Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowed In

We were supposed to leave yesterday for our visit with family, alas the weather has conspired and we have been grounded. Snowed in and under the largest amount of snow that Portland has seen in quite a long time. If things improve we may be on a flight on Christmas day, we shall see. In the meantime it's baking and making with the occasional inner tube ride down the hill at our neighborhood park. Baby's got a brand new bag...filled with animals.

Lola's got a brand new tag...for the holidays.

Felt Owl Babies

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Bunny

It's My Birthday!

...and yes, I still want a pony.

Me at 13, circa 1981.

Yup, that makes me 40 today. Good Gravy!
I'm not much for New Year's Resolutions. I tend to do my reflecting, goal setting and general yearly check-in at birthday time. It's close to the New Year anyway and it makes more sense to me.

While this last year has had it's share of challenges, I find myself so grateful for all that I have, for what I have learned and for the people who have loved and supported me. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams. I am really looking forward to the coming chapters of my life, whatever they may hold in store.

As for little Lola Nova here, she is about ready to do a little growing. Starting next year I will be posting a lot more sewing, crafting and making of all sorts. I will be sharing some free patterns and templates along with my thoughts and ramblings. There will be an Etsy store in the works; I will keep you posted on that. Keep on the look out for give-aways too! Hurray.

For all of you who have stopped by, thank you. I wish us all a happy, healthy and creative new year.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Full Cold Moon

Those of you that have checked your Farmer's Almanac, know that today is the Full Cold Moon. And cold it is, here in my neck of the woods we have a storm blowin' in. Cold, wet and windy.

I thought I would take this opportunity to mention an issue that up until very recently, I was woefully unaware of. Something that may affect not only those that diligently and lovingly hand craft products and sell them, but will ultimately affect a whole vibrant and dedicated community of makers, buyers and families.

(The following is taken from Handmade Toy Alliance web site)

"The issue:
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.

The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.

All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.

For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatory testing will likely drive them out of business.

A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.

The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.
If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered."

Of course I want to keep our children safe, here is some good material from Etsy but this act as it is written may have some serious unintended consequences. It could certainly mean that I may not be able to start my business, more importantly, so many who already have small businesses that create beautiful hand-crafted children's items may lose theirs. has a sample letter and info on how you can help make a difference.
I know this is a long wordy post, but please, don't let them outlaw good toys for girls and boys.
And of course, buy handmade.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sketches of Festivity

I was feeling a little badly about my Bah Humbug attitude yesterday. I am looking forward to the holiday, just not the actual traveling part. Since we are traveling, I just haven't had the spirit in me to decorate the house. We wont have a tree, which seems to be the excuse I am using for not even trying to festive up the joint. Then my girl said she wanted to make cookies, and I thought that might be the place to start. Festive indeed, and messy - hurray! The cookies led to a fire in the fireplace after dinner, which led to hot chocolate with whipped cream and eating of said cookies (well not all 3 dozen of them), which then led to one string of twinkly lights on the mantel. Hey, it's something, right?

All of this merry making finally reached a crescendo with my girl performing the most amazing interpretive dance to Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. Now that's the spirit!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Felt Ornaments

The holiday is quickly approaching and I am finally getting to some of the making. It's all about felt these days, felt ornaments to be precise. Eight down and 10 more to go, plus all the other projects on the list. If I could borrow some elves, now that would be great.This little hen needs some company, a small flocks worth would be dandy.My favorite so far are the little soft trees. I plan on making a few more of these since I have decided to keep these first two for myself.Turns out these are quite popular this year. There is even a flickr group dedicated to them. They are pretty quick to make up and their simplicity appeals to me. These stacking cone trees (photo of work in progress) are really easy to make, they don't even require sewing. If you were looking for a no-sew project, you could easily use glue instead. This would be a great project to do with kids. I made mine out of felt of course, but here are some lovely examples of these using fabric scraps by Sarah, of The Small Object. She even includes a downloadable template.

So, I will carry on and hope to meet my quota. More felt matryoshkas in my future, more owls, more little trees and the moon and stars perhaps.

New Camera!

I am so excited! I got a new camera, finally. An early birthday, Christmas and Mother's day gift. Now I just need to learn how to work all the bells and whistles. Kona, the Buddha cat, has been very tolerant and enduring for the extended photo shoot.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Long Days Journey

Sometimes days take on a certain flow, they go their own way despite our best intentions or attempts to contain or control them. Yesterday was such a day. I had intended to post something crafty, having to do with a crazy self-imposed "Ornament A Day" making 'till we left on our vacation deal. Well, I'm two ornaments short already. I'll make it up later, or not.
Instead, yesterday was a swift current taking me along for the ride. While I am a fairly open person, I do keep much of the personal a little close to the vest; I am protective of my family and myself. Sometimes though, I realize what is often personal and private, can also be communal - in a "we are all connected" kind of way. If we choose to share some stories, we can perhaps reach out and help others feel less alone. Or maybe, it is really ourselves that need to feel less alone by telling our stories.
My sweet girl went through over two hours of testing yesterday. Through our county's Early Childhood Development program (a wonderful service, full of great folks). We met with three specialists, a speech pathologist, a motor development person and a special Ed. teacher. While my girl was put through the paces in Assessment, Evaluation and Programming System for Infants and Children (AEPS); The Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI); The Preschool Language Scale(PLS-4); and other fine motor, cognitive, language, gross motor evaluations and a sensory profile...I was answering many questions and filling out many forms. True to form, my girl was a trooper, only occasionally coming over to check in with me or to tell me "I love you Mama," and as always, she made it through with a decent helping of humor. The people we worked with were wonderful and kind. Still, it was draining and a little overwhelming to be suddenly surrounded by specialists in a hot little room while watching your child be evaluated.

There is no doubt that my girl is a smart one, there are just some areas that she needs some extra help. A lot of it has to do with sensory processing, something I wont go into because I am not so sure that I have the ability to explain it properly, nor do I have the energy to try right now. So, my job as a parent is to help my girl get the tools she needs to be happy and successful, as well as the tools for myself to better guide her. She has an amazing spirit this kid! While some would describe her as intense, a handful, challenging, dramatic and stubborn. They would also describe her as enthusiastic, funny, clever, full of gusto, fearless, charming, loving and sweet. Yesterday morning I was so humbled by her and so proud. I felt so blessed that this child is my great and wild love.

Then as evening came on, we looked out into the pink cloud sky and my girl said, "Thanks for painting them pink mama, it's my favorite color."

Oh wait! Then there was the bird rescue.

Our cat, who isn't particularly good at catching birds on any given day, caught this one. Normally I wouldn't intervene, but this poor thing was being tortured too long for my comfort and I had to rescue it. This was a thrilling turn in my daughter's opinion. I tried to warn her that the bird might not make it (I have learned from experience) but she was certain the bird would be fine. So after some frantic chases through the house, the bird finally made it into the towel lined box and drank some water from my finger. Shortly after a little rest, my daughter declared that the bird was fine and needed to fly away. Lo' and behold, all this time I thought the bird had a broken wing, but off into the night it did fly. Safe home little bird.
...and safe journey to us all.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beach Holiday

We were ten big people and two little ones renting a big ol' house on the Oregon Coast for the holiday. With so many of us, it turned out to be quite affordable and ultimately, a little magical. The big cathedral windows looked straight out onto the ocean where we could watch the dramatic winter waves while we were cooking our feast.
...and what a feast it was! Everyone in our group happens to be an excellent cook, so we stuffed ourselves and played post feast games. The next day we started with Mimosas and breakfast then headed out to the beach for a nice long walk and the gathering of sea shells. It was a wonderful way to spend the holiday - in the company of friends and family in a beautiful setting. I'm ready to go back.
I just want to say Thanks.