Friday, April 29, 2016

Things I Drew on Black Paper

I know I say it quite a bit that I'm a twelve year old girl at heart, but I feel my love and affection for gel pens and black paper makes that super true (as does over-use of the word super). Actually, I've always loved stationery in a very weird sort of way. Like...I'm a legit grown-up and I love that I get to order the stationery at work so I can buy sticky-notes in fun colors. And if someone has a nifty looking pen I look at it lustily and ask if I can write my name with it to see if I want to steal it. Ahem...anyway...I found this pack of black card stock on clearance, and it wanted to live with me, and I have a lot of gel pens, and I've been making them play together.

First up is a mandala I drew. I follow a few artsy Instagram accounts, and the mandalas they show are just so good, and symmetrical, and impossible looking. Mine is ok, and not entirely even, and definitely possible. But I still like it anyway.

I started off by drawing two circles: one is in the center so I'd have a true circle to work outwards from, the other is the final outer circle that I planned on using as a checkpoint to make sure that things were even before continuing, but decided to stop. It's not the easiest thing to come up with different little doodly bits for each round, but it's a fabulous brain stretching exercise. 

I used these gel pens (and a white one) for the main part, and I used some of these to try to add some sparkle that you cannot see at all in the photo (except for a little bit of it on the green bits). The pens have a bit of a paint texture to them, so it's not as smooth as a regular marker might be, but it's worth it for the contrast with the black paper.

Next I played around with some neon gel pens in a starburst pattern. Starburst? Fireworks? One of those.

This one is a bit dizzying to the eye, but is probably the easiest thing ever. Other than all those filler dots. Oy.

And last is a drawing done as part of a Creativebug class, with the inspiration being a Japanese wave pattern. The demo included a white moon 'shining' over a paper of waves, but I left that part out (didn't have the paint) and just did waves.

This felt quite weird at first, in that "OK, now where do I go? And what do I do when I get there?" sense, but once you get going you can feel your brain relax a little bit more. It definitely creates a very cool pattern, and the white on black is just so nifty looking.

I'll tell you this--practicing the piano was nowhere near as fun as practice doodling.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What Little Kids Do

When you ask A-train why he does something, he'll often respond with "That's what little kids do." For example: "Why are your shoes on the wrong feet? Why did you wipe ice cream all over your shirt? How did you get mud in your hair?" Because that's what little kids do. Obviously. I love spending time with him at this age (almost four) because he's curious, and interested in everything. I like following him around outside, and just having a slow sort of time as he points out things he sees at his little eye level. 

"Aunt Bee, oh my goodness, take a picture of this little rock that was buried! I'll point at it so you can see it."

You know those teeeeeeny little red bugs? That's what he's examining here. 

"Do you want to watch me drive my cars? It's fun!" Sure, bud. I'll sit here and watch you play.

See the guy across the street? These two are barking at him.

Normally Charlie wants less than nothing to do with Aiden. Unless he has snacks.

This tree is a dwarf Japanese maple. It has the perfect crook for sitting in, but only if you're wee. When I was younger I wished so hard that we could have trees with good sitting-and-reading branches, but ours were always too high and not strong enough yet (my grandpa planted them when I was a kid).

This one cracks me up because it's like Charlie is sitting there keeping his eye on the snacks and toys. I think I took this when A-train was looking at a bug, and Charlie was watching him.

Do you ever spend that kind of time with a kid, where you just toddle along with them, and don't think about the usual things, or look at your phone every few minutes, or any of that nonsense? It's actually very soothing to take a step back and be a part of their little world. It's what grown-ups never do.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Disappearing Nine Patch a la Baby

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I sewed something. It's that secret thing I couldn't show you because I think the person I made it for reads my blog (but I'm not really sure) and of course I couldn't give away the surprise before the baby shower. But that's over, and now I can. So I shall.

The light colors made this really difficult to photograph, but it's so soft and pretty looking. A disappearing nine-patch quilt has to be the second easiest quilt you can make (the easiest being simply sewing a bunch of squares together).

The only difficult part of this was choosing fabrics. My cousin and his wife don't want to know the gender of their boo, but did talk about their plans for the nursery. I did want to do something a little bit different, maybe a little bit brighter with a touch of a vintage look to it. But I could just not find the fabrics that seemed right for this. And I feel like a lot of kids' fabrics are decidedly gender-specific. I found a gazillion and seven fabric combos that were totes adorbs, but were absolutely boy or girl.

I've noticed that if I go for a marathon sewing session I end up with a wicked headache as my posture goes awry and I don't notice until I'm on the fast track to Exedrinville. So I broke this down into steps. One night I cut the fabrics, another I sewed the block rows together, then the blocks, and so on. It felt like it took forever to make, but at the same time like it was more efficient.

My seams all matched up just right (for the most part), and I didn't face any issues with the quilting. I was originally going to sew just outside of the main seam lines both horizontally and vertically. But I like tighter quilting, so I threw in some diagonals as well. I could have kept going, but I didn't want to overdo it and end up with a stiff baby quilt.

