Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time flies

Where does the time go! I honestly don't know. Just figuring I'd update my blog with something... anything at this point. I jut finished two great projects; a baby-sized quilt playpad (some of the better sewing I've ever done), and a striped baby sweater (some of the better knitting I've ever done, plus with TWO colors, wow!). These projects were both finished "on deadline"... meaning I procrastinated until the last minute (literally, I was sewing on buttons on the sweater with less than 2 minutes to head out the door for the shower!). It stressed me out, but actually helped me get projects done that might have dragged on for eternity, like most other projects. I've got to keep that in mind for future motivation techniques! I really should get going on making some holiday gifts... that would be a great deadline!

I also figured out how to blind hem and am SO proud of myself for being able to legitimately hem my own pants... first time ever! That's kind of a sad statement, considering 90% of the pants I wear need or should be altered lengthwise. Right before I started my new job, I took 7 pairs of pants in to be hemmed and it cost me about $50, which isn't bad, but now I can do some of that hemming myself. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rain, rain, rain with a sprinkle of thunder and lightning

It's June and it still feels a bit like February or March outside. I guess we've had more rain in the last week for June this year than we had in all of June last year! Wow! I guess it's nice because we won't have to turn the sprinklers on for quite a while in our yard, saving on the water bill at least. The funny thing with rain is... I kinda LIKE it. I guess that makes me a bona fide Oregonian/Washingtonian. There's just something about watching a really good downpour that is as satisfying as riding with the windows down on a sunny day. There's also the other aspect about the rain that I love; it gives you the perfect excuse to hunker down and get cozy. Whether that means cooking something tasty in the kitchen, sitting on the couch reading a good book or crafting away while watching the water drench everything in sight... it just feels right. Maybe it's because you can't feel guilty for sitting inside on such a bleary day, whereas if the sun was shining, you would be obligated to get out of the house and enjoy it.
Don't tell anybody else I said this, but the rain (with a few sunny days mixed in for good measure) can keep coming... I've got a mountain of projects building up! I just ordered and received 2 new books that I can't wait to create some fun projects out of. The first book is brand new, hot off the press from Anna Maria Horner, sewing queen extraordinaire. There are lots of projects I am digging in this book, from super cute slippers for Mom to the cute booties featured on the front page (gorgeous fabrics shown too, so that always helps). I figure I have so many friends who are varying stages of babyhood (and someday I would like to be too!) that this book will come in handy.
Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little OnesI also picked up a copy of Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones, which is by another 'ruler' of the sewing world. I first discovered how amazingly simple Amy Butler's instructions were when creating handbags for my bridesmaids for the wedding and have been interested in trying out some other patterns of hers ever since. Again, so many cute projects created in stunning fabric that I am excited just looking at the pictures!
Last night I also re-taught myself knitting... which I honestly can say now that I didn't ever really forget in the first place. I was a little confused on what hand held what needle and yarn since I re-taught myself recently to do right-handed continental knitting. But once I got the hand placement right, the movement came right back to me and I can easily do it with my eyes shut (well almost, I'm not that good!) So I started a fun project that has me finally using my Cascade 220 stash. It's funny because I'll buy a random assortment of skeins/hanks only to later discover I need more or less of each color selection... this fact paralyzes me to not ever use it, so I've decided to break all my weird little rules and just start knitting. Nevermind the fact that I am using a brown yarn I intended for fitted vest for me, or that the aqua blue I'm going to use to stripe the cardi is taking away from my aqua sweater for myself I'll probably never make. haha.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hiatus... over!

Hiatus... dry spell... boy it's been a long time since I've done anything in the direction of 'crafty'! But this last week I've felt a surge of motivation to get off the couch (new Dish Network service was not helping) and start creating again. My original hiatus from crafting began when reading overtook all my time... but I'm trying to balance out my two desires so that I have a little bit of time to create fun things too! I started to actually miss crafting, so here I am, ready to go again. Unfortunately, taking a several month hiatus from something such as knitting has caused me to forget HOW to actually knit... I thought something like that was akin to riding a bike? You never really forget, right!? Well I forgot. And now I've got my Vogue Knitting Book (great book by the way, all the basics in one spot is much easier than google searching for hours)cracked open to the basics page, ugh! Well, it probably didn't help matters that I had recently re-learned how to knit using the continental method (previously was doing some backwater version due to my left-handedness). I have so much yarn in such fun colors that's screaming (yes yarn screams if it hasn't been fondled in 2 months) to be made into something cute cute cute. Okay yarn, you win...

