Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Sack to Carry Stuff

I've been on a hiatus for a while. Work has been demanding and we've been planning a vacation. 

I finally got some time behind the sewing machine and made a couple coloring bags for a friend's boys. The idea is that you stick your crayons in the front pockets and store your coloring books in the bag. But really, you can put whatever you want in them. Knowing the two boys that will be receiving these bags, I'm guessing they'll carry rocks and trains at some point. 

Never mind the Cat in the Hat's hand sticking out of bag #2. 

I think my stitches are getting pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fabric and Felt Flower Bouquet

It's almost Mother's Day. I admit, I'm excited. Mr. S is amazingly good at gift giving. It's never about price, he's just so dang thoughtful. That's why I chose him to be my baby daddy...15 years ago. 

Last year, he got up with E and then my two guys brought me breakfast in bed, followed by flowers, followed by gifts. It was really over the top and totally unnecessary, but I really appreciated the effort, especially for my first Mother's Day. 

My mom has always insisted on no gifts for any holiday from us kids. I disobeyed her for a long time but several years ago, I threatened her with homemade gifts. She called my bluff so I made her a scrapbook of my brother's and sister's USAF Basic Training photos. She loved it. 

So, now I'm on the homemade gift train and I can't get off. Each year, I'm scrambling for ideas of new things to make (psst... sometimes I cheat and buy her something awesome on Etsy, but I fess up that I didn't make it.)

For Mother's Day this year, I got my inspiration from these fabric flowers at Bower Power and these felt flowers at Paper & Stitch.

I found the vase at Target for $12 and used some purple and yellow fabric and white and yellow felt that I already had. Using their tutorials, I lost 7 fingerprints from hot glue burns but ended up with a fabulous bouquet of flowers to send to my mom. I made it several weeks ago and have had it sitting around our kitchen since. I was pretty sad to box it up and ship it off yesterday. I think I need to make another one for myself. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I hope you all have a fantastic day! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Funky Pillows

Step number two of adding some color to the living room is some new pillows for the couch. And, bonus!, I sewed them myself. Of course pillows are easy, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. I mean, I sewed several straight lines! These pillow cases are envelope style. Maybe one day I'll be skilled enough to sew a zipper.

I currently have four pillows on the couch. I can't decide if they should be two of each pattern, four different patterns, two of one pattern and one each of two other patterns, or what. (Was that confusing?) So, for now, I have two of each.

For the record, the two smaller pillow covers-- teal with dandelions, were purchased on Etsy for $20ish each. I paid less than $20 for the two yards of fabric for the two bigger pillow covers that I sewed myself. So, boom. DIY savings.

And here's the whole living room view. Up next, I'll be turning some drawers into shelves. That's a much larger project and might take a very long time to happen. Also, now that I look at the room, I'm thinking some kind of valance and curtains may be in order. I loooove those blinds, but I'm not realizing that they're pretty cold. 

Yes, that's a wagon. And yes, it's a pretty boring room. Remember, I have a two year old. All the tchotchkes have been removed for child proofing purposes. Even our lovely coffee table has been relocated to the other side of the room so E doesn't gouge an eye out on the corner. 

I hope we'll be able to have a normal house again someday. Maybe in, what, 16 or so years?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fabric Wrapped Lamp Shade

I'm working on adding some accents and patterns to my living room now that we got some new furniture. I'm in love with blues, greens and yellows. First up, the lamp.

We've had an Ikea lamp shade on this Target lamp for a very long time. Except, the lamp is made to attach at the top and the shade is made to attach around the light bulb. So really, the shade is just ever-so-carefully balanced on the lamp.

Time to un-ghetto-ify the lamp!

I started with a $20 plain white shade that's shorter/fatter than the Ikea shade. In the picture, it seems very similar but the simple fact that the new lamp shade actually attaches to the lamp is the biggest difference here.

Time to get super technical. Not.

To cut the fabric, I laid it on the floor and then cut about an inch from the top and bottom as I rolled it along. I did a little adjusting to get the pattern right. Still, it's a little better looking from the front than from the back, which is fine for its location.

I used spray adhesive, following the temporary bond instructions to lightly attach it. A bead of hot glue along the seam makes it look nice and neat. I also used hot glue along the top and bottom and folded the excess to the inside.

I like it. A lot. I might paint the lamp base white but I'm going to live with the black for a while before I made that decision.

Note, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with that room divider that's propped up behind the lamp. It was in the opposite corner of the room, but the new sectional fills up that corner now. I still love the fabric so I might wrap some canvas with it or maybe frame it in a big white frame.

What are you fabric wrapping lately?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Latch Board for E

When I saw this latch board on Young House Love, I knew I had to make one for E. I forgot about it for a while, but when I found myself browsing through Home Depot, I remembered the plan.

I bought my supplies from memory, but I realize now that I made mine quite a bit bigger. My gadgets are more spread out. I got a 2ftx2ft square of plywood for about $6. Each latch/gadget was a couple bucks each. Along with latches, I have a zipper since E has recently gotten the hang of unzipping his jacket. I also have two tap lights, three casters and one of those boing-y door stopper things.

I don't have the luxury of a playroom so I had to make it pretty enough to keep in the living room. I prettified it with some teal spray paint, then I added stickers, scrapbook paper bunting, some washi tape and Mod Podged the whole thing.

He likes it a lot-- especially the door stopper and the lights. It took him about 2 minutes to figure out that the tap lights would come off if he twists them (that's how you change the batteries.) I think he's over the novelty of removing the lights though, so we might be in the clear on that one. It's pretty likely that he's going to rip the zipper off because it's attached with hot glue. You can even see it gaping in the picture below. I'll probably need to fix it up a bit-- the lights and the zipper, but for now it's proving to be quite fun.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Story of Lars

Sometime around now is Lars' 13th birthday. In honor of that, I'm going to tell The Story of Lars.

When I was in high school we had a fabulous orange male cat named Bailey. We were best buds. Sadly, Bailey started spraying and my mom took him and his friend-cat, Jasmine, "away". I don't know what that means, and I never want to. It was a very sad day. Mr. S and I had just started dating and he had to watch me sob at the kitchen table as my mom packed Bailey and Jasmine into the car. Saddest. Day. Ever. (To my 17 year old self, anyway.)

On that day, I swore that when I left home and got a place of my own, I was getting an orange cat. I lived in the dorms my freshman and sophomore year of college so a cat was out of the question. I got my first apartment during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.

I went to school in South Carolina and Mr. S went to school in West Virginia. During that summer, the summer of 2000, he joined me for the summer. Within a few days of him moving in, we took a trip to the Horry County, SC Humane Society. We saw a litter of super tiny kittens, a few of them orange. They were too young to adopt at that time but I knew those were the ones and I planned on returning in a couple weeks when they were older.

A few weeks later, we were back at the shelter. I picked out a 6 week old orange male. It was hard to say at that time if he would be long or short hair. I was really hoping for a short hair. The poor kitty was black with fleas but most flea medications were for older cats. I could not allow those fleas in my apartment so I took my chances and gave little kitty several flea baths. Interesting fact-- since those early days, I've never treated Lars for fleas even though he often goes outside into our backyard now. He's never had a single flea. I swear those early flea baths made him flea proof!

Mr. S and I debated for a long time over what his name would be. We settled on Lars, after Lars Ulrich.

After Mr. S returned to WV, I got a new roommate, Kelly. Kelly and Lars had a love-hate relationship. No, that's a lie. They had a hate relationship. Kelly was dog person. Lars was a mean cat. He would unroll entire rolls of toilet paper throughout the apartment while we were sleeping. He would get on the counters and knock glasses off onto the tile floor just to hear them shatter...almost always in the middle of the night to give us heart attacks. He would run out the door any chance he got. I'm surprised Kelly didn't just let him go if I wasn't home. He would steal food off our plates if we ate at the coffee table and he'd knock over glasses just to watch the liquid spill.

He made it through a year and a half with Kelly and after I graduated college, we moved back to WV into a very small one bedroom apartment with Mr. S. We lived there for about 6 months and strangely, I can't even remember Lars living there.

His next move was to Ohio. We lived in a very luxurious apartment when we first moved to Ohio. He had a huge walk-in closet as his room (compared to cramped closets in previous apartments.) Interestingly, I can't remember him living in that apartment either except for the big closet.

The year and a half that I lived in those last two apartments was a very awkward time in my life. It was the "why do I have a bachelors degree and no job? why am I living somewhere landlocked when my degree is in marine science?" period of my life.

When we moved into our current house in 2003, Lars, of course, came with us. In the three bedroom house, he got a whole room to himself. How glorious! He was always known as the mean cat. Several of our friends still think that he's mean even though he's mellowed out immensely over the years.

When we brought Laika home in 2009, Lars was beside himself. It wasn't long before he realized that he had the advantage, though. Laika is kinda dumb. It's definitely a Garfield & Odie situation around here. A few hisses and swats was all it took for Lars to get his confidence back.

When E arrived, he was nervous but interested. Although he's known as the "mean cat", he's been nothing but tolerant of E. He's nervous enough that we never had to worry about the cat "stealing the breath" from the baby. And if it's a good day, he'll even let E hug him now that he's older.

I get sad with every passing day knowing that one day he'll be gone. He can't jump onto the counters (a good thing) or the window sills (a bad thing, for him) anymore. He sometimes misses when he tries to jump onto our bed. But at the same time, give him a catnip toy and he'll play just like he did 13 years ago.

He's been a wonderful companion for 13 years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quarterly Cleaning

It's spring cleaning time! I don't call it spring cleaning though; I call it quarterly cleaning. There are very few things that I only do once a year. All of my spring cleaning tasks are also done in the fall, at least, if not more often.

To me, a big part of my quarterly cleaning is organizing. I like to take a look at things around the house and do a little purging-- either to Goodwill or the trash or make some moolah by selling stuff.

Here's the plight of a working mom... I have to take two days (I could honestly use a whole week) of leave to get my spring cleaning done. It can't be done in the evenings. It can't be done on the weekends. That's my family time and I'm willing to spend some of it doing weekly chores, but not big tasks like steam cleaning the carpets.

I have a crazy-long to-do list in a list app on my phone. I organize it by room or mark "all" for things that happen in every room, like cleaning windows/blinds. Here's a sneak peak.

I think that list would take 5 screen captures to show you the whole thing. Yes, I'm pathetic. Only a small fraction of it will get done during my 2-day quarterly cleaning. I'll work on the smaller tasks on evenings/weekends and some things will still be on the next quarterly cleaning list.

After day one: 
  • Steam clean the carpets (living room, hallway, two bedrooms)
  • Dust walls, baseboards, corners
  • Magic Erase kitchen tile floors
  • Clean all cabinet fronts

Keep in mind that I only have from when Mr. S and E leave for work/daycare until they get home. And if I'm taking days off work, I need a little me-time. I'll enjoy my coffee in the morning, watch some trash TV while eating lunch, and yesterday, I spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for baskets for a better toy solution in the living room.  So, it's not all work, but pretty dang close.

It's day two and the race is on. Today, I don't have big tasks, like steam cleaning, on the list. It's mostly 10-30 minute tasks so hopefully I can knock out a bunch of them. Happy spring cleaning!