Telling your story

This phrase has been on my mind for months. Everyone has a story - be it sad, inspiring, heartbreaking, troubling, or exciting. Your story is what makes you YOU. Have you shared yours with someone lately? Has someone else shared theirs with you? Has it changed the way you think about them? I love reading or hearing about people's stories and I have a soft spot for the sad ones.

This is part of mine.

What's your story?


Experiments with type

We had a lazy, rainy Sunday here yesterday. It was nice to have nothing to do and just hang around the house - no pressure to work on the garden, either.

I've been thinking of having art classes here in my backyard (or inside if the weather doesn't cooperate) over the summer. I posted about it on Facebook last week and got a pretty good response. I think I'd do two sessions (if there's enough interest) - one for 5-7 year-olds and one for 3-4 year-olds with a grown-up.

I've been compiling a list of potential projects for the older group. Yesterday Malayna and I played around with the lightbox and some big type. I printed the alphabet on paper from the computer and we traced words over the lightbox. Then we colored in the letters with different colors and designs. Malayna loved it - kept asking to trace over and over again. The project would have to be more involved if it were part of the summer art class, but it's a good starting point.


Camera strap slipcover tutorial

A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook about wanting a funky camera strap made by a local artist. No luck. I found lots of handmade camera straps, but none of the makers were local. Instead of spending more time searching, I decided to make one myself.

At first I figured I could head out to a fabric store and find a cool fabric to use. Then I realized I have all these patterns that I've created that would look fabulous on fabric. And, being the collector that I am, I just happened to have this photo fabric lying around. (It's fabric that you can put through your printer.) I don't even remember when I bought it or if I ever used it. See - there's a reason why I save everything!

I chose some of my favorite patterns and reworked them with different colors. After I measured the strap, I created a 26.25" x 4" Photoshop file and played around with how I wanted the patterns to look on the strap. When I had something I liked, I printed it out on paper, pieced it together and used it as a test on the strap. I wrapped the paper around the strap to make sure it would fit.

After tweaking the Photoshop file a bit, I printed it on the photo fabric. Since I couldn't fit the whole thing on one piece of fabric (they're 8.5 x 11" sheets), I had to stitch some of them together, which is one of the reasons I designed it in blocks - like patchwork. I hand-stitched instead of using the machine simply because I would be able to do it anywhere.

Some of the block were printed together and didn't need to be stitched, but I stitched anyway to keep the look consistent. The whole piece was then stitched into a tube shape.

The hardest part of the whole project was fitting the strap into the slipcover. I had made it to fit pretty snugly, so lots of wiggling had to be done to put the cover on.

I love it! Since it's my first one, I'm not sure how long it will last. Not a problem, though - that just means I'll have to make another one!


My little girl (still)

Sometimes I forget just how little Malayna still is. She's six, which means she can brush her own teeth, (almost) take a shower all by herself, help set the table for dinner, go on playdates without me with no tears (never thought that would happen!)… The list goes on.

But then again, she's only six.

Her new favorite show is America's Funniest Home Videos. She loves the host, Tom Bergeron, and thinks he's the second funniest guy around (after her daddy, of course). Last night was the show where the winner of the funniest video gets $100,000. We asked her what she would do with all that money, and she said, "I would buy a pick-up truck." Jimmy asked her if she would buy him a Jeep, and she said that of course she would. I asked her what else she would buy, and she responded, "Would I still have money left over?! I would buy a husband. He will be Jewish, have brown hair, and be named Yair." (Our neighbor and her very good buddy just so happens to be named Yair.) She said they would live in California.

She then got very quiet. Her bottom lip started quivering and she said, "When I think about moving away from you I get sad." We told her we'd come to California with her (we'll follow her anywhere!) but she was already crying. She said, "Just thinking about it makes me cry." She cried for about 10 minutes.

Six is a funny age. She is so self-sufficient, wants to do things without our help, barely bats an eye when she leaves us, and for the most part would rather be playing with her friends than us. The cuddling she used to want 24/7 has whittled down to mostly once a day, maybe a little more if we're lucky. But then there are moments like last night when we're reminded that she's still our little girl.

All this talk about her growing up makes me think of the song The One Who Knows by Dar Williams. Have you ever heard it? (Get your tissues ready. We played this song at Malayna's blessing when she was about 3 months old and there was not a dry eye in the place.) This line gets me every time: "But sometimes I will ask the moon, Where it shined upon you last, And shake my head and laugh and say, It all went by so fast."



I'm almost finished with this clock, which was a special request from my brother and sister-in-law. They let me stay in their trailer near the beach (a whole lot) last summer, and to repay them (a little) I offered them a clock of their choice. None of the colors I usually use really worked in their living room, so my sister-in-law Maria suggested using a black background. What a great idea - I really like the way it looks so far! I just have to attach the clock mechanism and hands and it'll be on its way to Havertown, PA.


Child of my heart

When I write posts like this I struggle with wondering if I'm sharing too much. But then I remember that this is my blog, about my life and it's not always rosy. I don't want to be one of those bloggers whose life looks so perfect online because they never write about anything crappy that's happening. Fortunately, for me, the happy outweighs the crappy most of the time.

If you don't know the story of Artie, you can read here, here, here (scroll down a little), here, and here. In short, he's a kid who holds a piece of my heart. (I was going to write that's he's special to me, but that doesn't even begin to describe the relationship we've had or how I feel about him.) I've known him since he was born and have loved him and hoped for him since the first time I saw him. My heart's been broken because of him (not by him, necessarily) many, many times, but he's the one who taught me about loving a child. He's a wonderful, creative, funny, charming kid. I guess I should call him a man now, since he turned 20 in March. I can't quite do that, though, since I still think of him as the little 2-year-old boy with the beautiful brown eyes and independent spirit. The little boy who had a whole life ahead of him to do great things: to prove to the world that even though he had an awful childhood, he can rise above it; to be the first in his family to finish high school; to show that even one person rooting for him matters.

I could say that I loved him like he was my own child. But it was different. He wasn't mine and yet I still loved him and gave him all I could. It wasn't enough. It couldn't be enough - he deserved his mom's love and support and everything else a good (even average!) mom gives. He never got that and I can tell you that it eats away at a child when they don't have it. His mom always put her own selfish needs above her children's and wonders to this day why they are such screw-ups.

I've always been there for Artie, his brother and sister and their mom (whom I grew up with). There were many times when I (and Jimmy) rescued them. We filled their refrigerator when the only thing in there were roaches. We took Artie to the hospital when she hurt him. We bought clothes for the kids when they had nothing to wear to school. I volunteered at his schools. I did his homework with him. I called CPS when she abused them. (All before they came to live with us.) We raised for her kids for five years so she could get clean. It never happened. What did happen was that two of them hate us. All three are lost and struggling. What did we accomplish?

I'm not writing this to get pats on the back. I have enough of them. I know that we did a great thing and that not everyone would do what we did. I don't care! We did it thinking that we could make a difference. When I say that to some people they remind me how bad it could be - that he could be a murderer or something equally awful without our influence.  That does not make me feel better. You know those after-school specials/commercials/movies that tell you that just one person can make a difference in a kid's life? They make me angry.

We saw the horrible, disgusting things Artie's mom did to him and his siblings. We tried to make it better. We tried to help. All three kids were in therapy. All three had healthcare, clothes on their backs, food in their bellies and a clean, safe house to come home to everyday. We loved them. Instead of thanks, we were threatened by their family (who, by the way, never stepped up and offered to take care of the kids).

As Artie's therapist once said to me, "You and Jimmy tried to fill the Grand Canyon. You can't."

I never wanted Artie to grow up and be a doctor or a lawyer or anything like that. I didn't even care if he went to college. I just wanted him to grow up. To be happy. To rise above. To be proud of himself. 

I feel like I have to end this on a positive note. What that whole situation did do for me was to make me so incredibly grateful for Malayna. She's loved. She's ours. She has a normal, perfectly happy life.


Photo Friday

I finished my spring project! I'm excited about this because usually things that aren't related to my business get started and then tossed aside halfway done. It was a good bit of work and now that it's done I wish I'd taken pictures throughout the process so I could write a tutorial. I might just do that anyway - I could easily recreate parts of the project.

Anyway, here's the big reveal! A "bloom" banner made from vintage and new fabrics. I didn't purchase anything - all the fabrics I used were from my studio. I'm glad I finally got to use some of them. I have lots more…

What do you think?