Ella and I need your help.  You know how you buy yarn for a project and then have a bunch of leftovers? Well, we are knitting scarves for the local Center for Women in Transition and are taking yarn donations. 

It all started when I piicked up a knitting loom (never used one before) and started knitting a scarf.

Now, Ella loves using it, because it's much easier than using two big needles.  

It was a family affair - even Stout loves knitting!
This loom is so easy and fun.  I made this scarf in just a couple of hours.
And to model it, I found West Michigan's Top model!
So, if you have extra yarn lying around, we'd love to turn it into a scarf for a family in need. Just leave a comment or email me or facebook me to let me know!

I swear, sometimes I don't want Ella to grow up and other times I love that she's growing up. 

I believe most times fall into that latter category.

She received a sewing machine made for kids two years ago and hasn't had the confidence to use it.  But lately, she's been asking if we could make the skirt that came with the machine.  It was the perfect first sewing project, because it used pre-cut fabric and ribbon - that's it!

The fabric was fun!  I ironed it for her (she's still not ready for that!)
But she did the pinning....
Which is not easy for little hands.
And she did all the sewing (except the last half of the last side, since she was getting burned out).
And it was SO cute!  This was so much fun.  I've been wanting to sew more over the past year and am looking forward to it even more now that we can do it together!
My favorite age is always 'right now' - that's why I need to slow down and appreciate it fully.   Thank goodness for Ella teaching me this lesson!
Whenever you put yourself out there, it's a little scary, and entering a contest is no exception.  I don't know why I feel the need to enter art competitions - I am a true amateur. But, I'm going to do it again.

The Holland Arts Council announced that it is holding a contest this year to design the Tulip Time 2011 poster. Well, I've worked with tulips before, I can do it again...

The problem is, tulips aren't in season.  So, I had to have them shipped from who-knows-where. They looked pretty sad when they arrived, but after a couple of days in water, they were just pretty.
Stout, of course, was supervising.
But Belle showed up too.
I worked for hours, trying to get my images right until I was burned out and left with remnants of tulips.
So, are you looking for the finished product? My submissions to the Tulip Time 2011 poster contest?  Well, I'll share them with you later, but just on the very brief chance that I do place in the competition, I can't really have it pre-published on this site.

I will give you a hint though....click on the tab called "ArtStore" on my blog (upper left side of the page) and you'll get the idea.

Thanks for your continued support, encouragement and positive thoughts!
Remember a few weeks ago when I cleaned my craft room? I found all sorts of unfinished projects.

Well, I actually completed one of those projects.  I'm not sure what got into me, but I did it.

I took all of those fabrics and just started cutting and sewing. I didn't have a pattern....I have learned that I just do better when I make my own pattern up. Actually, as I write this, I'm realizing that I have that problem in other areas of my life.  I've never done well living by other peoples' rules.

Anyway, sorry for the digression.....here's what I made from my craft room finds:
I love these Asian-inspired fabrics. They are beautiful and really fun to work with them.  To add more texture, I quilted a wave throughout the front.
This is the first project I've completed in months. I love starting things, but then I get bored.  If it's not something I can get done in a day, I'm usually not patient enough to do it.

It has inspired me to take another look at all my craft supplies and come up with another project!
Ella really wanted me to paint with her the other day. So, we pulled out our supplies...
And she picked out our subjects:
Stout really feels that his supervision is required at all of our activities...
This was Ella's masterpiece of the day:
I couldn't decide what my masterpiece was, so Ella said I should take a picture of all of them...
What fun to hang out with Ella and just paint fun stuff. I have no idea what to do with them now....they don't really fit in with our decor.  I guess that's part of the fun - creating with out practicality. It's a challenge for myself, that's for sure.  But, I found that it was actually more fun that way!  I actually made something that serves no practical use (except maybe a garage sale or Goodwill donation?).

No pressure. Just fun.
I often talk about being a jack of all trades - master of none. This means I get into lots of things and then start something new before mastering them. It's ok, I'm used to it now.

I started doing some international pen-palling (more on that later!), but I met one person in the USA with whom I have so much in common that we decided to start writing each other.

