Monday, June 30, 2008

two just fun, one done, one undone

I've been working on organizing the craft room a bit. OK - so is an uphill, constantly fought battle, so I guess it is more accurate to say that I was "fighting the good fight the other night". I put up a bulletin board in my room and created a list of projects I am working on. Next to each project on the list is an empty box just waiting for a little check mark - or an "X" to indicate that, "YES!!, I've finished something and not just wasted my hard earned money on just thread, chalk pens and yet again more fabric!". I was trying to get some boxes marked off the past few days. "What have I been up to?" say you? Well, I'm currently working on 4th of July outfits for the kids (obviously need to have them done by Friday), my place mats and napkins for the swap (would like them in the mail by Thursday, since they are going overseas) and a couple summer shirts for my sisters (not "due" any specific time, but would like them to be in season when delivered).

So, with those due dates, what do you think I finish first? Of course one of the tops for my sister, (Brianna's is done, Lauren's is cut out). I used Simplicity 4127 for Bree, and thought it was easy and fun. I did feel that the sizes were wrong - I used her chest measurement and I think it will be a bit big. This is a bit annoying, since the last Simplicity I did, I felt it ran a bit small. I'll be seeing my sister this weekend, so there may be some tweaking needed with the sizing, but all in all, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I feel I was stalling a bit on what NEEDED to get done by doing this project first, but I'm sure Brianna will appreciate. Oh - sorry for the pic. As usual, couldn't find the camera, so used the phone. (I begged my mom to let me borrow her camera and take it for a test run next week. Hopefully, this will improve my photo quality a bit.)

Next, with the daunting napkins and place mats hanging over my head, and the need to be dressed appropriately to celebrate our nation's birthday, I opted to just customize a few things I found on the Target clearance rack for Miss Rowan, and make Griffin some shorts out of some flag material I given by my mother. I think she used it to decorate the pontoon a few years back - we'll be using it to decorate Griffin's bum. I cut up a bandanna from Dollar land at Target and appliqued the stars on Rowan's clearanced skort and Griff's shorts, and then used a pretty flower stitch (that my trusty Husqvarna knew how to do, who knew?) on Rowan's top to make it a bit more festive. Griffin will top off his ensemble with a blue polo and red Chuck Taylors. Cute, cute, cute. Dave didn't like his shorts - thought they looked a bit too "uncle sam", but I think he'll be adorable.

So, the two 4th outfits are the "2 just fun", the tank is the "one done" and sadly, the place mats and napkins are the "one undone". I worked on them for a few hours last night and basically did everything wrong. "Bend the Rules" sewing seems to have a bit more rules than I counted on. I did better with her patterns when I just winged it on this. First off, I cut out the fabric the wrong size TWICE (obviously I need a ruler refresher), then I had trouble mitering my binding borders - then I ended up using bias for binding, but tried to use it like ribbon, not bias, so it was too chunky. THEN, I tried to 1/2 the bias and cut it too close to the edge and made a mess. I'll be using my seam ripper a bit tonight and making one more trip to the fabric store tomorrow - but they WILL be in the mail on Thursday. As God is my witness, I shall get them in the mail on Thursday. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

t-ball season done

As soon as dance was done, we looked into signing Rowan up for T-ball. Well, for those that know, the T-ball season was well under way by then. They don't coordinate with the local dance studios to ensure that frazzled parents don't have to do more than one activity at the same time. With Rowan as our oldest, we still find it is a learning experience for all of us as she gets older and we join new activities. Regardless, we did find a team that was down a few players that welcomed Rowan... the Fighting Irish. Seemed rather appropriate for my little red haired girl. She was only able to get to 3 games - but she learned a ton and had a lot of fun. The look on her face after hitting a ball (from a pitch, no less, not off the tee) was priceless! These pictures are from her last game, when they played an entire team of little girls (somewhat aptly, though prematurely, named the Cougars... hee hee).

First off, here she is showing off her cannon....

Here she is on the bench waiting to bat. You'll note that her jersey did not have her name on it, since we started late. Dave suggested "Why don't you just embroider it on there, since you are so crafty now...". Ha Bloody Ha. Oh, and you'll notice that her head is a bit big for the batting helmet. All those brains in there, huh?

Warming up before the game. Yes - her glove is pink. AND, it also lights up when a ball hits it.