I'm also whole-heartedly back into sewing too and just completed a handful of my backburner projects that were taking up valuable real estate on my sewing table. YES I actually FINISHED projects! Sometimes I amaze myself! Finishing a project I've had half done really did have this euphoric sensation of getting something accomplished. I think it really helps that these two projects in particular turned out fantastic and are very usable items... can't say the same about other craft projects I've created (don't ask about the custom-sized shorts I made... 1/2" inseams do not make for comfortable sleeping conditions!). Based on the condition of my latest FO's, I either think I'm becoming a better seamstress or just becoming more accepting of the inevitable flaws I make. :)

First up was my nightie (was supposed to go with the oh-so-uncomfortable boxer shorts I mentioned above)... I still love the fabric and was excited to figure out how to use biased tape to create a nice and clean edge to my project (and the straps!). My machine cooperated to do a zig zag stitch to secure the tape, and that makes me happy! I made this out of the One-Yard Wonders Book I bought awhile ago... there's so many great projects in that book. I've worn this to bed the last few nights and it's great! I'm {happily} surprised that the coverage in the front stays in place when I sleep (no awkward shifting to wake up and find out you have no top on, haha). and it's comfy with the a-line design. I think my sizing was a little off as I shaved 2 inches off either side of the skirt portion to make it fit. I plan to make a few more of these for summertime!

The next project of excitement is my MONKEY PAJAMA BOTTOMS! I don't know why... can't explain it... but I really adore those dumb sock monkeys. There, I said it. I love the fabric lines that feature their dorky little faces, and that's why I had to have a pair of PJ's with monkeys all over them. Yep, monkeys on pogo sticks; you can't beat that for goodnight happiness. They are also flannel, which I love. They are also capris, which I love. Mix all 3 of these factors together and wow, I'm pretty much speechless. The pattern was from Taylor Made Designs Patterns Sew Easy Pajama Pants which is a small booklet with variations on these bottoms. The instructions confused me a bit as I never did figure out where it wanted me to actually sew the hem on the bottom of each leg, so I just made the decision to sew them before sewing the final seam of the inner legs. That was a good idea... I sewed each hem of the leg flat and that made life easier. I also decided a random length to cut off the bottom of these pants since I knew they would be too long... so I decided 5" and trimmed them up (what a waste of 10" of good fabric, tear!) Another good decision and guess, if I can say so myself. They are perfect! And I've been wearing these for the last few nights too, although not in coordination with my top because who wants to go to bed with a mismatched outfit on?!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thirsty Thursdays...

Today's the start of what will be many Thursday "Game Days". Corey and I are big fans of soccer... not only do we play soccer 2 times a week, we also like to watch soccer! With Portland getting a major league team in 2011, we are even more amped up this season to watch our Portland Timbers play and build a strong fan base. It was a big surprise to see that last Saturday's opening game was actually sold out at PGE Park! With all the kitchen tiling done as of last night, we are very glad to have a small break tonight and head downtown to watch, drink beer and eat pretzels.

Monday, April 19, 2010

House projects!

Been so busy with house projects {with reading squeezed in between!}, I haven't had a spare second to do anything of the crafty kind. Not to mention my sewing machine is broken! Well, something is wrong with it at the very least and I haven't had the time or motivation to sit down and try to fix it. :(
Our latest home project is our kitchen... it's something we've wanted to redo forever.

Before: White cabinets, white countertops, white appliances, white linoleum flooring. Blah!


We spiced it up with some avocado green paint and all my gotta-have tangerine orange kitchen accents, but now comes the real work...

AFTER SNEAK PEEK, work still in progress!: dark grey granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, undermount stainless sink, hardwood floors, new stainless cabinet pulls and a stainless and white subway tile backsplash all the way up! Gotta love it! Not to mention we also took down our half wall to open the kitchen up a bit more and create an eat-in bar area... I really think this makes the kitchen feel much more spacious.


So right now we have to finish our tile backsplash... then go back and grout. We chose to do a light grey grout so the lines between the white subway tiles will be obvious. This is something that most people would match the grout to the tile (white), but I really want the brick pattern to stand out, so we're going to do it a little differently and hope it turns out!

