Thursday, January 31, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Everyone falls off the fitness wagon every now and then, myself definitely included. I don't get crazy, but a few too many cookies at the holidays really add up. Given that, I always start the year a little down. You'd think that I would learn my lesson, year after year. 
I am only human, I guess.

This year, I have made a few more changes that I hope will stick. I have not eaten ice cream or fried foods (other than 3 onion rings) all month. That is a HUGE deal for me
. Ice cream could be a food group. 
I have made lots of smoothies, soups, salads, and other healthy make-ahead meals. I have started tracking my food and activity. It makes me feel more accountable.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Flannel Coziness

I love to putter around with my sewing machine. I like the methodology of sewing quilt squares and the whimsy of making up projects as I go, like my mason jar cozy. But I am a big girl, it is time to make something from a pattern. 

I figured that I would start off by making something that no one outside my house would see.
I am especially partial to long cozy nightgowns, so that is where I shall begin.
Even though I purchased the right amount of yardage for the pattern and followed to layout directions, I COULD NOT get all the pattern pieces to fit. No biggie, I am going to make the pocket, hood, and yoke from a coordinating fabric.

I will keep you posted on the construction progress, though I do need a little help with the pattern instructions in places. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Tuesday: Tray Upcycle

Sometimes, everyday things need just need a little spruce up. Perfect example, this tray. It originally held programs at a formerly important event and then got a quick coat of brown paint and stored supplies under a now defunct aquarium. I admit to occasionally enjoying a meal in front of the TV. Let's be honest here, doesn't everyone? The pain is making multiple trips to/from the kitchen. Inspiration struck while watching Downton Abbey. Watching Carson and the footmen carrying in tea and such on nice trays and salvers, I  devised a way to redo the tray in a way that even the Dowager Countess would approve.

The tray is wooden, from the craft store. It was originally cream with gold trim and then hastily covered with brown craft paint. Not very appealing. For this upcycle, I painted the tray with every crafter's secret weapon:  GOLD SPRAY PAINT!

Next, I trimmed a piece of cardboard the fit inside the tray, allowing a little space for fabric.
Sadly, I forgot to take of photo of the fabric covering process. I simple cut a piece of fabric with pinking shears a little larger than the cardboard. I sprayed the cardboard with craft adhesive and wrapped the fabric around it, folding hospital corners so it would lie flat. I placed the fabric-covered cardboard in the tray and was ready to go. I did not tack the fabric down so that I could launder or swap out the fabric as desired.

My Downtown worthy dinner on a tray that Carson would be proud to carry :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Embroidered Project Bag

We, as a culture, tend to take things for granted. As I have often said, time is one of those things. Another is vision. I have not been able to be as crafty as I would prefer lately, but now that me new "eyes" are here I am stitching up a storm.

I am currently working on project bag for myself (gasp!). The bag is based on a pattern by Jenny at Sublime Stitching. Seriously, get over there and buy some patterns. You won't be sorry.

Although it a full-on embroidery pattern, I have decided to do some applique of certain elements.

The thimble kind of resembles a Dalek. I am okay with that.

I am about a third done. I will be adding an embroidery hoop using this  process, adding a rick rack border, and embellishing the handles. Once the bag is complete, I am going to make some internal tool pouches. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Breaking New Ground

I know that it may seem cliche and a little overplayed to be focused on new things at the start of the year. So be it. I have decided that even though I may not be able t actually open my own embroidery shop/tea bar this year, there is no harm in going through some of the processes and perhaps even start an online store by the end of the year.

Besides taking some business planning and financial courses, I definitely need to brush up on my drawing skills in order to design patterns. A great friend who has an illustration background will be giving me lessons and this summer, I plan on taking a class. 

In  the meantime, the internet and various wikis are my friend.

This is first completed sketch that could be converted to a pattern. 
A little rough, but ya have to start somewhere.

Simple yet identifiable.

Also, still plugging way on my blue squares. I am looking forward to having this lovely piece on our bed but also can't wait to start making multi-colored fun squares.

Side note: a great brunch of focaccia, goat cheese, and grape chutney =awesome. Add a mystery novel, and you have bliss.

Lastly, but most importantly, I would not be able to do any of this today without my new glasses. I waited for the optician to call like most girls wait for their crush. Some adjusting will be necessary, but I am back in the making game!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Picking My Battles

Did you ever have what you think is going to be a great day, just to have your body let you down? Yeah, me either ;)

After having the tea bar/embroidery shop brainstorm yesterday, I have been having a hard time concentrating on anything else. I have sought out some drawing instruction and an entrepreneur workshop. Likely, nothing will come of it business-wise, but it will at least improve my skills. Meanwhile, I am still struggling with a stomach bug combined with a chronic headache. Oy. New glasses are on the way...

Luckily, I have good friends who bring me chicken soup. I even cancelled set construction tonight, no small thing for me.

I plan on resting and reading, gathering inspiration and lightening my mood.

I will also crochet as long as my eyes will allow me...

...and sleep when they do not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Few Of My Favorite Stitchy Things

This morning while I was booting up my computer, preparing to tackle yet another spread sheet, I decided that I would rather be stitching. Not a huge news flash, I know. But as my machine came to life, I caught a whiff of the tea steeping next to me. "That's it!, " I declared (in my head.) If I could I would open an embroidery shop with a tea bar. Of course, this is absolutely no time to be starting a business even if I did have the money to, which I don't. But I can share my favorite designers with could even come over for a cup of tea.

On a whim, I decided to learn to embroider last fall. My local quilt shop had darling little patterns by Penguin and Fish. I snapped on up and went home to learn. Luckily, Wendi Gratz has an amazing Embroidery School on her blog. Wendi also had wonderful patterns...lotsa fun monsters.

Once, I stitched up Penguin and Fish's Fox, I was HOOKED. I then bought her newt, owl, hedgehog (my favorite pattern of hers), jellyfish and quail. It was love at first stitch.

Then I discovered Wild Olive. Mollie is like the most talented designer ever. I'll admit, I kinda have bit of a girl crush. I have stitched MANY of her designers, but I think that Crafty Characters may be my favorite.

Do you like cute things? Who am I kidding? EVERYONE likes cute things. Look no further than Aimee Ray and her awesome books. Luckily, my local library had The Motif Collection (with CD.) I made a great tea towel using her veggies patterns (Stay tuned for a photo soon!) Her books are well worth the investment.

I love smart and classy patterns and So September has us covered. This is my favorite.

How me is this pattern? Seriously. This is my next purchase for sure!
All the patterns at Follow the White Bunny are adorable and her animals are super-cute.

And everyone knows how I feel about Sublime Stitching! Jenny can do no wrong in my book.

I have tried my hand at a couple patterns and may even submit on to a publication this year. I will have to work on my drawing skills, but hey, embroidery shops/tea bars don't open without some hard work! ;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Slowly But Very Surely

Being crafty is kind of a birthright in my family. My mother has been painting ceramics and sewing my entire life. My maternal grandmother crocheted and quilted, among other things. My dad also paints and is incredibly handy...even scarily so. I have cousins who work with yarn and make clothes. We are a crafty bunch. It occurred to me that even at my busiest times, I am truly the most happy when I am creating. Making time to make has become a huge priority for me. Some days, knowing that I get to spend a few minutes creating something are what keeps me plugging away.

This afghan is the cornerstone of my crafting at the moment. I have 3 colors of squares left to make, about 77 squares total. My sweetie and I have been doing some work on creating a new bedroom space and this afghan will be a big feature there.

When I get discouraged about my progress though, I just have to look at the end of my bed. I have had this chevron afghan as long as I can remember. I am not even sure who made it for me.
 It is a crib size, but it is 40 years old and still going strong. 
All work is worth it to create something that will be here long after I am gone.

While try to stay positive and focused, I am attempting to be more mindful as I work, love, create, and make choices. How is that working out for you this year?

Starting to make teeny progress on other projects. Yay for moving forward!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's about time

No, really. It's about time. I have realized that that is my major stressor. It isn't actually what I have to get done that stresses me out, but rather the time I have to do it in. I will admit to taking on more than I should. But can't that be said for nearly everyone?

I find myself becoming more stingy with my time and sometimes, even resenting my obligations. I freely agreed to work on all three plays at my school this year--directing, designing, and building two and just designing and building the musical. I spend three nights a week in the auditorium working with my students. And sadly, those are nine hours that I want back at the moment.

I love it, but it takes so much time!

Between working a full-time job, the plays, maintaining a healthy relationship, going to the gym, housework and creating, I am feeling a little pulled thin. I struggle with the resentment and the moods that can create. I have resolved to maintain a more positive outlook, but want to be honest with myself and with those that depend upon me.  

How do you all manage these pulls on your time?

We DID make time to make brunch together and spend some one-on-one time...absolutely vital!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Works in Progress...sort of.

Maybe this post should actually called Works in Planning. This holiday season, I happily made all but to of my gifts. My house was a sea of thread ends and yarn bits. And I loved every minute of it. 

I have decided, however, that in addition to my afghan I will be making 4 other projects for just me. Selfish? Maybe. But I happen to think that it will energize and excite me to create for others!

Here's what I have up my sleeve:

I made two of my friends yarn/project bags for Christmas. Meanwhile, I am lugging around my stuff in a plain tote. I will be embroidering the great pattern from Sublime Stitching onto a plain canvas bag. I adore it.

Since, I do work on so many kinds of crafts, I typically carry a lot of tools. I decided that the project bag needs  a notions pouch. I am using this pattern. I will be embroidering different compartments with this awesome pattern from Wild Olive. I love Mollie's pattern and have stitched a ton of them.

To match my re-covered thread cabinet, I am going to attempt this sewing machine cover by Shiny Happy World. Wendi actually taught me to embroider via her You Tube series. Her patterns are super cute and well-explained. I love the fabric that I am using too :)

For my first ever clothing project, I am going to make this cozy looking hooded nightgown. I will be using the fun flannel pictured behind the pattern. I'll keep you posted...

Finally, a big thank you for all of you read, comment, and support me as I create. 
You all mean so much to me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013: The Year of the Blanket

When I conceived of this Granny 365 project, I oddly didn't have a plan in mind for what I would do with all those squares. I realized, of course, that it would be enough to do at least a couple afghans but didn't have a color plan or even a recipient in mind.

Luckily, at Christmas, I was hanging with my sweetie's mom, who is a very avid crocheter. She drug out pattern magazine from the 70s. There it inspiration!

Only 80 to go!

I will be making an afghan for our bed of classic solid color squares. Once that is done, I will make a bunch of multi-colored and multi-patterned squared for a crazy quilt-type afghan!

I also received a great 40th birthday gift, a US map quilt template from Haptic Lab. I will be embridering the entire US on the quilt face. I may even do some piecing on the states. Eeek! I need a very large quilt frame, stat!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year Reboot

Hello world! I am definitely still here and still making. That is actual l part if the reason that I have not been blogging--I have been super duper busy making things! All but two of my holiday gifts were handmade--many embroidered, several crocheted, some artwork, some needle felted--and they all took lots of time.

I have been making in the new year too. Several friends and even some strangers and I have embarked on a project: Granny 365. We have all committed to making at least 1 granny square a day all year. We will all be making different things with them, but it is great to have a tiny creative goal everyday. Please join us!

I have also recommitted to a healthy lifestyle. My running injury really had me down on myself and I let things slip. But in the new year, I have begun tracking my food, I have gone to the gym several days in a row, and even went for a teeny run. I know that zillions of people make this resolution, but I am looking forward to a lifelong lifestyle and attitude change. I have found tons of healthy and tasty recipes at Cooking Light and Skinny Taste and of course, my most favorite food bog, The Cozy Herivore. Her absolutely amazing quinoa porridge recipe may be my new favorite food.

I have been working on my creative spaces, doing a little sprucing up and 
making things even more my style.

Above is one of the projects that took me away from the blog for so long. I am really happy to have taken the time to make this for my 4-year old "niece" who is just learning the alphabet.
 It is a wonderful pattern from Sublime Stitching
Jenny's patterns are great to work with and most are available as PDFs.

As we roll further into 2013, please stay with me as I grow (yet shrink), create, cook, and take joy in the little things!