Tuesday, April 27, 2010

perseverance pays off

I have been frustrated with my storage system for my costume jewelry, which consists of laying necklaces and such out on my dresser in a pile. Not such a good system, really. After some thought, I decided to create something that could hang on the wall, so that my necklaces could hang and be seen.

I took a while to formulate an idea, and decided to hit up my local thrift stores (can I get a vintage shout out? lol) to find a picture frame. I found two perfect ones for $1.99 each at Goodwill. I decided to make one necklace holder for myself and another for a friend's birthday. (Which is today! Happy Birthday, Kelly!)

On Sunday, I went to Home Depot for spray paint, hooks, and pegboard. Challenge #1: It was a pain in the toot to find hooks that were the size and shape I wanted, in the price range I was looking at. I almost went with drawer pulls, but at the last moment I found hooks that were part of a key rack. I unscrewed the hooks to use in my project.


So I get everything home and sanded and painted the picture frame. I didn't take pictures of the process just in case it sucked, but when I do the next one I'll do more photos.

Challenge #2: Cutting pegboard with a rinkydink, slightly rusted, lives-on-the-floor-of-the-garage handsaw was awful. I sawed back and forth for 10 minutes and managed to cut 1 inch. I finally went back out to a hardware store and bought a little electric handsaw.

Challenge #3: Waiting for the battery operated cordless handsaw to charge is torture.

This project is beginning to be more of a hassle than I anticipated. Sigh.

FINALLY, the saw is charged. I'm ready to cut the pegboard. Yay!

Or not. Challege #4: Cutting pegboard when you don't have a vice or worktable is dangerous, scary, and not easy at all. That's why I asked my husband to do it. :)

Okay. Frame painted, check. Pegboard cut, check. I'm ready to assemble. I originally intended to cover the pegboard in fabric, but it looked stupid. I finally decided to leave it bare and accent it with ribbon. I actually like it that way. I positioned the hooks and made a cute little crocheted flower for the corner.


I LOVE how it turned out! My friend loved it, too. :) She sent me a pic from her cell phone... she's already got it hung on her wall and covered in jewelry. She also put pictures under the ribbons. It looks awesome! This one was for her, but the next one is for ME!

Friday, April 23, 2010

laughing and quilting

I went to the dentist last Friday morning to have a temporary crown taken out and a permanent one put in. Since I'm a big weenie, they give me nitrous oxide to relax me (in addition to all kinds of numbing... I'm usually numb for at least three hours after the appointment). Man, I love nitrous oxide. I know why they call it laughing gas... my dentist says the funniest things when I'm gassed up! (Bet this isn't what you thought you'd be reading about when you saw the title, huh?)

Anyway, after the dentist when I was clearheaded but still numb (my lower lip felt about ten pounds too big), I went to a local quilt show. I'd never been to one before and figured a Friday morning was a good time as it wouldn't be too busy, right? (Plus there's no way in heck that my husband would set foot anywhere near this place on Saturday.)

WRONG! There were tons of women and a few bored husbands holding purses milling about. People were bumping into each other at every turn. There were only 17 vendors there so it was a really small show. I got sucked in to all kinds of beautiful fabrics and spent way more than I originally intended. I love fabric. Want to see my haul?


Isn't it great? That rolled up goodness is a Hello Betty by Chloe's Closet Retro Honey Bun (sheesh, what a mouthful!) and just below that is a Fresh Squeezed Charm Pack, both from Moda. I also got a pattern for a cute wallet and several other fun fabrics.


I love the Moda Bake Shop. I love Moda fabrics. I saw a quilt at the show made out of the same Honey Bun that I bought and it is so cute! I can't wait to make something out of it.

Moda Bake Shop

Here's a close up of the Honey Bun. I have really been into retro and vintage fabrics lately, and these fit the bill! I almost can't bear to unroll it. Almost.


I've saved the best for last! Every woman at the quilting show was carrying some kind of quilting bag. Luckily I was carrying my trusty Vera Bradley bag, so I didn't miss the boat there. I was trolling around the different booths and came across this (blurry) vision of loveliness...


Yay! I love it... so roomy without being too big. I've retired the trusty Vera Bradley in favor of this new bag. There were a lot of items for sale that I thought were beautiful, but I didn't want to spend tons of money on something I thought I could make myself.

Sadly, quilting scares the heck out of me. My stepdad's mother is an awesome quilter and whenever I see things she's done I'm hugely intimidated.

I bought a beginner's quilting book a long time ago and used a pattern in it to make a quilt top. It was the most frustrating thing I've ever done. From the beginning with the measuring and cutting to the end with ironing seams, I hated it. It was way too complicated for me with what seemed like millions of squares and triangles and rectangles. I put it aside and never finished it. PLUS... I lost it. I've been looking for the bleeping thing for a month and can't find it.

I decided after that disaster that anything I ever quilted again would have to be much easier. I have a couple of patterns I'm considering. Hopefully sometime soon I'll pull my sewing machine from it's hidey hole in my crafty cabinet and get to quilting!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

improvising in the kitchen

Here's the story: I had pork chops defrosting in the fridge for, um, 3 or 4 days. Oops. I really wanted to use this to make yummy Apple and Sage Pork Chops, but I didn't have apples. Or onions. Or apple juice. Or brown sugar. All of which are needed to complete the recipe.

Solution? Substitution! I left out the apples, onions, apple juice, and brown sugar. I subbed in dried sweetened cranberries, cranberry juice, and granulated sugar.

It was AWESOME! I was afraid it would be a puke-y pink color but it was a gorgeous caramel color instead. I was really pleased! The cranberry juice reduced down to a beautiful sauce that was sooooo good. I'd post a picture but it's all gone.

I'm not an adventurous cook. I usually follow recipes to the letter, so this was quite a stretch for me. I've had many disasters in the past when trying to substitute simple ingredients. This success definitely has increased my confidence!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

fingerless gloves

Winter may be over, but I am still almost constantly cold. My hands and feet are like icicles, especially at bedtime (much to Hubby's dismay), so I wore these the other night and was pleasantly surprised at how toasty they kept my palms and wrists. I had wanted to crochet these fingerless gloves (or fingerless mittens, or handwarmers, or whatever floats your boat) early in the winter and get more time to use them, but at least now they're ready to go for next winter.


They are quite comfortable, and I love the ribbing effect at the cuff. I did make some modifications, though. When I got to round 12 where the thumb hole is made, I chained 8 for the thumb hole instead of 4. Chaining 8 created a larger hole which felt more comfortable for me (the smaller hole cut off the circulation in my hand!). I also modified rounds 15 and 16, leaving out the finger loop. These are my modifications:

Round 12: When the time comes to chain 4 and skip 8 sc, I chained 8 and skipped 8 sc. This creates a larger thumb hole.
Rounds 13 and 14: no modifications
Round 15: sc in first sc. *Ch 3, skip one sc, sc in next sc.* Repeat from * to * around, ending with ch 3 and sl st in first sc.
Round 16: sl st to ch 3 sp. *Ch 2, sl st in next ch 3 sp.* Repeat from * to * around.

There are lots of patterns out there, but these are the ones I liked the best. I may end up making more in different colors for next year!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

swapping with mia, part 2

You can read about what I sent Mia here on her blog, but I wanted to add a few more details. (You can also read her hilarious account of mailing my stuff here... really, it's so funny! You gotta love four-year-olds.) Go ahead. I'll wait. :)

I wanted to make Mia something from every crafty category I dabble in: sewing, crochet, and scrapbooking; plus my first foray into plastic canvas since I was 10 years old.

The first thing I made was the amigurumi turtle, using this pattern. Problem was, with the natural cotton yarn I used, his head was MASSIVE. Made the little thing topple over like nobody's business. Here's the prototype:


His head is on the left, body on the right. Because they ended up basically the same size, he wouldn't stay upright. I didn't bother to add legs or eyes... he just went right into the Dark Bin of Unfinished or Ugly Projects. You know you have one.


I redid him with a soft acrylic yarn and used a smaller hook (I think? I don't remember if I actually did, but I meant to!) for the head. He stays upright on his four little legs and I gave him beads for eyes. Much better!

Next, I made coasters. I found a woven tea towel at a local thrift store with Colorado-themed pictures on it, and used this pattern. Technically the pattern is for cocktail napkins but I thought they were too small. Coasters it is! I made a set of six.


