Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Surprise Find

After dropping Rachel off at school last Friday morning, I was faced with a dilemma. I needed some cotton flannel and batting for the baby quilt that I was finishing up for the shower on Saturday. I weighed my options...Walmart was the closest and I knew they were open. Michael's was my preferred stop for the batting, as I had a coupon, but they wouldn't have the flannel. And Hancock's was on the way home, butt odds were they'd be out of the flannel and batting, but would assure me that it's something they always stock. So I caved and went to Walmart (and Michael's after that, because Walmart's batting choices were nil). But look what I found! I bought a yard of both of these prints and I really love them. They looked like nothing else on the rack that they were with. Well, I take that back - they had a few other sister prints to go with them, but none that I loved like these two. I am pretty sure they were under $4 a yard as well. The selvage says that they were made by Springs. I guess I wasn't aware that they made fabrics for personal sewing. So what am I going to do with these two lovelies? No idea. I'm thinking that maybe it's time I made an Emmeline apron for myself, but I don't know. What I do know is I like them enough that I keep thinking about going back and getting a few more yards.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Writing on the Wall

Yes, I meant it quite literally. While I was at the baby shower on Saturday, Jim tried to keep moving on the kitchen and keep the girls occupied. So, Sarah practiced writing her alphabet. In preschool they learned that a capital E is like a comb, so her E has lots of lines. More is always better when you're a kid.

Rachel drew a self portrait. It accurately depicts what she was wearing at the time - pink top, jeans with pink trim at the bottom, and pink boots. She is a stickler for accuracy at the moment. And I love that she is getting "fancy" with her writing lately. She actually has a few "fonts" that she uses!

And I totally love this little guy, also by Rachel. Clearly you already know that he is a panda bear in a bamboo forest, but just in case you didn't...... She drew this off the top of her head. I'm not even sure where the inspiration came from as they're studying the Arctic Tundra at school right now. The randomness of it makes me love it all the more.

And walls! We have walls!! And a ceiling! And the floor is still there as well. Whoo hoo! I had not envisioned the 50's mint green when I thought about the walls being done. I kind of imagined a big white room that would suddenly look done. But it's green (a moisture barrier on the drywall) and it's not done. I mean the hanging of the drywall is done, but the kitchen isn't. One day though. One day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quilting up a Quickie

This baby quilt didn't exist on Thursday afternoon. I've known I had a baby shower coming up for a good long while, but just didn't know what I was going to make. Thursday night I had the bright idea to start a quilt that I was sure I could whip up quickly. This took more time than I would have estimated and required a late night last night, but I got it done. Thursday night I got all the rectangles cut out and decided on the layout. Then I came to the realization that my quick assembly plan was actually going to take some time. I'd thought that appliqueing the inset rectangles onto the larger ones would be a huge time saver, but in fact, the applique process took a good bit of time and just measuring everything and trying to keep it even, square and all that good stuff was also a good bit of effort. Sarah was very tolerant of me on Friday afternoon and I was able to get all the applique done and the top assembled. Quilting, binding and all that good stuff took about another three and a half hours on Friday night, but come 12:30 AM this morning, it was done. I quilted in the ditch around each rectangle, then around the inset rectangles and then again inside the smaller rectangles. An all over pattern may have hidden a few mistakes a bit better, but I liked the idea of sticking with the geometry of the rectangle and my vocabulary of quilting patterns is pretty limited right now. For now I'm just thankful I got it done in time. Phew!
Crummy photo was hurridly taken in the few minutes between it coming out of the dryer and having to wrap it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A One Trick Pony

I feel like a one trick pony. Well, actually maybe I have two or three tricks as of right now. But as birthdays approach, and I try to keep my goal of making more gifts and spending less at Target, I find myself making many of the same things. Above is a gift for Rachel's oldest friend, Elle. Not oldest in age, but as in they've known each other since before they could sit up. I'm hoping these aren't too girly for Elle, who is not a fan of the pink and purple princess scene. Skirt was made using the Oliver & S Lazy Days pattern and the t-shirts were just appliqued with a bit of the fabric from the shirt. I was wanting to try and cut a flower out to applique and then paint a stem and leaves on, but my applique skills are currently best left to straight lines. I'm not so swift with the curves yet.

