Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

Going Stag...Beetle

I thought these monstrous insects only existed in Japan, where kids keep them as pets. (I swear -- the shopping centers were always selling the bug cages and these guys and the horned kind were always on the wrapping of the cage.)  This fella was found in my neighbor's back yard.  Terrifying!  I don't want to get attacked by those pincers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cherries in the 'Hood

I think it's a sour cherry tree.  Last year they offered me the chance to pick some, but I was all first trimester blahs, so there was no way I was spending any time on a ladder or in front of a stove canning /jamming them.  Not sure if the offer still stands this year, but look at ripe and pretty!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Recreate Art: The Plan

I have been tasked with recreating a piece of art.  Specifically, this piece of art:
Homage to the Square: Soft Spoken by Josef Albers, 1969.
Read more about it here.

So, why am I doing this?  Some friends are putting together a personal gallery of art recreated by their friends.  We got a list or artists and I picked this.  I've decided to make it out of fabric (of course), but that requires quilting, which I have never done.  So I looked to my best bud and quilter extraordinaire who kindly made this lovely quilt for my daughter:
I explained the project.  She was a champ and drew me a diagram on how to approach the quilting of my art piece:
How awesome is that?  I love how she even numbered the order of the pieces.  And this is much simpler than the method I had in mind, which involved triangles and whatnot.  She also suggested a specific type of fabric:  shot cotton.  It totally works!  I'll need to find a local source for that or just take my chances and order it from Purl Soho.

So that's the plan thus far.  I still need to decide on the color for the binding, how to hang it, how to sign it, etc.  My deadline is not for a while, but I want to at least find the fabric so that I am not in a frantic search for it as the deadline approaches.   I have a procrastination problem.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Diaper Bag: One Step Back

Remember this progress:
Yeah, well, I did that wrong.  The finished pocket pleat seam needs to be on the outer layer of fabric (paisley), not the lining (pink).

Rip. Rip. Rip.

After that little fiasco, I was able to attach the pockets to the sides.  Then the sides to the front and then the bottom to the sides.  So. Many. Layers.  It was so hard to sew through the corners and I kept cursing thinking that this pattern needs to be put in the Goodwill pile.

So the outer layer is pretty much done.

And then I hit the zipper steps.

No, thank you.  No patience for that considering my sordid history (see here and here) with that pesky zipper.

I skipped over the zipper steps and started working on the pocket lining section, but I'll have to get to that zipper and the facings next.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Take a Book, Return a Book

Little Free Library
I left some books by Sarah Waters and picked up One Day.
Want to learn more?  Read this and listen to this.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Orange Crush

After years of vacillating between favorite colors, I think I've finally settled on orange.  It seems to be a very prominent color around the house...not so much in the clothing department, though.

We have a house with orange accents, to include an orange door, and orange planters:
There are orange tomato cages.  I wanted to buy the pretty colored ones last year, but they were like $3.00 more than the standard metal cages.  But those metal cages were weak!  My tomato plant totally crushed that cage last year, so this year I went with these stronger orange ones:
 And here's my pathetic little garden so far.  We got a late start to the season because of the baby, but things should start to get bigger sometime this month.
We also have an orange, crushed velvet chair in the living room:

And don't forget all of the orange in the nursery, starting with the dust ruffle and dingle shade lamp and ending with this little collection, all of which was purchased at Target:
We've got a humidifier, hand sanitizer, and a box of tissues.

And the latest addition to my little orange obsession?  My patio umbrella!
It's so awesome.  It even has a tilt mechanism to keep that late afternoon sun out of our eyes.  It matches the house perfectly.  I found it on Overstock, because all the local stores had reds and browns and greens.  I wanted to go a bit more matchy-matchy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Daily Rainbow

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of a rainbow, but I have a much more frequent color spectrum making an appearance on a near daily basis.


Cloth diapers hanging on the retractable clothesline.
 Cloth diapers inside drying on the radiator in the sunroom.
For anyone interested, we have both BumGenius 4.0 and Flips.  All were purchased at Peapods here in St. Paul.  My sister had recommended the BumGenius diapers and we were loading up on them when a lady at the store mentioned that she had done BumGenius with her first kid and then used Flips with the second kid.  We decided to grab a few Flips as well.  

Overall, I think we like the Flips a bit better.  With the all-in-one BumGenius diapers, you have to wash the entire thing after each use.  With the Flip diaper, unless she's made a giant poo mess, you can reuse the cover and just replace the stay dry insert.  We've also started putting her to bed in the Flip diapers, because that stay dry insert really does keep her pretty dry.  The BumGenius diapers are starting to feel worn out after three months of continuous use and they tend to leak at night...and sometimes during the day.

We are both pretty satisfied with our choice to go with cloth and as we search for a day care, I'm glad to report that all have been willing to work with us on the cloth diapers.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Diaper Bag: It's a Start

I've been planning to make my own diaper bag for about a year...ever since I got pregnant.  During the first trimester I was too blah to do anything.  In the second trimester I was too excited about having energy to sit and patiently sew anything.  And in the third trimester I was consumed with readying the nursery, sewing Christmas and birthday presents, making my sister-in-law's diaper bag, and elevating my water-logged feet.  

I finally got around to cutting out my pattern March.  

And then they sat there.  Waiting to be sewn.  And waiting some more...until June.

Anyway, I'm tired of lugging around a knapsack with all the baby goods in it.  It's time to get this thing sewn and now that she is sleeping later in the mornings, I feel like I can finally start doing things  for me from 5am to 8am on the weekends.  And that's just what I did.  

I managed to put together the front panel with pocket:
I've decided only to line the bottom of the bag.  I've lined the previous two bags with stiff interfacing instead of the recommended hair canvas, because I haven't been able to find the hair canvas in any local shops.  I found it recently on this site, but ordering it will just delay the bag construction even more.  Anyway, because I am not lining the bag, inserting the magnet snap closure could prove problematic in the sagging department. 

I ended up using a small square of interfacing to give the snap some ooomph.
I did it to both sides of the snap and I think it will hold up for a while, but only time will tell.
I also finished one side pocket.
I've still got a lot more to do, but this is where I had to stop to tend to the needs of my child.  

Stray Notes:
  • Again this is B5005, which I've made here and here.  I've struggled with this bag on both occasions, so hopefully the third time's a charm.
  • Use a heavy duty needle on this project.  At one point I think you sew through like six layers...maybe more...and you definitely need a needle up for the task.
  • Mark everything carefully.  I think that is where I keep going wrong with this bag.
  • The fabric choice is a vintage paisley given to me by family in Long Beach, CA and probably purchased along Retro Row.  I made my wedding dress bag with this fabric.
  • I'll probably get to the next steps of the pattern in August...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stop eyeballing me!

While nursing in the sunroom yesterday, I noticed that the birch tree was looking at me.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lampshade Upgrade

My mother contends that my interest in Japan stems from early airings of Shogun.  She says that when I watched that miniseries, I would speak back to the television in Japanese, wishing Richard Chamberlain a good morning or whatever.  

My early interest in Japan may also have manifested itself after having a Japanese penpal for a few years.  Our county had a sister city in Japan and, for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it.  Anyway, in tenth grade Shigeo Nagai was an exchange student and I ended up befriending him.  We spent the next few years sending letters back and forth.  I don't remember much about those letters except that he loved me and Matthew Modine with the same amount of intensity.  

So when I got to college, I decided to take a semester of Japanese.  A semester turned into four years of language, a study abroad excursion to Kyoto, a degree in Asian studies, and then two years teaching English in Ohasama, a small town in Iwate Prefecture.  As a result, my house is filled with bits and pieces from Japan.  For example, here's my dining room art:

The wooden panel was found in a dirty antique shop toward the end of my two years in Japan.  It was so grimy, but after a thorough cleansing, it has since become a permanent fixture on my walls for the last ten years.  The two paddles next to it are awesome and I've never quite figured them out.  My best guess is that they are some sort of fancy paddle for a shuttlecock game.  Here's a close-up:
During Golden Week of my last year there, I went with a fellow American teacher up to Aomori-ken for some sightseeing.  While there we found this shop that sold all sorts of Japanese crafts.  I picked up two black and white kites minus the kite parts.  After five years, I finally had them framed:

The most recent addition to my Japanese collection of house stuff comes in the form of a lampshade DIY project.  My mom gave me some strips of Japanese cloth a number of years back, but because of their odd shape, I haven't really been able to use them for anything.  They are really long, maybe about six feet, but not very wide, perhaps only 15-20 inches.  So I decided to cover a plain white lampshade with my favorite fabric sample:
And here's the lamp:
We found it at an antique store in Aptos, CA.  My husband hates anything green, but he finally came around to it after two visits to the store.  It's pretty fabulous as is, but I felt the shade needed some color, especially against the white of those curtains.

I read about how to recover lampshades on a bunch of websites a few weeks ago, but couldn't follow the instructions exactly because of the odd shape of the fabric.  I just ended up adhering one end of the strip to the seam of the shade with tacky glue and then inching the fabric around the shade, trying not to let it pucker as I set it with glue.  The seam is a bit sloppy, but it will just be facing the back of the shade, so who cares?

I haven't quite figured out how to straighten the shade.  And here it is all lit up.  It was never the best reading lamp, but now it casts a lovely orange glow.
And here are some close-ups of this fabulous fabric: