amis au fil des ans

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

Archive for the category “uncategorized”

dressy hooters

I finally did it! I made a dress! And guess what…it actually looks like a dress!

I used the free PDF pattern called Wee Wanderer from Sarah Jane studios. I probably should’ve started with something simple like a pillowcase dress or jumper first, but I really wanted to enhance my skills, figure out how to use my serger, and try to remember how to install a zipper. Happy to report I managed to do all of the above (with quite a few setbacks along the way of course).

My major lessons learned:

– Having a serger rocks. Even for someone who just uses it occasionally to craft, it just makes lots of things so much easier.

– I need a cheat sheet for machine feet. Between the serger and the sewing machine, I think I used 4 different feet (and could’ve used the gathering foot for the ruffle as a 5th, but I chose to go old-school to save time). Everytime I switched feet I had to take a timeout to read the manual, adjust some threading, and in some cases, look at YouTube. It was pretty time consuming.

– Having a good, well-written pattern is worth a fee. This pattern was free and it was the authors first pattern, so there were a few kinks to get through. I’m sure for someone who has made things like this before it would’ve been fine but I needed the specifics and I got hung up more than once. Thankfully YouTube has videos for everything, and I figured out how to do the zipper in my sleep last night (no joke). Ha!

I did get better at a few things: I never ran out of bobbin thread, my fabric cutting was done correctly the first time, and I didn’t need to rip as many seams as you’d probably expect. Score! I’m definitely planning on making this dress again, now that I know how to do it.

2014-03-10 14.28.11

The heartbreaking error…

2014-03-11 15.34.18 2014-03-11 15.34.33 2014-03-11 15.35.13 2014-03-11 15.35.20 2014-03-11 15.35.32 2014-03-11 15.35.56 2014-03-11 15.36.37

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dutch oven bread

Recipe: Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

After sampling the many types of delicious breads my friend Megan always made, I have had homemade bread-making on my to-do list for years.  For some reason the yeast component intimidated me…I mean…it GROWS.  On it’s own.  It must be crazy and difficult to work with, since clearly it has a brain.  

Some folks argue that making your own bread is one of those bang-for-your-buck household money-saving tips.  I read an article the other day that claimed you can save $80 – $320 a year per person making your own bread!  Of course, that’s not why I did it, and I’m certainly not about to research the validity of these claims, but it makes for interesting conversation.  Who doesn’t love saving money??

Another reason to make your own bread is that you control the ingredients.  With so much discussion about preservatives and loooooong lists of unpronounceable (is that a word?) ingredients give people the willies.  Homemade bread has very few ingredients, and I can pronounce (and spell) all of them!  Plus, it’s super easy to add in extra goodies (dried cherries! cinnamon! nuts!) to fit your individual tastes.  

After hubby purchased a Lodge Cast Iron Cookware set, we’ve become addicted to finding new and interesting uses for the various pieces.  The dutch oven in particular is a very cool tool, not just for stews and soups.  When I saw this recipe, I knew it was perfect for us.

I don’t need to walk you through a tutorial of how to do this.  The directions are clear and simple.  I let mine sit overnight for about 18 hours…just because I slept in…but it worked out great!  Just make sure you have a nice little tub of spreadable butter or jam ready and waiting for when this sucker comes out of the oven!!

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Very sticky, watch out!

 

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Could’ve left this in a few more minutes, but we were too excited

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If you look closely, can you see the steam??

 

death by scrapbuster quilt

I love quilts, especially quilts that have been made from fabric that served another purpose.  My mom has a quilt that my grandma made from squares of my grandfather’s old suits.  The darn thing feels like it’s 100 lbs, but I think it’s just heavy from all the stories it holds.  🙂

I have always been too intimidated to make a quilt.  Not because the sewing seemed difficult, but because it seemed like Such. A. Commitment.  All those squares!  I’m not exactly known for my ability to focus on one thing for a great length of time.  Fast forward to us moving into the Tiny House, me feeling a constant need to purge stuff…and those looming boxes of fabric scraps started to really irritate me.  It was time to quilt!

I started by watching a few videos on YouTube, getting the general idea.  Then I found this awesome Instructables lesson.  Seemed easy enough, and believe it or not I already had all of the materials including batting that I bought in (no joke) 2006 when I decided to make a t-shirt quilt (SPOILER: it never happened).  I grabbed the rotary cutter and my fabric scraps and started cutting.  You should know this was October 4, 2013.

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Cutting, cutting, cutting

I read somewhere that someone used a small mason jar to put all her scrap threads in while she worked…brilliant idea!!

Once I had what felt like enough squares (turns out it wasn’t, but alas) I started piecing them together into 9-boxes.  I will say, I started by pairing up 2 different fabrics together…but now I wish I had done all random because I feel like my quilt looks like a mish-mosh.  Oh well.

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Pairs

After I had enough 9 boxes ready (or so I thought), I laid them all out on the table and tried to figure out the order.  This was when I first realized how I could leverage my hubby’s strength in analytics and patterns for my own use…I invited him downstairs just to take a look and he immediately started moving the blocks around, flipping them in different directions and telling me what I needed to do.  To my quilt.  I didn’t ask for his input.  I still don’t know how this happened.  He redesigned the whole thing.  I was irritated.  After he was done and left the room, I took a step back and was even more disgusted because…he had made it look better.  Dangit!

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First draft.

This is exactly the point at which I got burned out.  It was October 5th.  I packed up all the squares and called it a day.

About a month later I decided to sew again, and pulled everything out.  I stitched together the 9-boxes, admired my quilt, and decided it was too small.  I don’t know why, but starting from the beginning, cutting out squares and sewing them together piece by piece…was torture.  What felt like an eternity later, I finally had my quilt top done.  It still wasn’t as large as I originally wanted, but I was starting to really hate this project.

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Quilt top

That was before I started quilting.

I watched a few more YouTube videos on how to make a quilt sandwich, locked my dogs in the spare bedroom so they couldn’t get involved, grabbed a sheet out of the Goodwill pile and spread everything out on the family room floor.  While on a conference call for work (SHHHH) I crawled all over that quilt adding a million pins to keep it together.

Since I just have a standard home-sized sewing machine, I couldn’t do any kind of fancy quilting so I opted for “stitching in the ditch” which has nothing to do with going outside.  This meant hours of straight, long, boring sewing.  My back hurt, my arms hurt, my butt hurt…I never thought it was going to end.  Suddenly the quilt felt insanely huge.

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Machine quilting

I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to put the whole thing back in the closet again.  I hated quilting.  It was November 16th.

And so it sat.  For two months, folded up in a nice little pile on top of the dresser in my guest room.  Still full of pins and without a border.  It ate at me every time I saw it, a nagging little project that wouldn’t end.  ARGH.

I had to figure out how to make binding.  I had this red fabric with little white dots that I had purchased for the t-shirt quilt (circa 2006), I must’ve bought 3 yards of the stuff and have been dragging it around ever since.  This was my chance.  I found this tutorial and it seemed fairly simple so I gave it a go.  Much to my surprise it went pretty quickly and BAM!  My quilt was done.  It turned out great, but it’s definitely going to be a while before I embark on another large(ish) quilt like that again.

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Finally completed on January 20, 2014

a whole year??

we’ve gone a WHOLE YEAR without blogging??  this is criminal!  are you ready to get back to it ladies?!?

searching for shade

ok, so everyone is off growing babies and i’m left to the blogging…whoops, that was a bad plan!

i did take a few photos of one of this weekend’s projects – magnolias.  after paying someone with heavy machinery to take down our 50+ year old oak tree and a random olive tree in the middle of summer, hubs and i immediately went through tree remorse.  not one to wait around, we ran out and bought two 12′ tall magnolia trees to start the process of replacing what we’ve taken away.  it’s no comparison to the tree that spread like an umbrella over our entire house, backyard and garage, but…it’s helping a little!

here you can see the olive tree on the side of our house.  it was super ugly and the branches kept dying.  birds would sit on the branches and chuck little berries (olives?) at you like bb’s out of a pellet gun.  it had no redeeming qualities.

the olive tree enjoys its final evening

After removing an olive tree

two new magnolias, ready for growth spurt

so you may be asking yourself – what’s up with the stump?  were you too cheap to pay the guys to grind it out?  in what appears to be a mis-communication, we remain owners of this tree stump.  not one to get bent out of shape over little things, i’ve tasked hubby with creating something like this:

courtesy of this old house

i’m here and i’m back!

i know i have been mia.  and i really am sorry.  i haven’t been doing much…  except growing a baby.

so please join me in #4’s internet debut…ta da!  #4!

 

needless to say, we are all very excited in this house.  although no one as much as big sis e.  she wakes me up each morning letting me know how happy she is to be a “triple big sister”.  she has also already begun to clear the house of any small objects.  coins, pizza pieces, baby kai lan, and mr. fluffy have all been relocated to a shoe box until baby is big enough.  that’s my e.  very proactive.  baby is due 11/5/2012.

and as if by magic as i entered the 2nd trimester i started to feel like sewing again.  i have 2 projects lined up for this week so stay tuned!

missed you girls.

 

evolution of a craft room

when we bought the house the sunroom was a series of sliding glass doors.  it was a step down off of the kitchen and although it was open to the kitchen via a door with no door in it and a window with no window in it, it had no heat.  brrrrr…

immediately after we closed we began destruction and construction.  the floor was raised, the wall between the sunroom and kitchen was removed, a beam went up, the sliding doors came down, 2 large windows and 2 sets of french doors went in.

and it got a good dose of marshmallow spray (er…insulation).

some awesome plasterers worked their tails off to have the room drywalled and plastered.  on new year’s eve.  cheers.

all that work was so we could actually move in (and move out of my in laws apartment…).  the first of our furniture in our house!

after a series of trial and errors we settled on a soft green for the walls.  benjamin moore dried parsley is the official color.

and the room takes (some) shape.  i would call this sunroom version 1.

the introduction of the sewing machine into the space marks sunroom version 2 and officially denotes the sunroom as the craft room.

lack of storage posed some serious problems with my sewing supplies.  a quick trip to ikea to purchase these cabinets solved that.  rearrange the furniture some and you have sunroom version 3.

and just like that the cabinets are down and ledges are up.  sunroom version 4.

ledges remain but the chair is gone.  you may also note the salvaged door that was painted white and given legs to function as my new desk.  sunroom version 5.

all of that to bring us to sunroom version 6.  the current layout.

 

 

 

the desk has found a permanent home under the window.  the ledges are still (begrudgingly) there for now but are not final.  i am on the hunt for a large (huge) mid-century piece that will take up most of that wall and provide ample storage for both craft items as well as home office items.  the tv wall is just a placeholder as well.  the grand plan for that is to have an elfa media system on the lower half of the wall and mount the tv on the wall.  the 2 chairs are good (west elm slipper chairs) and will stay but i am looking for a vintage settee or sofette to upholster to compliment them.  the cowhide rug is from ikea.

that top shelf looks lame bare.  i spent all weekend cleaning it off since it is too high for me to reach anyway.  but something needs to go up there…  maybe art?  pictures?  this is where you are supposed to say, “no sarah!  don’t put anything up there because you will find the large mid-century piece for that wall.  you will!  you will!’

k.  thanks.

i need help…

gorgeous, right?  it is from amy butler’s new(ish) collection called lark.  i love the colors and various prints – some flowy, some geometric, even some ikat prints!

the store that sells my bibs, burp cloths, and loveys asked me to make them some pinafores.  i was super excited because that gave me an excuse to finally snag these prints.  but now i am at a crossroad and have no idea where to go.  my pinafores have 3 prints; 1 for the skirt, 1 for the top and tie, and 1 for the straps.  when i initially bought these i intended for them to work in sets of 3.  so the bottom 3 were together, the middle 3 together, and the top 3 together.  but as you can see they mix and match well beyond that.  which is now making me question how i proceed.  i wanted to make 3 pinafores in each size (s, m, and l).  do i go with my initial plan and make 3 with the bottom 3 fabrics but mixing up where i use each fabric in the pinafore?  or do i do a complete schmorgishborg and make 9 totally and completely unique and different pinafores?  thoughts?  opinions?  what you would like to see if you walked into a (small) retail store?

note:  either option would result in 9 unique pinafores.  but one option keeps the fabrics in the 3 sets of 3 where the other option intermixes everything.  hope that makes sense…

   

order up!

my little niece looooves playing pretend kitchen, and this christmas we bought her a wooden stand mixer and toaster to go with her kitchen set.  i decided that every good chef needs a hat and of course a mitt, so i made one for her!   these were made using riley blake’s sugar and spice dot, paisely and large flower pattern.  can’t wait to see a picture of her using it!

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.

growth...

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

kitchen

bathroom

front

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

cleared

 

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