Archive for the 'ramblings' Category

Mantel Makeover and Room Rearranged

(Pssst…. did you know you can spell it mantle OR mantel?  Which way looks right to you?)

I don’t know what came over me.  Perhaps because we were having a grown-up party and I wanted to have a grown up house to go with the grown up party.  Or perhaps because it was just time.   I was inspired by two things.

1)  My meeting with Jen at Feng Shui Jen’s Way (thanks again, Jen!)


2)  Seeing this and this from my blog-friend Brenda at Peek at My Paper made me realize that I had this whole mantle thing all wrong.

First things first:  I acknowledge that we need a full fireplace/mantel makeover.  This whole house needs one in several areas, but seeing as how we’re lacking the thousands of dollars to do a complete refurb right now, I’ll take what I can get. 🙂

Here’s where I started.  This is a horrible photo, but I started a few months ago by cleaning up the look with a cover I made on my own with some home-decor fabric.  It helps immensely.  And it has a secret pocket– who doesn’t love a secret pocket?  But I realized there were too many photos and not enough color.  And, following the advice from Brenda and company, I need some different shapes and levels going on, too.  So on a recent trip to Ikea… I splurged.

If $30 is a splurge, then yee haw!  I love Ikea for that.  They really help a lady out.  I bought a pretty vase, some reeds, and a round mirror.  Jen and I talked about how angular our house is- it’s full of straight lines.  So I thought a round mirror would help us out a bit.

Then I narrowed the photos down, pulled some other things out that I found during my Operation Organization time, and voila!  A new look.  I think it looks much better.  The only thing I have left is to update the photos of the kids.  Yikes!  The black rectangular piece is an etching of St. Cecilia, who is the saint of music.  My mom gave that to me- no idea where she got it, but I love it, and love having a place to put it.

Here’s a close up of the vase on the right.  It’s made of magazines from all over the world.  It really is a vase- it’s lined with resin- so in the past I did put flowers in it. But I loved the reeds from Ikea- so fun.  I had to trim them way down, though, or they would have hit the ceiling.  My sister (who inherited the most amazing gift-giving genes) gave us the vase for our anniversary (I think #1- paper)- it’s from a very fun site called Uncommon Goods.  I just checked and they don’t carry it anymore, but they do have tons of cool vases if you need something different.

During this whole process I realized that I hated the way the room was arranged.  It started to bother me when I had some girlfriends over a few weeks ago.  Everyone gathered in the kitchen, and no one would come sit on the comfy couches.  I mentioned this to Jen, and she said that having our brown couch where it was sort of closed everything off.  So while they kids were asleep I started shoving things around.  It makes a HUGE difference!

I removed the baby gate from the entertainment center.  Jack is almost 18 months, so it’s time for him to learn to leave things alone.  (We’ll see how that goes.) What I love the most is that the whole room is so open now- it’s a big room and it feels big now, but in a warm, “sit and stay a while” kind of way.

I’m curious, if you’ve read this far (thanks!) what you would do, if anything, to the mantel.  We do plan on getting a flat-screen TV someday, as well as a sectional, L-shaped sofa.  I’m in the market for a new coffee table, too, but not until we’re done having kids.  This one is too small, but it will have to do for a while!  Thanks for reading!


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…

Our House

Back in November on my other blog I posted a few pictures of our house (click here to see).  I just viewed that post and realized there really weren’t very many pictures of the entire house. All the more reason to post more here!  I’m excited to look back and see how far we get with this house year after year.  As the weeks pass I am realizing that I LOVE it more and more every day, and with the potential it has for gardening, space for kids to play, and more, there’s really no reason for us to leave.

If you told me before I met Michael, or even after we married, that he and I would be living in El Cajon I would have told you to…. do something inappropriate.  I used to view El Cajon and anything in “East County” as too far away from the ocean, too hot, and too many other things to list.  And while it is far from the ocean, this area offers so much.  It’s so much more normal out here than coastal living.  The people are down-to-earth, there are 3 Targets at my disposal- the little things I need as a mom are much more accessible.

