Creative Family

So, we got a cat! I know I am at risk of becoming THAT person. You know, the one who brags about their cat, show pictures… gets a bit crazy. Well I might become that person but I will try to restrain myself.

What’s my point? Well, I got this cat and was feeling like I needed to build stuff for him. He needed a bed, a place to put his food dishes, and toys. My mom said I was nesting. I thought only new mother’s did this for their babies, but regardless! I needed to create for him.

I searched through a plethora of pet patterns on ravelry.com. I finally came across a super easy pattern for a cat bed and sat on the couch one Saturday night and started to crochet.

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As I continued to work I noticed I was joined by my oldest daughter who just started a home economics class at school. She was determined to hand sew herself an iPod case. So here she is!

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Then my youngest daughter joined in the fun. She had received a “Knot a Quilt” by Alex Toys. Here she is working hard.

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The boys weren’t being so crafty. Although I do consider reading a worthwhile endeavour. They had dug out a bunch of comics, some of them my sons, some of them my husbands. They were enjoying the creativity inside. Here they are.

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A very nice family evening!

Here, by the way, is the finished product of the cat bed. Jasper loves it. He also has a tent were he will hide, but when he just needs to cuddle up for a nap, this bed does nicely. And yes, he does sleep very oddly!

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E

The Creative Side to Starting a New Business

So I decided early last fall to quit my life and start fresh. Dun, dun Duuuunnn!

Okay, that sounds very dramatic, but in essence I decided what I was doing wasn’t enough. I love my creative side and wanted to do more with it, but I was too busy trying to make a living and keep my family afloat then really, really enjoying my life.

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Now the sentiment above, although probably true, is usually a pipe dream. I mean, come on… We have to eat (and pay for karate, and cheer and Brownies and any other activity my kids would like to try)! And it wasn’t that I didn’t like my job, I just didn’t feel it was moving me forward the way I had anticipated!

So, I started my own doula practice. I also enrolled in online courses through Childbirth International. I had had previous ambitions in this field and had some training and even attended a birth… But could never manage to figure out how I was going to make this a career choice that was going to work for my life. I have three young kids and a military husband who is away… A lot. Fear and money (well lack of a regular salary) held me from moving to this doula stuff back when it first crossed my brain to do, But, in September, with the support of my family, I said screw it and moved on.

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What surprised me most was the creativity in this endeavour. I had to create business cards, websites, design forms, logos and a business name. I got to be “creator” in my life in a surprising new fashion and I’ve loved it!

The irony is that although I wanted to carve out more time to be wildly creative with all of the fun things I do, it turned out that I have been too busy working at my new career to do any of that stuff! Huh!

I am not complaining, excitement in something new tends to lead to a single minded focus! The downside has been my blog, my novel, my sewing, even my singing, and all other creating has been put on the back burner! Not gone or forgotten, just temporarily put aside. I am okay with that. I am trying to be well rounded but I do tend to stick with one thing with determined-ness until it is done, or I get stuck! For better or worse, that is how I am built! But now, (I think) my head is starting to see my way above all the start up stuff, so I am hoping to dedicate a bit more time to my other creative endeavours soon!

Although, I am finishing my Childbirth Educator too, and the thoughts of designing a class, teaching, being creative in ways to present information, well…. this too has the potential to fill in my creative gaps! Who knows…

So, check me out at Erin’s Doula Services. I am excited about what the future holds!

E

Ps. Oh yeah… I got a new sewing machine for Christmas, which I’ve only had time to play with once. I am about 1/3 of the way through a quilted bag. I will post about it soon! It is a fun easy project that I must say is absolutely easier to do on my new machine!!

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Blogs I like right now…

Hey there all! I just wanted to highlight a friend’s blog. She also has an Etsy shop. Anita is a very talented women, working mom, and fellow army wife and I wanted to share her stuff with you. Check her out at Daydreams of Quilts .

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I also have been following BEGININGDSINWRITING (click HERE to check it out). There is always wisdom to be found when I read his blog. I recently got some advice from him and it has made me eager to dig out my novel again and do some work. NaNoWriMo was not going to happen this year so maybe I can finish up what I started a year ago!

