Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thinking of you card

I made this card for my sister, Teresa, to remind her I haven't forgotten her.  I decided to take a crack at "fussy cutting" some elements from a K & Company paper pack, Life's Journey.  I also cut a giraffe from Tim Holtz grungepaper using the Cricut cartridge Martha Stewart Birthday Cake Art  (Teresa's cards always need a giraffe).  I used my Tim Holtz texture hammer in an attempt to add a little dimension to the giraffe, but unfortunately it didn't end well.  (Sorry, little giraffe.  I must have been having a really bad day.)  

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Real Reason for Menopause

There is a reason women have a limited number of childbearing years.  Raising children is exhausting. And when circumstances make it necessary for us to raise children beyond that timeframe, even with years of experience that hopefully taught us a thing or two, it can get ugly.

(In contrast, men can procreate throughout their lives.  Kind of tells you who's doing all the heavy lifting.)

Motherhood isn't for the faint-of-heart.  It's brutal, stressful work.  The pay isn't great.  Yes, there are rewards, but there are also struggles.  Lots and lots of struggles.  Eventually, the heartwarming moments will be those you remember most.  But I'm not there yet.  I think you have to actually get to the empty-nest years to experience that.

I'll say it again:  There's a reason women lose the ability to bear children at mid-life.  We. Are. Tired.

I'm pretty sure children spend most of their time honing their skills at pushing our buttons.  And by "our", I mean mothers (and sometimes grand/mothers*).  They spot our weaknesses (which usually stem from our desire to mold them into happy, successful adults) and zero in on how they can best take advantage.

If I hear one more, "I know!  I know!", in response to my "gentle" nudging that one child or the other needs to do one thing or another, I'll scream.  Because I know that if I don't "lovingly" remind them to do what should be obvious, I'll hear the inevitable, "I didn't know!"

I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  And I'm post-menopausal.  Need I say more?

*Reminder:  grand/mother refers to a grandmother serving in the capacity of a mother.

Thank You Card

Sometimes in life, usually when I'm completely overwhelmed and desperately needing nothing more than a chance to catch my breath, God steps in with an unexpected blessing.  Usually it's something small.  And that's okay.  It's still a reminder that God loves me and knows my struggles.  But once in a while it's something fun that really brightens my day.  It's as if God is saying, "I can't make the changes you think you need in your life; they aren't in My plan.  Until then, enjoy this and know I love you and want to see you smile."

Last September, in a moment when I really needed some encouragement, I received an email that I had won a contest.  Honestly, at first I thought it was a scam, and it took quite a while for me to find the company and the contest to see if I had even entered it.  (More than five minutes had passed, so of course I couldn't remember.)

Much to my surprise I had won a Cricut Explore!  Mind you, when this new machine was released in February I wouldn't even entertain the idea of buying one since there was no way I could fit it into our budget.  So I lived vicariously through those who were fortunate to actually own one, telling myself I could live without it for a long, long time.   But now I don't have to!

I decided the best way to jump in and learn to use the Explore was to make a card to thank the company, Creativebug, for their generous prize.  I found this image on the Cricut cartridge Paper Lace, and of course I wanted to keep the card simple and within my abilities since it was, after all, going to a company called Creativebug!  Sending a card to some real crafting experts didn't seem to be the appropriate time to try new and challenging techniques.  But my mama taught me to be thankful, so I cut this simple, but pretty image and added a strip of washi tape and some twine across the lower edge of the card.

Do you enter contests?  What are some prizes you've won?  I would love to hear about it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Serving a Life Sentence

Today my husband and I should be celebrating our 32nd anniversary.  We've been planning a nice dinner out, just the two of us, for a few weeks now.  This doesn't seem like too much to ask once a year.  But evidently it is.

From the time the youngest grand/daughter arrived home from school, I've heard the never-ending saga of how she's ostracized because I won't buy her a cellphone (gotta give her props for the creative stories she tells), how she doesn't have any cute clothes like all the other kids (she has clothes, just not the ridiculous amount of name brand, overpriced things some of her friends have), and just a few minutes ago, she came to tell me she likes the denim jacket I found for her to wear with one of her dresses, but it's of no use because she doesn't have the right shoes.