Our “to do list” for this house is extremely long, and it’s not on paper because it would be too overwhelming to look at.  But we are getting so much done and I’m so proud of how it’s going.  One thing you’ll notice is that we have lots of color in our house- I’m not a white wall person.  Perhaps it’s a history of white rental walls that makes me want to splash color on everything, but I love painting rooms with colors.  That being said, if I never have to paint again, I’ll be happy because we did a LOT of painting on this here house.

Kitchen:  Not showing too much of the kitchen just yet- trying to learn to love the cabinets.  What I do love, though, is the view from the sink.  It overlooks our entire yard, as well as the plethora of nature we get just by living on a larger piece of land.  I love the yellow- I know yellow kitchens are probably not very “in” anymore, but I still love it.  It’s happy and bright.  Just behind the bananas you’ll see a snippet of our new table that we are also loving.  And bottom-right is my favorite appliance, our Tassimo.  If you are a coffee drinker, Tassimo is awesome!  We just replaced our old one with this new one and it’s even better than the original.

Living/Play Area:  We have two couches right now, and they do not match.  Someday we’ll get a flat screen to hang on the wall and a wrap around couch.  Someday.  I recently sewed up a bunch of pillows (post forthcoming) and they have really added to the couches.  Before we only had 4 pillows and they were kind of blah.  It’s hard to tell in these photos, but they really give us lots of options.  Eventually the kids can build pillow forts, too- very important.  🙂  The play area is where a traditional dining table would go.  The possibility of us having a formal dinner are slim, so I decided to just give the kids a place to play.   I don’t know what I’d do without that IKEA shelf.  It’s awesome!  You can also see the wall hangings I made up close here.

Everyone who comes over for the first time looks down our hallway and says, “Wow!  This is a really long/wide/huge hallway!”  It is!  It will make for lots of fun car racing when Jack is a bit older.  So far I only have the one frame set up (I got it here).  My friend Amber took the photos- the kids look so little in them!

Are blue bathrooms too 70s?  I don’t think so, but I’ve heard some say as much.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but I’m hoping to develop a sort of tropical theme in the hallway bathroom.  Fun for the kids, fun for guests?  Someday.  And below that is the laundry room.  All hail the laundry room!

Yes, that’s right, it’s a purple office.  I love it.  It’s sort of a dusty lavender, and I sit in it at least once a day and love the color every time I walk in.  This room needs curtains for the windows as well as the closet, but it’s so great to have this space right now.

This is Jack’s room.  Very neutral since we used the same bedding Anna used and we are not pink or blue people.  Baby #3 will use this room someday and Jack will get the current guest room, which is not worth photos right now.

Anna’s room has been the most fun so far.  She got a table & chair set for her birthday that caused us to push the bed against the wall.  That makes the room feel so much bigger.  I still love her bed the most.  The three pictures hanging between her windows were in my room growing up.  She’s told us a couple of times that she wants a pink room, but that isn’t going to happen.  At least she’s not asking for a Disney Princess room- that would definitely not happen.  🙂

Our room needs the most work, I think.  We need a ceiling fan/light fixture, curtains to go over the black-out shades, matching bedside tables, etc.  We did recently get a full-length mirror.  Not sure about how I feel about seeing myself full-length, but it’s nice to know I can determine if I’m put together or not.  The color of the walls has grown on me.  Once we get new bedding and a king size bed this room will really come together.  Right now we have bedding that is really going to be the guest room bedding- I was too tired of our 4-year-old bedding, so we got rid of it and put this on our bed for now.  I didn’t take pictures of our bathroom- it’s too small and not too dazzling quite yet.

Can’t wait to see what lies in the future for this place!

My sewing machine

One of the things that generated the idea for me to start a crafting blog was the fact that I was able to start sewing.  I borrowed my friend Jane’s sewing machine to make some things for Anna’s room (pictures to come in a following post), and found myself craving my own machine.  I requested one for my birthday earlier this year, my family all chipped in and presto!  Here we are.

