Posts Tagged ‘mom to a crafter’

I hope you had a wonderful, delicious Thanksgiving and celebrated exactly the way you wanted to!

If you are looking for a little post-prandial distraction, might I ask you to join me in contemplating the execution of a Home Project, with potentially satisfying results? You don’t have to spend a dollar or move a single piece of furniture, you can simply sit back, sip your beverage of choice, pass judgment on my plans and life choices, and perhaps offer advice! Win win!

Carla has been asking, for months, for a “rilly big box full of all craft stuf.” That is a direct quote from her letter to Santa.

Carla is a crafter extraordinaire. She makes anything and everything, from miniature furniture to fishing rods and fish to tiny clay animals to elaborate seascape scenes to clothing for her stuffed animals and more. We have a lot of crafting supplies in our home already, and very little space to store it all, and my little craft enthusiast is constantly coming up with new ideas.

My husband and I decided that we wanted to help Santa fulfill Carla’s wish… but we needed a bigger plan than just a “rilly big box full of craft stuf.” The big box is part 2. Part 1 is carving out a crafting space.

Right now, crafting takes place on the kitchen table:

This is how my kitchen table looks at least 75% of the time. Craft mat, glue gun, craft detritus.

Or on the dining room floor:

This is what Carla hears when I ask her to “put her crafts away.” Deep sigh.

Short of moving to a home with a dedicated crafting room, we have to make do with what we have. And what we currently have makes me twitchy and claustrophobic.

We do have a decent-size basement, and my husband and I discussed repurposing the space for crafting.

Right now, the basement has several purposes. The left third is for exercise and gaming and TV watching; we have a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a couch, and a TV over there. It’s pretty full.

The right two thirds has a dual toys/music function. As in, it holds a huge amount of Carla’s toys (Barbies galore, dinosaurs, building sets) but it is also where we keep the electric piano and my husband’s electric drum kit.

(Our dream house needs to have a dedicated music room, too, apparently.)

I hope you are enjoying our walls. The color scheme… grows on you.

My idea was to move/break down the piano and drum kit, since they are so rarely used. My husband agreed to moving the piano, but he wants to keep the drum kit. (Sigh. The drum kit takes up so much more room than the piano. But we take what we can get.)

And then we use the space freed up to create a crafting space for Carla.

The dinosaur is envisioning a crafting table right here where the piano is. Perhaps we will find a new home for the dehumidifier.

While we already have the Expedit (which holds games and some puzzles and all the Make Your Own [XYZ]! kits that Carla has yet to put together, along with many that she HAS put together but have enough ingredients for more rounds) (I am going to go through and RUTHLESSLY TOSS some of the latter and RUTHLESSLY DONATE some of the former), a four-cube organizer that holds our DVDs and my husband’s video game collection, and a six-cube organizer for Carla’s LEGOs, we need dedicated craft storage and we need some sort of table.

We bought this with the sole intention of using it to relocate all the LEGO that have taken over my living room. Currently, the LEGO collection is still upstairs, strewn all over my hearth. In the meantime, the Barbies are making good use of the space.

Santa, in addition to the “rilly big box full of craft stuf” has assured us he will bring additional storage. I think he is planning on another six-cube shelf organizer and fabric bins.

Santa will not be bringing a table, although that’s a critical element of this plan. My husband and I have been on the hunt, but it’s difficult to find anything that doesn’t cost one million dollars. We decided we can wait to figure out the table solution until after Christmas. But that doesn’t mean I am not already thinking about a table.

When Carla crafts on the kitchen table, she takes up approximately half of the space.

Don’t get me wrong – given time, her crafting essentials eventually migrate to all four corners of the table and spill over the edges onto the floor, but she seems to be able to make do with just half. That’s 32” by 42”, so it would be IDEAL to find a table that is three feet by four feet. A table that folds, so we can slide it up against the wall. A table that has a smooth, untextured top for drawing. A table that is NOT one million dollars. (I would love love LOVE to spend less than $50, but that seems like a pipe dream. Maybe I should be aiming for under $100.)

Because I am a genius, I suggested that maybe all we needed was a giant board! Then we could help Carla move the not-yet-installed shelf and the current LEGO storage shelf into the middle of the basement, and put the board across the tops of both shelving units, and VOILA! instant table!

My husband doesn’t think that we will be able to find a board of the right size, and, even if we did, he is picturing something rough with jagged edges. So I need to think on/research this idea a bit more. I still think it is a genius solution, although that’s dependent on boards a) coming in the right size and b) also not costing one million dollars.

Because crafting is so important to Carla, and because it causes SUCH chaos in my home, I am pretty motivated to find a solution.

To help keep everything organized, we will also get a desktop carousel.

And I can think of dozens of uses for this craft keeper, which has 16 little plastic containers for pom-poms, stickers, glue sticks, beads, etc. etc. etc., so I think we’ll get one of these, too.  

Plus, it’s so rainbow-y!

The only other thing I can think of to complete this craft space is perhaps some sort of plastic carpet mat. You know, to protect the carpet from all sort of crafting debris.

I’m sure there are other things we will find we need, once this craft space is realized. But for now I am focused on the minimum needed to make it functional, and also on keeping it under one million dollars.

P.S. My plans include getting rid of Carla’s dress-up closet, which is the purple structure that lives to the left of the Expedit. I can’t remember the last time she played dress up. (“Halloween” she told me when I asked her. And before that? “Last Halloween.” This proves my point.) She laments the loss of the mirror, but it’s a pretty crummy mirror and we can easily get a mirror and affix it to her bedroom door.

I really wish we could get rid of the drum kit.

I also think it’s time to get rid of the Giant Bear. I impulse-bought this bear at Costco many years ago, and it achieved the surprise and delight I’d imagined when I spotted it. But now it mainly lives on one of the couches in the basement, rendering the couch unusable by humans. Or it endures various forms of torture inflicted by Carla. It has sagged a bit in its old age, as though the stuffing has been crushed or redistributed, so it is now much less fluffy than it was when we first brought it home. I think it’s time to say goodbye.

He is putting on a good front, but he is clearly SO miserable. This is not the life he wanted for himself.

If you were designing a crafting space, given what you now know about our available resources, is there anything I’ve missed or overlooked?

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I have a case of the grumps, and I can trace each grump directly to its source, and they are all very mundane and so silly that my inner critic is standing there with her hands on her hips and her head tilted condescendingly saying, “Perhaps you should be grateful that you aren’t an Afghan refugee instead of whining about your perfectly lovely life, ever think about that, hmmm?” Well. She can eat a bee. Sometimes the only way to escape a particularly irksome grump is to share it, so here we go.

  • I am living in filth. My lovely, creative, crafty daughter has crafted our house into a trash heap. (I trust that you will understand I mean “likes to make crafts” here rather than “deceitful and cunning.”) Her gorgeous brain is constantly coming up with things to make and build and decorate, and I love it. I do. I am astonished by the things she thinks up and astounded by how she can bring them to life with scraps of plastic and bits of cardboard and copious amount of glue. And yet despite my pride and delight in her crafty pursuits, I have begun to feel like I am living in an actual garbage dump. Carla has an entire designated craft cabinet in which to stow her materials, but the results of her work end up everywhere. Little tiny seashells made into crabs. Skewers turned into swingsets and chopsticks and the legs of little clay beings. Cardboard shelving units and apartment blocks. Toys wearing clothing made of paper and string. Purses made out of plastic and cloth and clay. Little bits of paper that now represent dog food, toilet paper rolls, confetti, Barbie workbooks. There is no place to PUT these creations, and of course each one is rare and precious, so we have designated a section of the dining room (which is never, ever used for dining) as the Craft Waiting Area. But do the crafts wait quietly in their area, until such time as Carla deems them ready for the great Outdoor Craft Storage Compartment? No they do not. They migrate. And, with them, creative detritus piles up. Sheets of foam that have been cut into jagged lace. Broken bits of pottery. Plastic baggies. Pencils. Scissors. Sequins. Stickers. Chunks of clay. Slabs of dried glue. Q-tips. Empty play-doh containers. Rocks. Fluffy rainbow pom poms. Barettes. Three sets of needle nose pliers. Pencils, markers, paintbrushes, and pens. Corners and slips and strips of paper. Plastic baggies filled with scraps of paper and broken crayons and tiny rubber bands and bits of yarn. IT IS A GARBAGE DUMP. And, have I mentioned, every single scrap of anything is PRECIOUS and USEFUL and NECESSARY. If ever I suggest moving any of these items into the trash, Carla collapses in tears of betrayal and shock.
This is a photo I took several weeks ago, and it isn’t anywhere near as bad as things were this morning. Picture this doubled.
More detailed look at all the bits and bobs. Note the scrap of masking tape on the wall, there for no reason at all.
  • My family and I continue to require sustenance. Dinner continues to seem like an alien concept. I continue to suffer from meal-amnesia. Since Monday, my family and I have eaten tacos three times: I went to the grocery store with literally only the single idea for a meal this week (tacos), hoping that the shelves would shove meal ideas at me (they did not) (except, I guess, in the case I am about to describe), and when I walked in, there was a display of everything a human could need to make fish tacos, so I bought those things and we ate fish tacos Monday, leftover fish tacos Wednesday, ground beef tacos Thursday, and, on Tuesday, the chicken shawarma that I had planned and purchased for the first week of October. Yes, the broccoli managed to survive that long in my crisper. I have absolutely NO IDEA what to make for dinner tonight. My in laws are back next week (for two weeks), and I doubt that they will be as amenable to Tacos Every Day as my husband and child are, and yet I have no ideas. Food is a mystery. And even though I have catalogued my own meal planning here for several years now, and have multitudes of recipes both in my online files and in the files in my kitchen… and despite having access to both dozens of cookbooks AND the internet, I have no ideas. None. If you were to press a recipe into my hands and say “Make this,” it would surely gradually dissolve into gas and float away on the air.  

  • My husband is giving me guff about holiday cards. It is no secret, either here or in my marriage, that holiday cards are MY FAVORITE PART OF THE HOLIDAYS. I love to send them, I love to receive them. I love them. I thought this was well-established. I thought that my husband, who doesn’t give a goat’s beard about any of it, had nonetheless fallen in line. AND YET. I requested that we go somewhere pretty this weekend to take a family photo for holiday cards, and he grumbled that he doesn’t WANT to do holiday cards. They are stupid and a waste of time and money. While he is entitled to his own grumps, of course, I am feeling CRANKY AND STUBBORN. This is My Thing. Why is he objecting? It will take an hour, maybe, to find a spot and take a serviceable photo. I will do the card-options-narrowing-down work, and offer him a few to choose from. I will send them out. It is not a big drain on him, time-wise. Money-wise, sure, it’s not super expensive. But it’s not going to break the bank. Why can’t he just bend to my will? Why can’t he just fall in line? WHY????? (We have taken exactly two (2) photos of the three of us since summer of 2020. Neither is holiday card worthy, you will just have to trust me. And I would slap a bunch of photos from throughout the year on a card and call it a day in a frosty second, but my husband always, always hates those kinds of cards when I mock them up, and despite the fact that he is making the whole thing harder than it needs to be, he and I still feel he gets a say in a card representing/featuring him that goes to all our friends and family.)

  • Our health insurance is being downgraded. Oh, excuse me: “improved” and “enhanced.” I get that my husband’s company is a business, and they need to find ways to keep costs down, blah blah blah. And I get that I am very fortunate to have access to health insurance at all, and the means to pay for it. But I am still DEEPLY ANNOYED. Mainly because my husband’s hospital system is trying to spin it as a benefit when it clearly is NOT. They sent out this piece of direct mail giving us a heads-up about one of the changes to the insurance plan, which is that they are going to now “leverage” the hospital system’s own pharmacy system. Isn’t that great?!?! Aren’t we so happy?!?! They alluded to benefits from this change: We are now going to “get the best medication outcomes.” What the fluff does that mean? We will now have the “convenience” of using hospital pharmacies (NOT convenient, unless you are at one of the FOUR ON-SITE PHARMACIES in a 100-mile radius) or mail-order (NOT convenient if you have a necessary daily medication that happens to be a controlled substance and may not be available via mail order). And we will have “one card” for pharmacy and medical insurance coverage. Wowee, what a benefit! (Eye roll.) I suppose they do also allude to lower costs. There is also a black box notifying us that we need to stock up on medications so that the switch to the new plan doesn’t affect our prescriptions. Is this even possible with the medications we have? WHO KNOWS. And then it says to go to the website of the new company for more details. But the website does not have ANY USEFUL DETAILS for non-members. This does not feel like they are “expanding and enhancing” my healthcare benefits, that’s for sure.

  • We still have not completed my gallery wall dream. I have been saying for years that I want to have a gallery wall of photos/paintings in our living room. And my husband keeps jumping on and off board. The artwork and empty frames that I had chosen for the gallery wall have been pushed up against the dining room wall (see above) for months and months now, and I think I may have to admit defeat. It is not going to happen in this house. My husband has no interest in helping me plan, but I will need his help to execute the whole thing, and I just don’t know if I can summon enough umph to see it through. So I am summoning grump instead.

To help counteract the Grumps, I will share two goods:

  • The other day I went to a Work Event. I was very anxious about a) being around a bunch of people at a restaurant and b) feeling self-conscious about all the weight I’ve gained since I last saw these people and c) worrying that my much-increased social anxiety would make me panicky and weird. I went out and bought an entire new outfit; I haven’t had to don Office Wear regularly since 2016, and I have since been hard at work “expanding and enhancing” my size, so I had nothing remotely appropriate to wear. I got a pair of black dress pants and a burgundy sweater at Talbots (for 30% off! plus 10% off for joining their rewards program! plus $10 off for joining their mobile mailing list!), which helped tremendously. I felt like I looked put together and appropriate, and like someone who would be totally competent at doing freelance work in the future. But, even better, the event was GREAT. It was outdoors, everyone was vaccinated, and I hadn’t seen most of the attendees in five years. People gave me hugs and seemed genuinely excited to see me and we had comfortable, easy conversations and the whole thing was super, super lovely.

  • I have hacked away at some of the trash heap. Just now, I got a surge of Living In Garbage-related energy and tackled both the Dining Room Trash Heap and Carla’s craft cabinet, and threw a LOT of stuff away, but also organized everything. It doesn’t look good, but it looks significantly better, and now feel much less Strangled By Junk. Hopefully I can persuade Carla that I kept most of her things and simply organized them all in a way that looks like I threw most of it in the trash (I did throw a lot of things in the trash – but really, WHO NEEDS ten plastic baggies filled with tiny bits of paper and string and the cottony ends of Q-tips? The garbage bin, is who.) I need to take a similar approach to her desk in her bedroom, and then we’ll really be rocking and rolling.
At least it is all contained to the giant slab of cardboard now. If I move the artwork and frames down to the basement, it will look even better.

Tell me your grumps, if you’ve got em.

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