Saturday, January 28, 2012

nom nom...

I posted a while back about a Martha Stewart coffee cake recipe...

...but I forgot to post the finished product...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

wip - january 25

I've been devoting very little time to my sewing machine lately. Honestly, I think she's feeling neglected.

So, I've started on a project on my to-do list. The country quilt.

I am working off of Aneela Hoey's Crackle pattern. Only I've increased the pattern for a queen sized quilt.

20 blocks down...

100 to go...

I've also got a bit of this going on.

This is a bit less daunting though :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

a proper post

A while back I posted about an awesome find we came across on our visit to Alaska a couple summers ago.  The cold weather has encouraged me do dig through all of my knitted things, and in doing so, I re-discovered one of my favorite hats!  Unfortunately, I only briefly posted about this knitting project after I completed it, so, I thought I would go back and give it a proper post. 

The Qiviut Co-op is an organization that uses the super soft underwool from the Arctic musk ox.  The wool comes from local farms and is shed naturally from the animal each spring.  It is super-duper warm.  (Are you enjoying my excessive use of the word 'super' yet?  I'll throw it in a few more times just in case).  The fibers are spun into yarn and distributed to Native Alaskans from villages all over Alaska who hand knit the items for sale in the shop.  Each of the villages have distinct patterns and there are often stories to each of the patterns.  Did I mention that the yarn is super cozy, too?  (See, there it is again :).

So, after all of this swooning, you can probably guess that I just had to purchase something.

I bought two skeins and made both myself and the hubs a hat.  Here is mine.

And a close up of the pattern.

I also purchased this lovely snowflake headband. It's super warm, and cozy, and I just love it!

If you are lucky enough to make it to Anchorage, AK, definitely stop by the Oomingmak Musk Ox Co-op.  Or visit their website.  Definitely work the $ !!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

a little refurb...

Our lampshades needed a little TLC. So they are getting a fresh new fabric face.

Here's the first one...

More to come.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

okay, here's the plan...

A few posts back I listed some of my goals for this year, and some of the challenges I would be facing. Part of that list of goals was to make lists of things I want to accomplish in each 'compartment' of my life. (And, FYI, this post is mainly just for me, but putting it online like this keeps my chaotic mind from losing track of it, as I inevitably would if it was written on a piece of paper).

1. & 2. HOME & PERSONAL LIFE. I will be keeping most of my goals here private - but, I know I do want to be more organized at home and spend more QT with the husband and the pup. This means two nights a week of just spending time with them. No crafting. No blogging. No internet surfing. Just QT. Some ideas of QT with the hubby are:

- taking more walks (we don't take enough)
- try a new recipe every week and cook together
- tackle some simple home improvement projects together
- visit the national parks in DC (can't believe we haven't done this yet!)

I also need to spend time on my other relationships - and that really means picking up the phone and calling people more. And scheduling some happy hours ;)

3. WORK/PROFESSIONAL LIFE I am still considered 'new' at my current job. I had set some small and large goals for this year at work and plan on accomplishing them (*fingers crossed*). I also have some other goals that do not apply directly to work, but do apply to my professional life.

- Learn enough sign language to carry on a basic (brief) conversation.
- Get a certification. - DEADLINE - August
- Brush up on some of topics that I feel I am technically weak in. Pick a new topic every other week to become familiar with. (In preparation for the 'big' certification).
- Practice my music (okay - I'm sure this one doesn't make sense to anyone else, but it does me).
- Achieve my fitness level goal

4. CREATIVE LIFE Of course, this is where most of the details lay. I've also compartmentalized this section :)

Home Projects - There are endless home projects that I would like to tackle this year, but I will limit myself here to the following projects.

- Finish curtains for the baby's room, kitchen and master bath. I have ideas for all of these, but fabric for only the kitchen. Looks like kitchen is up first!
- Cover/upholster our old ratty guest-bedroom bed frame.
- Find a picture for the guestroom. I am leaning towards this one with the colors tweaked a little, maybe. - Install shelving and organize my new craft room.
 - Make/buy baskets/drawers for the Ikea hacked baby's closet organizer. Could use this basket tutorial, or maybe this one. Or I could buy something like this.
- Hang our Alaska pictures. (Yeah, it has been almost two years, so what)?
- Try my hand at making a shower curtain.
- Hot pads - as we continue to work on updating our kitchen (a looong process), I would like to include some little handmade things, especially some potholders. Some like this and this would definitely work.
- Put up a quilt top layout wall. Don't know where this is going to go, or what the hubs will say about it, but...
- Black, white and yellow quilt for the guestroom
Gifts - We'll start with gifts for the neices, since they are the ones I make things for most frequently.

