Carlessness (car-less-ness)

I am coming to terms with my newest diagnosis, carlessness.   It is not recognized by the medical community and the only known cures are time and/or purchasing a of third car.  We practiced and prepared for months….. I was clearly in denial… We discussed important issues that are not covered in the handbook.

*Conditions:  To further reduce the carlessness blight the ground work must be laid.  My stuff will always be more important than your stuff, so….. there.

*Protection from cross contamination:  Only push the unlock button once to open the driver door so no one can jump in behind you (all I can see in Farah Fawcett trapped in her fireplace in the movie Extremities.) Reminders of the actual law, will potentially reduce the threat of abundant people in the car.

*Avoiding non-essential hemorrhaging:   If the parking meter has a yellow pole you get a whole hour for a quarter and if it is green you get a measly 30 minutes. This is a huge deal when your carlessness flares up while helping the instigator pay a parking ticket.  Continuous reminders of the cost of maintenance, insurance and fuel can significantly reduce attempts at third car syndrome.

*Therapeutic remedies:  A rash may appear if I ever see or hear she was texting and driving, this is unlikely because I threatened to never let her drive again and flip phone for life.  Spend new acquired time doing something for self, try to avoid driving other child around every five minutes for at least 5 months and work on getting her involved in activities with more carpooling opportunities.

Sometimes I find myself staring out the window wondering what I am supposed to be doing.  When I realize that she took the car to dance or work, my symptoms are momentarily relieved, only to be overshadowed by the thought that my baby is growing up.  My carlessness is feeling quite hopeless today, but there is a bright side.  I complain a lot less and I may even have time to cook real meals again.  Maybe it is more of a virus.

Community Press/preterm

I really like giving back, it makes me feel good, and I feel like my little bit, however small can help.  I have never been much of a PTA mom, and my attention span is spotty at best if I agree to woman a table, or fundraise for an important cause.  I yearned for another way.

I am fascinated by the screen printing process and have always made do with bits of cardboard and my imagination. I jumped at the opportunity to purchase a professional screen press from a friend last year. It is one of a kind and quite quirky, like me.  The components and ink sprawl throughout my small basement, but also fill a need.  Instead of shying away from the bake sale or the volunteer gig I can offer a service to organizations by donating my skills at my convenience. Perfect!

If you are a reader of my blog, you know how I feel about reproductive rights. preterm is an organization here in Cleveland that has been providing “safe, compassionate sexual health care” for over 40 years.  I attempted to sponsor a bowling team a couple of years ago, we raised some decent money, but it is not where my talents lay, so I offered my services.

I was a little overzealous and agreed to a task above my current skill set, which is just how I do things (sigh).  After deciding on the design and actually figuring out how to line up two different colors on the back and the front,   I knocked them out.  The Associate made an apperance or two in the basement full of questions as usual, and we opened up an age appropriate conversation about reproductive rights.  They are not perfect. I did save preterm a bunch of money on printing costs, I expanded my abilities, and I planted a seed in the mind of my smallest child.  It is one my dreams to be able to open up this little press to the public  to help promote important causes in our community in healthly and clever ways.  I’ll keep you updated.

go to the website to learn more about this amazing organization.

http://www.preterm.org

 

 

 

Woman Warrior Cross body bag.

I have two daughters as you probably know.  I feel an overwhelming need to make sure the have the same rights and access that I had, and that so many have fought for. We (Sarah and I) wanted to design something that would show our support of women’s issues and raise money for Planned Parenthood.

In standard Shannon fashion I let it bang around in my head and Sarah let me take the lead.  Sarah usually does the artwork for our Pure and Sweet ventures, because well I can’t draw and she is awesome at it, but I had trouble verbalizing my vision.  I took to the computer to try to work it out.  I wanted layers, women are multi layered and expected to be all things.  I broke it down to three images: a doily in gold to represent femininity and delicacy: the graphic shape of the female reproductive organs in red, well because women are the only ones that can bring life into this world: and two black crossed swords to protect our freedoms.

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I then readied the screens.  Someday I will have a room to do this, but right now I am crossing my fingers that it works because the conditions in my basement are terrible.  In order to make an opaque silk screen of a doily I spray painted (color unimportant) it to thicken the lines, and when it dries, I use it instead of a transparency to make the screen.