We both love art.  She loves to paint.  I used to.... So, I thought I'd like to see my old paintings again.

This one is of Maya, our last dog.
This one is of Ella when she was two years old....chasing the Sea Gulls at Holland State Park.
This was a drawing of Ella I did during a 2004 Presidential debate.  I get SO nervous during those things...I just have to keep my hands busy.
And this one was inspired by a photograph in a magazine of a chocolate shop in Spain (at night).
Don't we all have something we used to love to do and just don't have the time for anymore? What would it feel like to do it again?

I think I'm gonna find out!
Ugh. Another cleaning job. You know I don't like to clean.  But, I have a room to create in and I might as well keep it clean.  It's also my meditation room, so if it's not clean, it's annoying.  Ok, I'm going in. 
As I dusted and organized, I found so many things I wanted to work on!  There were so many unfinished projects!

There were things to paint...
Things to fold and cut and make pretty...
And things to crochet...
Oohhh the tools I have to inspire me!  Paint brushes...
And... the very center of my craft-room universe! My sewing machine.
Oh my! What's this? I forgot about this fabric! I bought this with the hopes of sewing a purse.  Hmmmm.....you'll be seeing this fabric again soon, but it will be looking different!
Cleaning sure stinks, but the inspiration was worth it!
So, you know I LOVE giving homemade gifts.  I've also mentioned that most of the negativity in my life comes from things not meeting MY expectations. 

Now, add the two together and what do you get? A potential emotional disaster.  Here's a story to outline this...

Last year, I crocheted some items for Christmas presents.  When I was buying the yarn, Ella was with me.  She really wanted a skein of yarn that was 'baby yarn.' It was so soft and pretty and had kitties on the wrapper (why kitties? I had no idea).  She begged me for it. "I'll learn to crochet" she said.... I told her to wait until after the holidays and I'd help her with a project. 

Then, I secretly went back and bought a few skeins.  I decided to crochet Ella a blanket.  She loves blankets!  I typically do nighttime activities with Ella and we go to bed at the same time (she's a night owl), so I couldn't work on it at home.  Every available lunch hour for two months, I'd park my car at a local park, listen to NPR and crochet.

FInally, a week or so before Christmas, I was done. It was a beautiful blanket with tassels at each corner. 

On Christmas Eve, she opened it. She loved it!! She wanted to sleep with it! Yay!! Mom was happy.  That's about the last time she used it.   Yep, it only occasionally makes an appearance...like here...
I have to admit I was a little heartbroken when Ella didn't want to use the blanket. It all had to do with expectations - I expected it would be her new favorite.   Well, at least it's Stout's favorite!  I guess that's why it had kittens on the wrapper.  
Yesterday was "Black Friday." I completely respect that other people gear up for it and love going shopping on it.  For me...I'm good with shopping but avoid chaos, so I'm not typically in the stores on this day.

On our way to St. Joseph, Michigan for Thanksgiving (11 am on Thanksgiving morning) we saw people already camping out (tents and all) at Best Buy.  We drove by and asked what they were in line for - $200 laptop computers.  So, they were saving about $100, which is a lot of money. Not enough for me to miss Thanksgiving, but it was their choice.

It made me think of Christmas and gift-giving.  Greg and I talked about how different people shop and buy gifts.

Since we opened Greg's busiiness a few years ago, we've significantly cut down on Christmas spending.  We just had to.  I love when making one change results in other unexpected positive changes.  We've had to be VERY creative over the past few years.

Last year, each couple in our family received one of these:
It is a coffee can (cleaned out) with a 40's era cookbook decoupaged on the sides.  Inside were several gifts from our garden - herb packets for cooking and homemade soaps.

We gave people other gifts, too.  But these gifts gave us such a great feeling. We were actually giving something of ourselves - not something from a store. We made it and all worked together on it. It was so satisfying.

Now, I'm not making any judgments here. I know not everyone has the time (or desire) to do these sorts of crafts.  We all have our philosophies of gift-giving.

For us, we've found that the more personal the gift, the more of our labor it entails - the more rewarding it is to give.

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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