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Category Archives: Make Something Every Day Month

And So it Begins

 

It’s time to kick off the 2008 Birthday Gift Season! First one up [of the children, that is; Happy Birthday, Aunt Chelly!] is our niece, who will be turning five in a few days. Since she’s having a Hello Kitty party, and I happened to know where to find a cute piece of Hello Kitty flannel, I thought it would be fun to make her a little quilt. And by little, I mean quick; quite frankly, I’m not up to the whole machine-quilting and binding thing just yet.

Ever since I started reading her blog, I’ve been amazed by the sheer number of quilts Amy turns out (I mean, seriously!), so I decided to take a page from her book and hand-finish this one. Not as frustrating as I’d expected! The hardest part was being on the floor for so long. I’ve tied quilts in the past, but the blocks on this one (14″) were too big and the ties would be too far apart to really hold everything together, so I hand-quilted diagonal lines going both ways across it. Oh, and rather than bind it, I treated it more like a receiving blanket and sewed around it and turned it right side out (with the batting in the middle, of course), then topstitched all the way around. I’ve used this method before for smaller playmats, and plan to again for everyday snuggly blankets like this one.

And the little bag sitting on top of it? Why, it’s a Kidlet, of course! Talk about a quick and easy project. I’m really pleased with the result. Of course, part of my pleasure in this particular one came from the fact that I didn’t have an exterior fabric that I liked…and then remembered the black and white dishtowels I had on-hand for, well, dishtowel projects. Hello! And I didn’t have any webbing, so I just made a strap out of the leftover pieces from the towel and sandwiched a piece of craft interfacing in the middle. Voila. Stick in a couple of treats and you’re off to the races.

I like the Kidlet so much that I want to make more to hang throughout the house. I don’t really know what I’d use them for in the main rooms, but they’re so cute hanging on a door or a peg. Til I figure out a purpose for them, though, I guess I’ll stick to cranking ’em out for the children. That will keep me plenty busy!

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Day 24: Let the Adventure Begin!

Fellow participants (in Finny and Donk’s Sewing Adventure), you were starting to give me a little bit of a complex. I mean, the deadline isn’t until February 28, yet the scarves have already been making their appearances! And then I decided to give it a go, and now I know the secret: This really is a simple gift to stitch!

Seriously, once you decide on your fabrics and buttons, it’s smooth sailing. I almost added a few extra days to production, because I was a little scared of the buttonhole feature on my new sewing machine. [Oh, have I not mentioned the fine gift Santa, which is to say Mom, brought me this year? It’s so fantastic.] Turns out my fear was totally unfounded, and that step was done in all of ten minutes, which included me laboring over each individual instruction in the manual with a test scrap. Cha-ching! As for the fabric and button choices, I went for sort of a “Megan: Plain and Squat” look for Side A here

and then went all wild and crazy with a…slightly less subdued earth-toned plaid fleece for Side B.

Side A was pre-quilted, by the way. I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d like this in the end; I certainly wasn’t going to kick it off with a couple hours of precision quilting. (Yes, I consider anything with intersecting straight lines “precision quilting”.) I added the topstitching, though, because it seemed to be getting a little too puffy for my tastes. The fabrics lend kind of a tailored look that seemed to call for more restraint than you’d use with, say, fluffy white faux fur.

Verdict? Fun and fast. I might just make another one before I forget how easy this was. Even if you realize a month from now that you didn’t get around to finishing this project, give it a go; there will still be plenty of time!

By the way, I found that this is a great time of year to pick up fleece remnants. When I was at the store a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a couple out of huge box of just fleece for about a buck a piece. Even a quarter yard will make a couple of these scarves or a bunch of tag blankets (which is what I’d originally had in mind, and will get around to eventually). Not that I’m suggesting you stock up or anything; moderation in all things, dontcha know.

Day 21: Feel Free to Join Me on the Floor

 

I’m taking a step back here to share a project finished at the beginning of the week. There was enough light for about five minutes to get a decent shot, so here we are.

I’ve been talking about making floor cushions for the living room since we moved in two years ago. Personally, I’m more comfortable curling up on the floor when there’s a large group sitting around, even though this has horrified many a host who then rush around trying to find me a chair. I really do try to use the furniture now, but in my house, anything goes! Hey, have you noticed how expensive pillow inserts can be, though? Especially for anything over 18″, which is basically a throw pillow. Try perching on one of those bad boys and see how comfy you find it. Well, trust IKEA to come to the rescue with these beauties. Both the size and the price was right, so I picked up a couple…at least four months ago. It may have been six; who can say? All I know is that I had big visions of using some of the patchwork I’d pieced together (in my frenzied state) for summer ones, and I had the perfect Christmas-y jelly roll pack to make winter ones, but neither got even close to completion (which is to say: I never started them.)

Oh yes, that’s right: I intend to switch these out seasonally, because this sleek little number is equipped with a fine zipper in the back. If you have any hesitation when it comes to zippers, like I do, and want to make something similar, check out this tutorial. It’s wonderful—really. I had a little trouble understanding it until I had the fabric in my hands, which is pretty typical of the way I have to approach following written instructions, but once I got started, it all made perfect sense and was so easy. So easy!! Now if I could run into Joann’s and get the zipper for the next one at a time when there aren’t eight people in the checkout line, which seems entirely ridiculous for midday on a Tuesday, I could complete the set and then we’d be ready for the droves of visitors that stampede us. OK, well, maybe it would encourage us to invite people over for a change.

[Oh, and best of all? I managed to use up almost two pieces of fabric from the green division of my fabric empire. Woo hoo!]

Day 23: You Win Some, You Lose Some

 

As predicted, I needed (yes, needed) to head back into the kitchen for some baking today. Originally, there were two kinds of cookies on the docket: Ultimate Chocolate Comfort and Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin. The latter were a triumph, the former, well, they’re in the trash.

I have to celebrate the tiny but significant shift in my personality that allowed me to chuck a whole batch of not-actually-poisonous cookies in the trash rather than eating them, all the while complaining about how they were no good, or tossing them into the freezer, as though they would undergo some miraculous transformation during the freezing/thawing process. So, in that, even the bad batch wasn’t all bad.

The saddest part is that this chocolate cookie recipe has never failed me, but I think I can pinpoint the culprits. Even though I’m usually rather, I guess you could say, cautious about food safety rules and use by dates (as in: not a week goes past that I don’t call my mother with an urgent, “Do you think this is still good? Are we going to die if I cook it?” question), but decided to throw caution to the wind in the case of the past-its-prime marshmallow cream. Yes, it was beyond the “best by” date, but I think it’s fair to say that this can hardly be classified as a food. Still, turns out it becomes a little oily sitting on the shelf all those months. Also, it’s nearly impossible to find Toll House mega-morsels (you know, the big chunks), so I went with the store brand. Bad call. Bad, bad call.

But you, oatmeal raisin cookies, you truly have never let me down. And the man of the house, who loves the chocolate ones, will be happier to see you anyway, so it all works out.

I won’t tell you that these are the best of their kind that you’ll ever taste, even though that’s my secret belief. The reason I won’t tell you that, though, is when I hear those words, the first thing I do is twist up my face and think is, “Oh, I’ll be the judge of that”. The verdict is rarely favorable. It takes a lot to be THE BEST anything! So I’ll leave you with this recipe–which isn’t technically my mom’s, but she’s the one that always made them and passed it along to me, so it’s hers now–and then you can see for yourself. Please, don’t take my word for it!

Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

3 well-beaten eggs
1 c raisins
1 tsp vanilla
Combine and set aside for 1 hour.

1 c shortening
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 c oatmeal
1/2 c pecans

Cream shortening with sugars. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add one cup dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, mix, then alternately add the egg/raisin mixture and the rest of the dry ingredients to the batter. Once completely combined, add oats and nuts.

This time around, I used an ice cream scoop to drop some king-size cookies (about 8 to a tray). Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Makes 2-4 dozen, depending on the size of your scoop.

Days 14 and 15: Time to Upgrade

Well, they say you can’t keep a good (wo)man down, but I beg to differ. I spent most of Saturday sprawled either on the bed or the couch, trying to catch up on the sleep I’d lost due to nasty sinus problems. Those who may have been growing weary of the sound of my voice were treated to a couple of semi-silent days thanks to the laryngitis, except for the many times I felt I had to test out my voice by singing “Bette Davis Eyes” in my new smoky growl, but now I’m getting back into the swing of things.

Yes, lovely friends, I finally finished the baby gifts. We can now move on to other things, so hooray! (You can take a peek at the blankets and bibs if you’d like.) I really enjoy making these, but it’s better when it’s one set at a time. [Note to self: That’s a good argument for staying one step ahead in ’08.]

Oh, this poor little spider plant. I kept wondering why it was getting taller, but never fuller, and it finally occurred to me that it may need to be re-potted. Not a moment too soon, either, because I absolutely hate the stupid pot that I’d painted for it originally. Ugh! Hate it! I don’t know what my problem was, aside from the fact that I was going for instant decorating in our first apartment, and I just wanted to get it done quickly. I’ve wanted to redo it since about the day after the plant went in, but that required either painting it with plant and all, which probably wouldn’t have resulted in a better product, or taking the plant back out. I think you know that was never going to happen. But now I had a second chance and a better concept. If you noticed that the little sprig there bears more than a passing resemblance to some of my favorite fabrics, you would be correct. I just free-handed the design on some wide masking tape, cut it out with an X-acto knife [Yes, me. Icut it out all by myself!], and stuck ’em on the primed clay pot. Then I applied a couple coats of purple indoor/outdoor acrylic paint, peeled off the tape, and filled in with a thin coat of antique white. You can’t see it in this shot, but the inside of the rim is painted bright lime green. I can’t wait to seal it and add the plant! I will wait, though, because it seems to me that I’ve been impatient in the past and ended up smearing the paint with the sealer, so, yeah, I’ll wait another day or two.

It is rainy and cold today. I have no choice but to go lay on the couch and read for a little while.

You’re My Kind of People

 

[Shown: My sad attempt to make sure my tiny lemon tree gets enough sunshine. Please don’t die, Meyer!]

I love your responses to my last post; thank you! I forgot to mention how excited I got just walking through the aisles of the children’s book section. Ooh, it brought back so many happy memories of cruising my favorite sections, and then checking out the same books time and time again, but with a new one thrown in to keep things fresh. And now you can even reserve the books online, and they’ll be sitting there waiting for you when you come by to check them out at the self-checkout! Things have come a long way since the 80s!

I also forgot to mention that I almost immediately raced home to check out what was available and start building my “order”. Somewhere around the fifth book, I remembered that I only get to keep these for two weeks at a time, and closed up shop for the time being. (I, too, have some sort of weird aversion to having to read something on a deadline. I have the same problem when we rent movies: I’ve lost interest by the time we get home just knowing that I have to watch it within the next week. Needless to say, I’m working on adjusting that tendency.)

Anyway, on to Creativity Corner, where I continue on my quest to Make Something Every Day!

Day 10: Felt Shmelt

I came across two yards of wool, or shall I say “wool” (you can see where this is going), during the great re-fold, and decided that I would never actually make it into clothes and therefore would not mind sacrificing it to a felting experiment. No time like the present, so I threw it in for a hot, soapy wash and high-heat dry. An hour later, and I had…slightly less than two yards of a fluffier, obviously not really wool, fabric. Hmpf. Well, that’s what shopping in the clearance aisle will get you sometimes. It was still worth a shot.

Day 10/11: Receiving blankets, for crying out loud!

You’re probably sick of hearing about them, and I’m tired of talking about them, so I completed everything but the topstitching on three blankies last night. I’d like to finish them and their coordinating bibs, at least, today, but we shall see.

I also decided to start the flower pot and wood-framed mirror that I set out a week ago. They need to be sealed before I can paint them, and that takes all of ten minutes, so you can see why it had to be postponed several days. Of course you can. I almost didn’t do it today, though, because I’m beginning to see that my creative process of rotating between several distinctly different projects at once is less a process and more a lack of discipline. Some might even say calling it a “creative process” is, in and of itself, a bit of a cop-out, but that’s neither here nor there. I went ahead with it anyway, because it was a ten minute task that would then need to be set aside to dry, and we all know that a thirty minute drying time can delay production by up to thirty days. Time is of the essence!

Listless

There are so many ideas swirling around in my head, yet I’m having a problem committing them to paper. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the pressure of all of the resolution-making so prevalent this time of year. While I don’t embrace the typical “fix me” resolutions, I do love the whole idea of setting down goals and plans for the coming year on a nice, clean slate.

And yet….

So this paralysis is stimying my creativity a bit, but things are still getting done around here. Yesterday, I put together the table I’d ordered for the niche in our entryway. Of course, it’s too big and hangs out beyond the wall by a couple of inches, but I’m going to approach that whole issue as yet another creative challenge. It’s a good table, and I’m sick of looking for one that fits and isn’t flimsy. The table stays!

I also managed to select a few fabrics for the growing number of babies that have been coming into the world lately. OK, the flannel shelf is filled to the brim, and still I was having trouble making a decision. The problem? It’s all boy babies, and my boy flannels have all been ear-marked for my boy. Ridiculous, I know, for no other reason than I have no idea what all I plan to make for my poor kid from all of this flannel. Pajamas? We’re good on those. Quilts? How many does one kid need? Will I never again see fabric that I want to use for him? Yeah, I worked through all of these questions on my own time and managed to dip in to the stacks. Now the pieces are all washed and waiting to be pressed, cut, and sewn. One of my goals for this year is to make up a few sets of baby gifts, and maybe some wedding/housewarming ones, to have on-hand. The last time I stockpiled a bunch of receiving blankets, I didn’t have anything left to pair them with and ended up not using some of them. I think the set idea will work out better in the long run, and it will help compensate for my procrastinating nature. It will also most likely insure a year free from weddings/baby showers/housewarmings. That’s what happens when I get all puffed-up about my fine preparedness.

Hey, did you see what just happened? I wrote out one of my goals! Maybe the rest of them will cooperate and come trickling out.