Saturday, November 12, 2011

Worthy Thoughts

I really haven't had enough time to satisfy everyone I should be caring about this semester. So of course, the blog is one thing I haven't even considered keeping up with. But, now that it's November, I have been making an effort to post on facebook one new thing I'm thankful for (you may have seen this happening this month). And since my life is so chaotic this semester (thank goodness the end - December graduation - is in sight), I have often thought about wanting to simplify my life, declutter my house, get into better routines and habits, etc. So when I saw this post today, I knew I had to share - both the message of that post (summarized in this picture), and a challenge.

I challenge you to think hard about what you want from life, and identify how to get it. For me, it really comes down to one thing:

This means I pledge to begin decluttering and simplifying my life (after graduation). I am accepting the challenge to begin changing my life to be what I really want it to be. I am going to simplify, take time to enjoy, love more fully, let things go that don't matter, and find contentment. I can't wait to show you all my "List" - my goals (once I figure it out, of course). The new year will be the start of a new life around here. Hope you'll all take the challenge to find one worthy goal, and make a plan to get there.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hello? *chirp, chirp*

What crickets? I don't hear crickets. I'm too busy to hear crickets. Apparently, I'm too busy to blog, too. But, here's a project that's a long time in the coming. My jewelry (or accessory) board.

A friend made me a jewelry board, basically a filled in frame with 3 fancy knobs. Well, I loved it, but suddenly felt I needed a bigger board for my room, and another for my craft room. So, the original went in the craft room, and I looked for another board for a bigger jewelry board. I never did find a good frame, and didn't want to make one, but when I saw a different project use a re-purposed cabinet door, I knew that would work for what I want.

Once I chose how many knobs I wanted, I had holes drilled spaced evenly out (thanks, Dad!).
Then I primed the board. Krylon makes this new(ish) dark primer. Excellent for under black, brown, or red.
Then I taped off the middle and spray painted the outside a glossy black.
A few days later (I did say I was busy, right?) I taped off the outside and painted the inside bright, glossy red.
Again a few days later, I screwed in my knobs. I had to buy a package of short screws that wouldn't poke out the back. Better that than trying to saw off the extra from the original screws.

Once I finally hung it on my wall, I started hanging up jewelry and scarves. There's more to come, but I have to untangle my jewelry drawer. I just love how the knobs pop off that bright red. And using a cabinet door made it quicker than filling in a frame. I didn't have to cut any wood.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Queen Mirror

I had a birthday party to go to, and wanted to make a personal gift for this dear friend. I really didn't know what I was doing. I kind-of made it up as I went. But, ultimately, it was EASY. The vinyl is a one image for the Silhouette. I sized it to ~3/4" smaller than the size of an 8" square mirror. Then I followed the directions on the Silhouette to cut the vinyl and stick it to the mirror and added sticky gems. It was fast and easy - well, all but getting those tiny sticky rhinestones to go where I wanted them to - and it turned out great.

Fancy Nancy Birthday

Fancy Nancy is a cute little storybook girl who loves all things fancy. Well, my girlfriends and I wanted to throw a special surprise party for our own dear friend, Nancy, who is the ultimate in fancy. It only made sense to throw a Fancy Nancy party. (Billed as a "Diva" party to cover the surprise element.

Being the hostess, I didn't get photos of everything, and pictures from inside my house always turn out horrible (awful paint color reflection), so you'll have to use your imagination.

The "Fancy Nancy" colors are red, hot pink, and purple, which we mixed with a black and hot pink combination. It turned out fabulous! My bar was covered in purple, and the raised portion decorated with vases of white flowers, decorative red vases, books, beads, a mirror, confetti, chocolates, and more beads.

I asked my sis-in-law to make the cake (she's fabulous and you can see more of her cakes here).

Other decorations included a "dressing room" (my front room) with plenty of accessories - hats, scarves, boas, gloves, glasses, and a table with a bowl of ring pops and more beads. Everyone was able to wear the beads and ring pops immediately. The the entry to my kitchen/great room was strung with streamers to prevent the birthday girl from seeing the surprise too early, with a red carpet runway to enter. Once you came through, there were balloons, tissue paper pom poms, French words on the walls (because Fancy Nancy says French is fancy), and more beads.

Every party needs food, so we had lots of tea party style, finger foods - appetizers, fruit kabobs, sandwiches, etc. Fancy little desserts like eclairs and cream puffs. Oooh, just writing this down is making me hungry.

Our surprise worked! I think Nancy was a little shell-shocked.

Since this was an adult party, we didn't play games, but we did dress up and walk the runway. If you want to plan a Fancy Nancy party for little girls, I suggest checking out a few Fancy Nancy books from your library (the Tea Party one, in particular), they have some fun game ideas, or the Fancy Nancy website which has coloring pages, game ideas, and more.

We laughed, we cried, we teased, and we shared. At the end of the night, I am so grateful to call this group of gals friends. Thanks for coming, girls!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Bountiful Harvest = Yummy Salsa

Every year we plant a garden, and every year I have good intentions to bottle, can, preserve, and put up the fruits of our labor to enjoy all winter long. And every year, dozens of tomatoes go to waste because I can't find the time to get to them. Well, after a slow start, this years' harvest is coming on all at once (strange weather). This was what we picked one night (after picking just 3 days earlier). Well, they sat there for a few days, but school's already started, and I am too busy to make salsa.
Well, lucky for me, hubby decided to do it himself. We got several recipes, from family, friends, and the internet. Now, I've never had a homemade salsa I love as much as my beloved Pace. But hubby likes to cook, and he's usually pretty good at making stuff up. So, while I studied, I trusted hubby to take care of my kitchen. He ended up with a HUGE bowl of fresh salsa. It. Was. Good. So good, we were eating it plain with a spoon, right out of the bowl. I was going to take a picture of how much we had, but after 2 days, this is all that is left.
Beautiful, isn't it. If you'd like to try our version, here is the recipe (as close as we could figure, writing it down after it was made).

Fresh Salsa
8 cups chopped tomatoes (mostly finely chopped, ~1 cup mashed into juice, although I'd like it less juicy)
2 large (or 3 small) onions, chopped fine
2 small green peppers (with seeds), chopped fine
6 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp cilantro (we only had powdered, fresh would be better)
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar

Mix it all together and enjoy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Craft Room Color

I had quite the list of projects to sew this summer, and didn't come close to finishing. But, I really wanted to get this done while I was thinking about it. My craft room needed a dose of color, and my favorite color combination is black and red. I just love the dramatic effect.

When I saw this fabric, I knew I had to do something with it, and the craft room was the only room with just red and black, and it happened to need curtains. So, I snagged a few yards. Don't you love the different circles. To me, this fabric seemed to beg for something fun. Well, how do you make curtains fun?

But before I got around to the curtains, I saw a tutorial on recovering an ironing board. It suddenly struck me - Whoa, why don't I do that? My ironing board was yucky, but it's an odd size, and I can't find covers to fit. So, luckily, I had just bought that cute circle fabric, but went back for more to make sure I'd have enough. I didn't end up following the tutorial, and sorry I didn't make my own. I just set the ironing board upside down on top of paper, drew a pattern 2" around the edge, then folded it in half to trim the edges even. I cut 2 pieces out of the fabric, but I didn't have enough of the padding. It this padding used for hot pads that is insulated, and I had it leftover from long ago. I did have enough for the exact size of the top of the ironing board, just not enough for those extra 2" all the way around. So, I ended up sandwiching it between the 2 pieces of fabric, and essentially "quilting" it together. Then I sewed binding around the outside edge, threaded it with 1/4" elastic, and sewed it shut.

I still didn't quite know what to do for curtains, so the fabric sat all summer, until I developed a picture in my mind. With the basic idea in mind, I kind-of made up the details as I went. See how it went . . .

I cut a length of 6', and knowing I'd most likely have a grommet or buttonhole or something in the top, I interfaced the top 4" starting 1" from the selvage edge. I'm going to take advantage of those finished selvage edges, but I don't want the holes to show (where the material was tacked to the loom). After ironing the interfacing on, I sewed along the bottom edge to help keep it from peeling off, knowing I'd make this the back side.
Then I folded the fabric together lengthwise and sewed the two selvage edges together. I took such a big seam allowance to get away from those holes I mentioned.
Then, I sewed the two ends together, leaving an opening to turn it all right side out.
Turn. Press well (I want sharp edges on this curtain).
Now, my hand really doesn't like hand-sewing, so I just top-stitched the hole closed. Well, I sewed the whole end, and top-stitched the other end to match.
Next I applied 5 large plastic grommets. Spread equally apart, they are 17 1/4" inches apart. I had more grommets, but I intentionally only used 5. Remember, I've got a picture in my brain, so go with it for a minute.
The grommet package comes with instructions and a marking guide. I placed them 1 1/2" from the top and 1 1/2" from the ends. Put the 2 ends in, then measure the remaining distance and divide to place them equally.
Now, I cut 4' lengths of this super-wide black ribbon, and tied it through the grommets to the curtain rod. Yeah! It turned out just how I imagined, and it does look like a "fun" style.
See how cute those big bows are, and how the fabric droops in between? I love it!
Last quick note. Here's the quilt I bound a few weeks ago (last post) during my sewing bonanza. It's very bold, and I love how it turned out. I just don't know what to do with it. Now, I have no need for it, and don't have anyone to give it to, so I'm not sure what to do with it? Ebay? Etsy? Sell it at our family reunion auction next summer? If anyone wants it, I'll let it go for cost ($55).
And the back is black on gray.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sewing Extravaganza

A few weeks ago, I had a bit of sewing fever. Hubby was out of town (and son - Scout campout) so I stayed up late a couple nights and got a lot done. I cut out and sewed 4 skirts, 1 pair of pants, 2 pajama pants, the back of a quilt, and cut out curtains (not sewn yet). I also bound a quilt, had a movie girls' night with dinner at a friend's house, took a big shopping trip and lunch out with my girls, and read a book. Here's a look at some of the projects . . .

. . . skirts for my girls.
. . . a skirt for a friend's daughter (modeled by cousin W) and a skirt for Grandma.
. . . pants for Katie.
. . . and pajama pants (hiding 'till Christmas).
Here's another sewing project I did earlier this summer. Jessica has decided to take band, and needed a folder/bag for her music books. I couldn't tell you how I did it, I just made it up as I went. Basically, a double layer, heavily interfaced back, 2 pockets, and handles. I made it so the handles would slip over the handle of her clarinet case, making it easy to carry.