The oldest grand/daughter started in on me before I even realized she was home from school.  I guess she was on the phone with her biological dad and he's been moved to a prison within an hour of our house (oh, wonderful) and she wanted to know if I'd take her to see him.  Yes, that's how I want to spend my spare time...in a prison visiting room.  Sorry, I didn't commit the crime and I shouldn't have to do the time.  And could somebody leave me alone for five minutes so I can get ready for dinner out with my husband?????!!!!!

As it got closer to dinner time, I tried to get both girls to tell me what they planned to do for dinner.  I wanted to make sure they were going to eat something with an ounce of nutritional value and not look at this as a free-for-all snack binge.  I couldn't get the oldest one to tell me anything.  Actually, as of last night she had plans to go to her Bible study group tonight where the leader usually serves dinner, but by today she had decided not to go.  (This left me suspicious in light of the fact she knew my husband and I wouldn't be home, so my already-frayed nerves were sent into high alert.)  Finally, even though I had already showered, spackled my face, smoothed the frizz out of my hair, and put on nicer clothes than my usual jeans and sweatshirt, I decided the best thing to do was stand over a hot stove and cook a semi-healthy dinner for the kids.  Heaven forbid they should have to eat leftovers or a sandwich (which just happens to be what I eat for lunch every day).

To be honest, I really don't blame either of my grand/daughters. They're good kids, but they are kids, and they want what other kids have.  As a matter of fact, I often feel guilty because they deserve better than what this tired old lady has to give.  I've been raising children for nearly forty years and I just need a break.  But there's no light at the end of the tunnel for me. Realistically, my husband and I have another decade of supporting these girls, both financially and emotionally, before we can even dream of time to rest and be together.

Dinner out tonight isn't going to happen.  Somewhere between listening to one complaint or another, I simply lost my appetite.  I'm sure the biological parents of these children are going about their day doing whatever they want, or at least whatever they can with the lives they've chosen for themselves, without giving a care in the world to the needs of these precious girls.  Because of their irresponsible actions I feel like I've been given a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit.

And there's no justice in that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Things are the Same Wherever I Go

In my home there are four people and three bathrooms.  It doesn't matter what time of day, what day of the week, or which bathroom I use...I think every time I go I have to replace the toilet paper roll. Sometimes it's obvious the last person intentionally left behind just a square or two.  You know, technically it wasn't empty.

Today I went to Michael's for a little retail therapy after my dental appointment.  First stop--the bathroom (I'd been at the dentist's for a while).  I sat my naked behind down and immediately checked the paper situation (too many past regrets).  Whoops.  No paper.

I immediately started to re-dress myself and move to another stall when I spotted the giant toilet paper roll propped on the back of the toilet.  I sat back down, reached for the giant roll, then noticed the paper holder on the wall didn't have a locking door.  (You know society has reached an all-time low when every public place has to lock up the scratchy one-ply toilet paper.)   I put the giant roll onto the dispenser and faced the hard, cold truth.

No matter where I go, there's a good chance I'll be refilling the toilet paper.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Giraffe Card

I wanted to make a card for my sister, Teresa, just to say, "I love you".  I've written several times before about how she loved giraffes, and how she has been in a vegetative state for almost 15 years now.  I can't visit her very often since we live hundreds of miles apart, so I like to send cards once in a while to let her know how much she means to me.  My other sisters, who live in our hometown and visit her regularly, are kind enough to deliver my cards and read them to her.  (They are my heroes for all they do for Teresa, even though they have families and other responsibilities that keep them plenty busy.)

The giraffe was cut from the Cricut cartridge Wall Decor and More.  The background was embossed with the Darice embossing folder Corner Scroll.   I finished with a stamped sentiment (and some really bad photography).

Thanks so much for visiting!

