Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Year Later

About a year ago, the Army Man and I (okay, mostly me) decided it was time to add a dog to our family. Through the power of the internet, I located a shelter that had the most adorable little Australian Shepherd puppy I had ever seen. Rocket was his name, and I knew I had to have him, because I only like Australian Shepherds, and I only like boy dogs. Off we went, driving almost an hour and getting horribly lost, all in search of this dog we had never even met. We arrived at the shelter, met Rocket, and were immediately horrified. Adorable, yes, but he was also jumpy, crazy, hyper, biting....mostly, a puppy. All that, combined with the fact that he was about to be fostered at another house, led us to change our minds and look for another dog. I mentioned to the worker a cute orange dog I had seen on their website, and she scurried back to get her. Out came a skinny, silly looking dog that they were calling Foxy. She sniffed us, licked us, let Laura pet her. She came home with us the next day.

Moxie changed everything I thought I knew about having a dog. Having a dog as a child and having a dog as an adult are two completely different things. My childhood dogs were wonderful, and hold such special memories for me. They were fantastic playmates, they were all so nice to us kids, and they would always let me hug them and cry on them. But the experience of having a dog as an adult is so much better. Is that silly? Maybe, but I really don't care. Moxie has enriched my life so much, and I'm so grateful to have her in it. She's my running companion, she's here in the house keeping me company during the day, she's here at night and keeps me from getting too lonely when the Army Man is gone. She is so cute, so fluffy, and SO entertaining. She never judges me when I eat late at night, as long as I share a bit with her. She sleeps right at my feet under the computer, and will follow me from room to room. She causes her fair share of trouble, and seems to enjoy ignoring me when I call her. She is far too obsessed with squirrels for her own good. The way she greets me after a separation of any length is truly flattering. Love from a dog is a wonderful thing to have in your life.So, Moxie celebrated her "birthday" on December 28th. I decided that she is 3. I hope I'll continue to be loved and harassed by her for many more years.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How To Make A Stocking In 43 Minutes

In the Army Man's family, the stocking is one of the most important parts of Christmas morning. It's the first thing opened (such a foreign concept to this girl who always opened hers last!) and it is always stuffed full of goodies. Since the Army Man won't be with us for Christmas this year, I realized that his stocking would have to be shipped to him. But that's a risky endeavor, and I just couldn't stomach the thought of mailing his precious childhood stocking halfway around the world. I mean look at it:
That thing is simply irreplaceable. The Army Man loves his stocking and I would never forgive myself if something happened to it. So one day, less than an hour before picking Laura up from school, I decided to make him one. Yes, I know I could have just bought one at Target for $5. I even saw those stockings with my own eyes when I went there to buy gifts to put in the stocking I made. But I had this ugly Christmas fabric laying around and no other use for it. Plus, like women who cook for people as a sign of their love, I craft for people. So making a stocking for the Army Man is the Claire equivalent of grilling a delicious steak and mailing it to him. Which really wouldn't be a good idea. Hence, the stocking!

Making this stocking was quick and easy. The only thing that slowed me down was me taking pictures of my progress, because right when I started, I decided to write a stocking "tutorial" in case any of my readers are inspired to do make one. If you're an experienced sewer, please hide your eyes from my silly instructions. If you're a novice sewer, please feel free to be wowed by my excellent sewing skillz.

To start out, I simply folded my fabric in half, right (patterned) sides together. I had a yard of fabric on hand and that was plenty to also make a lining for the stocking. I used the stocking I already had as a template, but you could certainly just cut one free hand. Place the stocking on the fabric, and cut around it.Do this twice; once for the outside, once for the lining. Since your fabric was folded in half, you'll end up with 4 cut outs of the stocking. Next measure the approximate length of the top of the stocking, double it, and add about two inches. Use this measurement to cut a length of fabric that is 2 1/4 inches wide and as long as you came up with through your higher math. In my case, mine was about 19 inches long (8.5 plus 8.5 plus 2). If you're interested in making a loop to hang the stocking with, cut another strip of fabric that is 3 inches wide and about 16 inches long.Now take these strips to your ironing board and iron them in half with the wrong (non-patterned) side facing in. Open them back up and fold the sides in to meet that center fold. Refer to picture below. Do this for both strips.
See what I mean? Now, look at your loop fabric. Chances are you'll probably need to cut a few inches off of the length. I think 16 inches ended up being too long, but I can't remember what I cut it down to. Fold it in half and see if you like how long it is. If not, cut off a bit. Don't worry how much, just eyeball it. For JUST the strip for the loop, fold down the end just a bit, and iron it. Clip the corners. Do this on both ends. For the hanging loop, fold the strip in half lengthwise and sew along the open edge to close it. Then fold the strip in half to form the loop, and sew the end. This is going to be a pretty thick bit of fabric to sew through, so make sure you have the correct needle on your machine. Your finished loop should look like this, only better, because my pictures are terrible:Now it's time to sew the stocking. This is so easy, and so fast. With the right sides together, sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the stocking, leaving the top open. Back-stitch at both ends. Do this for both the outer part and lining. So you have both sections done. Turn them both right side out and iron the seams to your liking. Then turn one back inside out, and shove it inside the other stocking. Mess with it until it's good enough. You should be seeing the patterned side on both the inside and the outside.

Now it's time to do the trim around the top. Take the trim piece and place it so that it's folded in half and encasing the raw edge of the top of the stocking. Pin it in place.You should have plenty of extra trim. Since you only want it to overlap a little bit, cut one end off diagonally and fold and iron the other end like we did for the loop fabric. Overlap the two ends nicely, and pin in place.Now sew along the entire trim, about 1/4 inch from the edge. If you feel so inclined, you can even use coordinating thread.
Next position the loop to your liking and sew it in place on the inside of the lining.
Lastly, take an awful picture because you just realized you're late to pick you daughter up from school. Fill the stocking with goodies and mail it off to your husband, praying that it gets there in time. But be smart enough to not mention what you actually put in the stocking, just in case he reads your blog.Now that my tutorial is posted, I'm not sure how much use it will actually be to anyone. I realize now I didn't take the right pictures...I took so many pointless ones and totally skipped some crucial steps. But I've always wanted to give writing a tutorial a try, and I have to admit it was fun to attempt to share my idea. I also want to say that looking at that final pictures makes me realize that looks nothing like a stocking but rather a misshapen boot or something. Luckily for me my recipient was a man, and the Army Man at that. There's no way he'll notice what it looks like. He likely won't even realize that I made it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bad Hair Day

We have issues with our hair in my family. Whether you're born into the family, marry in, or are adopted (I'm talking to you, Moxie), our hair is crazy. My hair is ridiculously thick and wavy-but not curly, because that would be cute and much easier to go with. I'm one of those people who gets her hair thinned intentionally, and still probably has more hair than most normal people. The Army Man's hair is thick and poufy. Laura's hair isn't thick yet, but it is wavy once it passes her chin, has a cowlick in the front, and it generally looks like I NEVER wash or comb it. Moxie, as I'm sure you can all tell, has her own set of issues. Namely that she has incredible amounts of fur.
May 2009

I know you can all tell that for yourselves based on pictures I've shared in the past. But there are depths to her fur that can't be gleaned from photographs alone. I'm sure you'll take my word for it when I say that girl has serious fur. She hasn't had her fur cut in a while, and her mane is coming back with a vengeance. It really cracks me up, because what other dog do you know that looks like that? She really is in a class by herself. I prefer Moxie with longer fur, but the Army Man doesn't (hence the shaving debacle of the summer). Since he's not here right now, there's nothing he can do about it, and my dog will continue to look like a lion for as long as I desire.

One problem about letting her fur grow that I didn't forsee: her fur starting to mat. Mostly behind her ears, since that has such a high concentration of fur. Even more curious (and cuter) is that her fur back there is wavy. She really is a member of the family! Petting her today revealed a gigantic mat that I couldn't let go unchecked. I decided it was time for me to perform some minor surgery and cut that sucker out. Of course I unwisely decided to do this a) while wearing black pants b) while Moxie was still wound up from playing and c) while Laura was in possession of a squeaky toy. Getting Moxie to lay still was the most challenging thing I've done all week, and I was so worried she was going to squirm right as the scissors were poised above her ear, and next thing I knew I was going to have a one-eared dog. In the end she finally calmed down, the mat was cut out, and Moxie's right ear felt considerably lighter. The thing that cracks me, and the whole reason I had to share this, is that despite the giant amount of fur I cut out:
You still can't tell!! She looks EXACTLY the same.
She really does have a lot of fur. I think January will find Moxie at the groomer getting a shave and a hair cut. I think she looks so goofy with short fur, but the upside is that it's always fun having people stopping to ask me if she's a fox.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Turning 30 Is Easy

Turning 30 is easy to do when….

Your very first birthday wish comes in the morning from your daughter, still blinking the sleep from her eyes.

You receive beautiful flowers from your parents….…and your deployed husbandYou have (several) friends treat you to dinnerYou receive so many thoughtful cards and giftsYou have a delicious and extremely professional looking cake to eatYour sister sets up a blog for the sole purpose of having tons of people wish you a happy birthday
You have friends come from far away to celebrate with youYou have friends willing to get a little goofy with youYou get a little goofy yourself…

I've been 30 years old for six days now. So far, so good. No additional wisdom yet, so this post ends here.