Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doggie Destruction

This time of year is always so busy -- gatherings with friends and family who come in town, holiday parties, gift exchanges, multiple shopping trips to get everything you need, and so much more. With all these wonderful things happening, it means spending less time at home and a bit more time out and about. I love having things to do after work and not feeling like my whole life is spent in an office; however, these two sweet puppies are not thrilled with less ‘mom’ time…

Normally, when I have something to do after work, I come home to let them out, spend some time with them, and then head out leaving them loose in the apartment -- I’ve become very trusting even with 7 month old Nolan. During Christmas; however, I’m a little more skeptical of their good behavior. There seem to be a few too many extra temptations around when Christmas decorations are up. My main concern is their curiosity with the Christmas tree -- and who can blame them with all the sparkling lights, glittery ornaments, and reflective glass balls just within reach? Not to mention all the tempting presents lying on the floor practically yelling out, “there could be something great hidden under this paper! Come chew it open and find out!” For these reasons alone, I have been locking up my sweet puppies when I leave the house in the evenings and I think they are starting to resent me for it.

The two times this week I’ve had to leave after work for some reason or another and they end up back in their crates, I’ve woken up to some major doggie destruction. I’ve discovered that on these days, they become nocturnal. Because they’ve slept all day and part of the evening, they go on a rampage while I sleep at night. The first morning, I found my poor, innocent plant torn to pieces and spread ALL over the apartment.

You can see the two culprits acting completely innocent when I discovered the mess. Also, please ignore the high-water curtains in the background -- they have been hung on the world’s tallest apartment window and can’t find their way to the floor. Short of getting them custom made (which I didn’t want to pay for) ordering 120” panels was my only other option, which still hasn’t cut it. As part of my project to-do list, I plan to attach additional fabric to the bottom so they will touch the floor and stop looking like a huge designer ‘no-no’, but more on that another day.

The second evening I had to be away I decided to confine them to a smaller area before climbing into bed. I thought I was being smart by shutting the bathroom door and bedroom door to prevent them from getting to the rest of the apartment, and particularly, from attacking the poor plant for a second time. I should have known they’d still find something to destroy in that tiny space…

Again, you can see the two suspects just begging to get on the bed like nothing is wrong. I do have to admit, the clothes on the side are my mess and my mess alone. After a couple cocktails last night, I was not feeling particularly neat and tidy and did not put my stuff away like a normally do. But the rest of it was definitely the work of my two little heathens. Side note: the cocktails would probably also explain why I heard none of this happening during the night and woke up completely shocked when I looked over and saw the mess.

The jacket on top of this pile was laid on my bed last night -- they must have found a dangling sleeve and pulled it right off. The bag beneath the jacket is usually stored under my bed and used often when I stay at my parent's house or need to carry a bunch of stuff to work. The fabric panel on the bottom of the pile was temporarily stored under the bed until after Christmas. It is normally in my TV stand, but for Christmas, even it received a little makeover and the normal panels were placed in a ‘safe’ spot. These little guys must have worked hard to pull all this from its original home!

You can see where this hydrangea’s home used to be -- on the bottom of my nightstand. Nolan has been pulling petals from this plant for the last couple weeks, so I should have known it’d be the next source of some major destruction. I’m just shocked they managed to pull the entire thing off the nightstand for some all over access!

You can see they also pulled out an entire stem and half the petals and spread them all over my room -- maybe they were just doing some redecorating :) Last but not least, they had some fun with my need to be organized. Those green cards used to be labeled and tied to some black, canvas under-the-bed storage bins. They have now been chewed on and missing several letters and their ribbon.

Needless to say, I’ve got some cleaning to do when I get home tonight and some quality time to spend with these little rascals. Should that plan fail, does anyone know of good obedience schools in the Dallas area?!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Product Review: Shark Pocket Steam Mop

It’s been a week since I purchased my beloved steam mop that I could not live without, and I have to say, it did not disappoint! My tile and wood floors have never been cleaner and getting them that way has never been easier. In one week, I have used the steam mop twice: the night of purchase -- duh! -- and on Sunday, which is my typical total house scrub down day.

Setting up the mop was surprisingly simple and I was up and running in no time! Once out of the box, I attached the handle, put on the head I wanted to use, filled the tank with water, plugged it in, and was steaming in less than 30 seconds! The quickness and ease for getting the mop set-up bodes well for many future uses as I am a lot more likely to do mopping when it takes no time to get it out and ready. In addition to how easy it is to get started, I also love this mop because it has a triangle head for smaller areas to reach, such as the bathroom, and a rectangle head so you can cover more ground in the larger rooms. Each cover that fits over the head is also two sided so half way through, you can simply flip the mop over and you have a clean surface to continue with and no stopping to slow you down! Once you’re done, just throw the covers in the washer and set aside for next Sunday :)

That first night, I went through the bathroom, entry way, long hallway and part of the kitchen. I was excited to try it out, but had too many other things to do to keep going through the entire apartment -- plus, it wasn’t my normal cleaning day and I would have thrown my schedule completely off!

Anyway, I was shocked, appalled even, to see how dirty the mop cover was after going through half those spaces! I am a very neat, organized, and religious cleaner of all surfaces in my place, so I was not expecting that my mop and manpower had left behind so much dirt! I guess it just proves how much better the power of steam can clean than my own two hands :) I was also very impressed with how long the water tank produced steam. I went over several areas twice and still managed to get through half of my apartment floors with more steam to spare. I still have not read the entire user’s manual so this may be a big “No-no”, but I did have to leave some water sitting in the tank because I couldn’t use it all up. I’m certain this won’t be a problem when I clean my whole place in the future.

When I did my normal cleaning on Sunday, I was pleased that the areas I had done a few nights before weren’t nearly as dirty as the first time cleaning -- I can’t say the same for the rest of my apartment, however. Again, I try not to take offence to this and my normal cleaning skills. I know my place is spotless and anyone who has visited would hopefully agree! That steam just has more cleaning power than my mop, soap and hot water.

With all that said, if you are looking for a better way to clean your floors -- wood, tile, laminate, linoleum, even carpet -- I would highly recommend this steam mop! Even after my purchase, I continue to research the prices and read reviews to make sure I got the best deal and haven’t missed any pertinent cleaning facts, and I’ve noticed that several places have been putting it on sale. Probably the holiday season, but if you’re interested, I’d start doing some price comparisons because there are tons of good deals out there!

Side note: I promise I have not been hired by Shark to promote their product. When I find something I love, I tend to get very passionate about it and feel the need to tell everyone -- especially when it’s one that makes my life easier and my place cleaner!

Happy shopping and mopping for those of you interested!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Feeling Spontaneous

I’m embarrassed to admit that at 6:30 on a Monday evening, I had already finished eating dinner, was changed into PJs, and curled up on the couch with the pups, a glass of wine, and watching TV. Thankfully, to pull me out of this super lame evening, I got an unexpected invite to the Mavs game that I could not turn down. Thank goodness I had once again passed on working out after work and would just need to swap PJs for normal clothes and I would be ready to go! Although skipping my workout worked to my advantage this time, I worry this one instance will give me too many excuses to skip working out in the future...

After a quick change into my Mavs attire and some freshening up, I met Chris, Betsy and two of their friends and we made our way to the American Airlines center. We were very fortunate to have an awesome parking pass and didn’t have to spend much time outside in the cold -- I was born and raised in Texas, so yes, I do consider 50 degrees to be cold weather!

Once inside, we did manage to get a bit lost -- If you’ve never been, American Airlines Center is an awesome venue but quite large and you can easily feel like a tiny mouse wondering through a giant maze trying to find your section. The long, winding walk proved to be worth it; however, when we came upon the suite where our tickets were. We had an awesome view, and anything we could think to eat and drink!

Despite the fun and spontaneous evening, I fear I may be bad luck for the Mavs. It was the first game this season I attended/watched and they broke their winning streak! Hopefully that won’t be the case for every game I attend :)

A big thank you to Chris and Betsy for the Mavs game invite -- and for saving me from another lame Monday evening!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Shiloh!

Today, this sassy little girl turns two!

Here are some sweet Shiloh moments during the last two years...

This tiny hinny picture is when we knew she'd fit in with the rest of the family :)

I lovingly call this her perplexed puppy Einstein look

This was the first day she came home with me!

I tried giving her ice as a "treat" -- her boyfriend Ollie goes nuts for it -- but she wasn't quite as thrilled...

Halloween 2009

This is from her week long stay with Aunt Sammy in Norman -- they forced awful OU sweatshirts on my poor baby!

And this is typical little Shi-Shi -- and dressed much more appropriately, I might add :)

What a sweet and sassy little girl she is becoming! We plan to celebrate the big occasion with her best bud, Ollie, who also turns two this month. More puppy party details to come!

Happy Birthday Little Shi!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It’s Official, I’m a Grown-Up

I’ve know this was the case for a while now, but it felt especially true when I could not get the thought of purchasing this steam mop out of my head!
I discovered how much I wanted this mop earlier this week which unfortunately, is too late in my family to add to my Christmas list with any hope of receiving it. I knew my dear sweet boyfriend had not done his Christmas shopping yet -- typical boy -- so I immediately sent him the link with the title, “This is what I want for Christmas!” He kindly told me he would not be purchasing appliances or cleaning supplies as my Christmas present -- I suppose I should see that as a good thing :)

Knowing now that no one would be buying this for me, I decided I just had to have it and would purchase it as a gift for myself and my apartment floors. Unlike any normal person, this could not wait until the weekend or even after work, so I left the office at 12:30 to get it from the nearest Best Buy. I am also a big comparison shopper slash product researcher and found they had the best deal. I even looked up the store closest to me and made sure they had one waiting. Sure enough, it was there when I arrived! I excitedly made my purchase and proudly loaded it in my car and was so disappointed when I realized I could not immediately go home and use it -- who really needs me in the office on a Wednesday afternoon, anyway?!? Well, while I was out -- getting out of our office is a total pain and not something you want to do more than you have too -- I decided to pick up some fun, new nail polish shades, thanks to the Mitz’s inspiring nail polish post. I settled on OPI’s “Thank You Berry Much” for my holiday shade and also picked up a personal favorite, “Bubble Bath.”
With the steam mop and nail polish sitting in my car just 17 floors down, a short walk south, 4 more floors down, a long walk through the concourse, and another 5 floors down -- I told you it was a pain -- I am having a hard time focusing on the work in front of me. It’s hard to decide which I want to play with first when I get home!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Have a Confession...

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I already have my apartment decorated for Christmas! I broke my own rule of "no Christmas before Thanksgiving" because I was just too excited. I have nothing new since last year -- for now at least -- but did have a whole new space to decorate. I’d been planning out where I wanted things to go and once I settled on my plan I couldn’t get the thought of putting up the tree out of my head! Not to mention, I had Christmas presents purchased and wrapped with no place to go -- I HAD to put up my tree :)

After a lot of thought, I decided to put my tree to the left of my TV. My other thought was to put it in the solarium (aka my sewing nook) so it could be proudly displayed in the floor to ceiling window, but that would require a bit of furniture rearranging and I realized I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it while I was relaxing on the couch.

I made two large bows layered with red and a sheer gold, glittery ribbon to rest at the top of my tree. The rest of the ornaments I purchased from various places. Maybe one year I’ll get creative and try to make a couple to add to it. The tree skirt is simply a red oval table cloth that I wrapped around the bottom. The Mitz and I had plans to make our own this year, but time has already started slipping away and I’m thinking it may just have to wait until next year. Although I didn’t get to use my sewing machine for a tree skirt this year, I did use it to help add some color to my bar.

I made two of these placemats in just a couple hours on Sunday. I just needed a yard of shimmery red fabric and a spool of gold ribbon. Before I sewed them closed, I realized they would make perfect Christmas pillows if I just stuffed them. Luckily, I have some left over fabric and ribbon, so over the Thanksgiving holiday, I plan to add a little Christmas cheer to my couch as well.

For my centerpiece, I used a hurricane I normally display in the bedroom, and added some cranberries for extra Christmas charm.

My next dilemma was where to hang my stockings this year. In the past, I had a fireplace to hang them from, but this new apartment must not trust its tenants. I absolutely love my apartment, but do wish I had a fireplace for the winter -- a place to hang my stockings, a place to curl up next to on a cold day, and to make my favorite thing in the world -- SMORES! For now, I survive without one and get to be a little more creative when deciding where my stockings should be displayed. I recently finished an art project inspired my one of my favorite blogs, Jones Design Company -- more about the project another day. The color of my paintings was the perfect background to compliment my stockings, and I’d been hoping to find something to add to them. For the holidays, I thought stockings would be perfect!

I found my stockings at Target -- maybe one day I will also attempt to make some of my own -- and spruced them up with a gold leaf pick and more homemade bows. To hang them over the canvases, I simply looped ribbon through the stocking loop and pinned it on the underside to hold into place.

I may not be able to fill them with anything too heavy while they hang, but until I get a fireplace again, I have found them a home.

I am missing some Christmas charm in my entry way, bathroom and bedroom, but here a few other nooks of my apartment that got a little makeover.

More cranberries complete with flameless candles -- perfect for under the cabinet and they come on at 6 and turn off at 11 without my help!

I’ve been told by someone -- I won’t mention names -- that they much prefer this coffee table set up to the one I normally have, so after the holidays, I may be doing some accessory rearranging :)

Yes, even my TV stand got a Christmas makeover. These cabinet doors store lots of books and movies, which I did not find particularly attractive, so I’ve always disguised them with some sort of fabric. My latest cabinet face-lift used a festive blue and brown paisley pattern fabric to hide the mess behind. After seeing it next to my tree for a couple days, I decided it needed to be temporarily removed and I’ve lined the glass with the same wrapping paper I’m using to wrap presents this year. For an extra touch, I tied two tulle bows around the top -- looks so much better sitting next to the Christmas tree without the blue paisley.

I’m still searching for some creative wreath ideas -- one to go above the kitchen sink and another in the entry way -- so I may have more pictures and hopefully more Christmas projects coming soon!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birthday Apron

My cousin’s daughter has a birthday coming up in December. To keep her birthday from being over-shadowed by Christmas, we try to have presents ready by Thanksgiving. This year we learned she is showng an interest in cooking and baking -- which I love! My sister and I decided to get her an easy bake oven -- can't believe I actually bought one -- and wanted something to go along with it. I’ve been curious about sewing aprons for a while now and decided this would be the perfect time to attempt one. First, she’s turning 9 so any glaring mistakes I made would not be super obvious to her and second, if I failed miserably, we still had the easy bake oven to give.

I looked through a couple books and read some techniques before deciding that I wanted to make a reversible ruffled half apron with a pocket. I took some measurements on myself to decide what size I needed to cut my fabric, and went to work! Since this is an apron and inevitably going to get dirty, I made sure to wash, dry, and press the fabric before cutting!

I picked two coordinating pieces of fabric and started by cutting out two rectangles from both -- I made mine 28"x16". I then cut out the pocket I wanted to attach to one side. There are many ways you can attach the pocket but I chose to line mine with some ribbon I had...

Sew two pieces together -- one right side facing one wrong side so when attached, the inner pocket would have a right side showing, although I don't think this matters or is even necessary…

Invert and press!

