Friday, January 28, 2011

A craft a day...(not quite)

I saw a Facebook page the other day for a 365 day craft challenge...a-craft-a-day. I thought that was a really awesome idea. Especially since I'm lucky if I sew one thing a week right now. Once we move into the camper it will be a major challenge to try and create something new every day. (I might need to turn to interpretive dance, or impromptu comedy since most of my crafting supplies will be trapped in moving boxes for the next 6 months) Though, I might be able to aim more for woodcrafts, since I will be using the power tools on a daily basis. With a compound miter saw and a pneumatic nailer available every day...who knows what I'll be able to create. (thank goodness for Ana White's's linked over on the right)

I'm hoping the studio in the new house will be one of the first (3rd to be specific) rooms that gets completed. I think that's an important order:
1) Bathroom
2) Kitchen
3) Studio
(It shows where my priorities are...)

Until then, I'd like to focus my time on new skills. Specifically ones that can be done from inside a camper, quietly, while kids are sleeping (like knitting and crocheting). Since we're not planning on having a TV in the camper there's even more reason to spend that free PM-time reading, hand sewing, crocheting, sketching, etc. Doesn't that sound nice?

For this week I decided to craft randomly (rather than do an every day sort of thing)
Sunday- yoga bag (I've already used it for four yoga classes this week...and boy am I sore)
Tuesday- French Press Cozy. I use my press every day, but never thought to make a cozy until I saw one on ETSY (the cloud-side is for AM coffee, the other side has stars for coffee in the evening...a special treat in this budget adhering house)

Saturday- Worked more on the baby quilt. (this is a work in progress, but the majority of the front panel is together)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Does a Maybe-Baby Call for More Room?

So I was thinking the other day (out loud)...what if we DO decide to have another child? The simplified 3 bedroom 2 bath home is gonna be a little rough...especially in 10 years when we have a couple of teenagers on our hands. I'm starting to get the feeling that this body isn't done with babies yet. And since we already have one boy and one girl...wouldn't it be fun to have a surprise? Now...I'm not saying we're going to have one...and if we do, it certainly won't be this year. I'm just saying...what if. The last house plan (you know...the one I said was finally the final plan) I posted would be difficult to add an additional bedroom and bathroom into later, at least not without major overhauling. I'd rather frame it out now, and then finish it later. It also makes the house more sellable if for some reason this doesn't work out to be our forever house. it is...head to head...smaller or larger. What do you think?

All in all it's a difference of about 250 square feet. (1832 vs 2090)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Picasso of Potholders

I made a potholder last week while we were trapped inside due to bad weather. I didn't know it was going to be a pot holder at first. I had an embroidery hoop and some fabric, so I set out to make something. It became a tree. Then the tree grew leaves. Then came the grass and the flowers. After that I hand quilted behind the trees in a sort of wind-like pattern of small spirals. After that it sat for a few days while I tried to decide what it was going to become. Eventually it became a potholder...but not just any old potholder that can be used on the cast iron skillet. Not just any old potholder that will be used, dirtied, washed and fade. I didn't spend all that time embroidering, quilting and binding only to ruin it!!! So...instead I think it will get a small hook on the wall where it can be displayed. A safe little spot to keep it safe from dirt and grime. A pleasant little spot where no matter how cold it is outside, looking at it will bring thoughts of warm, flowering spring.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yoga Messenger Bag

Since I bought my Groupon for unlimited yoga for a month, it was time to dust off the old yoga mat. I've never had a yoga bag before, so I decided to make one. I found one I really liked on ETSY while I was shopping for birthday gift ideas for my brother. It's from Sundara Studios, which I mentioned the other day. Last night I set out to make one in a similar style before my inaugural class scheduled for today. The things I liked about her bags (everything actually); they are visually appealing, I like the messenger style, plus bonus points for the wide strap and the creative along-the-length opening to make getting a not-perfectly-rolled mat in easily. She also uses some really beautiful fabric combinations; she really manages to balance subtle and eye-popping.

