We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Dec 28, 2008

A Blogaversary with a give-away

Extended until Monday Because I am really busy right now.

So here I am two years into this blog and it feels like the last year got away from me. Not just in terms of this blog but life itself. I was looking at my resolutions from last year and realized that I didn't put any time into any of them. The strange thing is that it doesn't feel like that long ago that I was making those promises. This year things are going to change (not just in terms of resolutions) a lot is going to change in our life and hopefully being more human and functioning is part of it.

This blog has been great help to me especially over the last few months when things have been tough. I have used it as a place to publicly challenge myself to change stuff and it has been working. Hearing people's ideas on things has been great too. To thank all of you (and I know it isn't a huge group) I wanted to do a special give-away. This year I am doing a custom treat. You leave your name and a link and what not and I'll come up with something appropriate to stick in a box. Plus since it's year two I'm going to choose two people. I will leave this open until New Year's Eve.

And for those of you who are still waiting for things that I owe you (especially EG) they will be going out before the end of the year.

Dec 26, 2008

a little creative inspiration

I've seen this a few times over the last few weeks and I've been inspired so I thought I'd share.

Dec 23, 2008

Gift Making

We tried to make all our gifts by hand this year. We almost did it, due to time there are two people getting bought gifts but I still think we did pretty well. Here is a few of the gifts I made this year.

Dragon Hat
Dragon Hat for my nephew, knitted and needle felted.

Loop Bag
Loop Bag, this is a pattern I have been working on for about a year and I finally like how it is turning out. It leaves a lot of room for creativity.

WIP Modern Chair shirt
WIP this will be sewn on to a t-shirt, a present for one of the designers in the family.

Leaf Hat
Needle Felted hat for my niece.

Dec 21, 2008

New York Trip

Here are some pictures from the trip. Hey there is also another post with a great video below.

Origami Tree

Holiday Light Show



More Inspiration

We're spending the day working on gifts for family. Lot's of snow (we're working on 2 feet right now). Here is some inspiration.

Dec 19, 2008

Unabashedly Political and Humorous

For Sarah and my Dad. For those of you who don't know the history of these songs they are both written by Tom Paxton. The first one is in it's original from from 1980 (as far as I can tell) the second song was originally titled Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation. In their original forms these songs are ones I grew up with and they seem appropriate right now. I can ony hope that many of the other songs I grew up with will not be relevant any time soon. Of course, that's Arlo Guthrie singing in the first video.

Dec 17, 2008

Law Indangers Artisans Business through Cost

As most of you know, not only do I make things by hand but I also work at a shop that sells handmade toys and clothing. Much of the products we have in the store will be effected by the Consumer Protection Safety Act. In an effort to help countless of artisans across the country I ask that you take the time to copy the following letter, fill it in and send it to your congressmen. I understand many people's fears about tainted toys but this law requires testing for every toy (at the price of a few thousand dollars a toy) many of these small time producers never make that much on any single item. So please help! Thank you Uncommon Grace for the link.

From: [your name and address]

To: [your congress person or senator]

Re: Changes needed to the Consumer Product Improvement Act (CPSIA) to Save Handmade Toys in the USA

Dear [your congress person or senator],

Like many people, I was deeply concerned by the dangerous and poisonous toys that large Chinese toy manufacturers have been selling to our nations families. And, I was very pleased that Congress acted quickly to protect America's children by enacting the CPSIA.

However, I am very concerned that the CPSIA's mandates for third party testing and labeling will have a dramatic and negative effect on small toymakers in the USA, Canada, and Europe, whose toy safety record has always been exemplary.

Because of the fees charged by Third Party testing companies, many toymakers, especially makers of unique and beautiful wooden toys from Maine to Oregon will be driven out of business. Their cottage workshops simply do not make enough money to afford the $4,000 price tag per toy that Third Party testers are charging.

I urge you to quickly rewrite the CPSIA so that toys made in batches of less than 5,000 units per year or manufactured within the USA and trusted countries with established toy safety regimes such as Canada and the European Union be held exempt from third party testing requirements. Such toys could still be subject to random auditing by the CPSC.

If you feel that testing should still be required, then the CPSC should be made to offer free testing services for USA toymakers and importers from Europe or Canada with revenues less than one million dollars.

These toy makers have earned and kept the public's trust. They provide jobs for hundreds and quality playthings for thousands. Their unique businesses should be protected. Please visit www.handmadetoyalliance.org to learn more about this issue.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


[your name]

Dec 14, 2008

We're Off (I think I've used this title before)

Almost two years ago this is what it was like to get to New York for a visit. In contrast tomorrow morning Alder and I will pack the car, fill it with gas and drive the four hours to the city. Still visiting is exciting, and there is always more I want to do than we have time for. Besides, this gives Kevin a little space to get some of his projects done (both of the work and creative variety).

Our main reason for visiting is to see Kate, Alder's god mama, who is in town from Colorado for a few days. Kate and I grew up together being city kids in the '80s. Since it is the holiday season I think we are going to do a few things from our childhood with Alder like this which my mother used to take us to every year. Since Alder is train obsessed we are going to check out this exhibit with Grandma, since it's near her office.

