inefficiency

Another window has been dressed, and I really love it. I'm in a sewing mood lately, it seems. This long skinny window is next to the door in my little house studio, so I thought it would be fun to do something colorful and bright in this light, white space. I started out by pulling out some scraps from my scrap basket, and piecing them together. Since I didn't have much of a plan to start with, I just did a row of patches at a time. It was probably not the most efficient way to go about it, and probably took longer than it should have, but it was a pleasant sort of quiet busy-ness.

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I just lined it with a bit of lightweight white cotton and hung it with tension rods at the top and bottom. I love how it looks a little bit like stained glass with the light shining through. The colors are so cheery, they make me happy to look at them.

image from www.flickr.com

As I sew, I always hear the voice of my college clothing construction teacher. She was a brilliant seamstress, and I learned so much from her classes. I was thinking it would be fun to have a little online blog sewing class. I'll pick out a pattern-probably a skirt to start, then maybe a blouse-and anyone who wants to join in, can! Is anyone interested? We'll cover everything from choosing sewing supplies and equipment to adjusting a pattern to fit.

 image from www.flickr.com

I'll work out the details this week and start up the week after. 

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shade

I'm ready to start tackling some slightly bigger projects around the house now that I have the time, hopefully one or two every week!

When we moved in many, many years ago, almost every window had mini-blinds. The depth of my mini-blind loathing cannot be adequately expressed in polite language. I managed to remove the worst offenders in years past, but there have been a few hangers-on, taunting me with their dusty, broken slats. So I hereby declare February the month in which I will eliminate the last mini-blinds from my home, if it kills me.

First up, are the doors, front and back. Well, actually, I removed the blinds from the front door, painted it, and started on a simple linen shade, but Mr. HeyLucy had strong feelings about the way it was looking. Since he doesn't usually have much of an opinion regarding my home decor projects, I decided to appease him and go another direction for the front door, and use the shade in my little house studio instead, which desperately needs some window treatments all around. 

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When I was in high school, I worked in a drapery workroom. It was the 80s and we made lots of Roman shades and balloon shades. I like this updated take, it's simple and soft. I am considering adding a border or embroidery to the bottom, but I've got to take care of some other windows first. 

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It's just unlined, washed linen, and it used a minimal amount of fabric, which happened to be a curtain panel from our old house. Since my professional drapery sewing days were a few years ago, I referred to Simple Soft Furnishings for specific directions. I can't recommend that book highly enough. The projects are all very straight-forward, and easily adaptable for any style of decor. Next up, I think I will do a colorful patchwork kind of thing for that long window next to the door.

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It feels good to have that done!

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a simple craft

First of all, thanks for all the kind words when I asked about what makes a good blog. My plan right now is to keep doing what I've been doing, but I will be doing it much more often! My goal is to have a new post every week day, and I'm having so much fun coming up with ideas to share. So thanks for visiting regularly, and I hope I will be able to make it worth your while!

As I mentioned before, I'm doing some serious cleaning out around here. This week I'm working on our laundry room which is just a tiny junk room, really. Now it's a little easier to walk in there without tripping over the vacuum or a pile of laundry, and I will eventually do some painting and reorganizing. While going through a cupboard the other day I came across a couple things that inspired a little craft project. I have a stack of little shopping bags, the brown paper bag kind, with the twine handle that I can never bear to throw out because they're so cute, you know? I sometimes used them for lunch bags, but since I'm not taking my lunch anywhere I thought I'd find another use for them. Of course the first thought was gift bags, but how to decorate them? Most have a big logo for the stores they came from, so that's kind of tacky. Then I found some coffee filters. Not being a coffee maker, I'm not sure where they came from, but I suspect I was saving them for some long forgotten craft project. 

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So the wheels in my brain started spinning, and I thought about some other stuff I had laying around, and without buying a thing I came up with a plan. Some old book pages taped over the logos was easy enough. Then I experimented with coloring the coffee filters. I pulled out some watercolors for the pink flower, and the tea-dyed the filters for the antique-y flower. I'm not very skilled with watercolor paint, but I don't think it's possible to mess it up in this case. The filters can handle a lot of water, so I just soaked them and dabbed paint all over and blotted them with a paper towel when I was done. The tea-dyed filters were literally just soaked in pot of tea. I squeezed them out and laid them flat to dry, which only took a half hour or so. They ended up with a nice crinkly texture.

Each flower is six or seven layers, and I simply folded each filter in half and then in half again a total of four times. Each layer was then trimmed into a petal shape, each layer successively smaller than the last. The smallest layers I slashed the petals apart for a fringe-y effect. 

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com
I stacked up all the layers and then searched through my box of beads for just the right centers for my flowers. I sewed on some pearly beads in different sizes and colors for the tea-dyed flower, going through all the layers, and did the same with some irredescent green seed beads for the pink flower. 

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I cut a circle of felt for the back of each flower and cut two small slits for the pin back to go through. I covered the stitching on the back with hot glue and then also applied a line of hot glue around the edge of the felt circle before applying it to the back of the flower.

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Lastly, it was just a matter of flipping the flowers over and fluffing up the front. I went layer by layer and even used a little steam from my iron to make them stand up a little more. 

image from www.flickr.com

Oh, and as an added touch, I used some eyelets on the bags for the pins to go through. They probably aren't necessary, but they're fun to use, so I went for it. 

image from www.flickr.com
I'm sure what I came up with is not entirely original, I know there was a Martha Stewart coffee filter rose project not long ago, but I like to think I put my own twist on it. And the flower is a nice bonus on top of whatever gift I might put in the bag. They are surprisingly durable and could be pinned on a lapel or a bag or maybe a hat. Next up, I think I'm going to play around with some fabric flowers. I love flowers!

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a corner

It's too darn hot for outside projects, and I'm getting the itch to completely re-do everything in our house. I don't have the time or the funds for any huge undertakings, so I'm sticking with little bits and pieces for now. Sometimes small projects have just as much impact as big, is what I'm thinking. 

image from www.flickr.com
This corner used to have a big clock that didn't work. It was the sort of thing that we didn't even see any more and it was just a greasy dust collector. Meanwhile, I had a knife rack kicking around forever, and never managed to get it hung up. It's just a cheapie ikea purchase (they don't seem to have the same one any more, but this is similar). I took it to the hardware store, but for once didn't get very good advice. They guy sold me a pair of toggle bolts, which were complete overkill and I realized when I got home that if I used them the holes I would have to drill in my wall would be bigger than the spacers that came with the rack. 

It occured to me this week that I could probably just use some simple, little plastic anchors that I already had in my neatly organized toolbox. I also had a newly purchased hook from the Anthropologie sale bin that I could hang the same way, so I got out my drill and in about 10 minutes I had a knife rack and a towel hook conveniently located near the sink. It's so nice to just grab a knife when I need one instead of rummaging through the drawer where they used to be, with their ugly paper sleeves protecting the blades and making it hard to tell which knife was which.

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Of course a new hook meant I needed some nice towels, so I rummaged through my scraps of linen, and found a few pieces that were appropriately sized and hemmed them up. It didn't cost a cent, and I they are just perfect. I added little loops of cotton tape to the middle of one long side on each towel, and they hang quite nicely for drying your hands. 

image from www.flickr.com

I think this will help my paper towel usage considerably. I'm feeling quite smug for using what I have and being so practical. Each towel is a little different, and I even found a piece of fabric with an edge bound in a cute 30's calico print. It's got a seam down the middle, and I have no idea what I was making, but I'm glad it found a new life as something useful.

image from www.flickr.com

Of course, I'm currently fighting the urge to completely re-paint my kitchen, but this new little corner will keep me happy for the time being. 

Next up I think I will tackle the front door. It needs paint and a curtain, and I think I might have come up with a good idea while I was rummaging through my fabric stash.

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summer, a list

A list (this post is brought to you by Instagram (and Magic Hour)):

1.Summer hair. I'm growing mine out, but when it's hot I hate it on my neck. I've been doing this a lot, although I obviously need to work on my bobby pin placement:

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2.Summer nail color. I'm pretending I'm trendy and wearing this lavendar on my fingers and toes. I've only just discovered Essie, so obviously I'm not really up on any trends. It's formaldahyde-free (as well as missing some other yucky chemicals found in most nail polish), and there are so many great colors. You can get some at Target.

3. Summer reading. What are you reading? I've got a stack of books to enjoy, but I'm re-reading Harry Potter just for the fun of it, and I just finished listening to A Game of Thrones, which was epic and brutal, and kept me entertained on my drive to and from work for nearly three weeks (it was 34 hours long!). I'm not quite up for the second book in the series yet, so I took a break and listened to a Stephanie Plum novel, which is definitely a guilty pleasure. In the stack on my nightstand I've got a copy of Centuries of June, which the publisher sent, so I need to get on that soon. It sounds highly entertaining, so I'm looking forward to that one. Also there is a gift from my sister-in-law, called Enslaved by Ducks, which I suspect will hit very close to home, as it is the story of a couple who adopt various animals and the hijinks that ensue. I can't tell you how many times I've watched all the little creatures in our yard, and thought about the comedies (and tragedies) I see and what great stories they would make. 

4. Summer farm. My garden has not materialized as I hoped, as we have had some crazy weather (frost, in June, triple-digit tempuratures earlier this month, followed by another frosty night last weekend), so I have to be content with nurturing the two new little hens I brought home last week. They are month-old Buff Orpingtons. My buffs were all stolen in the Great Chicken Robbery of 2009, and I've missed having some in my flock. These two are sweet as can be, with that same mellow buff personality that I love. 

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5. Summer crafts. I have been cleaning out our disaster area of a shed in the hopes of doing some more wood-working type projects, but until that gargantuan task is finished, I am contenting myself with some smaller crafts. I may even put a few things in my etsy shop again soon, who knows! Last weekend I made some tiny mushrooms for some tiny terrariums, because what could be better than a terrarium? A teeny, tiny terrarium, of course! I've got some moss to add to these, and hopefully enough chain to make them into necklaces. 

image from www.flickr.com

6a. Summer food. Do you know what season it is right now? Fig season! They are one of my favorites. This is a good way to make them: slice in half, and wrap each half with prosciutto. Then drizzle with good olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Grind a little pepper on top, and enjoy!

image from www.flickr.com6b. More summer food. There was also some yellowtail tuna caught by some co-workers who went on a three-day fishing trip and graciously shared their haul. I sliced up a piece and coated the slices in olive oil and herbs and just seared the outside. Served with agrodolce relish (tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, minced garlic, all sauteéd in olive oil and finished with a spoonful of red wine vinegar and a spoonful of sugar), coconut basmati rice, and arugula. 
image from www.flickr.com
What's on your summer list? 

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