Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

For those that don’t know me, I grew up in a mixed religion household.  My mother is Jewish, and my father is Presbyterian.  So my sister and I grew up celebrating both sets of holidays: Christmas and Hanukkah, Easter and Passover.  I always considered myself very lucky to have known both. 

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah.  So I got out my menorah, lit the candles, and said the prayer while John watched.  

Then we exchanged presents.  We each had gifts for the other that we wanted to give before Christmas, so we used those as our Hanukkah gifts J  I gave John a really nice wool coat from Costco, and I received the 2nd Harry Potter book, Chamber of Secrets!!  So excited to start this during our travels!  I’m having to actively stop myself from starting to read the book at night before bed.  I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. 

Then I called my family (all down in Palm Springs) to wish them a Happy Hanukkah as well.   

I hope the holiday season is finding you all well!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pretty Things

Just wanted to share the beautiful sunset that I got to see driving home from work last week :)  Enjoy!

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had a great weekend J  What did you do?  Finish Christmas shopping? Relax? Hang out with family?  We did a little of each.  Friday night was my company holiday party.  It was at a local hotel and it was a really nice gathering.  Food, friends, and door prizes.  Sadly we didn’t win any, but it was still fun.  Saturday I went and got a haircut.  This was the last one I’ll have from the amazing Erika L  She is packing up her shop and leaving the country for whatever amazing adventures she can find!  So brave.  So I got my last haircut in before she leaves and before the holidays.  Then I went and did some last minute Christmas shopping. 

Meanwhile, John was having  gravel delivered to our house for our back patio.  He really wanted to get that layer down in case it rains anytime soon.  Although according to the 10 day forecast…there is no such rain in our near future.  But, none the less, now if it does rain, the patio area won’t become a mud pit.  It proved to be quite the task to shovel and transport all of this gravel from the driveway to the back yard.  So about half way through, I pitched in and helped J  Have I mentioned how sore I am today?!  Wow I’m out of shape!
The pile of gravel

We also let the puppies have their Christmas presents a little early since we won’t be able to spend the actual Christmas day with them.  Lexi got a new bed, they both got fleece jackets, and new bones.
Lexi's new bed

Paddy's new camo jacket!

Dressing the baby girl

That night we went to dinner with my dad, and stayed at my parents house that night so that we could wake up and take my dad to the airport.  My mom already left for Palm Springs, and my dad flew down to meet her and some more of my family.  His flight was super early in the morning, so we thought it’d be easiest to just stay at their house, to save us some sleep.  Although we didn’t take into account the fact that Lexi snoring would keep us up half the night…oops!

So needless to say Sunday morning we dropped my dad off at the airport, and went back home and back to bed J  We ran some more errands on Sunday afternoon, and I was able to finish my casserole holder that I’ve been working on and off on for the past week.  You can find the tutorial here.  Although I did buttons instead of Velcro closures.  And I also did the handles more like hers.  It turned out pretty good for a first attempt at sewing something completely on my own!  It was a gift to my friend and coworker and his wife.  They love to cook J 

 Hope everyone else had a great weekend.  Let the countdown to Christmas begin!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday High Fives

I thought I would take a moment to list out my top 5 favorite things from this week.  I got the idea from some blogs that I follow The Small Things Blog and From My Grey Desk (they are sisters and I love their blogs!)  And in the spirit of the trend I thought I would join in!

1. Walking my puppies at night after work and looking at all of the fun holiday light displays around the neighbor hood.  Some people are so creative!  It really gets me in the holiday mood.

2. Having Craft night with some awesome girlfriends and learning how to knit!

3. My beautiful new shoes for New Years that showed up on my doorstep this week

4. Holiday potlucks and holiday parties at work!  It's like holiday party time at school where people really only show up for the food and festivities, even though we're supposed to be working ;)

5. And last but CERTAINLY not hubby finally coming home after being on travel for work!  I missed him so much!!

What have been your favorite things this week?

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I hit 1000 views today on my blog!  I know its probably not that big of a deal for most bloggers (they probably get that in a day), but it was pretty darn exciting to me!!  Thanks everyone for checking out my blog!  And please feel free to leave comments, I love reading them :)

Craft Night - Surprise!

