Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Messy, Messy House

Is anyone else suffering from Halloween overload.  I love my creative blogs, but pre-holiday posts can drive me away for a while.  I have been busy, though.  In an effort to fix up the house, I have created a very messy house!

The bathroom remodel continues.  I am taping and mudding the new walls while Brian finishes up the plumbing.  I am also fixing the stairwell wall while I have all the paraphernalia out.  I tried to get away with NOT repairing the wallboards on the stairs that had begun to bulge at the joint over the years.  The new paint job actually emphasized it.  Every time I walked downstairs, it was there grabbing my attention, demanding to be FIXED.

Am I good at mudding?  NO.  I always end up having to sand a ton.  I feel totally inadequate every step of the way.  I'd hire someone in a heartbeat, but the price for that around here is just too much.  In the end, however, I am always freaking amazed that I can pull it off.  It's frustrating and messy, but the end product is always more than adequate.

I'm also still in the process of moving the sewing room.  Aside from the closet, it is one messy room.  I'm sharing space with the new bathroom vanity and granite top along with the various tools for the bathroom remodel for now.  One job has to wait for the other. 

I'm ALSO recovering some sofa cushions to use as floor cushions.  There is a good reason for doing this with all these other projects going on.  They are a big part of the new sewing room mess.  I thought it would be a quick and easy job.  I've done it sooo many times now!  I cut apart one of the original cushion covers and use it as a pattern.  This way I can reuse the zipper, too.  BUT the manufacturers did something I've never seen before on this set.  They didn't cut a separate piece of material for the edge piping.  The piping was sewn into the side panel.  What seemed like a great idea that would make things easier, has turned out to be a real pain!  It is really difficult to make those corners turn for one thing. 

All this is snowballing into one big mess.  I may not be the cleanest housekeeper, but I have always prided myself in having a neat house.  "A place for everything, and everything in it's place" is the motto.  It fools people into thinking that the house is a lot cleaner than it is.  NOW, I have the master bathroom and bedroom, the stairwell, and another bedroom looking like disaster areas while housework falls behind in the rest of the house.  I've decided to tell people it is all part of the holiday decor.  It really is scary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Stashing the fabric without spending a fortune

As part of the "Use Your Crap Challenge," I needed to be able to see what crap I needed to use.    I cannot show you how the stash looked to begin with because it would take too many pictures--it was all over.  (Not to mention that I would die of shame if I posted pictures of the mess.).  Now, I can show it off!

 and this:
Lessons learned from past attempts are that you HAVE to have dividers or the stacks will fall over as you rummage through.  You also cannot stack things too high.  It makes it sooo difficult to get at the stuff on the bottom.

Taking out the wire closet organizer was not an option--too expensive to replace it right now.  Fabric or plastic cubes would have been nice, but at $5 a pop at the very least, that was not happening.  Instead, I folded large pieces of fabric over hangers, used corrugated storage boxes small enough to fit  between the shelving to hold fabric and serve as dividers, put in a hanging cloth piece meant to hold sweaters, and used plastic containers on the floor. 

Yes, I know the cardboard storage boxes are not acid free. I'm planning on that being encouragement to succeed at the goal of USING the fabric rather than just looking at it.

Let the sewing begin in earnest.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stitch magazine should be named "Stitch: The Expensive Sewing Magazine"

I was in Borders Bookstore yesterday at lunch time.  I thought I'd get a small latte and a magazine.  I buy an occasional  latte and sometimes a magazine that seems to have a few appealing ideas when I thumb through it. 

There were only two general sewing magazines there.  I already had the issue of "Threads," so I grabbed "Stitch."  I didn't find anything particularly appealing to me thumbing through, but there was nothing else.  When the total came to over $18,  I was in shock.  I think the cashier recognized buyer's remorse when I listed backward with eyes wide muttering a long, "wow."  She offered to take it off, but I figured there is nothing like being ripped off once to learn the lesson about checking prices before reaching the cashier.  I really wanted something to read, too.  Stitch has a list price of $14.99--not $15, $14.99. 

The magazine is very nicely made.  It's eye candy.  It is on the upper level of sewing magazines.  I'd call it a hip version of Sew Beautiful.  It has two ideas that I might use--I counted.  They're things I've seen before, with a slight change.  I will use none of the patterns included in the magazine.  Most patterns require going online and downloading as a PDF.  I expect that a magazine will show some old ideas with new fabrics or a bit of a twist. Frankly, there is very little in Stitch that I haven't seen on the internet for free. 

