Let There Be Light

Posted On March 31, 2008

Filed under Confession, Home

Comments Dropped 4 responses

Remember how I was whining about the poor lighting in my sewing space? Yeah, I solved that problem.

Today, I installed a new light fixture downstairs. It was fairly easy and only took about an hour. I started out by reading this tutorial at HGTV.com.  Very helpful. Did a little window shopping online to pick out the fixture I wanted and ran my idea past my dad, who is my sounding board for all things home improvement. After Miss L woke up this morning, we ran up to the store to pick up the new fixture and a few light bulbs.

The most challenging part was fitting the plate up to the screws jutting out of the junction box. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the holes to line up, largely because of the thick layer of insulation that shifted to obscure the screws. I’m a crafty girl so I tied ribbon to the screw heads then pulled the ribbon through the holes on the plate (using my handy dandy strap-turning tool). The ribbon was a great help in guiding the plate up to the proper position.  All in all, the whole thing took about an hour.

I was pretty proud of myself, so I called my parents to brag. My stepmother answered the phone and was duly impressed, in no small part because of my similarities to my father. Not only am I a big-time Daddy’s girl, I’m just like him. Same temperament, same sense of humor, same, same, same. (We do differ in a few things: I have no athletic prowess whatsoever; he has never breastfed a baby.)

Because of this family resemblance, I had a tiny bit of trepidation about this particular project. My father is more of a Tim “The Toolman” Taylor than a Bob Villa. He’s no longer allowed to do electrical work given his streak of  mishaps. One of my favorite stories involves my dad installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom that could only be turned on/off from the living room. (This happened more than 20 years ago but we still razz him about it.)

I was nice; I didn’t rub it in. Much.


I Work Here

When I decided to take the plunge and buy a new sewing machine and serger (and then my first cover stitcher), I knew I needed to revamp my sewing space before I moved in my new machines.

I think I’m like a lot of other folks when I say that I made do with what I had. I started out sewing in my dining room. That worked when I sewed only occasionally but quickly became a hassle when that pace picked up (and a serger on the table didn’t lend itself to mealtimes). We actually use our dining room, so repurposing it was just not going to happen. Instead, I decided to take over ask Honey if I could use his desk/office area, since he rarely used it anymore.

Our downstairs has been largely unused since we bought our house 4.5 years ago. It’s a pretty big space but oddly shaped (a big L) and poorly lit. My sewing space is at the right-most side of the L’s bottom leg, running along the wall between the door to the garage and the door to the laundry room, right at the bottom of the stairs.

Originally, the space had an L-shaped arrangement of desks (a regular sized desk and a laptop desk), with my serger on the small desk and sewing machine on the big desk. This didn’t work for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lots of wasted space on the corner of the large desk adjacent to the small desk. It just would end up buried in piles.
  2. The rolling stool I used would lower with each spin, so I’d have to get up and raise it every 20 minutes or so.
  3. Add in my cutting table, and the space just seemed really claustrophobic.

Here’s my new, improved sewing space (as seen from the stairs)!

Left: My cutting table was a sale purchase from Joann’s, as was my cutting mat. The little “paint can” on my cutting table came from Archiver’s. I cut some of the paper I used for my sewing table so it would match. The inspiration piece for my revamped workspace is actually on the floor underneath my cutting table: my vintage sewing box, which I won from Lisa’s blog. It’s roomy and fun, and now I actually have a place to put it! LOL!

Right: We have a few 6-foot folding tables and I pulled one out of storage to use as my main sewing table. One of the great things about having lived near a university (while Honey was in law school) was being able to pick up stuff like that on the cheap when kids graduated. I think I paid $15 for one table and dragged the other two home from the trash at our apartment complex. I bought a roll of adhesive-backed paper at Target to liven up the table. It wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole table top, so I overlapped it by rolling it along the long edge on one side of the table and then the other. (There are close-ups of the tabletop further down.) On the left, behind my cover stitcher, is a basket I bought at Michael’s; it stores the patterns I’m about to use, plus current reading material.

Here’s kind of an overview of the space from the other side of the room. You can really tell from this photo how poorly the area is lit. I actually need to go shopping for a new light fixture soon because I can’t stand the cave-like feeling that’s down there.

Continuing the tour … To the right of my sewing table is a trash can. Big deal, right? Well, it is for me! Until now, I’ve relied on the trashcan in the laundry room. It’s actually not that convenient, so I often would just make a pile on the floor while I was working. It’s so much nicer to have a dedicated trash can right there.

