Sprouts Away! And Other Updates

Sprouts Away! And Other Updates

Greetings, dear pond readers! This is yet another small, place-holder post to check in and wish you very happy unofficial start to Summer.

The 2022 Good News Garden is off to a grand start. The Wee Bairn and I up-cycled some containers to head-start seeds in addition to using a grow tray that was buried in our garage. I was not overly optimistic about the motley assortment of milk jugs, strawberry containers, take-out plastic boxes, and paper drink carriers that we assembled. For one thing, they fell over a lot, we didn’t exactly take care over how many seeds got into each one, and had to resort to a combination of twine and scrap cotton fabric to close the containers after running out of packing tape. It seemed a dubious beginning.

And yet, we have sprouts. The Good News Garden is filled with Grace once again. Everything in every unlikely container sprouted and the sprouts in the milk jugs and take-out trays look more robust now than the sprouts in the more “official” garden tray. Go figure.

Mighty Roma Tomatoes by E.A. Schneider

This year, I decided not to wait for the harvest to share the fruits of the garden. Because so many seeds sprouted that the Wee Bairn and I started together, there is no way we’ll be able to grow them all to fruition with the space we have. Bean sprouts were gifted to a neighbor. Basil and Roma tomatoes were gifted to a close friend. Bell peppers and still more Roma tomatoes were gifted to a coworker. I’m planning to put the remaining motley lot of sprouts in the ground and in more pots to share as gifts but we’ll see what happens. The Good News Garden is providing abundant inspiration and joy; gardening is going to be an adventure this year and I’m looking forward to sharing it here with you, dear readers.

Sowing More Seeds Together by E.A. Schneider

Summer is bringing with it more plans, more movies, more writing ambitions, more cooking adventures, more crafting ambitions, and my perennial quest to read more engaging books. I couldn’t be more excited. I recently submitted two of my stories for publication, started two more sewing projects, and saw the movie Belle which has fired my imagination up hotter than a firework. As usual, I hope to share more of these adventures here at the pond.

Tulips blooming by E.A. Schneider

What are your ambitions for the summer, dear reader? What are you most excited to view, read, or create?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Persevering

Persevering

Greetings, dear pond readers! I’m writing to you with a general update on things in my corner of the midwest. This winter was rough with illness and spring has continued in this vein. I’m declaring a win over my latest bout with infectious disease but with the quietest of voices so that the germs don’t hear me and change their plans.

2021 Blueberries on the Wee Bairn’s Blueberry Shrub by E.A. Schneider

Bulbs are coming up. Grass is beginning to green. The soil looks invitingly black and rich. My inner terrier wants to dig and root and inhale deeply of the rich scent of earth. I keep eyeing the garden centers in my area looking for signs of stocked greenhouses. Already I have read and reread my seed packets to sketch my 2022 Good News Garden alongside my Wee Bairn. My spouse laughs lovingly at us for being a pair of Mr. McGregors scolding the naughty bunnies who have eaten the Wee Bairn’s blueberry shrub to a lone, resilient stick and bisected multiple bulbs we planted with their incisors.

Mr. McGregor is not the only literary character on my mind. I keep thinking of Frog and Toad looking for Spring around every corner together in Frog and Toad All Year. That story is one of my very favorites and I love that I can share it with the Wee Bairn. Side by side we hurry to every plot we dug in 2021 to check for green shoots launching upward to the sky or remains rejected by naughty bunnies with picky palettes. It has smote my sore chest every time the Wee Bairn wants to linger outside to plant flowers and fruits only to be told again for the 47th time not today, not yet.

Watching Wildlife Through the Window 2021 by E.A. Schneider

Nevertheless, spring is coming. Seeds will go in the ground. Some will germinate and thrive and some will not. No matter what, it will be an adventure and I’m glad that I can share it with my Wee Bairn. In keeping with the Good News Gardens principles of plant, pray, and proclaim, I’m keen to chronicle our 2022 adventures here again. I’m having fun coming up with ideas to plant seeds and head start them effectively using up-cycled things like milk jugs, drink trays, and cardboard. We’ll see how successful I am in this but it will be fun.

