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March 2009
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April 2009

Me too and something new.

In advertising, there is something called a 'ME TOO' ad.  It's when you're not selling a unique quality or super-feature or price point, but you are pretty much just saying, hey, yeah, we do that, too.  It is not highly effective, nor is it terribly engaging.

And that is pretty much how I feel about posting this top I made for Fidget yesterday.  (Because Erin, Sarah, Kirsten and Candace have already posted their adorable versions. As well as a couple others I probably haven't seen yet... )

smocked top

Yes, it is smocked with elastic thread.  That thread is a pretty remarkable and wondrous thing I never should have feared.  I bought the thread a year ago and was always too chicken to use it.  Um, hardly worth the worry. 

I got Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing book for my birthday a few weeks ago, read though her instructions, and just kind of threw the top together in about an hour.  I used stash fabric that didn't especially love, since it was an experiment. There wasn't even enough for it to be dress-length, so it's tunic-y.  Now that it is done, I do like it very much.  Funny how that happens. 

I have lots of ideas for this thread.  It opens up a whole bunch of possibilities... Yes...Me, Too.


Like the red door?  It's part of the whole Exterior House Paint Job of 2009.  We are now the Gray  House with the White Trim and the Bright Red Door. I love it.  The red (SW Radish) turned out a little too bright and hubs is ready to slather on another coat of a deeper color, because he thinks it looks a little too pink.  It totally goes with the impatiens though.

I chould even change the blog to 'Pink Front Door'.  Oh, the possibilities. 

grays and whites and purples and blues....

It's a little gloomy here today, weather-wise.  Not cold, but drizzly and damp. 

There is thunder that rolls in the distance somewhere.  The pavement is wet, although there hasn't been any rain.  The cloud-filtered light is soft.  Spring has sprung in these parts, and everything is covered with a lushy green, and speckled with lavenders and pinks and whites... red-buds, anyone?  Pink dogwoods?  The damp makes it all look even more lush.  It's how I imagine Portland or Ireland must be, all the time... It's rather nice, but the sun will be nice to see again, too.

Rather than race home to catch up on work this morning, I detoured and make quick stops a two of my favorite thrifts.  Sheets, check.  Tablecloth, check.  Embroidered pillowcases, check.  All good stuff.  I felt so lucky.  Not at all dreary like the weather.

treasures: thrifted glass bowl & our first lilac blooms

This milk glass bowl made it into my cart, too.  My camera was having trouble focusing on it -- the bubbled sides were tricky, I guess.  But I do think that for two bucks it is very pretty.  The gal at the checkout counter told me she used to have one just like it, "so you know it's very old."  *wink" Smile.   (How the lilac got in that photo, I have no idea.  They are persistent little things.)

Three different people asked me how much longer I had until the baby came, and when I said 8 weeks, they were each surprised it was that long.  One followed it with "Well, I guess because you're so small everywhere else, it makes your belly seem So Big."  Well, I guess I'm ok with that; it is the truth, really.  I'm all of 5'2", and I have what looks like a basketball stuffed under my shirt, ready to pop. 

Before I forget, I also found a gorgeous sky blue large cashmere cardigan. It has been mended in a few places, so I don't feel the least bit anxious about saying I plan to cut it up for something.  I've read a variety of reports online about felting cashmere.  From 'it can't be done' to 'easy as pie'.  Any tips for a gal with a front loading washing machine (that uses very little water?)  Should I do this

**** oooh.  Here comes the rain.  It's the pittery-pattery kind.  I could totally go for a nap ****

hodge podge monday. with flowers.

I did promise no more crab apple blossom photos.

I didn't say a thing about lilacs.

finally blooming... our first year.

Last year we planted three tiny lilac shrubs on the east side of our house, right next to our driveway.  There has never been anything planted there except our a/c unit which, as you might imagine, is way more functional than it is attractive.  The idea with these fast-growing plants is that we'll have some early spring color and then full lush landscaping the rest of the summer, camouflaging the otherwise stark and utilitarian side of the house.

Last year when we planted them they hadn't bloomed.  So imagine our surprise when we saw these tiny buds burst into rich purple blooms this weekend.

 and more... my neighbors must think I'm nuts by now, with all the gazing I do at these.

I keep running outside and staring at them and bending over to stick my head in them.  I'm pretty sure my neighbors think I'm nuts already, so this probably confirms it.  (And prepare yourself for more photos, because I'm so not done yet.)

It was a busy weekend that was kick-started with a sleepover for the 13 year old (dinner for 6 'teens' at the Cheesecake Factory, home to a movie which put them to sleep during, and back up for pancakes...) and included a zoo trip for Fidget, progress in reorganization of the sewing room, some Twelve Square sewing and another maternity skirt.  Throw in a trip to Lowe's, the park with the green slides, and Sunday Burger Night, and you've pretty much got the picture.  Busy and good.

like ramma-lamma-lamma-kadingady-dingdy-dong

Left:the azaleas are about to bloom in the front of the house.  Yay!  They should look delicious against the new gray paint. 

Right: My April Twelve Square block for Kathryn.  I loved the springy fabrics she chose.  And a simple 9-patch?  Sweet.  Easy as pie.   (more 12SQ photos at the flickr pool)

(Hat tip to Kirsten for seeing these photos at Flickr and suggesting they should be mosaic-ized.  I wish I had taken a few more photos of them both, for a 9-patch mosaic.)

Happy new week everyone... Hope your weekend was full, too.  xo

so wonderful I didn't even mind.


So by now you know I am an avid thrifter, and have been for a loooong time.  Despite this, I have never found one chenille bedspread anywhere but at an antique mall with a super markup.  Today I found TWO, one pink and one white  with a floral weave, as well as a pure white hand-quilted coverlet... At thrift store prices.  In perfect condition.  I'm not even sure where they are going to go yet, or if I'll even keep them for myself, but they had to come home with me.  I'm sure you understand.

I was so happy that I didn't even mind this little exchange while checking out at my favorite haunt:

Sweet Kind Lady I have seen a hundred times: When are you due, anyway?

Me:  June.  I have 8 weeks.

SKL: (after glancing at my out-there belly) Oh, are you having twins

Me:  Um, no...

Good times.  I'm still laughing.  (That poor gal is probably still mortified.)

Pretty blossoms. Twelve Square.

I've been enjoying crab apple tree blooms in my kitchen this week.  They really are pretty, although they're not going to last very long.  The pink confetti has already started to drop onto my table... *sniff*

sunshine and flowers at breakfast. I'll take it.

what's left of the crabapple tree.

Fidget wanted some in a little vase, just for her.  How could I resist? 

teeny tiny. fidge insisted.

I promise, from here on out, no more talk or photos of crab apple blossoms!  Pinky swear.   Thanks for indulging me, though.  You're so sweet.  xo


So.... I wrapped up another block for Tracy's March Twelve Square quilt last week.  Tracy wanted 'mostly gray with pops of color and texture.'  I am sodigging her choices here, and all of the blocks that have been submitted thus far.  It's so fresh and modern... I cannot wait to see how she puts these all together.  It will be so beautiful.

March Block for Tracy :: TwelveSquare

(more photos from others at the flickr group). 

She's killing me with the new yellow blocks she's been working on.  Seriously.  This one?  Love.

for Tracy:: full view of square. partially out of focus.

I got some sewing done this weekend -- the 'Servant Girl' tunic from Sugar City... It pains me to say I don't love the results.  It's about 85% done and I think it's the fabric that just isn't working for me.  Or maybe the darts that seem random and haphazard.  Or the bias tape around the neckline that is not behaving.... I just left it at my machine on Saturday and haven't yet returned!

But that's ok.  I've been eyeing the elastic thread I bought last summer and think I might give that a try.... stay tuned. 

Oh!  And the painters might be done today!  It's looking so different around here.  (Especially with every window covered in plastic sheeting -- it's killing me to not open the windows and enjoy the super weather we are having this week.)  This morning I panicked a little and thought the house looked too blue, but I think at this point I'm just getting paranoid and hypersensitive to things.  That didn't keep me from emailing hubs at work and sharing my fear.  He's not, as you might expect, worried at all.

What, you say I'm pregnant?  And that might have something to do with all this indecision?  Quite possibly.  I'm almost certain that is the case.  At any rate, things are happening around here.  I'm just trying to keep up.


The weekend the crabapple tree came down.


