Monday, March 30, 2009

Dress-up: the Perk of Parenting

Before we had kids we read this hilarious Onion article about these young hipsters who had a baby for the sole purpose of dressing the child up in cool outfits. Oh, we laughed. Then we had Little Pumpkin. Now it's all clear. Being crafty is an added affliction, as the cool outfits should of course all be handmade. Luckily, my attention deficit issue means I never spend too much time on any one thing, including making clothes for the boy. Here and there I whip something up and that seems to appease my need to be a young hipster craftster parent with an unflinchingly cool fabric store within walking distance.

Last time I stopped by said fabric store I picked up every single thing they had that had any form of cars, trucks, diggers, dumpers or airplanes on it. These "surfer dude shorts with pocket for your matchbox car" are the first in a series of things I plan to make featuring the wee ones most beloved things in life. And, whadda ya know, they make him look like the dress up doll of an urban hipster. Awesome! As an added bonus, I should make Mr. Pumpkin a matching pair.

I'm on the hunt for some new boy's sewing patterns. I'd like some summer clothing and I mostly see pretty basic stuff. Anyone sew up this Oliver + S sailboat top or pants pattern (above)? I think it's cute but I've never used this brand of pattern. Any other recommendations? I could use some new inspiration.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bad Economy Or No, Thrifting is a GO!

We spent all weekend at the thrift stores it seems. We are pretty regular pounders of the thrift store pavement. I actually have come to hate shopping, with the exception of thrift stores, antique stores, craft stores and usually the garden centers. Sometimes I get really burned out, especially since it seems like our local joints have really started to jack up the prices on certain "valuables" like Levi jeans (c'mon, people, these are NOT worth $14.99).

But, alas my faith in buying other people's junk at what I consider a reasonable price was restored. We got Wee Pumpkin a new (made in China) yet metal Radio Flyer tricycle for $7 at Hidden Treasures, a whole mess o' board books in almost unused condition at Unique, some water shoes and some cute Oshkosh red stripey "haw haws" for when he's a bit older. I can just see my guy tooling down the sidewalk in his red overalls on his red trike. I also found Mr. Pumpkin a sweet Duran Duran 45 record with "Notorious" on it. Hey, wait a minute! I didn't buy a single thing for myself. What tha!? Oh, well, maybe next time.

Psssssssst...where are your favorite thrift stores? I need to add some new places to my rotation!

Tonight we're going to take advantage of the heatwave we're having (it's 45 degrees) and grill out. Mmmmmmm venison hot dogs. Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Craft Room Re-Do: 1 Year Anniversary!

It's been almost exactly a year since I revamped my craft space by removing the "guest room" and taking it over fully for crafting. It's a really small space, but pretty ideally situated with it's own door and window. Without a closet it's really not good for any other purpose...really!

Reflecting back, it was such a good move. I get SO much use out of the space. My only two complaints are that I have too much stuff and I end up piling it up because there are no closets and my fabric storage is woefully small. So what you see here if slightly cleaned up to make it appear as though I'm a much neater person than I really am. And notice how one wall of the room is missing from the photographs. That's the wall with the huge pile of ties waiting to become tiesies and the hugs bin of sweaters waiting for some felted purpose. It's also where my sewing machine sits, on a table piled with projects waiting to be sewn up.

If you'd like to share your crafty space, drop me a comment and let's figure out how we can feature you on my blog. It's such a guilty pleasure to see how everyone organizes their crafts! And I could stand to get some organization pointers, so let's share!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Please Spring, Spring Already!

We've had a couple of warmish days and man, is it torturous when it goes back to 35 degrees like it has this week. This photo was taken last weekend when it was 55 degrees and sunny. Oh, where, where did you go sun? Anyway, it's all good because we'll just stay inside and make risotto and play with our dumptrucks, right? Right!

Don't forget -- tomorrow we celebrate Earth Hour at 8:30 PM local time. It's just an hour, but symbolically it is really meaningful. My giant skyscraper office building is getting in on the action, so I figure I can, too. We usually light some candles and enjoy one lo-fi hour of relaxation. Pretty nice.

