Put a Face On It!

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This is becoming my new motto.

Ever since I started this #domesticthrowdown, I’ve been pondering the challenge of having a more masculine landscape to sew for at home.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I always assumed having girls meant you would have more options to customize and personalize sewing projects.  Have a plain t-shirt or bag?  Just add a bow.  Maybe some pink trim.  A ruffle.  A double ruffle.  Lace.  Put a tutu on any store bought halloween costume, and you’re a golden DIYer.
Then you get to boys, and particularly when they get old enough that appliqué seems a bit infantile…

Yeah, I’ll just put a face on it.

That’s exactly what I did with this plain backpack this week:

Before

Before

After

After

This is a $3.99 plain backpack from Walmart.  My older son currently uses one exactly like it, but with a construction site print on most of the bag.  I like these bags because they’re a scale that makes more sense on a preschooler, but they’re still tall enough to accommodate a standard school folder.  For my face, I cut up an ill-fitting pair of grey corduroy pants and used plain old craft felt for the ears, eyes, and nostrils.  I left most the edges of my corduroy unfinished, as this is not an item that would go in the washing machine, and I felt that my grumpy gorilla probably should be a little rough around the edges, anyway. ;-)

So, some tips?

With whatever you put a face on, it really helps to be aware of how much of the product you’ll be able to use on your standard sewing machine.  See how the gorilla’s jaw only goes about two thirds down the “face” of the actual backpack?  That was a practical decision based on how far I’d be able to get into that pocket with my sewing machine.  The small jean patch monster at the top of this post took me just as long to create as this entire gorilla book bag, simply because its location required me to hand stitch it!

Also, it helps to do a Google image search for whatever sort of character you’re hoping to emulate with your face.  Licensed characters are kind of easier, in my opinion.  You just look at the character’s features as individual shapes and try to cut pieces of fabric that would replicate them.  See Pete as an example:

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Pete’s look has changed quite a bit in the past few books.

But coming up with an original face can be quite a bit trickier.  My gorilla was a composite of several cartoon gorillas I saved from an image search.  I had also just finished watching Muppets Most Wanted with my kids.  You can definitely see a bit of Henson influence in the eyes!

The saved images really helped when my gorilla’s nostrils weren’t quite right.  I kept trying to place them very close to each other and in a vertical orientation.  It wasn’t until I went back to my reference cartoons and realized a horizontal orientation was what was needed instead of the “piggy snout” look I was getting!

Pinterest is, of course, another great resource when looking to create characters with your sewing.  My kids’ halloween costumes last year were based mostly on several adorable plush robots I found posted to Pinterest from Etsy.

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This robot has heart.

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But this robot is all business.

I like putting faces on things.  It’s my only tried and true trick.

-Mac-

P.S. When I was searching Pinterest for “face backpack DIY”, I did find a mom who added a monster face to what looks like the exact same backpack!  Go look at it!

I can(t).

This is the first year I’ve had a garden.  It’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.  So far, I’ve harvested almost thirty plump red tomatoes, so I thought I’d learn a new skill and experiment with home canning!  What a bloggerly thing to do, I thought.  I’ll DOCUMENT this process and share it!

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Step one:  Dig up an apron and take a selfie with a tomato. (Note: Maybe remember to wipe the goo out of the bottom of the sink first.)

 

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For extra credit, take a selfie of yourself taking a selfie with your camera remote.  Internet people call this, “meta”.  Do not attempt this maneuver if anyone else is at home to make fun of you.  They can make fun of you later, when you post it on the world wide web.

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Step 4:  Cut an X along the bottom of each tomato.

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Step 5: Boil the tomatoes just until you see the skins starting to recede.

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Step 6: Put your tomatoes in some cool water for a second and marvel at how easily you can peel the skins right off.  Your tomatoes will look like this:

 

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Step 7:  Dump out all but the tiniest bit of your tomato water, and add your now freshly peeled tomatoes.  Boil until you think maybe they’re done.

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Step 8:  While your tomatoes are cooking, sanitize your jar, lid, and ring in their own pot of boiling water.  Remove carefully.

Step 9: Start filling your jar with your tomato mixture.  Call your mom to make sure the jar doesn’t have to be filled all the way to the top because you’re not sure you have as many diced tomatoes as you thought you would.

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Step 10:  Guess what? Your mom says it has to be filled all the way to neck of the jar.

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NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Step 11:  Let the jar cool and try to figure out how to not let all those beautiful homegrown tomatoes go to waste.  You decide to google “open kettle canning” to see if there’s any other way you could have pulled this off.  You find out you were probably about to poison your whole family with an outdated canning method.

