Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Bye July!

Glad to see you go!

The first month of school is hectic for any teacher. I expect that. This July has heaped on the drama and frankly I am tired. If I haven't blogged much it's because I am napping.

Actually, I could sum up the craziness in one sentence- Cliff took pity on me and cooked dinner every night all month!

But why be brief?
July 3, 2003
We celebrated five years of marriage which seem to have flashed by in the blink of an eye. I fear that in just two moments I will be looking back on ten years. Why is it that time only stands still while I wait for the custodial staff to clean up vomit?

We got a new principal and vice principal. Both have turned out to be really quite wonderful. Our overall work environment is much improved. It's too early to say I am in love, but I might be.

pile of crayon rolls

It's not too early to say that I am totally in love with my new box of Crayons. This year I drew the long straw and I couldn't be happier.

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Still, this month I have had a new recurring nightmare. I am late to school and want to call in. My cell phone is a transformer (like the kids robot toys) and it transforms from a calculator, to a robot, to a ruler, Swiss Army knife... lots of cool things. No matter how many times I open and close it, I can never get it to be a phone.

Our Dog Nikki
First day of school -second grade.

I had to miss the first day of school this year due to a doctors appointment. I stressed over that for quite a few days and finally decided that my health came before school. Still, this was the manifestation of my life long former school nightmare about missing the first day of school. After the appointment Cliff took me to the Getty Museum and somehow the gorgeous surroundings soothed me.

Then I had a minor surgery on the same day as back to school night. Seriously! The timing was not great. Being new, the principal made Back to School Night a huge priority. It was made very clear that it needed to be great. I slinked into my Principal's office to deliver the news that I might not make it. Thankfully, it was a fairly minor outpatient procedure and Cliff was able to drive me to school later that night. I gave my little talk, met the families and promptly took the next day off to recoup. It's not that I am any kind of martyr. The thought of having to host my very own Back to School Night at a later date motivated me to go at any cost.

Very modern gas station
Photo of a local gas station (tres chic- no?)- taken April 2007.

I think gas topped out around $4.65 here. This month I really cut back on nearly all thrifting, shopping and exploring. If it can't be found on my route home from school, I no longer know about it. I miss my city, but by the grace of God, there is a Target on the way home! (And, by the way teacher friends, the Cadillac of frozen meals- Smart Ones Vegetable Lasagna is only $1.77 at Target!)

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So far, dare I jinx myself, the air conditioning was not damaged by the great pool leak of July 2008.

On top of some big ticket items that we did budget for, we had an unexpected bill of $1,000 and our monthly sending was nearly dollar for dollar the exact salary I made as a first year (part time) kindergarten teacher.

This both scared me and thrilled me. Thanks to the influence of all the penny wise blogs I read, I am a reformed spender. We were able to cover it all with cash. In my wildest dreams I don't think I could have imagined that. The Lord is so good -and the people said, "Amen!"

Mom in College
Mom in college.

I had thought that with the relaxed pace of summer I would get some crafting done. Ha! I have scarcely done any crafting since the 4th. I had a great idea for my parent's anniversary. I postponed it and at this rate they will be lucky to see it at Christmas. The supplies taunt me though!

I wish I could say I have gone the route of the Amazon gift card and made my peace...

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The future bride.

but I have been knee deep did in a very special surprise for my cousin's bridal shower. It's been an unbelievable thing to watch someone grow up and see them get married. I can hardly wait to see her at the wedding. Unfortunately, spending so much time thinking about our family and her shower has made me homesick. I kind of burnt out on the project and took a break. I will be lucky to get it in the mail on time.

Clock in Beverly Hills

And this week- the final week of July, well each day feels like two. I was pretty much done on Tuesday with the puker and the earthquake. On Wednesday, a half hour after the dismissal bell, the "haunted house" right next to the play yard went up in flames. Bushes and trees along the school fence caught on fire. Smoke filled the school yard and ash rained on the staff parking lot. The kids were sheltered in the auditorium and I high tailed it right out of there.

Today I half expected to see frogs or locusts fall from the sky. Thankfully, it was an ordinary day. Not uneventful by any stretch, but ordinary. Goodbye July!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hong Kong Phooey

I am finally making progress on the I Spy quilt which was on my champagne list. Sort of, this one will not be for the Linus project.

