27 December 2013

new ornaments

My Christmas present from Adam was a full set of ornaments from The Forgotten Carols:

Let Him In


You Were Not There In Bethlehem

Handel's Dream

Mary Let Me Hold Her Baby

The Dance

I Was Not His Father, He Was Mine

I Cannot Find My Way - Three Kings

 I Cry the Day that I Take the Tree Down

Aren't they AWESOME?!?!?! He ordered the wood flute, the quill pen (it came with ink), the corsage, and the treble clef precut but the rest he made himself. The last two ornaments are for me and Tawnia. The mirror says "The Star of Bethlehem" and he actually got the idea from an Amelia Bedelia book. The treble clef was for Tawnia because she spent Christmas with us this year. Next year, we need to figure out Adam's ornament - something with Scouts like a fleur de lis.

25 December 2013

bags and bags and more bags

Christmas presents for a lot of ladies in my life.  I added a pocket to only one (with the button), for Cupcake, otherwise they are just simple tote bags.  I may add pockets on future bags, just not with flaps and buttons - I think the pocket took more time than the whole rest of the bag.  It was fun to do, even though I had to switch machines in the middle (my machine died, I'm borrowing my mother-in-law's), but I'll take a break from sewing for a little bit.  Looking forward for spring though, to make more ruffle dresses for my baby girl!
As a side note, I think Cupcake has messed up my camera.  Right side of the picture, sharp and clear.  Left end is blurry and yuck.  I'll see if a good lens cleaning will help, otherwise I'm going back to my old camera.  Sad.

20 December 2013


I made Cupcake a little book to keep her distracted during church.  She loves to flip through picture books and albums, so I figured one with a church theme would be just perfect.  It'll be in her stocking to open on Christmas morning.  I came up with my own set of words and scriptures, and used a mix of my own pictures and ones from lds.org.  (I did not alter the photos in any way - no cropping, no adding words on top, etc., to obey their copyright laws.)  About half the letters were double  pages - one page for the scripture, one for the picture. 

Atonement, Baptism, Creation, Divine Nature, Eternal Family, First Presidency, Golden Plates, Heavenly Father, Iron Rod, Jesus Christ, Kneel, Last Supper, Missionary Work, Nativity, Oil, Priesthood Blessings, Quiet, Resurrection, Sacrament, Temple, Utah, Vision (first), Word of Wisdom, Xample, Youth, Zion

02 December 2013

I can sew!

Who knows how long ago my mom had put together the top of a crib quilt, a checkerboard of floral blue and yellow stripes.  She had a plan for it, but it didn't turn out, and so it was never finished.  I came across it this summer and decided to finish it, even with my limited sewing experience.  I liked the simplicity of the top, but felt like it needed a little something, and figured a heart in the lower corner would be perfect.  I sewed it on with the sewing machine before putting the rest of the quilt together.  It looked HORRIBLE, but I kept going anyway.  I tied the quilt with two different colors of embroidery floss and used some purchased white binding for the edge.  It took a few days of hand-stitching the binding to the back, and it is far from perfect, but I'm pretty proud of it.  Except for the heart.  So I ripped it off (all hail the seam ripper!) and started over.  I was smart this time and borrowed an embroidery hoop to get everything tight and even before attaching the heart.  I could have done a different stitch or used invisible thread or whatever, but it is done and I like the fact that you can see the stitching on the back of the quilt.  Again, NOT perfect, but it has charm. 
Not sure what I wanted to do next, I settled on making myself a Christmas skirt.  I just did a simple rectangle skirt, so it isn't super fabulous, but it is relatively even and is basically the length I wanted, so I'd say Go me!  I realized that of all the fabric I was given there was very little that was actually in a piece large enough for me (at least of the Christmasy patterns), so I worked with what I had.  I was going to do a ruffle on it for some added flair, but ended up cutting it too narrow.  Instead I attached the ruffle to a denim skirt of Cupcake's so we could be coordinating.  I'm certain that all the ruffles took longer than my skirt, but I think it was worth it.
At least a week had passed, and I was looking around online and found an adorable tiered dress.  I had seen a lot of tiered ruffled skirts, but Cupcake does not need any skirts right now.  (Not that she needs any dresses either, but whatever.)  I loved the idea of using a t-shirt for the top because sleeves intimidate me, and since I had already dealt with ruffles I figured this would be easy enough.  And it was!  Everything was in straight lines, and I can tear those, so I didn't even have to deal with cutting much.  I was generous with length so the dress is basically floor length (without her tripping over it), meaning she can probably wear it next year too!  (I can always move it to a bigger shirt if necessary.)  Not bad for a few hours before church!

first Christmas skirt of the year

SM gets only one church outfit per season because we've learned the hard way that one is all she'll wear. No sense in filling the closet with pretty dresses that she won't wear to church and she's not allowed to wear at any other time. When she wants variety, we'll add variety. But for now, she's 7 and wants the same thing every week, and this has been her pattern since she was about 4.