Last night was our (mostly) weekly craft night.  Jamie, Linda, and (brand new member!) Bethany came over for a craft night surprise J  I had them guessing and wondering for a few days as to what we were going to be attempting.  As my Christmas present to the girls, I got them each a set of knitting needles, a needle stopper, and a skein of yarn.  All the girls came over and opened up their presents.  I got a mixture of excited/skeptical looks from all of them, but it turned out to be a fun night!  Jamie brought some awesome lasagna, Linda made some oh so delicious fudge, and Bethany brought the glue that holds it all together….the wine! After dinner, we poured some wine, got out the fudge and got to work.
Learning to cast on

We used 10 ½ bamboo needles.  They seemed like a good size to start with.  Medium length, not too thick.  I found a blog that had some great links to video tutorials on how to start (referred to as casting on) and continue your basic stitch (referred to as the garter stitch).  She also has links to a really good video on how to finish (referred to as binding off) your project.  Here is her blog and here is the link to her post about knitting.  We all started/attempted to make book marks.  Seems best to start with something small and work your way up to something bigger like a scarf, right?  Well I’m hooked for sure.  Now I want to make scarves and hats galore!  Here is a picture of my lovely little bookmark.  

Apparently I got acrylic yarn, which I learned today was probably not the best idea.  You can see in the top picture that my yarn is starting to fray pretty badly.  That was making it difficult to make the patter look nice and even.  But as a first attempt I think it turned out alright.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dress Success!!!

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done!!! Ok, so it’s about 95% done, but still….SUCCESS!  Last night my mom brought over the Sewers Aid.  Let me tell you, that stuff works miracles!!  At least as far as sewing goes J  A drop of that magic stuff on the needle, and I was able to glide right through that sequin material with no problems!  I was able to get all of the pieces sewn together.  I sewed the seam on the arm, I sewed the hemline around the neck, and after my mom left, I sewed the bottom band of sequin material onto the bottom of the dress ALL BY MYSELF!  *Picture a little kid beaming from ear to ear*  I sewed the bottom on in two pieces, one in front, and one in back.  I even got them lined up on the first try!  Then I sewed the side seams, and now I have a complete dress!!  Can you hear my excitement as you read this with my excessive use of exclamation points!!  All I have left to do now is hem the bottom to the length I want, easy peasy. 

I am so excited and relieved that it all worked out.  And I’m really pleased with the way it looks.  It’s got a bit of a retro feel to it with the large sequin sleeve.  But I think it’s just the right amount of sparkle for New Years Eve.  And double bonus…my shoes came yesterday as well!  They match perfectly with the style of the dress J  All in all, a very good and satisfying day.  Here are some pictures I took of the last bit of progress:
This is the dress inside out after I finished the neckline hem

The shiny part is what the material actually looks like

Me...sewing away!

The whole dress - not hemmed obviously

The seams that I managed to line up!

And the perfect shoes to complete the look!

I want to give a VERY special thanks to my most amazing Mom!  This project would not have been completed without her and her willingness to spend so much time helping me out.  Love you Mom!!  And thank you to our friend Rachael for lending us her sewing machine as well! 

I do see a lot more sewing in my future J

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dress Update

Just a quick update on the dress progress.  I picked up the dress and the new sewing machine from my mom yesterday.  Last night when I got home, I was very excited to start working on the project again to see some progress!  Well I sewed up one seam (which was just the black material) and that worked great.  So, now I have a dress that is attached at the top, and on one side.  The side with the sleeve is still open (I’ll take some pictures tonight).  Then I pinned up the other side and sat down to sew.  Well, I got about 2-3 inches of the sleeve sewn together (the sequin-y material) and things started to go wrong again.  Ugh!  Really?! Come on, I’m trying to be frugal here!  The universe is just not with me on this one apparently!

Ok, so I gave up for the night, not wanting to completely resent sewing forever because of this dress.  Then I went online to try to see if anyone else in the online world had an issue with this fabric.  I searched and searched and didn’t really find anything that helped.  Then I had a light bulb moment.  I went on to the Joann website and found that fabric.  Luckily about 14 other people had left comments on their experience using this fabric!  Woohoo!!  Finally J

After reading the reviews and realizing that (thankfully) I’m not a sewing reject, the one common theme with all of these reviews was to use something called Sewers Aid.  It’s basically a silicon based oil that you can put on the needle, the thread, the foot of the machine…just about anywhere.  It helps keep the needle slick so that the glue (used to glue on the sequins to the material) does not gum up on the needle.   My mom (have I mentioned how amazing she is??) picked some up at Joann’s today and is coming over tonight to help me one last time.  I’m crossing my fingers that this is the miracle product to help solve my crisis!  Hah, I’m so dramatic J  Please cross your fingers for me!!  More updates to come…hopefully happy ones!

