October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This year, DS and I made our costumes from things we already owned.  I'm Totoro, and he's Yukon Cornelius.  Mine is a little disheveled from dancing.  Happy Halloween!

October 28, 2011

To-Do Lists

I've been keeping a to-do list on the marker board on my fridge.  It's mostly just a list of things I need to do around the house that I don't want to forget about, and the fridge is something I see many times a day.  Right now it says the following:

  • Litterboxes
  • Vacuum
  • Scarf
  • Thanksgiving Banner
  • Iron
  • Dulcimer Should Strap
  • Test Clear Plastic Ornament Idea
  • Blog
  • Upload Photos
  • Make Christmas gift list
  • Clean Kitchen
  • Totemsoul Updates
I'd cross off blog right now, but I actually put that on there to remind me to chronicle our going ons of the past couple weeks, and that's still not done...  As you can see, it's just a bunch of chores and craft things.  That last one is a website I've been working on for some friends lately.

Generally, I'm the only one that uses the marker board.  Sometimes I leave notes for DS on there so he'll see them before work.  However, today when I woke up, I found DS had made himself his own little to-do list:
  • Put away clothes
  • Work out
  • Wish list
  • Drink 17 beers
I cracked up.  I doubt he'll make it to 17, especially since we don't even have that many in the house.  But I can tell you he deserves as many as he wants, because he's had a crazy month.  Lots of deadlines and classes and travel and conferences with talks.  Here's to the end of October!

October 23, 2011


It would seem DS and I are developing a habit of being with our niece and nephew for carving pumpkins.  I just spent some time looking for last year's post about it, but it would seem it was during my "I forgot I had a blog for 6 months and all these posts are really back-posted" phase.  Lucky for you, I did take photos that were saved somewhere.

"Jack" or a princess.  Carved for (and with a some help from) Dorian.  The glitter was all her, but once it was lit up, I was in love.  -2010
Last year we had flown down to South Carolina for DS's mom's birthday, which isn't long before Halloween.  His grandmother Marie was also in town.  It was a really lovely trip, and DS and I enjoyed hanging out at his sister's house and carving pumpkins with the kids.

We thought this year we'd go back to having pumpkin carving parties at our place, especially now that we actually have friends here in town.  However, life seldom goes as planned, and this time we found ourselves in West Virginia.  Both of DS's grandmothers live there, and we were met by his sister and her family.  Wouldn't you know that the same grandmother from the last year's pumpkin carving had gotten pumpkins this year too?  I was not expecting that, but I was happy.  Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite fall things.  Not that that list is things is short.

The kids this year.  It's hard to believe how old they are.  <3
This year I ended up carving both pumpkins, though the kids cleaned them out on their own.  There was only one good carving knife, and even that was long and very sharp.  They have a healthy fear of knives after an accident last year.  Miles started out wanting a scary pumpkin, and we sketched out designs until he was happy.  And then he decided he wanted a pumpkin for God.  And the end result is probably more scary than his "scary" design, but he was happy with it.

Hearts=Jesus / Cross / Ears=Bibles / Fish

Dorian wanted something scary.  She took some time (interrupted several times by the need to run away from some bees that kept pestering us) before deciding on a ghost.  Carving out those little eyes and mouth with the big knife that I had was tricky.  And everyone was terrified that I was going to slice my fingers off when I was trying to shave down the skin for the rest of the ghost.  Dorian even made me show her my hands a few times to assure her they weren't bleeding.  She topped this one off by stabbing in "the head."  By the time we took the photo, Marie had reclaimed her knife.  You can still make out some stab wounds by the light shining through the slit though.

A ghost with stab wounds.
As with last year, we decided these pumpkins were enough carving for this Halloween.  Now we're looking forward to seeing the girls in his family when they visit us in December to see the Nutcracker.

October 19, 2011

Behind the Scenes of a Mobile Commission

Last November, a friend commissioned me to make a custom hanging mobile for their yet-to-be-born child's room.  I was given a photo of the crib set, which was "jungle" themed (with the exception of a giraffe).  Other than that, I was given free reign.

The thing with the giraffe is that I have problems with these themed sets that like to combine animals that don't really make sense.  I'd be fine with it if they didn't say it was a jungle theme.  Giraffes live in the savannah.  But this eventually got me thinking that I had an opportunity to make the mobile both awesome to display and educational.

I was told the child was expected in May, so I had "plenty of time."  However, inspiration was slow.  Very slow.  A whole year slow.  I worked on it in spurts, creating an animal here and there with months in between as I struggled with what to make next.  I probably could have worked much faster if someone had said, "I really love X, please make me something with these items in it."  Coming up with it on my own, I just have to wait until it feels right.

So it's about 5 months late, but in the end, I am glad I waited until I had something worth sending.  I decided to stick with the jungle theme, but make sure that all animals included would be something actually found in a tropical, wooded climate.  Not all of the animals would have to be from the same jungle, just so long as they had similar habitats.  I also wanted them to be animals you'd be likely to encounter at a zoo, but not necessarily the most famous ones.  And I wanted the animals to be removable for some kind of interaction.  My thought was that they could be used in story time, or something along those lines, with the idea being that the child would get to know the names of these animals and what they looked like.  Then visits to the zoo would be more exciting, and hopefully with less mindless screaming and banging on enclosure glass...

I ended up making the three larger animals first, and they were also the most spaced out.  Hand-embroidering the tiger stripes was probably not my best idea in terms of feasibility.  The final structure came recently, when I decided to hang the bigger animals as if they were walking around the base of a tree, with smaller animals hung higher as if they were in the canopy.  This idea was what finally triggered the creative juices, and it was mostly downhill from there.  I believe the last three animals and the tree all came together in about 5 days.

Each animal is roughly to scale with the others; the elephant is a tad small, but I made it as big as my single sheet of felt would allow.  They are all made of felt, hand-sewn and embroidered.  The smaller ones have a touch of marker for shading, since the stitches were pulling through the felt once the pieces passed a certain size.  There are wires in the leaves of the three, with loops for hanging.  To keep it light, the tree trunk is made of straws that are wired together, wrapped in paper, and then covered in felt.  I've never done anything like this before, so I just sort of made it up as I went along.

Because it was so late, and we hadn't talked about it in so long, I packaged everything up and quietly sent it along for my friend's birthday.  I included a little packet that said how to put it together, as the tree is actually two pieces, and the animals can be hung from various points depending on what looks good.  The packet also gave mini-bios, with pictures of live animals, for each of the animals included.

Now that the package is safely delivered, I can share the photos with you.  Soon I should have photos of it hung in the baby's room, but for now, here are the ones I took before shipping.

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