For most of the past year, I’ve been using a stool I bought at Ikea. I love it, but the previously mentioned problem with it lowering makes it less-than-ideal for my needs. The replacement is not only more comfortable, it’s also a little taller, which means I can actually sit at my cutting table now (instead of under it).

Underneath the table, you can see my cheapie Brother sewing machine, which is set up for shirring. It handles it better than my old sewing machine, although I have not tried it on my new Janome. Regardless, I do it enough that it’s nice to have a dedicated machine for it.

The door on the left, behind my cutting table, is my hobby closet. There’ll be a tour of it later.

Welcome to Janomeville!

I picked up this two-sided bulletin board on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The right-hand side is a corkboard. I unscrewed the backing, pulled out the corkboard and covered it with a piece of fabric (a Japanese Little Red Riding Hood print), then slid it back in and closed up the back. Easy peasey! The chalkboard side is magnetic and the new home of the cute magnets Amy sent me (she made them!). I plan to use this as a to-do list and inspiration board, but right now I’m just enjoying looking at the pretty fabric.

I have managed to avoid hanging any artwork downstairs and am glad to say I’ve rectified that now. The frames were picked up on the cheap from Big Lots. They needed to be cleaned up a little but were otherwise perfect. I was delighted to not only find these two pieces of art on Etsy but also that the artist (KJ of The Dreamy Giraffe) was able to accommodate my request for same-sized prints. I need to get some matts cut to fit, but that’s easy enough to obtain. Right now, I’m enjoying having such beautiful things to inspire me every day!

Now, on to the shiny clean craft closet!

The view of my closet from the outside. It’s not a huge space and actually occupies the underside of the stairs leading to our living room and other main living spaces. Fabric is stacked on the left and right side of the doorway. I also store my scrapbooking paper in here, some photography gear (backdrop stand and my formerly lost tripod), rubber stamping supplies, Xyron machines and a few other things.

Honey also uses this closet to store his lawyer books. He is far happier with the renovated closet, since now it’s possible for him to open the door, walk in, find what he needs and retreat without commenting on my fabric stash. (That last bit may be wishful thinking on my part.)

We also have things like big coats down here, plus my tutu-making supplies (gotta keep all that tulle somewhere!). When I need to, I can fold down my cutting table and roll it in here, too.

The fabric is sorted by color, more or less. I separated out the corduroy, flannel, linen, silk and Japanese fabrics (both from Japan and Asian-inspired prints). Since reorganizing it like this, I’ve found it easier to locate specific fabric and also to find coordinates.

But enough yapping. Here are more pictures!

Looks Like the Holidays

Posted On December 10, 2007

Filed under Bloopers, Confession, Cooking, Holiday, Home, Sewing, Swaps

Comments Dropped 10 responses

I’ve had such a wonderful experience with the latest Sweet Goodness Swap. My amazing swap sister, Jessi, sent me a beautiful garland — the picture really does not do it justice. I only photographed a small section of it; it’s super long and just lovely. My package also included the cutest gift tags. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but they are cardstock layered on fabric and they are so special. It will be hard to choose what recipients will get them; I want to make sure they are appreciated! She also sent a tasty bag of chocolate that did not make it until today’s photo session. Jessi, thank you so much for my wonderful swap package! I love it all!

I made these monogrammed ornaments after seeing some similar ones on Ali Edwards‘ blog. They’re made with alphabet rub ons and clear glass ornaments. They were a little trickier than I expected. Luckily, it’s easy enough to start over — just scrape off and start again! I did find that my results improved when I taped each letter to the ornament. Also, it was much better to use my metal rub-on tool than the little popsicle stick that comes with the letters.

The holiday decorating is happening a bit slowly around ye olde Craft Addict abode this year. The boys got the tree up and decorated right after Thanksgiving but the remainder of our decor as stayed in the boxes.

Over the weekend, I tried to get a little more out and up. Putting the runner and place mats on the table was pretty quick and did a lot to festive up the dining room. This may be the last year we use these. I love them but they are dry clean only — not the family-friendliest linens in the bunch. I’ve seen next year’s Christmas fabrics from Robert Kaufman and the alternate colorway will be perfect for my house, so I believe I’ll be making some new table decor. Never done it before, so obviously I’ll have to give it a whirl and make some more spring-ish ones to use before then. It’s not just another excuse to buy more fabric, I promise!

Holiday baking has begun in earnest. In the past couple of years, I’ve made fewer types of cookies but decided to revert to the good ol’ days and make several varieties. I even made a banana nut bread, which I haven’t done in more than a decade (Honey doesn’t care for pecans or walnuts) and I’m itching to slice off a bit to sample. There are two more batches of dough in the fridge and I’m planning to make at least three more types of cookies. So far I’m resisting temptation quite well.

See what my little elf was up to while I cooked? Yep, she camped out on the bottom of the butcher block and ate up her soup. She loves soup and she loves to be in the middle of the action. Normally, she would not be able to sit there, as my Kitchen Aid stand mixer lives in that very spot when it’s not in use. She’s cute AND an opportunist! She was also quite willing to sample as many cookies as I would let her. Ah, my child, for sure.

I’ve been sewing whenever I get the chance but finding time has been a challenge the past week or so. I miss it! It’s such a stress reliever to cut and piece and sew. Luckily, I managed to squeeze in a little time over the weekend and whipped up this pretty little purse for my cousin. She is 16 (about four months younger than my oldest child) and loves the color tangerine and the combination of pink and tangerine.

I thought the Candy bag from Melly & Me would be perfect for her. I’m still planning to make a key fob and iPod case to match.

I have to be honest: it’s not my best work. You can’t see the sides, where the lower pocket pieces do not match up. Or the pucker in the quilting.

You see, I had this brilliant idea to modify a pattern I’d never before sewn. I wanted the outer pocket actually quilted — with batting and everything. Nice in theory but the execution? Oy. By the time I had to stitch through all that batting and fabric to make the corners of the bag, I knew I’d made a grievous error in judgment. If I had more time, I would sew another and keep the screw up, even though the colors really aren’t me. *sigh*

Wonderful Wednesday

Posted On November 15, 2007

Filed under Confession, Cooking, Home, Ramblings

Comments Dropped 7 responses

My original title for this post was “Hump Day,” but it set me off into such a fit of giggles that I had to change it. Why, yes, I am 12!

Thanks for all the encouragement about my new life schedule. Jessica actually suggested checking out FlyLady. Ah, me and the FL go waaaaay back. She was my original declutter-and-clean mentor. After a while, though, I tend to bristle at the constant intervention. It’s just my nature. I still recommend FlyLady to others because the program absolutely works — you do have to make the commitment, though.

I’ve been using the FlyLady principles to get things on track here. One of her guiding concepts is that taking on a messy, cluttered house has to be done in little bites. Try to dive in and do it all at once will just result in burning down your house with all the clutter inside giving up in frustration. So I’m taking baby steps and working on just one room or area of the house each day. And it’s not that bad. Have a peek at my schedule (subject to change):

Living room

Master bedroom
Sewing (10 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Dining room

Bathrooms (master & upstairs)
Mop/sweep bathrooms & kitchen
Sewing (10 a.m.-noon)

My car
General cleaning as needed

Sewing (2-4 hours)

Weekly planning

Basic, every day chores like dishes and cooking are an understood. Theoretically, I’m also exercising six days a week; however, I’m just now recovered from Saturday’s hilly-5K debacle so no exercise yet this week. There’s also a block of time set aside for “creative time” every day, as well as “Internet/correspondence.” So far, some of that has been taken up with mindless surfing and watching TV.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress.

The menu planning has been a nice change of pace from the habitual “oh my gosh it’s 6 o’clock what the heck are we going to eat?” mess our evening had become. Not to mention that I always spend more on those daily trips to the store than I would if I did one big grocery trip.

Honestly, if you really feel like you need to get a handle of things, start with planning your meals. Dinners, in particular. My basic starting point is to make a list of every main dish I know will be eaten in this house, then flip through a couple of cookbooks or magazines for ideas of new things to try. (As I add those to my list, I write down the source and page number so I can find it later when I make my grocery list, and then cook the dish.)

My next step is to make a calendar grid that covers at least two weeks. I check our family calendar to see if there are any evening obligations and make note of those, and then I just fill in the blocks. I try not to bunch up “like” foods, such as pasta or ground beef or chicken. Seriously, I could not eat chicken every night for a week. I also try to keep in mind what side dishes I usually prepare with something, so that I don’t end up with mashed potatoes two nights in a row.

I block out usually one night for leftovers (although many of our leftovers are packed and sent to work with Honey for his lunch) and I typically plan out at least one night for eating out.  Then I use the calendar to make my grocery list and it’s all good from there.

It really is a simple thing and it makes such a difference, not only in the dinnertime stress level but also in the amount of money I spend at the grocery store. I don’t know about you, but I rarely get in and out with only what’s on my list. Boy, do those little unplanned purchases add up — especially if you go to the store every day!