I've Got a Job to Do

I know this life isn't all there is, and our focus should really be on eternity.  But the here-and-now is what I'm faced with every day.  And it isn't easy.

I've been brutally honest about my struggles (or at least as much as possible without hurting too many feelings), and how in the midst of it all God has pulled me up from despair, slapped me a couple of times to get my attention, and then blessed me in ways I probably don't even recognize.

But that doesn't mean it isn't difficult.  My family is still struggling financially (although it isn't as hopeless as before). Every day the kids mention one thing or another their friends have that we can't (or won't) buy for them.  College is just a little over a year away for the oldest grandchild (and we have maybe enough saved to cover a semester or two at a state school).  My husband and I will celebrate our 32nd anniversary next week, but can't even dream of a romantic getaway; at this point, we're just hoping we can slip away for dinner without something going wrong.  And I watch other people--especially those who should be the ones shouldering these burdens--spending life living only for themselves.

I watch as those who walked away from their responsibilities are lauded as wonderful people, deserving only of the best in life.  My granddaughter's paternal grandmother sends gifts to my house to be passed along to my daughter, the birth mother, to show her how special she is for giving birth. Meanwhile, I spend my days alone, keeping house, cooking meals, doing laundry, and listening to teenage angst that threatens to last forever.   And never an encouraging word, much less expressions of appreciation.

I know God has given my husband and me this task, and I think I know why.  And I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of two children I adore.  Someday I'll stand in the presence of my Lord, and I hope He'll say, "Well done, my child".  (But I suspect He'll say, "I gave you one task, and you complained about it constantly.  Go sit in the corner until I can stand to look at you.")  Either way, I'll continue my struggle, do the job I was given to the best of my ability, and know that in the end I might very well have changed the lives of my two granddaughters for the better.  And that makes it all worthwhile.

Even if I don't feel it at this moment.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Card with Metallic Accents

Here's a simple birthday card I made for a very special young man. I wanted to add a little sparkle without making it look girly, so I used metallic paper for the banners and patterned paper with metallic accents for the background.  I won't even pretend to remember which Cricut cartridges I used, but I'm pretty sure I did actually use my Cricut.   

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Boy's 13th Birthday Card

Cards for men and boys are one of my biggest challenges.  But the most difficult are for teenage boys. You've got to keep the card interesting without making it too "cutesy".   And I've never raised a son, so I'm not quite attuned to what they like or find "cool". Considering my confusion, I've learned to keep it simple without making it look like I didn't try at all.  Two things I turn to again and again are embossing folders and fancy (yet masculine) paper.

For this card I used the Cuttlebug embossing folder Diamond Plate to emboss a metallic sheet of paper.  I chose patterned paper that included silver stars, then cut the number 13 from grungepaper and painted it silver to match.

The most rewarding part of this project is that it went to a wonderful young man who always appreciates my handmade cards.  And that makes it all worthwhile.

Do you find cards for men and boys difficult, or is there another type card you find especially challenging?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Thinking of You Card

This card was made for someone who was going through an extremely difficult time, so I felt I should keep it simple.  I used the Darice embossing folder Circle Interlock for the background, stamped a sentiment to match the border colors, then added a strip of washi tape as a final touch.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 16, 2015

First Birthday Card for a Girl

My youngest granddaughter celebrated her first birthday recently.  (And by "recently", I mean six months ago.)  I posted photos from her party here.  Today I'm sharing the card I made her.

I used the Cricut cartridge Baby Steps for all the die cuts.  I added some dimensional white paint to the cupcake in the sentiment to give it the look of frosting, then topped the candle flame with glitter glue.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 13, 2015

First Birthday Banner and Cake Topper

No, I haven't been a crafting dynamo lately.  But in an effort to bring a little life to my blog, I've dusted off some never-before-posted projects and I'm now trotting them out to make you think I've actually been doing something.

I haven't.

My daughter asked me to make a cake topper for her daughter's first birthday.  Or maybe I volunteered. I'm pretty sure I insisted she let me make a Happy Birthday banner whether she wanted one or not. I know she would have loved to make all her own decorations (she's much craftier than me!), but she has a full-time job and two toddlers, whereas I'm a stay-at-home grand/mother who needs a purpose in life beyond cleaning up after able-bodied teenagers, so I enjoy an opportunity to make something fun that will actually be used and appreciated.  

I wish I had been able to get a better picture of the window, but my photo skills are seriously lacking. But you get the idea.  The giant pompoms and purple streamers in the window were made by my daughter (probably while two little cuties were pulling at the crepe paper and trying to undo all her hard work).

The banner was made using the Cricut cartridges Creative Memories-Tiny Treasures (butterfly, ladybug, bird, elephant and "1st") and Birthday Cakes (letters).  The letters were placed on simple rectangles I cut with my paper trimmer.  (Another horrible picture.  When my ship comes in I hope there's a professional photographer on board.)

I stitched a simple banner for the cake topper, then made some matching pompoms using a variety of fabrics.  I wasn't sure I liked the color combination, so I tried again with softer shades of purple.  I let my daughter choose her favorite (which turned out to be the first ones!)

And this was my reward--spending time with my two precious grandchildren, who live much too far away:

My adorable granddaughter wasn't a big fan of the cake, which seemed to perplex her equally-adorable brother.

Oh, and they don't live in a tropical climate, far removed from the cold weather and snow currently sweeping across the country.  This party actually took place in August.  I'm that slow.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Birthday Card for a Young Boy

I made this birthday card from two of my most-used Cricut cartridges.  The monkey is from the Cricut cartridge Create a Critter 2 and the bear balloon is from the original Create a Critter cartridge.  I used button-shaped brads on the monkey's shirt and baker's twine for the balloon string. Since the card was for a boy, I didn't want to add too much bling, but I though cutting the balloon from glitter paper would add a little extra sparkle for a very special young man who brightens up my life.

Do you have a Cricut cartridge you find yourself using over and over again?  I would love to hear what your favorites are!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Toy Story Birthday Card

It seems like only yesterday I was writing to announce that my daughter was expecting her miracle baby.  That precious boy just turned three.  

Yes, time flies.  I think when we are raising our own children we're so busy that we don't realize just how quickly the years are passing, until one day we look up and our babies are grown.  But with grandchildren, especially those who live too far away, we are reminded with every photograph or visit that the years are indeed slipping by.  That's exactly how I felt when I realized my first grandson was turning three.

Three.  That's a big number.  Especially when you realize he's speaking in real sentences.  Wears big-boy pants.  And doesn't just walk, but runs all over the place.  He's still adorable.  But by no means is he a baby any more.

I love when a child has favorite toys and characters, especially when I have a Cricut cartridge to match.  My grandson just recently developed a love for the "Toy Story" movies, so his birthday card was easy to plan.  I used the Cricut cartridge "Toy Story" for the Woody character, and with my Cricut Explore I utilized the print-then-cut feature (which is so much easier than cutting all those teeny-tiny pieces, then trying to layer them).  I also printed and cut a balloon image, then layered the number "3" on top.  I cut some twine for the balloon strings and let Woody hold them.  

The first thing my grandson said upon opening the card was, "Where's Buzz Lightyear?"  Kids don't miss anything.

Of course this granny was right on top of that.  Just wait until he sees his valentine.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Anniversary or Valentine card

With Valentine's Day less than a week away, I thought it was the right time to share this card.  It was actually the anniversary card I made my husband last year, but I never got around to posting it.  And since this year's valentine will most likely be finished just before dinner on Saturday, this was the only romantic valentine I had any hope of sharing before the holiday is over.

Creativity isn't really my thing and I'm ready to own that.  (I'm not sure how I ended up with a 10 ft. x 9 ft. room filled with enough paper products and embellishments to start my own scrapbook store, but here I am.)  At some point during my many, many trips around the www, the idea of using negative space to add dimension and texture to a project had been planted in my brain.  It seemed like something my husband would appreciate, so the seed took root and a card was born.

I cut strategically-placed hearts out of patterned paper using my Cricut Expression, then backed the openings with red corrugated paper that I had attempted to soften with gold paint.  The color didn't turn out quite like I had hoped, but with time running out I decided to adhere it to the solid card base before I could change my mind.  As a final touch, I cut a strip of patterned paper that contained the word "love" and stamped "31 years of" to complete the sentiment.  

(All those years of wedded "bliss" weren't easy to achieve, and I was going to acknowledge every last one.)

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Heart-shaped Valentine Card

Here's another valentine card from 2014.  I made one of these for each of my two oldest granddaughters.

I used the heart-shaped card from the Cricut cartridge "Wild Card".  I didn't even pretend to get fancy; I made them exactly as they were designed.  But I did go the extra 1/4 mile by making envelopes using some floral scrapbook paper and my Martha Stewart scoring board.

If I don't fast-forward back to 2015 and get busy soon, this year's cards might just be construction paper with "Happy Valentine's Day" scribbled in crayon.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Girl's Valentine Card

As I shared yesterday, I am not really ahead of schedule with completed valentines this early in February. This is actually the card I made my youngest granddaughter last year.

I found this adorable Koala on the Cricut cartridge "Create a Critter 2".  I stamped and heat embossed the word "love" onto the heart, then cut the phrase "Happy Valentine's Day" from the same cartridge (to which I added "1st" since it was indeed her first Valentine's Day) and glued the sentiment inside.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Boy's Valentine Card

No, I haven't actually made valentines for my grandchildren this year.  This is the one I made for my grandson last year.  But I'm actually posting it nearly two weeks before Valentine's Day...doesn't that count for something?

The bear is from the Cricut cartridge "Create a Critter 2".  I stamped and heat-embossed the word "love" onto the heart, hoping it would resemble a candy conversation heart (it doesn't).  I finished by cutting the sentiment "Happy Valentine's Day" from the same cartridge and gluing it inside.

Not especially fancy or creative, but thank goodness small children aren't yet judgmental.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hello Kitty Birthday Card

I have been a real slacker with my blog over the past year.  I'd like to say I promise to do better in 2015, but since it's February 1st already and this is my first post of the year, I think that ship has already sailed.  

If you think my blog has been neglected, my crafting supplies have hardly been touched.  So I'm digging into my photo archives to find something...anything...that I've created and haven't yet shared. 

This is a birthday card I made for my young niece last summer using the Cricut cartridge "Hello Kitty Font".   To make the card a little more fancy (at least in comparison to the basic rectangle I usually make), I decided to attempt a shaped card using Cricut Craft Room.  I used the shadow feature from the Hello Kitty image I had chosen and welded it onto a rectangle long enough to make the size card I wanted.  The best I could come up with was this semi-shaped card, to which I then glued the layered Hello Kitty image.  I added some glitter glue to the heart (what little girl doesn't like a little sparkle?) and stamped a sentiment in the corner. Simple, just the way I like it.

Thanks for looking! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stuffed Giraffe

I wrote a few days ago about the "Fun with Elmo" book I made for my two-year-old grandson in a desperate attempt to gain his favor.  I needed to earn a spot in the heart of his adorable little sister, too, so I had to think of something I could make for a not-quite-one-year-old.  Since giraffes have a special significance in my family, I found a pattern online to make a small stuffed giraffe just right for tiny little hands.

I used some patterned fleece I already had and strategically cut it to give the giraffe a little more color and interest.  I braided some thin ribbon to create the tail, which I stitched into the seam, and "embroidered" (term used loosely) the eyes with plain black thread.  Stuffing the giraffe was quite the challenge, but I succeeded (eventually) and hand-stitched the opening as tightly as possible.

It isn't perfect, but toddlers aren't terribly discerning when it comes to concepts such as quality and durability.  It's soft, it's colorful, and I'm pretty sure that's good enough for now.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fun With Elmo Toddler Book

I don't see my youngest grandchildren nearly often enough.  Before my most recent visit, I decided to make a small bribe gift for each of them so they might remember me fondly (the other two granddaughters live with me, so they already don't like me).

My two-year-old grandson loves Elmo, and since I have the Cricut cartridges "Sesame Street Friends" and "Sesame Street Seasons" I thought a small book would be fun to make for him.  I decided to include very simple words to help him learn to read (and also to keep the project easy for me; yeah, I'm a tired grandmother--see note above mentioning the two who live with me).

I kept the backgrounds simple since I wanted to laminate the pages, and as you can see from the photos, multiple layers don't laminate well.  (Also, I'm a little lazy.) After laminating the pages and trimming the excess, I put it together using my Bind-it-All.  My favorite page is "Run, Elmo, run!" because I thought I was actually clever for once.  (If you aren't impressed, neither was anybody else.)

Overall, it was a fun, easy project.  And I got to make something for one of my favorite people!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Every Day God Gives Me a Do-over, and For That I am Truly Thankful

First, I hope my neighbors didn't observe my meltdown last night.  Second, I'm sorry my family did.

I'm falling apart.  Years of relentless stress have taken their toll.  I just don't have the energy it takes to go on.  But go on I must.  There are children to be raised and a home to make.

I've written before about the difficulties I've faced trying to raise my granddaughters without benefit of a healthy childhood to prepare me for life.  I'm not sure why, but God keeps picking me up and blessing me in spite of myself.  God is good that way.

Life isn't perfect.  We're still digging ourselves out of the financial hole we fell into when the economy tanked.  I'm struggling to be a mother to two beautiful, wonderful children who deserve so much better than what I have to give.  But we still have our home, crumbling though it is after two decades.  My husband has a job, and it seems it might finally start to pay enough that we can stop draining our home equity and retirement accounts (since we've pretty much depleted them by now). And we are relatively healthy for a couple of old folks.  But most of all, God watches over us.  And that brings me more joy than I can ever express.

I was reading a blog today about a woman who is losing her husband to cancer.  I can't imagine how a person gets through such an experience.  I've grieved when I lost loved ones, but my husband is my best friend.  Even when I want to strangle him, I know my life would be so empty without him in it. I pray God will give us both many more years so we can finally experience each other without the constant strain of raising a family.  I want to travel with him.  I want to walk on the beach with him...and only him.  Heck, I just want to have dinner alone with him.

I pray God will give me the strength to be a better person and help me appreciate all I've been given. But most of all, I pray He will guide my path so that I can honor Him.  It's the least I can do.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

He Loves Me (and you, too)

If you feel hopeless or alone, please spend a few minutes listening to this amazing song.  And know that Jesus gave His life for you.  He loves you so much that even if you were the only person on earth, He would have died on the cross for you.  For you.   And if you already have a personal relationship with Jesus but can't really feel it at the moment, maybe this song will bring it all back to you.  I know it did just that for me.

I haven't been shy about revealing that I've been suffering through severe depression for a while now. (Yes, Christians can be depressed.)  It hasn't been easy and it isn't pretty.  And much of it is due to my unwillingness to relinquish my anger and bitterness to God.  I've prayed.  And prayed.  And prayed some more.  But listening to this song,  I can't help but feel chills just thinking of the awesome love of God.  No matter how hard I try to pull away He always pulls me back into His loving embrace.  Thank you, Jesus.  I love You, too.

(And thanks to Chris Tomlin for sharing this beautiful song.  I can't wait to buy the CD when it's released tomorrow!)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Today, Iron-on Vinyl; Tomorrow, Graphic 45

I've been in such a deep depression I can't seem to get anything done.  I'm not trying to be a drama queen, but IT HAS BEEN BRUTAL.  A lot of factors have played into my funk...isolation, spousal disagreements, tough financial times, menopause, and the granddaddy of them all (or should I say granddaughter)...dealing with a teenage girl.