Monday, December 12, 2011

2 Post Weekend - Motorcycles and Jackhammers!

I know the title of this post seems super macho and manly.  And,...well...that's because this post sorta is too.  This Part 2 of my weekend post.  First let me premise by saying that Thursday night, John's good friend (and mine too!) Rob flew up from LA for the weekend.  Remember Rob from that Pismo camping post?  :)  We love Rob.  So, the plan for the boys over the weekend was DEMOLITION!!!  Enter: Jackhammer.  The boys spent the weekend totally demolishing our back patio.   It was 3 large slabs of concrete that they broke up with the jackhammer and hauled off to a local place that actually accepts concrete for recycling.
The before pictures

The after pictures
After all of the demo was done, both guys said something along the lines of "it was cool, and now I can say I've used a jackhammer...but I'm glad it's done!"  So, now we have a big empty spot where our patio is supposed to be.  Hopefully the pavers will get put in very soon after the new year so we can have a patio again :)  

The other even that went on Saturday was the annual motorcycle Toy Run that I do with my dad.  It's this huge even that bikers from all over the area come to participate in.  All of these bikers meet at a community center, and from there they all participate in a parade through this little town.  The bikes are decorated for the holidays, bikers dress up as Santa, or elves, and such.  And each person brings either toys, or food to donate to local kids in need during the holiday.  After the parade, all the bikers make their way to a fair ground where they can drop off their toys and food.  It is pretty incredible how many people participate in this event every year.  It's great to see so many people so eager to give back and help those less fortunate.  I will post pictures of this event soon, once I get them off of my dad's camera. 'Tis the season for giving!

2 Post Weekend - Dress Disaster?

This weekend I decided to work on my New Years dress some more.  My goal was to get as much of it done as possible on Friday so that on Sunday when I saw my mom again, we would nearly be able to finish it up!  Well.....that didn't quite go as planned.  

I came home Friday from work and got right to it.  We had already cut out the sleeve and bottom band pattern out of the sequin-y material. 

So, I sat down, pinned the sleeve to the rest of the dress making sure the right side of the black was up against the right side of the sequin-y stuff (to make sure the seam would be invisible when it was turned right side in), and started to sew the sleeve to the dress.  (I had already sewn the top shoulders together).

My excitement and determination slowly started to deteriorate.  For whatever reason, the thread was just not catching on the other side of the material.  My stitches were not working!  The black and sequin-y material were not playing nice.  My frustration was growing fairly rapidly with each attempt.  I must have called my mom 5 times in about a 10 minute window.  (Sorry Mom!)  And of course, to make matters worse, every time I tried to stitch two pieces of scrap together the same way, it worked perfectly!  But as soon as I got to the dice. UGH!!  

After about an hour I gave up.  Saturday morning I went and dropped off the material and the sewing machine to my mom so that she could try while I was out for the day.  Unfortunately she had no luck either!  Which means 1) It wasn't just me being a doofus - phew!  and 2) uh oh....

Sunday night a dear friend of the family dropped her sewing machine off at my parents house (which is newer than my mom's) and my mom attempted with that as well.  And guess what........SUCCESS!!  My mom was able to get the sleeve sewn on!  Woohoo!!  So today I'm off to go pick up the rest of the material and the newer sewing machine to see if I can continue on my own.  I will finish this dress if it kills me!!  :-D

Check back soon for more updates (which are hopefully progress!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sewing Lesson - Part 1

I finally started my New Years dress!  The beginning of the process has been slightly more complicated than I expected (enter Mother – whew!).  I apologize for the crappy pictures ahead of time...I'm attempting to be patient while saving up for a nice camera!  So, first things first.  I laid out the pattern on my dining room table (since I printed out my pattern, I had to trim the margins off of each page to make sure they lined up the way they were supposed to). 

Once we had the pattern laid out, we taped the pages together.  Make sure to tape within the pattern if you are doing it this way because once you cut away the excess paper, you want the pages to still stay together!  Then came time to lay the pattern out on the material.  Now here’s where it got tricky before I even realized it!  There are markings on the pattern that should say “Grain Line”.  It should be an arrow on the pattern that looks like this:

See that big arrow going diagonally?  That’s what you have to line up with the edge of your material.  So this line on the pattern, needs to be perpendicular to the edge of your material (the edge with the little dots on it, not the edge that the ladies at Joann cut for you).  I used a piece of string to measure the top of the arrow to the edge and the bottom of the arrow to the edge. The reason for this is to make sure that the fabric is sewn together in the right direction.  Since mine is stretchy, it needs to stretch in a certain direction.(** If you have a fabric like velvet or something of that nature, check the directions that deal with the “nap”.**)   See the picture below if you’re confused. 

Once you have your pattern lined up on the material with the grain and all that (your pattern should have instructions on where to place each piece of the pattern on your fabric to make sure they all fit), then you pin it down to the material.  Make sure to pin all the way around. 

