The Rhino Dress

A good friend of mine just had her 40th birthday, as well as retired from 18 years of midwifery. She asked if I could make her a dress for the party, if she found the fabric she wanted. She wanted rhinoceros fabric. Not fabric made out of rhinos (who does that anyway?!), but fabric with rhinos on it (there is a story there as to why the rhino is important to Jennifer and her midwifery, but that’s her story to tell). We were dealing with a tight turnaround and the holidays, so the fabric sourcing fell short. Not to let a little hiccup like that get in the way, I thought it might be an opportune time to try out something I had been experimenting with…painted linen. I decided to paint her a dress.

I started with a lightweight dark navy prewashed linen. I cut out the pattern (very simple, swing shift), basted the side seam and went to work with some chalk from my kiddo’s art drawer.
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I then used soft fabric paint from the craft store to make the design permanent. I decided to use bright colors and really had no what it would turn into.

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I let the paint dry overnight, ironed the backside of the fabric to help set it and finished sewing up the dress. Voila! Not the most technical of sewing, but finished in time and, it’s a rhino!

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Congratulations Jennifer! You’re going to rock 40 and you have left a legacy of dozens of happy babies and families. You make our community a better place!

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#nomamadrama, NYE Style

A movement has begun.

Not really. More like a hashtag. But, every good movement these days needs its own hashtag.

Introducing, #nomamadrama.

I have some really great girlfriends. Some I have known since we were eating paste (look it up kids) together and some I have only known a short while. As we have become mothers, I have appreciated all of the support and kindness they have bestowed upon our family. Genuine, authentic support. No drama.
We all have different styles, priorities, goals, influences, etc., but those don’t come with judgement for the other.
Thus, the No Mama Drama Club, #nomamadrama.
(There will be more about this in future posts)

The latest gathering of the #nomamadrama club was this NYE. Plans were solidified about six hours before the event. Laundry did not get folded. Random leftover Christmas crap got shoved in the bedroom behind a closed door. High-traffic surfaces got wiped down with Clorox wipes (it is flu season). That’s was about the extent of the prep. Scout and I did turn the laundry room into a makeshift photo booth, using a shower curtain, Christmas lights and a bunch of random fabric from my stash (nothing like taking a photo next to a pile of clean socks and underwear…just crop it). We had a huge pot of spaghetti, meatballs (pre-made, store-bought), and sausages and potlucked the sides. The kids ran around and when tensions rose between them (future posts about that dynamic as well), what has become to be known as our standard line prevailed, “be kind to each other and work it out.” The mommies have wine to drink and feet to be put up.
It was fun. Laughs were had, bellies were filled and everyone was out of the house by 10:00. Success!

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The Executive Board of the No Drama Mama Club:

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Applications go online in the coming weeks….

Check out Musings of Motherhood for some more #nomamadrama fun!

Let’s Be Neighborly

We live in the sticks. Not as deep as when I was a kid, but we still live down a narrow dirt road and don’t just run to the store for milk at a moment’s notice. We have great neighbors that I wish I got around to see more often, but alas, I’ll take the social time when I can get it.
I was in a rather domestic mood the week before Christmas and decided to put together some goodie baskets for the neighbors. Butternut squash soup, sausage balls, ginger bread with lemon/ orange honey butter and assorted pickles.
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The kiddo and I had a good time dropping in on the neighbors and wishing them Merry Christmas.

Test Day!

When I was a teenager, someone gave my dad a Hawaiian shirt with cars on it. That was the start. Over the years, he received more Hawaiian car shirts until he had quite the collection. Dad teaches high school auto mechanics and started wearing the shirts on days he was giving a test. Students would see him walking down the hall, wearing a bright flowery shirt with Corvettes, and lament about how they forgot about the test and weren’t prepared. The shirt collection continued for a number of years until the high school went to a more “standardized” faculty dress code. At that point, the shirts were boxed up and put in the attic. A few months ago, Dad gave me the box, thinking I might be able to do something with them.
So, this is what I came up with:
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It wasn’t anything very technical, but still enjoyed. Vroom, vroom….

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Teachers Love Caffeine

I almost dropped the ball with the teacher gift, but I got it together and whipped something up the day before the party. I was pretty proud of myself until the morning of the party when I forgot the aide….argh.
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I had a couple of reusable ceramic coffee cups in my stash, so I fashioned a personalized quilted cup cover and added a monogrammed zipper bag. When I bought my embroidery machine, I had grand ideas of uber-artsy embroidered designs rendered from more uber-artsy photography and graphic design…. Nope, I just monogram stuff. Oh well, if it earns the kid an “A”, then I guess it was worth it.

