Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Part 2 and Resolutions

Ah Resolutions. I seem to make them every year and they seem to be round about the same every year as well. With the all the moving I did and the holidays both my budget and my health are way out of whack and I need to do something about it. So this year I'm committing to The Chic Life's Eat In Month challenge for January!  She leaves a lot of the rules up to you so you can tailor it to what you want your challenge to be.  Click the banner below to read more about it on her site.

For me anything from the grocery store is okay and I'm going to allow myself 1 cheat meal a week.  Even with one meal out a week I'm going to have a tough time.  I'm also going to allow coffees out but only until my Starbucks and Dunkin Gift Cards are spent. Wish me luck and join me in the challenge!

I also hope to be posting some of my home cooked meals here.  You won't be seeing the meal-in-a-bag PF Changs of course (which are totally delicious and AWESOME for those days when you don't feel like cooking) but I hope to experiment with some more recipes and show them off here.  Who knows, maybe I'll even join the 52 weeks of cooking again.


Now back to Christmas.  I still can't share my knitting or the mailed package so expect a part 3 to Christmas to show up in the middle of January, but I wanted to show off the gift my sister made me:

And close up:

She said she got the idea from pinterest but I don't know exactly where to cite it. :)  She definitely knows me well- 2 of my favorite things reading and travelling.  I absolutely love them!  Anyone else have cool things that they are dying to share?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Part 1

I have been running around like a crazy person for the last month or so frantically trying to get everything done in time for Christmas.  Like usual, I totally failed.  It never seems to matter how early I start, life gets in the way and I perpetually overbook myself for Christmas.  

You may remember the quilt I was working on.  I thought starting as early as I did I'd totally have it done for Christmas Eve when I was supposed to give it.  I didn't.  I came SO close.  So very close.  But I wound up giving the mostly finished quilt and then taking it back to give back to the recipient once I fully finished it.  I had 2/4 edges left finish come Christmas Eve, but ran out of time and fabric (AGAIN!  I'm really bad about figuring out how much I need ahead of time!).  I finally finished it on Friday and should be seeing the recipient again on New Years Day to give it to him.  I forgot to take a picture of the quilt in its full glory, but here it is nice and pretty all tied up with ribbon and ready to give.

I'm also still working on some knitting projects that I cannot yet share on here.  Thankfully though I still haven't seen those recipients for Christmas so I'm not really late.  It doesn't count if I haven't had the opportunity to give the gifts yet :)  

Oh and then there's the mailed gift that really should have been done a week before Christmas so I could post it but I haven't even started yet.  Thankfully shes a forgiving friend and won't mind a belated gift.  

One of the gifts I put together this year for some people was mulling spices.  I do a lot of cookies usually so I found this on pinterest and thought it might make a nice change of pace.  I bought some bottles of 3 buck chuck at Trader Joes to package it with for a frugal gift.  My recommendation if you try it is to get spices from bulk bins for the best price.  In my case this meant that Whole Foods was the cheapest source of spices (who would have ever guessed!?).

Stay tuned for Christmas Parts 2 and 3 where I'll share some of the other things I made and some of the gifts I received from people (my sister made a fabulous crafty thing for my craft room that I have to share!).  

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Draft Snakes

I had to take a quilting break.  I'm a little afraid I won't get it done in time but this is our first winter we're living on the top floor of an old farmhouse.  And you know what farmhouses are (aside from adorable)?  They are freaking DRAFTY!  Not only is each window and door drafty, but we have like a bajillion of them.  When I was sitting in front of the couch wondering if the window was cracked because there was so much cold coming out of the window behind me I realized we were going to need to do something if we didn't want to spend a year's salary heating the place for the 4-5 months that make up a Chicago winter.  My solution- draft snakes!  Or draft stoppers, whatever you want to call them.

So this is what I've spent my quilting break doing.

I have made a total of 34 draft stoppers and filled them with about 130 lbs of rice.  Some are scrap fabric, but I eventually just used Black Friday to buy cheap flannel for the rest of them (and get adorable patterns too)  

So to make them I was cutting fabric about 36x7( I prefer 8 but I was getting closer to 7 to get the most full stirps out of a yard)

Then you just fold it in half lengthwise so that the pretty sides face each other and stitch the short end and most of the long end together then turn it right side out.  I used a zigzag stitch to hopefully hold it better.  

After its turned right side out fill it with something (sand, rice, beans- anything like that) and sew the other end closed.  Fold the rough edges inside so you have a nice clean end.  

I sealed the window draft stoppers because I figure there isn't much chance of them getting wet or dirty and therefore needing cleaning or risking the filling getting moldy.  I wasn't sure how the door stoppers would do so I went searching for alternate solutions and used velcro for the end on those.  That way they can be emptied, thrown in the washer and refilled.  

This is what the velcro end looks like.  I can definitely tell the house is far less drafty than it was before them.  I still have 3 more to make, but I need to pick up another 25 lb bag of rice at Costco to do it. :)  

I'm considering working adding these to my etsy shop and selling them unfilled (because shipping them filled is way expensive and makes more sense for buyers to fill it themselves.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas Crafting

After not being able to finish my Halloween costume in time, I swiftly switched to my Christmas present crafting.  So far it's mostly been knitting that I can't share here since there's a chance those I'm knitting for may read this post.  What I can share is the quilt I'm working on.  A few years ago I made my step brother and step sister each a quilt for Christmas.  The same year I wasn't able to make a quilt for their half-brother.  I was also hesitant to make one for him at the age he was.  He was in between appreciating a kid quilt and an adult one so I didn't want to make one he wouldn't like.  I decided this year was he was old enough and I had enough time to make him a quilt.

I browsed around and found a pattern(ish) I liked and went for it.  I found a post on the "disappearing nine patch" quilt (on Pinterest of course), picked some colors, and finally started on it a few days ago.  I'm of course no where near done, but I thought I'd share my progress so far.

The setup.  Not pictured- the coffee and little bin I use for trash scraps to the right.  Also X-files on in case you were wondering :)

I've sewn together three rows of three here before sewing those three rows together.

Then I cut them in fours.  I suppose I should have arranged them like they were in the first picture so you could see the cuts, but I wanted the feel of the final quilt more.
So far I've made I think about 6 or 7 of these bigger blocks and cut them all up into the smaller squares.  I should need about 15 of them to make a quilt somewhere around full size if my math is okay.  I think I'm liking the look, but I'm still nowhere near as precise as I'd like to be so I hope it still comes out okay.  

Anyone else started on their Christmas projects?  Any ideas you'd like to share?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Freya is my adorable 11 year old rescue mutt.  She means the world to me, I love her with all my heart.  She's also never been the healthiest dog.  I've regularly had to take her in for skin infections and ear infections due to her host of allergies and about 2 years ago she developed Cushings disease.  Thankfully all of that is fairly manageable with a carefully monitoring her diet and regular meds.  Very recently she's been having more problems with her kidneys and liver.  Still not exactly sure what is going on- I'm waiting on a call from the vet tomorrow when she gets the results in.  But basically I'm telling you all this because shes the reason I haven't had a chance to write lately.  We've been at the vet every day for the past week for her to get fluids and a handful of times for the weeks before that.  So instead of crafting, I've been caring for and doting on the dog.  More crafting to come soon- but for now look at how cute my dog is :)

It's kind of amazing how much her coloring has changed over the years.  The first picture is within the first month or so of when we got her (she was 4), the second picture is from a year or two later, and then the last are all within the past 3 years.  She's completely lovable and almost never makes a noise (except for her adorable chasing things dreams).  Pets make life worthwhile and my Freya definitely does that for me.  Anyone else have pet pics or stories to share?  We're a dog family but I love all furry and scaly creatures.  And sometimes feathers I suppose...

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm Finally Settled In

Between two different moves (and the associated packing and unpacking) its been a long time since I've felt settled and at home.  Now that we're done unpacking and have hung the pictures I feel like we have a home again.  Its really the pictures that cinch the whole thing.  A new place doesn't feel like home until we put our pictures on the wall.  Of course this space still has a lot of open wall but it feels so much more homey and I can sit on my couch with my mug of cocoa and enjoy the place.

In addition to all the moving, we had a whirlwind trip to Vancouver for a weekend just a week ago and I'm here today to share some pictures with you.

Steam Clock in gastown


We totally saw otters not in a zoo!!!

I really love animals dressed as mounties!

This is a really awful picture of me, but you have to see the raccoon mittens I got at the gift store!

Capilano Suspension Bridge- way way awesome and what follows is only a small sampling of the breathtaking views

Friday, October 04, 2013

The New Craft Room

The move was completed almost a week ago (exactly a week as of tomorrow) and I've finally got enough of my life back in order to sit down and post.  There was a lot of unpacking, a party to go to, and a wall to paint in between then and now.  What I have to show for it is a nearly done craft room and pictures to share with you!  

This is the area right behind the door.  You can see an over the door shoe organizer I use for various crafty things as well as my bookshelf with knitting supplies, jewelry supplies, scrapbooks, misc. craft supplies, and some stuffed animals.  You can also see the pile of random I hide behind the door :)

More stuffed animals, some pictures that need to be hung, little odds and ends in the drawers, Countess Lola (the aloe) and Spike (the cacti like plant), and a bunch of sewing and scrapbook supplies.  There's also a gorgeous jewelry box on the end that my Grandfather made that does not have a good home yet.  I need some sort of table to put it on that has a large enough surface that its not sticking off the edge. 

Snakey, my books, more scrapbooking and the edge of the second window and the desk.

This is the other side of the desk with some bags that need to go various places and the closet door.  Oh so exciting.

My Desk!  Well okay, my folding table!  With my brand new to me desk chair I just got off freecycle.  Desk is a little cluttered with things that need to find homes.  I'm working on it.  There's also a Dalek there that needs his arm fixed.   Poor little Dalek did not do so hot in the move.
So that is how my craft room sits now.  Some things I need to do:

  • Get rug from Ikea.  I wanted purple to go with my blue-green wall so a rug is one of the ways I'm going to bring this in.  The other is...
  • Curtains!  Need to find a fabric and make curtains.  Also need to pick up another dollar store curtain rod.
  • Treadmill.  The empty place where the jewelry box is is reserved for a treadmill.  This will take me having some extra cash so it may wind up waiting until after Christmas.
  • Home the random stuff on my desk
  • Hang some pictures
  • Get a bulletin board and cover in purple something and hang.  
  • Fix poor little Dalek
  • Recover desk chair.  I want it to be purple to but I'm skeptical at my ability to cover a desk chair.  Anyone have suggestions?
I'm sure there's more that I'm not thinking of at the moment, but for now that will do.  I also have a number of other projects throughout the apartment I'm thinking of so we'll see how long this all takes.  I imagine by the time I complete this list I'll have new things to add to it :)  Such is the way of things.  

Any advice for my projects?  Other ideas to get some purple into the room?  

Friday, September 20, 2013


I know, I know its only September.  As a crafter though I usually have to start planning EARLY for Christmas and Halloween if I plan to have time to make things.  Otherwise on Christmas Day my siblings get wrapped quilt tops that I have to take back home to finish :)  In browsing pinterest for Christmas ideas I found a gorgeous adult floor length tutu on etsy.  All black and perfect for a witch skirt so I decided I'll be a witch for Halloween this year.

Unfortunately, the skirt was $395.  It was labeled as for Prom or a Wedding or whatever.  If I was getting married I'd probably spend the 400 on this gorgeous skirt-it has a beautiful wide ribbon waist and I'm sure its a heck of a lot neater and well done than what I could make.  So instead I browsed some tutu tutorials and decided to give it a go.

While its super easy to do, cutting the tulle is time consuming and its taking an ungodly amount of it.  If my math is good I've already gone through about 3,168 square feet of tulle and its only a little more than halfway around me.  It does, however, look awesome so far.

The picture isn't so great.  I'm thinking its either the lighting in this apartment (which kinda sucks) or I'm due for a new camera.  Or maybe I need to take a class on photography.  Whichever it is- the skirt is mostly black with a burst of a really vibrant purple every so often.  

I've been cutting each strand of tulle 3" wide by 80" long and doing a basic knot around the ribbon waist.  Here's a close up of the waist.