Hubs took on our 20' crab apple tree yesterday with the help of a neighbor and his chainsaw.  Now there are bits of tree stuffed into all these "yard waste" bags at our curb.  Seven huge bags and a rather large pile of tree bits that couldn't fit into the bags.  All of it, still flowering.  I'm a little worried about what the garbage pick up guys are going to think.


It's sad that it had to come down during it's prettiest week of the year.  


The petals fell right outside my front door like confetti. 


Seriously, right outside the front door (I took this photo of my entryway two years ago:)

petal love.

But therein was the problem.  This tree, planted by previous owners nine years ago, was destined to be chopped down eventually.  It wasn't planted in the right place.


Can you see how close it was to the foundation?  About 2 feet on one side.  Sheesh.  It's branches dropped leaves directly into our gutters all season long, creating serious water runoff issues (and even causing hubs on more than one occasion to brave death and stand on a ladder with a golf club during a storm to free the debris).  The trunk was starting to grow at an angle because we had to keep cutting it away from the house.  The branches scraped the upstairs windows and threatened our roof shingles... who knows what the roots were doing underneath...

On the other side, branches hung also directly over the front walk, posing an eye-poking issue to many visitors.  Especially at night.

And then there were the crabapples in the fall.  Those darned things fell all over that front walk, attaching themselves to visitors' shoes and entering my house.  (If they didn't get eaten by birds first and *ahem* redepositedon on front walk in a sticky nasty mess.)  FYI: smeared crabapple does not come off with just a good hosing and a push broom.

crabapple tree. its last year.

(one last look, from last week)

So it's gone.  Strange and sad and a little exciting, as now we get to plant some appropriate landscaping.  I'll be the first to admit that outdoor planning is not my strong suit, but we do have a few ideas.  So far, most of it includes moving some mature boxwoods from the back to their new home up front.  We'll see.  If we can't get the whole stump removed, we may have to be creative.

Up first, though, is a new coat of paint for la casa.  We're switching it up, going with a medium gray (the one in the middle) and a white trim.  Isn't this patchwork paint effect lovely?  We have some on the back of the house as well.  We're so classy that way. 


Sherwin Williams has these little $5 cans you can buy in sample colors.  I highly recommend doing this because you never know what paint will really look like until it is on your house at different times of the day and in different cloud conditions.  And I'd rather spend $20 and be sure I like it before I've got a whole house covered in paint that has a lifetime guarantee.  (One of my friends has a house on her block that looks a little neon green in certain weather.  I'm gonna bet they didn't do the paint swatch experiment.)

And, finally:  The lilacs we planted last spring have buds!! This is their first bloom and it looks like they have 10-12 blooms on each.  Don't they make my AC unit look fancy?  heh.

Happy Monday.  If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading.  xoxo

Feel good moment + tulips + snot

Sharing: Apparently this is one of the most popular YouTube videos right now.  I just saw it.  It could be the hormones, but I'm all teared up and happy right now.  Go on, you'll see what I mean. 

birthday tulips

Loving: My birthday tulips from Fidget.  They came potted, which makes me so happy.  Anyone know the protocol for planting the bulbs once the flowers are spent?  Do I wait until fall or just until after the last frost?

Feeling:  A little off-kilter this week.  Balancing a resurgent cold + chronic rhinitus that shows up every pregnancy = not sleeping well.   My poor ENT can do nothing for me but shake his head and apologize that his hands are tied because I'm pregnant.  I've even ruptured a blood vessel in my nose.  Good times.  Beathing, who knew it was such a big deal?

Planning: Surprises for a special girl who turned 13 today.  I'm not sure how that is possible, because I'm only, like, 18.  My first-born.  A complex mix of sweet and sass.  She wants to be a fashion designer.

Appreciating: All the sweet compliments on the Easter dress!  You all are the best cheerleaders ever.  xoxo

Fidget's Easter Dress: Simplicity 2711

I finished this dress last week but never got around to taking photos of it... So now that it has been worn for Easter Egg hunting, Easter dinner (with ketchup and ham), bunny cake and a a 2.5 hour ride home from the Grandparents', what better time to share it with you?

close-up of bodice and ketchup stains.

Simplicity 2711, in a size 3, view A, with  medium weight linen.  I made no modifications at all; the design was already the perfect blend of simple and frilly.  It also has no zipper nor button holes, omissions that are always aces in my book. 

Despite that, I would say this pattern is geared for the more experienced sewist, as there are several places that can get sticky. However, if you go slowly and aim to complete one part of the project at a sitting (rather than all in one day), it comes together nicely and without too many nasty words.

pink linen, simplicity 2711

Fidget liked that she could get her groove on without being cinched or pinched or otherwise hindered in any way...

room to dance

I was just relieved she would wear it.

her tulle skirt, the new fave

A few weeks ago I was at the mall shopping with my eldest.  While she ducked in to Claire's for a peek at the jewelry, I stepped across the way into Babygap.  As always, I was impressed by the sweet and classic clothing, but I didn't buy anything.  I found myself picking everything up and saying, huh, I could totally make this.  And it wouldn't cost me 30 bucks. 

This is why I rarely go the the mall.  I usually leave with lots of ideas, but am frustrated knowing there really is no way I can make all that stuff unless we figure some way to stop time every so often so mama can get her sewing on in full-force. meringue

But I did see this skirt and knew it could happen really quick and on the cheap.  With stash fabrics, no less. 

And it did.  It's a simple fabric tube with elastic + casing at the top, and rows of pink tulle ruffled and then topstiched in rows across the top.  Ruffling tulle is easy, because it practically ruffles itself under a needle set to a longer stitch, so there was no gathering required.

close enough for me

I kind of eyeballed the spaces in-between, too, so it's not perfect.  No matter.  It's a pink tulle princess dancing skirt -- who is really going to notice?

Fidget spied it and immediately wanted to wear her new pink skirt on Monday.  Which wasn't warm or sunny, but very cold and windy.  And she was sick.  She looked adorable at Urgent Care, though.  (She's all better now, and back to preschool.  What a nasty little cold that was!)  The new skirt is now in the wash.

it was a little on the cooler side today

Anyway, it's quick and painless and perfect for that little princess in your family. 


  • The skirt base: I made this skirt less full than usual -- the tulle makes it full enough.  Wait to add the elastic at the end.
  • The ruffles: The tulle strips are about 2" wide.  I think I used a half yard, total. 
  • I attached all the tulle strips together before gathering, so it went quickly.  I didn't worry about backstitching or anything.
  • I made a long stitch (you'll have to experiment) down the middle of the strip and it gathered itself.  At first I had it on 'basting' stitch, but it was actually too gathered.
  • Attaching the ruffles: I started at the top of the skirt.  When I got to the end of a row, I overlapped the ruffle a half inch, cut away, backstitched, and then eyeballed the next row and started sewing again.  The ruffle really doesn't come undone.
  • Care: In my experience, you can wash tulle just fine (a lingerie bag works well), just don't put it in the dryer.  I wasn't too bright and used linen for the skirt, so I am going to have to iron this one from the inside out, very carefully.  Oops.  Good thing these are fast in case I have to make a replacement.  (Know what would work nicely?  A no-iron percale sheet.  I'll have to remember that for next time.)

thriftstore refashion :: maternity edition

This is not going to apply to many of you.  Unless you are pregnant.  And are tired of maternity store prices. And you have no fear of cutting into clothes.

Here is one of the two skirts I picked up thrifting last week for $1.50 each:

thrifted skirt refashion

I pulled it on with the zipper open and eyeballed how far down I'd need to cut into it.  And then I took scissors and cut straight down.  Then I zipped it up and stared at the belly protruding from what used to be the waistline of this skirt.

After gathering my wits, I took an air-erasable pen and traced the bottom part of my belly out from either side of the slit.  Then I took it off again and cut along those lines.


I had an old very-stretchy tank top that I cut up to use as the insert.  Turned it upside-down and used the bottom of the tank as new waistband.  I zig-zagged the raw edges on the inside of the skirt and reinforced the seam a couple times.  (Because I do have 11 weeks to go, after all.  This baby ain't done growing.)

it totally worked.

And hey!  It worked.  It totally worked.

new maternity skirt

See?  I totally have to go back and find some more skirts now.  

(Hands-on time, about 15 minutes.  The second skirt was even faster.  It does help have a fairly fitted waistine, so the stretch works for you to hold the whole thing up.)