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That’s all I got today folks!

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E

New Adventure

Well it’s been awhile since I have written and to be honest its because my focus has changed a bit and I was unsure how to continue this blog. As of September, I had chosen not to work out of the home, for lots of reasons. I thought, in part, I would spend some time during my days cleaning, organizing and all of that PRACTICAL stuff, but I also had visions of creating crafty masterpieces. I had quilt projects queued up, a crochet project in the works, last years NaNoWriMo novel to finish, and not to mention a brilliant idea for this years NaNoWriMo novel. I was excited to be a wild creative soul, with nothing but time on my hands! The reality of course is quite different.

So what am I doing with my time if not all of those creative projects? Life, that is what I am doing!

I am creating a bit. I am sewing some bags for our church that are being filled with toiletries and essentials for women who are living on the street. Creative – yes. Crafty – yes. But not really for ME and my enjoyment, more to satisfy my need for serving others. I am crocheting, but I have taken apart the blanket I am working on 2 times already because my focus is off and I keep screwing up! My days seem to fill up with things that always need to be done, like laundry and cooking etc and I am amazed at how little extra time I have in a day for the creations I had planned. It really makes me appreciate how I managed all this STUFF while managing to work outside the home too!

What I am really focused on is a new ADVENTURE, a new career path. I am building my own business! I am excited for the work I intend to do and I have wanted to do it for for a long time so it is nice to begin to make it a reality. What I had not expected though was the joy from the creativity needed to start something like this from scratch. I have forms to design, a business name to determine, a website to create, and maybe even a logo to choose (plus a billion other things I haven’t even thought of yet). These things have really filled the void of not doing the novel, or quilt or crocheted projects I had panned. Like I said, unexpected, but to unwelcome.

That has been the reason for my lack of posts. This new career plan has filled a niche for me and my other outlets have fallen by the wayside. I suspect, when I get things moving I will be back to quilting, and sewing, and writing, and all the rest.

The crochet project I am working on is a Red Heart free pattern for a fairly simple blanket. (See pattern HERE). It will be interesting once it is completed as I am using cotton instead of the yarn it recommended. I would attach a picture but as it turns out I not only failed to count stitches and it was turning out horribly crooked, but I also did the fancier stitch (if you can call it that) wrong. I hadn’t done a whole lot on it so it seemed simpler to pull it apart and start again. I will post pics when I’ve got something to show. I also had dreams of doing some creative Christmas presents this year, but I am not sure time will allow for it. I am starting a few online courses next week and really hope to be quick with them so I can start my new career in the New Year. We will see how time goes over the next few weeks.

E

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Creativity on the Fly

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At the end of a much needed family vacation,we decided to do ONE last camping trip before heading home – Well’s Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater BC. It is a beautiful area of Canada, the land of heavy treed forests, bears and waterfalls. We were so excited as we had tried to camp there 2 years ago but my husband with a back issue and me with a cranky attitude decided to cancel and try again another time.

That time was this year, no cancelling. We were going, come hell or high water. Not even a fire ban was going to stop us!

We packed up from my parents place in Kamloops (hi mom!) and headed out early on a Thursday morning. We stopped off in Clearwater for a fantastic lunch then we started up the mountain for a 67 km drive to our home for the next 3 nights.

The drive was twisty and turny (I don’t think that is a real word). It was a beautiful scenic drive and we all admired the creativity of God. The deep canyons, majestic river views, ranch land and some amazing colours of green! More twists, more turns, concrete roads turn into gravel and the crunching of the trailer hitting yet another pot hole and we start wincing. My husband turns to me and says “This drive is quickly losing it lustre, love.” I smile up at him with my best “this is an awesome adventure” smile and say “It will all be worth it”.

We finally arrive… And for the two hours we actually stayed, I am not sure the drive WAS worth it.

It was raining, but true to form in the mountains, it was pouring and sunshiny all at the same time. It really didn’t last that long either, just enough to make the forest around us sparkle like emeralds. By the time the trailer’s tank was filled with water, the rain quit and we found our reserved spot. Our camp site backed onto the Clearwater River which lived up to it’s name… It was CRYSTAL clear. I was imagining that I would be listening to the rushing water as it lulled me to sleep later that night. AND the momma in me was very happy because there was a fence behind our site so my curious (and clutzy) children couldn’t accidentally get too close!

Life was good!

We started our set up by taking a few things out of the tent trailer and then begin to do the “pop up” process. When the trailer was about half way up, there was a loud “BANG” and one side of the trailer fell. I yelled a very,very bad word (kids had been taking the dog for a walk, thank goodness) and my hubby just stopped and stared.

And stared…

Finally collecting himself he starts to put the top back down, kind of like the reset button. Maybe if we start at the beginning, this won’t happen again. But of course, that didn’t work… Only 1 of 4 sides was popping up.

At this point I knew – but my husband doesn’t like to give up too easily. He has the four corners being held up by firewood that we couldn’t use in the fire pit and pulls more stuff out so he can open up panels and see if he can fix the problem. I wanted to tell him to give up (he is not a handy man even at the best of times) but I let him have it. Eventually he too gave up.

Now this is where I try to get creative… On the fly.

We can’t camp because we have nowhere to sleep. We are now pushing in at 5:00pm and my kids are getting hungry and we have at least a one hour of twisty, turny (there is that word again) road to travel to get to the nearest town. And more to the point, even though we were at the end of our vacation, no one wanted the adventure to be over.

So… Plan B.

I packed our whole life in this trailer, never imagining we wouldn’t have access to it. So while we had it semi available, I pulled clothes and a bit of food so we could manage until the next morning and we quickly packed up the rest of the stuff and headed back down the mountain.

We saw a guest ranch on our travels up the mountain and upon remembering this, my lovely imagination was sparked. I had visions of the next day exploring all the falls in the area, a couple hours at the beach where we had originally planned to camp, horse back riding and all while staying at a beautiful ranch with log cabins, and a restaurant. Yippee, holiday rescued!

Only not!

The ranch did have a restaurant (which only served breakfast – which we missed because when they said they opened at 8:00am they actually meant that breakfast was served only at 8:00 and closed at 9:00a). And they did have a few cabins – which were full. And lots of camping sites were available – which were useless to us. BUT they did have a bunkhouse that slept 8! That would be perfect.

Only it was way more rustic then my romantic brain pictured! It was honestly a shack with 4 homemade bunk beds (yes, we all slept in our very own bunk) with thin, thin mattresses. We were blessed that they provided us with a bottom sheet and luckily we could squeeze inside the folded up tent trailer to get pillows and blankets, and a flashlight. We rustled up sausages from the cooler (which we ate with chips because I had no access to a stoves, pots or side dish options), went for a walk to look at the horses and buffalo, crawled into our bunks and read our family book Percy Jackson (The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan) and went to bed.

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Whew!

Back aches and missing breakfast aside, we creatively made lemonade when we had lemons. It wasn’t the best tasting lemonade, but it worked and allowed us to adventure for another day. The kids had no idea that I was feeling dejected and sad about our failed plans. To be honest the bunkhouse would have been cool if we had access to all the camping supplies. After one night though, we were done, packed up, and headed for home.

We were blessed with our vacation as a whole though. We saw a Great Horned Owl, 2 Osprey nests complete with babies and a deer went right through our 1st campsite. We did some SUPing, swam in clear warm lakes and spent time with an Auntie who came to see us from Toronto (hey Heather!) swam in Nana and Grampa’s pool at there house (which is also where we saw the world’s biggest spider) AND we got to spend time with two aging great grandmothers that we are always so grateful to spend one more visit with. We really couldn’t have done it any better!

But no it is back to reality, and back to work – at least for my hubby! Someone is going to have to pay for the trailer repairs!!

E

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What to do… Arguments with Myself!

Okay, so I started this novel in November for NaNoWriMo. I wrote 51,000 words and I edited once. That’s it. No re-writes, no editing again and doing yet another re-write, or any of the other things real writers do to actually complete a novel.

