Friday, July 31, 2009

Good news, bad news...

One of those freaky Fridays here at this house! Spent a lot of time hurrying up to wait. By the end of the day, the good news is that Patrick now has a new car! The bad news is that the car is at my uncle's dealership in Charlotte, N.C. Good news is we get to take a 'clunker' ride down with Auntie Peggy to Charlotte where we get to visit the cousins we haven't seen for 5-6 years and pick up two new Escapes. The bad news is that means we are having to cancel our MoGuate weekend, where we were going to get to see our New Orleans' friends and 30 other families with children adopted from Guatemala at Tan-Tar-A Resort:( I'm so proud of the imaginations my girls are nurturing!! Today it was Julia's turn to give me cause to run for the camera... two scraps of material from the salt mine, an empty plastic container, and two paint brushes are all this girl needed to be her own parade! She not so subtly suggested that I should look into 'drum lessons'. Yeah, right, as if!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Special Order for a Special Girl!

This Saturday is the THIRD birthday for my honorary grand baby Olivia in New Orleans. Can't let this feisty little lady celebrate at her favorite rat themed emporium without a super special birthday outfit so Miss V here it is....... the post office says it WILL be in your P.O. box by 3pm on Friday. Hope she loves her Chuck E. birthday top and eats extra cake just for me!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Smacked down!

Amazing how just as you start to throw down shots and sing karioke at your own pity party that the 'big guy' steps in to shut the party down cold!! If you noticed the button to the right----------> It sends you to find out how little Abby is doing and after reading today's post you will find that my life is beyond blessed!!! Abby is another precious gift from Guatemala who is in a titanic battle with leukemia. She's a pure fighter. Please join me in praying that she has the fight left in her for the current crisis!! Off to put away the Jose Cuervo.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In the groove!

My Diva and I seem to directly affect each other's creativity! The longer she's out of school and the more I sew the'artistic' she gets. Her imagination is lithe and fluid and I cannot even count the number of 'books' she has written on my computer. If she could only get over her profound inhibition and performance anxiety I'm sure she could be the next Lucille Ball!!! How can you not chuckle at this vision of loveliness? The 'story' jumped back and forth between a pregnant tourist and a fat old lady....wonder if I should read anything into those characters?? So with a smile and a laugh I headed back into the salt mine and have the following ready to go on eBay tomorrow.
2T Disney Halloween set...asking $25. Disney themes are good movers on eBay so I'm doing one of these on a regular basis for sure funds but am really more attracted to....
these little knot jumpers!!! This 2T is done in vintage quilter's cottons and would be perfect for back-to-school with it's crows and sunflower motifs.
I like to play around with the patterns to see if one look 'moves' better than others. On this one I tried a full bodice back with contrasting straps.
This 3T version is done in sweet paper dolls vintage prints. Also asking $25 for this jumper which is so girly!
This one has the shorter yoke back but I've put extra long straps because I've been thinking that the 'traditional' knot style must result in incessant strap pops on active little ladies! The longer straps allows you to loop it back up and create a knot which holds the yoke in it's grip!! Input always welcome!!!!
Alyssa hung out with me today which means I had someone to do a bunch of serging! Means I should have a bunch more things to post on eBay soon!

Friday, July 24, 2009


All I have to say is this was one crazy week!! Not that I'm predicting any improvement for next week but one can dream, right? Spent FOUR hours at the ER with my Mom yesterday. More falls leading to more x-rays and unbelievably she has managed to escape with only deep bruises. Did learn a quirky new fact! Some marketing genius has developed a service where digital radiographs taken during the night shift here in the U.S. are read by a radiologist in Australia. Vice versa for x-rays taken on the night shift in Australia being read by an American radiologist. An ingenious way to reduce premium priced bonuses for calling a radiologist in on midnight shifts!!!! BTW, she is now being forced to use the new dining room as a bed room because us evil children erected a gate across the stairs which she cannot get open....sound familiar to the tot moms out there????? One smile from today...... All I can say is that at least I'm getting my money's worth out of that wig!! In trying to channel my rage at my NON-COMPLIANT Mother's antics I vented in the salt mine with pictures of a few of the creations posted for your pre-eBay viewing pleasure. If any of my readers would like to save me the eBay fees by buying direct feel free to shoot an e-mail to muingapat at sbcglobal dot net (sorry but I get too much spam already so substitute the appropriate signs where named!) I won't be listing these until tomorrow at which time you can find them with my eBay ID of drsilk1.
Size 7/8 Dumbo print knot style jumper perfect for the back to school crowd. I'm asking $15.
Size 7 two piece Halloween outfit done with a 'hidden' Mickey print and the iconic polka dots. The two back pockets are covered in the orange and polka dot prints and the shoulder tie ribbons have been heat sealed. Can separate into two outfits for the price of one by adding a tee to the jean capris or leggings to the pillowcase style top. Asking $25.
While this 2t-4t pillowcase dress 'might' be 'spoken for' I would tell anyone with any interest that I can make this style in any number of character prints! I have two cute Dora the Explorer prints that would just love to find that special little girl to grace. Asking $12 for this style.
See what I mean!! Another 2t-4t pillowcase style done in Julia's all time favorite character. The reason for the range is because the elastic stretches to fit that whole range of chest sizes and can be either a dress for the little ones or a top for the big ones. Oh I have some Scooby-Doo prints as well as some Halloween and Christmas prints that would work in this style as well!!!
Playing with some Dia del Muerte fabric to see if tot Moms will let their little ones wear skeletons! This outfit is done in a 2t-3t size and I can adjust the straps to a custom length before mailing it out. Asking $18 for the set.
The Dia del Muerte fabric done in a style for the school age crowd. This is one of the EUC denim skirts that Rhonda generously donated to my fundraising efforts to which I added the ruffle, belt, and covered the back pockets with the two prints. This outfit is done in a size 5 and I'm asking $25.
More of the 'hidden' Mickey print used in this size 4 Halloween set! This time I used a EUC pair of Old Navy khakis to which I added the appliques and ruffles. I'm asking $25 for this set as well.
Sent the money off to Guatemala for the food baskets!! Nice to know that Dona Josefa and Don Manuel will have enough food to keep their household fed until Christmas!! Now I'm starting on earning the funds for the Christmas Eve tamale fixings ...and the money to hire a local woman to make them! Dona Josefa has been so poor all of her life that she NEVER had the money to make the traditional holiday meal and therefore never learned how to make the special tamales! She told the shop owner that they were always one of the families that had to go door to door begging for a midnight tamale...and to think that was Mari's destiny if choices had been different!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Dear readers and/or friends, No explanation is needed for my family members because they have been and continue to be our rock upon which we are leaning so this short post is directed to the rest of you. For a long while I have been working at keeping this blog an upbeat place where you can come on a regular basis to keep in touch with me and my family. There is going to be quite some periods of time in the next couple of weeks and months when I may be unnaturally quiet...a feat as only those who know me would verify! Five years ago Patrick lost one of his younger brothers to a sudden, massive heart attack. In the midst of his grief, Patrick suffered back to back blows of a severe work place injury requiring surgery and many months of physical therapy followed by a diagnosis of cancer. Now,and for the past year, he has had to watch his older brother fade and fail from colon cancer. Today he went for his weekly visit to find the family just returned from buying the grave. There is great comfort in their numbers as the other siblings gather round to support each other in these precious last days but my man is sleeping less and walking slower than usual....his aching heart weighs very heavy right now. Pardon my French but the timing sucks!! You see, just as Patrick could use every ounce of my support, I'm trying to navigate down a similar path. Today my sisters and I cleaned out my Mother's dining room and turned it into what will probably be her last bedroom. She has been fighting us tooth and nail for a couple of years now to remain in her second floor nest because it had become a point of pride for her that at her age she could still climb stairs. For more months than any of us really want to admit, she has barely been able to make it to the top and that was with several stops along the way to rest! Her strength has faded at an alarming rate of late. Every one of us has had several calls a piece to come and lift her from the floor where she had 'sat down to rest' but this past Monday evening into Tuesday morning she had six falls in less than twelve hours and one of them was a serious tumble all the way down the staircase from the second floor. Her guardian angel must have really been alert as she is only bruised! I've had a healthy case of the Catholic guilt of late since I alternate between being darn angry at her petulant, stubborn refusal to do anything to improve her health and/or strength and being panicky that this is my last bit of time with my mother and I should be cherishing her...not chiding her..... So tonight as my aching back tries to support my aching heart I ask for my friends to understand when the period between posts is great or the mood of the post is not so great. Don't worry for us as we both have big, strong families that bind and it will only be a matter of time before we march out the other side of this dark valley. I'd just like to know I can look forward to seeing some of your virtual smiling faces on the other side!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sugar & Spice from the Salt Mine!

Today had one of those convergence moments! One of my fellow Guatemom's, Marlene, had asked me to sew a little jumper for her little princess. Not only did she help me raise funds for the food baskets with her order but she had purchased more yardage than needed and DONATED it so I can make another to raise even MORE money!!!! So after getting the thumbs up from her on the finished product I bagged it and went online to get her address and what do I find???? The little shop which provides the baskets had sent me an e-mail to inform me that there was only enough funds left for ONE more basket delivery!! So THANK YOU Rhonda, Vanessa, Marlene, Lori, and Gina for your recent purchases which mean I have enough money to give at least another FOUR months of food to Mari's birth family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, Blogger has photo poltergeist!!! I had up loaded a front shot as well as this side view but now it has mysteriously disappeared?!?! Any how, I think you can get the idea. It's a little knot style jumper done in vintage style prints just perfect for back-to-school.
Have a bunch more outfits underway that I will be listing on eBay by week's end.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Our 'Staycation'!

Not unlike a lot of Americans, the current economy has affected our lifestyle of late! While we both seem to be 'safely' employed the workplaces are operating on bare minimum including hours/overtime. The genius billionaires on Wall Street have successfully squandered a good portion of our investments while the local medical professionals rightfully are collecting a chunk of each paycheck for the services rendered in Patrick's cancer treatment and Julia's asthma/allergy/tonsillectomy event. Bambi didn't exactly change our financial status for the better either! So being the responsible adults, that the financial industry seems to be devoid of, we are cutting out the big luxuries from our past life style. In, what I'm told is a growing trend, we are spending our holidays being tourists in our own backyard! The hip new name for this is a 'staycation'!! I cannot tell you how many people upon hearing that Patrick is from Ireland will ask him (or tell him) about their favorite tourist destination on that gorgeous island. Often he smiles pleasantly and politely makes a non-committal response because it's highly likely he has NEVER been to the spot of which they gush. Come on, really folks! Besides being too poor to do anything but work the farm, it's his homeland not a vacation location. As a native Chicagoan, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've been to the top of the Sears Tower....oh yeah, they renamed it didn't they?!?!? In the nearly half century that I have tramped around the city this past Palm Sunday was the first time I had ever been to Chinatown!! Auntie Peggy admitted the same thing recently so when she spotted the Dragon Festival listed on the schedule for today she 'booked' us on today's staycation! At 9am we were up, dressed, and waiting on the train platform for the ride from suburbia into THE if there are any others?!?! I do not know how the economy has not ended the practice but during the summer children ride for FREE! If you are ever coming to Chicago please do consider using the public transportation options we have to offer. The parking downtown is limited and therefore EXPENSIVE...not even taking into account the congested streets you must navigate. Not only do we have commuter trains, the El (city train system), and buses but the summer brings out the WATER TAXIS!!
Chicago has a high tech engineered river connecting the lake to the inland waterways. Our river is the only river that goes opposite to the 'continental divide' rule you learned in school!! Since we lie to the east of the continental divide our river should by right travel eastbound INTO the lake. For a multitude of reasons it was deemed necessary to reverse the flow and generations later we reap the benefits.
You have no doubt as the water taxi pulls up to this stop as to where you have arrived! Only a short two block walk later and you enter the heart of Chinatown!
How fitting that we entered through the DRAGON's gate!!
We admired the unique architecture and.....
quenched our thirst in a stereotypical city fashion...the local fire station had opened this 'fountain' from a fire hydrant!!
Checked out the local fire house with their multilingual markings.....
and learned about cultural customs! This shrine in the business's vestibule featured an orange, a cup of tea, and burning incense for good fortune.
Walked around a park with the Chinese zodiac signs presented on statues with plaques describing the sign's traits. Auntie Peggy and Mari discovered they shared the sign of the Bull....which described Auntie Peggy to a tee but was not at all Mari...hmmm wonder if her December birth date was accurate...maybe they were off a month or two??
This woman was writing your name out in Chinese calligraphy for a donation to help rebuild their recently burned church. Not only does she share Mari's first name but a face as well!!! People used to always comment that they thought Mari looked more like she came from China than Guatemala when she was a toddler!!! Hmmmm......
My chef in training had a blast 'training her palate'!! Here she was getting a taste of a dried scallop which she loved. She also tasted candied ginger which got a thumbs down but it was followed by some yummy dried mango. We couldn't bring ourselves to try the $80/lb deer antler or the $90/lb dried seahorses...even if the sample was free!!!!
Our travel companions couldn't wait to put their souvenirs to use!!
We were front and center when the Dragon Parade came down the street...
and my princess joined the royal court for a Kodak moment!
Auntie Peggy put her many years of travel savvy to the test and sure enough landed us a 'to die for' lunch!! Always look for the place with the most locals sitting at their table and you are sure to get the best tasting meal for the most reasonable price!!
So since the locals had filled the tables we took our 'to go' and ate al fresco. Could have hoped for a more appetising back drop but the Beef Fried Rice and Sesame Chicken drew crowds of passerbys asking where we had gotten such wonderfully authentic fare. The festival tents were pretty limited to egg rolls and beef on a stick so many were hoping to find more filling plates of food in one of the countless restaurants located in Chinatown.
A fantastically racially diverse crowd joined us in admiring the traditional architecture with the city skyline as a back drop!! We walked, and walked, and walked all over the neighborhood and this is what the gentle rocking of the water taxi on our return did to the little travelers....
There are still a few more weekends left to our summer vacation and we are determined to 'book' at least one more staycation in this fabulous city located in our own backyard!!

This and that...

I'll start with my weather whine first to get it out of the way!! As I sit here typing this on this JULY morning it is not yet SIXTY degrees!!! The forecast projects that MAYBE we will hit the seventies today. Might even make it all the way to a whopping 72!!! Our summer has been very spring-like. A day here or there will shoot up into the high 80's or 90's but plummet right back down to the 60's. The pool pass will not give us our money's worth this summer. Small indication from Mother Nature on how the growing season is progressing. July 19th and this is all we have to show in the way of a cucumber! On the positive note, the vine is LOADED with these little fingerling's so maybe, oh maybe we will have fresh cucumbers in SEPTEMBER! Had a graduation party to attend yesterday. The weather was dicey but they lucked out in the end as no significant rain fell during the gathering.
As it was for one of my more distant cousins, the guys all opted to stay home to watch the British Open leaving the honors to us girls. You would be right to note that on JULY 18th the girls were wearing SWEATSHIRTS!!! Sigh....
As usual, the trampoline was a big hit! The body limit led to a LOT of impatient waiting especially when one's BFF/Cousin was on the trampoline when you were not.
Do you thing the boys are getting the hint from the girls?
This party was hosted by the Mexican branch of the family and they take their pinata preparations VERY seriously. Here Julia's blindfold is being checked from every angle!
Just out of sight in this picture but sort of in the next picture you can see what I mean by how seriously they take the pinata part of a party...a PERMANENTLY installed pulley and rope system is not found on every real estate listing sheet now is it?
You'd think these kids never saw sweets before with the way both big and small dove for the candy!
One little one found a new use for one of the arms of the pinata that had been whacked off.....
while another one used it to maximize her candy haul!!! As if the heavily iced cake had not been enough sugar for these guys???
Today we are off on one of our periodic "City Adventures" as Auntie Peggy calls the trips into Chicago. We both feel very strongly that our pampered suburbanite princesses need to develop a comfort in using public transportation and a sense of what the city has to offer. If I have any energy when we get home tonight I'll show you how we fared at the Dragon Fair!!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

What deadline?

Must have gotten up on the right side of the bed today!! Okay, so I haven't yet made it to bed but the sentiment is still the same. The cosmic alignment or whatever was needed to make today possible blessed me today! Not only am I sitting here typing this post at 8pm with a completed costume (they are running late for once instead of me!) I have also supervised two showers, a trip to Target for a birthday gift, dropped two girls off at the birthday party, dropped Patrick off at work, gassed the lead sled, made a trip to the local dance supply store for last minute rhinestones, and picked up the Chinese dinner I am now savoring as I type. I picked up a MegaMillions lottery ticket in the hopes that today's good karma might possibly extend to that too!!! As soon as they pick it up I only have to go pick Patrick back up from work...easy peasy lemon squeezy! Since I cannot bend my mannequin to mimic her scoliosis it does look rippled and crooked in this shot but lays great on the real live body. I have not yet invested in the digital embroidery machine so all of the design work is done freehand on my industrial satin stitch machine. The dress is actually two separate pieces! The top has a parka zipper in back which allows it to be removed between dances giving the dancer a chance to cool down. The skirt is hung on a tank style bodice.
Back shot! Funny how the four gross of rhinestones didn't seem to pick up my flash...really sparkles in person.
Ahhhh, a few minutes to actually taste my dinner before hitting the road.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

So who's the slap happy one????

So you've read my tale of what life in our house is like while I'm in the midst of one of my crazy costume deadlines. My girls have been lucky this time to have had a couple of play date and sleepover invitations to break up the 'monotony' of their Mommyless days. Today, however, Mari let her true self show.... This would actually be get-up number two since I was 'pinned' down during #1's period I missed getting a picture. Sorry to say to the folks with fashionista toddlers who love to change clothes hundreds of times a day but not all of them will out grow it!! This summer marked the beginning of Mari's assignment to laundry room duty in the hopes it will cause her to rethink the multiple outfit changes per day!!
Yes, yet another new look! This child has always had a fascination with wigs. Come to think of it she's always had a sizable obsession with her hair period! Someday I must do a post showing her many phases of hair-do's!
As I sit here trying to gather enough energy AND interest to get back into the salt mine I thought I'd give you a little hint of what I've been working on this past week.
I MUST have this pile of red velvet and gold sequins assembled and 'stoned' (how we refer to the process of gluing down rhinestones) by 8pm tomorrow night!!! No back up plan possible as she hits the road for a double header of competitions this weekend at that time...and we can no longer zipper her old dress! Darn those 13 year olds and their propensity to mature....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Big B, little b, what begins with B?

Busy, babies, Bambi! B! B! B! So why am I suddenly acting like Dr. Seuss? Slap happy plain and simple..... Neck deep in sequins and velvet trying to meet a dancing costume deadline that HAS TO BE MET but clearly too little time left to meet it and still get regular sleep or meals. The stress level was already reaching critical when Bambi decided to slam into Patrick's front seat. So yes, I will admit to a 'meltdown' and might even go so far as to call it a dramatic over-reaction. I have NO TIME to sit on hold with insurance companies and, even though I have no pressing engagements, I'm feeling stranded without my van (which Patrick has at work)! Then there's the stinking reality that we need to go car shopping. Not that the sedan was totalled. Far from it but it is 14 years old with a long list of this was probably the nail in it's coffin! I'm sure I can push that off until after the dress is delivered but Patrick will be on my case every minute until he gets WHEELS, sigh. Could have used every minute of this past weekend to sew but duty called elsewhere.... New little cousin Gavin celebrated his baptism on Saturday! Finally another boy!!! We are extremely over-populated with little girls in our family and the boys were very happy to get another player on their team. Beautiful weather for the outdoor party and the well HEATED POOL kept my ladies entertained for hours upon hours....leaving me time to sit and visit with my family.
Deirdre and Julia loved showing off the Disney character outfits I made to all the Aunts! Julia resisted the halter at first...thought it was too 'girly' but quickly realized how comfortable it was especially on a warm day :) Can you believe how much bigger the Guatemalan born lady is compared to her American born cousin?!?!? Poor Deirdre is looking like she is going to be joining Alyssa in the 'fun sized' category.
Even though we would have loved a good sleep in on Sunday, we had to be up bright and early to make sure we had time to travel up to ANOTHER baptism!!
This one was more of a dressy affair! That's Patrick's sister, Aunt Margaret, in the back ground which would rightly lead you to guess that this one was in his family. Patrick was where in this picture??? Yep, I got to represent our family at HIS family's celebration because he had to work on Sunday. It's really not as bad as that sounds though! You see, this baby is the 8th grandchild for my brother-in-law and his wife....Auntie Agnes....the one who introduced me to Patrick! I was family before I was family!!!
Little Sophia Rose with her mother, the 'big' Deirdre, and her grandma, Auntie Agnes.
My two ladies waiting patiently for baby Sophia to wake up so they could have their chance to hold her. The calm, serene baby had hollered her head off the whole ceremony giving those of us sitting in the pews a big smile. Take a good look because I cannot even begin to guess when you'll ever see Julia in another dress :)!!!
So, think I've been procrastinating long enough? I just hate the 'night shift' in the salt mine so you'd think I'd learn not to let deadlines get so out of hand???