Monday, March 29, 2010

Lost and Found

I remember in elementary school, there was a cardboard box outside the Principal's office. It held all the wayward hats, mittens, scarves, lunch boxes and toys that were found around the school hallways. You would go there after your mother told you three days in a row you must bring home the jacket you left on the playground. She might even threaten to call your teacher about it and this surely would get you to look. It was somehow painful, having to look in that box for things.

Now I wish I had that box here.

I have been thinking for about two years about some green fabric I bought and never saw again. Sure, there are many other things too that I have not seen in some time. I remembered buying it to make a green dress and then losing it.

Guess what turned up?

It was in the hall closet on the way back of the top shelf. In cleaning for spring and for the arrival of Nature Boy's folks and Wee One's Big Cousin, the closet shelf was cleared off and all hats, mittens, scarves and shawls were washed. At the bottom of it all was the fabric, plus some bonus notions. It was like I went to the store last week, but didn't have to even leave the house.

Since I have already made a green sundress, I must find another use for this plain green cotton. Maybe the Summer Shirt from Weekend Sewing? Or a skirt? Or some PJ bottoms?

The Wee One seemed to like his very first aquatics class, by the way...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Great Day!

Several things which did not look as though they were working out have turned around today. Two weeks ago we were notified Wee One's aquatics class was cancelled; I scrambled to get him into another but was told it was full and there was a wait list. If enough people were interested, they would open a second class and I should be notified the end of last week. It came and went without a call and we were sad. Today we got a call and we start very soon! We are so thrilled!

Last week we spent most of our spare time looking up some vacation rentals for the beach trip we are planning. We found the perfect fit for our family and made the reservation. We looked at the house three times a day and talked incessantly of the fun we will have as we introduce Wee One to The Ocean for the very first time. I got an email yesterday explaining there was a problem and the house should rent for twice as much as it was listed due to the new pool being added. I spent yesterday on the phone and firing off emails and finally, finally they decided to honor the confirmed reservation at the price they had confirmed last week and we were assured today all is well and as it should be.

Can you believe I made a dress?

With box pleats and pockets?

I can't! It's the Trapeze Dress from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. I made the large size due mostly to the bust measurement but I fear once I have weaned the Wee One, it will be much too big. The photo shoot was completed with a timer this afternoon, which was rainy and cloudy, so I fear I have made it look not as cute as it is. I like it but it is a little larger on the sides of the skirt and bodice areas; I might try to make a summery blouse with the pattern in the medium size to see if that may work better, and if so, might make another dress in medium as well. The fabric I used here was super cheap cotton from Joann so it cost about $7.00 to make. I think it will look cute with jeans and a tank top under it until it's super hot, then it might be a cute dress to wear to the pool or beach or to just relax around the estate in. It took me about four evenings to make it so for someone who knows how to sew and is much more proficient, this would be a snap.

And did I mention it has pockets? I am so impressed with me today!

Here are two Irish flat caps I made for Wee One as well.

I made the patchwork cap first and it seemed a bit large, so I tried to wing it and made a smaller version that of course is too small. I did improve upon the design with the second so I will eventually try a third cap. I basically used a cap Nature Boy wears as a design model for them.

Here is sad, lonely Violet who has been pushed to the wayside again by sewing. Poor girl, I think I will knit upon her again tonight.

Here is what happens when the camera comes out at Knitsburgh. Miss Madison Penelope takes matters into her own hands and assaults the paparazzo's equipment. Oh the thuggery!

Today was brilliant, I must say. Oh, today, I hate to see you end!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Wee Leprachaun says...

A tip of my hat
On this St. Pat's-
Wishing you luck, love and cheer
To last throughout the year!
Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

PS. I made the hat our Wee One is modeling...hee hee!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The view from here...

A long long time ago in a Knitsburgh far away, you were promised some product reviews. I'm going to give one to you now.

The Gro Baby Diaper
We chose this for the Wee One before the Wee One was here for several reasons. We wanted a cloth diaper that might not leak a lot; we wanted one with organic cotton; we wanted them to last beyond a few months as our Wee grew. We also wanted cuteness.

We really liked how adjustable they are for fit and growth. There are three rows of snaps on the front which enable you to make it bigger or smaller. The Wee is on the 2nd row of snaps and has been for some time; it feels like they might actually work out until he is two as the product stated! Bear in mind our Wee is indeed small for his age.

The inserts are organic cotton and the outer shells are made of leak proof PUL. They are indeed cute and look good on their own with a t-shirt on a hot day if you are in a relaxed, informal mode. Especially if your Wee has on some striped socks.

Leaks have occasionally happened but normally this is an error made by myself or Nature Boy. If you are diapering a fidgety Wee and don't get the shell velcroed closed while paying attention to the leg openings, you sometimes get leaks around a gap in a leg opening but by now, we are pros at this. The other type of leak happens when you lay a Wee down for the night or an extended afternoon nap and don't add one of the organic cotton booster thingies, which is just an extra layer of organic cotton you can add or leave out at your whimsy. Oh, and then the last type of leak is just boy-related and happens if certain parts are not positioned in a downwards state before the diaper is closed...again user error, not diapers fault.

After three months, one of the shells did have a problem. The elastic around the back came detached within the diaper on one side, leaving it loose and leaky. I contacted Kelly of Kelly's Closet where we bought them; she referred me to Gro Baby who sent me a new shell that very day (received it in like two days' time). Kelly also followed up with us and sent us a coupon for $5 off our next purchase; how nice of her! We just bought a swim diaper for Wee One through her as well and once it has been swim-tested, I will review that here too. Here's a peak at it and can I just say, it is too cute and I don't want to cover it up with any of the five (that's right, five) pairs of swim trunks he has to date.

We also bought our diaper pail wet bag and travel wet bag through Kelly's Closet and love them too. The washing of the diapers is not that bad; you need to buy detergent that will not leave a residue and this is for me the toughest part. Rinsing them out is easy and the washing is not a problem. I wash them every two days and when I can I hang them outside. I use a drying rack for the shells inside which dry very quickly, about 3 hours or so. The inserts are really thick and take F-O-R-E-V-E-R to dry inside on the drying rack so I usually pop them in the dryer if the weather is not conducive for outdoor drying. The sun also helps fade out any stains too and of course, imparts a freshness beyond compare. I try and hang the shells in the shade to prevent fading; the purple shells have faded the most so far, much more than the green or yellow.

I would say the cost to purchase the Gro Baby diapers is worth it in the long run as they appear to hold up well. Since they come in gender-neutral colors, if they hold up really really well you could potentially use them for additional siblings. I really like these diapers and for anyone who wants to cloth diaper and use organic cotton and not have their Wee One outgrown them quickly, these are definitely the way to go.

Here is a pic of the setting for our little Oscar celebration...I have to confess, the champagne flutes are holding beer...

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Craftapalooza! Part II

Bonus craft! I turned some photo albums which were gifted to me over the holidays from this:

to this!

Do you have a journal or photo album you like but don't really love? Is the outside not worthy of what will be inside? It's time for a change, love!



Time=4 days, about 30 minutes each day for crafting, then 23.5 hours of drying time...

Difficulty Level=So easy!!! Cut, glue, watch glue dry...


-Paper or fabric to cover book/album outside

-Paper of fabric to line inside book/album

-Glue (appropriate for covering medium you are using)


-Paint brush

-Glue gun



-Clear coat (optional; used for my project to prevent the newsprint from bleeding onto hands)


I used a seed catalogue I had saved from a bye-gone growing season; once I removed the staples in the booklet, each page was long enough to cover the outside of the albums. The albums I happened to have been gifted have some plastic pages to house photos which are fused to one single long strip of plastic along the binding and could easily be removed. If yours can't be removed, they can be left in place. Certainly, do not pull them out if you can't think of a way you can reattach them! This project can be done with them in place.

1. I tore out the inside section along the binding that housed the photo pages and set aside to glue back in later.

2. I spread thinned craft glue (water + glue) with a paintbrush all over the entire outside (front, outer binding and back, almost making it lie flat). I then centered it over the section of the paper I wanted to "showcase" on the front. I used my fingers to smooth out some wrinkles (some remained on mine due to the thin newsprint used).

3. I trimmed the paper about 1/2 inch beyond the album around all sides.

4. I folded the overhang to the inside and glued it down, mitering the corners.

5. Set aside to let dry for a day.

6. Sprayed clear coat on outside of album (I used 3 coats, 10 minutes apart as directed on the can, then let dry 24 hours as directed on can).

7. Sprayed clear coat on inside of album just around edges of paper covering (only 2 coats here, let dry 24 hours again).

8. Cut paper for inside of album to line (I just used plain white card stock but I'm sure you could be much more creative). I used a glue gun to cover the back side of the card stock, then pressed it down. I used one piece for the inner front and one for the back, leaving the binding section bare so as not to impede the folding action of the album.

9. Using glue gun, spread glue over the section you ripped out that housed the photo pages, then press in place.

10. Fill with pictures (or words, or drawings or whatever your book is for), make a label for the outer spine and show off on you mantel (or hide it from prying little siblings if you are 15 and it's your diary).

This could go so many ways! Again, the idea was what do I have lying around that I can repurpose and make these not-so-me albums more ME? Now they fit in with our living room a bit more than they previously did and reflect our Craftsman style. Hmm, I might need to make a little gardening journal from scracth with the leftover seed catalogue pages for the outside cover and maybe some inner details....oh no, here we go again...

Craftapalooza! Part I

Behold-the Mystery Craft revealed!

So what is it? Let's start with the inspiration. Here is one of two jewelry boxes. Looks ok, right?

WRONG! It's a tangled mess of necklaces with many many earrings jumbled in.

This is what you do with the Mystery Craft.

It lifts and separates! Ha ha...

Now, all the details you know you want so you can make one too. I used stuff I happened to have lying around the house so it cost nothing to make. Can you make one using recycled crap too? I think you can!



Time=1-3 hours. More if you are painting your frame, less if your frame is good to go.

Difficulty level=No real skills required. Can you cut, glue, nail? You got it!

-Picture frame (did not use glass or back piece)

-Fabric, paper or some backing material (or none!)

-Acrylic paint (if you want/need to paint your frame)

-Sewing machine (if you use fabric and want to sew it)


-Glue gun and glue


-Picture hanger for back (if your frame does not have one)






The frame is a picture frame Nature Boy bought on the cheap. He used the glass inside the cheap frame to place inside a wooden frame he made himself for a picture for the nursery. So the frame was just hanging around for a while. It was red in color which I would have left as is, except it had a big chip in the paint on one side that more than likely occurred whilst hanging around Knitsburgh. Again, the crimes, they are so frequent and alarming here.

I painted the frame with some acrylic paint I had from bye-gone projects. It took two coats after Ms. Madison Penelope's close inspection (she added a smudge and then left a metallic taupe paw print on the newspaper I had spread under it on the table--what we call evidence. Had it not been for her inspection, one coat would have been enough). If you don't have paint, maybe some decoupage work about the frame (thinned glue with smaller pieces of paper)? After painting, I got out my fabric and found a piece that I liked. You might choose to pick paint and fabric together; I did this step a bit wonky and lucked out with fabric that would match.

Once my fabric was chosen, I turned it wrong-side up, traced around the outside of the frame, then cut it out. I then ironed it, turning the raw edges under and basting the hem so it would not unravel and would look tidy on the back. You could honestly skip sewing and just iron the edges under and glue them with fabric glue if you are not into the whole sewing thing. Or if you are more of a paper person and have paper and not fabric, back it with paper. Even stamping something on a brown paper bag, then wrinkling it up would be cool and rustic-looking. Maybe for your campsite? Or make a collage for the back out of magazines, catalogues, whatever. The point is to use stuff you just happen to have around.

After I hemmed it, I got out the ole' glue gun and just glued the fabric into the frame opening from the back along the innermost edge where the glass would normally rest. I glued one side first, then stretched the fabric a bit and glued the opposite side. To be honest, my first try got it on there a bit wonky but I just pulled it off, pulled off the glue from the fabric (it came right off), then redid it a second time. With thick fabric I think a staple gun could also be employed instead of gluing. I then nailed in a picture hanger (my frame didn't have one cause someone also used the back part) at the top center of the frame. After flipping it to the front, I gathered up some beads and nails. I had some larger-holed beads that fine finishing-type nails would fit through. I put each nail through a bead, then nailed them in. I used 5 nails for the top and two sides of my frame (15 total). You could use more or less; you could also add some to the bottom edge if you like. You could also use longer nails to hold more stuff or say bigger thicker things like bangle bracelets. After the beads and nails were in, the glue gun reappeared and I simultaneously glued some greenish beads to the nail head while gluing the silvery beads to the underside of the nail head (so they sandwich the nail head and will prevent your fine jewels from sliding onto the floor). Don't have beads? Maybe buttons? Macaroni shells that you painted? Old game pieces from that Monopoly game you and your inebriated friends trashed? Pine cones (for that cabin jewelry holder again...)? Stones? Bottle caps? Again whatever you have laying about the place and speaks to you.

And that's it! Oh, except for hanging it and spending your evening untangling all your fine baubles, that is....

If someone makes one for a cabin, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send me a pic!!! Or if anyone out there makes one at all, really.
Also, this was just my way of doing this; see HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE for some other ideas/inspiration.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Here are some examples of conversations NOT to have to prevent jinxing yourself:

1. NEIGHBOR GUY: So is he (referring to Wee One) sleeping through the night?
ME: Oh, yeah, he's been sleeping through the night for months now.

2. NATURE BOY'S MOTHER: Does he (referring to Wee One) seem bothered at all by the teething?
ME: No, he's just his normal self.


Since the Ravelympics ended, I've become more of the regular procrastinational-type knitting self again, some evenings nary even sending a glance towards my knitting bag. Want to see one of the things in it?
It is hopefully going to be a sweater for a Wee who is not mine. She was born last month and we shall call this sweater-to-be Violet, as that is what the colors remind me of. I am making it up as I go, a little top-down raglan cardi. In the background you can see another crafty moment in the works. I will reveal it when it is finished. I will say this: Miss Madison Penelope has some paint on her leg already from it. I guess, as the official Investigator of Knitsburgh, she must perform her job no matter the consequences. Needless to say the smudge mark on the Mystery Project is calling out for a second coat....sigh...
Oh and here is a photo of some yum, courtesy of Veganomicon. I have to say, for having this in my cookbook arsenal for hmm, over two years now, you think I would have tried more recipes. I mean, if all of them are as tasty as this....

Meet the Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits!

I did make some adjustments. No leeks, I used celery. I added some homemade beef-style seitan too. I used cannellini beans instead of red navy. I rolled (well, OK, patted it out flat on a board) and cut my biscuits instead of dropping spoonfuls of dough. Those were the major differences. It took some time to get it all together and in the oven (mostly due to making the seitan) but the end result was worth it for sure. Now I am pondering other possible dishes to top with biscuit dough before the spring hits us...the sun outside says it is coming soon!