Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Complete Guides to Sewing & Needlework

I only purchased two things during my little Craft Weekend. Both of them were books (go figure). There was a buy one, get one sale in one of the booths at Rerun Consignments & Mall in Council Grove and for $7.95 I just couldn't pass them up.

I am absolutely in love with the cover art of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, but the inside is beyond amazing. If I actually read that I'll know how to sew anything and impress your grandma with my needlework skills.

The diagrams are absolutely awesome. Here's a little sampling.

How to tell if your pressure is off and adjust it.

A glossary of handstitches AND pictures of how to stitch them (this is just one page there are several).

A whole chapter on zippers.

Explanations of what the hell all those funny feet that came with your sewing machine do.

I read some reviews and it sounds like if you buy one yourself you want to get this 1978 version which is apparently way more awesome than the newer ones. Go me.

I'm not quite as in love with the cover art of the Complete Guide to Needlework, but the inside more than makes up for it.

Embroidery, crochet and rug making all in one super duper awesome book. Oh my! It even has directions for making the most awesome quilt ever. Did I ever post about it? I'm not sure if I did. Norie got it from her great grandma Millie and I know I've posted pictures with it, but it totally deserves its own independent post.

And last, but certainly not least, how to make a braided rug. It's been on my list of to-dos for a while.

My grandmother used to make them out of bread bags. Or maybe she crocheted them out of bread bags. She was thrifty to the core and you know what? They were awesome beyond reason. I don't eat a ton of bread so I think I'll just use fabric, but I'll be thinking of her when I do.

I'd love to tell you I'm going to post a project from either of them on some sort of regular basis, like a Wednesday sewing workshop, but you and I both know I'm not that organized or predictable. I'll try to actually read some of them and tell you all about it when I do though. Promise.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Craft Weekend!

No, not that Craft Weekend. I'm still on the waiting list for THAT Craft Weekend.

This one was just me, my sister-in-law Jamie, Norie staying over at my mom's to junk and craft and eat Mexican food. It was cut short by the unseasonably wintery weather, but we had a great time anyway. Unfortunately I was so busy trying to keep Norie from freezing to death (why do I always take her on fabulous junking trips in extreme weather?) I didn't take any pictures while we were at Bearly Makin-It which is the coolest place ever.

Here's what I did document.

My sister is plotting a dinosaur theme for her son's room, but I thought this monster was super cool. 

This vintage baby scale that would look super cute in an upscale nursery or as an awesome prop for newborn photo shoots.


With our shortened timeline we only got one craft done, wall art made from thrift store canvases and vinyl letters. I got excited and forgot to snap a before before I started so it's a little bit into the process. 


Jamie added some color before she started so I had plenty of time to get a shot. Norie was all about the crafting and loved that teal paint. If you want to know more about that floor go check out my mom's blog.

Since I didn't have to wait for a coat of teal paint to dry before I could stick on my letters I got mine finished that night.

Jamie's had to dry overnight and I woke up to this. It took all my self control to leave the letters on until she woke up.

I forgot to take an after shot of Jamie's, but she posted this one to Facebook.

Craft Weekend Number One: Check.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Garden Templates: A Cure to My Planning Paralysis??

If you follow my blog you know I've been trapped in a state of garden planning paralysis lately.

A good friend suggested I get over my hangups...and garden. As in do the thing I really enjoy without over-thinking the shit out of it.

He's really wise.

I like the idea, but you know that is really not my style....but I have good news. There is a whole set of 4'x8' garden templates on the Kansas State Research and Extension Demo Garden Blog.

Two really caught my eye.


I've been thinking about planting rhubarb around the yard as part of my larger edible landscaping scheme, but that requires a whole lot of thinking about where they will go and planning the yard and I get sucked back into my paralysis. Instead I'm just going to plant two beds just like the template and see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goodwill Outlet

If we're Facebook friends you heard Thursday that I was planning a trip to the Goodwill Outlet while I was in Denver this weekend.

In case you missed that post I'll give you the run down. My mom and I were driving to Denver for the weekend and on the way she mentioned that there were several Goodwill Outlet stores in Denver. My brother-in-law had mentioned them to her and since she'd never been she checked out the website. Three things caught her attention

1) merchandise that doesn't sell in Goodwill stores
2) carts switched out every half hour to keep the selection "fresh"
3) stuff is sold by the pound.

You have to know, right?

I did. I mean how can you not go to a place with that sort of description? So we went.

It was...an experience.

You walk into this huge room filled with blue carts full of merchandise. 

That part really isn't all that weird and the stuff really isn't much different than you would find in a typical thrift store. The part that makes it weird is the professional shoppers there.

People litterally spend the entire day shopping. I'm not one to judge all day thrift jaunts, but this is a whole different story. Especially the "refreshing" of the merchandise. Every half hour they pull out new carts from the huge stockpile in back. I took a picture so you could get an idea of the inventory we are talking here.

People literally jockey for position around where the new carts will be placed (there are strict rules about shopping from moving carts). Honestly, the action that ensued when the cart wheels locked was a little terrifying. I was wearing Norie at the time so I stayed quite a ways back from the action.

I did however find this





It even moos when you open the door.

One of the professionals there (the least wild eyed of them) saw that I had picked it up and even offered me the animals she had pulled from the cart. I ended up with two horses, a cow, a pig, a sheep and a rooster along with some random little people all for a buck I still owe my mom.

Overall it was a great trip. I'd go again, but I wouldn't take Norie and I would bring gloves next time. We washed our hands before we left. For serious. I felt a little gross, but still super excited about my barn.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Caterpillar in a Hat

Norie made a picture at daycare.

Austin hung it up.

I asked why he hung it upside down (half sideways really, but clearly oriented in the opposite of the direction some would have hung it up.)

He looked at me like, "what do you mean?"

He has a point. It totally looks like a caterpillar in a hat.

If you're having trouble think Alice in Wonderland.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baby Swim Lessons and the Perfect Swimming Suit

Ever since Norie was born I have been pumped about swimming lessons. They were the BEST when I was a kid and so far she seems like she'll be a super water baby too. Last summer she was too young to go to the city pool (there are cooties in there you know), but she did get some kiddie pool action in at day care. From all accounts she LOVED it. She also loves bath time. Like a lot. Once she was squeaking and splashing so excitedly Austin came upstairs to make sure I hadn't smuggled a dolphin into the house. Okay, maybe he just wanted in on the fun times he could hear, but he claimed dolphin patrol.

So anyway, I hear parent led swim lessons (because that's what you do with super tiny babies like mine) are quick to fill up in my small town and I've marked the day sign up begins on my calendar so I can make sure Norie gets a spot.

I'm pretty excited. Almost as excited as she would be if she had any concept of what swimming lessons are.

Then today I was in Target shopping for coffee filters and teething tabs and I happened to walk past this.

Source: Target.com

It is just about the cutest thing I've seen in a long while. Well besides Norie. She's pretty cute. And her cousins are pretty freaking cute too. But in terms of swimming suits this is super duper cute.

Unfortunately it doesn't come in my size. Damn.

Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Make DIY Blackout Curtains

Remember back in February when I posted about my snow day project?

It's still not done.

Not the curtains. I finished those up in four-ish days working during naps and after Norie was in bed.

That sounds really quick now, but at the time it felt like forever. I ran out of thread and bent two needles including one as I back-stitched the very last seam of the very last curtain.


I even hung them, as long as you count thumb tacking them to the wall hanging them.

I had to. Norie will not sleep in a well lit space and snow plus lots of windows equals a super well lit space.

The part I can't get done is the curtain rods. I'm way too cheap to buy them so I'm going to spray paint some EMT (à la this tutorial) and add some finials you might recognize, but it's been too cold.

No curtain rods means no curtain reveal, but since my blog buddy, Crystal, (like my real, bi-directional blog friend who knows who I am) wanted to know how I made them I figure I can give you the run down on the sewing part of the process and how cheaply I made them.

I had been trying to figure out what I was going to do for curtains in the play room for a while. The room could seriously use some temperature moderation (it has two huge windows and no heating vents) and I knew eventually the light factor would be become an issue with Norie's 7pm bedtime. I found some king sheets on super clearence at Target and bought two sets (I checked the dimensions listed on the package and did some mental math to figure out how many I needed to make six 84" curtains). They were $11.38 each. I couldn't wait to chop them up.

I used Ana White's Tab Top Curtains which I've done before, but this time I added the blackout fabric. I got it for a steal too. No really, 60% off home decor fabrics at JoAnn's with a President's Day coupon. Since I needed 14 yards of the stuff and it usually runs $6.99 a yard I saved like 60 bucks.  My total was only $42.65 including tax. Woot! I bought so much they put it back on a roll for me and I had to unroll it on the living room floor to cut it.

I didn't have to make any changes to Ana's Tab Top Curtain Plan to line them. I just cut the blackout fabric into 84" sections and lined the curtains with them. To make sure I sewed the blackout fabric in the right place I folded the fabric over 5/8" (the plan says 1/2", but I have this thing about 5/8" so I guess technically I made a tiny change) at the top and sides and ironed it. Then I folded the top down 4" and ironed it to make a crease to follow.

When you unfold it will look like this.

I laid the blackout fabric up next to the crease line and even with the fabric I folded over so that it would be inside the finished edge, but not all folded up in the finished edge. Hopefully that makes sense. If not, let me know.

I took a close up so you could see what I mean.

Then I just folded the fabric over again around the blackout fabric and pinned and stitched it at like 1/2" because I'm a little neurotic and I like finishing seams like that to be 1/8" from the edge instead of a 1/4".

I did the same thing on the other side and just wrapped the blackout fabric in the same basic way in the top and bottom hems.

Sheets - $11.38 x 2= $22.76
Blackout fabric = $42.65
Thread (because I ran out and had to buy more) = $3.22

Total = $68.63

That's only $11.44 a curtain. Austin says I should figure in my time and they would become really expensive, but DIY is meant for people who have more time than cash, right?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Garden Plan Paralysis

I am totally mentally paralyzed by my garden plan.

Since December I've been trying to read my Week by Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook (which is awesome by the way) and do what it says. So far its just been trying. I haven't actually done anything. When I'm lucky actually get the week's list of to-dos read. When I'm not, I don't even get that far. It makes me really frustrated because in theory it should be really easy. Just read this week and do what it says. It even tells you to buy stuff or check on your supplies the week before so you're prepared. I decided I would go easy this year and just buy transplants instead of even attempting to start seeds myself. Starting seeds just sounded like way too much effort at this point in my life so skipping lots of the early weeks wasn't a super big deal.

But then this week I'm supposed to actually plant things.


In the garden.

In a place.

They will be.

Until they die.

Commitment like that terrifies me.

No really, I have three 4'x8' raised beds I made back in 2011 and I have yet to have a serious garden. Last year I was just way too pregnant to garden in the spring. And then way too newborn having to garden in the summer. And then way too still sleep and time deprived to think about a fall garden. So here I am, spring 2013 trying to figure out what to do with those raised beds.

The real problem is I know just enough to feel like I should have a plan and a rotation and pick good companion plants and have a succession plan to optimize the productivity of my garden, but not quite enough to just know what would be good companion plants or have a preordained mental model of the perfect succession for particular plants or rotation for three 4'x8' beds.

This is a recurrent problem in my life. My graduate adviser used to tell me, "Perfect is the enemy of done." He was right. Unfortunately, I never really embodied the idea. I still want things to be perfect and as a result I frequently just don't get them done.

Like this post. I had this great idea that I would cure my paralysis and I would post to tell you all about how I overcame.

I have not overcome.

I am still hemming and hawing and trying to make a decision as the week slips away Please, feel free to just tell me what to plant. For serious. Someone, please make a garden plan for me so I can move on with my life. I don't think I can take the stress much longer.


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