- Tinkerbell, Hop-scotch pad (April)
- Slippers
- Aprons
- a shower curtain to decorate their newly renovated bathroom. (Have to consult the sis-in-law on this one first)! - Steelers twirl skirts with yarn pom poms
- And a car organizer, one for each girly.

Some other gifts for other little ones

- Fabric toy ring
- Little 'Duke' Blue Devil Sweatshirt
- Picture fabric toy book

Other Christmas Gifts

- Steelers quilt. I have a plan for this, but it's certainly going to be trial and error. I am going to use the fabric I designed at Spoonflower for the backing and incorporate the current Superbowl wins on the front. Hubby has had his nose in this project since the start. I love it when he helps ;). This also may be my first experience with hand-quilting.
- Country quilt. This is for a dear friend and I can't wait to finish it. It may end up being a Labor Day present...or even Independence Day, who knows!
- Hubs t-shirt quilt.

Challenges and Stuff for Me Some of these may overlap, but this is a list of new things in crafting that I want to try this year. Plus, I haven't really made myself anything. So I am going to give that a try!

- Dresden - I really think this pattern is so beautiful, and I can't wait to try one!
- Test different transfer methods
- Try a few knit projects. I have yet to sew with a knit...but we're going to give it a go.
- Start on a Mountaineer quilt. This will be a super-challenge, and I am not sure I am ready, but I have an idea for a Mountaineer quilt that rocks my own little craft world and I can't wait to test it out!

Hmm...think that's enough? I may be stretching the 'Limit Myself' goal. We'll see. At any rate, I am beyond excited to get to work!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

*ahem* please excuse the mess

Our first Ikea Hack.

So, it's not really an Ikea hack. I mean, it sort of is. Anyway, we altered our bookshelf (used to be in the very cramped breakfast nook) into a closet storage unit for pint-sized when he or she comes along.

It involved cutting one of the shelving peices, removing some of the smaller shelving pieces, and installing a metal rod for hanging clothes. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but I think it will work wonders for our baby-stuff organization when the time comes. (Right now, as you can see, it's working wonders for my fabric storage while we make the transition and move all my craft stuff to the laundry room, aka, my new craft room... sadface). Looking forward to buying some of those little hangers to put baby clothes on, though...

*blush* (Oh, and don't tell the hubs I said so!!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

baby jude's quilt!

Learned a lot about working with flannel with this project. It's much harder to use flannel for binding - and even though I prewashed all the fabrics - they came out just a bit different after I washed the finished product. I may have to start pre-shrinking my batting. I still love working with this fabric for baby's quilts - so I may have to figure out some quick solutions to these problems!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

my first go with spoonflower

I've been working on ideas for a Steelers quilt for next Christmas gifts for some of our family members. Unfortunately, we live just far enough away from Pittsburgh that our fabric stores have a significant lack of any black and gold themed prints. There are really not a lot of options out there in webland either. So I decided to try my hand for the first time at Spoonflower's custom fabric printing. I must say I love the results.

Unfortunately, they don't have an option for wider than 42". My plan was to use this for the backing of a queen sized quilt - so I guess I will just have to piece some solid black into the backing. One thing is for sure - this could certainly become an expensive habit!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

saturdays without NCAAF...

From August to December - Saturdays are reserved for one thing in the 'D' football. I know its slightly wrong to spend all of those beautiful fall Saturdays inside in front of a television, but I can't help it. Its one of my favorite things. This Saturday, however, was the first Saturday since the start of the season that there's really not that much going on in the world of CFB. I was amazed at how much stuff I could get done wilst not having my butt parked in front of the television from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Yeah, it's that bad).

First, I did some baking - this recipe for healthy banana bread (I added some flax seed, too). Yummy. And this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake (only with strawberries and blueberries instead to use up some of our leftover fruit). This one is super yummy!

I also got working on Jude's quilt. Pieces, basted and started quilting!

There was also lots of cleaning and organizing. I organized the hubs garage for him (organization not his strength), and started moving all my craft things out of the future baby room. Although I'm not sure I'll ever give up my precious CFB watching, I'm glad it only lasts a portion of the year!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

so it's a new year, huh?

Well, 2012 is a few days old now. Nothing out of the ordinary for the start of a new year. However, I was beyond excited when I returned home from work one day this week to some of that oh-so-wonderful white stuff on the ground!!

Albeit...not much, but still, it made my day. :)

After going the this far into the winter 2011-2012 season without a flake, and having it be so unseasonably warm (60 degrees on New Years Eve!?!) it got me thinking. The first few flakes of the season and some bitterly cold wintry days to start off the new year. Already a bit different than last year. What else would be different? What will I do to make it different? ...Better, even. And then, I started to ponder all of the things floating around in the back of my mind that I would like to accomplish this year.

Let me tell's not a short list...

Not only that, but the list is long for each part of my life. Does anyone else out there compartmentalize their life? I certainly have been lately, and I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing.