I’m hoping to return to my regular crafty discussions soon. I have a hard time concentrating on projects when my house is not in order and that’s really where things have been lately. Actually, tonight I’m going to watch TV downstairs (the return of Project Runway!) while I reclaim my craft space, which has turned into the most chaotic mess of messes in the history of crafty messes. It’s so bad, in fact, that I refuse to take pictures and share it, lest I have to live with the embarrassment for  the rest of my natural born life or be blackmailed.

It’s Photolicious

Posted On October 26, 2007

Filed under Home, Kids, Sewing

Comments Dropped 16 responses

As promised in my last entry …

I decided a few years ago to do Miss L’s Halloween costumes based on storybook characters. This year’s inspiration is Little Red Riding Hood.

I started with Folkwear’s Kinsale Cloak for Young Maidens. It’s made with a rich red baby cord and lined with a dark-red rose printed fabric. I love how the cloak turned out but it was a real challenge.

I find the Folkwear instructions difficult to follow and invariably make mistakes. It took me about two weeks to sew the cloak because I kept stopping to read throug the directions repeatedly before moving on to the next step.

In spite of all that, I look at it and think, “Yeah! I made this!” LOL!

(As I was handstitching the hem closed while waiting for Liesl’s ballet class to end, one of the other moms offered to buy it from me when I was done with it. That gave me a huge ego boost, especially because I still had to finish hand-stitching the lining to the hem. Can we say “tedious”?) .

You really don’t see what’s under the cloak while it’s on but I know my daughter will end up taking off the cloak as soon as I’ll let her. Underneath is a white peasant styled top with shirred neckline and cuffs. I used Michael Miller’s Dandy Damask for the skirt. The apron is hand embroidered, based on a pattern from Doodle Stitching. I actually worked on the embroidery during my Junior League meeting and got lots of teasing from my friends. It’s the first embroidery I’ve done in decades and I think it turned out pretty well.
A close up of the hood while it’s on. You can see on top of her head the ties that gather the hood around her face. In retrospect, I wish I had used the lining fabric for the ties so it would not only blend a little more but also be easier to tie. That cord gets kind of bulky. On a side note: right after I took this picture, one half of the frog popped off the cloak. Boy, am I glad that happened today instead of while we are out trick or treating.

Miss L seems to be happy with her Halloween costume, even though she wasn’t particularly overjoyed to be doing a fashion show. She wore it to the Halloween Carnival at her school this morning and it was a big hit. We’re planning to go trick or treating at one of the malls tomorrow evening, which will give her another chance to wear it.

In addition to sewing, I’ve also been occupied with some home improvement projects. Someone who shall remain nameless learned how to climb out of her crib recently, which sent us looking for a bed for her.  I found a nice twin mattress and box spring at a clearance center near my house and a $30 twin bed frame on Craigslist. The wood of the headboard and footboard was painted black, so I set the boys to sanding it down so it could be repainted.

I already had bedding for it, picked up on clearance at Pottery Barn Kids last year. We have a lot of beachy things throughout the  house and the bedding for her room was a nice complement.

I used a deep, hot pink for the base coat and a crackle medium to let the bright apple green topcoat separate and “age” the piece. Please excuse the off colors; it’s really overcast here and I just couldn’t get good light for these pics. A funky bed meant refinishing the dresser in her room, too.

When I was pregnant with L, I stained the unfinished dresser cherry to match the crib we bought. Off that came and on went the bright orange and pink, pulled from the bedding. The brass drawer pulls no longer worked; I found these pewter starfish on Ebay and they were the perfect finishing touch.

Congratulations if you made it this far! LOL! I’ll save my painting disaster story for this weekend. It’s a fun one!


Posted On September 20, 2007

Filed under Home, Photography, Shopping

Comments Dropped 11 responses

Second day with no serger. My house is pretty clean. Laundry is nearly done. My sweet daughter let me snap a couple of pics of her in her new Matilda Jane duds. All in all, a productive day.

And my serger will be ready in the morning. Yay!

Empty Spaces

Posted On September 18, 2007

Filed under Confession, Home, Sewing

Comments Dropped 8 responses

While in the middle of a project, my serger flipped out. I don’t know about you, but I find that it’s pretty handy to have both the upper and lower looper working at the same time. For some random reason, my serger decided this was not to be.

My little Brother has gone to the shop and now I’m faced with having to occupy myself in other ways.

Like cleaning the house.


It’s Coming Together

Posted On June 16, 2007

Filed under Garden, Home, Shopping

Comments Dropped 6 responses

Now that the dilapidated patio has been torn down, I’ve been shopping for dumpster/trash-hauling services. I’ve also been keeping an eye out for plants and furniture for the soon-to-be-revamped space. Honey has not been clued into my plans, so most of my discussions have been with the boys.