Also on the home project agenda: we have 3 yards of river rock sitting in our driveway (seems like all the deliveries showed up at about the same time, meaning now we have several overlapping projects, whoppee!). Once we finish the tiling in the kitchen, it's on to the outside backyard to lower our dirt levels and lay down river rock for a cleaner look around our grass. I feel tired already. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

the Reading Rainbow

Wow. I just can't get enough reading in... it's a page-turning addiction I can't overcome (not that I really want to!). Reading is all I've been doing the last few weeks. Reading non-stop in all my spare time comes with consequences though; all craft/house/cleaning/other concerns are put on the back burner until I get to that final page of whatever novel I have in hand. So no updates about crazy crafty antics... just nods while I dreamily wonder what so-and-so character would be doing right now or what they're going to do in their next book adventure.
I feel lucky because I haven't really picked up a bad novel yet. Out of 10 books I've read since October (not bad for less than 5 months!), only 1 of them (Wicked) I struggled through. I would probably have stopped reading it halfway through, but I was determined to finish just to say I read the whole thing. It seems once I finish a really compelling novel, I can't help but research it a little more beyond the basic story; I want to know more about the author and how the story was conceived.
Anyway, until I can put my book down, my house will remain dirty and crazy and my projects will remain unfinished. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

{almost} completed project in a night!

Last night I came home after my soccer game and decided to make the most out of the rest of the night... I drew out my pattern pieces for the boxer shorts in the "One Yard Wonder" Book I was raving about last week. Then I cut the fabric out. Then I had a huge brainfart as I tried to figure out how to reverse the pieces onto themselves in order to sew them together (in swoops the always accommodating husband... he figured it out and then looked at me like I was crazy... which I am.). Sewed the side seams. Then I got stuck. the book diagram doesn't really define what the crotch seam and inner leg seams are, so I sat there scratching my head for about 10 minutes. Then I came up with a brilliant idea to just pin the seams I thought were correct and see how it would work out in the end... as you've probably guessed, I'm not so good at visualizing the process.And WOW, I'm glad I did this. I would have sewn both legs separate from each other, making 2 legwarmer or chap-like project, which would have equaled a very unhappy rest of the night spent ripping the seams. Anyhoo, I learned a valuable lesson on making sure I totally understand the process before doing it! I thought the overall construction method of the shorts was kind of cool and I would have never guessed that that's how shorts or pants are sewn together!

This week I'm also trying to plan our Valentine's Dinner menu... instead of fighting crowds and paying ridiculous special menu pricing on V-Day, we've decided to stay in and cook up dinner ourselves and then rent a movie or go see a movie. This isn't any ol' dinner though... I'm talking about delish dishes that we wouldn't normally make! Right now I'm thinking king crab legs (they have these at Costco!) with hot butter, side salad, sauteed brussel sprouts with bacon and apple, sweet potato skins and a homemade boston cream pie for dessert. MMMM! We'll be celebrating on Saturday too, so we'll have all day to prep and then enjoy.

We're also starting to get ideas on what to do with our coming soon laundry room renovation.We decided to wait at least until the weather gets warmer to start this one since we'll be knocking down internal walls between the house and the garage. I'm so looking forward to having an actual laundry room; right now it's a laundry closet. Here's an idea we found at Lowes.com that we loved, and it's designed for small spaces!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dreaming is better than doing... ?

Sometimes I think it's more fun to dream about all the amazing craft projects I would like to get around doing... I find myself doing this more and more often, which fuels my obsession to scour for all things crafty. At the moment, I have approximately 9-10 sewing projects, 2 sweaters on my knitting needles (with yarn and patterns for at least 6 more waiting in the wings); plus I also have a home dec project using Ikea wood-framed mirrors and scrapbook paper. But it's more exciting right now to just think of all the cool stuff I'm going to make! I'm hoping that by building up the intensity of desire to make all things cool, it will eventually create a lift-off for my motivation to get DOING.

Speaking of dreaming, I'm excited to purchase a book this week called "One Yard Wonders". It seems I'm the last one to discover this gem of a book... several of my crafty friends already own it and know which projects are on their to-do lists. But the concept is undeniably a brilliant one! I don't know how many times I've visited a fabric store or wandered through the the fabric department and picked up at least 3 or 4 bolts of amazingly-designed fabric. Being the sensible me, I usually don't buy at random unless I have a project in mind, especially when it comes to fabric as sewing projects as you need a very specific amount of fabric for any given project! So now with the fantastic projects in this book, I can now justify buying random 1 yard cuts of anything that catches my eye... hmm... maybe this isn't such a good idea!? Last night my good friend Dena and I had a fabric date and I bought 3 yards of so-cute-it-makes-you-want-to-squeal fabric. Yes, I do not own this book YET, but I already have projects lined up from it. I'm planning on creating oh-so-cute sleepwear: boxers and cami tanks. Not to mention I absolutely love the dress on the front cover for summertime... maybe I need to buy more fabric. LOL

