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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Longest Run Ever

I went for a trail run the other day. Lately I've only run two miles around my neighborhood, but I decided to kick it up a notch and run along the trail and road at City Creek for three miles. I was feeling pretty good about myself doing the first part of the loop on the trail and the second part on the road. Trotting along next to the sound of rushing water, chirping birds and the quiet of the mountains is better than any iTunes playlist. Plus, it's very peaceful in the morning. I was so relaxed, I even paused to take a photo of these lovely flowers.
About 100 yards from my car, I reached down and realized my key wasn't in my pocket!

All sorts of things ran through my head. Why didn't I hear it if it fell out? Did the ten almonds I had in my pocket cause the key to slip out? Could it have fallen out while I took the picture? Was I so oblivious I didn't notice that large key thing no longer attached to my hip? I called Carl. He told me to look by the car. I did. It wasn't there. I started to panic a little. I felt the sinking feeling of being stranded.

Reluctantly, I called the dealership. To replace the specialized Audi key I would need to pay $200. What?! 

I spent the next three hours going back over my path, talking to people, praying like crazy, crying a bit, feeling sorry for myself, texting Carl to get all the girls to pray and searching desperately for my key. I ran and walked that three mile route two more times (9 miles!). I talked to one of the guys who works in the canyon and water shed area, gave him my phone number and told him about the $200 charge he'd save me if he and his guys found the key.

I was feeling floppy and despondent about two miles into my third journey around that loop. My phone only had 10% battery power left. Thirsty, hungry and filled with shame for losing the pricey key, I started to cry.

Then, my phone rang.

The cheery lady on the line was from the water shed. They found my key! Actually, a trail runner found it about a foot off the path and turned it into one of the workers. I nearly sprinted that last mile to get to the gate at the bottom of the canyon where the guy I originally talked to had my key. When I saw him, I practically threw myself at his feet and kissed them. I didn't though. I said a prayer of thanks and took this picture.
Whether you believe in prayer or not, I know that answers come. Maybe not as quickly as we'd like, but they do come. God understands where we are and what we need. I needed to find that key. He helped me; I know He did. He also helped me run and not be weary and walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Everyday Artist

Last year on my birthday, I made a goal to draw every day. It's been nearly a year and I have four notebooks full of drawings, and a few watercolor sketches. Sometimes I left the drawing to the last minute when I was so tired I could only put a few scratches on the page.

Leaving a task you care about to the very last minute doesn't work—you never do a very good job with it nor give it your full attention. Hurried work made me feel disappointed and dissatisfied. I started to just skip the drawing if I didn't get it in before I was dragging myself to bed. I also learned that it's more important to do the work rather than do amazing work. The act of doing was the journey and the practice that has helped me improve.
Quick watercolor sketch at Liberty Park

After nearly ten months of drawing I feel more confident about my skills as an artist. I even added artist to my description of myself in the "About Me" section on this blog. I have taken assorted classes in drawing, watercolor, 3D, sculpture and design...but I always felt less than because I lacked formal training.

Now, I know that the formal training is just that: formal. I prefer to be informal about nearly everything, so that kind of learning suits me just fine. I'm okay with not being perfect at this and I'm open to learning from people like Kathy Ross, a self-taught 3D artist who sells her sculptures for a living. I met Kathy last year at the Utah Arts Festival. I asked her if she'd mentor me and teach me a little of how she does what she does. She agreed to and we've been in communication off and on ever since.

I'll would love some feedback, thoughts, and suggestions on my art. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Make a Roman Shade

Want to make a curtain that looks professional? Try making your own Roman shade. Making curtains is simple and quick...this takes a bit more time, but you'll love the results.

This was my first attempt. I looked everywhere for an easy tutorial, but couldn't find one. My older sister sent me instructions from a book, but I modified them somewhat to my own taste and needs (read: laziness).

Most of the items you'll need are available at your local fabric store. (I go to JoAnn fabrics for all my sewing/decor/craft supplies.) Here's what you'll need to make your own inside-mount Roman shade:

  • fabric for interior of shade, cut to one inch wider and 7 inches longer than the measurements of the inside from of your window. Remember: measure twice, cut once.
  • lining fabric for shade, cut to measurements of your window
  • sewing machine
  • thread that matches your fabric 
  • scissors
  • sewing needle
  • staple gun
  • drill (and if you're not familiar with using one, you'll also need a husband/boyfriend/neighbor to operate it)
  • marking pen/pencil
  • ruler and/or t-square
  • drapery rings
  • drapery Velcro
  • drapery cording, pull cord, and attachable tie
  • wood, cut to fit your window (length depends on whether you mount it on the outside or inside of the window frame)
  • 3-4 long screws and washers to go through the fabric-covered wood into the top of the window frame 
  • Stitch Witchery (or some other tape-like fabric adhesive) 
  • 4-5 screw eyes (these are screws with a ring on the end)

  1. Measure the window. I measured the inside of the frame for an inside mount. If you do an outside mount shade, you'll need to determine where you want the shade to sit in relation to the length and width of your window frame.
  2. Cut the fabric one inch wider and 7 inches longer than your window measurement. This will give you a 1/2 inch of seam allowance on both sides and nice finished fold at the bottom. You will be wrapping the fabric around the lining and attaching the sides with Stitch Witchery.
  3. Cut the lining to exactly the width and 1 inch longer than the window.
  4. Cut fabric to wrap around you piece of wood. Wrap the fabric around the wood as though you're wrapping a present. Then, use your staple gun to staple the fabric in place. 
  5. Place the fabric-covered board inside the top of the window frame. While you or a friend holds it in place, drill holes the same length and slightly narrower than the long screws. Secure the long screws with washers into the board and window frame using the drill or screwdriver. (see photo #2 below)
  6. With right sides together and about a 1/2" overlap of the main fabric (the fabric you want facing the room when you hang your blind) on both sides, sew the top of the fabric panels together with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Reverse and press seam flat.
  7. Make sure there is an overlap of the main fabric on the sides (about 1/2 inch on each side). The fabric will be 7 inches longer than the lining. Fold up the bottom of fabric 4 inches and press the back part of the fabric under 1/2 to 1 inch. Then, sew through panel and lining fabric close to the fold you just pressed.
  8. For a seamless look, place the Stitch Witchery adhesive tape along the sides of the lining fabric. Fold over the main fabric and press, following the directions on the Stitch Witchery package to adhere the two fabrics. Repeat on both sides of the blind. Note: You can also sew this, but there will be a clear seam on your blind when it's not open. You can also use Fray Check here, but I didn't. Again, no one will see it. (see photo #1 below)
  9. Attach the Drapery Velcro to the board and your Roman shade. I put the hook side on the board and used the staple gun to secure it. Then, I stitched the loop side to the shade. (see photo #2 below)
  10. You're nearly done! Decide how far apart you want your guide loops to go. I put too many, I think. My window was only 30" wide and I did five guide loops. Use a t-square or other long ruler to mark where the loops will go.
  11. Hand stitch each loop in place. Make sure your thread matches your main fabric, so it will be as inconspicuous as possible. I placed the bottom loops up above the hem and moved up from there. This may take some time to figure out. Don't rush. Make sure you have it right before you start to sew. (see photo #1 below)
  12. Mark the location of screw eyes on the board mounted inside the window sill. Match up the measurements with the guide loops you just sewed on. Don't worry, though, if it's off because it really doesn't matter. No one will see and deduct points if they are not in alignment with the guide loops. Use a drill with a bit slightly smaller than the size of the screw eyes and drill the guide holes. 
  13. Once holes are drilled, secure the screw eyes. (see photo #2 below)
  14. Tie the drapery cording to the bottom guide loop and put it through each guide loop above it until you get to the top. 
  15. Once you have all the drapery cord woven through each guide loop, decide which side you want to pull from and thread the cord through the screw eyes on the board to that side. Attach the Velcro's and thread the drapery cord through. You will need a helper to hold up the shade while you do this. (see photo #2 below)
  16. Take all ends of the cord and put it through a drapery pull. Knot the ends securely and trim.
  17. Secure the tie for the cord inside the window sill with the provided screws. (see photo #3 below)
  18. Pull up your shade carefully, creasing it as you go with your hands. 
  19. Keep the shade up for a few days to let the creases set.
  20. Enjoy!

Photo #1 Illustrating steps 8 and 11

    Photo #2 Illustrating steps 5, 9, 13, and 15
    Photo #3 Illustrating steps 16 and 17
    If you have any questions, please ask. 

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    Missing Daddy

    The best conversations with my toddler happen while she's, um...on the potty. Here's what she told me the day her daddy left for a trip.

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Tapas for Toddlers

    Toddlers are a riddle. Their moods and tastes seem to change frequently making meal time with toddlers a conundrum. Preparing food for a toddler is something of a guessing game. Most of your hard work can end up on the floor rather than in their tummies. Until now. I've found the best way to satisfy the pickiest of eaters is to offer a healthy variety in what I call tapas for toddlers. Getting a little one to eat their meal is less of a struggle and more like a fun-filled adventure when there are plenty of choices.

    I came up this idea because of the changing tastes of my toddler and I'll keep tweaking it based on her preferences. You never know what your child is going to like. Why waste time making a big meal only to find it on the floor or worse (body paint, anyone?). The idea is to notice which food choice they gobble up fastest. Here are some ideas for tapas for toddlers:
    • carrots
    • raisins
    • walnuts
    • almonds
    • crackers
    • bite-size peanut butter and preserves/banana sandwiches
    • snap peas
    • apple slices
    • orange slices
    • lunch meat
    • pretzels
    • dried apricots
    • bite-size cinnamon toast
    • cucumbers
    • beans (e.g. garbanzo, kidney, white beans, etc.)
    Normally with the example in the photo, she'd go for the strawberries first, followed by the meat. Today, she went straight for the snap peas (see photo), followed by the oranges. The meat and the yogurt were a big fail. Guess we'll be striking those from the menu for a while. I'd love to hear about your experiments with tapas for toddlers. What works for your little ones?

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