WHAT????!!!!!

WHAT????!!!!!

Step 12:  Your tomatoes cool off, and you pour them into a freezer bag.  You misspell it “tomatos” but try to sneak the “e” back in there thinking that no one will notice when you put it on Instagram.

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This got zero “hearts”, by the way.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you can(t).  Just go to the store and buy diced tomatoes.  Really.

-Mac-

That classic “first day of school” photo…

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Nailed it.

This one is only slightly better:

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Maybe I’m just a little full of myself, but I like to think I’m an above average photographer (at least among the SAHMs with fancy cameras crowd).  Look at these beautiful shots I got just a few days ago:

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Yet, on this, my oldest’s (last) first day of preschool, the very best I have to offer is this:

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Is it that I just don’t work well under pressure?  I’m not sure.  I guess it’s just hard to take photos of your children when you are waiting for a bus that’s thirty minutes late and the younger one is trying to eat leaves and rocks and run away to the neighbor’s yard.

"Here, Mom!  These rocks are delicious!"

“Here, Mom! These rocks are delicious!”

Last years photos didn’t turn out much better, so maybe this is a tradition!  Truth is, that first photo is so memorable, and so sums up what parenting usually looks like at my house these days, I really don’t think I’d trade it.  ;-)  Maybe when the boys are all grown up, they’ll get creative and reenact the scenario for me.

And just like that a new school year begins!  Good luck everybody!

-Mac-

#domesticthrowdown

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I am the girl you don’t necessarily want to have over for board games.  Or maybe you do?  It depends on how you feel about apathy and/or trash talk.

Usually, I hate board games, ESPECIALLY when it’s a new game and you start breaking out that little folded up white sheet.  You somehow enthusiastically start to recite lifeless jargon about players, points, and penalties…

Kill me.

I came to hang out and eat junk food.  Had I known there would be math involved, I would have had “plans” when you called me up.  Those “plans” probably would have involved my bathtub and Pinterest.  (Is there any other place to browse Pinterest?)

But no, you gave me the old bait and switch.  I’m trapped at your house, and 7PM just started to feel REALLY late.  I thinly conceal my apathy and try to figure out how I can at least get the chip dip container closer to my end of the parcheesi board.  (Does parcheesi even have a board?  Who cares?  It sucks!)

But then someone says, “Hey!  This is complicated!  Let’s just play Taboo instead!”  Suddenly, the “Rocky” theme starts to play in the background.  Even the cheese dip looses it’s appeal.  I survey the room and find the alpha male (or female) and prepare to cement my place in the pack.  There’s no math involved here, and I’m out for BLOOD.

I don’t care about sports, I don’t usually care about board games, but I’ve just started a war with my friend, and to me, the stakes have never been higher.  Welcome to our #domesticthrowdown.  We both have a lot of sewing projects to finish up through the fall and then there’s Christmas, so we’ve turned it into a friendly (and by friendly, I mean she better say her prayers) competition.

The rules are simple:  Whichever one of us posts the most completed sewing projects between now and December 25 wins.  There’s no prize so far, but we would consider sponsorship offers.  ;-)  So far, I’m ahead by one.

You can follow along on Instagram, but this week, I’ve already submitted three entries.  The one at the beginning of this post is for the tooth fairy, since my son has his first loose tooth, then I needed to patch a hole in my 2 year old’s jeans, and, of course, another puppet!  So far, my strategy’s been quantity over quality, but after she posted a MERMAID costume, I’m feeling like I need to do something a little more complex…
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Now I must get back to sewing.

Happy Monday!

(P.S.  If you liked MY trash talk, you should see what the British said about us today… ;-) )

The Life and Times of Zoe Zucchini

A very serious and artful self portrait.

A very serious and artful self portrait.

I’m new to gardening, but I do know one thing:  Zucchini are usually harvested before they grow to seven pounds, six ounces.  A friend taught me how to slice, marinate, and grill these giant zucchini as steaks, but this one was even too big for that.  You see, as the squash gets larger, it also starts to get tough.    Before you know it, your summer squash start to act like winter squash, but without the shelf life. Have you learned something new today?  Now, go out and harvest your zucchini before it’s too late!

I, however, did not grow this infant sized organic zucchini.  A dear friend did.  Unlike, me, she is NOT clueless about her garden, and was almost ashamed that this giant had somehow slipped under her radar.  No one wants to see their home grown produce go to waste.  I determined to do something with this thing, for her sake.  No produce left behind!

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Did you know you can shred your fresh zucchini now (and for heaven’s sake, use a food processor if you can!), press out the excess moisture, and freeze it in appropriate batches for your favorite zucchini bread recipe?  Yeah.  So simple, I’m not sure it’s even worth blogging.  But, for the record, this was the first time I’ve ever made zucchini muffins, and because of a (hopefully temporary) dietary restriction, it needed to be gluten and dairy free.  If you want to use the same recipe, try it out here.  Everyone loved it.

Sorry, my blog sucks…

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Well, this is awkward.

Has it been a year?  It’s been close, right?  At some point in September 2013, I closed up shop and put up the password.  Only my very favorite followers were allowed access to the archives.  Well, basically only one really sweet commenter.  My mom didn’t even make the cut.

There were a few reasons.  We were about to close on a house, both my kids were being evaluated (some more) for autism spectrum disorder, our budget was super, super tight because of all those up-front costs of homeownership…  Oh yeah, and I’d just stumbled upon the websites where people go to make fun of bloggers.  Don’t worry.  Nobody was making fun of me (my blog is too small and boring to get that kind of attention), but I knew eventually they would find me and rip me apart.

I was feeling anxious, insecure, and suddenly ready to become a very private person.

Except…

Not a day has gone by since I said, “I’m done,” that I’ve not been writing blog posts in my head.

I’ve missed blogging.  I’ve missed it badly.  I know I was one of those 2011 bandwagon mommy bloggers.  I can’t deny I’ve sometimes been self-important, un-clever, or downright boring in this space.  The truth is, this blog sucks.  The archives are pathetic.

But, I really like making this sucky content.

It might not get better, guys.  I can’t even promise I’ll blog more consistently.

But, to be honest, I think I owe it to myself and in some (narcissistic) way, to the universe, to open back up the archives and try my hand at this again.  I LOVE reading other people’s blogs.  Everybody has their own take, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the internet.  At the end of the day, I don’t want to be that gal just consuming everyone else’s blog content, thinking to myself “That’s great, but I would have done it this way…”  No, I want to jump in and create!  It’s only fair, right?  Give a penny, take a penny?

So, I’m working my way back with a simple challenge.

The Experiment

For the next two weeks, I, Mac, will attempt to NOT check my Instagram, Pinterest, or Bloglovin’ feeds, unless I have produced some content for that specific platform that day.

You read that right.

No Pinterest, until I have found something great to pin.  That’s easy.
No Instagram, until I have a picture to upload.  Little harder.
No Bloglovin’ (or Feedly, or email blog subscriptions, you get the idea), until I have offered something on my own blog.  (EDIT: It’s been about five days, and I’m changing the rules.  No Bloglovin until I’ve spent at least 15 minutes working on my own blog that day.  I’d rather have posts that are really well worked out than post boring stuff every day, and I don’t want to wait a week at a time before catching up on my blog subscriptions.  They’re my favorite.  What can I say?)
No television, until I have sent in my sitcom pilot–okay, okay.  Maybe I’ll draw the line there.

And that, my friends, is how you come back.

-Mac-

P.S. Hi!

Lately…

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Lately, parenting is truly, TRULY, FINALLY getting easier!  Maybe it has something to do with the kids getting older, maybe it has something to do with school letting out, maybe it’s just because we’re going on almost a month now with no crisis, sickness, or bad news!  This school year was ROUGH at our house, and I’m so glad to shut the books on it!

Lately, I’ve quit dieting.  I’ve done vegan, paleo, calorie counting, low carb, slim fast, etc.  Today, I realized of all the dietary changes I’ve embarked upon in my life, the only one that’s really revolutionized my life, given me more energy, helped me through hard times, and helped me start feeling truly great…  wait for it… was when I started drinking coffee!  ;-)
But, I’m pretty sure my next “thing” will be Weight Watchers.

Lately, I’ve been better about soaking up my children, especially my oldest.  You see him zooming above in a simple super hero cape I made out of old sheets, and when we took him to “A Day Out with Thomas”, it was like watching all his wildest dreams come true!

Lately, I’m trying to figure out what summer should look like for us.  I want to make a couple simple goals and be very VERY intentional about how I parent during these precious months!

Lately, I’m spending a lot of time over on moneysavingmom.com.  I wish I would have discovered her earlier in my “stay home mom career”.  She’s brilliant, and our budget is improving!

How about you?  Got any big plans for the summer?
-Mac-