Thursday, November 16, 2017

Saying Yes (to Mickey Mouse)

Last Thursday I was scheduled to interview at a prospective grad school in the Southeast. However, having been offered a spot at one of my two Dream Programs, I ultimately decided to cancel any upcoming interviews. (I still haven't decided if I'll interview at my other top choice program, given the opportunity.)

And though I'm absolutely sure of my choice, and have formally accepted and financially secured my seat in the program, it felt wrong to turn down an opportunity. Any opportunity. When you've worked toward something for so very, very long, taking all those classes to earn that degree, years spent working in the field, carefully considering and writing each and every admissions essay—pouring your heart and soul into all of it—writing a Dear John letter to a prospective grad school (who wants you!) is a scary thing to do. About 10 days of anxiety + mild wretchedness ensued.

But I believe in the dream. It's happening. Now it's time to relish the relief and profound honor that comes with a) achieving your biggest life goal thus far and b) having the admissions board of one of the top programs in the country unanimously decide that you should attend their institution. (so.much.gratitude.)

These next 7-8 months before life gets turned on its head, as it has many times before in our journey through life, are precious and I'm treating them as such. Family time comes first these days, over work and those niggling obligations that arise in everyday life. Let's be real: Life + parenting + work + marriage can be taxing, and it's easy to get caught up in all of that. I'm making a concerted effort, everyday, to put tradition, motherhood, love, and creative endeavors first.

And while I'm working very hard to say no to commitments that are not mutually beneficial (going  into work at dinnertime, without notice, because they are short-staffed—no), I'm working equally hard to say yes to opportunities that will bring about joy (a friend calls and asks if I can come over and talk + needlepoint with her for a couple hours one evening—yes).

So instead of racking up 5000+ airline miles in 36 hours going to an interview I no longer needed to attend, we used that time to take a mini family vacation. In less than two weeks my solo interview morphed into 3 days at Disneyland with the boys. (A shout-out to Mario for being like-minded and supportive when it comes to whimsical vacation planning and unscripted adventures.)  We used those 5 days to reconnect, unplug, and focus on being with each other. There was plenty of bickering, as travel can often bring about, but for the most part it was just plain magical. (Spontaneous hugs + impromptu conversations about life with a teenage boy is the definition of magic.) It was the reset we needed both as a family and as individuals.

Here's to saying yes to those moments that could easily pass you by. Here's to saying yes to a little extra expense and a little time off for the sake of family. Yes to family, always. 

Oh, and yes yes yes to edible sequins on your churro. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Neede + Craft: How the love affair began

A couple Fridays ago I hosted Craft Night at my house. A group of nurses/coworkers and I decided to start getting together on a regular basis to work on existing projects and teach each other our respective hobbies. This was our second meeting, and we've yet to craft a single thing. The conversation flows, as does the wine, and before we know it the night is over. It's rather wonderful.

Since it was my turn to host, they got to see my various embroidery projects for the first time. All the hoops I've kept for myself are hung around our room and the upstairs loft area; colorful reminders of the evolution of this craft in my life. I'm thankful every day that I finally (!!!) found my ideal creative pastime; seeing my embroidery projects from their perspective was a reflective experience.

It all started two years ago when I decided to take on little 3" hoops for my annual Christmas ornament project. Only, I'd never embroidered before.

I came across some Sublime Stitching patterns and floss at my favorite craft store in Portland, snagged some muslin remnants, and went to work. They were so simple! I read a couple tutorials + watched a few how-to videos and back-stitched my way to some very cute little works of art by mixing and matching different elements and tracing over handwritten words I lightly etched on the fabric with pencil. The Sublime Stitching patterns can be found here and here, but the deer pattern is no longer available from Amelie Henrie on Etsy. (Though maybe she'll relist it for the holidays?) Fortunately my iPhone photography skills have improved since that time as well...

Feeling confident fresh off my ornament-making success, I also decided to stitch a sweet 6" deer hoop for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift that year. It was still beginner-level, but a good way to expand on what I'd already learned.

Wild Olive's ornament patterns are also a favorite!

I'm posting this now not because Christmas tunes are are already playing in our home—I'm an after Thanksgiving holiday season purist—but because now is the time to start these sorts of projects. Especially if you're a total novice like I was.

Email me your suggestions and favorite pattern artists and I'll add them to the list! Also! I'm certainly not an expert, but I'll tackle any questions you send my way.