Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Make Throw Pillows from Target Placemats

I made that. From a placemat. I'm VERY proud of myself.

While I was out shopping Saturday afternoon I found these placemats. I've been looking at them for months, maybe even a year or so. I don't really need placemats, but I really like the stitching pattern.

At $1.18 on clearance I just couldn't pass them up.

I used on old pillow as the stuffing. The pillow was about twice the size of the placemats so I cut it in half.

I measured it and marked the center line.

Yep, that's a bump shot. I swear it grew substantially this weekend.

Then I cut the pillow in half.

and pinned the open edges together.

I just did a straight seam since I don't have a serger and it's going on the inside of the pillow so it really doesn't matter if the edges were to fray. Austin got an action sewing shot for me.

Then I ripped one of the side seams in both placemats most of the way

and jammed the pillow forms I made into them. Then I pinned them back together and sewed another straight seam along the edge. TIP: if you add a couple extra pins to hold the fabric flat and the stuffing away from the seam it's a heck of a lot easier to sew this seam straight.

That's it. Done. I made both in about a half an hour including dragging out my sewing machine. I'm not sure where they will eventually end up, but I bet at least one will find a home in the nursery.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Best Day Ever.

I didn't do a single productive thing yesterday. I don't know if you've noticed, but I usually spend the weekend trying to get stuff done so this was a major deal for me.

I made some breakfast, took and shower and went to lunch with my babe and his parents. Then I spent hours shopping in home goods stores and departments wandering somewhat aimlessly while he worked his tail off.

I went on a bit of a pin binge in the process. It was AWESOME.

Check out the floral print on this stemware.

And these seriously adorable napkin rings. I need to come up with some other use for them.

Looky here. Same flowers with a hook on clearance for $5.98.

Seriously thought about it, but didn't buy any. I might regret that later. What exactly do I need to hang on a hook?

And then there were these little guys.

Strawberry paisley elephants. Yes, oh yes. I WANT.

Put a bird on it.

Love! It's so bright and happy.

Someone else left these two hanging out together on top of a rug. It reminds me of me and the hubs. He's all cute and yoda focused and I'm like a little pink owl looking off at some shiny object. I hope they're as happy as we are.

I immediately thought of my niece. She's a little dance star.

And check out these baby shower invites and thank yous.

Is it rude to text a pic of them to your sister as a suggestion for the paper ones?

I did, so lets hope she doesn't think so.

Realization: I have a thing for jungle animals in unrealistic colors (i.e. pink stuffed elephants, green giraffes blankets, pink and yellow giraffe invitations, blue giraffes on the inspiration piece...)

Other realization: Pink, yellow, and green are the main colors for the nursery. You might have noticed that from my To-do List Nursery picture or pin board. I didn't so much until today.

I debated over this afgan for a good fifteen minutes in one of my favorite second hand stores. In the picture it looks stained, but in reality it's pristine and in a room with atrocious lighting.

I didn't buy it. Let's hope I don't regret that next week. I suffer non-buyers remorse which is sometimes worse than buyers remorse. At least you can return things if you keep the tags on them.

I rounded it out with a trip to Hobby Lobby. They have adorable stuffed animals for Easter.

Wouldn't that bunny look cute in one of those stuffed animal sleeping bags?

I finished the whole thing off with some buffalo chicken rolls at Old Chicago. You won't find them on the menu, but if you're lucky someone in the kitchen will remember how to make them.

My day was pretty much glorious.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I have a new USDA hardiness zone

That might not sound like a big deal. Or maybe it does depending on whether or not you're an avid gardener. (If you're really interested you can find out if you do too by checking your zip code on the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map Website and read the USDA's news release about it here.) The new map looks like this.

Pretty, huh? I'm such that's not what they had in mind, but it is. I really like the color gradient on the map.Wouldn't it make great gardening inspired wall art? I totally think so.

Here's a close-up of Kansas.

Where I live was Zone 5b (the aqua color) based on the 1990 map and now it's 6a (the darker green).

What does that actually mean? It means that based on weather data for the last 30 years (1976-2005 to be exact, the average minimum temperature in my area is slightly warmer than it was from 1974-1986 (the dates they used to produce the 1990 map).

