Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Moment of Awww

A conversation last night

Viv: Mommy, put your head up. Why is your head down?
Me: My head hurts, honey.
Viv: Where does it hurt? Can I kiss it?
Me: It kind of hurts all over.
Viv: Can I kiss it all over?
followed by little kisses all over my face

Before your teeth start to itch from the sweetness overload, let me note that, not 10 minutes before this conversation, Viv threw a huge temper tantrum. She was upset that I took a band-aid off of her arm (after she asked me to), and wouldn't put it back on.

And that's parenthood.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sewing Bug

I've had the sewing bug lately, but have been so scattered that I couldn't figure out what I wanted to make. Originally, I thought I would make the Sencha blouse from Colette Patterns, but didn't have enough material (and the nice pearl covered snaps I bought for the back had mysteriously disappeared, as well).

Lately, when I need to sew something small and uncomplicated, I sew a new top for Vivian. I made a couple of peasant tops for her a couple of months ago and love them so much, I decided to draft a new one.

This version is even easier to make, as there are no curves around the neck. Small bodice panel and some kimono sleeves slapped on to a gathered skirt and voila!

Excuse the blur as my camera was acting up and Viv refused to stop moving. I love the fabric--a vintage find from the Pasadena City College flea market.

I know that Viv's willingness to love every item of clothing I make for her won't last, so I'm trying to take advantage of it while I can!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Tahoe Experience

I've taken a bit of a break from posting here lately, and I'm hoping to break back in to the habit of writing here.

Last week, we took our annual pilgrimage to Lake Tahoe, which is located in Northern California on the border between California & Nevada. I love Tahoe. As a child, my family traveled there every summer, and about 10 years ago, Richard & I started the tradition again. Now this trip has turned into almost a family/friends reunion, with people coming in from four states (CA, Arizona, Washington & Texas) to relax on the beach, by the pool and at the grill and the campfire.

1970s Tahoe-2

With the addition of the kids to the gathering over the last few years, I love that this trip has become a part of their lives, too. Tahoe will be an important part of their lives, in the same way it was an important part of my childhood.

1970s Tahoe-3

That's Richard floating on the lake in the picture above. Now that is relaxation.

1970s Tahoe

This photo looks just like almost every photo I have of me at Viv's age. One of the most exciting things about being a parent is being able to share those experiences that mean so much to me with my child.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

Viv & The Bunny

Viv & The Bunny
Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Despite having to wait more than an hour to get her picture taken with the Easter Bunny (and several meltdowns), Viv bucked up when it was her turn. She ran up, gave him a hug and a smile and turned on the charm!

Monday, March 22, 2010

2-Summer Sundress

2-Summer Sundress
Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Possible the cutest thing I have ever crafted.

Ok, Viv is actually the cutest thing/person I have ever crafted (if creating a baby is counted as crafting), but this dress comes second. It's The Two-Summer Sundress, by Natalie Larson and is a free pattern available on Ravelry. The dress straps cross in the back for now, but as she grows, the straps can uncross to make them longer. This will be her Easter dress and I am squealing over how cute she looks!

I love this pattern so much, I've already knitted the top for another dress. I just need to sew it up!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

This is what happens when I tell Viv to hold her flower out so I can get a photo of her holding it. I guess I should be more specific.

Monday, March 08, 2010


This weekend, I finished my volunteer training for Heritage Square Museum (don't judge by the bad website--it's being redone). After five weeks of lessons on Los Angeles history, vintage fashion, museum history and tour guide best practices, I am now ready to begin volunteering!

So what now?

Well, I didn't know. Having run volunteer trainings in the past, I understand that the hard thing about managing volunteers can be channeling their excitement and motivation into your organization's needs. And I kind of felt that the "what do I do next" part of the HSM training was a bit lacking. There was a "hey, if you want to be a guide, talk to one of the speakers" explanation, but most of the speakers were busy talking amongst themselves after the training. There wasn't a "sign-up for this activity" or "here's a list of available mentors" moment that could have really harnessed the volunteer energy at its max. I realized that I could have just left that morning with my graduation certificate and maybe never have the opportunity to get involved again.