Is this story dead?

I don’t think it is. It is not like I am done with the idea even. It’s just that I have 150 other ideas brewing in my head and I want to start putting them down too!

Should I? Or do I persevere and finish before I move on?

I am a spring time gardener (stick with me on this). I am so excited when the snow has melted and the sun is shining and the dirt is soft enough for me to dig in. I plan my bedding plants, trim up the deadfall from the perennials, and weed out those hardy springtime weeds. I am excited about the colours to come, the smell of fresh flowers and the life about to bloom. I am excited about the possibilities.

Fast forward a month later and I have zero desire to weed this garden that was going to bring immense amounts of joy all summer long.

Part of it admittedly is laziness! I get it, I am a lazy person by nature. Part of it is that the final result is never going to match my visions of it. Part of it is the overwhelming mess I have after returning home from holidays. So… long story short, I may tidy up the garden 2-3 times over the season and be done with it.

This happens a lot with many other creative projects as well. Quilting becomes problematic because I am a beginner, I lose faith in my abilities, I make mistakes, I rush through the process and then grow tired! In the meantime I have purchased fabrics for other projects, bought books on new patterns and scoured magazines to find the next cool thing.

Am I doing this with my novel?

On the other hand, I HATE having unfinished projects! Every time I go to my sewing area and see the unfinished projects I cringe! Every time I walk in the front door I turn pink with embarrassment at the weeds in the garden! They remind me on a daily basis that I am not only being UNPRODUCTIVE, but I am failing! It also seems to make my “to do list” never ending.

Having said that, I have no plans for the finished novel. It will likely not be publishable. That is not low self esteem talking either, just honesty about my first writing project. So if I have no true end, do I need an end result?

Starting to write unfortunately and fortunately has set off a whole lot of sparks in my imagination. Since I started this crazy, out there project, it has set alive in me all sorts of amazingly clear thoughts and new ideas. I am excited about some of the things that are floating in my head! Do I ignore them? I do keep a book with the vague ideas so I don’t lose them entirely, but I really want to explore, dive in and figure out if the stories have the makings of a good book!

Huh. I don’t know what would be better. On the one hand I could complete the original novel (as close to finished as I can anyway) and say”wow, you wrote a novel!” On the other hand I could go where the muse takes me.

Any suggestions, ideas or advice would be welcome!

E

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Troubles with Math and Reading the Fine Print

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I have exactly 5 days to get this Japanese Jigsaw Quilt (a Tracey Brookshier design) complete and in the mail to my sister in time for her birthday. I have mentioned in a previous post what a nightmare of a project this has been for me (not the pattern, just stupidity on my part), and once again I had hit another stumbling block. I had picked out the fabric for the backing but for whatever reason I could NOT do the math to make it fit the back of my quilt. A complete brain freeze! It was long enough, by a lot, but not quite wide enough. Simple enough, cut it and sew it together so it fits, except I could not figure out how to do that! The math was failing me! And knowing I NEEDED to get it done, I panicked and did what I do best… Walked away! I almost went shopping to buy my sister a “replacement” gift. As it turns out I slept on my problem for a few days and the answer magically appeared! So back on track today only to realize I can not find my safety pins anywhere in order to quilt the stupid thing together. Arrrrggggg! I did go buy some and will work on it more on the weekend but let me tell you, this project needs to be done. It looks awesome though, and my sister will love it… But really, enough is enough!

In other news I have gotten myself addicted to yet another tv show -Supernatural. Apple TV has really been the best, yet the worst thing for me! Anyway, I started to feel guilty for all the time I spend sitting so I decided to work on some crocheting. I can crochet in front of the tv, but I can’t quilt in front of the tv, it obviously requires more focus and brain power for me! So I got this Bernat pattern book and some Bernat cotton wool to make some placemats and stuff to put in our tent trailer for camping. As it turns out the placemats are knitted not crocheted. I didn’t actually read the fine print when I picked up the book, I just thought “oh those are pretty”. Stupid! But there are dishcloths and other kitchen-ie stuff to crochet. Here is a picture of my first dish cloth. Banged it out in a night watching tv and felt productive while being a couch potato!

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No writing, at least creative writing. I am doing some journaling for a class I am taking but nothing to bring my novel closer to completion… whatever that is. I am okay with that though as I don’t think I am objective enough for hard core edits and re-writes!

Hope you are all doing well out there in creative land!

E

Creative… Not me

So I have once again fallen behind in my quest to be a creative soul. Life so often gets in my way and to be frank, I am getting tired of blogging about what I am NOT doing. So I decided to write a quick post talking about the creativity going on around me instead.

My girls each dance. The oldest who is 10, does ballet and jazz, and my middle girl does jazz. Both of them love it and work hard each week with their class. My oldest reminds me of a younger version of me. When I was her age I had the body type, the love of dancing and a certain amount of ability. The one thing I lacked was confidence. This was always my oldest girl too. She loves to dance and moves like she was born to do it, but when she gets in front of others usually becomes stilted and shy. Except for today! She blossomed today and looked like she belonged up there. I was in awe! My other daughter has the passion and the confidence but her body is still quite awkward. She is only seven, and this is her first real year of dancing so I get it. I hope one day her limbs and grace, match her heart!

The whole festival was nice. Girls (and a few boys too) who have worked hard all year, in beautiful costumes displaying their wild souls with their bodies through dance. Makes me miss those carefree days of being a kid. If I had to do it over again, I would dance like no one was watching… A thought I wish I could implant in my girls mind. I know though, that it isn’t until you are much older and wiser that you truly understand and know what that means and why it is so important to do!

So I haven’t been completely off the creativity wagon. My choir concert is in about 4 weeks, and rehearsals have been getting intense. We are doing a 50′s, 60′s and 70′s themed concert and I am excited. There will be costumes – bell bottoms and neon as well as my inner “pink lady” is going to come out. I even have a 8 bar solo! My kids are coming to see me, but not my hubby. He is out in the field again during that time (sigh – the life of a military wife), but I am sure he is more sad about it than me! All in all, pretty cool to experience and I am enjoying every second of it. Now to remember to sing like no one is listening!

One other thing… My girlfriend Kim said I should mention in my blog that I may not have a lot of time for quilting, writing or any of the other creative endeavours that I peruse, but I did make time to help her with her flat tire the other day and she said that should count! It probably doesn’t… But I will count it anyway, for her!!

Heres to making all things count.

E

Quilting WIP…

So last weekend I was filled with the urge to quilt. I usually fight it, or quiet the voice by numbing my mind on Pinterest or Facebook or whatever. But last weekend I gave in and finished the top of the quilt for my sister. What drew me to this quilt was the fabric – the quilt store I shop at frequently had made it a kit and that took all the guess work away.  Kits generally work well for me as picking fabrics stress me out to no end! I love the Japanese prints, the colour and contrasts. The kit even had the template to cut the squares so it took very little thought on my part. I was all set to bang out the top of this quilt in record time and put it aside for the next gift giving holiday.
That was two years ago.
I had started well. I cut my squares and then sewed 4 together into a larger square. Then I was to take the template and cut the larger squares, which left the square looking like a lopsided square shape. I went through and cut, and cut, and cut. Except two of them I cut backwards. At first I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but upon closer inspection realized it was a VERY big deal. The jigsaw wouldn’t fit together if they weren’t all cut the same way. I tried to problem solve my way out of  the mistake by using scraps of left over fabric.  It didn’t work, and the results were two sloppy squares in the middle of all these lovely squares. Well I was pissy about it, packed it all up and left it!
About a year later I dug it out again, and went to the quilt store to get a couple of fat quarters to re-cut and re-sew the squares. Only by then they no longer had they exact same fabrics. The sales lady was helpful and we found suitable replacements, but when I brought it home I was still miffed, and continued to pout.  Now my lovely Japanese quilt was going to be imperfect. Did it matter? As with most quilts, I think that unless you’re a quilter you probably would never notice. Not even my sister would notice even though she notices everything. I couldn’t do it though. I packed it away again, feeling cheated.
Until last weekend. I had told myself I would not start a new project until I completed the ones I had. So I dug out this poor lonely quilt and finished up the top. And you know I was right. You can’t really see the mistakes… And even if you can it doesn’t take away from the pretty fabric or unique design. I like it – and now I can pick out the borders and the back fabric and give it as a gift… Proudly. (Well I should wait on that – the quilt is far from done and who knows what mistakes I will make next.)
Here are a few pictures…

Close up - can you see the mistakes?

Close up – can you see the mistakes?

The Pattern

The Pattern

The top of my Japanese Jigsaw Quilt

The top of my Japanese Jigsaw Quilt

I am also working on a quilt for one of my kids. Again, it is a pattern that I found at the quilt shop but this time I had to pick out the fabric myself (although I did have lots of help again from the lady in the shop!). I am not following the pattern exactly. This pattern calls me to use fat quarters, and I have some of those but I also had to get a panel of fairies that I had to adapt into squares.  Again – it could go horribly wrong but I am going to give it a shot. I will be using the same pattern for my son’s quilt but his will be Dr Seuss printed fabric. Pictures of the start of the fairy quilt is below.

Atkinson Designs quilt pattern I am using to build twins quilts...

Atkinson Designs quilt pattern I am using to build twins quilts…

Fairy Fabric for my daughter's quilt

Fairy Fabric for my daughter’s quilt

So I am back in the quilting saddle and it feels pretty good. I am not doing a lot of writing, or editing or rewriting now. I am hoping to soon though. I did get the new job and I am hoping this will free up some time to do more creative things. Time will tell on that!

Happy quilting!

E

some links for you if you want to have a closer look at the patterns  Atkinson Designs  Tracey Brookshier

Stress Management

pic from drmommyonline.com found on PINTREST

pic from drmommyonline.com found on PINTREST

 

I don’t suppose anyone does well with stress.

If anyone was to ask me what would be the cure for stress I would easily tell them to do something that brings them joy or peace. For me that is being creative. I don’t feel stress when I am quilting and I don’t feel stress when I am writing. I just create. As a matter of fact, being creative quite often makes me forget most things… including feeding my kids (and as they tell me often, they actually need to eat at least 3x a day!).

So my life got stressful in January. Not earth shattering crazy stress – no deaths, serious illnesses, no divorces or infidelity. Nothing massive caused stress. It was just regular old life stress. Kids are extra busy, my work is piling up with no end in sight, meals to make, house to clean etc. Normal stuff. But I have been contemplating a career or job change and things started to move rather quickly and I panicked, hence the stress.

So ask me, how did I handle it? Did I quilt?

No.

Did I write?

No.

Did I crochet, edit my novel, make cards, scrapbook, sing and play music?

No.

What did I do?

I shut down.

Yes, I do not practice what I preach and that makes me a hypocrite. I come home, make what meals I can scrape together and then sit! I think I’ve told you all about my recent I-DEVICE addiction so I may play a game, look on pintrest, stalk people on Facebook and all that stupid mindless stuff. I watch tv and essentially close off my brain the minute I can manage it. Not helpful and certainly not productive.

The good news is I finally have light at the end of my tunnel. I have applied for a new job which will be less hours and way less money (who needs money anyway?) but it will give me more time to do my LIFE and create. It will also allow me room to grow, learn,  and maybe decide what it is I actually want to do with my life when I grow up. I don’t have the job yet, and regardless if I get this job or not I acted. The world of change is not so scary now that I have acted in a positive way. I took charge of what was weighing me down.

And now that I’ve acted, I feel like I can see my way clear to create again. I want to pick up a book instead of dive into the mind numbing tv. I will pick up the Ipad to check messages and to plan out my activities and use my meal planning app and financing app. (Okay – I will likely play a game or two too but I don’t feel the need to lose myself in my virtual farm life!) I want to delve into my novel, add more, take away the garbage and see a final product. And the Japanese Jigsaw Quilt is as good as done in my mind! I can get my head out of the fog and see my way past all of the stress.

Finally!

And if not… there is always wine!

E

Pic found on Pintrest

Pic found on Pintrest