Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

No, I didn’t force feed models cake.  Athough…not a bad idea…


It’s been one long weekend.  I did a lot of sewing and went to see Mom.  I know.  That totally didn’t sound busy at all, but it was emotionally draining.  I suspect I’ll get into that before the end of the week, but let’s start with the easy stuff.

On Friday afternoon, Paladin and I left the house and stopped by the library (we picked up Red Dwarf…can you believe he’d never seen it?) and the Goodwill.  Somebody please remind me not to go to Goodwill in the future!  Some of them are good, but ours is sort of a ripoff.  For what I spend on a used child’s shirt there, I can buy a brand new one at Walmart!  That’s stupid.  Anyhoo, the real reason I went there was to forage for material. 

I have these jeans that I bought never anticipating that I’d fall in love with them.  They were $12 on clearance, but a little too long.  Smart person that I am, I cut them off and they ended up just a smidge on the Urkel side.  fm_hands  As a result, my Solid Gold dancer pants (ummm…did I mention that they have gold lame on the ass pockets and the brightest brass buttons I’ve ever seen?) fit like a dream but they were too high-water for me to wear in public.  That was fine for a long time because I wasn’t sure I could pull off having a gold lame ass.  Then the comfort won me over.  Suddenly, I deeply regretted having to relegate them to days when I knew the public at large wouldn’t see them.    While making my first wedding dress (Sunday morning I made a second wedding dress…I’ll post it later this week), I kept running into some really cool stuff online and in the stores.  It goes by at least two different names: altered couture and indie fashion.  Basically, it’s people taking apart old clothes and making them into new clothes with a little extra style.  On one site I saw a pair of jeans turned into a long skirt.  It was one of those things you remember people doing way back when, but forgot about.  I thought, “Why not do that to my Solid Gold dancer jeans?”  It’s become pretty impossible to find decent fabric in our area which means you either forage or you break down and drive to Lake Charles or Alexandria.  I wasn’t up for the drive, and figured foraging was the way to go.  Enter this Goodwill $7 coat:


It’s oh so very Twilight-esque.  Any girly vampire could vamp in it with its plum lace and plum and metallic gold tweed.  Only one problem.  It’s a size 14.  Grrr…  I hate tearing up something so beautiful, but for $7, how could I go wrong?  I decided to go altered couture on its butt!  At first, I was still going to make my Solid Gold dancer jeans into a skirt, and then I thought I might not wear a skirt all that much.  So I did this instead:




I left the bottom of the jacket raw because the tweed will fray nicely once I throw it in the washer and beat it up a bit.  But, I think the lace on the pockets has to go.  I wasn’t sure about it.  So, I used a very loose stitch, and removing them should be no problem.  I think the lame will just have to speak for itself, and…


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I have no idea why the Sesame Street theme song is in my head.  It’s probably because it rained yesterday and the internet at work was spotty at best.  I spent much of yesterday removing the computer STD and putting on some passwords.  Hopefully, that will help keep my work computer more sunny as well. 


While I was playing with STDs, Paladin went down the street and bought a van from the neighbors.  I’ll try to get some pics of it up tomorrow, but it’s the quintessential van.  It’s a GMC Starquest circa 1996 and he got it for $1k because it needs a new radiator and is a gas guzzler.  That makes it a great deal for us since we’ll really use it only if we are taking the kids somewhere or are trying to move something bigger.  So now I can fulfill my lifelong dream of living in a van down by the river.  Sweet!


And finally, as promised, here are the pics of the nearly done living room:




The purple is Victorian Amethyst (Walmart brand Colorplace paint).  The rugs are my vain attempt at trying to cover up the masses of stains on the old carpet.  Yuck!  I’m trying to finagle new flooring but budget is an issue (Paladin likes to keep a couple of grand in the bank for peace of mind, but that’s probably not going to happen when you’re supporting 2 households and renovating one of them).  It still needs to be tweaked for sure.  The black table is a crappy tv stand that we had hanging around (it’s not staying there…Paladin stuck it there to fill up space) and the coffee table (and nearby matching end tables) is a Family Dollar store cheap-o set that is flimsy but liveable for the time being (coffee table and 2 end tables cost $40 altogether).  The accent chair is half of a pair of armless sectional chairs that I bought for $120 when I was in college; for being 15 yrs old, they still sit great, but they’re nasty underneath so I’m slipcovering them with that gold faux suede fabric which was in my fabric stash already (I think I was going to make a cape out of it at one point…oh well).  On the walls we have a $4 Walmart clock surrounded by Dollar Tree $1 frames filled with scrap fabric I already had.  In fact, I already had most of the decorative items and spent all of $50 on decortative stuff for the entire room.  The built-in tv stand cost us $6 not including paint (it is 2 shelves from a closet, some Ikea bed frame that we cut up, and shelf brackets).  The finish is…wait for it…Black Rose paint (Walmart Colorplace brand again…Colorplace paint is about $15 per gal, but we got this off the “oops paint” shelf as a returned item for only $8).  I am seriously IN LOVE with this paint!  It looks purple in the can and until it dries, but you streak it unevenly over a wood grain like this previously oak door  dscf1428

and you get a dark espresso finish with no staining and almost no trouble at all.  I am in love, I tell ya!  I’ve already bought a can of it in the full-on gloss finish to do the kitchen cabinets (I don’t hate oak, but the finish on those is a bit naft in person).  I even painted it on this old dresser I found in the out-building:




Apparently, no one ever told Mull that taking the veneer off a piece of furniture to refinish it is a bad idea (here’s a hint: if the wood had been nice they wouldn’t have put a veneer on it in the first place).  She gave up part way through and left it bare with lots of glue all over it.  I just sanded it a little and painted over it.  I don’t mind the rough finish.  The wall art is the back side of some extra oak paneling with a temple rubbing of Angkor Wat (Tina picked it up at a Goodwill in Indiana for $2 a couple of years ago…she gave me a second one too and it will probably end up in the bedroom as it’s a lighter stone color) and I put some Polycrylic stain/polyurethane I had sitting around over the entire thing.  The decorative items on the table were found around my house and around here except for the blue candles which cost $8 to put together.  I am also in love with the curtain fabric.  It inspired the color scheme and is awesomely crazy! 




The gold tone in it matched the sofa perfectly.  It’s so very Craftsman, to me at least, and was a steal at (you guessed it) Walmart for $2 per yard (I picked up 7 yards…the rest of the bolt).  I’ve got enough to make some throw pillows, and I’ll probably have some left over. 


That brings the grand total (SO FAR) to about $130 for decor in this room, thus far.  Not bad, but I still have things to pick up like pillow stuffing and I’m keen on upgrading the tables.  Paladin’s computer desk on the other wall is about to be painted a very manly shade of dark purple.  heh heh  I’m guessing that in the end the room will top out at under $200 which ain’t so bad compared to the before pics.


I’m still in an inexplicably sunny mood.  Man, I hope it can withstand the relatives.  I have one more week of relative peace (heh…get it…relative…like you can’t be cheesy too 😛 ) before they arrive.  That’s a weekend filled with kids, a week at work, and another weekend with kids with the relatives arriving just before the kids leave.  And, Tina wants us to try to get an extra Friday with the kids so that we can all do the zoo and bowling as well.  I have the feeling that I’ll look like something out of the Blair Witch Project before its all over!  Hmmm…where did I put that hoodie and flashlight?


I’m afraid I actually have to *gasp* go do some work now.  But, I swear to try to get back online to visit ya’ll before the day is out!  Smooches!  🙂


P.S.- Oh, and that little green bottle of flowers that doesn’t match anything?  That’s part of Paladin’s weekly supermarket bouquet.  I love that he gives me flowers, but I do need to break him from it.  The budget will be getting tighter with his retirement.  And, I don’t need flowers to know that he loves me.  Wow…that was sappy…but, true.  🙂

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Full length ballgown that took forever to make.


Here’s the 2-weeks-o’-torture dress.  Keep in mind that Tina was bunching up her shoulders to keep the sleeves from falling down (yup, she a shorty).  The main dress is satin with old-fashioned roses in dusty mauve and light gold.  The sleeves are a rayon crepe in crème with a sheer overlay embroidered in gold scrolling.  The sleeves came out kind of poofy because of the stiff overlay which kind of made me feel like an 80’s beauty queen (or like I was wearing a tablecloth on my arm).  It looks much better in person than in the pics.  In hindsight, I should have left off the overlay, but it looked so plain without it (and I gots to have my glam).  Then again it would have been fine if it wasn’t so stiff, but considering that the sleeve and straps were entirely improvised, I think it came out ok.  Am I delusional??? 

Close up of the sleeve.

Next time, (haha I AM delusional!) I think I’ll save myself the trouble and just make the original dress with the full frontal dress overlay cinched on the side and bolero (even though I know it will be danged hot).

Simplicity Pattern 5207

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Last day of Clomid!  Now the waiting and peeing of sticks begins.  I’m stocked up on Instead cups and Preseed.  Yeah, doesn’t sound much like the old-fashioned way does it?  Whatever happened to sex for sex’s sake?  Oh, and don’t worry men, I’m not going to blog about this constantly (I know, just as I was about to talk about the sex).  These posts were written for the ones who are online looking and wondering if the Mexican Clomid works, etc.  Does it work?  I dunno, but I’ve definitely had the headache side effect and my ears have been burning a lot (I don’t know who is talking about me at 7am…I’m not that interesting).


But, as usual, I should be ovulating while M. is at drill.  Luckily, this time there’s a military ball in Shreveport.  So we’ll be together, but probably in a big hurry.  This is the first ball I’ll be attending, and I’m starting to wish he was still a Specialist.  Sergeants are “encouraged” to attend (too bad that the last time M. got a brown nose was when he fell of his bicycle…was that just last year?  man time flies).  This has left me scrambling for a summer ball gown that still covers my arms (AARRGGHH!!!! why couldn’t they be like all the other groups M. has been with and do it in the winter?).  As a result, I’ve resorted to making my own dress.  This leads to discoveries like Simplicity Patterns are pretty much true to size (no I didn’t need the 26, but a couple of huge darts under the arms tightened it up) and buy every scrap of fabric you can get your hands on (not just what the pattern says…because then you have bright ideas like “instead of making a bolero in plain white I can just improvise a sleeve!”).  It’s a practice in cruelty is what it is! 


If that’s not enough to keep me insane, GingerMagnolia is visiting the first week of July (Yay!), and that means that this house needs more than just cleaning (which it also needs…was that a dust bunny or did Pascal shed an ear?).  We need another house!  This place just isn’t big enough for all our crap, and yes, I have cleared the clutter (at least in my opinion I have…I refuse to give up all my décor items because I change the décor a couple of times a year and constantly recycle items for that…besides 2 more boxes aren’t killing anyone).  The problem is that half the stuff in the house belongs in a shed, and we don’t have one.  Hence, our stimulus payment went toward building a porch with a closet/room/shed on one end.  Now I just have to convince the men to finish it before Ginger gets here.  HA! HA!  I’m not holding my breath (but I am praying and offering a lot of bribes…cake counts as a bribe right?).  Our last shed attempt began about this time last year (and for the same reason).  Nine months later it had finally gotten 2 out of 4 walls framed!  That was just before the tree falling crushed it to bits.  I’ve got some shelves to install that will open up some room I hope.  Oh and the air conditioner has to be installed in Ginger’s room (just cut out the hole I left in the wall for it).  The entire house will have to be reorganized once the shed’s up, of course.  Did I mention that I need to replace the ceiling in Ginger’s room too?


So, all I need to do in the next few weeks is build a porch & shed, redesign & sew a ball gown, reorganize & clean every inch of the Ghetto Trailer, put up a new ceiling & shelves, do a mountain of laundry, there’s going to be a paper outline due for my class that’s starting this week, and I’m going to be on driving duty every morning…  Oh, and Rachel decided we’d have a dessert night, and I can’t make just one Old-fashioned Peanut Butter Cake because Mom would have a fit if she didn’t get one. 


