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Peace At Last

And there was peace at last

And there was peace at last

I’ve been working a lot of hours lately. A lot. Close to 60 hours a week since September. Ugh. Anyone who tells you that being an accountant is a great career needs to be kicked in a sensitive spot. Seriously.

As I became more stressed (and a lot more crazed) my poor, relatively new husband was concerned and alarmed (read: shaking his head while muttering, “WTF?”).

Did I mention I’m a newlywed? Yeah. He’d never seen me that way before. Our conversation went something like this:

Hubs, “You’re losing it.”

Me, “Duh.”

Hubs, “What can we do to make it better?”

Me, “Can I have my sewing space back, somehow?”

Hubs, “You betcha.”

Before he moved in, my second bedroom was set up as a sewing room. After he moved in (bringing his solid cherry, queen-size, sleigh bed with him) my sewing stuff was packed away and it became an actual spare bedroom.

The spare bedroom? It’s been used twice in a year.

When I began to lose it from work-stress, hubs spent a good twelve hours helping me tear that bed apart and re-arranging stuff in the spare room so I could pull my sewing stuff out of the closet. My hubs? He rocks. He is the best man I could ever ask for and I’m so incredibly lucky he asked me out and then asked me to marry him. (Well, it wasn’t that fast, but less than six months so it seemed that fast!)

Fast forward to the past two months.

As work stress and hours increase, my creativity at home skyrockets. I always manage to find a few hours each weekend to spend sewing or playing with my junk journal scrapbook. While surfing the DIY- Crafts category at Pinterest, I came across this gorgeous quilt. Go look. Drool. I’ll wait.

Well, that fantastic quilter also linked to the tutorial she used at Better Off Thread to make her quilt (another stunner). I clicked that link so fast my mouse didn’t know what hit it.

After two weekends of feverish sewing, much swearing, and lots of seam ripping, I now have this wonderful piece of happiness to hang in the office I am often chained in. YAY!

LoneStar in Purple

My piecing and quilting leaves a lot to be desired. I am woefully out of practice. After sewing that center section three times trying to get all the star points to come together correctly, this attempt was my “good enough, let’s move on” moment. The bright pink bled through and stained the back when I washed it, but I think it’s pretty cool anyway.

The sad part? I’m leaving on a business trip today and won’t get to hang it in my office until next Monday. Hmpf. I want to see it hanging on the wall so I can dream about doing a smaller-scale one for my apartment door.

And the hubs? He’s just happy I’m not losing it anymore. Peace at last.

 

Mike’s Dinosaur Hoodie

Cutie PieThis is my husband, Mike. Isn’t he adorable? He’s so happy in this picture because I just surprised him with a hooded sweatshirt that has dinosaur scales sewn on to it. I don’t need kids, because my husband is a huge kid at heart. He freaking loved this hoodie!

How did I make it? Well, first I found this tutorial on Pinterest: Dinosaur hooded sweatshirt DIY

It’s for a child’s sweatshirt and I needed something for my big guy. But, it gave me basic instructions. I modified it in the hopes it would stand up to the everyday wear I knew Mike would give it. Here’s my version of dinosaur hooded sweatshirt:

InterfacingMaterials:

1 hooded, zip-up sweatshirt

5 pieces dark green felt

5 pieces lime green felt

1 yard very stiff interfacing (Pellon Peltex 70)

Paper, scissors, rotary cutter, rulers, iron, sewing machine with jeans/denim needle, thread, and a walking foot (optional).

Notes:

You can use any color felt you want. I had a black sweatshirt so I used green felt. (I’m planning to make a second one for me using pink felt.)

A zip-up hoodie is going to be a lot easier to work with. You could probably use a pull-over, but sewing on the scales will be a lot more difficult.

The walking foot is optional, but will make sewing the scales on much easier. (I didn’t use my walking foot and it was tough getting all those layers through my machine.)

Instructions:

To start, you need to make a paper template of your scale. Mike is a big guy, so I wanted big scales.

Fold your piece of felt in half and put the template on top.

Fold your piece of felt in half and put the template on top.

I used 9″ x 12″ felt rectangles I purchased at Joanne’s Fabrics for 34 cents each in the craft department. I measured a piece of scrap paper and cut it to match the size of my felt rectangle. I wanted to get two scales from each piece of felt, so I cut that piece of paper in half giving it a final measurement of 6″ x 9″.

Take your paper rectangle and fold it in half width-wise and then again lengthwise. Unfold the paper. You should have two intersecting folds in the center of your rectangle. Fold it up again width-wise so you have a 6″ x 4.5″ rectangle. Using a ruler, draw two lines from center fold at the top, to the folded base edge of your paper, making a triangle. Cut along the lines, unfold, and you should have a diamond-shaped template.

Fold a piece of felt in half so it measures 6″ x 9″ and place your template on top. Using a ruler and a rotary cutter, cut along the sides of the template. You should end up with two felt diamonds. Set aside and cut all your pieces of felt the same way.

Now use your template to cut the same diamond out of your stiff interfacing. I used Pellon Peltex 70, ultra firm stabilizer. You will need half as many interfacing diamonds as your felt ones. I cut 10 felt diamonds, so I only cut 5 interfacing diamonds.

Make a sandwich with the interfacing in the middle

Make a sandwich with the interfacing in the middle

Layer your spikes with one piece of felt, interfacing in the middle, then a second diamond of felt on top. If you pin the edges a little, it will be more stable while you sew it together. I was in a hurry and didn’t bother.

Make sure you’ve got a denim or other heavyweight fabric needle on your sewing machine. Sew around the edges of your felt diamond sandwich. I sewed a 1/4″ seam in from the edge, then went back and used a zig-zag stitch around the edges to keep the edges from curling in the washing machine.

Once you have all your diamond sandwiches sewed together, it’s time to attach them to the sweatshirt. Unzip the sweatshirt and fold it in half down the middle, including the hood. Iron this fold so you can see the center line down the back of the sweatshirt when it’s unfolded.

1/4" around the edge, finish with a zigzag stitch

1/4″ around the edge, finish with a zigzag stitch

If you want to use a walking foot, load that on to your sewing machine along with a fresh jeans needle. (My sweatshirt was also fleece lined. I had to literally pull and shove it through my machine without the walking foot. I would not recommend a heavy-fleece lined sweatshirt for this project!)

Start at the front edge of the hood. Put your diamond down so the short width is on top of the ironed line and the tip of the diamond is just slightly back from the edge of the hood (1/4″). Sew the diamond on to the sweatshirt, reinforcing the edges by back-stitching a little on each tip. Line the next diamond up so it is right next to, but not on top of, the first diamond and sew it down.

Continue sewing diamonds to the back of the sweatshirt, following the ironed line as your center point for the diamonds. Mike’s sweatshirt is a 3X and I used exactly nine diamonds, ending right at the edge of the stretchy waistband. If you decide to sew on to the waistband, pull it taut so it is all stretched as you sew. This will prevent the stitches from popping when it does get stretched.

Once you have all the diamonds sewn on, fold the diamond in half along your sewn seam, and tack the tips of the diamonds together to make them stand up. I just sewed a line across the tips, about a half inch down. Back-stitch as you sew so it won’t come out in the wash.

Your dinosaur hooded sweatshirt is complete! Wrap it up and watch the look of happy surprise as your kid, big or little, tries it on. Mine did a lot of Godzilla-type roaring and didn’t take it off until he went to bed that night.

Mike loves his new hoodie!

Mike loves his new hoodie!

Creative Overload

I’ve been on a roll lately with creating things. When Mike moved in, my sewing room became a spare bedroom. Lately, I’ve been working a lot of long, stressful hours at work. It was beginning to get to me. I asked Mike if we could figure out a way to unpack my sewing things so I had a way to forget about work for a while. He’s awesome and a few hours later, the spare bed was disassembled and I had a sewing area. YAY!!!

In short order, I completed three projects: a tote bag I started a few years ago and never finished, and a couple of cute little mug rug quilts for Mike and I to use on our desks at work.

My new tote bag

My new tote bag

My mug rug

My mug rug

Mike's Mug Rug, he picked the colors.

Mike’s Mug Rug, he picked the colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I read about “Smash” Journals on Pinterest. I had never heard of such a thing before. But, I’ve always kept little bits of paper (ticket stubs, brochures, etc.) that I couldn’t bear to throw away. I started doing a lot of research and the next thing I knew, I was on my way to my local craft supply store.

I really love the idea of the Smash journals, but not being able to add pages really bothered me. (I didn’t find the adhesive spine inserts until yesterday.) I wanted a three ring binder. This is what I found:

The journal before I played with it.

The journal before I played with it.

It was pretty thin.

It was pretty thin.

 

 

 

 

It’s the  Creative Chaos Girl Power Small Binder by Recollections™. I found it at Michael’s right next to the Smash books in the scrapbooking section. This is what it looked like when I was done adding all the stuff I dug out of drawers and boxes:

 

Cover, After

Cover, After I Customized it

Inside pages

 Some Inside Pages

Christmas Page

My Christmas Page

After, Fat

After, It Was Fat

 

 

 

 

 

 

I filled that journal up. Done. No more room. I have trouble turning the pages because it’s so full. I needed a new journal to put stuff in for 2013. I went back to the craft store. Man, those SMASH Journals are so pretty. But, they just won’t work for me. I like to add too much stuff.

I looked at dozens of tutorials online (YouTube is my friend) about how to make your own smash or junk journal. They are all so pretty! Tags, stamps, ribbons, vintage papers… I don’t have any of that stuff. I am not a scrapbooker. I don’t have even basic supplies like paper or stickers.

Making my own journal with all of that pretty stuff would require a lot of supplies I just don’t have laying around and can’t afford to buy. But, I do have spare office supplies. This is what I came up with:

1. A three ring binder (1-1/2 inch rings) with a pretty cover

2. Standard college ruled, loose leaf paper

3. 4 x 6 index cards, various colors

4. 5 x 8 index cards, white

5. Index dividers for in my binder

6. CD sized mailing envelopes (white and brown)

Then I went to the store and purchased a box of tags, some washi-style tape, stickers, a few of the SMASH journaling pads (Top 10, Family, and Entertainment), along with a SMASH Stick pen.

