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Good news and…

Keep calm writeOk, the good news is that I am writing again, but it’s not on my current work in progress, the novella.  Instead, I’ve been writing a lot of blog posts.  I currently have three blogs; this one for talking about my everyday stuff and writing, a second one that I use to post about homeschooling and craft projects and the last one I started preemptively as an author blog.

It’s a little nuts, having three blogs, I realize this.  The crazy thing is that I really enjoyed setting each one up, I must have changed themes ten times until I found the one that worked exactly the way I envisioned it.  I did that for all of them, in fact, I had a theme on one blog and realized it would work better on this one and changed them out.  I really like how each of them look, they are all different but have a similar bright, clean look.  Every time I publish a post I have a moment of creative giddyness because I like how the blog post looks, and more importantly because I am writing.

Writing has been something I’ve done since I was a kid.  Being a writer is something I’ve wanted to do pretty much since I started writing.  Even though it was what I wanted to do I don’t think I let myself really think about it as an actual possibility until just recently.  I talked about it and let it roll around in the back of my head but I don’t think I ever really believed that I could do it.  My father was my biggest champion, and yeah, dad’s are supposed to be supportive and all that.  I’d like to think there was a little more to it though.  My dad was pretty smart, he came out of college with a double major, Social Studies (History and Political science) and Kinesiology (the study of human movement).  He was also playing college football on a scholarship at a smaller college in California. He followed the Bachelors degree with a Masters, and taught at a Catholic Prep high school.  I actually had him for Honors English and U.S. Government/Economics and also P.E., he was also the head football coach but also coached track, swimming and was the weightlifting coach for all sports.  He was a Renaissance man though, he was a published poet, he could repair any vehicle, build almost anything and he came up with amazing solutions to problems that seemed unsolvable.  When I was a kid he designed and built on an addition to our house that was bigger than the original house.  Looking back it amazes me because he learned it all from reading and talking to people, there was no internet or You Tube videos to learn how to do things.  I remember helping him build a brick wall and platform for our wood burning stove, it was really neat to see it coming together, I mean literally seeing a brick wall built brick by brick.  How many eight year old girls know how to split a brick in half?  I learned a lot from my dad, not just in school but all of those other things like building and problem solving. **

I mentioned all of that to explain this next part.  When I was in college, I was having a stressful moment, I think I was struggling to get classes scheduled and I was full doomsday mode.  My dad sat down at the table with me and said, “Why are you going through all of this?”  Of course, I responded all frazzled talking about classes and grades and how I was never going to graduate.  He told me to quit worrying about my classes and get back to writing. I was bit surprised, my dad was all about getting a good and thorough education.  I told him I was going to school so I would have something to fall back on.  It seemed like a logical plan, go to school, get an education, get a job so I could, you know, eat.  I figured the writing would come later.    He says to me, “Forget about the back up plan, go write,” and then walked out of the room.

My father passed away in 2007 after a 16 month battle with lung cancer.  It took a year or so but all of those conversations I’d had with him over the years about writing kept coming back to me.  I had been writing off and on for years, I mean, I could wallpaper Brooklyn with pages from my unfinished projects.  It wasn’t until November 1, 2009 that I got a serious push toward writing.  I read a post from Jennifer Crusie about National Novel Writing Month (NaNo).  I logged onto the website and signed up.  I spent November writing my 50,000 words and I was very proud of myself.  I planned on getting back to writing after the holidays in January but, you know, sometimes life happens.  In the middle of May, I remembered that I could get a free proof copy and I spent most of June hunched over my computer finishing my story.  When I got my proof copy in the mail, I did a little happy dance and then burst into tears.  It was the first time that it seemed like writing was something I could actually do.

After that first story, I realized that I had the perfect idea for a story that would come before the one I’d just written. Not long after, I had a plan for a series of books set in the fictional town I had created in my first NaNo project.  I’ve used the opportunity of subsequent NaNo’s to work on my ideas for the different books.  I’ve been trying to rewrite the first in the series, it’s been a bit of a struggle after a large timeline change along with a few plot point changes.  I’ve rewritten the beginning and the next step is to get an new outline that incorporates all of the changes.

The important thing is that I write, and it can be hard.  I’m pretty busy trying to keep my house clean, the lawn mowed and food on the table and then homeschooling takes a lot of of prep and teaching time too.  It might be blog posts   I am going to do this though, I am going to find those minutes. I will get my butt in the chair and I will get my words on the screen.

I figure if I keep repeating it, that it will eventually happen, right?

**My dad helped me design these matching L – shaped desks.  It was one of the first projects that I constructed from beginning to end.  Sully was duly impressed.  🙂

 

KC Desk

My desk, cat usually included

Desk Sully

Sully’s desk, always neat and tidy.

 

 

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Gettin’ swaggy…

Every year Boo and I work on a craft for Thanksgiving.  Sometimes the Thanksgiving theme is very strong like turkeys and pilgrims.  Other times our project is just autumn inspired, like this year.  We make one for us, and then a couple for family members.

After looking around online we came across some Autumn floral arrangements and liked those.  After that we narrowed it down to door swags.

Today, we got our supplies out and this is our final product.  We made each one a little different, although the flowers were the same in each arrangement.  I bought flower bunches and then used wire cutters to separate the individual flower with the stem.   I added real eucalyptus for color and texture, not to mention the fragrance.

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*not the best pictures but the colors and general idea is there.

**I only titled this, ‘Gettin’ swaggy’ because Boo rolled her eyes and said, “OMG, Mom, no!”  🙂

 

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Pattern of addiction…

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Joann’s had a big sale on patterns.  First it was McCalls and then Butterick.  The Simplicity patterns will be on sale later this week.  I bought a bunch of the McCalls and Butterick patterns, the limit was ten and I am sure I came close to that on both occasions.  It’s a little addicting.  The costume patterns are the worst for me, as many as I have there’s always some other pattern that I need to buy.  I always wait for the sales, at $1 each I can’t complain or feel guilty about it.

This is one of my favorite patterns, it was the primary pattern used for my wedding.  Simplicity #8735

wedding 8735

This year, I have been able to use a few patterns that I already had to make different pieces for our Halloween costumes.  I’ve done my best to raid all of my various stashes for fabric, trim and miscellaneous notions.   So far I’ve only had to buy a few things and I’ve gotten all of those things on sale, clearanced or with a coupon.

I’ll have to look at the Simplicity website and see if there are any patterns that I absolutely need, or let’s be honest, any patterns that I really, really want.  In the meantime…

 

Here are a few of the patterns that I picked up a few weeks ago…

(I tried to add captions but it caused the pictures to go all scatterwhoppy, or even cattywhompus, depending on which you prefer.)

#1- I love the sleeves on this dress, at some point I will have to make this either for Halloween or the Ren Faire. (B4571)

#2 – I grabbed this pattern to make Sully’s pirate costume.  I originally got it for the pants but was surprised to find when I got home that I liked the vest too.  I am hoping to see Sully’s costume to be more like the all black inset pic.  (B4574)

#3 – I am going to try to make boot covers with this pattern.  Since we will be walking a fair amount I want to make covers that we can attach over our comfy cross trainer/walking shoes.  (B5233)

B4571    B4574   B5233

#4  I originally planned on making one of these bags…  (B5936)

#5 – …until I found this  pattern.  I really like the bag on the middle left.  (B5371)

B5936

B5371

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Crafty bargains…

This past weekend while we were running errands I stopped at a few craft stores.  As I work on our Halloween costumes I am trying to rummage through my various stashes of fabric, trim and other supplies to get what I need.  I have some pretty good stashes to raid but there are still some things that I am going to have to buy to get everything completed.  As a rule, I don’t buy craft supplies unless it’s on sale, clearanced or I have a coupon.

