Friday, January 28, 2011

I finally did it! I've been thinking about this for at least a year. Sometimes my momentum for a project is slow to build and then I just HAVE to do it and there is no stopping me. It's kind of like trying to get children out the door to run errands. When I get to the threshold of no return I can't turn back, even if it means my child is wearing socks for mittens. Oh yes, I've done it.

ANYway, here she is! I always knew those shapely legs would look good in white.
One of the reasons it took me so long is this top. It's a formica or laminate or something. Which I KNOW I could paint, but a) I LOVE the kid friendliness of the wipeable surface, and b) the paint would scratch easily on a surface this smooth and that we use so much.

So I'm going to live with it for awhile before I decide whether to keep the top, try to paint it, or replace it with something else. And whether to distress it. In any case, it is really nice and bright and brings out the colors in the rug. And I think it'll look great with our new sofa! I'm excited to get rid of some of the brown in the room. Not a bad color, just overpowering right now.

What do you think, should I distress those beautiful curves?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fast and Easy Frugal Magazine Holder

Okay, why didn't I straighten this up before I took the picture? ANYwhoo, I have some recipe magazines and they were ALL over the place in our butler's pantry making a huge mess. A pig sty as my mom would say. So I made a magazine holder. I saw the idea on a blog back in the day (I'd link to it, but the link has since been broken) to use a cereal box to make it. Which to me is much more reasonable than spending $7 for what is basically a cereal box at the store. I just cut off the top tabs, and then made a diagonal cut on both of the long sides. I used scrapbook paper to cover it, but wrapping paper or even fabric with Mod Podge would probably be a better choice. But my recipe mags are corralled and out of sight. It's the little things, people.

Oh, PS! We purchased a sectional and it's turning into a mini living room makeover. We won't actually receive it for a couple of weeks, but I think it's going to be good. Mostly we are relieved to have actually made a decision. :0) Can't wait to show you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Renew, Reuse, and Recycle.

Just a simple, frugal project to share today. Mr. Wonderful bought me a cardigan for Christmas a couple of years ago. I've always liked it, but one of the buttons fell off and broke. So I couldn't just re-attach it.
So I found some new ones at JoAnn's. They are the kind that sort of look like leather. Or wood. Or something. Anyway, I love 'em and it feels like a whole new sweater.
I just cut off the remaining buttons and replaced them with safety pins so I knew where to put the new ones, made sure they were big enough for the button holes, hand sewed them on and that was it. It's like recycling for your closet.

In fact, my mom did the same thing for my jacket last winter. My winter jacket has been with me since about 2002. It's a wool toggle coat from the LL Bean outlet store in ME. I was all ready to toss it out and get a new one when I realized that the ONLY thing wrong with it was that it needed to be cleaned professionally and it needed new cording to hold the toggles. It was a consumer wake-up call for sure. So I took it to the cleaners and Mom fixed the cording. Perfectly good coat. In fact I still love it.

Here is a really great post about converting your boot cut pants to skinny pants. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be a great way to use some of the pants I already have and update them. I'm trying to be hip by wearing skinny jeans, but now I'm confused by that beer commercial where they make fun of that guy who is wearing skinny jeans. Did the moment pass on that trend, or am I still with it? I'm just a stay-at-home-mom who is trying to be cool, people. Help me out here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Applique--the new love of my life!

Stitch-by Stitch: Project #2

Hopefully by making this look more official it'll keep me on track to keep with my sewing projects. I loved this project. Applique. I've always been kind of intimidated by it, especially the special fusible webbing you need (ps, don't get fusible interface. Not the same thing...). But it wasn't too hard to use. Also, I forgot to use stabilizer and it wasn't a big deal. At least not yet...:0)

Step 1: find a onesie or t-shirt to use
Step 2: google "bird template." Find one you like. I picked a bird because that's Ava's nickname :0)
Step 3: trace it right from the computer screen and cut it out.
Step 4: Stick it to the fusible webbing.(follow manufacturer's instructions)
Step 5: Cut out around it.
Step 6: Iron it on. Press the steam button a few times. Lift the iron off every once in awhile because you are afraid to burn it.
Step 7: Zig-zag stitch around your shape in a fun, contrasting color
Step 8: Draw little legs with a disappearing ink pen.
Step 9: Straight stitch on the lines you drew.
Step 10: cut out a wing from a different fabric (I used felt)
Step 11: Stick it on the fusible webbing and cut out around it.
Step 12: Press it
Step 13: I didn't stitch around the wing because I used felt, but you certainly could
Step 14: Freak out because I didn't prewash anything. D'oh!

So it might not hold up to the wash, but live and learn, right? Also, my sewing machine decided to throw in a few straight stitches with the zig zags. Does anyone know why that might be happening???

Aaaand, our photographer Ava's first picture:

What a talent!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sewing Pep Talk

I went to the sewing shop the other day. I had dutifully attempted to clean my sewing machine of lint, and oil it like I should. I followed the instructions I got with it. But it sure didn't work when I put it back together!

So after seeking advice from a friend I contacted the Fashionette Sewing Center. Sound like a blast from the past? Well, it is. Ralph, the man who runs the shop is turning 85 next week. He started fixing machines when he was 21. So he has a few years of experience. He offered to clean and oil the machine while I watched so I could do it myself next time, and he gave me a little sewing lesson on the ins and outs of my Sears Kenmore 1320. He spent two hours teaching me and I think it was the best $50 I've spent in awhile. You just don't find that kind of service anymore! Highly recommended. If you go, make sure you have some TIME.

I got a great sewing book from my sister for Christmas. It has a lot of projects that kind of build on each other. Now that my machine is running again, I did one of the mini projects in the book. You are supposed to draw out a picture and then "free" stitch over it. Meaning, you are supposed to put the feed dogs down and really take control of the machine.

Well, I couldn't get that to work, so I just kept the feed dogs right where they were and stitched on my design, which I nabbed from The Graphics Fairy. Bad picture, blah, blah, blah, but it was kinda fun. I used a fancy disappearing ink pen from Joann's. Here's the book:
I'm excited to get sewing now that my machine is working lickity split.
I have adopted this as my sewing mantra (from the book): "You're the boss! (Not Tony Danza--YOU) Don't let that machine sass you, or make you feel like you can't do this. You can. That's just a machine and you're in charge! Be the boss!" Each time I sew I'm going to find a mirror and yell this at my reflection Jack Donaghy style. I think it's going to work.
Some Ava pics for you. Overalls courtesy of Aunt Jen:

This scene is becoming more and more familiar when I pick up Ava from her nap:

A friendly wave (wearing mom's mittens):

Have a good day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Seriously, do yourself a favor and don't read this post.

Here's a disclaimer. I've been researching and thinking about, dreaming and eating (just kidding) sectionals lately and this post turned into a brain dump for me. It's really long. There is only one little picture. Just come back and read the post when we actually pick one out, m'kay?

The couches we have in our living room were graciously lent to us by one of Mr. Wonderful's buddies. His buddy is renting a room right now and needed a place to keep his furniture. Seeing as how we were using a futon at the time, we went for it, even though the sofas weren't exactly scaled right for our 10x10 space: Yes, it definitely encroaches on the front "foyer" (that little space that lets the door swing open--they actually called it a foyer on our refinancing appraisal!). But they have been wonderful to have for the comfort and seating that they give our living room. (Not pictured: huge loveseat)(also there is a matching enormous recliner and ottoman in the basement)

But, said buddy is to be wed in March and will be ready to claim his furniture (and bride! ;0) So, we've been doing a lot of shopping and researching in order to be ready. Yes, we could bring the futon back upstairs, but we think we're ready to make this purchase. We decided a small sectional would be ideal for the space. Lots of seating, won't be awkward to try and fit in. Won't encroach on the foyer. Blah, blah, blah.

Here was our original list of requirements:

slipcovered (I'm picturing lots of spills in our future)
sleeper (for when Ava gets her big girl room someday and the guests have nowhere to go)
Not too poofy

After shopping around town and online I realized that this would be a difficult list to satisfy. I originally thought we would get the Ektorp from Ikea, but found out that they discontinued the sleeper in the sectional. And for some strange reason, slipcovered couches are generally a) hard to find and b) ridiculously expensive. Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware (which has 5-figure sectionals), Crate & Barrel. Not in the budget.

However, I have been happily surprised by the amount of smaller sized sectionals we have found compared with the last time we looked, which was about a year ago. You may remember my masterpiece, Ginormous Furniture Epidemic. Apparently the corporate giant furniture manufacturers read it and my voice was heard! Just kidding.

And don't even get me started on color! Of course I want one of those super beautiful beach-y pristine white slipped sofas, but that's not going to happen. a) I know you just have to bleach it and it'll be clean--but you still have to bleach it, and I'm not that motivated. b) I don't want our guests to be squeamish about sitting on our furniture. So maybe in 10 years or something.

So, okay we've checked off white, off-white, tan (still would show a lot of stains), and pretty much all the Restoration Hardware colors (they have about 10 variations of off-white. It's actually kind of funny to look at their website). Then I thought about my obsession with red couches. I like this idea, but am afraid it will make my living room look like a crayon box threw up. But I do want to just not worry about it and buy what I like and what makes my eyes happy. Still under consideration.

Darker blue. That's what we had before and I really liked it.

Some shade of green. The Ektorp has a really cute new green color. Hmmm...

Dark brown. That's what we have now and I just feel like there is a lot of brown in our room. BUT maybe I'd feel differently if the furniture was scaled better for our room.

Basically I've come to the conclusion that if I end up not liking the color in our room I can always paint the walls and that we probably won't always live in this house, but it would really stink if what we picked out didn't go with the rug I spent four months making.

Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful and I got to thinking about our list of requirements for the couch again. We decided it doesn't HAVE to be a sleeper sofa. We can come up with alternatives for guests. And sometimes those sleepers aren't all that comfortable anyway. And I decided that maybe I have to let go of my slipcover dreams and just get upholstery or microfiber. But I draw the line at a poofy couch!

We had originally planned an Ikea run last weekend, but Ava got croup so we ended up not going. I have found some really good deals in town here, and some of them are made locally, which I definitely like. So we may forgo the trip altogether. I'm excited to make this decision so I can stop thinking about it!!!

But if you are still reading and have any insight, let me know. And also, you are a saint. :0)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our Christmas

Hi all, just a few pictures to record what a great Christmas we had!

Grandma Jane picked out Ava's Christmas dress. She's pretty cute! Here, Ava is demonstrating how she is "so strong!" She balls up her fingers into fists, puts some strain into her face and tries to convince you of how big and strong she is! It's hilarious. Also hilarious, instead of saying "bye bye" now she says "bye guys!"
Oh the wonder of that Christmas tree!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


The Strycharskes

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Book Page Wreath!

Happy New Year, all! I think 2011 is going to be a great year. I've got a feeling!

We had a great Christmas with family, and also a few quiet days here at home before we go back to our regularly scheduled programming. AND Ava treated us to two days of sleeping in. Bliss!

I've got some terrible photographs of a gift I made for my mom. I decided to try my hand at a "book page" wreath. These are all over the place in Blogland, but here is a link to the wreath that started it all. I actually used the same sheet music I used for wrapping my gifts. There are a ton of tutorials out there, but I'll share what I found as I made mine.
First off, I added a little embellishment. I didn't realize when I bought it that the gold would kind of blend in with the color of the old music butI still like it. It's a little bird on a little branch if you can't tell from the super high quality pic. I just stuck them into the styrofoam. No glue, so it could be changed out if desired. I started off rolling up the rectangles of music into kind of a figure 8 and hot glueing them on to the form, but I found after awhile that it turned into more of a puffball. I couldn't even see the hole in the wreath. I didn't like that, so I decided to make my rectangles much smaller. Then I realized that I should've wrapped the wreath form in sheet music to begin with, so I kind of hacked that together. I ended up trimming the wreath with a scissors until I liked it. That worked great. My mom actually plays the piano AND the harp (and encouraged us in our music studies, which was great. Except that summer when she made US take harp lessons. It was all kinds of adolescent angst.) so this seemed like it would work for her. I also got her one of those wreath storage tubs, 'cause this wreath would be tough to store, and they will probably be moving in the next few years.
So there it is! It was a fun and easy project. I got a sewing book for Christmas, as well as a good scissors, a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, fabric, etc. So I'm excited to start working on some sewing projects.