Sunday, January 30, 2011

The kindness of strangers

And this was a stranger I truly have no chance of ever meeting.

I've been going through a gigantic headache with my serger. I always preferred it over my sewing machine because it simply always worked for me. And then it didn't. And this thing is WAY more complicated than a sewing machine. (Not that I have any chance of repairing either without assistance regardless.)

So, my serger. It wasn't cutting. Well, it sort of was, but then it was sucking up what it had cut and shoving it into the stitches it was sewing. The end result wasn't pretty, and every bit of tweaking wasn't fixing it. I took a guess and ordered new blades. No dice. I took it in to a repair place and paid $85 for "just a good cleaning." No dice. And then I posted all over the internet crying for help because I was feeling so eternally frustrated and helpless.

A kind woman from Oklahoma replied. We eventually moved our conversation to instant messenger and she trouble-shooted with me; she used to repair machines for a living. I took parts off, tested different settings, and eventually lowered the upper blade so it was making full contact with the lower blade and TA-DA! Doesn't that sound simple now? How could I have over-looked that? Oh yeah, it's because I only knew how to thread the machine and press the pedal to go.

I am so, so, so thankful for her getting me out of this pickle. The thought of going back to the repair place and trying to communicate what I couldn't understand in the first place was mortifying. And the second thought of not having a serger--my main source of income (I do some simple sewing for a client that requires the serged edges)--was nauseating. My head was about to explode from the frustration and this kind, sweet stranger swooped in and saved the day.

I thanked her profusely, but I really hope she knows how wonderful she is. I really have no idea how long it would have taken to fix the machine otherwise, leaving me without a way to, oh, pay for groceries. And groceries are pretty important.

We have a winner!

And it's Alexis! Thanks everyone for playing. Maybe I'll uncover more goodies to give away to you soon :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Angry Birds crochet patterns

I wrote an Angry Birds crochet pattern--three angry birds, red, blue, and yellow!

Ravelry link


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not so artsy for now

I've been making a conscious effort to do more arts/crafts/activities/experiences at home with Lily. I also need to make a conscious effort to not take it personally when my ideas crash and burn.

A few days ago we had a go at "painting" with shaving cream in the bath tub. I thought she would love it! She loves finger painting with the stuff I make on the stove, so why not in the tub where she can make all the mess she wants? Well, a mess must not be what she's after, because she promptly freaked out once the shaving cream got on her arms, belly, and legs. Thankfully we turned the water on and all was well.

365 - 024

Oh, that's a California Raisin from Art's childhood hanging out in the tub with her, not a, um, surprise.

Also, a few days prior to that, I had the crazy notion that she would enjoy gluing paper shapes onto plain white paper. Oh, the ideas I had for birthday cards, valentines, and completed works we could hang on the fridge. I carefully cut shapes out of construction paper and found a glue stick and let her have at it after showing her the process. She immediately freaked out that the shapes got glued to the paper and proceeded to rip them off, which was less than successful. Cue additional freaking out, and I tried bringing in markers to save the day. That lasted for all of 10 seconds.

365 - 020

Note the serious face. She was ticked after the gluing incident. I probably should have called it quits.

I guess I'm just eager for the day that she'll actually seek out these activities and want to have a go at them for more than 3 minutes. Then again, there's not much that she wants to have at for more than 3 minutes right now. Mentally I've already placed her at two years old for a while now, and that's not very fair of me. I guess once the less-than-pleasant toddler-y behavior set in around one and a half I just lumped it into the "normal two year old behavior" category and it stuck.

So, here's to an artistic *future*, and plenty of casual opportunities to explore in the meantime.

(And, as always, don't forget about my snack bag giveaway this week! Entries close Sunday noon!)

Wordless Wednesday: I love sleeping in

I like birthdays

I especially like Lily's birthday. I plan way in advance. Hence, it still being many weeks away, and me planning and completing this simple little felt crown for her silly little head as we celebrate two whole years with her. Two. Years. Ah!

It really is simple, even if I cheated by machine sewing the front and back together, along with the elastic scrunchie for the back. It would have been just as easy to hand sew it all, but I wanted to finish before nap time so I could try it on.

365 - 026

(Miss Sassy Pants had to see herself in the mirror, which was in the bathroom, which of course meant she had to brush her teeth...)


I used 1.5" elastic, but any size would work. And the scrunchie to go around it is nothing more than a long tube of fabric that's just a smidge wider than the elastic. Thread it through, sew it on, and done! You've got a felt crown!

(Pssst...Have you entered my giveaway yet? You have until Sunday at noon to enter!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

*Another* giveaway?

Go check out my dear friend's (in real life, to boot) giveaway for an Inspired by Finn amber teething necklace! I've known Sara since I was, oh, about 9. It's so neat that we're both parents together now with similar ideals.

And don't forget about my own snack bag giveaway; leave a separate comment for each entry on that post, please :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A little redesign

I've been less than impressed with Blogger's available templates, but I've been too lazy up to this point to do anything even moderately custom. After photographing my grandmother's recipes that were typed up on old food-stained note cards, I took the opportunity to freshen up the place. Well, sort of reverse freshen, since I'm working off of photos of food stained note cards that were typed up sometime when Eisenhower was in office. But I like them. A lot. Maybe it's just me being sentimental about these recipes, but there's got to be something good about an "Engelbert Humperdinck Bar," am I right? Or how about a wine recipe that involves frozen grape juice concentrate and a balloon?

