Archive of ‘music’ category

Creative Habit Making :: Song Lyrics, Chalk & Inspiration { + a Giveaway!}

Here are a few things you may not know about me. 1. I’m a lyrics girl. Some people hear the music; I hear the words.  2. I love karaoke.  A lot.  3. I often spend long car rides listening to (and singing along with) all kinds of music to be prepared for any upcoming karaoke opportunities.  4. I have lots of long car rides.  5. Pop music lyrics stick in your head and are, frankly, poetic at times.  What does any of this have to do with chalk paint and creative habits? Right. It’s kind of long-winded. (The giveaway info is at the end, promise. updated: giveaway had ended). Creative Habit  Chalk Paint Lyrics

Remember that lovely book I was so impressed by a while ago, Mighty Ugly?  Well, I was determined to follow through on every directive in Mighty Ugly and that included incorporating a daily creative habit into my routine.

I have a canvas I covered in two coats of chalk paint and lovely chalk markers and I was all prepared to write a daily message to myself.  Yup.  Good, solid plan for a creative routine.  (more…)

A handmade, portable performance stage

The handmade stage from a happy stitchMove over Partridge Family! We are nurturing some serious musical talent over at our house these days.  Ah-huh because this lady made a portable stage that transforms the living room (or any room) into a performance space.

portable instant stage from a happy stitchIt was just about the simplest thing ever.  In fact, except for one trip buy two tension rods, I made the stage in 20 minutes while sick with the stomach flu.  That’s how easy it was to make.

And, we are having so much fun with this thing!  Both boys are busting out the instruments and making up songs.  The singing is long & the tunes are totally aimless.  The kind of songs that mark childhood.  The kind of songs that don’t make much sense and sort of just trail off only to gain a second wind as soon as you start clapping because you think the song is over.  That kind of song.  It’s awesome and providing for many wide grins on the grown-ups faces.

Performing on the adjustable, portable stage in our home - a happy stitch

Look at that lovely face so intent on his guitar picking!  The cuteness just kills me. I love it.  Our guys can be pretty shy about performing in front of others. At home they want to dance and sing and play instruments but at school…no way.  So, it has been extra sweet to create a little place they can do all of those things to their heart’s content.

performing in front of our portable, instant stage - a happy stitch

This guy has started writing out his songs and practicing them.  This song was about Ireland and all the things you see in Ireland like rocks and cows (!).  It was basically the best song ever.

performing in front of the portable stage - a happy stitch


Portable, instant stage - a happy stitch

I made this instant, portable stage out of a product called Smart-Fab.  The company got in touch and offered to send me a sample.

Smart-fab is basically the ‘fabric’ that they make reusable grocery bags out of.  You know it kind of feels soft but also like it might be made of plastic?  Anyway, you can glue onto it, sew it, staple it and it is malleable and pretty durable.  It doesn’t fray so it’s great for something quick and easy.

After I measured our archway and purchased two tension rods long enough to fit the whole distance, I simply cut up the Smart-Fab to the appropriate size & folded over the top  just enough that the rod could fit through.  That was it. Done!  Oh, and I did cut out some stars for the decorative portion at the top.  I did a terrible job cutting stars.  It’s kind of hard to cut stars without drawing them ahead of time.  I was sick, remember?  I wasn’t really into perfect little stars. You could do a better job with the stars.
making the instant, portable musical stage from a happy stitch

Anyway, hang that puppy up and we are ready to perform.  Since the stage uses tension rods, we can move it anywhere we want.  The living room, a bedroom, anywhere we need a stage.  It would obviously be very easy to make this same thing with plain old fabric but I do like the vibrant colors.

performance stage discussion

They also make for a nice background to pictures, don’t you think?

I might use the remaining sample of smart-fab to make a photo-booth kind of thing next.  Or, I was actually thinking it would be great as a kind of muslin fabric for difficult patterns because I could sew it and fit it on me so quickly and easily.  We’ll see.

P.S. Smart-fab has a pretty great Pinterest page and Facebook page that does lots of giveaway.   From what I can tell, a lot of teachers are finding it useful & teachers need free supplies so watch those giveaways!! Smart-fab sent me their product for free with no additional compensation and asked me to write about it.  My opinion about it is honest and wholly my own.

P.P.S. Can you tell I took these pictures on two different days before and after the boys got haircuts?  Ha!

and….it’s happening

I was doing fine.  keeping it together.  ready to get back to my routine and not so worried about kindergarten tomorrow.  telling myself it was no big deal and he was going to be great.  focusing on school supplies and lunches…general preparedness was my strategy for distraction. then a friend emailed an old photo from the daycare days and mentioned she was misty eye-d and, without much warning, I joined her.

this tiny man is ready for kindergarten.  he’s told me he is ready, he even said he thinks he might grow a little taller tomorrow and come home feeling awesome. but really?? this is happening? don’t get me wrong, after two and a half weeks of boys, boys, boys I want my head space and work space and time back.  but, turns out I am not as ready to roll as I thought I was.  if you are in the same boat, DO NOT WATCH THE RENEE AND JEREMY VIDEO BELOW.  I am warning you.  but, do pass on any coping strategies or commiserations.  how are you dealing with back to school?

I do have lots of sewing things to share (promise), I just have to pull myself out of this fresh puddle of tears.

an okee dokee invasion or how bluegrass is exactly like mexican food

before we were married, my husband and I spent a handful of months living out of his parents house in england.  we were traveling around without jobs and, as a result, we were broke. we rarely indulged in an evening at a restaurant.  but, one day I was overtaken with a longing for the kind of leisurely, lively dinner that only happens in a restaurant while you are on vacation.  so, I suggested that we find a cheap mexican restaurant and join the fray.  my husband cocked his head and informed me that we were in england, there are no mexican restaurants only indian ones.  and suddenly and completely involuntarily I needed mexican food more than I have ever needed it before. I mean, please?! I grew up in Minnesota and we have mexican food! I had never really thought about how proximity to mexico was the reason there was widespread mexican food in my country.  I became desperate. I dreamt of cheesy enchiladas and bean-filled tacos for weeks while continuing to argue about how ridiculous it was that england had not caught on to the whole mexican food thing.

and, bluegrass music is exactly the same.  well, maybe not exactly the same but pretty darn close.  see, new jersey is kind of a rock/jazz/punk sort of place.  not that there is no bluegrass (I’m sure I could find it if I were really seeking it out) but opportunities to see folks/bluegrass music are pretty slim. town festivals and parades feature heavy rockers and coffee shops bring in jazz artists more often than not.  soon after I realized this I became desperate for bluegrass music.   growing up in the midwest I was accustomed to finding bluegrass music on any given weekend…much like an enchilada.  I started to drool over the casual references of my many of my midwest friends who would just happen upon bluegrass music at their farmer’s market.  I was starving for bluegrass music and got concerned that my kids would never know bluegrass!!

then, my mother spontaneously sent us a new cd of two children’s artists called the okee dokee brothers…two friends that play bluegrass for kids. and well, we are now well fed on a new steady diet of okee dokee brothers.  their music isn’t condescending the way that kids’ music can be.  they are upbeat and folksy and sing about canoeing, camping, loving the river and being outside. for their latest album they spent 30 days canoeing down the mississippi river from minnesota to missouri making music and camping.  the cd is accompanied by a dvd of the whole adventure.

the boys and I are nuts for this.  we know all the songs and they literally sing these tunes constantly: they wake up belting out songs in bed; we pretend the stroller is a canoe and we sing our way to summer camp; we get the instruments out after camp is done and we make music videos in the backyard; they watch the dvd before dinner and then pretend to canoe in the bathtub.  the songs are sophisticated, lyrics-wise, but they boys know the words or they make them up if they don’t.

below is one of the many, many artistic interpretations of the okee dokee brothers themselves.

for my part, I have been floating ideas with my husband about starting a bluegrass music festival in our town and inviting the okee dokee brothers.  my mother has started planning a canoe trip in minnesota for us next summer.  I even found myself convincing a friend to teach me to play the banjo.  I am eating metaphorical mexican food by the plateful and it tastes wonderful.

the fest!

I was honored to be involved in a great fest held in our town this weekend, Combatting Latent Inequality Together Fest 2012.  it was the first time it was held in New Jersey and centers around punk music and gender politics with all proceeds going to an organization in New Brunswick called Women Aware, which focuses on assisting anyone affected by domestic abuse.  there was lots of punk music and workshops on all manner of gender-related topics.  it may not surprise you to know that I was probably the oldest chic at the fest and definitely the least punk.

{my booth, photo courtesy of my husband}

but here is the thing. now that sewing is a more serious undertaking for me it means that I get the chance to say *yes* to totally new things that push me out into the world and away from my hermit-like tendencies.  this fest was one of those events.  I got to say yes to this and I’m so glad because I now know the following things:

1) the activist members of the next generation are learning how to make and do everything themselves and they rock at it.  they know how to publish books, knit, sew, embroider, silkscreen, make music, cook good food, build things and a ton more.  they are kicking butt at this and everyone is doing it….not just the girls.  it’s a real community effort.

2) silkscreening is amazing! and after one short demo I am determined to do more of it.  it’s so easy and versatile and amazing! did I mention it is amazing?

3) nice is in.  it is all about being nice in the broadest way…nice to people who are different; nice to the earth; nice to little kids and nice to people like me that are a lot the same.

4) it is totally ok to wear earplugs for the loud music. if you forgot yours you can buy them from the guy selling anti-establishment literature. he’s really nice.

5) I’m pretty certain that the world these young punk rockers are working to create is going to be great. it might not look like mine, or perhaps it might…who is to say.  but either way I’m glad I got to glance in on it.

{my fantastic friends–young and younger–at the fest.}

I am proud to say there were some signs of my light hand.  my littlest friend up above is wearing a dress her mother made in one my classes and the banner in the background was made using skills gained in another class of mine.  (maybe I fit in a little more than I suspect.)


the jar jammies

I have recently fallen in love with the mason jar as an all-purpose drink carrier.  it can handle hot or cold drinks, has a nice wide mouth for drinking.  plus,  screw on the lid and I can take my drink with me.  the best part, however, and really the essential part for me is that things taste good in a mason jar.  ice cold water tastes like ice cold water, coffee tastes like good, creamy coffee without the lingering hint of metal that accompanies some of the portable stainless steel containers out there.  this makes a huge difference for me because I just can’t get excited about drinking things that don’t taste good.  I mean, really? what is the point?  so, I’m really excited about the newest thing I’ve sewn together…pajamas for a jar or jar jammies!

using some scraps of pretty fabric and sticky foot fabric (the stuff used for the feet of pajamas) paired with thin elastic and pretty, vintage buttons and there you have it…your hands are guarded from the elements, at least those hot and cold ones tempting you from within a jar.

here are a few pictures of the details.

I made so many because I’m bringing them to the CLITfest on July 14th where I will have my own table! I’m very excited because it’s a festival put on by young feminists and I’m honored to get to be in their company and be exposed to some fantastic punk music.  it’s one of those experiences that never would have come along if I hadn’t decided to venture into sewing/teaching/pattern making in a more serious way.  so, yay for me! I’m a teeny bit nervous about being the ‘old lady who sews things’ in the crowd of awesome young women.  I might have to make myself something to wear.  but, if you are in the area COME, I will bring a big, warm smile for you.

heading off

we are off…on a much needed vacation.  hoping to get our fill of wet toes and sandy swim trunks.

seems a good time to share one of my favorite newly-discovered tunes, perfect for a hammock or a stroll down the boardwalk, don’t you think?



be back in a week!

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