Here she is at bat... the first game we were a bit surprised to see that our coach pitched to them. Dave and I looked around wondering if we were at the right place.... since we thought she was joining T-Ball. Where was the Tee? Turns out this is the master plan - all the kids get 3 pitches from their own coach and if they don't hit those they get to try the Tee. Now we know this is genius, day one we were quite confused :)

Yes, we are definitely newbies to parenting a school age child. I don't remember seeing a "What to Expect When your Child Joins Activities and Starts School" book out there. This might have saved me a few mishaps the past 2 years including missing her first dance recital (Showed up all dressed and ready to go the day AFTER the actual recital), missing kindergarten round up (we were not registered with the County as having Rowan, only Griffin), and joining T-Ball in time for only 3 games... I'm sure that the list will grow as she does.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

new apron and rhubarb

How exciting to arrive home to a package again? A while back I was doing my routine evening craft blog hopping - where I jump from blog to blog finding all sorts of inspiration and ideas. I somehow ended up on Sara's site - The Plaid Post and saw her cute tea towel apron. Not only did she share the link to the free tutorial she had found- she was offering the apron as one of her "Win it Wednesday" prizes. Because I was impressed with the tute, the cute site itself, and that the colors match my crazy colored kitchen, I commented in hopes of winning. Sara emailed me later that I had won. Well, I had not really won, but she had ended up making a second tea towel apron so that both of us who had commented could win. How nice & sweet! BTW - check out Sara's site for a cool way to turn tablecloths into elegant curtains, as well as some great shopping finds and sewing ideas. (PS - I borrowed the picture from her site - since I am still without camera)...

So, I wore my new apron today when I turned the last bit of rhubarb in my yard into a yummy, crunchy treat. I scoured all my local cookbooks today for a recipe. Does anyone else collect local cookbooks like I seem to? I never really planned to collect these - I don't really cook or bake, but I love small local cookbooks - especially finding no bake play doh recipes right next to homemade kitchen cleansers and 23 types of Artichoke dips. Church ones, School ones, Charity ones - I LOVE them all! I grab them up at thrift stores and yard sales. One more question, while I'm off on a tangent already, does everyone grow rhubarb? I may have to Google this later. It seems so Minnesotan to me, is it restricted to certain growing regions?

Anyway, I found a recipe for "Rhubarb Butter Crunch". Sounds odd - but tastes divine. At least I thought so - but no one in my house besides me was interested in rhubarb. Looks like I'll be eating it all myself... yes - I had sampled in the bottom left hand corner a bit pre-photo already. Pre camera phone photo, mind you. That is my excuse for poor quality and composition:)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

my own pleated beauty bag

I had some time last night after the kid went to bed - which only occurred thanks to not being very sleepy due to the "after dinner" cup of coffee I was craving and drank not 1, but 3 of. So there I was - kids and hubby sleeping and nothing to do. OK - so I could have cleaned a bunch of things, or read - but I just spent the day cleaning and doing laundry and last night finished the 14 Janet Evanovich book, and couldn't read another character so soon after it. I never like anything much after comparing it to Stephanie Plum's latest escapades. (Giggled like crazy reading it.. I liked this one better than the past 2 or so - maybe cause I like Morelli so much??) So, I decided to sneak off to my craft room and sew something. Then, it was difficult to decide what to sew - I just got a bunch of new fabric at the fabric outlet in Osseo and would have loved to sew a skirt for the new sew along I joined (see right side link) with it - but I had not washed it yet, so decided I'd better wait. While I'm not experienced enough to understand all the consequences, sewers that know seem to really frown on this. Then, I thought I'd make the bean bags to the outdoor bean bag game I've asked Dave to build - thought I could use all my scraps and have a very cute game set. With this in mind, I began pulling out all my scraps, and I found the left over fabric from my tunic that I made a few months back and decided that there was too much of it left over to use on beanbags. I scoured my new book Bend the Rules Sewing, and decided I could tweak the pattern for the Pleated Beauty Bag and make a tote bag for me. Selfish - I know - when I could make all sorts of things for other people, but I really LOVE this fabric. I don't know that anyone else would LOVE it as much as me. The book was great - I thought it was descriptive and basic enough for me - and still allowed me to make it a bit different and still get it done. Did I mention that I LOVE these Amy Butler fabrics? Especially them both together. I brought my bag to dinner tonight at Space Aliens (kids "earned" it by being good and picking rocks and weeds in the back yard for an hour or so) and took a quick camera phone picture on the car. Yes - it is hanging from the sun visor and Yes - my camera is lost again. The only thing I'd change with the bag is to add a button or some type of closure to it. Since I used it tonight as "mom purse" it was pretty full and I was afraid it was not stable enough not to spill out. Oh - and I might have used stronger facing - all I had at home was a "light to medium", and I think the pattern called for actually stuffing felt or something inside. All in all - love it! BTW - I'm on coffee #2 tonight -so maybe I'll churn out something less selfish tonight :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

at the lake

We've spent the last few days at my mom's house while her and my step dad had the girls in South Dakota. (Pictures here on their flickr) We had some bad weather - and somethings were struck by lightning on Wednesday night... nothing "vital", but enough to throw the "work from home" plan a bit awry. Since we were technically on vacation, I made time to do a bit of crafting between playing with Griffin and pretending I was my mother on the phone with her Internet service provider..."I just don't remember the last 4 digits of my social, but can you please send someone out to fix it anyway??".

Brooke got a bit obsessive about making baby shoes - (9 pairs in 2 nights!!) which will come in handy now that she has had her baby. Hooray!! See here for all sorts of pictures of Miss Vada Wood (and her shoe obsession). I tried my hand at them as well, though this is my first try and a bit rough. I made another pair last night along with a kimono dress for Vada - so I'll post pics of the "better" pair tomorrow.

Then, because the only store within 30 miles of the lake is a Wal Mart - which I'm not normally enamored with - and I got antsy to do something crafty... I tried the felt critters from the Aimee Ray book. These were fast and easy - and I think very cute. I do need to do some research about higher end felt, as these pilled up within a few hours of being played with.

These are just some random shots of the kids from this weekend. Griffin was sure glad to have her sister home :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

btrs swap

After joining the Sew Liberated Emmeline Apron Sew Along, I felt a short lived boost of confidence and decided to sign on for a "swap". For those of you sewing swap rookies (myself included until a few nights ago) this means that you follow some prescribed plan and make something specific for someone else. Ideally, you would receive something in return from another sewer - thus the term "swap". Oh wait - then you all post your pictures to a Flickr account and ooh and ah over each others sewing skills and fabric choices. I'm not sure if people point and laugh at the newbies - I'm hoping not :) The swap I joined uses the Bend The Rules Sewing book as a guide (written by the fantastic Amy Karol of Angry Chicken fame)- and the first thing I've signed on to make is place mats and napkins. I thought these would be nice and easy - and honestly the pattern and plan looks like something I can handle without exposing myself too much as a newbie. We have until mid July to make these - and what I'm sure will keep me going is the thought of a woman wondering where her place mats/napkins are when she shipped her own off many moons prior. What has me tied in knots is trying to pick fabric for my swap partner. We got a short bio of our partners - and mine gave me a nice list of some of her interests, as well as her some things her kids' like. You'd think this would be helpful, right? Well, it is almost too much for me - who wants to make it just right. I've run the gamut of making totally kid friendly items - licensed cartoon fabric and all - that probably won't appeal much to mom and dad - to just making very pretty ones of nice decorator fabric, that the kids won't care for. After 3 nights of moonlight Googling and eBaying, I have finally taken a plunge and ordered my fabric from Crafty Planet. I am lucky enough to live fairly close to this fantastic store - but don't seem to have time to physically go there. Thank God for the Internet! I won't share yet what fabric I chose - but will tell you that I think it fits the bill of being both kid friendly and adult enough to allow out on the table at all times. Well, at least at my house! I hope to post my project soon. It has a far way to go by mid July as my partner is overseas and I've got guilt as my taskmaster!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

crafty weekend

(arg... this is my 5th time trying to organize this post correctly... having problems writing first and then getting pictures added. I'll try it the other way around next time.)

While this weekend was mostly spent doing things for our 5 year old daughter's dance recital (her first - although she danced last year -long story - another time and post), I managed to do some sewing and embroidery projects as well...(and not any housework, our house is a MESS!).

First, a disclaimer - normally, I'd first create a post dedicated to JUST Rowan's dance, but we'll have to wait for the pictures that Auntie Kim and her Grandma took, since my camera was worthless in the dark auditorium. Let's just say, she was adorable and amazing... I laughed, I cried... she is so grown up!

On to my projects...

Immediately following her recital today, Rowan and her cousin Chloe were off on a trip with their Grandparents to see the Black Hills of South Dakota. Dave and I are only about 7 hours into it and are basket cases - we miss her like crazy, but I just talked to our big girl, and she is having a ball. I made the girls matching pillow cases for the trip - but did not get Chloe's done in time. Just finished it tonight and she'll get it right when she gets back. Again an Aimee Ray birdie and a Sublime Stitching critter pattern. Next time - I'd spend my time on the embroidery - not making an actual pillow case. Seems silly now... I'd have had the done in time if I hadn't decided to make them from scratch (well, not "growing cotton" scratch, but you know what I mean). Oh well, next time :)

Next - after reading about the Simplicity 3835 pattern on a zillion craft blogs, I picked it up for myself. It was an impulse buy, honestly, since I was not sure how to actually buy a pattern in a real store (with 4 walls that is, as opposed to existing somewhere out there in cyber space). Turns out it is ridiculously easy - big drawers labeled with numbers... Even I can manage that! I was nervous with this top, since I was not sure how flattering it would be... and didn't want to "waste" my pretty fabric (Amy Butler - LOVE IT!). But, I am fairly happy with how it turned out - and LOVE fold over elastic. This was something I think I saw on Angry Chicken and I"m now a believer. It made the sleeves and neck a breeze. I probably saved a ton of time not having to build casing for elastic, and then feed it through. Plus I like the look of it as well.

I am still practicing my embroidery - so I had picked up a bunch of these hats in the dollar bin at Target and gave one a go. I used the same bird pattern that I found in the Aimee Ray book I mentioned above- just changed it up a bit. The hat is pretty thin - so this will be a play hat for Rowan - but I think she looks adorable!

Lastly, just a quick picture for our Texas viewers/readers: First, sorry for all the stripes. But, there is a good reason for this post. At Rowan's Saturday recital, Grandma had a trunk full of Uncle Jack's old clothes that Nance must have sent up. We took a shirt to make Griffin some pj pants... cute, huh? Now Griffie can wear his favorite "Apple Jack pants" - tada!

Friday, June 6, 2008

garden sticks and frosted hair

I had Brooke's boys here this morning while she visited the doctor (no baby yet, BTW). We decided to check out Crafty Crow and do a project. Garden sticks fit the bill (no real "supplies" needed), so the Rowan and Grayden made me these lovelies. Aren't they cute?

The big kids played great - and Cash was a breeze. Unfortunately, Griffin was not at all interested in sharing toys with Cash. He was a bit of a beast. Yes - I know, what is new?

Got my hair cut and foiled last night. Am a bit concerned that I went a little overboard with the foils. Trying to hide lots of gray may have ended up giving me that 80's frosted look. Ash blond is not really appealing outside of Dynasty reruns. I'll give it some time to grow on me, or not, before I do anything different. I snapped a picture of my cut (can't really see the color) in the mirror with my Anniversary gift from Dave - my new blackberry.

I thought the photo quality was actually pretty good for a camera phone,though the composition and subject may not be up to par. Poor Dave - he got me the phone, and I mowed the lawn for him. To my defense, it was the first time I mowed something in at least 7 years, and I gave a lot of blood, sweat and tears to it. Mainly because I did not know that there was a lever to activate the self propel. If you are my neighbors and saw a girl taking a running start to get the mower up the slight incline from the street, that was me... hi....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

twofer - tshirt pants and embroidery

Combining 2 of my more recent projects - I made Rowan some pants from one of Dave's old polo shirts, and then embroidered a bit on it. Took the pants idea from here, but changed it up a bit. Both my kids are so big, I can use the arm hole (with the sleeve cut off) as the crotch for them. Then I can also use the existing hem as well. Very easy! This shirt was a bit strange, since it was a bit shorter in the front than the back, so I left it that way for fun. Also - I let them be very "bell"-ish with a narrow waist. They were a bit plain though - so I decided to add a bit of embroidery. After my many purchases for this new "hobby", I realized that I did not have true embroidery floss. A confession here - until I read my books, I thought I had embroidery floss. Turn out there are various types of threads... and i did not have the one that divides into little flosses... I did have some craft thread, though, which could be used for some stitches, but basically ruled out the split stitch. (which most of my new patterns called for). Well, I'm not big on winging it so early in a dabbling adventure - but I did find a pattern from the Aimee Ray book I mentioned earlier that had not split stitch. So, I eyeballed it and free handed it on the pants - with marker no less. My fabric chalk did not show at all on the pants- it is time to invest in a good product for marking fabric temporarily. Love the book, BTW, the projects are very inspirational. While I may not do them exactly as described, they are getting my brain going in fun new directions!
Anyways - the black marker led me to the black thread - and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Made up the little twig on top to give it a bit more decoration. I debated a black blanket stitch around the hem, but think they are cute as is. Can't wait to show them to Rowan when she wakes up! She loves getting new things made for her!

(ah hem... please ignore the hoop marks in the pictures. It is past my bedtime and I did not feel like ironing them out.)