She was still wearing her Easter dress after Halloween so we went straight for Christmas. She wanted it made rather than bought, and she wanted a skirt rather than a dress. We did buy a top to go with it - I'm not quite that brave. We went to Kohl's with the skirt and she chose the top. Here's the result:

(Now to work on posture.)

The fabric was actually ordered online last year but I never did anything with it. It's 2 pieces because she wanted a double layer skirt - the ruffle is attached to white lining fabric rather than being the green all the way down. The green ruffle could have been attached to the red and would probably look better, but she's happy with it so whatever.

And now for A LOT more sewing in the next 23 days, so see ya later! I've got 12 days to make 5 nightgowns for the Polar Express themed church Christmas party, where the kids are supposed to wear pajamas.

29 November 2013

Christmas Wreaths

I had hundreds of ornaments leftover from my wedding four years ago.  We could have two, even three trees full of ornaments and still have extras.  So finally I decided to do something with them.  Found the idea on Pinterest (of course).  Bend a wire hanger into a circle, untwist the top and slide the ornaments on.  It is smart to hot glue the caps onto the ornaments first so they don't fall off.  I filled in any gaps and added more sparkle with the silver garland.  It is a surprisingly fragile wreath because the caps tend to snap, so I'm not sure that I would have wanted to buy ornaments specifically for this, but if you have a lot on hand it is a nice way to use them up.  I'm going to keep this hanging (in the storage room) instead of packing it away when the season is done, to help keep it intact.

This summer while I was in Oregon my Mom gave me a bunch of tulle.  I made a tutu for Cupcake, and this beautiful wreath.  I didn't want to spend the money on a wreath form (although if you do you'll need to cover it in white fabric before you start), so Aaron brought me home some sheets of Styrofoam from work and I cut out my own.  Cut the tulle and tie it on.  Hot glue stuff in the middle for pretties.  It is such a forgiving project, you can muddle your way through it and it will still look fantastic.  I already had the white snowflakes, so the only thing I spent money on was the red snowflake that I got at the dollar store.  If you like the style you can always use different colors and different middles for each season.  I've started one with cream tulle and will add autumn leaves in the center.  I'd love to see it in pink or green with flowers and Easter eggs for spring.  Or for another Christmas variety, just so the lower half in white, and add a Santa hat on top.  I guess this is my way of pleasing my inner-ballerina.

Tutorial for ornament wreath: here
Tutorial for tulle wreath: here, or here
How to cut tulle: here 

01 November 2013

Halloween dinner - chili con carne

I've decided that our traditional dinner for Halloween is now chili. Whenever I think about Halloween, the first thing that comes to mind is 2008 - we went trick-or-treating on Embassy Row in Washington DC and then had chili at at some friends' apartment near there. It was the perfect end to that day. In Mississippi (2009-2012), there was a chili cook-off every year at our church's Halloween activity. So. Halloween means chili for dinner. This was the recipe I made last night from a book, but not followed exactly. This is what I did:

1 onion chopped into tiny pieces
3 garlic cloves chopped
2 lb hamburger
          Put into your big pot and cook until the hamburger is fully browned. Drain off any excess liquid (I use a baster to suck it all up and put it in an empty can.)

2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can of water (one of the cans after it's been emptied and rinsed)
2 cubes of beef bullion
3 tbl chili powder
cayenne pepper
          I only measured the chili powder. I just sprinkled in the other spices to taste.

Once the hamburger is browned, add everything else to the pot. You can simmer it for half an hour or more. Or you can cook it on medium for 10-15 minutes until it's hot, and then it's done. It was a darker flavored chili and really good.

We had cornbread with it, which recipe I apparently need to add to this blog because it doesn't look like I have yet.

25 September 2013

3 months 'til Christmas

I got a sewing machine for my birthday from my Mom, and this is the first thing I've done with it.  I'm not one who sews, but I'm starting to learn.  Christmas present number one, done!  I'd seen these online, and knew I had to make a dragon hat for Aaron.  I didn't follow a pattern at all, and used scraps of red and navy fleece to piece it all together.  It was a learning experience, for sure, but considering it was the first thing I made, it turned out pretty awesome!

05 September 2013

Step One: Re-cover Dining Room Chairs

I debated whether to begin my living room update with curtains or captain's chairs.  I had decided on curtains, then cut and pressed the fabric, when I discovered I had no thread.  So, by default, tonight's labor was focused on re-covering the first of nine dining room chairs.

My plan is to use the two antique captain's chairs I inherited from my grandmother to create a sitting area which will replace one of our ratty "couches" (a broken sectional disguised with pillows, a well-placed toy box, and a throw blanket), so I figured I would start with one of them and get to the standard dining chairs later in the update.

The chair was in good shape; it did have a few scratches and dings in it, but not enough that I have any interest in refinishing it.  My major issue with the chairs is the cushion fabric:  it, like just about everything else in my grandmother's house, was pink and had to go.
 I began by turning the chair upside down and removing the screws -- one in each corner -- that held the seat to the body.  Easy peasy.
 Next, I started pulling out the staples that held this black stuff -- which, I'm sure, has a technical name -- to the wood.   (Essentially, it covers the raw edges of the upper fabric and hides the webbing underneath.)  This would have been easier with a staple remover, but, since I didn't have one, I used the screwdriver to pull up the staples.  Also, while the seat was off, I got some wood oil and gave the entire chair some TLC.  It shined up quite nicely!
 I then removed the staples from the fabric, which were securing the fabric to the underside of the wood frame.  Once I got going, I saw that the frame was already riddled with staple holes.  My guess is that this is at least the third (and maybe fourth) time this chair has been re-done.  Somehow, that made me love it even more!
 Underneath, I found some interesting stuff that I had to Google.  First off, I expected to find a seat made of solid wood with foam on top.  Instead, I found woven webbing topped with burlap, then some kind of upholstery filling or batting on top of that.  Apparently, webbing like that is pretty common and is supposed to make for a more comfortable seat, which certainly fits my purpose.
 The filling was another matter entirely.  Most websites I'd seen recommended using foam core for the seat; my mother has recently re-covered her (similar) chairs and simply used cotton batting.  Whatever this is, it was kind of delicate and crumbly, and looked sketchy.  I still don't have a name for it.  But...it is sturdy, soft, and comfy!  I sniffed it; no odor.  And, ultimately, I decided to re-use it, and the chair is very pleasant to sit on.
 Next, I used the fabric I had removed from the chair as a guide to cut my new fabric.  I LOVE this fabric.  And I really love how it looks modern, but it's not permanent...it doesn't seem like it will be a big deal to re-do these chairs in a few years if I love it no more!  I had read that it wasn't hugely important to get a perfect cut, since the edges of the fabric would be hidden under the edge of the seat, so I didn't really bother much with that, as you can see in the photo.

After cutting, I chose to ScotchGard the fabric.  I went back and forth on this, but ultimately I tested a small piece of fabric and was completely amazed to see droplets of water bead onto it and not soak in.  With small kids in the house, I figured this protection was a must.
After that, the process was shockingly easy.  I stretched the fabric around the wood base with the original filling (pulling it pretty tight) and stapled it in place.  Then I used the same piece of black stuff I had removed to cover the raw edges of the fabric and screwed the seat back into the base.  Boom!  Done!  I know that people do this all the time, but it was my first try, and I am incredibly impressed with the results.  From start to finish, I would say this took less than an hour.

There are imperfections; my seat has bumps, and I am not 100% sure the fabric is aligned perfectly.  Still, I'm pretty happy with what I got, and I assume my second captain's chair will turn out even better. As soon as I get it done, I will post pictures of my little sitting area!

Living and Dining Room Makeovers

We've lived in our house for close to six years now, and the process of making it our own has been a lot slower than for most people.  We started with paint, but even that was spread out over the course of several years.  We have gotten new furniture, but it's always been hand-me-downs that we worked into our decor:  a new couch from my brother, a new table and chairs from my grandmother, some bookcases from my parents.  My mother-in-law made us some valances the first month we lived here, and they haven't been changed since.  I genuinely think I have spent $0 on decorating improvements like pillows, rugs, wall art, and knick knacks.  All our major work and purchases have been to our kids' rooms, changing the decor and furniture as they aged out of cribs.  The master bedroom and bathroom, plus our common areas (kitchen, dining room, and living room), have been largely untouched except for the addition of furniture and the updating of family photos.

This summer, the hubby and I decided that we could spring a little (key word) bit of money for improvements, and that they would aim to spruce up the living room and dining room.  To save money, everything we are doing is upcycling and DIYing.  Our total budget for the project is currently $300, but I have only spent $225 and hope to be able to swing another $100 or so in another few months.  Here are the challenges I had to work with:

  1. Our house has an open floor plan; the kitchen, dining room, living room, and eat-in kitchen are all part of a big circle with our pantry as a divider in the middle.  The color scheme for this area -- more than half the house -- has to coordinate without getting old.
  2. We can't afford to buy new, or even nice used, furniture.  (I discovered quickly that furniture purchases would take huge chunks out of our budget.)  So we are re-using and re-styling as much as possible.  I'm starting with the living room.  We currently have, to the naked eye, two couches and a love seat.  One couch used to be white before my kids got ahold of it; it's sort of a variegated cream color now.  The other "couch" and "love seat" are actually two pieces of a broken sectional that we disguise with cushions.  One part has a broken back, so it needs to sit against a wall; the other has a sunken area that we stuff with homemade cushions. 
  3. The open floor plan means lots of windows...four standard-sized ones in the living room and one triple-wide one in the kitchen.  All our panels have to coordinate, and purchasing that many panels at $10-$30 a pop wasn't practical for the budget either...so, again, I'm going to have to aim for homemade.

Here are some photos of the living room as it currently stands:

My master plan for improvements is multi-step:
  1. Ditch the brown "couches" (the broken sectional).  [Cost:  $0]
  2. Steam clean and fabric protect the white couch, just to spruce it up. [Cost:  $11 for the ScotchGard and cleaning fluid]
  3. Bring two captain's chairs from the dining room into the living room to replace one couch; re-cover them with a nice fabric, and set up a little sitting area with a small round table I currently have in the bedroom. [Cost:  $24 for fabric from Hobby Lobby]
  4. Get an old wingback chair out of storage from my grandmother; buy a nice slipcover, and use it to replace the "love seat" under the window.  (Side note:  the chair is currently pink.  I checked, and it will cost $300-$400, plus fabric, to re-upholster it.  It's a nice chair, but that's not an option for right now.) Move the ottoman/toy box under the window for extra seating/table, and put a cute half-priced tray on top for magazines. [Cost:  $75]
  5. Move the coffee table in front of the white couch to open up the walkway to the back door. (On another side note, we hope to also spend some time -- later -- improving our porch and back yard to make it more appealing.)  [Cost:  $0]
  6. Ditch the old, beat-up, stained, faded throw pillows, blankets, and floor pillows, and make new ones.  [Cost:  $20 for fabric]
  7. Ditch the dated brown valances and make floor-length curtains out of neutral canvas duck; stamp a lattice pattern in burnt orange along the bottom (for interest, but not too overwhelming, since I'll have eight panels in the room).  [Cost:  $150 for fabric, stencils, paint, and curtain rods]
I've already bought the bulk of my supplies.  I need a little more curtain fabric, curtain rods, and the slip cover, but I have enough to get started.  I think the project will realistically take several weeks, since I'll mostly be working at night after the kids are in bed and if there's nothing else on my plate.  But hopefully, there will be a huge improvement, and once the living room projects are done, I can move on to the dining room!

01 August 2013


And then we unpacked the sewing machine ... the movers broke it. I put the tension all the way at zero to get it to do anything at all, and it won't backstitch. Guess who's getting a new sewing machine! Booyah! I still want to try to fix the current one, though - two sewing machines would be a good thing here, so Adam and I can both work on projects at the same time.

08 July 2013

we are here we are here!

We are in our house!

We have approximately 2500 square feet. Most of the living space is on the upper floor - the living room, kitchen, and all the bedrooms and bathrooms. The master bedroom has its own bathroom - hooray! That seems kind of rare here in Connecticut because of all the old houses. This house was built I think in 1967 and is "newer," since a lot of homes were built about 100 years ago and a few even date back to the 1700s. The basement is really well-lit with a ton of windows so it doesn't feel like you're in a dungeon. The family room/play room/rec (wreck) room is downstairs, where ALL the toys reside! No more toys in my living room - hallelujah! Or in the bedrooms. There's also a very large storage room that includes the laundry area, and the garage is downstairs as well.

Our yard is huge - we have 3/4 of an acre. The side and the back property line are all trees - I stopped counting them when I hit 40 because I couldn't tell if I'd counted some of them already or not. Unfortunately, the groundcover growth under the trees gets really tall really fast and you can't play in it because of the bugs (ticks and slugs and tons of other things I've never seen). We're going to try to clear a lot of it out so we can string up the hammocks. There are bushes all around the house - azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, and some other kinds that I don't know.

We're on a corner in a really friendly neighborhood. Before we even moved in, we took a walk on a Sunday afternoon to check things out and some of the neighbors (who had already heard about us from the previous owners) came outside to meet us. We ended up talking with them for over an hour. They have a daughter who is between our oldest 2 girls, and they're already great friends. RG says that she is "fond of" MB. Too funny! And a number of other neighbors have come over to introduce themselves when they saw us outside.

We closed on Friday June 28 but continued to stay in our temporary place until Tuesday (July 2) when the moving company brought our belongings out of storage. So that was the date we actually moved into the house. We've of course been unpacking ever since and still have a long way to go. The thing that keeps going through my head is, "I can't believe we crammed all this stuff into 1000 square feet."

Don't worry. Pictures are coming. I have to do all the "before" shots for when I really start working on this place!

06 May 2013

a whole new level

Operation Domestic Goddess will be going to a new level on July 1. All this time, I've been in rented apartments, and now we're BUYING A HOUSE!!!! Closing is currently scheduled for June 27 - we'll be in Connecticut for about a month before that, but we're waiting for the family currently living in the house to have their kids finish the school year. Anyway, I've never been able to do anything with the structure itself, not even paint the walls. Now I can do ANYTHING I WANT! (And can afford. But we won't talk about that right now.)

Rule 1 for our new house: We are not college students anymore with a college student budget. We can buy furniture much nicer than cheapo junk at Walmart, or even Ikea. And heck - we're not even planning to buy everything. Adam wants to build pretty much anything made of wood, or get used items that we can fix up. The only things we plan to buy (new. No used.) are upholstery/fabric things like couches, chairs, and mattresses. No more pressboard bookcases! He has informed me that if I want bookcases and a butcher-block dining room table and other fun things, he first needs his shop set up in the garage, which means he'll get to spend a bunch of money on saws. Yeah yeah. Just build some darn bookcases because I'm not unpacking the books until they're done!