The one above is one of my favorites. We actually live near Big Thompson Canyon and I just love the flower. The one below is my other favorite.


Next, I made a mini sewing box. I used plastic canvas and this pattern. Inside the box, I made dividers for three spaces: a mini pincushion, buttons and thread/safety pins/needle threader.


I made a set of scrapbook cards, using some of my favorite papers and embellishments. I liked them so much I *almost* kept them for myself and made a different set for Mia. Lucky for her, I decided to send them on!


The last one is my favorite. I love how the curves in the paper and the flap of the card create a moon and stars effect. (Not sure why the "thanks" one is so blue, I took all the pictures in the same light. Oh well. Never said I was a great photographer!)

Tippy the Turtle came from Hobby Lobby. I thought Mia's Boys would get a kick out of it. Apparently he grew pretty big!


The apron was one of my favorites. I'm so glad she liked it! I was out thrifting (I don't think I told you this, Mia!) and saw this awesome sheet set with retro flower/tree looking things. I snagged it immediately, and a minute later saw the tiny flower print sheet set that matches it so nicely. I am developing a serious love of thrift stores. I used these two fabrics and this pattern to make Mia's apron.


Last, I made a post-it holder. I also made one for myself. :) I've seen instructions all over the web... just use an acrylic frame from Wal Mart or a similar store and go to town with scrapbook paper and embellishments. I hot glued the post-it pad because it was to heavy to hang by the sticky stuff alone. Hopefully it'll easily peel off when Mia needs a new set of sticky notes! We teachers have a serious love of office supplies!


Yay! This was the most crafty fun I've had in a long time. Mia is a lovely person to have as a bloggy friend! Go to her blog and show some bloggy love!

Friday, April 9, 2010

swapping with mia

OH MY GOSH. If I knew every swap I did would be *this* much fun, I'd do it EVERY DAY!

Waaay back in January I published my 100th blog post. I wanted to do something to celebrate, so I proposed a swap with anyone who wanted. Lucky for me, Mia emailed right away! We exchanged several emails to get to know each other (and, btw, it's FREAKY how alike we are!) finally decided that we'd make some stuff to send to each other and set a deadline of March 1st.

Life got in the way and we both ended up sending our boxes late. A month late. Um. Whoops. Good thing my thinking has always been "better late than never"... it was actually funny, that it ended up that way... one more similarity between Mia and I. (Please ignore that grammatically awful sentence as my excitement over the swap has temporarily muddled my brain.)

I got Mia's box on Monday night and HOT DOG, it was awesome! I opened the box to find this....


and here's a little teaser....


and inside I found these.


Gorgeous placemats crocheted from strips of fabric! LOVE it! Mia also says they can be used as chairpads and I think I love that even more!

Next I saw this...


and here's what was inside!


The most adorable cupcake apron. Hmmm... I didn't tell Mia how much I love cupcakes, but she knew anyway! She's so smart. It's also funny that we both made aprons for each other!

Underneath the apron was this:


Isn't it beautiful? It's the softest shawl I've ever touched, and it's the perfect shade of smoky blue. It also came complete with a shawl stick thingie to hold it closed. (Actually I initially thought the shawl stick thingie was a hair stick thingie, but luckily realized it's proper use. It didn't stay in my hair, anyway!)

There's more! This box was packed to the gills. Here's our next category:


Yay! I love fun stuff for my classroom... things that make it feel homey. This definitely foots the bill:


NO WAY! It's a bunting personalized with my name. How neat! I have the perfect wall space in my room to put this up and it's going up today! Here's an excerpt from the email I sent Mia: "I should mention here that at one point I was wearing the apron, the shawl, and trying to hold up the bunting for Hubby to see all at the same time. He thinks I'm nuts. (And normally when I exclaim over cute stuff he sort of rolls his eyes and sarcastically agrees with me but thinks I'm being such a girl. However, when he saw the bunting, he exclaimed "That's really cool!". High compliments from him, let me tell you.)" Haha! Here's a close up.


I also found this in the box...


It's the cutest little pouch in the same fabric as the bunting. I love owls!! The box was rounded out with some fun scrapbooking supplies:


Whew! She really hit the nail on the head. From the first email, I knew this would be a great swap. We found that we really have lots in common, which made it easy to make things for her and easy to love everything she made! Everything was so great... Mia is such a talented crocheter and sewer and I really love each and every item. Thank you, Mia! It has been such a pleasure to get to know you!

In my next post I'll show what I sent her. :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

personal cookbook redo


My recipe binder was a disaster. I had old recipes mixed in with ones I hadn't tried, there weren't enough sections for all the types of recipes I have, and the cover was a scrapbooker's embarrassment... from way back when I thought stickers were all you needed, haha. I refuse to take a picture, it's so bad.

But... I guess if other bloggers are brave enough to show their embarrassing stuff, I can be brave enough, too.


Captivating! Let's move in for a close-up, shall we?


SEE? I told you it was bad! Oy. I want to cringe. I finally decided enough was enough when I opened the binder and half the recipes that didn't have a home fell out all over the floor.

I pulled out Every. Single. Recipe. It took forever, because I had a ton of stuff. I had to decide if each recipe was binder worthy... if so, I filed it under one of my new categories:


Methods (cooking tips and tricks... right now I have a grilling cheat sheet filed there)



Sauces (yes, I actually had enough recipes to make this it's own category!)







Holiday Meals

Holiday Baking

Recipes to Try

Here's the plan: Each week I fill in the menu on my personal weekly planner. The recipes for the week go in the front of the binder. Then I don't need to flip through the binder constantly to find the recipes for the things I want to make.

If I make something from the "Recipes to Try" category and we like it, it moves into a permanent spot in whichever category it fits. I made caramel rolls for Easter morning from a recipe from a coworker and they were AWESOME! so that recipe will move into the Breakfast tab shortly.

This week I'll make Linguine with Asparagus and Pine Nuts from Real Simple, Ricotta Gnocchi from a Pampered Chef cookbook, and *hopefully* Mia's Bagels (that's how I think of them). Those recipes are waiting for me in the front of my binder!

And of course, I needed to make a new cover page to go in the front. I took out my scrappy supplies and got to work. It's simple, but I like it.


I am especially fond of the bow I made from ribbon and hot glue.


I'm really liking this new system! Yay for organizing!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

happy easter!

My mom and stepdad are visiting for Easter, so I bought tulips to put in the guest room. Tulips are one of my favorite types of flower!


Last night we dyed eggs (well, I dyed most of them and managed to get my mother involved whilst Hubby and my stepdad subjected us to ridicule... party poopers). I had the newest issue of Martha Stewart Living and thought the eggs on the cover were just gorgeous... much more sophisticated than regular old Easter eggs! I used electrical tape to make stencils for a few eggs.


This next one is my favorite. I dipped it in orange with electrical tape on it and then took off the tape and dipped it in yellow. It's a subtle look, but I love it!


I also read this blog regularly and loved how their eggs turned out. So, without further ado....


I used them as place cards on the table... they aren't as pretty as I'd hoped but not bad for a last minute night-before-Easter project!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

big bunny

Big Bunny, meet my Bloggy Friends.


Bloggy Friends, meet Big Bunny.


I love Big Bunny. I've had him for a long time. One of my sisters gave him to me when I was a little girl, I think for Easter. She drove six hours with him next to her in the car. I hope she used the HOV lane. :)

Big Bunny used to be taller than me. He's not anymore. I used to dance around with him, grabbing as much of him as I could while we waltzed (erm, I twirled and he dragged along) to the music (sometimes real, sometimes just the music in my head).

I remember he had this fluffy band that went around his top hat. I took it off to wear as a headband occasionally (but not in public, thank goodness). I did that until my head got too big, haha.

Big Bunny (I was such an imaginative stuffed-animal-namer! I had another bunny that was little. Bet you can't guess his name.*) will be helping me model some stuff I've made in future posts. I though he deserved his own intro post. He was one of my favorite toys as a kid!

*Okay, okay, you got me. The little bunny's name was Little Bunny. I loved him just as much, if not more, than Big Bunny. I think I had a thing for rabbits.

**I think I set the record for Most Parentheses Used In A Single Blog Post. I'm going to contact the Guiness Book of World Records people.