It also means that I could theoretically plant plants which can handle temperatures down to -10 F, but can't quite hack -15 with a reasonable expectation of their survival. So far, I've found that means I now have the opportunity to plant lesser Calamint, Colewort, Crocosmia, Lavender Cotton, and Leadwort. There are also some plants that need the amount of cold weather expected in Zone 5 to thrive. Those might not do so well. It could also mean that it gets a little too hot for some plants that are zone 5 although hardiness zones are only reflective of cold tolerance so they don't necessarily tell you about heat tolerance.

Fascinating, huh?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy eggs just taste better.

Do you ever just need a smile in the morning?  Like even more than you need your coffee? Pretty sure that's half the reason I wanted eggs and grapefruit for breakfast.

It looks even better if you get ambitious and make an omlette folded down the center, but my eggs usually end up in pile form. It's just easier and they still look pretty happy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just One Thing: A Hook for My Robe

I worked on a ton of projects this weekend.

Right after breakfast I did some laundry and took the recyclables to the recycling center (without a total breakdown). Then I started caulking these cracks in the board and batten I put up in the master bedroom.

I helped Austin with the first coat of paint in the nursery. I suffered a tiny bit of collateral damage ( please excuse the fact that I obviously haven't painted my toe nails since before I got pregnant),

and we ran out of paint, but he found a creative outlet.

I also took the table saw I got for Christmas out of the box, and even started working on super awesome budget friendly glass curtain rods finials for the guest bedroom (Don't worry, I'll post a how-to on those one just as soon as I get them finished).

Are you noticing a pattern here?

I started or worked on a lot of things, but I didn't finish any of them.  I was getting seriously frustrated.

Then I had a moment of inspiration; I needed to follow Austin's easy project policy (i.e. do the thing that takes little effort and will actually increase your quality of life). So I picked a little project I've been thinking about for a while. I put a hook on the back of our bedroom door for my robe.

It's winter and we don't exactly keep the house at an optimal temperature for getting up in middle of the night in your skivvies to go to the bathroom (a frequent occurrence when you're pregnant) or let the dogs out (a common result of waking up the dogs when you get up to go to the bathroom). I have a robe, but the only place to hang it up is in the bathroom which means my options are to walk to the bathroom without it or keep the robe on the floor next to the bed.

I'll let you guess where it's been for most of the last two months.

But it's not anymore.

Not exactly the most exciting or impressive home improvement project I've ever undertaken, but I'm pretty happy about finishing it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goals for 2012

Sisterhood is funny. Laugh so hard you end up in tears while driving down the road and almost have to pull over funny. At least it is for me. My sister and I have great talks about all kinds of things and they frequently make me laugh. Sometimes she's laughing too. Others not so much.

A week or so ago we talked while I drove home from visiting our grandfather. Among a number of other topics we talked about her list of goals for the year.

I laughed.

She wasn't so amused.

She listed out 45 goals for 2012. 

That works out to only one every 8 days or so, but it struck me as really, REALLY funny when she asked if I thought that was too many. Or maybe she didn't actually ask for my opinion. Maybe I just started laughing when she told me she had 45 and I felt compelled to justify my response. That may have been what sent me over the edge. It could also have been that I desperately needed some emotional release at that point and our relationship allows me the space to do that.

For the record,  I don't think it's too many or it's silly to have a 45 goal long list for the year. That's really actually a very reasonable number for a person as ambitious and accomplished as she is. The thing that's funny about it is that most people would never do it. Kind of like writing a personal Mission Statement. I laughed when she first told me she had one and then last year I realized I did too. She's a forward thinker my sister is and I love her for it.

Despite my apparent subconscious cynicism I'm working on a set of goals for the year too. I even sent a rough draft to my life coach.

Go ahead.

Laugh with impunity.

Having a rough draft of your goals is WAY funnier than having a long list of them. I bet my sister went through at least a couple drafts before she decided on the final list. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

Sidenote: Does it bother you that I write sentence fragments as separate sentences because when I talk it's clear that they actually are complete thoughts and I say them like whole sentences? If it does your attachment to proper grammar is clear and you should read this cartoon about using "alot" as a word.

I'm not ready to tell you exactly what all of those goals are just yet, but I will tell you that one of them involves posting more regularly to my blog.

