Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thank you Martha!

My best friend Megan, got me a subscription to Martha Stewart Living for christmas and oh my it is such a fabulous magazine. There are always about fifty projects and recipes I want to try in every issue.  This project is from the May issue (the one with all the poppies on the cover) of this year. And I am so pleased with how it turned out. I made it in an afternoon while watching Dr. Who. Very easy, very rewarding and relaxing (if you find making things relaxing that is).
The fan and the pill box hat came from
my favorite store Jill's Addictions.

It's perfect for me because I am trying to accessorize more with my outfits but have a hard time even remembering to do that (I can't imagine why with a bazillion children hollering at me as soon as I step out of the shower... what's that? I don't have a bazillion children? Well it sure sounds like it.)  Where was I again? Oh yes, so this is not only beautiful it's practical as I can see some of my current favorite pieces and put them right on.  Also it's sort of a way to display your pretties as art work and if I tire of a certain necklace or what ever I can just put different jewelry on it and get a whole new look.

I bought the shadow box at Michaels (with a bday gift certificate) and used scrap booking paper on the back. I removed the glass and mod-podged the paper on the back. I then twisted little white hooks I bought at the hardware store right into the frame and voila! I think the look is perfect for my vintage and vintage inspired jewelry.
I got this octopus necklace from Etsy from a shop called
VintageProtege. Her stuff is really fun and affordable
he was only $5 and is metal! That is amazing!
Plus I love buying handmade.
I can't remember where I got the locket but
I do know it was on-line.

This flower necklace came from
Brian and my trip to Lake Michigan.
I got them at an antique mall there. Such a good deal.
The bracelet on the bottom was my Great Grandmother's.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another New Dress.

From Sew Serendipity Studios.

There is a funny story behind this dress. Well, maybe a better word would be amusing.  At our local independent sewing shop (SewUnique Threads, which if you sew and haven't been there you must it's fabulous and the owner is so helpful and sweet), I saw this dress pattern. Probably at least six months ago if not longer and have been ogling it since. I go in and look at it and sigh and then go on about my business. I've even had in-depth discussions with the shop owner about this pattern. It's difficult for me to spend $12 on a pattern plus the fabric because it can get costly fast and you can usually get a pattern from the big three on sale for like $2 (though, my splurge for my birthday dress pattern showed me that using these boutique patterns makes a world of difference in your sewing.) 
I made this pin holder out by affixing a magnet
on the bottom. I got the dish at Amazing Grace in Marshall
for $3!

Then I turned 30 and one of my gifts from a lovely and very generous couple in our church was this pattern plus a gift certificate to SewUnique!!!!! I was so thrilled and a little amazed that out of all the patterns in the world she picked out the one I have been wanting for so long (my dad calls that a side blessing. Something God gives to us not because we need it but just to bless us and remind us He's here.)  The card was really cute it said: We bought you a dress, you just have to make it. You know your a strange person when that makes you all giddy inside.
The trim is vintage I got it at an antique store.
I actually think I would leave it off if I was doing it again
but I do like the scandinavian feel it adds.

Back to the dress. The directions were great until the very end.  I seriously could not figure out the very last step in the directions. I finally just used my common sense and in all honesty it probably would make sense to some one else. I always struggle with construction but this pattern was a breeze to work with. I even installed an invisible zipper with out crying or swearing!  I'm happy with how well it went together (pretty fast for me I think I worked on it in little spurts for a week), though I'm a bit disappointed in how it looks on me. I don't think it looks bad just not as good as my birthday dress.  I didn't realize that it was an empire waist because it doesn't really look like that in the picture and I don't think that's the best style on someone as "well-endowed" as me. Still, it's cute and summery and I'll definitely wear it  through out the rest of the summer (I have a cousin's wedding shower coming up, perfect.) and I left space so that I could take it in next spring if I continue to loose weight so hopefully I'll get more wear out of it since it's already August (doesn't that just make you sick?).

 I have to take a sewing break while my dad and I work on remodeling the basement but I think you will all be amused with my next project.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Skirt and Shorts.

So I have been sewing all summer. I'm a slow sewer because I have no permanent space for sewing so it's a lot of getting the stuff out and putting it away. A lot of sew a seam stop and change a diaper, sew a seam stop clear the table and make lunch etc. Despite that I have been doing exponentially more then ever before. The Colette pattern I used for my birthday dress really inspired me that I could make nice clothes that I would actually want to wear.
This is the pattern I used for the following
skirt and shorts. Very easy to use.

So any way I love skirts for the summer. They're so breezy and look better on me then shorts. Here is a picture of a skirt I made at the beginning of the summer. I used a home decor fabric. I love the look and feel of home decor fabrics. I realize that's weird but you get the best summer prints and I like the weight of them. If you use them beware they shrink a lot so buy a little extra.  The first thing I ever made for myself was a skirt out of home decor fabric and it's still one of my favorites.  This new skirt has pockets! Isn't that great?! They didn't show up to well in the pictures but there is this super cute inverted pleat in the pockets.

My face looks confused.

These shorts are also from the same pattern. My vision for these shorts was a more grown up version of little girl summer shorts. I bought this really cute bias tape from etsy from Polly Danger for my Easter dress but it ended up not looking right. It was, however, the perfect compliment for these shorts. I was really pleased how well they came together but remember how I warned you about shrinkage? Yea I lost so much fabric that I had to make a size smaller then I intended so they don't fit. Darn! I'm fairly certain that they'll fit next year. Instead of a gathered waist like in the pattern I made a regular waist band and added a zipper. It worked out pretty well except what I didn't take into account was that the band was made to be gathered so it fits around my waist while the butt and lower abs is waaay too tight. Which means that next year when they fit the waist will be too big. But, I'll either wear a cute belt or put in a couple of pleats.
 Did I mention I also added top stitching
in light blue?
Love the interesting pocket details.

This trim is made from vintage fabric!

Working on another dress right now and I'll let you see it when it's done. If you want to that is.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Moment of Brilliance or Midnight Ramblings?

This next post is something that I've been wanting to put into words for a long time now but haven't been sure how. I think I finally did manage it after being inspired by the movie "I am Number Four" (don't laugh at me I've never claimed to have good taste in movies.) Even if this post is rambling it meant a lot to me and I actually want to dedicate it to a few people... Okay a lot of people.  Really there aren't many people in my life who haven't inspired me but I want to especially thank a few of them.

First of all my parents for bringing me up. Second Courtney and Megan for your love and art. Third my Writer's Group (formerly Kava Writers Collective) for inspiring me with your words and pushing me to go further. For my husband for believing in me all the way. And, especially to my baby sister Heather for being the most brilliant creative person I know. Heather, you inspire me daily with your talents, bravery, and wonderful conversations.

                                            The Reason I love to Read and Write Fantasy.

I think there is a longing or a sensitivity in our souls that there is more to the World and Universe then what we can see, touch, hear and smell. We instinctively know that there is more; we are wired for the spiritual.  Yet the spiritual is so vague so difficult to put into words.  We do have knowledge (as one of my professors called it, progressive revelation) of God, creation, the trinity, but sadly we are still lacking in so much information so much we can’t begin to understand. There is evil we sense it feel it. I believe all cultures have devil myths. Most of us believe that there is some kernel of truth to them. We also sense that there is power in love and friendship and goodness. We hope that somehow in our own lives and world wide that love will win the day even when faced with all the odds all the horrors of this present reality we must believe that in the end goodness will win out.  Why do we feel these things, long for them? Because our souls know there is more out there but how does one put it into words? How does one explain something so very unexplainable?

This is why I think that we love the fantasy world. I think it’s why we create so many magical worlds around us because some things can’t be explained truly but, perhaps, we can touch on them in story or music or art. Maybe we can create parables that can help us to understand even if we can’t actually explain it. The bible says there are powers and principalities not of this world, that there are wars being raged around us that we don’t see. So we create worlds where the powers for good and evil are tangible. Where wands are physical things that we use to wield power for good or bad. Where an actual ring is the source of all evil. It’s fantasy and yet we accept it for the sake of story because we understand that there must actually be a source of evil. That there is, indeed, power in love, friendship, and honesty.

It’s why so much of what I create is in the fantasy world. It’s why I’m drawn to worlds such as Hogwarts and Middle Earth. It’s why I can spend hours following Dr. Who around the universe and time. Because when I partake in these fantasy worlds there is something inside me, in my core, that practically sings. A piece of my soul takes flight. It feels as if part of me is tethered to this earth to this plane of existence and yet it is only a thin veil that separates me from seeing it all; the depths of creation as it were. For a moment when I read a book or watch a good movie or television show my sub-conscience is allowed to break free to almost peak behind that barrier and I find myself thinking “Yes, that’s it. That’s almost it!” It’s only for that moment of course, I have to come back but it is a glorious moment. I suspect that when we cross that final barrier we will see it all but for now God has given us creative minds, to create, as it were, places in which to describe and experience this longing for what isn’t tangible. I suppose it’s why there are arts and literature and music. We probably all experience and act it out differently but it’s root is the same; an intrinsic understanding that there is something more to this world, more power and more things unseen.

 Makes me wonder what power there is in me that I could unleash if only I found the right key. The Holy Spirit, perhaps, unleashes some power through me now. I’m certain I get in the way of it releasing a lot more but what will I find in me when I do cross into that other existence for good? I imagine myself throwing my arms out ward my face turned up and light radiating out of me Beauty and the Beast style. Oh to see behind that veil to come to a place where we not only see but touch the source of all love and goodness and power! Oh what a day that will be! And, praise be to Him for giving us minds to create places to peak behind the veil, until that day comes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Outdoor Life.

So I just ate my first BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato) with tomato (I am finally growing up) and it was my first home grown tomato from my very own potted garden! So now I get it. I understand why people actually like tomatoes and why they grow them themselves! Now that I have so many dietary restrictions I have to buy english muffin bread and it's a bit dryer then regular bread. I said to my husband yesterday, while chewing and chewing a bite of sandwich, maybe this is why people put tomatoes on them for moisture. Then we went out side and one of my tomatoes had actually ripened.

It was very exciting, any time I actually have a vegetable or fruit that I grew I get so happy it's hard to describe but I see why people garden. I mean it's like a wonderful tasting thing that cost me no money (okay it cost money; I had to buy the pots, soil and plants and the water bill... but no money at the grocery store.)  So back to my run-on story, today I had Jen over and we ate BLT's for lunch with my first ever home-grown tomato AND home-grown lettuce. Oh the sandwich was beautiful. I very delicately bit into it expecting to hate the tomato but what met my taste buds was a tangy salty combination of flavors and textures so amazing just thinking about it makes me want to get up go in the kitchen and make another one.
Ranger loves the backyard too!

This little guy has lots of fun back here.

I LOVE summer and I LOVE being outside. Our Michigan winters can be so harsh that I want to be out side whenever I can. I started a flower garden several years ago to give me something to do while the kids played. Every year I learn more and experiment more and this year my garden looks pretty nice (it actually looked a bit better last year I need to rethink my fertilizer and some plants for next year). This year I decided to do a vegetable garden and after reading up on my area I decided to do a potted garden as there are a lot of chemicals in the soil here (I live near several factories and there was an oil spill across the road from us). And it's turned out to be great because they're easy to care for and since it's potted I can move them around if I need to. I'm so into it I really want a big raised bed next year so I can actually get a crop of something but for a first year this was great. It'd also be good if you didn't have a yard and just a patio or balcony. I have a tomato plant, a couple zucchini plants (man there prolific and yummy) a green bean plant (it's a funny plant I get like three green beans at a time not much of a crop but the kids find it exciting) a few lettuce plants surrounding a pepper plant (the idea was that the pepper would shade the lettuce but the lettuce is huge!) two pots of strawberries (where we get the occasional berry the kids then fight over) and I have herbs in my window boxes. My basil didn't survive, I wish I'd planted mint, I'm about to loose a strawberry plant and I need to figure out how to dry the herbs. But it's all great fun.

What I've learned from both flower and vegetable gardening is that you just have to do it. I mean you can read and read and read and honestly you can read so much you'll freak out and never start. Really some of the organic books go into pests in such detail you'll want to run screaming to your basement. You'll never know every thing so if your waiting until you do you'll never start. You just have to jump in and realize that some things won't work (my success rate with strawberries is like negative) but you'll learn and try something different next time. Really I think gardening is one of those things best learned by doing. And if you do have a question just google it then you get a concentrated answer to one problem instead of getting side tracked with all the crazy bugs and stuff.

A year ago my Grammy and Papa bought me a picnic table that we use A LOT. I love to entertain but our house is quite tiny so we have almost all of our get togethers outside. This picnic table has seen it's share of neighbors, friends, kids, staff parties and just simple family meals. I love it and like to use my vintage table clothes on it.  My mom and dad bought me a new swing this year and it's so comfortable and the awning makes a huge difference in the comfort level of being outside where we don't have much shade.  I just bought these chairs. I started seeing this type of reproduction lawn chairs early this spring and fell in love. I had a couple of adirondack chairs but they officially bit the dust last year leaving us with a lack of seating when we do have company. These chairs fit the bill and my vintage style so I saved up and was so happy to get them home.  It all looks so nice and in some ways my back yard is my favorite "room" in my house.
The yellow chair was the floor model and they gave it to me for a ganga deal.

Summer makes me smile and seeing the back yard come together makes me smile and seeing those I love the most drinking lemon aid and chatting while our children play in the sprinkler and on the swing set makes me smile the most. I am grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with including my first tomato!