artsy fartsy,  Family Matters,  illos

O and P

O is for Octopus

O is for Octopus of course.

I’m sort of fizzling out on my excitement over the alphabet cards. You probably guessed that already since I’ve gone from daily to weekly updates. But don’t worry. I am not giving up. I know I’ll get into it again.

In fact, I am percolating on several ideas for them. Like… selling them on Etsy in a square format for framing! And… for a small price, making them customizable. So if you want to spell out your baby’s name but you want the background to be blue or purple or pea green… you can do that. How fun would that be? Fun.

Fun that probably won’t happen right away but is somewhere off in the distance with all those other fun projects I plan on doing someday. This is why I am not afraid of getting old. Because I have lots and lots of projects of fun planned for myself. Let’s just hope my hands and eyes don’t give out on me before I’m ready for them to.

That reminds me of something. This last weekend I spent a few days out in the sticks helping my mom clean out her sewing room. It was a project and a half and unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay until it was completed which is a really bad thing. It’s not cool to leave your mom with her house turned upside down. Especially when your mom is a pack rat and would rather squirrel everything away in a closet than deal with it. The whole thing was very emotional for her. I knew it would be. I’ve watched those clean house shows thousands of times because I am so impacted by this in my own real life.

Giving up clutter is more than just getting rid of stuff. It is giving up memories and dreams. It is changing your ideas about what things were meant for. For example: my mom had this great big box full of patterns. Cross stitch patterns, embroidery patterns, crocheting patterns… Books and books of them all wedged in a box so tightly, you could barely get one out.

She collected them when she used to work at House of Fabrics. When the patterns went on sale she would spend her paycheck on them, dreaming of days that she and my dad would retire and sit around doing crossword puzzles (this was before sodoku was invented) and counted cross stitch. What my mom didn’t count on was that she would get arthritis in her fingers and simple things, like even turning pages in a magazine, would become painful.

This great big box of patterns, that she so lovingly squirreled away, was now completely useless. I could see the tears well up in her eyes as she pulled out a pattern for purple pansies, her favorite flower. It’s just not fair. You save and save and then when the time comes, your eyes don’t work anymore without squinting and holding things at arms length and then if you can see okay, your fingers are stiff and knotted. Getting old hurts.

So we convinced my mom to throw out the box and focus on projects that she could do. It’s not like there is a shortage. My mom’s whole sewing room is packed with projects that she couldn’t finish even if she did one project a day for the next twenty years. But what can I say…. I come by my optimism and craftiness naturally. It runs in the family.

P is for Pumpkin

But enough about that! We have another letter to introduce… The letter P! P is for pumpkin. I hate to be seasonal and I like to think that pumpkins are special any time of year but Baby Bug loves pumpkins so much it would be a shame not to do Pumpkin for the letter P. So pumpkin it is and someday, if I ever get around to it, maybe I’ll do another version with platypus or panda.

Get your letters here. Oh no! You missed the free letter download. Stay tuned. They will be released again for sale in my shop.


  • Sara

    Your mom’s story is so heartbreaking! It must have really jaded her perspective on the world. Has she managed to find other creative outlets that don’t involve small finger work?

    You could probably easily find new homes for the patterns on craigslist or freecycle or ebay. Maybe that would help your mom feel better if she sees they are going to a new home rather than the garbage.

    But at the same time (I know from experience) when it’s time for something to go, it’s gotta go before you change your mind.

    Please (someday) put the cards on etsy. I want to buy them from you! And I love, love, love the name idea…I would pay you to do that too!

  • Bethany Actually

    My mom is a pack rat too. Even though my parents have painted and recarpeted the kitchen twice over the past 30 years, when I helped her clean it out a few years ago, she still had stuff in the cabinets from when they were first married! There was a little bottle of imitation maple flavor on the very top shelf that had been there as long as I could remember. I didn’t remember it ever being used, so I asked my mom what it was for. She explained how when she was growing up, they used to make “maple” syrup by boiling water and sugar and then adding the flavoring, because it was cheaper than the real thing, and she used to do the same thing when she and my dad were newlyweds. I asked her when the last time was she had done that, and she laughed and said probably 1974. But she still had a hard time throwing out that little bottle.

  • Michelle

    Hi SAJ – Your alphabet cards would sell like hotcakes! I can see them now on Oprah’s “My favorite things” episode where she gives everyone all of her fave things. Your alphabet cards would be in the “Favorite things I gave to all my celebrity friends who’ve had babies” :o) They would be so cute as a painting, matted and framed….or as individual canvases to hang in rows in a baby’s room…I can see it now!

    My mom is the total opposite of pack rat! I, however, tend to hang on to things…but have a certain point at which I purge – lol! It’s hard to let go of things….but it can feel better to get some of the stuff out to make room for more stuff, right?

    Have a fun day!

  • Annika

    Put those patterns on ebay! I know I’d bid on them.

    I think it is really lovely of you to help your mom with her stuff. I am on my way to becoming a serious packrat myself and it’s been so hard to not become that person you see on TV who hasn’t seen their floor in thirty years. Your mom is so lucky to have you.

  • silver

    My mom loves Christmas crafts. She has every single Christmas woman’s magazine that she ever owned, stored away in her basement. I think it’s more than 60 (2+ a year, 30+ years). I think it took her three years of retirement to drag them out and start on them.

    I think the flashcards would sell really well. They’re adorable, and who doesn’t like adorable things for their babies?

    And off topic, but our alphabet puzzle has quilt for Q, rather than Queen. I thought that was different and maybe you could do that for Q. Although a queen is probably more interesting to illustrate.

  • Jenifer

    I LOVE the idea of customizing them and selling on Etsy. Yeah, I haven’t bought anything yet but I’m temporarily unemployed. Soon to be rectified. But, I’d love a creative way to get a sign for our kitchen with our soon-to-be shared last name.

  • Jen O.

    I absolutely LOVE these letters. I check your site everyday to a) read what you’ve been up to, and b) check out the new letters! And I promise on a stack of bibles that when you get these up on etsy or wherever I will definitely buy them. As long as you’re shipping to Canada by then. And I love the idea of having them hang as art in my daughter’s room.

  • jailgy

    I’m so glad she called me over to go through them. I didn’t realize the pathos involved–she hid it well. At the very least I will get enjoyment out of organizing them. I will try to get some of them done before my fingers go bad.

  • Erin

    The box of cross-stitch patterns makes my heart hurt. I have been stitching since I was in the 5th grade. If there is some way that you can get the pansy pattern back and send it to me, I will make it for your mom. And I’d happily take any of the other patterns, too.

  • Marcy

    Greetings….another “pack rat” here.
    Don’t forget the Girl Scouts. I am a lifelong cross stitcher, and because I do not want the craft to die out, I decided to teach our local girls how to cross stitch – on gingham first. This was a BIG hit. I was so inspired that I sponsored a contest at our local county fair, giving the girls a year to make their entries. Only rule – all projects had to be completely finished. That means they had to be framed, a pillow, towel, etc. As many of us know, there are too many unfinished projects out there.
    Bottom line – the girls, and leaders, would welcome the patterns. Just sharing an idea.

  • Nicole

    I can’t believe I missed the letter cards. Sniff. Sniff. My DD is 3 and would certainly benefit. Hurry, hurry and add the set to your shop. Adorable!