I hate that I haven’t been sewing lately, but I have been accomplishing other projects. My mother in law has transformed her backyard into an oasis of fun in the very short time she’s been in her new house. This inspired me to whip our own backyard into a more useable, enjoyable place. First things first – a trip to Home Depot was in order. I may have overdone this bit.
I started with our old, dried out deck. No one goes on this deck – splinter, bug and bird poo haven that it is. So I got to work. First step: Power washing. I don’t know if our power washer is wimpy or what, but I had to basically hold the nozzle against the wood and go back and forth over each 5 inch by 2 inch section three or four times to get the 10 years of grime and mildew off the wood. I can’t imagine trying this without a power washer.
As I power washed, I also used some Behr deck soap. I can’t remember the name now, but it’s a kind of total prep soap before applying stain. I put it right in the power washer and used a hard-bristled broom to scrub tough spots as a washed. The resulting clean deck was such a HUGE difference!
Now to go about the staining. I used Behr Semi-Transparent Natural stain and Behr Solid-Color in Gettysburg and Atlantic. If I didn’t live in sweltering Texas in a very snobbish subdivision, I would have painted the whole thing Atlantic (the dark blue). It’s a gorgeous color. But I threaded the needle – adding some color and decoration, but keeping the thing mostly boring and neighborhood-approved. I used brushes to paint the whole thing. It was a big job – but I think using the brush was also worthwhile. I did chicken out and only do one coat of the stain. By the time I got to the end of the deck, I couldn’t imagine going back and doing the whole thing again! So I’ll just save that second coat until next year.
I probably should have used the Deck Over product that fills holes and flattens out splinters, but I really wanted the wood grain to come through on most of it. So we may still encounter the occasional splinter. But it’s such a big improvement.
That’s it for part one of my Spring improvements – more soon!
For his 8th birthday, my sweet son wanted to have a food drive. So we sent out invites asking friends to bring a few bucks for a present and a food item for the food pantry. I wasn’t sure how he would feel not having a pile of presents to open like at every other birthday, but the whole thing was awesome. We had his party at the Tae Kwan Do studio and it was super fun, and then we took the 67 lbs(!) of food he collected to the food bank a few days later. The TKD instructor gave him a special “community” band for his TKD belt. Very awesome. What I loved the most was that everyone helped to make a big deal out of his food drive idea, which just encourages his giving heart even more. It was a wonderful birthday. And he’s being very patient with the money that his generous friends (parents) gave him – waiting until after Christmas to pick out his birthday toy.
I feel like I should tag this with #firstworldproblems, but we have so much. A safe neighborhood, good friends, plenty to eat. I worry sometimes that my kid’s easy existence is setting him up for trouble as an adult, or somehow not preparing him for real life. But this whole experience has put my mind at ease a little. He was excited to drop off the food, and still excited to have a little money to get a toy after Christmas – excited about both. And that’s fair, right? What more can I ask?
Here are some photos:
Cake and party favors
Cutting the cake with a sword
I especially love this one of Grandma’s excitement about the sword!
Dropping off the donation at the food pantry
Lots more pictures here:
Working on some goodies for my son’s 8th birthday. He wanted skylanders, but we’re doing a party at a place that provides everything (food, plates, napkins, etc.), so there aren’t so many opportunities for decorations. Also, he doesn’t like regular cake, so I’ve got to somehow turn a pumpkin bundt cake into a skylanders cake?! We’ll deal with that later. Here’s what I came up for the goodies…my kid is crazy about the loom bracelets, so we made one for every kid and used some cardstock and avery stickers to make these little things.
There’s a corner of my office/sewing room that is getting a little Hoarder-y. I’ve finished a couple quilts lately and kind of thrown all the cut away batting/scraps on top of this bin. And then I bought some fleece and felt for doll construction and some wovens for scarves and some vintage table cloths and I think you’re getting the picture. That pile is getting CRAZY.
So we got this pretty dresser this weekend. It was brand new – possibly the 2nd brand new dresser I’ve ever bought in my life. I don’t know what came over me! But there we were, in the pretty princess little girls section of Rooms To Go, and the sparkly knobs were just calling my name.
It was right next to the Cinderella carriage bed with the sparkly netting. Do you know what I’m talking about?
So here it is (imagine angels singing):
When I started the dresser search, I went to Goodwill first. They pretty much never have any good furniture at our Goodwill, but I wanted to try. So of course, they didn’t have any good furniture, but they did have a roll of home dec-weight pink and brown houndstooth fabric for $10! I can see the original Hancock’s tag inside that says it was originally $17+ a yard. There are at least 5 or 6 yards on this roll!!! SCORE! Who knows what I’ll use it for – at this price, I might use some of it as stabilizer! Who cares?!
So with my new houndstooth, I have the perfect canvas to make my own ironing board to top whatever dresser I find.
So we got the dreamy dresser, and I got some 3/4″ plywood at Home Depot cut to the right size and my handy staple gun out…
And 4 layers of cotton batting and one layer of insul-bright and one layer of bargain basement houndstooth later, and I have an AMAZE-BALLS new storage dresser and ironing board!
Can you tell I’m excited?
I finished up a few more gifts and sadly, forgot to take pictures of a bunch of them! Lots of pouchies for neighbor and teacher gifts, and of course, I didn’t take any pictures. But I used this super cute and simple pattern: The Pleated Zipper Pouch from SkipToMyLou.org
Then I bought a couple patterns from this super cute Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/dollsanddaydreams
I finished the Big Doll in about 4 hours! Just in time to be a gift for my 1 yr old cousin :) Here’s Kinley’s big doll – I think she loved her.
We had a beautiful Christmas in Miami with lots of family. I hope your holiday – whatever you celebrate – was also wonderful!
Got a little sewing done this weekend. I’m finishing up the binding on baby Erik’s (my gorgeous new nephew) quilt – finished pictures coming soon on that – but here’s a little preview.
Also made some ornaments for family members. I used the awesome pattern and tutorial by Elsie Marley posted here. Super cute and simple. The best part about her pattern is that she sews the gingerbread man down to a felt rectangle and THEN cuts him out! So much easier that cutting two gingerbread men and sewing them together around the bite marks. Very smart!
And finally, I got to work on a zipper pouch – I needed a gift for a man…hope it’s manly enough! I used this super simple tutorial by terrabytefarm.com posted here. I’ve made quite a few box pouches, and they were all kind of a pain. This tutorial was super easy. The key is that the inside is unfinished. But since I’m not crazy about all those little threads and stuff, I think next time, I’ll add a 1/2 inch to the length on one side when cutting the fabric and do french seams. I also added a handle by jamming a little rectangle of fabric into my corners before I squared them off. I’ll definitely use that tutorial again!
I also made these pillow cases a few weeks ago for some ugly leather pillows we have. It’s funny, now we use those pillows all the time – it seems like someone is always putting one behind their back. I swear no one ever used them before. So that makes me happy!
We had a great Halloween party with the neighbors. Flat-bed trailer with hay, Thriller on the stereo, at least 20 kids and 1000’s of pieces of candy!
Here’s this year’s handmade costume. I took an XS ladies’ sweat suit from Old Navy, cut it way down and embellished. Introducing the Lego Ninjago Green Ninja – a little before and after action!
Hope your Halloween was awesome, too!
I also took this picture with my phone…no idea what happened, but it’s very creepy!
We’re finally hitting a groove around here. My boy has been in first grade for a few weeks now – our schedules are starting to mellow out and become common place. I’ve been working out! (Seriously, this is big news.) Not just working out, but working out 4 days a week with some consistency. I’m also drinking body by vi shakes – on to week two starting Monday, and I’ve lost 5 pounds. We’re not taking it too seriously – a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then pretty much whatever we want for dinner. I know I should be doing a good, balanced meal for dinner, but we’re still working on that.
I’m sad to say that I didn’t sew a thing for about 4 months! And then, we had Meet the Teacher night and we found out that the new teacher is an Aggie – well, luckily, I already had some A&M fabric in my stash. The stash is SO out of control that there’s a chance I could sew something for any university in the country, but that’s a whole other topic. So anyway, we ventured to Walgreens – one of my favorite places to shop – and picked up everything our new teacher might need. An emergency kit, if you will. And I sewed her up a little pouch! My neighbor said I was buttering her up. To this, I’ll plead, “maybe.” But the teacher is adorable – her second year out of college, she seems to still be excited about her work and loving the kids, and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. So here’s her Aggie emergency kit. I think she liked it :)
I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and I’m giving it 5 stars out of 5. I listened to the unabridged audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Here are the pros – it’s a wonderfully creative 80’s nerd fest and I loved almost every minute of it. I’m proud to say I think I understood most of the pop culture references, and got a particularly geeky thrill whenever the book mentioned Star Trek TNG, because I was picturing Wesley Crusher doing all the talking anyway.
If you have any interest in the 80’s (especially TV, movies and music), sci fi, gaming, role-playing games, computers…(Cline covers a lot of ground), I think you’ll love this. I don’t even really know or care about gaming, role-playing games, etc., and I was pretty young for most of the 80’s, but I still loved all of it.
Find the premise and lots of rave reviews here or here. I highly recommend this for a fun summer read. There’s even a little love story in it – which was my favorite part. Truly something for every reader – male or female. Excellent book, Mr. Cline! And excellent narration, Mr. Wheaton!
**audiobook-specific side note** If I had to give it a con, and it would only apply to the audiobook, it would be that there are a lot of LISTS (top 10 scorers, lists of computers, lists of games, etc.). This probably comes off much cooler in the actual book. I happened to listen to the audiobook, so the lists got a little crazy. If I had been reading the regular book, I would have skimmed.
I’ll be hosting a Mad Men Premiere House Party right here on Snippets and Blabbery. Join us March 25 at 7 pm CT for drinks and socializing, and season five kicks of at 8 pm CT.
To get the fun started, head over to Netflix. Seasons 1-4 are streaming now on Watch Instantly. I plan on boning up to refresh my memory and help me get all the lies and secrets straight in my head.
Then head over to AMCTV.com for some fun drink recipes in the cocktail guide – I’m getting the party started with a Pink Squirrel!
Test your knowledge with a Mad Men trivia quiz, or print out your favorite character’s head for a fun Mad Men character masks. (Those pdfs are also in the sidebar).
Can’t wait to “see” you! Please join the party by adding your link below. We’ll all party it up on our blogs. Or, just leave a comment – I’d love to see some pictures or your favorite cocktail recipe!
Update: I had to close the link party – too full of spammers. But I’d still love it if you’d leave a comment to your own blog for your Mad Men Party.