Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Humorous Coincidence

Fun with my new disguise
It was a daaaark and stormy Halloweeeeeeeeeennn.....(but seriously, it is).

Somehow when deciding to post mainly on Thursdays, it escaped me that my first non-intro blog post would be on Halloween. What a funny coincidence! Why, you ask? Because I love Halloween. I will refrain from sharing pictures from my goth youth and early adulthood, but let's just say that for the longest time my car had a bat hanging from the ceiling inside, I have Halloweenish stuff in my house year-round, and it just generally brings me glee for it to be this time of year.

We use this tablecloth year-round. This borscht was extremely delicious.
Bat and elephant rhubarb berry cobbler I made last spring
It doesn't hurt that my birthday is also in October. We have created a new tradition in the last few years: fancy lunch with family, Husband and the little ladies get me an ice cream cake, and then he prepares an amazing bo ssam feast for us and friends.
My cake last year
My birthday cake this year

Love + Jack O'Lanterns on my birthday
Ms. Matilda Behemoth also has a! As a rescue kitty, we don't know her exact birthday, only her approximate age. Since she is a (roly poly) little black cat, the kids decided that Halloween would be a perfect birthday for her!
Happy 3rd birthday, Matilda Behemoth!
We added a few festive decorations to the outside of our house. What do you think?
Miss S doing a little reading under the hanging skeleton garland
Spooky decorations, courtesy of Miss G. Can you find her in this picture?
Of course we had to carve a pumpkin! The kids chose the "epic face".

Pumpkin carving! This is our "epic face" pumpkin.
I'll end with a little something for your listening and viewing pleasure. This is a favorite for me and Husband, "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" by Squirrel Nut Zippers. Enjoy and have a happy Halloween!  =^_^=

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Great Midwest Clothing Purge

We just got done with a move.........again. I've lost track of how many moves have happened over the past decade but trust me when I say too many. I've met every move with the excitement that comes along with big changes in life, and this move was no different in that regard. What was different was the way I viewed this move, this house. I no longer thought " We'll rent here for a year or two and then onto the next place/city/state". Instead I find myself hoping for a sense of permanency. I don't want to move again. I don't want to try out a new city or a new state ( unless it's Alaska.....Alaska + yurt = my own personal heaven). I want to stay put and get to know our new neighborhood and community. Even though our house is a rental I'm hoping maybe the tides of change can somehow turn to make it our own.

Maybe this is what happens when you hit your 30's, that desire for a sense of permanency? I've got another strong desire too; for simplicity.

If a move does anything it makes you realize how much crap you own! Friends, I will admit I have waaaaaaay too much. Mostly in the clothing arena. Sure, I just had a baby 9 months ago so I could use my changing size over the past year and a half as an excuse, but it'd just be an excuse ( I didn't buy or wear any maternity clothes this time around, but that's another post). The truth of the matter is I just like clothes, but I'm also very particular about clothes. So I tend to have several pieces that fit in the category of " it was on clearance, and even though I take it off after 20 minutes of wearing it because I can't stand a, b, or c about it, I'm still hanging onto it because someday maybe I'll find time to fix a, b, or c". If a category has a name that long I'm thinking it's time to move on!

So I invite you to follow along over the next few weeks with me on Tuesdays as I get brutal and purge my closet, my kid's closets, and maybe even my husband's (shhhh don't tell him, the man has more shoes than me). I promise lots of pictures that will make you feel better about the state of your own closet ;).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

why yes, I DO have a great massage story to tell...

When people find out that I'm a massage therapist, one of two things always happens.  Either they ask me if I have any really funny or crazy massage stories or they start pointing to something that hurts as if I'm going to rub it right then and there.  I wonder what those people do when they find out someone is a proctologist?

So here it is... my new favorite massage story:

(Official disclaimer for those that will probably be offended over nothing.  #1, I never give out details that would be a breech of ethics.  I am first and foremost a professional according to the state of illinois and backed up by the 13.5 in debt and a shiny, framed Associate's Degree in Applied Science.  #2, I am open to all walks of life and all faiths, provided that they do not hold me captive and force feed my doctrine.  It's the captivity and irony of this story that makes it funny, relax)

So my day started out preparing for what is always a very labor intensive, draining massage.  I'm only so strong and so big, very deep tissue and sports massage is not my preferred modality.  I can hack it but not for too many in a row.  A client was coming in that I see regularly and needing a DEEEEEP sports massage like always.  As I go in, I hear mumbling and I realize there is an iPhone on the ground so that my client can watch a podcast through the facehole.  It's on the wood floor so the podcast, a megachurch sermon, is amplified and filling the room, because....    "I thought it would be weird if I brought my headphones"

(no weirder than an impromptu megachurch hour long Jesus rant)

Now the sermon podcast wasn't that bad.  From what I could hear it was a very sweet and inspired message.  Help your fellow man, Gratitude and faith go hand in hand, be kind to the less fortunate... See how those that have more can share with those that have less... generosity, gratitude, JESUS JESUS JESUS.

Then, THE HEAT TURNS ON.  It's October in Chicago, after all.. and it was a balmy 45 degrees this morning and the heat gets cranked (by the one person working who does NOT have to do any physically demanding work) to 78.  The heat blasts directly on my face, as if I took a peek at the Ark of the Covenant, my face is now MELTING OFF to the tune of contemporary religious music (the kind that you see commercials for where everyone looks like they're in pain).

Just then, the actual spa music in the room switches to a meditation chant song about Ganesha.

So there I am...
exhausted and straining, my hands on fire
heat blasting, face melting off, sweat pouring from my scalp, face, neck, and back

...I'm pretty sure this is what hell feels like.

the hour ends, the client is relaxed and happy and after an extra long sermon about giving to the poor and appreciating your fellow man...     no tip.

service industry brothers and sisters, can I get an Amen???

Friday, October 25, 2013

Been around this land and back again....

Hey there!

 I'm Eryn, the New England born and bred part of the alliance. Over the past decade or so I've lived in several states around this country but always considered myself a New England girl......until I fell in love with the western shores of Lake Michigan. I now call Southeastern Wisconsin home along with my reggae lovin' husband, our brood of boys, and the coolest kitty this side of the Mississippi; Allspice aka Spicy Cat (this I feel is a valid claim as Annaliese and I are on opposite sides of the river).

 My days are full with homeschooling my older boys, crafting, cooking, all the fun that comes along with a 9 month old, and in general keeping this house of menfolk in line. I truly enjoy being in the kitchen preparing food for my family and it doesn't seem like a chore to me. I'm obsessed with all things wool; knitting, spinning, and someday I dream of having sheep ( I also dream of goats, chickens, and a dairy cow).

As a family we enjoy shopping our local farmers market (which just ended for the year, boo), spending time at the lakefront (especially in the fall/winter), hiking, camping, going to local events and festivals, and family bike rides with our bakfiets (bucket bike).

I'm so excited to be on this blogging adventure with my two long time friends and I just hope they can put up with my excessive use of punctuation and parenthesis.

Other places you can find me are:

Spicy Cat

My 3 sons up a tree
Mama on the prairie

Sexiest man alive ;)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome!

Well hello there. I'm Annaliese, 1/3 of the infamous (at least to us) Midwest Craft Alliance.

I'm a human. You know, doing stuff here and there. I have two not-so-little-anymore daughters, one perfect husband, and three weirdo cats. I wish I could tell you I also have a hedgehog and a bat, but I've been told that three cats are enough pets in the house. Le sigh.
I love to draw, paint, and do art in general, as well as write and create crafty things. I also enjoy music, which is good because my husband is a musician. I actually enjoy taking care of our home and making it nice. I also actually enjoy making our kids' school lunches. I told the kids that if anyone says anything about their black cat shaped sandwiches or Miffy rice balls, they can just say their mom is an artist, "It's cool." Our family does a lot of awesome stuff like traveling, community events, hiking, etc etc etc (the list goes on), so that should be a preemptive answer to anyone who wants to ask, "What do you all do?" when I tell you: We don't have a television.

My husband is an amazing chef (whether he'll admit it or not) and we always eat dinner as a family, which we think is really important.

I am really thrilled to be doing a blog with Eryn and Becky. These are two grade-A, talented ladies who I have known for a long time and have been a great support to me throughout the years!

Like my cohorts, I have an Etsy shop and sell the various things I make. It's quite fun! Soon I will be selling prints of my artwork and that makes me very excited. I like the pieces I create. They make me happy and I hope they make other people smile at least a little. I also make play food with the help of my minions -- er, I mean children. We always have to make extra for their own play kitchen.

I'm also on the various social media sites; take a look if you would like:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years

A little about me...

maybe.  Writing about myself is hard... it's the introvert in me I think.
My token profile in social media goes a little something like this:

I'm a leo-cancer-leo, if you're into that sorta thing.
scanner, dilettante, drifter, beloved dinner party guest
geeks loves me, gluten hates me
from the Mistake by the Lake to the Windy City
broad shoulders, wide hips, low to the ground, built for work.

In real life, when I'm not trying to sound cool on the internet, I'm a hardworkin' single mama.  3 jobs, 1 kid, back to school for OT before my massage therapist hands secede from my body in protest.  One of those 3 jobs is of the arty persuasion, I sling my crafts at the occasional craft fair and online as well as commissioned pieces using just about any medium requested.  Never met a craft I didn't like (except maybe large scale knitting).

The b stands for Becky but I'll be honest, I answer to just about anything.  My minion is named Sullivan, sul for short.  (Sully means "to make dirty" or it's that big blue and purple monster... although he does make a mess so that first definition isn't too far off)  

We're enjoying our time just outside of Chicago-- close enough to hop on the el, far enough away to stay safe walking around at night, and with enough snotty Frank Lloyd Wright-ophiles to keep the scenery pretty.

If, by some strange turn of events, you want more of this nonsense... you can find me on

Hey hey, the gang's all here

So.... just who is this Midwest Craft Alliance you're looking at right now?
Here's the long story short:

Three gals become friends over long distances and work their way through the early years of motherhood, some days are more traditional than others but all are filled with love.  Fast forward 10 years and here we are... Three mamas with three very different stories, scattered up and down the midwest, with love to give, kids to raise and their soul songs to express through their art.  Is this a crafting blog?  a lifestyle blog?  a mommy blog?  yep, and then some.  You're welcome.

For the long stories long, check out the individual intro links below :)