Thursday, July 23, 2009

Almost Finished

We're working so hard...on so many things. We came close to checking a couple of those things off our list today, but not quite.

I almost finished a summer dress for Anna Jane today.

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But not quite.

I almost finished her First Day of Kindergarten dress today.

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But not quite.


Dave and Adam almost installed the brand spanking new light fixture today.

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But not quite.

Let me pause here and let you all know that it took 2 days for Shades of Light to process and ship my order. 2 days. I ordered it on Tuesday. It arrived today. Thursday. 2 days. Love them.

Dave and I tag-teamed and almost finished the painting in the den. But not quite. But I did finish reupholstering the very large couch for the den. But the not quite part about it is that I haven't finished the matching loveseat.

Before you scroll down to the almost finished part, here is a before. About 2 months before:

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The cushions were fabulously recovered by my dear friend, Jenny. Without her help, the couches would have taken me until Christmas. Or Easter. But thanks to Jenny for covering cushions, Dave and Adam for painting, and me for bossing them all around, I present my almost finished den:

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Now, almost is a relative term. We still have art to hang, accent pillows to make, a recliner to reupholster...so the time it takes to go from almost finished to finished might be a while.

Yesterday, my mom came to town. Here is a pic of her:

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Drawn by Olivia Newton John Jane:

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She helped me almost finish an art project for the front hall.

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Raise your hand if you know how hard it is to catch a 16 month old long enough to trace his hand on a piece of linen. Too hard. So mom made it a game and traced his hand on a piece of paper that I can used as a template to embroider onto the fabric. More about that project later. Maybe I will have an Actually Finished post as a follow up to this one.

She also made me buy this chandelier for the dining room:

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It's dusty and dirty and green. But with a little bit of imagination and a lot of work, I'm sure it will look like this, but $800 cheaper.

And she also made me buy a consigned chair that Dave described as hideous. No pic yet.

Okay, really she didn't make me do any of this. She actually tried her hardest to make me not buy the chair. She says I have a chair fetish. She probably meant to say how brave and selfless I am for buying such poor chairs and giving them a new life with a staple gun and an astonishing sense of design.

A day of almost accomplishments. I'm good with that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beautiful Day

It is such a beautiful day here today, despite the rain. And I don't mean beautiful as in everything is going my way, I sure am having good luck kind of day.

I mean it is an aesthetically beautiful day. Ignore the half upholstered couches and not-finished paint job in the den. Ignore my sewing mess all over the dining room table. Ignore the weeds in the yard that look more like trees. And ignore the popsicle-sticky, applesauce-in-the-hair, still-in-pjs children.

Look at what is beautiful:

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This will soon be beautiful in my front hall. I have never, ever bought a light fixture. And I have never, ever bought anything from Shades of Light. But I have always wanted to!

I have sold enough clothes at the consignment store to purchase my first beautifying home decor item from Shades of Light. I also want this and this (round).

And remember when I shared all about my discovery of the tutorial, and how excited I was to get started on the stack I've collected? Well, I got started. And just looky here:

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I could not be more thrilled with the outcome. I spent the entire process screaming in my head...can you believe what this looks like?...how is this so easy?...i am so proud of you!...you're doing it!

This is one of the first tutorials that I found. I found it on the Pink Penguin website. The directions are super-easy. Her baskets are made with soft colors, patchworked, and often with Japanese fabrics. Mine is totally different, but that just shows how easily you can make a project fit you. Or whomever you might be gifting a cute little fabric basket to!

Beautiful, indeed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cheering Up


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A nail in my left rear tire. Leads to 4 new tires and a front end alignment. Leads to $500 unexpectedly spent.

So this will cheer you up. Because you're probably pretty bummed about my predicament.

Every time we drive to the lake or the beach we watch Alvin and The Chipmunks. Which means that we've seen it enough times for the kids to have it memorized. Anna Jane's favorite part is where the chipmunks sing the song Funkytown.

