Studio Dog

Studio Dog
Studio Dog, a photo by Red Tail Designs on Flickr.

Indiana when he was a wee pup, taking a nap in the studio.

Let me set the scene

for you: It’s December, the wind is swirling snow around my numb fingers as I braid horse hair out in my cold backyard. Why would I endure the nasty weather outside when I have a perfectly good studio inside? Because I was housebreaking the newest member of our family, Indiana.

Treat bags to hold all of Indiana's training treats.

At the time, Indiana was not yet a studio dog. He ate my craft supplies, stole my horse hair and generally got into a lot of trouble in when we made our way to the third floor. In short, I got nothing done when he was up there because it was like having a 2-year-old roaming around my studio. He also couldn’t keep out of the food or the litter box of the cat who maintains the penthouse suite, not to mention chasing the cat across my craft table was great fun.

Fast forward 5 months and Indiana (as in Indiana Jones, not the state) has become a certified Studio Dog. He’s housebroken (and even rings a bell to go out) and understands the studio time is my time. He’ll comfortably sit at my feet and chew a bone while I craft. The cat food and litter box are still tempting, and chasing cats really is great fun when you’re a dog.

The snap on the drawstrings lets me snap it onto my belt when we're out.

I put my crafty skills to work to make some treat bags for Indiana to hold all his training treats. They’re simple little sacks with drawstring closures and snaps so I can snap them on my belt when we’re out for a walk. I made them of my most favorite fabric ever, the dog fabric by Heather Ross. I wish she’d bring it back, as this fabric is now out of print.

After the rough run with pets we had in 2010–our 13-year-old Labrador retriever and our 10-year-old cat went to pet heaven–Indiana is a nice reprieve. He’s a super dog that is easily trainable and loves the kids. He’s sure my 4-year-old is just another puppy and probably better trained for the studio than my kids.

Quillwork Class

A feather quilled on a leather pouch using the stitches taught in the Porcupine Quillwork Part 2 Class.

Make your New Year’s resolution to try something new!

I’ll be teaching Porcupine Quillwork classes this coming weekend, January 8, 2011, at the Museum of Indian Culture starting at 10 a.m.

The classes give you the chance to sample this ancient Native American art that entails embroidering porcupine quills onto leather or wrapping them around rawhide. The class includes all the supplies you need to get started on your own quillwork projects.

Download the flier to sign up.

Studio Complete?

The fabric area of my studio complete with brand new bulletin boards. This Ikea shelving and orange boxes are perfect for this area.

My custom bulletin boards are finally hung!

I feel like my studio might almost be done. My husband and I started redecorating our third floor over a year ago with new paint, carpet, shelving…the works. It’s been a very slow process because we did most of it ourselves.

The bulletin boards are at the top of the stairs, so it's like an art gallery as you enter the room.

The chunk of it was done last spring but organization eluded me for a long time and it took a while to find the right shelving. Bulletin boards were my last big push and, of course, I couldn’t just buy cork from Staples. They had to be fancy-pants bulletin boards I made myself from stuff I found here and matching fabrics. I chose three Ikea fabrics and then made a mosaic using those fabrics and some Laura Gunn scraps that Kristen was so gracious to give to me.

And finally they are on the wall.

It’s sad that both my husband and I have grandfathers who were carpenters, yet neither of us can hang a coat rack without worrying it’ll fly off the way and whack us in the forehead.

Luck for us there are people like Chris Fairchild from In Order to Organize.

All my jewerly supplies in one area neatly labeled. I need one more piece of furniture to marry the beading area to the sewing area. Coming soon!

Chris owns a personal organization and personal training business right here in Easton. Not only can he put holes in my 100-year-old walls without worry, he can organize, build, plan and create. Chris organizes any aspect of your home, business or work flow.

In spring, Chris talked me through how I use each section of my studio and what would make the most sense in terms of storage and organization. He helped me decide on shelving, and I plan to have him make shelves for a closet and a wall shelf above my sewing machine.

That’s his other great talent. Chris can design and build custom pieces for your house.

He hung my bulletin boards for me and I am eternally grateful. I assisted him as he figured out the spacing (does holding a level count as assisting?). If I’d hung them they’d be crooked, and I’d have to lie that uneven spacing is art at its best.  Instead he measured and drilled and they look beautiful.

So is my studio finally done? I suppose as done as it’ll ever be. I have a few boxes to unpack and I still can’t find my rotary cutter, but that may just be a casualty of reorganizing.

The kids supplies and crafting area is on the left side of the table. It's not as tidy-looking as I'd like, but it's functional. Once everyone can read, I might transition to more orange storage boxes.

Girls Weekend Tutorial

Some very relaxed mommies.

A formula for a relaxing weekend:

Five moms – kids + a cabin near an artsy small town + spas + plenty of shopping + lots of good food we didn’t have to cook – husbands = Girls Weekend.

My friends and I gathered recently for our semi-annual girls weekend. It was the usual mix of good, uninterrupted conversation, many rounds of yoga, undisturbed shopping, relaxing, uninterrupted meals,  and lots of laughs.

Did I mention that we did uninterrupted activities? No one demanding, “I’m hungry” or announcing “I just spilled all the juice.” More like, “Of course I’ll have another glass of wine” and “You should definitely buy that coat. You deserve it.”

The weekend went way too fast…as usual.

Last year I made journal covers for all the moms at Girls Weekend.

Girls Weekend began soon after I had kids when my friend and I decided we needed to get away like we used to when we went on long backpacking trips together. These days, we’re looking more for pampering than high intensity physical accomplishment, so we opt for the spa-like Girls Weekend. Recently we’ve upped the ante and now have Girls Weekend 2 or 3 times a year, often at one of our houses.

Some of my friends claim, “You’re so lucky your husband lets you go away for the weekend.”

There are just so many things wrong with that sentence.

Having girls weekend is not about luck, it involves training, low expectations, compromise, planning, and hard work.

Training

Ideally training your spouse for weekends away should start as soon as you’re married. If you missed that window, you need to do it as soon as you have kids. Leave the kids early and often with your spouse (just an hour or two at a time) so taking care of the children for a weekend isn’t quite so traumatic to the spouse or dangerous to the children.

Expectations

Low expectations is key: I consider it a successful weekend if everyone is still alive and there is minimal bloodshed when I return. In all honesty, my husband does just fine without me and is great when I’m away.

In order for you to enjoy your weekend, you have to let go of all your expectations of how you household should be run, and this honestly may be the toughest part. You have to let go of the worry that something will go wrong while you’re away and the idea that the house and the kids will look the same when you return.

So what if they have peanut butter in their hair, nothing matches and they ate Popsicles for 4 out of 5 meals. They’re alive, right? And likely fairly happy because everything was completely different from when you were there. Different doesn’t mean better, just exciting because it’s new.

Planning

Once you break it to the spouse that you’re leaving him with all the kids for several days, it’s best to do as much planning as possible to make it easier for him. I stock the fridge with his easiest, most favorite meals: chicken tenders, waffle fries and cheese. Yes, this could be renamed heart attack weekend, but one weekend of this isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Making it easier for the spouse ensures he’ll want you to go away next time. That’s right, when you walk into the house relaxed and calm, he may plan the next Girls Weekend for you. (Note: the calm usually last about 20 minutes until the kids break sometime or the dog yacks on your new beautiful shoes you spent way too much on.)

When I’m felling particularly nice, I arrange a weekend away at a relative’s house for one of the kids. Never for both…I can’t make it too easy for him.

Fun finds from an antique store we shopped during Girls Weekend, a place we never could have gone with our kids!

Netbook Case

The netbook case is finally done!

My husband and I bought a netbook last summer as a traveling laptop. It needed a home to travel within, so I devised a reversible laptop case. Boy print on one side and girl print on the other side. ‘Cause I sure don’t want to carry around a laptop with rockets on it.

A ProCare Lining helps keep moisture away from the computer should my waterbottle leak when it’s in my purse. Plus I added a small pocket for a a thumb drive.

The Netbook is ready to travel in style.

