Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The saga of the coat....

A few months ago, I saw an ad on craigs list... someone in my area was looking to hire a seamstress to replace the lining on her coat.... I thought this was a great idea.... I figured it was an easy way to make a little extra money. I mean, I've replaced coat linings before. It's not hard.... you take out the old one, use it as your pattern, make the new one.... done...
This is not that type of project. For starters, this is a vintage coat where the lining started to deteriorate last winter, so the owner of the coat cut out the old liner and proceeded to wear the coat unlined. Which means there is no original liner to use as a template. Which means I'm working from measurements. No biggy... might take me a little longer, but not impossible... I told her to go buy some fabric and I'd do it. So she did. But she bought not one, but two types of fabric.... because she liked both. And could I somehow incorporate them both into the design? I'm trying... really I am... It's been interesting so far. But waaaaaaaaay more work than I anticipated.... add to that that the temperatures here are already plunging into the teens on a daily basis and I feel rushed to get this poor girl her coat back, and I'm feeling the stress. So I'm off to work on it.... again.
I'll post pictures, if I can ever get it finished....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wedding cookies

So, I know that at this time of year, when people are thinking about cookies, they generally have Christmas in mind. But, I don't have time to think about Christmas cookies. Sadly, I looked at the calendar the other day and realized, holy crap! The wedding is in like, six months!!! Cue major freak out.
But anyway, the dessert issue was a big one for us. We struggled hard as far as what to serve, because neither one of us is very into cake... and really, I didn't see the need for spending hundreds of dollars on a cake neither of us wants. I'd been wanting to somehow contribute to the food but I don't really know how to bake a wedding cake....
We tossed around a few other ideas, but they all seemed too expensive/impractical, etc.... So. Then it hit us. We both love cookies. Cookies can be baked a few days ahead of time. So we're having a cookie table. We'll bake several different kinds, I can have a few friends help and we'll put them on a bunch of different platters and done. That's all.
So now I'm trying to decide what kind of cookies to make. Here's what I've come up with so far:
-My future mother-in-law has offered to make her mother's gingersnap recipe
-I'll be making Josh's favorite, peanut butter blossoms (those peanut butter cookies with a hershey kiss in the middle)
-I'll also be making my signature trail mix cookies (I posted the recipe for those a little over a year ago on here)
-Also, traditional chocolate chip cookies
-I have a really good sugar cookie recipe I'll probably make

So that's where I'm at so far... any other suggestions? The one thing I'm stuck on is that all of these are basic drop cookies.... and I was thinking it'd be nice to have some sort of cookie cutter cookie, maybe in the shape of wedding bells or something... but is that too cutesy and traditional wedding-y for what has basically been dubbed the un-wedding?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Green Christmas

First things first, the title of today's entry has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of snow on Christmas. On Friday, when so many people were breaking down the doors at Target and Walmart to get the best deals, I took my dog on a hike. That morning, I was checking my Twitter feed and I noticed posts from a couple of my favorite eco-friendly folks, @Treehugger and @Teecycle_org . Both were encouraging people to turn Black Friday into Buy Nothing Day. And I thought it was a great idea. I decided, why stop at Black Friday. I wanted to turn this into a greener Christmas, but making gifts for my family and friends instead of buying them.
Now, I'm not so unrealistic to think I can actually buy nothing all Christmas season... obviously I'd at least need to buy some supplies. And I did yesterday. But I'm hoping to use as many recycled objects as possible and buy as little as I possibly can this season. My biggest challenge, I think, is going to be my nieces and nephews. Not quite old enough to understand my decision, all they'll know is that Aunt Katie Didn't buy them the video game they asked for... so I'm racking my brain, trying to make sure the gift I choose to create is the best it can possibly be, so they won't even care. I'm still making plans, and still coming up with ideas... but I've got a few so far that will have me sewing for quite a while... But I'm really excited about the idea.... and any craft project ideas are welcome!
Anyone else crafting gifts this season? What are you making???

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cooking Adventures: Caprese Mac

So, the other night I had a brainstorm... and it led to what may be one of the best culinary inventions I've had so far... I took my favorite thing in the world, macaroni and cheese... and combined it with my favorite salad, caprese, and now I feel brilliant. Because, well, yum. Anyway, it's not really an exact recipe, but here's what I did... and you'll get the idea.

For starters, I made a roux in a saucepan by melting two tablespoons of butter and combining it with two tablespoons of flour. Then I added 1/2 a cup of milk and wisked until the roux dissolved into the milk. Then I added the cheese. You can add whatever you want, but i did about a 1/4 cup of mozzarella and then a few tablespoons of parmegiano reggiano and romano. The mozzarella is kind of non-negotiable because that's a key ingredient of caprese, but beyond that you can basically do what you want. I also seasoned with a pinch of salt. If you don't add the parmegiano reggiano, you'll probably need more salt. Then I added about four tablespoons of pesto. Jarred is fine, I guess. But I used the stuff I preserved over the summer. When I make pesto, I usually freeze it in ice cube trays and then put the cubes in a zipper bag in the freezer. It's perfect because each cube is about two tablespoons.
You should turn off the heat while you add the pesto. Too much heat can turn basil black and it looks a little gross. Toss the sauce with some cooked pasta. I used elbows, but just because I already had some cooked in the fridge. I think twisty pasta works well though, because it holds the sauce better.
The final touch is to chop up a seeded tomato and add that. I used the last of the fresh tomatoes from my garden. Just make sure to remove the seeds or the whole thing will end up too soupy. If tomatoes are not in season, you could always add a can of diced tomatoes, just make sure to drain off the juices first.
I don't have any pictures because, well, I ate it too fast. But trust me, this creates a delicious bowl of gooey goodness. The sauce has a creamy pale green color and a nice pop of brightness form the tomatoes. Soooo good.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The wedding boycott

So. Yesterday was a meltdown. I'm not going to deny it. But, sometimes meltdowns are needed in order to fix what's wrong and make things better.
Which is what happened yesterday.
I've been struggling hardcore with the expectations of what a wedding "should be" vs. what Josh and I want our wedding to be. People telling me I can't do certain things because it's not how things are done. And it was pissing me off. Like, acting like a five-year-old, digging in my heels, fine then we'll just elope kind of pissing me off.
And I don't wanna be pissed off like that. I don't want to elope. I want to celebrate with my family and friends. And Josh REALLY wants to celebrate with our family and friends. And I REALLY want Josh to have the wedding he deserves.
So. The meltdown. It was a good thing. Because after I came on here and had my little meltdown, I had a really good conversation with my future mother-in-law. She seems to really get what we're trying to accomplish with our wedding planning. And she said something that made me look at her like "wow, are you always this brilliant??"
She said we need to stop planning a "wedding" and instead, throw a party at which we'll get married. Brilliant, right? Because the word wedding has so many expectations that it's like, well if you're having a wedding, you need to do X, Y, and Z. But if you're throwing a party, you can pretty much do anything you want.
And cue weight lifting from my shoulders.
So we're boycotting weddings. We're throwing a party. And it's going to be amazing and fun and everything that our friends and family would expect from a party thrown by me and Josh.
And I'm breathing again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I have ADD

Lately I can't focus on anything for very long. I've been going from project to project and can't settle my mind on anything. I started a painting. It's half finished. I knitted a pair of socks. These socks.

These are awesome socks. They're made from handpainted merino wool. And they feel amazing on your feet. And I intended to write a blog post about why I'll never buy socks again because of these socks. And then I got sidetracked. Again. I started a scarf. It's not done yet. I made a batch of homemade chicken soup.
I started dying curtains. I started dying fabric for various sewing projects. They're currently nothing more than scraps of fabric. I printed out tons of recipes and bought ingredients, which sat untouched for days. Finally, yesterday I baked a loaf of bread. I was so proud of myself, because if was the first time I've baked a loaf of bread not using my breadmaker. It's delicious. I used this recipe that I found on a blog from my local co-op. And it's probably going to be my go-to bread recipe from now on. It's soft enough to be sandwich bread. Honestly, I don't know how else to say it except yum. I mean, look at it. Just look.
I'm afraid this post won't be very useful to anyone. But I decided that to get beyond this stuckness, I just need to force myself to write. Every day. So I'm going to. I can't promise it'll always be entertaining. But I'll try. And we'll see where it goes.
On the wedding front, I'm basically boycotting. I did finish the sample version of the dress pattern. And I love it! (Sorry, no pictures yet.)
But in every other aspect, I'm boycotting everything and even rebelling against every decision that's been made so far. I thought about growing my own flowers. Except that in Wisconsin, that means I'd have to grow them indoors and it turns out that unless I can find someone to give me grow lights for free, buying them will cost me more than it would to buy the flowers wholesale.
It also turns out my bridal party is incomplete. A long story, but a huge blowup with one of my bridesmaids means there are now six groomsmen and only five bridesmaids.
We had settled months ago on the caterers we would hire, after I was talked out of cooking the food myself. But now I'm getting pissed off at that decision too. Why can't I cook the food myself? I mean really, I love to cook. What's wrong with cooking the food myself??? Honestly, I'm still hoping for eloping. But I know Josh really wants the party, and I don't want to take that away from him. But in the mean time, I feel like I'm not finalizing anything because I'm hoping I ultimately won't have to.
And I know I'm wasting time. Last week, my mom sent me a column she cut out of her local paper. Apparently one of the paper's columnists is getting married and she's documenting the planning process in her column. The one my mom sent was about how she just realized she only has eight months left and hasn't planned anything. I looked at the calendar, that clipping arrived right around the eight-month mark for my wedding. She's trying to tell me something. But I still can't commit. Like I said. ADD and stuckness. Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I've Cracked the Code!!!

