Sunday, December 28, 2008

Taking It Easy

Our holiday weekend is finally wrapping up. Wednesday we spent over 7 hours on the road and in a stint in the ditch getting to our holiday destination. It didn't bode well for what was to come. But to our delight, the rest of the trip was relaxing, uneventful and heartwarming. It was fun to watch Wee Pumpkin get loved by his whole family and so nice to eat some really really good food and see friends and eat armloads of cookies. After our return trip in the car, however, I now will spend the next week recovering. I'm so thankful not to need to drive anywhere far in the near future!

Now, for a week of rest at home. It doesn't get any better, does it?

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Holiday Plans

I made these felted ornaments from my all-time favorite knitting book, Holiday Knits. Now, I'm by no means a knitting book expert seeing as though I only have 3 or 4 of them total. But of those 3 or 4, I've knit more out of Holiday Knits than any other. Anyhoo, the ornaments are super easy to make, provided you do NOT felt your own hand with the needle felter. OUCH!

I'm starting to formulate all of our holiday time. Here's what's on the Pumpkin Itinerary for the next two weeks:
1. Trip to the grandparent's for eating, drinking and being merry
2. Visiting with lots of friends from "back home" possibly including State Street bar hopping
3. A rousing game of Big Ass Bingo with some "choice" prizes we've found throughout the year and have been stashing
3. Sledding, provided that the grandparents get the foot they are expecting today
4. A tour of Capital Brewery for Mr. Pumpkin
5. A trip to Grand Rios water park with the wee Pumpkin and his cousins
6. Some Golden Gopher Hockey (wee Pumpkin's first hockey experience)
7. Baking more scones
8. Possibly a little Peef the Christmas Bear
9. Enjoyment sleeping past 6 a.m. (this one could be all too optimistic)

What's on your holiday agenda?

Sweater Knitting and Scone Baking

I have a tradition, two years in the making, to make (rather than buy) Little Pumpkin's Christmas and birthday gifts. The way Mr. Pumpkin and I see it, he gets spoiled enough by his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, that he doesn't need more from us.

Last Christmas I knit him his first stocking and this year I decided to knit him a sweater. I chose a free pattern for a ribbed baby jacket that I got online that originally appeared in Prima back in 2005. The pattern is also in the book Special Knits by Debbie Bliss. I only saw it pictured for girls, but I think my version in indigo (and I chose not to do wool so it would be washable) with a manly leather-covered vintage button turned out pretty good. It's kind of his "old man" sweater. Now, I'm going to wrap it up and he can open it on Christmas and act surprised.

In other news, baking-wise I think I may be back in action. I baked these scones this weekend from my Dorie Greenspan baking book and they are PHENOMENAL. I substituted whole milk for buttermilk, and they are still awesome. I could seriously sit down to a plate of them, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three days later they are still tasty and delicious. Maybe cookies just aren't my thing right now. We'll see, though. I have a batch of Greenspan's Midnight Crackles chilling in my freezer. Here's hoping they're edible!

At work lately we've been doing a lot of recapping of 2008 accomplishments. I think I might have to recap my personal accomplishments this year, just to see if I've been more productive at work or at home. It's going to be a tight race between "refiled random papers in cubicle to appear more productive" and "taste tested many batches of cookies to determine missteps and correct errors." If I do the recap, I'll post it here.

Save Handmade!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vintage Wreath Goodness

I really wanted to write about how I got a new baking book, Baking by Dorie Greenspan, and how I made some awesome cookies out of it and how I am now the queen of the universe, at least by baking standards. I mean, I am a pretty good baker. I do bake a lot. Usually things turn out delicious. However, for the last two weeks, I have been cursed by the totally flat, crisp cookies (not like good crisp, but weird, greasy crisp). I so wanted to join Tuesdays with Dorie, but alas, I suck. My cookies are a wreck, and I decided I better hope I get invited to a cookie exchange where I just get to take the cookies and don't actually have to give any.

BUT, I did accomplish the patching of a few pairs tiny pants and finishing of a wreath I started last holiday season all in a night. See, when these things start to pile up in (what once was) my neat and tidy sewing room, I get anxious. So I get a few things crossed off the list and moved to other piles and I breathe a small sigh of relief.

