wooden ornaments.

my love of the fab lab grows every week. my current obsession is with the laser cutter. recently i used it to cut out these ornaments that i designed.

if the characters look familiar, then you've been around this blog a time or two. they're the same dapper woodland animals i drew and embroidered for margot's wall art.

i cut them out of quarter inch poplar (or rather the magical machine did). i then stained them to get rid of that weird green-ish poplar hue. they still seemed to be missing a little something, so i played around with colorizing them using watered down acrylics.

i'm  pretty happy with the end result. i still need to tweak the file to compensate for the kerf of the laser cutter, so there's not the weird overlap of the etched outlines and the cut out pieces. maybe one day that will happen. more importantly though i still need to make mr. badger and miss rabbit. 

oh, and our tree now has lights and ornments! hooray christmastime!


christmas tree hunting.

normally, i'm a strong proponent of not decorating for christmas until after thanksgiving. this year however, i made an exception and  went tromping over the river and through the woods to get a christmas tree with two of my favorite people for my birthday.

it was quite the exciting adventure. we went to angle wings christmas tree farm outside of hillsville, virginia. i'd recommend it, if for no other reason than the beautiful drive that you take through the blue ridge parkway to get there. 

margot loved it. she refused to be held the entire time. i like this picture because she looks like buddy the elf as spotted by ny1 news.

soooo much cuteness!


i didn't even get any pictures of the tree we got. evidently i was too distracted by this tiny one. i did get a pretty swell family photo taken, though.

i think we'll have to make a tradition out of this.


craft fair.

so, i did my first craft fair on saturday, and it was pretty awesome.

it was put together by my brother's church in greensboro. i was pretty stressed out about putting together enough stuff to sell at it, but having a looming deadline really got my creative juices flowing.

between jon and i, we had seven different 'product lines', ranging from plush monsters to laser cut santa-squatch ornaments. some of it was made awhile ago (and never appeared on this blog because i'm terrible), and some was made specifically for this sale. our random assortment of goods inspired our booth name 'we make _____' (i.e. we make blank). for tags and such, we then filled in the blank with whatever it was we made.

like 'we make kitty magnets', which seem to have gotten cut off in every picture. these tiny wooden kitties in the lower left hand corner were a pretty hot seller. i'm excited to think of all the fridges now adorned with kitties.

and 'we make monsters'. these little plush guys also sold fairly well. each one was unique and was inspired by the original monster that i made for margot. his name is edgar. margot knows him by name. it's ridiculously cute to see her go and fetch him when you ask her 'where's edgar?'.

these 'we make string art kits' were probably my favorite item. i made these wood ornaments at the martinsville fab lab. i designed a rabbit, a fox and a bear, laser cut from quarter inch oak plywood. i packaged them with neon embroidery floss and a tapestry needle, so that you would have everything that you need to make your own awesome woodland ornament.

jon contributed two items of his own to this endeavor. the first was his 'it's about ham time' print. this, along with our other two prints, were actually made some time ago when we took a letterpress printing class in cincinnati.

his laser cut (also at the fab lab) santa-squatch christmas tree ornaments were completely absurd and totally amazing. who doesn't need a big foot on their christmas tree?

rounding out our 'made in the fab lab line' were our 'we make cross stitch cards'. for these i designed a llama, ram and a rabbit with a grid of holes that you could then cross stitch a tiny sweater on. because who doesn't need to do that.

and our final product was our chickens. these were another item made quite some time ago. we screen printed these chickens to sew tiny plushes for a baby margot. nice high contrast black on white complete with ribbons, perfect for tiny hand (and mouthes).

i had a great time making all of these products and selling them at the fair. i also had a really fun time raiding my house for things to stage my table with (the 'table cloth' is our queen-sized bed sheet--which fits perfectly on a eight foot table fyi). all in all it was a great experience.

i have a lot of leftover inventory, and plan on posting it all in an etsy store in the near future (hopefully this week). so, stay posted. if you see anything you can't live without, leave a comment, and we can make arrangements.


kitty shoes.

since margot has learned to walk, wearing shoes has become a necessity. before she could walk, i didn't even bother. it was far too much work to try to negotiate shoes onto those tiny feet, only to have them kicked right back off in a matter of seconds. now though, as she tries to master new terrains like grass and gravel and carpets, shoes are an everyday thing. and, since we like to keep the level of ridiculousness high around here, margot's everyday shoes now have kitties on them.

these sneakers started off simple enough; plain and grey and only three dollars at marshalls. soon though, they got covered in a fun kitty print, proof again that things don't stay plain in this house for very long. for the kitties, i just free handed the pattern with a fabric marker. the tongue also got jazzed up a bit by some pink stripes.
these shoes have definitely seen their fair share of adventure. here they are investigating plant watering time. during this little excursion they got quite muddy. they've cleaned up really well though, with minimal fading to the kitties.

so, make your own. teeny sized or adult sized. i'm sure your life could use a bit more ridiculousness too.


rocking sheep.

margot turned one a couple of weeks ago. which is absurd. more on all of that later.

for her birthday, i had grand plans to make her all of these amazing things, but, for the most part, time got away from me. jon and i did, however, accomlish one diy gift: a rocking sheep.

he actually started off as your run of the mill rocking horse. i bought him from a thrift store for a couple of bucks like five years ago, well before we were even contemplating kids. i couldn't pass him up though. i knew one day he would be awesome.

it was so long ago, in fact, that i can't find the pictures of him in his original state. so this photo is the only 'before' that i have. a poorly lit ipad photo of him still as a horse, being auditioned for sheep-hood.

this was when we decided that if we were going to do this rocking sheep thing right, than we were going to have to make him a new head. there was no disguising this horse as a sheep just with a change of clothes. cue the power tools. some jigsawing, sanding and staining later, this guy was starting to look much more sheep-ish.

now, it was just a matter of clothes. the original plan was to add batting to make him a nice fat, round sheep, and then cover that in some fuzzy fabric. however, as birthday day approached and i started to become overwhelmed/increasingly lazy, i shortcut this by just using our handy ikea sheepskin. this only came after much begging of jon and promising that next time we go to ikea i would buy him a new one.

the sheepskin worked perfectly. it's extreme fuzziness made it very forgiving, and it was already roughly sheep-shaped, so it fit nicely around his head, shoulders and middle. i just had to trim a little off the length when i tucked it around his back. i just adhered it with copious amounts of hot glue.

 and there you have it. a super fuzzy rocking sheep. margot loves it. it's like a kitty that doesn't run away. 


vinyl cutting.

jon and i have been taking a class at the fab lab in martinsville. the fab lab is maybe the coolest place ever. it's a room full of 3d printers, vinyl cutters, a cnc router, a laser cutter and a slew of other pieces of  snazzy manufacturing equipment. it also shares a building with the artisan center, which houses wood working equipment, pottery wheels and kilns, culinary arts classes and oh so much more. it's basically a maker's heaven.

the class we've been taking is the introduction to 2d class. for the first couple of classes we got to play with the vinyl cutter, and i made vinyl stickers to put on some margot pictures.

the vinyl cutter works from a vector file, so i did my text design in inkscape. after the cutter did its thing making the cut, i still had to do the 'weeding', which i learned in class the term for removing the unwanted vinyl from the sticker. i assume that the word's relationship to the weeding done in a garden is not coincidental, as the vinyl weeding is also quite tedious.

but i like tedious things, and it gave me an excuse to bust out my sweet box of exacto knives. after weeding, the sticker could then be transferred to the photo.

i just eyeballed the alignment, with varying degrees of success. i quickly learned that the vinyl sticks very readily to the glossy surface of the photo. luckily, i made three of each.

i really love the finished product. even more than i thought i would going into it. the contrast between the super crisp vinyl cut letters and the photo is really nice. now i want to do a whole series of photos with vinyl letters...

for those of you that have one of those magic cutting machines for scrap booking and whatnot, you could probably do this at home. for those of us who don't have one, there's always the martinsville fab lab. sign up for a class or get a community membership!

our next class project used the laser cutter, so stay tuned for that.


kitty mc-nuggets, a knitting pattern.

itty bitty knitty kitties.

i've been on a bit of a knitting kick lately and seem to have made a small army. luckily, it's probably the least intimidating army ever.

i started off just knowing that i wanted to knit a lot of little somethings for miss margot (a well formed thought, i know). when i came across this beans the cat pattern, it seemed to perfectly combine my desire for a quick and easy knit and margot's intense love of kitties.

the pattern as written was much larger than i wanted, but with some scaling and some rework i ended up with these perfect tiny kitties, not much larger than a ping pong ball (which is another one of margot's favorite things). i call them 'kitty mc-nuggets'.

for a full kitty making tutorial, i defer you to the natural suburbia blog. if you want to make mc-nugget sized versions, see my mods below.

kitty mc-nuggets
using us size 4 (3.5mm) dpns, cast on 5 stitches, divide over 3 needles, and join in the round

round 1: knit
round 2: kfb all stitches (10 stitches)
round 3: (k1, kfb) around (15 stitches)
round 4: (k1, kfb) around, k1 (22 stitches)
rounds 5-12: knit
round 13: (k1, k2tog) around, k1 (15 stitches)
round 14-19: knit
cast off
sew top edge shut, add 'dimple' to create ears, and enjoy! margot sure does!

since her favorite activity of the moment is taking things out of things and putting them back in, these kitty mc-nuggets, along with a wooden salad bowl, are the perfect fit. and with each one taking less than a half hour to make, making a bowlful was quick work.

so, go ahead, make your own adorable army! for your little one, your cat, or for yourself to keep you company at your desk at work. you know you want to.


beet lemonade.

make it. i know it sounds weird. beets. and lemonade. who do i think you are, dwight schrute? but just look at it, isn't it lovely?

 i was a bit skeptical of beet lemonade at first, but with that rich magenta color, how could i not make it? (also, i was looking for a high contrast drink to show off my snazzy new thrift store glasses.)

my taste buds may be being trumped by my eyeballs, but despite it not sounding very appealing, i found it to be quite refreshing. sweet, tart, and just a little earthy. the perfect beverage to sip while hoping that the slow days of summer would last just a little bit longer.

so make it. or just stop by for a glass. it's also the perfect beverage to share with a glittered t-rex.


ten months.

well, bi-monthly may be the new rhythm for my margot posts, as i can't seem to get my act together. the months just seem to be flying by. this less-little lady is ten months old now. sheesh.

at her nine month appointment, she weighed fifteen pounds four ounces and was twenty seven inches long. now, i assume she's bigger. her pajamas definitely think so, as recently her big toe has worn a hole through them in order to make more room (no worries, i bought new, bigger ones yesterday).

at ten months old, margot is ridiculously mobile. at around eight and a half months she figured out rolling over (that one took her forever. that kid had zero interest in intentionally putting herself onto her tummy) and within the week she was crawling. now she's using everything to pull herself up (including jon's leg hair) and is cruising. soon, we'll have a toddler on our hands, and then the kitties will certainly be doomed.

as you can tell, this new found mobility meant we had to invent a new photo shooting technique. i just took the crib mattress out and doubled it over on the floor, using it like a chair. this sort of worked, with a lot of help from jon and bribing with food to get her to sit still. we took one hundred and fifteen pictures and got maybe a dozen acceptable ones. makes one grateful for digital photography.

this month i think has the most drastic comparison to the last time. being mobile is such a huge change and makes her seem so much more like a tiny person. she's a total ham, too. she loves smiling at strangers. everywhere. it's ridiculous. she also likes pointing. we're trying to teach that she should wave instead of point. so now when we say 'wave', she waves her hand and her whole body goes along with it. 

to add to the slew of margot changes, she's also getting her top two teeth. like the bottom ones, they're both coming in at the same time. please slow down with all of this growing up miss margot, mom's not ready for it.



parenting is craziness. even after nine months, i feel like i'm totally winging it. and i don't think that that feeling will go away any time soon. i have learned though, that a large part of maintaining one's sanity centers around distracting the small one. and what's more distracting to one still mastering the pincer grasp than the ubiquitous puff cereal? i cannot give margot more than three or so at once though. if i do, she will take them by the fistful and cram them all into her mouth at the same time. this, then, does not keep her distracted for long, which defeats the purpose of puffs (because we all know we don't feed them puffs for their nutritional value). i believe though, that i have now brilliantly solved the puff distribution problem.

it's a bit hard to tell from the picture, but it's a small tupperware with a hole about the size of a puff cut out in the lid (the fourth picture probably shows it best). it combines two of margot's favorite things--eating puffs and shaking noisy things. we refer to it as her 'shake shake'.

the process goes something like this. margot shakes the container excitedly, unaware as puffs fall around her.

taking a break from the tiring shaking, she makes a discovery. ho, a puff!

flinging the 'shake shake' aside, she masterfully picks up the puff and crams it into her mouth.

this process then repeats until it's empty or she gets bored and moves on to new adventures. this may be one of my proudest parenting moments. it feels a bit like the enrichment activities they do at the zoo--like giving the gorillas pumpkins or the tigers paper mache easter eggs. here, margot is learning about cause and effect while giving mom some much needed time to do something like wash the dishes, or comb her hair, or write this blog.

so, go ahead, make your own and fill it with anything that is tasty and makes a satisfying noise when shaken. any other great ideas out there for small one distractions?


wild and wonderful.

it's been a couple of months since my last making clothes for margot post and, as it's no longer pants season, it's time for some summery fun around here. 

i would like to say that the inspiration for this shirt came from the hours we've spent driving through west virginia recently. and perhaps subconsciously it did. but this shirt really came about because this morning, in picking out margot's cloths for today, i came across this plain t-shirt, and plain t-shirts don't last too long in my house.

so, at eight o'clock this morning, while margot was tearing through the house like a crazy person, chasing the kitties in her walker, i was drinking coffee and making this quick shirt. i just sketched out the design, positioned it inside the shirt, and traced it onto the shirt with a pink fabric marker. easy peasy. 

and i think the phrase 'wild and wonderful' suits miss margot quite well. point proven by the fifty or so photos i took and the only four presentable-ish ones that came out. this kid!

if you want to make your own t-shirt, you can get the design here. this should be sized for about a nine month old shirt, but could easily be sized up or down. i kind of want one now too.


stuffed kitty.

i've been on a bit of a stuffed animal making kick lately. this latest kitty creation was made for a special someone's fifth birthday.

i've been having a lot of fun working through the creation process with these stuffed animals. since i make up my own designs and patterns, there tends to be a lot of improvisation and rework and oh-crap moments in getting from start to finish. maybe one day i'll do better at documenting what a hot mess the intermediate phases are. but for now, i just have the finished product to share.

i used a quilting cotton for the body, felt for the facial features, and made a sweet little mustard bow using this pattern. she was named lemon, which i think is a pretty swell name for a kitty. the only critique that i got was that she should be smiling. almost five year olds are the toughest critics.

if enough people are interested in making a kitty of their own, i may be persuaded to try and muddle my way through writing up the pattern. just leave a comment with your kindest plea. be warned though, i've never done it before and cannot guarantee coherence.


eight months.

well, it's official, i missed a month of margot. sorry future margot. alas, life goes on. and now, this lady is eight months old!

a lot has happened in the last two months. about midway through month seven, margot got both of her bottom teeth in one week. and, as jon's finger has discovered, they may be little, but they be sharp. she uses them to deftly devour anything that you put in her mouth. seriously, this kid will eat anything. 

she has also figured out dancing (or rather, bobbing from side to side, thanks mee mee), clapping (thanks adam), feeding herself cereal (thanks puffs), and i think she is starting to wave. currently, one of her favorite activities is to chase the kitties around the house in her walker. conan is a very patient friend.

it's crazy how time flies and how much she's grown. tis a super exciting adventure we're all on.