Polka Dots

When I saw the Endless Summer Tunic pattern, I knew I wanted to make it, and it looked like an easy enough place for me to start with making some garments for myself.  I’ve made shirts for the boys, and halloween costumes for them, but I haven’t succeeded at sewing myself anything that I actually wear.  I started this Wednesday and worked on it here and there, hemming it this morning.

ImageI loved these polkadots.  They go with a lot of things I already have, so I thought it would be easy to incorporate this into the wardrobe (as small as it happens to be).  As you can tell, I had some help with my pictures from some photobombing children.

This tunic (which really came out nearly dress length for me, I think I can wear it as a dress when it’s warmer) is super practical for me, as it is comfortable, doesn’t shift around much when wearing even when chasing children, and has pockets!

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I purposely didn’t try to match the dots up, I was afraid I’d mess it up and it would look like I tried and failed, so I just went with not matching.  After wearing it tonight, I’m okay with that decision.  I wasn’t sure if it would bother me, but it really doesn’t.

I made the 39″ bust size.  It fits me great in the shoulders and bust, but I think I would be okay with just a smidge less ease in the waist/hips area.  It’s intended to be loose and flowy, and I don’t want to lose that aspect, but if I make it again, I might size down that part of the pattern just a bit.  I’m happy with how this one turned out, though, and I can tell it will get a lot of wear.

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I’ve been enjoying Cal Patch’s Creativebug pattern drafting class, and I have a stack of fabric on my couch waiting to become garments, so I hope this is the first of many things I’ll make to wear in the coming weeks!

 

Buy Me Some Peanuts and…

Crackerjacks!  Baseball season is here, and while it’s not my favorite sport to watch (sorry baseball, I’m a football girl at heart), I do like keeping track of it and going to a game when I can.  So, when I heard about the Crackerjack project, I knew I had to do it.  Basically, you knit an infinity cowl using a different color to represent a home win, away win, home loss and away loss.  Sadly, the Astros will probably have a lot of losses again this season, so I chose to use the cheery colors for losses to try to make it sting a bit less.  ;)

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Here’s my color key:

Home Win:  White

Home Loss:  Blue

Away Win:  Grey

Away Loss:  Orange

I’m using Berroco Vintage.  I just got one of each color for now, I figure with the stripes it will be okay if the yarn is in a different dye lot if I need to order more.  I’m making a big smooshy long cowl.  Today is the Astros opening day so I’m excited to get started!

A Very Texas Centerpiece

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When we went to the nursery for our tomatoes and citrus trees, they had a great display of succulents.  I decided to pick up a few and try to make some sort of centerpiece out of it for the deck.  C1 had fun searching through the “spiky” plants and deciding which ones we should buy.  Once we got home, I remembered the deer (maybe? that’s what I’m told) skull that C1 found with his grandpa while they were out exploring some time back.  When he brought it home, I wouldn’t let it in the house, so it’s been hanging out on our back door landing.  Since I was working on a centerpiece for the deck table, I decided it would be great to incorporate it into something useful.

So, that left me with the need to find a container for the centerpiece.  I had checked the nursery, the home improvement store, and a garden center, and I couldn’t find a large shallow dish like I had envisioned.  I decided to check the kitchen area of a nearby store and came across a steel strainer.  I lined it with a coco liner, which I trimmed to fit, to try to keep the dirt from coming out of the strainer holes, and then put it all together.  I’d still like to add some rocks, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!

Spring Sewing Inspiration

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About this time of year each year I get obsessed with sewing, specifically garment sewing.  Please note, my sewing machine hasn’t been out in months, but man have I been daydreaming.

I have a bunch of fabric I bought a year or two ago for some garments for myself.  I think I need to get it back out!

First I saw the new Cappuccino Dress & Tunic from Oliver + S.  It is super cute, but what hooked me was the pockets!  If I could have a casual dress to wear every day this summer that had pockets in it, I would be a happy camper.

Then, last night Cal Patch tweeted about her Creative Bug Pattern Drafting Workshop.  I have been taking Lisa Congdon’s drawing class and it has been really fun.  I had also been eyeing Cal’s A-Line skirt classes, so I’m thinking this might be perfect!  I’m not sure I fully have the skills for it, but that’s the joy of doing these sorts of things from home…it is okay if it takes me forever to do something that others can do in a shorter amount of time, the key is just learning it.

And finally, there are the patterns I’ve looked at for a while, but never actually taken the time to sew, like Made By Rae’s Ruby Dress & I just noticed her Josephine top, I’ve also been itching to make some simple jersey skirts, or regular skirts with jersey waistbands.

We’re busy this weekend, so I probably won’t get the chance to sew much until sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to be inspired by people like Ysolda, Jaime & Amber, and others, while also stalking finished items of the patterns I mentioned above.  Maybe eventually I’ll actually get my machine back out!

