Archives for May 2011


View from the beachhouse

Wheeling around the deck

Sun Tan

hot tubbin

Atti on the beach

Deck view

Sorry to run out on you all without explanation, but I was dragged away to a place with no internet access. Somehow I made it through.


2011 Year of Pleasures #21

New Sheets

A bigger bed means new, bigger, sheets. And I happened to walk into Big Lots when they had all of theirs on super sale. So for less than it would cost to get a cheap set, I got some super high thread count Egyptian cotton fancypants sheets that are just heaven. With that freshly laundered sheet smell.

It is getting harder and harder to get out of bed.


I’m going to UGANDA!

Rose, our friend from this video, is in need of a home. So I’m going to Gulu as part of a group to build her one.

I’m also going as a board member of the charity, to learn more about the community, the culture, the economy, so I can be better informed about how I can help.

But first, I need to raise $1000 more. The flight is incredibly expensive, the room and board is expensive, and I need to contribute to Rose’s house. And I just need to raise $1000 more. So I need your help.

I’ll be leaving July 3rd, so that gives me just under 6 weeks to raise it. Internet friends, you have come through for me so many ways before, I knew you’d help me out again here.

If you’d like to contribute, just send some money through paypal to my email address, tresa at reesedixon dot com. Please consider giving anything you can. If every reader even gave 1$ we’d have it collected in a matter of hours.

What Rose has lived through is beyond the imagination of most of us. There is so much need in the world, this is something tangible and measurable that we can do to meet that need, and something we can offer to Rose to show her that there is more good in the world than the evil she’s been subjected to.


Necklace Making Frenzy

Strung beads

Years and years ago, in one of our cross country moves, the con-artist movers we hired – the same ones who destroyed our china with glee and dodged our phone calls for weeks while we slept on the ground – made off with the box marked “Jewelry”. I’m sure they were disappointed when they opened it and it consisted solely of worthless beads.

Since then I’ve been slowly rebuilding my collection, which is difficult for me to do since I am a cheapskate, who refuses to buy even the cheapest jewelry because I’m capable of making it myself. But I didn’t do it very often. Certainly not often enough to keep up with trends.

I finally decided I must do something, and then I ended up at Michael’s on a day when they had all of their beads on sale at half off. Between what I already had waiting for me to get around to, and the haul I made at Michael’s, I had to start producing something if I wanted to get the drawers to close in my studio.

Magnetic closure
I have much to show you. I’ll probably have to draw it out for a while. But for today I thought I’d start with the simplest. The necklace in the top photo is just a bunch of beads strung on fishing line. I didn’t have any necklaces that were long, so I just kept threading and threading until it reaches down to my waist.

For this bracelet, I used the same principle. I had a whole mess of these beads passed on to me so I just kept threading until I ran out. I wanted to use this as a bracelet, so instead of just tying the ends together I tied them onto a magnetic clasp. The magnet isn’t strong enough to hold the weight of the beads if I wanted to wear it as a necklace, but it’s the best possible thing for trying to put on a bracelet one handed.

Stringing order
I made a similar wrap style bracelet out of these beads, but I deliberately strung all the beads together by color. It looks kind of weird all layed out….

Wrapped bracelet
But when you wrap it around your wrist all those beads line up and it looks like you’re wearing stacked bangles.

I’ve got lots more to come, and I’ve sorted them based on technique. So by the end of this series you’ll have enough jewelry making skills to make all kinds of stuff on your own.


I’m gonna do it.


While Atti’s been in school, I’ve been sneaking away to a coffee shop to bury my nose in a book and a hot chocolate. And the book I’ve been reading is Story by Robert McKee, which is widely considered to be the best ever book on how to write something.

I’ve written and written and written over the years about wanting to be a writer, and now I am one. In a way I never expected, and writing about things I never imagined I would. Being a writer about religion was a twist I did not see coming. I always imagined I’d write literary fiction.

And now is my time to try. I’ve wound up with opportunities that leave me no room for excuses, and the confidence to give it a go. I am going to write a book this year. I’m going to.

The book I have in mind would deal with Mormon themes, and next year is probably going to be a big year for Mormons. Right now it looks like Mitt Romney and John Huntsman are going to run for president, and Glenn Beck is always out there making news. The Book of Mormon musical just opened and is going like gangbusters. All my writer friends are telling me that it’s impossible to get a book published right now unless it’s about vampires, but I think Mormons might be the next best thing.

I have my work cut out for me, but I think now might just be the time to make my dreams come true.


Atti’s little lunchbag

Vinyl Lunchbag

Vinyl Lunchbag

I’ve had to give up on a lot of good intentions in this motherhood experience of mine, but one that I’ve clung to is sending lunch to school in an adorable and ecofriendly lunchbag.

Vinyl Lunchbag
Now that Atti goes to school everyday, I’ve joined the army of moms who make lunches. Although, I only barely qualify. He really only gets a snack at the end of the day, so instead of making sandwiches I’m collecting a piece of fruit and some crackers. But I have aspirations of sending better, fresher stuff, and that fresh stuff gets messy. So I needed something besides the front pocket of his backpack. Something that could be easily wiped clean.

The construction for this is similar to the Rustle Bag I made years ago. It’s just a simple square-bottomed bag you can make to any dimensions you want, but here’s how I did it.

Lunchbag Step 1
Out of two complimentary patterns of vinyl, cut:
the body piece – 7″ x 29 1/2″
2 side pieces – 4 x 12 1/2″

Make sure you make each of these cuts out of each piece of vinyl so you have all the pieces for the inside and outside of the bag.

