Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chalkboard Wall

As promised, the pics from this week are here!

Today, I went up to the house to put up the first of two layers of chalkboard paint on the kitchen wall. Measured the wall, sketched it out on graph paper, then began the tedious process of marking out my measurements on the wall. Then the even more slow process of drawing LEVEL lines on the wall where indicated. After marking those lines with painter's masking tape, I stepped back to see if I liked the placement of the board. Which I thought I took a picture of, but apparently didn't. By the way, stirring chalkboard paint is tough, it gets all clumpy at the bottom of the can. But once applied, I got really excited about the way it looked. I wanted to make the paint dry super fast, so that i could apply the second coat, make it dry super fast, so I could began adding the special details that will make it Mine! But alas, 6 hours dry time required between coats, so I will just have to wait until tomorrow.

On the subject of the new house, I have pics of the craft room! Now, keep in mind, this booger is not completely decorated, and is also not completely set up. But it has such potential, and look at all the great storage space!

I love the built in shelves around the window, I'm just not sure yet how I plan to utilize them. I hate the board under the window, and am looking at removing it, since then I can place my work table at the window, which gives me a wall back. And that closet is HUGE! Storage for gift wrapping supplies, WIPs and UFOs, and yes, it's a cedar lined closet, so NO Moths!

Now, the plan is, if I can get rid of that window ledge, the work table (on the right) will move to the window, the ironing board will take it's place, and my cedar chest with UFO supplies will live on the newly empty wall. Above the chest, I will be making a quilting layout board out of felt. For other display in the room, I'm thinking about hanging some of my baby quilts and blankets up where I hope to put the ironing board. **Happy dance!!** I have a craft room!! ** Happy dance!**

And for the baker's rack, it should be pretty self-explanatory. Plain Jane boring baker's rack on the left. Several hours later, on one of the windiest days yet this year, a beautiful focus piece for the kitchen! I may still need to do some touch-ups in one or two places, but it's gorgeous and you so can't tell it came from the flea market!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving Update

Only 3 more days til I drive up to the U-Haul to pick up the truck (apparently the only way I get to drive the truck, which I actually like doing, is to pick up the truck. Which, considering I'm the one who thought to reserve the truck, makes sense...) I have now made 7 trips with full car loads (2 on Saturday, and 2 cars one trip yesterday) to the house. Very little actually remains in my house except for the furniture, appliances, and my clothes. Yes, J was really good and packed all his clothes. I, on the other hand, packed my shoes (3 boxes!) and nearly had a cow. I'm scared to pack the clothes and see just how much I have. I may actually have a heart-attack!

Mom came up this week to celebrate our birthdays (4/23 and 5/9), so basically i put her to work! She was more than happy to help though, referencing her own parents assistance when she moved back in the ice age (j/k mom! ;) And why do I love my mommy? Because I knew she would be perfectly suited for a job, and she Loved working on it. --Changing out the shelf liners. The liners on the shelves and drawers WAS an old 70-80s style apple kitschy plaid-like pattern. Green, and dirty. The pantry shelves were BadLy sponge-painted (I will have to post a pic, it's that bad), and they NEED to be replaced. We didn't get the liners complete, and I may end up having to buy another roll of Contact paper, but the finished look is SOOOO much better.

What else have I been doing, you ask? Well, aside from stuffing and taping boxes to load and unload in the car, not to mention the unpacking of said boxes at the new house in an effort to stay as much ahead of the task as possible...very little. I have begun work on the Funky House blocks to swap, and I have already been planning how to put the final quilt together once I receive said blocks. I think I want to make a town, you know, with a Wal-Mart, a church, the school, J's plant, etc. Fuzzy black dog playing in the front yard, trees, street lamps/lights, maybe a car or two...ambitious, I know. Maybe make the sashing be a dark gray for asphalt streets....

I did spray paint the cool baker's rack I picked up at a flea market for $20. It was dirty and rusty, and boring with it's cream paint. I picked up the Hammered finish Rust-Oleum, and it's gorgeous now. No way you would think it came from a flea market. Note to others: spray painting on a windy day= BAD IDEA!! My feet are still slightly bronze. And the porch is too. (oops)

And I have come up with a plan for a boring wall in the kitchen (I mentioned this the other day). It's only about 7 feet long, and is between the dining room entry, and the garage stairs door, so there is not enough room to place any furniture. So what to do with boring, white wall.......This I considered while giving Tigger a bottle last week. It came to me...chalkboard paint. No, don't ask me where the thought came from. No idea. I can't remember the process that got me from his bottle to the paint. But I picked up a quart of the stuff, and will be painting the top half of the wall tomorrow. Once the paint is dry, my acrylics come out, and I am going to turn that board into a Menu and Schedule board. It will be Bee-u-tiful. I think.

Proving my point that a crafter's work is never done, I have a project planned for a vaca in June - felt food. I've been saving empty food boxes to stuff and tape to use in the "kitchen area" at the babies' house. Then I found tutorials on making play food. Which I can't find at yard sales, and I'm not allowed to buy new stuff for children I haven't given birth to. Since I have felt left over from making felt board stories, this will use the rest of that felt, and be a great project to work on for the 6 hour drive both ways. It will fit in a small bag, and since it is hand-work, easy to do in the car! I will also probably make some as a Christmas gift for a special someone, but telling who might ruin the surprise.

Now, you may be wondering, where are the pics of what I have worked on this week. Um.. they are on the camera, which is at the babies' house, because I had two 9 month-olds today, and they were adorable playing together, so I got the camera out, took some great pics...and left the camera on the couch, where I placed it out of the reach of grubby fingers that could have pulled it to the floor to suffer an ignoble death. So I will rescue the camera and load pics tomorrow.

Now, as I am both physically and mentally tired from all the work this week, I am going to go take my shower, and go to bed early. Pepe thinks this is a great idea, and has thought so for the last 3 hours, since he's been stretched out across the couch that long. I am sitting on just enough cushion to hold me, as he thinks nose to tail-tip is how much he requires! Smart-aleck.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Uh oh...

I've done a BAD thing..... I promised DH I wouldn't start any quilting projects until I had completely finished 2. Um, what was I thinking??? I have now broken that promise (HUBBY--IF YOU'RE READING THIS NOW, STOP!!! I CAN EXPLAIN!!!) I found a block swap for funky houses, and I thought in honor of moving to an actual house and getting out of apartments, that would be an awesome project. And I've already been to the quilt shop to get the fabric! I can have my new town in my new house as a cute wall hanging. I'm gonna pattern my "funky house" after the new house, so as I sketch out what I'm planning and start sewing, I will post those pics.

Anybody else doing good on finishing some projects? As soon as I can stop packing and moving boxes, I can get back to work hard-core to finish projects. See ya soon!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Moving Part 1

It's official, we are moving early. U-haul reserved for next Saturday morning, keys in hand, almost half of the boxes packed. And just last night, we took the first car load of boxes up to the new house! I made sure that they were all for the craft room, and since I'm going back up tonight with another car load, I will probably go ahead and unpack and organize the craft room! That way, once we have "moved" and are living in the new house, I can unpack slowly, but still be able to work on projects! (Can you tell that I am excited about having an actual room to put my supplies in a work in?) I explained to Jon that he should not expect perfection in cleaning out of that room. Even when it's clean, it may "look" disorganized! But as any crafter knows, disorganization is probably exactly the way it needs to be so we can find the things we need!

And, just 10 minutes ago, I had a great idea for how to decorate one of the walls in the kitchen: a chalkboard wall. Chalkboard paint down to about chair rail height, decorated 1/2 for the weekly menu, and the other 1/2 with out projected schedule! Then as small children arrive, the chalkboard paint can be extended down to the bottom half as a drawing wall! OOooh, the ideas are flowing. And I saw an idea in an HGTV commercial about painting tone-on-tone stencils on the wall to be "cheap" wllpaper. Which would be perfect for the dining room! Yay! My own house, to decorate the way I choose!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preschool Activities

To my loyal friends who continue to check to see if I've posted, I love you for your persistence! I am so excited about moving (which may happen earlier than planned, YAY!) that we're about halfway through with the packing. Which unfortunately means I haven't even been able to think about crafts, much less work on any. Okay, that's a lie. I think about crafts all day long. I just have so many other things going on right now that I can't focus!

But today, I got to work on some projects for and with the 3 year old I take care of on Wednesdays. I use a book series titled "Active Learning for..." insert age group. It has fantastic ideas for language, physical development, creative activites and "the world around you" - nature, senses, numbers, size, shape color. There are 6 books in the series, infants through fives, and although technically designed for childcare settings, still works well for the SAHM or nanny. So we made some discovery bottles, and a bird feeder today. (Blackbirds are building a nest in the gutter outside our door, so we'll eventually have babies!)

The bird feeder was super simple. **if allergic to peanuts, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME*** (I can say this with authority, because I ... am alergic to peanuts, but never had any problem touching them, but that has apparently changed! I broke out in a rash on both arms and had to take a Benedryl (the kids are just wishing I had given in the urge to stretch out on the floor and snore today!)

Step 1: Mix about a cup of peanut butter with approx. 1/2 cup cornmeal. Make a thicker paste, basically. Then add in bird seed. If you add too much, don't panic. Either spread the extra out on the ground around where you hang the feeder, to entice the birds, or just add more peanut butter.

Step 2: Mush together. Yup. Just like playing in the mud, or making cookies. If working with a 3 year old, have plenty of paper towels on hand because -eew, my hands are sticky- which they wipe off, then stick back in the bowl.

Step 3: Scoop mixture into an empty onion mesh bag. The birds can pick through the bag and won't choke on it. Tie bag with clothesline, and hang anywhere you choose.


The second activity seemed pretty easy too, but turned out not so much. Maybe I did something wrong.

Discovery Bottle: Color Mixing

Step 1: Empty several small soda bottles. (See, easy! Just drink your favorite soda!)

Step 2: Locate and purchase powdered tempera paint (choose a primary color for this,or you defeat the purpose). Yes, they still make it. You just have to search high and low for it. I found mine at HobbyLobby, with the regular painting supplies, not the children's painting supplies.

Step 3: Mix powdered tempera into vegetable oil. Now maybe this is where mine went wrong. I only had Canola oil (I know, not as good for you, but Good). The family only had Canola oil (see, I'm not the only one!). So Canola oil is what I used. My powder didn't really mix very well into the oil. It colored the oil a bit, but for the most part, the paint settled to the bottom of the bowl.

Step 4: Mix a primary color of food coloring into plain, unfiltered water (hey, no need wasting the filter on a toy!) Make sure your water color is one of the other two primary colors.

Step 5: Now mix equal portions colored oil and colored water into empty soda bottle. I use the 12oz version, because I also use these with infants, who have small hands! But the 16 or 20oz bottles would work just as well. I don't think I would recommend larger, just because of the expense of the oil you're using. And when mixing, it's better to put the water in first, then the oil.

If a child is helping you, I suggest using a funnel and pour spout, because otherwise...catastrophe. 'Tude (as his grandma calls him) "helped" me pour the liquids into the bottle, which I'm sure you know means I poured and he touched the cup.

Step 6: Glue the lid onto the bottle. This is especially important if these bottles will a) be used inside or b) you have small children who put everything into their mouths. My favortite glue for all children's projects like this is Gorilla Glue, because it expands and seals completely.

Now, Shake! The colors blend when shaken, but settle back out to their original colors, since oil and water don't mix. However, mine are not settling back out so well after a few shakes. The water is slowly turning the mixed color, and the oil stays yellow (my primary choice)

In the midst of all this, I am sorta working on a UFO. I created a chart for the parents, so they could see what activites we are doing each week, with the directions to do it themselves if they choose. And as you see, that requires the activities be transferred from the book to notecards, which is taking forever. And that is what I've been working on while the baby sleeps these days, rather than the fun of crafts. But it is fun, because I get excited about using these ideas, and helping 'Tude and Tigger grow and learn. Nothing is as much fun as watching the little light bulb go off when they figure something new out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Additions and Changes

Did I mention that my dh and I are moving in the next month? To a bigger house (okay, any house is bigger when you've been living in an apartment!), with a craft room for me, and a game room/"man-cave" for him. And a front yard for the dog, with less worry about cleaning up the poo on a regular basis - lawn mowers and rain take care of that! So the pile of boxes you see before you is my recent work over the last few days. That's around 30 boxes so far, and it's mostly games, dvds, cds, and books. I always have this trouble when it comes to packing: what can I pack today that I won't need until I'm in the new place? And can do without when I can't remember which box it's in? (ALL craft supplies and UFOs will be clearly labeled, if not in a clear plastic storage bin - I will not lose where those are, I promise!)