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Yep, that is a uterus and fallopian tubes

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After some difficulty I get all of the images lined up so they print correctly, which is much easier said than done.

Now that I have the images printed, I set about figuring out the most efficient way to make these without sacrificing durability and style.  After several botched attempts I got a good method down and promptly made three to deliver to three members of Sleater-Kinney when they played House of Blues.  They were on tour raising money for Planned Parenthood so it seemed important that they get some.  The stupendous Kathy Blackman of the Grog and B-side helped me get them back stage and I was a happy girl.

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These are the most of the steps, sometimes I get too absorbed and forget to photograph every moment.

First we cut 4 pieces that make up the bag to the same size

Sew the top of the outside panels to their counterpart of the lining.  4 pieces become two.  Lay the two pieces facing each other and pin together.

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Here is where we are missing a step.  After the two sides are pinned together, measure the center top of the two lining pieces.  Measure and cut to slits that match your snap arms through both layers at the same time to ensure that they will match up.  Go in between the two pieces of lining to push the arms out through the slits.  I always add a bit of scrap vinyl (make the same slits on the vinyl)  to the arms before I put on the brace.  The snap gets a lot of use and the added layer keeps it from tearing.

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Now that your snap is in place sew the two sides. (see above picture)

Now turn the whole thing inside out.  and sew the bottom.

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Once the bottom is sewn. Pinch the corners and sew across to add volume to the bottom. (this is really hard to explain feel free to message with questions)

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Turn back right side out and check all sides to make sure you are all good.

Sew strap on and go…..

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Below is the Etsy listing (go buy one!)

BUY THIS AWESOME BAG

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made to order/ limited edition of 75

Modeled by the powerful Ruby.  The Woman Warrior Cross body is hand-made by the loving hands of Shannon and Sarah.  The images are hand screened on a deep turquoise blue cotton duck fabric. They are layered on top of one another representing our femininity, our womanhood and our strength.  (doily/gold, uterus/red, swords/black) The back side is a soft black vintage fabric with gold splatter design. The lining and the handle are constructed of heavy black cotton duck,  and all edges are serged with a contrasting red thread for added durability and flare. A heavy-duty magnetic snap keeps all your crap inside.

The ridiculous attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the attempts to take away our reproductive freedom is truly terrifying.  We responded by designing this bag to show your support!  10 dollars of each bag price will be donated to Planned Parenthood.
We must continue to have safe affordable access to healthcare, family planning and abortion.

This bag was inspired by all the strong women and men fighting for women’s rights.

Knobby

I collect things. It could be years, or it could be minutes, but I will eventually use everything I find.  I have bins, lots of bins, they line the shelves and confuse my family.  I imagine I am a magpie. The items appear to be useless, but not to me.  The shape, the color, the material appeals and I stash.  The other day I cracked open the knob bin, and I was off.

First curtain rods. The curtains come together easily, I measure, iron and sew simple panels.  I want to use these cool knobs that were given to me.  I scour my stores and come up with threaded rod and cup hooks.  I hang the curtain on the rod and put two knobs on the end.  I strategically placed cup hooks in the window trim to hold the rod.  I can easily fit the curtain into the crook of the bay window by bending the rod.  I used chain I found in another bin to weigh down the hem.

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I used the rest of the these knobs in my bedroom in the unusable space next to a window and beside a closet to hang necklaces. I used scrap piece of wood (stretcher bar in this case) Using my necklaces as a guide to far apart to make the knobs I then drilled holes and tightened them on.

I replaced the knobs on the closet with the last two to make look a little nicer.

IMG_1435 IMG_1437Next I took a hammer to a hand railing in the kitchen that I have always hated.  Now that the space was opened up it was easier to plan my next move.  Dumping out the remainder of the knobs and sorting through I made a sort of pattern,  and attached them to a length of wood that I cut to fit in the space available.

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I almost used all the knobs, and I got a very excited reaction from The Associate.

When I was 16…

I went to a fancy private school.  I had a loving home, and family.  I had health insurance. I had health class.  I had a job.  I even had a doctor, but I was little too old to go to my male pediatrician that I had been seeing since birth.  I had many important questions. I called and made an appointment at Planned Parenthood.  I had my questions answered in a clear, caring, non judgemental fashion.  I paid a small fee to cover the costs, because I could and left feeling in control of my own body and life.  I continued to utilize the services of Planned Parenthood for ten years. I am still abortion free because of it.  This is an extremely important service that should always be available, to everyone.

 

The Associate is an IB learner.

Over the last couple of years our school system has been transitioning to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Below is the mission statement.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

It sounds sophisticated and wonderful, but I was sure that if we allowed our teachers to teach without interference they would come up with a similar plan. I do still believe this, because all the teachers I know are awesome, but I have to say this program appears tailor-made for The Associate.  She is quite dynamic and strives to embody all 10 IB traits. (Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk takers, Balanced, Reflective.)  We are consistently negotiating these ideas.  For example, being a risk taker does not mean hurling yourself over the couch blindly,  and nobody told her she could inquire as to where I put my chocolate, but you get the point.

We were at a park this summer and all of the kids were running around in circles,  The Associate was picking up garbage while running full speed.  I yelled to her “What are you doingggggggg?”  she relied without skipping a beat.  “I am being Pricipallllleeeeddddd!”  That is adorable.

She has an entire school set up for her big eyed fluffy animals and spends hours discussing the IB traits.  I have since rearranged her room to move the classroom out of the stairwell and avoid death by stuffed animal.  IMG_1025

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we got the paperwork for her to sign up as an ambassador,  I was hoping she would want to do it. After much consideration she did and was accepted.  One of her jobs is to welcome new students to our school and make them feel welcome.  When I woke her this morning, she said and I quote “we received word that there would be a new student today, I have to get ready.”  Quite a departure from the normally groggy jerk that I encounter in the morning.

So far so good,

P.S. Thank you teachers!

learn more

 

 

 

The Teenager is 16.

I remember the day I found out I was pregnant.  I remember it vividly.  I was 28 and fresh off of NYC, living in a three bedroom apartment, in Wilmington NC.  Those who questioned my choice of apartment didn’t understand the closeness of NYC.  I rented three bedrooms so I could breathe and because it was 500.00.  I was most recently paying 1500.00 for one bedroom 20 minutes outside of Manhattan.  I gleefully moved in, spread out and suddenly had room for a new choice.

The circumstances were not ideal, the road ahead wasn’t at all clear, but the choice was mine. Could I put this being’s well-being ahead of my own for, well…. ever? ? ? Me alone in the bathroom with a stick covered in pee, could answer that question definitively almost immediately.  I felt that space in my heart and soul could be rented out permanently.  I knew that if I was not able to give it the best of me, I had options.  It is because of these options that I could willingly and excitedly make that choice.

Imagine the same scenario, but that young woman doesn’t have a choice.  It can become forced, coerced, unwanted.  Months later that child is brought into this world by a woman who didn’t get to decide those answers for herself.  The consequences are unknown.

The now Teenager and I have a great relationship,  I trust her, and she trusts me.  I respect her and she respects me in return.  She isn’t the cleanest person in the world, but she is kind, self-assured, smart and emotionally intelligent.  I looked at her the other day and said “I am glad I didn’t abort you.”  she replied “thanks mom!”  I put everything I could into that human, let’s make sure she has the same choice.

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Discipline “motivators”

It seems a pivotal, life changing moment when you figure out the “motivation” that will make your kids listen.  The Teenager is mostly well-formed by now, but when she does get snarky or forgets herself I pull out my perfectly formed threat and she tightens up quickly.

“If you don’t (insert offense here) I will call Shaker Dance Academy and sign up for the adult hip hop class.  I will insist on choreographing a dance that you and I will perform together at the end of year recital.”  The behavior is miraculously transformed, as she visualizes the fallout.  Of course there is always the I can take your phone away “motivation”, works like a charm every time.

The Associate is quite different.  She is competitive and a ferocious negotiator.  She plays soccer and does Karate and still finds time to kick me in the shin.  I know she can behave,  her teachers think she is delightful.

