Monday, May 18, 2015

My Listen to Your Mother Reading for 2015

On Mothers Day evening, a band of women joined together on stage at the Bing Crosby theater in Spokane to read our stories of motherhood. The videos will get posted over the Summer and I will put up the link then. Meanwhile, I wanted to share mine here in written form. To see the other women who were in the show and to find out if there is a LTYM near you, visit the website. The title of my story is My Secret Identity.
As he slips below the water, I kick off my shoes.  Tucking my socks inside them, I think, “Saving him will be the easy part.” Fully clothed, no towels, I don’t want to get wet. I did not want Caleb to go swimming, but here I am at the end of a stranger’s dock on Long Lake in the middle of April about to dive in after him.
“Come on honey” I plead with Caleb one more time, hoping to stay dry. “You know how to swim. Come to me.”
Sputtering for breath, he manages, “I can’t swim, Mom, my shorts are too heavy.” Perplexed, I watch him slip below again, fighting just to keep his lips above water. Suddenly, I am terrified.
Later I would feel ashamed to remember emptying my pockets. The car keys, a folded tissue, a tampon and a couple of chicklets land safely inside my shoe. My plan is simple: get in, retrieve my 7 year old, and get out.
Rory told Caleb it was okay to swim, but he did not stay around to supervise. In this horrific moment, I am angry at the man who saw a vacant house on the lake, trespassed with his wife and kids, said “yes” to swimming and walked away.  I should have protested. I should have stopped him. But I didn’t. I ordered the oldest to watch the youngest on the beach and make sure she didn’t go in past her knees. I delighted in my middle child’s enthusiasm as he tore off his sandals and then ran the length of the dock, pulling off his shirt on the fly. I see his face lit up, joyful. I see him hop up to the diving board and leap toward the water wildly, arms and legs churning in the air.
Now I am watching him drown. Shoes off, pockets empty, it’s time to be the hero.
Confident that a rush of adrenaline will fuel me, I dive in and feel the weight of the nearly frozen lake breaking over my head.  A raw chill encases my body. There is no adrenaline, no palpable heartbeat, only numbness and a kind of deep shrinking.  My rubber fingers clutch my son’s rubber shoulders. He feels strangely relaxed, completely trusting me. I hold his immobile body close, yet feel tangibly separated, incapacitated by the cold.
I think, “We are both going to die. They will find us, fetal, mother wrapped around son, frozen at the bottom of the lake.”
Where was the super-human strength I was supposed to have to save my son? Why am I so human? So… regular-human, so… not-super-human, so… weak-human?
Emptied of breath,  a desperate voice escapes my clenched teeth “kick.”
Caleb says, “I am.” He is not moving. He is still trusting, relying on me.
The 8 feet back to the dock looks like a mile.  Beyond the dock, some movement catches my eye. It is my husband running down the hill to our rescue.  Moments earlier I would have been glad to welcome my man and watch him work while I stayed dry, but now an angry resolve strengthens me. I kick with force enough to drag our bodies through the heavy water myself.
Caleb is taken to the hot tub to melt away his misadventure. I need to thaw more slowly. I am in shock. Who is this cape-less, shoe-less, belt-less, power-less “hero?” I see myself as from above, lying alone on the dock, translucent and more fragile than I ever imagined. The warm wooden dock holds my shaken frame. Through closed eyes, I see the sun. Tears leak out and run toward my ears. In that moment, I reluctantly accept my secret identity. I am (pause) only human.
 I am only human, and today, that is enough.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fun Quotes Decor to Make Yourself

It is easy to turn garage sale art into fun quote decor. Start with a print or a painting. Use vinyl letters to spell out the saying you want on it. They should be repositionable vinyl. I used acrylic paint and a sponge to dab the paint on the way you do for stencils. Pull up the letters while the paint is still wet. If you let it dry at all, the paint may want to peel away with the letters. When I got to the point you see in the second photo, I should pull off the first line of lettering. I have a whole uplifting wall going in the living room. As you can see there are 2 garage sale pieces waiting for treatment. My daughter wants to pick the quotes for those. The space next to "you are my sunshine" is for a sunburst mirror. I am on the look out for a deal on one of those. I would love to see yours if you do one. Post it on Facebook and show me there. The larger longer printed pieces were purchased as digital files on Etsy and printed at my local Office Depot as posters on foam board. The yellow one was also from Etsy and printed and framed by Office depot on canvas. The smaller one above the landscape is from Hobby Lobby.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 minute maxi ugly toga party challenge

The story: Some of us hate some of the fabrics we get in our Knit Fix. Some of us challenged ourselves to use it rather than trade it. When I saw this fabric, I hated it so much I thought I needed to make something ugly with it on purpose. My ideas included a scary stuffed animal monster, or 10. The puberty helper from SNL, which would be like this dress only the arms and head would be worn on the inside. The only other viable option I could think of was garbage bags, like disposable bags. Then I thought of the ugly toga. People celebrate the holidays with ugly Christmas sweater parties. To celebrate Summer, we should be having ugly toga parties. That is how the 5 minute maxi was born. I love my dress. It is literally so comfortable that I don't care about the fabric. I think I will make another one out of fabric I actually like.
The challenge: Use the free 5 minute maxi tutorial to make your own version of the dress and photograph yourself in it. Post your photo on facebook and tag it with #5minutemaxi. I will check out the photos and announce random winners - up to 10 winners will be chosen from entries. I will run the challenge through the Summer to give you a chance to actually have an ugly toga party. The prizes will be surprises. A great prize pack of fabric, patterns, Craftsy class, and something handmade by me to anyone who hosts an ugly toga party.
The reward:  I actually found that making something ugly on purpose was fun and freeing. Check out my friend Kim Werker's book for more about how and why that works. As a bonus, the first person to host an ugly toga party and post photos of the party on facebook with the hashtag #uglytogaparty will win a signed copy of Kim's book, Mighty Ugly.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Redrafted to be something I would do and wear

The only pattern piece from Simplicity 1463 that made the final cut is the front. It did get bisected by the zipper. Next time I will change the shoulder as well, so there will not be anything left of the original pattern. I don't know why, but it is hard for me to use anyone else's patterns. I have always been that way. When I sewed for myself in High School, I always added my own touch. I took Natalie Chanin's class on Craftsy last week. I think I may be only one of thousands of people who love her hand embellished knits and think "I will never take the time to do that." BUT... if I could do it by machine, then yes, I can see myself making it happen. I highly recommend the class. Natalie's teaching is fabulous. Her work is inspirational. She makes stencils by hand, uses them to paint the fabric, and then hand sews around the stencils. I drew my designs on with a green sharpie and used my machine back stitch. What I did on my machine in a few hours would have been weeks or months in the making by hand. The result would be more valuable and elegant, but I just wanted the fun of stitching and cutting. I think the back is a little overkill, so next time I will be a little more subtle in my design. Is this a technique you would like to try? If you have done any reverse applique, I would love to see it. Show me over on facebook. Friend me, Cherie Killilea.

Simplicity 1463 My own private What Not to Wear Episode

This is my muslin. It is always good to have extra fabric if for nothing more than trying out a new pattern. You can see from my notes why I am not modeling this one. I chose Simplicity 1463 because it was listed as one of the top 10 patterns of 2014 by Pattern Review. It appealed to me because it looked cool and comfortable. I am a sucker for raglan sleeves and V-necks are good for me. I also wanted something with at least one part on which I could practice my Alabama Chanin techniques.  I was skeptical about the "V" shaped hem in front and back, but that was easy to cut off. I did try it on with the original hem and it made my thighs appear 3 times larger than actual. In the back, the upward curve of the yoke makes it look like I must be hauling something heavy in front - wearing a baby, maybe. Then I turn around and the front is pretty billowy too, so you think, yes, she is hauling a baby but it's on the inside. Just what every woman wants. I thought I could salvage the pattern with a few design changes. Listed in order of difficulty.
#1 Raise and straighten the hem
#2 Add a zipper in front to open up the front and wear as a layer over a tank top, automatically slimming.
#3 Change the back yoke to point down in center back.
#4 Draft a new lower back to allow some fullness but without the gathers.
#5 Draft elbow length normal sleeves instead of the butterflies.
In the end, the only pattern piece I actually used was the front, and that was changed because I added the center front zipper.
In my next post, I will show you the final version, talk more about the class with Natalie Chanin, and officially review Simplicity 1463.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Easiest Peach Cobbler Recipe

Starting from a Betty Crocker recipe, I made some changes and turned out this quick and easy cobbler with minimal clean up. It made a great breakfast. This recipe will serve 2 or 3 for breakfast. If you are serving it for dessert, plan on this much for 4 people. If you want to double the recipe, use 2 bread pans and make them individually.
Into an ungreased breadpan,
add 1/2 cup biscuit mix
and 1/2 cup milk
and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Mix them together in the pan.
Drain a 15 ounce can of sliced peaches, and add them to the pan, distributing evenly.
Sprinkle 1.5 Tablespoons chopped pecans over the peaches.
Sprinkle 1/4 cup packed brown sugar over everything.
Pour 1/4 cup melted butter over all.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Serve warm in bowls.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Reading and Writing

I like to read what my high school aged kids are reading in school. Some of it is revisiting classics I read at their age, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Brave New World. Then there are those that I missed or weren't classics yet maybe, like The Power of One: A Novel and The Things They Carried. I love that my kids are reading and talking about important things like racism, individuality, and war.  I love my Kindle Fire for the instant gratification of buying a book from home.
Reading is one of the things that fuels me for the creative work that I do. I recently finished a great book by a local author The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac. The author, Sharma Shields, said she wrote 3 drafts to get to the final book. That encourages me. It makes me think of one of the games we used to play at Comedy Sportz. You improvise a scene and when the whistle blows, you have to change the last line you said. We usually find that the 3rd time is the charm. Shields takes her novel in some crazy directions that I imagine came from that kind of improvization. I look forward to trying it in my next creative writing session.  I am not good at book reviews because I do not want to give anything away, but if you do not read The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, you will soon find yourself in a room with well read people all giddy about the book and you will feel like an alien. Another great read that none of your friends will have read, so you can be a trail blazer, is the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. It won the Tony for the best play of 2013, so maybe some of your Tony-er friends saw it.
I do write more than sewing patterns. I will be in the cast of a little show in Spokane called Listen to Your Mother. We read things we have written about motherhood. It is on Mother's Day. You can read about the show and see the other cities here: LTYM . If you have a city near you, I highly recommend making Listen to Your Mother a yearly tradition. The website has videos of past talks. This was my reading in 2011. This year, my topic is serious. I will post the story here after the show and before the video is available.
Disclaimer: When I post links to things that I like they are sometimes affiliate links which pay me a small commission on purchases. I never pretend to like something in order to promote it. I just think it makes sense to collect 20 cents here and there when I am posting a link for your convenience anyway. If you have a blog, you should look at this book Amazon Associates: 7 Steps to Earning $2,000 per Month through the Amazon Affiliate Program in Less than 20 Hours a Week! (Amazon Associates - Amazon Associates ... for Beginners - Niche Website - Amazon). To be clear, I have not read that one, but I probably should. I earned a whopping $27 last year in the program, LOL.