The Arrow Led Here

I had a lot of fun doing Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow shawl mystery knit along (finished pictures below – if you’re still avoiding spoilers).  I had never done one, and it was exciting to see what was coming next each week.  I did pretty well staying up with the clues until the end, and it has taken me a while to get them finished.  This is my first one.  The second one might hibernate for a bit while I work on a few other things, but I am looking forward to getting back to it.

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I did clues BBABA for this one.  It is in Anzula Haiku – a Merino/Bamboo/Nylon blend.  I am always amazed by the magic of blocking a lace item.  You can see it here while it was still on the needles.  It just bloomed so beautifully and has such a great drape.  I’m still not great at pinning points so that they actually remain pointy.  I need to work on that.

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It is also huge (in the best way!).  This bench is an oversized bench for two people, and it drapes over it and still doesn’t show the full shawl.  It wraps around my neck great and I know it will stay in place whichever way I wear it, which I was a bit concerned about after I did the short row part.

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I’m so excited to see how the second one turns out now!

Hit the Deck

Our 12th anniversary was this weekend, and I wasn’t sure what to do for the husband.  We had bought the stuff to paint the deck and had been shopping for fruit trees, so I decided to try to do a deck makeover for him.  We built the deck last summer, but had to wait for a while before staining or painting it, and we just hadn’t gotten around to it.  He was at a conference through Saturday, so getting home late from work each night, which made keeping it a secret easier (especially since the kiddos were already in bed when he got home).

I started it all Friday afternoon, with a trip to a local nursery & home improvement store to buy plants and supplies, and I finished most of it up Saturday afternoon with the hanging of the plants.  Sunday morning I took him to show him what I had done.  It still didn’t have furniture on it, as I needed his help to get everything back on the deck, but he was excited to have it done & that he didn’t have to do any of the work to make it happen!

Here’s the before picture…pardon the little hand in the upper left, this was taken during one of our “snow” days by a little helper, but it’s a pretty accurate picture of what it looked like (though the orange chairs that are usually there are missing). Deck before

After I painted it, but before the furniture was put back on it, the boys decided a dance party was in order…

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Here’s the after…     Since this picture, I have rearranged the pots on the right, to put the blue pot all the way to the edge and hide the black pot a bit.  I wasn’t sure how the grey patio would look with the brown stuff we already had, but I’m glad I took a chance on it.  I think it looks okay & I really like how the grey looks with the red brick fence we have in the back.

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Here’s the recap:

  • I painted the deck and posts Stonehedge with the Olympic solid deck stain (really more of a paint).  The coverage was good and it was easy to use.  It rained Sunday, so there are places that I’ll need to touch up, as it wasn’t all the way dry before the rain hit.  I’m going to wait and do that Friday since it isn’t supposed to rain this weekend.  I chose a solid color to cover up some previous damage from our grill & firepit.  I also put a mat under the grill to prevent future damage.
  • I bought a dwarf orange and dwarf lime tree and put them in the bright blue pots.  We’re calling it our “beer garden” as we chose those since the both go good in beers ;)
  • I got some tomatoes, peppers and herbs to go in other pots. I think that area will look even nicer as the plants grow.
  • I also made a little centerpiece for our table (more on that later) and bought and hung ferns on the front posts.  I didn’t hang any on the back because that’s where our canopy (seen in the back) connects to provide shade.
  • I added some large pavers to serve as steps up.  They really mostly define the space a bit, but also provide a bit of function.
  • We flipped the table in the back as I think this layout makes better use of the space, and also got rid of some of the other junk that was cluttering up the deck.  It all found a different place to go in and around our house.

I’m pretty happy with all that we accomplished and glad I was able to do it as a surprise to the husband.  It was a lot of fun to pretend I was on one of those HGTV shows ;)  We’re looking forward to spending a lot of time out here this spring and summer!

Project Life: Getting Started

I had read about Project Life a while back, but I was afraid it would be hard to keep up with. You see, I still have a scrapbook, complete with sorted photos & page layouts selected from the six-year-old’s first year. It is in a box, with only a couple of pages done.

However, the more I read about Project Life, the more do-able I thought it sounded. So, I decided to give it a shot for this year. I only bought a few things, and dug some other things out of their box from my previous (brief) foray into scrapbooking. Here’s what I got to start out:

Project Life Starting

 

1. A project life book

 

2. Layout A page protectors. I thought it would be easier to use only one layout. This makes it easy for me to remember the sizes of the pictures I need to print for each page.

3. A core kit in Kraft. I liked the Kraft and it was on sale at the time, so I went with it.

4. A corner rounder. This isn’t essential, but I like how the rounded corners look on the photos.

5. Scissors & glue. I didn’t have paper scissors (only fabric ones & my rough kitchen scissors), so I picked up a pair. I really like this dual tip Elmer’s glue pen. It allows you to easily apply glue to larger surfaces or smaller ones.

6. Archival pens. I use black pens mostly, so far. I already had the one pictured and a couple of others. I’d like to pick up some pretty gel pens, but haven’t, yet.

7. Photo paper. I print my photos at home, but other folks have them printed on a regular basis for their layouts. Either option works well.

