Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins

Today we took a trip to Valley View Farms to buy our Halloween pumpkins. I like to carve pumpkins either the day before or the day of Halloween so that by the time the holiday comes around our front steps aren't decorated with orange mush.After wandering around the patch for a bit and checking out the straw "zoo" and gigantic prize-winning pumpkins we loaded up a whole wagon full of our own big orange carving pumpkins, acorn, gooseneck and butternut squashes for cooking (is the plural of "squash" supposed to be "squashes"? That sounds funny), and even a few teeny tiny pumpkins to decorate the kitchen table.Would you believe I've never eaten squash before? Never! So this year I made sure to pick up a few to experiment with. I doubt anyone in the house will want to experiment with me, but I'm okay with being the adventurous one. I think.After pumpkin shopping we had lunch and went to Cold Stone for--what else--pumpkin ice cream! Oh yes. I am a sucker for anything pumpkin flavored or scented, and this time of year I crave it constantly. From the first day of fall through December our refrigerator will never be empty of pumpkin pie. There will also be an avalanche of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin french toast, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin milkshakes, and after all that, probably pumpkin Pepto (if only).

Fall really is the best season. The food, the cool weather, the beautiful show nature puts on for us makes it such a happy time of year for me. I wish it could last all year.Oh and don't let that forced looking pageant smile fool you. She really did have a good time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Quiet Fall Day

Wearing my favorite thrifted boots.Walking to the park to photograph a new scarf for the shop.Collecting leaves for a craft project.Loving my freshly dyed hair.
Breathing the crisp fall air and watching the trees change.
Teaching Autumn how to preserve leaves in beeswax.Wishing every day could be like this.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Happiness in the Mail

Today another rain-speckled package arrived at my door, this time a gorgeous digital art print I ordered from Madelaine on Etsy. Madelaine is a spectacularly talented young artist who creates amazingly haunting and ethereal digital art and photography. When I stumbled across her Etsy shop I was simply spellbound, and I'm so happy to finally have her beautiful art hanging in my craft room. She even included a handwritten thank you note in my package, which I thought was just such a nice personal touch.

I can't wait to collect more of her work, and I think a 12x18 print of The Fall will be listed in my letter to Santa this year (hint, hint Adam). Thank you, Madelaine, for your exquisite art and kindness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Happy and Handmade News

Hoo boy. It's about time we got some around here, eh? Well as of today my mother's house is NOT on the city's official list of destroyed properties. She can't go home yet, but at least we know that so far her house is safe.

Another little thing that brought me happiness this week was receiving my first two packages from the Sweat Shoppe Swap. First, a Frog Prince Bean Bag from Brill. Isn't he cute? I named him Pinkus.
He didn't turn into a prince but that's okay.
Later the same day I came home to a package on my doorstep with this beautiful Kool-Aid dyed yarn from Colleen. The photo really doesn't do the color justice. It's much pinker in real life. I haven't decided what to do with it yet. I don't even knit or crochet, but I requested this yarn anyway because the colors were just too yummy to resist. Maybe I'll enslave--I mean ask--my lovely crocheting friend to make something with it (hi Faye!).

Other than getting goodies in the mail and filling several new Etsy orders, there's not much going on here in the world of Sugar and Snails. I still have a Halloween costume to make (5 1/2 days is enough time, right?) and housework to do (the kitchen hasn't been mopped in HOW long?) but before I go I wanted to mention a great website I found called BuyHandmade.org. I took the pledge to give handmade gifts this holiday season, and I want to urge my wonderful readers to do the same. Consumerism has gotten so out of hand, especially during the winter holiday season, and buying or making handmade gifts is a way to break away from the commerical and give something special and unique that's truly from the heart. Follow the link below to make your pledge.

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wildfire

I'm sure by now many of you have heard about the massive fire devastating southern California. My mom just called to ask me to search online for a pet-friendly hotel for her to stay in, because she and my little sister Emanhi have been evacuated. She lives next to a freeway, and the flames are right on the other side. She told me they can see other houses burning. My mom bought her condo just two years ago, and it's the first home she's ever owned. She worked so hard and saved up for years so she could stop renting tiny apartments and have a place of her own, and now she might lose the beautiful home she loves so much.
This fire is completely out of control, and thanks to stubborn people who refuse to evacuate, the fire department is wasting more time rescuing people from their homes than actually fighting the fire. I know this is a stretch, but if anyone in San Diego who's been asked to evacuate is reading this, PLEASE leave your houses immediately so that more time can be spent on fighting the fire. By staying at home you are draining valuable resources and risking the homes of people like my mom and little sister. This is not the time to be selfish.

Photos courtesy of Yahoo News.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Back to Normal. And Turtles.

Thank you so much to you lovely readers who sent such kind words--both in comments and email--on the loss of my grandfather. It really is therapeutic to be able to reach out to others in such a difficult time. His funeral was yesterday morning, and I had the opportunity to give a eulogy at the service. I think it gave me the closure I needed, and we've begun to get back into our normal routine. And boy, do I have a lot of normaling to do.

First up on my to-do list is to collect addresses and send out five pairs of clay horns for round 11 of the Craftster Sweat Shoppe Swap. This is my first craft swap, and I'm both excited and nervous. I hope all 5 of my partners like their horns. I'm already sure I'll love all the things I'm receiving. I've been partnered with some really talented crafty ladies and I can't wait until my first package shows up.


Next up, Halloween costume! This year Autumn wants to be a Ninja Turtle. Of course the kid with the crafty mom who insists on making her costume had to pick something difficult. Our trip to the fabric store for costume supplies was pretty entertaining, as Adam and I couldn't agree on what color the Ninja Turtles' shells were. He said they were yellow on the front and green on the back, and I said they were light brown on the front and dark brown on the back. I bought the brown fabric and crossed my fingers until we could get home and do a Google image search. What's that you say? I should have taken a picture with me to the store? Nonsense! That would require things like planning ahead!
So who was right? Well, we both were. In the original cartoon, the turtles' shells were yellow and green. In the live action movies and this year's TMNT movie they were brown. I suppose Autumn and her friends are more familiar with the newer Turtles than the 80's Turtles, so I think the brown will do. Now if only I could actually figure out how to make a turtle shell out of fabric. That would be helpful.

What ever happened to cutting a couple of eye holes in a bed sheet? Ghosts are cool, right? No? Hmph.
There are also decorations to be made, pumpkins to be carved, and a kid-friendly Halloween craft to plan for our first monthly Craft Day tradition we've decided to start with Adam's nieces and nephews.

After the Halloween crafting frenzy I'd like to add a lot more to the shop, including more aprons and art totes as well as some holiday themed goodies.
Wish me luck, because with only two weeks until Halloween and my tendency to procrastinate, I'm going to need it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Saying Goodbye

I want to tell you about my grandpa. He's the wisest, gentlest, most peaceful man I've ever known. He's got a fantastic sense of humor and a youthful spirit. He's the only truly positive male role model I knew growing up. He taught me about fishing and tools and dogs and insects and knock-knock jokes. He taught me how to ride a bike with training wheels and how to roller skate. He taught me all the things my parents didn't have the time or desire to teach me.
My grandpa has been married to my grandmother for 38 years. He served in the United States Marine Corps. during the Vietnam war. He goes fishing every Sunday as long as the weather permits, and when it doesn't he likes to sit in his favorite armchair and watch cartoons or science fiction movies. His favorite foods are creme filled donuts, pizza, Twin Kiss cheeseburgers and my grandma's homemade chicken pot pie. He loves Autumn dearly, and she absolutely adores him. She likes to go fishing with him in his little green boat. They don't catch anything but I don't think it makes any difference.

Earlier this year Grandpa was diagnosed with melanoma. At first it seemed like nothing to worry about. He had surgery, the doctors performed a skin graft on the side of his face and they said he was in remission. But then they found more cancer. It spread to his lungs and his liver. From the first diagnosis he had the most incredible positive outlook. He was sure that everything would be just fine, and told us not to worry about him. After he went into the hospital I spoke to him on the phone and he sounded just as happy and healthy as he ever was. I felt comforted by his optimism, and tried not to cry too much when I thought about it.

That was about two months ago. Yesterday afternoon we drove up to Lancaster to visit him in the hospital. My grandmother had called the day before to tell us he didn't have much time left. My mom flew in from California, and I decided that Autumn and I would stay at my grandparents' house for a few days to help out and be there for Grandpa (Adam had to work and couldn't stay). Before we left, I sat down with Autumn in her room and had to tell her that Great Grandpa was going to die soon. I told her he would go to a place called Heaven where he wouldn't be sick anymore. He would be very happy there and he could go fishing every day if he wanted to. We wouldn't be able to see or hear him, but he would see and hear us and we could still talk to him. She cried, and she made him a card that said "I love you Grandpa."

When we arrived at the hospital I said hello to my grandmother and my great aunt Darlene, and stepped further into the room to see him. There was a man lying on a bed who looked to be twice as old as my Grandpa. He was bald and emaciated with swollen feet and a bloated stomach. He slept with his eyes half open and his mouth agape, the sounds of his labored breathing cutting through the quiet beeping and dripping of the hospital room. I looked from this man to the other side of the room, searching for Grandpa's bed, but all I saw was a tan faux leather sofa and a window. There was no one else in the room. No other bed. I stood there for about three more seconds before I had to run out of the room and sob into Adam's shirt.

No. No. I whimpered like a child. No. That isn't him. That can't be him. He was fine. He was just fine last time. How could that be him? No, there's been a mistake. No. He looks like he's dead already. I can't do this. No no no no no.

Ten minutes later we were both able to pull ourselves together enough to enter the room again. Autumn was sitting on my grandmother's lap, talking to Grandpa. He was awake now and, though he didn't have much control over his facial muscles anymore, he was smiling at her. Grandma would later tell me it was the first time she'd seen him smile in weeks. She showed him the card she made, and her Superman temporary tattoo, and played with the fish Beanie Baby sitting on his side table. I talked to him a bit, but for the most part I just didn't know what to say. But when he talked I listened, and when he said he was hot I fanned him with a piece of paper until the nurse brought an electric fan. I felt angry and helpless. How could this happen to MY Grandpa? He was supposed to live forever. He didn't deserve this. It wasn't fair. But I just sat by his side and tried not to cry much, and when it was time to leave I kissed him on the forehead and told him I love him.
That evening after saying goodbye to Adam, Autumn and I went back to my grandparents' house, made a few phone calls and went to bed on the air mattress in my old bedroom. Around 3:00 this morning my mom called to tell me he had died. The first thing I did was smile. I found so much comfort in knowing that he isn't suffering anymore. He's finally free of his ill and broken body. If Heaven is a place where we can do what makes us happy, he's up there catching the biggest fish he's ever laid eyes on. I know that in whatever life there is after this one, he is better off. And I am so glad that he spent his last day smiling.

I try not to think about the broken man on that hospital bed now. That's not the way I want to remember him. This is how he should be remembered.
Loving.Kind.Patient.Full of life.Free.

I love you Grandpa.

In Loving Memory of
Bruce W. Farst
1949-2007

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Plastic Bag Rosette Tutorial

This tutorial is dedicated to the awesome guys and gals at Craftster. Ask and you shall receive.

Materials and tools:

one standard size plastic grocery bag (or other shopping bag of about the same size)
one bobby pin (optional)
small felt scrap (optional)
hot glue gun
scissors


Step 1: Lay your bag flat with the side gussets folded in. Cut off the handles and bottom seam. Discard or save for another kickass project. Unfold gussets and lay flat.

Step 2: Fold the bag in half from top to bottom or bottom to top, doesn't matter, as long as you're folding one long side to the other.Then fold in half again, and at this point you may want to run a bead of hot glue along one edge for your last fold so the plastic stays put. Those grocery bags are slippery little buggers.Fold in half once more so that you have a long strip about 2 inches wide.

Step 3: Stick your scissors into one of the open ends of the strip and cut the folded side open, being sure to cut through all the layers. Now you should have several individual strips of plastic that are glued together on one long edge.
Cut strips along the length of your plastic, leaving about 1/4" of the glued edge intact.At this point I like to just shake out any loose bits of plastic that didn't get glued down.Step 4: Working in small sections at a time, run a bead of hot glue along the length of the uncut side of your fringe and roll tightly from end to end.
Turn it over and you've got yourself a little plastic pompom.Spread the petals back and hot glue a button or other flat object in the center.Step 5 (optional): To make this into a hair pin, I slip a small square of felt into a bobby pin, coat one side of the felt with hot glue and affix it to the back of the rosette. You could also attach your rosette to a brooch pin or a ponytail holder, use them as decorations on your fused plastic shopping bags, or make wire stems and display a bouquet of them in a vase. Just have fun with it, and if you use this tutorial, please send me pictures because I'd love to see your creations.

Happy crafting!