Cardboard Mobile

The best thing about living in a new city is that, around any corner, you might happen upon something new and inspiring. A few days ago, while out on one of our double stroller walks through the new neighborhood, we happened upon an art gallery. My four-year-old, Jho,and I peeked in the window and found ourselves intrigued with the display of box art. We ventured inside after reassuring the gallery owner that my son could keep his hands off the art. I’m constantly shocked at how interested he is in looking at and talking about art when he is often impatient with making it himself. He was particularly obsessed with a simple mobile. It was made of small rectangular pieces of wood strung intermittently down a white string.

I had taken him inside with the intention that we would go home and make our own art box (we might still), but he was so interested in the mobile that I decided to help him make his own mobile first and you should make one, too! They came out really pretty and the only materials needed are cardboard, string, scissors, and a hole puncher/awl of any kind.

We had no shortage of boxes or cardboard after the big move, so I decided cardboard would be used instead of wood. We started by cutting different sized cardboard rectangles from long strips of cardboard I had already prepared for him. He decided where to make the cuts. Then I asked if he wanted the cardboard to be painted or plain like the wood mobile we saw. He decided to paint his cardboard pieces blue and green (his favorite colors).

I set him up with a sponge brush and blue and green acrylic paint. We painted both sides and let those dry.

Then I introduced him to my awl tool and he helped me carefully poke a hole through the middle of each cardboard piece. Then I showed him how to thread a big, blunt tapestry needle with white ribbon and he learned to poke the needle through the holes.

I helped him tie knots above and below each cardboard piece so they would hang a few inches from each other and knotted a loop on the top for hanging.

I was actually really pleasantly surprised at the result and could imagine making lots of these in all different colors for beautiful party decorations.

We moved just after Jho had started a preschool program in Orlando and I have been feeling so guilty about his lack of structured, fun things to do with other kids. I’m trying to have fun projects and outings ready for him until I can figure out a school (or not?) for him. We live right next to a children’s art museum and, on their website, I found this really cute Fall project to do next.

It’s the perfect project for this week because we just discovered this beautiful section of town called Preservation Park surrounded with trees like these. I love our new neighborhood!


Journals and Spaces

Every home should have a magical spot that makes you happy. My first big, scary move was from a cushy Florida townhouse into a drafty Chicago apartment with creaky, cold wood floors, a gas oven I was afraid to light, and rats outside. Strangely, the bathroom in that Wicker Park apartment  had glass squares in the window and, during the day, the squares created beautiful rainbows all over the bathroom walls that kept me smiling through the long winter.

The Chicago season changes and the big-city experience was so inspiring to me that I felt the constant need to write. I wrote every single day. Things like this:

The moon appeared just over the rooves on Thomas Street
as I stepped on a discarded candy wrapper.
It was a red wrapper that once held a strawberry
hard candy, the kind with the soft fruit filling.
Feeling hungry I reached right up into the sky,
grabbed that moon, and popped it into my mouth,
rolling it over and under my tongue until it burst
like an ancient star, like a plump green grape.

And this:

How can I speak plainly
when metaphor is involved?
Is the snow like ash falling from a sky
that is burnt and crumbling or is the snow just
Which is more plain to you?
I can be neither ash nor snow.
I am not an allusion to anyone in the past
nor am I symbolic of anything to come.
You can make me what you want to make me,
but remember your creation later.

And this:

The train takes deep, tired breaths at each stop. It inhales me.
I float inside its long skinny lung- reading, watching, and biding my time.
When it exhales, five stops up, I tumble out. The wind and the crowd carry me away.

When I moved back to Florida, one of the two  bathtubs was my magical place. The bathtub was huge and I had a bamboo shower curtain that made me feel like I was sitting in a bamboo forest every time I took a candlelit bath. The bathroom also smelled of Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Aromatherapy soap.

I found Florida a little depressing after being in Chicago. At that time in my life, Florida was too familiar and suburban to feel inspired by my surroundings. Instead, I started learning how to make things to keep me inspired. I made books, cards, and paper. I learned to make gelato.  I played around with watercolors. I learned amigurumi.

Now I’m transitioning again and I’ve discovered the magical space in my new Oakland townhouse. It’s a place for creating and observing. A place for enjoying light and nature and the city. A place to make things with my children. Yesterday we broke in the new space with play doh and watercolor journaling.

Maybe, instead of writing, I might try to paint and photograph the things that inspire me here in California. Here’s my first two watercolor journaling attempts:

My son has started his own journal and I’m using a watercolor Moleskine journal I started back in Florida. I think these journals will help us both pay closer attention to the things we do and experience and see every day. He’s going to share his journal entries with his grandparents on Skype. Maybe I’ll share some of my more successful journal entries here!

I’m also getting my Happy Handmade studio space together so I can start my first set of  amigurumi orders I just received at my new headquarters. 😉

Magical spaces and a few organized ones….feels good.

Do you have a magical space in your place?

Happy Handmade in San Francisco!

Hiya, folks! I have been absent for a while! In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been away from the blog because Happy Handmade Headquarters has moved across the country, from Central Florida to San Francisco! My husband, who was a real hero during this move, just left for his third day at Double Fine Productions (I’m so proud!) It’s a dream job for him and this is a dream city for us and…here we are! At times I’ve felt like I’ve been dreaming (though, a lot of the move has felt a bit more like a nightmare) and I have certainly been sleepy through it all as I haven’t had a really great night’s sleep in a couple months.

I can finally, finally sigh a huge sigh of relief that we are here, we are getting settled and, as long as my dog’s barking doesn’t get us kicked out, we should be able to stay put for a while. My craft area is a shambles. My Etsy site is nearly empty. I almost forgot my pattern for my Happy Handmade Heart! It will take a little while for me to regroup and rebuild, but, in the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun as I draw energy and inspiration from my new surroundings and make this Oakland townhouse a home.

There are way too many amazing people in our lives to thank for all the love, kindness, and, at times, forgiveness, we have been shown during this whole, tumultuous process. I am full of gratitude to you all. I didn’t know how heart-breaking some of this was going to feel or how stressful this move was going to be. I couldn’t have made it through all this without you (you know who you are).

I really have peace about this move, though, because everything truly fell into place. People appeared just when we needed them. Homes and jobs became available simultaneously. And our new landlord, mercifully, loves dogs and will give us time to work with this new citronella barking collar. 😉

I could go on and on about what the past couple months have been like and I could share a million pictures, but I think it might be better to look forward rather than back. The goodbyes (see ya laters) were hard for me and I think I better not relive them yet. Plus, there’s a lot of darn work to do around here, so I’ll just leave you with a few pictures, pictures that help me know that this place is going to be Happy, too, and crocheted critters will soon fill these empty shelves. Man, this is a beautiful country. I can’t wait to explore a new part of it.

Yep, it’s good to be back.