But today I decided I won't live forever, so if I'm waiting until life gets perfect to get up off my computer chair and back away from Facebook, I'll be dead first.  So I decided to thank God for the blessings He's provided for me and actually do something.

I cleaned house and did laundry over the weekend, so it sure seemed fair that I should spend this Monday doing something fun.

But first, the teenage girl decided to push my buttons.

She was home "sick" today, but all I saw was a teenager talking on the phone and playing her keyboard.  The school projects that are due this week didn't seem to be getting any closer to finished. I told her to get off the keyboard and do some homework since she was apparently feeling better.

"I don't have anything due anytime soon."  (I knew this wasn't true because the quarter ends in 2 days.  If she has a project that isn't due until next quarter, it will be a first for me.  And I'm an old lady who's been around long enough to see it all.)  "Get off the keyboard and get busy with your homework!", I said a little more emphatically.  To which she replied...

"Ummm, NO!"

God's never-ending grace and mercy stopped me from committing a felony.

I try my hardest to teach the girls to be responsible and respectful.  But at this point in my life, somedays I just don't have it in me to engage in battle.  This past weekend was horrendous and I simply didn't have the energy left to deal with her.  But I have an ace up my sleeve and she will regret her actions in a couple of days.  And no, I won't need to commit a crime to get my point across. Yeah, you don't mess with me, especially when you don't have all the facts.

Anyway, now that I'm rolling down the hill toward my last few years, I decided it was time to waste some craft supplies and just have fun.  I don't usually allow myself such luxuries.  I won't use my iron-on vinyl because I don't have the perfect project. I can't bring myself to actually embellish a t-shirt because I'm not sure anyone will wear it.  I won't make a decorative item if I don't think I have a specific use for it.  And I have yet to cut a single sheet of my ever-growing collection of Graphic 45 paper.  (I thought it was something to keep and admire, like a coffee table book.)

But today, with a sense of urgency only a woman approaching her 60s can understand, I broke out the iron-on vinyl.  And a t-shirt.  Actually, I used two t-shirts!  Oh, and my forgotten I-Rock iron-on gems.

It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Why didn't I do this sooner???  Sometimes it's worth using a few supplies for no other reason than to enjoy life.  And enjoy life I did.

I'm still working up the courage to crack open that first pack of Graphic 45 paper.  And who knows? Maybe I'll even use scissors.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


***This post was written a long, long time ago and I never got around to publishing it.  But the facts remain the same.  And as far as I know, the teepee is still standing.***

Honestly, I can't remember the conversation I had with my daughter because it was months ago, but at some point she had mentioned that her son would love to have a teepee for his second birthday (or maybe she just said she would love for him to have one).  "I can make that!", I foolishly said.

The pressure was on.  When I realized I wouldn't be able to make the 400-mile trip for his party, I knew I had a little extra time (until my next visit) since there was no way I was paying to ship 6-foot poles and a big, heavy tarp.  If I was willing to pay for that, I might as well pay the $150+ going rate for a ready-made teepee.

And oh, how I now wish I had.

I had several months to figure out my plan of action.  I researched DIY tutorials (and by "researched" I mean occasionally I'd start an internet search, glance at a few, and get back to Facebook).

There are a myriad of methods for creating a teepee, and decision-making isn't my thing.  I simply couldn't choose one.  So to begin I just set about looking for 6-foot poles.

I couldn't find any.  At least not any that would keep my project from venturing into the $150 budget range.  Again, I might as well buy a teepee.  I settled on 4-foot bamboo poles thinking I could make that work.

I'm not a magician.  I couldn't.

My husband insisted we already had a brand-spanking-new giant canvas drop cloth, which is the fabric of choice for the budget-minded DIYer.  And budget-minded I am.  Eventually I asked him to prove it, and he dragged a canvas cloth out of the basement.  I washed and dried it and left it sitting around a while.  You know...for inspiration.

I researched some more on how to make a teepee.  I learned a lot about what my family and friends were doing on Facebook.

And finally, it was less than a week until I would be making the trip to visit my grandson, two months after his birthday.  I needed to find poles.  I needed a plan.  I needed a big glass of wine.

I pulled out my giant Mason Jar tumbler and filled it with a couple of bottles.

I knew I would never even get started until I sent my perfectionism on a much-needed vacation.  Once that was out of the way, I started to give this project a serious look...after I caught up with what everyone was doing, or said they were doing, according to Facebook.

Now, all the DIYers I found on the internet who made teepees seem to have magical places where they do their shopping.  They were all talking about the 8-foot poles they got for 37 cents each, and the cheapest wood I could find were some 8-foot pieces of lumber that were so warped I couldn't think of a use for them other than firewood, and they were nearly $1.50 each..  I ended up finding slightly better quality 6-foot 1x2s for around $2.50, but I could tell splinters were going to be a big problem.

My teepee style was pretty much dictated by the fact that my wood poles weren't smooth.  To protect my precious grandchildren, I would need to make triangular panels with channels to slip the poles into.  I also figured this would make the teepee a little more sturdy.

And I finally took a good look at my canvas drop cloth.  Not only wasn't it big enough, but it had been used.  But I was desperate enough not to care one bit about a few paint spatters.   I laid out the canvas to be sure it was large enough, which it was, but there was a seam down the middle and I needed the extra inch or so of fabric contained within that seam.  With no other choice, I started ripping out the seam.  It wasn't any old seam--it was a french seam with two rows of stitching down a 150" length of heavy, plastic-backed canvas.  But I kept at it until my fingers bled.  Suddenly, a few subtle paint splotches seemed like nothing compared to bright red blood stains.

I measured not once, not twice, but many, MANY times before I made the first cut.  Still, somewhere along the way my math was wrong.  My channels weren't quite wide enough.  Back to the drawing board sewing machine.  I knew this would affect my overall dimensions, but I soldiered on.

Finally, with my perfectionism still on a break, I got the canvas cover finished and ready to install.

It didn't quite fit.

I figured out a way to tweak it a little and maybe make it work and before I had time to agonize too much, I ran with it.  And once I got the cover in place, I couldn't get the poles to criss-cross in any way that would work.  Just before throwing the entire thing in the fireplace, I enlisted my husband to help.  He was able to get everything lined up just the way it needed to be.  By then my perfectionism was banging at the door, so I spent a few more hours trying to get everything perfect.  That never happened, but I did have a functional teepee.

Then my teenage granddaughter came into the room and asked if that wouldn't be a dangerous thing for a two-year-old to play with.  She had the nerve to suggest it might fall on him or his baby sister, and began to kick the poles to see if she could make it fall.  This is why I don't keep weapons in the house.

The whole process was a nightmare.

I briefly toyed with the idea of writing an actual tutorial, and took pictures along the way.  After making multiple changes over the course of a few days, it became evident that I neither had the talent to tell anyone else how to do something nor a finished product that anyone would want to re-create.

If you're still with me, here's a picture of the finished teepee:

As usual, the best I can offer in the form of advice is what not to do.

Don't use 1x2s for the poles.  Use something round, like a dowel or bamboo.  And if you must use some other type of lumber, go for a small, square shape.  Just be sure it is sturdy enough to support the cover material you choose.

If you are using a pieced cover rather than a circular one-piece, don't try to get the top edge of your cover all the way up to where the poles cross each other (if you don't know what I'm talking about, get off Facebook and do your research!)

Don't wait to get started until a few days before you need the finished product.  It will always take more time and money than you ever imagined.

And finally, find a well-written tutorial from someone who knows what they're talking about, not a blog post written by someone who clearly has no idea how to build a teepee because she wasted far too much time on social media and drinks too much.

Looking at the picture of my teepee, it looks like I did a pretty decent job.  But really, it's just a whole lot of smoke-and-mirrors.

Maybe I'm a magician after all.