First Bulb Sighting in the Wee Bairn’s Bulb Garden by E.A. Schneider

Speaking of fun, I’m happy to report that this is a big week for my E.A. Lawrence writing journey. I submitted a story to a lovely place this weekend, another story is still under consideration at another lovely place, and last night I found out my status in the NYCMidnight short story contest. Like so much this season, the news is bittersweet. The lovely place didn’t buy my story and the judges didn’t advance me to the next round of judging in the NYCMidnight short story contest. C’est la vie. The sweet part? The lovely place’s reply was encouraging and the NYCMidgnight judges gave me some helpful, constructive feedback on my story. I am heartened that I have some quality stories that just need to find the right home and I’m energized to look.

Frozen Dewdrop on Broccoli 2021 by E.A. Schneider

I’ve also been doggedly plugging away at another short story project that is due in May. Sometimes I write 10 words and reread what I wrote. Other times I write 250. Every time, I text one of my writing friends with a progress update to keep me accountable. I’m writing in my pandemic log and am on volume three. My area is littered with empty pen cartridges. Every time I think I’ve picked them all up, I or the Wee Bairn finds another. Even for as ill as I’ve been and I’ve been scary ill, I’m continuing to write even if it is only a little bit. The effort is a healing exercise. Getting the feedback I’ve gotten on my stories makes me want to seize my fountain pen and dive as deeply into the page as I can. I made a list of my drafts in progress and am cross referencing it with a table of upcoming publishing calls that look promising. I’m trying my absolute best to live up to my writing spirit animal. I sincerely doubt that I will finish all of these stories, at least to my satisfaction, but pondering the possibility gives my arrector pili muscles the good kind of electric boost.

Lake Michigan Spring Snow by E.A. Schneider

The Wee Bairn has also been helping me cut out fabric and started their first hand sewing project this weekend. While sharing certain fabrics from my stash with others was met with protest, the magic of seeing shapes of fabric emerge from the Accuquilt Go was a thrill declared to be the most fun thing ever by my preschooler. I always appreciate this accolade. Of particular interest was the sight of the fabric we used to make a scarf together for the Wee Bairn. The idea that a single fabric could be in both the scarf and be cut into squares for something else for someone else was a fascinating notion to my preschooler. I’m glad. That concept has always been poetic to me. Rattling around in my heart I think there is a fairy tale on the subject but it’s still growing.

I might post these pictures again when I do my post about all my recent sewing projects but here are pictures of the scarf that the Wee Bairn helped me sew. Not only was my Presser Foot Operator on the case, we collaborated on feeding the flannel and minky fabric through the machine. Turning the scarf right-side out was also a source of great excitement and interest. The scarf has become something to cuddle and use as a lasso on the parents more than something warm to wear but that’s okay; we had fun making it together. I pray that someday my child and my future in-laws will be the happier for these early experiments in creativity and making useful, lovely things.

Spring is around the corner. It’s up to us to persevere and get there. Hopefully, this finds you well and healthy and dreaming of pleasant adventures. Are you creating? Writing? Taking pictures?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Epic Plushie: How I Made A D20

Epic Plushie: How I Made A D20

Greetings, dear pond readers! At last, I’m writing to share the epic journey that was completing another D&D toy for my future DM, my own Wee Bairn. Being a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve used my crafty skills to make a few D&D projects. I’ve made a cloth Player’s Handbook, I’ve made a cloth d20, and now I’ve finished an even bigger plush d20. The critical success? I did it with the help of the Wee Bairn. Bonus: minimal mess and no injury. Woo hoo!

When I finished the first cloth d20, I learned that the d20 shape really lended itself more to a squishy ball than a defined polyhedral when crafted in cloth. It was also a small squishy ball that was going to be quickly less magnificent in size as my Wee Bairn grew. While my Wee Bairn does still like the squishy d20 and remembers the fun of helping me stuff it, the child pretty quickly began pestering me for an even bigger one to play with. I’ve seen the large Ultra-pro plush ones in stores and other ones online but some of those look too round and black isn’t my Wee Bairn’s favorite color. It was time to get inventive.