One of my other goals is to work on taking better blog photos which has been a bit of an issue lately. My camera and computer are fighting necessitating a string of images taken with my phone. I also have this little hiccup that I have a full time job and it's the middle of winter so there isn't a ton of time available to get shots with great natural light. By "not a ton" I mean absolutely none most days. I'm going to figure it out though or the sun will stay up longer before I do. I'm also planning to get together some fabulous shots of the parsonage to share and post in the Parsonage page. Who says you can't take great pictures of unfinished projects?

Not this girl.

Or maybe I'll finish them. That would really be shocking.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beer Bottle Lamp How-To and a Color Choice

I've been spending all my free time busting my butt to finish up projects around the house lately. I had the day off yesterday and I seriously considered spending the whole thing working on the house, but reason kicked in and I decided a mental health day was a much better idea. I went to lunch with a friend, ate some frozen yogurt, and did a couple of easy little projects instead of trying to conquer any massive ones.

The lamp was actually my husband's idea. He thought the pink would be perfect for the nursery. I couldn't argue. I love the color and it meets the sentimental value criteria for nursery decor. We visited Rogue's Portland Brewpub and Voodoo Doughnut on our honeymoon. I recommend them both if you're planning a trip to Portland. It's probably not the memento most people would use in their nursery, but it's perfect for us and I think Bump will love it.

Making the lamp was a pretty easy project. I cheated a bit on the hardest part. My how-to for that goes something like, "find a friend who knows what they're doing and ask them to drill a hole in the bottle for you." I'll see what I can do about getting her to provide a how-to on just that part. You can also just leave the cord hanging down from the top if that doesn't bug the crap out of you.

Once the hole is drilled it's a cake walk. Head down to your local hardware/home store and ask where the lamp repair section is. Someone in an apron will probably point you toward an endcap full of packages that look about like this.

There are several options that would work, but I chose the Make-A-Lamp Kit that comes with several adapters to turn a bottle into a lamp. Then you just follow the directions on the back. Since you're dealing with electricity here, I recommend you read and follow them.

When I got done it looked like this.


Add a lamp shade and voila.

After I finished the lamp off I picked the color for the nursery. I was originally thinking a very pale yellow. I even spent a good half hour trying to decide between four shades that most people (including Austin) would argue were the same color.  After I picked my inspiration piece I had a change of heart (it was those little giraffes).

I wanted a really pale color, but I still want color. I'm going with True Turquoise from Glidden mixed at 25%. Thanks Miss Mustard Seed for the tip!

Did you notice that timer in the first picture? It's counting down to my due date. I got it from Santa and it's kind of like a cross between the timer on a bomb and an Advent calendar. Nothing motivates a pregnant woman like a reminder to "Make Every Minute Count" and a reminder of roughly how many she has left to nest.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To-do List

I think I've posted to-do lists before, but I think I need another one now. Bump's impending arrival has made it clear that I need to get my act in order and finish up some projects before May. I still feel awesome, but I'm getting bigger and I'm sure at some point the squishing of my lungs will start to reduce my productivity. The list is HUGE so I'll just go room by room and keep it to the stuff I would really like to get done in the next four months. There are tons of other things I want to get done, but I'm trying to move closer to realism here.


It will be getting tons of posts in the near future so let's just say everything in this room. I've been pinning quite a bit and I'm sure my nursery board will get the most action in the near future. Check it out.


I started this last fall and got part way there. I've put hardware on and I'm pretty sure they've gotten another coat of paint since this picture, but it still needs some work.

  • Take down the microwave and cabinet over the stove
  • Put up my pot rack
  • Add molding to the tops of the cabinets
  • 1 or 2 more coats of paint for the outside of the cabinets
  • Paint the inside of the cabinets - I thought I could just do the outside, but it will make me insane.
  • Finish painting the walls and doing something about the back splash

Dining Room

I worked on several projects in here when we first moved in, but since then it hasn't gotten much attention. It looks pretty much like that except the Christmas tree is down for the year and the table is bare.

  • Paint the walls - I am totally sick of that color. It's everywhere.
  • Move the curtain rods
  • Put up actual curtains
  • Make the pallet in the basement into a pallet shelf and hang it on the wall.
  • Change the hardware on those cabinets and maybe put up some bead board wallpaper in the back of them painted a fun color 
  • Hang a shelf over the cabinet on the East wall (you've never seen it).

