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.

image from www.flickr.com

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. 

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. 

image from www.flickr.com

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. 

image from www.flickr.com

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.

image from www.flickr.com

It feels good to have that done!

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. 

image from www.flickr.com

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. 

image from www.flickr.com
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.

image from www.flickr.com
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!

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.

image from www.flickr.com
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.

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:

image from www.flickr.com

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. 

image from www.flickr.com
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? 

the porch, summer 2011, so far

One of the best places to spend a summer evening is on our porch. This is just a corner, but it's coming along nicely. I have a few projects planned for the coming months, like sanding and repainting that chair 🙂 Our house is little, so I want to use more of the porch, it's really like having an extra room or two. Yesterday I took a lunch hour trip to the nursery and picked up just a few little plants. The largest pot was already planted with mint, sage, and a lemon scented geranium.

image from www.flickr.com

We have lots of bits of wood around the yard from our oak trees that all died and had to be cut down. One log in particular caught my eye the other day. It was completely hollow in the middle. A squirrel had used it as a hiding place recently, driving the dogs crazy, since they couldn't reach inside to get it out. I put it outside the fence to allow the little bugger a chance to escape with his life, and wouldn't you know it, he was still there the next day. We have a few grey squirrels and some of their homlier brown cousins living in various trees in the yard. They're cute, but they torment and tease the dogs, and eat my tulips, so I am not a huge fan. I didn't feel too bad about turning one of their little hideouts into a planter for my porch. 

image from www.flickr.comMost of the bark was already off, to I just pulled off the remaining bits and gave it a quick sanding to smooth away some of the roughness. Then I just popped a little pot of lemon thyme in it. I love it!

image from www.flickr.com

I've also been cleaning out our shed, and found that little green basketweave California pottery piece. I like the contrast with the golden oregano.

image from www.flickr.com

The other pot has a rue plant that I hope will fill out and blossom soon. I also added a little straw flower for some color, and a succulent in a broken teacup to my bright yellow table.

image from www.flickr.com
image from www.flickr.com
I like the mismatched look of all the different pots and plants. My next woodshop project will involve a planter for more succulents to sit atop the table on the other side of the porch. I hope it works out so I can show you that soon!

one upping Martha

Oh how I love summer fruit. Most of the time I just like eating it as is, but I seem to have developed a weekend baking habit. Actually, I made one of these cherry tarts on a weekday, but that was for a farewell lunch at work, so it's not really the same thing at all, right? So, about these cherry tarts…the first one I made following this recipe exactly. It was quite good, although not spectacular, and was quickly consumed by my co-workers, much to the disappointment of Mr. HeyLucy. So I promised to make another one for him, only this time I decided to make it even better. I used mascarpone instead of cream cheese, and added a little lemon zest and juice to the creamy filling at the very end. I also brushed the cherries with cherry preserves, rather than raspberry, because that's what I had and it just seemed to make more sense. Strangely, the original recipe called for a six ounce package of cream cheese. Silly Martha, everywhere I looked, cream cheese is usually in eight ounce packages. I thought the mascarpone version was pretty perfect, very light and creamy. The lemon added a nice bit of tang. I am quite pleased with my adjustments. Also, it's just really pretty, no? 

  Tartframe 

Our air conditioner is currently refusing to come on before 8:30 pm, so I've been busy cleaning up the porch and making it into a couple extra rooms. It gets the morning sun, but it's lovely and shady the rest of the day. Things will be re-arranged throughout the summer, but I spent a good part of my afternoon here, reading a good book. I planted some lavender and mint in the pot in the corner. The chickens haven't discovered it yet. I'm also working on painting a table and set of chairs. One day I'd love to find a daybed, so we can really stretch out and relax.

 
Porchframed

lovely snow

It snowed yesterday, and I knitted and baked and watched Love, Actually. It was just perfect.

The video features a brief cameo appearance from Winston and Bear.

in a small town

Yesterday was Pine Valley Day. The parade lines up in front of our house. There were horses, naturally:

Horse

Old cars, all decked out:

Oldcar

Beauty queens with braces:

Beautyqueen

Clowns, even though everyone is actually afraid of them:

Clown

He does look a little sinister, doesn’t he?
Bagpipe bands are my favorite!

Bagpipes

And don’t forget the superheros:

Superheros

It’s also fun to watch the watchers, especially the kids:

Watching

Watching2

preparations

Beebooks

Preparations are underway for the arrival of the beehive (in case you missed it, that mysterious implement a couple posts ago was a smoker, to use on bees when you inspect the hive). I've been re-reading all the bee-related books I've collected over the past couple years and I think I'm ready. The beekeeper arrives with my hive on Saturday morning. I found him via craigslist, and sent him an email asking if I could buy a hive from him. He's re-queened a nice hive of very calm bees just for me.  I might need to get this hive and make the bees move eventually. How cute would that be once it's painted white and the copper top has developed a nice patina? I am also weighing my options and trying to select a hive tool. I could go with the standard, economical, and utilitarian model, or I can get the cheery yellow, flashy Italian model for twice the price, which looks like the Ferrari of hive tools. It's a dilemma.

In other minor, daily news, chicks are being fed, watered, held and smooched morning and evening, and games of fetch are played with the adorable dogs. Lest you think it's all cute fuzzy chicks and teddy-bear like dog noses around here, this is the state of the living room as of this morning.

Lr

I have strategically not captured the carpet close up. I suppose I should be happy that the surest sign of Spring-the prolific shedding of dog hair-is apparent in clumps and handfuls everywhere I go. I really should get that vacuum out tonight-there was that whole vacuum more often goal I set at the beginning of the year. But that will cut into my chick cuddling time. Also my Buffy the Vampire Slayer watching time. Also, I still need to hem my curtains and slipcover my chair. I just thought I'd keep it real here at chez Lucy. That morning light sure is pretty though, don't you think?

Yellow

On the last visit to my mother-in-law I brought home not only a mandolin, but also another quilt top. This one was made by her mother when she was expecting. My mother-in-law has always said that her mother was never very good at sewing or needlework of any kind, and I have to say, I kind of agree. I may have to take this one apart and re-assemble it, but I love the big yellow pinwheel shapes, and all the sweet fabric prints.

I'm all over the place tonight, but one more thing, because I need your opinion: You may have noticed that I switched my comments to the new Typepad system. About the same time I made that switch I finally figured out how to connect my heylucy.net email to my gmail account. I think this is all good stuff, but it's taking me awhile to adjust to this new workflow (sorry for the technical term, but I do have this job, you know, where I sometimes have to use that office-speak). Before all these changes I would get comments in my email, which was web-based. Unfortunately, the company I use has a really crappy webmail service and I would have to load the messages every time I logged in. That would often take a good 5 minutes because their spam filter was completely useless and so my inbox would be full of 90% spam and 10% actual mail. Half the time the whole thing would just lock up and I couldn't even get to my email. So that is much better, now that it just goes straight to gmail. This is kind of boring, sorry about that. I never know if anyone cares about these long explanations, but I do have a point, so please bare with me!

Previously, when I would get a comment, I could just reply to the email notification I got. I really like responding to comments as much as possible, because I think this is really a conversation, not just me talking at you. Now, however, when I reply to a comment email, the reply is posted directly under the comment for everyone to read. I mostly like this, but I would like it if the reply was also sent as an email to the person who left the comment. I will have to investigate to see if that's possible, because otherwise you have to keep coming back here to see replies to your comments and I don't think anyone has the time to do that very often. The whole point to this uninteresting and long-winded explanation is that I want to know your opinion! Do you like the comments like this, or did you prefer the old way? As a reward for sharing your thoughts I give you another cute chick photo:

Cheeky