I also went to WalMart and purchased two $5 packs of scrap booking paper. They have pretty patterns on one side and the back is white. I bought a bunch of glue sticks and glued them together so both sides are pretty.

Then I used my three hole punch and put holes in everything. I loaded it all in my binder, along with a zipper pocket to hold stickers, pens, tape and my SMASH Stick. This is what it looks like:

Three Ring Binder

Three Ring Binder

Pocket Page

Pocket Page

Papers & Cards

Papers & Cards

I cut the brown envelopes down and glued them to the index tabs to make pockets. I put some tags, pages from the SMASH pads, post it notes and some index cards in the pockets so I can use them when I need them. I kept the white envelopes intact and just punched holes so they can hold stuff until I have a chance to glue it in.

I’m not going to customize the binder. It’s going to travel with me a lot so I’m going to wait until the journal is full, then purchase a paper binder and customize it later. Doing it now is just asking it to be ruined by riding around in my bag.

So, it’s not pretty. It doesn’t have the antique papers, gorgeous tags, pretty stamps and inks… but it will do what I need it to do. Maybe by the time I’m ready to make a new journal, I will have some of those cool things to do it with so I have a gorgeous journal. Right now, this is my non-scrapbook solution to making my own junk journal. I can’t wait to get started!

 

NaNoWriMo

I love to write, but it’s not something that comes naturally for me. I’ll go weeks or months without writing, with no inspiration, no inclination, no desire to write. Then I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with some character beating the inside of my skull screaming to get out.

So out they come. At 4:30 in the morning. Because really? I can’t sleep once that person has started screaming in my head. It’s impossible.

I’ve had Sunny and Web screaming in my head for months now. I keep telling them to be quiet, wait just a little longer. November is almost here and I really look forward to NaNoWriMo. Surely, they could wait just a few more weeks until November 1st?

They bitched. They complained. They forced me to research and take notes. Make outlines. Figure out who they were as people. They whispered bits and pieces of themselves into my dreams at night, my frustrations at work, at dinner with friends. In short, they drove me batshit crazy.

But today? Today is November 1st and NaNoWriMo is finally here. At 5:00 am they started screaming at me to get my wide-load butt out of bed and start writing. So, I did.

I don’t have much to show for an hour, only about 177 words. But, it’s a start.

Only 49,823 more to go. Yay!

Storm Prep

Some of our supplies for Sandy.

We live in the western part of New York state. Right in the path of hurricane Sandy. Mike and I went out this morning to grab a few supplies “just in case.”

Both Walmart and Wegman’s (our favorite local grocery store) were insane! People everywhere. I think we had more fun watching them than doing our own shopping. Mike insisted we start in the “Lawn & Garden” section of Walmart. Or, as he calls it, Zombie Apocalypse Central. Most of what you need (according to my husband) to survive the zombie apocalypse can be found here. Grills, charcoal, weapons (garden tools), heat (patio heaters), durable lawn furniture (plastic), and propane for heat.

I rolled my eyes at him and played along.

Then we went to the camping section. Flashlights, batteries, lanterns, sleeping bags; I refused to let him buy a tent. I’m sorry, we have a perfectly sound apartment on the third floor. I refuse to believe I will need a tent for this storm. We also grabbed candles, matches, sterno for our fondue pot, bottled water, cat food, hot dogs, eggs, bread, milk, cans of baked beans and a fuzzy pink robe for me “because you’ll freeze to death otherwise.”

The sad part is, he’s not wrong. I’m always cold.

We didn’t exactly need more whiskey.

A quick stop at the liquor store (whiskey is a multi-purpose item: warmth, disinfectant, and happiness all in one bottle) and we decided we are almost ready. I’m going to make a huge pot of chili and jar it up. It should be easy to reheat in the fondue pot if we lose power. We’re doing every scrap of laundry we have so there are plenty of clean, warm clothes and charging up all of our various electronic devices.

Once I get the dishes done, we should be ready. Which means, hopefully, Sandy will blow herself out and never reach us.

But those zombies? Bring it on!

Trouble is ready to kick zombie butt.

Sunday Funday

Sunday around here is known as Sunday Funday, especially during football season. This Sunday, not so fun. Well, it was fun, but not relaxing in the slightest. I spent the entire day cooking.

I’m traveling this week for work. Mike is convinced he’s going to starve to death. He used the puppy dog eyes. He begged. I cooked.

Beer and Bacon Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Beyond Belief Sandwich Beef

Football Chili

And, Chocolate Chip cookies.

The man is not going to starve. He’s going to be eating like a king while I’m living out of a suitcase and ordering Domino’s to my hotel room.

Bastard. I hardly got to watch any football. (Can you believe Buffalo finally won? It’s a miracle!) I’m such a sucker for puppy dog eyes.

Good thing I love him.