Media Room

You haven't seen this one on the blog since we first moved in. There's a reason for that.It needs help. We have big plans, but I'm not going to make myself insane trying to accomplish that before May so the list for this one is short. I'd show you a picture, but my camera and my computer are in a bit of a fight I can't seem to sort out at the moment.

  • Fill gap in the corner
  • Paint that forth wall I haven't quite gotten to yet

Master Bedroom

It's gotten a lot closer lately, but I really, REALLY want to get it done before the baby is born. (I'd love to have at least one room in the house look like we live in it).

  • Fill in little cracks and gaps with shrink resistant/crack resistant, paintable caulk
  • Touch up paint as needed and get that tiara molding (crown is just no appropriate for something less than 2 inches wide)
  • Clean up the floor a bit
  • Get bedside tables/night stands
  • Get lamps
  • Make and hang some wall art that reflects us

Guest Bedroom

I made some progress on this one. I even meant to post a Before & Later for it. I have all my stuff moved in there, but it could really use some time spent organizing.

  • Get a headboard and bed frame
  • Hang curtains
  • Get nice pillows and a duvet
  • Finish my desk (this one might just be a dream, but I'll keep it for now)

I think that's it. It might not be quite everything, but if those things got done I would feel a LOT better about the whole house. Yes Mom, you're free to volunteer to assist with any of them. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm offcially obsessed with Katie Daisy

If you've been following me on Pinterest or checked got my Christmas Wishlist you may have noticed that I have a new found passion: the artwork of the amazingly talented Miss Katie Daisy. Feel free to click over to her website right now. I'll understand.

Ashley Ann over at Under the Sycamore found her for me. She is the artist behind that background pattern I loved so much AND the Under the Sycamore logo.

Two things happened today that pushed me over the edge into straight up obsession.

First, I noticed this pin from Katie (Yes, I follow her on Pinterest and have pinned several of her pieces. That's not stalking. She has excellent taste and her artwork deserves pinning. However, she doesn't know me from Adam and might disagree.)

I haven't been this excited about a phone case since Ashley Ann posted about the one she custom designed for herself.

Guess what pattern you can put on one of those iPhone cases?

The former background of Under the Sycamore I obsessed about so much. Here's a screen shot of the one I customized. You know you want one.

And that's only the first half of Katie's awesomeness for today.

I also realized that this print she has listed on etsy is the inspiration for the nursery.

The text has a ton of sentimental meaning and it brings all the colors I want together. And it has little blue giraffes! (If you've gotten a baby present from me in the last 5 years that might sound familiar). I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize it. I added the print to the baby registry the very first day. Don't buy it for me though. I'm going to go ahead and order it now so I have it while I'm planning the rest of the room.

Katie Daisy clearly rocks out and she has a bunch of sites. Check her out on her website, blog, Facebook, Etsy, Flickr, and Pinterest.

Disclaimer: I do not know Katie Daisy in any way. She does not know I write an entire post obsessing about her art. Hopefully, she's okay with that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I have announcements!

First, the one you're probably expecting since I told you last week we would find out yesterday.

I stand corrected; It's a GIRL!

No, I'm not posting a picture with an arrow pointing at her vulva, you perv. If you really want to see it volunteer to change her diapers. Otherwise, assume it looks like all the other ones you see on facebook. She is pretty cute though even if the picture is a little extra fuzzy. She had the hiccups the whole time.

Clearly, that's the biggest news of the day. My mother and brother-in-law were right. I don't think they actually won anything though. Really should have sorted out some stakes. How am I supposed to get a cut if there aren't any stakes?

Second, I'm starting a book club. I'm the only member at the moment so I don't have a lot of details, but comment below if you'd like to join me in reading a book at some regular interval and talking about them. I vote Farm City by Novella Carpenter as the first book.

I've owned it for a while, but I haven't gotten around to reading it even though I really want to. It's described as
An unforgettably charming memoir, Farm City is full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer's tips, and a great deal of heart. When Novella Carpenter-captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency- moved to inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage- strewn abandoned lot next door to her house, she closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes and a chicken coop. The story of how her urban farm grew from a few chickens to one populated with turkeys, geese, rabbits, ducks, and two three-hundred-pound pigs will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever considered leaving the city behind for a more natural lifestyle.
 It was also written by a woman who lives near my friend Catherine. Let me know if you're interested in joining me and we'll pick a date to talk about the book. I might even let you help pick the next one.

