Friday, July 29, 2011

My New Sidekick

There was one more change in the sewing / dog nook I failed to mention in yesterday's crate update. Did anyone notice? I fully expect the answer to that question to be 'No' without my giant aqua circle pointing out what I want you to see.

I got a new sewing machine! -- or at least a 'new to me' sewing machine. My wonderful aunt, who so kindly gifted me my first one, heard how much I'd been sewing and enjoying her old machine. She realized she hardly ever used the one she currently had, which was a few models and gadgets better than mine, and thought I might get more use out of it. So, she proposed we swap -- she'd take her first machine back and I'd take the newer, more fancy one. Sold!  I was so excited to have even more choices and options to pick from -- not that I'd fully tried all that the old machine had to offer -- but still, in my mind this one had even more potential.

I soon learned that more potential also equals a much longer learning curve.  Although this swap took place a couple months ago, I am still trying to get used to this machine. It isn't significantly different when it comes to choosing a stitch, winding the bobbin, threading the needle, etc., but it just has a different 'feel' to it that I'm trying to get used to. This has meant more time learning and figuring things out and a little less time completing full projects. I think I've finally got the basics down and learned a few new tricks, but still have a long way to go and lots to discover. 

One thing I'm very excited about eventually learning is the embroidery feature. This is an area I have not dared open in the instruction manual yet, but can envision using on many projects down the road -- once I'm brave enough to learn it! So, prepare yourself to see many future sewing projects with some sort of initial, name, picture, etc. embroidered on it. And, without further adieu, here is the machine that can do it all!

Ain't she purdy -- and also a little complicated and intimidating all at the same time? I definitely thought so for a few weeks. But, now that I'm feeling a little more comfortable with the new girl, I have a lot of sewing projects I plan to cross off the list.  I'm even contemplating a 'Seven Projects in Seven Days' challenge to get me going -- but I have yet to commit. Maybe the weekend will give me some motivation...

Happy Friday to everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Great Crate Update

I've been making progress on the great crate project and slowly transforming this once hideous space to a slightly less hideous space.

1) the 'before' and reason for the much need crate makeovers
2) bought a piece of mdf board from Home Depot and had them cut it down to the proper size.  Because I'll be attaching fabric to the underside, I had each edge cut about a half inch bigger than the actual crate dimensions. While I was there, I purchased white paint samples, water based protective top coat, a small grit sanding block, and a tact cloth. To paint the board, I lightly sanded the sides and top, wiped it down with the tact cloth -- best dusting rag ever, btw! -- and applied a thin layer of white paint using a sponge roller. Once it dried, I repeated the whole process -- sand, wipe, paint, dry, sand, wipe, paint, dry.  I think I did this a total of three times to get the coverage and look I wanted. Then, I repeated the same process with the protective coat using a craft store sponge brush -- sand, wipe, paint, dry, repeat x3. It may have taken a bit of time doing it this way, but it looks so great and no paint has chipped or even scratched.
3) I found this memo board at Hobby Lobby during one of their 50% off wall decor sales -- I know these happen ALL the time, so this find is not that surprising.  Once I make decisions on fabric, I'll dress this up with some pretty colors and ribbon that coordinate with the crate covers.
4) added a few more accessories to make it look more like a table and less like a painted piece of mdf just sitting on top of two dog crates.

I've been working on a few other projects to personalize the space for the two pups. A sophisticated green yarn covered 'N' for Nolan...

...and a brightly colored 'S' for spunky little Shiloh. Don't be fooled by the picture below. That actually is Nolan sleeping in Shi's crate. He loves to go in there during the evenings after Shiloh has been in it all day. I guess he just likes her pillow better.

