Friday, July 31, 2009

On Creativity...

So I’ve been thinking about creativity. And if you have to explain the importance of creativity to someone, they’re probably not going to get it. Either your mind works that way or it doesn’t. And that’s ok. I can’t do math. Don’t waste your time explaining quantum physics to me. I’m just thrilled you know how to do it so I don’t have to. :)

But I’ve been thinking about the importance of creativity and what it means to my life in particular. Days that don’t allow me creative time are typically not my best days. I’m almost annoyed when other things require my attention. I don’t know what that says about me as a wife, mother, sister, daughter or friend; but let’s just say I’ve made more than one apology for “not getting back to you...”

My Mom was quite influential in the whole creativity thing from an early age. I think it’s in our family genes, but if left un-nurtured could slowly fade away. From the time I was old enough to hold a needle, my Mom had me doing simple embroidery stitches. As I grew older and started taking sewing classes in school, she showed me shortcuts and easier, more efficient ways of bringing my projects to fruition. And although I never quite reached her level, I remember showing her a dress in a magazine and watching her then pick up yesterday’s newspaper and creating a pattern.

I do know this about me – and I think my creative sisters would agree - creativity is my very breath. Take away my ability to be creative and I am hyperventilating. O, it’s not like I walk around with a sewing machine on my back. But I’ve always got a notepad with me (either a moleskin or on my iPhone) to jot down ideas as they come to me, or to write a few lines when I’m inspired by something or someone. I’ve always got a camera with me (either a “real” camera or my iPhone) because I capture images of everything that’s in front of me ~ whether that be a sunset over the ocean or a great looking NY style thin-crust pizza (just ask my family – nobody eats until I’ve got my shot!). And I constantly find inspiration in the most obscure of places.

I look at creativity as a gift – a precious gift to be shared. I know it has prolonged my mother’s life ~ she will be 91 in a few months and still sews and quilts on a daily basis. I delight in knowing that for all my days ~ as I write, as I shoot, as I knit, as I sew ~ I will never be bored, never be lacking for something to do and always have a source of happiness quite literally at my fingertips.

How lucky am I??

Monday, July 27, 2009

And The Family is Finally Together!

And they are temporairly living in my Etsy shop. And yes, of course I'm attached to them.

And yes, it feels SO good to be back at work and creating again!

'Bye Lulu!

Lulu has found a home! She will be leaving me tomorrow and, as always, I'm a bit sad to see her go. She's the last of my bunnies currently in existence in the ol' shop here. And here's something strange...
Over the weekend my son sent me a link to a really touching song and video, much of which included a whimsical artist's rendition of little bunnies. Of course it brought a tear (I can be a soft touch sometimes...) and as I watched these little bunnies I made a mental note to myself to bring a few more to life and get them in my shop. Because I do love me a cute bunny.
And then today, Lulu, the last remaining bunny leaves me. Coincidence? I think not.
Especially since I've spent the last week away from my studio with other activities and am slowly regaining energy, the timing was perfect. Yay.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Waiting for Papa

Mama and Baby... Papa will make his appearance [hopefully] in a couple of days! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baby Boo

This little guy is waiting for his Mama and Papa. Who I hope will make an appearance on the scene in the next couple of days!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm Really Glad We Went for Ice Cream...

FILE Magazine for publishing this photo today. :) And thanks to the Mister for taking me for ice cream. It was worth every calorie - for so many reasons. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Kids

Part of the great studio organization resulted in a couple of extra shelves that wouldn't fit in the closet. So, although they're not the classiest display space I did find a home for the kids awaiting adoption. And they make me smile every time I walk in.
That's the fun part. Now today I tackle the great guest room clean-up. Bah.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Give It 5 Minutes...

Seriously. Because I know me. I've lived with me for 54.5 years. (yowza!) I love, love, love being neat and organized. And it takes me 5 minutes to make a mess again.

And nothing forces one to get neat and organized like company comin'. (Don't tell anyone, but aside from moving, it's the only time I really, really clean. Because life is too much fun to spend it cleaning.) So that was the impetus for this cleaning and organizing -- company comin', not moving. But it was long overdue as the focus of my studio in the last few months has switched emphasis from photography to sewing. (O, I will always be a wannabe photographer; it's just not my main focus right now.)

So I spent the day organizing. I won't show the pictures of the previous contents of the closet which now lie in the guest room and are awaiting a resting place... that's tomorrow. For now I feel good about the closet. I picked up some cheapy plastic shelving at Home Depot, assembled them lickety split (of course a few pieces were missing - I've come to expect and accept that...). But now my fabric is organized by color and weight (fleece here, flannel over there and cotton on that shelf); the yarn is in plastic tubs, organized by color; knit hats ready to send to "Beanies for Baghdad" are in that shipping box; the polyfill (which takes up a lot of space) has a home and the part I'm really excited about ~~ a new padded cover for the ironing board (out of sight - and I don't mean that in a 70's slang kind of way) and a new iron! Omg - I'm so excited about a new iron! And did you know they range in price from $14.99 to 79.99?? That's crazy. Mine was $21 at Target and has a teflon face. YAY!

And I was then able to clear the shelves in my studio (right side of the diptych). And I smiled when I reviewed the photo because there's so much of my cyberspace life there. The hauntingly beautiful lighthouse/boat photographs, framed and hung near the ceiling are courtesy of Bonnie. (I'll do links later when I'm not so tired.) On the bulletin board are photographs and notes from Susan Sabo and her smalldogs; Polaroids from Bonnie and Kat ~ all of which make me smile every day.

All of this accomplished today while wrapping up my week-long trip down memory lane with Carrie and the girls. Of course I'm referring to Carrie Bradshaw, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbs. I finished watching all 6 seasons of "Sex and the City" just as I called it a day. *Sigh* I miss them and loved that series so much... I've seen the movie probably 5 times and still cry at the end... Ahhh... Mr. Big. *sigh*

Ahhhh... Romance.

Don't ya' love how I take you from cleaning closets to romance? *wink*

So now I toast an organized closet (for 5 minutes) and Carrie and Big (for 5 minutes) with a glass of champagne... :)

Finding a Voice

It was brought to my attention yesterday that this little guy didn't have a voice ~ and he needed one. Fair enough.
But it did raise a question. As I looked around my studio at my little animals awaiting adoption I realized, with just a couple of exceptions, none of them had mouths. I had never noticed.
So being who I am (slightly analytical) I pondered why. As a child if I didn't hear "children should be seen and not heard," I think it was implied. As a shy girl (who grew up to be an older shy girl), I found my comfort zone behind the camera. It has allowed me to quietly fade into the background and observe life from the sidelines. Marrying into a family of wonderful people who have never known strangers, there was no need for me to speak. The joke was ~ Cindi was in the family for a year and a half before she spoke and that was only after someone asked, "Hey, who's that girl in the corner?" Which has, over the years, evolved into me raising my hand during a neverending conversation and requesting, "May I please speak??!!"
All kinds of possible psychological deep-seated reason why I may have created little creatures without mouths.
Or it could be that I just think they're unique and kind of cute without them. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Little Monsters

What began as a group of odd little creatures I dubbed "fuzzy wuzzables" has now morphed into "little monsters" ~ because that's what they're being called. And I like that. They do remind me of days gone by when I read "Where the Wild Things Are" about a kazillion times to two sleepy little boys.

But I'm finding myself creatively challenged in shooting the little monsters, 0r any of my creations in general. (With my cameras, of course!) I'm thinking I need to take them on little outings and shoot them in not so common places. I guess I'm just bored with simple backdrops. And then there's the whole time factor and only 24 hours in a day thing...

See? There went another 5 minutes... *wink*

Monday, July 13, 2009

Each One Unique...

Well, the wedding dogs are done. Today I add their "collars;" sew a little traveling/sleeping bag for each; make a hang tag "information/introduction" label about each one and they will be ready to meet their delivery man this week. He will hand-carry them to Canada for me.

As I lined them up this morning for a group shot I realized even though they are very, very similar, each one has their own unique look and personality already! The two in the middle are for 2 year olds, so their eyes and noses are made of felt ~ safer for little hands and mouths. The ones on the outer edges will go home with a couple of 8 year olds and a couple of 4 year olds (I think). I hope they enjoy their homes in the Great White North!

I'll miss them... As with any of my little guys, I get attached as they come to life. This group, especially, because as they have grown in number I've spent more time with them than any other special request. I feel as though I'm saying goodbye to sextuplets! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It's All About Heart...

Life is full of surprises.

What I've been doing ~ creating little creatures out of fabric and thread and polyfill ~ unwittingly bringing some of my childhood memories to life ~ has taken me by surprise.

One little black-furred, brown-eyed pup lives in the DC area now. I hear he/she (I was never quite clear on the gender) is quite happy there. She/he "came to life" in memory of a much beloved dog who recently passed ~ one who bore a resemblance to the imitation pup I sent.

Remember the wedding dogs? There's a story there, too. They will be gifts for the young children attending the August wedding of their uncle. The uncle who just lost his mother (their grandmother) suddenly a couple of weeks ago. How do you explain that to little children? Gently and with love...

One of my "little monsters" has gone to comfort a medical student as she prepares for her proficiency exams to continue on in med school.

Two puppies have gone to a young brother and sister to help ease the loss of their real-life dog who, way too young and way too quickly, passed.

A little giraffe now sits at the bedside of a very brave 9 month old little girl who recently underwent a heart transplant. A tiny teddy bear is off to bring comfort to a 4 month old baby facing a liver transplant.

A dog and a bear anxiously await the arrival of their new best friends ~ a boy and girl - twins - to be born the end of August.

What started out as a hobby ~ one that hearkened back to my past (a lonely little farm girl) and my roots (thank you, Mom, for teaching me how to sew!) ~ is turning into more. Much more. A passion of sorts. A mission in the making. And the ideas keep crowding the corners of my mind and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

I have said this about my writing and about my photography:
If I can evoke emotion ~ make someone laugh, make someone smile, even bring a tear ~ then I have succeeded.

Dare I say I may be close to finding a purpose? Life is full of surprises... and sometimes they are absolutely delightful.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Green, Green and More Green!

I came from a long line of Iowa farmers. My grand-parents were elderly by the time I came along, so I don't have too many memories of them; but one thing I do remember is my Grandpa's garden. Once they left the farm and "moved to town" (a rite of passage and reward for years of back-breaking work), many farmers maintained beautiful gardens in their backyards. I wish I had photographs of my Grandfather's... I see it in my mind as if I were walking thru it today. And the scent of marigolds take me right back. Grandpa always planted them around the perimeter of the garden to keep certain insects away.

So I guess it's not unusual that I enjoy growing things. At one point in my life while living in the foothills of Colorado, I had over 100 indoor plants (including alfalfa and bean sprouts and avocado pits sprouting green "trees" on the kitchen windowsill) and a small garden in front of my house. My guys were little then and really enjoyed helping me harvest (among other things) the green beans, peas and zucchinis; the big orange pumpkins in October were a real hit, too.

Then I moved to town and became limited to container gardening on my porch and deck. And this year - for the first time - my vegetable plants outnumber my flowers ~ by design. Lettuce (which is almost gone and we plan to buy additional plants), green onions, leeks, cucumbers, zucchini, spaghetti squash, pumpkins and tomatoes and hot chili peppers galore. Of course not all are ready to harvest, but as things are ripening, it's so much fun to step on the deck and gather a salad for dinner.

In the interest of keeping things green (literally and figuratively), I remembered a recipe for homemade all natural plant fertilizer my sister shared with me a few years back. Super easy and seems to do the job! So, here's Pat's Plant Fertilizer:

1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Epsom salts
1/2 tsp. household ammonia
1 gallon luke-warm water

Mix and pour. :) Pat recommends using every 2 weeks.

And it seems to be in the genes. My younger son planted his own "balcony garden" this year for the first time. He went even more green by planting everything from seed!!

Here's to all kinds of green. :)


Roger - repurposed, recycled. Fleece fabric remnants and what used to be a tee shirt. :) It took a little while for him to grow on me, but he has.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

I actually do other things besides sew all day. ;-)

The mister and I had a craving for guacamole, so on a recent trip to Costco, picked up a bag of avocados. And you know how that goes... it takes a few days for them to ripen and when they do - they are ripe and you'd better move fast! Well, they were definitely ripe yesterday.

Since my son works in our home office on Wednesdays I thought a little guac and chips would be a nice little "happy hour" treat at the end of the day. We even added a Scrabble game in for good measure. Of course he beat the pants off the old folks, but we had a good time anyway!

It's hard to make guacamole look attractive; it is what it is - yummy, but not too pretty! And when I bought the ingredients I misread the recipe so what you see in the photo is a yellow bell pepper, not a yellow onion. Duh. But I did have a yellow onion in the pantry, so saved the yellow pepper for salad tonight. We like our guac chunky so when you get a bite, you really get a bite; I'm sure if you like it smoother that's an option as well.

I have been using the same tired old guac recipe for years, so decided to Google a new one. This is Tyler Florence's version of guacamole and it was indeed yum! The only thing I added were tomatoes, because we like the punch of color and flavor that tomatoes add.

Tyler Florence's Guacamole
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Serves: About 4 cups

6 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles
1 big handful fresh cilantro, with stems (about 1/2 cup finely chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh into bowl. Mash the avocados using either a fork or potato masher, leaving them a big chunky. Add remaining ingredients and fold everything together. Drizzle with olive oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and it one final mix.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly and tightly on the surface of the guacamole (a new trick - this keeps it from turning brown!) and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Like I said I added the tomatoes; forgot to drizzle with the olive oil and didn't add pepper because the mister is allergic to it. Of course we didn't refrigerate for an hour - are you kidding? We ate it immediately. Thumbs up from all three of us.

(Oh, and P.S. - the platters in the picture? Both are hand-crafted by artisans in British Columbia! I bought the green fish platter in the quaint little village of Coombs, BC while visiting Vancouver Island last summer. I so love it - and the memories it holds... And the purple one was a gift from my Canadian SIL ~ it was made by an artisan in Nanaimo, BC - also located on the island. They're both special to me.) :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baby Boo Blue

Baby Boo is in
the shop. He's so simple, but so darned cute -- only 8" tall and just
screams "baby" to me.
How is it that each new little creation - just fabric and thread and polyfill - can have a personality? It is so strange.
And why is it that I have trouble letting go of each one of them when they fly away? Definitely something in me that harkens back to my childhood and the comfort I felt from my little creatures.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's Like She has a Butterfly Tattoo. :)

By special request. This colorful little pup and 2 more like her (plus 3 of her "brothers" ~ I've posted them on Facebook) will be winging their way to Calgary for a wedding soon. All of them will be gifts to children attending a wedding there.

Too much fun. :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Heart to Heart...

Life unfolds in interesting and unexpected ways sometimes, doesn’t it?

When I decided about a month ago to focus on one thing – that one idea – in my shop on Etsy, I don’t think I had fully thought out where this could go – what this could become. I’ve had two epiphanies in the last week alone.

