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Thursday, June 30, 2011


It's been a textile-rich week here in the Mama's Magic household. BB continues to be excited about learning how to sew. She made a pillow for Grandma C when they were visiting, and then decided that she wanted to make a pillow with buttons as a thank you gift for her preschool teacher. (Today was her last day in the 3-4 year old room -- she moves up to the 4-5 year old room in July!) So off to Michael's we went, in search of more felt and pretty buttons.
BB chose red felt and a package of cute flower buttons. She's really getting the hang of working with a needle and thread -- great fine motor skills practice! Here she is explaining how she does it:


She's definitely having an easier time of it with a fairly blunt metal needle -- the plastic needle just kept bending. It's so cute to see her wee fingers working with the fabric!Here's the finished pillow in her lap! She decided that she wanted to have all the stitches show all the way around the edge. (She's holding flowers she made for her teacher from more flower buttons and pipe cleaners... I mean, chenille stems. Im showing my age -- they don't call them pipe cleaners anymore!)

BB's teacher was very touched by the gift and quite impressed at BB's sewing skills. She's not yet ready to do it all on her own -- I thread her needles, tie the knots, and finish off each thread when it gets too short -- but she's doing all the stitching by herself! Now she's saying she wants to make a blanket.

BJ had a friend over for a playdate on Tuesday, and BB's pillow was sitting on the table, waiting to be gift wrapped. When BJ's friend learned that BB had made it, he was amazed: "Your sister sewed that? And she's only four years old? At our school, we learn how to sew in the second grade!" (And they do -- there's an entire project in the second grade that involves the kids making their own stuffed animals. Adorable.)

BJ's friend went on to inform me that his sister, who just finished second grade, is really good at sewing. "She's a professional," he told me, his voice full of pride. "She can make a tooth fairy pillow out of felt!"

By that definition, it won't be long before BB leaves behind her amateur status!

I've been feeling a bit like an amateur myself, lately -- in a good way. After making BJ's costume for the play many months ago, with a lot of help from my mom, I got the urge to try my hand at making something for myself. Even though my mom wasn't around!

I visited one of my favorite local fabric stores, asked their advice about what might be an easy project for a beginner, and came home with a pattern for Amy Butler's Barcelona skirt, a supposedly simple A-line design. When I got it home, I realized it involved not only a lining but also a zipper! I have zipper anxiety when it comes to sewing, so the fabric and pattern had been sitting on my sewing table ever since.

This past week, I finally got brave enough to just give it a go. And it was a lot easier than I'd thought it would be! I ended up having to put two darts in the back because it was sized too large around the hips and waist, but it worked out pretty well, though I say it myself:

Next I'm going to give the layered skirt and apron versions a try! I'm definitely not in the professional leagues for these sewing skills, but it's fun to think of myself as an amateur. Refreshing, in fact. It allowed me to give myself permission to make mistakes, to fail -- permission to make the attempt and not really worry about the results. And the results are quite passable (and comfy, too!) with a deep sense of satisfaction, looking at the skirt and knowing I made it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Visit with Grandma and Grandpa

Last week, we got to spend an afternoon with Grandpa D and Grandma C -- something that we don't get to do all that often! They were visiting from the East Coast, and they stopped by after lunch and stayed through dinner. We hung out, went to a park, and had a yummy dinner at our favorite local Mexi-cali restaurant. We know it's a lot of work to do the coast-to-coast trip, so we really appreciate it that they came out to spend some time with us.

BJ insisted on playing "let's hide behind the redwood branch" when it was time for a group picture -- silly guy!

We miss you already, Grandma and Grandpa!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Tonight at bathtime, BJ told the following story to S:

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was scared of drowning. He was so afraid of drowning in the water that he locked himself up in his house. He put metal over the windows and would not go outside. But then he got lonely and sad all by himself. He got so sad that he cried and cried, and his house filled up with the water from his tears and he drowned.

(As reported by S, so this isn't verbatim.)

I would love to know if BJ made up this story of if he read it somewhere. He says he made it up, but he isn't always clear on the distinctions between telling his own tale and re-telling a story he's encountered before.

He's been reading a lot of Shel Silverstein poetry lately, so I suspect it might be something in there, but I can't recall a Silverstein poem with this plot line. At any rate, it sure shows the ironic influence. (Particularly since he told the story in the bathtub!)

If you know a source for a story like this, let me know! Whether it's original to him or not, I thought it was definitely one to keep for the record. I only wish I'd heard it first-hand so I could be more confident I'd captured his exact wording!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Feature -- Devika's Art

This week's featured Etsy artist is Devika of Devika's Art, a teammate from CCCOE and SF Etsy. I love the paintings in her shop! They are so vibrant and look so full of texture and interest -- they are the kind of paintings I see online and think, "Oh! I'd love to see that in person!"

Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I create acrylic and mixed media paintings. I am architect by profession, so I have sketched, painted and drawn for a long time, but as far as my paintings go, I am mostly self taught except for an oil painting class I took few years back and a couple of seminars here and there.

2. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I am the wife of an awesome man and mom of 2 equally awesome girls:-)

I am a foodie and love hanging out and vacationing with friends.

3. What inspires your creations?

Almost all my creations are inspired by nature and its elements. I draw a lot of inspiration from my Indian roots, its fabrics, weaves, spices and festivals!

4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Getting found on Etsy is the biggest challenge I think. You get buried so fast, if you not on top of it.

5. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

I would love to get this table

6. Tell us about your first sale ever?

My first sale ever was to a couple we are good friends with, but the sale that I got a kick out of, was to a French couple who walked into my home then, where I was hosting a show (in Bangalore, India) looked at a piece titled "The Deep" and in an instant they bought it. I will never forget that one!

7. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

I have a website where you can see all my current work and also my commissioned
and sold work.
You can also email me.
I do plan to start blogging someday(soon):-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bram and Sara

Neither one of my kids have been much for imaginary playmates. (Imaginary letters or numbers to play with, though -- BJ was all about that for a while when he was a toddler.) That may have changed tonight, especially for BJ.

Tonight, we met their evil twins.

It was S's fault. He's the one who introduced the idea of an evil twin, when BJ (oh-so-unsubtly) insisted, "It wasn't me!" when he was taken to task for getting up from the table (again). He was in plain sight, after having been told half a dozen times to stay seated while he was eating his dinner, so it was laughable that he'd try to make such an obviously false claim.

"So who was it, then?" S asked. "Your evil twin?"

And then the real fun began.

Once we'd explained what S meant by an evil twin, BJ really ran with it. He announced that his evil twin is named Bram (yes, with an "M") and was eager to imagine all sorts of behaviors that Bram might engage in. Soon, BB was chiming in to say that her evil twin was named Sara.

Tonight BJ had gym class, and while I don't think Sara stayed around after we left, I know for a fact that Bram came with us to gymnastics. The whole car ride was full of detailed descriptions of everything that Bram was doing: not sitting down, getting into my purse, pulling all the Kleenex out of the box...

It all remained imaginary, thankfully, so I decided to play along and hopefully keep things that way. "Bram, get out of the front seat! Bram, don't play with the windows!" BJ loved it, laughing so hard that he could scarcely catch his breath.

I was less pleased when BJ started telling me all the destructive things that Bram would do (breaking the fire truck ladder in front of our car, changing the traffic lights) so I felt I had to put on my mom hat and insist that I was fine imagining the silly stuff but not happy about destructive or dangerous behavior.

Of course, Bram made an appearance at gym class. Hardly surprising given how his coach likes to clown with the kids -- the coach started the session by lobbing a big foam block at BJ and then acting all huffy, "Hey! Why did you throw that block!" It was a very short step for BJ to announce, laughing, "I didn't do it! BRAM DID!"

Happily, Bram did not cause any more trouble during class. He did ride home with us in the car, and BJ told me that we should be careful to let Bram into the house so that he didn't break the windows trying to get in. Hmm. It will be very interesting to see if Bram reappears in the morning.


Happy Summer Solstice! We celebrated the start of summer by turning on the air conditioner. BB was at preschool today, so BJ and I spent the morning bringing some order to the chaos that had slouched its way through the household. I can now see the surface of the computer desk! And, perhaps more impressively, I can see the surface of the art table in the kids' playroom!

BJ was a big help, surprisingly, once I got him into the spirit of things. When it was time to go pick up BB, he actually protested the idea: "I'm having fun! I don't want to stop organizing!"

When we walked over to get BB, you could really tell that summer was here. Happily, the promise of a popsicle upon our return kept everybody happy in the heat. All told, it was quite a satisfactory day. Hope yours was too!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I hope all the dads in my life today have a wonderful Father's Day! Especially my own daddy:

And my sweetie, S:

Dads are really something special!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What a Week!

