Sunday, May 29, 2011

ashleychristines on Etsy, Joey Brame, calligraphy, hand painted cards, scripture, friend.

Etsy is not just a marketplace... it's a social network in a way.  I can't tell you how many wonderful people I've met through Etsy.
One of the greatest things that ever happens is a conversation with another shop owner.  I can share stories, ask questions, make trades, support and encourage, and be supported and encouraged.

I'd like to introduce you to one of the friends I've made.
This is Joey Brame. :)
Johanna Brame, fellow Etsy artist and friend.

Okay, so that's not REALLY Joey.  She's actually much lovelier, but I'm limited in my paint skill.  I love her main Etsy picture, where she's got this absolutely beautiful, joyful smile that lights up the screen when you see it.  I only wish I could meet her and see that smile in person.
So Joey, my friend... please don't kill me for the poor representation. :)

Anyway, moving on...

She contacted me not too long ago with a request for a possible trade.  I took one look at her shop and totally fell in love!!!
She's a master caligraphy artist, and she hand paints floral designs on everything she makes.
Here's a picture of some of the cards she made me.

Okay... again, not really.
These are REALLY the cards that she sent me.

I know!  Gorgeous, right?
And this is not the only thing she's made for me!!

The first thing she made me was a custom caligraphy 8x10 poem I'd written.  She stepped out of her comfort zone for me, and tried something totally new, and painted dogwoods (my favorite flower/bloom) around the poem.

I'm SOOO in love with this piece of art!!  I haven't had a chance to get it framed yet.  I want to take it somewhere and choose some perfect, swanky frame to put it in, and then hang it in my craft room where I can look at it everyday!!

So yes... I'm thankful for the amazing people I meet on Etsy.  This is such a fun experience, Etsy, crochet, my own business, virtually meeting other artists, and making online friends!

So I just wanted to share this, because EVERYONE should take a look at her shop.
You can find her here.

Thank you, Joey!!  For your amazing creations, and your friendship!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

So I've been working on this monkey hat for weeks.  I've been interupted so many times while working on it, that I've managed to confuse myself.  I have pages and pages of drawn out pictures, notes, abbreviations, etc.  And I can't make head or tails of any of it.
I'm SOOO frustrated with the monkey hat at this point, that I'm dreading working on anything.
Maybe monkey hat is evil?

So my friend Sandie sends me a message, asking if I have it done.  And I vent, I tell her how upset I am about the process, and she mentions that she's using my princess hat and altering it to use bulky yarn.
And it hits me!
I've been trying to force myself to do something that I'm no longer enjoying!
I need to STOP, do something different for a bit, and then come back to the monkey hat!

So I got excited, and motivated, and felt AWESOME, as I worked and reworked my princess hat to adapt it for bulky yarn!
And it WORKS!
*Ebeth dances, and sings along with random song on radio*

So I'm back in my groove.  I'm working on this new pattern, and LOVING it.  I'm already half way done with it, and have plans to jump into the boy loafers for bulky yarn when I finish this one!!
I'm planning to devote myself to working this weekend, ignore everyone else that wants something else from me, lean on my super supportive husband as he takes care of the kids, reminds me to eat, sleep, and rest, and just do what I want to be doing, and get some work done!

And on another note?
I'm feeling fabulous.  I mean REALLY REALLY good.  I feel like I've broken out of a slump I've been in, and I'm back to being myself.
Ever just feel like you're at your BEST?

 Yeah.. that's me today. :)

So... new patterns coming SOON!

And sorry if anyone is disappointed with the delay on the monkey hat.
I'll come back to it.
I promise.


Friday, May 27, 2011

How's the monkey hat coming along??

Ten points if you can name the famous photograph in the thought bubble.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

My mama.

This post is about my mother.  She recently had a birthday, and I had most of these pictures drawn, and ready to post, and was totally planning to post them ON her birthday, to wish her a happy birthday, but everything just sort of fell apart this last week or so, and I've been completely overwhelmed.