Once I had my pocket put together, I top-stitched it onto one of the rectangles. Next time, I think I'll add a pocket to both sides so it is truly reversible.

I then sewed the two rectangles together -- right sides facing one another. Make sure to leave the top completely open!

After sewing the three sides, I turned it right side out and pressed. To get the ruffle in the apron, I had to attempt a basting stitch once again, which made me nervous. Luckily, since my first attempt, I had discovered a quick reference guide for my sewing machine complete with a basting stitch! I went to work changing the settings on my machine and did a quick basting stitch along the top of my apron panels. I then tied the thread at one end of my stitch -- to keep it from pulling out completely -- and began pulling one thread from the other end. To my surprise, it worked a million times better than my first try! From the measurements I took on myself, I knew I wanted the top of my apron to be 20 inches long, so I ruffled the panel until I was left with that amount. I then tied the other end of the thread to keep the length from changing and distributed my ruffles evenly and to my liking.

All that was left was attaching the waistband and ties! I knew one length of my fabric would not be long enough for tying a pretty bow, so I decided to make one section 20 inches long -- to incase the top -- and each side would be one full length of fabric. I wanted my waistband to be about 2 inches thick, so I cut each piece 5 inches wide -- that gave me enough to fold over and hem.

First, I attached each of the three pieces along their short sides so I'd have one lone strip -- with the 20 inch one in the middle. I then folded in the two short sides about an inch in and pressed. Next, I folded the long strip in half and pressed.

I then unfolded the strip of fabric and folded each edge inward about ½ inch and pressed again.

Next, I folded along my first middle fold and pressed once again to complete my waistband and ties.
I centered the middle section over the top of my apron, pinned in place, and attached with a normal top-stitch.

Once the top was attached, I continued to sew along the ties, closing them together.

And that was it! I now have a very cute apron for my cousin that I hope she loves and inspires her to bake! I don’t have a picture of the reverse side, but it is the polka dot pattern without a pocket -- which I will be sure to add next time.

Hopefully Reese will be baking us some delicious treats for Christmas this year!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beware of Dog(s)

The next couple projects currently underway are taking a few days to complete. In the meantime, I wanted to share a recent project - - done pre-blog - - that was super simple. It also provides me with a good opportunity for a future blog warning. I’ve mentioned a couple times that I have two puppies that I love and adore - - sweet little Shiloh and Nolan have even been pictured in previous posts. This will probably be a common occurrence. Not only do I love taking pictures of them and think they are the cutest, I also have several projects in mind that are dog-oriented -- and now that my sister has two little ones, I get twice as many to do! I apologize now if you don’t have a dog or any interest in reading about their projects. I will do my best to mix it up and throw some non-puppy ones in there!

Now that I have provided fair warning, let’s continue with the puppy project…

Dogs can be a little messy -- especially when it comes to food. I always find food pebbles outside the bowl and water spilled all over the floor. I’ve actually caught Shiloh, on several occasions, with her head fully immersed in her water bowl blowing bubbles, like she’s teaching herself to swim. Anyway, I decided that, like people, mine needed a placemat of sorts to buffer my poor floor from their messy habits -- and since they’re dogs, what better placemat than one shaped like a bone!

Unfortunately, at the time I made my placemat, I did not have the perfectly shaped bone shown above, so I created my own template. I just used a sheet of computer paper, bowls from my kitchen to trace, and a ruler for straight lines. I drew only half of the bone for a couple reasons -- first, one sheet of computer paper with the whole bone on it would not have been large enough to fit even my tiny pups’ food and water bowls -- second, by drawing out half and tracing it onto a folded piece of fabric, I would get a symmetric dog bone. I had little faith in my abilities to make both sides even.

I choose two pieces of coordinating fabric to use so the placemat would be reversible. I laid the two pieces of fabric with right sides together and folded them in half. I placed the bottom of my bone template on the folded edge of the fabric and traced the image onto the wrong side. I then cut through both pieces about a ¼ of an inch from my traced line, unfolded the fabric and pinned them together. Tracing the image also gave me a very clear line to follow while stitching the two pieces together. I started sewing on one of the straight sides -- about an inch from the curve of the bone -- and worked my way around , leaving one straight side mostly open {think like you’re creating a bone shaped pillow -- it just won’t be stuffed!}

After stitching, I trimmed the excess fabric and inverted the bone. I folded the open edge under and pressed. Pressing is probably one of my least favorite things to do -- I hate getting out the ironing board and the iron -- but it makes SUCH a difference! Despite my dislike for it, I will ALWAYS do it. I think it makes a project look a million times better -- So don’t skip this step! After pressing, I sewed a simple topstitch along the open edge to close it. One trick I’ve learned when topstitching is to match your bobbin thread to the bottom piece of fabric and your normal thread to the top. This makes the stitch even less noticeable and keeps you from having to hand stitch -- which I avoid at all cost! And that’s it -- in about 30 minutes, the pups have a reversible bone shaped placemat to catch all their little messes!

Here is the reverse side. One thing I discovered, and will change for the next one, is the slight gather on each end. Rather than pivoting the needle at these points, I think it would be better to make a slight curve shape.

This really was a super simple project and would be so great to make for different occasions! I may just have to sew a Thanksgiving/Christmas one when I started decorating for the holidays! You could also make one out of oil cloth or vinyl and simply wipe it down every now and then to clean.

And just for fun -- look at that sweet puppy face :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

October Happenings

I can’t believe we’re already 10 days into November -- October just flew by! With the holidays around the corner, I’m sure the next two months will pass even faster. I am still getting used to this blog update thing -- I let over a month pass by with no post! This does not mean I have not been working on projects -- I have tons photographed and in the works, just not enough time in the day to talk about them. This past month was filled with family, friends, weddings, out of town trips, and I let the blogging slip right by! Here’s a quick October update -- there may be a hint of a future project blog post…

At the beginning of October, I made my way to Austin to watch these two love birds tie the knot!

The wedding was at a wonderful vineyard just South of Austin -- perfect weather, great friends, and one very happy couple! Here are the girls and I at the wedding -- minus Fun Bobby who was already living it up in London!

Congrats Katie and Mike -- Your wedding was beautiful and you both looked stunning!

A few days after the wedding, I packed my suitcase and headed up to Richmond, VA to visit someone special :) Self portraits may not be our forte...

We had such an amazing weekend -- dinners complete with lots of dessert and wine, movies, pumpkin carving, the occasional football or baseball game, fishing, and just relaxing! Here’s Adam prepping his pumpkin -- time to dig in!

Showing off our finished pumpkins -- too bad UT lost that weekend, and most weekends before and after -- now I know how you Aggies feel :)

Some of our many treats -- these were amazing cupcakes! The cream cheese icing was perfect and my chocolate one had a delicious raspberry filling!

And a picture of sweet little Simba -- he LOVES to crawl into everything! He clearly wanted to come back to Dallas with me...

After my fun trip to Virginia, my sister came to visit and brought two little surprises with her -- meet Bentley and Bella -- my niece and nephew!

The weather was amazing so we spent a lot of time outside watching all the puppies play -- or at least Bentley and Bella playing NEXT TO Shiloh and Nolan. Although mine are a mere 12 lbs. combined, I think they are a little intimidated by their size. I’ll never understand how this is fun for dogs…

We also made time for a little art project -- even the puppies wanted to help! Little Bentley actually fell asleep on my sister’s back while she painted, and Nolan was determined to find out what paint tasted like -- He is truly a curious little boy!

Well, there is the Reader's Digest/picture book version of my October and part of why the blogging fell way behind. I will try to get better about posting and am excited to share some of the projects I did in between these busy weekends!