Saturday, August 22, 2009

Project Runway News: Cricket Syndicate Designer on Season 6!!

OMG, I am SO excited! The last few years that I've been planning No Coast Craft-o-rama, we've had the good fortune of having Cricket Syndicate and designer Christopher Straub join our ranks. Tonight I also discovered that Christopher, a self-taught designer hailing from Shakopee Minnesota, is a contender in Season 6 of Project Runway. A show I love, a designer I love, I guess I'll be glued to the TV this season. Oh well. It'll be worth it!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Easy Project: Recycled Laptop Cover

I love projects that I can complete in an hour or so. I'm big on instant gratification. That's why I've never gotten good at knitting -- it just takes too much time. I love the feeling of taking an idea and turning it into something useful and tangible. I don't want to go to bed wondering whether my idea was ridiculous or as brilliant as Spanx (and will result in me becoming as rich and famous like the woman who invented Spanx). That's also why I love Project Runway. I get to see the results in one episode.

This project is so easy almost anyone can do it!

1. First, I measured my laptop. Mine is 14.5" x 10".
2. Then, I measured two pieces of fabric that were roughly twice the long side x the short side, adding an inch or so for stitching (Just about 31 X 11).
3. Next, I stitched them up on the long side, creating two identical sleeves or pockets (you could test putting your laptop inside now, just to be sure it fits). Press both pocket so the seams lay flat and trim the corners.
4. Then, cut the end off of an old tie. Or, if you want to use a ribbon closure, cut two lengths of ribbon.
5. If you are using ribbon, sew the ribbon to the outside of the pocket that will form the outside of your cover
6. Turn the pocket that will form the outside of your cover outside in (so that the seam is on the inside).
7. Place this pocket (with seams still facing in) inside the other pocket with the seams facing out; the finished seams should face each other. Tuck the tie or ribbon into the "sandwich" lined up with the center of the cover (midway between the side seams). Pin in place.
8. Now sew all the way around the top of the cover, leaving a few inches to turn inside out.
9. Turn the project inside out so that the seams are enclosed.
10. Press around the top; topstitch around the top enclosing the section left open for turning.

Note: I sewed velcro on the back of my tie and onto the front of my cover; however, you could do a button and buttonhole, ribbons, just about anything to close the cover up. If you do use velcro, add it to the front cover in step 5 instead of adding ribbon.

The best part of this project is that I totally screwed it up, but was able to salvage it. My sewing machine, bless it, SUCKS as the automatic buttonhole feature. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it does not work. Therefore, I tried at first to create a button and buttonhole closure and ended up totally ruining the front of this tie, which I love. To cover up the goof, I ended up making a yo-yo and stitching that on -- it also covers up the addition of velcro!

I hope my new little friend loves her new fall apparel. I sure think she's going to be well-dressed!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yin and Yang

I spent another weekend back home in Wisconsin with the family. Remember when I said we were considering moving back there? Well, although a small wrinkle means that we can't move at the moment, we spend a lot of time visiting there. Although it's a little irritating to have to drive 5+ hours to get there (okay, a LOT irritating), once we're there, all is well and we enjoy ourselves quite a bit. Well, except for the 8-person, hour-long screaming matches. But that's a story for another blog.

We spent Saturday morning at Prairie Nursery taking a little tour of their demonstration gardens. At the end of the tour, there was a short garden photography tour that I got to join. I am really pretty clueless about photography, so it was extremely helpful. For demonstration, the instructor held up a simple styrofoam bucket (think minnows or bait or whatever) and showed us how the placement of the bucket relative to the sun changed the shading and perceived volume of the object. Being not so arty, it was nice having someone explain how to look at flowers in a different light (ha! different light! get it?).

I can't say I'm much of a gardner. That's probably why the idea of a prairie garden full of naturally resiliant and adaptable plants was really appealing. The garden was in full bloom, and it was full of butterflies. That's more than I can say for my garden at the moment. Although a few things are still blooming, it's mostly starting to look like fall is setting in.

We rounded out the day at a greasy spoon called Pioneer. Things sort of went downhill from there. Imagine eight family members in one vehicle and the zaniness that ensues. Luckily I had about 2 hours of sleep the night before (you know, sleeping in an unfamiliar place...) so I zoned out through most of it!

Anyhoo, it's over and I'm back to my normal workaday life. But I'm still daydreaming about my prairie garden. Any places I should check out in Minnesota?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Car Shirt Complete!

Here's my little pumpkin, just turned two years old, answering the question, "How old are you?" He crosses his fingers and says, "Choo!" All that combined with the new shirt I just made him and I could pretty much just eat him up. Scary to think, though, that now I have to think about things like "a big boy bed" and potty training and cutting out all the cursing (or for sure it will be repeated back to me when it's the most inopportune moment possible).

Older kids in our neighborhood are starting to think about going back to school. Our little pumpkin will be starting school of sorts this fall, too. It's called Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and I'm excited to hear what it's all about. Apparently the kids play with the parents in the room for the first part and then daddy pumpkin will go do "adult learnin'" while the wee one continues on with an ECFE instructor.