I’m screaming silently now…want a piece of cake?




Peanut butter cake...and tomatoes fresh from the garden



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My satellite service has been cut off, and on MLK Day!  Where is Kanye when I need him???  M.’s response, “I’m staying in bed.”  My response, “We can have an old-fashioned sing-along and play cards!”  Can you guess that the mere thought of it nearly killed him?  lol 

Naturally, I dragged him out of bed.  He had promised the night before to get up early and help me install a border of dog-eared fence pickets around my bulb bed before it rained.  (The rain didn’t show up until this morning.  Sux to be him, huh?)  It didn’t take long, and we had the entire rest of the day wide open!  Yeah, I was way more enthusiastic about a day at home with nothing but his DVD collection than he was which is surprising considering the amount of Star Trek, MASH, and the Simpson’s involved.  It was a lovely and productive day despite the lack of televised entertainment.  I got my border built; I moved a variegated ivy that had never done well in its previous home; and for the finale, I timed my sewing machine!  Woohoo!  (Yeah like your idea of excitement is so much better!  :P)   

The upside of having no TV is the absolute peace (and having cocoa while watching the old Hardy Boys TV series on DVD).  I actually enjoy being without the noise of it most of the time.  I remember our television going on the fritz when I was about 15.  It spent a week in the shop.  My mother almost had a nervous breakdown (obviously I married my mother…she and M. even watch the same shows).  I loved it.  We played cards and listened to the radio and told stories.  I didn’t want the TV back.  And, I can still remember the look of overwhelming joy on my mother’s face when the shop called to say it was done and the little yelping sounds she made.  She was in the station wagon so fast I almost didn’t see her leave.     

The first day is easy.  It’s the next 2-4 days that may kill us.  But at least Pascal will get plenty of attention.  I was already teaching him a new trick, bowing.  As with most of his “tricks,” it started out as something he did naturally.  In this case, he sometimes stretches in “downward facing dog” which looks like he’s taking a bow.  So I just started saying “bow” every time he did it.  Per usual, I didn’t think of a hand signal until a few days later (right hand palm up sweeping out…just like a carnival barker saying take a bow which is the ultimate image in my head heehee).  Unfortunately Pas is not only smart, he’s strong willed.  How many times has M. said to me, “Why couldn’t we get a dumb dog?”  To which I answer, “Because when your brothers find a $400 miniature poodle at an illegal dump, you take what the universe sends you!”  Bow is taking him a few days to master which is unusual.  I think it’s probably because half of the time he’s just enjoying a stretch and when I start clapping my hands and saying “Yay,” he looks at me like, “What? What happened? Crap, she’s makin’ me do stuff again.”   It must kill him that I finally figured out he was smart. 

That pup had it great for the first week.  M. and I ran him out of computer and TV cords constantly.  Then one day in frustration, I let my PSYC training take over.  I decide to focus on positive reinforcement only.  Pascal moseyed around then he went over to the cords and dipped his head down.  I watched out of the corner of my eye, and he waited a minute.  Then he looked up at me like, “Aren’t you going to stop me?”  That’s when I knew who had really been running the show.  He still does sometimes, but I pay better attention now. 

He is a handful at times.  Had I been going to purchase a mini-poo I’d have probably known that they had been used for centuries for everything from sniffing out truffles to hunting to being the highlight of gypsy carnivals.  These are not dogs for those who want a ball of fur that’s going to go along with them benignly while their owner goes about their business.  I obviously didn’t know what I was doing when I told the universe I had decided I wanted a dog.   

Mind you, I did think it over for years!  I didn’t decide I could do it until my friend Erin spent 3 weeks here with her coton de tulear (a $1500 dog and they named it Bevo…don’t even get me started…I almost fainted when she finally confessed how much he cost).  Then for good measure, the universe sent me an old Army buddy of M.’s who showed up with a sister, a wife, 2 nearly grown kids, and a Husky that went half-way up the walls of the GT.  The horror!  I was getting Husky hair off my house for a month.  But in the end, I knew I could handle a dog and that I wanted a small dog that wouldn’t shed much.   

Both visits went down in July (one after the other).  On August 13, my mother called and insisted I come over immediately and bring M.  I thought someone had died or worse.  Instead, when we showed up my brother, Davis appeared out of the kitchen with the most adorable puppy complete with mohawk.  Apparently, my brothers were out driving the back roads and stopped at an illegal dump to dumpster dive.  As they were leaving, Davis spotted what he thought was a rabbit and made Will stop the truck.  After a great deal of cajoling Pas finally hopped over so Dave could pick him up.  They took him to all the nearby houses (the nearest one was nearly 5 miles away), but nobody claimed him.  The vet still swears I’ve got someone’s dog.   

And, I don’t doubt it.  I figure either he jumped out of someone’s car or he ran off when they stopped and they were tired of chasing him (his favorite game is still Chase Me).  We had been having record 120 degree heat indexes, and if Davis hadn’t found him, he surely would have died.  It was already nightfall when Dave saw him, so whoever lost him wasn’t looking very hard, and the vet immediately saw that he was underweight and had the worst case of ear mites he had ever seen.  Bastards.  They obviously didn’t deserve him.   

Ok, that’s enough bragging/rambling for today.  lol  I’m working on another faux Waldorf doll now that I’ve got one of the sewing machines working (my new EuroPro has a special screw so I can’t time it as easily as I did my aunt’s ancient cast iron Remington).  It’s a star baby inspired by a Simpson’s episode yesterday with Maggie in an orange starfish snowsuit.  The flannel works much better using a tight sewing machine stitch, and I have some thick satin (a scrap from my wedding gown) to make the face.  Maybe by the time, I finish it I will have a decent camera so that I can show ya’ll.   

Ahhhh, life is beautiful!   

(Who the fuck turned on Pollyanna?  There’s sweetness and then there’s sugar shock.  Barforama.  It’s a good thing I only post once or twice a week!) 


Btw, if you’ve got an old sewing machine that’s out of time (the needle is out of alignment and seems to hit the bobbin), there’s a how-to at www.sewusa.com but it only works on the old machines because the new ones usually have to have special tools.

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January 18-Christmas ’08


Just in case you thought that I had forgotten the purpose of this blog (ok, i have…lay off), I have actually tried the Waldorf style doll.  Unfortunately, I tried it using flannel and it was CRAPTASTIC!  So in an actual effort to be more thoughtful for next Christmas (and because i’m poor), I’ve designed our future greeting card!

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Morning all!

I don’t know how your day started, but mine started out with shaving Pascal’s butt. Yeah, you’re not that sleep deprived. I really did shave my dog’s butt this morning. “Why would a seemingly intelligent person do that?” you say?  Because my poor lil Pascal had a traumatic experience at his first vet visit.  Our elderly, half-deaf, retired-Army vet is really great; he’s cheap and no nonsense which I love.  However, the first visit test for internal parasites included a probe that was almost as long as Pascal was, and ever since anything that goes near his butt freaks him out.  I don’t want to paint you a mind burp (an unfortunate picture that stays with you for days), but long butt hair plus sticky poo doesn’t mix well where Pas is concerned!  The good news is that I know when its time for a butt shave because its also time to trim his face hair a little bit because you can’t see his eyes anymore.  It’s at this point that he looks like a cheap teddy bear because of his dark brown “button” eyes.   I would take a pic to illustrate this, but my Fuji FinePix A600 camera died recently leaving me to the horror of either my ancient crappy 3MP camera (a free gift with purchase…see pic on the Shallow blog) or my old-fashioned film camera (which isn’t bad, but the film gets expensive and we’re on a tight budget at the moment).  Hopefully, within the next month we will get a nice check (yay!) and I can get a new camera.  I love the pics at Dooce, Fussy, and two straight lines, and I’m going to have to pic their collective brains I think.  But, I have this gnawing idea that they have fancy digital SLR’s and there’s no way I can convince M. that anything more than $150 is necessary to my personal well-being.

On the craft side of things….

I think I may choose Nancy’s Waldorf-style star shaped softie/doll over at Belle Epoque for the first project.   Some of the softies I’ve seen have been really awesome, and I love the subtleties to their faces (especially teddybearbones’ at craftster).  Unfortunately, my sewing machine needs an alignment; so I’ll be better off with the star shape that I can sew by hand.  Unless someone has a better idea…

Hugs, Anna

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Ok, so it’s the day after the big Christmas holiday.  And my nerdy husband (and not in the hip way) has left the Gilmore Girls on the tv.  There’s this scene playing where the heroine is walking past a beautiful choir of bell ringers reveling in the joy of the season when abruptly the bell people begin talking about how one of them is out of time thereby ruining the loveliness of it all for our heroine.  That’s what I’ve been thinking about for two days now… the logistics of the holidays.  As I sit here with my husband washing dishes (ok he’s a little hip) and with the puppy at my feet acting like he’s on crack, I can’t help but echo my mother’s lament of the last few days, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas.”  Maybe she expects elves to start dancing on the lawn?  I don’t know.  But dang if she ain’t right! 

Now, we live in the deep South; so we’re a little Christmas weather challenged.  In fact, if it snowed on Christmas day, we’d probably lobby to have it declared a national holiday…oh wait…  At any rate, the weather is out as a contributor to the Christmasyness of the holiday unless you count a good amount of frost that’s gone by 8am.  Also out is going to church, what with all the lapsed Catholics and lapsed Baptists and a couple of pagans.  None of us have kids, yet.  So the joy of the holidays through a child’s eyes is found mostly in the wonder of our mini-poodle, Pascal, who was really stoked when everybody started throwing wrapping paper on the floor (talk about an embarrassment of riches!). 

That leaves three things: food, decorating, and presents.  My sister and I are in charge of all of the above.  The last time one of the men-folk actually bought a present Clinton was in the White House which means that Tina and I are only really surprised by the gifts we get each other.  That’s not very Christmasy.  As for the food, there’s a rather large population in the area which relies on our Great-Grandmother Sarah’s chocolate peanut butter fudge to make it through another year, and this keeps us pretty busy for a couple of days.  I’m pretty sure if Tina was unable to make it; I’d get stoned because the best I can do is fudge soup which tastes better than it sounds or looks.  The problem is that even the food isn’t so very Christmasy for us because…well…we’re a couple of lazy bums.  By the time we do everything else, we’re not about to wash more dishes.  Therefore we take the aluminum, throw-away pan route.  And, as I stood mixing the homemade cornbread stuffing in a giant aluminum, institutional pan, I couldn’t help but feel like a prison matron trying to make the holiday bright.  Again, that’s not very Christmasy. 

The décor is a different story (check out our contribution to Absolutely Beautiful Things’s Christmas Competition in Week 2 link).  We love decorating and I’m usually the first one out dragging Tina kicking and screaming along.  Yes, she and I do that part of the festivities too.  It is my joy and utter happiness.   Just looking at the beauty of our fake trees doused in glitter and doodads makes me melt.  I’d leave them up all year if it weren’t for the whispers from the neighbors as I pass.  (There are a fair amount of Southerners who are trying to outgrow the redneck factor and look down upon those of us who’d like to celebrate all year by leaving up the lights through July.  Party poopers!)  Yes, we do that too, but it’s the one part I don’t complain about.

I’m sure there are a lot of moms out there who feel the way we do.  Surely somewhere there is a support group!  But how do we fix this without killing ourselves with our scalloped-edged aprons and pearls!?!

I’m seriously considering making a New Year’s resolution (my first ever) concerning creating more craftiness and togetherness in my life.  This blog is the first step.  So I’m putting out the call to the rest of you oh-so-hip crafter/bloggers in hopes that the spirit of St. Nicholas will soon be here and follow us throughout the rest of the year (wow that totally rhymed and was very sentimental…must get patent soon).  The idea is to try to do between one and three sentimental (if not Christmasy) short projects each month and post them here.  So please email me (or post a comment) your ideas and/or links.  I’m ready to get started!  J  Thanks!


Spike just showed a commercial with men lamenting women’s menstrual cycles on national television in the middle of the day.  And he fiddled as Rome burned…


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