The other day I enjoyed a rarity- coffee with two girlfriends, no husbands, and no kids at an actual coffee shop for a couple of hours!  There's a Starbucks I can walk to from home and one right by work, so I do end up there all the time.  But, I wanted to try to break out of that and go somewhere interesting and different.  Somewhere local and unique.  I suggested "Let's NOT go to Starbucks."  Everyone wracked their brains and we ended up at... Peet's.  I guess it was a step in the right direction, but still not what I was looking for.  

Well, this morning I stumbled upon an awesome resource- the Starbucks Delocator.  

Christine Hanson has set up this site where you can type in your zipcode and find out all the local, non-corporate owned coffee shops, bookstores, and movie theatres in your area so you can patronize them.  And the site depends on public contributions.  Check it out to find out cool places near you to try and add if the cool places you already know about aren't on there, add them!  People like me, who are newer to your area will appreciate it. You can even use this service from your cell phone.  When you are out and about it can look up places for you and text back the info.  

This is a great way to have some varied experiences, build community by getting to know local shop owners and workers, and put your dollars into your community's economy.  See you at the coffee shop!  


The Fruits of My Labor

As the holidays approach, I often start thinking about craft projects to undertake.  I love being crafty, but sometimes this is my only craft "season". So as my family knows, from often being the recipients of my efforts, there tends to be one creative crafty project I actually complete per year.  This year's inspiration:  

The Pottery Barn fabric fruit set my son has.  And you thought organic produce was expensive!  This small pile of inedible produce was almost $40 after tax and shipping.  But it's been used and appreciated way more than anything else I could have possibly gotten with that $40 gift certificate to Pottery Barn.  I decided to make fabric fruit of my own for Turtle's cousin, who will be receiving a play kitchen for Christmas.  (It's so great that they are so young I can post what they are getting for Christmas on the internet and they'll still have no idea!)

A trip to Jo-Ann's scored me two $4.99 stacks of fabric squares in produce colors and a bag of stuffing.  I started drawing patterns for fruit sections on paper based on examining the fruit we already had.  I winged it, looking at the purchased fruit for help and realizing that the degree of curvature, length, width, and number of sections are what makes the difference between a fat tomato, small orange, and a slim banana.  

A little while later, I had an orange, banana, and tomato!  A bit lumpy, yes. Some accidental square-ish corners.  But I had the hang of it.  And, hey, I haven't used a sewing machine in about 5 years.  To make the fruit better than this, you have to sew very smooth curves with no angles in the seams from lifting the foot up and turning the fabric like I did.  And if I did it again, I would stuff them more so they would fill out and be firmer.  If I have time later, I plan to add leaves and stems and such, too.  But I was excited to move on and tackle strawberries.  

I found this great red fabric with black dots on it that reminded me of strawberries, some green for the leaves, the green ribbon the fabric squares came tied in for stems, and a little leftover quilting batting (from the last sewing project 5 years ago). I drew the pattern by thinking about a strawberry and decided it would need 3 panels.  Pottery Barn does not have strawberries, so I am very proud of myself that I did this one with no model.  

Here's the sewn and stuffed strawberries, awaiting finishing touches.  To make the leaves, I cut star shapes out of batting, then traced it onto the green fabric with one of those white sewing pencils.  Then I sandwiched the batting between two layers of green fabric, stitched along my tracing and cut just outside the seams.  It would be way easier to just use felt, but I was determined to not go back to the store.  So, this worked to make leaves that keep their own shape.  

Next was hand stitching green ribbon to the center of each star and then stitching the star to the top of the strawberry, closing the strawberry as I went.   

Here is the first finished strawberry!  It was labor intensive, but totally worth it.  I had so much fun and was so happy with the result that I made 5 more, 3 for each boy.  It took most of my day today to sit around doing 6 strawberries, but it was really relaxing for me as I almost never get to just focus on working with my hands. And, I could talk to my family while I did it, so it was better than doing almost any other type of work that I usually find myself doing that requires brain power and my full attention.

Aren't they cute!  Turtle and his cousin will each receive a delicious basket of strawberries for Christmas.  His cousin will also receive all the other fruit I make over the next few days.  It's a lot of fun to make the kids their toys instead of just buying them and to know how much fun they'll have playing with them.  This was also a great craft for a busy person like me who doesn't often get to take the time because the items are small. You get to design, plan, and sew, but you can finish one piece of fruit in less than 30 minutes if you know what you are doing. So there is a great feeling of satisfaction and no danger that you will leave the project 80% done for years like there would be if I tackled trying to sew myself a whole outfit or something.  

I also picked up some colorful doggie themed fabric squares and was thinking the next small items I could easily make would be bean bags for the kids.  Rectangles stuffed with rice or beans- how easy is that?!  And I was even thinking of trying to create a dog chew toy out of some old jeans denim for my brother's new puppy.  But I have to figure out how to sew the seams super strong so it won't fall apart right away.  I have some old jingle bells that maybe could go inside...  


You Know You're A Mom When (No. 2)

Every product you ever purchased for the purpose of pampering yourself
sits unused and expired in your bathroom...

and pampering yourself has been redefined as finding a few minutes once a month to use:

usually with a small audience asking "what are you doing?"  and "can I do it, too?"

And his DIY pedicure looks better than yours...

...because there was no chance of sitting still with your feet up afterward!


You Know You're A Mom When (No.1)

Your grandmother's antique setee...

...serves as a parking garage.

Christmas Lights at the End of the Tunnel

The week started out with:

1. Eye infection.

2. Increasing job dissatisfaction (for both of us).

3. Long, tiring days and urgent business in the evenings preventing enjoying spending time on fun holiday crafts.

But has developed into:

1. Picking up some needed winter clothes for Turtle at 60% off suggested retail price.

2. Long, long lunch alone with a a great friend.

3. Potential job opportunities on the horizon (for both of us).

4. Huge potty successes. Considering toddler underwear as stocking stuffer.

5. Neighbor built real snowman in front yard.

6. About to have two weeks off.  

7.  Eye has cleared up.  

And, to top it all off, I actually managed to put stamps on Christmas cards before mailing them this year.

Last year, in a major idiot move, I mailed the whole lot with no stamps. I started this blog writing about that experience. It’s been fun to have this outlet and I wish I kept up with it more. It’s kind of sad to see my last post was election night. I have not felt very creative or social much in the latter part of the fall. Just busy, distracted, and a bit withdrawn. Mostly a lot of work taking up my time and then ruminating on my job situation in the free time. Hoping to do something about that soon.

Meanwhile, can’t wait to be “off the clock” for two weeks and just enjoy family and the holiday spirit!

Happy Holidays to you all!!