And Sarah has a party to go to this Saturday as well, so another Black Apple doll was whipped up last night. This one is sporting cashmere hair, recycled from a $1.59 thrifted sweater. It's super soft, but doesn't get as "felty" as wool does when washed, so it was a bit stretchy to sew with. I Think it worked out fine though. If time permits, I'll try and make a bag for her as well, but I've also got to come up with a baby shower gift by Saturday morning, so time is in high demand.

My photos are looking pretty crummy these days. Something happened a while ago between my computer and photoshop and now, pictures in photoshop look totally different than they do in other photo viewing programs. I'm in a quandary and if I want a kitchen, I'd best not as my husband to trouble shoot for me. And speaking of kitchens, the walls are coming along. Pictures soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Birthday Season Draws Near

Phew. I can scratch something off my "to do" list. My birthday gift for my nephew is done. Last year he remarked that "clothes don't make good gifts", so I'm slightly hesitant that decorations for his room will fall into the same category, but we shall see. Erin, you can give me the cold hard truth, I can take it.

Close on the heals of James' bunting, is Rachel's - here's the name portion of hers. It's ready to be assembled, but I feel like I need to do something to make the letters stand out a bit more. The triangles are already sewn together, so if I were to outline them with any sort of sewing, it would go through both layers. I'm not sure if that matters or not. Perhaps just a bolder color of embroidery floss in a chain stitch around them? I don't know. I opted for a patchwork flag as a way to incorporate some of that colorful and fun groovy square pattern in the middle. I bought it quite a while ago and have been saving it for something special. There is enough to make Sarah's as well. They've both seen me working on James' gift, and asked why I can't make one for them, so hopefully they will like them. The girls both have wide shelves over the expanse of windows in their rooms, and I thought these would be fun to hang from the shelves. I'll post of photo when it's done and hanging.

There's more gifts to be made and a lot more birthdays on the way. It makes that post-Christmas slump that seems to happen a bit of a hassle as the majority of the birthdays we celebrate seem to fall in the first three months of the new year. So, back to work.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things that Make Me Go Hmmm....

Garden and Gun. Yes, you read it correctly. My neighbor brought this over the other day. We swap magazines a lot. He wasn't sure where he'd gotten this from, but said the photography was beautiful. It is. But. Hmmm.... I mean really. What can one really say about this? The subtitle, if you can't read it, is "Soul of the New South". Perhaps that explains it all. Perhaps not. I'm still scratching my head on this one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Jim called me shortly after he left for work this morning. He started telling me about an accident and I thought he was telling me to go downtown a different way this morning, as I had to take Sarah to the dentist after I dropped Rachel off at school. After processing what he said, I realized that the accident he was telling me about involved him. Thankfully, he is fine, although, as you can see, his bumper is being held on by string...tied in a bow. Spiffy. Actually, the bumper is totally gone now and the car is in the shop. And of course, the driver of the other vehicle promptly fled the scene of the accident, but not before he ran his red light and hit Jim. Bummer.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Looking Out My Kitchen Window

This is what I see as I look out the kitchen window that is over the sink. The room is somewhat dark most of the time due to no lighting and old, dark studs for walls. I like the way the old insulation on the sill adds a softness to the view. Makes it downright homey, doesn't it?

Sarcasm aside, things do seem to be progressing. While this view might not look like much, the horizontal, yellow wires running through the studs mean that Jim's moved on to wiring. Whoo hoo! He spent today putting in outlets and fixture housings in the ceiling. And....he says he on track to drywall next weekend, when his brother will return to help. Could it be? The end of the Appalachian shack look is at hand? I'm excited, but holding my breath yet.

We are not in the clear yet though. Last weekend it became clear that the second bank of windows was terribly crooked. Since the floors are now level and the cabinets will be level, the amount the windows sloped wasn't really something we could ignore. So Jim leveled them. But do you see a problem with the above picture? Yes, that is the outside peeking through under the widow. Thankfully we are in the South and experiencing a mild winter! Another wall has a similar problem with a nice circle cut out of the exterior boards. Apparently some sort of a plug fell out. Now we have a handy dandy hole to stick our finger through to see if it's raining or not. And as a special treat, Jim also wired the stove again so that I can heat food in something other than a microwave or toaster oven. We celebrated with frozen pizza tonight. Livin' the high life, I tell ya!

I've started working on a bunting for Rachel's birthday. I decided to make it patchwork. I'm hoping that was the right decision and that I will be able to keep a straight line. I'm not the most precise sewer in the world. I've spent more time that I should have browsing the Ga-ga for Garlands group on Flickr. It's got my wheels a turnin'!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Without realizing it, I celebrated the last of the twelve days of Christmas. Jennifer and the kids came over for a last minute play date on Monday, before it was time for the girls to head back to school. We still hadn't exchanged gifts, so Monday was the day. I started this apron for her months ago. I found the skull fabric on Hancock's one day when I had a coupon and just couldn't find anything to use it on. When I stumbled upon this fabric, I knew that it would be perfect for Jen and that she would need an Emmeline apron made out of it. The rest of her gift consisted of bits and pieces of holiday treasures that I picked up during the course of the year, so I figured the apron could do duty as Valentines, Halloween and possibly Christmas. The good news is she loved it. And more good news....she gave me this. Now, if only I had a kitchen to cook in. Jim tells me it is coming soon. Time will tell.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I use to make my new year resolutions in February, after all the chaos of the holidays had passed and I felt like I might have a chance at keeping them. Then I realized that even that was too ambitious for me. This year though, I have some goals. First, since we rang in the new year with the girls, I took the occasion as an opportunity make some changes for them. We aren't eating in the living room any more, which won't save the current couches, but might save any future furniture and, in an effort to save furniture, we are now only coloring at the table. Perhaps this will keep any more artwork from appearing on the TV, couch, floor, you name it. And for myself, amongst other things, I would really like to be able to give more (and more and more) handmade gifts that the recipients will actually be happy to receive.

And lucky me, I have to opportunity to put the plan into action just three days into the new year, as we have a birthday party to go to tomorrow for a four year old friend. I thought I'd make a Black Apple doll to start with, and then last night, as I was trying to fall asleep, I felt like she needed something to go with her, so today I found the tutorial for this little bag over at Lula Louise. It came together super fast, just like the doll, and together, I think they make a cute set. The bag is reversible, and while I'd prefer for what I've got as the inside to be the outside, I didn't think about the perils of using a directional pattern when I made the doll. Not a problem for the doll, but for the purse, half is right side up and half is upside down...a problem that continues to follow me in sewing. So something to think about when your fabric pattern isn't non-directional. Now there's a certain little girl working on turning six under this roof in a matter of weeks. What to make for her?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Picture Heavy Post

So we've been wrapping up Christmas here today. It's always so depressing for me, having to take down the tree, cut the lights, etc. Sort of like snuffing out the magic. Rachel was disappointed as well, so I tried to spin it as "won't it be fun when the magic returns next winter?". Ha. I'm not even buying what I'm selling. The stockings (with the exception of Jim's, on the left) were all knit by my Grandma. I don't know what year she made them for my sister, cousin and I, but I feel as if we've had them since birth. At the least, our very early childhood. We loved them as children (and still do) and I am so thankful that all my Grandma's great-grandchildren have them now as well. Thank you Grandma!

I have something else to say thank you for as well. I was the very lucky recipient of a handmade Christmas gift from Amy. Not only is it an incredibly beautiful purse, but it's also reversible, so I got TWO purses. Lucky me!! Thank you, thank you, Amy!

And Jim gave me a present on Christmas day as well. The "HOME ADVANTAGE", I'd like to call it. Also known as a kitchen floor. Not the final kitchen floor, mind you, but something to walk on besides joists.

And he moved the refrigerator and oven in and hooked them up, as well as the sink, dishwasher and a few cabinets, giving me a bit of a working area. Unfortunately the oven only worked for four days, two of which we were out of town, and now it's out of commission again. Sigh. I almost made some cookies.

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of a visit from Jim's brother Sam and his family. Rachel was really digging her new cousin, Elaine, who we got to meet for the first time over the holidays. We enjoyed getting to spend some time and hanging with all the kids.

And here's Sarah, as I was trying to wake her from a nap today. She partied too hard last night, as all four of us rang in the new year together. The wisdom of that decision is debatable today. So that's a look back at the past week or so. Now I'm ready to look forward to what 2009 will bring. Happy New Year!