The color is really awful in that photo.  

I started by getting tulle cut from the bolt, but figured out its only a tiny bit more expensive to get these rolls of tulle from Michaels that are 6" x 20 yards and they are immensely easier to deal with and cut.  This is one of the tutorials I looked at when figuring out how to make mine.  I don't think I'm doing the waist band like she did though.  We shall see when I finally make it to that stage though.

Anyone else have a costume planned yet?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dreaming of a Craft Room

So its been a long time, but some of you may remember me giving you a peek into my craft corner a while ago.  Since then I've moved and now I craft on the dining room table and store my crafts in two bookcases worth of space in the corner of the living room.  We moved into a much smaller space (that's city life for you) so I had to give up what I had.

Thankfully, we're once again moving.  This time (knock on wood as long as something doesn't go horribly wrong) we'll be getting a 3 bedroom apartment.  This means that I get a full bedroom for my craft room!  I'm beyond stoked at the prospect of this and of course have taken to browsing Pinterest to get ideas for my new found space.  Somewhat related- I think I have a Pinterest addiction.

So some of the things I've been looking at are:

This one linked to a "page not found".  I really like the look of it, but I wonder if having the storage on one side while sitting on the other to work makes the most sense.  Plus I'm pretty sure this is the most expensive option.

This is nice and simple- I love all the wall shelves but again I think it would be a big investment for me.  

I love this piece (and the makeover if you go to the original site by clicking on the picture) but I'm not sure if the cubes are the best storage option for the variety of crafts that I have.  

This looks fantastic and the woman who runs that site does a good job of showing how to do it yourself.  From the picture I thought it was just store bought bookshelves, but she does it herself! I don't think I'm good enough at that sort of thing to do it all on my own but I could slap a flat board on some store bought book cases maybe?

This is another one that doesn't link right.  I think this is my most likely option- cobble together some desks, put some storage underneath and hang some shelves if I'm really ambitious.  

I think the first picture may be the most visually appealing to me but all the others look better organized for use.  What do you think?  Anyone have other ideas to share?  

Likely I'll wind up with some cobbled together craigslist mismatched thing due to my limited budget- but hey a girl can dream right?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Why Hello There

It's been a while.  Sorry I keep find myself saying that.  I've been re-inspired to work on selling my crafts and creating a business with them so I'm back.  And confident that this time I'm here to stay.  Well I never really stop crafting and selling my crafts but I'm here to stay in the blogosphere.

So I craft for work periodically.  I was doing a monthly program for teen crafts that I eventually stopped for lack of attendance.  One of the last crafts that I did for it earlier in the summer was this neat rag rug I found on pinterest (of course, sometimes I forget what life was like before pinterest).  Unfortunately it was just me and one teen girl in the craft and it wound up being far too time intensive to finish in the hour-ish I allow for the program but the two of us still dug it.

For the past few days I've been determined to finally finish the rug that I started way back at the beginning of the summer (moving and other busy-ness had left it in a pile somewhere) and here I am to share the results!

I'm really happy with the way it came out and glad to use up a bunch of fabric I had laying around but it took so much that I wound up making a run to JoAnn's to pick up a few fat quarters to finish it.  It's a super easy project but my estimate is that it took 11 hours or so to complete.  The plus side is that you can easily do it while watching TV.  The downside is I'm covered with strands of fabric from the fraying edges of the cloth.

Basically you just cut a bunch of strips of fabric- mine are 5x1 inches and weave them in the rug backing.  I found the backing at Hobby Lobby near the latch hook kits.  You can see that you don't need to use every hole for your weaving for a full rug.  I was kind of all over the place when I started and then I just got into a rhythm of skipping two rows, doing a full row, skipping three rows, doing a full row and then repeating.  I did every square on the edges and when I skipped three I usually added a strip or two in the middle to keep it looking full.  Who knows if I needed to though.

This is the site where I found the idea on and her description may be better for you than mine.  Or you may find yourself wandering her site and finding other things to interest yourself :)  Also, feel free to follow me on pinterest.  I pin mostly food, crafts, and home stuff with a little clothing, laughs, and adorable animals thrown in .