We've been talking about our trip for a few days now and the three things he is most excited to do are see Dad's house (grandpa), go on a train, and go to coffee shops. I couldn't help laughing at the last one, he seemed a little concerned that being in New York we might not be able to go to any coffee shops, he is after all my son.

I have no idea if I am going to be posting while I'm gone, I usually do but if not I hope you all have a good week.

Dec 12, 2008

Milestones and learning styles

Icy Shore
After an adventurous attempt to get Alder to Adra's this morning that involved icy curvy hills, trees hanging on down power lines and finally a giant balsam across the road we turned around. Creeping back to town in 4wd low through the glittering of last night's ice storm we listened to classical interpretations of sea shanties. A few miles into our retreat Alder and I got into the following conversation:

A: Adra's?
Me: Not today, the road and her house are broken (we had run into her husband who said their power was out).
A: I fix Adra's house?
Me: We can't get to her house because of the road.
A: Mama fix it, and Alder.
Me: We don't have the tools we need.
A: Oh...why?
Me: Because the rain that froze last night into ice broke the wires and some trees, we would need big tools like saws.
A: Papa fix it?
Me: Alder I think we should leave it for the workers. (we were passing by an electric crew with their cherry picker)  See.
There is a pause in the conversation then:
A: Adra's house broken I fix it with Mama. 
Me: Sweetie (don't ask) we can't fix it right now.
A: Broken? (as in how was it broken)
At which point we went over the whole ice storm to which he replied:
A: Water brake Adra's house.

A month ago this would have never happened. Only in the last few weeks that he has started to make sentences. Before he had a few stock sentences that he used, but in the last few days he has been constructing them out of ideas new and old. For months Alder collected words, using them solo pointing out objects or actions, then he added comparative words still they were usually said by themselves or along with one other word. This is how he does things, he focuses on one aspect of a 'project' until he grasps it comfortably before he takes the next step.

It reminds me of when he learned to crawl. For weeks he had gotten himself up onto all fours but couldn't move forward, but that is all he wanted to do was try to move forward. When he finally did move it was backwards, but that was followed by forwards. Of course once he got crawling down he wasn't content to just crawl around he wanted to figure out steps. We finally had to put up a gate at the bottom of the stairs not because we were afraid of him falling but because he would work himself into hysterics trying to get himself off of the floor. There is an advantage to having a child like this, as he did teach himself about steps (we had a set of four carpeted steps in Denver that we let him use once he started to get it) he has only fallen twice and both times were from the second or third step.

Even then, at 6 months old Alder had an obvious learning style. I find it interesting to watch him tackle each new 'project' he sets for himself. His way of learning is so different than my own I sometimes feel that he is the one teaching me how to do things. I may be the Mama and the adult but he is really the one that is able to understand the world more completely.

I'm not going to say that my child is gifted I think labels like that are useless. I also don't think that what I see him doing makes him a genius or above other kids in the normal ways that they are tested. I do however think that as a person, child and adult, he will be able to see things from a broad prospective. I'm having difficulty wording this, let me use an example. I think he'll be able to look at the newspaper and understand the headlines politically, economically, and even how what is going on relates to history. So while he may never be a whiz at memorizing the periodic table I think he'll be able to understand it's origins and the physics behind it.

Meanwhile, as I left for work today he was happily "cooking" eggs and soap for Papa.

Dec 11, 2008

Catch up on an icy day

Wow I can't believe it's been almost a week since I got back from Boston. It's been a mad rush of making and cleaning around here. The weather has been up and down freezing on Monday warm on Tuesday and today it is an icy mess. Still we slid down the hill to town and spent time at our favorite yarn store and then off to the library for books puzzles and a little chess (Alder's invented version). We snuck a bite to eat at the Co-op before we struggled up the hill. I am really glad Alder still likes the stroller some days we would still be out there otherwise.

Catchup 19-24

Day 19
One Good Thing: Left at 6 am to get to Boston for Bizarre Bazaar. Spent the day around lots of very cool creators and creations. Also spent a lot of time dancing to stay warm, we were close to the door.
BBB 2008 Spun Monkey Booth

One Creative Thing: I will leave it at getting out of Boston and back to rte 2 without going too far out of our way.

Day 20
One Good Thing: Alder and I going on a little adventure for fabric and NOODLES.Winter sun

One Creative Thing: More like a bunch, I started made one hat, started one bag and chose the design for one shirt. I can't really put pictures up since the recipients read this sometimes.

Day 21
One Good Thing: Got to read my book.

One Creative Thing: Finished bag, weaved in ends on hat.

Day 22
One Good Thing: Spent most of the day cleaning, Kevin even built us an island for the kitchen. We put the TV in the basement, we never use it anyhow, watched this on the computer together and laughed our butts off.

One Creative Thing: Ironed houses, started new hat.

Dec 6, 2008


Heading HERE to go to THIS to help HER with her stuff. Have a good day!

