Monday, March 30, 2009

The beginnings of a sewing table

As I have previously mentioned, the hubs suggested moving things around in our office/second bedroom/PS2 room/aspiring craft room/catchall room for everything else in our house that we don't want to store down in the basement. Yeah, it's a crazy room and it's ridiculously small, which makes this transformation even more challenging. Last night we played with various layouts and we finally came up with one that works. Yes, my current reading books are being stored on the floor, but that just means I have to hurry up and read faster so that they can go back to the library (aka my best friend who loans me books).

The most annoying part of the room- there's only one electrical outlet. It's a running theme in our house, our master bedroom only has one outlet as well, and I can never figure out why when the central air system was put in place, why the heck someone didn't say, "hey, maybe this house should have a few more outlets, just throwing that idea out there." Good times indeed!!!

Here's my desk, it really isn't anything fancy.

The hubs and I first used the desk as a eat-in kitchen table that doubled as extra counter space in our first apartment. We had a really small gallery style kitchen and there was a severely limited amount of counter space- as in we had to store our coffee maker after every use because there wasn't enough space to have both the coffee maker and the toaster on the counter and be able to set down a loaf of bread. Ahh, fond memories of that first post-college apartment. While it wasn't anything to gloat about, it was nice to say, "hey, I'm 22 and I don't live with my parents!" (no offense mom and dad.)

Woah, got side-tracked there for a minute. I now have enough space to cut fabric and use the sewing machine. The laptop can get quickly moved aside, which is nice because I'm cheap and I plan on following tutorials found online (for free!). I think I need to get some type of cork board or whatever, so I can pin up ideas and inspirational pictures. The thing I love most about my desk is that it is counter height and I really prefer to do most of my work standing up and not sitting down. I think I might get some small wooden bookcases to place under the desk and use those to store fabric and other odds and ends. I know I could go the cheaper route and buy plastic storage containers, but I'm really not a fan of plastic.

It turns out I have more pinkish (well, technically burgundy) things than I initially thought. My grandma gave me a Longaberger basket for Christmas two years ago and the color works with my sewing machine. I almost fainted when I went on the Longaberger website and saw how much their baskets cost. Holy expensive baskets Batman! That's one collectible I'll never get attached to, of course I understand that other people might balk at my purse collection- to each is own.

So it looks like I have a new hobby and I'm going to stick with it. I'm going to run out at some point this week and buy more fabric and supplies. I really need to get some type of cutting mat because my measuring fabric technique is a bit sub-par. Opening Day is next week and I need to get my butt in gear if I want to make the outfit I have planned in my head a reality in time.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My first sewing project

I spent a portion of my rainy Saturday afternoon sewing covers for throw pillows. After hearing some encouragement following my run-in with a less than helpful salesperson, I went ahead and bought a refurbished Janome machine. I fell in love with her as soon as I took her out of the box. Then, I quickly realized that she's white with pinkish buttons and all the rest of my electronics are black and silver. I guess she'll fit in more once I upgrade my Dell to a Mac, but that's not going to happen anytime soon (darn!).

I used a few pieces of scrap fabric to mess around and try to get a feel for my machine's capabilities. I didn't want to be rude and put her to work once she got here, I had to give her a few days to get adjusted (and probably curse me for purchasing her, when I have no idea what I'm doing!). Then, I ran over to Joann's and bought a beginner's sewing kit and a few pieces of fabric (I'm limiting myself to the remnants section in order to keep costs down and my confidence up).

My first project was really, really, really easy; the covers were so easy that the final product looks great while the interior seams are not a pretty sight. It's all part of the learning curve or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

I spent less than $5 on fabric and scored the pillow inserts on sale (50% off!). While I haven't yet recouped the cost of the sewing machine, the incredible sense of pride I have with my pillows is well worth the high start-up cost associated with beginning a new hobby (and let's face it, the sewing machine was much less than a new camera- which is thrown for a loop with the new Canon Rebel T1i).

So here are my pillows.

Score! The pillows past the Jaximus test!

I'll admit, they aren't anything fancy to look at. I'm not going to lie, I'm not crazy about the fabric. When it was rolled up in the remnant section I couldn't see that it had that much pink in it. I think it was the pink buttons on my sewing machine, they wanted some company and now I have doubled the amount of pink things in my house (the hubs wears more pink than I do, but to be fair he looks much better in it than me).

The pattern I used can be found here. It is a really easy pattern- no buttons, no zippers, and no crazy stitching. My pillows are 16"x16", so I made the adjustment and went ahead with two 16"x11" pieces of fabric for the backing. I really like the idea of removable pillow covers, which means now I can switch up the look of the living room couch on a seasonal basis.

The hubs actually showed a great deal of interest in my new hobby. He was encouraging and even suggested that we move some things around in our office so that I could have more room on our desk for my sewing machine. Of course he could just be trying to sweeten me up because baseball season is almost here and he's going to be spending a lot of time analyzing his 12 fantasy teams!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I won something!!!

I will be completely honest, I have been in a heck of a sour mood the past week. I don't really want to go into everything, but last night my best friend heard me talk for 3 seconds and was already offering to drive up this weekend for a visit.

That sour mood quickly changed today when I was catching up on my Google Reader posts. Freckles Chick had a giveaway earlier this week and posted the winner today. I thought, "cool someone named Heidi won. It can't be me, because I never win anything."

Dude, I was wrong. Sure enough, the winner was indeed me.

I never win anything. Second place in everything is my claim to fame. I don't know how to handle this. I have to choose an awesome prize. I think I'm going to need more coffee in order to make a decision.

I can't believe I won. This is crazy, but oh so needed.

Freckles Chick- Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The wonderful things the Internet can do

I've read my fair share of articles critiquing the pros and cons of the Internet. There are those that feel the Internet has done more harm than good and vice versa. Personally, I fall on the green pasture side- I believe the Internet can be used for good, but also can be abused (wow, that sounded like a line from a superhero comic book).

I'll admit, it took me quite some time before I jumped headfirst into the social networking scene. I actually thought Myspace was a friend's personal blog, well because his last name is "Space." I thought that was his way of keeping in touch with all of his friends while he was stationed in Iraq. Now I'm at the point where I've set up a Facebook and Myspace page for the hubs. He wasn't really into it at first, but then a few of his old baseball buddies "friended" and he's slowly turning into a Facebook junkie.

This week I received a random Myspace friend request. You know what I'm talking about, you can't quite figure out if you know the person, but you have to accept their friend request in order to see their pictures. It turns out, I did know this person. Long story short, the request was coming from my uncle's ex-wife. I haven't kept in touch with her, but I thought it was very cool she wanted to friend me.

A quick friend acceptance later and I'm doing what we all do (well, I hope that's what everyone else does), you check out the person's pictures. Hello, it's a social networking site, it's tailor made for our inner nosy-selves. I was able to check out all of my aunt's (I find it rude to call her an ex-aunt) recent racing photos, but one picture in particular struck me.

This is Color, aptly named because he used to change colors as the seasons progressed. My aunt and uncle used to own him when I was a kid. They used to barrel race horses and have owned quite a few over the years. Color was the first horse I rode regularly and I used to ride him at the Sussex County Fair. Color was sold years ago, but just a few months ago my aunt was able to track him down and buy him back. I think he looks good for a 29 year old horse.

That's me on Color, with my aunt and uncle, almost twenty years ago. Seeing that old picture of Color brought back a wave of emotions. What I would give to get back up on a horse again. I'm going back up to my parents' house this weekend and I want to see if I can dig up any more old pictures of Color.

So dear internet haters- I'm adding another tally onto the "Internet is good" column on my sheet today. The rest of my day is going to be filled with old childhood memories of racing around the barn, tacking up horses and the thrill of riding.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Here's something sunny

It's a mess outside. The day started off beautifully, lots of sunshine, cool temperatures, and birds chirping. A picture perfect spring morning. Then, the rain started and now it's dark, gloomy, muddy, and wet.

At least I don't have to remember to water the Daffodils tonight.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Yes, I know that today is in fact St. Patrick's Day, but I'm even more excited because the hubs and I are going to see Kooza tonight. What the heck is Kooza? It's a traveling Cirque du Soleil show.

The hubs has seen two different Cirque du Soleil shows while out in Vegas, but tonight will be my first Cirque du Soleil experience. Pigtown Design was able to capture a few photos of the big tent set-up. There is a strict no camera policy for the actual performances, so I won't be able to take any pictures of the tent in its bright and shiny splendor.

The best part of tonight's performance? We were able to get our tickets for 40% off!!! If you live in the Baltimore area and wanted to see the show, follow this link to buy discounted tickets for select show times. Just be advised that you have to purchase your tickets before March 18th, which is tomorrow. If you don't live in the Baltimore area, but hope to see one of the Cirque du Soleil's traveling shows, I'd recommend seeing if there are any other deals for the performance in your area. Who doesn't want to see a fantastic show and save some money at the same time?

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! The hubs is actually Irish, but chances are more people will ask me if I'm Irish today than him. It's one of the side effects of having red hair. Too bad I'm one of those rare red heads that isn't Irish. Crazy, I know.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One more reason I can't go to Target by myself

I certainly hope that I'm not the only one who can't control their spending at Target. I'd like to think I'm not the only one with that weakness. I swear I just run in for a few items and then I have to force myself to give up a few things before I hop in the checkout line. There's always a few cute things floating around and the tempting prices add to my lust.


These pot holders and towels would be absolutely perfect in my kitchen. I mean, they would even go with my mellow yellow tiles (oh how I wish they were a happy yellow and not a dumpy yellow).

Now I'm going to have to completely avoid Target for the next few weeks, which is almost as torturous as giving up ice cream. I could sabotage my current pot holders, but I think I better show some self-restraint. I think the hubs could be on to my game and I have to switch things up.

These babies were featured on Black and White Delight, which is becoming one of my favorite blogs for cute accessories.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can I vent for a quick second?

Okay, it might take more than a second to read this and for that I apologize in advance.

Let me preface this by saying that I am generally a happy camper. Yes, I tend to hold strong ideal standards (and possibly unattainable), but I understand that the world hardly ever works out like I have planned on paper.

Recently, I thought about taking up a new hobby. There have been a few events that led me to want to purchase a sewing machine. I won't go into all the specifics for the sake of brevity, but this decision wasn't a spur of the moment type thing.

I scoured the internet, frequented sewing boards, added new blogs to my Google Reader, and today I took my first step into a sewing store. I went in armed with questions and made a silent resolution to not buy a machine on the spot.

The woman who greeted me seemed nice and informative. She showed me a few different machines and actually let me work the controls for a bit. She answered all of my questions and provided her own tidbits of information. Everything was going well, until she asked me what my price range. I told her I'd like to keep the machine under $350 and that's when she practically fainted.

For the record, I am not looking for some crazy, LCD, tricked out, quilting, computer assisted, embroidery machine. I basically want to sew forward and backwards, a zig-zag here and there, and possible have a button now and then. At the same time I don't want my machine breaking down every third Tuesday. I understand the classic sewing machine adage is, "buy as much machine as you can afford," but at the same time, I don't want all those bells and whistles.

Back to my salesperson, she tried telling me that a sewing machine is a lifelong investment. Again, I know people say that, but is it really wrong to buy a simple machine and possibly upgrade in a few years??? She kept pushing me into machines that were twice my budget. Seriously, do I need a 184 stitches??? Sure, at some point a few of those stitches might be fun, but my budget doesn't allow for such an expensive machine.

I was completely pleasant with the woman until she said, "well, when you start having kids you'll want all the features this machine has to offer." Okay, two problems with that line. One- what if I didn't want kids? How dumb would that lady have felt? Two- why the heck would my mind suddenly change once I have kids? GRRRRRR!!!!!!!

It was at this point I politely thanked her for her time and left. When I got back in my car I blasted the radio and semi-cursed the trip. That woman made me feel like I might as well throw my money down the toilet because anything I purchased would be a piece of junk.

I hate when salespeople make me feel like crap. Then, I get irked that I let a total stranger make me feel that way. Eleanor Roosevelt wouldn't have felt like crap!

So now, I'm back to scouring the internet and trying to find a semi-decent sewing machine that happens to be under $350. Any recommendations????? I know of a certain store that I won't be visiting to make my purchase.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Why hello there spring time

I think there is one constant thing about spring and fall- the fickle weather. One day it's snowing and then a few days later it's 70 degrees. At least that has been the case this past week.

I'm fairly certain that there will be one or two more blasts of cold weather this spring, but it looks like things are starting to warm up. I'm still a little surprised that Saturday had temperatures in the 70s (not completely shocked because there were 60 degree days in February). Of course these constant cold and warm temperature shifts have left our backyard in a state of disarray. There's more mud out back than there is grass, which doesn't look so nice when it is tracked inside by two dogs (or a husband, take your pick).

Thank goodness we have a large public park less than five minutes away. The ground was much dryer there than our backyard, which is odd considering the multiple streams running through the park. Jax and Jewels are definitely out of shape, but hopefully in a few weeks they'll be back in fighting shape and will be able to tackle the more strenuous trails.

I'm just excited that I got to wear my flip flops out on Saturday afternoon! Of course my good mood was able to carry me through a screening of Watchmen, which wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping it would be.

Pit stop #1.

Pit stop #2. Good thing I brought my Nalgene bottle. Funny story about the little spray bottle seen in the background. When Jewels was in obedience class, the instructor sprayed her with a water bottle when Jewels would bark at other dogs. Now, all the hubs and I have to do is just hold a spray bottle and Jewels acts like a somewhat non-hateful dog. She doesn't play well with others.

Let's go!

Jax is all about going in the stream.

Jewels, on the other hand, is not a fan of the water.

The hubs and I can't wait to take the dogs out again next weekend. We're going to try to make it to the park at least twice a month this spring and summer.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We really are jocks

The winter sports season is a bit rough on the hubs and me. Baltimore doesn't have a hockey or basketball team, so in order to get our pro-sports fix, the hubs and I have to make a trip down to D.C. Poor us, we have to drive all the way down to Greenbelt (a whopping 35 minutes) and then get on the Metro. Tragic, I know.

Thursday morning, the hubs calls and asks, "Hey, you want to go to a hockey game tonight? You'll have to miss Grey's, but you can watch it online, right?"

My response, "Grey's is a repeat, so let's go!"

Tom, his brother, found tickets on Ebay for $15 each. So the three of us made a little trip down to D.C. I actually remembered my camera for once, but I forewarn you that the pictures aren't so great. We sat in the very last row, way up in the nosebleed section, but the view wasn't bad.

Let's Go Caps!!! (Okay, shoot me, I root for the home team.)

FIGHT!!!! This one was impressive, the guys fell down, stood back up and then started swinging all over again.

I love it when the youth teams play during the first intermission. Much better than the second intermission when you are forced to watch inebriated fools try to move around on the ice and win prizes.

Note to self- avoid getting hit in the face with hockey sticks. Yuckiness will occur.

More fighting! Apparently, Donald Brashear trained with Joe Frazier, which I think gives you a fairly accurate description of his "hockey" abilities.

On the drive home, the hubs and I realized that it had been over a month since we had been to a sporting event. That's a really, really, really long drought for us. We realized that we could never move anywhere that didn't have at least three pro sports teams. Any area that didn't field a MLB team would be automatically a no-go for us. I guess that does limit our selection of towns we vaguely talk of moving to. Factor in that requirement, plus my own stipulation of a Trader Joe's, and our moving area is now that much smaller. Looks like we're definitely not moving up to my parents neck of the woods.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March came in like a lion!

I guess that silly old groundhog knew what he was saying. The hubs and I, as with most of the east coast, can tell you that March began with a pretty impressive snowstorm. Yes, I'm insanely jealous of any areas that received eight plus inches of snow, but I'll take the 4-6 inches the Baltimore area received.

Thankfully, because it is indeed March and the days are just a tinny bit longer, the hubs and I were able to give Jax and Jewels a run for their money after work. Here is a valuable piece of advice to any of you who may ever visit: never challenge the hubs to a snow ball fight. You will lose, especially if Jax is on his team.

Hmmmm, I think I might skip running today's run.

Flying puppy.

I'm pretty sure this is when I said, "enough," because Jax kept knocking me over and I was tired of him landing on me.

My snow buddies. *

That's one wet dog sweater!

*Jewels was not neglected during this outing. She lasted a few minutes outside and then was promptly taken inside where she could hang out in her warm and toasty kennel. Trust us, she was much happier inside.