I got a jump on things Thursday morning when Butterick patterns went on sale at patterns Joann’s, 5 for $5. I did a fair amount of research on the Butterick website beforehand so I went in armed with a list.  I was able to get almost everything on my list and then ended up getting four more on Saturday, including a pattern for a cute bag that I can make to use with my costume.  The prices for these patterns range from $19.95 to $15.50, so at $1 each it’s worth it to pick up anything that might be useful.   The patterns I brought home added up to $164.60 at the normal, non sale price.  It’s a pretty good deal.

Over the weekend, I found fabric for Sully’s pirate vest clearanced for $1 a yard.  It’s a very, very dark green, almost black.  It has a pin stripe effect that is really cool.  I think it will look great against the white of his pirate shirt.

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After buying the clearanced fabric we stopped at Michael’s.  On our way out I saw a clearance display of ribbon for $1 a spool.   Boo and I dug through the bin and found ribbon that we can use for our hats.  The deep red with the gold edges perfectly matches Boo’s skirt.  I had the gold trim from a previous project that Boo really liked.

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.I didn’t find anything that matched my colors exactly but I liked the sheer ribbon with the sparkly stripes, but it was too sheer to be used for the hat.  I found the silvery blue ribbon and decided to see how they looked layered.   I like the two ribbons together.  My pleating is completely haphazard there, I just wanted to see how it would look.  I will add some sort of thin decorative trim like with the red ribbon.  I seriously can’t believe that I got all of the ribbon for less than $10.

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I got my last crafty bargain at Joann’s, I used a 60% off coupon to buy 10 yards of white muslin for our pirate shirts.   It cost less than $12 for the ten yards.

All in all, I think I figured out that I saved over $50 on materials I was planning on buying for the costumes.  If you add in the patterns then I saved over $200 and I only spent about $32 including the patterns.  I love a good bargain.

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Skirting the issue…

I am a bit excited about our upcoming trip to Disneyland and to Mickey’s Halloween party.   I’ve decided to get a jump on the costumes, especially since last year was a ten day marathon of cutting, pinning and cutting.  I am hoping the preparation this year will be a bit more relaxed.

This weekend I spent some time looking at some different costume ideas.  We’d decided on the pirate theme earlier this year so at least I am that far along.  Of course, you’d be surprised at the different options for pirate costumes, especially given the many costumes featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  We have the added factor of getting on and off of rides at Disneyland to think about when choosing a costume.   I liked different elements of these costumes, which I found at Spirit Halloween.  I like the asymmetrical skirt on the first and last ones and the vest and hat options on the other costumes.  Overall, though my costume will need to be a little less sexy, I want to go more for cute and sassy.  It is for Disneyland after all.

Pirate W1    Pirate W3    Pirate W4           Pirate W5

Fabric Joanns

My plan is to make a skirt similar to the first picture but not as short in the front and not as long in the back.  This weekend I started looking through my patterns and fabric.  I remembered that I bought a remnant of some pretty brocade last Christmas.  I think it will make a really pretty vest.  I originally planned to make a loose fitting corset but even loose fitting boning might be a little painful for the rides.

So, with that I decided on a color scheme; white pirate shirt, the teal/blue brocade for the vest, black skirt and white underskirt.  I will probably make some black boot covers, more on that in a few weeks.

I started on the white underskirt, cutting out a modified circle skirt.   Then I started to cut the skirt into the shape that I wanted.  I’ll be adding about six inches of lace to the bottom edge and another tier above that.

Circle skirt

Trim          IMG_2173

skirt - Copy

I have a lot of lace that my grandmother gave me, it had already been cut into pieces about 10″ x 14″.  I sewed several pieces together along the t14″ side and then cut the whole chain in half to make a 7″ wide strip.  Then I had my two tiers of lace for the skirt.

Here’s the mostly finished underskirt…

Now I just have to work on the overskirt and attach it all to a waistband.

Stay tuned for more costume updates next week!

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Respecting the process…

Ok, so Wednesdays from now on are going to be about writing.  Hopefully I will have some updates on my own progress but today I will post some advice from one of my favorite authors.  Kevin Hearne writes The Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series set here in Arizona.  I found out about Kevin from a friend that has known him for years, they met through teacher type activities while teaching at two valley high schools.  After Kevin signed on with Del Rey he was able to quit his teaching job and writing is now his day job.  Check out his website to get his whole story and to check out his awesome books.

Writing Encouragement No. 1

Hearne Hounded

Some thoughts on word counts and respecting your own process

Kevin posted a bit of conversation that started on Twitter and added some of his own thoughts to this entry on Storify.  Kevin encourages everyone to do what works for them individually.  He points out that there is ‘no One True Way’.  The important thing  is to do what works for you so that you can finish the story.  If it’s finished then everyone can read it.  Wise words from someone who has been there.

Click here to get the full post on Storify.com

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Makeover…

The backstory…

Vinyl curtain

Several years ago, Sully and I bought this shower curtain.  We had slowly started to decorate our master bathroom for Christmas.  We’d gotten some snowman towels and a few other items as gifts the previous year.  I saw this ‘Let it Snow’ set in an ad, either Bed, Bath and Beyond or Linens and Things before they shut down their stores.  I really liked how it looked with the curtain and the towels, cute and fun without being  juvenile.  Of course, it helped that it was mostly blue and snowflakes are cool.

Years ago, I had no idea that I would eventually change the decor in the bathroom for each season.  One of the reasons that I liked the ‘Let it Snow’ set was because it was more Winter themed than Christmas.  The rest of the house is red and green and the bathroom is all blue and white.  I really enjoy it and because it is a winter bathroom I can keep it in there for an extra month or two.

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curtain hook set

The shower curtain was packaged together with the hooks.  The hooks are cute, white with sparkles.  I believe the collection originally had small and larger hand towels, bath towels, a trash can, a rug and the shower curtain and hook set that all matched.  By the time that we were looking at it the hand towels, shower curtain, trash can and rug were left.  The trash cans didn’t look great, one was cracked and the other was scratched up.  We passed on the trash can and the rug, which was white, not a good idea in our house.

In the years since, we have collected various decorations and now have a fully decorated winter bathroom.  It’s all snowmen and snowflakes in blue, silver and white.  The crazy thing is that we’ve only bought a few of the decorations.  Most of them have been gifts and a few were handmade crafts, projects for gifts and the prototype ended up in the bathroom.

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The makeover…

  Shower curtain

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I bought a white fabric shower curtain at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I used clothespins to pin the vinylIMG_1637 - Copy curtain to the fabric curtain.  Then I used white thread to sew the two curtains together with a zig zag stitch along the seam between the curtain and the top.   I trimmed the top section off leaving the white ring area for the hooks.

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Trim…

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I bought some trim to cover up the zig zag stitch and the raw edge of the vinyl curtain.  My first thought was the oversized bric a brac trim, but I was worried that the raw edge wouldn’ t be completely covered.  Boo saw this trim and thought that the poof balls looked like snowballs.  I liked the wide base of the trim and the loops in between the poofs.  I used tacky glue to attach the trim to the curtain.  I wrapped the trim around the end and kept it in place with a clothespin.                       

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I don’t have a picture of the new and improved curtain hanging up.  It was time to change out the winter decorations with the spring decorations.  I will try to remember to post an updated picture next December.

  Hooks…

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The hooks needed some help too.  I should have taken a before picture but didn’t think about it.  Both the glitter and the paint was coming off of the snowflakes.

I punched some holes in the side of this box, stuck the hooks through and used painter’s tape to hold them straight.

First, I painted them white.  After the second coat of white paint dried, I decided to re-apply the glitter.  I painted the snowflakes with white craft glue and then dipped them in glitter.  I taped each snowflake back on the box and let it dry overnight.  They look good as new, actually better than new.  Super sparkly is good.  

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