I found a book called Geek Knits with some super cool projects in it including giant plush dice. The book is lovely and I am incredibly inspired to improve my knitting needle work. However, my rudimentary skills lack the stamina to make the d20 outlined in the book. I could however adapt the pattern to my skills as a sewist. I made my own equilateral triangle template out of cardboard using a protractor and the patterns in Geek Knits. Armed with a sharpie and scissors, I cut out 20 triangles from green fleece I found in the remnant bin on sale. It was fuzzy and washable. Then I cut out the 20 sides of the mini-rainbow d20 pattern that came with the red d20 plushie I previously made for the Wee Bairn. Armed with glue sticks, the Wee Bairn helped me glue each rainbow number to each green triangle. Surprisingly, we didn’t get glue all over everywhere.

Equilateral triangle fun by E.A. Schneider

I was still worried about maintaining the structure of the 20 sides. Pellon introduced a new stabilizer product that comes with a thin foam back called Flex Foam. This is probably going to be terrific for making purses and housewares but my first thought when I saw it advertised was d20. I traced my green triangles on the foam and cut out these layered triangles. Once again, the Wee Bairn helped me glue all the layers together. Happily, we didn’t get stuck together. With a preschooler, this is always a pleasant surprise.

Originally, I had planned to have this be the end of the Wee Bairn’s involvement until it came time to add polyester fiberfil. But the Wee Bairn had other ideas that were vocalized repeatedly: “I want to help you, Mommy! Please, I’m a good helper!” I’m never one to turn down help with crafting and for the sake of my future in-laws, I want to encourage handy participation in the Wee Bairn. Strict instructions to sit still and follow directions or else resulted in the role of Presser Foot Operator for the Wee Bairn. The following scene played out several times in subsequent weeks with the Wee Bairn perched on my knee and my arms wrapped around the cuddly human.

Me: Presser foot up, please!

Wee Bairn: I’m on it!

Me: Presser foot down, please!

Wee Bairn: On it!

Here are some pictures of the triangles in progress. We didn’t do all twenty together but we definitely did the majority. I was surprised at the attention span exhibited by my preschooler but it was probably really neat to see all the whirring gizmos visibly making stitches. Sometimes, we even guided the pieces of fabric together but not super often; I didn’t want any fingers getting incorporated into the project.

To stitch all those layers together, I used a Schmetz Universal needle. I also used all purpose thread and zig zag stitches.

Assembling the three dimensional plushie was definitely the trickiest part of the process. I looked at a bunch of pictures online, my previous d20 plushie, Geek Knits, and my own hoard of dice to get the layout just right. I also used a combination of large safety pins and basting stitches to piece the die together and was continually checking that the sides would line up. This part of the process took place during D&D games instead of anxiously scarfing down treats. The Wee Bairn’s contribution was asking every day multiple times a day if I had finished the d20 yet. That kind of accountability does help one focus. When I was sure I had the layout correct, I turned the die inside out so that I could finish the seams. Here is a gallery of these in-between steps complete with an actual D&D book from the game.

To finish the construction, I did sew some of these seams in the sewing machine. This required quite a bit of patience and upper body strength to maneuver the plushie under the presser foot. I broke multiple needles. A couple times, my Presser Foot Operator did step in to help but thankfully I was able to finish most of the remaining seams by myself. Turning the die right side out again, I discovered some raw seams where the Flex foam was visible but not as many as I’d feared. Using a long needle that was double-threaded, I was able to hand sew the raw areas closed during more D&D games. Here are some pictures of the finished empty plushie.

At last, it was time for the long promised role my Wee Bairn was anticipating: stuffing the giant d20 with squishy poly fiberfil. We used recycled poly fiberfil a friend gave me when something plush of theirs fell apart as well as scraps of torn up quilt batting but you could use any poly fiberfil or fabric scraps you wish. Knowing that this dice is destined for many hefty rolls, we stuffed it super tight. To close the opening, I had to use a curved hand quilting needle threaded with a four strand length of thread as well as a lot of upper body strength. This was the step where I pricked my fingers the most.

Finally, the d20 was complete. When my Wee Bairn went to bed one night, it was stuffed awaiting the final seam and upon the morning, there it was, ready for action. The delighted squeals and games of catch we played together were absolutely perfect even if I can’t say the same of every seam in the plushie. I’m okay with imperfection. Thankfully, the die is also still big enough to be a fun play thing with my growing preschooler for a while and it actually rolls on a side rather than being only a squishy ball.

As an artist, I’m pleased that this plushie looks recognizably like a d20 and it is very cuddly. Even though this was a labor intensive project and took me two years to finish, I could conceive of replicating this plushie with probably greater efficiency. We shall see. For now, it’s satisfying to see this beauty in my Wee Bairn’s hoard of toys and roll it together knowing that this was our collaboration. I want my child to know the joy of creativity and the satisfaction of making things; that was something my parents gave me. Every time we do something creative together, it is an extra special experience and I look forward to the next time even more.

Ready to Roll for Initiative by E.A. Schneider and Wee Bairn

What kind of projects are you working on with your family or friends? Are you exploring the world of Dungeons & Dragons or other RPGs?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

You Deserve Flowers

Hello, dear pond readers! Tonight I’m sharing the thoughts of an amazing writer who once again said exactly what I needed to read and I suspect you need to read it, too. Thanks for stopping by the pond tonight and when you’re done here, do please go explore all that Sarah Writes, it’s delightful. Enjoy!

So Sarah Says

You deserve every good and wonderful thing in this world.
(and so do I.)

You deserve grace, compassion, opportunities to repair ruptures and learn from mistakes. You deserve to dance in the sun without shame; you deserve to feel safe in your body. You deserve to be celebrated just because you exist. You deserve tasty food and loving hugs; you deserve somewhere safe, dry and warm to lay your head at night. You deserve care, rest, and security. You deserve to be truly alive.

None of us are without fault, foible, and flaw, but we are not the sum of those shortcomings. No, dear readers, we are so much more. So very much more.

We are full of the spark of the divine, crafted from the same chemicals as the universe, and we’re here for a reason. (and NO. That reason is not just to serve as a cautionary tale.)

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Victory with 3 words and 30 minutes to spare

Greetings, dear pond readers! I write tonight with an ecstatic heart and one mucus smeared face. As I wrote in a recent blog post, I decided to start 2022 with a new writing challenge offered by NYCmidnight. The entire point was to stretch my creative muscles with a writing prompt that would challenge me. Without detailing the full assignment, the prompt I was given involved the romance genre which is definitely outside of my comfort zone. After I got my brief, I found myself pondering different options with a befuddled mind for three of my precious eight days. I noodled out a bunch of different notions in my journal with my new favorite fountain pen before falling asleep every night.

Thankfully, I am a determined sort with both a very supportive spouse and an encouraging friend who checked in on my progress daily to help me brainstorm and cheer me on. I finally started drafting in earnest on day five during my lunch break and managed less than 500 words. It was a start. The next day I wrote only 10 words. Another day I only picked the names for my characters. Yesterday, I wrote nothing. In fact, I woke up with both a runny nose and a sore throat. Yipes. Luckily, I tested negative for COVID-19 with an at-home test and was able to get through the day albeit without draft progress. I have a busy schedule and with the barest of bare bones ideas barely begun, I placed all my hopes in finishing a draft on Saturday. Would it be good?

Nope. But then, first drafts are supposed to be lousy. It’s okay if I don’t get through to the second round. My attitude is that I have paid for the opportunity to try something new and get editorial feedback on my draft. I won’t win this contest but with perseverance, I think I can edit this story into something I can place elsewhere. More importantly, writing this draft was fun. I feel ecstatic and indomitable even though I’m sneezing constantly and dripping mucus like a leaky faucet. Thanks to the support of my amazing spouse who took the Wee Bairn on some strategically timed outings today, I was able to turn a 500 word barely legible start into 10 double-spaced pages of beginning, middle, and end with three words and 30 minutes to spare before the deadline. Cue the heroic music.

VICTORY SCREENSHOT by E.A. Lawrence

It’s nice to know that I can rise to a baffling challenge. I feel more fired up than ever to conquer some of my unfinished works in progress and submit some finished pieces to new places.

What challenges are you rising to lately, dear pond reader? Any big creative plans for 2022?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!