So...  I'm here, and this is a very late HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!
I made you this cake. :)

So my mom is one of the most important people in my life.  She is absolutely everything I want to be in a person.  She's amazing.
This is my mom.
Isn't she beautiful?
*nods head*  She is.
She's amazing.  She raised 5 kids, and fostered I don't know HOW many.  She was always taking in my friends, and rescuing someone.
She can make ANYTHING.
No really, she can.
She could build a rocket if she needed to.
My mom?
She is simply AMAZING.

We talk all the time!!  She is one of my very best friends, and we can sit on the phone for hours.

See... we are from Tennessee.  And in Tennessee, you bless people's hearts.  If someone has done something fantastic?  Something that brings a tear to your eye?  Well, "Bless their heart."   If someone has had a recent tragedy, a loss, or a sickness? "Bless their heart."  If someone has done something sweet? "Bless their heart."  Pregnant?  Getting married?  Graduating?  "Bless their heart."

It's what we do. :)

I am more and more like my mom everyday.  As I see my patience grow, my compassion and empathy for people grow, as I see signs of selflessness in myself, or true beauty?  I see my mom.

My mother has what I guess most people would call a "southern twang".  I used to have it.  I grew up speaking slowly, and running words together, a beautiful accent to those who call TN home.
But when we moved out to California, after Gregory joined the military, he and I got made fun of for our accents.  I QUICKLY learned to drop it.  And now, I have very little of my accent left.


When I talk to my mama. :)
Two minutes on the phone with my mom, and my accent comes back as strong as it was when I lived in Tennessee.
Translation: What are you (plural) laughing about?

My closest friends get a HUGE kick out of this. :)  They like to tease me about it, and I honestly love it.  It makes me feel closer to home, closer to my mom, more like her.

And for some reason... people who aren't from the south, just assume that everyone in the south knows, and sings, country music. :)
My friend Kari loves to hear my accent, and once when we were at a Girls Night Out, a whole group of us military wives, Kari asked me to sing a country music song.


I don't actually KNOW any country music! As southern as I am, or was, I was never impressed by country music.  But... loving Kari as much as I do...

Translation: "Don't break my heart, my achy breaky heart."

I found a song I "sorta" knew, and got up there (sober, I might add) and sang it with as much twang as I could muster. :)
I love Kari.

So yes, I get my creativity, my good looks *wink*, my patience, and my occasional southern twang from my mama.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Mama, I love you!
I'm sorry I didn't get this posted sooner!  I was so SO glad to get to see you today (my mom was vacationing pretty close to where I live, and I was able to drive for awhile, and get to spend a few hours with her.) , and I can't wait to be able to come visit you in TN soon!   You're amazing, no one in the world like you, although I'd love to be just like you.  Thank you for being one of my closest friends, for never judging, for your advice, your patience, for listening.  I love you!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I don't have time for a business.

I'm guilt ridden.
And the thing is, I have SO many blessings in my life, I can't handle them all.
I need more hours in a day.

Here's a breakdown.
There are 168 hours in a week.
If I sleep 8 hours a night, I am down to 112 hours.
If I bathe, get dressed, take medicine, brush my hair, and brush my teeth every day, I'm down to 105. 
If I eat three meals a day, I'm down to 94.5
If I go to church on Sunday, I'm down to 92.5
Those are my necessities... just for myself!  If I take care of myself, do what I absolutely need to do for myself (and yes, I think this includes church) I am down to 92.5 hours left a week!
That sounds like plenty, doesn't it?
If I bathe my youngest three, every other day, I am down to 87 hours.
If I prepare meals for the little ones for breakfast and lunch, and one meal a day for dinner, I am down to 76.5 hours a week.
If I do laundry each week, I'm down to 74.5 hours a week.
If I clean everyday, I'm down to 69 hours a week..
If I go grocery shopping, or house shopping every week, I'm down to 67 hours a week.
If I help the kids with homework each week, I'm down to 64 hours a week.
Okay.. so that takes care of the bare necessities of taking care of my family.
This does not include, doctor or dentist appointments, missed busses, or sick kids, which I'm sure would make that an even smaller number.
Now, let's say I give each one of my children just 30 minutes a day of individual attention.  Just half an hour.  (That's fantastic parenting, isn't it?)
I am down to 43 hours a week.
At this point, without anything else, I have enough time to work a full time job.

But wait...
I have a husband.
My partner.  My best friend.  Shouldn't I consider him?  What about the appointments he has to make?  What about his work schedule?  I have to work around everything that he needs.
So, let's factor in just the necessities of taking care of kids when he can't, running errands he needs, discussing bills, meals, driving places...  at a bare minimum.
I'm now down to 29 hours a week.
Now I would actually like to spend some TIME with my husband.
I think this ranks pretty high up there in importance, so I'm going to give him an hour each day. (ha!  an hour?  really?  for the most important person in my life?)
I'm now down to 22 hours a week.

Okay!  I now have time for a part time job!!!!

Oh, wait...
The kids have skating on Tuesday night.  Oh, and we've been trying for WEEKS now to make it Wednesday night supper.  Oh, and what about FAMILY time.  Not individual kid time, but that time that we're supposed to spend as a family doing things together?
Tuesday night 4 hours
Wednesday night 3 hours
Family time per week, let's say 4 hours.

I'm now down to 11 hours a week!

Well, SURELY that's enough time to at least send all the emails I need to send?

Oh, but I didn't consider the variables.
The weeks that one of them has a concert, a hair cut, a doctors appointment, a dentist appointment, extra homework, sickness, driving time, waiting in line time, waiting room time, holding on the phone time, etc.

I'm going to give myself some wiggle room here, and give myself 2 hours a week for the variables.
I'm now down to 9 hours a week.

So, I'm now giving myself and my family what I consider to be the least I can give them without being a horrible wife, and mother.  I have a large family.  I need to take care of them.  This is the life I chose!

And I have 9 hours a week left.

My husband may lose his job.  And soon.  We're looking at a scary time right now, because it's up in the air whether a medical condition is going to end my husbands career.
I am trying my VERY best to raise my income potential as far as I can incase that happens.

When I sat down a few nights ago, I decided I wanted to work 25 hours a week.  That maybe, just maybe, if I put in 25 hours per week, I might be able to work enough that I could support our family in the near future.

I'm now down to negative 16 hours
I need 16 extra hours from somewhere.

I have not included friends, I have not included personal time (WOW would I ever LOVE to read a freakin book!, or take a bath that lasts longer than 20 minutes, or just sit quietly in a room... ALONE.  I haven't included a call to my mother.  I haven't included a phone call to my sisters, or a visit with my brother.  I haven't included vacation time.  I haven't included phone calls to any of my long distance friends. 
Did  you know it's been a MONTH since I talked to my best friend in TN?
It's been 2 weeks since I've said hello to my best friend in GA.
Except for a few text messages, I haven't talked to my best friend in Nebraska in months.
I haven't talked to my mom for more than 5 minutes in weeks.
I've only gotten to talk to my god mother for a few minutes in the last few months.
I haven't included the occasional nap.  I haven't included the occaisonal hair cut, or shopping trip. 
I haven't included ANYTHING but what I NEED to be doing.

So let's say I want 2 hours a week, for personal time, for friend time, for phone calls, and vacation time, facebook, blogging, etc.
I'm now down to negative 18 hours.
I need an extra 18 hours a week.

And that's with me being absolutely mediocre, lacking, in every single area of my life.

If I actually went back, and added up the time it would take to do all of these things WELL?
I'd need an extra week, each week.

I'm overwhelmed.  I'm up to my eyeballs in stress.  I'm doing badly in just about every area of my life.  I've got people inviting me places, parties, events, dates, and I turn them ALL down.
I haven't been to a Girls Night Out in MONTHS.
I've got friends and family asking me to do little things.  Take pictures, artwork, teach them something, write them something, babysit, design something for them.
And I want to do it ALL.

I realized today, after staying up all night last night, working, and then today going to the dentist, running errands, taking a nap to make up for the sleep I lost last night, diving into more work... that I hadn't held Sarah ONCE today.
So I stopped.
I went in the living room, I picked up my sweet baby, who's had attention from big sisters and daddy all day, and I sat down and I CRIED.

I don't know how to be everything.  I don't know how to be everything to everybody.
I can't.
I try, SO hard.  To stay positive.  If I see myself getting down, I make an attitude adjustment pretty quickly. I generally keep a smile on my face, and try my best to encourage other people.
But I need, somehow, to have some ME time.

It seems like so many people need something from me.  Everyone in my life needs something from me.  They need my time.
But in all of this... there's no time left... for me?

So what do I give up?
Time with my husband?
Time with my kids?
Money from my business?

HOW do I fit in... a book?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Field Trip.

So my oldest daughter has a field trip today.  She's 12, going on 20, and she gets up in the morning super early so that she can do all the 12 year old stuff that 12 year olds do.  This includes changing her clothes 10 or 12 times, and throwing the rejected pieces onto the floor, getting out every tube, box, container, etc. of makeup and hair products we have, and spreading them all over the bathroom, turning on her radio to whatever crap she listens to, and singing said crap at the top of her lungs.

Despite all of this...
I'm a heavy sleeper.
And I can usually manage to stay asleep for another hour after she gets up.
So this morning, while she's getting ready, I'm having the most wonderful dream!  I'm a goddess, everything is wonderful, the world is perfect, and I'm blissfully happy in the arms of my dream lover (don't tell my husband.)
And then...

Yes, my daughter has blue hair.  I'm telling you, ALL of these pictures are absolutely realistic.

She bounds into my room, and in a panicked voice says, "MOM!  I DON'T HAVE STUFF TO PUT IN MY LUNCH!!"
I'm up.  I'm awake.  My dream lover has suddenly disappeared, and I realize that my extra hour of sleep has been rudely interrupted.
Then I have to remind myself...
I could have done this last night.
I could have stopped at the store after the Middle School Band Concert that never ends.
I could have prevented this.

But... I was distracted last night by other things.  Didn't do what I knew I needed to do.
So... like any good mother would...
I went to the store, to get the poor child some chips.
And, my baby has been taken care of.  She is happily off to the zoo, lunch in hand.
And I'm ZONKED tired.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daydreams and Crochet Patterns

I can't seem to concentrate. 
I've been trying for the last few days to tweak and write my pattern for the monkey beanie everyone went nuts over.
I keep messing it up. :(
Each size I've managed to make has been frogged (for those crochet unaware: frogging is pulling out stitches so that you can start over) a gazillion times.

This is such a cute hat.  It really is.  And I'm so anxious to have this pattern written.
Once I've got it down, this should be a fairly quick project, done with bulky yarn, and paired with my shoes would be an absolutely ADORABLE set to give or sell.

But I can't write it.  I've stopped and started so many times on this project that I've managed to confuse myself.  I've got so many pages written of scratchy crochet abbreviations, that I can't make heads or tails of any of it.

Between the kids, the husband who's leaving on TDY soon, being worried about a very dear friend, the house, the bills, and all of the other worries there are... I just can't seem to get the time or focus to work!

And then, when I finally DO get some quiet time, some time where I can put some work into this pattern... I sit down and find myself daydreaming.  I have to remind myself what I'm doing, and redirect my own focus over and over.

SO yes, the monkey hat IS coming.   It's just going slow. :)   Here's a picture of Sarah in her adorable monkey hat!

