Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Test Drive

Nacho taking the Boxer Lift for a test drive last Sunday.  if it will hold 140lbs, then it should hold a boxer just fine right?

Night Tracks

finally able to use those cross country skis that i invested in last Fall!
a little spooky xc at night out in the open like that, but waaaay coool!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hem-ming No Way!

hemming a pair of pants.  sounds like a simple thing!  and it probably is unless YOU ARE ME.  i do not have  many talents but one of my best is making the simplest of task 10 times harder than it has to be.  i'm so good at over thinking things, if it were an Olympic event, i would be accused of doping.  and so goes hemming pants.
there are really only 2 things i've ever wanted to learn when it comes to sewing

  • how to make a basic quilt
  • how to hem a pair of pants

it is not for lack of googling or pinning plenty of how-to's.  it is because of mulling it over waaaay too long.  so nacho & i had a challenge this weekend:  he bet he could finish the dog lift before i hemmed these pants i've had for at least 2 years!  it was a trick!  and it worked! it got me off my butt & those pants hemmed.  and you know what?  it wasn't that bad!  are they perfect?  no!  could they be better?  yes!  BUT are they done?  definitely.
i started with a very short but insightful YouTube video.  i then promised myself not to think about it & just GO.  i'd already decided how much to take them up by simply putting them on & trying them out with 2 different heel height shoes yesterday (sorry no pic of that cuz it was super exciting).  i folded the fabric under & pinned it a number of times until i got it just right.  as she mentioned in the video, i then took the iron & ironed on this new/future hem line.
i took the plunge when i got out my seam ripper & broke the seal seam on this project (sorry for the blown out photo).
you can tell they used some sort of ribbon trim for the hem underneath. lovely but no one will see this so i wasn't too crushed to get rid of it.  it made sense a little later however.  
i unfolded everything & here you can see my new/future hem line in yellow.  as she said in the video, i determined the old hem line to be just under an inch, so i decided to just call it even & lob off 1" of fabric (the blue line). 
notice my 1" starts after the "ribbon".  what you don't see underneath is that's really where the fabric ends. it does not go to the far edge of the ribbon.  i decided to start my 1" from the edge of the fabric & not that ribbon trim.  and this is where i just had to jump.  without any 2nd, 3rd, or 4th guessing, i cut straight across at an 1" from the bottom.  you have no idea how much guts it took for me to do that.  i literally had to take a deep breadth and say "Go!"
after the drama was over, i simply sewed a Zigzag stitch to secure the edge from fraying like she mentioned in the video.
finally it was on to the reason we all came here...hem those babies!  so with my final hem line already ironed in place, and my raw edge secured with a zigzag stitch (that's the stitch you see below), i did a straight stitch all the way around to finish the hem.  and this is where i realize that ribbon was a nice finishing touch - you can see the raw edge to the left of that zigzag stitch below.  i know, it will be underneath, who will know?  but this people is how i over think into getting nothing done.  but this time, i will live with it & moved on!
and i was done!  except...i forgot these pants are lined (palm2forehead)!  this part i just estimated.  i figured i'd taken 1" off the pants, so 2" off the lining would be plenty.  and that gamble paid off.  i cut 1 1/2" off the lining fabric because i wanted to roll them under 1/4" then roll another 1/4" for a clean edge, even though it would not be seen, but you never know!  i finished that off with a zigzag stitch as well since the lining is a shinier, slicker fabric & more likely to fray.  apparently something about a zigzag stitch is good for securing those edges if you don't have a serger, which i don't.
and that, as they say, is a done hem!  not perfect, but done.  i only had a couple of glitches that, in true me fashion (ha no pun intended) almost tripped me up (my bobbin ran out of thread in the final stretches of my last lining & i'd accidentally cut through 2 layers of the pants fabric on one leg when trimming it), but i soldiered on!  and i now have a pair of 2-year old pants that can finally be worn.
and you know what that i have to make a quilt! hmmmm

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fonzi say: Aaaaaa

so as i mentioned in the previous post, i made a little personal gift for us last night for Valentine's Day.  actually, we both made it.
i was inspired by a post earlier this week from Dina at Honey & Fritz.  the original post can be found here.  originally it was going to be a surprise, but my usual procrastination brought me to a better idea.  Nacho & i love to do puzzles, especially at Christmas time, so why not use a puzzle we'd actually done & why not have BOTH of us contribute to this little art project?  so Nacho pitched in while also managing dinner.
i started with a trip to HobbyLobby & bought an 8"x8" frame & a couple of pieces of white card stock for backing (i always buy an extra in case i mess up).  then i tried printing out a large lowercase "A" from MS Word.  that was not going well.  i know, i should not have used a word processing program to begin with, but it's what i know most.  i never could get the sizing or vertical spacing right.  when i got the letter the size i thought i wanted, it would not print on a single piece of paper.
enter, OpenOffice Draw!  i love OpenOffice.  1 because it's free, yes, but mostly because it doesn't have all that heft that the MS products have - nothing against MS products, i just don't need all the bells/whistles at home.  so in Draw, i just created a lowercase "A" using the text tool & was able to size & position it perfectly - Arial Black 24 btw!  i did practice runs with just an outlined A (like Erin's "M") then thought to color the "A" in (like Erin's "A").  after playing around with a couple of blues, i found the one i thought worked best with our puzzle pieces as a whole - blue8 in OpenOffice Draw.
the smartest thing i did:  i printed the color "A" out on regular paper & played with the layout.  glad i did this because i was waaay too anal about this.  i have no idea how Erin laid hers out, but it didn't need near as much attention as i was giving it.
tip:  you do not have to, nor do you really want to, cover every square inch of the "A" in puzzle pieces during the 1st layer.  as a matter of fact, some of that color showing through is nice!
and then i was off!  here is the official "a" printed on sturdy card stock so any glue would not warp the paper too badly (that's another tip!).
i'm not sure what Erin used to secure hers, but Mod Podge worked great for me & allowed me to brush it on instead of the strings that a glue gun can leave.  
another tip:  i actually MP'd a few pieces to one of my paper print outs just to get a feel for how it would brush on the puzzle pieces.  since this was going to create a useless puzzle that i'm not willing to donate anyway, might as well practice!
and so Nacho & i created the 1st layer!
i let it dry for a few minutes & held it up to make sure all pieces were secured.  success! then i just repeated with layers 2 and 3 - Erin has a lot more layers than i do, so use your own judgement!
the next 2 layers were a little less straightforward.  at times, i brushed the MP onto the back of the puzzle piece, at others onto the pieces that they would be sitting on.  it just depended on how the "standing" test went & if they held or not.
and in about 30 minutes i had a work of art!
and i am happy to say i don't think this will make it to the Pinterest Fail site!

Happy DayAfterValenties Day!

so how was your VD?  wait, that's probably not something i want you to answer!  but mine was great thanks!  we typically buck the tradition of going out to eat because, well, i hate people & you can be sure to encounter them at dinner on Feb 14th!  instead, we stayed in & cooked for each other - i prefer that anyway!  i had planned to do a pork loin from my Ina Garten recipe book & Nacho was completely on board.  so on board, that he simply took over!
so i did what i do best.....i made cupcakes!
and ate half the batter - SALMONELLA BE DAMNED!!!
but also while Nacho handled most of the cooking, i worked on a little VD gift (hehe).  no not that kind, but this one does keep giving back!
not much to it but i'll give cred & some very abbreviated steps in a separate post!
and then we ate!
mmmm twas delish!  another excellent job by TheMan.  and then we exchanged gifts.  Nacho got me one of my faves, Fanny May DARK Chocolate Covered Cherries.  yes, i said Dark, not the regular stuff.  i could eat these til i puke!  romantic huh?  and i got him
yep!  those are 2 hair combs you see there! there was a 3rd blue one, but it went with Nacho to hockey practice this morning at which point he FINALLY RETURNED MINE!  i don't do anything without an ulterior motive! and finally, "Nacho made me" (aka i made a gift to me from him) a very special flower arrangement.
that there is nothing but Cherry Blow Pops!  my absolute favorite sucker.  normally you cannot buy a bag of just the Cherry, but apparently at Valentines you can and i jumped on it!  so the local hardware store can sigh a bit of relief that i won't be cleaning them out for a couple of weeks!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Paper Chase

if it's not obvious to anyone but me, let me tell you, this office remodel is going to take a while.  the first place to start in any redo, is to go through what you have & get rid of what you don't want/need.  in the kitchen, that was easy!  the office?  not so much! 
yesterday Nacho & i committed to spending 1-2 hours going through as much of the paper as we could (without losing our minds) & getting rid of unnecessary stuff.  how do we accumulate so much when we do so much online?  what you see above is an ordinary recycle bin, a typical office garbage can, and an 8-gallon bucket full of paper from mostly 2 places:  our investment notebook & our 1 file cabinet/box. 
we started going paperless years ago.  we've differed about what to keep & what to throw away & we know the prevailing guidelines out there but we battle one important concept that most households probably don't:  Nacho works in Environmental where they live "cradle to the grave".  that means he throws NOTHING away at work.  we've spent the last 2 years debating how to handle this at home - we considered buying an all-in-one scanner/printer/fax so we could scan it all. but i have convinced him that we can just box it up & store it.  no need to purchase yet 1 more piece of technology that (a) takes up space, (b) we won't use after that initial scanning job, and (c) i'll be responsible for throwing in the river after the 1st time it doesn't work - I HATE TROUBLESHOOTING PRINTING DEVICES!  word to the wise:  your printer doesn't work....get rid of it & commit to saving a tree.  it may save your marriage!
so that is round 1 of sorting through the paper clutter.  i'm pretty sure there will be a round 2 and 3 at the very least!  who knows?  there might be an office under all that paper!
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