Tuesday, April 29, 2014

“Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul — and you answer.” ~Terri Guillemets

Today I just had to stop for a moment from my work at hand and write. It's a day where I ponder other career tracks because the rainy weather, my Civil Wars playlist on Pandora, and my lack of creative time lately are conspiring against me. I'm having daydreams of sitting at my computer and writing or maybe editing photos or creating a collage of some sort. Something else than what I am doing right now. I need more creativity in my life is what my soul is telling me!

Instead, I shall settle on sharing with you the wonder that is my daughter. I can't believe how much she has grown in just a year. Her 2nd birthday approaches soon and I just can't believe it.

Look at this tiny tot. She just steals my heart.
I hope you have some creativity in your day on this dreary Tuesday. Perhaps later I will share the great progress we've made on the tiny tot's play area in our yard. It's come a long way!

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love." ~ Anon.

I, creator of the let's-think-of-the-most-complicated-new-project-that-I-know-nothing-about-but-I'm-going-to-start-and-finish-in-less-than-a-month plans, have finally created a project that was actually simplistic, something I know a teensy bit about, and finished it in about a month! My dear friends are expecting their first baby in March and I really wanted to make them a quilt. However, unlike my first quilt that took me over a year to complete and give to friends, I wanted to design one that was simple but cute and give it to them BEFORE they have their baby. Mission accomplished!

Originally, I wanted to make two baby quilts: one representing the father's home state/university (Ohio State U) and one representing the mom's Irish heritage. I decided this about two weeks before the shower (that was an old Miranda plan). But when I went to look for fabric, surprise surprise but in Pittsburgh it was hard to find OSU material. But while browsing the fabrics in Joann's, I stumbled upon the sailor bear print, which is just adorable.

Image from Joann.com
I belatedly remembered that their nursery would have a nautical theme and thought, "New plan!" How about I only make one quilt? And instead of a MILLION tiny squares, I choose a design with bigger blocks. I roamed the store to pick fabrics that went with the theme and I found the octopus one next. I wanted to pop out the bits of red on the sailor bear print and I finally found the red fabric that looks like tiny bubbles. I was happy with just these three prints and I pored over a number of my quilting pattern books to find a design that was small enough for a baby quilt but balanced equally with only three prints. And ta da! Here is the final product.

I will also admit that with my first quilt, I didn't necessarily follow ALL the instructions for how to make one, start to finish. And frankly, I think those details matter. If you look at the pics of my first one, you can tell it's a little puckered (on the back mostly) and luckily, the larger design and tiny square variations hide much of the other imperfections (at least I'd like to think so). I'm sure my friend's toddler doesn't care!

But for this second one, I wanted to learn correctly and do it right. In about two weeks. That's a rough timeline for me! I ended up taking a month, but I have to admit that all those details (like ironing your fabrics, changing your needle...) helped make the project turn out well AND made it easier to sew along the way. It certainly created less problems towards the end of the quilt's completion. I'm so pleased with how it turned out and I hope the little one loves it!

I have a bit of the quilting bug now and I'm torn between wanting to create one for me and hubby's king-size bed (we desperately need a new cover) or making my daughter an adorable little quilt. So addicting!

stitch by stitch

Monday, January 13, 2014

"In the mountains there are only two grades: you can either do it or you can't." ~Rusty Baille

Happy New Year, compadres! I hope your January is starting off lovely, albeit cold for most of you I expect. It was quite frigid here as well last week and I'm hoping that doesn't repeat any time soon! It was rough getting back into the work routine after almost three weeks off. Besides the holidays, it was nice spending more time with the toddler and hubby, as well as getting some projects completed around the house (perhaps you'll hear more about those later).

I'm feeling excited for many things in 2014 - one of which is more time outdoors hiking and camping! I had hoped to take Rory on her first camping trip this past year, but alas we had so many other travel plans that we couldn't work it in. I only managed one afternoon of hiking and it was NOT all that enjoyable. At 11 months, Rory was still small enough to be in a carrier, not walking yet, etc. The only one I had that would work, however, was our Baby Bjorn. I love that carrier but she was just starting to get a little big (mostly because I'm so short that her legs constantly hit my knees and legs and makes walking difficult). The strain on my back was too much and going uphill was impossible with her legs hitting mine. I had to lift the carrier up and hold her in order to go uphill.

It's hard to tell here but I'm lifting her up a little since it's a slight uphill grade.

So I was determined that for this year, we would save up and buy a backpack carrier meant for hiking. I read the many reviews out there, the list of top carriers, etc. But what I really wanted to do was try one on. Considering my height and my husband's height (there's about a foot difference between us), I wanted to make sure it was easily adjustable for both of us. Last December, I finally got my chance when we were waiting for a table at the Cheesecake Factory and popped into REI for some window shopping. They happened to have two carriers in stock (Deuter Kid Comfort I and II) and I finally got my chance! This also easily narrowed our options down.

Note: There is no child in it right now. But it's so comfortable!
The Kid Comfort II felt more comfortable and had better back support than the I, so that was hands down my choice. But I didn't want to pay $240. Ouch. So we opted to check around, look online, and if the opportunity arose to get a cheaper one, we would. Or we would wait a while before buying.

Dec. 26: The After Christmas Sales come to the rescue! A few days after trying the carrier on, I was searching online for cheaper ones. I came across the site Campsaver.com which supposedly had a few in stock for about $180 plus shipping. Unfortunately, they seemed to be out-of-stock at the time, so no luck. But I signed up for their email news and coupons because why not? I already get a bunch of junk mail, so what's another to the list?

The morning after Christmas, they sent me an email with a 20% coupon off any items (both from their regular site and the outlet store) PLUS free shipping. For the heck of it, I checked their inventory and they had ONE left in the outlet store online. Woke hubby from his nap to double-check and BAM! Scored this carrier for only $140 total. I'm totally happy with that deal. And now I'm dying for warmer weather so I can take her out in it. We did a few dry runs in the house to get it adjusted and see if she liked it. All she wants to do now is ride in it and of course go outside. The toddler is ready for the outdoors and so am I!

And speaking of deals, I've had some major luck lately. Last month I scored this Dora organizer brand new, in box, at Babies R Us, for only $6 and change (instead of the listed $45).
And then just today at Sam's Club, I noticed they had a few of these plastic shopping carts (again, new, in box), for only $7.51 instead of $35. Seriously. We bought it and will be holding onto it for her 2nd birthday. Now if my luck can just keep working out since it's time to look into summer vacation plans!