Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Round-up

It was a good and busy weekend. Friday night turned into dinner + beers + bar hopping with some girl friends, so that was fun. It was a spontaneous girly night out; I haven't had one of those in a long time. At the third bar, an Irish place the next town over, my friends walked in fine but I was stopped by the bouncer for ID. Ugh! I always get carded. When the bouncer gave me back my license, he said, in a thick Irish accent, "You look like a young Keira Knightley--very sexy." ??? Never mind that she's FOUR years younger than me, but, really?? She's like an entire foot taller than me and at least twenty pounds thinner. Maybe he'd had more beers than I'd had at that point. 

Despite it being a semi-late night on Friday, I was up early on Saturday morning. I was able to sneak in a couple of hours of TV before the draft. Rob and I went for lunch at a local diner around noon, and when I got back I started cranking on my project for him. In the afternoon I went to see Baby Mama with two of my girl friends, so that was fun. It wasn't a good movie, but it was nice to be with the girls and to chow down on buttered popcorn. Yum. Following the movie, I went back to the crafting and finished up the project for Rob. Go me. We weren't able to watch anything but Law & Order on Saturday night, then called it an early one. 

I was up and working again on Sunday morning. I did a lot of the preliminary cutting for my personal secret project. Then, after a conversation with my mom wherein I found out she'd TOLD on me (that I hadn't made any progress on the family project), so I really got going on that. I'm mostly finished at this point! Go me. Again. 

So, here's my list from Friday with accomplishments in gray; let's see how I managed to do: 
  • something for husband's birthday coming up
  • some super-secret Lady Scout trial runs
  • finalizing my new dress pattern and possibly even sewing the first dress
  • big secret family project that must be finished less than a month from now
  • and my new personal project, which I will refrain from mentioning until I really get started on it. Trust me, it's BIG and the entire process will be fully documented here. 
Not too shabby! Two down and one started. I got a lot further on the family project than I was expecting to, so that's part of why I didn't get at those other things. Sorry that I can't post pictures of that stuff yet (though photo above is a sneak peek of the family project), but it must remain a surprise! Big reveals to come. This week is already shaping up to be a busy one at work, plus I have a work event on Thursday night, but I do hope to get working on the personal project and on the Lady Scout stuff yet this week. We shall see... 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flea Market Finds

I had an interesting, busy, and lovely weekend this past weekend. I saw a lot of our friends Jenn and Daniel, which is always nice. Jenn frequents a flea market on the North Shore when it's nice out, and she was generous enough to invite us along on Sunday. Rob opted out, but I decided I was crazy enough to get up at 7AM the one day of the week I didn't have to, so I joined her and Daniel on the trip. It was really lovely on Sunday: a little cool, but sunny and breezy and, well, very spring-y feeling.

For whatever reason, I was drawn to these glasses, which the seller said were sour cream containers. I scored this set of four for $12. Aren't they adorable??

I don't know what I'll do with them, but they are the perfect size and shape for my hands. They feel so comfortable! We are bad with glasses around here, though--for whatever reason, they tend to break on us (mostly Rob, but, in his defense, he does most of the dishes). For that reason, I'm a little afraid to use them! But I will because they are just so cute! Perfect for sangria?

I also scored this little dresser for $10. It's very cute and had some sweet contact paper in two of the drawers, though it very easily fell out of one of them once I got it home. I was drawn to this the same way I was drawn to the glasses, though I didn't know what I'd use it for. We kept walking around and I thought about it for a while and then decided that $10 wasn't much and it would look so cute in our kitchen, so I bought it. I subsequently moved all of our kitchen linens (including dish towels and potholders and a bunch of place mats and tablecloths) into it and freed up our existing wire rack, to which I moved the bread products that had been cluttering our counter space.

So this is what the kitchen looks like now. It's about as tidy as it will ever get, though for whatever reason it still bothers me in some way. Oh well--it definitely is an improvement over what it used to be. I don't have any pictures, which is probably a good thing!

So, this weekend's forecast? Football. Rob has tons of end-of-semester grading to do, and he's already called dibs on the TV for the entirety of the NFL draft this weekend. Not only does that mean that we are not going anywhere, it also means I won't be able to perform my weekend ritual, which consists of many mugs of tea and parking my butt on the futon and watching whatever crap MTV or VH1 is offering (OR the good stuff that's on Bravo). Le sigh. Though, in actuality, this is probably a blessing. I have a lot of crafting to do, including:
  • something for husband's birthday coming up
  • some super-secret Lady Scouts trial runs
  • finalizing my new dress pattern and possibly even sewing the first dress
  • big secret family project that must be finished less than a month from now
  • and my new personal project, which I will refrain from mentioning until I really get started on it. Trust me, it's BIG and the entire process will be fully documented here. 
Oh the suspense... 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Birthday Post #2

Along with all of the awesome presents I got from my family and friends, I also splurged and got a bunch of lovely things for myself. Like this dress above, which has the most amazing puffy sleeves I've ever seen! It's awesome and I love wearing it. It's from my favorite local vintage shop,which is so fun.

I also splurged and got myself this Dear Jane book. Ever since I first saw a picture of the quilt, I've been a little obsessed with it. I've finally decided to give it a go. I have ordered a bunch of fabrics to get started--that's an entire post of its own! But, really, I think it was inevitable: Jane Stickle and I have the same birthday!

I mean, seriously, how amazing is this quilt?!? The squares finish at around 4.5" in the quilt. My goal is to hand-piece all of the blocks, potentially on the train during my commutes.

Just look at all those tiny pieces! It seems too small to even do on a sewing machine. Then again, ten blocks in, I'll probably be cursing my decision to stitch it all by hand...

I also got myself this awesome thread rack. Because, until now, I've had my threads shoved into drawers and in a different sewing caddy and I kept running out of white or ordering more gray without realizing what I already had in the stash. So, now it's all visible and also looks so cute! I think I'm going to hang the rack on the wall, because when I'm in the middle of quilt wrestling, desk space is at a premium.

Yep, I'm a good one for treating myself when I determine I am deserving of it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Birthday Post #1

As promised (finally!), here is my birthday present post! It was birthday number 27 for me and I was totally spoiled by so many people! I was definitely feeling the love. First thing was the teakettle above, from my mom. I love it! The spout means no splashing, unlike my last teakettle, which I can definitely appreciate, since I like my water boiling hot and am usually only half-awake when I make it.

This awesome book was a gift from Rob, who continues the tradition of giving me riot grrrl gifts for my birthday. The foreword is by none other than Beth Ditto, who I think is absolutely amazing. And hot. And there are SO many pictures of Kathleen Hannah in this book... I can't wait to get a chance to read it.

These books were from Jenn and Daniel. Last year I got the CuteBook from my friend Kate, so this, in a way, is another tradition being continued. I've already made one project from the book, which is awesome and cute and very inspiring and fun, like the CuteBook.

This awesome exploded view sewing machine line art shirt was a gift from my brother from here. I wore it today for the second time already. My brother is an engineer, so it's totally appropriate. I'll just pretend that I never sent him the link to the shirt when he asked me what I wanted...

My friends Robert and Cynthia got me a bag full of lots of awesomeness, starting with the new Tapes 'n Tapes. It's a pretty good album.

They also got me these cute flower pots. I am thinking of using them for herbs this summer. They are so cute!

So, there you go. I also got a bunch of other gifts from Robert and Cynthia, like movie passes and bamboo sushi rollers and Dunnies... Also, my friend JJ got me an excellent bottle of wine and this cute Eggling, which had started sprouting over the weekend! It was a wonderful Monday morning surprise for me today.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Big Reveal

Surprise! The "secret" project I've been working on is a quilt for my mom for her birthday! It's this Atkinson pattern and it came together pretty quickly. I used all solid Kona cottons for this one. I was worried about the colors bleeding onto the white when I washed it so I threw in a color catcher, but that turned out to be unnecessary. I love these quality Kona cottons!

Here's one of the border corners. I tried using a little pleated/piped border. I cut it 1", folded it in half, pressed it, and then stitched it on at the same time as the outer blue border. So the pleat finishes at 1/4". It turned out pretty well, I think.

I am loving these long shots down my quilts. This is what those paint strip-looking pieces turned into. Pretty cool.

For the quilting, after much discussion at the quilt shop one Saturday, it was decided that it would be good if I stitched in the ditch around each large square and then treated each square as its own canvas and do some free-motion sampling in each. One is stippled, two have large flowers, one is a spiral, one is a square spiral, one is a maze-like meander... You can see more photos on my Flickr page, although I have not yet uploaded shots of the quilting in each blocks. I will try to do that this weekend. But below is my favorite free-motion block, and the reason why I did it all : I [heart] my mom. I just hope she likes the quilt!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday...

No, not MY birthday. I still haven't gotten my "stuff" together for that entry. What can I say? Work has been crazy these last two weeks. Not necessarily BAD crazy, just a little nuts and really really busy. Swamped. But, I'm pretty awesome and I'm doing a good job getting it all taken care of.

Anyway, this post is about my friend/coworker Daniel's birthday, which is today! And for which I made him the bear shown above. It's from this book, which Daniel and Jenn gave to me for MY birthday last week! Cute. The jersey rib knit was tricky to sew, but I have ideas for my next project that will make it easier to manage.

I chose to chain-stitch some words and applique some felt, just for kicks. To give the bear a tough cuteness, I guess. Daniel said he liked it, so I guess I have to take his word for it! I just love all these Cute Book guys and books and patterns. They're so, well, cute!

Nothing much else to say right now. I'm happy it's nearly Thursday, which is also my mom's birthday! Lots of April birthdays. I'm tired. I don't feel I'm being coherent right now, so I'm signing off.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Morning Quilting Club

No, not today, but from last Saturday. I was up early with Rob and then couldn't go back to sleep right away when he left, so I decided to finish up some quilting. The cats decided to join me. This was the first meeting of our Saturday Morning Quilting Club, but certainly won't be the last!

Bellow chose to spend the meeting curled up on the fabric pile behind the machine, peeking through the hole under the machine's arm. Iris chose to spend the meeting running off with my binding tape.

Sorry I've been so MIA this week. It's been a busy week, with a lot of nights out drinking: Tuesday for my birthday, Wednesday for the Book Show, and Thursday for veggie sushi and sake following a horrible commute home. Last night Rob and I barely stayed awake for There Will Be Blood (again), and this morning at the diner with Jenn and JJ I was so tired (at 10:30!) that I ordered an egg and cheese omelet instead of a tomato and cheese one. D'oh! I got what I wanted, but still... Today has been full of errands and bizarre weather (pouring rain --> sunshine with no clouds in the sky --> more pouring rain with thunder and lightning) and I'm just now caching up on some stuff. So, here's my promise for some better posts next week, including a rundown of my birthday gifts (which are so fun!) and the reveal of the secret quilting project I'd been working on. Until then!

Monday, April 7, 2008

A New Week

It's a new day, and a new week. I can't believe this is my first April blog entry. Actually, I CAN believe it. Last week was a rough one. Work was insanity and kept me swamped every day. Home was pretty nuts, too. There was a death in the family, so it was a fairly emotional week for everyone. It was a bad week, but a good week, too. I got a small-ish hourly raise AND a fat bonus. Sweet! Also, in the height of the madness, I ended up spontaneously meeting up with Cynthia and JJ for beer and Indian food and some much-needed girl time. It was perfect. 

The weekend went fast, as weekends always do. Friday night we watched American Gangster, which was okay, I guess. On Saturday Rob had to teach again. I was awake at 6AM for unknown reasons, and when we had a where-is-Rob's-wallet frantic search at 7AM, I knew I wouldn't go back to sleep. So I had an impromptu meeting of my Saturday Morning Quilting Club, consisting of me, Bellow, and Iris. More on that in a separate post, with pictures! 

I decided that, since I was feeling restless and I had my bonus and all, I'd go shopping. So I headed out to the malls around 11, got lunch at Panera, which is only navigable during non-peak hours, and shopped. I ended up running the gamut: two pairs of Payless shoes, a strapless dress from Marshalls (that I will be adding straps and possibly a ribbon belt to), a skirt + short-sleeved sweater top + little cardigan from Ann Taylor Loft (I had a gift card left over from Christmas and they were having a sale!), and I answered the siren song of the Banana Republic and walked out with a pair of nicely tailored plaid pants for a mere $32. In all I spent around $140 for a bunch of great stuff. But I gotta say, I had a hard time with some of it. Especially at Ann Taylor (the Loft, even!), where everything was $40. There were some cute little satin blouses, really simple, for $44. I wouldn't even let myself try them ON because I know I can make one for less than $10. It was hard to shop and to spend money on stuff I can probably make myself, so I stuck with knits and denim and things I surely wouldn't do at home. I suppose, really, it's a GOOD thing that I have a hard time shopping, and that it's because I can make a lot of that myself. Still, it was tricky. 

The rest of the weekend flew by and I spent most of yesterday on the couch, doing some hand-stitching. I watched North Country on cable, and we watched Confederate States of America on-demand before catching John Adams on HBO and heading to bed. 

For inexplicable reasons, I awoke at 5:18 this morning thinking of Rock of Love 2. Who's it going to be: Ambre or Daisy? I'm firmly in the Ambre camp and have been since the beginning, but who knows what Bret's, um, heart will decide. After lying in bed for another hour, I decided to just get up and watch the weather. I went out to the living room, turned on the TV, and picked up the hand-stitching I had left off on last night. I finished my project by 6:40, then hopped in the shower. I took my time getting ready, was early leaving the apartment, was early getting to the train, and even snapped some pictures on my cell phone along the way. I was listening to the Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist, and it was an awesome way to start out the week. 

A new day, a new week, Smashing Pumpkins, blue sky... 

And a big week it is, too. Tomorrow is my birthday and a dinner out with a small group of friends, Wednesday is the big annual Book Show that will now require me to be more careful than in the past. As one of my manufacturing contacts said to me last week, "You have a target on your back." Indeed. There are a lot of salesmen there, and a lot of people who think that buying a production manager a drink = said manager buying printing work. That's not nearly the way I do business, but I'm new and there are a lot of people who don't know that yet. Anyway, Thursday is potentially a belated birthday dinner out for Rob and me... Another busy week, but hopefully in a different way than last week. 

So here's me, today, on the train, listening to the Pumpkins, sitting in the sunshine, looking optimistic. YES, that IS my optimistic face!