Monday, January 9, 2012

My word of the year

You know Layla over at The Lettered Cottage? You may have noticed I obsess from time to time. She has some great ideas, like coming up with a word to inspire and motivate yourself throughout the year. She's having a word of the year link party Monday, January 16th. You should check it out. Don't worry. I'll remind you.

I'd already been thinking about this for a week or so. When you have a life coach you have conversations about where you want to be in your life a year from now and words to guide your efforts. It makes you realize things. It makes you think, "I don't want my life to be slightly better; I want it to ROCK OUT."

And then you realize that to make your life rock out you actually have to do something to make that change happen. Not exactly earth shattering, but a major breakthrough on an emotional level. At least for me. The kind of breakthrough that makes you write in your coaching notebook every day for a week.

How am I going to make my life rock out? I'm going to focus on owning the use of my time.

Part of owning my time is structuring it so that I get to work on all the different projects I want to and do all the things that go into a life that rocks out. Here's my list:
  • My blog & working on creating a business - brainstorming post ideas, improving the layout, taking better photos, talking to a couple of very important people about how me might be able to work together
  • Academic work - submitting the articles I planned from my dissertation for publication, creating a course or two
  • Baby preparations - financial planning, getting the nursery ready, thinking about the shower
  • Home projects and maintenance - finishing up projects around the house, making new stuff and decorating, gardening, keeping it clean
  • Austin time - making time to spend my babe. You can't work all the time.
  • Amber stuff - reading books I've wanted to read for a while, learning more German, becoming a master cheese maker

Obviously these aren't mutually exclusive uses of time. Some of them have some overlap, but I like the idea of splitting them up so I can think of it as focusing my attention on one of them every night after dinner. That way I don't feel overwhelmed by trying to think about everything at the same time and I feel like get to do a variety of things. Don't be surprised if you notice my posts seem to fall under one of these categories in the near future. Maybe I'll even tag them that way.

So what's my word?

Rocking out.

But that's two words. Why not just use TIME?

Because when you rock out you don't have to follow other people's rules about things like how many words can be in a word.

UPDATE: I found this shirt which I think may replace my skull shirt with the hole as my go-to T-shirt. Too bad it's out of stock. And doesn't come in maternity. Hmmm.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Half Done

As of today, I am exactly 20 weeks pregnant. I say exactly since the day I'm pretty sure I ovulated is the day before they estimated from conception based on my first sonogram. Allowing some time for egg migration that's close enough to exact for me. That means Bump is half done with gestation. That means he or she is at least twice as done as it was 10 weeks ago when his/her first picture was taken.

Adorable, huh? Bump clearly takes after Austin.
Fun quotes I found while looking for the sonogram picture I texted to my sister:
 "I estimate I'm two burritos a day pregnant. Not sure the conversion to weeks."
"It's a really good thing they dangle a baby in front of you. Otherwise no one would put up with being tired and nauseous and having itchy boobs and mouth that tastes like metal for months."
You've probably noticed I call him or her Bump. I really dislike referring to my child as "it" and the English language just doesn't have a suitable neuter pronoun for use with people. I used to call Bump "Little One" which is the pet name my dad uses for me, but Bump is very impressed with his/her (see the difficulty involved in talking about someone whose gender you do not know?) growth and wasn't too keen on it. Apparently Bump is better since it doesn't imply any limit on the growth that can be achieved. Bump has big plans.

And yes, I also claim to have knowledge of the emotional response of my unborn child. Why is it that people think its completely normal for people to be able to sense the emotions of other people they don't even know in the same room and somehow totally weird that I can feel them when they come from a person who lives inside my body? Seriously. It doesn't make sense to me. Of course Bump has emotions and of course I notice them. Bump also likes it when Austin is close to me and gets a little cranky if you wake him/her up from a nap.

But I digress (as usual). Unlike most of my projects which achieve half done status I bet I actually finish on time (or close to) with this one. Next week we'll get visual confirmation that all is progressing on schedule and find out the appropriate gendered pronoun. I instinctively started using "he" a month or so ago without any easily identifiable reason. Bump just seems male to me. I don't really care either way and we very well may find out that Bump is a girl next week, but if we do and Bump tells me at 7 or 8 years old that she's actually a boy I won't be surprised. Only time will tell I suppose.


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