This is Operation Don't Forget Us!

My cousin has been toying with the idea of moving to China for more than a year now. He was a pro golfer and has an apparently golf is huge among the rising middle/upper class in China. He's had a few job offers to teach golf.

Part of the lure is that they have two adopted daughters from China and they are interested in giving their daughters more of their own culture.

Also, they feel that God is calling them to move to China. I understand that feeling. I was called to leave my comfort zone and teach at OFS. Still, China? I think that is officially a bajillion miles away from the nearest family member. After the terrible earthquakes, I think God would need to send a burning bush in my living room to get me to go there. (Please understand that I am not tempting you God.)

I told them that if they wanted questionable seismic activity and Asian culture they should just move to LA. We have fault lines and China Town.

The latest job offer was from a company in Hong Kong. That is decidedly more westernized and appealing.

So, it looks like my whole crew of "baby" cousins will be moving. Sniff. The Fantastic Four, ranging in ages from 2-5 will hardly remember us.

My thought was to make mini quilts with family photos interspersed. I plan to size them so they are good for long car rides and if need be transatlantic flights.

This was my first time using real printer fabric. I used June Tailor Colorfast Sew In Ink Jet fabric sheets. They went through the printer well and were easy to treat for colorfastness. However, some red did seem to wash off. The fabric is soft and nice to work with. The price is usually pretty prohibitive at $10 for 3 sheets. Thankfully, it was some sort of coupon mania week at Joannes.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Just Another Happening Night In Hollywood

Thankfully we are homebodies. Saturday night when the rest of Hollywood was out on the town, I was busy working in our bedroom. Then I heard it-the tell tale drip of trouble. The drips quickly turned to showers. In two seconds time I was able to grab a bucket in our adjoining master bath. Even so, there was quite a puddle. Water was streaming through our air conditioning vent.

My camera caught the clear water against the beige walls. See the ripples in the bucket?

Then the fire alarm went off.

Good times.

Turns out a hose that connects the roof top pool to the filter had spun out of control and was shooting water directly into our air conditioning vent on the roof.

Our building manager was home. We are experienced with leaks and have buckets and towels at the ready. Still, had we been out? How long before the pump burned out? How much of the pool would have made it into our apartment?

Well, they say things happen in threes. This was our third leak this year.

Maybe we are done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Free to Be Phthalates Free!

This is me sometime in the 70's. See those Fisher Price stacking rings? Cliff gave them to me when he was 4 years old!

Back then we didn't worry about the toy being filled with toxic chemicals. Shoot, that wooden thing had exposed metal springs on it!

Ah, the good old days. The Free to Be You & Me days... At this point, I wasn't even worried about "red dye #5."

Seriously though, I subscribe to a news ring called Moms Rising.Org and I have learned of a bill to ban phthalates in children's toys.

Right now a House Conference Committee is deciding whether to include a ban on phthalates, a toxic chemical, in children's toys and childcare articles in the Consumer Product Safety Commission Reform Act. You can go here to tell undecided Committee members that our kids' health must come first and you're counting on their leadership to ban phthalates from children's toys!

The Breast Cancer Fund. Org has an even clearer explanation of the measures.

As if the price of gas wasn't bad enough, now Exxon Mobil is aggressively lobbying to defeat efforts to ban phthalates, a toxic chemical, from kids' toys. Could profit possibly be their motivation?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Random Odds & Ends

I was at Staples this weekend subsidizing the Los Angeles Unified School District. (Thank goodness for their back to school sales.) When what to my wondering eyes did I spy? A giant clip dispenser! Have you seen this at Staples? Clip heaven I tell you!
Clip Heaven

Better than candy!

Summer Salt & Pepper Shakers

I finally got my salt and peppers switched out from Easter. You may remember that Easter came early this year. It's been a busy spring. Anywhoo, here is a summer assortment. This week I think my favorites are ice cream cones. They are very unique and made of metal and glass.

July 011

Here are some more salt and peppers. July 3 was our fifth anniversary and some of my many Bride and Groom salt and peppers came out to celebrate with us. Five years ago we had a wedding couple on every table and it was one of my favorite things. It was fun to collect them, it was fun to personalize my wedding and it is fun to relive the memories with them.

Quick Kitchen Art
A few weeks ago I ordered these vintage chocolate molds from Rebecca's Goodness Shop. The frame was a quarter at the thrift. I look forward to switching out the background and molds with the holidays.

july 037

Speaking of Rebecca, she has won the vintage wrapping paper pack!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Free from work and any other obligation I spent the 4th sewing!

I'm so pleased with my modern version of Lady Monkey! Well, Lady or Lad... time will tell. One thing I know for sure... this little monkey will root for the Sox!
Summer & Fall Annies

These summer sisters are jetting their way across the country right now!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Love the One You'r e With

There's my Scion parked next to her boyfriend, Cliff's Tercel. I have blogged before about my devotion to The Little Scion that Could and during this gas crisis, our passion has only grown. I can still fill all the way up for just under $50!

My Little Scion is dating a much older man. The Tercel is 10 years her senior. Another Hollywood stereotype, I know. Sure the Tercel has been around the block a few times. (Actually, he's been all around the USA.) Still he maintains his boyish charm.

Check out the millage baby...

Only 72,491 miles in 15 years! With a complete tune up and some extra work from our friend in the OC, he's running like a young pup.

But, there is this embarrassing sun damage.

No amount of Botox was going to fix these nasty tears. A full on face lift was needed.

After the pink kitchen, Cliff thinks I can make just about anything and he asked me to make him some sort of seat covers. While a big departure from the knotted handbags I normally sew, I decided to take up the challenge. Rather I added it to my "someday" list of things to make or sew and got busy wallpapering the fridge.

Then one day I was at Big Lots and saw a disposable seat cover similar to this one. From the description on the package it seemed to contain a slightly fitted and elasticized seat cover. It was six bucks, but I figured I could use it as a pattern.

Worst six bucks I ever spent. What I actually got was a large paper rectangle with a hood on one end.

My annoyance motivated me! I was determined now to get going on this and went downtown to get some $2 pound fabric at The Loft. I found about ten pounds of great fabric for knotted handbags and some gray stretch corduroy to make the seat covers. I also bought two large towels. The Tercel is a hot blooded man and has no AC. In LA, one might need some extra absorbency in such a car.

First I sewed the towel to a long rectangle of corduroy. This made a rectangle with a pocket on the end, much like the bogus paper seat cover. Then I turned it inside out and went down to the garage. Armed with a bunch of pins, I pinned the cover to take the shape of the seat. I had seen this done quite a few times on Trading Spaces and I am here to say it really does work... sort of.
Sunshine on the Seat Covers

I am not nearly as accurate or skilled as Hildi.
But then again, I would never put straw on any one's walls. So, props to me.

Elastic Pouch on Seat Cover
I added a map pocket to the back of one seat and voila! We have seat covers!
Car Seat Covers

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday America & A Gift For You

My creation

1. Happy Birthday Kids Scrap, 2. "Fun Time Freeway, 3. "Birthday Adult Paper", 4. Ice Cream Parlor, 5. American Greetins Wedding wrap, 6. Value Pack wrapper, 7. Laurel Brand All Occasion, 8. For Dear Baby

One of my LA 4th of July traditions is the 50% of sale at American Way Thrift in Burbank.

I got a bunch of stuff, but my favorite thing was this big bag of wrapping paper and gift bags. I scored! I made a flicker set to share all of the amazing vintage papers. Many were in their original wrappers.

I will spend time admiring these papers. Crafting wise I really have no use for them.

I am sure some of you have great ideas for vintage wrapping paper. What would you do with this?

Leave a comment and on Friday I will randomly pick someone to get an envelope of these papers! (Mind you most are just scraps.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trying Something New

Handmade Bias Tape

I tried making my own bias tape this weekend. I used the directions from the book Bend the Rules Sewing.

Bias tape is another reason Joanne's Crafts continues to prosper in this weak economy.

It's not hard, but it is fussy. It takes patience and time.

It requires straight lines and lots of measuring. These things are not exactly my strengths.

Would I do it again?

Probably. I am cheap. I have lots of fabric. And, the price of gas and traffic make driving to the fabric store more annoying than measuring and straight lines.

I would get a yard stick next time. My ruler was too short and drove me crazy.

Still I will treasure the real bias tape I have. I won't take for granted it's crisp folds and even width.