Best of 2009, numbers 1-6

I loved Gwen Bell’s blog challenge when I saw it, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it daily – both because I don’t write daily and because I don’t have answers for all of the questions. So I grouped them into a bunch of draft posts and I’m trying to get going on the first group. It’s such a great way to look back on the year, think of all of the best things in big and small ways, especially when the year’s challenges so easily become the things we focus on. This was a challenging year, but also good in so many ways.

December 1 Trip. What was your best trip in 2009?

Our best trip of 2009 was hands down our honeymoon in the Bahamas. Very seldomly do we get a chance to unwind and relax for a week straight, with no obligations of any kind. It’s not that I don’t enjoy visiting family and friends on vacations, but it was great to have a trip that was just for us. There are a couple stories from that trip that really deserve posts of their own, so I’m going to leave them for a later date.

December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?

For best restaurant moment, I’d have to either choose the Chicken’s Nest on Grand Bahama Island (which is one of the future posts, so I’ll talk about it then) or my birthday dinner at a small restaurant here in town. Both of these were small dining rooms and included a visit with the chef, which is part of what made them both special treats.

December 4 Book. What book – fiction or non – touched you? Where were you when you read it? Have you bought and given away multiple copies?

I think my favorite read this year was Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life. She’s a wonderful blogger, and it’s a book that is on my Amazon wishlist even though I borrowed it from the library to read it. I didn’t have a chance to make any of the recipes, and I’d love to have it around so I could give them a try.

December 5 Night out. Did you have a night out with friends or a loved one that rocked your world? Who was there? What was the highlight of the night?

I think my sister’s bachelorette party was one of the most fun nights out this year. We took Bananagrams and Ruckus with us to a chocolate shop and ate fondue while we played games in the cafe. One of the things that made it fun was that there was a local chef’s night out downtown that night, so the restaurant was hopping with people coming in and out for the tastings, and they gave the place a fun vibe. It didn’t hurt that Bananagrams is a game I can win, since I Ruckus is not usually my forte.

So far I’m drawing a blank on a great article (maybe you want to share one with me?), and a workshop or conference (I’m not sure if I went to any this year…).

Standard

Prize-winner

I guess I need to post a winner so we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming! Random.org gave me the number 4, who was Liz. Email me with your address so I can mail out your prize. And thanks to the rest of you for stopping by – I was surprised to go over 100!

Standard

An attempt at refashioning

At some point last summer, I got tired of how much money I spent on fabric and decided to look creatively around the thrift store. I already had a stack of things to re-make, but sometimes you need a fresh inject, you know? So I started looking at things more for the fabric than for the size & fit. (And to give credit where it’s due, I was pretty inspired by Amanda’s group, and the things she was doing to garage sale finds).  Let me tell you, it’s much harder than it looks, and I found a new appreciation for Antoinette and Tina‘s work – and discovered that maybe improvisational clothing making is not a good idea. I’ll be pretty surprised if I get brave enough to wear this at all outside of the house, based on a couple of things.

The green top of the dress is what came from the thrift shop  – it was originally a t-shirt that was fairly short and boxy. I was glad to be able to use the original neckline since I don’t have a coverstitcher. The gray fabric is from my stash. A couple of my issues with making this have to do with my beginner status working both with knits and using a serger. I decided that instead of doing a long gathering stitch for the skirt, I would use the gathering function on the serger. The problem was that I didn’t know exactly how much the gray fabric would gather, so I got 80% of the way around the skirt and there wasn’t enough gray fabric left to finish the circle. I don’t know if you can adjust this, or if there’s a certain formula to figure out how much length you need to get a certain gathered length. So I had to piece in a scrap of gray knit, which ended up being crosswise instead of lengthwise – there’s not a lot of stretch in this knit so it’s not too much of an issue, but it’s not really a design feature either. To me, it’s kind of obvious that I stuck it in there because I was fixing a mistake. The other issue is that there’s a spot in the back that sticks out funny, so I almost have to wear that belt to cover the waistline. Oh, and it’s pretty short since I just kept cutting until it was even! I didn’t get it quite right until I had my dress form, which definitely helps! So it’ll have to be worn over skinny jeans or leggings if I do wear it out.

I let the sleeve binding roll up instead of folding it under to hide the raw edge. However, when I sewed it to the green fabric, the armhole stretched out significantly and I had to add darts at each side seam to make it fit again. This could have been because of the texture of the green knit, but I don’t know. I did use a walking foot, which I thought was supposed to avoid stretching. That’s where I got frustrated with this style of sewing and having to “fix” things along the way- I wanted a little more predictability. I really like the detail on the middle of the front with the gray inset and the buttons. To me, that’s the trendy detail that makes me like it all together. Let me know what you think of my attempt!

Standard

Giveaway Day

Welcome to the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day! I’m glad to participate since the last one allowed me to discover so many new blogs and reminded me that I should be commenting more on blogs that I read regularly, not just when there’s something up for grabs. So I’m glad to meet a lot of new readers and bloggers today!

I have a relatively new friend from Sweden with a crafty business who showed up at Thanksgiving dinner with a whole big bag of fabric scraps for me to play with. Since these were so appropriate to the season, I was excited to start playing with them right away and made these three Swedish Santa Christmas ornaments. They are stuffed with wool stuffing and backed with sage green wool felt, and the string is made out of hemp cord. The two larger ones have frayed edges because the Santas were first appliqued to striped linen before they were attached to the felt.

Here you can see a little bit of the back. They’re hanging here out in my holly tree so that we can pretend I’ve done some decorating already! Good thing the berries turn red in time to decorate themselves.

So here’s the deal for the giveaway. I’m giving away all three to a commenter that I’ll draw randomly from all who enter. Entries will stay open through midnight EST, Dec 6. This giveaway is open to US residents only, to make it more likely for me to get it shipped in time. Since I’ve been working on pillows and table runners for my shop lately, I’d love if you told me what color your living room and dining room is decorated with, or at least what color your couch and dishes are. Hopefully there are some of you that stick around and subscribe to my feed, too, to see the rest of my crafty projects and feel free to read my About Me page if it’s your first time here! Good luck 🙂

Standard

A couple things to catch up on

1. You might not believe the reports about 2012 being all special effects, no story, when the movie spends the first hour trying to set up a storyline. They shouldn’t have bothered – it was 2 hours and 45 minutes long and had so many extraneous points that didn’t really make sense when we thought about it later. Its only entertainment value was really in the post-movie analysis!

2. I made the sweet potato chipotle soup from December’s Everyday Food after reading about it on shutterbean. She had it written up before my copy of the magazine even came! Mmmm. I loaded it up with chips and cheese to eat it. The only thing is that sometimes with pureed soups I have to get over feeling like there’s a baby food texture. It would be good to just add chipotle to mashed sweet potatoes, though, too. Also, I normally would make it with one box of chicken broth and 3 cups of water, except that I just bought a big pack of chicken broth at Costco. We’ll see if Carl will eat this “where’s the meat” meal. Good thing we brought home plenty of Thanksgiving leftovers.

3. Birds keep coming in and getting kind of stuck on our screen porch. I’m going to end up with a bird in the house if I’m not careful, but if I shut the door to the house too hard, Trigger won’t stay outside to play by himself. He’s also started barking more (sorry, neighbors), probably to scare the birds away when he wants the yard to himself or when he’s scared of the neighborhood dogs barking.

4. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t learned about how much better high quality threads work. Even in my cheap machine it makes such a difference in how many needles I break and how many stitches I skip. I thought I had found a good source for gutterman, but it looks like they only have polyester. So now I’m weighing a Superior or Aurifil purchase.

Standard

Pillows, more simple this time

The pillows keep coming! This set of three is a little more simple, just a focal fabric or patchwork bordered with linen. Again, all three can be found at Gracie May or you can click on the image to go directly to the listing. The table runners that I will be adding soon have similar fabric to the center squares in the blue pillow above.

These are the same size, 16″ square, and have a lower price because of the simpler design. This blue and brown fabric came from a Henry Road scrap pack and is a favorite of mine.

Don’t be surprised if I hoard the remaining bits of this red house fabric either, though!

Tomorrow’s the big blog giveaway day at Sew, Mama, Sew and I’m planning on participating, so come back tomorrow and comment for a chance to win!

Standard