Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Let This Be a Lesson to You

Image by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr
I've been a bit quiet on ye ole blog lately about what I've been working on. Aside from the secret baby projects for the many expectant moms I know and love, I've been slowly working on making some inventory for my shop.

You just gasped. I heard you.

I was hesitant to announce this because I'm unsure when I'll have enough inventory to make a decent opening . . . I don't want to open up and throw in a whopping 2 items and my time to sew lately is limited mostly to the weekends. So it's going slowly . . . but steadily. I only mention it now because I had a little problem due to all this sewing for the shop business.

Correction: I HAVE a little problem.

Yes, there is something up with my machine. My sweet Connie . . . friend to all. She is suffering at my hands. I still have not completely diagnosed the problem, but I can tell you . . . it's probably all my fault.

So, here's what happened. Upon *near completion* of item #4 for yet-to-exist-shop, I broke a needle. No biggie . . . I hadn't changed it in awhile. But then I broke another. And another. And then Connie started making some squeaky noises. My sweet machine . . . who is usually so quiet and just purring along with me as I go was starting to sound a bit labored.

I thought I was going to cry.

I dug up my manual and for the first time since I've owned her (SHOOT ME NOW) I took off her throat plate and popped out her bobbin casing to clean out the lint.

THERE. I've said it.

What the world was I thinking for the last 2 YEARS not going in there and cleaning things up a bit? I have no idea . . . maybe terrified I'd break it and not know how to put it back together?

Silly? YES.

Do I regret it? YES.

After taking out some pieces of fur that would likely set a clothes dryer on fire, I closed her back up. I'd take pictures of the gunk but it is TOO APPALLING to share with the world. I should have oiled her when I was done with all this, but can you believe it I HAD NO SEWING MACHINE OIL.

I am ashamed. Yes I am.

So since she was still sounding a little creaky after the big cleanout, I took a little side trip the other day to my local Jo-Ann and picked up some oil. Haven't had a chance to grease her up yet, and I'm EXTREMELY hopeful that this will fix her up good as new. If not, I'm looking at having to bring her in to the shop.

:(

So here's my little P.S.A. to y'all: Don't be afraid to perform basic maintenance on your sewing machine! The know-how is all in your sewing machine manual. This does not have to be a terrifying experience! Don't neglect your right arm sewing machine. She's there to provide you with peaceful and quiet hours of making, but you got to give her something to work with.

Cross your fingers. Say a prayer. I don't have gobs of money set aside for sewing machine repair should there be a deeper issue at work here. And it would be a REAL buzz-kill to have to stop working on the shop inventory this early on in the game!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Flower Power - Beautiful Brooches

My Nana used to have a pretty awesome collection of brooches. I wonder whatever happened to them . . . I always thought they were so cool.

Anyway, as the weather cools considerably I find myself a bit in denial about the change in seasons. Consider this my last ditch effort to hang onto those last summer colors . . . pin-style:1. flower pin tree, 2. Brooch Storage, 3. come to mama, 4. Vintage Enamel Pin Collection, 5. Vintage Flower Pin, 6. vintage enamel flower pins brooches., 7. Eco Flowers, 8. Flower Brooches (Bloemenbroches), 9. some of my brooches

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Kid Stuff: The Blog List

Got kids?  Want to inject your time with them with a bit more creativity?

Here's the list:

  • The Crafty Crow: More projects than you will ever have time for, but SO many awesome ideas.  Ideas range all across the age spectrum.  AND for those of  you who've got your own great kid's project ideas, you can submit them to be featured!
  • A Bit of This and a Bit of That: I've mentioned Jo's site on this blog before.  If you're interested in Montessori schooling and figuring out how to infuse your child's day with more interactive and educational play and learning, check her out.  She's also a sewer, so the site is a double bonus if you are into both genres.  :)
  • Fun with Mama: She's also gotten a shout out from me in the past.  Great site if you have toddlers.
  • Modern Kiddo: Funny that it's called "Modern" when a lot of this site revolves around kind of a vintage-y vibe.  More about kid style than craft projects, but there's a bit of that thrown in there too.
  • Cool Mom Picks: Pretty much product reviews galore on kid stuff, but they find the offbeat stuff that you aren't likely to come across when you do your regular kid-type shopping.  They've also been big pushers of Etsy sellers which always gives me a big grin.  This is a good one for those of you who maybe don't have kids yet, but are looking for some cool and off the beaten path gifts for a kid on your list.
That's all for now.  Will add to this list as I continue to weed out my subscriptions.

What are your favorite KID sites/blogs?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love Birds Taggie Quilt

In between commercials during "The Event" last night I was able to finish off my bitty blankie project.  Not a moment too soon either . . . my friend had a beautiful baby girl on Wednesday last week!  Glad I guessed the gender right.  ;)

I went with some different kind of stitching for the quilting.  I got this beautiful variegated thread in "autumn" by Sulky.  It complemented all the colors in the quilt so well . . . I'm really happy with how that came together.

Jana, you may notice I took your suggestion and made this little guy into a taggie blanket.  Now it feels a bit more like a gift with purpose than just a "I thought this quilt pattern was adorable so I made it without thinking" kind of a thing.  I love my readers!  :)

I'm going to miss this little one, but it is going to go live at a GREAT home.

Linking up to some sweet parties this week.  Check them all out here and join in on the fun!

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Home Decor Inspiration - The Blog List

Nursery Makeover On YHL
While my transition from Bloglines to Google Reader is far from over (ugh!), I thought I'd take a break to share some highlights from the list.  I've got all my blogs sectioned off so I can pick and choose what I want to read about on any given day so hopefully these little blog chunks make sense to everyone reading.  :)

Ok, so here are some of the blogs I keep up with that are hugely inspiring to me lately when it comes to making my house a home - style-wise.  Does this seem a bit off-topic for this blog?  Well, as many of you know, Mr. Skooks and I recently purchased our first house and we are s.l.o.w.l.y. making it our own.  We don't have tons of dough to shell out on making our place look ultra chic, so blogs that give me ideas on how to DIY stuff to spruce up the place are on top of my list of must-reads lately.

In no particular order here are some of my faves:
  • Young House Love: I started reading this one back when they were called This Young House and though they've evolved a lot and dropped and/or switched around some of my favorite features, I still get lots of great ideas from their blog and find it a worthwhile read.  (And for those people who think they're sellouts for all the giveaways they do and sponsor posts, give em a break.  They both work full-time on the blog.  Goodness, if only I was so lucky to get paid to write this blog!)
  • Bower Power: Katie Bower cracks me up!  I have her set in my "home dec" folder, but she's pretty diverse with her posting.  No matter the topic though, I always find her to be a worthwhile and amusing read.
  • Knock-Off Wood: Ok, so I have yet to actually get some tools out and build anything, but I find the  FREE furniture plans hugely inspiring and am currently curating a little list of things that I would like Mr. Skooks to build for our house.  In the spirit of Ana White, as a lady I should just do it myself.  But for now I feel fine leaving the home carpentry to Mr. Skooks.  I like and want the furniture, but if I had a chunk of time to work on a project, I'd rather have it involve a sewing machine!
  • Inspiration for Decoration: This one is basically just eye candy . . . loads and loads of images of beautiful spaces to get your creative interior decorating juices flowing.  
  • Remodelaholic: Reading this one makes you feel like you hit the motherload of project ideas!
  • Nesting Place: The Nester frequently has great cheap ideas on how to punch up your space a bit.  She's a great example of how you can truly make a rental your home.  Yes, I know I'm not in a rental anymore . . . ideas applicable for homeowners too.  :)
  • Thrifty Decor Chick: I've enjoyed her style and tips for awhile, but she totally won me over when I learned she was a Dave Ramsey-ian.  Making your house your own does not have to break your bank!  And you can still focus on your financial goals while you inject some panache into your home.  LOVE that.
  • Centsational Girl: Do you see a theme here yet with the blog names?  LOL.  I became acquainted with the Centsational Girl when she had her ornament party last year (anyone remember this post?)  Another person with great style showing how you can get 'er done for less.
  • Chez Larsson: Another one with some more diverse postings . . . check this one out if you like CLEAN, WHITE, and MODERN.  Benita is also a bit of an organizing freak . . . and I kind of love her for it because she's given me some good ideas for how to keep my spaces more organized as well.
These last few are pretty new reads for me, but so far I'm enjoying them:
Ok . . . that should keep y'all busy for awhile.  What's your favorite source for home decor inspiration?

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Bitty Blankie for a Bitty Baby

I don't know what was in the air about 6 or 7 months ago, but baby season seems to be upon me.  Not upon ME personally, but upon many friends and family members of mine and thus-ly upon me.

Did'ya get that?

Part of the problem with making gifts for others and having a blog wherein you talk about all your creative pursuits is that those people you make stuff for actually READ your blog therefore you must keep MUM about quite a bit as it turns out.

It can make for a sparse blog at times.

A few people though who are *just so close* to having a baby that they are probably not reading at the moment and *hopefully for them* are already at the hospital having said baby will be receiving a little something from me.

Something made from this:


The top has been pieced already, with just enough non-perfection that there be no mistaking it was handmade (ahem) and it's just waiting to be quilted and bound.

As it turns out, it's quite bitty, so I'm not sure that it's terribly practical for much . . . maybe for use on the wall if they have no "theme" in their baby room or to cover their most special baby doll someday when they have such a doll.  Or perhaps it could just be that little lovey kind of blanket that doesn't keep a child particularly warm, but it does keep them feeling secure.

Whatever its eventual "use" it was made with love.  So for a little soon-to-be-born little guy or gal, Auntie Skooks says, "I love you, precious one.  Welcome."

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Bloglines Off Line?!

It has just come to my attention that Bloglines, the feed reader I have been using for quite some time now to stay up to date with the way too many blogs I follow will officially shut down on October 1st.

While annoying at first to think about transferring all my feeds elsewhere (Google Reader?), I have come round to realizing this is a good thing.  As I said at the beginning of this post, I read too many blogs.  Or rather, I am subscribed to way too many blogs.

Why so many?

The answer is simple.  There is a lot of good stuff out there . . . in all kinds of genres.  Friends and family have blogs.  Crafty people have blogs.  Clever people post clever ways to help me keep my home more organized.  Funny people make me laugh.  I have a slew of Indie Biz classmates who are off making their dreams come true as I read along.  All of my Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee buddies have blogs and it's fun to stay up to date with their projects and lives.  There are some yummy food blogs to follow.  Some are inspiring.  Some are spiritually uplifting.  Some give me great ideas for stuff I can do with my kids.

Basically, getting all my blogs updated in my feed reader is like having the best FREE magazine subscription EVER.

But, there are not enough hours in the day for all this and I have been meaning (for some time now) to pare down.  And I can't help but feel much of the time like I need to do a bit less reading and a bit more doing.

I know that others feel the same.  Why, in the last 3 days I've lost and gained and lost and gained and lost a follower (maybe the same one who just can't decide if reading my blog is worthwhile,  or different people dropping out and others joining in?)  Either way, it's ok with me.  Truly.  I do understand.

And for the 86(!) people who do publicly follow me, you guys rock.  Thank you for counting my projects, quips, and photos worthy of your subscription.  :)

So yes, I'll go figure out where my new feeds will live (any recommendations would be sweet), but I probably won't be transferring them all.  Instead there will probably be some that I visit for the last time and then say goodbye after bookmarking a post or 2 . . . or perhaps adding an inspirational image to my Pinterest.

BUT

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite blogs with my readers as I do.

SO

Stay tuned for that.  :)

I'll try to keep them separated by genre because I'm good like that.

And if anyone has any MUST READS (I should not be saying this because what did I just say??  PARE DOWN?!) let me know in the comments.  As I'll be lightening my load of the blogs that have fallen off the face of the earth, I may have a wee bit of room in my new reader for a few new VERY GOOD blogs.  ;)

Oh, and if anyone wants to de-lurk and let me know they're a follower . . . say, "HI!"  That would be lovely. 

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dual Purpose Ballet/Lunch Bag

While I still have yet to tackle the coveted "elephant apron", I have finished another special project that I had decided a long time I would make for Little Miss: her very own ballet bag!

She's entering her first dance class ever on Thursday and although she quipped the other day, "But I don't need dance lessons, Mom, because I already KNOW how to dance!" she is very excited to go and hang out with all the "dancing girls."  (And basically won't stop talking about how she is now a "Bana-reela.")

Being the super inexperienced new dance-mom on the block I had no clue where to go about town collecting all the dance gear.  Thankfully I had a brainwave about Zappos and ended up finding suitable ballet and tap shoes on there for a pretty reasonable price.  (The free shipping back and forth were they to not have fit properly was totally worth it when I considered the alternative of schlepping the kids all around town looking for the proper foot gear.)

So now that we finally had her tights, leotard, ballet, and tap shoes in hand, I wanted a place we could keep all these things so that when it came time for dance class we wouldn't be running around wondering where we left them.  We recently installed some hooks by our front door as a little launch pad (we have no coat closet) so now the bag has someplace to live as well.

I used this free lunchbag pattern I found over at The Long Thread awhile back.  I made sure to measure the contents of the bag first to be sure they would fit (Little Miss is 3 and wears size 8 shoes . . . and everything stores away beautifully with room to spare.)  The pattern is very straightforward, so anyone looking to make this pattern should know it is very easy to modify larger or smaller depending on the size of your average lunch (or the size of your tap shoes.)

Does it seem odd that I chose a lunch bag pattern to make a dance gear bag?  The truth is, it is hard to say for sure how long Little Miss will participate in dance . . . this year's lessons were a gift from her generous grandparents.  So whether for economic reasons or reasons generating from her own interest (or lack thereof), I didn't want the bag to be too one-purposed.

So I made it a lunch bag.

A few modifications I made: longer straps and velcro instead of a magnetic snap (I didn't have a snap so I used what I had).  Since I was using that special Kokka Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fabric for the front and back I decided to stabilize it a bit by ironing some craft fuse to the back.  This stiffened it up quite a bit and gives the bag much more shape and stability than the dobby cotton would have on its own (the pattern itself calls for canvas, I think).

The sides and the inner lining are made from Erin McMorris Weekends Oilcloth in Saturdays Pink.

I very STUPIDLY cut my main piece of fabric too short and didn't have enough left to re-cut a new piece, so I ended up MacGyvering the thing together with some scrap muslin I had that matched the shade of the Tinkerbell fabric and covered my tracks with some ribbon from the stash that actually coordinated pretty well with the colors in both the fabrics.

It was only upon completion of the bag that I realized that the muslin cover-up made a nice border I could have used to personalize the bag with her name.  Oh well.

Overall I'm very pleased with how the bag turned out and can't WAIT to see Little Miss twirling and tapping away with all her "dancing girls."  ;)

I'm linking up to some fun parties this week.  You can check them out and join in on the fun RIGHT HERE.  :)

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting Charitable with Kids: Color a Smile

Just wanted to share a link with you that I found today.  It seemed pertinent to all of us with young children who have a love for drawing, coloring, and getting creative on paper.

Our homes and our walls cannot possibly contain all that artwork . . . at least mine can't.  But here's a place you can send them along to that can!


It's called Color a Smile.  Here's a little blurb taken from their website on what they're all about:
Color A Smile collects crayon drawings from school children.
Every month we distribute these drawings to Nursing Homes,
Meals on Wheels Programs, and Individuals all across the country.
Our goal is to make people smile!
Awesome!  Definitely adding this one to the ever-growing list.


Do you have a favorite charity that is need of handmade goods? Please link it up here and help spread the word!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For Lissa - A Verse

Though she has been on my mind now for quite some time, I did not get around to sewing up my Patches for Lissa until this evening.  If the postal service does its job my squares should get there right. under. the. wire.

Jane had asked everyone who was participating to leave some words of encouragement for Lissa on a 5" cream square that would also be included in the quilt.

I had a couple thoughts in mind but wasn't sure exactly what I was going to write until I was reminded of a fitting verse by my sweet bloggy friend, Jess, over at Two Shades of Pink.  (You can read her post on what this verse means to her and how it's relating to her own difficult situations here.)

Here it is . . . in my less than amazing scrawl.  I hope it speaks to Lissa in a powerful way and my prayer for her is that this quilt would not only bring some comfort and warmth to her as she continues on this difficult road to recovery but would also bring healing to her body and soul which has been through so much.

This is for you, Lissa:


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Are you Pinterest-ed?


As many of you know I am a bookmark-a-holic (still SO very glad I found Delicious), but sometimes there is just an image you like and want to keep for inspiration for whatever reason.  This would be like, if you were reading a magazine and you ripped out a picture of a great kitchen makeover to inspire you towards the plans for your own future kitchen re-do or clipped out that pic of your next haircut to bring with you to the stylist.

You know, stuff like that.

Except on the internet, you can't really do that unless you print everything out on paper.  And get it organized so you can find that inspiration when you want to again without having to dig through a million pieces of paper.  I don't know about you but that seems both wasteful and time consuming.

I have dabbled with We Heart It to grab those inspiring images I come across to look through later, but I'm finding Pinterest to be much easier to categorize and group like with like so that you can really make this info useful and workable for you someday.

I had never heard of, but was quickly turned on to Pinterest by my gal, Claire, over at Heart Handmade UK.  Basically, you can curate little pin boards of all sorts of things.  Any categories you want, like "For the Home", "Books Worth Reading", and "Products I Love" (really, anything you can dream up).


I had to request an invite from Pinterest to join, but I got one without any real trouble at all so I'm sure anyone could do the same.
 
And if you want to, you could follow along with my "pinnings" if you dig my style (I don't have a ton on there yet, but I can see this becoming my new "thing" really quick so check it out for all the updates if you're interested in seeing what's inspiring me lately).  I've already seen a lot of cool stuff from surfing around other people's pin boards so I definitely find following people on there to be worthwhile.

I *think* I can also invite people to join Pinterest myself, so if you would like a personal invite, please let me know.  My email is skooksplayground[at]gmail[dot]com or you could just leave me a comment here on this post.

Happy Pinning!



P.S. It probably goes without saying based on my posting, but I was not given any special treat or spiff for talking about Pinterest. Just thought someone else out there would like to know. Hope it helps someone get their inspiration a little more organized!

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