I'm a little scared to try, well, maybe more than half of the recipes, but it sure has been fun documenting them. Doughnuts, anyone?



P.S. Don't forget about my giveaway!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Giveaway, Part Deux!

That last post sure was a downer, wasn't it. I'm almost embarrassed by it. Okay, I am.

How about something a bit more cheerful, like a giveaway? I know the last one wasn't all that successful (maybe you all don't like snack bags), but I have a surplus of these suckers, so here we go again!

Want to win three small snack bags? You don't have to use them for food, but they work great for little snacks like pretzels, dried fruit, nuts, and the like.


They each measure approximately 3x5" and are made from 100% cotton outer with a nylon inside so that they're wipe-able, but not waterproof so they dry quickly. They close with a single plastic snap and have serged edges.

You can enter up to *three* times for this giveaway. Please leave a *separate comment* for each entry stating what you did. To enter:

-Tell me what your favorite part of my blog is (narcissistic much?)
-"Like" Strings to Things on Facebook (don't forget to tell me your name here)
-Blog about this giveaway (and don't forget to post the link here!)

That's it! I'll close the giveaway a week from today, so Sunday January 30th, at 12:00 noon, and announce the winner then.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Rest of Us

It seems that I come across two types of blogs in my genre of choice (this crunchy parenting thing). I used to enjoy reading both types--inspired, smiling. And now I only relate to one, and want to wipe mud on the walls of the other.

Type 1: The Perfect Life. These moms have it all together. They sew all their own clothes and cook everything from scratch from foods they grew in their own garden. Their children are leaps and bounds ahead in milestones and clean up after themselves meticulously. They don't own a television, they never yell at one another, and their photographs are just as beautiful as their spotless children and thoughtful homes.

Type 2: The Rest of Us.

Lily loathes my art project ideas. The closest thing to homemade I've served this week was a slow cooker meal in which I opened a bunch of canned foods, threw them on top of chicken, and turned it on for 6 hours. Lily forgets about her mission to pick up the crayons she flung all over the room before she even starts it. I nag at Art and he nags at me. I cleaned the house this weekend and it looks worse now than when I started. See aforementioned nagging. Lily seems to exist entirely on orange juice and breast milk, other than when we're around other kids and she eats all of their food instead of ours.

I should clean, cook, play, work--heck, even knit--and somehow an entire day goes by and I've accomplished absolutely nothing.

I'm sure tomorrow (or next week) I'll be able to write a million happy things I love, but...

Okay, Lily just threw herself on me with a, "Mommy? Hug!" Cue melting and a slightly more optimistic outlook on today.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slow and steady

Here are some "before" and "during" photos of my cleaning efforts from the end of last year...

And here are some "after" corners of my home. I'm not THERE yet, but the end is in sight! And then it's onto actual *cleaning*. Yuck.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Okay, chief"

Want to know what my latest crazy unoriginal idea is? Of course you do. I can tell you're on the edge of your seats. Okay, maybe not literally, but I sure have piqued your interest and dragged this out long enough now, haven't I?

I want to travel the country--sell our house, convert some sort of large vehicle to veggie oil, bring along only what we need, and see what this place has to offer coast-to-coast.

I'm not quite sure how to accomplish this. My only idea so far is that I can become an awesome famous blogger and be able to write about my life and have people so interested that they throw money at my feet (or bags of produce and gallons of veggie oil?).

That's probably not the most realistic plan. Maybe I'll leave the money thing to Art and I can keep on dreaming, which I'm so good at it.

(P.S. The title? Lily's new most adorable phrase ever.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A new year

So, where have I been, dear readers? (You are out there, yes?) Well, mostly I've been right here, where I always am. But in between the usual I have been successful at maintaining a moderate level of productivity around here (in real life that is, clearly not blogging). And what does that mean? It means that I've been purging all the way back to the deep dark corners of every single closet and cabinet and drawer around here, and it feels GOOD. Some local friends have put together a challenge where we each set our own daily goals, but *must* get rid of a set amount each day. I resolved to one garbage bag full. Per day. And I've managed to do it. It sounds insane, I know, especially after how much I've already done in previous months, but there have been some scary closets cleared out, and I'm feeling better and better as each bag gets to the curb or the donate bin. Paring down to just what we use, need, and love is so much nicer than hanging onto junk "just in case we need it someday."

Of course, whenever productivity increases in one area, it decreases in another. Or at least for me. While I've been staying on top of, oh, doing the dishes while in the midst of this crazy thorough purge, my cooking has gone off-the-charts terrible. For lunch today? I seriously pulled some bread out of the freezer, toasted it, slathered on some marinara from a jar, sprinkled it with mozzarella, and then microwaved it. I don't know what I was thinking. Thankfully, my toddler happily called it pizza and shoved the whole thing in her mouth. I choked it down and washed it down with a cupcake. And then an oatmeal raisin cookie. And then another cupcake.

It's a good thing I didn't make any weight loss goals for the new year, huh.

Another thing I set out to do is use my DSLR on the manual setting at least once a day, every day, in my own special 365 challenge. It's only been 12 days, but so far I've stuck with it, so maybe there's hope for me yet. You can check out those photos in this Flickr tag set.

I should head off to cook now. Actually cook. Like, cut up vegetables and turn on the stove type cookies cooking. Total Freudian slip there. Oh, this sweet tooth of mine...
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