Early on, I picked out the main piece of furniture for the patio:

I’m not sure if my husband will like it — he’s been kind of “meh” when I’ve pointed out similar pieces in the past — but it meets all of my criteria for the space, namely that it seat two people and be kind of a lounging chair. I’ve put off buying it, however, because the price was a bit steep.

Until today.

I noticed that my least-favorite retailer had marked down its patio furniture. In some cases, the markdowns were really good. I stopped by one store last night but could not find the lounger. After dropping off Gar at Temple this morning, I swung by a different store. Score! Original price: $179. Clearance price: $87.

Josh and I managed to drag it into the storage room, where it’s hidden in the corner away from prying husband eyes. If the weather holds out this week, we’ll get the rest of the work done on the patio and then start making it purty. Just in time for the hottest part of the summer.

It’s Progress

Posted On June 7, 2007

Filed under Home, Organization

Comments Dropped 7 responses

I am 95 percent done with the craft closet. As the lovely Jessica pointed out, it’s a bit of a Harry Potter closet — but no padlock on the outside. LOL! That tiny space definitely creates some challenges. It’s how I ended up with an overstuffed closet to begin with.

I opted to remove nearly all the clothing from the closet, with the exception of my husband’s coats and my wedding dress. Honestly, he needs his stuff as close to the door as possible and I’m not willing to let my wedding dress take up that much space in my closet.

The remaining five percent will be organizing my fabric by color and theme (because I can’t have florals mixed with stripes mixed with dots). I also need a container to replace one that’s already in there, since it really doesn’t fit on the shelf. And I need a better storage option for my cones of thread. Otherwise, I think I’m more or less set …

Except for the part where some time after I closed the door and came upstairs, one of the shelves collapsed, spewing everything on the floor. Aaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccckkkkkkkkkkk! Yet another “the previous owners were idiots” moment, since the shelf is screwed into the wall but lacks the brackets installed on all the others shelves in the closet. What were they thinking? (Or not, as the case may be.) So I again have things piled on the floor. *sigh*

You can see all the photos on my Flickr. I actually created a set of them with some not-quite-before photos, as well as tags on the “mostly finished” photos. Enjoy!

The Fun, It Just Don’t Stop

Posted On June 6, 2007

Filed under Home, Ramblings

Comments Dropped 9 responses

Both boys were soundly sleeping this morning (as was their sister), so I opted to let them skip their final Tuesday cross country practice. Instead, I headed downstairs to work on the closet under the stairs aka my craft closet.

I love this space, I really do. It just has become a depository for miscellaneous items during the past four years. I periodically clean it out but have not really gotten into serious trashing and sorting since I moved the bulk of my craft stash down there three years ago. (Prior to that, I had a whole craft room … but the darling Miss L took over that space. I think I got a pretty good deal there!) Actually, given some of what I found today, I didn’t really do that much when I moved, either. One box looked as if I just swept my hand across the tabletop and then taped it shut to hide the mess.

“Purge” was the word for today. During the course of my craftiness, I have become quite the collector. There’s a reason this blog is called “Confessions of a Craft Addict.” I am most definitely addicted to crafting. Unfortunately, I rarely stick with anything for the long term. (Scrapbooking holds the record at approximately 10 year, although my interest does ebb and flow.)

My accumulation of items is really sad, since the majority of these things have been unused for years. And years. Rather than let them continue to occupy precious space in my life, I decided to whittle down to just those things I need and really plan to use. I’ve said before that I feel liberated by purging objects and that was the case again today. Even when I was scrapbooking on a weekly basis, I really wasn’t that into cutesy stickers. Kind of makes you wonder why on earth I would buy so many of them. Glass pebbles? What was I planning to do with those? My collection of Anna Griffin ribbons and ribbon corners? Those are keepers.

In the end, I managed to condense everything into two trays of rubber stamps (from nine), one drawer of objects and tools, and possibly one container of inks, embossing powders and PearlEx (just because it’s so expensive to replace all of it for just one or two projects). I’ve also dumped the photographs and negatives from three cardboard boxes and four under-the-bed boxes into appropriate archival photo storage boxes (four and counting). I’ve got the larger memorabilia and pics in one of the plastic boxes, but I need to really go through and decide what to keep and what to toss before I commit.

The closet is mostly empty at the moment, since everything remains strewn about the den. I’m hoping to wrap it up tomorrow and find a new home for all the various and sundry items, since the current state of being makes it impossible for me to do anything else downstairs. I’m really excited about getting everything organized and accessible. It’s really going to make my creative life so much easier.

Maybe when it’s all done, I’ll take a picture to share my hard work.

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