Here is their version:



Anna Jane, always the performer, has a slightly different version. Her lyrics include the following words:

dunkaberry
oh yeah
tinka tinka

Feel free to play the clip again if you don't recognize the similarities in the versions. I have no idea how to turn the clip right side up. I also have no idea why she translated the song this way. Dave thinks she needs her ears checked. That will have to wait until next month. This month's money is all in the tires.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vegetable Weekend and One More Year

The weekend got off to a rocky start...Henry got a metal/plastic splinter in his little foot. The doctor had to slice it open to get it out. And he still didn't get it all out. But sweet Henry was such a trooper.

His vocabulary has exploded over the past week. My two favorite words include glasses and doctor. Just because they seem to be particularly difficult words for those little lips to produce.

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His little lips are really good at sucking the melted butter off an ear of corn, though. And they have another new trick. The other day I was holding Henry on my hip, talking to Dave and doing some task in the kitchen. All of a sudden I realized that while I was busy talking and searching through the refrigerator, Henry had been putting his head to my shoulder and giving it kisses. It's impressive if you have ever seen a toddler try to coordinate his puckering and smacking.

We've been painting.

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When Dave got out of the car to pump the gas the other day, Wilson said the sweetest (unsolicited) thing. "I like my family." I often get overwhelmed with happiness. But I usually stop myself from telling Dave "I'm so happy right now. I love our life." Because I usually can't articulate why I feel the way I do. Other than the obvious three kids, supportive families, loving husband, dog, house, picket fence...Wanting to know if he could express exactly what made him say that at that moment, I asked him, "What do you like about our family?" This was his unforgettable response: "Ummm.....cheese."

On Friday night we taught the kids how to eat artichokes. They are not exactly self-explanatory vegetables. Wilson listened very carefully to Dave's instructions and accompanying demonstration.

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Just when I think Anna Jane is all grown up, I see a photo of her little fingers manipulating an artichoke and think I see a little baby pudge left on them. I'm glad for the lingering baby pudge.

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Look what the little pudgies produced! A delicious leaf dripping with butter!

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The kids liked dissecting their vegetables. Henry didn't get to experience the peeling of the leaves, which left him more time to eat!

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Dave was a little concerned that I didn't cut all of the spikes off his leaves. It was an accident, I'm sure.

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Bobbie Quack (my grandmother) called on Saturday and asked us to pick up some of the extra vegetables she had harvested from her garden. We got bright red tomatoes and cucumbers. Also some green tomatoes to fry. Tomato and mozzarella salad, crunchy vegetables dipped in ranch, tomato pie, corn on the cob, quick pickles, fresh basil rice....love summer food.

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Tonight we enjoyed Nana and Papa's company during dinner. They were on their way home from the mountains, celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Thirty-five years is a long time. Longer than I've been alive. I haven't been there the whole time, but I've been there for 31 of those years. And I know that I don't know everything, but I'm pretty sure I know that it's not some amazing feat that they've been together for so long. Some things just fit together like my mom and dad do. They are best friends. They would rather be with each other than with anyone in the whole world.

So I don't mean to diminish the importance or the awe-factor of their 35 years together. Or to even act like it's not a big deal that they are still married at all in our culture. But they are a match made in heaven. And that has made the lives of my family and my sister's expanding family heaven on earth.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hannah's Birthday Party

This weekend we went to Hannah's birthday party. Her mom Patrice is Dave's cousin. We usually only see Dave's extended family at birthday parties, so we look forward to them very much. We planned a trip to pick up her birthday present and stopped at Michael's for a quick picture frame first.

I found this cartoon in the newspaper:

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I don't often look at the funny pages, but every now and then I will flip through them at lunch if I'm eating by myself. I am always looking for one that speaks to me, or can describe my life in a comical way. This strip certainly sums it up. My house is a disaster. I know that lots of creative people are messy. People often say that their house (desk, car) is a mess, but that they know exactly where everything is. Not me. I can't find a thing.

I liked this so much that I decided to frame it and make it a permanent warning piece of artwork in the entrance hall. I love that it was the top comic strip in the day's paper. It still has the title of the newspaper and the date attached.

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We made it home in time for me to whip up a new party dress for Anna Jane. She has a self-imposed party uniform. She will only wear dresses and pretty shoes. This totally fits the bill.