We'll see how it goes. Of course, I'm 100% sure he's the smartest child on earth, so I'm sure he'll totally ace ECFE. And if not, at least he'll be dressed well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Horsin' Around

I wish it wasn't true, but if asked whether I'm a city mouse, or country mouse, I'm the former. I'm a city slicker who likes flush toilets, dislikes bugs and is uncomfortable with being away from a shower for more than a 24-hour period. I didn't spend a single weekend growing up in a tent (other than a few spent with my high-school buddies in Wisconsin Dells, which really truly doesn't count). So when my sister told me she'd purchase 14 acres of land for the sole purpose of sleeping under the stars and, what our family lovingly refers to as "dootin' around" out in the woods, I was not found quickly throwing my tent and sleeping bag in the car and heading out. It took me all summer to get there, actually.

Once we were there, I was thinking, hmmm, let's see...14 acres divided by four humans multiplied by the number of ticks that could cover the surface of my body...ew! After I pried myself out of the car, though, I can honestly say I enjoyed it. Well, at least until I went into the woods and was inhaled by mosquitos. Then I acted like a bratty baby and ran out of the woods swatting and itching and cursing. Luckily my kid is too little to notice my bizarre behavior and he had a great time discovering toads, throwing old cans in the "crick" repeatedly and playing with the path-clearing tool "game."

The best part about the new hangout (in my opinion) is the neighbor's horses. Have you ever stood and listened to them graze? It sounds exactly like what's happening: a giant animal is literally tearing grass out of the earth. It's incredible, and it makes me glad they don't eat human hair (they don't, right? eeeeek!). They made the most interesting noises, not at all the "neigh! neigh!" I've been teaching my son.

Hopefully, with time, I'll get over my aversion to bugs and affinity for indoor plumbing and spend some more time at the "land." Tonight, though, I'll be snuggled up with all my city mouse conveniences enjoying the snapshots from my day as a country mouse!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Horse Embroidery WIP

Horse Embroidery WIP
Originally uploaded by truckertracy
I'm working on a birthday gift for my little niece. Isn't it turning out cute? I printed this horse out of my clip art and used a heat transfer pencil to put it on a tee shirt. It's going to match perfectly with the "me and my doll" pajama set I bought for her on Etsy. I'll be sure to post the finished version when it's ready!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Goodbye, PC; Hello, MAC!

When I was a kid, I had -- I forget if it was a sticker or a tee shirt -- something with the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." I felt like I had that kind of day, today. I walked into the local camcordercameraTVcellphoneappliancecomputer store intending fully just to "comparison shop" and went home having spent more than twice what I had intended and getting something that was totally not even on my short list of possibilities. I went home with a mac laptop! At least I wasn't shopping for a DVD or something...

I have almost always been a PC girl, aside from a short stint in college where I posed as a graphics design student while I figured out what I might be good at and what might actually pay the bills. Mr. Pumpkin is a Mac guy, so I'm blaming this purchase partially on him. He's totally a Mac-groupie (like most Mac owners seem to be).

In my defense, however, this computer is supposed to last a lot longer than it's PC counterpart. And, I figure hubby and I will really share it, so that's sort of halves the total cost right? And I work hard so I deserve it, right? Right. Whatever. I overspent but I got a heck of an awesome computer that will basically do my dishes and clean my house after it's done editing my films and photos and turning my musical inclinations into a Garage Band.

The only thing that worries me about the computer is that it's kind of smarter than I am. And it's definitely more attractive and slim. Who's to say my hubby will even need and want me anymore, now that SHE'S come along. Well, of course she doesn't cuddle and she's as of yet not able to get beers out of the fridge. So I guess I'm still in business.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Read This Book!

I used to be an active member of a really great book club. It was so laid back that most of the time people came having half read the book (or not at all) and somehow the flow of wine and conversation covered for it. The book club has since gone the way of many of my other social activities post-mommyhood, but I still enjoy reading a book here and there. Whereas I used to read one a month, now I'm down to more like one a quarter or six months. Usually magazines are a little more my speed (and I flip through the photos, mostly).

I found a particularly fantastic book, while wasting time on Good Reads, called What is the What, written by Dave Eggars. This book is one of those that, once you get over disbelieving that this could have really happened to a single person in a single lifetime, you realize that you are forever changed. It was so exciting, so terrible and terrifying and yet utterly inspiring that you MUST read it. But, if I can put on my "book club member" hat for a second, I must say that at times the writing and style in this book drove me nuts. I thought that the way the story was told inside of a "day in the life" of the "main character" got a little tiring and jarring. But the story of growing up in Sudan, and living for a decade in a refuge camp in Kenya...agh! It's a story worth reading.

I was so moved by this book that I'm hoping to find a way I can take some action. I've decided to begin to help fundraising for the foundation that was started by the man the book is about, Valentino Achak Deng. He's co-founded a foundation with author Eggars (who donated all proceeds from the book to the foundation) in part to build some schools in his home country Sudan. I know I can't do it alone. That's where you come in. My thought is that I'd like to solicit donations of handmade items and open up a little shop to sell them, with all proceeds going to the foundation. My question is, would you donate? Would you help me spread the word?

If you haven't already, get this book at the library or buy it. It's worth it. My copy is currently being lent out, but when it comes back you're welcome to borrow it!