I am lucky that I have a sweet, sweet MIL who was willing to take me shopping for a machine.  Interestingly enough, it was the same weekend that this happened.   Not the best mindset for focusing on buying a major purchase, but it was what it was.  If you are new to my world, you will learn that I am extremely accident-prone.

We went to a few stores that sold a variety of machines.  I can’t tell you why I picked the one I did, other than when I sat down and sewed a few scraps, I really, really liked the way it “felt” (as much as one can “feel” while sewing).   I ended up buying a Juki, and you can see the full info on it here.

One of the things I like is pictured below- on the left side of the machine is a thread cutter.  It’s awesome!  No picking up scissors or thread trimmers to cut the thread- just pull it away and *snip* on the cutter and you’re good to go.

My absolute favorite thing is the automatic needle threader.  I’m still not exactly sure how this thing works, but I love it.  On left you see the machine in its normal state, ready to sew.  On the right you see my finger pressing down the white threading mechanism (that’s my official name for it).  I’m not savvy enough with my camera to photograph the whole process, but it’s so helpful.  At first I thought, “I can see perfectly fine, I don’t need the threader- it’s just a bonus.”  But then, as I got more comfortable with the machine, I decided to try it and now I’m hooked.  It takes seconds to change thread now- love it!

Some other things I like about the machine- I can see my bobbin so I know when I’m going to run out of thread down below.  With my friend Jane’s machine (and other machines I’ve used that were older) you can’t see the bobbin so you’re always guessing as to when you’re going to run out.  Another interesting feature is the push button sewing.  In the photo on the right you can see the arrow that points up.  If the foot is not hooked up to the machine then you can just push that button and away you go.  The top slider (between the turtle and the rabbit) is what controls your speed.  I’ve had lots of friends ponder about push-button sewing.  I’ve been trying both and I have to say I like the push-button in a few scenarios.  I used it to make some pillows and it worked great.  In other scenarios, though, I would stick to the foot pedal.  Interestingly enough, when you have the foot pedal hooked up to this one, you can limit the speed as well.  So if I don’t want to accidentally send my machine into a sewing frenzy I can push the slider down a bit and it won’t let me go past a certain speed.  Very smart, very smart indeed.  🙂

If you have any questions about my machine, please ask away!

The Obligatory First Post

Welcome to Crafting Crazy!  I am so excited to start this blog and all the new energy it is giving my brain.

So here’s where I have to talk (I think) about why I’m starting Crafting Crazy.  I have lots of reasons, and many will probably seem irrelevant in a few years, but what the hey… here goes!

#1:  I want to separate my family blog from all of the stuff I’ll post here.  Mainly because when my kids are older and will (hopefully) take an interest in what they were like as wee ones, I don’t want them to have to sift through posts about crafts and baking stuff.

#2:  I have great hopes for the next 12 months.  I want to find a way to turn my crafts into something more.  A year from now I will (hopefully) have a new baby on my hands (no, I’m not pregnant yet), and I will be done teaching until I deem myself ready to return to the professional world in any capacity.  However, I need and want to find some way to contribute to my family’s income.  It may be that I teach early childhood music, but I don’t want to limit myself to one track.  I am my father’s child in this regard- I like having more than one iron in the fire. So I hope that by tracking what I do and make I can land on a few good tricks that may turn into something big.  We’ll see.

#3:  Perhaps it’s because I just started summer, but I am crazy right now in the creating department.  I am overjoyed at this new-found freedom to focus on my family, my house and my cooking.  It’s such a joy to me.  Why not keep track of it so that I can look back and remember?

#4:  I am a lifelong learner.  I think it’s more fun to learn with others in a community, and the internet provides that community in such an immediate, amazing way.  So in a sense, I’m hopping on the bandwagon a bit.

Some things you should know about me are listed here.  I hope you enjoy this blog.  I really like blogging and all that comes with it.  I hope that when summer turns to fall I can keep up with creating and posting.  Thanks for reading!

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