Avoiding Taxes

The ’09 tax deadline isn’t that far off and I really don’t want to get my tax stuff together. Usually I’m on top of it, but this year I’m not feeling the love. Instead I’ve found a variety of activities to help me avoid working on taxes:

  1. Clean living room
  2. Shop for mother-in-law’s birthday gift
  3. Paint porch
  4. Play Candyland…twice.
  5. Go out to dinner with a friend
  6. Take cats to the vet
  7. Schedule oil change and dog’s vet appointment
  8. Make trail mix
  9. Assemble Ikea shelf
  10. Make a horse hair bracelet
  11. Sort and shelve fabric by color
  12. Rearrange medicine cabinet
  13. Make a beach bag (summer is coming, you know!)
  14. Make August vacation plans
  15. Plan a birthday party
  16. Reschedule oil change
  17. Write this blog post.

Okay, I guess I need to finish my taxes now. Unless you have a better suggestion.

Horse Riding Lesson

stargirl-horse.jpg-1

Meeting Tootsie.

Head up. Chin parallel to the ground. Chest open. Hands in a triangle. Knees and thighs pressed in. Heels down. Toes pointed up. Look where you’re going not where you are.

Do all that at the same time…oh, and make that horse go forward.

Huh?

Yesterday we braved the rain for horse riding lessons at Windmill Farm. In an indoor ring, thankfully. This is our first foray into a mother-daughter, quality-time activity that is chasing my daughter’s dream of being an equestrian. She’s 6 so dreams loom large and oh-so-graspable without consequence of time or cost. She was beaming when she got off Tootsie at the end of the lessons. My legs hurt when I got off K.C., but I had a great time.

Despite the amount of time horses have been in my life, I’m really not a very good rider. My teen years spent taking care of horses didn’t actually include riding. So on the ground, I’m an ace at reading ears and eyes and keeping control. Once I’m up on top, well… let’s just say it’s a long way to the ground.

My limited riding included lots of western pleasure rides and a week at Girl Scout horse camp learning to ride English. Two memories stand out from camp: 1) a horse got colic (didn’t know what that was but the instructor with the accent looked very frantic) 2)  my horse jumped 3 feet to the right when another horse he didn’t like got too close. Being scared out of your mind kinda puts a crimp in your pole-bending.

Those first few instructions on form yesterday were more than I ever remember learning before. Maybe it’s because I’m older and can pay attention .

For a few moments I could do all those things and lead K.C. where I wanted him to go. I am an equestrian! And then my mind would wander….

The riding lesson reminded me a lot of my first few yoga classes. It seemed near impossible to control all those physical aspects at once, while maintaining focus on what I needed to do next. I’m sure with time it will become natural.

Right now my daughter and I are committed to 3 lessons. We’ll see if she’s still determined to be a collegiate equestrian after a few weeks. If she is, well, my updates may become pleas for you to support my business so I can afford her horse lessons.

Phase 1: Paint and Carpet

The carpet is in and the walls are painted. Yeah! Here are the results of phase 1 of my studio remodel.

This project began with repainting the peeling ceiling in my husband’s office. Before we knew it, the project blossomed into an entire 3rd floor remodel.

This is the closet wall without carpet. I finally got my orange wall! I nearly painted my daughter’s room orange a few years ago, but my husband had the foresight to see that our pink-&-purple-aholic wasn’t going to outgrown that anytime soon.

I finally got to paint a wall in my house orange. I love it.

My new Ikea Norden table folds down on both sides. I imagine this being very versatile with kids crafting on one end and me on the other end.

Table

This is the sewing corner with walls painted but no carpet.

The  future sewing corner.

And the sewing corner with sewing machine in place. The crates of fabric will have a new home soon.

Finally I can have my sewing machine out ALL the time.

Finally I can have my sewing machine out ALL the time.

Ripping out the stairs carpet was an exercise in frustration. Each surface had a separate piece of carpet held on with about 50 staples. Ripping it out without throwing myself down the stairs was the most strenuous part of this whole project.

The stairs going to my studio were covered in a lovely pinky-red carpet.

The stairs going to my studio were covered in a lovely pinky-red carpet.

The naked stairs.

Every dot is where a stapled needed to be pulled out with a pliers. Fun!

I ran out of momentum after the carpet went in. Where to put all my crafting and business supplies? Luckily help is on the way. Monday I meet with Chris from In Order to help me figure out how to organize my studio.