Wednesday, August 31, 2011

...Coming up for air...

(Panting, doubled over...) Hi!

Help me.  This has been such a crazy week!

My kids started school.  They are doing daughter loves her teacher and my son is now "more excited than nervous" about going to school.  I am so proud of them!
Have you SEEN more adorable kids?  I haven't.  :)
But for me, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire!  I started my nanny job.  But those kids didn't start school until today.  So I've been taking care of 7.  7 months to 7 years.  Not kidding!

Today I think I'll only have 3...or 4.  Not sure.  But I'm guessing it'll seem like a piece of cake after the last two days.  You have to understand: I'm a mom of only 2.  Help me!  

Oh and don't get me wrong, the kids themselves are great.  SO sweet and funny, cooperative, obedient, etc.  But there are 7 of them.  Have I mentioned that?  You cannot imagine my terror the first time lunchtime rolled around.  A bag of baby carrots lasts at my house for a week or two.  Their house?  20 minutes.  A package of snack crackers: 2-3 weeks for us, 15 minutes for them.  Whoa.  It's a whole different world.

But the thing I think I'm trying to adjust to the most is not being here (at my house) all day.  It's weird and different.  I keep forgetting that I'm not "at home" anymore.  I mean, I am, during "family hours" - which is a HUGE blessing.  I don't take it for granted.  But I'm not here anymore.  I don't have the whole entire day to get my stuff done.  The cleaning has not been bad so far, I just run around and do my stuff in the morning, and then during the day, there's no one here to make it dirty again - nice!  But things like...sewing.  I haven't sewed lately and I really miss it.  But when I'm home, I'm too tired to do it!  Or too busy with other things that I couldn't do during the day.  I know that sounds really spoiled and whiny.  Sorry.  It's just a change, that's all!  Staying up later is out of the question.  I'm half-dead on the couch by 10 pm every night.  I think maybe I need to start getting up earlier.  I know I'll get into the groove eventually.  It's like in the movie The Abyss (from a looong time ago), where they had to breathe the liquid oxygen, and at first it felt like they were going to drown but when they relaxed and got used to it they were OK.  (I'm always the only one who knows what I'm talking about whenever I bring up that reference.)

I do have some sewing projects that I'm doing for other people, so I will be getting myself in front of the machine very soon.  A baby outfit and some home dec stuff - can't wait to show you! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

High and Lows: The Winds of Change edition

Hello, long lost readers! Time for highs and lows. :) As usual, starting with the lows (so I can end on a positive note)...

1. It hit me this morning in the bathroom (most of my important thoughts come to me while in the bathroom), that starting tomorrow, life is going to change. I will be a mother of school-age children. Starting tomorrow, no more kids home with me. I can't talk about this right now! :*(

2. More personal stuff. It weighs on me heavily. BUT God is good, no matter what is going on in our lives, I truly believe that and I CLING to that. It's just the darn free will we all have that screws everything up.

3. Modern Family was not a new one. I thought it was supposed to be the season premiere this week, but I was in the wrong month. How long must I wait??? (That was a joke.) (I often make jokes to distract myself from feeling too sad.) (ha ha!)

4. I'm totally overwhelmed and feeling behind on everything I need to do.  I have a couple of things to sew for people, groceries to get, and oh, I start my new job tomorrow, which is going to take away 6 hours of my free time each day!  Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for this awesome job - a gift from God - but I'm nervous about how my daily life is going to change.  I think it's going to be a difficult adjustment.  I hope I'm wrong!!!

LOW AND HIGH AT THE SAME TIME: don't we all have these?
Gator Golf, anyone?
1. We had the world's most humongous "yard sale" yesterday. It wasn't really a yard sale; it was a church flea market that we paid $10 to sell at. We prepared for weeks. Borrowed a van. Got up early, dragged the kids out, feverishly set everything out...and sat there while hardly anyone came to this thing!!! Our grand total profit? Like $75 or something. SO IRRITATING. After we paid the kids (see the "high" part of this below), we split the money and DH said, "that was the most toilsome $26 I've ever made in my life." It was like in Napoleon Dynamite: "6 dollars...that's like a dollar an hour!" I love that movie. :)

Oh well. The good parts of this whole flea market debacle? I am so proud of my kids. They WORKED for this thing too! They went through their entire playroom and filled about 3 or 4 boxes of their toys that they wanted to sell. They helped me price the items. They cleaned up afterwards and were really happy that they could actually get their toy chest closed, ha ha! They got up early with us and didn't complain, and were extremely cooperative while we set up. Hardly any complaining all day long.

Another good thing is that we got rid of a lot of junk that was cluttering up our house. It ALL went to Goodwill afterward.

1. I got a kick-butt haircut this week! I love it so much.  This picture is terrible; I took it with my phone, but...
Oh, how I love my new hair!   Let me see if I can find a "before" picture...

2. I also got a new camera this week.  My "old" one (it was only 2 years old!?!) inexplicably died on me.  Right in the middle of my piping tutorial, too.  I had to use my phone for half of the pictures.  Anyway, DH kind of left the "new camera" decision up to me, but suggested that we really don't need a fancy-shmancy DSLR with the fancy-shmancy price tag.  He was right, darn it.  But in doing my "research" (not the kind they teach you in college), I found out that there is a "halfway" camera type that is in between the basic point-and-shoot and a big fancy DSLR.  For a pretty reasonable price!  I ended up getting a Fujifilm S2950.

I think of it as a sort-of "big girl" camera with training wheels.  The zoom is awesome: 18x!  And you can set some of the controls yourself if you want (fancy mysterious things like aperture, shutter speed, etc.  I barely know what all that is, but I'm slowly starting to learn), but it also has auto mode (of course), which takes really nice shots.  I'm pretty sure that this camera is smarter than I am. I've been having fun with it this week.  :)

3. A very good friend came over the other day.  I was really happy to get to see her, because next week (this week!) she is having her 3rd baby.  I cut her daughter's hair and she gave me a bunch of freshly picked local peaches.  I am so into this "bartering" thing lately!  Earlier in the week, I cut some hair in exchange for a chiropractic adjustment.  I'd never been "adjusted" before; it was great. 

Linking up to Life, Crafts, and Whatever. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bobbin Storage: the dramatic conclusion

Well, that was fast. Rarely (seldom? never?) do I actually accomplish something on the same day I think of doing it.  But this was so easy...and my life is just a smidgen more organized now.  :)

First of all, let me say thank you! to those of you with your helpful comments.  I can see I'm not alone here!  

It just so happened that as we were out & about yesterday, we were near the Home Depot.  So of course I stopped in.  Plumbing aisle.  Got this:
That is vinyl tubing, 1/2" on the inside, 5/8" on the outside...10 ft. long.  I used like 4 inches of it.  A little under $5 for the roll. 

Then I came home and cut little pieces, and cut those pieces open - like this:
Put them around my bobbins, making sure the thread ends were under the vinyl thing.  Well, not this one:
What the heck is THAT???  Seriously, what IS that?  I have no idea what happened here.  There's no saving this one.
Anyway, here are the rest, all nicely tucked into their...tubes, I guess? 
Ahhhhhhh.  So much better.  Before & after...
Oh, that does my heart good.

But I wasn't done...that thing they are in - it looks nice now, but it still gets in the way.  I need it off my table.  I have so precious little space.  So here's where the bobbins are living now:
 That's the side of my cabinet. Right under the thread (duh, like you couldn't see that). 
 There's the cat, getting hair all over my fabric. 
 Ahhhhhh.  No thread-y mess.  Up out of the way.  Love it!

("Rachel!  You're a genius!" you say?  No.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  See my post from yesterday.  ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bobbin storage - help me!!!

I am in the process of cleaning & re-organizing my sewing room.  I use the word "room" very loosely. 

I cannot even express how frustrated I am with my dang bobbins.  Here they are in their current state:
Not great.  Not terrible, but those strings always get all over the place, and that thing they're in is always in the way.  I've tried one of those little mini June Tailor bobbin holders, and the strings are even worse on that, because they hang down, and the cats get at them...argh.

So I was poking around on Pinterest today, and look what I found!  I think I'm going to try this.

That's 7/8" clear tubing, cut up and wrapped around each bobbin.  This is genius! 

So before I drag my kids out to Home Depot against their will...if anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Co-hosting the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop!

Oh, you'd better believe it...this week I am the Co-Hostess With the Most-est!

SJ from Homemaker on a Dime asked me to co-host her weekly link party - the Creative Bloggers' Party and Hop - and I really had to think about it.  For like, a NANO-second.  If you've never visited her blog, you definitely need to!  This gal's thrifty-ness gives ME a run for my money.  I love it.  She has such a cute decorating style and has re-done several furniture pieces - goodwill and junky finds like the ones I can't seem to say "no" to - and her finished products are absolutely adorable.  Check a few of them out here, here, and here...and then come back for the party!  ;)

All you have to do is:
1) link up whatever creative post you'd like to share - can be a DIY project, decor, photography, crafts, recipes, link party, poem, thrift finds, or that informative syndicated post that can make us laugh, or cry - in short, whatever you're proud of! (No links to businesses or giveaways. We have another party for these exclusively this Tuesday called Market Your Biz & Giveaways at 5 pm, PST.)

2) Then follow as many blogs as your heart desires, preferably starting first with the one before you and after you, before branching out. (Following the host and co-host, too, will be very much appreciated, and we'll definitely follow back.)

Displaying the party button, though optional, is very much appreciated.

This is a combination of linky party (where we can show off our creations) and of blog hop (where we can follow as many excellent bloggers as we like), hence the name Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop.

Link opens up every Sunday at 5:00 pm, PST.

Because we like something different, we're using the reverse entry for inlinkz - so the most recent participant will show up as number 1, hence giving everybody a chance to get the #1 spot.

Well?  Let's get this party started!

Highs and Lows: Hastily Typed Edition

All day today I thought it was Monday.  Now I realize, it's Sunday!  Time for Highs and Lows! 

1. well, honestly, there weren't really any major lows worth mentioning. Nothing fun to gripe or complain about.  OH!  Wait.  I colored my hair.  And like an idiot, I didn't carefully wipe off ALL the excess color from my forehead.  Well, I thought I did, but I didn't, and it left a nice pinkish-purplish stain right at the top of my forehead.  I basically wore my visor for the next 2 days.  The embarrassing part of it is, I'm a licensed cosmetologist.  Have I ever mentioned that?  I used to work in a salon and do this for a LIVING.  So that makes me even MORE of an idiot for letting that happen! 

2. Oh, and I got a cold sore yesterday.  Cold sores are the bane of my existence.  

1. My kids are all back-to-school-shopped-for.  All Done.  I love back to school shopping.  I love getting the kids new sneakers.  There's something about new sneakers!  I love picking out "first day of school" outfits.  You should see my daughter's; it is so awesome.  And it just made me so happy; when we were looking for some clothes at the store, I picked up a shirt with a peace sign on it and it said "love" or something like that.  I asked Abby if she liked it...and she said, "No, I don't really get into the shirts that say "peace" and "love" and all that stuff.  A lot of my friends do, but I don't really like it."  OK.  She is 7 years old with her OWN mind, and that makes me really proud. 

2. Earlier in the week, the kids & I were able to get away to visit my parents for a few days.  That is always a great time! 

3. DH's company had a picnic at a local (very small) amusement park.  Free lunch, half-price tickets, and a beautiful day...but the best part was, my little Nolan (5) overcame his fear of the water slide, and we had the biggest blast on that thing!  I'm not exaggerating; I think we went on it like 20 times in a row.  (There was no line.)  I think that is one of my favorite things we've done this summer.  :)

4. Speaking of Nolan, my little guy had his kindergarten orientation this week.  I thought I'd cry, but I didn't.  It actually made me excited for him.  I think K will be very good for him, and he's definitely ready.  I think I might be ready, too.  And if it turns out I'm not, you'll know it on Aug. 29, because I will throw the world's largest pity-party for my poor, sad, abandoned self. 

Well that's all folks.  HOpefully I'll have something interesting to share this coming week!  No promises, though...we're prepping for a massive yard sale and I'm up to my eyeballs in unwanted junk and sharpies!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tutorial: DIY Lap Desk

***Hey, are you here from Pinterest?  Hello!  :)  I'm so glad you found your way to my blog. I hope you look around!  I write about all sorts of things, but mostly focus on sewing & needlework.   I have recently changed the name & url of my blog - it used to be Pleased as Punch; now it's Gilbert Street Stitches.  If you'd like to start receiving posts from here in your reader or email, go ahead and subscribe!  The buttons are to the right.  :)  Why don't you drop me a note to say hi; I always love to meet new readers!***

Now, on to the reason you are here in the first place...

When I was in high school and college, I had this great beanbag lap desk.  I did all my homework on it...I could sit on my bedroom floor, on the bed, on the couch...wherever!  It was just perfect.  I decided that I wanted to get my kids each their own lap desk for doing their own homework.  Well, have you looked online lately?  The best price I could find was about $24 + shipping.  As IF!   

So, with a little sewing (straight lines only, I promise!), a little hot glue, and a lot of resourcefulness, I made my kids each their own lap desk, and spent $2.50 total, by using mostly what I had around the house.  Now, of course, this will vary from person to person, but I know that anyone can do this project for under $5.  I'll show you how!

STEP 1: Find a suitable board for the top of the desk.  
Wanna know what I used?  A hard (cork-backed) placemat for one (the one in the pictures), and the bottom of a kids' wooden puzzle for the other one (with decorative contact paper on the top - that was my $2.50).  I raided my kids' playroom and found the puzzle (that they no longer play with), and I had the placemat from at least a year ago.  I found it on clearance somewhere and thought it would someday be useful.  Don't have these things?  Look in Goodwill!  You could use almost anything!  You just want a good surface to be able to lean on to write.  Be resourceful!  The approximate size you want your board to be is about 12x16 inches. 

STEP 2: Cut out your main fabric.
Measure your board, and add 6" to the width, and 6" to the height.  These will be the dimensions for your fabric.  If you have a board that's 12x16 (or close), a fat quarter (which you can get for like .99) will work great, and you won't have to cut anything!  Precision is not all that necessary; we're not doing quantum physics here!

That's about an extra 3" all around.  Won't this fabric look cute?
STEP 3: Make your piping*. 
*Fear not!  Piping seems like it would be difficult to make, but it's actually not.  If you want to impress your friends and amaze your neighbors, try it out.  You'll even amaze yourself.  Piping makes this lap desk look great, and it also makes it super-easy to assemble.  It's worth the extra step, trust me!
Check out my piping tutorial here.  

STEP 4: Sew your fabric into a box-like shape.
With right sides together, one corner at a time, fold each corner over onto itself, like this: 

Measure on the raw edge: 3" from the point.  Make a little mark.  Then, from that mark, draw a line perpendicular to the raw edge, like this: 

Repeat with each of the other corners.  Cut off the "flaps," and turn right side out.  

I present to you: the Floppy Fabric Box that is impossible to get a good picture of.

Now we're getting somewhere!

STEP 5: Sew piping to the main fabric.
With raw edges together, on the right side of your main fabric, sew the piping to your fabric.  Use a zipper foot (on your sewing machine) to make it easier.  Do yourself a favor, and don't start at a corner!  Start sewing in the middle of a side.  Trust me.  And leave about an inch of un-sewn piping at the beginning, so you can easily tuck it in when you get to the end.  Again, trust me.  ;)
raw edges lined up

don't freak out when you come to a corner of your main fabric; just keep sewing.  No problem!

No pinning necessary.  Just pinch the piping to your fabric and sew away!
When you come to the end, you'll have some overlap.  Do this: veer the first part you did (remember, you left an inch of un-sewn-on piping) off of your fabric, like this:

Then, overlap the end part over top.  Like this:
kinda messy looking, but don't worry.  It'll turn out fine.

sew right over top of that baby!  Go slowly so you don't break a needle.

trim off the excess piping
At this point, you'll have this:

a nice little hat for your sewing machine! ha ha
STEP 6: Fire up that glue gun!
(Hot glue worked best for me.  I tried E-6000, and all it did was smell bad.  But use whatever you want, of course!)  Start at a corner.  Lay down a bead of hot glue, and push the cording down onto the glue.  Go from one corner to the next, adjusting and finagling as you go.  

you'll glue that to the bottom of the board.

No having to fold fabric!  No burnt fingers!  This is why piping is so great for this project.  :)

Here's the tricky part we came doesn't look too bad, huh?  Just make sure it all gets glued down here.

Remember to leave a "short" end open, for stuffing.
STEP 7: Stuff that thing like a Thanksgiving turkey.
I thought about using beanbag filler, but #1, it's (surprisingly) expensive, and #2, it seemed like it would be a pain to use.  Not to mention the mess!  So I used Poly-fil, and it worked beautifully.  No Poly-fil?  You could un-stuff an old pillow and use that.  I've done that once or twice before.  :)

Stuff till your little heart's content.  When you have stuffed enough, glue the last side down.  Fluff it up to evenly distribute the filling, and.............

You've got yourself a lap desk!

Here's the one I made for my little guy.   That's the upside-down puzzle bottom (on top) with faux bois contact paper from the dollar store.

I'd love to hear from those of you who try this...and please, if you have questions, feel free to email me and ask!   

Love these link parties...
The Shabby Creek Cottage * Somewhat Simple * Beyond the Picket FenceA Glimpse InsideA Little TipsyChristina's Adventures * Chic on a Shoestring * Tidy Mom * The Shabby Nest * Fingerprints on the Fridge* Skip to My Lou * Sumo's Sweet Stuff * Keeping It Simple * The Girl Creative * Making the World Cuter


Friday, August 12, 2011

$5 Dresser + TLC.....Priceless

I wish I'd taken a picture of it all together, but...

...and it was even uglier in real life!  Beige, with brown/"gold" accents.  The mirror was filthy - there was some sort of grease all over it.  You can't tell from the picture, but the knobs were mismatched, and the two front legs were loose and wobbly.  It was in pretty bad shape, but I still can't believe I got it for $5.

Once I stabilized the legs so that it didn't wobble, I realized that this thing is built really well!  Solid, and the drawers have dovetail construction...which of course we all know from watching Antiques Roadshow, is a good thing.  ;)

I didn't take step-by-step pics, because as another blogger recently put it, "the world doesn't need another tutorial on how to paint something white."  Amen, sister.  I did refer to this tutorial by Centsational Girl, the veritable queen of furniture makeovers.   I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing, but I really wanted to do it "right."

I'm so unbelievably proud.  Here it is!

I love the hardware I found.  This is from Lowe's.

Look how smooth!  Thanks to a product called Floetrol. 

It's ironic. I spent $5 for the dresser.  Then I spent $30 for the hardware (a splurge for me, but not NEARLY what it could have been).  Paint & polyurethane...about $20.  I only bought a quart of paint, which was more than enough for two coats.  So all in all, this cost a little more.  But to me, it's my $5 dresser.  :)

Linking to: