Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's About Time

I am back.  I know I said that before, and I meant it.  I mean it again.  Today I went to the Western New York Miniatures Enthusiast's Dollhouse and Miniatures Show.  I don't buy much at these things (surprisingly), because I just love the ideas that start to whirl in my cobwebbed brain.  I left with twenty new ideas and the inspiration to finally dig my craft room out, again.  After the summer of driving - driving to speech therapy, cottage, school, New York City - and back again, and again, and again... - I was guilty of dropping whatever I didn't have time to find the proper home for in my craft room.  After a couple hours tidying and organizing, I was thrilled to see the floor again.  So I am back in business, and it feels darn good. Yay!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Can Kids Be a Hobby?

Well, you may have thought I dropped of the edge of the world, but I didn't.  I have been consumed with my kids.  Our son, Charlie, is heading off to university and we spent many a night talking over the dinner table, discussing the various pros and cons of the universities that he was accepted to.  Then there were a couple trips to university candidates, which were great opportunities to spend some one on one time with my amazing guy before he launches.  Then there were letters to write, worrying to be done, and waiting for final offers of scholarships.  Then finally it all came together - and hurrah, he was set!  The right school and the right financial package!

Then there was Miss Maia.  She has demonstrated some need for some extra academic support - this is a kid that can play Bach on the piano.... with two hands.... dances beautifully.... and she can jump rope backwards with her arms crossed over her chest!!!!  But, alas she will benefit from some targeted intervention... So, this required much reading on my part, calls to various therapists, waiting lists, school meetings and such until.... ahhhhh finally, I think we have a recipe that just might do a body good.

I have felt much like I do when I am crafting.  Research, hours that just seem to disappear, excitement, anxiety and satisfaction when the results start to be seen.

Now, I have a pile of things that have been awaiting finishing (or starting) and I can't wait to get back to work.  But... oh, did I mention the chickens....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Serious Hobbying

Hobbies are so varied.  Yesterday, Miss Maia and I attended a festival of sorts called "The Passing of the Ice Dragon".  It is sponsored by the Society for Creative Anachronism which is "an organization that is dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe".  Although, if you are interested in the same time period on the Middle or Far East you will find much to interest you as well.

This is a group of people that take hobby seriously.  They meet to learn how to engage in various fighting arts, such as fencing, broad sword and pole fighting, thrown weapons, horse riding and so on.  To support these activities they create the weapons, in such a way that death will not come to those engaging in the sport, armor, clothing, shields, banners to represent themselves while competing and some even create a "persona" that they use when engaging in their interest.

In addition to these "manly" pursuits, which actually have a very high number of women participating, there are areas that would interest almost any person under the sun - cooking, sewing, woodwork, leather work, metal work, drawing, painting, calligraphy and illumination, toy making, games, dancing, story telling, research, history, geography, map making.... I could go on and on.

In our fast paced days, it can be a welcome relief to slow down, sew by hand, make lace or battle armor, spin wool, visit with friends or paint just for fun.  I am consistently impressed by the friendliness and eagerness, of all the wonderful people I have met, to share what they love most about their hobbies and knowledge (in addition to some of the most chivalrous men I have ever met).  I have also been inspired and impressed by the high level of artistry and craftsmanship in all the creations I have seen.  Check out their site and enjoy a good glass of mead for me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One Flower at a Time

Needlework is slow business.

I have been working on a cross-stitch headband for a few weeks now and today I was sick of it.  I forgot my books in our black car, which my son borrowed, so I picked up the needlework to keep myself busy during a dance lesson.  Sitting on the floor in a church hallway, listening to Irish music as Maia hopped, jigged and reeled, I looked at the needlework and cussed a bit, quietly to myself.  Ho hummmmm, tiny stitches, tiny gains.

As I brought the needle in and out, my busy mind started to smooth out and I softly heard my mind's voice finding some parallels between this project and life.  If you continue to work on a project, according to the plan, the result is pretty much guaranteed, barring any bizarre unforeseen event.

It just takes a vision of what it is supposed to look like, the raw materials, the pattern/plan and the belief that it will at some point be finished.  The one thing that isn't easy to judge is just how long it will take to get to the result.  The process may go quickly, depending on your motivation to finish, or it may go slowly because of other distractions, illness, or lack of raw material.  The trick seems to me, to be finding the balance between all these factors and never losing sight of the goal, even if it is gained just one small flower at a time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Distraction - Sushi

So, I love sushi.  I really do.

I wrote earlier of feeling absolutely certain that if I want learn something there is some way, some how or some one that I can find to help me learn.

I tried to learn how to make sushi by watching the sushi preparers at Wegmans.  If you didn't already know, Wegman's is our higher end supermarket chain, here in Western New York, and they provide just about anything you would want to buy relating to creating the most amazing food. If you do not have a Wegman's in your area, start to request that they open one, trust Alec Baldwin, he knows... they are absolutely wonderful.   They also offer just about any prepared food you could wish for - including twenty or so delicious sushi options.... I wax on.....