This experience of my own hesitation and lack of desire to "put myself out there" has had me thinking about audacity. I feel like I've lost it--that willingness to get out of my comfort zone and try new things and meet new people. I used to be loud and brash and outgoing , but I feel like, as I've gotten older, I've become more hesitant and closed off.

I can see how it would be so easy to pull back completely, and only focus on my family, my job, and the friends I currently have. It really would be easy and comfortable. But it would be limiting. Friends move, and family members get busy with their own lives, and jobs don't always last. If I don't want to be ultimately left alone, I need to push myself. I need to fight against that little voice inside that says, "Hang back. Don't interrupt. Be cautious." I need to be a little audacious.


My instinct was to gather my things and walk quietly to my car, but I steeled myself to put myself out there. I've given up too many Saturday mornings to this training to stop now. So I inserted myself into a conversation with the communications/development director and passed my my card, letting him know I'm ready to help. And then I again forced my way into a conversation with the museum director to find out exactly who I could contact for the next volunteer opportunity. It was hard. But it worked.

So my first actual volunteer activity will be as a dresser for HSM's Vintage Fashion Show (pdf link) on March 20, at 11 a.m. I'll be helping the models in and out of the layers of vintage clothing (no zippers!). I won't have any of my historic costumes ready, but I think I'll break out my 1940's black crepe dress and one of my grandmother's vintage hats to wear for the occasion. I will be backstage, but just by being there, I will be audacious.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Things continue to be blech here at Chez-Handy Crafts. We have some financial issues that have made doing anything fun and/or spur-of-the-moment out of reach for now. And I've settled into some sort of general malaise with everything.

Some of that malaise has drifted into my crafting, and that makes me even sadder. I am tremendously behind on my two virtual quilting bees. I owe several blocks to women, and I feel incredibly guilty. To make things worse, it's my month in one of them, when I should be sending out fabric to everyone. But I feel like I can't expect others to make things for me when I haven't come through on my commitment to them. And then there is the lack of resources to buy said fabric and mail it to all the lovely participants. Ugh.

I need to buckle down and get out from under the weight of those promised blocks. I think I'll feel better when I do, even if I have to wait a week or two before I can send them out. And I do have a considerable fabric stash, and I'm pretty sure I can come up with the fabric needed without having to purchase more than a couple of yards of a solid.

On the plus side, I start my volunteer training at Heritage Square Museum this weekend. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity. I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Rarw (again)
Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

On Saturday, we took Viv to the Museum of Natural History. It's under considerable construction right now, so much of the museum is not open, but we still had a blast. The museum cafeteria is closed, so we had lunch at the Frysmith truck outside (sweet potato fries w/chicken, tamarind sauce, garlic & cheese--incredible!).

The main dinosaur exhibit is closed for major renovations (to open next year), but Viv still loved seeing the couple of dinosaurs that were visible. The museum has a fantastic life-size triceratops puppet that they use in a show a couple of times a day (also a T-Rex puppet, but we didn't see that one). Viv was super excited, even if she held my hands over her eyes for much of the show.

She was feeling a bit under the weather, so we left a bit early, but I think we'll definitely be back.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Daddy fairy & baby fairy

Daddy fairy & baby fairy
Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Vivian loves dress up, and--thanks to Bridget, and her daughter Samantha, who has outgrown a lot of princess attire--she now has lots of fabulous pink & frothy things. These sequin mouse ears are my favorite (or they were, until the headband broke because Vivian's head is too big). Rich is the good sport who also put on a pair of fairy wings when Viv asked him to.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I just remembered one addition to my New Year's resolutions: make yeast bread. For some reason, it's one of those cooking tasks that seems so intimidating that I've been dragging my feet. But I'm going to do it this year. If I can successfully can jam (and no reported cases of botulism yet!), then I can do it.

Day 4/365

I'm going to try to take a photo every day this year. This one is a little celebration of small steps -- into potty training. It's the balloon that Vivian earned at preschool for successfully utilizing the "facilities."

Monday, January 04, 2010

It's a New Day

This is not a blog post in which I apologize about not posting. This is not a blog post in which I whine about not having any money and/or about being depressed about that said lack of money.

This is not one of those.

Instead, this is a post about reviewing the previous year and looking forward to the new one.

My resolutions last year were pretty in-depth, and my progress on them, while not completed 100%, was still considerable. Here we go, in review:

2009 Craft-Related Resolutions

1. RIIIPPPIIITT! I pledge to actually frog those projects that are unflattering, undesirable or otherwise unwearable. I will reclaim the yarn, and therefore cut down on the need for stash enhancement. Did some of this, although not as much as I had planned, due to the Great Moth Invasion of Early 2009.

2. Reorganize the Craft Closet. I have a lovely walk-in closet that I have designated for my craft supplies and sewing machine, but it has become so cluttered that I can’t find anything and can barely weave my way back to the sewing machine. This will change. Have implemented Phase 1 of the Great ReOrg, thanks to the fabulous shelves my mom bought for my birthday. My fabric stash is now visible and organized by color. Next step is to bring out the patterns and magazines, and put in a new table/shelf to place my new serger! (thanks again Mom!)

3. Get back to sewing more of my clothes. I used to sew about 50% of my wardrobe, but pregnancy, having a small child and the craft closet disorganization (see above) have stymied my efforts. I have a huge fabric stash, and I need to get back to using it. Hmm, still haven't sewn many clothes for me, but I did get back to sewing more, including most of my Christmas gifts to others, including 4 aprons, two wrap skirts, and a stuffed kitty.

4. Finally finish knitting Richard’s sweater (started in Nov. 2005 and lying dormant ever since). It’s the Baseball sweater from Knitty’s Man issue, and I have the back and 1 sleeve done. He wants an intarsia picture of Elvis Costello worked on the front. I have the chart worked out, but I just need to get up the courage to do it. Oh dear god. Um, nope, no progress made.

General Life Resolutions

1. Exercise. I’m not going to focus on losing weight, but I just want to have more energy. So whether it’s taking a walk after work every day or hitting the gym, I’m going to exercise. Does chasing after a toddler at the zoo/park/home count? Probably not, but my mom's scale said I'm now 6 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, so I'm counting it as a win.

2. Better organize Vivian’s nursery. I’ve seen great tips on the ikea hacks blog, and I want to copy some of them for her room, such as using a CD shelf to store diapers. This we actually did, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Yay me!

3. Cook dinner at least 3 nights a week. I was doing pretty good on this already before, but the holidays made it difficult to be consistent. Amazing how a severely constrained budget will motivate you (me) to cook at home more!

4. Start a college fund for Vivian. I think we're going to open a 529 account for her, even just with $50 a month. My goal is to have enough saved for her to pay for undergraduate at a state school – if she wants to go private or grad school, that’s what loans are for. Um, yeah, not so much. But I just have to keep working at my current place of employment for 13 1/2 more years, and Viv has a free ride to college! That's do-able, right?

All in all, a respectable achievement, especially given life's ups and downs. And of course, my biggest achievement of the year--learning to can jam--wasn't even on the list. So now I'm thinking about 2010, and what I'd like to do in the 361 days left.

Resolutions for 2010

1. Can savory things, like pickles and chutneys. My first dip into savory canning was a cranberry-apple jam with balsamic vinegar that I did for Thanksgiving. It turned out so well that I'm ready for more, and hope to make the most of spring and summer veggies!

2. Engage Phase 2 of the Great Craft Closet ReOrg!

3. Knit more socks. I completed two whole pairs of socks in 2009 (one crocheted, one knitted) and I'm excited to keep going. I have several skeins of sock yarn in my stash and hope to make a considerable hole in it.

4. Support independent pattern designers. I don't currently have a lot of disposable cash on hand (and don't see that changing anytime soon), but if I do, I am going to use it to support independent designers. Some of those I hope to continue or begin to support include Hotpatterns, Stitch Diva, Colette Patterns and EvaDress.

5. Volunteer. I'm planning to attend a volunteer training at Heritage Square Museum in February, and am excited about the possibilities.

I have some longer range plans, more in line with my 40x40 list (which I plan to add to soon). But I think these goals are a good start for now.

Happy new year!