored fabrics.  That's where I went wrong.  I didn't realize there was a difference and I had some fabric transfers left over from a previous project and I didn't bother to read that they were for light  colors.  Here's what happens when you use the wrong fabric transfer:

The picture can barely be seen.  In fact, the photograph looks better than the real thing.  So make sure you have the right kind of fabric transfer before you get started and make sure to carefully read the directions.

Another point - you need to make sure you reverse the graphic image on your computer before you print it on the transfer paper, otherwise, your shirt will have a backwards transfer which can be very problematic with words.  You also need to make sure when you place the image on the shirt you have it oriented properly, which can be a little confusing when it's backwards.  Here's what happens when you put the image on the wrong way.  The image is not backwards, it's actually upside down!  Ack!!

By this point I had ruined two new t-shirts and had two more I couldn't use because I had dark shirts and fabric transfers for light colors.  I had to improvise.  I managed to find a white shirt for CJ and a gray one for Kenzie in their drawers.  I used the graphic from Summertime Designs and added my own sayings in fonts I liked and voila! they look great!

I really enjoyed taking individual elements of the designs and putting them together!  It made me feel like a graphic designer!  This opens up all types of ideas for making fabric transfers.  You can transfer designs onto shirts, totes, aprons - pretty much any fabric.  You can find designs on the web, including individual pieces you can put together in Photoshop or other similar programs.  We have a Mac and I just put them together in Preview - SO EASY!!  Another idea is to scan scrapbook items - paper, stickers, tags, etc or use photos!  Be sure to honor copyrights where applicable (no reselling).
I know I will be doing more of these types of fabric transfers in the future.  Maybe the next vacation instead of buying the obligatory souvenir t-shirt, why not take a picture or make a scrapbook page to scan and put on a t-shirt.  It will be more meaningful and representative of your trip.  Let me know if you have any other ideas to use with fabric transfers.

A post script to this post - I have never used this technique since last year, but in rereading this post, I am determined to try it again.  In the meantime, my son is going to wear his shirt again this year.