One – I’m a big believer in recycling, re-purposing, re-using. Being the daughter of a woman who grew up during The Great Depression, I come by that honestly and was trained by the best! So when my recent creation of Beau Blue out of a remnant of chenille fabric I had left over from pillows became such a hit, I remembered the chenille bedspread that covered my childhood bed. And I had the idea to start searching for old, gently used chenille bedspreads and re-purpose them right into cute little stuffed animals. When I mentioned this idea to my son he liked it (being a recycling guy himself). He added, “You know, you could go to Goodwill and places like that and pick up some cool tee shirts and make little creatures out of them, too.”

Voila! An idea is born. But before I started driving all over town to find tee shirts, I looked to my own closet first. I have several tee shirts that I still like but no longer wear. So I took a couple of those and made a little experiment . And he got good feedback.

So good, in fact, that I started receiving special requests – “I have a tee-shirt that holds special memories for me. Could you make it into a little stuffed animal?” Which I think is very cool but kind of freaks me out at the same time. I have a fear of taking someone’s one-of-a-kind special tee and – oops – slipped with the scissors… Nervous? You betcha’. Still an idea I think I may pursue, though.

My second “aha” moment, as Oprah would say – seeing that there may be a place for me and my friends in comforting sick children. I had an order the other day for the little giraffe, Joey, in my shop. He was going to 6 month old little girl who had just undergone a heart transplant. I have no words… And just the other day a friend told me of her friend’s granddaughter who was most likely going to need a liver transplant. She is 4 months old. Well, I’m giving that little darling a “sugar bear/baby bear” from my shop. Because two of these in one week really made me appreciate that my children were – and still are – in good health. Now, I’m thinking on a way I can make a difference with my little critters – if only for a moment – in the lives of sick children. I know the idea will make its presence known to me when the time is right.

Maybe that’s why from the very beginning I put tiny hearts on every one of my creations. From the heart to the heart…

Friday, July 3, 2009

In the Workshop...

Petunia is the newest little piglet in the shop. She's very sweet and very petite. I heart her.
And then there's "black dog" - who shall remain nameless until he reaches his owner on the east coast. (When somone special orders they get to name it.) He's pretty darned cute, too.

And I finished the special order for the twins - the dog, the teddy bear, the pink baby beanie hat, the blue/white baby beanie hat and they will be delivered to the customer tomorrow. It's really been fun creating something special for a little guy and girl yet to be born. I like to think of their little nursery (it too somewhere on the east coast) and as mama and papa rock them to sleep, the last thing they see before their little eyes close are a pink polka dot teddy bear and a blue polka dot smiling dog.

It makes me smile, too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What To Do With Old Tee Shirts

Recycle them into little critters.
First attempt. They will improve, but I kinda' like this guy. I'm keeping him. :)

Two Down; Seven To Go :)

No, the hats aren't really for them; I just decided to get everything in one shot. My friend ordered a pink hat, a "blue/white" hat - for the actual babies, a pink polka dot bear and a blue polka dot dog for twin babies in their family who will be making their appearance soon.
So now before moving on to the rest of the special orders, I think I'll experiment with something I've been thinking about. If it turns out, pix to follow. And it may even end up in the shop. ;-)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Mess

Actually it's an organized mess, but what a busy day... the little sugar bear in the pouch is personal, not business. A gift for a friends of friends who have a 4 month old baby in Children's Hospital suffering from a severe liver problem. :( If I can bring a smile to Mom and Dad's face for one minute, I want to. I had to stop for a minute and be grateful for having healthy children - back in the day and now...

The other bear - special order for twins due soon, a girl and a boy. Just starting the blue polka dot dog for the boy. And I just received an order for 7 more dogs (what's with all the dogs?) - 6 of whom are gifts for children attending a wedding. All to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Can you say busy? But such a happy, fulfilling busy. YAY! Just finished lunch (lowfat vanilla yogurt, strawberries, grapes, flax seed and almonds if you were wondering. And yes, that chocolate in the back of the picture is an addiction...). Now I deliver the little sugar bear, turn down an offer for last minute tickets to a concert at Red Rocks tonight and back to the sewing machine.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends! And what lovely people you are!