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.

Jewelry Love

My sister and I made my mom a watch with interchangeable watch bands for her birthday last month. We forgot earrings to match. So we set out this week to add this necessary accessory. My mom doesn't have her ears pierced, so we had to look for clip findings, which proved to be the hardest part. There were plenty of clip findings with sticky fronts, but we were looking for the ones with a hole to loop a wire to. Finally found, we made Mom 4 pairs of earrings to match her watches.
Of course, I had to make myself some. There were a few colors of earrings I don't have. And a watch band I didn't have any to match. The yellow and green will both match said watch.
Of course, my niece loves to do anything her mom does, and wanted to make her own earrings. We used the last clip findings to make her little dice earrings.
The dice were chosen by my daughter (Jessica) for me to make her some fun earrings. She just got her ears pierced (b-day gift) and is anxious to take out her studs and wear fun earrings. I think I'll save these for her actual birthday (since she's forgotten about them already) in a few weeks. Now she'll have some colorful earrings to add to her earring holder.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beach Bums

My parents had a week timeshare at Bear Lake and invited us along. So, we took one last quick vacation before school started. The days we were there, my sister also came with her husband and 4 kids (the cousins close in age to my kids). We all spent time on Dad's boat, especially on the platform tube. It seems the favorite activity was flying. A couple of the kids became quite the experts on flying. The most funny was to see the tube bounce on several consecutive waves, throwing one kid off in one direction, then another in the opposite direction. We were having so much fun, I forgot to take many pictures, but here's a sampling of our weekend . . .

. . . on Grandpa's (Dad) boat.
. . . with cousins.
. . .just hangin' in the condo.
For any of you familiar with Bear Lake, it is the highest it has been in ~20 years. There are spots where the water does splash up on the road when it gets real windy. Those are the tops of some trees - granted, small trees, but trees, not bushes. There used to be a lot of beach that people would drive down onto to park in front of the water. Not this year. The water is up to the road.
Bear Lake, we love you.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hooded Baby Towel

I know it's been a long time. This summer has turned out to be busier than the school year. I'm not promising anything miraculous, but I'm just going to start sharing some of the projects and activities we've done this summer.

Earlier this summer I made a few baby gifts. This is my go-to gift (along with baby soap and shampoo) because I love them so much and feel that homemade is so much better than storebought. When I had my second baby, a neighbor gave me a homemade hooded towel. It was 100x better than the cheap, thin ones I had from the store, and much better than the hooded towel I had made for my first using a washcloth for a hood. This towel stayed on her head better and wrapped around her better. The trick is to use a hand towel for the hood instead of a washcloth. I looked at what she had made and found it was so easy to copy. I made subsequent towels for my other children, and they used them for years. I had to take them away from my youngest, or she'd still be using it at age 9.

Let me show you how. . .
The hood takes 1/2 a hand towel, so I usually make 2 at a time. Gather the 2 bath towels and 1 hand towel and take the tags off the hand towel. Baby doesn't want an itchy tag in their face.
1. Start by folding the hand towel in half and cutting it straight across.
2. Then serge (or zig zag) the edge to prevent the towel loops from fraying everywhere.
3. Set one half aside for a second towel, and fold the remaining half in half, serged edge to the finished edge. Don't worry about having the two edges flush - the give in a towel makes it so they won't line up. It's okay, they don't need to line up. Focus on the now short edges. That's what needs to line up. Notice in the picture I have the serged edge just short of the finished edge. It's not really necessary, but will make the edge 10x easier to sew and serge, later.
4. Next, on the folded edge, measure in 5" and pin.
5. Now draw a line (or pin, or eyeball, however you need to mark it) from the pinned point to the corner of the serged edge. This is where you will sew.
6. (Sorry about the blur, I don't have the best camera.) Now sew on the diagonal line, backstitching at the beginning and the end.
6. (con't)Here's where it becomes easier if you didn't line up the edges exactly. Sewing this corner (and especially serging) is hard if you have to go through so many layers, and can bog down your machine. I broke several needles before figuring out I could avoid that corner. Look closely at where my seam is ending. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 with the other edge.
7. After sewing both corners, serge off the outside triangle, or trim and zig zag. You end up with this:
8. Turn the hood inside out and measure (or fold) the halfway point of the serged edge. Mark with a pin. Measure the halfway point of the body towel and mark it with a pin, as well.
Next you'll be pinning the hood to the towel. Make sure you pin the right side of the hood. The wrong side is this one with the seams:
9. Match up the 2 centers and pin the right side of the hood to the towel. Now, towels do have a right side as well, but most people don't pay attention to it. If you don't care, don't worry about it. If you're giving this as a baby gift, or notice things like this yourself, the body towel has a tag on it. Consider that side the wrong side. I always place the tag on the inside and make it the bottom of the towel.
10. Now you're going to make a pleat. Start on the left side of the middle pin. About 1/2" from the pin, fold the towel towards the middle pin, then fold it back at the middle. This makes a 1/2" pleat. The picture shows 2 pleats, one to the right and one to the left of the middle pin.
11. Make 2 more pleats, each about 2" from the last, on each side. I use my fingers to measure, and I've done this enough I can eyeball them to be evenly spaced. If you need to, use a seam gauge and measure so they're the same distance apart and the same size pleat.
Pleat on both sides of the middle. Make sure that the pleats on each side are facing the middle. So, on the left, you fold right, then left. And on the right of the middle, you fold left, then right.
12. After pinning the pleats, stretch out the remaining hood and lay it along side the towel. Pin the ends down. The end of the finished edge of the hood, the part just past the diagonal seam, will lay down along the edge of the towel as if it were part of the serged edge.
13. Now sew the hood to the body of the towel, backstitching at the beginning and the end. Sew with the pleats facing up and go slow so you can take out the pins and make sure each pleat is laying flat.View of the inside of the hood:
View of the outside of the hood, and finished pleats:
All rolled up, tied with a ribbon, ready to give:

Now, sometimes, I like to add a ribbon or lace to the hood, especially if it's for a baby girl. If I already have a towel sewn, I'll add the trim by folding the edge under and sewing it on the hood right at the end of the fluffies, starting at the seam where the hood meets the body of the towel:
But if I know I'm putting trim on at the beginning, I'll sew it on the hood before I pin the hood to the rest of the towel. This towel will be for my next new niece, and I'm adding a bright pink ric-rac. Sew the trim (ribbon, lace, or ric-rac) on right after step 7.
There's no need to fold the ends of the trim over. They'll be sewn into the finished seam between the hood and towel body. Cut the trim flush with the edges of the hood. Then continue with step 8.
And here is the finished towel with the trim: