Archive for July, 2010

Operation Organization

This post could also be entitled “I love you, Ikea.”  Or, “I love you, Mod Podge.”

The challenge:  organize the hall closet.

A few weeks ago I was visited by my wonderful and oh-so-easy-to-talk-to friend, Jen, from Feng Shui Jen’s Way.  Jen, you inspired me to get my house’s rear in gear (which I guess means my own rear in gear).  I hope this post makes you proud!

Here is the hallway- it’s quite long.  I apologize in advance for the photo lighting- there are no windows, therefore not a lot of natural light going on. You can kind of see the closet on the right in this photo- it’s one of those old-school, folding door closets with narrow shelves that don’t hold anything very conveniently.  Great for my type-A personality.

Here’s the closet “before” (embarassing, I know):

You may notice the white tubs with the lovely pink sticky notes on them.  This was my half-a** attempt at organization.  Downside to the sticky notes (aside from looking horrid) was that they fell off.  Often.  I don’t like baskets for things like this- they look nice for a while, then they collect dust, and then they fall apart.  I needed and wanted tubs.  Ikea rocks in the tub department- did you know?

Here are the tubs in their plain, boring format.  The big ones are 5.99 and the little ones are 2.99.  They are from the Slugis collection.  See their specs here.

I wanted to beautify them a little and also make them impervious to label-fall-offage.  So I went to my paper stash and picked some favorites.

I created a template and traced it on the back of the paper so I didn’t have to worry about marker showing through.  I used a nice thick permanent marker so I could cut precisely.

Then I started the Mod Podge process.  First I painted the face of the tub with a layer of MP.  I used a matte finish for this project because I didn’t want to be troubled with glaring labels whilst trying to find something.  Immediately after applying the first layer I put a piece of paper on top.  Then I slathered it up with some MP and let it dry.

I had a little bit of fun doing this- they were just so much nicer to look at after they were papered up.  Even Michael liked looking at them.  Aren’t they purty?!

Then I made labels for them.  I made them all 6 inches across to help them look uniform, and used the same font throughout.  I MP’d the labels on and then covered them with a layer of MP to finish.

The finished closet:

Can I say that I am in organization heaven?  I love opening this closet and knowing where everything is.  And the best part is that I didn’t fill them all up, so as we need to, I can put more labels on some.

BTW, this is the very first project where Mod Podge did exactly what I wanted it to.  The paper did not bubble, it went on nice and smooth- hooray!

I am so excited that this was featured on Amy’s Mod Podge Rocks Facebook page!  Yee haw!

I’m also going to link up to It’s a Blog Party’s Show Me How Party.  Yay for links!

Our Family Rules!

You could read that two ways:

A)  Our family RULES!  (As in, our family is totally rad- and it is)

or

B)  Our family rules (As in, here are our Family Rules).

You pick.

Up there in my header there’s a list of Things I’d Like to Make.  I need to add to it because I’ve seen some pretty awesome stuff in the last few days.  One thing this 31DBB Challenge is doing is getting me to click around incessantly on the internet.  Ridiculous.  Often it’s worth my while, and occasionally I have to smack myself upside the head and get crackin’ on something of my own.  In this case, it was the Family Rules.

I first saw this idea on one of my fa-fa-favorite blogs, The Pleated Poppy.  You can see Lindsey’s fabric version here, and her friend Nicole’s version here.  If you look at the comments on their blogs you will see that many others have made these and I am way late on this bandwagon.  But better late than never, I say.

What I like about these, other than the crafty part, is that it’s a great reason to sit and think about what you want for you family.  What are your core values?  Get ’em up on the wall where you can see them daily.  I collected ones I saw on the web and then altered and added to suit our tastes, and then showed them to Michael.  He added some more and off I went.  Actually, I didn’t have to get much- just the canvas and the orange paint.

Here is my finished Family Rules:

One thing I did differently is I totally copped out on the whole font thing.  Many of the other blogs I read did their fonts by hand.  For reals.  I’m toooo lazy, and I’m also lucky enough to own a Canon i9900, which will print on a 12×12 piece of paper.  Hindsight 20/20, I wouldn’t have done it quite the same if I were to do it again, but I am still pleased with the turnout.  (And I’d still be totally lazy and print those puppies rather than do them by hand.)

I learned, however, that white ink is not Mod Podge friendly, or at least the white ink I used is not.  See the one that says “Celebrate together”?  I wanted it to *pop* on the paper which, though it’s hard to tell in the photo, is a shimmery paper.  So I spent a ridiculous amount of time covering the blank ink from my printer with white ink, only to have it wipe off when I Mod Podged it.  (Can you use Mod Podge as a verb?  Not sure…)  For some reason the other one I did, “Say grace and clean up after yourself” did not have the same problem, so it must have something to do with the paper.  Oh well- it’s all shellacked now anyway.

Here are some close ups of the smaller ones- I had to get creative because I ran out of room, so this was my solution:

Here are all of our rules (they are not in this order on the finished product):

  1. Have fun, be silly
  2. dance, hug and snuggle often
  3. Celebrate together
  4. Say, “I love you” (lots and lots)
  5. Have an open mind
  6. Be kind and respectful
  7. Obey your parents
  8. tell the truth even if you might get in trouble
  9. share    listen    (these ended up as small ones so I separated them)
  10. Give your guest your best
  11. Mom & Dad:  remember your wedding day
  12. hands are for hugging not hitting
  13. encourage your siblings… share in their joy
  14. there’s no such thing as too much reading
  15. never give up
  16. act responsibly, choose wisely
  17. keep your promises
  18. Use your manners- say please and thank you
  19. Say grace and clean up after yourself
  20. Ask lots of questions
  21. Use your creativity
  22. Try another point of view
  23. Remember that God is Father of us all

If I get some requests I will be happy to post the names of the fonts I used- I am a total font junkie which is part of the reason I loved this project.  Such a nerd, I am.  I would do it now but I have consumed far too much BV Cab, and fear I would list them inaccurately.  🙂

I love this- it adds so much color to our kitchen, and is one of a bunch of things I’ve been doing this week to get organized and get homey before the school year starts.  I love coming home to a house with love and life, and I feel like I’m getting there.  Just wait until you see my other project from this week…. coming soon!

Day 7 of 31DBB: aaaarrrggghhh!

I am so overwhelmed.  I think my brain has hit its capacity.  Between figuring out Twitter, managing followers and somehow adding followers, joining BlogFrog, committing to the challenge, trying to craft/sew, evaluating my blog and where it’s going, completing the tasks in the challenge and wanting to accomplish EVERYTHING I am, well, overwhelmed (oh- and remaining a decent mother & wife, to boot.  And friend.).  You know that feeling you get when you’re reaaaaallly excited for an upcoming, happy event?  Like your wedding day, or the birth of a child (yours or someone else’s), or a big party or something like that.  You get that build up, that “something big is coming feeling,” or that, “crap- I have so much to do I hope I get it all done” feeling.  That’s me.  There’s so much I want to do, so much I want to accomplish.

Add to that the fact that I have just a few weeks left of summer and then I begin my final year of teaching.  I am dreading that on many levels.  I don’t want to teach anymore, but we need me to teach just one more year.  I am sure it will all be fine, everything will work out, and one year from now I will look at this post and laugh.  Hard.  But right now I am so excited, stressed, and, oddly happy about this summer.  I’m achieving so much, yet have so much more to do.  The best part is that I’m really excited about blogging.  True to my header, I really have no idea what I’m doing in several areas, but I love it.

That, my friends, is rad.

Whew!  Thanks for the vent.  On to Day 8!

p.s.  If you’re wondering what I did on Day 6- we had a ton of reading.  If you’re wondering what I did for today, Day 7, click here. Or look up above and note the new pages I’ve added to this here blog.  🙂

Day 5 of 31DBB: A Blog Confessional of Sorts

This blog challenge is great- it’s really helping me, step-by-step, understand this new world of blogging.  In my family blog I post about things mainly to help my distant family, both extended and immediate, keep up with what’s going on.  I also have a wonderful group of mommy friends who blog (check out my blog roll on my family blog).  We all read each other’s blogs, and I think (and hope) it will keep us in touch when all of our kids are in school and our lives get even crazier.

But this blog is different, and I want to make something of it.  And blogging to achieve and audience and perhaps, someday make some money off of it is a completely different ballgame.

Today’s task in the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge is simple:  email someone who comments on your blog.  It also talks about the importance of communicating with readers and writers of blogs you like.  Here’s where my confession comes in….

I’m a lurker.  (Is that a word?)  I lurk.

I LOVE to read blogs.  I LOVE to get ideas from them.  I LOVE to laugh at witty remarks and stories, to ache for bloggers who are going through hard times, to wonder at other people’s lives.  But I rarely comment.  I think this parallels my social life, too.  I’m really shy in situations where I don’t know people in gatherings.  I’ve had to work hard to extend a greeting or introduce myself to someone I don’t know.  My friend of 10+ years, Jane, is the exact opposite.  She doesn’t know a stranger.  I’ve benefitted from that for quite some time- 10 years in fact (thanks, Jane!).

When I read someone’s blog I am often in awe- there are so many wonderful writers.  And even some who don’t write well, necessarily, but their lives captivate me in a beautiful way.  I have a hard time thinking that my comment would add anything to their world.  I think I’m wrong, though.

So my confession is also going to turn into a conversion, I guess.  I need to start commenting more.  I started when I got into SITS a while back, and try to remember, but my new credo is going to be that if I visit a blog, I shall comment upon it.  It might be short and sweet (I really love the word “rad”!), but at least I’ll leave a comment.  When I think about it, it’s rather silly to want people to comment on my blog and not expect to comment on others in return.  What goes around comes around, right?  So here I go- off to comment.

I’m off to dig through my comments and email some peeps, because it truly is nice to receive comments on your blog.  You spend time putting it together, and when someone takes the time to read it’s amazing.

Martha! I Made It! #2: The Duvet

This is going to be a long post.  I hope you read it and validate my psyche, because after this project, I need some validation.  Whew!  I am, however, totally okay with you just looking at the pictures and then posting a comment (ha!).

This project started a long time ago in my head.  Michael and I have been dreaming of getting a king-sized bed for months and months.  When your husband is 6’3″, you need a big bed.  In mid-June Michael noticed that Macy’s was going to have a stellar sale on mattresses and said we should go ahead and do it.  I was so excited and petrified.  We chose gray for our master bedroom, and while I like the gray, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do with the bedding.  I don’t want more gray bedding- to dreary and plain.  And supposedly gray is neutral, but I think it’s a tricky neutral.

I did have two sources of inspiration.  I saw this photo in a magazine and loved the look of orange, white and gray on the walls.  (My dog is cuter than that dog, BTW.)

Then I saw this photo in (you guessed it) Martha Stewart’s Encycopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  It’s on page 150/151.

(I took this photo with my iPhone and hope I don’t get in trouble for posting it, but couldn’t find it online anywhere).

I didn’t like the idea of having a white comforter. With a little black dog who likes to snuggle in our bed while we get ready in the morning, I could just see it getting covered with little black hairs.   And Michael and I are hard on things- white would just get dingy and dirty too quick.  But the tones in Martha’s book were a bit too muted for me- I wanted something a bit more striking.

I headed to BB&B and found some sheets.  I chose a copper color- it was as close to orange as I could find.  I did like it a lot.  I wanted to add a second color as an accent, so I chose an olive green that was near it because they just seemed to go together.  What follows is a sort of pictoral journey, if you will.  But if you don’t want to scroll through them, I’ll put the finished product first to save you the scrolling (aren’t I nice?).  🙂  Ta da!

(Please don’t look in my closet– it needs some work.  Should have closed the dang curtain…LOOK AWAY!)  I think the white pillows made it look complete.  I love it.  Really, I do.  I’m just not sure about the color combo with the gray walls.

Now, onto the process….ah, the process…

One of the wonderful things about Martha’s book is you get templates and patterns.  Lots of them.  This particular template was a doozy, though, since it’s soooooo big.  Many pages to tape together.  I also used that to cut out the teardrop templates.

I set to cutting out the appliques.  There were a lot of them.  It took me an entire morning- I caught up on a lot of Oprah.  The process outlined in the directions basically tell you to use the template to trace the pattern onto your sheet with transfer paper and a tracing wheel.  Transfer paper is also… a doozy.  I even bought the same transfer paper used in Martha’s book- you can find it here.  I wish I could tell you that I love transfer paper and it worked like a charm. I do not love transfer paper, and it did not work like a charm.  After 45 minutes of tracing the pattern onto my sheet, I pulled it away and there was very little to show for my lower back workout.  So I had to resort to my own brainpower because I wanted to get to sewing.  Bad.  What I ended up doing was placing the appliques and tracing them with disappearing ink.  I learned, however, that on this particular sheet at this particular time of year, the disappearing ink disappears quickly- overnight.  So I worked one circle at a time.  I placed the appliques on the inner circle and then sewed them down.  Then I worked my way out from there.

Tracing paper (and Sophie, wondering what in the world I’m doing)

One of my learning moments was the stitching for this project.  Martha’s book talks about using a satin stitch, but I couldn’t find anything in my sewing manual about satin stitching.  So I zig-zagged the appliques to the copper sheet (Martha and her editors said that would be okay).  Let me tell you- a king sized sheet- that’s a lot to work with.  This was my world for several days:

Things moving along…

Here was my problem, though- sometimes the zig-zags turned out okay (pre-trimming)…

And other times they pulled away- either due to my poor stitching skills or they just pulled out of the threads- a little bit of both.  When I saw this happening, I became a bit depressed.  I spent so much time on this project, and felt like it wasn’t going to pan out.  Then (enter angel chorus music) I asked my friend Kari for help.

Thankfully, Kari didn’t have to make a special trip- she was already coming over for a get together.  I brought her back to check it out and she set me straight on how to satin stitch.  Basically you set the zig zag setting on your machine at opposite ends to make it as wide and as close together as possible, and ta-da!  Satin stitch- looks much better, eh?

Once I finished up the satin stitching (several days later) I was finally ready to make the duvet.  I followed the directions in Martha’s book on page 147.  I’m glad I took my time with this part.  My white sheet was significantly larger than my copper, AND they were both larger than my comforter, so I had some work to do.

Ready to sew it up!

Up close in our room.

And the final product again.  *sigh*  I love it.

I’d love to know, if you’ve gotten this far (thanks!) what you think of the copper and gray situation.  Is it bad?  Different?  Too different?  Awesome?  Okay?   And what would you hang above it?  Please don’t tell me to make something.  Ha!
Whew!  I’m ready for a teeny, tiny, miniscule project now.  Maybe a pincushion or something…

31DBB Day 3: Promote your Post

I am so excited about this challenge.  Excited and overwhelmed.  I really want to make the most of it, which is why I decided to write a new post for the Day 3 task.  My list post was okay, but didn’t really relate to Crafting Crazy very well, so I’m choosing to promote my preceding post instead.  I just finished signing up for Digg, and posted my article there.  I’m curious to see what happens- if I get more hits, etc.  I’m also going to see if I can convince a few blogging friends to link to me.  I need to try link parties, too- haven’t had the brain power to figure them out yet.

Go 31DBB!

New Series on Crafting Crazy: Martha! I Made it!

I love Martha Stewart.  For a while I was in denial.  I was one of those people who was all like, “That Martha- she’s too perfect.  Who really lives like that?  I mean, it’s nice and all, but…..”  Then I couldn’t deny it any more. I just like the look of nearly everything in her magazines.  I don’t watch her show very often mainly due to a lack of time, but I do like the simplicity of the Martha Stewart Style.  So, I gave up, gave in, and now I’m a Martha Wannabe.  I have a long way to go.

Enter her new treasure, “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.”

Soon after I purchased my sewing machine I went out and bought this book.  (Thankfully I had some help with a generous gift from our PTA at school- it was Teacher Appreciation Week and we all got $50!  Nice, eh?)  I actually went to Barnes & Noble and pulled a bunch of sewing books and literally sat on the floor and drooled over patterns and pictures of things I’d love to know how to make (remember- no idea what I’m doing).  I ultimately chose this book because it has a little bit of everything- clothing, gifts, doggie coats, you name it.

I thought it might be nice to showcase what I make from this book.  It’s one thing to look at a project in any book and say, “Hey- that’s rad.  I could make that.”  It’s another thing entirely to follow the directions (I’m not always good at that) and see if you actually get what’s pictured.  And since I’m such a novice, I think at the very least I will give a good laugh, right?  So here we go:  Installment #1 of, “Martha!  I made it!”

On page 311 in the book are “Felt Baby Shoes.”  They looked adorable, and awfully simple to make. First I just went to Michael’s (or Joann Fabrics- can’t remember) and bought a cheap sheet of crafting felt in pink and white.  I wanted to see if they would turn out right using the pdf pattern included with the book.  In less than 15 minutes I had an adorable pair of shoes, but because the felt only cost 29 cents/sheet, I could tell they were not going to last very long.  So I headed to the back of the Encyclopedia and looked up where Martha got her felt. I love the back of the book- you can look up where they purchased certain fabrics and such- not everything is listed, but in this case I was lucky.  I surfed over to Magic Cabin and ordered some of their wool felt.  When it showed up I started drooling it was so nice.  And here’s my end result:

First and most importantly, meet Clare.  Isn’t she adorable?

Clare’s mommy, Elizabeth (E for short) agreed to let Miss Clare model my shoes.  Of course, Clare gets to keep them, too.  I wanted to see if they would actually fit a baby’s foot.  For reference, Clare is 3 months old.

Here are the shoes- I think they turned out adorable.  You’ll see that I added a little heart to the bottom of one for flair.  I know- I’m so forward-thinking, right?  No one does that, I’m sure.  Ha.

And now my critique of the directions and steps in the book.  I think these will be helpful to anyone else in case they decide to make something from this book.

This How-To was great– the pattern was easy to use, the felt is very easy to work with.  I do need to buy some smaller pins because I did stick myself a lot since I only had standard size pins.  I used a 1/16″ punch for the little holes just as they described and it was very easy to use.  I have to wonder if gluing rick-rack, as they suggest would hold up, but that will have to wait for another pair.

Other notes:  In the future I will not use buttons.  These shoes barely fit Miss Clare, so these are best used as a newborn gift so that mommies can decide when to use them. Because Clare is 3 months old, the buttons had to be readjusted a bit and they did work, but I would worry about the felt not holding up to her little kicks and such since the fit was a bit snug around her cute ankles.  Clare was also kicking up a storm, so they were hilariously challenging to get on.  I did use a crafting knife to cut the button holes- it was very easy, but I’m glad I used the sharp knife and not a pair of scissors.  This allowed me to be more exact.

A few other photos to share:

The shoes on Miss Clare’s adorable feet (this girl has long toes!)

Full shot- I feel horrible for cutting off her head, but still- is she not just the cutest?  Talk about baby fever… E said that she wore them for quite a while and didn’t seem bothered by them at all, which is also nice to know.

Thanks, E, for letting me use Miss Clare!  I can’t wait to see what other shoes I can come up with.  I have all sorts of color combinations in mind.

Next up on Martha, I Made It!:  a duvet cover.  Yikes.  It’s coming!

If you got this far, please leave a comment and show me some love- thanks!