I have found these tools do everything that I need for my Project Life layouts. So far, I love the flexibility of the format, and how easily the pages come together! The boys also love looking at each layout, and pull out the book often, so I know it will something we all enjoy looking at in years to come.

On Learning New Things

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I remember when I started to knit and crochet.  Crochet came first, and I taught myself how to do the basics, then my mom taught me to knit.  I get really nervous when I try something new.  I am so afraid that I am going to mess up.  I don’t like making mistakes.  I want to do everything right the first time.  As I clumsily juggled the needles and the yarn, sometimes making stitches correctly and mostly making a mess of things, I wondered if it would get easier.  Stitch by stitch it did, and I found myself thinking about it all the time, wanting to make more and learn more.

I often wish I could draw.  I never really advanced past that point in the fifth grade where you draw unicorns all over everything…or maybe that was just me.  I can still draw that unicorn face like nobody’s business.  But, that’s where my skills (or lack thereof) ceased to develop.  I have never taken the plunge into a drawing or art class.  It’s the fear that stops me.  The fear that I will watch other students excel, while I’m drawing unicorns in the back of the class like I’m in fifth grade again.  When Ysolda mentioned the Creativebug class from Lisa Congdon, I decided this was a perfect option for me.  It is a video class in the privacy of my own home, and if I suck at it, I don’t have to show anyone!  I started last night, and I have to say, it is SO much fun.  I’m only halfway through the first class, but I’m enjoying the fact that if I draw something that sucks, I just throw it away.  And, after a few tries, I’m actually able to make something I like!

I took the older kiddo with me to purchase my sketch book and pens, and he was very excited to receive his own sketch book, pencils, and gum eraser.  We are going to work on creating a book for little brother, the current storyline is about robots that go to his school.  I’m hoping this will be another way we can create together, which we both really enjoy.

I’m already seeing all kinds of applications for developing these skills.  How fun would it be to turn something I drew into an embroidery design?  Stitch by stitch and line by line…intimidating but worth it.

 

Fun with Pool Noodles

Last summer, I saw a bunch of ideas of things to do with pool noodles, including this great list, so I bought a bunch at the dollar store while they were in season.  They mostly sat in the kid’s closet until this weekend (minus that one time that we made a marble run out of one of them).  This weekend we were supposed to have good weather, so I decided it was a good time to get them out of the closet and into the backyard.  I couldn’t figure out how other people had attached their noodles to the ground, but then I ran across garden staples and it all made sense.  I did a little graphic of how I did mine, it’s far too simple to call it a tutorial, but I thought I’d share anyway.

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1.  The first thing I did isn’t actually pictured here, I cut the noodles in half with a kitchen knife (be careful!).  I figured then we’d have twice as many hurdles and maybe they’d be a bit easier to bend into the half circle shape.  Then, I took my half noodles and garden staples outside.

2. I threaded the garden staple through the bottom of the noodle, leaving at least an inch at the bottom so hopefully they don’t rip through, but there’s still enough staple to go into the ground.  The garden stakes are pointy, so it’s good to do this part without help and to use these with supervision to make sure the pointy part stays in the ground.  We didn’t have any problems with this, but you know, safety first and all that. ;)

3. I stuck the staple in the ground and repeated for the other side of the noodle.

4. I continued to place them haphazardly around the yard, then let the kids come out to play!

HurdlePlay

They did all sorts of things with this set up all afternoon!  They kicked balls under it, played “croquet” with a plastic golf set we have, jumped over them, and crawled under them.  They resulted in a lot of cheap fun and at the end of the day are easily taken down to be played with again another day.  We have a small yard that doesn’t allow for any sort of playscape, so I’m always on the look out for things that can allow for a different kind of play in the backyard to keep them occupied back there.  This is one I think we can bring out over and over again!

Playdough Perils*

I volunteered to make Playdough for C2′s school this week.  They have parents take turns making it, and they provide the recipe.  All I had to do was make it.  So, I started to make it last night.  I began mixing the dry ingredients and discovered I didn’t have any cream of tartar.  I know I had some.  It was just in there.  Well, the last time I used it, it was in there, but who knows how long ago that was.

So, this morning, I went to the store and got the missing ingredient.  I came home and during my lunch break, I made my first attempt.  The recipe that was provided had microwave instructions.  Basically, you zapped it for a minute, stirred it, repeat.  Each time I zapped it, it seemed to get more damp along the bottom rather than drying out.  It just never got to the right consistency.  I’m sure it was user error somehow.  But, after this, I was fairly convinced that I would fail this mission.

I found a recipe online that included all of the same ingredients, but it was on the stove instead of in the microwave.  I gave it another go, this time with the help of C1.  We actually managed to do it!  We made a yellow that I scented with vanilla, red that I scented with imitation strawberry and orange that I left unscented.  Whew, that was close!  I do really like this recipe and hope to try it again to make some for us!

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*I may be reading too many superhero stories with the kid these days.

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