I don't expect to pay $14.99 for any magazine.  I won't be again.  I could have gotten the book I blogged about yesterday, "The Feisty Stitcher" for less,  not been bombarded with advertising, had a better quality paper product that would hold up over time, and used most of the ideas included.  If all those ads couldn't bring the price down, maybe they should consider a smaller magazine.  How about leaving out the stuff that some one has already put on the internet free?

There was an ad that offered a sweepstakes entry.  I thought I'd enter in order to have a chance of making this magazine pay off.  As it turned out I would  have to drive across the state, buy a book  with a list price of $29.99, and, then, the  participating store would give me an entry form.  In fairness further down the page from the "go to a participating store, buy the book, and get an entry" information, there was a small note saying no purchase was necessary. They lost me at the 12-hour trip anyway.

Expensive lessons learned:  check prices, check prices, check prices, don't bite the bullet, return the overpriced item immediately so you don't end up blogging about what an idiot you've been.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Feisty Stitcher: Sewing Projects with Attitude by Susan Wasinger

I am not supposed to be on the computer right now.  I promised myself to spend more time doing projects and less time computing.  BUT:  I just read The Feisty Stitcher (while using the elliptical trainer--I'm not wasting any time) and had to post about it.

I have never wanted to do even half the projects in a sewing book before.  I wanted to do almost every single project in this one.  It's all about utilitarian sewing and, yeah, they  all have a bit of attitude.

I borrow a lot of books on sewing from the library.  Sometimes I am impressed enough with a couple of projects to buy the book.  This one, though, is special.  This one  really justifies buying it.  It's going on my Amazon wish list.  Take a look at this link to Amazon.  Then go borrow it from the library and see for yourself. Let me know what you think please and thank you.

I am five minutes over my limit and really have to go.  Sorry if there are errors--I'll fix them later.  Have a great day!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The new park in the neighborhood

I pushed my husband to join our neighborhood district parks committee a number of years ago.  It's a citizens' group that makes decisions on how the money allotted to parkland in the neighborhoods will be spent with final town approval.  Brian suggested I do it  myself, but I reminded him that my ability to compromise was somewhat lacking.  (He agreed a little too quickly now that I think about it.)  He, on the other hand, has an exceptional ability to work with a group on something.  Perhaps 27 years of putting up with me has helped with that. 

The Stony Creek Parks Committee has been working on developing a large piece of land into a combined nature/play area for a few years.  It's not quite finished , but I do need to brag about the incredible park area this small group of volunteers managed to get in despite some neighbors who worked hard to block it. I wish my house bordered this area!  We are just a short walk away, though.

The park is right in the midst of suburbia, but you barely get a glimpse of the houses in the area. There are what seems like miles of looped, stone dust trails.  A lot of people are already using them for walking, jogging, and biking.

This is my lovely husband Brian and another parks committee member, Paul Bylenok, on the trails this past weekend.


 Several beautiful bridges go over streams and wetlands.
Benches are from recycled materials.


Water, webs, and all kinds of growing things are there to fascinate kids and adults.  I cannot wait for the frogs to appear next year!  Our area is filled with them.  I have a penchant for taking pictures of frogs, toads, lizards, turtles and snakes.  They are much more cooperative than mammals.




The Town of Clifton Park employees involved and, especially, the Stony Creek Parks Committee members should  be very proud of what they have accomplished.  Thank you!

Update:  I forgot to mention the Cleveland Brothers Landscaping Company from Corinth, New York that did the ground work in the park.  How could I forget them!  They not only did a terrific job, but were also always pleasant to and tolerant of those of us who just could not wait to walk through the trails. They get a well deserved thanks as well.

Art Journal Class #1 of 21

I mentioned in a previous blog that I had signed up for 21 Secrets which are lessons in art journaling.   The last time I tried an art journal was in a literature class a few years back.  The highest grade possible was a B unless you did art in your journal about the assigned books.  I knew nothing about how one did art journals and have zero natural artistic ability.  I HATED it.  I struggled to think up simple things that I could draw.  My focus was on the journal activity rather than the books.  Now, from Hanna and these other artists that are sharing their methods, I find that I could have been having a wonderful time.

I did Hanna's class first since I found out about the classes through her blog. The lessons can be done in any order.  The main focus for this one was the use of tissue paper.  You can do some amazing stuff with it such as running it through your printer--easily.  Here are my first two attempts.
It began with an idea that has been coming out in my writing journal and conversations lately--balance.  We hear that one needs to find balance, but that's not really true.  You don't find it, and then you're done.  It is a never-ending task to keep a balance between paid work, relationships, house work, outside chores, creative time, personal interests, and on and on.  That brought the phrase, "everything lies in the balance" to mind.

However, that  phrase can have completely different meanings in different contexts. It is hard to see the Carmen Miranda-ish head (does anyone else remember Carmen Miranda?) in this picture, but it is definitely an unusual take on it.  Shown without the accompanying story, it is  open to some wild  interpretations.  The quote, "To err is human, to forgive, canine, a take on the original making forgiveness divine,  is supposed to accompany the snarling wolf.    Again, context plays a key role that we too often fail to take into consideration.

The second page represents balance within.  Mixed in with what is real in our lives are a tumult of ideas of what might be.  That is a picture of Hedy Lamarr--she's even before my time!--that I copied on tissue paper.  Bust magazine had a great article on her.  It turns out that the uber-famous, sexy actress was also uber-bright and inventive.    

These are the ideas that come of writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing every day. I read a book recently that suggested the writing each morning and a walk every day to expand our creativity.  Those were the only things I liked about the book, but each has turned out to be priceless advice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Xyron Magic Sticker Machine

When got the Xyron sticker maker free at the Maker Faire,  I thought I'd use it, but didn't think it would be used all that often.  I've used it three times in less than a week on things I never imagined when I got it.

First, I was doing the  frog pattern from a previous post.  I hate it when I can't remember where the pattern came from..  You cut it out, file the pattern pieces away, and wonder where you got it from months or years later.  Yes, I could write on it, but the Lil Blue Boo blog owner who created the pieces had printed out her information on the page containing the pattern.  I'm cutting the pattern anyway--why not just cut out the info, run it through the new sticker maker, and slap it on the pattern!  So take one Xyron machine and the cut outs, and I will know where the pattern came from in order to give credit whenever I use it.

A day later I wanted a address label.  Why get out the label paper, load the printer, etc. when I can just type it out on a bit of paper--scrap paper at that--and run it through the sticker maker!

Today, I wanted to post a note on the dryer reminding my houseful of young people that they could and should CLEAN OUT THE LINT FILTER ON THE DRYER.  I wanted something more than the usual post-it.  I think this is going to have to be up for a while.  Amazingly enough, I'm finding that people in their late teens and twenties are more forgetful than preschoolers.  So, in any case, yeah, I used the Xyron.  Scribble a note on the back of a piece of scrap paper, run it through the little machine,
 and you have this.  
The sticky stuff works great.
I thought the information about clothes drying faster might capture their attention.  I find this crew of housemates are often drying something they need to wear NOW.

I love this little machine.  It's cute, takes up little space, and makes me think creatively.  I've just started my 21 Secrets Art Journal Lessons.  In the midst of the first one, I'm thinking, "I can use my Xyron to do some of this!"  I've check out the price of adhesive refills.  They are exceptionally reasonable and come in permanent and repositional strengths.  In fact, the machines are really inexpensive as well.  I'm really going to have to let the Xyron people know how much I appreciate their gift.  Their new slogan should be, "Xyron, not just for scrap-booking."

Lil Blue Boo's Blog

The frog pattern I used in my last post came from  Lil Blue Boo's blog.  It's a great little frog and so easy to do.  This creative and giving lady is now having a giveaway for a doll's dress pattern.  If you've got little people in the family, these dresses look like they will be quick and fun for dolls and also something that could be tweaked to fit other sizes and creatures.  Creatures sometimes need dresses, too.  I know this from my sock creature challenge.  Charlotte the Harlot comes to mind right now.

Check out the Lil Blue Boo blog.  This talented lady has an online pattern shop, too.  I do love shopping online--no checkout lines, delivered to your door, mailbox, or, in this case, email account, shopping at all hours in whatever grungy clothing you happen to be in at the moment...Life is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Use Your Crap Challenge

I have a closet (okay two) full of crafty crap and half the time, I can't remember what project I bought the stuff for in the first place.  I also spend way too much time downloading ideas and not enough seeing them through. Consequently, when I saw the Shannon Makes Stuff blog challenge to stop buying and start using up crafty crap I knew I really needed to join.    I didn't get a lot done this week but something is better than nothing, right?

So my first goal is to use up some of the flannel fabric.  Here is the "Frog in the Pond."

The little guy has a fly on his tongue.

The basic frog design is  from Lil Blue Boo's blog.  A big thanks to the Lil Blue Boo designer.  It was really easy to sew up.  Lil Blue Boo's is a bean bag, but I decided to go with stuffing on this one.  I didn't do her crown this time, although I really want to try that on the next one.  The blanket doesn't have batting, just two layers of flannel.  It's about receiving blanket size.

Another big thanks to Shannon for inspiring me to stop buying and get doing.