Monday, June 20, 2011

Chilling Out

Today marked the beginning of the first full week of my return to official-stay-at-home-motherhood.  My three-day-a-week "job" as my niece's nanny officially ended last Wednesday.  Congratulations to my sister-in-law, who now gets to be a real stay-at-home-mom herself!  It's been about sixteen months since I've had five whole days per week to fill up with errands, chores, and blogging and I'll be honest, it's a little weird.  I found myself excited to be able to finally tackle some of the big crazy projects I've been putting off but not really sure where to start.  When I look around my very cramped, very cluttered house, I start making mental lists and it immediately gets overwhelming.  I tend to drive myself crazy that way.

Today I finally decided to just pick something and deal with it.  I know, duh, right?  I started small.  Here is my freezer before...

...and here it is after...

Honestly, this took all of fifteen minutes to do and now I can actually open the freezer without getting pummeled by an avalanche of questionably old meat-sicles.  Also, thanks to the addition of the shelf (which used to hold our broken CD player), I now have room for ice-cube trays...ICE CUBE TRAYS!  I feel like a real person again.

Among the treasures I unearthed in the great freezer excavation of 2011 were half a tube of Thin Mints (which I proceeded to consume immediately), a Claim Jumper pumpkin pie that I forgot I had (SCORE!), and twelve frozen Amish Friendship Bread starters (yikes, I've got some baking to do).  Also, shoved way in the back was a "Fridge-N-Freezer" box of Arm & Hammer baking soda.  The date written on top of the box was...are you ready for this...brace yourself...11/25/06.  Hmmmm, I think it's safe to say its lost any magical deodorizing powers it might have once possessed- the box reads, "For Best Results Change Every 3 Months."

Yup, just another exciting day at my house.  Now, if you'll excuse me, my sock and underwear drawer needs some attention...but don't worry, I won't show you pictures of that.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Several months ago I decided it would be an enriching experience to participate in my church's art show.  We were wrapping up a church wide, eighteen month study of the book of Isaiah and this art show was meant to display visual art inspired by the study.  Each of us participants drew a number out of a hat to determine which chapter of Isaiah we would be representing.  Here is the passage I ended up with:

Isaiah 62
Zion’s New Name
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
   for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
   her salvation like a blazing torch.
2 The nations will see your vindication,
   and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
   that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
   a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
   or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
   and your land Beulah
for the LORD will take delight in you,
   and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
   so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
   so will your God rejoice over you.

6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
   they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the LORD,
   give yourselves no rest,
7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
   and makes her the praise of the earth.
8 The LORD has sworn by his right hand
   and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
   as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
   for which you have toiled;
9 but those who harvest it will eat it
   and praise the LORD,
and those who gather the grapes will drink it
   in the courts of my sanctuary.”

10 Pass through, pass through the gates!
   Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
   Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.

11 The LORD has made proclamation
   to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
   ‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
   and his recompense accompanies him.’”
12 They will be called the Holy People,
   the Redeemed of the LORD;
and you will be called Sought After,
   the City No Longer Deserted.
a. Isaiah 62:4 Hephzibah means my delight is in her.
b. Isaiah 62:4 Beulah means married.

And here's what I came up with...

Hephzibah - Isaiah 62
By: Katie Kenfield
The form of the crown that wraps around the piece is made up of the passage written in ancient Hebrew text. The piece is illuminated from within symbolizing righteousness shining out like the dawn and salvation like a blazing torch, (verse 1). The letters found at the top of the crown spell out Hephzibah emphasizing the new name given to God's people, meaning, "my delight is in her" (verse 4).

Figuring out how to visually represent this and then execute the concept, proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I had made at least two attempts at an idea, slightly different from what you see in the picture above, which involved caligraphy...lots of caligraphy, and pipe cleaners.  Yeah, it crashed and burned.  Looking back on the whole experience, I kind of wish I had just knit a pair of socks and called them "Hephzibah" but I felt like I needed to get all artsy so I ventured into unfamiliar territory.  Sometimes that can be a fun exciting romp which opens up a new world of possibilities.  In this case, it mostly just frustrated me.  What I saw in my head was not what my project ended up looking like and I hated that.  I knew it was not my best work and I hated that too.  I was humbled, I was annoyed, I was glad when it was done.  

I did get several compliments on the piece and, true to form, I wrote them off as people just being nice or assumed my piece only stood out because it was the only candle holder in the show.  I had resolved to take my piece home, peel off the bubbly, sloppy looking sticker and use the glass for something more appealing like a fish bowl or a cookie jar; however, when I found out there were plans to auction off the pieces to raise money for our church's building fund, I thought,  "Hey, if someone wants it badly enough, they can have it- then I don't even have to take it home!"  

I listed my asking price at $20, assuming I was being optimistic.  Imagine my surprise when I got an email informing me that my piece had sold for $125.  WHAT?!  Immediately my surprise turned to guilt.  "This piece is not worth that kind of money," I told myself over and over again.  What was I supposed to do though?  "At least the money is going toward a good cause," I assured myself.  Still, I just didn't feel right letting someone walk away with something I knew could be better and I had already been brainstorming ways I could have improved the project.

After one more trip to the store and about an hour of holding my breath hoping my new plan would work, I came up with this...

It's still not my most favorite thing I've ever made but I feel like it's a major improvement.  I feel much better about selling it this way.

Read on for the gory crafting details...

I started out by tracing the ancient Hebrew letters onto tracing paper following the crown design I had come up with.  I then scanned the whole thing and made sure it was all going to line up okay.  The first attempt was printed onto Avery® Sticker Project Paper 4383, 8-1/2" x 11", Clear.  I was happy with how the print turned out and the actual sticker material was quite nice.  Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that it's not really designed to cover large areas.  It rippled, it stuck to itself, and it was nearly impossible to get it put on straight- it didn't help that the piece of glass wasn't exactly a perfect cylinder.  It was a mess but I was out of time.  I filled the bottom of the piece with sand and some tealight candles and called it a night.

The new and improved version followed a similar set of steps but instead of the Sticker Paper, I used Translucent Vellum inkjet paper similar to this.  I taped the seams together and wrapped the whole thing around the glass.  The end result is much more smooth and pleasing to look at.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mother's Day/Improvised Birthday "Party"

Saturday, May 8, we woke Sofie up before church and wished her a simple Happy Birthday on her official birthday foolishly thinking that would suffice after our marathon Disney celebration the day before.  Unfortunately, the first thing out of her mouth in response was, "Now I can wear my birthday hat, and have birthday cake and blow out my candles, and open my presents!"  My response was, "Oh, crap, I really dropped the ball on this one."

We hadn't planned anything but apparently our little one has gotten wise to the fact that there are certain things one should expect to happen on one's birthday.  Doh!  Well, we managed to scrape together a satisfactory combination of celebratory birthday items and it all worked out.  Next year we may not get off so easy though.  I better start planning now.

Some friends of ours had already invited us over for dinner so we shared Sofie's birthday cake* with them.  Here is the video of Sofie nearly losing her eyebrows while trying to blow out the candles.

That day was also Mother's Day.  Since it falls so close to my birthday, I don't usually expect anything more extravagant than a foot massage and the guilt-free consumption of some sort of dessert.  I was not disappointed.  I also had the pleasure of attending the senior violin recital of one of our friends while Josh and Sofie frolicked about the Biola University campus where the event took place.  Does it make me sound like a jerk if I admit that my favorite part of Mother's Day was the part where I got to sit by myself and listen to someone play a violin without having to worry about my child...the very child that made me a mother?  Anyway, it was a lovely day all around.

*The birthday cake was purchased earlier that same day from the reduced bakery section of our local grocery store.  Before we left the house to head over to see our friends, Sofie managed to kick over the TV tray on which the cake had been perched.  Thankfully the container stayed in tact but most of the frosting slid right off the top of the cake.  We took it with us anyway, along with some white decorating frosting and managed to "fix it" before we presented it to Sofie.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Last Day of Disney

Moving on through the May madness documentation...

Saturday, May 7, was the last day we could go to Disneyland with our annual passes so we decided to go out in a blaze of glory by celebrating my husband's birthday (which was that same day), Sofie's birthday (which was the next day), and Mother's Day (also the next day) during our last epic day at the two Disney parks.  We spent a total of fifteen hours there in an attempt to soak up every last bit of fun from our year of Disney.  It was a long but lovely day and we felt like we had gotten our money's worth.  We figured out that we probably averaged about one visit per week to at least one of the two parks.  Wow, that was a lot of Disney.  Maybe we should get passes to a museum or something- think of how smart we would be if we went somewhere educational that often.

Here is how the day ended...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sew Much Fun

Back in the beginning of May, I hosted a Singer Sewing Machine House Party.  This was an event that I signed up for online a few months ago.  I (along with lots of other people who signed up) got to rent a Singer Confidence Stylist sewing machine for two weeks.  As part of the deal, I hosted sewing party and demoed the machine for some of my friends.  Remember when I left you all hanging with this post?  Here's what was in that box...

They sent all that stuff just for the party!  I was super excited and I had fun filling up brown paper bags with coupons, patterns, thread, and all kinds of stuff to give to my guests.  I still have a few goody bags left so if you would like one, let me know.  A lot of the coupons are already expired but the rest of the stuff is still good.

I ended up having just the right amount of guests show up.  Any more people and we would have had to move the party to the front lawn (have I mentioned that I live in a tiny "hobbit hole" house- that's a topic for another blog entry though).  Here's the party in full swing.  Do we know how to have a good time or what?

There was sewing, sewing, and more sewing...

...but all crafts are welcome here.

We also had just enough time for everyone to complete their own projects.  Two of my guests managed to escape before I could get pictures of theirs but here are the ones I did get...

The House Party company had sent a suggested project along with some fabric (which I forgot to photograph) but I just wasn't thrilled with it so I found the business card/gift card holder project, which I thought better showcased the machine's awesomeness- especially the decorative stitches (there are 70 of them) and the button-sewing-on feature (not the technical name, I'm sure) which I was particularly overly excited about.  

I pre-cut all the fabric (hand-picked from my own stash) so everyone could choose their favorite combo and complete their own card holder.  I made a similar project a while back at the CHA Supershow and remembered how great it was to already have the fabric cut for me so I could get straight to the fun part- decorating it and stitching it all together.

I purposely cut plenty of extras so there would be lots of variety.  I ended up completing the rest of the projects before I had to return the machine.  It was lots of fun...

So yeah, I really did love the Singer Confidence Stylist sewing machine but even with the special discount I would have gotten if I had purchased it, I just couldn't justify buying something like this right now.  It's nice to have a good idea what I might be looking for in my next machine though.

I also feel like I should mention that I was completely enamored with All Brands Sewing and Vacuum in Garden Grove.  I was assigned to pick up my sewing machine there and when I showed up for my required demo I instantly loved the place.  It's an older shop with a mom and pop kind of feel and just about every inch of the front showroom area is filled with sewing machines of every size, shape, and era (there are vacuum cleaners too).  It was the kind of place where I just wanted to hang out for a while.  I definitely plan on going back there if and when I need my current sewing machine serviced and when I am finally ready to purchase a new machine, I plan on checking there first.  

I know this is starting to sound like a commercial so let me assure you, I have not been paid by anyone to say any of this.  I just enjoyed this whole experience that much!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

April Showers Bring May...Madness?

Well, I managed to let a whole month slip by without touching my blog.  But it wasn't just any month.  It was the super crazy out of control month of May.  Here is what my calendar looked like by the end of the month...

On top of our normal weekly commitments (Monday night I go walking with "the girls," Tuesday night I have band practice, Saturday night Josh goes and plays video games with "the guys," Sunday morning is church, Sunday afternoon Josh has a group of "other guys" he goes and meets with in Glendale, then we have Bible study with our small group Sunday nights) there were events scheduled every weekend and events scheduled at the same time as other events and it was madness...MADNESS!  It felt like I was busy every waking minute which made it impossible to document any of the shenanigans and goings on.  

I shouldn't complain though.  I mean, I did this to myself by wanting to be involved in "stuff" and "stuff" often takes up a lot of time.  The problem with this particular month was that all the "stuff" happened at once.  It was like everyone we knew (including ourselves) and every group we're involved with planned things or had things happening around the same time and when you have multiple circles of friends and family who don't all know each other, it gets tricky keeping up with it all.  I don't regret my decision to try to make it to everything.  These were all things I enjoyed and wanted to be a part of. I guess sometimes I just wish events could be spread out evenly over time so that they could all be enjoyed to the fullest and not just rushed through on the way to the next thing written on the calendar.

So anyway, because I know you've all been on the edge of your seats, wondering what the heck I've been up to for a month, I'll try to spend the next few days playing catch-up.  We'll see how that goes.  I have lots to share but I don't want June to suffer for May's madness.