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I love these fabrics, but was worried that the bold print would be too much for her. I think it looks great, though. And notice the shoes? She picked them out herself before I told her that Hannah's party was a Wizard of Oz themed event. It was very obvious when we arrived at the party and the movie was playing on Heather's big screen. And when we saw the sweet birthday girl.

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The cousins all had fun playing in cousin Heather's big back yard.

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Even Henry tried to keep up.

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Here is the newest cousin, Eleanor:

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And Big Wilson. Also known as The Other Wilson. Or Wilson Thornton. Or Can You Believe There Is Another Little Boy named Wilson?.

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Patrice gathered everyone in the front yard, and you will never believe who we found dancing down the yellow brick road...

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It was so exciting! Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion all performed their signature songs and mingled with the crowd. It was the best thing to ever happen to Anna Jane.

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Wilson was skeptical, as always. Even on Toot Toot's safe shoulders.

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The characters from Oz stayed and played with the children, ate cake and kept up their act for about an hour.

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It was such a great idea and the kids will never forget it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bib Bag Tutorial

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I found two vinyl bibs that I must have received at a baby shower for Wilson or Henry. My first thought was yard sale. My second thought was to make it into a zipper pouch. From now on, it is a must-have in my bags. It was invaluable this year at the beach. I kept my phone, camera, a couple of dollars and anything else water-sensitive in there. I could toss it in the beach bag and keep those items safe.

Here are the original bibs

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I followed the shape of the bib and used the existing bias tape. First I used a seam ripper to carefully remove the bias tape so that I could reuse it for the bag. You will only need the bias tape from one of the bibs.

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I decided to use as much of the bib as I could to make a large bag. I cut both bibs at the same place to make two identical sides.

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Keep as much of the bias tape intact as you can.

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Removing the bias tape also released the see-through vinyl bib pockets. I decided to re-attach them and use them on the bag. Not necessary, really. I still haven't found a use for them. If you want anyone to know that you made this bag from a bib, re-attach them I guess. And if you find a use, let me know!

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When I bought a zipper for this project, I didn't really know what I was going to do with the bibs, or how much of each bib I was going to use. My only real concern was that the zipper color coordinate with the bibs I was using. Turns out I should have paid more attention to the length of the zipper than the color. The zipper was not as long as it needed to be. But I'm actually glad that it happened that way, because I added these tabs to the sides and I liked the way it adds to the final project.

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I cut the tabs from the extra vinyl that I cut when determining the size of the bag.

(Now, don't tell anyone this, but in all of the years that I've been sewing, I've never put in a zipper. Ever. Buttons, buttons, buttons. Point being, I followed the directions on the back of the zipper package and it was flawless. Anyone could do this!)

I pinned the right side of the zipper to the right side of a piece of vinyl at the top where you cut the extra vinyl off. Then stitch with your sewing machine.

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Turn the attached pieces over and make sure that your zipper will open all the way. If you sew too close to the teeth of the zipper it will not open easily or at all (trust me).

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When the zipper works just right, place the other piece of vinyl on the zipper, right sides together. Stitch with your sewing machine.

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Make sure the zipper works well on this side and place pretty side up on a flat surface. Here are pics of the zipper from both sides:

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Trim the excess from the tab that you attached to the zipper so that it follows the lines of the bag.

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Now it's time to sew the body of the bag together. Place the two sides of the bib wrong sides together. I also included the clear pockets at this point (optional).

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Enclosed the edges of the two layers of vinyl (and two layers of pockets if applicable) in the bias tape saved from one of the original bibs. I stuck my pins in straight since the vinyl was thick and inflexible.

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At the end of the bias tape where the zipper is, I closed the bias tape with a stitch along the short end of the tape. Sorry about the fuzz in this pic.

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That's the last step. I did return to the bag and used the extra bias tape to make a little loop handle on the top. This bag will keep your valuables clean and dry. It could also be used to keep baby essentials, such as the paci and snacks shown. If you keep it well stocked, it can be tossed from one pocketbook to another; it can easily be dropped into a larger diaper bag; or a smaller version could be used as a change purse (done that too...let me know if you want detailed instructions and pics).

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If you are about to retire any of these bibs, please consider recycling them as a zipper bag. Or send them to me and I will!