amis au fil des ans

just a few good friends, sharing adventures in family, arts, and sometimes heavy machinery

Archive for the month “January, 2012”


My latest project (along with many others…I can never seem to concentrate on one at a time), is a set of baby gifts for my sister in law. She is due in April. Her and her husband are both Dr’s. Her hubs has a bit of an obsession with reptiles. He’s done many research articles requiring lizards and all sorts of things to be living in their house. Those are now gone, but the reptile theme has been chosen for their baby boy as a result. She said they are focusing on dinosaurs, turtles, and lizards.  Colors will be yellow, green, and blue (both navy and baby blue–though less emphasis on the baby blue since that is the color of their walls).  Their furniture is white.

So, this is what I have chosen so far from Moda Deb Strain’s Meadow Friends line:

I’m trying to figure out what to mix in. For the rag quilt, I will need 2 more fabrics. I was thinking white minky as one to lighten it up a bit. Any thoughts on that and what the second fabric should be? There are quite a few more options in the meadow friends line, but I didn’t want it to be too crazy. Also, what color flannel do you guys think I should use for the back?

I figured the usual suspects of quilt, bibs and burps. Any ideas for something else to add in? Since its family, I want it to be a nice set.

Thanks! and I’ve missed you guys. 🙂

Here is a peek of 2 of my holiday projects. The stockings (that still need to be embroidered)…and you’ll notice the one in the middle (mine), the fabric is upside down. Gotta love stupid mistakes. Then, I did Jordan’s tutu and embellished reindeer shirt. 🙂






give an old book(case) a new color?

would you try to hide them and make them disappear into the wall or would you paint them in an accent color (think pear green) and make them stand out?


i have been toying with the idea of painting them since we moved in.  but i hate them.  and i don’t think painting them is going to make me like them any more.  or will it?  can you give an old book you hate a new cover and all of a sudden like it?

i was all set to give up on the idea until i saw this picture in the design within reach catalog over the weekend:

it was love at first sight.

but can my dysfunctional shelves ever make me swoon like these do?



sassy diva ruffled apron

how many adjectives can you put in front of the word apron to make it sound cooler??  why should an apron have such a cool name…well, because it was the first time I ever took an article of clothing and tried to reproduce it without a premade pattern.  yup, that’s right.  i went totally off the grid and made my own pattern, modified the design along the way to incorporate various components from other aprons I found on the web and TAH-DAH!  it actually worked!  no, i’m not kidding.

the story begins with my beloved apron purchased some years ago from anthropologie.  the apron has served me well and always gets lots of compliments, which is awesome. so awesome in fact that my little sister asked for a similar one for christmas this year.  the only problem is that years later, the exact style i have is no longer available, the new ones just aren’t as cool, and hello, they are expensive (approx. $32 each)!  considering she also asked for dishtowels to match her décor (aqua)…well, when was the last time you saw aqua colored dishtowels?  yeah.  commence imagination and creativity. here is my story:

step 0 – lay my apron on the table and look at it.  this seemed like a perfectly legitimate step at the time, although i made no pattern nor did i measure anything, so who knows what i was really trying to do.  oh, and i laid it inside out, which is even more productive.  *sigh*


step 1 – buy material.  having made very few sewing projects previously, i had no clue how much material to buy.  in hindsight i’m not sure why i would buy fabric before i had a pattern (or at least a measurement of some sort), but whatever i just drove my happy butt to the fabric store with no plan whatsoever.  i bought three different fabrics: joel dewberry modern meadow dogwood bloom pond, joel dewberry modern meadow acorn chain in pond, and joel dewberry heirloom blockprint blossom amber.

step 2 – retrieve model apron and iron.  arguably i should have also cleaned it, but alas.  the friendly owner of paula’s fine fabrics (my new favorite fabric store) tipped me off to using the brown package wrapping paper to create a pattern.  this ended up being a life saver since my original plan was to just lay the apron down on the table and trace it onto the new fabric.  in hindsight this was a terrible idea, so I’m ecstatic that Paula set me on the right track.

step 3 – draw pattern.  this was surprisingly easy, but then again i didn’t exactly have high standards for the project so my pattern wasn’t what i would call precise.  i don’t think it mattered.

step 4 – decide pattern looked uneven and lame, so begin freehand.


scalloped edge apron

step 4 – cut out fabric.

step 5 – lay out all pieces on the table.  i have no idea why I did this, other than to make sure all the pieces together looked somewhat like an apron.  this is also the point in time i excitedly brought hubby in to marvel at the coolness of making something totally from scratch. it was a fun moment until the dog barfed up something and ruined it.

sure looks like an apron

step 6 – make and attach ruffles.

orange ruffles

step 8 – put down camera and drink caffeine.  afterall, it’s already 11pm the night before i fly to michigan to give this little gem to sissy for christmas.

step 9 – a flurry of attaching pieces, adding bias tape, building and rebuilding the neck & waist ties…and BAM!  finished everything except my fancy scalloped edge, which i stared at for nearly 30 minutes before giving up.

wait!  what did it end up looking like???  well, unfortunately when i finished it at nearly 3am i forgot to take a picture.  i’ve put in a request for the photograph and as soon as i get it i’ll add it here.  i know, i know, so unfair.

december’s task – night photography

let me start by saying, night photography is probably one of the harder skills for me to work on right out of the gate.  especially given that it’s the holiday season and there are all kinds of lights everywhere…mastering the balance of light and dark to get a crisp picture is not easy!

i tried a bunch of different techniques for capturing the perfect night shot, and while i don’t think i’m there yet, this appears to be my current preferred formula:

– most important – use a tripod, and turn off auto focus (this didn’t seem right at first, but after taking a bunch of blurry photos, i’m on board with this concept)

– set camera on Tv (shutter priority) – i think eventually i’ll graduate to M (manual), but Tv let’s me manage the shutter speed which seemed to help control light

– use timer – i actually had to look this up since i’ve never used my timer, but i gotta say, i’m pretty addicted to it now.  i was going to buy a wireless remote for my camera, but why bother when i can just use the timer??

– after getting all of this set up, then it was just a matter of playing with the shutter speed and the ISO.

i tried to keep my “schooling” simple, so i focused (no pun intended) on two main subjects: my neighbors house with too many christmas lights, and friendship fountain in downtown jacksonville.  my neighbors house was an obvious choice because i was able to schlep my camera and tripod over there regularly with ease.  the fountain was also cool because while i was messing with light settings, i was also able to capture some movement.

i’ll spare you the details of checking out all the rejected photos, unless you’re interested.  here are my favorites of each subject:


friendship fountain

weed wacker

you may have heard the term florida jungle before.  it’s a bit of a metaphor – no, there really isn’t a jungle in florida, however with our tropical climate and nearly year-round growing season, it is definitely a good place for an active gardener.  that said, i am now truly a believer in the phrase florida jungle, because i have officially experienced one first-hand.  for blog purposes, let’s call it: our newest rental home.  🙂

it all started back in march, when our realtor took us to a property that he felt was a “great deal”.  of course, in this housing market it seems that really anything is a great deal from a buyers perspective, but this one came with a disclaimer – keep an open mind, and look beyond what your eyes first see.  awesome, can’t wait.

i looked up the home online to get an idea of where we were going.  there was only one pictures on the mls listing.

ok, right off the bat, let’s just call it what it’s not; it’s definitely not an executive studio apartment, and it’s not going to have granite counter tops and new appliances, but whatever, i’m an adventurous girl and i like to explore old homes (it was built in the 1930’s).  besides, we were looking for a bit of a project, something to really challenge our creativity (and frankly, we wanted something cheap).

here are the details:

multi-family duplex, each apartment has approx. 1,200 square feet – 2 bedrooms, 1 bath.

brick exterior with some wood siding

only appliances are a fridge, stove, and window heating/cooling units

we start with the upstairs, which is currently home to a woman and her adult son, who have somehow managed to cram about 4,000 square feet of stuff into a 1,200 square foot apartment.  we had to walk in a single-file line through the place, trying to determine how big the rooms really were since it wasn’t immediately clear how far back the walls went.  no, i am not exaggerating.  this was unfortunately before i bought my wide angle lens, so the pictures don’t really do it justice, but here is a taste:

dining room looking into kitchen

dining room

we leave the upstairs apartment, and i’m not sure what i’m thinking.  while they did have a lot of stuff, overall the apartment was pretty clean and didn’t seem to have many issues.  there were however random thoughts of calling one of those tv shows that help organize people’s homes for them…

then we head downstairs.  same floorplan, same amount of space.  i’m expecting a similar experience.  this apartment however was much dirtier; definitely in need of some serious disinfecting and cleaning.  oh, and the tenant informed us that he’s pretty sure the house has termites.  terrific.  here are a few pictures:

wow.  yup, that was definitely a pile of dead leaves on top of the water heater, which is in the kitchen.
we head outside, and i’m feeling like i definitely deserve some fresh air.  ok, i’m adventurous, but that was a little rough.  we get into the front yard and i turn to my husband and realtor who practically in unison begin with their high-energy comments “wow, what a fantastic house!”  “did you see those floors…gorgeous!?!”  “such a diamond in the rough!!”  i’m looking at their faces, waiting for an hysterical laughter follow up, but after a few seconds of silence i realize the truth: they are dead serious.  i can already see how this story is going to end.


we take a quick spin around the exterior to check it out, and this is when i first came into contact with it: the florida jungle.  from my estimation, the lot is about 200 feet deep.  that’s a lot of land in the urban core.  it’s also a lot of land to leave neglected for years.  what in the heck are we going to do with that??

...and way more growth

i’ll save the details of the following months for our next stop at the local pub.  you probably already guessed that we bought the house.  we immediately embarked on operation facelift, and let’s just say it involved lots of sweat, scrapes, bruises and cursing.  however, with our trusty team in tow, we deployed frank johnson and his home improvement team, along with doug floyd and his fearless landscapers to help us turn this place around.  we finally managed to get everything done including a full tent fumigation to kill the many species of insects that were actively chewing on the home.

here are some of the updated pics (click to enlarge):

family room




so it’s been about 9 months that we’ve been waiting for the right tenant to come along, and finally today they are moving in.   i’m quite unsure how i will spend all of my free time.

oh, wait, whatever happened with the jungle??  well, it took a few weeks with a team of professionals, but it is now a clear lot, full of all kinds of hidden treasures – a parking block, an old clothesline tree…you know, treasures.

in summary, we completed the following:

– backyard – removed all plants and weeds, kept most trees.  trimmed trees that we over the house or growing into the house

– frontyard – added grasses, azaleas, palms, laid mulch on whole yard

– inside – renovated upstairs unit including new shower/tub surround, cleaned up/ repaired sink & toilet, repaired many wall issues, installed new fixtures, added washer/dryer hookups, built hot water heater cover, repaired roof, and most importantly, CLEANED

– bugs – full tent fumigation



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