Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Few for Friday - #44

I know I've been saying this every week for about a month, but guys? Tomorrow is November. What the hell? Happy Halloween, by the way. I feel like I've been going through the weeks in an absolute daze, without noticing the world around me. Do you ever get like that? I usually get that way AFTER Christmas, when the hustle dies down, not BEFORE. This is unusual for me. I don't like it. As such, my pics this week are kind of meh.

I could walk by original flavor all day long and not be tempted. But someone brought these into work  and there's a very good chance I was almost single-handedly responsible for their consumption. 

 Working on  my final official order for the year. It's for a wedding, and the customer requested labels inside. I used printable fabric instead of paying a small fortune to have them made, and they came out pretty nice. Hopefully I'll be done with the whole set this weekend.

 Isn't that the weirdest sun? The light this morning was strange. Everything seemed gray except the leaves on the trees. It was almost surreal. The sun just doesn't belong in a sky like that. Don't you just adore the lovely power lines I captured?

 It's verrrry fuzzy but someone was the cutest little dragon for Halloween. My sister sent this pic, but she had tried this on him when she was here one weekend, and when I tell you it is the most achingly adorable thing, to see the puffy butt of this costume and the tail waggling as he toddles along. Nephew Sr. didn't go treating this year, as "I already have plenty of candy. I don't really need anymore." Where does this kid come from? I guess he's happy enough the Sox won the Series.

 So, yeah. That's kind of it. Boring, I know. I'm ready to gather a posse to head out and search for my motivation...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I am so smart. S-M-R-T. I mean S-M-A-R-T.

This evening I had one of the biggest duh moments in recent history. I told my mother, and she said "How about that." I told my sister, and she laughed and said "That's a special kind of stupid." It really was. However, it was also such a fabulously stupid discovery that I care more about the discovery than the complete lack of sense I apparently possess at times. So here goes.

It's my favorite time of year, but that also means a total lack of good lighting for taking pictures, except on weekends. A flash is so harsh, so I was searching for one of those flash diffusers to attach to my camera to make things a little less harsh (found one, by the way) so I can take pics in lower light. Anyway, when I was checking to make sure I had the right camera model selected, I noticed something in the pictures they show you of your product from every angle. I ran for my camera, fiddled for a second, and then smacked my forehead in utter disbelief at myself.

OK, so this is my 'good' camera--it's a point and shoot, but a bit more of an advanced model so it takes fabulous pictures without the need for all those lenses and things. I love it.

Despite my love there was always one thing that irked me about it, but it was easy to get over as the camera is simple to use and takes great shots. It doesn't have that built-in screen, but one that swings outward like so--

If I was taking pics for a tutorial or something where I was going to be putting it down and picking it up frequently that little door was annoying, but I did like that it shut the screen inside nice and secure when I was done--

OK, so nothing new there. Then I noticed a picture that showed the screen flipped around so you could see what your selfie would look like--

So then I saw the next shot, the one that now makes this camera perfect to me. You probably have already figured it out...

Yeah, that's the stuff. Flipping the stupid stinking door makes this so much more comfortable to handle and view. I cannot believe it took me a year and a half to find this out. And the sad thing is that if I wasn't searching for an accessory I certainly would not have figured it out on my own.

So, yeah. How 'bout that.

(Oh, and these pics all came from the Amazon product page).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Home Can Be the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Thank you, Billy Joel, for that quote. As some of you know, I'm plopped down here in Philadelphia, and my grandma is settled in a tiny town near Pittsburgh. We're at opposite ends of the PA Turnpike, a road that, as it turns out, we've come to know quite well. We all head out every summer for a family reunion, and we've come to make a tradition of heading out each fall for a girls' weekend (my mom, my sisters, and me. And this year, the wee nephew).

We made a long weekend out of it and set out Friday morning. I decided that this trip I would take my good camera and try to take some pics of the journey. I was hoping for spectacular foliage, but most of it was quite muted. Some trees were green, others changing, and others looked like it was the depths of winter. Most of my pics were blurry and total rot, but I managed to get a few that captured the scenery quite well.

The sky was blue and dotted with puffy fluffy clouds. At certain points along the trip, the sun was hidden above layers and layers of gray clouds (which helped with facing west later in the afternoon when the sun was lower in the sky). It always seems to take so much longer to get where you're going when you're looking forward to the weekend. But we finally arrived at my grandma's, just before dinnertime. It was coooold out there, and the snug little house was nice and cozy.

That rocking chair? Made by my grandmother's grandfather. She's in her eighties, so I don't even know how old that would make this. We packed lots of toys for the boy, but he found a few old toys my grandma still has around and was perfectly content (like a Fisher Price Little People bus from waaaay back when). He's one of those kids that will play with boxes and strings and is fascinated by leaves, so you can pretty much take him anywhere and he'll be amused.

We woke up Saturday to frost on the ground. I sat with my coffee at the kitchen table, and worked on my granny square blanket for the other nephew, who didn't come to visit this time ("Will there be cousins there? Then no, I don't want to go this time").

Can you see what it's getting to be yet? I didn't make as much progress as I would have liked, but a row is a row so I'll take that for sure. After the sun was out and the weather warmed up, my sisters went shopping, and my mom and I took the wee un outside to tire him out.

 "Follow me, ladies! It's this way to fun!"

 Every leaf was a treasure.

Trapped on the porch. This kid is a constant ball of energy, who suddenly says "Run!" and is gone. He's tough to keep up with sometimes.

 That blue sky is a liar. It was quite chilly and windy.

Our last trip out was warm and sunny, and absolutely beautiful. This time, the chill in the air let you know, with no mistake, that winter is around the corner. We headed out for dinner at Applebee's. I had the pecan-crusted chicken salad. Wow. It was absolutely amazing. A-train took one of the lemons and had himself a taste of one--

Check out the bib...

All too soon our visit was over. We sat, and talked, and looked at old photos, and ate things that are bad for us, and watched A-train be an absolute ham. And then we piled in the car to make our way home. 

There are still a few Mail Pouch Tobacco barns that dot the TP. I was sooo happy this shot turned out, especially with the cows in it, as it's the only one I was able to get.

And then it was back to life as usual. Looking at the pile of stuff sitting on my sewing table. Wondering what built up in my work inbox for me to face tomorrow. Junk like that. I didn't feel like dealing with it, so we built a fire and popped some popcorn and just spent the evening hanging out.

I love going out to visit my grandma, regardless of that long drive. The western part of the state is so very different from the eastern side. It's almost as though there is a line right down the center, breaking up two very different...cultures. The western side smacks of industry--railroads, coal mines, farming, stuff like that. I loved watching that part go by in the car window when I was younger (and always hated when I would nod off during it). There's something so timeless and seemingly changeless about it (though of course that's not true--everything changes, unfortunately). When you hit the eastern side the road has a different feel, something more...white collar, maybe?... I don't know, I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the fact that my side is normal life, and the other side is relaxing and not worrying about the to-do list. All I know is one of the coziest places I know to snuggle up with some yarn and a hook is my grandma's house. I really need scientists to get going with disapparation and flue powder (a la Harry Potter) so I can plop myself there whenever I want).

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Few for Friday - #43

Soooo we're down into the single digits for the number of weeks left in the year. Oy. At least the weather has been perfectly fallish--bright sunny days, chilly nights, and a few cloudy windy days thrown in for good snuggle-on-the-couch measure. And? Sweater weather. Woot! I've finally found some sewing motivation and spent a few nights this week cutting out a custom order for six evening bags. I've got everything cut and the interfacings fused--all that's left is the old stitchety-stitch and then it's whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it, with a clear work conscience.

Anywho--I could certainly ramble on and on but I've got to finish packing for a girls weekend at my grandma's. So here are this week's pics--

 How does she do it? Mother Nature, I mean. Well, I know how she does it, and I could get all Sheldon Coopery about it, but I'm trying to be whimsical.

We were packing a few things earlier when I walked into the living room and saw Charlie, chillin' on the couch, staring at the doorway, waiting for someone to come and snuggle with him. He was watching 'The Waltons,' by the way. And he needs a haircut.

My brother texted me this earlier. He and Z-man and his girlfriend (my brother's, not my nephew's--please, people, he's only eleven!) carved their first pumpkin together tonight. I'm guessing this was lit, snacks were made, and a World Series game was watched. I rooted for the Cardinals. Because I like stretching the series until the final game. They should have to work for it.

So that's what I have for now. I've made a bit more progress on Z's afghan but have no pic yet. I'm hoping to get even more done this weekend and then I'll show you how it's progressing (and see if you can tell what I'm shooting for with it). Happy Friday, kids!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Too soon?

Come on, people, there are just about two months until Christmas!! Let's get with the making!! I'm kidding. Right now two months seems a bazillion years away. But I do love seasonal themed fabrics of any kind, so I was having a good old time putting the finishing touches on this slightly-too-soon table runner.

I fell in love with this print when I saw it in Joann's. It is just the essence of Christmas--little red birds, holly leaves, a crisp wintery white. With candy cane binding. Yum.

I did an easy cross-hatch in a diamond shape. I used my hera marker to mark the lines evenly without worrying about those lines being left behind. I've said it multiple times--add one to your wish list if you like to quilt. It's a tremendously helpful piece of plastic.

I had the backing fabric in my stash for a while. I'm glad I hung onto it because it was waiting to be part of something so perfectly Christmassy. It's kind of hard to see but it's got wee little white pin dots all over it. I love the front soooo much, but I love the contrast of the binding with the backing.

I handstitched the binding down so this one is nice and reversible. I cannot justify keeping one more piece of Christmas in this house as there is already so much more than we know what to do with. So I've put this one in my shop in case you'd like to give it a new home. And if you don't want to give it a new home but would like to score some of that yummers candy cane bias tape (made by moi) I've got a listing for some of that too (I got a little carried away and made yards and yards of it because I was having such fun with the stripes. Yes. I know I'm a geek. Thank you :)

I am kind of saddened by the fact that tomorrow is Monday already. How can two stinkin' days go by so quickly?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Few for Friday - #42

I haven't sewn a stitch this week. I have no idea what is wrong with me. I feel absolutely no desire to sew. Usually when I feel that way and force the issue and try to sew something I end up with a lot of frustration and a mess on my hands. I figure I'll wait until the weekend and give it a crack. If I could get the one remaining bag order out of the way I would be totally free to do whatever I want. I should force myself to get there as it's a lovely place to be.

Wanna see some pictures? They're of a little cutie-pie I know...

That kid loves the dog. Sometimes he loves him so much he tries to stand on him or squeeze the life out of him, but Charlie is so wonderful with him. Their favorite thing is looking out the front door and just watching...

 He's totally my nephew. One of his favorite toys is a cheap-o set of nesting dolls I picked up a few years ago. He will sit there for a long time, completely focused, pulling them apart and putting them back together. I'm not brave enough to share with him my other fancier sets that were gifts, but he's still occupied by this one so there's really no need for me to be too generous. I wouldn't want to spoil him.

 Reason #2 we're related. He will sneak away from everyone and sit and go through his books, 'reading' to himself by babbling out loud. It is one of the sweetest things.

 That face. Those stubby teeth. The eyes. I love it.

Lest you think I have forgotten my other favorite guy, he's a big guy now in sixth grade and he's just "really not interested in having his picture taken right now." 

I don't know how you parents get anything done. When the A-train is around I just want to sit and watch everything he does, and he's not even mine. I get all "Sewing? What's sewing? I can't sew anything. I'm watching a baby pretend a toy is eating his toes." Literally.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Betty Boo Bat

A couple months ago I won a gift certificate to the Heather Bailey store in a month-long series of giveaways she hosted. I got some fabric and some paper goods, a nifty gadget, and this cute little kit. I've hardly had any time at all for sewing and making lately, but I really wanted something fun and easy to do. The fact that it's seasonal made it even better, as I adore holiday crafts, especially when I'm limited on time. And it doesn't get much more whimsical than a sock bat, eh?

To be honest, if I had received a pair of socks instead of just one, I would have ditched the kit and worn the socks (I love novelty socks :) First you have to make these teeny tiny legs--I stuck them next to a pin for scale.

They may be the most difficult thing I have ever turned right side out (which is such a geeky sentence that I know will only make sense to other crafters). Stuffing them was super easy as with my gift cert I bought a stuffing fork. It looks like nothing, but it really makes all the difference in the world.

I don't know if it would make any difference for pillows or larger items, but for these tiny things it made stuffing effortless (and I haaaaate stuffing things). You know what was squiggly and annoying? Sewing a cheapo knit sock on a sewing machine. I was feeling really lazy and didn't want to do it by hand but I certainly should have. It all worked out, though. Pretty much.

So at this point it's a sock with a few pieces cut off and stitched back together to look like an armless body. My machine ate the remaining sock piece I needed to use for the ears, so I had to use the remaining felt to rig those up. They're kind of my favorite part--

And here's the whole shebang--

It was a little fiddly trying to sew the buttons and other pieces on to something after it was already stuffed, but the loose knit of the sock made it kind of easy. I love the little buttons on the dress, but they get lost in the busy-ness of the 'dress' fabric.

I was so pleased with myself that I tied a perfect little bow that I didn't want to risk messing it up by stitching it on. So even though it was midnight I hauled out the glue gun and tacked it down just so.

The teeth aren't particularly fangy, but I dig the bushy eyebrows I didn't even realize were happening as I stitched them. While this may not be the neatest bit of stitchery that ever existed, I feel that 'sock bat' is more in keeping with terms like 'crooked wings' and 'stubby fangs' than it is with words like 'neat' and 'perfection' anyway.

OH! Any of you watching the new season of American Horror Story? What do you think? I'm kind of liking it...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Few for Friday - #41

This year is really winding down, eh? Recent weeks have been flying by. My brain still has it as being September, so every time I look at a calendar I feel a little jolt of panic that October is nearly half gone. Our weather isn't helping, either. We were in the eighties with high humidity at the start of the week, and today I wore one of my coziest cardigans it was so chilly. Plus I've been under the weather for almost two weeks (which is highly unusual for me) so hardly anything has gotten done. I do feel quite proud that I cut out the fabric for two shirts tonight, and nearly a third (I didn't realize that the cutting counter shorted me until now so I have to buy enough fabric to make some sleeves tomorrow). Anyhoodle, I've got a couple pictures to share-

I saw this big crow at work the other day and wanted a pic as it was quite large. Of course the stupid thing kept hopping and walking and moving, so I'm blocking a lane into work trying to get a picture, completely oblivious to the fact that cars are trying to get around me. As I have quite the noticeable sort of car (it's a Mini) I'm sure many co-workers were cursing me. And to top it off I forgot to roll the window down so the picture looks weird.

 We're getting into my favorite sunset season, the one where I pull over on the way home from work to take pictures before the sun completely sinks.

So that's that. I've got thirty out of 150 granny squares made for Z-man's blanket with ends woven in (woot!) and it's progressing quite nicely. I'm hoping to whip these shirts together this weekend so I can have more time to work on that. And finish the quilt I've been working on since spring. And sew up a new autumn wristlet for my mumsy. And work on a custom order for a wedding. And so on and so forth. I need to find myself a husband with the means to let me stay home and sew and sew and sew all day....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Brit Kit

Ahoy ahoy! Remember a few months ago I had shared (here and here) my thoughts on the subscription box service I had signed up for? After being less than enamored with it, I cancelled it and signed up for another. Due to the timing of it all, I didn't receive it until mid-September, and just used it this weekend. This time I signed up for the Brit Kit. Every month you receive a craft kit of who knows what--it might be jewelry making, it might be home decor, who knows.

I had thought this particular craft would be something I could do with Z-man, but Sundays are now for football, and it's some kind of rule that "you can't do arts and crafts when football is on because you have to keep your eye on the stats." So I went ahead and did this one myself. Now, a good blogger would have remembered to take a photo of the kit before they made the craft, so you'll have to imagine a few things---

In addition to the above I received three different air plants as well as a square piece of fancy-edged wood.

The point of this craft was to hammer those nails into the board into whatever layout you wanted. I am not imaginative, so I did a grid. I tried to bother everyone as much as possible while I was hammering. I scared the dog, I made my sisters roll their eyes, my mother cringed, and my neighbor turned off her radio. I then handed the miniature bed of nails to Alicia and asked her to do the hemp wrapping for me. Some things I just feel really unmotivated to do, and all that hammering was tiring.

I had put the air plants in water to soak before I started so they were ready to place. I did absolutely no research on air plants, so I have no idea what they are. They look like desert plants that don't really have perceivable roots, but are quite succulent and suck up the water quite swiftly. You don't need to plant them or water them much--once a week you stick them in some water and place them back on your string art.

This is kind of just sitting on the windowsill right now as I don't really know what to do with it. I'm not much of a plant person, and I feel a board with randomly hammered nails isn't the safest idea ever concocted. I'm actually kind of glad I didn't do this with Z, as he would have lost interest in about two seconds flat.

Although I wasn't jumping for joy with the craft itself I did like this box much better. I have a lot of nails and hemp left over for other stuff I may want to nail and wrap. But even if I hadn't made this craft the supplies I received would have been useful for other stuff. I am quite eager to see what I get in my next box, which should be arriving next week. I really do like the surprise element of it, and I'm happier I switched to a craft box instead of the frou-frou pamper yourself in sample sizes kind of stuff. So much more me.

So that's that for now. See you soon!


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