Rule 2: I want color. I am SO bored with the plain neutral-colored walls that we've been stuck with in all of our apartments, not allowed to paint. If we do have any white, it's going to be WHITE. No off-white eggshell or whatever it's called. It just looks dingy. I've been going through kid design ideas on houzz.com (basically pinterest for house design - good times!) and what strikes me in all the pictures is the COLOR. Really saturated hues. They're gorgeous. The house we're getting is currently painted all the same safe neutral boredom I've been living with for forever. I am so ready to shake things up, it's not even funny.

Rule 3: I need to keep a lid on all the accessorizing that's possible out there, but here is where my chronic indecision will serve me well. There's SO much cool stuff out there, and I'm not a big spender, that I never get around to doing anything about anything. I also have developed a pretty minimalist attitude about STUFF in general. I don't want more junk to have to clean and keep organized. I have enough already. But mainly - lamps and light fixtures, clocks, and curtains on the windows. Those are a must.

I'm still thinking this through, so I'll be back with more thoughts another day. But this is where we're starting.

10 March 2013

slight change of plans

The baby is finally here - hooray! 

And in an interesting twist, the day she was born was also the day Adam got a phone call from a job in Hartford, Connecticut that he interviewed for last fall ... was he still interested in the position? Most definitely! We don't have a firm moving date yet - paperwork is still going back and forth. But we figure it will probably be in May. 

So the Make My House Pretty project is, for the next couple of months, Make My House Packed. Then I'll go back to pretty stuff. In the meantime, I do have a bunch of clothes to make for the girls, starting with Easter dresses. SM needs new play dresses and skirts because everything she currently has is getting too short.

28 February 2013

February pretties

Continuing the count to 52 weeks of pretty things in and around my house ... to get every week covered so far, I should be at 9. Given that I missed 2 weeks in January and have been in phase 1 of labor (don't ever call it "false" labor because there's nothing fake about it) for most of February, I'm kind of surprised that I got much of anything done this month. But I did! Go me! And I have a couple more projects started that aren't done yet, even!

Project 4: Adam and I rearranged the pictures and everything on the walls all over the house. We took some pictures down awhile back because we shifted some furniture and never got around to putting them back up. That's done now including with updated photos (that are still almost a year old, which tells you how old the other pictures were).

Project 5: I make a new flannel swaddling blanket for each of my babies, and it's what they come home from the hospital in. Baby JK was showing signs of an early arrival (and all labor indicators flat-lined this week, so she's still not here) so I got going on her blanket. I had it halfway done when JE took a chunk out of the side with the scissors (my mom refers to her as a "busy" 2-year-old - yeeeeah, that's a good word for it.) Fortunately, it was the side and not out of the middle. Unfortunately, it was a side that was already done. So I had to trim that edge down to get rid of the cut and do it again. Done, packed in the hospital bag, and scissors put away.

Project 6: When clearing out some drawers to use for the new baby's clothes, I put down scrapbook paper as a drawer liner. I just taped it instead of using glue so I can switch it out when I get my drawers back. Cutsey pink is great for a baby but I prefer something different for myself.

Project 7: Miniature corkboards on the "school wall" in our entry for the girls to hang up their art. I saw this on a homeschool blog but didn't bookmark it. Oops. Sorry, person who should get credit but won't. You get random picture frames, take out the picture and glass, sand and paint them in whatever colors you want, and put corkboard in them. The original link used really bright colors, which I liked. I've kinda/sorta decided that our colors for homeschooling are green and yellow, so those were the 2 colors I used, and I put them up with a pink board that SM built at a Home Depot kids workshop. I also put one in my sewing corner (painted to match my spool board) to display my collectors pins that I used to get while traveling and have been sitting in a box for forever. I gave the girls my Disney pins for their boards and some others from places they've been. I kept my Australia pins and some that have more sentimental value to me.

Project 8: I wanted some kind of sewing hand-work to do while sitting in the hospital for 2 days, so enter this month's Christmas project - fabric gift tags. I used this site to look up embroidery stitches, and still seem to have kind of come up with my own version of a chain stitch. Go figure. This is not done at all - I'm making about a dozen of them, and have the stitching done on 4. It's a decent start, considering everything that's been happening lately. I'll finish all the stitching and then do all the backings at the same time.

I also cut out skirts to make for the girls but haven't sewn them together yet. My March Christmas project will be from the scraps of the corkboard after cutting it down to fit the 8x10 frames. The March priority is definitely Easter dresses for the girls, since Easter is on the 31st.

18 February 2013

my sewing box

This was my Christmas present from Adam:

The whole sewing box, which doubles as my sewing table. Yeah, I have to sit sideways to use the foot pedal, but whatever. The plan is for Adam to eventually build me an actual table for the sewing machine itself, and the top of the box will be used for cutting, laying things out, etc. We don't have the space for it right now - maybe my next Christmas present? The spool board above the box to the right was my Christmas present last year. This is my little sewing corner in our bedroom.

Inside the box, there are two shallow shelf/boxes. One is for projects in the works, and the other is divided out for all my little bits and pieces - scissors, tape measures, buttons, my bobbin box, elastic, embroidery floss, bias tape, etc ... I've already learned - the hard way - that scissors need to be kept IN the box at all times, unless they are actually being used.

The shallow boxes lift out and underneath is all my fabric - hooray!

The box isn't stained yet - it's still just the raw wood. We're waiting on staining until next month when my mom is here to help with the new baby, and can help keep kiddos out of the way. We also need the weather to break to have the box sit outside for a couple of days for the stain to dry. I have a couple of ideas for the inside of the box that are a little more funky - I'm debating how to paint the shallow boxes, maybe some bright colors that wouldn't really go well with anything else in the bedroom. And I think it would be cool to paint some kind of "frame" around the edge of the lid, and then mod-podge swatches of my favorite fabrics so I can keep them as a sort of sewing scrapbook.

We've talked about me having a whole sewing room with lots of fabric piled here and there on shelves, but really, that's not for me. Sure, it sounds cool to have an entire fabric shop in my house but I don't think I'll ever get to that level of sewing. It's perfect that I have this big box with my fabric and notions and tools in it, which I will use to make clothes for my girls and home decor items and eventually some full-sized quilts. When I finish with the fabric I have, I'll get more for my next round of projects. Add a little table for the machine and a serger (which is also down the road a bit more), and I'm set.

08 February 2013

January "pretty projects"

I'd like to think I can work on sewing and crafts every single day for a month, and maybe I'll be able to later this year or at another phase of life. Right now, my daughters are not particularly cooperative with letting me work on things during the day so I have to sew late at night. Even that's a hit and miss because I have punk children who refuse to go to sleep until darn near midnight sometimes. So I'm going with doing something pretty for my house and life every week for this year. Hopefully I can finish something every week, but as long as I at least work on it, I'll be satisfied. So here's what happened in January.

Project 1: hook racks for behind the girls' bedroom door. They were scrap pieces of wood left from making their bunkbed 2 years ago. I painted them and got the little hooks at Walmart. I made others here for their coats, which are under the stairs. Mindy beat me for the first project done for the year because even though I had them painted, it took me awhile longer to get to the store for the hooks, and get them actually onto the wall. This is just one of them, but there are three.

Project 2: I went through ALL of the children's books and reorganized the whole bunch. There are hundreds. An entire box went to the recycle bin because it was random loose pages, torn up books, children's magazines that had been pulled all apart ... it was a mess. It's still a mess because the girls are constantly pulling books out and not putting them away, but at least it's less of a mess. All the trash has been cleared out - that alone made a big difference. It wasn't making something - it was organizing stuff we already have. But occasional organizing projects are necessary to keeping my house livable at all, if not more pretty.

Project 3: I started my quilting class and made a scallop banner thing to hang up over a window or doorway or something - this is also my January project for the 12 Months of Christmas because I made it out of Christmas fabric.

Weeks 4 and 5: Nada - we were out of town for a week for my mother-in-law's funeral, and the next week was spent unpacking and putting the house back together. Why does it take so long to get cleaned up from a trip? It was just unpacking suitcases, for pity's sake. Sheesh. Anyway, I need to rewind back to the of my quilting class (it's all online and self-paced so I can do that - hooray! because it's, um, over now) and I want to get back on track with that at least a little bit. It's a 5-week class with 3 projects per week - it's not expected that you do everything. You can choose. I'd like to at least try everything since I paid for all the lessons and patterns but it's going to take me the better part of the year rather than just a month. Some of the projects are pretty substantial and require quite a bit of time (making more than one full-sized quilt, if I'm reading it right), and I don't have days at a time to devote to sewing. I have a few minutes here and there.

And for my weekly project deal ... I will make up these 2 weeks of missed projects! I will! Maybe not in February because of being at the very end of the pregnancy, but I'll figure it out eventually.

Also - going through everything from someone's life was an major eye-opener on what to save and what not to save. For example, photos. If Nancy wasn't actually in a photo, we chucked it. We had no idea who these people were, and the photos had been sitting in a box for literally decades. I have no interest in hauling things like that around when we move, or leaving it to my children and grandchildren to say after I die, "Who is this person, and why did Mom have a photo of them?" If there's a reason for me to have someone's photo, I'm sure I can find something that has me in the shot with them, and I need to journal/ID everything now (before I forget myself) of why this person is/was significant to me. I did a big photo album sort and purge 2 years ago when my parents brought me all the stuff I'd had stashed in their storage room for 7 years, but I feel another one coming on.

22 January 2013

simple storage

Not being able to breastfeed means having a bajillion formula containers around the house.  They are perfect for storage, so I don't complain too much.  Tape a strip of paper around them and they are even decent looking.  I've used wrapping paper and scrapbook paper and both work great with a little bit of double-sided tape.  What can go inside of these things is absolutely endless - toys, food, sewing bits, etc.  I'm using one for my headbands and hair things. 

Headbands on the outside, everything else (ribbons, bows, flowers, clips, etc.) on the inside.  While I was organizing my hair stuff, I took a small canning jar and put all my ponytail holders around it (wouldn't work with little ones), and all my bobby pins inside of it.  Much happier with this than anything before. 

15 January 2013

scrap tutu

The new year has brought a new energy into my home (which I hope sticks around throughout the entire year).  I've started making baby food for Cupcake - carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and a mini-batch of asparagus so far, with a list of things to come.  Pumpkin, green beans, applesauce, butternut squash, banana, peaches.  Makes me feel productive, and happy to know exactly what I'm feeding my baby.  And it helps save money - which is the best.

I too have a list of crafty things I'd like to do this year, and I've already managed to cross one off. I found the idea on Pinterest (as everyone does these days), but figured I can do it since it required no actual sewing.
Yes, that is a small table lamp being my model.
A scrap tutu is made out of strips of fabric that are tied to a piece of elastic.  That's it.  I tore the strips, so it was super fast and easy.  I decided to add ribbons to the end of the elastic, instead of making it a full circle, so the size can be adjusted as Cupcake grows.  For now, she's too little for it, and is more interested in eating it than anything, but it will be fun for her to play in later.  If she's anything like I was, she'll dream of being a ballerina.

13 January 2013

quilting class introduction

Okay, I did it. I signed up for the online curves quilting class on Stitched in Color. It starts tomorrow - that was a bit under the wire for me to get started in it, and it goes for 5 weeks through about Valentine's Day. This post is, I guess, my introduction to the class that I'm linking on the private class blog.

I'm Trina. I just started sewing about 2 years ago and I'm still very new to the whole thing. I share this blog with one of my sisters and a couple of friends to compare notes about learning the whole Art of Homemaking, or whatever you want to call it, because I was totally NOT domestic in any way until I quit my office job when I had my first baby. My mother will probably find the idea that I'm taking a sewing class to be quite hilarious. She tried when I was a teenager to teach me to sew. And cook. She really did. It didn't connect for a loooooooooong time.

I became interested in quilting this past year for 2 reasons -

1. I read a lot of sewing blogs in general, and many of them have quilts on them. They're amazing! The fabric in general, the color combinations, the piecing work - I'm blown away every time.

2. I've been wanting to redo my bedroom for quite awhile but have never found bedding that I like at all, whether looking in a store or attempting to shop online. I was reading girl.inspired one day and saw this post with the quilt in the background ... scroll down to the 3rd photo ... and lightning struck. THAT is my quilt. I know what colors I want. I even know what to title it. It will be incredible. So when I saw this curves class, I had to take it because I need it for my quilt. Not that I can afford to get the fabric for it for another year or two, but still.

That said, my time spent on the actual class in real time over the next 5 weeks may or may not be minimal. My kids are 6, 5, 2 and 15 months, and I'm due with #5 at the beginning of March. (All girls.) My brain tends to freeze up in the last few weeks of pregnancy, which I'm getting into. Yay. I homeschool the two oldest while the baby climbs all over me and the 2-year-old does her level-best to destroy everything she gets into. (She's had a stellar week, let me tell you. I just now had to stop typing this to go sweep up an entire loaf of bread obliterated into crumbs.) I won't get into everything my husband has going on right now, but let's just say that I run a lot of interference in his behalf and manage the kids on my own quite a bit. He's usually a very involved husband and dad but he has his own ... stuff ... for the next few weeks.

Soooo, I mainly registered for the class to get the pdf and videos at the end since I don't know when or how much I'll actually get to SEW between now and March, and I'll continue to work on things later. I already know what fabric I want to use to make the pillow in the first week's projects as a commemorative piece for my girls and our recent trip to DisneyWorld, and I could use some new bibs for the new baby. I think the Rainbow Road would make an awesome kitchen rug. And the Oodalolly quilt is awesome. Love that.

I thought a lot about it and really - I will NEVER "have time" to take a class of any kind. I might as well jump in and take the class anyway, and fit things in when I can. If I want to do something (anything - not just this class), I either have to make it happen within the circumstances I have, or it will never happen. And this post from a homeschool blog just the other day was the kick in the head I needed to come to that conclusion. I especially like this part: "There are people who can work while being bombarded by family life. There are people who can shut out their worldly cares. But you're not one of them. You are a hothouse flower. You are a special snowflake. Oops, no you're not." HA! Here's to not being a special snowflake and working with what we've got, noisy kids and all.

11 January 2013

2013 sewing targets

Here's the first run of my sewing and project list for this year:

My general rule of thumb for matchy-matchy outfits for my girls is that they coordinate but I don't make the exact same thing for all of them. Like, for Easter last year, they all had different fabric and different outfits, but the fabric all came from the same designer and color line. Their Minnie Mouse outfits for Disney World did have all the same fabric, but they were all different. I like that better than everyone being identical because, well, they're not identical people. And we did hit on a glitch with similarity last year when I made 2 Independence Day skirts - JE won't wear her's because I made SM's first, and when I showed JE the second one, she was confused and said it belonged to her sister. It's just been sitting in her drawer since then.

- Dr. Seuss skirts for Read Across America Day on March 1. I ordered some Dr. Seuss fabric thinking it was flannel for a baby blanket. It was regular cotton, so it's good for clothes since I'm not up to making a full-on baby quilt yet. I think these will be really fun - it's a cute and silly print. I don't have enough fabric for dresses but I think there's enough to make 4 (or even 5) little skirts.

- Easter outfits for all the girls. When I was getting some Christmas fabric, I noticed that fabric.com had pastel colored eyelet marked down to $2.50 a yard - done! I got pink, lavender, cream, and white. The new baby will have her blessing (the Mormon version of christening) on Easter Sunday, so she gets the white. There's 2 yards of it which is WAY too much for a tiny baby, even with making one of those super-long christening dresses like my mom has done for all the others. The other four girls can have some combination of all four colors. I'm happy that the baby will be in her special blessing dress, but still coordinate with the other girls for the holiday. I was not even thinking about this when I ordered the white fabric - the idea occurred to me just a couple of weeks ago so I sent the white to my mom (she makes the blessing dresses by her own request).

- I have red/white and blue/white gingham to make something for all the girls for Independence Day.

- I'd like to make both Christmas dresses and Christmas pajamas for all the girls this year, but I haven't thought that far in advance. Oh, and I think I'm supposed to be making Halloween costumes for everyone as well. SM has decided that our entire family will be dressed from Alice in Wonderland. We'll see what happens with those when they get closer.

In general with sewing clothes for them, I want to start making dresses as well as skirts. And I want to use more of the tutorials that I have bookmarked and not keep making the same thing over and over. Dana's simple skirt has definitely gotten me started, but time to broaden my horizons.

Most of my ideas so far are for the girls' room ...

- I already started before New Year's with painting the frame of their bulletin board. The pins to hang pictures and other random items are the collector pins from Disneyland and DisneyWorld. Before I got married, that type of pin was my collector item when I traveled. I have quite a stash from Disney that the girls think are fun so they have them now. (They do NOT get my pins from Australia. I'm keeping those.)

- Make more coat racks, like I did here, for behind their bedroom door to hang all their little tote bags that just get thrown everywhere. I'm doing 3 in green with flowers on them.

- Put ribbon on the lamp that's on their dresser.

- I've wanted for forever to redo their dressers - paint, new hardware, line the drawers, the whole thing. I don't know how much of that will happen right away. Maybe this summer? I could at least mod podge some fun craft paper to the bottoms of their drawers to start.

The Sewing Loft - cover wire hangers with felt and edged by a blanket stitch. I have felt. I can do a blanket stitch. I can make little flowers. And we have ugly wire hangers in our girls' closet because SM can't remove a plastic hanger from the rod without snapping it in half. These are very girly.

For the kitchen ...

Stitched in Color - I love love love this kitchen rug! It's quilted. What a fabulous idea! Those colors wouldn't really go well in my kitchen. I lean toward blues and greens. But the idea is definitely in my head. It would be nice for the floor to be a little less cold and hard when I'm doing dishes at 11 pm.

- my paper crane - hot pads! The ones we currently have are from when we got married almost 9 years ago and are looking pretty shabby. I could actually have a somewhat coordinating kitchen ... how would that be? Of course it's ADAM'S kitchen since he does most of the cooking, so I can't use super-girly fabrics. I'm fine with using more masculine fabrics (something geometric?), as long as the combination of this and that is not an eyesore.

On a related note, I have probably half a dozen different links bookmarked for various designs on cloth napkins. We could use more of those too, so we don't go through so many paper towels at dinner. I have a vision of a small rectangular basket filled from one end to the other with cloth napkins. And now that I'm pondering a nice-looking kitchen ... some kind of window covering? I saw something a long time ago that you get a curtain rod with clips on it, and just hang up placemats as your valance. That would be cool, except I've never ever seen a placemat that I wanted hung over my window that I'd have to look at all the time. Might as well just make a valance/curtain/whatever, or even some placemats and hang them up. Ha!

- icandy handmade - How cute is this for Valentine's Day? The link includes a full tutorial. I especially love the giant rick-rack. I need to find some. Walmart certainly doesn't carry anything that fun.

- I'll post a picture of my Halloween mini-quilt when I get it done. I already mentioned that I made one for my brother's family for Christmas and I have 3 more in the works because that's how much fabric there was. I'm keeping one of them and giving the other 2 away, but I'm not sure to whom yet.

- I'm going to attempt my 12 Months of Christmas project again - I'll put my string of inspiration photos and links for that in another post because this one is long enough as it is.