You’ll also need a piece for the front pocket. Mine measured 4″ x 4″, and a piece of velcro cut 2 1/2″ long.

Lunchbag Step 2
Sew your pocket on the front body piece by zig zagging around three sides, roughly 8″ from the top.

Lunchbag Step 3
Then sew one half of the velcro piece about 2 1/2″ from the top of the front piece…

Lunchbag Step 4
and sew the other half of that velcro about 1/2″ from the bottom.

Lunchbag Step 6
Next we have to make the handle. You can use any fabric you want, using whatever your favorite method is, but I had this great green ribbon that worked perfectly with my colors. I cut it to about 7 1/2″ long, folded it in half, folded in the raw edges on the end, and sewed close to the edge and then down the middle to stabilize the whole thing.

Lunchbag Step 7
I positioned the handle about 3″ from the bottom of the front piece, so that when you bend that piece into place the handle will end up on the back. I used a little glue dot to hold the handle in position while I sewed a square shape on each end to make it super strong.

Now all of the external pieces are in place so it’s time to build the bag.

Lunchbag Step 8
We’ll be making the exterior and the lining in one big seam, so lay the interior body piece and the exterior body piece, wrong sides together. Do the same thing for one of the side pieces, and then lay the side piece on top of the body piece, interior pieces together, lined up at the top and sew down with a 1/4″ seam.

Lunchbag Step 9
See how when you open that seam you see the lining fabric together? It’s a bit complicated to explain sewing through the four layers at once, but if I’ve been unclear you’ll get it as soon as you have your pieces in front of you.

Lunchbag Step 10
Now we’re going to turn the corner to create the bottom. Make a snip in the body piece just above where the stitching ended and bend it around to line it up with the bottom of the side piece. This takes a bit of wrestling, but it will work. Make a snip in the next corner, and go right back up the other side.

Lunchbag Step 11
With all that bending and wrestling, things can get uneven at the top. So just give it a snip to make it even, then zig zag each side. I ended my zig zagging at each corner instead of just going all the way around because it keeps those seams still standing out comfortably instead of being smashed down and stitched over.

Vinyl Lunchbag Back
This is a simple project that loads of people had versions of, so I thought hard about what changes I wanted to make before I got to work. My measurements are a bit bigger than a regular brown bag, the handle gives an easy option for my little guy who will need a bit of help here and there, but my favorite idea was the pocket. It’s just big enough for some milk money, or, as I’ve already used it, a check when he just wants to eat whatever they’re having at the cafeteria.

{editors note: I had this scheduled to go up last week before the big blogger meltdown. Sure enough, in the time between then and now Martha posted her own version. Martha!! Blogger!! :shakes fist: Great minds and all that, but I still like mine better.}


2011 Year of Pleasures #20

Atti on the new bed

For years I’ve had over there on the sidebar the goal of building a headboard. But as I started making plans, and Atti and the cats kept growing, I realized that I shouldn’t build a headboard until we upgraded to a King sized mattress.

That day finally came and the whole family is overjoyed. I found a crazy crazy good deal, so we went with a really high quality, pillow top, fanciness, and every time I get into it I can’t help but let out a big sigh. The quality of my life has just doubled, I swear.

Atti jumping on the bed
Atti likes it because it’s great for being tossed onto.


Blog recovery

I got hit HARD in Blogger’s meltdown last week. I spent the whole day right before the crash working on things only to have it disappear in the bowels of Blogger servers minutes later. It’s looking like what’s gone is gone forever, so I’ll be over here starting all over again. Be back tomorrow.


The Wheels on the Bus Take My Baby Away

Atti rides the lift
The big day finally arrived. After months and months of waiting for red tape, and insurance baloney, and meeting with all the people who had to give approval, we finally got on the route to have Atti bussed to school. It’s a day I’ve been looking forward to bittersweetly, knowing it would be hard to watch him go off without me, but also excited to have more time to myself and less driving all over the place.

Atti on the bus
The morning did not go exactly as I planned. We sang wheels on the bus and talked about what would happen and all the friends he would see, and then, Catastrophe. I wheeled him out the front door to wait for the bus, turned around to grab the camera and Atti rolled off, hit the grass, and rocketed forward right onto his face.

I freaked right out and raced to pick him up, and right then is when the bus pulled up. I tried to coo and snuggle to calm him while Bear wiped the blood off of his lip, but the busdriver was unfazed. He just went about his business strapping in while I frantically sang songs and snapped pictures and acted happy and Atti screamed. He just said, “Don’t worry, he’ll get used to it,” shooed me off the bus, and drove away.

My baby going off without me
I went inside all teary, paced around the house for an hour, snacked on food I didn’t want to eat because I didn’t know what to do with myself, and finally settled down for work. Just in time to get a phone call from Atti’s teacher telling me that his face was covered in fresh scratches and that he wanted to make sure I knew nothing happened at school. I wanted to crawl in a hole. “no,” I told him, “I did that.” Oh the shame!!

He made it home!
He made it home in one peace, shouting “Buh Bye!” to the busdriver as soon as he saw me. He seems to have made it through his harrowing morning without a crippling life long fear of riding the bus. The busdriver told me that every time the bus went over a bump or swayed from side to side, Atti would burst out laughing. Laughing with every bump in the road. Is this my kid, or what?


2011 Year of Pleasures #19

Mother's Day Puzzle

I had a fantastic Mother’s Day this year. Atti and I ended up staying home from church, staying in bed for snuggles and storytime, and then when Bear came home he waited on me hand and foot, cooking anything I wanted and giving me all the time I needed to play with my Mother’s Day present – a new stack of puzzles. Oh why does it have to come only once a year?