See?  How cute is THAT?

I'm putting the pattern down, however, until this weekend when I can concentrate.   This frustration isn't worth it.  I need a moment to breathe in between patterns anyway, and I'm still making edits on my last one, per my testers feedback.

Now... back to daydreaming.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's just one of "those" days.

Where I absolutely, CANNOT, do ANYTHING right.

Bulky Baby Button Maryjanes Crochet Pattern, Manic Writing.

Sometimes I get a design in my head, and this drive to create it comes out of nowhere, and can't be ignored.

When this happens I end up working on a project for sometimes DAYS in a row, nothing else, and I get frustrated with anything that gets in my way.
Well, okay.. an unexpected note from a friend.. that's okay.
But everything else?
Uh uh.  Stay out of my way!  I'm creating!

So, after 20 hours in a row of manic crochet, I created a bootie. :)

I woke up from a dream about crochet.  In that dream, I'd made a fabulous baby bootie out of bulky yarn.  There are just no great patterns for bulky yarn! 

And so I was up, and working, and nothing else for 20 hours straight.

By the end of it, I was a wreck.  I needed a shower, and probably a shot of tequila.
But I had a bootie pattern! :)

So, it has made it's way into testing phases now, and has already had some great feeback from my testers.

And, here are some pictures of the shoes created from my pattern. :)  To be released soon...
Bulky Baby Button Maryjanes!! :)

This crochet pattern will be available on my pattern site on Etsy, and can be found here.

I'm hoping to write some really fantastic patterns for bulky yarn!  I love the stuff.  This project is amazingly quick.  I can have a pair of booties in 20 minutes.  It's a great go to gift for baby showers. :)

They'll be available soon!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Introductory Post.

Hello Internet Word!
My name is Elizabeth Alan.
This is me.
No really.  It is. :)
That is EXACTLY what I look like.

So, in an introductory post, I suppose you're supposed to tell the world about yourself.

Where do I begin?

I'm married to my highschool sweetheart.  He is absolutely the love of my life.  I think people get sick of hearing me talk about him. :)  We've been together since I was 15 years old!  (I'm 30 now.  And yes, it hurts my heart a bit to write that.)

That's him.  Yup, he's bald.  God only made so many perfect heads, the rest he covered with hair!

Together we have 6 children.  That's right.  I said SIX!  We have five girls, and one boy.  Ages 13, 11, 6, 5, 2, and 11 months.  They are the light of my life.  My reason for breathing.  I can't imagine my life without them, and have a hard time remembering my life before them.

This is one of the few pictures I have of all of them together.

I have the best friends in all the world.  I don't get to talk to my long distance friends nearly as often as I'd like to, but those friendships are precious, and I'm so thankful for the wonderful people in my life.

I crochet.   That really doesn't begin to explain it.  It's almost an obsession for me.  I love it.  I love the way the knots form into designs, I love the way yarn feels, the colors.  Everything.   There is yarn, and more yarn and more yarn sitting around my house, little cut tails of it tucked into all the furniture, on the floor.  I constantly have crochet hooks tucked into my ponytail.  (Really!  ALL the time!)

Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I write patterns.  I love writing patterns, and if I had more time in my day, I'd probably have hundreds written by now.

I have an Etsy shop where I sell my patterns.  I love working on Etsy.  I
love my customers.  I love the communication.  I love the bit of extra money.  I love love LOVE all the treasures that I can find on there.

I also have an Etsy shop where I sell my finished work.  I try to put more time into writing patterns, but when I have writers block, I really like to be able to just sit down and do what I enjoy the most!  Simply CROCHET.

You can find me on the web in several different places.
I have a Facebook page and you can find that HERE.
I am on Ravelry, an online knitting and crochet social community, and you can fine me HERE.
I'm also on Twitter.  You can find me HERE.

Thank you so much for visitting my blog!  I hope to contribute regularly and make some great new friends and contacts!