It's been a really busy week! I celebrated my birthday -- angel food cake and an iPad, what more could a girl ask for?

On the evening of my birthday, Craft Party was a big success!

Planning Committee Extraordinaire --Tammy, Steph, and me!

Some of the more than 280 people who came out to make stuff and help launch I Heart Art: SF!

Then we went on our family camping trip to Big Basin -- so relaxing to hang out in the shade of those glorious redwoods! Plus there was a downed-tree highway right outside our cabin, which kept the kids entertained.

Our camping neighbors were a sweet family with a boy BJ's age, a girl BB's age, and another girl right between them. (And we thought our family planning was full!) The five kids ran around in the woods together, having a great time. We also hung out in the evenings together, roasting marshmallows. Tried s'mores, again, and decided, again, that we all prefer the ingredients separately. (Guess we're all purists.)
I discovered a new camping delicacy: roasted slices of angel food cake! (Hooray for birthday cake leftovers!) Looks like a big toasted marshmallow and kind of tastes like one as well, though the inside doesn't get all gooey. The toasted edges get all crisped with crystallized sugars, and it's simply delicious.

No trip to the redwoods is complete without a hike.

We ended up hiking to a nearby creek, and the kids did a little wading. Fun!

While wading, BJ had a dragonfly (or damselfly) land on his hand -- you can imagine how delighted he was.

BB loved being near the big trees.

And of course we visited the Boardwalk! Here is S and BJ on the the ferris wheel.

BB now loves the carousel (though you wouldn't know it from her expression).
Speedway was especially popular with the kids. Gotta put your arms up!

S and BJ on the Starfish -- round and round they go!
BB still loves Bulgy the Whale. Here she is with her new friend Dolphin:

And of course we had to visit the Pacific as well.
A boy after my own heart -- reading by the campfire:

Not a great group shot this year, alas, but here we are in front of the tent cabin, #17:

Now we're back and returning to the usual routine. It will be good to be home for a bit!

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's My Birthday, And I'm Gonna Craft!

I'm looking forward to a fabulous birthday today -- so many good wishes received, so much fun planned!

This morning, I'm hanging out with the family and then going to lunch at Aqui's (YUM!). After lunch, it's angel food cake with strawberries and opening presents. Then, I'm heading over to the Craft Party!

I've been working on this event for the last several weeks, scheming with the I Heart Art: SF Co-Chairs, Steph of NerdJERK and Tammy of punkrawkpurl to make this an awesome party full of crafty goodness. Last night, I finished up my cookies for the bake sale and sewed up the last ruffled streamers for our decorations. With the help of this tutorial, suggested by Tammy, I was able to turn this:

into this:

Sewing paper is SO MUCH FUN!!!

We're expecting more than 180 people tonight! Local folks, come get your craft on -- hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Heart I Heart Art, Too!

Having made a banner bunting for the SF Etsy team, of course I had to do one for I Heart Art: SF, too! Got it done yesterday, just in time for Craft Party. And if you ask me, the world needs more buntings with punctuation on them! It's the ex-English teacher in me -- I couldn't resist putting in the colon.

Next up -- ruffled paper streamers!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Today my parents have been married for 42 years! 42 years and they still like each other! Dad still laughs at Mom's jokes, and Mom still teases Dad. (In our family, "a teased one is a loved one.")

When I was a teenager, my parents told me what my dad said to my mom when he knew that they were a good match: "With your looks and my brains, we could have great kids!"

My adolescent self replied, teasingly, "Oh, so you're dumb and I'm ugly, why don't we get married???"

(See, when you're raised with the motto "a teased one is a loved one" it can come back and bite ya!)

Happily, my parents laughed at my snarky comment. (Cos the thing is, my dad is a handsome guy and my mom is a smart cookie! I got good genes on both sides, Amen and Hallelujah.) And how lucky are my sister and I that they went ahead and did that having kids thing?

Congratulations, Mom and Dad! May we all be so lucky in our partners.

Summer Crafting, Here We Come!

This week is the start of Summer Vacation! And trust me, even though he loved kindergarten, BJ is excited enough about the break to merit capital letters. BB has picked up on his enthusiasm, too. She will continue with preschool throughout the summer, but since she only goes two days a week she'll be mostly on vacation as well.

In mom terms, this means -- Ready, Set, GO!

Look out, Kids! Mama's Got a Glue Gun, and She Means Business!

And we are off to a good beginning. With only a wee bit of suggestion from me, both kids decided they wanted to start some crafty projects. Now that's something I can run with!

BJ wanted to make "an ocean toy." Recently, he's been all about the zones of the ocean, types of fish, and various habitats. (Much of this is due to the computer game My Ocean Sim, where he has to take care of various fish in various habitats so that they produce offspring. And when the fish mate, believe you me, it is a Very Big Deal.) I knew this would be an elaborate project, so after some discussion we agreed to make a felt fish set for each of these habitats: Coral Reef, Sunken Ship, Deep Sea, and Hot Vent. Complete with googly eyes, of course.

After some discussion, BB decided she wanted to learn how to sew. The sweet dear wants so much to Be Like Mama. In the past month or so, she's made about a dozen "pillows" from paper and tape, trying to mimic my own projects. Time to give her more appropriate tools, I think!

So off to Michael's we went. Kids picked out a bunch of felt, and we got some blunt tip needles and crochet cotton thread for sewing. I also picked up a low temperature glue gun -- it's silly that our crafty household didn't have one of these before!

BJ had a great time tracing out the various fish that he needed. Of course he had to consult models to be sure it was accurate. Here he is making sure that the clownfish looks right.

After he traced them, I helped with the cutting. Then we worked together to put on the googly eyes with the glue gun. Fun!

I'd apply the glue, then he'd put on the googly eye. Here we are giving eyes to a swordfish. I especially like how his ocean sunfish turned out (the big grey guy on the countertop).

BB has been thrilled with the idea of learning how to sew For Real. And I've been very impressed by how quickly she is picking up the skills! She started out making herself a yellow felt pillow.
We started off with a blunt plastic needle and a folded piece of felt. I threaded the needle for her, knotted it and put in the first stitch, then gave her a few "pilot holes" with a tapestry needle so she'd know where to sew along the edge.
"Like this, Mommy?"
After she'd sewed both the sides, we flipped it inside out, stuffed it, then sewed up the remaining side. She did great, and she was so proud with the finished result!

Of course she had to test it out:

So comfy!And a little seamstress is born!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Heart SF Etsy

Crafty friends, you'll sympathize with this. You know how when you're really fond of somebody you find yourself thinking up things you can make for them? Maybe you even consider learning a new craft just so you can make that perfectly special thing that would be exactly right for them?

I feel that way about the team that I lead, SF Etsy. We're the local street team for Etsy sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I've been team captain for about a year and a half now. This weekend, I finally got around to making the banner that I've wanted to make for the team!

It's definitely a short-cut version (I pinked the edges of the blue flags instead of hemming them, and the red pom-poms are attached with a glue gun) and it was the first time I've made a flag bunting with words. For all that, I think it turned out pretty well for an afternoon's work!

SF Etsy, I heart you! And I'm excited to debut the banner at our next meet-up, the I Heart Art: SF Craft Party on June 10th. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Crafty Birthday Party! You're Invited!

One more reason for me to love Etsy: this year Etsy's international Craft Party will be happening on My Birthday!

That's right -- Crafts, Community, Creativity, and COOKIES! It's like they put together a party Just For ME!

Thanks, Etsy!

OK, so full disclosure and all -- I'm a co-planner for our local iteration of this international event, so I've had a hand in making sure it's appropriately awesome to be held on my birthday. We're gonna have craft workshops. We're gonna make cool stuff. We're gonna have a bake sale to help out a local crafter in need (Kelly Malone of Workshop SF and IndieMart, who is battling cancer). We're going to kick off the I Heart Art: San Francisco initiative, and we're going to do it in STYLE!

So, one week from today I'll be putting the finishing touches on my bake sale goodies and getting ready to go kick up my heels with the Bay Area's finest creative folks. I'm spending my birthday by hanging out at TechShop and taking part in a heckuva crafty celebration. I can't wait!

The Craft Party is free and open to the public, so all local folks are invited! Just RSVP here. More info here at the I Heart Art: San Francisco blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Q is for Quill

Who needs a ball point pen when you've got a pigeon feather and an ink pad?

To my knowledge, BB has never seen a quill or known that feathers used to be used for writing. She took it upon herself to combine one of her little stamp pads with the feather she found...

"Mom, I drew you a butterfly!"

Here's a close-up:

Actually, she'd drawn the butterfly in pencil first, then traced over it with ink. Purple, because she knows that's my favorite color!

Clever girl! She's becoming quite the artist. Love it!