Personally I'm low on really good fabrics, so I went for some REALLY bad ones. I have what looks like a pretty heathered gray, but in fact is a very cheap, thin fabric I picked up for $1 a long time ago. Then there is the lining, another cheap fabric...maybe $2 for 3 yards or something like that. Put them together...and they look great! The double layer makes the thin/cheap fabric more substantial, and the gray balances out the shockingly bright blue and green of the lining. I went with one single tie in the middle of the bag to hold it closed. (It's almost like a big burrito with a yoga mat filling...mmmm) It came together in about 40 minutes start-to-finish and I used my yoga mat (intentionally rolled a little loosely) at almost every step to make sure it would all fit right. There are no raw edges, which is great. Plus it's totally washable and dryable, which is even better.

Now I'm ready for class for a total of $0 (I don't really assign a cost to old fabric bought years ago that I really had no plans to use) It's great that I can find ideas to use as inspiration for myself at home. Ideally, in a perfect world (where I could afford stuff) I could buy whatever I wanted. (If that were true I might never get off of ETSY, I'd just buy stuff all day long) But, I don't live in that world...frugality is more than a motto in our's a life style. So once again, my mom's sewing machine (that she loaned me 3 years ago...shhhh) saved the day.

To those of you who can afford the real deal, go check out the bags. The fabrics are great and the bags look fantastic. And I'm always up for supporting an Etsian. (plus there are additional features in the real ones...zippered internal pocket, snap closures, roomier's the little details that make the big difference)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I love this for me (from KnitStorm)

I bought this for Erik (from MiniatureRhino)

I wish I could afford this from TheSteelFork

but I can afford this from them.

I want to buy this for Laurel for her birthday from SerpentMandalas, very reasonable prices.

And how about getting these beatiful origami roses for Valentines from MyBohemianSummer?

And I'm going to make something like this for my yoga mat. (sundarastudio)

(I just bought a Groupon for unlimited classes for the month for only $20...that sounds like a great reason to make a messenger style yoga bag!!!)

I'm also going to buy something like this for Abby for her Birthday from ThePrettyPetals.

I almost don't want to though, because I bought from her back in the fall for Corey's birthday...and while the necklace was great and the prices were awesome...the customer service was AWFUL. I've never seen a seller with so many negative feedbacks on ETSY. In fact, it's rare to have a seller with less than 100% positive feedback. But sadly...between the uniqueness of her work and the prices (most necklaces around $15) it's hard to resist. Other sellers on ETSY would sell their work for 3-4 times what she does. Come on...look at this one...gorgeous.

and this would make jeans and a t-shirt look like a night out on the town, no?

Sigh...I'm in love with ETSY.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Potty Training

I received a guitar from my husband 2-3 Christmases (is that how you write plural Christmas?) ago. I have not learned how to play. But if I did know how to play, I would write a song. A song about poop. A song about a boy and his mom and their struggle with poop. It would be set in a small bathroom in a quaint town in America. It would be a long, slow, painfully smelly song...but just when it's at it's will turn around and become a song of triumph! (ok have I carried this intro on long enough?) It's been two weeks since we started potty training, and I think I can officially claim success. Potty took three days for Luke to grasp, and has even had to go potty in a public bathroom already. Poop was a whole other ball of...poop. But, I can safely say he is now trained and life will be a bit different now. It isn't perfect of's a work in progress. But he knows when he has to poop, and he can poop into the toilet. That's a good start.

Here are some pictures and videos from Luke's No-More-Diapers party. We did the same for Laurel when we potty trained, it's become sort of a family tradition. (does twice constitute a tradition?) Anyway, partygoers wear pull-ups on their heads...though the potty-boy chose big boy underpants to wear on his. The party wouldn't be complete without a diaper cake with frosting poop and potty. (homemade orange-cream cheese frosting no less) Fun was had by all, and it helped kicked off the training that followed.

Wishful Thinking

After being trapped in the house for a week due to ice and snow...can you tell what's on my mind? Laurel and I have been trying to sprout avocado pits, apple seeds, wheat berries...anything and everything it seems. I am so ready for spring. So ready to till some ground and plant some seedlings. So ready to taste the fruits of the harvest. This will be the first year we have the land to have a REAL garden. Like my grandmother did. I have the boots now (Christmas present) and now I'm ready. In fact, Laurel and Luke got theirs for Christmas too...we are garden ready. I even have plans for outdoor cubbies on the back porch to keep the boots in so that they are ready to throw on every morning to feed the chickens and goats and to collect whatever food might be ripe and ready.

Jon actually has a line on a goat that will be born in the spring and he seems ready to jump. If he's ready, I'm ready. Spring needs to come now because I'm ready to grow something.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Could I Want This More?

I was searching ETSY for far too long yesterday...and I found SO many things that I wanted. But there is want, and there is WANT. Seriously...could I want this more? about this one? Same store. Totally awesome. Though I think the Pride and Prejudice pair wins out most of time, but in the end it would depend on my mood. ETSY artists are really awesome.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Before and After

This is a remodel I found a while back that really struck a nerve with me. When we first started planning our renovation, we thought we'd rip off the roof and add a few feet in ceiling height (at 7.5 feet they're not exactly cathedral ceilings).

I hated ranches, and I really wanted to alter our ranch so it didn't look like one. Spurred on by before-and-afters that went from 50s ranches to literally ANYTHING else...two story colonials, Cape Code Cottages, etc. I wanted what those people had...but there was a HUGE difference between them and us. Those renovations cost anywhere from $250,000-$500,000. We didn't even have that much to buy a house, we certainly couldn't spend that on the renovation. So I came around to the fact that my ranch was going to be a ranch...forever. Then I came across this remodel...which also likely costs in that ballpark. The difference is...we can do this ourselves, exchanging our own sweat for the high dollars it costs to pay for someone elses sweat. We aren't ripping off roofs and pretending our house is something it isn't. Instead we're opening up ceilings, replacing windows and brightening the place up. That we can do.

I plan to open up the dining room very similar to this.

And the kitchen like this.

In the end I feel better about the choices we're making. For starters, we pared down the completed project from 2800 square feet to about 1800. (400 of it is coming from the car port we're enclosing for the pantry, office and laundry/utility room) We have also bought a lot of our windows and doors (and KITCHEN!!!) from the Habitat for Humanity store...which not only helps us financially (everything we've purchased is more than 50% off retail, and so far it's ALL brand new), but it helps them too. It also keeps more stuff out of landfills, which we can be proud of as well. We'll also be heating and cooling less space, and of course saving on the materials for the 1000 square feet that we are not adding to the current structure. I do believe that less is more, and I think that we are planning a house that is really livable for us. We need less living space, and more storage. We're not clean-freaks by nature, so if everything has a place we hope it will be easier to keep things picked up. So between the locker system in the hallway, the large pantry and the utililty room (aka laundry-studio-craft room) I think we'll be able to keep the mess in check. (or at least be able to shove it in those places quickly when people say they're coming over)

(click to expand)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Banner

What do you give to the family that has everything for Christmas? How about a laugh? That's what we decided to give to the Hall's this year. (Ok, they don't REALLY have everything...but go with it anyway) I hinted at this banner the night we painted it, but I didn't show it off yet. We had a lot of fun making this, and it was probably one of the best family nights we had during the holiday season.
I taped the paper down and sketched the basic design. Then the kids and Jon each got to pick what their sketch said, the funnier the better. Then everyone helped to paint. Easy as pie and funny to boot. I think that's our new yearly make the Hall's laugh. (until it gets old, then we'll do something else)

(Can you tell who painted which part?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Before and After

I realize we did this months ago...but I don't think I ever posted the before and after. As I was looking through pictures today I realized just how much we cut off!!

Snow Bunny

Packing Away

I have moved my entire life. 


 I feel like I've moved more than I've stayed...if that makes sense. 

Military people get this of course. I thought everyone did, until I met my hubby and his family who are stay-ers instead of go-ers. Despite having moved my entire life...this is the first time MY family will have moved. 

 We got married, and lived in this house. 

 We had a baby. 

 Then we had another. 

It's all happened here. Good news, bad news...I found out I was pregnant in this house (twice...both funny stories). I labored in this house (again twice...those stories are more painful than funny, but good memories nonetheless). My kids learned to walk and talk and potty in the toilet in this house. We became a family in this house. And now I'm packing it up to start life somewhere else. I'm excited for the transition, truly, moving is in my blood. But I have a heavy heart about the memories we're leaving behind. I'm beginning to feel it as I'm packing room by room. I don't think it will really hit until rooms start to look empty.

But I really am excited about paring down to the bare essentials and living very simply over the next 6 months or so. I think we'll learn a lot about ourselves as a family...and be the better for it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Luke

Happy Birthday to the cutest boy in my life. You make me laugh...and cry...and laugh again. I had no idea a 2 year old (now 3 of course) could be so loving, so sweet and so tough. Sometimes you seem so old, and I can see the little man in you. Like the day at the park when you squared off to the men who were biking too close to me. And sometimes you are still my baby, and you crawl into my lap to snuggle just because you can. But most of the time you are my creative, thoughtful, smart little guy. I love you.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Last Christmas Cuff

Christmas eve I ended up sewing until about midnight in order to finish the neck cuffs for Jon and my sisters. This one for Hallie was sort of a cute accident. I'm not sure whether I like Cody's whale or Hallie's turtle better...but I love the way the font on the turtle turned out. I cut the letters out of fleece (since everything else was fleece) that was a mistake, and what happened next was dumb luck. When I first started stitching over the letters they began to stretch in ways I couldn't control. I figured I'd finish it up, but also figured it would be no good. But once I got through the o, and then the m...I started to see an almost comic book like font coming through. So I crossed my fingers that the g would come out ok...and it did! It looks like I meant to do it. HA! I SO did not. Anyway, this was the last of the Christmas neck cuffs. They are SO warm, and so quick to make. Hallie wore hers for about an hour (inside) then took at off and after five minutes she said her neck was cold and had to put it back on. Nice. I made Jon's just plain navy blue for work, I figured on cold nights he could use a warm neck. But I did manage to sneak a heart onto the inside of the cuff to make him smile when he put it on.

Friday, January 7, 2011

House Motivation

If you buy a kitchen, but don't have a house to put it in...does that make you crazy? It might. BUT, we would have been crazy if we didn't buy this kitchen. About two years ago a friend of Jon's walked into the Habitat for Humanity Restore and saw a full kitchen with high end appliances, granite counter tops and all the cabinetry. So, he bought it and had it installed and has never looked back. If I were to take a guess I would say he saved $20,000 on a brand new kitchen.
Since we bought our fixer-upper (ok...that's putting it nicely) we've been going to the Restore nearly every week. We've bought windows and doors at amazing prices, but not once have we seen any acceptable cabinetry or full kitchens. Until now!!!! We received a weekly email about a kitchen that had arrived, and we set out to check it out yesterday. We tried to be calm and objective about the whole thing...but once we saw it...WOW! The appliances alone are worth $18,000! (So it's like you purchased the appliances at a deep discount, and then they threw in the kitchen FOR FREE!!) Oh wait...I forgot to's all BRAND NEW! Never been used. The original tape and manuals are still in the fridge, and the oven comes with a DVD on how to use it! A woman moved into a brand new condo, but needed handicap accessible counters and they ripped it out and gave this set to the Restore.

What could we do? The antiqued paint, the large island, the granite, the stainless professional grade range, the paneled fridge, convection oven/microwave combo, brushed chrome faucet, and glass cabinet was too good to pass up. We poured over the dimensions and made several calls to Jon's experts. Every one (carpenter, contractor and appliance man) all gave a resounding YES, BUY IT. So...we did. It was so much fun. The whole place was excited, the staff, the other shoppers. It was like we won the lottery and everyone else got to watch. We were so excited and nervous all the way home.
Now we really have some motivation to get moving on this house. We may only ever have a kitchen...but it's a really nice one.

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