Well those sushi guys and gals weren't too inviting as I lurked at the edge of their kiosk, trying to glean any tips and techniques.  So, I was a good girl and sulked away and bought my daily fix.  Now, anyone that knows me, knows that if I really like something and have any chance of making it myself, I will buy books and raw materials, that will most often cost more than what I would have spent if I just bought the desired thing to begin with and I will try to make it.  Needless to say, I have more books on sewing, felting, embroidering, marbling paper, making paper, gardening, preserving, cooking, and so on than a person has a right to.  Not to mention those boxes and boxes of raw materials that started this project.

I have bought sushi books, mats, rice, vinegar, wasabi and all the other little fixings to make sushi, but after several meals of loosely wrapped, kind of yucky wannabe sushi, I was determined.  The rejection of Wegman's sushi chefs made me start to take inventory of who I might know that might be able to connect me to a sushi chef.  After thinking a bit, I realized that I had that very person in my life already!  One of my class parents is a wonderful sushi preparer, having had a small catering business of her own.  She was very gracious when I asked if she would be willing to help me in my endeavor.

She provided me with exactly what I hoped for and we had an absolutely amazing dinner with her and her daughter (who also graciously played with Miss Maia while we worked on the preparation of our feast).  It was so good, and I learned so much that I wanted to sing and dance.  That was a week ago.  This particular week was extremely busy and I mostly thought about making things, anything... rather than actually being able to put my hands on any of my projects.  This morning I woke up and we headed out to a sugar shack in celebration of "Maple Weekend."  We had a great afternoon of riding in wagons and tasting maple cotton candy and when I got home I was craving a quick and delicious dinner, before we were to set off to see the "super moon."  Sushi!!

I got out all my ingredients and set to work and forty minutes later I was heating the saki and putting out my plates.  Who says that hand work is restricted to fabric and tread?  Look at these yummy beauties.  Thank you Sachiko!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old Friends Revisited

My nine year old self sat watching my mother sewing a pair of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls for a friend that was having a new baby.  I jealously watched those muslin bodies taking shape, the red yarn hair being sewn on, the striped legs dancing around, the little pinafore and dress coming together.  I fingered the left over fabric scraps and wished my mom had made me a doll.  She was busy, and made a point of saying that she didn't have any more stuffing.

I went to sleep disappointed,  but the most wonderful surprise greeted me when I woke up the next morning.  A small muslin version of Raggedy Ann, with two long red braids instead of the raggedy afro.  She had a small, red, flowered, print dress made from those scraps and when I lifted her dress to see her body, there sewn with red thread on her little torso, was the classic "I Love You" encircled by a heart.

The words "I was happy" are far too small to fully describe the joy I felt.  I asked her how she did it, with no stuffing! After I went to bed!  She smiled her wonderful smile and told me my doll was a "stocking doll."  A stocking doll?  She had stuffed my precious, little doll with her old pantyhose.  My little, stocking doll became very, very dear to me.  She came to university with me, carefully stowed away with my varsity letters.  She joined me in my first home with my husband and made a reappearance for my oldest daughter, Mary, when she was five years old.  She has rested in-between tucked away in my memory box.

After Maia's birthday party, she asked me about rag dolls.  I explained to her that her Raggedy Ann and Andy (handmade by my mom...) were rag dolls as was her little Madeline doll.  She asked if me or Mary had ever had one and I told her of my doll that we both had shared.  She quickly asked where it was and could I get her out.  It took me two days to get around to it, despite Maia's nagging me about every thirty minutes or so.  I found the doll this evening, after dinner and her enchantment was instant.  I carefully placed her in Maia's arms, and she was named "Lucy."  Lucy is still in that little dress from thirty-five years ago, stiff with age but still bright red.  Her eyes still sparkle and her little heart shines with the love of a mom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All on the Prairie

This weekend was amazing!  At the Wingfelder abode we had a sushi making tutoring dinner on Friday, a gathering of friends from school on Saturday, and our much awaited prairie birthday.  Now, did I plan for this eventful weekend???  Hmmm...... this wonderfully entertaining weekend was born out of my neglectful attention to my many calendars, that sit in my purse, hang on my wall and float around my desk.  

As I was driving around gathering the last details for Miss Maia's party, I heard a piece on NPR stating that people who surround themselves with friends and are active in the social happenings in their community, live longer.  Life is a blast, and I so want to live a really, really long, productive, high-energy life, so I guess my "mistakes" around scheduling might, just might, work in my favor.  

In between driving and preparing sushi and Julia Child's chicken fricassee and a log cabin birthday cake, I finished the sewing of an apron that I started a month ago out of some gorgeous cantaloupe colored linen,  and starched (yes, I starch) those bonnets.  To say I was productive this weekend wouldn't really fully describe the adrenalin that flowed through my veins.  Amazingly enough my stress level was really low!  I was focused, had my lists, didn't get distracted and now this Sunday night, I ate some outstanding leftovers and drank a beautiful glass of chardonnay, feeling a bit smug.  Here's to preparing for and surrounding yourself with friends!