So those are the latest crate updates. I think I've finally made a decision on fabric to go around the crates, so hopefully it turns out as great in real life as it does in my head!  Best part, it will be 100% free for me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Christmas in July

I had the urge to start a puzzle last night -- strange, I know. I’m not sure if it’s because Netflix had delivered a girly movie and I needed an activity to go with it, or was having puzzle withdrawal -- I’ll explain in a minute -- or because I have a newly rearranged apartment with a full size table just begging to be covered with stuff.  Whatever the reason, I put in “Eat, Pray, Love” and dug through my puzzle stash. 'Stash' may be exaggerating a bit. I actually only own two puzzles at the moment and both are Christmas themed. But, I figured a puzzle is a puzzle so why not?
Me and Christmas puzzles actually go way back.  Since 1991, my family has put together at least one Christmas puzzle during the holidays -- at a minimum, that's 20 puzzles so far! Some years we felt ambitious and did more than one.  We would then add the date to the front of the puzzle, glue it together, have it framed or mounted, sign the back and hang them up each Christmas.  It’s so nostalgic to see them all over the house during the holidays and marvel at how the collection has grown over the years.  So, despite the fact that it is 100+ degrees outside and we’re still in the month of July, busting out a Christmas puzzle felt all too familiar.
Once I decided on a puzzle, I started the slow process of laying out each piece and dividing them into the edge or middle piles. I highly recommend a movie, music or some sort of entertainment during this part -- going through a 1,000 pieces can become a pretty mundane task without a great movie playing.
I did begin to worry if all 1,000 pieces would fit on my table. Although it's larger than it has been, it is by no means a big table. Luckily the box was emptied just before I ran out of space.
I even managed to get the border put together so I'm confident the whole puzzle will fit just perfectly. And, with those pieces pushed so close to the edge, I have more motivation to get them put together. I must have dropped at least five pieces last night and both dogs ran for them like steak just hit the floor. It'd be terrible if I got to the end and discovered they'd eaten one fallen piece!  
Oh, and apparently I decided wine would be the perfect complement to a movie and puzzling -- that part is completely optional  J 

Although it's still summer and a somewhat nontraditional start, I'm excited to begin my very own Christmas puzzle collection.  I didn’t get too much further last night, but I’d love for my 'Christmas in July' puzzle to be finished before August.  Hopefully I can con some weekend visitors and my sweet boyfriend into helping me  J 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

After the "After"

I have a problem -- I just can’t leave things alone.  After rearranging my apartment, I decided to rearrange again.  It wasn’t anything too drastic, but I think it helped make just about everything functional and serve some sort of purpose rather than being there because I had nowhere else to put it.  Before showing more photos of the second round of changes, I will warn that a few tweaks have been made since, all for the sake of improvement J
Because I hate to do things without my tried-and-true homemade furniture planner, here is a preview of the furniture layout via the lovely excel.
The biggest and most exciting difference is that I can expand the bar/table and have more than two people sitting at a time.  The lovely nightstand -- forever moving and changing roles -- is now in the “dining area” and has changed jobs to become a wine bar.  It fits so much better on this side of the apartment and actually serves a purpose now.

Another pleasant surprise with this layout is the sofa table which now rests behind the often used couch. This is the perfect spot for placing drinks and remotes while relaxing on the couch without having to lean in for the coffee table.
The loveseat is still within TV viewing range -- just opposite where it used to be. The chair is now next to the TV, so not optimal for viewing, but perfect for chatting or having coffee and flipping through a magazine on a Saturday morning -- one of my favorite pastimes.

All in all I am thrilled with the change and love having a full table once again.  I even celebrated the occasion by having some friends over for dinner and we were all able to eat together without two people on their knees at the coffee table. Win!  Also, I get full use of the table for sewing once again. This is seriously the perfect table for cutting fabrics and laying everything out while working on a project. 
Now, for some changes that have taken place but not pictured. 

These lovely barstools -- scored on sale from Target for just $19 each -- have found a home at the table on the side facing into the living room. I am loving this option for two reasons: 1) the fit completely under the table without obscuring any walkways and 2) I didn’t want two more identical barstools because of cost and fear of non-coordinating colors.  I have always loved the mixed chair look, so why not apply it to a bar height table as well?!  I have visions of making them over one day with some fun fabric and more cushion --maybe even joining them together to make a bar height bench.  We shall see…
Another change I’ve made is to switch out the media cabinet fabric. With such a busy, patterned rug, I think the whole look is just too chaotic. I still struggle with how to bring in more patterns without competing with rug, and I just gave up on this fight. The fabric now is a neutral tan and much calmer next to the busy rug.
After this final furniture arranging session, I have realized just how many purposes this one room serves!
1) cooking, 2) sewing, 3) dog home, 4) wine bar, 5) dining, 6) TV watching 7) reading
Makes me feel a little less crazy for constantly switching things around -- hopefully they stay put for the long haul J