Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Laundry Detergent + Boxed Wine = LOVE.

I love interesting, smart packaging. I love to explore the reasoning behind it, the engineering to make it and the printing used to make it shine once it hits the shelves. I love it even more when it's coupled with something seemingly mundane like laundry detergent.

As I was walking through the grocery store this past weekend, I happened across the latest packaging from Seventh Generation for their laundry detergent and was fascinated. Have you seen this?

It has the same feel in your hand as a plastic jug, but it's actually a shell of pressed cardboard. 

Inside, there is a pouch, not unlike they do with boxed wine, so that there's less waste.

I LOVE this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?!

How come nobody told me my favorite magazine was packing it in? In particular, why didn't the publishers let their subscribers know?


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gimme a hand (me down)!

We are in full-on hand-me-down mode here in "Madridia".

After Irene hit the area, we lost power for nearly 4 days, and I knew I'd have to do some serious cleaning around here before the kiddos could come back in--mainly in the bathrooms and kitchen. Everything in the fridge was thrown away, and because we use well water, we were not able to flush our toilets.

All that "Belated Spring Cleaning" motivation quickly spilled into the girls' bedrooms, and specifically, the closets. I took the opportunity to sift through A's outgrown clothes and package them up into different bins for V.

Take a look--each bin is for a different size, so that as she grows out of a size, I can simply dump the older (gently worn) clothes into the white basket, and take clothes out from the next bin. Finally--I have a system! And what's nicer is that V is set up for Fall--I know what she has already and what she needs (which is just about nothing). She has all sorts of warm, wooly footie pj's and a bin full of different shoes, long sleeved shorts, jackets, fleece pants and even a few sets of scarves and hats.

Then I looked through V's clothes, and all the items that were out of season or were too small got packaged up for the second hand store and Goodwill, along with her baby swing, Bumbo and a few other pieces of baby gear.

So yesterday A and I stopped in to the second hand store and dropped off a few bins for them to look through. The little one was so fascinated by all the tricycles, strollers and play yards they had outside for purchase. Inside, it was wall-to-wall clothes and toys. They had us sign in and leave out bins and then A and I ran a few more errands. After an hour, we returned and the store had selected a number of items to purchase and cut us a check on the spot. We took our bins, and the items they didn't purchase back with us, and will drop them at Goodwill another day.

Now, I'd love to be able to say that we made money on this whole Irene business, but sadly, no. Because of the electrical surges we've experienced throughout this whole ordeal, our range hood is now on the fritz--the exhaust fan won't shut off. But at least we won't have to pay to have it fixed completely out of pocket, right?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why didn't I think of that sooner?

The other night, we grilled kabobs, and I had the brilliant idea to use some leftover tabbouli to dress the grilled veggies as they came off the grill.

This was a stroke of genius -- SO good!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Making Happiness Happen

I read an article that a friend posted to Facebook that really got me thinking and inspired me. (You can find it here.)

My take away from the article included a few simple ideas:
1. We are in charge of our happiness and we can choose to be happier people. 
2. Building a life out of quality relationships and life experiences can make your life richer than working crazy hours at your job.
3. Accumulating more "stuff" in our lives truly doesn't make us more happy. There will always be more "stuff" to buy, so maybe it makes more sense to simply appreciate what you've already got and refurbish when possible.
So, what the heck does all this have to do with crafting?!? In a word, simplification. I have a need to make things in my life more streamlined and and more simple.

To support this idea, I decided to try my hand at refashioning this weekend. I figured it would be a refurbish on something I already own, so I'm not buying anything new or throwing anything away--It's cost neutral, yet if all goes well, I'll have something else to wear in my closet. It's also something I could do inside since it's so dang hot out, and a cool, breezy dress will be just what the doctor ordered once I do need to head out to run errands on the weekend.

This time last year, while I was happily pregnant, I purchased a few items of clothing that were incredibly comfortable. In this batch of clothing that -- thankfully -- is now too roomy in the belly, I had two sundresses that I'd love to be able to put to use this summer. My idea was to blend something like this dress:

with this:

I wanted to better define a waistline and make the dress appropriate for my non-maternity self. So here's what I did:

I turned the outfit inside out and measured the length of elastic that was already sewn into the dress below the bustline. I then cut a few pieces of 1/4" elastic at the same length and pinned it into the dress about 1 1/4" below the original elastic.

Then, pulling the elastic taut as I sewed, I ran a zigzag stitch along the length of the elastic.

I did this twice more on the front and the back, each row about 1 1/4" below the previous row.

Now, I've got to get working on the other dress! I'll show you the end results in the next post.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bathroom Update, Part 2

We are well on the way to having a functional guest bathroom again! And to be honest, I think it's a reasonable facsimile to what I had envisioned!

Just a little touching up here and there, but we can do that another weekend. I think the color on the cabinet is MUCH better than that lighter color.

This third photo shows the truest color compared to what I painted. It's a really cheery bathroom now, and looks like a fun place to take a tub for the girls! A helped me pick out a new shower curtain, and we also picked up some towels and new bathmats on sale this weekend. The mirror that we picked up this weekend will probably go in either tonight or tomorrow.

Many thanks to my dear husband for helping me with all the taping and for watching the girls while I painted!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bathroom Update, Part 1

Am I insane for planning to go to the hardware store, the paint store AND Ikea this holiday weekend?

I want to be sure to have the bathroom done by the time our out-of-town guest arrives at the end of next week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Through the Looking Glass, Part 2

So I think I've got a plan. 

We've gotta keep it inexpensive for now, so we'll paint the walls and the cabinet. This weekend, I'll pick up a plain mirror at Ikea, and if they have an interesting simple shelf to put below it, I might do that.

While I'd love to be able to switch out the light fixture and the countertop (and the cabinet for that matter), it's just not in the cards for now.

And I managed to pick a wall color that didn't make my husband nauseous. Check it out:


Friday, June 24, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Tuesday morning around 5:30am, we were awoken by the most horrifying sound.

The mirror in our guest bathroom mysteriously fell off the wall and broke into a bazillion pieces.

After we (and by "we", I mean my husband) swept up the pieces, swiffered the floor and then mopped, we decided to throw away the bathmats for fear we'd never get all the little shards out. And on the way down, the mirror also took out the towel rod. Once the dust settled, my husband said the magical words that were music to my ears:

"Well, now that the mirror is down, if you want to repaint, now's the time."

Sadly, it was followed with a little general guidance, because I have a tendency to paint rooms a little more,... how shall I say it... more chromatic than he's usually comfortable with. We can usually find common ground in the end, but let's just say I think he's still not completely on board with V's bright orange accent wall. (Honestly, I'm not so sure about either sometimes).

So what say you, blogosphere--any color suggestions? Any websites I should check out for inspiration? Please drop me your two cents below!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fun New Supplies to Try Out

So I stopped in at JoAnn since they had a big sale this past weekend and picked up a few new supplies that I want to try out. I'm curious to see how I can work these in to my repertoire.

First up, I bought a few different types of elastic. Dare I say, I'm getting precariously close to starting to sew with knit fabrics. I think I'd like to attempt to make a simple tank top for A with some of this stuff. I just need to figure out the best application.

(On a side note, I'm enjoying how writing and posting about different projects kind of commits me to trying new projects!)

And second up, I bought a ruffle foot for the sewing machine. Yes, I know that ruffles can be made without them, but I've been eager to give one of these a whirl. When I take this one for a test drive, I will be sure to document my progress and share with you.

Lastly, you'll notice some fancy schmancy plaid in the background. Thankfully, it's not a huge surprise for my hubby, but I'm going to give some grown-up sized pajama pants a try for Father's Day.

Any advice for me on the new gear? Drop me a line in the comments below.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Renegade Craft Fair/Brooklyn Recap

I was lucky enough to meet in the city with an old friend and take in the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn last weekend. What a hoot!! We had a great time (Thanks LJ!)

Of course, we saw plenty of the requisite trendy/artsy-fartsy/hipster stuff: octopuses, handlebar mustaches and bird silhouettes....lots and lots of bird silhouettes. (By the way, if you haven't seen the "Put a Bird On It" clip from Portlandia here, you HAVE to check it out.)

But there were a few standouts that we checked out, in fabric crafts and illustration in particular. I was really struck/amused by the following artist booths:

Ceramic Artists:

Andrew Zangerle
Andrew Zangerle (www.themapleridge.etsy.com) - This guy had a great sense of humor. While his little figurines were not functional, they definitely made me smile.

Abby Berkson Ceramics
Abby Berkson Ceramics (www.abbyberkson.com) - Yes, there were some birds, but her wares were simple, understated and just sweet.

Reshape Studio

Reshape Studio (www.reshapestudio.etsy.com) - I liked the juxtaposition of many of the objects that this studio created. I especially liked their line of ceramics made to look like cable sweaters.

Moira K. Lime
Moira K. Lime Jewelry (www.moiraklime.com) - Moira's pieces were delicate, well made and so feminine. There was so much I wanted to take home with me!

Hoi-An Tang (www.mehoi.com) - Again, a great sense of humor! I loved her pieces, like the ham pendants and rice cooker earrings.

Corky Saint Clair
Corky Saint Clair (www.corkysaintclair.com) - I especially liked her wood necklace charms and the "Super Luxe" charms in steel. I think her work is at its best when she explores the details in these larger-sized charms.


Wooly Baby Slippers
Wooly Baby Slippers (www.wooly-baby.com) - Just looking at these slippers made my feet sweat. All joking aside, these booties looked like some of the coziest footwear around. Made from recycled sweaters, you could see that the workmanship was excellent, and the design was beautiful.

Eliza Jane Curtis / Morris Essex
Eliza Jane Curtis / Morris Essex - (www.morrisessex.com) - The apparel and papergoods from Morris Essex used bold colors and gorgeous stock, and their quality stood out in a sea of average t-shirts and generic cards.

Sharp Shirter
Sharp Shirter (www.sharpshirter.com) - by far the most hilarious and wicked t-shirts and prints at the fair. And I was very happy to see a booth with a fantastic company name!


Jaime Zollars
Jaime Zollars (www.jaimezollars.com) - I love coming across artists who are super-comfortable in their creative skin, and Jaime's work displayed this. The work was kid-friendly, though a little moody at times.

Brainstorm Print and Design ((www.wearebrainstorm.com) - I loved their state map prints! Great use of color, and the photography on their site is excellent.

Michele Rosenthal

Michele Rosenthal (www.michelerosenthal.com) - Loved the flip calendar, shown above. Many items were very kid-friendly.

Kristiana Pärn
Kristiana Pärn (www.kristianaparn.com) - Absolutely gorgeous. I loved the prints directly onto wood, allowing the wood grain to show through.


Felt Forest
Felt Forest  (www.feltforest.etsy.com) - Beautiful and whimsical goods made from felt. I particularly loved the little crowns with felt hydrangeas sewn to them.

Horrible Adorables
Horrible Adorables (www.jordan-elise.com) - I think these were my favorite pieces in the show, and made the trek out worth it! The pieces was completely different from the other work at the show, based on a traditional idea, but created in a completely different, craft-centric way, with a little twist.

Are there any other fairs that you look forward to throughout the year? Any good ones in the Tri-state area that I need to check out? Leave a comment and let me know!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back in Business!

I was able to pick up my sewing machine yesterday at Quilter's Alley--a day earlier than I'd originally anticipated. Their owner, Stuart, is such a sweet gentleman, and even helped put the machine into my car for me.

The machine itself is running beautifully, and is clean as a whistle! He had good advice for keeping my machine in good repair for the long term, (like making sure it wasn't left in extreme temperatures) and his shop offers lots of different classes--not just for quilting, but also for apparel.

Can't wait to stop back in!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Salad Season

I don't know about you, but this warmer weather has me itching to make healthy dinner-sized salads. But here's the thing. I generally look at recipe books and use them as inspiration for what I really wind up making. It isn't too often that I actually follow the instructions. So here's some general guidance on making one of my favorite summer salads (which serves two).

Heat oven to 400˚F

Into a plastic zipper bag, combine the following:
Half a loaf of ciabatta bread sliced into small pieces for croutons
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1T dried Italian spices
2 heaping teaspoons of finely diced garlic
About 2-3T olive oil

Shake and spread onto a cookie sheet, bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the following:
1 drained can of white canellini beans
1-2 avocados (depending on size and your preference)
1 bell pepper, yellow or orange
1/2 a large cucumber
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 heaping teaspoon of petite capers, drained (I use 2 because my daughter loves them)
1 heaping teaspoon of finely diced garlic

To this, add 2T chopped basil. I had an "AHA!" moment chopping my basil this week. Why not chop fresh spices using a pizza cutter? It worked like a charm.

And to top it all off, mix with the world's easiest tomato vinaigrette:
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Add in those homemade croutons (I'll never use store bought again) and mix all the ingredients together.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Trouble's Brewing!

I started a new freelance graphics gig late last week and this week I realized that I'm within walking distance of a quaint little quilting & fabric store AND a great bead store. I checked both out today, and (alert the media!) walked out spending less than $12 total. But I'll be back!

Great news for this blog.

Not so much for my pocketbook.

Stay tuned, blogosphere, stay tuned.

ps: I may take a short break from the sewing since I'm planning to take my trusty Kenmore to have it tuned up at the shop I found today. It's been a total workhorse, and has survived 6 moves in three states and two floods. Who knew you were supposed to do this yearly?!? I get it done about NEVER once every twenty years, apparently.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Copying a Baby Dress

Over Memorial Day weekend, my younger daughter wore a hand-me-down dress that I absolutely love. 

As we were driving home, sleeping kiddos in the back in their car seats, I let my mind wander a bit about that dress and how it was constructed, and I wondered if I could copy that dress using fabric that I had on hand. So I decided to give it a try, and it worked remarkably well for me. Here's how I did it:

First, I turned the original dress inside out and traced it. I traced the back...

...And I traced the front. I did not include any seam allowances.

Next, I used two fat quarters and tried to see if I could fit the pieces all together.

If you look closely, you'll see that I cheated a little. Instead of cutting the back yoke on the fold, because of its awkward shape, I cut two and decided I could live with a seam down the center back. You'll also notice that I added in my seam allowances.

Next, since I don't own a serger, I zigzagged around all the pieces.

I then sewed the back and the front together along the side seams and pressed the seams open.

And after sewing the two back yoke pieces together, I sewed the front yoke and back yoke together along the side seams as well.

Next, I turned the dress right side out and sewed the yoke and the dress together. To keep the yoke from riding up once the dress is worn, I stitched in the ditch along the side seams to connect the yoke to the dress.

I then cut notches along all the curves that would be turned out.

Be sure you don't cut all the way to the seam!

Once the notches were cut, I turned the dress right side out and ironed the seams. Then came some new learning for me: after owning my sewing machine for nearly 20 years, I finally taught myself to use the automatic button hole attachments. What a dream!

And I sewed the buttons on.

And once I hemmed the dress, it was done.

I have to say, this project was a real confidence booster for me for a few reasons. First, I used attachments on my machine that I've somehow managed to put off and put off for decades(!). Second, it taught me that I can make something a little more involved and create my own pattern. I think I may copy a few of my older daughter's dresses, including one that has some sweet pleats. Again, it has a very simple shape, and a good challenge. I bet I can do it.

I can't wait to see it on her!