Last Friday*, we met with family at Natural Bridge Park. It's a beautiful place. It was a hot day, and not much of a breeze, but a whole lot of shade. We had a picnic, and there was much playing in the creek:
Lots of moss, ferns, huge rocks and pretty roots:
Varieties of mushrooms I've never seen before (and you know how I love mushrooms):
And of course, the "natural bridge." It's so huge, the photos can't do it justice. If you have the chance to come and see it for yourself, it's well worth the $2.50 to get in. And be sure to bring a picnic lunch and swimsuits. :)
*Oops! I have my days mixed up - it was Saturday!!
Last year, my poor muscadine vines hardly produced anything. But this year, they seem to be making up for it - the vines hang thick with little clusters like these! Even the vines I feared I lost when we removed some trees from the front yard seem to have survived by spreading elsewhere. They must know how much I love muscadine jelly. :)
Since they grow wild out in the trees, briars and poison oak, I'll have to don the boots, long sleeves and jeans to hunt them down (and try to get to them before the birds). But it's worth it.
One nice thing about this little break is that I have more time to make birthday gifts for our little friends! This one is made by Bit of Whimsy's Peter Puppy pattern (say THAT five times fast!) And every 6 months or so I run across a fabric and wish I had a magical unending bolt; that retro floral with the green background is my favorite of the moment. It came as a 2-yard cut from Wal-Mart - only 2 yards, I tell you!!
And remember our new kitten, Frodo? He's coming along nicely. At first, he would pounce upon and pick fights with Bilbo, but he seems to be easing off of that just a little bit. And yesterday we were noticing how he's grown in just two weeks' time. The cutest thing to me, though, is that he is becoming a "sewing cat." It's annoying when he wants to play with the fabric I'm working with, but adorable when he curls up on my perpetual piles of fabric and patterns and takes a nap.
If you've looked at my blog lately, you may have noticed the lack of an Etsy widget on my sidebar. You may have even suspected the reason for that. Yes, I'm taking another break from selling; but this time, it will be far longer than the one last year.
I've thought about making a change for some time. The products I have offered of late, while enjoyable to make, are not all that profitable. They are also not much of a challenge, which makes me feel I am not putting my skills to their best use. I've thought of changing to more unique, time consuming, and inspired (read: more expensive) products. That would require a big push for marketing.
As I braced for that big push, though, I thought for a minute: My baby is about to start kindergarten, and schooling a younger student takes much more time from the teacher than one Lizi's age. I live in a 2 1/2 year old house that has never had any "real" decorating done to it, just finishing out the basement. And we want to get it reappraised soon, so that we can maybe get some better financing options; we need to do some work before that can happen. I also thought of several other things coming up, piddling little things, but that need to be done and do take a certain amount of time. And besides that, it's hard enough to keep up with the normal chores and responsibilities, without any extra stuff.
It was at that moment that I realized I had to take a break. It was not possible for me to do what I really wanted to do with my business, and take care of my family as well. I would be lying if I said I don't already hear that siren song trying to lure me back; it's enough to make me question whether I'm doing the right thing. But I trust that if I err on the side of taking care of my family, then God will bless it when I do go back to it in a couple of years.
I'm glad I've done the selling thing for as long as I have. I know a lot more about how to proceed now, because I tend to learn only by doing. And I know from experience why my house, literally and figuratively, needs to be in order before I go on; I've felt the stress of it not being in order. So here I go. Stay tuned - some of the upcoming projects could be interesting!
When I woke up last Thursday, I commenced with all the usual preparations for a homeschool play day: get everyone up and ready so we won't be late, scramble to come up with something to bring for the potluck lunch, make sure the girls have the right clothes to wear and toys and games to bring. I can tell you one thing, it never entered my mind that I might come home with a kitten.
On the way to the play day, our homeschool group coordinator spotted a kitten in the parking lot at Dollar General. He had apparently been dumped there a few days before. She was unwilling to let the poor thing perish there, so she went to great effort to get him from behind the ice machine outside the store. She took him home and bathed him, and brought him back to the play day. The whole group loves animals, but no one could take on another pet. I don't really know how it happened; he was just so tiny and scared and utterly alone… and before I knew it, he was in the car on the way to our house. I guess I thought, "Well, what's one more??"
Bilbo really didn't expect us to be coming home with a kitten, either. But he has been fairly gracious, and has taken on the task of teaching this young upstart some manners. Maybe someday he'll forgive us.
Since we already have a Bilbo, it was obvious that this one's name should be Frodo. But he's not ready to be 'Bearer of the Ring of Power' anytime soon. He's more like 'Biter of Fingers and Toes' or 'Chaser of Strings' or 'Pouncer of… Everything that Moves.' But he is a sweet one, and is adjusting to life here well, as we are adjusting to him.
After Chad's weight loss, many of his suits were too big. Besides that, he just doesn't wear suits as often these days. But this weekend, he is doing a wedding, and needed to buy a good black suit. Since that's what I do, I normally do his alterations myself. It's been a while, so I take longer to do it than when I did this sort of thing every day. But I enjoy it.
While working on his suit, I thought back to jobs I've held and people I've worked with, and for. One of the first was Ruby, the head of the alterations department when I first went to work for Rogers Department Store. That was twenty-plus years ago, and often a customer would question my sewing ability based merely on my age. Mrs. Ruby would come to my defense like a mother hen. And among the highest compliments I've ever received were the times when I would show Mrs. Ruby a particularly challenging completed project, and she would say "You did a bang-up job on that!" (For those of you not from the South, allow me to translate: "You did a great job!")
I also thought of Melanie; she was one of the first people I met when we moved to Florida. We waited patiently, planned, plotted, and maybe even schemed a little, until the day came that I could come to work at her bridal shop. She was always so helpful, not just as an employer but as a friend. That was the last full time job I held, before Lizi was born.
And so many others; from some, I learned what to do, from some I learned what not to do.
I suppose my age has caught up to my ability, as I rarely get a sideways glance anymore when people learn I do sewing and alterations. And I don't miss having to dress up and punch a clock every day. But even though full-time mothering has its own rewards, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, sometimes an actual paycheck that I earned myself would be nice.
Lizi and I got behind on our homeschool work this year. Very, very behind. Drastically, catastrophically behind. (Too many field trips and fun extracurricular stuff, and not enough actual school time.) But with a lot of hard work, we are finished, one day before the deadline for grades! And all A's, as usual. Let the summer begin!
And by the way, it's totally freaking me out that when I pick up that red pencil for grading papers again, I will have TWO students! Yes, my baby starts kindergarten this fall. :)
If only the internet could convey taste and smell! These guys are HUGE. I've had a little trouble with birds getting after the berry bushes and vines, but I very hastily put a wind chime out there the other day and that seems to be doing the trick.
Blackberries love rain, but unfortunately outdoor craft sales do not. We set up under Trowbridge's graciously loaned awning Friday night. I sold a little, but there wasn't much of a crowd because of the weather. Oh well.
But congratulations to Amy, whose baby boy was born Wednesday evening! Feel free to hop over and visit her blog - I'd bet she will have some photos up as soon as she's able!
After much deliberation (okay, not really, I was just packing for First Friday and thought of it) I have decided to make my hats, dolls, and bunnies $5 off tomorrow night. I've never discounted any of my stuff before, so we'll see how this goes!
So come on down to First Friday tomorrow night from 5-9 and pick up a discounted hat and doll! Get 'em while they're hot! (This is Alabama; it will most likely be hot.)
So for my First Fridays booth, I've had these white styrofoam heads to display a few hats. Daddy made stands for them. I've felt, though, that they were unfinished. So on a whim the other day, I decoupaged them with some bright-colored tissue paper. I thought it would be interesting, the way the color gets deeper where it overlaps or wrinkles.
I did the green one first, and after a few pieces of paper, it started to look like bandages. Poor girl. Then Chad came by, and said it looked like some sort of mutant, and we had a good laugh at the poor girl's expense.
So what do you think? Bright, attention-getting display item? Or mutant… accident victim… heads… on pikes?