This wreath has a kind of funny story behind it. Well, okay not really, but I have to write about something, right? Well, I saw so many awesome wreaths on Flickr that I wanted to make my own. Like this one from Alicia Paulson, or this one by SweetImaginations or this one wrapped in yarn by KatieRunnels or this cute quilted style one. So last year I wrapped my styrofoam wreath in a nice, felted sweater and there it sat. Then over the summer my hubby, whilst stay-at-home-dadding around town, stopped by a granny's garage sale and bought the "mystery bag" of craft supplies for me. It was mostly a bag of total junk, but I did manage to store the little santa head, wreath with bell, gold leaves and weird flower thingie that I incorporated into this wreath. Not bad for a buck, I think.

Can you believe it's December 10th? Shit, only like 10 more days to figure out why I suddenly suck at baking!

Monday, December 08, 2008

What I Bought at No Coast Craft-o-rama

I did spend a sizable sum of money this weekend at No Coast. Here's the roundup of items that can be disclosed...

1. An ornament and coaster set from Keen Olive
2. A perpetual calendar by Cassie Medema Design so that I can keep track of family birthdays (not my strong suit)
3. A cute onesie from Happify
4. A really cool pencil box from Mogo
5. A shirt from Campfire Goods for Mr. Pumpkin

Here are some vendors I saw that I thought were really amazing and might have to patronize over the interweb:

1. Aaron Sober ceramics were so original, I was really impressed; I really loved the animal shapes
2. Hat Menagerie's cute hat knitting kits were cleverly packaged and even cuter knit up
3. Numsi had a really cute picture of a digger suitable for the Wee Pumpkin's room that I'm considering
4. Loved the great camera straps by Souldier

...and really, so much awesome stuff. It's hard to write about it all!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Survived No Coast Craft-o-rama

Phew. I can't remember the last time I was this exhausted. Oh, yes. I can. It was last year after No Coast Craft-o-rama. It's so draining both physically and emotionally to put the whole thing together that, despite requests to do it more often, I can't imagine doing this more than once a year.

I bought a ton of stuff which I will round up in the next day or so. I only bought myself two things and managed to spend the rest on gifts (like I should). I was telling a fellow volunteer that I wished that we could enforce a "checkout" policy whereby every shopper had to show us what they bought. It's so fun to see all the great things that people find; even after going through everything four times or so, I was still seeing new things.

The highlights of my weekend were the Como Ave Jug Band (and accompanying kids pictured above) and the Craft-a-thon. Big shout out to all the judges, the MC and the contestants. I loved it! But in the end, the Minnesota Rollergirls went home with the grand prize, which included two Janome sewing machines and a bunch of other fantastic stuff from our sponsors (Crafty Planet, Sublime Stitching, Handmade Nation, Venus Zine, Craft Magazine...).

Did you go? Likes? Dislikes?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Here's a Holiday Gift Suggestion: Boob Slippers!

If you're under 18, avert your eyes.

Some of you might remember that I bought these slippers back in September from Piddies. In said post, I commented that [ha ha] Mr. Pumpkin had loved them, even asking if they had any designs for guys, like with boobs on them [ha ha]. Well [ha ha], the good people at Piddies thought that was pretty darn funny [ha ha] and we got to talking and decided [ha ha] that it must be done.

Several email messages later, after talking through boob and fleece coloration [ha ha] and nearly wetting my pants hearing about the design process, involving product design advisors [conferring over drinks] and testers and such [ha ha], the final product arrived in my email box to review before shipment. They were wonderfully bulbous and perfectly perky. Perfect, I said! Just what the doctor ordered! These one-of-a-kind beauties must be mine! My own Piddies slippers on my feet, I shot the email back: send 'em my way!

I couldn't have been happier when the goods arrived. They came with their own pasties, also handmade I suspect by Piddies [devious genius] craftswoman herself. I was in complete boobtopia when I saw the bottoms: clever traction provided by "sitting ladies" painted in silver sparkly fabric paint on the bottom of each slipper. Genius!

I predict a new niche for Piddies. Ladies will be running over to the Piddies Etsy shop to buy these this holiday season. They are an absolute hysterical (yet functional, fuzzy and warm) gift. I'm pretty sure if you ask, she'll make you a pair, too. Don't give your guys a lame sweater this year, girls. Get him the gift of boobs.


Garland Crazy

Photo from Country Living

I am so in love with this kitchen I might have to hunt it down and move in. It came from a slideshow on Country Living's web site about holiday garlands, which I am also obsessed with. See, I need to move in, right?

I'm going to make a holiday garland this year, rather than use the one I have. I have a garland made out of real feathers. It's really cool and rustic looking (not the fake, bright colored craft store feather style) but it's just not exciting me any more. I'd love to do the natural pine boughs on the mantle this year, and make a garland from fabric to hang on the tree.

If anyone knows where I might find that kitchen in the photo, let me know. My bags and pots and pans are already packed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Make It Yourself: Grilling Rubs to Give Away

I always love to make some edible gifts around the holidays. It gives me a nice break from sewing and knitting and such, and it's also a great option for the men on your list who really don't want another hat or scarf. My dad specifically asked for grill rubs this year, and I happily obliged. It's a really simple, but totally fun homemade gift you can make on a fairly small budget.

Here's what you'll need:
--Herbs and spices of various types from World Market/grocery store/etc.
--Spice jars with shaker/measurer lids (mine are from Ikea)
--Some kitchen twine
--Cardstock to print the labels
--Recipes; I made Dry Chimichurri Rub, Basic Barbeque Rub and Brisket Rub but there are tons of options out there
--A funnel is really helpful, but not required

I didn't find it too difficult to find most of these ingredients, but then again I wasn't super picky. I didn't have hickory smoked salt or savory, so I just made do with what I did have. I did use whole pepper and ground it in my coffee grinder. I also did use coarse sea salt and I think that will make a difference. After you mix the ingredients in a bowl, use a funnel to get them into the jars. Make sure you wash your mixing bowl after each recipe!

At first I tried to use stick on labels, but I hated that they didn't exactly form to the curvature of the jars. I realize that these round tags are probably a bit over the top size-wise, but I still think they look cute. If you'd like to use my designs, feel free to download the images here.
Just cut around the circles and hole punch them, and done! Instant handmade holiday gifts!

What handmade stuff are you making this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New Must Buy Magazine and Hometown Hero

I was so excited to pick up a copy of the new magazine by Interweave Arts called Stitch "Creating with Fabric and Thread." I loved the skirt of the cover and I thumbed through the magazine eagerly for more. To my surprise and amazement, the cover skirt was designed by local designer Martha McQuade of Uniform Studio and the magazine included the pattern pieces so I can make it myself. JOY! HAPPINESS! I love Martha's work, and I loved a lot of the other ideas and patterns, too. Maybe I am easily impressed, but it seems like there's a huge void in the world of hip magazines with sewing projects that aren't quilts or clothes [solely] that this magazine is filling, and filling it very well.

This premiere issue of Stitch has a ton of great project ideas and resources, so I'm hoping Interweave makes it a monthly thing. If it does, I hope Santa can deliver it to me every month of 2009. Whadda ya think, Santa?

P.S. Crafty Planet is having a big sale on fabric right now, so drop by and pick up this magazine and a few yards, too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today on the Radio: Pumpkin Girl!

If you're near a radio today from 11 to 12 p.m. CT, check me out on the show "Conversations with Al McFarlane" on KFAI. They're interviewing me and Sarah from Charlie and Sarah about the upcoming mega craft sale and monster truck rally, No Coast Craft-o-rama.

By the way, if you're planning to come to No Coast this year, plan to be there for the Craft-a-thon at 2 p.m. on Saturday. This is my brain-child of the year, and I'm really excited to see it come to fruition. There are four teams crafting against each other for some really amazing prizes. The celebrity panel of judges was just increased by one -- Kelley Deal from the Breeders / Kelley Deal 6000! Seriously!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vintage Elf Stocking

I just can't get enough of making Christmas stuff. I designed this elf stocking to hold just a few great stocking stuffers, like some colored pencils and a cool vintage-style Martha Stewart ornament I bought last week. It was a really easy pattern to come up with. I like that the felt snowflake modernizes it just a bit.

Yes, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. But did I mention how much I love Christmas? I think of Thanksgiving as the Christmas kick-off weekend. When it's no longer weird of me to be making Christmas stockings any more. I am anxiously awaiting it!

Got any good holiday inspiration this year? I'm inspired by my friend's work on the Juicy Couture holiday window. How'd she get the f*^&ing awesome job?!?!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter Sunrise in Minnesota

Yesterday the sun came up in Minnesota in what my mom would call a typical "Sailor's Take Warning" sort of way. Big, beautiful and full of purples, pinks, blues and reds. I wished I didn't have to rush off to work, but I managed to snap this shot off our deck before dashing for the bus.

Speaking of the bus, today was a particularly irritating ride. The enjoyment started with a sort of comedy of errors in which a man with a backpack got on and didn't realize that a steady stream of water was coming out of the water bottle stuck in the side. A passenger informed him of the problem and he, like a dog chasing his tail, did several turns around and around while a woman with a stroller tried to get on the bus. It took another passenger (now two passengers are helping) to take the water bottle out before the issue was resolved and the water bottle emptied outside. It just went downhill from there.

In brighter news, I got an email that my new holiday fabric is on it's way. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I also got a flyer for a big sale at Hancock's over Thanksgiving. Yipppee!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Martha Stewart Ornament Shopping

My grandma was a HUGE K-Mart fan back in the day. In fact, I have very fond memories of loitering there with her in wait for the much-anticipated loudspeaker announcement of the next big blue light special item. It usually went something like, "Attention K-Mart shoppers! For the next 20 minutes ladies plus size polyester Hanes underwear are 25% off! Head on over the Ladies Intimate Apparel to take 25% off today!" Off we'd rush, no matter how lame the sale item was, and stock up. Grandma Betty's philosophy was that a sale item was a must-buy, and some day you'd have a need for it. I guess that explained many a strange Christmas gift. But, I never really cared much, because I knew her secret.

My mom and I shopped there, too. I specifically remember these white tennis shoes my mom bought me there. It must have been in elementary school. They were so cool when they were bright white, but the faux leather got dirty and brown so fast and then they looked really gross. So we'd buy this shoe cleaner stuff there and try to polish them up. I think they might have been high tops with little "air vent" holes on the top. Boy, they were super ugly. But I know I went through several pairs of them, so they must have been stylish at the time. Or not.

Luckily, I tracked down a K-Mart store last weekend when I was really missing Grandma B. I thought it'd bring back memories to head over there and see what sort of deals they had going on. Much to my delight and amazement, Martha Stewart holiday stuff was on sale, so I scored big time. I left with about $50 worth of other random crap, too. I did Grandma proud.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pleated T-Shirt Shoulder Bag Tutorial

A while back, I wrote about a bag I reconstructed out of an old Phillies tee shirt. I promised I'd do a tutorial. Well, I haven't gotten around to it until now. Better late than never, right? I love this project because I have a lot of tee shirts that are beginning to take out their own personals ads: "I'm a little on the large size, but there's so much more to love. I've seen a lot of livin' but I think there's a lot more livin' to do! Let's start a new life together!"

I'm happy I found a way to repurpose them. The bag is made up of three components: the main section, the top band and the strap. The photos are not the greatest, but I think you probably get the idea. Here are the steps for making your own Milli Vanilli tee shirt bag:

Step 1: Cut out the pieces
a. First, cut off the bottom 5" of the shirt
b. Then, remove the hem from the bottom of the shirt
c. Cut off the sleeves and neck

Step 2: Create the pleats on top
a. Fold over an inch or so from each side of what's now the top of the bag to form a pleat
b. Do the same on the back, but rather than fold over, fold under
c. Pin in place and sew

Step 3: Sew up the main section of the bag
a. turn the tee shirt inside out
b. Pin along the bottom of the shirt/bag
c. Pin along the sleeve edge
d. Stitch across bottom and sleeve edges, forming the main section of the bag

Step 4: Create the diagonal corners for the bag bottom
a. With the bag still inside out, measure up from the bottom of the bag three inches and mark with a fabric pencil
b. Do the same for the side by measuring in 3 inches from the side of the bag and marking
c. Sew a straight line between your two marks
d. Trim off excess fabric triangle

Step 5: Create the top band
a. Using the bottom edge of the tee shirt that you removed in step 1, cut a length that measures roughly double the width of the top opening (mine ended up about 5" X 18")
b. Fold in half so that you can pin and sew along the short side
c. Fold the piece in half so that the seam you just sewed is on the inside
d. Sew band

Step 6: Attach band to top of bag
a. Pin the band to the top of the bag on the right side
b. Sew all the way around the top of the bag
c. Flip band up and press seam toward bag

Step 7: Cut out and sew the strap
a. From the remaining portion of the bottom of the tee shirt, cut a piece that measures 5" by 27"
b. Fold the piece in half the long way; pin and sew along long edge
c. Turn the strap outside in and press so that the seam is centered

Step 8: Attach the strap
a. Pin the strap, seam side facing in to either side of the bag, centering
b. Sew in place by sewing a rectangle 1/4" from the top of the band

And there you have it! It's a project that will probably take you an hour to make, but can be a very simple and fashionable market bag or tote for you to use for many more years to come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spoonflower Front Page!

Remember when I was so tentatively at dipping my toe in the pattern design waters? No more! I just found out Spoonflower is featuring my design front and center on their redesigned home page. I have to say, I'm quite honored! The Flickr pool of Spoonflower designs is so amazing, I can't even believe that they chose me.

Now that I'm done gaga-ing over that, it's back to crafting! I just ordered a TON of holiday fabric, so stay tuned. The Christmas tunes are already on around's so much fun!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Want to Win Big? No Coast Craft-a-thon Need YOU!

So a while back I had this crazy idea. What if at our big craft sale we had a contest pitting crafters against each other in a timed battle to see who could come up with the craziest, baddest craft project and win some awesome prizes? To take it even a step further toward a total MacGuyver smackdown, I thought that the teams should have to create the project out of junk. I mean, not true junk, but stuff we have just laying around.

Everyone liked the idea, so we got some awesome prizes. Janome sewing machines. Magazine subscriptions (cool magazines, too!). Gift certificates. Fame. Fortune. But, there's a rub. No teams have signed up to win the prizes. None. Nada!

I'm asking you to spread the word. This is going to be incredibly fun. We have some local celeb judges and MC and some great supplies for the teams to use. It only takes an hour and the prizes really do kick ass. AND, it costs nothing to show up and try. C'mon, folks. Step up!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Holiday Crafting Has BEGUN!

It's official! The holiday crafting has begun. Lately I've been loving the silhouette trend. Actually I've loved it for a LONG time. My parents had silhouette portraits of both my sister and I and I always thought they were cool (albeit a little cheesy). When I found a really great profile shot of one of my nieces (real name changed to protect the innocent), I knew it was my opportunity.

This project has been blogged in many varieties and mediums and final outcomes. I love this one from Inhabitots on making a custom silhouette tee of your kids. Also great is this one on Design*Sponge for making framed versions of custom silhouette art of your kids. I guess I'm a little late on my trendspotting, because back in 2007 Cookie Magazine had a write up about the silhouette trend and featured some awesome artists who will do the work for you (dog? cat? kid? couple? YES!). If you use Illustrator, you can even find a YouTube video on how to make a silhouette like in the iPod commercials. Wow.

I'm pretty lo-fi with my technology, so I used my old school Microsoft program to create a "cutout" of the image of my niece, then I selected a fill color (pink). Then I added an oval shape in the background and some text and done. Simple, but I think it turned out cute and my niece will think it's cool. I hope! Only 527 more gifts to go!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Popover, It's Nice Here in Minnesota!

It's the weekend after Halloween here in Minnesota and Global Warming is upon us! It's actually HOT outside. Whereas in years past we may have had a blizzard, this year I took off my jacket and opened up the windows (the same ones I put storm windows on just yesterday...bad timing!). We took the opportunity to drive to one of our favorite places in this neck of the woods: Stillwater.

As for what we actually did on Halloween, I have to say not much. We dressed Baby P up in an engineer outfit (all we had to buy was the hat) and handed out candy. Maybe 10 kids showed up in total. Everyone liked the decor outside, but one little tot wouldn't come near the door so she made her sister do her dirty work. Of course I was kind of snotty and said "Where's your costume?!" and then felt like crap when I saw the little kid out on the sidewalk, afraid to come up. Luckily this year we weren't visited by any other costume-less kids, cuz that drives me a little insane. I mean how many "rappers" (their words, not mine) does one Halloween need? I guess rap is dead this year, because none of them came here.

Anyhoo, not doing much baking right now, maybe due to the heat. I did make some popovers a few weekends back that were out of this world good. I can't believe that growing up I actually thought popovers were gross. I must have been out of my mind. Baby P didn't think they were gross. He ate two!

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween's Over, So's My Pity Party

I usually try to mask my true feelings as much as possible on my blog (kidding). Seriously though, I think it's a little weird to just "let it all hang out" when I have no idea who might see it all hangin out and later make fun of me for it. But, today I'm breaking loose and letting go. Today I'm saying goodbye Halloween, goodbye pity party. I need to say goodbye to something so I can start to move on.

You see, I've been having a pity party for myself since last year at about Halloween time. I pitied myself for having to go back to the cruel, ugly working world after giving birth to baby Pumpkin and staying home with him for the first three months. The days leading up to going back to work were awful. The worst was the night before I had to go back. It was Thursday, and my husband wasn't home that night. After baby P went to bed, I sat on my floor and sobbed. I caught my breath long enough to call mom and dad and bawl to them for an hour or so. I felt like my life was literally ending. It was the worst, most heartbreakingly sad night of my entire life so far.

Then, I had to get up the next day, get dressed and head into the office. I cried on the bus. I cried at my desk. I cried on the bus all the way home. And honestly, I've been crying for a year. Off and on, I cry. Sundays are the hardest, when I start thinking about going back to work.

My well-meaning friends have suggested lots of different ways of looking at the situations and my options. Get a different job. Work fewer hours. At least he isn't in daycare. Start a work at home business. Send the hubby back to work. Generally I'm all for taking the bull by the horns and not sitting around moping. I mean, moping should have its place, but should be followed by action. So I did get another job. Still, I wanted to mope. I was still not happy. Not really.

Here's the deal. I wanted to be hired for the job of stay-at-home mom. I was good at being a mom even though it was new and scary. My kid was happy and we had fun. I got dinner made. The house was clean. I didn't have to think about PowerPoint presentations. I didn't have to iron my slacks. I didn't really have a boss.

It was the best job I've had so far. It wasn't and isn't about getting a few more hours with my kid (not that I don't want that, but it just isn't the true problem for me). It was and is about having a job I loved and getting laid off from it. I got laid off, and the job I found, I didn't really like. Plus, my husband quit the job he kind of liked and hours that were pretty flexible. A recipe for a year long pity party, if you ask me. It all felt horribly unfair. We made a decision based on money, and what we thought was best for all three of us at the time.

So, in retrospect, I may have made a different decision a year ago if I had known that I'd spend all year pouting. But, my husband is an awesome stay-at-home dad, and I couldn't take that away from him. It's true that at least one of us gets to be home with him. Lots of people don't have that luxury. And maybe someday, I can switch spots. Who knows.

That's why I decided to end the pity party. I'm not going to switch places with Mr. P right now, and I'm not going to quit my job. We're lucky we have my job. Baby P is happy, and that's what matters. It's been a year of pitying myself, and frankly, I'm really freakin tired of it. Of course I'm sure there will be days when I am wishing I was wearing jeans and traipsing through the zoo with my kid rather than holding back-to-back conference calls in my tan cubicle, but I'm not going to let it ruin my life, my marriage or anything else.

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to usher in my new attitude. I'm thankful for so many things, I just have to remind myself how truly lucky I am. Thankful I have a job. Thankful my husband is so great. Thankful my kid is happy and healthy. Thankful we have a nice house. So many reasons...

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Feels good to purge it. Now back to the regularly scheduled sarcasm and crafting projects...

Did I tell you about my new favorite phrase? It's "steppin' out". Used in a sentence: "I got some new jeans today, and they're not for the office, they're for steppin' out." Now, let's hope I can get some opportunities for steppin' out real soon. You do any steppin' out this weekend?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Getting Out and Getting Lost (Almost)

I had a free hour today to do whatever I wanted while the Pumpkin napped, so I grabbed the camera and headed for Larpenteur Avenue in St. Paul where I knew there was a nice walking path by the off lease dog park. It was so unbelievably relaxing to wander around and smell the smells and hear the sounds (unfortunately the least "remote" of the whole experience, lots of plane noise and traffic sounds) and look at the tail end of the fall colors changing.

The coolest part of the whole thing was the wooly bear caterpillar I saw on my way back to the car. Predictably, when I picked him up he curled into a tiny, fuzzy bundle and played dead. I stood there long enough to watch him slowly re-emerge and hoof it away from me and my camera. Ah, but that brought back childhood memories.

Hope you got out and enjoyed the weekend. It's supposed to snow here tomorrow. Seriously!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

De-Stash...and I Don't Mean "Dustache"

I don't have nearly as much of a stash as some folks, but I have collected my fair share of fabrics over the years. Most of them are great, but they do seem to take up a lot of space. And I guess what really bothers me is that they are great, and they do deserve a great purpose in life. So tonight I decided to start setting them free by making this onesie.

This is a really easy project to pull off.

1. Take an embroidery hoop and use a fabric pencil to trace it's shape around something cool on a piece of fabric (I used the strawberry)
2. Then, trace the same hoop on a piece of fusible interfacing
3. Cut out the shapes (cut the interfacing a little smaller so that it doesn't hang outside the edges of the fabric at all
4. Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric
5. Peel the backing off the interfacing
6. Iron your fabric onto your tee shirt/onesie/whatever you want
7. Use a zigzag stitch to sew right around the outside of your circle
8. You could even add an embellishment over the top of this, like a button or some rick rack if it needed "sprucing" (Just don't use buttons if you're making this for a baby because they can get pulled off, choked on, etc.)

Have fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Here's an ode to my friends the McSmithleys, who've had a number of yard mishaps:

Dear Sh#theads Who Stole the Top of My Scarecrow,
Yes the one ripping it's own head off...the one wearing a sweater and with the freakish rubber mask on. When I find you, I am going to rip yours off and stuff it down your neck. You are a Columbia Heights loser just like all of your friends that walk past my house every day on your way to buy Mountain Dew at the gas station. I'm going to take that huge pumpkin you also stole from me, the one with the hockey mask on, and shove it up your @ss. You can stay living in trashy Columbia Heights with your loser friends while the Pumpkin Family moves somewhere nice, like the moon or wherever it takes to not have things stolen out of our yard five days after we put them there. You're lucky my kid is young enough not to notice that his scarecrow is gone, or I'd be driving up and down the streets looking for you.

Anyway, that was Friday. Today is a different story. It's beautiful outside, we played in the yard for a while and aside from the thumping music coming out of our alley, pretended like we lived somewhere nice out in the country.

Little Pumpkin starting to learn about chores

Little Pumpkin ripping all the flowers off my mum

And yesterday was fantastic, too. We had the kid party and many kids (and parents) came and there was lots of toy sharing and hugging and fun to be had. I wisely changed up my planned menu last minute and switched spaghetti and meatballs to Swedish meatballs. Can you imagine, 7 kids running around with spaghetti and meatballs? Be sure to bring your tide pens, folks. Instead everything we ate was beige in color and it worked out okay. I got to meet my blog friend and his lovely family in real life for the first time, and they are as nice in person (nicer?) than they are on the blog. Each kid went home with a little Pumpkin Girl treat, which I finished just in time. Phew! Guess I better go polish off all the leftover Sangria!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting Ready for the Kid Party

I've been busy getting ready for the kid party I'm having this weekend. There are about 7 kids under 5 coming over and I have promised that I'd have a little something ready for each of them. It's been SO fun, but also a bit intimidating. What if the kids hate the stuff I made? What if I can't get it done? It's coming together and it's kept me motivated to make some stuff this week, so I guess that's good! If you didn't RSVP, please do so now!!!!

Hopefully after Saturday I'll have some fun pictures of all the mayhem! I am really looking forward to all the cute kid goodness! After the crafting, gotta come up with some eats and drinks. Yipes!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Coffee Table Death Trap Redo

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had quite the death trap of a coffee table until a week ago. It was solid marble, taken right out of an old butcher shop. It perched precariously on top of plywood. Waiting for a forehead smacked on the corner, or a tot squashed under a collapse. No more! Now we have a TOTALLY kid friendy table, thanks to the thrift store, a little paint, and an Etsy seller.

The thrift store table was wood-like, but it at least had rounded edges so we slapped down our $10 and took it home. Then, Mr. Pumpkin suggested painting it and giving it a nice shiny clear coat over top. So I went at it with a paint leftover I like to think is "orange sherbet" color. And then I couldn't leave well enough alone so I took to the bottom tier with some decorative 80s style splatter paint and punked it up a bit. Then, I ordered a lime green monkey decal from ThoughtsThatStick on Etsy for $12. So, the $10 now actually cost $30, but it's worth it to save some poor toddler (maybe my own!) from certain doom. And it's over the top kid-friendly, which I like.

Speaking of doom, I'm feeling it lately. Are you? I support my hubby and son with my income, so I guess I just carry a bigger burden than I ever have before. It's a lot of responsibility and I'm not sure I'm mature enough to handle it. Too late!! I'm handling it! Anyway, I haven't been booted out of my job yet, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope. If I were young and single again, maybe I'd hope I WOULD get laid off so I could dink around on Etsy all day...or not. Who knows.

Anyway, hope you and your families are well and secure and happy tonight. Sending good financial karma your way!

Caught the Halloween Decorating Bug

This weekend the bug hit me. I drove by a house in our neighborhood that was so ridiculously scary that I ran home and immediately started decorating. This house is totally hidden from view -- it's got two painted facades out front, with a graveyard and all kinds of creepy tubs of legs and arms and eyeballs and stuff all around the yard.

I started with setting up the mantle over our fireplace. I cut out a house shape from a food box I had laying around and spraypainted it black. Then I found this skull we had laying around and added that. Top that with a little cheesecloth and some glow-in-the-dark zombies someone gave Little Pumpkin and it was looking pretty scary. But it was perfect until I made this cheesecloth ghost from Martha's website and we found some skeleton lights to hang above it.

Today, after a trip to the pumpkin patch, the whole family got involved in decorating the yard. It's pretty scary. Not like the neighbors, but good enough for a first try. It didn't hurt that Mr. Pumpkin had boxes of scary heads and limbs in our basement. Most of it got used.

Then, the final piece that I'm excited about is my Skeletons and Spiders wreath. I took a styrofoam wreath and hot glued these skeleton lapel clips to it. The skeletons came in a 144 piece bag and I only used about half. In Mr. Pumpkins stash I also found eyeballs, fingers and spiders, so I glued a few of the spiders on for extra creepiness. I think it turned out fabulous. I like that it looks sort of benign until you walk up to the door. Then it hits you that it's bodies on top of bodies, topped with spiders. AWESOME!

Got any more suggestions for good Halloween crafts? I'm interested, and now motivated! After all, I AM Pumpkin Girl!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eco-Friendly Etsy at All Prices

Recycled Firestarters by Crayon Bin: $3

Reusable Silk Food Bags by kootsac: $10.50

Recyled Red Stripe beer glasses by bodhicitta: $18

Ecospun Felt Stocking by rikrak: $18

Recycled Coffee Table by SeguinWoodWorks: $750

I've been thinking a lot lately about how our family can be more environmentally responsible. It's not always natural for me even though I think it's really important. I haven't converted our car to biofuel, or installed that green rooftop I've been wanting, or even gotten a rain barrel. Shame on me. But what is easy for me is shopping on Etsy. I discovered today that there are lots of really awesome recycled and environmentally friendly products being sold there (no surprise).

I thought I'd share some of my favorites at every price range. How I would love that beautiful coffee table instead of the painted monstrosity that I created this week (photos to come). But at least I bought a thrifted one instead of new, right?? And that felt Totally cute.

Happy shopping!