Monday, October 31, 2011

Laptop Cover for under $5

Hey there! How was everyone's weekend? Mine was extremely restful and very nice. Saturday was scheduled to be a really busy day...we were going to go to a cheerleading competition (just to watch) and then ice skating with friends, and then to church (because I forgot that DH was not working Sunday). Well, I woke up Saturday morning to my little guy standing next to my bed.  I said "hey Buddy!" and he said, "Mommy, did you recognize that it's snowing outside?"  (Did I "recognize?"  How cute!)  Uh, no, I didn't recognize that, but it could be the answer to all of my un-prayed prayers for the day.  So I went over to the window with him, and sure enough, we had time warped from October to February.  It was coming down hard!  Everything was coated with about 3-4"...even Mr. Plow was out.  Perfect!  I got to cancel going to the cheer competition, and we all agreed to save ice skating for another day, and then I realized that DH did not have to work on Sunday, so we didn't go to church Saturday was a day of loafing.  Movie watching, card playing, minimal cleaning/laundry (minimal)...and some sewing!  

I've had my laptop since June, and I have been wanting to sew a cover for it since about...June.  ;)  It was hard to decide, because there are so many styles and different tutorials out there, but I settled on this one because I just wanted something simple that would keep it from getting scratched up, but one that I didn't have to mess with a zipper or pouch every time I wanted to use it.  

So I dug out some fabric - actually, it was a skirt from Goodwill! - and some felt, because I thought that would give it a little padding without being puffy.  I do not like puffy.  I'm not a puffy person.

Anyway, it was really easy to sew...just basic straight lines and all.  It took very little of my precious time.  ;) And when I finished, I was happy, but not really.  

 I mean, it's does a's made of cute fabric...but I don't know.  I just wasn't thrilled.  For one thing, I mentioned that this fabric used to be a skirt.  Well, do you see the seam about an inch up from the tab (in the first picture)?  That bothered me.  So...I busted out my ribbon stash and made a little cute thingy to slap on top of the seam, and slapped a button on the tab.  Lots of slapping involved here.'s definitely better.  Cuter!  But I still wasn't completely happy, because...

...because I tend to be lazy and I don't want to mess with taking this thing on & off my computer every time I want to use it.  And since I don't have x-ray vision, this is a problem.  

So I thought, well, the fabric (skirt) cost me about $3.  And I've got about an hour invested into this thing.  So if I ruin it, no real harm done.  Deep breath...

OK, so after I cut out a little "TV screen" around the screen, I did the "lazy girl hem" all around it, which is just a zigzag stitch that goes halfway on the fabric & halfway off.  It's sort of like faux-serging, but not really.  I don't know.  I just didn't want it to look all ghetto like it does in the picture above.  

Because nothing says "class" more than covering a computer with some used piece of clothing I scavenged from Goodwill.

Anyway, it all worked out, and now I have a cute laptop cover that I don't have to mess with.  I can finally move on with my life!

Friday, October 28, 2011

ghosts, goblins, and....pimps???

I know I'm going to sound like the Church Lady here. I don't care. 

I was at my kids' Halloween parade at school this morning.  

Watching the kids all walk around the gym in their costumes, I have to say, it was about 1,000,000% better this year, now that they've instituted the "no masks" rule.  It is always just kind of shocking to me, to see what parents let their little kids get dressed up as.  Now, I'm one of those people who gets scared just walking through the video store (remember those?) and seeing the horror movie DVD covers.  So maybe I'm biased, but I think there are a lot of really disturbing costumes out there.  And the masks are really scary and gross!  So it was really nice to not have to see those this year.  


I saw this one kid walk into the gym, all dressed up and dapper-looking in a pinstripe suit and fedora, and my first thought was, he looks like Cosmo Kramer, the Assman! Ha ha.  And then I saw another kid in the exact same costume, same suit & hat and all.  I thought, it must be some character or something....if they're mass producing this costume...I wonder who it is?  So I ask the mom sitting next to me.  What's with the pinstripe suit costumes?  She looked at me like I had three heads.  Then she told me, "they're pimps."

Umm...these kids are like, 8.  Are they specifically asking to be pimps for Halloween?  Or is this their parents' idea?  Either way, pretty sad.  Like, think about this:  2nd graders are dressing up for Halloween as someone who finds men to have sex with prostitutes, basically.  And the schools have their panties all in a wad about bullying?  I mean, yeah, bullying is bad. It is.  But um...we have children dressing up as pimps quote The Lion King...and everybody's OK with that?  Are you kidding me?

Like I said, Church Lady.  Sorry.  I'm really not trying to judge.  I'm just trying to be a voice of reason.  Has our culture wandered so far away from basic right & wrong, that things like this are now OK, and I'm the weirdo for thinking it's not?

well isn't that special?
*Edited to add*
Uh, I don't feel stupid or anything.  It was a gangster costume!  Thank you Toni for enlightening me!!!  Apparently, on my blog as well as in "real" life, I continue to put my foot in my mouth. 
Heh heh. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick Knit: the GAP-tastic Cowl

Just in time for the cold (read: soon-to-be frigid) weather here in western PA…I finished my GAP-tastic Cowl.   It has been in my Ravelry queue for probably going on 2 years now. (And by the way, if you’re on Ravelry too, add me as a friend! I don’t know that many people on there, and it’s fun to see what my friends are doing.

Anway…the Gap-tasic Cowl. It’s ridiculously huge, bulky, and squishy.  And need I say warm?  I love it! I used just 2 skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease thick & quick, with size 13 needles. Whoa. Talk about a fast knit. I did most of it while at a conference – sitting in an arena for about 6-8 hours a day, for two days – this projects was perfect for that. It’s a “mindless knit," meaning there are no charts or complicated patterns to follow. It’s knitted in moss stitch (or seed stitch, I always get those confused)…but anyway, it goes “knit, purl, knit, purl…….” until you’re done. (Basically.)  Wanna see some pics?  :)

Check out those stitches!  Love it!
I know my one "real life" knitter (crocheter/spinner/yarn dye-r/general fiber magician) friend Allena is a reader here.  When I was learning to knit, she was the one who fixed all my mistakes for me helped me figure out how to fix my own mistakes (ahem), and showed me more advanced things, such as "picking up stitches" and all that nonsense.   Do I have any other knitting friends here?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

DIY Blog Design: my experience

Hey, what do you think of my facelift?  I’m happy with it…I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now.  As I have mentioned, I’m really not the most tech-savvy person that ever lived.  But I thought, well, there are tons of tutorials out there on how to do this sort of thing, so I’m sure I could figure it out!  And while that’s true, and I did pretty much figure it out, it took a LOT longer than I expected it to.  Of course, I foolishly thought I could knock out a new blog in about, oh, an evening.  Um…nope.  If you have the time (not that I do) and the inclination, here are some great resources I found:

Makin' Cute Blogs – such a wealth of information on DIY blog design.  Tons of tutorials.  I followed a video tutorial to figure out Pixlr (see below) and do my layout – so helpful! 

ColourLovers – that’s where I made my background.  It is a really fun site where you can “color” patterns and play around.  Rather addictive.

Pixlr – it’s like a dumbed-down version of the dumbed-down version of Photoshop.  (Did I say “dumbed-down?”  I think I meant “simplified.”)  Which is perfect for me.  I don’t need all the crazy stuff; I just need to like, arrange a few cute little graphics and save them as an image.  Oh, and Pixlr is free, and you don’t have to download anything.  Love it!

Shabby Princess – such cute graphics, many of them free.

Star Sunflower Studio – ditto on the cute free graphics.

Photobucket – really easy-to-use site for hosting images, so I don’t have to have them all cluttering up my desktop.  Oh wait, they’re still there, cluttering up my desktop.  But if I wanted to, I could take care of that.  Photobucket makes it easy to copy & paste MAGICAL AND MYSTERIOUS CODE into your blog’s template.

Anyway, that’s pretty much it…questions, comments, suggestions?  I’m open to them! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blog Design - help me please!

***Edited to add***
Hey, I think I figured it out!  :)  My "design" page looks a little funky; everything is pushed to one side.  If anyone knows how to fix this and wants to let me in on it, that would be great.  But looks like things are switched over pretty well.  Yay!

OK, so I have been muddling through a bunch of tutorials, "user-friendly" photoshop-like software, and HTML (which stands for HaTe My Life, I think) for the last week or so, and I have finally come up with a pretty cute new blog design.  Fun stuff!  I had been going back and forth about whether to hire someone, or try doing it myself.  Every time I was about to hit the button to get on a waiting list (everyone seems to have a wait list!), I just couldn't do it.  It's hard for me to feel OK about spending good money on something that I can do myself...I mean, I can at least follow a tutorial and figure it out.

Having done it myself, I now see the definite VALUE in getting someone who knows what they're doing to do it!  That's OK though.  I'm proud of myself - and I can't wait to get my new design on here...which is where one of you comes in, hopefully!

Is there anyone who knows how to install a whole new blog template thingy?  I've looked for tutorials and haven't found any.  I would love some help with this.  If you would like to help, check here: __  and email me at pleasedaspunch.rh (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks in advance!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Highs and Lows: How Old Am I? Edition

Highs and Lows of the week...well, I can hardly remember much about the past week, so I'll just cover my weekend.  There was plenty in there, really.  And keep in mind the following lows aren't exactly "lows"...let's just call this a list of Highs and a list of Things That Slightly Annoyed Me This Weekend.

HIGH: went to my cousin's wedding.  I love weddings!  This one was very nice, too.  My little cousin is all grown up.  It made me want to do mine over again.  Just plan it again, that is.  And have my hair done differently, and most definitely have a different cake.  And DJ.  The DJ we had for our blessed event 10 years ago continues to be the butt of jokes around here, to this day.  Let's just say, you get what you pay for.  I should never be in charge of selecting a DJ, ever again. 

LOW: I missed my exit on the turnpike on the way out to my parents' house.  WTH???  I must have made that drive at least 1,000,000 times or so in my life.  That was annoying. 

HIGH: I found a dress for this that I was very happy with.  That's always fun.  It's really cute, and it was on sale.  I hope I get to wear it again.  I don't dress up much, these days.  And by "these days," I mean...ever.

LOW: I totally bit it trying to get out of my church pew after the ceremony.  Right into the shoulders of some hapless, unsuspecting wedding-goer who was "lucky" enough to be right there to catch me.  It was totally awesome to look like a crazy drunk lady in church at 3 in the afternoon.  Awesome, I tell you. 

HIGH: 3 words: Pumpkin Pie Martini...s.  

LOW: I had to go stag to this thing, as it was pretty much an adult-only reception, and someone had to stay home and care for our young brood.  That was kind of a bummer.  I like to dance with my husband.  I didn't get to.  Waaah.  (I think I can hear the world's tiniest violin...)  Also notably missing was my sister, who lives like 13 hours away and for some strange reason, didn't want to shell out $300 for a plane ticket to spend less than 24 hours in the great state of PA.  Whatever.  It would have been even way more fun with both her and my dear DH there. 

ANOTHER LOW: Apparently I'm super-old now.  I recognized NONE of the songs that all the cool kids were dancing to.  Well except for the song that my 8yo does her cheer dance routine to.  They did some line dance that USED to be the Electric Slide, but I had no idea what it was. I guess it was like, the new line dance that people do at weddings, and I was OUT.  Just sitting there wondering, How can I not know this?  Has it really been that long?  I mean, I guess we're past the era of friends' weddings, for the most part. 

Oh, also...I saw my (much) younger cousins whom I hadn't seen in at least 8 years or so...and I totally did that thing..."oh my goodness!  The last time I saw you, you were this big!"  The words just fell out before I could stop them.  Old!

Oh, also...I actually had a relative (an adult who should know better) ask me how old I was, in front of a bunch of people.  WTH?  Usually I don't think of good responses to dumb questions until a day or so later, but I was so proud of myself because I said, "I'm old enough that you shouldn't be asking me how old I am."  Yessssss!

HIGH:  coming home to DH, my kids, the dog, a Steelers game, and kielbasa & kraut in the crock pot. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tutorial (sort of): Cheerleading Hair Bows

Funny story time!

I was at a cheerleading parents' meeting about a month ago.  (That's not the funny part - it gets better!)  I was carrying my Thirty-One bag - the one with the changeable skirt - and it was a skirt that I made.  (I mentioned it here, but that was a while ago.)  Here's the one I was carrying, just because it would be kinda lame to talk about it and not show a picture:

Anywho, so I got to the meeting, and one of the other moms said, "oooh, I like your purse!"  I of course said "Why thank you!  It's one of those bags where you can change out the skirt - but I make my own skirts because there's no way I'm spending any $25 on the ones in the catalog."  And I said it with attitude.  Like, "Ha, I stuck it to the man, and they can just deal with it" attitude.  To which she replied, "ha ha, I sell Thirty-One bags.  I'm a consultant!"  To which I replied, "Oh!  Uh, um, uh, um, uh, um...oh...I'm sorry!" Stupid, stupid, stupid!  I felt so dumb.  Luckily for me, she didn't care.  In fact, she thought it was pretty funny.

But Rachel!  You say.  What does this story have to do with Cheerleading Hair Bows?  Well let me tell you.  For you crafty types, you know how this goes.  "Oh, you sew?  Wow!  Hey, she sews!"  And then..."Do you do hair bows?"  Hmm.  No, not really.  But I'm up for anything, especially not having to shell out unnecessary cash for some mass-produced, overpriced hair bow.  So basically, I volunteered to do the hair bows for the squad.  They didn't want anything crazy; they just wanted simple basic bows that go on ponytails.  Can do!

I used this tutorial and adapted it a bit.  These cost about $1 each to make.  $1 each!  I bought my ribbon in 20-yard spools.  I probably used about 10 yards of each.

Here's how I did it:
1. Cut ribbon lengths.  To make 22, I cut 22 lengths of each, in 3 different ribbon widths: 1.5", 7/8", and 3/8".  Each length was about 20".  I cut each end into a "v" shape* by folding the ribbon in half (long-ways) and cutting it diagonally.  The skinny ones were a pain to do, but that's ok.

 2. Seal the edges.  Using child labor* (my 8yo), each end of all 66 ribbon lengths was sealed with Fray Check. 
Fray Check is awesome stuff, and it lasts forever.
 3. Assemble the ribbons and machine-sew* together, with the ponytail holders.
Here are my 3 ribbons.

Here they are, centered and stacked together.

I folded them over in the middle...

held the ponytail holder to the underside...

...and sewed back and forth 2-3 times using a zigzag stitch.  I cannot be bothered with hand-sewing, sorry.

the top

the underside
flip the ribbons over - inside out, almost.  They lay down pretty nicely. 
4. Put on an episode of 24* and fire up the glue gun

5. Finish.  Cut small lengths of ribbon (I used the 3/8") and glue them around the middle.  Just find which way works best for you. I used flat-nosed pliers to squeeze the ribbon down*, because one of my pet peeves is burning my fingers with hot glue.

These were probably about 1.5" to 2" or so.  Aren't you glad to have such an accurate and specific tutorial to follow?

6. Admire!*

7. Regret never having made the cheer squad in high school or college.

8. Stuff the pain by enjoying a Reese's PB Cup.  Or two.*

*Optional, but recommended

Linking to...
  Home Stories A2Z

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Home Dec Sewing, part 1

So, I have this friend.  Rebecca.  She and her husband are working on renovating/decorating their older victorian-ish (I think) house - and let me tell you, she has the BEST style.  Her house is gorgeous!   I was half-flattered, half-terrified when she called me one day and asked me to sew some home dec stuff for her.  Sewing things for myself?  No problem.  I can hide the mistakes, or just not look at them.  But sewing for someone else?  Different story!  The pressure's on!  Even though the pressure is totally self-imposed, it's there.  But I said yes, because I couldn't NOT do this!

I mean, just feast your eyes on her fabric choices:
That's Waverly "Fun Floret" on the left, and Waverly "Pom Pom Play" on the right.  Dee-lish!  Can fabric be dee-lish?  Yep.
She wanted me to make some zippered bench cushions and chair pads for their kitchen nook.  I have done cushions before, and it's always a little unpredictable how they'll turn out.  But I used this tutorial this time, and it helped so much.  Also, I got smart with these, and wrapped the high density foam in muslin before I stuffed them into their covers.  It made it so much easier to get them in there!  Muslin & hot glue.  ;) 

For the chair cushions, I just winged it.  I was able to knock them out in about an hour or so...super easy!  Just pillowcases with piping, more or less.  No zippers necessary!  Those ties are actually grosgrain ribbon, and they keep the cushion covers closed, as well as tie to the chairs.  Double duty! 

Ta-da!  (And isn't this table just begging for a pot of orange mums?)

LOVE that fabric!

Paint first, ask husband later.  That's Rebecca's motto.  She painted this kitchen set.  Isn't it great?  Thankfully, her DH loves it.  :) 

The piping is just my ol' favorite "clothesline and symphony broadcloth" combo.  Cheap & easy.  Like me!  Just kidding.  I'm not cheap.  Did you miss my piping tutorial?  Here it is!  Oddly enough, I also made orange piping in the tutorial.  But it wasn't for this project.  What's up with that?  Why all the orange piping? 

But Rachel!  You say.  What about that gorgeous orange fabric?  Well, just you wait.  That' wasn't quite ready to be photographed, but soon!

Somewhat SimpleChic on a Shoestring DecoratingThe Shabby Nest