foggy-morning, costume-sketching, kelp-popping beach walk

we always make sandcastles in our pajamas

We went for an early morning beach walk today, as we often do. We don’t really have a regular routine. (Sorry, stalkers.) Sometimes I’m just sitting on the couch, groggily tuning out her pleas for a breakfast of gummy bears and the light hits me from the window with a call to action. It says, “Get off your butt and take some pictures!”

I always try to obey the light calling me. Ever since there was that one time when the light was so perfect and I was able to take that photo that came in handy for Christmas cards. I can’t really describe it. It’s just brighter, glowier, magical… something like that.

Other times I just want to get out of the house and get a latte. The beach just happens to be on the way home from Starbucks. Tough life, I know.

whispy

Just as we got to the beach, the fog started rolling in. It wasn’t that perfect morning light that I was looking for but it was something else entirely magical itself. Fog is nothing new, it always comes and goes, but I love it. I always say it makes my beach private. It keeps away the hordes of beach-goers and kind of soft-filters all the harsh edges of things like the encroaching McMansions and ugly dumpsters full of the weekend’s rubbish. You feel like you are a dancing in a fairy’s meadow or flouncing around in clouds with the Care Bears. Maybe that’s a stretch but you know what I mean.

where ideas come from

I’m so glad I finally finished up the first book of the Twilight Series and I haven’t gotten my hands on the second one yet so I can actually spend moments like this at the beach not absorbed in the lives of Edward and Bella. I’m rolling my eyes too. I hate it when I jump on the pop-culture bandwagon but I had to know what all the fuss was about!

the Eva* costume idea #2

So I sat on the beach and sketched all the other things my brain is filled with. You guys can discuss Sarah Palin and global warming and I’ll be over here in la-la-land thinking about Eve costumes. You know, the robot Eve (or as we call her, Eva) from the movie Wall-E? We’re obsessed.

the Wall-E mask she insisted I make

Which is sort of funny to my sister-in-law CC, who reminds me frequently that I was the blowhard who said my kid would never prance around in Disney character costumes. People who don’t have kids should never make statements about parenting, that’s what I’ve learned. Because everything I once said has come around to bite me in the butt.

Wall-E is technically Pixar. There’s a huge difference, right? I love Wall-E. I think I’m going to have to qualify my earlier statement about Disney characters and say I just don’t want her to like characters that I don’t like. I’m the boss here.

Maybe.

modeling her Eve costume head

The beanie cap idea (a white cap with felt sewn on for her black face panel and blue eyes) is actually idea number two. Idea number one made it to production but was rejected by Baby Bug. So I guess I can share the big secret of how I made this incredibly creative Eve head number one that has been rejected so wastefully.

You’ll never guess.

You see, I’m on a strict budget these days and I have to make everything out of things I already have. It’s hard! I hate it! Money, why can’t you grow on trees!? Why can’t some neighbor throw out something modular and plastic that would be perfect for an Eve costume? (Trash-digging is totally acceptable now. It’s very “green.” It’s called foraging now.)

I rustled up some of the old couch-cover fabric (of which I have plenty) and then searched the house from top to bottom to find something mesh and black for the face panel. It had to be see-through. Hmmmmm… what could I use? There is nothing in my house that is black and see through!

Or is there?

You probably guessed it. The elusive and yet perfect fabric was in my underwear drawer. Don’t be grossed out. They were very very very clean and barely worn black Victoria Secret panties. I didn’t really like them anyway. Snip snip snip and the back panel became the perfect Eva mask! Yes, my butt is that big. So yeah, poor Baby Bug had to look through the same material that my butt cheeks use to sit in so cutely. But it was so perfect! Where else am I going to find something so perfect for free?!

Too bad Baby Bug won’t wear it. I guess nobody’s going to buy it on ebay now that my secret has been revealed. Pffft. Oh well, it makes an interesting story. I’m getting used to my ideas failing anyway. I have a feeling she won’t wear any costume I want her to wear and will want to be a princess like her cousin when Halloween actually shows up. I’m prepared for the rejection. It happens every day when I try to get her dressed.

prepare for destruction

But I really want her to be Eva. Doesn’t she look like Eva? She’s got the eyes down.

I figure I might as well blog about it anyway since I get a ton of traffic over the whole merbaby costume. I might not get to see my idea come to fruition but that doesn’t mean somebody else can’t. Just don’t tell anyone where you got the black mesh fabric from.

ready to roll

Back to our foggy morning walk.

After I sketched a bit and Baby Bug made a castle or two we both decided it was time for some real breakfast and headed home. Except the tide was really high and that meant I had to push the stroller high up on the beach along the bumpy dry sand instead of the hard-packed wet sand. With all the fog it felt like I was pushing a moon buggy on the moon which is kind of cool but a whole lot more work.

enveloped

I like to think I’m a local and I can time the waves just right. I know all about sets and how usually three small waves are followed by three big waves. So I took a liberal risk or two onto the wet sand and then totally got washed in by a big surprise wave! Arg! Pants and all.

showing you my drenched pants
(photo by Baby Bug)

I LOVE stepping on these

I may have been distracted from my vigilant wave-watching while trying to take a photo of this sea kelp bulb. I just wanted to capture how they glisten on the sand like little jewels waiting to be crunched with a satisfying pop under your grippy rubber running shoes. It’s the BEST feeling ever.

There is so much more seaweed on the beach this year. Tons of it and I love it! I don’t like the smelly seaweed or the flies that float in clouds above the clumps of seaweed that gather on the sand but I do love stepping on these poppy bulb things. It’s better than popping bubble wrap. If you don’t believe me, I’ll send you one in the mail—if you pay for postage of course, which could be expensive due to the “nothing liquid, breakable or perishable” rule.

Just take my word for it.

The Story of the Bear with Buckles and the Girl Who Failed Him

You know what happens when you don’t blog for a long time (which for me is anything longer than a day or two)? It gets harder! After about three days I start thinking, maybe I should just stop blogging altogether. I wonder what life would be like without being attached to the internet at the hip? Would I be forgotten? Would I finally get all my housework done and stop ignoring my child and husband so much? Would I write a best-selling novel and get rich quick? Think think think, I think. Pretty crazy stuff goes on in this head up here.

So anyway, while I was taking an unannounced mini-vacation from this blog and pretty much hating life because I was a snotty-nosed walking-dead sick person, I decided to take on a colossal SEWING project!!!! What better to do with my free non-blogging time than wrestle with a bunch of obstinate fabric that won’t let me have my way with it? AAAaaaagh! You can just imagine me growling and ripping at pieces of brown corduroy while sweating bullets because I am feverish AND our house is 103 degrees in summertime.

You see, I had this great idea. It was a really really really great idea. I wanted to make a special present for a special person. A special little person who just turned two and who also really really likes buckles. He likes buckles so much that he will stop whatever he is doing—playing at the beach, digging sand castles, running around on his front lawn.—to go and play with the buckles on his stroller. He is a smart little boy who is fascinated with clamps and clasps and the way things work. I am fascinated with this little boy. I know he is going to grow up to be one of those really smart older boys who can take things apart and put them back together again. I love those kinds of boys.

A year ago (a whole year ago!!) I thought up the idea to make this little boy some kind of toy with all kinds of buckles on it. Not one buckle like his stroller but three or four or even five. I would sew it with all the buckles I could find! It would be a buckle extravaganza and he would love me forever because I alone understood his love of buckles. I would be the best honorary auntie ever.

Buckle Bear Plans

And so the idea of the bear with buckles was born, or Mr. Buckles if you like the sound of that better. Inspired and on fire off I skipped to the fabric store. To my delight I found all kinds of buckles. There were ring buckles and clasp buckles and hook buckles, silver buckles and black plastic buckles and bronze buckles. There were even buckles that lit up and blinked. This was the best idea EVER. I was so proud of myself.

I bought some red-braided belt material for the belts, some brown corduroy for the bear body and some cool striped jean material for his sporty cuffed pants. I had some red striped mattress ticking at home, so I decided to use that for a vest to put all the buckles on. After all, part of my motive for making this present was to save a little money along with giving the most original present ever.

After a couple days of staring at the fabric and sketching up all sorts of creatures, I decided to just have a go at it without a pattern or a plan other than the willy-nilly ideas swirling around in my head. I really think that is where I went wrong.

There is a big part of my personality that is not suited to sewing. Sewing is a slow and methodical craft. Rewards come to those who are careful and meticulous with their seams. Cutting corners in sewing does not win the race. In fact, it often puts you back several hours with a seam ripper in your hands. I hate ripping seams and doing things twice or thrice or fifty times that I could have done once. I never liked writing rough drafts in school and that hasn’t changed much. I’m not a perfectionist.

What I am is creative and logical. (Is that an oxymoron?) I can figure things out if I set my mind to it. I can make stuff work if I try hard enough. I figured I would just sew what I knew how to do and figure the rest out as I went along. That worked out well enough for my couch cover project.

A Bear Hot Pocket!

I sewed his arms and legs and stuffed them. Then I sewed his head. They looked adorable. Separate and unattached but adorable! Then I started on the vest.

That bloody red-braided belt material started to unravel. It was horrible. It took on a personality of its own and the more I tried to sew it, the more it unraveled. My sewing machine decided to balk too and the thread made giant loopy tension nightmares on the underside of whatever I sewed. The bobbin jumped and shrieked and flew right out of the bottom of my machine. I took everything apart and put it all back together again, determined that it would not get the best of me. I zig-zagged up the belt material as best I could to keep it from unraveling more but it just kept unraveling and turned into a frayed mess. And then I started to run out of belting and that made me cry. Big snotty smudgy tears that dripped on my corduroy and ruined everything. It was a disaster.

A complete and utter disaster.

I decided that all the zig-zaggy stitching was fashionable and carried on anyway and then I sewed one of the belts on backwards! The blinking belt buckle! The best belt of them all! It was dreadful! How could I do such a stupid stupid thing?!! For a while I decided I would just buckle that belt in the back of the bear but I knew my little friend would know it was a mistake and I had to rip it out.

Then I sewed his head on backwards and his vest upside down and every time I stuffed him inside-out and outside-in the corduroy would unravel a little more because I was stuffing the whole body of the bear through a little hole between his legs. It was not unlike a painful birth without an epidural!

I know those of you who do not sew will be confused completely by the inside-out-outside-in process. Just believe me when I say that it was difficult and strenuous and I was sweating bullets. It didn’t work no matter what I tried. Pinning it right would have been a good idea but once it was outside in I would feel around for the pins and twist it all wrong again. It was like I was sewing blind.

I really do think I was this close to finishing the project and pulling it all off but as the days wore on and my sickness and bad attitude took over, I had to give up. I cried and cried and cried. I hate failure. It was such a good idea and now no one will ever know because it’s such a big mess! I thought hysterically. There might have even been some PMS thrown in.

To make matters worse this is the second present that I have not been able to give to a special little boy in my life. Not the same buckle-loving boy but another one just as special. Is God trying to teach me something here?

A while back I bought some really cool little stump bean bags on Etsy. They were the sweetest little bean bags ever and so very perfect for this other little boy in my life because his mom is eco-friendly and would love them. She wouldn’t want me to buy him something plastic or noisy or mass-produced in China. He would like them because they looked like little trees and you could throw them. And if he didn’t like them, then my friend could put them in a little dish on her coffee table and they would be all cool-looking and deco in her super deco house. I’m using dumb words but you get my drift. Cool friend : cool present. Maybe I was being a little too proud of myself for finding the best most perfect present ever.

I ordered them. I paid for the shipping that was a little bit more expensive than I wanted. I wrapped them in some very special Baby Bug wrapping paper and set the present on the passenger seat of my car to give to my friend’s little boy next time I saw them. Then I drove around with that present on my seat for three weeks. Our timing was all wrong and I never got around to giving it to him.

Then one day I forgot to lock my car and my present was gone. Pfft! Stolen! Right out of my car just like my fancy silk diaper bag and the box of wipes. Somebody in my neighborhood is watching me and every time I forget to lock my car they take things out of it.

Yes, I’m totally going to set a trap.

But in the meantime I’m just peeved! Who could do such a thing? Who would unwrap a present that was wrapped with paper painted by a little kid? WHO??!! Someone who has no soul. Someone who is rotten and evil and mean. I never blogged about that when it happened because I just figured it’s my dumb luck. I’m going to learn to lock my car one way or another. How much is it going to cost me is a better question. $50? $100? more? I don’t know.

I’m just sensitive on this subject. Thoughtful presents should go to their rightful owners and then I should get credit for being such a great present-giver.

Or should I? Is that the lesson here? Am I trying too hard to be the best present-giver ever? If I just start giving people coffee-scented candles will I get over this curse? Nothing against coffee-scented candles but I think I’ve gotten five thousand of them in my lifetime.

Operation Buckle Bear fails

Long story short: It was a spectacular idea and a spectacular failure, but I am glad I tried. My mom says she can help me salvage the bear with buckles. Maybe in a few months or so, he will get to live with the boy who loves buckles.