Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Strange Dreams

Throughout my life, I've been a master at mixing up people and places in my dreamworld, so it's not a surprise to me when I see an old high school friend in a new work situation. What's bugging me lately is that I'm having more and more dreams that are in school-like settings, but there is nothing school-like in my life. I finished my graduate studies years ago, don't take any recreational classes and don't teach any classes.

Last night, I can remember several school sequences and bet there were probably more that I don't remember. There was the classic dream of just realizing that I was enrolled in a class but I couldn't remember where the class was (the physical meeting place) or when I had last attended a lecture. This one always stops with me knowing that there's a test or paper due, so I'm looking all over creation for the meeting spot. I don't think I ever find the meeting.

A new dream sequence was a two-in-one that combines possible with impossible. The first scenario has me signing up for delivering some amazing amount of a crafted item (I don't remember what it was, but it was something small that could be made in multiples) in a short time span. The commitment took place in a school setting.

Next, I was presented with TONS of sheet music because I had also signed up to be an accompanist for hire for a bunch of music majors. The professor was someone familiar, yet intimidating . . . maybe someone famous. Somehow, I was supposed to know all of this music and not make a single error, even though I had just received the assignment. To make matters worse, there were these two strange boys (college age, since I thought I was also college age) that decided to sit beside me. One didn't say a word or help at all -- even when I discovered that many of the music books were actually picture books -- and the other made it very clear that he was an accomplished pianist.

The two scenarios came together when I was trying to figure out how I was going to learn all of the music perfectly so I wouldn't lose my part-time gig while at the same time honor my crafting commitments.

What's up with all of this drama? I'm not under any tight deadlines at work or in my personal life, so it's puzzling that I'm wasting so my energy in my sleep trying to sort things out.

I'm not a big dream person, but thought I'd capture these thoughts because they were a combination of old stress dreams with new dreams that take hobbies/interests and turn them into stress situations. I hope that this is not a sign that this is going to come to fruition in my real life.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Weekend for Projects

This weekend was another bad weather weekend here in Chicago, so I took full advantage and stayed in my condo for the vast majority of the time. Of course, seeing that VH1 was airing the complete "100 best one-hit wonders of the '80s" on Saturday afternoon helped make my decision that much easier. There were some really great songs in the countdown - especially in the final hour. I wonder if any other decade had so many one-hit wonders or if it was an '80s phenomena? I'm sure there are always one-hit wonders, but really think there were more in the '80s than then '90s. I suppose VH1 will answer my question eventually.

Anyway, on to three projects and something that stumps me.

1. Friday night dinner - Friday nights are labeled in my mind as pizza nights. I think that's common across America but could be mistaken. My label comes from two childhood memories:
-- Spending Friday night with Grandma and Grandpa. Many times, Grandma would "doctor up" those cheap Jeno's frozen pizzas with homegrown tomatoes, additional cheese and whatever else would make it better. When it was ready to serve, she would cut the pizza with kitchen scissors. I thought it was fabulous that scissors could be used in that way.
-- In junior high/high school, Friday nights at Pizza Hut, the only pizza place in town that we were allowed to frequent. There was one other -- don't recall the name -- but it was attached to a bar, so that was not an option.

Now, I really don't have pizza every Friday night, but do catch myself going to it when I can't think of a better option or am feeling nostalgic. This past Friday, I made a great semi-homemade pizza that will never have been found in Grandma's kitchen or Pizza Hut.
-- pre-made pizza crust (not Boboli, but a rival brand that's cheaper and comes two per pack)
-- Alfredo sauce (any brand will do, I selected based on price)
-- frozen chopped spinach
-- fresh sliced mushrooms
-- pre-cooked southwestern style chicken breast
-- minced onions
-- shredded Italian cheese blend (not much needed since there's an alfredo sauce below)
-- Italian seasoning
-- Red pepper flakes

It was great! It was just as good cold and for lunch the next day.

2. Tea towels - I've transferred designs onto three tea towels for a tea towel swap over on craftster and began stitching on Saturday. I have one of the designs complete and have it hanging in my living room to see whether I like the towel itself. The problem is that I'm taking a real animal but stitching it in impossible colors for it's species. I wanted to do something that appealed to my swap partners list of favorite animals as well as favorite colors. I'm glad that I started stitching now so I can live with the results for a while before deciding whether or not to send it on it's way.

3. Dishcloth - On Sunday, I didn't want to embroider two days in a row, so I knitted a quick dishcloth to get rid of some leftover cotton yarn I used to make Christmas dishcloths. I used one of my favorite patterns - the ballband dishcloth pattern from Maxon-Dixon Knitting (buy their books!) - and it didn't disappoint. I love being able to mix and match three different yarns into a cohesive dishcloth pattern.

Stumper - Sometimes, I decide to do something/sign up for something without really thinking the move through 100%. This is the case with another swap I've signed up for on craftster. It's a swap where you exchange "inchies" -- one inch squares of little art -- with a set of folks and end up with 50 inchies in the end (10 sets of 5, so 9 partners + you). I don't do papercrafts, but couldn't resist these guys because they are so cute! Now, I'm reading through the craft thread and everyone has all of this technical equipment, including paper punches that punch out perfectly sized inchies, special glues and techniques, etc.

On my end, I've purchased some black paper and have ideas to incorporate other papers, embroidery floss, yarn, and other bits and bobs to make my inchies. I'm tempted to run around looking for punches and other specialty items, but fear that I'll never use the items again (especially if I hate making these suckers!). So . . . stumper of the week is whether or not to invest in supplies or just move forward with my ideas and see what happens. I think I'll try some without buying anything else first because I do not need anymore craft/art supplies in my life at this time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tea Towel Love

Who doesn't love a hand-embroidered tea towel? I know I do and I can't get enough of them. Growing up, I thought everyone's tea towels were all hand-embroidered. It was a long time before I found out that many people just buy towels at Target/WalMart/etc and there is no embellishing involved in the process.

I have so many Aunt Martha transfers that it's not even funny, yet I still look through the options whenever I'm in a craft/fabric store and buy any that look good. I also love to find images in Dover coloring books, on the web, or adapt ideas myself.

The latest tea towels I embroidered were for a swap over on craftster. By the time I'd finished them, I was in love with them. It was very difficult to part with the towels. I still want another set for myself.
Here are all three together (pics courtesy of my lovely swap partner, Slingmomma, because I forgot to take pics before I mailed -- a common problem of mine), plus a knitted flower. She said that she liked bright colorful patterns and loved flowers. So do I!

This one is my favorite. I love the way the flowers turned out. I used a combination of stitches - laisy daisy, satin stitch, chain stitch, backstitch, and stem stitch. The variety of stitches created a very nice texture.

The second tea towel is actually the first one I embroidered in the series. I think it's ok, but not great. I like the middle flower, especially the way I filled in the center with a sort of overlapping of stitches to create a textured basketweave effect. I'm not sure about the four outlying flowers. The main reason each on is different is that I didn't really like the way the first one turned out, so I decided to experiment with them rather than rip and re-stitch. If I did it over again, I'd make the four flowers the same and either use the upper left of bottom right flower as a guide.
The third tea towel was completed in no time because I used backstitch and long, straight stitches. I really like the clean look of the lines and the effect of using these two very simple stitches.

Now, I'm onto another set of tea towels for yet another crafter swap. I'll be keeping plans for these under wraps for a while -- just in case my swap partner wanders over here -- but look forward to sharing in the near future.