Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Warmer Winter Day

We had a few warmer days after the snow melted before it got cold again. Since Little Guy learned to walk only shortly before the on-set of winter, he doesn't remember ever walking outside before. To his recollection, when we go out, one of us always carries him.  But since it was finally so nice, I took the kids outside to play!  He thought it was the most amazing thing to be able to walk around outside. He wasn't quite sure what to make of uneven terrain (quite different from the level floors of a house!), but adapted quickly.  He had loads of fun throwing and chasing a bouncy ball his sister got from one of the gumball machines at the grocery store.  While they were playing, I snapped a few shots.

A leftover sycamore leaf, a green patch of moss, a cardinal feather, and an acorn.

A stand of cottonwoods (see the little bits of snow left over?) and a view of the amazing sycamore tree that a photo will never do justice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Organizing, or the Creation of My Oasis

We have two bedrooms in our home. Hubby and I have the larger master bedroom and it encompasses not only our sleeping area, but also our hobby stations. Hubby plays the saxophone and has various music equipment for making arrangements and recordings and the like. I, as you know, sew and knit and do a variety of other crafts.  From the time we moved here over two years ago, we were short on storage space. But storage devices require money and, frankly, we didn't have the money to spend on shelves.

The room got worse and worse.  As I did projects I had to quickly whisk things up off the floor out of the kids reach.  Things piled higher and higher on what was supposed to be my crafting table and with nowhere else to put it, it all just sat there.  It was embarassing.  It was depressing.  It was a block to our creativity.

I finally decided something had to be done about it. Hubby said I could buy some needed organizers after we got our tax return. Around the same time the 9-cube shelves I wanted went on sale on Amazon — only $40 each and free shipping!  I ordered two for our room and one for the kids' room.  Delivery was delayed twice by the big snow storms that swept the nation, but eventually I had my shelves, assembled them, and set to work.

It took two and a half days to rearrange everything, partially because I didn't really know how I wanted it when I got started and partially because organizing always starts by making an even bigger mess first!  Plus, I had to be sure to keep hazardous items out of the kids reach at all times.

I banished some of Hubby's ancient music equipment to the garage (it wasn't hooked up anyway); I put away my serger and old sewing machine; and I shifted the bed over about two feet.  That gave me a bit more space to work with.  Then I gave my empty sewing cabinet to Hubby for his USB keyboard and Mac Book (I couldn't keep sewing items in the drawers anyhow because the kids could reach them) and leveled the top of the drafting desk to use for my sewing machine.

The thread shelf my grandpa made is now mounted on the wall, as is the cork board you see propped up against the wall. (It was too late the night I took the photos to bang nails into the walls).  I have a little sitting area with a rocker and foot stool -- perfect for nursing Little Guy or reading a book or doing a bit of hand stitching. There's a shelf by my chair to catch my latest read or hold a cup of tea. My crafting supplies aren't organized yet -- just thrown in the cubes --  but now they can be made to have a proper place. After all, it's hard to live by the mantra, "A place for everything and everything in its place," when everything does not have a place.

The room is amazing! It's such a pleasant place to be now especially when the afternoon winter sun shines through that northwest-facing window.  It's my oasis. A place of peaceful retreat.  So much so that the kids and I have spent quite a number of our recent days hanging out together crafting, reading, and playing games.  And the best, the absolute best part of all? It has stayed clean!  For over two weeks now, the room hasn't gotten out of hand at all!

You can see I'm still at a loss when it comes to window treatments. But I am determined to get some up. Any suggestions?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cars pants

When we were at Hobby Lobby and Hubby bought Dora fabric for Miss M, he also bought a yard of Cars fabric for Little Guy.  Right away Hubby said they should be made into pants.  After finishing the Dora dress, I looked through my Ottobre magazines for a suitable pants pattern.  I settled on the "Kaarna" lined pants from Ottobre 6/2009, only without any frills at all: no pockets, no drawstring, no yoke, no mock fly. And put together in such a way that they can be completely reversible.

  One side is Cars fabric, the other black polar fleece. The waistband is black ribbing with elastic in it since I didn't make a drawstring.  I made size 74 which is a bit long for Little Guy yet, but I figured that way he can wear them for a good long time (and I can use the pattern again later without having to re-trace it!).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Flakes dress

This one was cut out before Christmas! I finished it some time in January, and finally got it photographed now that it's February.  I prefer Miss M to wear long dresses for modesty's sake.  She is, after all, a very active little girl.  To that end, I added 2 inches to each of the skirt panels.  I also added an inch to the length of the sleeve because my girl has freakishly long arms just like her mother.

The pattern is the Snow Flakes dress (Ottobre 6/2010, #7), size 86. (Incidentally, did anyone notice that the pattern only goes up to size 86, but in the magazine it lists size 92 as well?)  In the magazine it is pictured on an infant, so I was curious to see how it would look on a bigger girl.  I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it's darling and I love how it fits Miss M, but on the other hand, adding 4 inches total length did unbalance the design a bit.  In future, I might add the length by adding a ruffle or eyelet to the hem rather than lengthening the panels.

Little Guy wanted to see what his sister was up to during our mini photo shoot.  He absolutely adores her!  And well, we rather adore him too!

Don't you think a frilly white pinafore would look delightfully old-fashioned over this dress?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dora dress

A Friday evening out on the town. Hubby, two munchkins, and me. Where do we spend our leisure time? Hobby Lobby, of course!

Miss M spied some Dora the Explorer fabric and insisted, "Mama, we need this!"  I politely ignored her. I'm quite adept at it. She tends to talk nonstop most of the day, so I'm a pro at tuning it out. Hubby, on the other hand, is wrapped around her little finger and quite easily caved in and bought her a yard of Dora fabric.  I asked her what she wanted out of it and she promptly said she wanted a dress.

I shuttered inwardly.  Most of the garments made of character prints are rather garish and umm...generally repulsive.  Still, I vowed to do my best.

 I used the Jänönheinä tunic from Ottobre 4/2010 as my base pattern since it was already traced off. I added a 9-inch ruffle about 1 1/2 times the width of the bottom edge of the tunic and lengthened the button band to make the tunic into a long dress. I needed something to balance the horrible Dora-pink, so I made the sleeves, button band, and neck binding of black broadcloth left over from a recent project.  (I somehow managed to forget seam allowances on the button band. I made the best of it, but it did turn out narrower than usual).  Using snaps instead of buttons and buttonholes, I think I broke some kind of personal completion record!

I knew Miss M would want to wear her new Dora dress day and night for the next few days, but since the highs have been in the single digits the past week or so, I thought she might need something with long sleeves to keep her warm.  I had a quarter yard of 60-inch wide high quality polar fleece that I picked up as a remnant for 50 cents.  I squeezed out a little cardigan using the "Lemon juice bolero" pattern from Ottobre 3/2010, #9 (but with long, non-poofy sleeves nabbed from another pattern).  I bound the edges with some cheap black ribbon affixed a hook-and-eye and a little black bow, et voila!  Whatever fleece it was is marvelous! So think and sturdy!  Definitely not like the cheaper fleece Jo-Ann sells.

Hubby also bought Little Guy a yard of Cars fabric.  How can you resist a cute little one-year-old's "das! das!" when he sees something that delights him?