Posts Tagged ‘diy’

Honestly, I never really wanted to crochet, I wanted to knit.  I love the way knitted things look.  I really wanted to knit a Waldorf doll.  Alas, my friend Michelle taught herself to crochet and handed the book down to me.  It was a  teach yourself to crochet in 5 minutes book.  She had taught herself to crochet in 5 minutes.  It took me something like 5 hours and nothing I made was terribly pretty.  I just couldn’t figure it out.  My aunt came to visit and showed me the basics.  As soon as she left though, I was back to square one.  Eventually, I turned to youtube and watched the same videos over and over until I had figured out how to do a single crochet.  5 minutes, 5 months.  Basically the same thing.

I enjoy crocheting for a few reasons.

For the most parts its monotonous work.   Once I get a pattern down I can crochet by feel.  I can  crochet and watch tv, baseball, even read.  I joke with Dave that if I ever go blind I can still crochet. He’ll just have to read me the pattern and color coordinate the yarn.   I don’t know why I have a fear of going blind, maybe it’s this whole getting older thing and having to wear my glasses more consistently rather than sporadically at night.  Regardless, I find myself tucking small tidbits of things away in the dark recess of my brain in case I do go blind.  Crocheting happens to be one of them.

Also, I read somewhere that crocheting is one of the few handcrafts which can not be replicated by a machine.   There aren’t too many things left that can’t be replicated.  It makes me feel rather superior.  Unfortunately, not being able to be replicated by a machine tends to make all things crocheted look terribly homemade in my opinion.  I don’t think I would ever wear a crochet sweater or dress.  Since, I personally, don’t love crochet things, I make them and give them away.

And, it keeps me warm.  I start crocheting a blanket and eventually the blanket gets larger and larger and consumes more and more of my lap.  This is important here in the arctic tundra, especially with children who want me to watch every single minute of every game and practice.


If you have something I made, you are welcome.

To increase the personal enjoyment factor, I make a ton of hideous things and then give them away to friends and family impressing upon them how many hours of labor I spent making them the crochet monstrosity because I love them.  Hence, pretty much obligating them to love said monstrosity forever and forever and never give it away.  Of course, unless it’s the Smithsonian, then that would be okay.

Case 1:

Lots and lots of little stuffed animals.  My favorite are probably Mario and Luigi:  Which are cute, but honestly, what is anyone going to do with these other than put them on a shelf and look at them because I’m not sure that their heads will make it through any actually play.


Case  2:

Hats.  They are so easy.  i’ve made beanies, crowns, not to mention tons of characters.  I gave everyone I knew a hat for Christmas, mostly Ninja turtles and star wars characters.


Case 3:

My poor sister who has received Harry Potter scarves, the largest afghan ever in a beautiful purple chevron pattern (which was just a jab because I  heard she was going without heat because she couldn’t figure out how to turn the heater on in her new apartment and was huddling around votive candles from ikea.) She also was gifted with an R2D2 beanie and a princess lea beanie. She has the geekiest coiffed head in LA.  Not to mention Doby.


Dave:  What is your poor sister going to do with all this stuff?” 

Me:  I don’t know, be surrounded by my love.

Case 4:

I make lots of things for the church bazaar.  Mostly baby things because I don’t have a baby to make them for.  I’ve made Baby blankets and baby hats and baby shoes.   Hopefully the church can make some moolah off this rearrangement of yarn.


Case 5:

My favorite though is probably this crowning jewel of my afghan making.


When Dave was traveling to China I started watching Roseanne on Netflix.  I enjoyed it because I had already seen every episode before so I didn’t have to concentrate too hard on it.  I could crochet or peruse the Internet and never truly feel distracted.  Somehow I hooked my friend Renee on it.  I gave up around season 2 because I couldn’t stand Roseanne Barr’s screechy voice any longer.  She watched the whole show, all 87 seasons.

I did what any best friend would do.  I made her the Granny square afghan that was on the back of Roseanne’s couch for the whole show.  I tried very hard to make it as ghastly ugly as possible.  I used all of my left over yarn, which included a surprisingly large amount of neon colors.


For months I told her that I had completed number 42 of 120 of her Birthmas present , because this was too awesome to be given just as a birthday or Christmas gift.  Then once each of the million squares was finally finished the real work of crocheting them together began.  To be followed by crocheting a boarder all around.


Me:  I am going to embroider “This took me for freaking ever” on this present.  You may never give this away.

Her:  I know it’s because you love me.

Me:  If I find this in a thrift store, I may actually kill you.  Of course I will bury you with it after I kill you.  Which I will find hilarious for ever.

Her:  I’m kinda scared about this present now.

Me:  You will love it.  And even if you don’t that’s okay.  Every time I work on this I chuckle to myself.  I expect this to have a prime spot in your living room and I will find it hilariously funny for the rest of my life.   Except you can’t let the kids touch it or the dog near it because I’m not sure it’s washable.  It might completely fall apart.

And after months and months, I finally finished it.  It had layed around my house providing lots of color during the long winter and when I packed it up to be shipped, I found that I did miss it terribly.

Marshall:  You know what would be awesome?

Me:  What?

Marshall:  If we infested this with lice before we sent it to Renee.

Me:  That wouldn’t be funny.

Marshall:  She’d flip.  It would be hilarious.  (Chuckling to himself).  How do you get lice?

Me:  By washing your hair.  Go wash your hair.

No louse was sent intentionally, or unintentionally….


Read Full Post »

I am so incredibly blessed to have an amazing group of men who love and support me.

Like my Grandpa whose love shows no boundaries.  He’s the kind of guy who goes skydiving on his 70th birthday, because you’re never too old to enjoy the things you loved when you’re young.  He’s also shown me that when life is hard and doesn’t go like you’ve planned, you need to roll up your sleeves and get to work to make it better.  His great patience, compassion, tenderness, and steadfastness during the long years of taking care of my grandma as her health steadily declined, was such a huge testimony of his love that touched everyone that knows him.  (Phew that was a long run on sentence)

And this guy, my father-in-law.  I can not tell you, internets, how thankful I am for in-laws who love me and whom I love.  When Dave and I started dating we each had long checklists for the attributes we wanted in our spouse.  I’m not quite sure what was on his list.  Maybe something like “During our first conversation when I ask her where she sees herself in five years she’ll reply ‘Married, with more children and hopefully pregnant.’  (Thank God he didn’t hang up the phone and run!).  One of my top ten was that he would have a wonderful family.  The very first time I met Bill, he said “You are our Rachel.  We have been praying for you!”  How can you not love that?

And my Dad.  How do you sum up how much you love your Dad in one paragraph?  You don’t.  I could write forever about this amazing guy who will sit through the freezing rain for two hours to watch my kid play baseball and then move onto the next set of bleachers to watch his next grandkid play.  He’s the sort of guy who will fly up and build me a chicken coop because I have ambitions of being an urban farmer.  And then he’ll call me daily to check on his chickens.  He’s the guy who knows me so well that he understands exactly how I feel with just one word.

And then there’s Dave.  The guy who is my perfect match. When we were dating we were amazing gift givers.  I made him a quilt of our 9 first dates.  He hand carved me a picture frame.  I wrote him copious love letters.  He made me a scrap book complete with all the memorabilia of our first year together, including ticket stubs, street maps, and our first emails to one another.  But then we got married and moved in together.  All of our free time is spent together.  And we have 5 kids with very busy schedules.  Our amazing gift giving turned into plastic dolphins and Wine of the Month Club subscriptions.

This Father’s Day I decided to bring back the homemade gift.  I found an Eric Carlesque book that someone had made on pinterest and decided that I could totally do it. Of course I procrastinated and did this all the Friday before Father’s Day.  There were no directions so I winged it and here are my directions (unfortunately without pictures, so imagine the mess).

Step 1:  Plan what you’re going to write.  Be thankful that Eric Carl did all the hard work with “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see.”

Step 2:  Decide what you’re illustrations are going to look like.  Maybe even go so far as making a rough draft (which will totally remind you that you’re not an artist).  Think about buying him a gift instead.

Step 3:  Break out the paint and convince your 5-year-olds to paint sheets of paper.  Realize that no five-year old wants to paint a solid color on paper.  Bribe with candy.  Realize you have 12 more colors to paint.  Give them different household tools to create texture on the paint.  Wash paint off of everything.

Step 4:  Start cutting.  Prematurely think you could be the next Eric Carle. Realize that you will need glue.  Search for glue.  Find 14 glue sticks without lids.  Find 2 bottles of glue completely dried out.  Break out the craft glue. Peel a layer of skin off of the craft glue.  Mentally chastise yourself for not doing enough crafts with the kids.

Step 5: Decide to have the older children make their own portraits.  Realize that your teen’s apathy for the project will lead her to paint on her lips rather than look for the red paper.  Mentally bang your head against a wall and wish for wine at 2pm because your 9-year-old cries that this is too hard.  Think your 12-year-old may actually have a future in paper arts.

Step 6:  While the kids are bickering about their portraits decide you should look on the internet for someone who can print the photobook and express ship it to you in 2 days.  Learn that Walgreens will do same day printing for photobooks.  Do a quick coupon search and find a 40% coupon for Walgreens Photo.  Pat yourself on the back for being a procrastinator  Think about writing them a thank you note from procrastinators everywhere.  Decide to look on the internet for a procrastinator group.

Step 7:  Join the children in finishing up the artwork.  Decide that the work in making lots of different Dad’s is impossibly too much to finish before Dave gets home from work.  Instead cut off arms and reposition them.  Congratulate yourself on your mad scissors skills.

Step 8: Start to take pictures of the artwork and creating the photo book.  Realize it won’t be as quick as you thought.  Call Dave and hint he should stay at work late. He doesn’t bite.

Step 9:  Recruit the older two to make portraits of the  younger two.

Step 10:  Be awed with your daughter’s creativity when she gives her little brother highlights.  Realize that you must have never taught your teenager the saying “When using a glue, use a dot, not a lot”.  Break out the hairdryer because Daddy’s going to be home in 30 minutes and we need to hide the evidence of this massive project!  Wish you had used glue sticks which dry clear.  Break out the markers and color the glue.

Step 11:  Frantically  finish taking photos of all the artwork and run around like a crazy women trying to get the kids to help you clean up the huge mess.

Step 12:  Come up with a brilliant plan and have Dave stop at the grocery store on the way home.  Realize you need an actual photo of the kids to round out the book.  Coordinate them on the picnic bench.  Take 87 photos in which not everyone is smiling in all of them.  Abandon a sweet photo,  opt for a crazy face photo.  Realize this is more typical of these monkeys anyways.

Step 13:  Finish the photobook.  Open a bottle of wine.

Read Full Post »

I am an alarmist.  I’m in the camp of people that thinks our government might collapse in the near future, bringing the dollar down with it.  It’ll be greater than the Great Depression.  Okay, I might not really believe that.  But the mere mention of food shortages, downward economies, lay offs, and etc, I start collecting nuts, dusting off the old sewing machine and looking up how to make my own water barrels on Bing.  (yes, I am trying to conform to the culture here and instead of “googling” something, we “Bing!” it here).

Dave is very lucky that we didn’t buy a house on the other side of the street.  That side of the street is all meadow, unlike this little patch of forest we own.  If we lived across the street, we’d already own two pigs, two goats, two mini cows, and two sheep.  It would be like a mini Noah’s ark at our house (it rains enough here).  Alas, we live in the forest and I’m pretty sure livestock likes open spaces not second growth forest.

Thinking about becoming a tad more self sufficient (aka: prepared for the zombie apocalypse), I bought the most amazing book ever at Home Depot.  What?  You don’t buy all your books at Home Depot?

Abandoning the farm concept (for now) I have plans for a large garden and a tilapia pond (okay, a gold fish pond) and a berry patch and some fruit trees and chicken coop.

I’ve been talking to Dave for months about the garden.  We’ve picked a spot but I’m not completely sure it gets enough sunshine and with this Seattle weather, it’s impossible to tell because we so very rarely have a full day of sun.  I went to a gardening class, read the master gardener website, and checked out copious amounts of books on gardening in this sunless damp place we call home.  (I know, I’m a walking travel brochure).

I think Dave has finally given in to the fish pond.  I’ve picked the location.  Just before I decided to break ground Dave took me to the pond store (yes, we actually have a store here that only sells ponds).  After pricing the whole shebang, I could feed our family and the neighbors for a year and still have enough left over for a large television.  For now, the pond will be an imaginary one rather than a real one.

This really only leaves the chicken coop.  I think Dave thought that he could put me off long enough on building it to steer my interests elsewhere.

After scourging the whole internet for chicken coops, I decided on a chicken tractor rather than a traditional coop.  I figure it’s not permanent.  If chickens aren’t are thing, I can sell it on craigslist, given the chickens to my neighbor and pretend the whole ugly mess never happened.

I found some plans online and we went to Home Depot.  (It turns out that the return on this investment may never happen.)

The plans I bought were made by an engineer, it was full of hypotenuses and geometry.  It was written more like a novel and less like plans.  It was accompanied with a google sketch file.

After lots and lots of cutting, it was finally time to start putting it together.  With every helper under the age of 20, you can add an extra four hours for each hour of “help”.

Dave had told McKayla that she could decorate my coop.  I imagined a neon splattered paint job which channeled 1987.  I would be forced to look outside my window and see this “hip” monstrosity for the next 10 years.  I vetoed her painting, splattering, or muraling my coop.  I am a great mom like that. This of course meant that I had to choose paint colors for the coop.  It also meant that my dad did most of the painting too.

We went through all of the left over paint in the garage.  Fire engine red, army green, mustard brown, creamy sand, white, forest green, royal purple, and daisy yellow.  Then we went to Home Depot for the coordinating color.

The kids helped.

You may think that many hands make light work.  Really though, many hands make stressful work.  Many hands also make messy work.  And many hands make noisy work.

Take note of the kids “paintin clothes”.  One child chose clothes too big for him.  One kid clothes too small.  After vetoing about 20 different outfits, I finally gave up.  Please don’t take note of all the junk in my garage.

After hours and hours of painting and assembling it finally started to look like a chicken tractor.  I think at this point we had to go back to home depot for different hardware, more paint and more wood.  So much for the shopping list.

Read Full Post »