Tea Time

My office is on a downtown square and over the last five years, some great little shops have opened. One of them is Savoy Tea Company. They have an amazing selection of teas and accouterments and are some of the nicest folks. With their help I was able to accessorize this fun travel tea portfolio I made for a friend’s birthday.
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The portfolio has a zipper pocket to hold all the loose teas, pockets for the spoon and diffuser, monogrammed leather coaster and personalized linen napkin. This was a fun project and one I think I will be repeating!

The Maker Movement

I recently visited with two different people involved in education and they both referred to “the maker’s movement.” I guess kids these days don’t know how to make things, so we need to set up maker spaces and give special instruction, etc. In my day, we called them home economics and vocational classes….guess that isn’t cool anymore.

I like to think The Lazy E (our home) is a giant maker space.
Want to dig a hole? Grab a shovel. Want to carve a spoon from a fallen tree? Grab a saw and a knife.
Want to whip up a new outfit? Head up to the sewing loft and plug in the machines. This is how I grew up and this is how we are raising the kiddo. It makes me sad to think of kids not having the chance to create and succeed and fail.

The kiddo turns six in a couple of days and a special gift came in the mail this week…her own sewing machine (thank you Aunt Gloria). She saw someone wearing a sweater poncho and was determined to have one for her own. Let’s “make” one!
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She did a good job with the project and, although the seams weren’t straight and things weren’t perfect, she made it and she loved it.
I can’t wait to see what the kid comes up with next!

The Next Betsy Johnson

The kid loves to create. She makes a lot of things (apple doesn’t fall far from that tree). She has also been unfortunately conditioned to think that my sewing studio is a place that churns out finished product at a moment’s notice. She makes many requests for clothing, accessories, etc. Very few of these ideas ever get past the drawing board (mommy likes to sew what she wants, when she wants…it’s therapy). This has been causing the kid some frustration and I have been encouraging her to take matters into her own hands. What has come of this, has been really fun to watch. Organically draped and hand-stitched couture designs. Incorporation of all kinds of materials and methods. I try very hard to not qualify the product, but the effort that she is putting into it. It’s really great to see her work out challenges with math, physics, and language, as well as develop her opinion about aesthetics and function.
A project from last week:
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When it came time for a Halloween costume, she said she wanted to be a witch. I wasn’t super-excited, but then I decided that a witch was better than a princess because at least it’s a profession (I’m not a princess-hater and Queen Latifah is one of my favorite people, but raising a girl in the Disney princess day and age can be a challenge). I told her to sketch out the costume idea and we would work on it together. Here is her sketch:

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Pretty good, huh? She’s in kindergarten and not yet a full-fledged reader, but they are already journaling and writing. I love the way she was labeled the different elements.
We worked on the costume together and here is the finished product:

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Here she is with her best bud:

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This kind of creating does come with a price. Listen up Pinterest Moms: the finished product looks like crap (see this post’s first photo). They are kids. If the kiddo is going to do the project themselves, it’s not going to be to your standards. That’s ok. Let them do it, let them color outside the lines and hot glue stuff to themselves. You may lose a couch cushion or two, but your kid won’t be paralyzed at the thought of a blank canvas. I’ve hosted a lot of adult craft parties (not parties for kinky crafts, just adults making crafts) and I’m always dumbfounded by the number of adults (especially women) that say, “I’m not creative. I have no idea what to do. Can you just make it for me and put my name on it?” Argh!!!! Pick up the scissors and damn glue stick and get in there! It’s not a heart in a cooler. No one is going to die. Just start cutting! Anyway, I digress.
Creating with the kid is fun. It’s not always relaxing, but I can see her mind at work and her excitement.

It makes me happy.

Let’s Throw a Party!

Today is the 45th wedding anniversary of my in-laws. They are the best in-laws a girl could ask for and have been a huge part of my life the last 17 years. We had kicked around a couple of ideas to celebrate, but ended up deciding to play it by ear due to major office events (hubs and FIL have their own architecture firm Check them out!). So, I got the word earlier in the week that we were on for a Saturday dinner party. Only two requests, “wine and cheese on the dock” and “keep it easy”. Perfect! I love to throw a party, but I love throwing a party with parameters even better. Give me a blank slate and things can get out of hand. Give me something specific, with a tight turn-around…I’m your gal!

We had a beautiful setting of wine, cheese, chilled mussels, cake, champagne and bon bons. The kiddo and I fashioned the requisite anniversary accessories, tiara, veil, boutonnière, and bouquet made from farmer’s market dahlias, sassafras leaves and persimmons from the Lazy E. We enjoyed watching the sun set behind the turning oaks and the reflection on the water become more clear. We toasted the couple, had a bit to eat, Face Timed my sister-in-law and her family and had a lot of laughs. We continued the celebration back at the house with grilled endive salad, merlot garlic mushrooms, braised carrots and broccoli, baked potatoes and grilled steaks.

Again, I love a party. I love it even more when I get to celebrate two great people.

Happy Anniversary Maurice and Sissy!
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