About Me

The Forbidden Chronicles – Christmas

The year I left Christianity was the year I began to love Christmas.

Let’s face it, sitting around my grandma’s living room listening to someone read out of the Bible was the low point of Christmas Eve, especially when I was a child and wanted to run around playing with cousins that I hadn’t seen in awhile. When I was freed from the admonition to “keep Christ in Christmas,” the burden of guilt went with it. I no longer had to chastise myself for feeling empty every time I heard the nativity story.

You see, I never experienced Christianity the way everyone around me always said they did. There was no sense of love or comfort, no still small voices, and no answered prayers. Oh how hard I tried, and all I ever felt was a growing sense of hollowness.

That year, I began to enjoy Christmas for what it was, instead of feeling guilty for what I wasn’t.

Santa Claus and presents, homemade desserts galore, decorating a tree … It’s all wonderful fun, and makes for a fantastic celebration with loved ones during the darkest days of the year. It’s one of the best holidays we have, and I adore dedicating an entire month to it.

It reminds us how beautiful life can be.

Unfortunately, I never feel like I’m allowed to explain why I celebrate Christmas despite not being a Christian. I’m far too accustomed to receiving catty criticism every time I try to explain how I see the world, so I’ve learned keep the magic to myself.

But maybe if I share just a little bit, someone else will learn to see this holiday in the same way I do.

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Marking Fabric and Debunking Misinformation

I learned most of what I know about crafting through books that I picked up from thrift stores, usually published in the 70s and 80s. That probably makes me a major weirdo for my age group, but since I was living in a vehicle at the time I started, I didn’t have constant access to a computer or money … so yeah, major weirdo.

In 2017, I bought a book that had been freshly published, mostly out of morbid curiosity, and I found it to be a major disappointment. For starters, the title was grossly misleading. Secondly, the author left out a huge amount of relevant information, but went into an excessive description about how a-may-zing the purple disappearing pens are for marking fabric, followed up with demonizing the blue water-soluble pens as the most useless invention ever.

Everything the author said was accurate enough for where she lived in the deep South, where it’s humid. But where I live in the arid West, it was thoroughly horrible advice. On dry days, I have used the purple pens then watched the marks disappear in a matter of minutes. I only use them when I need to mark something immediately before cutting or sewing it, because the marks aren’t guaranteed to be there ten minutes later. Blue pens are by far the better option for the climate I live in. So far, I haven’t seen any modern creators mention that local weather patterns can have an effect on tools and fabric.

Books from the 70s are a priceless resource for learning how to accurately mark fabrics when neither pen is an option, especially because they don’t assume that you’re too lazy to spend five minutes on doing a good job.

The sewing and embroidery community has since decided that “heat erase” pens are the greatest thing ever, but I strongly recommend against them — on the grounds that they don’t actually erase. It’s color changing technology, and heat makes the ink turn from dark to white. The ink is permanent, you run the risk of bleaching the marks into fabric that isn’t white, and if there’s any chance of the project being exposed to cold (mailing a Christmas gift?), those marks are going to come right back in all their hideous glory and make a bad first impression. So please, save the heat erase pens for design sketches and notes, and don’t use them on your fabric.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because of the growing popularity of debunking videos. I know that crafting is a little too niche and nowhere near as dramatic as, “THIS WILL EXPLODE ALL OVER YOUR FACE AND KILL YOU!”, so the chances of it getting the same analysis are fairly null. But frankly, it was the misinformation spreading through blogs that killed my interest in using the internet and contemporary books as a learning resource years ago. I still preferentially turn to decades-old books to figure out what the heck I’m doing (and don’t get me started on youtube; slogging through a 20-minute video to get five seconds of clarification is a painful waste of time, and I don’t like your personality enough to want to simply watch you exist).

So, here are my two cents on marking fabric:
Purple air erase pens – good for humid climates
Blue water soluble pens – good for dry climates; rinse thoroughly with cold water before washing with soap to prevent residue
Chalk pencils – good for dark fabrics, may stain pale shades
Heat-erase pens – pls don’t go there

I recommend Sewline products, and heavily use the pens, mechanical pencils, and glue sticks myself.

I can’t help but wonder, are people are ever going to get sick of exploitative clickbait, and cry out to know reality instead? The debunking videos still don’t get anywhere near as much attention as the “hacks” do.

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Christmas Stockings

You ever have those moments where you type up an introductory paragraph, then decide that it sounds too formulated and generic?

Probably just me.

I’ve been wanting to make personalized Christmas stockings for my babies for *awhile*, but never got around to it. I realized that this is the last Christmas that all of my children are going to have single-digit ages, so I decided that this year is THE year.

And yes, I am aware that I’m not using Christmas-themed fabric.

Highlights include: using batting for the first time ever.

For some weird reason, most people are oblivious to the fact that not all sewing is equal. I specialize in making everyday dresses for women and girls, which has completely different criteria from, say, evening wear or lingerie. I have never done quilting before … and I’m not feeling remotely converted, lol.

Piecing the fabric together is simple enough (with squares, anyway), but OMG THAT BATTING. I purchased the “low loft” stuff, but it still seemed excessively thick, and it wanted to stick instead of letting me position it neatly.

At least I knew enough to use the walking foot that came with my sewing machine, which probably saved me a lot of grief with getting the layers sewn into place. I get the feeling that otherwise the batting would have instantly stretched out of shape, and turned the whole thing into a mess.

Next, the cuff, which is the personalized bit, so no sharing online.

About Me

On Schools

I came across this video, and decided to go ahead and share it.

The gist is that teenagers naturally have a later sleep-wake cycle, and the fact that many high schools start before 8am is damaging their brain development.

This is not new information — we talked about this when I was in high school back in the 2000’s, and the teachers were very aware that our 7:30am start time was bad for everyone. My school even experimented with implementing periodic late-start days, to see how it could address the problem. But you know how it is with bureaucracy: twenty years later, nothing has changed.

I don’t talk much about homeschooling my kids, but this is one of the reasons why I went with that option; I still have a naturally late circadian rhythm, and getting up early every morning to get the kids ready and off to school would kill me. In the vein of “been there, done that,” I know that it would very quickly reduce me down to a depressed, horrible mess that bursts into tears every time the alarm goes off. I am not a morning person.

Because my husband is also a night owl, I’m expecting our children to turn out much the same. With homeschooling, everyone can wake up naturally without relying on alarm clocks, and we’re free to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before we get started on the day.

I’m very much of the opinion that the modern lifestyle is incompatible with how our brains and bodies evolved to function — and that’s why society has growing rates of emotional disorders and health problems. I love my children as the vibrant and vivacious individuals that they are, and I could never make them sit in a classroom all day while they are subjected to a “one size fits all” approach to education.

We were meant to move and use our bodies, and to follow our unique passions and curiosities.

About Me

Romance

This month, my husband and I celebrate 12 years together.

It was one of those “love-at-first-sight” whirlwind romances that everyone insists is unrealistic and guaranteed to fail. Yet here we still are, and there’s no one else I’d rather go through the fall of civilization with. 😉

So…

Don’t let the critics and naysayers stop you from making your own destiny.

About Me

Piano

It’s been a little over a year since we got our piano, and I’m pleased to say that I have played it nearly every day since.

I like teaching myself a lot more than the structured lessons that I took as a kid. For starters, if I want to dedicate an entire month to classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, I am completely at liberty to do so. I learn new songs when I want to, and replay my favorites when I’m in the mood for something familiar. Being completely free from any outside pressure has made it much easier to practice every day.

I think that’s one of those things that makes me weird — I CANNOT handle external pressure. Most everyone else that I’ve broached the topic with always says that they work better with a deadline, but I very much don’t.

I’m also much more patient with slowly plinking my way through new songs, and repeating them over (and over) until I’m more comfortable playing them. When I was young, I expected myself to start good and get better without much effort, and it was frustrating when that didn’t happen.

Not to mention, these days I have a couple of dancing toddlers accompanying me. What’s not to love about that?

About Writing

Negative Attitudes Towards the Romance Genre

A few months ago I wondered if I should pull back on the romance label to help broaden the appeal of my writing, but recently I saw a youtube comment (on this year’s overtly capitalist re-imagining of Cinderella of all things) about how women are constantly attacked and shamed for liking romance.

I thought about my own personal experiences, how I was treated like I was too stupid to appreciate more sophisticated story lines, and how I was told repeatedly through my childhood and teenage years that I needed to settle on a career because no one was going to find me lovable. Not to mention, the frequent accusations of romance novels being nothing more than porn …

So I decided that the world needs to change. What I went through is messed up, and society needs to stop inflicting that on women and girls.

And I can’t change the world if I don’t own the fact that I write romance novels.

I love romance. I love deep emotional connections. I love happily ever afters.

This is a subject that I have researched and lived, and despite romance being considered a “stupid” genre, it takes an enormous amount of knowledge and skill to write emotionally engaging relationships that don’t fall flat.

A good romance novel is inspirational.

I’m not going to downplay the nature of the novels I write. I’ve already endured an enormous amount of criticism for being who I am, so there’s no reason to back down now.

About Me

Existential

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I do this, morning sickness doesn’t get any easier to deal with.

I managed to stay active with exercising 2-3 times a week (yay!), but I also felt absolutely awful in the evenings (morning sickness is such a misnomer). You know, after the kids were in bed, during the time I usually spend on my stuff. So instead of doing my thing, I focused on not throwing up while feeling tired.

I’ve also been very existentially moody about the direction society has gone.

The other day I looked at a line of moms sitting with their faces glued to their phones, and I wished that they would look up to see the world in front of them. They could have watched what their kids were learning and chatted with each other, then left for home feeling happy and fulfilled, but instead they chose to be checked out and miss everything.

Just fricken’ look up already.

One day you are going to die, and the only memories you’ll have will be of staring at a screen. What a waste.

Anyway, I didn’t really feel like publicly complaining while I was dealing with morning sickness.

Of course, feeling better also means that I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the housework, because even though my family has been very helpful, they aren’t an expecting mother full of nesting instincts, lol.

Not to mention, Halloween is coming up fast.

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