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking Craftiness

Yes I would like to add cooking to my repertoire of all-things-crafty! I love to cook and wish I had more time or less hunger at the times I'd like to make a big fancy dinner. (Most times I'm too hungry to wait long enough for the food to finish before I've snacked on half-a-dozen other things!). So last night, even though I had no time whatsoever, I really, REALLY wanted to make this recipe I saw online for Hearty Potato Soup. Better yet, the soup was in delicious-looking bread bowls, which I quickly noticed they also had a link to make from scratch as well. If you know me, I love making anything from scratch... it totally goes hand-in-hand with the craftiness and art of cooking! Here are the results of my bread-making "experiment"... my little loaves weren't big enough to hold really any soup at all, so I just cut them in half and ate the soup with chunks of bread... oh well! It was still very tasty. One of my goals is to master the art of bread and pie dough from scratch.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Slacker...


Oops, kind of forgot about my blog for the last week or so... I have no excuse! We haven't been doing much and I haven't gotten many crafty projects worked on in the last week. We did manage to go snowboarding last Saturday, which was nice since we haven't been up at all this season (last year we went EVERY weekend!). We also attended a 1-year-old birthday party, a 50th birthday party and a wine and cheese party.
I need motivation to get into top running shape again... so Corey and I signed up for the Shamrock Run in March and decided to run a relay with his brother and sister-in-law in June. We hit the gym yesterday for the first time in forever (for me anyway) and it felt great! I ran about 2 miles, which is a good starting point for me as that's how much I was running before I stopped trying altogether (lol). Unfortunately, today I feel the onset of a cold: stuffy nose, sinus pressure, sore throat. Oh joy! I get sick so easily, how frustrating.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tired... and it's Sunday.

Yes, I am starting out the week tired by staying awake long past when I know I should head for bed. I just have too much to do and not enough time to do it at my casual-leisurely pace! Part of the weekend was spent with Corey and I chatting about our upcoming house projects that will become a reality sooner than later (wahoo!). Corey started our taxes this weekend and we were making a wish list of what to spend our return on... right now it's heading for new granite countertops and hopefully enough leftover for a new fridge. I can't wait! Our kitchen will look so different with the stark contrast of dark granite and white cabinets; along with my avocado green walls and tangerine details. Wow, I better post a picture of the said kitchen in it's before (and then after) state so people can see how all this craziness works and not try to visualize it.


I put down my Plath cropped cardi knit project (I'm to the sleeves part, ugh) and started a new knit project... I've been itching to do this since I got my new Harmony needles. I started the Something Red cardigan, except mine will be a nice plum purple color. I've had the yarn for this project for well over a year now and it's just been waiting patiently for me to find the perfect project for it. I think this is it! My gauge was perfect after swatching so I dove right in last night and am already have a lot done. I guess this will be my February sweater of the month, although I'm nervous as I have A LOT of 100% wool yarn to use for future projects. This will not be happy times come warmer temps... think sweaty fingers (ugh) working unwillingly toward a project you can't wear until fall (double ugh!). So I better start planning out my projects a little more according to season or else!


I also purchased a sewing pattern from Etsy on how to make a needle storage case. After reviewing the 20+ pages, I remembered I had some great fabric I bought on sale and without a project in mind a long time ago... perfect! Gotta use that stash! So I started this project with a little nervous hesitation, but so far so good. I need to buy a zipper (gasp!) for the next part and I've never sewn a zipper before in my life, so this should be interesting. Updates will be coming...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weekend o' crafty-ness

Wow that was a busy weekend. I kept thinking, I need to write my post about how busy I am, but I was too busy. Go figure. I taped 2 TV segments today for work and they were both on sewing projects. Sewing when on a deadline kind of sucks! I just kept pressing my pedal to the metal (literally) to get them done on time. One project I made I absolutely LOVE and is the first TV segment project that I'm actually keeping.
I sewed cafe-style curtains for our kitchen in a bright tangerine color (matches my Kitchenaid mixer!) and used oversized black grommets along the top, so cute! Now I just need some blinds for this window and to finish the other side, then I'm good. I love bright colors!


Allison's shower went well and she loved her gifts, which made me very happy! I was so nervous about giving 'handmade' gifts... I knew she (of all people) would appreciate them as she's pretty crafty herself, but still, you never know and most people don't realize that creating a gift is usually much more expensive and time-consuming than just getting a store-bought present. I was excited when my blanket got passed around to everyone to feel the softness and the sweater was questioned if it was store-bought (that's a good sign if you knit it yourself, FYI!).


I've really dived in to the 'get organized' mode the last few weeks; we've done our bedroom closet (sooo much better now!) and we've been working on our office/craft room. I am subscribed to emails from BHG (Better Homes & Gardens) and received an email today that I found totally motivating. I fell in love with this peg wall idea:




Friday, January 8, 2010

Another late night, another new venture



I guess I am doomed to a life of tired-ness, being that I am most productive between 10pm - 12am every night. Last night, being no exception, I had to finish an additional "embellishment" to a baby blanket I am working on for a friend's baby shower... this weekend. (I've been slowly working on the blanket for the past 2 months). The embellishment is a personalize label that I wanted to embroider. No matter that I've never embroidered before in my life, right?! And that the material I planned to embroider on was pretty stretch, non-cotton... not the best fabric for beginners. So anyway, I got down to it after referencing a book, and I think it turned out pretty good. The baby's initials are MZ and the blanket and material is Minkee (or cuddle soft fabric) by Shannon Fabrics. I absolutely LOVE all their fun colors and crazy prints... there's definitely something for everyone. Just an insider's note: Craft Warehouse will be having a sale on Minkee fabric come February... $13 per yard if you can wait that long! Plus there's lots of kits for blankets there too to make something like mine (I'll post pics once I've sewn on the label).


Yesterday Corey and I made our favorite dinner ever: homemade pizza. I make the dough from scratch in my Kitchenaid Mixer (basically yeast, water, a bit of sugar, flour, salt and olive oil) and then we load it up with tasty ingredients! Our pizza always has artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, garlic, mushrooms and lots o' cheese. We used to make it on a cookie sheet, but we got a nice airbake pizza pan from our wedding registry that works great! We topped it with fresh tomatoes and green onions, mmmmm!

Right now in my other life as a knitter, I decided to attempt the IntSweMoDo2010, which stands for International Sweater-a-Month Dodecathon. I'm taking part in this group (which consists of about 800+ other dedicated members) on Ravelry... I thought it would be good motivation to keep my knitting mojo going and really push me to finish a sweater project every month. Plus, as I realized yesterday, it will take a bit of pre-planning of what exactly I'm going to make each month, which is a step up from my usual queue and dream about it. I'm currently working on the Plath Cropped Cardigan for January, which in the end, will hopefully look something like this. My next project will probably be The Betty Minisweater , which has an interesting stitch pattern and only 2 skeins of yarn for the project in my size. Yahoo!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Ideas!

I try to restrain from making New Year's resolutions because I don't like to be disappointed when I can't stick to them! But one thing I have wanted to do for quite a while now is start a blog. This is actually my 3rd attempt at writing and keeping up a blog; it's mostly the latter that I have the issue with. So instead of a resolution, I'm going to make a 'commitment' (that sounds better than 'resolution', lol) to write more often, and what better way to do it than in a casual blog setting?!

I stopped by the store the other day to pick up a few supplies to finish a baby blanket I am making for a friend's shower when I saw this pattern:


They are 'bootie' slippers, lined with Cuddle soft fleece!! I must make a pair soon. They are designed by Lila Teuller Designs and her blog is full of amazing fabric and projects. I described them to my mom and she has already lined up for me to make her a pair once I'm done with mine! I am still trying to come up with projects to use all the fabric I bought for our wedding and I think I could definitely use some of it here.

I'm also busy knitting away; I just ordered some new supplies that I'm very antsy to receive from KnitPicks.com. One of these items are blocking boards and I have a project finished and ready to block right now (hurry up FedEx!). It's funny because the blocking boards are simply 12"x12" foam squares that interlock together, just like the sets you buy kids to play on or you can buy for exercise areas. In my attempt for instant gratification of having them right now, I tried to find them at a nearby store. NO luck! I started at Fred Meyers (bought some mascara here), then went to Target (almost bought some shoes here), then over to Kohl's (my iPhone said they had them, but later realized they were online only) where I found some amazing sweaters for only $10 as the store was closing. So of course I had to buy 2 sweaters! Then I went to Wal-Mart and of course they didn't have the blocks either, so on my way out I discovered an amazingly cute line of clothes (I know, it's Wal-Mart of all places)... but a few shirts caught my eye and I couldn't resist. Come to find out, they are by a combo of Miley Cyrus and Max Azria (perfect) and then when I saw they were $12 a shirt, I bought 3.
So I came home empty-handed as far as the blocks go, but a bought 5 new shirts and some mascara. Talk about random. I don't know why those blocks were so hard to find in a brick and mortar store... they are all over the place online! It seems like one of those things that are everywhere when you don't need it and nowhere when you do.