Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Pillowcase Top

I bought this awesome set of stuff in the Ikea sale bin the last time I was there -- it's a duvet and pillowcases -- because I loved the fabric. I saw Soule Mama made curtains out of it, too, so I'm not the only one who was drawn to it. Of course, it fits right in with the Great Yellow Obsession of 2008, but I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I bought it.

That's when I decided to Google "what to make with a pillowcase" and I found dozens of blogs and tutorials about making pillowcase dresses for little girls. I *do* have nieces, and I *do* love making them things and I *did* anticipate completely that I would make the pillowcase into something for one of them, but my selfish self took over. Now it's a pillowcase top and it's MINE, all MINE! Of course I'm also rationalizing that it's just so shoddily sewn that I can't possibly pawn it off on someone else, and it is a little see-through, and...

Bottom line is that I got it made and I just pictured myself in some jeans with the cuffs rolled up, and this top, hair pulled up loosely, maybe walking along the beach barefoot with my guys, soaking up the rays and I couldn't possibly give it away.

There is something I don't like about it, though. I don't particularly like the way it ties on top of the shoulder with these giant, messy ribbons. I like that the ribbons are so girly, but I think it also makes it look a little clunky and chunky. What do you think? I also thought about some straps that button in front, but I just don't know. Maybe I'll just be lazy and leave it alone. It only took about an hour start to finish, so I kind of like that about it. Carefree to make and to wear!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Word Nerds of the World, Unite

I'm sort of a word nerd. I've worked as a communications consultant for many years, and as such enjoy many hours worrying over getting writing right. How can that be, you might wonder, given the lack of care given to the writing in my blog? Let's just say that it's sort of freeing to just sit and belch forth writing without worrying about it so much. I like to stop being a perfectionist for a few hours a day, and just write. Or look up the meanings of words. Or learn new words. Or whatever.

Language, words, grammar, they take up a good percentage of my life, or at least they have. I'm now technically a "project manager" and have moved beyond word-nerdiness from a professional standpoint, but I believe that a Word Nerd is someone who has language and words in their bones. That is me, and sometimes it's an annoying trait. I edit menus at restaurants. I cringe at signs on the highway. I grumble at so many a written word mishap, without intention. For that reason, I created this card. I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and my biggest grammar peeves, in no particular order:
1. use of irrational quotes: The "lowest" prices of the season!
2. the word orientated (I prefer oriented although both are technically okay)
3. Utilize when you mean use
4. Refering to people as that or which (they are WHO or WHOMs!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Needle Felting is Fantastic!

I learned a new trick! I learned a new trick! It's an old trick for many of you, but it's new to me and I really like it! I made these awesome mittens from Betz White's book Warm Fuzzies that I've been raving about. Well, to be honest I opened the page in the book, realized I did not have a photocopier on hand to enlarge the pattern and eyeballed it from there. They don't fit perfectly, but they're pretty darn good for an eyeball job. It only took about 1/2 hour, needle felting and all! Now I feel like I'm going to have a new obsession. Which is good, I guess!

Here's some awesome stuff I found on Etsy that is also needle felted. This is so cool! How come I didn't try it sooner!?

Dinky Bird Babies by littlebitfunky
Custom Needle Felted Likeness of Your Dog by AmeliaMakesArt (this one looks like mine)
Needle Felted Mama with Baby by haddy2dogs
Felted Headband by Raimbowtree
Felted "The Scream" Pillow by savoystudio

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Apron Party Favors

I'm hosting a baby shower and needed a good party favor idea. So I turned to the ever-useful Flickr. I saw these really super cool ones and decided I had to make something similar. Mine aren't nearly as fancy, but gosh darnit they only took me about 15 minutes to make, too. I used dish towels from Ikea, some pom pom fringe and a nice heavy canvas type strap for the ties. I think they'll work!

Now, on to more baby shower crafting!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gotta Get Some Green

Look what sprouted at my house this week! I forced some bulbs after watching Martha do it on On Demand and it worked. Usually I just do paperwhites, but these are some other thing (can't remember now, that's how great a gardener I am). I am dying to see if they have any flowers!

My sister claims to have these pushing up in her actual yard...out of doors. I really don't believe her, given that my own yard is only 90 miles from hers and is under a think blanket of snow right now. And my parents claim they saw a robin. I am just a bit skeptical. I think this long winter has gone to their heads. But there's nothing wrong with being an optimist, I guess!

I hope there's some signs of spring wherever you are. It's been a long winter!

Poncho and Lefty

I just knit myself a poncho! It's a first for me. And, it's yellow, making it the third yellow thing I own. It's out of Holiday Knits, by Sara Lucas and Allison Isaacs. I wasn't sure if it was work appropriate, but upon some urging by a friend, I took a chance and it worked out great. Oddly, it spurred a conversation with a co-worker that led to the small world discovery that we both adore Crafty Planet, where I purchased the supplies for this poncho. Yay for small worlds!

Tomorrow is Easter, and we'll be snuggled up at home, listening to daddy spin tunes on Radio K. He likes to moonlight as a punk rock DJ, and I'm sure Baby Pumpkin and I can handle a few hours of rockin' out. We'll be baking some awesome Mocha Cheesecake Brownie Bars for when daddy gets home.

Anyway, back to the poncho. I really love this knitting book and the poncho was super easy and forgiving of my screw-ups. The pattern has this in a girl's size, too, so perhaps one of my nieces will wind up with the "daughter" version. Who knows. And more importantly, if I don't, what should I knit next?

And back to yellow. I'm still totally obsessed, and plan to continue adding yellow to my life. Am I the only one who has color obsessions? I think the last time I had one it was navy blue. Hm...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Please Stop Sniffling

I have a sinus infection. Can you relate? You probably can, because every person I come into contact with right now seems to be feeling sick. The bus is full of coughing, sneezing, sickly people. I also hear the stomach flu is going around. When I went to the Minute Clinic the other day, the nice doc told me that March is always their busiest month. Thank goodness there's only about 13 days of it left, because it's really wearing on my nerves. My hubby and baby are sick, too.

I hope you are staying healthy. Please take your vitamins and carry that hand sanitizer around with you! April will be here sooner than you think!

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's a Craft Room-Warming Party!

It's done! The craft room is totally done! I am so stoked that I got it all organized and put back together exactly how I want it. I can see my fabric! My yarn is in drawers sorted by color! My ribbon isn't squished in a plastic bag! I can sit at a table and work! The sense of accomplishment is great. I'm looking forward to many happy hours passed "dorking around" in my new and improved craft room. More importantly, there's lots more space to put all the extra crap I plan to buy, like more fabric, maybe a nicer sewing machine (thanks Uncle Sam, and my parents!).

I still have one or two small things to finish up (like the bag of felted sweaters in the photo), but they are so small they don't even bear mentioning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring? Is That You?

It would be a major understatement to say that I am completely and totally DONE with winter. I want it gone. Like a bad break-up, I'm ready to throw its' s*%t out on the lawn with explitives flying and arms swinging. It's been too cold for too long. I've got this late winter head cold that's left a crust on my nose (I know, TMI), and dangit, I'm tired of it. I almost fell right on my butt walking to catch the bus today. And I would not have been happy about that.

Today it was near, like 50 degrees. In Minnesota we call that shorts weather. I had to work all day so I had to wait until I got home to put on my bikini. I'm thinking about wearing a tube top to work tomorrow.


In other spring news, the downtown Minneapolis Macy's has this flower thing going on right now that's pretty cool. It's also got a bunch of Heart of the Beast puppets on display. A good outing, if you need some color in your life.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Greening" Your Spring Cleaning

A good friend told me once that, according to her mom, the only way to scrub a floor was on your hands and knees. For months, I tried it, each week getting out a rag and bucket filled with hot, soapy water and scrubbing my kitchen on my hands and knees. Then I got new flooring put in and the dirt was a lot less conspicuous. Laziness set in and I bought myself a Swiffer mop. After using it once, I realized my friend’s mom was right…partially.

I agree with my friend’s mom that there is a good way to clean, and a bad way. The bad way, in my humble opinion, leads to less-than-clean results and/or creates excess waste. My Swiffer mop didn’t get my floor as clean as I wanted it, and it created lots more garbage. I had to find a happy medium—something that got the floor clean, didn’t require creating a bunch of garbage and didn’t mean I had to spend an hour every weekend on my hands and knees scrubbing. I was also concerned about what kind of chemicals go into the wet mops, especially now that I have a baby at home just starting to crawl on my kitchen floor.

What I decided to do was to make myself a cloth that I could fit over my Swiffer brush that I could wash and reuse. It slips easily over the brush end, and can be used to dust or mop (wet or dry). It’s easy to make your own (It took me about 10 minutes):

1. Cut a piece of fabric 18 in. by 5.5 in.; a recycled piece of clothing or a towel works great (I used stretchy fleece pajamas)

2. Lay your Swiffer mop down on the wrong side of the fabric and fold the ends over the back of the mop; if your fabric is stretchy, pull it fairly taut, but if it isn’t, leave a little room so you can pull the cover on and off later

3. Slide the mop out and pin the fabric in place

4. Sew along your edge using ¼ in. seam, or even use a stapler to fasten it

5. Voila! If you want to use it as a mop, dunk your cover in hot, soapy water, wring out—and then, of course, place it on your mop and get cleaning! If you just need to fetch dust bunnies, you are set to go with it dry!

The cover can be washed in the machine unless you stapled it, then it is better to hand wash so it isn’t caught on your clothes.

So many companies now offer environmentally friendly cleaning products it can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s just as easy and less expensive to make your own using common household products like lemon juice and baking soda. If you prefer to buy versus make your own, most grocery stores now carry many of the following “green” cleaning products:
Seventh Generation
Earth Friendly
Bon Ami

Want more information on how to “green” your spring cleaning? Check out the Treehugger or Grist guides.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Birthday Wishes

My dear pal W is having a birthday tomorrow! Happy birthday, sweets! Friday we're going to make her a big dinner featuring a food from Montreal called poutine. It's quite a departure from her usual healthy habits, given that it's made up of some seriously artery-clogging components: gravy, french fries, and cheese. (Edit: here's a cute article from NY Times about poutine.)

Isn't this a cute picture? It's from about 12 years ago, when she and I were budding recycled clothing moguls. We made them, and did all our own modeling, too! I think she should bring back the red hair! But she still looks great and we still often dream up new schemes (well, okay it's usually me dragging her along on some silly idea).

Anyway, just wanted to wish her a happy birthday. She is a great friend and deserves a day of poutine and wishes come true! I hope she doesn't kill me for posting her photo, it's just so darn cute!

Monday, March 03, 2008

New Kicks

Photo from
I took Sonya's advice, and bought a clothing item that I loved and had to have right on the spot. Now, whenever I have a particularly boring outfit to put on, I can throw these on and not worry. These shoes could be worn with a potato sack and it wouldn't matter — they are that cool. I also got them at a heckuva discount, which is always fun. They are Camper brand, and they are called "Twins" presumably because they are the same, but slightly different...? I think they also made them in brown and red, but black goes with everything! Now that I started looking at the other Camper Twins on and some other sites, I want about 20 more pairs. Of course, shoe addicted, just like my husband always says (even though my true addiction is jackets and coats).

Mr. Pumpkin helped me put together some shoe racks from Ikea this weekend, so now all of my shoes even have a home. I was recently asked on a job interview what the interviewer would find if she opened my closet where I keep my shoes. I sheepishly had to admit it was a total mess. I had some in a nice hanging shoe rack, but the others were just willy-nilly at the bottom of my closet. Well, I ended up getting the job despite the fact that my shoe-life wasn't as organized as my work-life. Now I can proudly say they are both very organized. I start the new gig Friday, and I'm looking forward to sporting my new kicks!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My First Socks!

I did it! I knit a pair of socks! I gave them to my sister this weekend for her birthday. I have to say, they take a LONG time to make, but I stuck with it and they came out wearable! I have some of the yarn left over and I have to come up with another project for it. I got it from Aisha Celia, who has the yummiest yarn around. I think my attention span could hold out for a pair of kid-sized socks, so maybe I'll try to tackle that project next!

In unrelated news, my Baby Pumpkin learned how to scoot backwards on his tummy today. Look out world!