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 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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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

First day I have to myself, and I clean my cabinets, then scarf.

I love summer and I am lucky to be able to be around when my kids are off,  but by mid August…  Anyone that stays at home with their children and attempts to have any semblance of a career can relate that it starts to suck.  In addition to my home duties I am starting a non-profit and I actually have things to do that require total concentration.  Apparently this idea is a bit too abstract for my spawn. I get a lot of “oh ya, that… ” from The Teenager whereas  The Associate simply wants to know if I am the boss.  When I answer “yes?” she wants to know if I can fire people.  Besides bringing the The Donald to mind and sending a nasty shiver down my spine I try to explain the concept of collaboration, and she quickly loses interest. *Sigh*

Purgatory is over and school is back in session. I can answer all my emails, complete those important phone calls, write a blog and get back to business.

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The Associate on her first day of 3rd Grade.

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This is the only image I was allowed to take of The Teenager.

As I poured myself a second cup of coffee in my blissfully empty home a cabinet door crashed to the ground.  By the time I rounded up a new hinge, screws, drill bit and successfully charged up the drill, I had gone crazy cleaning out my cupboards in the mudroom and kitchen.  I forced myself to finish the chore I unwittingly started and attempted not to lament my dream of a peaceful morning.

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However! I did find something to play with while digging through the mudroom.  Even though it is too hot outside yet to wear scarves I don’t let myself hesitate.  I have had this idea for a couple years and every year I end up stuffing them back into a bin because I miss the boat.  I guess it can be argued that I have little control over my day, even when no smaller people are bugging me.

Momentarily I am distracted by the most wonderful package EVER!!!

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Seriously does this woman know me or what??? *Thanks Julia!*

The project is simple.  I have somehow accumulated 9 plaid scarves from various thrift shop adventures.  They are all different and all too short.

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After washing them and matching them up  I debate sewing them with a machine.  I give this a shot but feel like it looks lame.  I am trying to create lush and vibrant neck wear and the small stitching looks silly.  I trim off that mistake and decide try my absolutely favorite glue in the entire world!

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Some off the scarves are wider than others, but I really like the way the patterns and colors hang together.  I use the trim from the middle scarf to cover the overlap, and let dry.  The bond is very secure and in my past experience will hold up in the wash.  I discard ideas of decorative stitching in contrasting colors (mostly because I am terrible at it.)

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I then attempt to take pictures of my creations, but recall my model just started 10th grade.   This is the best I could do after discovering them in pile on her floor still un-selfied.

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Now I will put them away until the temperature goes down.  Maybe I’ll go answer some emails, answer phone calls. Oh wait, The Associate is home sick.

 

 

 

Label reading

When The Teenager was just a wee lass, she accompanied me everywhere.  We were always learning on the go.  For instance, if she wanted me to purchase crappy food at the grocery store she would have to read the label.  Keep in mind she was five when we started this and she couldn’t read much at all.  She could however pick out the word sugar with surprising quickness, and we won’t buy a product if sugar was in the top 5 ingredients.  As “new and improved” sugar substitutes became available we learned that if it sounded like a crazy chemical it probably was and it was best not to consume it all, and always be skeptical of “natural ingredients” packaging.  As the years went on and she had a firm, slightly jaded view on pre-packaged food we moved onto math and price illusion (as I like to call it.)  Now she is 15.75 year old educated consumer, and we did a little vacation shopping.  We paused and gave a nervous giggle, snapped a picture and entered into a bewildering, obviously recently re-branded grocery store chain.

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“Who do they think they are fooling?  There is no farm in there!”

We were instantly struck by the ridiculous lengths that this chain went through to make people think that their crap was any better than anybody else’s crap or fresher and local? The Teenager was horrified by the “Chicken Kitchen.” Stuck to the floor leading up to the counter where a man stood wearing a chicken hat butchering chickens and selling it in every configuration I could imagine were chicken feet decals.   “MMMOOOOOOMMMMMM”  “It looks like the chicken are walking to their death!!!!”

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OY!  no chicken today.  We quickly turn and The Teenager’s disgust turns to laughter as she gawks at the single muffins.  “Look mom they are single and ready to mingle, but that is a pricey date.”

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Right next to the muffins were half loaves of bread.  Not a small loaf, but a whole loaf that was broken up into two loaves and then sold for the same price as a whole. I mutter that “I can waste my own bread thank you very much” as The Teenager counts the slices and declares that “you can’t even make four whole sandwiches”  we laugh the laugh of the confused, but begin to draw attention and step away without photographic proof.  “This place gives me the creeps!” she whispers.  We wind our way around to stop dead in front of yet another petrifying sign.

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“MMMMMOOM??  do you see all the gears?

I begin to conjure images in my head of a boardroom full of executives howling with maniacal laughter as they try to scheme us out of our money.  How gullible do they think we are?  That windmill isn’t creating energy it just a vertical fan! Those are not greenhouses, they are filled with frozen food! That bakery smells like a cookie candle! Quickly we grab our absolute essentials  (ice cream and coffee) and depart hastily.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of the recent ruling about GMO labeling voting nonsense.  All of my meticulous training for nothing!  My instinct tells me to teach my children not to eat anything genetically modified, but how will they ever know in order to make that choice? Maybe I need to teach The Associate a different method all together and we can start by never going back to that “store” again.

 

 

7.5 years apart

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I actually planned to have my children this far apart, and most of the time it works out alright.  The age gap became ever so much larger when The Teenager started to drive.  In the space of 30 minutes I went from indulging The Associate in a game of “I am a kitty take care of me (pictured above)”, to explaining to The Teenager how to drive responsibly.  Surprisingly enough I didn’t cry all over myself and was repeatedly astounded by my calm demeanor.  She chauffeured me all over the winding roads of Lakeview Cemetary, around dead people that she couldn’t kill because, you know, they are already dead. Each turn became a little smoother and her foot more leaden.

stopping for gas on the way home.

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We arrive home to The Associate panting at the back door. “Yes, you are a sweet kitty, here is some milk”  “NO MOM! I need you to take my picture so it looks like I am stopped in mid-air!”

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Switch!

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The manual is read and highlighted.  It is full of useless information, but I don’t tell her that.  There is no driver etiquette, or even common sense, so I begin to point these out quite obsessively when we practice.  I go over what I think a young driver should know, but the DMV has very different ideas.  I am all for it being difficult to get a driver’s license, and the questions to be tricky, but two questions she got wrong are utterly ridiculous. They are so bad I woke up thinking about them.

The first question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.  “If a driver is over 18, who in the car has to wear seat belts?”   My cautious and thoughtful teenager that I have spent 15 years buckling in, over 16 if you count me buckling my giant pregnant belly, answers: Everyone?  Sounds good, safety first, but to her surprise and my horror, this is incorrect.  The correct answer is: Only the people in the front seat.!  Thanks DMV.

The second question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.   “If a driver under the age 21 gets pulled over for drunk driving how long do they lose their license?  Again, The Teenager reasons, well the driver is drinking underage which is bad and driving under the influence, that’s really dangerous.  Her answer is 2 years. This however is incorrect, and the correct answer is 60 days.  Soooooooo. Let me get this straight…… A person under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 can drive around with people unbuckled in the back seat (kids included), while under the influence of Alcohol that they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet, AND it is really not a big deal. 60 days and they can get their privileges back.  SERIOUSLY who do I call? Even if this messed up stuff is the law, is it necessary to put it on the NEW DRIVER TEST?? I have 7.5 years to get it changed, who is with me?