So. I love hummus. Like, LOVE it. Like, if it was a choice between my fiance and never eating hummus again, it'd be a tough one... well, maybe that's a bit extreme but you see what I mean. I really like hummus.
Thing is, I'm really picky about it. The only kind I've ever really gone gaga over is Sabra. And that totally goes against my thrifty nature, to insist on spending $3 for a tiny container of the stuff premade.

So. A few months ago, I set out to figure out how to make the stuff. Disaster ensued. I tried so many different recipes that ranged in flavor and texture from inedible to eh... So I started researching and basically combined ideas from about a dozen different recipes and even more tips and finally got it. Seriously, a fully homemade, fully delicious, fully addicting hummus recipe.

Now, here's the thing... I used dried chickpeas. It's not essential, but in this case, I highly recommend it. And, really, considering how well both hummus and cooked chickpeas freeze, it's not so much work because you can make a bunch of extra and freeze it. Anyway, here goes.

3 cups cooked chickpeas (that'll be about 1 1/2 cups dried)
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup tahini
2 T. Canola oil
pinch salt

Start by soaking your chickpeas over night. Drain then and cook them in enough water to cover by about two inches. Normally, you'd cook chickpeas for about two hours, but in this case, I'm going to tell you 2 1/2 hours because you want them to be really creamy once you put them through the food processor.
When the chickpeas are finished cooking, reserve 2/3 of a cup of the cooking water and drain off the rest. It's VERY important to process all this while the chickpeas are warm so if you've cooked them ahead, you'll need to rewarm them in the microwave or on the stove.
In the bowl of your food processor, combine garlic, lemon juice, reserved cooking water, and chickpeas and puree for about 3 or 4 minutes, or until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed.
Add tahini and puree for about 2 minutes, adding the canola oil as it goes. Season with salt to taste.
There's a couple tricks at play here. First, grinding up the chickpeas while they're warm helps to mellow out the garlic a bit. And overcooking them gives them a smoother consistency once you grind em up. Plus, the starchiness of the cooking liquid helps with the creamy texture too.
Yeah, it's that easy. And you're welcome.

And of course, hummus is a dip... so you need something to dip it in... and for that, I made my first ever non-breadmaker bread... actually, it was skillet pita bread and I'm really proud of myself because it came out amazing.
Granted, it doesn't look like the pita bread you buy in the store (it actually looked a little more like naan) but anyway, yum.
I can't take credit for this one. It's this recipe that I got out of the September issue of Vegetarian Times and seriously. It's worth all the effort. I mean, take a look... yum. (and yes, I realize it's not round. Seriously, it's so good, I'm not even concerned.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lessons Learned, or, Why I’ll be sacrificing my Friday night

So. I’ve been working on a test version of the pattern I plan to use to make my wedding dress. Before I bought super fancy wedding fabric, I wanted to try it out on some basic cotton to make sure A) the pattern isn’t too uber-complicated (I hate using other people’s patterns to begin with, so when they get too complicated my eyes tend to glaze over and all the words jumble together) and B) I still like the dress once I’m wearing it.

But of course, being a thrifty kinda gal I can’t just make a dress for no reason. So I picked some nice funky cotton in colors I loved and figured I’d make it so I could actually wear it. And a couple weeks ago, I looked at the calendar and realized like, whoa, Widespread Panic shows are comin’ up crazy quick! (As I write this, crazy quick= tomorrow.) I decided what better occasion to crank out that dress for than to pretty up and get my groove on with JB and the boys... So I got to work. The pattern isn’t so hard, but there are some intricate patchwork pieces that need to be worked. So you need to be in the right frame of mind. Which is where the lessons come in.

Lesson number 1: Don’t drink and sew. For sure not one of my better ideas... but spontaneity happens and who am I to argue? I was groovin’ away on the dress one Saturday afternoon and friends started showing up... Not gonna kick em out... not gonna stop working... but the wine, now that was my downfall... next thing I knew, I drank the whole bottle and I’m spending my Sunday ripping seams... Seam ripping is the theme of this post in fact.

Which brings me to lesson number 2: Only sew when well rested. The pattern has a zig zag design at the bottom which is formed by a series of triangles sewn together into rows, and then the rows are sewn together to create the complete pattern... you get the right pattern by arranging the triangles in the right color order... which I did quite nicely. What I didn’t do in my sleep-deprived state last night was check to make sure I was sewing the final row onto the bottom of the skirt right side up. So now I have a beautiful zig zag pattern until you get to the bottom where it just looks like random geometric shapes... so I’ll be spending my lunch hour today ripping those stitches out... and there’s a lot of them. And since once I realized I had done it, I decided to stop working before I hurt myself, it means that in order to be groovin’ in a new dress by Saturday night, no night out for me tonight... I’ll be home, with my sewing machine and some tunes... but no wine, I swear!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keeping it my own

So I have a long-awaited wedding update for you (translation: I’ve been slacking).

I’ve started collecting glass milk bottles from one of our local dairy farms. These are going to hold the flowers for our centerpieces. Which I did a trial run of last week. I decided I want sunflowers and they looked so amazing at the farmer’s market that I picked up a bunch to try my hand at arranging them. Here’s what I came up with.

A couple things... First, I don’t think I need quite so many in there, which is good because the farm I found to provide the flowers charges by the stem. Second, I tried this tip I read in a DIY wedding book about putting a drop of bleach into the water to keep everything looking fresh and nice. I don’t think it works. It didn’t keep the water from getting scummy and after a couple days, the flowers weren’t wilty but they looked like paper and the centers were bulging out like crazy. I’m thinking I’ll stick with my original idea of picking them up the day before and not arranging them till the morning of the wedding. Also, it may or may not end up being sunflowers, since I'm thinking of growing them myself so I'm still deciding.

In other news, I finally settled on a dress design (I think) and I’ve started working on a mock up of it, to make sure I like it on me.

But honestly, I didn’t really want to talk about any of that today. And none of that is why I started writing this post. I’ve been struggling a little bit with the wedding planning... and honestly, I’ve mostly boycotted it for a while now. And it’s not because I’m having doubts or am thinking I don’t want to get married (dear god no!).

I think it’s more the wedding itself. Wedding planning is hard business. I thought I knew what I was in for, since I’ve done this once before. But not even close. See, the problem is I’m older now. And I know more clearly what it is I want. And I’m more stubborn. Which is to say I’m not afraid to insist on what I want. The first time I got married, I was young. I had no idea what I was doing and I wasn’t paying for it (not even for the pretty frilly underwear under that way too poofy white dress).

But now, well, I’m a bit older and a bit (I hope!) wiser... and for sure more set in my ways. And Fiance is too. He knows what he wants, too. Correction. WE know what WE want. But other people still know what they think we SHOULD want.

Oh, and then there’s the cultural geography issue. I was born and raised an East Coast girl. A Jersey Girl, to be more specific. Go ahead, I know you’ve all got a picture in your head now. But guess what? That’s not me. Never has been.

Which is (part of) why I jumped at the chance to move to the Midwest to be closer to my betrothed. And now, we’re working hella hard to plan a wedding that fits who we are. But that also means we’ll have about 50-75 Jerseyans flying in for the event. Which, if you’re used to Jersey weddings, might be something of a non-event.

And this is where the problems start. Because every time I make a decision, or come up with an idea, it gets met with... “well you can’t do that...” and when I ask why, my mother usually says something like “well that’s just not how it’s done.”

And by the end of one of those circular conversations I’m so frustrated I’m begging to go to Vegas or get married at a Phish concert!

The thing is, I don’t really want to elope. Our wedding is important to me. And the kind of wedding we have is also important to me.

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with A Practical Wedding. Meg is awesome. And between her posts and the graduate and undergraduate posts she runs, I get tons of insight that, I hope is helping me to navigate this whole mess.

And here’s what I think I’ve figured out. People look at a wedding as a right of passage, which it totally is. But, a lot of people also look at it as this huge affair filled with obligations that you have to adhere to because “it’s always been done that way,” which it’s totally not.

The way I see a wedding is that it’s the first time you’re starting to build what Meg refers to as your baby family. So many people look at having a child as the start of your family. And when people get pregnant, they generally sit down and discuss what values they plan to instill in their children. But a baby family’s values are established from the moment that baby family is born (which, in many cases, is waaaaaaaaaaaaay before an actual baby comes along).

To me, your wedding is your first opportunity to really figure out and establish your baby family’s values, and let the whole world know what they are. In my case, it’s my chance to say that extravagant, fancy, super expensive parties are not my style. And I personally don’t believe they’re necessary. And that my baby family does not believe in going into debt over unnecessary things like rented tables and chairs when the lake house we’re having the party at has more patio furniture than a Home Depot garden center.

Even using a hodgepodge of patio furniture, my crafty self would make it beautiful and amazing. And really, it’s impossible for a wedding to not be beautiful and amazing. No matter what the decorations are, when two people are looking at each other all like, dear god I can’t believe I get to spend the rest of my life with you and that starts today, like, right now.... well, who the hell cares what they’re sitting on??

Which is the point I was trying to get across when the pizza fight happened. Apparently I didn’t do such a good job. Fiance is a very picky eater. He doesn’t like A LOT of things. I don’t want my new husband starving at our wedding. So the one thing we both love is pizza. We decided to use Streetza pizza to cater our wedding... out of their lunch truck. I think it’s an adorable idea. Our friends think it’s super cool. My mom thinks it’s tacky.

“You can’t have relatives flying in from a thousand miles away and then feed them pizza,” she says.

My response: “really mom, because I thought they were flying in to celebrate with me because they love me and want to see me happy, not because they were craving filet mignon. I’m pretty sure they can get that in New Jersey.”

The circle continues... she has started to back off a little bit, but every once in a while, she just can’t help herself. But I’m not giving in this time. Tradition can be a great thing... and I’m sure we’ll incorporate some in ways that feel right to us. But this wedding will be a reflection of our personalities. And traditional isn’t really in the description for either of us.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More projects...

So, I realized after my last post I forgot about a couple projects.

1. save the dates/invitations. I'm taking a slight shortcut here. This site, e.m. papers has some adorable templates for invites and stuff. It's way cheaper than ordering invites. You download the template, fill in your own info and print them out yourself. Easy peasy.

2. The guest book. It's not a book, exactly. We're setting out squares of fabric with fabric markers and asking our guests to write us a message on a piece of fabric. After the wedding, I'll sew them into a quilt. So fortunately, most of the work will come after the wedding.

I know, I know.... it's a lot... so to keep myself from panicking, I'm also making a list of things I've decided to delegate.

1. The food. Originally I thought I might do the cooking myself. I was immediately told no. It's probably for the best.

2. The favors. I don't really care that much about favors. But since we basically live in the beer capitol of the world, we decided it would be cute to give out beer koozies with our names and the date on them. The website we're ordering them from lets you use your own image to make them extra personal, but I'm making Josh do that.

3. Bridesmaids dresses. I'm not even picking them out. I picked colors and now it's all up to my 'maids to decide what they wanna wear.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't say I didn't warn you....

Well here we go. Let Project Wedding Commence.

I thought I'd start by detailing the list of projects I've decided to tackle for the wedding... and then you can tell me how insane I am... The list is pretty lengthy and based on it, it'll probably seem like I'm way more organized than I am.

My plan of attack is this: front load all the decision making so that a few months from now, I know everything I have to do, and all I'll need to do is actually get it done. So here goes...

1. Make my dress (yes, really). I've already found the pattern, which I purchased from Etsy seller Metropolitan Frock. The pattern is not actually intended to be a wedding dress which, I think, is part of why I like it. It's just a basic summer dress pattern but once it's made up using a fancier, white fabric, I think it'll be perfect. I still need to go shopping for fabric, but initially I'm thinking raw silk...

2. Flowers. I'm doing the table arrangements and bouquets. But I'm keeping things super simple. I'm using all sunflowers. I found a cut flower farm about 40 minutes from my house called Stems. It's an organic farm that will either do your arrangements for you, or you can buy the flowers in bulk and do them yourself. I've spoken with the woman there who said sunflowers picked in early June will have heads about 3 inches wide. So I figure, for the bridesmaids, three blooms is plenty, a single bloom for each of the moms, either 5 or 7 for my bouquet, and then on the tables, I'm using glass milk bottles with 3 blooms in each. The only X factors right now are, I'm not sure yet if we're having a flower girl and I'm trying to decide if I need flowers to decorate the ceremony location. It's outside at a lake, so it's pretty breathtaking all on its own, but I was thinking of some hanging vases at the end of the rows of chairs...

3. Other decorations. We're stringing lights on the trees and around the tent poles. I'm also going to take jam jars and put some with candles in them on the tables (I'll probably use mung beans to anchor the candles) and then I'm going to paint some blue and green, put candles in them and hang them around the yard. (Forgot to mention, we're having the whole thing at Josh's family's lake house.)

4. The cake. I'm actually still waffling on this one. We're pretty set on having cupcakes instead of a big cake, which would be much easier. But still a lot of work. We'll see.

5. Tablecloths. I hate the look of the ones you rent. I'm going to buy a bolt of fabric and do it myself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden paradise

Once again, I am a bad, bad blogger.... I apologize but it's been a crazy few months... new job, new apartment, GOT ENGAGED!!!!

Anywho...... for the one or two of you who have stayed loyal, I'm back. And I am in garden heaven. My new apartment is the first floor of a duplex, which means we have a front porch all to ourselves and full use of the backyard. (It also helps that we've got an in with the landlord)

So... being in my first grownup home with room for planting, I went a little crazy... It started with a few filler perennials along the driveway (Queen Anne's Lace and Lily of the Valley). Next came the vegetable garden. I definitely went a little overboard there. I discovered the seed savers exchange, where I found all kinds of heirloom varieties of veggies... omg... not even kidding I'm in love. I planted about 8 different types of tomatoes, jalapenos, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkins, and some type of melon I've never heard of but it looked in the picture kinda like a cantaloupe.

Then came herbs in pots on the front porch... we tried lavender, applemint, basil, garlic chives, Italian parsley, cilantro, rosemary, tricolor sage and silver-edged thyme.

Next, I went for some pretty annuals for the front yard... a flowering cabbage plant, marigolds and celosia. And finally, hanging baskets on the front porch. A few we just bought, Ivy and some stuff I don't know what it is... but some I planted myself with zinnias, appleblossoms, celosia and something else I can't remember the name...

but the point is, now, everything is exploding! I've already frozen up my first batch of pesto and I'm about to start drying some sage and thyme... still figuring out what to do with the chives... I'm thinking potpourri with the lavender... I tried mint ice cream but I wasn't crazy about the results. Could try it again, but I'm on the hunt for other things to do with it too. I think I can make a homemade mint extract with some vodka.... might be something to try.

On the veggie garden front, I believe a day of tomato sauce and canning is in my near future... and I've already decided the jalapenos will make some kickass poppers... other than that, I'm open to suggestions....
Anyway, here's some awesome garden porn for ya...

Oh yeah, one last thing..... I should warn you... for about the next 11 months or so, this blog will probably be pretty wedding centered... I warned you early, this blog would be about whatever I feel like crafting... and we're doing the wedding DIY style... that's right, this crafty bitch is crafting a wedding... so there ya have it. Starting with my next post, we'll get going on all the DIY projects I've planned for the wedding (which, by the way, is scheduled for June 11, 2011)

Sunday, February 28, 2010


OK everyone, I did it... this is just a quick post to let y'all know that finally, my Etsy show is up and running... just a few items right now, but I'm continuing to add stuff, so check it often... anyway, here's the link... check it out! Let me know what you think! Go! Now!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A quick update

Just wanted to pop in and say hi... I haven't forgotten about you but as you can imagine, I've been sewing away trying to stock up my shop by the self-imposed deadline. It's coming along nicely, but I've also decided I'm not going to go crazy making too many items right off the bat. Especially since I'm going to have a special order option as well.
Oh, also... you'll all be happy to know that I was able to get the PERFECT shop name... once it's up and running you'll be able to find my shop on Etsy at ThatCraftyBitch!
One more thing, then I have to run.... I'm halfway through pinning some pieces to sew and my cat keeps trying to eat the pins out of my pin cushion.... but anyway, a tip for all you seamstresses out there... I know you've all heard the rule that you never use your sewing scissors on paper because the paper can dull them but let's be honest, sometimes they get dull anyway. Did you ever go to the fabric store and see the people at the cutting tables sharpen their scissors between customers? I have been looking for one of those sharpeners for so long and FINALLY the last time I was at Joann's they had them for sale. What a difference! Seriously, best $15 I've ever spent...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Closer to shop ready

So I've been doing a bit more experimenting and here's my newest creation.

It's a smallish corduroy messenger bag... approximately 12 inches wide, 10 inches long and 2.5 inches deep. I used brown cord for the body of the bag, as well as the strap and blue cord for the front flap. The lining is just a basic calico cotton print and I did a dove applique on the front. This one was sort of a learning experience, so it won't actually be sold (especially since it's been my go-to bag for the better part of a week now) but it's going to be a staple design in the shop. I'm trying out some others as we speak and I hope to have enough stock to start listing items by the end of the month. I did finally learn the missing step for the applique (two steps, actually)... not in time for this one, but I'll be doing it in the future... first, if you use iron on interfacing, it makes it a lot easier to keep it in place while you're sewing... second, after the initial stitching, you should go back and do at least one set (preferably two) of zigzag stitching to make sure it won't fray... I suspect the interfacing helps with that also.
So anyway, keep checking back, I'll keep posting the progress of my designs. Also, I'll post a link to the shop when it's up and running. In the mean time, I'd love some feedback on the things I've made.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adventures and Experiments in Applique

Lately I've been doing a ton of sewing. I think ever since I found a permanent place to leave my sewing machine set up I've been re-bit by the bug. It's so much easier to get motivated to start a project when you don't have to lug that heavy thing out of the closet and set it up all over again, don't you think?
So anyway, a little while back I got the idea to start experimenting with applique (although I'll admit that when I started thinking about it, I didn't even know yet that that's what it was called, or even that it had a name).
Now, when I get an idea in my head, I'm way to impatient to wait to learn how to do it. I just experiment and learn as I go. I'm sure I'll get better with time and this first attempt is definitely flawed. Fortunately, the people I'm giving these pillows to treasure anything made by these two hands, as evidenced by the fact that a reindeer made out of clothespins still hangs on their Christmas tree 20 years later.
That's right, you guessed it. This first experiment is for my parents. Their anniversary present, to be exact.
So here's the story behind this. As some of you may or may not know, I grew up in northern New Jersey. And when I was a kid, we used to spend our summers at the Jersey Shore on Long Beach Island, which has, at its north end, a big lighthouse known as Ol' Barney. (Shameless nepotism-- the photo that links to is a picture of Ol' Barney taken by my amazingly talented photographer of a brother... and it is for sale.) Anyway, every summer we used to visit the lighthouse and climb to the top of it.
Ever since I can remember my parents used to dream of retiring there and about five years ago, they finally did. For my part, a few months ago I relocated to Milwaukee. Just before I left, I paid one last visit to Ol' Barney and snapped a picture. Looking at the picture and trying to decide what to give my parents for their anniversary, I thought, what better way to honor their realizing their dream than to give them Ol' Barney! So the wheels started churning and this is what I came up with (two of them actually. I made a matched set but only took a picture of one.)
So anyway, here's what I did. I'm sure there's a better way to go about this, and I'm sure I did plenty wrong. And if you know a better way to do it, please let me know. That's how we all learn.

Anyway, Basically, I started by enlarging the photo I had of the lighthouse and disecting it into its different color sections. I then pinned each piece to the fabric I was using. I chose fabric that doesn't fray much so I wouldn't have to worry about that. (One question I've had, what do people do when it's fabric that will fray? any ideas? Anyone know?)
So anyway, I pinned all the pieces VERY well to the pillow front. I say very carefully because, as I discovered on my first attempt, the places where a new piece of fabric begins will get messed up by the foot on the sewing machine if it's not held down well.
Anyway, I then carefully went around the outside of the fabric very carefully. In certain intricate spots, I actually just used the hand crank on the side of my machine, instead of the foot pedal so I could better control the movement. Once I was done, I sewed the front and back of the pillows together and stuffed them. That's it. Not super hard but requires lots of attention to detail. Now I'm hooked. I've started designing all different appliques and keep trying to come up with what I can make to put them on. Stay tuned... I'm sure it's not the last you've heard about this