The Ah ha moment hit the other day as I observed Karate, and the class began to learn the basic rules of tournament scoring.  The teacher said something like this. “The only time you are allowed to make contact with your opponent during a tournament fight is if you are blocking a punch or kick.”  Wait, WHAT?  The teacher continued “If you cannot control yourself and you hit someone while sparring it is a point for your opponent.”

“Oh this is good!”  I thought to myself.  I pretty much checked out at this point planning my next move.  I practically skipped out of Karate.  The very next time she kicked me, I very calmly said,

“Point for me.”

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nobody is perfect :)

The Teenager wanted to work at the local Ben and Jerry’s and waited patiently until she was 15.  We went over the whole job applying process very thoroughly from start to finish, and when she started was teased because she had never mopped a floor.  She came home a little forlorn, and I said “It’s my fault, I never taught you how.”

It can be argued that I employ a “different” parenting style with The Teenager.  Much to the chagrin of my husband and increasingly myself this focus is not on house cleanliness.  In my mind I am arming her with different information.  Information on how to move about this crazy world with empathy, self-confidence, kindness and fun.  Some of these lessons are impossible for a person of the male persuasion to understand, and I understand his confusion.

Our conversation that mopey mop day continued and the topics ranged from global politics to the difference between baking flours.  Weeks went by as they tend to do and I began to see large gaps in my parenting agenda.  Most of the problem areas are related to cleaning, and we begin to imagine the messes we will make in her future home.  Tea bags in random places, smoothie cups drained dry but not rinsed, blender stuck to the counter. I will most definitely leave my underwear on her bathroom floor tangled up in the soaking wet towel that I took from her hook. I relax thinking about it, my eyes twinkling.

I am startled out of my reverie when I realize that I also making these same mistakes with The Associate.  I temporarily talk myself up and deny my faults.  “If she knew how to clean up after herself, than we wouldn’t know what the sneak is up to.  We can hear her eat sugar from the bowl because of the clink of the fiesta ware as she puts the spoon back in.  I cannot hear the brown sugar container open or close, but I can always read the telltale signs of a powdered sugar meltdown.  The sprinkle of dust goes all the way down the cabinet, under the burner on the stove and into a little heap on the floor.  There is no good way to justify this behavior in her or me, especially when a steady stream of ants invaded for a couple of days.

What to do now, how do I right this wrong? Now that I am finally seeing the light, The Husband can stop banging his head against the wall (which is good), but The Descendants aren’t thrilled with the change.  The Associate yelps out NO! like she is two and The Teenager smirks and lurks off to work or dance or something else of vague importance.  What to do…..?  I know!  Demerits!  (stay tuned.. he…… hee…..)

Why is this in the fridge?

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Evidence that The Associate has been trespassing in my studio.

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key to my heart.

Anyone who knows me or has seen my work knows I have a thing for cocktail stirrers, as seen below in my TV drawer. I have made and sold many earrings and other accessories made from these molded plastic sticks of wonder.  The whole idea of them overwhelms me, don’t know why.

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One of best selling earring sets is made from a long key, so when I found this little bag of awesome, I pounced.

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More earrings!!! A very good friend told me I had to do a better job of bullet pointing my process so here goes.

1. Measure and mark the center of the stirrer.

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2. Using a sharp wire cutter gently snip it in two.  Any shape wire cutters will do this is just what mine look like.

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3. Using a thin drill bit, drill a hole in the top of each piece. I used my monster drill press, but you could a cordless drill (just make sure you brace it down somehow so it doesn’t slip)

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4. There are talented people out there that make the own earring wires for earrings, this is how I avoid learning this skill.  I buy commercial ear wires from my local craft store and make them look nicer by snipping off the loop on the bottom that holds the spring and the cheesy bead.

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5. Once I have snipped off the loop without taking out an eye (those suckers take flight) I use round nose pliers or looping pliers to make a new loop. It turns out looking like it wasn’t bought at my local craft store.

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no that is not my hand.

6. Cut a small length of heart chain and attach a Lucite heart to one end using a jump ring. I just happened to have this adorable heart chain but any would do.

7.  Attach the other end of the chain to the ear wire and key using another jump ring.  Walla!

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Check out my etsy store to purchase. Electricbelle on Etsy