Happy Friday!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get Hip to it: Run Amok

One of the most excellent fringe benefits of helping plan the No Coast Craft-o-rama each year is meeting all the talented and so-friendly local crafty types. I am always completely blown away by how welcoming and open everyone is, and it really makes all the work of planning big events worth it.

Enter Oona, the talent behind Run Amok. Not only is she super-talented, but she cracks me up. She says "aces!" She doesn't drive. Her mom is one of the sweetest moms I've ever met. She's just one of those people who gives me warm fuzzies every time I see her, and I want to see her become rich and famous beyond her wildest dreams. So, I asked her to write a tell-all autobiography and I agreed to publish it on my blog. I was dying to know what her craft space looked like. What books does she read? What inspires her?

Oona says: I keep my knitting needles (and typewriter ribbon tin collection) in the diningroom.

Oona says: My favorite fabrics.

Oona says: I love my green chair.

Oona says: A view from the door with piles of things that need finishing.

Oona says: I love my (moms) Bernina. A lot.

What's inspiring you now?
A random collection of things I guess: photos of fair isle knitting, 1950s sewn vinyl toys, Japanese craft books, the Organized Collections pool on flickr.

Oona says: Pincushions to be finished, and the never ending sock. This is only the first sock, and its taken 5 weeks to get to the heel, I can't believe it at this point.

Oona says: Cottons on the left, vintage kimono fabrics on the right.

What books are on your nightstand?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace and the Emperor and the Wolf (bio of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune) . I think each one is about a million pages, and that’s why they’re both constantly on my nightstand, but both are well worth it.

Oona says: Sorted buttons for making bracelets.

What are your favorite places to shop?

Right now it’s mostly Blue Moon Fiber Arts for yarn, United Noodle for unusual snacks from Japan, and thrift stores for everything else.

Oona says: Some of the (mostly handmade) doll collection I have, mostly bought or traded for on etsy.

What are your plans for Spring?

I’m starting to get a little stir crazy, so basically anything that involves being outdoors would suit me just fine. I’d love to be walking home from work, or sitting in my backyard most of all. Also, I need to spray paint a massive light fixture so I can place it in a thoroughly inappropriately small room, so that’s pretty much tops on my to-do at this point.

Oona says: Some of the dolls I've made.

What websites and blogs do you visit?

F*** You, Penguin is the funniest website ever. Ever!

Fine little day is lovely.

The Selby takes amazing photographs.

Ravelry is the knitting equivalent of crack and should be illegal. I’d like to visit other things on the internet, but I can’t seem to stop looking at the ravelry.

Thanks for being so totally "aces" Oona! And thanks for sharing your crafty space. It looks like you've got quite the set up!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

Mr. Pumpkin and I had it planned perfectly: a trip to Milwaukee and Chicago sans toddler. We anticipated three full days of catching up on reading, being lazy, eating leisurely dinners without need of carset, booster seat, highchair or stroller. It was going to be great. We researched, we made reservations, and then, got horribly, horribly sick. So sick that after 1 day of travel, Mr. Pumpkin dropped me at my parent's house (who were taking care of wee Pumpkin) to recover and he drove all the way back home (5 hours) to see a doctor. Today, I finally made it in to see the doc and I've got a sinus infection to add to his double ear infection. We're a sad, pathetic lot!

Strangely, I wasn't really surprised, and the weekend wasn't a total disaster. We had breakfast with our friends at our favorite Madison joint, Monty's Blue Plate Diner. We did make it to Milwaukee for one night out with our friends. We visited Fischberger's Variety Store and the Paper Boat Boutique.

For dinner, we chose Cafe Centraal and Mr. Pumpkin even had some beer (can you tell he's really sick in this photo??) The food was great, but my inability to talk made it a slightly awkward dinner. That night, exhausted yet hopeful that it was "just a cold" and that with a little rest we could tough it out, we fell into our beds at the lovely County Clare Inn.

In the morning, after a sleepless night, we realized we had to head home. We stopped first at Hotch-a-do for some breakfast, and although pretty slow, the food was good. My latte was great! As we sat and discussed plans gone awry and what we needed to do next, this truck pulled up outside with a sign that made me laugh out loud: Who gets sick when it's convenient? So true. Who does get sick when it's convenient?

Afterwards, we headed into the little market in Beans and Barley to pick up some tea and what-nots. I love that place. I also love that they have an Art-o-mat!

Despite the colds and earaches and all, we still managed to have fun. I witnessed several signs of spring, including the first 50-degree temps of the new year, a robin sighting and going outside without my coat! We're going to try a mini-trip again in April. Wish us luck!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Molasses Chocolate Chip Puff-Cloud Cookies

My wee one and I stole a few moments alone together this morning while daddy ran some errands. Kiddo's under the weather, so we stayed indoors and "winged it" on a batch of cookies. I dragged my wee one's little table into the kitchen so he could reach everything and I let him "dump" all the ingredients into the bowl. He loved running the hand beater, and also enjoyed banging all the measuring spoons and cups against the bowl. And, much to our delight (and my surprise), the cookies turned out awesome: a "happy accident" in the words of the late, great Bob Ross. They are light, fluffy, a little spicy and chocolatey-riffic!

Molasses Chocolate Chip Puff-Cloud Cookies:
Makes approx 2 doz.

1/3 C. vegetable shortening
1/3 C. butter
1/2 C. sugar
8 T. molasses
1 egg
1/3 C. whole milk
2 1/3 C. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. salt
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cover cookie sheet with parchment. Cream shortening, butter and sugar together. Add the molasses, egg and milk and beat until smooth. In another bowl mix all dry ingredients except chips. Stir dry mixture into wet mixture. When it forms a soft dough, add the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

These are best enjoyed warm!

What's cookin' at your house?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Vacation Planning: Kid-Free Adventures!

Oh, it's been a long time coming. After 19 months of non-stop, action-packed parenting, I'm ready for a break! Not just an 8-hour break spent in my cubicle, or a quick trip out to dinner with a babysitter at home (of which there have been only a few), but a real, true, grown up overnight drinking eating leisurely dinner out spending time in stores with breakables having adult conversation and relaxed cups of coffee vacation! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOO am I thankful we have a set of grandparents within driving distance to give us a much-needed respite. And I can't forget our friend Jeff, who is doggy-sitting. No barking! For several days! Ah, the finer things in life...

I feel like this is it. It's my one chance to really live it up, maybe for a long time. I know it's silly, that really I could do this more often if I wanted, but it's still got me all wound up about making the very most of every second of the trip. Where will we stay? Where will we eat? What shops must I visit? And really, I MUST get that new flash for the camera before I leave so that all the photos are just right (Photos of cows! Millenium Park! Photos of food! So many photos!) . Now, you'd think I was headed to Hawaii, or the Bahamas or somewhere exotic. But, we're just going to Milwaukee. Seriously, Chicago is as far as we'll get. And we've been there literally about 10,000 times. But this time is different. Much more important.

I've already done tons of research. I found it particularly difficult to find information about unique and unusual lodging and dining. I thought I'd compile my list of lodging options here and solicit feedback. Any other ideas where we should definitely stay or go or see? I'd love to know your must not miss southern Wisconsin or Illinois hot spots! Maybe another day I'll post the ever-increasing list of must-eats and get your feedback, too!

Milwaukee Hotels:
Hotel Metro
Knickerbocker on the Lake
Iron Horse Hotel
County Clare Inn and Pub

Chicago Hotels:
Monastery of the Holy Cross (stay with monks!)
James Hotel
Inn of Chicago
Indigo Hotel

In my searches, I also found some really cool Frank Lloyd Wright lodgings in and around Wisconsin. Check these out!
Whistling Swan Inn (Door County)
Seth Peterson Cottage (up north, Wisconsin)
Muirhead Farmhouse (Illinois)

Where else is fun to stay?