First and foremost - home life. The House of Chaos and Crazy - my husband, our pup, and our home. And hopefully, not too far away in the distant future, a pint sized addition to the 'D' household. This is easy and hard. Perfectly imperfect, and navigated with many wrong turns, and just as many right ones. This will always be a constant. I could never ask for anything more, or less.

I also have my personal life. My friends and family that I keep close. I know how many of those relationships I have let slip away little by little. Let the business of everyday life get in the way of life, I guess. I think this compartment needs a little attention.

Then there's my work/professional life. Like many young women starting off in their first years of college, I was as gung-ho as you can get. Go-get-'em and then some. Fast forward seven years, two degrees, and three jobs, I've found that I've lost a good bit of that fervor. That lust for success and drive to be an expert at what I do. Instead, I have headed down a path that I never would have thought I'd find myself. A good path, definitely, but a completely unexpected turn for me. One that I'm still a little unsure of; one that I'm not quite convinced that I fit into just yet. Unfortunately, there is no pause button for life that will allow me that time to become comfortable and ready for this change. And there is an endless list of things to do - things I should do, and really, I have to do to keep up.

Last, but not least, my creative life. I have been spending so much time on this part of my life. I love it. It's why every person who creates starts creating in the first place. That wonderful feeling you get from making something. Having something grow and blossom from a tiny idea that spontaneously flashes in your mind - usually at the strangest and least opportune moment - and watching it become something real, something beautiful and personal. Something handmade. It's an amazing thing, and I blog about it here just because I feel so passionately about it. I will never expect anything more from it than self gratification and the warmth that comes from giving a gift that involves such intense amount of thought, effort and love. I never expect to sell anything, or to have a superbly popular craft blog with 1000+ followers. (I'll be tickled pink if I even hit 10 ten followers!) But, there is a part of me that knows that I can never let go of any part of this world that I've fallen so in love with. It has enchanted my mind, is entwined with my soul, and has been etched into my DNA. It's permanent.

So how do I accomplish all my goals in each of these compartments of my life? Not an easy answer, I fear, especially if I plan on keeping my sanity.

After thinking long and hard (my head actually hurts, believe it or not...), I've decided to focus my energy towards following five things - and *hope* with all my might that everything will fall into place.

1. Balance. This will be hard. So many of these things are significantly time consuming. And, I tend to lend my attention and energy towards the things that provide a more instant and personal gratification. Namely, the creative side of my life. I think this will be the biggest challenge.

2. Schedules and Lists. Okay, I know this sounds a little OCD. I am a little OCD. I also suffer from self-diagnosed ADD. So a schedule helps keep this little OCD-er on task. And I also think it will help with #1 on this list.

3. Limit myself. If I were Wonder Woman, I would do everything on my to-do list. Right now. All of it. Everything would be done by COB today, and I would have a new lengthy list ready for tackling tomorrow. Unfortunately, I do not have superhuman strength, speed, or the ability to fly through the air. With this unfortunate lack of super-human powers, I must resort to the realization that I do have limits. And I should not try to exceed them.

4. Take it easy. I can be a little tightly wound sometimes. This does the most harm in my marriage, and I fear it would do the same with children, if I let it continue. I think, like many women, the fact that I am not accomplishing every little thing on that ever-growing daily to-do list stresses me the heck out. On top of that, add a very lovable husband that likes to provoke and antagonize me when he sees the mercury rising in my face... Bad news, folks. So I am going to use Goosfraba to no end, and work to taking things more lightly.

5. Believe in myself. I know I'm not the only one. I know there are thousands, likely millions, of people out there who struggle with self-confidence. People who are holding back and not reaching their potential for fear of failure or judgement. People who spend too much time comparing themselves to others, comparing their accomplishments to accomplishments of their peers and thinking poorly of themselves when their accomplishments don't seem to measure up. I read something recently that rang home in this department. "There will always be someone prettier. There will always be someone smarter. There will always be someone better. But, there will never be another me." I have resolved to start each day by saying something to this effect to myself. A ritual morning pep-talk, if you will. So it may be a little silly. But if I'm not being my confident self, I'm not being my best self. And I am determined to be my best self as much as possible.

So here's to 2012 and accomplishing all my goals. And if I don't, it'll all be okay. I have next year, too. And the following year. And, ...well, you get the point. Next up - lists and schedules for keep me sane and on task :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

lucky baker

I'll admit, I am not the best baker. Or cook. I tend to make massive messes in the kitchen, at which point, my husband tends to kick me out of said kitchen and ban me from it for a certain period of time. This all may have changed with this oh-so-wonderful Christmas gift from the best mother-in-law ever.

I have been wanting one of these for I-don't-know-how-long. Did I mention that my mother-in-law ROCKS!

Bring ooon the messes :)