Anyway, I said that we went to visit my mom this weekend, and while there, I picked up a new sewing machine! Well, she's actually quite old, but new to me. I've used her before, but she really belonged to an aunt, who has decided she doesn't want her anymore! So I get her! I'm really excited about this, because there are a few sewing techniques I've seen recently I wanted to try, but my drop-in bobbins don't work with the process, so now I can try them! (More UFOs?)

But now I have a problem. I've never named my current sewing machine.I never really needed to, and actually never really thought about it. I named my car (Fred), and dh's car (the Count), but not the machine. And now that I have two, they need names. Or else how will you know which machine I'm using when I talk about a project? So I need some ideas people! Neither one of these girls does anything fancy, like embroidery, but for the Kenmore, I have attachments that should allow me to monogram correctly. But I also have to change out pattern cams if I want decorative stitches, and that's always a gamble. The Singer is also pretty basic, but more of a student model. And I can't figure out their individual personalities enough to "hear" their names, they're pretty silent in this respect. Maybe I'll figure it out as things slow down around here...or ya'll will have some good ideas!

And in terms of UFO finishing: for the challenge, those 3 shirts posted earlier were out of 5 that I worked on, and that's out of about 8-10 ideas, so I'm about halfway through those. My cross-stitch projects at the baby's house, I finished the crosses, and get to begin on back stitch for the small angel tomorrow! Add to that the moving project....I'll never finish!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Refashion Weekend

This weekend the hubs, the pup, and I went home to my mom's in Chattanooga. For a weekend trip, this requires a lot of packing, and it's mostly dog stuff. I have come to the conclusion that traveling with a pet is just like traveling with an infant: you practically have to pack up the nursery in order to have all you will need! I have also been suffering the ill effects of spring in the South with a sinus infection, so this weekend I have very little planned. However, my favorite quilt shop is just outside of Chattanooga, and I haven't been there in more than 5 years (yes, that's how long it's been since I worked on any quilts...sad, huh?) So, I AM going.

Sew-Bee-It is the cutest little quilt shop I've ever seen. It doesn't have the large selection of fabrics and supplies of some I've seen, or even a large variety in what they do have (I still LOVE them, though), but it is too cute. I went with another crafter, who has never quilted, and I almost had her converted before we left. The shop is so cozy and sweet, has beautiful quilts displayed, and the workers there are so friendly. And I did find some great prints for another project swap I am doing (to be discussed at a later date.) The odd thing was that after going to two separate quilting shops, I found the quilting motif stencil at.....Hobby Lobby. Hmm.

After enjoying a relaxing evening fingering beautiful fabrics and fighting the urge to buy all in sight, I returned to mom's to begin working on the refashioning I had brought along. I opened the door to her sewing room.....and almost died. It is quite obvious she hasn't worked in there for months, because it's too disastrous. Now, I know that craft/sewing rooms are supposed to be organized chaos, but there's no organization here. So, as part of my "refashioning" project, I refashioned mom's sewing room. Moved the ironing board closer to the sewing table, organized and sorted her projects and supplies, and soon had a room I could work in.

So using a tutorial from here, I took several shirts that are too small for me right now, and I made them fit. (No, I'm not pregnant. I have lost 10 pounds though, so soon, that will no longer be a question to consider!) One design, three different ways, three new shirts to wear. The short sleeved white one was basic, according to the tutorial post. The long sleeved one made me realize that I needed to add some width to the sleeves, plus it had a mark on it that wouldn't wash out: applique to the rescue. And the yellow tank still basically fit, I just don't really wear it, but now I can! And so, since the fabric for the white shirts came from horrible crops from Goodwill, three new shirts (from my own collection) for less than $10! Ha!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Laser-cut tank Recreation

In my last post I mentioned that I would be participating in a UFO challenge for the next few months as I attempt to complete projects, and that the number drawn for this month had me working on Clothing Refashion. The basic idea here is taking clothes that you already have, whether too small, too big, out of fashion, tacky, great fabric but would never actually wear in present form, or any of these purchased at Goodwill, and turn it into something new. Working at a retail store gives me great ideas, and clothes that I can't quite fit to change.

The tank in question that I want has a laser cut design out of a cooridinating fabric as the back of the shirt. Retails for $19.50. I got the tank at a resale shop for $3, and the fabric from a Goodwill skirt for $3 also. After cutting the seams out of the skirt, I placed a piece of iron-on fusible interfacing against the back of the tank to determine the size of the back to cut. I drew a rough shape on one side of the design, then folded in half (after having measured the tank, as well to figure out the midpoint of it) and traced the design on the other half. Then cut, place on wrong side of skirt fabric, and steam iron it on.

Now for the creative part! Using your imagination, create an open-weave pattern in pencil/pen on the interfacing. You only need to draw on one half (I cut out the first half of the design, folded it back in half, and traced around the cut-outs onto the second half.)I made sure the center was pretty close to the original pattern, but since I enlarged my backing piece due to the need to have a larger back, I had to improvise the extension of the pattern from the center. Using my exacto knife to cut a slit in each drawn half, I pulled out my small craft scissors (blade 1") to cut the small details out. To keep the design centered and even, once I had the right side all cut, fold in half again, trace through the holes, and repeat.

Now you want to make sure that your fabric won't completely unravel, stretc and separate in the wash. Using a contrasting thread color (I actually used two, one layered on top of the other), I free-motion stitched between all of the cuts, trying to maintain some semblence of a pattern. Now, I will admit, I lost the idea of the pattern about two rounds into this thing, but I still think it looks really cool.  The final step is to sew the cut-out to the tank at the shoulders and waistline where you previously cut the back off. I wore the tank to work that night, and everybody loved it, and wanted to know where I got it. They couldn't believe I had made it: it looks just like the one in the store, but it's my color, and my pattern (my size too!) Remember, the store is a juniors store, so it's not that I'm fat, just regular sized. I have hips and girls, and they don't always fit into the sizes at the store. One recreation down, several more to go....

My shirt has frayed a bit in the wash, but I think it's fantastic! It really somehow adds to the impact of the design. And if you don' believe me, be the judge yourself!

Friday, April 2, 2010

UFO Challenge

So, I've been searching the web for a great quilting blog to follow, and I came across... a UFO challenge! So exciting and exactly what I'm already doing, just a BIG group of people doing the same thing and keeping you more accountable than just "I'm going to do it!" So I emailed Nancy at the Patchwork Penguin, and I am now officially a part of the challenge. Here's how it works.

Everyone participating makes a list of 10 UFOs they want to finish. They number them 1-10. At the beginning of the month, she (or someone, I think her hubby) picks a number from cards, and that is the project you work on during that month. Now, obviously, I am behind. This started in January (BTW, it's 10 because she's giving us Nov and Dec to work on holiday projects and be with family instead of frantically trying to complete UFOs.) and it's now April! So I am making my list, and skipping the numbers they have already drawn and hopefully completed.

Now, do I really think I can complete 10 projects in the next 7 can do at least 3, I'm sure! No, really, I'm gonna work as hard as I can to do my best to finish some of these things. (Redundant, I know, but it really expresses how hard I will be working!) And since I know what the number for April is, I am making that number the project I began working on yesterday.

So here's my list:
1. Winter Sampler Quilt
3. 4th of July Quilt
5. Green Ripples Crochet Afghan
6. Honeymoon scrapbook
8. High School T-shirt quilt (needs to be quilted)
9. A Cross Stitch project
10. Clothing Refashioning

Remember, 2, 4, 7, have already been called, and 10 is the project for the month of April. I went with the Clothing Refashioning because I made over a tank top yesterday, which I will post about, but probably not until tomorrow, because I worked two jobs yesterday and today, and I'm too tired to go upload the pics from my camera and write a second post! But I will say it turned out really cute, and most people who saw me wearing it yesterday couldn't believe I had made it! I LOVE being able to sew!

So, good luck on your own UFOs everybody, and I am off to bed now!