Dec 5, 2008

Changes towards Simplicity

Breaking Fast

There are a lot of little changes that are going on in my life right now. The good sort. We've spent quite a few years just trying to "get through" pretty much since we left Durango, but now we have found a place we would like to call home and finally all the ideas of someday are becoming today. For years after we first met we talked and lived very simply, but grad school and moving has complicated life a lot. Often it was easier to let the simple lifestyle get away from us because of time and money constraints... well mainly the time and stress.

But lately I've been feeling (and we did both come to this thought quite separately the conversation was so connecting) that really we need to go back to all those ideas that we have put to some day. So often it feels easier to take what is handed to you prepackaged or prearranged when actually once you start the habits of simplicity they take so much less effort. It is the starting that take the most psychological effort. 

So as this year winds down and I look towards the return of the sun I want to welcome it inspired to return to simplicity. I have visions of peacefulness washing over our household by midsummer.  Even now as I begin the process of simplifying I can see this difference, more gets done, communication is smoother, creativity returns. But this is just a start there is so many facets to living simply that we have to return to that the process is almost like building a home, thankfully we already have the foundation built.

One Good thing One Creative Thing Day 16, 17, 18

Day 16

One Good Thing: The joy of going to the library with Alder, as I am getting better at choosing books that he'll like. Realizing how to use these same skills to avoid conflict situations and find more activities that we can both enjoy (more on this later).

One Creative Thing: Stayed up way too late making paper houses to hang in Alder's room.

Day 17

One Good Thing: As someone who usually tries to get out of the house as fast as possible (I have always had a hard time staying home when it's light out) but we stayed home until late afternoon, cooking and doing various projects together and separate.

One Creative Thing: Lots of creating going on this year, except for one hand me down gift we are making every gift this year. Cut out one pair of pajamas with Alder's help. Went to Thursday knitting and started one hat, stayed up way too late (yeah the sun was coming up) finishing one hat and getting most of the way through the next one.

Day 18

One Good Thing: Reading American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever, lots of pausing around town to read between dropping Alder off and going to work, ah bliss.

One Creative Thing: Umm seeing how I stayed up to daylight I'm going to carry over last nights knitting, needless to say reading and working are all I'm doing today.

Dec 2, 2008

Alder Can't Get Enough of This

One Good Thing One Creative Thing Day 14 & 15

Day 14

One Good Thing: Went sledding at kindercircle this morning, despite feeling awkward while I was there Alder and I had fun sledding down the hill.

One Creative Thing: I got back from errands and decided I should definitely start making this apartment a home, actually I was spurred into this idea the day before during the scary drive home past all the accidents. I am not a winter driver which means that we will be spending a lot more time in our house for the next few months.

I showed Alder all the fabrics that we had enough to make his curtains out of and let him choose. While he played 'boat' I ironed and pinned one curtain (they are ridiculously long).

Day 15

One Good Thing: The library had a copy of American Bloomsbury, a book I have wanted to read for a long time, since I heard and interview with the author when the book came out.

One Creative Thing: Kevin and I hardly ever get any time alone together so we have started a journal in which we respond to essays and poems together. One of us will read one and react and then the other will read the same article and write our own thoughts. We are starting with some Wendell Berry essays from The Way of Ignorance and What are People For? This morning I began my first response, unfortunately my writing was cut short by the people at the table behind me talking very loudly and distracting me from my writing.

Dec 1, 2008

One Good Thing One Creative Thing 9-13 lots of links

Day 9
One Good Thing: A little time to myself as I drive to this amazing bakery for rolls and to get this book for my father's birthday.

One Creative Thing: Finished Hat, umm it ended up being for Alder instead of Kevin. I'll post pictures tomorrow and explain about the coloring and thickness.

Day 10
One Good Thing: Spending time with my family. A wonderful meal with everything spare ribs (a family tradition), Barbecued Turkey, Green Chile Corn Pudding, two Stuffings, four pies and one pumpkin cheesecake. Staying up late with cousins and playing bad music from our childhoods for each other. Oh and drinking lots of wine.

One Creative Thing: Weaving in all the ends of Alder's sweater so he could wear it for dinner. (picture tomorrow).

Day 11
One Good Thing: Meandering Car ride with a cousin and Alder discovering new back-ways, bookstores, and yarn stores. Reading this book and watching this movie. In the catagory of so bad it's funny was this movie that was on TV after the intensity of Downfall, it was both funny and painful to watch this...trust me I did not put it on, and I turned it off after I saw who played the mother.

One Creative Thing: Created hat patterns for two of my cousins.

Day 12
One Good Thing: Kevin and I actually went out with my cousins (the young ones...like anyone under 40). Grandma and "Dad" watched Alder. We drove into town and saw this movie. It was a tough one but worth seeing.

One Creative Thing: Honestly I got up drove home an hour to go to work, worked until 6pm drove an hour back had dinner and went to the movies.

Day 13
One Good Thing: Made it home alive. It sounds like a pitiful answer but after passing 6 accidents over 18 miles of highway and taking an hour to go the last 5 miles from the state border to exit one I was just so happy to be home and alive. It total has kicked me into gear for getting the house all nest-able for the winter. I do not like winter driving so I need to like where I live.

One Creative Thing: Sort of creative, I emptied the final two boxes of studio stuff.