Isn't the backing fabric so cute? I tried to make the front more in keeping with this, but it wasn't going to happen. I don't think I've ever done such a perfect job of quilting--no puckers, no dragging, no intentional sewing of other parts to the back. Just nice and easy. My machine didn't even give me any sass.

I don't do the best job at straight-stitching on a binding, and I didn't think I had enough time to hand-stitch it, so I went with my favorite method of using one of those rarely used fancy stitches for the binding. I washed it and line-dried it and packaged it up.

I was so happy that she loved it. I couldn't decide if I wanted to crochet a blanket or make a quilt, but I'm glad I went this route as someone else made a blankie and a little layette set.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy making small quilted things. Bed quilts make me curse and question my sanity, but baby quilts are fun. Several years ago my sister gave me a pastel colored jelly roll that I haven't used yet. But I came across a few free patterns where I can make two quilts out of one jelly roll. Sounds nice and doable. So I'll probably have that finished and ready to share sometime in the next five or so years.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Flora, Fauna, Chicken

Just out of's your weather been? Normally I am lamenting that it got too warm too fast. But this past Saturday there was snow in the forecast. Some big, wet flakes did fall, and the day was cold and miserable. Then on Sunday, it was beautiful. I mean...perfectly beautiful, couldn't ask for a much nicer day. Just look.

The leaves actually looked really lime green, but I still struggle with this camera, even though I've had it for a while now. That sky, though...

I do so love a good dandelion. This one is looking a little clipped, but I'm pretending that a random squirrel already made some wishes on it (I know, how juvenile--but I'm rebelling against the annual aging benchmark that is my birthday (in a few weeks) by embracing my inner child (her name is Rosie, btw).

This squirrel (I think it's Elmer--again, I'll pretend it is) froze just like this for about a minute. I love the little look on his face. Sometimes I look like that when I'm caught eating something not on my diet, hahaha. Then he ran away.

And froze in the tree.

Lest you think I wandered aimlessly all weekend, I did accomplish a few things. I finished up a project I can show you in a few days, and I spent Sunday cooking dinner (I made grilled caprese chicken and penne a la vodka...without the vodka). At the supermarket these red berries and teeny spray roses caught my eye:

They didn't last terribly long, but my dinner came out well. I used this recipe for the chicken, and my mother's recipe for the pasta sauce. Well, hers isn't technically a recipe. It's that way of cooking moms have where they just add things until it tastes how they want. It's right up there with that skill of selecting the perfect sized container for the leftovers.

Big time stuff, I know.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Not Much

While it looks like nothing has been going on here in my hive, I assure you I've been busy. Work has been busy, I've been getting in more exercise, I've got a shawl on the sticks, and I've got a sewing project I can share in the near future. I just haven't really finished anything yet, and not too much that's exciting has been going on to share. So here's a ho-hum sort of post just to say hello, how are you?

I posted this on Instagram Easter weekend (follow button in the sidebar). It's much bigger now, and is going to be delightful, but it does have that spaghetti effect--the more you knit, the more it seems you have left to knit. I can't wait to show you the yarn in the proper lighting so you can see how it's kind of shimmery and light and airy.

The company I work for makes product packaging (beverage, food, and aerosol cans, as well as closures (like bottle caps and metal lids). One of our facilities even makes fancy tins. On one of his recent journeys my co-worker sent me a picture of this and told me the plant had given him one, and he thought I'd like it--did I want it? Don't have to ask twice! It was filled with chocolate coins, which A and Z have been enjoying. Isn't that pretty? I wish more things came in pretty tins.

And here is my last doodley bit from my sketchbook.

I simply drew a bunch of different triangles, and then filled them all in with different designs. It's quite tiring trying to think of different thing to doodle in a tiny space, so there are quite a few repeats, but I tried to space them out. One thing I wish I had done differently--you see the solid black triangles? I wish I had left them white, and filled in the spaces between the triangles, like the grout in a tile. I think it would have popped a lot more, but if I do it now those sections will just look like black voids. Otherwise, I really like how this turned out--it's just so graphic looking.

When I look at this I think of A-train. When you're talking shapes with him, he says things in the cutest way (that way where you don't want to correct it because it's so cute and he'll grow up soon enough anyway?). Instead of saying 'triangle' or 'rectangle' he says 'triangle-y' or 'rectangle-y.' It's adorable. He also says 'regular' as 'reguley.' I don't know where he gets it from, as this kid's vocabulary is insanely large, and his pronunciation has always been crazy precise. But I hope it sticks around a little longer. One of my big regrets is teaching Z-man to pronounce his 'Ls' properly. One quick lesson and it stuck, and I never got to hear 'yiddle' or 'yuv' again. Boo.

Sincerely, that's all I've got. I'll try to come up with something more interesting in the future. Swearsies.


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