Finally, find the dotted line around the edge of the pattern that corresponds to the size you are making and cut. (**If you need to lengthen or shorten the pattern, there should be a line on the pattern indicating where to do that.  Follow the instructions that come with the pattern on how to lengthen/shorten.**) - you can see the 4, 6, 8, 10 indicators in the picture above.  Cut the pattern and the fabric right on that line meant for your size.   While you are cutting, when you get to a little mark that looks like this :

That’s when you need to make a little outward notch in the fabric - can you see my little black notch?  This is what you will use when you are trying to put the front and back pieces together and line them up.  Once you are done cutting, it should look something like this:

And don’t worry, cutting on your size line already has a 5/8” seam allowance built in.  This is as far as I’ve gotten right now.  My mom is coming over again tonight to continue the learning process!  Tonight I’ll be cutting out the band of shiny material for the bottom, as well as the sleeve of the dress, and hopefully pinning some  material together to start sewing!  Wish me luck!  And check back tomorrow for more progress.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Monday - Ambitious Project!

Hi everyone!  Hope you all had a fantastic weekend :-)  I had a fairly productive weekend.  Last week I decided that since A) I want to learn how to sew better, and B) the dress I was looking at buying for New Years Eve was $80 before tax and shipping...A+B = Sew my own dress for cheaper!  I know its super ambitious, but you gotta start somewhere right?  And what better motivation than my very own New Years party dress?!  So I found the pattern online that I wanted to make.  $6!!  Score!!

On Sunday I persuaded my mom to go to Joann's with me to get some fabric and whatever else I may need.  Since I'm such a novice, I knew I would need lots of help picking things out.  I decided to go with black as the body of the dress, with a sparkly silver sequin material as a band at the bottom, and as the sleeve.  So my dress with be *hopefully* similar to the black and white one in the photo, except with the sleeve length of the pink one.  Does that make sense?  It will once you see the finished product. least I hope its recognizable as a dress!  We shall see.

Over the next couple of weeks, (since that's about all I have) I will be documenting my progress on this project on here.  So, check back for my trials and tribulations :-)

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Craft Night - Fabric Rosettes

Tuesday night was once again our Girls Night Craft Night.  We skipped last week because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  But this week we were back on!  Jamie had the idea to make some fabric rosettes.  She sent me the link to this tutorial and I thought "Looks easy enough...let's do it!".  Well the first one or two were not quite as easy as we originally thought.  But, with each new rosette that we attempted, they got easier.  And prettier :)

To make these little beauties all you need is some fabric, scissors, and a hot glue gun (which is on my Christmas list!!).  Once I acquire one of those bad boys, I will be more than happy to put up a step by step tutorial for how I made my little rosettes.  But for now, you can follow the steps in the link above.  Her's is a great tutorial!

But, basically what you do is start out with about a 2"-2.5" by 24" strip of fabric.  The length can vary, and will just determine how big in diameter your rosette is.  If you want small ones for a baby hair clip, use a shorter strip.  If you want a large one for a wreath, or broach, or some other wonderful adornment, then use a longer strip of fabric.  Then you fold the strip in half long ways with the good side showing.  So you should end up now with a 1"-1.25" strip of fabric. Note: if your fabric does not have a bad side, you can start with a 1"-1.25" strip of fabric, no need to fold it.  Next, at one end of your strip, make a small knot, or use your hot glue gun to make a little ball.  This will serve as your center point to begin wrapping around.  Finally, you twist the strip of fabric (like you would twirl your hair) and start wrapping it around the center knot/ball.  Twist as much or as little as you like depending on how thin you want each layer to be. The twisting is what gives the rosette its texture.  Be sure to dab on some hot glue every so often so that your layers stay together.  Be careful not to burn yourself!!  Once you have finished, spread some hot glue on the underside of your pretty rosette, and fold the excess fabric under there.  This finishes the look and helps keep the layers together.  It also gives you a base if you want to glue or sew the rosette to something else like a hair clip or pin.

My finished rosettes

Ok, so now if you are thoroughly confused...go check out the tutorial, she has step by step pictures :)  And if you kinda understand...good for you, I'm impressed!!  I plan to use these little beauties for some Christmas presents ;)  I'll post some pics of how it comes out after.  Can't spoil the surprise!!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Crafting!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Weekend Fun

This weekend while the weather was amazingly perfect, John, Alex and I took advantage.  John and I decided to take Alex up to Apple Hill.  It's this wonderful little area up towards the mountains that just has spot after spot of apple farms, and family run stores, and vendors, pumpkin patches and all sorts of fun fall treasures!  We stopped at a few of the locations and sampled some yummy treats like fresh apples sliced and covered in caramel, fresh kettle corn, fresh squeezed apple cider and the boys even tried some Apple beer - which unfortunately turned out to be pretty much unfiltered apple juice mixed with a beer of your choice.  Here are some of the pictures from our day: