Monday, March 28, 2011

This Weekend...

I've been taking a break from sewing and general craftiness to focus on completing my final portfolio for my MA degree.  It's due in 3 weeks so until then It'll be pretty uneventful here at the house when it comes to making stuff.

The one thing of note that happened over the weekend was that I went and saw a high school production of Les Miserables with my friend Mary that was pretty good.  The people seated next to us would not stop talking and using their phones as flashlights to read the program, but once I realized that they were doing it because none of them had any idea what was going on in the show it was okay.

Since the show I've had the songs rolling through my mind, specifically "I Dreamed a Dream", "Who am I?", and "Master of the House"
The other thing I did over the weekend was watch the 2007 version of A Room with a View and I loved the storyline. Of course I wasn't the most pleased with the ending, though admittingly it could have ended a lot worse.  I have no idea why I had never seen any film version of this classic before, or why I had NO idea what the storyline was before watching it, I guess it just slipped under my radar, but as soon as I have time I plan on reading the book and checking out the other versions that have been made of this film.
The actors Elaine Cassidy and Rafe Spall worked very well together as a couple, and I found myself replaying parts of the film in my mind long after the film was over... a sure sign in my opinion that it was a good film.

Apart from watching musicals and films over the weekend Granite and I got a bit of things on our home "to do list" crossed off, including re-hanging the towel rack, fixing a broken dining room chair, hanging the new icons, and fixing the bookshelf door I accidentally broke a few months ago.  
As you can see the two new icons look good hanging on the icon wall above our altar, but now the icon at the top as Christ as the Tree of Life looks awfully lonely.  I guess that just means that Granite and I should keep our eyes open for a few more icons.

oooh!  And I can't finish this posting without saying how excited I am to be going to see the new Jane Eyre this Wednesday with my friend Vanessa.  Jane Eyre is one of my favorites and I've been looking forward to this new version since I heard it was coming out a few months ago.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crosses and icons and bread, oh my!

Yesterday instead of doing homework like I had planned I spent the afternoon designing and then trying out a cross stitch pattern for an Orthodox cross.  Since the sketch I made looks horrendous I won't even attempt to show it here, but it was fun to design, though not so easy to actually embroider.

In all fairness though it being difficult to embroider wasn't my design's fault, but more my choice of fabric.  Instead of using a nice clean piece of fabric made for counted cross stitch I rebelled and used a piece of natural linen.  I then had to decide how many fibers would make up a square inch (I decided on 4x4), and where actually to start with the pattern and the fabric.  I quickly discovered that some of the fibers were really thick, while others were really thin, and that the fibers running horizontally were consistently thicker than the fibers running vertically, so instead of getting perfect squares I was getting odd-shaped rectangles.

Needless to say I persevered and finished the design, only slightly modified from the original due to my not paying attention and missing a row (whoops!) but it still worked out fine and I was very happy with the results.
What I am not happy with however is the quality of the photos I took.  I don't know what it was about it that my camera seemed to dislike so much but all of the color balances seemed WAY off and didn't like my trying to fix them in photoshop AT ALL.

The photo above is the only one where the colors looked like they appear in real life, though if you notice the bottom of the  image is blurred because the shot was out of focus.
The cross embroidery ultimately became a bookmark and now resides in my copy of The Lenten Spring holding my place for me so I can pick up where I left off every morning.  

I think I'll attempt to redo my design and make it a little simpler and less busy.  My ultimate goal is to make a basket cover for our Pascha basket this year, but that might not happen if I don't end up finding a design I like.

The other thing that happened yesterday was that our new icons arrived in the mail.  We've had a blank space on our icon wall around our icon of the Harrowing of Hell that we've been trying to figure out what to fill with and we finally decided on small icons of the Nativity and of the Ascension.  We turned to our favorite website to order icons from Uncut Mountain Supply and a few weeks later viola! they're in our mailbox.
The icon of the Nativity will go to the left of the icon of the Harrowing of Hell and the icon of the Ascension will go to the right, that way they will stay in festal order.
Now the question is just how long it will take Granite to actually get them up on the wall... Considering that we've had a broken chair that needs to be fixed for a few months now it doesn't look like it will be soon, but maybe the fact that Pascha is coming up soon will spur Granite into putting them up sooner rather than later

...And the last thing I did yesterday was make a loaf of thyme bread which Granite and I heartily enjoyed so much we ate over half of it.  I was looking forward to having some more of it today but it was suspiciously gone when I got out of bed.  Oh well, I hope Granite enjoys it for lunch, I can always make another loaf and not tell him about it =^)

Update!  Last night (Thursday the 24th) Granite hung up the new icons, yay!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baby Cthulhu!

I haven't made any posts since early last week but that doesn't mean I still haven't been busy.  The reverse has actually been true! I've been super busy recently working on different projects, I just haven't been able to talk about any of them since they're all gifts.  I've actually been noticing quite a bit recently that the majority of things I make are made as gifts, so it's tricky to write about them before I give the gift to the person because I don't want to spoil the surprise.  

But the wait is over! (at least for one of the projects!) Friends come over Saturday night for dinner and games so I was able to give them the baby Cthulhu* themed gift I had made for them.

*As a side note: If you are unfamiliar with Cthulhu, he (or she) is basically a horrific monster created by H. P. Lovecraft  in one of his short stories (the Wikipedia entry for Cthulhu can be found here).  Cthulhu, or specifically baby Cthulhu, is also the theme for our friends the Shelbys' baby's nursery.

With their inspiring theme in mind I decided to embroider a custom onesie for the baby, and since a baby Cthulhu onesie isn't complete without an argyle skirt I made a little skirt for her as well.

There were two main perks to this gift: one, it was super cute, and two, it didn't require a trip to Joanns since I already had the onesie and embroidery thread, and the fabric I used for the skirt came out of my fabric stash.

Taking a good photo of this outfit was really difficult.  I just got my new tripod in the mail the other day so that helped me with getting the angles I needed for the photo, but the color levels were still tricky.

I ended up editing both of these photos in Adobe Photoshop in an attempt to get the colors of the fabrics closer to their actual color, since the original photos were much more color saturated than they should have been.  

Oh well, this photography thing still is just a work in progress for me.  Hopefully I'll get better with time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Doll for Emilia

After spending three days straight researching, reading and writing for a paper for one of my classes I've been happy to be able to spend the past two days working on a birthday present for Emilia's 2nd birthday party this Sunday.

Ever since I laid my eyes on Alicia Paulson's Stitched in Time I've wanted to make the doll on the cover 
I thought she was so pretty and she reminded me of a doll my mom made me as a child that I loved and treasured for years (currently she's in storage, but I'm sure she'll come out someday when G and I have a daughter). 

Monday morning I set out to my local Joann's and scored some pretty sweet finds in the remnants bin.  When I got home I put together a big pot of soup and made some rosemary garlic foccaccia then set down with my sewing while I watched some Lark Rise to Candleford.

And thus with time and love, this...
became this...
and then eventually this...

It's difficult to see in the photos but the green velvet trim I put on the skirt is very pretty (if I say so myself-- and I do).  The doll, which I've been calling Laura after the main character in Lark Rise, also has a pretty flower in her hair and a green bow around her waist.  

And because no birthday is complete without a book we picked out a beautiful copy of Beatrix Potter's Nursery Rhyme Book to go along with the doll.  

I think I enjoyed making this doll so much that I'll have to make myself one...

But in the meantime it's time to make some birthday cards, one for Emilia and the other for my Nana who turns 86 this week.

...And after that?  Well, I just picked these beauties up on clearance at Target so I'm thinking, sock animals?
I just finished making the cards.  Both of these were made with my "paper pups" Cricut cartridge.

Emilia's card

And Nana's card
 and the inside of Nana's card

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baby Shower Cards...

I was recently commissioned by my good friend Lindsay to make two cards for baby showers she will be going to in the upcoming weeks.  She gave me full reign over what I did with the cards, she just told me that the theme for one was zoo/animal themed, and the other was ocean themed... and with free reign I had a lot of fun planning what to do with each card. 

For the zoo animal card I went through my various cricut cartridges and looked at what animal shapes I had.  When I came across this giraffe shape I knew I had found the one I wanted to use...
I added a tag with "little one" around the giraffe's neck and tied a bow to show that it's a gift for the baby.
I used paper from Anna Griffin's line for the backdrop, and with 3D scrapbook foam stickers made the giraffe stand off from the page.
For the second card I knew I wanted to do a whale theme right away.  
For some reason I find big cartoon whales to just be so fun and welcoming, I thought it would be the perfect thing to welcome a new baby boy.
  I had the idea to use vellum curls for the whale's blowhole, and I tacked them down with glue.
Once all the pieces were ready, I put the whale and waves down.  It's difficult to tell from the photos but the whale pops off the the card with the aid of my 3D scrapbook foam stickers.
I think both cards look very good together.  I hope the families enjoy them, I certainly enjoyed making them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I can't have a blog about the things I love and neglect to talk about Davey.  I'm so glad that we found him, he's such a wonderful dog.  I love you Davey!!!!!  You're the best!

Davey on a camping trip
... waiting patiently for his tennis ball to be throw
...buried in his bed
...buried under couch pillows
 ...modeling his Halloween shirt
and modeling the sweater grandma sent him... it's a little short!
...modeling the parka grandma sent him
...and quite possible the best, Davey stuck in the arm of my robe
...and in the arm of Granite's sweatshirt

Monday, March 7, 2011


...And thus begins lent.  Forgiveness Vespers last night put me into such a joyous mood that it's no wonder I woke up feeling happy and eager to start this season that cumulates into the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.  

I started reading Fr. Thomas Hopko's The Lenten Spring this morning and I was moved by this passage:
      "The lenten spring is welcomed by Christians in the Church not as the time for self-inflicted agony or self-improving therapy.  It is greeted as the sanctified season consecrated to the correction, purification and enlightenment of the total person through the fulfillment of the commandments of the crucified God.  It is received as the time for battling with evil spirits and blossoming with the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22).  It is accepted as "the great and saving forty days" set apart for complete and total dedication to the things of God.  It is the "tithe of the year" which tells us that all times and seasons belong to the Lord who has created and redeemed the world."*

I need to be sure to remember this this season, that it's not about denying myself, but a time to correct my sins and ask God for the forgiveness I so desperately need.  I'm so happy to be a part of the Orthodox family.  Thank you so much fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for welcoming Granite and I into the family, I feel truly blessed.

*Hopko, T. (2003). The Lenten spring. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Well Organized Craft Area...

Having a well organized craft room or craft area is extremely important to a serious crafter.  How else will you know where all of your stuff is?  Without a good organizational system you will be forever searching for where you put that scrap of flowered cotton or where you put your bag of buttons.
There are a lot of little tricks you can do to keep your stuff organized.  Above is a photo of a simple microwave cart that was adapted to have a large flat top to use as a cutting table.
Another trick is to use old furniture and update it to fit your needs.  Above is an example of a movable island being used as an art center.  You can get cork from craft and hobby stores and install it on the inside of the doors to create a nifty "idea center" to keep track of ideas you have.
Finally you can create interesting storage containers from things you might already have.  Here are old-fashioned straw dispensers used to keep ribbon organized.

And now that I've introduced you all to the importance of being organized, I'd like to introduce you all to my own crafting area...

...Yes, this is my shame.  I do have a good reason for why it looks like this though.  In addition to all the sewing I've been doing recently I also just made a birthday card for a friend this morning using my cricut machine.  So now it makes sense why I have a sewing machine, a serger, a cricut machine, a paper cutter, a box of scrap paper, pieces of cut paper, glue sticks and scissors, and a plate of donuts on my table.... well at least it kind of makes sense.

I'll post photos later of the card I made.  I'd hate to ruin the surprise of it if I posted the photos now and my friend who it's for saw the post before she received the card.

Dez's birthday party tonight was tons of fun.  We played Taboo while we enjoyed our meal and Henry's Hat in Burbank.  Dez loved the card I made, so here it is for everyone else to enjoy. (the green plumb-bob in the corner represents her gift- we ordered her a copy of the Sims Medieval)
 Inside the card I added a little "kick stand" to hold the card open while it sits on the table. 

*All photos of well-organized craft room taken from

Dia de los Muertos Apron

So a couple of months ago I was at Joann's and I came across this beauty in the remnants bin.

It was so fun and colorful that I couldn't resist and purchased it right away....and then it sat with my other fabric while I tried to figure out the prefect use for it.  Whatever I did with it I decided I wanted to enhance the design by embellishing it with embroidery.

Well, yesterday I decided to stop putting it off and decided to make an apron out of it.  I personally have TONS of aprons that I've made over the years that never get used because, honestly, I just don't wear an apron when I cook.  So I decided that this apron would end up either: a. as a craft apron for myself, b. as a gift for my sister Jen, or maybe even c. as a gift for an unsuspecting friend...

The apron is fairly simple.  I made a 1/2 apron that ties around the waist and has 2 large pouch pockets on the front.  To make it a little more substantial I made it double thick with plain black cotton on the back side and in the pockets....

And about that embroidery I decided would be needed?  I started by embellishing the flowers on the hat of one of the skeletons and a simple filler stitch in white over the skeletons face. 
I'm in no way done with this project!  I plan on embellishing many more of the faces and maybe do a chain stitch around the edges of the pockets, and maybe add a phrase in colorful stitches along the outer edge.  For now though I folded it up neatly and put the embroidery thread colors I chose for it in one of the large pockets with my booklet on embroidery stitches.  It looked so good folded up there that I couldn't resist taking one last picture of it.  Here it is!

Book Group

Currently the book group I'm in is reading books by Sarah Addison Allen and I'm finding them to be very inspirational... The way the author writes creates the character's world so vividly that I feel like I'm right there with them with everything they do. 

In Garden Spells the character Claire retreats into her world of gardening and cooking to find peace, and right now I feel like taking a note out of her book and retreat into my world of sewing and crafting.  I'd also love to just curl up today and read a book in the sunlight, but I don't think I'll have time for that, since I have a pretty full day planned for myself.  But I can still dream...
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