Refinishing my deck

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.

so many projects!

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.

deck power washing

years of dirt

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!

clean deck, ready for stain

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.

Behr stain in natural, gettysburg and atlantic

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!

Craft Room: New storage!

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.

Hoarder corner

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):
New craft room storage

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…

Ironing board

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!

All done! Ironing board dresser

Can you tell I’m excited?

Ouch! You hit me with your lightsaber!

light saber battle scar

That is a lightsaber strike…in case you didn’t know. This year, instead of making an Anakin suit from scratch, I got this super cool zombie looking dirty black fabric at Joann’s and reverse appliqued it to a cheap store bought suit. It worked out great! There were a bunch of other little Lukes, Anakins, Troopers, etc., but no one had lightsaber cuts in their suit at school :)

anakin

IMG_3505

Also, the house got in on the half-assed decorations action. Can you spot the mice?

IMG_3475

Sew Much Comfort

sewmuchcomfort.orgThere are a ton of reputable, worthwhile organizations out there helping wounded service men and women and their families, but I’m especially excited about this one. Sew Much Comfort reconfigures regular clothes for the wounded. Creating side openings with velcro on shirts or boxers, widening pant legs to accomodate casts, etc. This is something I have the skill to do! So I signed up for a seamstress packet. They’ll send me a project, and I send it back for a (probably much needed) quality check. Hopefully, I’ll do a good job and be able to help on a regular basis.

I’m posting this here because I know there are quite a few sewers that frequent my little blog. But if you don’t sew, they also accept all kinds of contributions – everything from money to clothes to fabric.

However you decide to help, just help. The media and the Bush administration may go on and on about decreases in numbers of casualties, but the numbers of wounded have never been properly accounted for or reported. Conservative estimates are around the 30,000 mark.

If guys like Marine Corps Master Seargeant William Gibson will GO BACK after losing a leg, I think I can alter a few t-shirts and boxers for the ones who aren’t back in cammies just yet.

Applique and t-shirt surgery

BettyNinja left me a nice comment saying I should write a tutorial for my appliqué aprons. Betty, I’m afraid the only tutorial I’m qualified to write is to say that I think everyone should take an appliqué class at a local quilt shop. I took one class, and the teacher (Susan Prioleau) taught a great technique and answered all my questions. Now I feel like I can follow any pattern, and I’m even working on my own designs. I seem to see appliqué everywhere.book illustration

I was in a used book store the other day, and I saw this great book of stories with all these fun medieval illustrations. Here’s one – I think it would be a very cool appliqué design.

My other current love is t-shirt surgery. Indigo Girls are headed to Humphrey’s in San Diego next week, and I really wanted to wear one of my old concert t-shirts, but they’re all awful. They’re huge men’s shirts that look terrible. So, I took my favorite one (sorry for the inappropriate picture on the front), resized it, added better sleeves and a hood! It’s not perfect, but it fits great, and it’s much better than it was before. I read a lot of tutorials on craftster and on other blogs before I got started, but it was pretty straight forward.

(Pictures after the jump)

Step one: lay a shirt that fits you on top of one that doesn’t. Trace around it. Pin the shirt and cut away the excess.

Step two: cut out your pieces – sleeves, hood, extra pockets, whatever you’re adding.

Step three: sew your extra pieces (close up the sleeves, hem the hood).

Step four: attach new pieces to your old shirt.

Step five: sew up sides of your old shirt.

There was a lot of debate about the best stitch to use on stretchy fabric if you don’t have a serger. I just used a straight stitch to join things, and then topstitched the seams open with a straight stitch using a twin needle. It worked great, and allowed me to add in some contrasting thread. Let me know if you have questions.

tshirt surgery - complete!

for pictures, click here… Continue reading “Applique and t-shirt surgery”

Saving Grace and other shows

Saving Grace Holly HunterIs anyone watching Saving Grace on TNT? I really liked the first episode, but the second one was a little wierd. I still love Holly Hunter though, so I’ll keep watching it. Plus, there’s really not much else on. So here’s the status of my TV watching right now:

Everyday:

Days of Our Lives
Uncommon Threads and Creative Juice on DIY

Mondays:

All TNT – The Closer, Heartland, and Saving Grace

Tuesdays:

Greek on ABC Family

Eureka on Sci Fi

Wednesdays:

Top Chef on Bravo
So You Think You Can Dance

Thursdays:

So You Think You Can Dance
Burn Notice on USA

Fridays:

Monk and Psych on USA

Saturdays:

Big fat nothing…I hate Saturday (for TV purposes).

Sunday:

All Lifetime: Side Order of Life, State of Mind, and Army Wives.

I guess TNT is trying to throw a wrench in my Tivo schedule this Sunday, because they’re starting a new 3-week special series called The Company that looks great. I’m going to have to figure a way around the not being able to record two cable channels at once.

I also love History Detectives on PBS. I’m not sure when it comes on – my Tivo just records it when it doesn’t conflict with anything else.

Anyone else watching something good that I’m missing out on?

Reality (TV) Check

So – I’m two weeks behind on my reality TV check. Here’s what I think:

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)

First, was anyone actually watching fireworks? Or were you mad – like me – that SYTYCD wasn’t on? Anyway, I was sad to see Jessie go – but she clearly had too many health issues going on – not fair to her partner. And how funny was Pascha dancing with that lady? Don’t get me wrong, she was good, but she really did look like Bette Midler. I thought it was hysterical, and a little yucky. I was super sad to see Jesus go. If only he hadn’t been up against the two most long-legged jumping dancers on the planet for his solo!

On to this week…I did not like Hok’s waltz at all. Why did they make him wear high-waters? I loved Sabra and Dominique’s hip hop. I think she’s my favorite girl. Hok is still my favorite guy, but no more waltzes, okay? I also did not like Shauna and Cedric’s tango. I thought it looked so awkward. I voted them off in my head as they were dancing, and apparently I was right :)

brittany snowI wish they would have shown a little bit of Brittany Snow in the whole Hairspray red carpet reel. I loved her on American Dreams. And how cute is that little Zac Efron? I guess he’s not so little – I just think of him on Summerland…I confuse him with that cute Chris Lowell that’s going to be on that new Grey’s Anatomy spin-off. I loved Ricki Lake’s version of Hairspray, and this one looks even better – can’t wait!

chris lowell zac efron

Oh yeah, did anyone else think that Hillary Duff looked exhausted after her performance? That big sigh? She was just okay. I love her silly teenagery movies, but her singing just isn’t for me. She wouldn’t win American Idol, that’s for sure.

Top Chef

Sad to see Sandee go. Hung is turning into a jerk – snotty, arrogant. I was so happy that Lia won – she’s an underdog, for sure! I also like Howie a lot. Even when he got mad, what he was saying was reasonable, not crazy cursing like that dumb Joey guy. The two tall cute guys seem like they’ll go far – too bad I can’t remember their names :)

Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List

The prison episode was one of my favorites. She’s really becoming a whole person. I used to just laugh at her cheapness (always trying to get something for free) and willingness to take any job. But this season, she’s dealt with her dad’s death, talked about her divorce, started dating…she’s hysterical. This week she’s headed to London. That promises to be ridiculous, so everyone should watch.

Hey Paula

Anyone watching this show? I have a few episodes Tivoed. I watched one and she was SUPER obnoxious. Just like she is on American Idol, so I don’t know if I’ll keep watching.

Non-Reality Check

Starting tonight: Monk and Psych on USA! Hooray! Also, a good show you’re probably not watching is Burn Notice, Thursday nights on USA. Very funny – and my husband watches it with me! Wonder of all wonders! And just to keep up my broken record refrain, watch The Closer on TNT and Army Wives on Lifetime. My favorite shows on TV right now.

Some other stuff I’ve been watching due to lack of prime time options: DIY’s Uncommon Threads and Creative Juice. Those shows are FULL of cool ideas for all things crafty. How do I get into a group that would be on Uncommon Threads? Can I start one? Anyone part of a crafty group?