July 31, 2012

Balloon-travelin' Bear Band Baby Mobile

Some folks say that bears go around smelling bad  
Others say that a bear is honey sweet  
Some folks say this bear's the best I ever had  
Some folks got a bear beneath their feet

Baby Sprout will soon have a bear above it's head - five bears to be exact.

These bears are hand-sewn from wool felt, the balloon is constructed from individual "shingles" of cotton fabric, and the instruments are wood; picked up at a street fair (banjo), a garage sale (guitar), and glued together with random scraps (tambourine!).

 We have a bear who can belt out a Lyle Lovett tune...

Some folks drive the bears out of the wilderness 
Some to see a bear would pay a fee 
Me, I just bear up to my bewildered best 
And some folks even see the bear in me

And a bear who jams on the banjo.

Below, a hip, swingin' bear strums the guitar. 


There's a bear wearing a jaunty scarf and holding a dangling rope...

... from which dangles a tambourine-playin' bear!

 So meet a bear and take him on out to lunch with you 
Even though your friends may stop and stare 
Just remember that's a bear there in the bunch with you 
And they just don't come no better than a bear

July 25, 2012

The Parfait dress from Colette

This pattern kicked my ass. Not because it was complicated, because it wasn't really. And Colette puts out a clear, well-designed pattern booklet. But this pattern has 32 pieces! The margin of error with that many pieces is extensive!

I wanted to make this dress after I saw that Paunnet had made it twice and seemed to love it. It also looked great on her in the photos, and I figured that since we had similar body types it would also look good on me.

Not so much.

My issues began with choosing a pattern size. I measured my bust, waist and hips, and of course, I fell into 3 size categories (the plight of the pear-shaped woman). So I cut out the pattern pieces for the size 2 top and size 12 skirt and did my best to make the pieces match up. I ended up having to take the top in drastically (guess I'm a size zero bust? that's reassuring), and matching up the skirt was "iffy" at best.  Sadly, the straps don't fit that well either. They don't lay flat against my back, but rather seem to bow out a bit.

The dress pattern also included pockets on the front, but after I sewed them up I realized that they were tiny! Not at all useful for putting one's hands into, but better suited for collecting small seashells (not a past-time of mine). I would have preferred inseam pockets, but the placement of the side zipper made that impossible. I opted to leave the pockets off, particularly since the fabric pattern is so busy and they wouldn't have been noticeable anyway.

Which leads me to the last issue. The color of this dress completely washes me out.  I swear it looks better in person, but I may be kidding myself. While I wear black, charcoal and coral quite often, somehow it all looks muddy here and not very flattering.

The pattern is $18 and I justified the purchase by figuring that I would make a couple of these dresses. Never say never, but I don't think I'll be doing it again soon. I think that the Colette patterns are designed for bustier women, and that'll never be me. I think I'll try a Sewaholic pattern next...

July 18, 2012

Veggie Garden Baby Shower

On July 14th we threw Sara a baby shower at Mom's house in Bow, Wa.
The theme was "Veggie Garden" in honor of Sara's nickname, Bean, and our nickname for the baby, Sprout (it also tied in nicely with Sara's book theme, Soil Mates).

Me, Sara, Susanna & Mom

The centerpiece of the party decorations were vegetable cake pops. Susanna paired her cake decorating skills with her friend Heidi's cake pop expertise, and they created a masterpiece. The carrots and sweet peas were lemon cake and the eggplant and tomatoes were red velvet. They all had cream cheese frosting.

Susanna put a lot of work into the details, including dry-brushing color onto the tomatoes and carrots for highlights. The pops were stuck into styrofoam, which was then covered with All Bran, Cocopuffs and mini gummy worms.

Sara thought they were delicious
So did Alexis

In addition to the cake pops, Susanna made mini duct-tape flowers as centerpieces for each table, and then we gave them away for party favors.

Additional party favors (can't have too many favors right? everybody loves a freebie) were jars of homemade strawberry jam (another creation by Susanna).

We decorated the food & drink tables with garden-themed children's books and crocheted vegetables and berries (also made by Susanna - she was busy!).


We didn't do too many "activities" but we did prepare some just in case.
We set up a table as a baby block decorating station.

I made the bunting out of paper and bias tape, and I sewed it up on the sewing machine.
To create the blocks I purchased a 42" x 1.75" x 1.75" wooden banister post from Woodcrafters. Mike cut them down into 1.75" square blocks and Sara and I sanded the cut edges.

I sorted through Mom's extensive stamp collection and picked out a bunch of easily recognizable shapes, letters and lots of fun patterns. We used permanent ink stamp pads that were formulated for wood surfaces.

I hope to finish decorating the blocks (only a few people decorated them) and then coat them with melted beeswax.

Tia & Susanna makin' blocks

Another activity I pulled together were baby shower Mad Libs. I found two types online and reformatted them to fit our party, but unfortunately we didn't really get a chance to do them. We did get almost everybody to fill out a "wishes" card, however.

In place of "advice" cards for Sara and Bobby, we had "wishes" cards for Baby Bean Sprout.
While I created the layout to match the invitation, the "wishes" are from Suzie's Cards on Etsy. There are lots of people on Etsy who will create these for you if you don't have the software to do it yourself.

We had a lot of fun reading through these cards at the end of the party and we have plans to incorporate them into a baby shower photo album.

The rest of the party was dedicated to eating, chatting, wandering around the gorgeous property, and opening presents!

Sprout will be a Springsteen fan, for sure!

Alexis picked out some of her toys to give to the baby

Sara seemed to be pleased with the baby mobile I made...

It was a great celebration for Sara and the soon-to-arrive baby. We're excited to meet you baby bean Sprout!

July 8, 2012

Painted Display Shelves

I have had little display shelves hanging on the wall by my desk since last summer. One was light, unfinished wood; a Hobby Lobby purchase (I removed the glass door). The other was a vintage store find, and it was stained dark wood. I use them to store some miniatures, doodads and trinkets, and I've wanted to paint them so that they match and tie in with the rest of the room.

So while Susanna was here last month, and we had our painting clothes on, I gave the insides of each shelf a couple coats of gray glossy spray paint. Then I painted the outside edges a matte black (by hand).

As of yesterday, they are back up on the wall!

They're mounted using Command velcro wall strips, which I find to be incredibly useful and handy. Just one on the back of each shelf does the trick.

I've grouped them together with a small copper etching that I bought years ago at a PNCA art show (three sisters), and the Joan Baez album cover that features my papa (the young, handsome guy on the far right).

July 6, 2012

Susanna Week: painted porch

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of the porch in my painted chair post and noticed that something was different. Something is! The porch is finished and painted!

Last fall we had our old concrete front porch ripped out:

Old front porch: a mixture of cinder blocks and concrete, and a couple oddly proportioned steps.

 And a new one built and poured:

New front porch: all concrete, bigger overall, including bigger steps.

The new one is larger, smoother and most importantly, slopes away from the house so that water does not leak into the basement. At least that's how it works now, but it didn't when it was first re-built last October. After the first fall rain, we called the concrete guy to come back and patch the area by the front door to make sure it sloped AWAY from the house.  Then several months went by and we noticed that the corner was slumping and cracking.

So the concrete guy came back in May, ripped out the top, inserted more rebar and poured the top again. This time adding an important feature: a seam down the top to allow for movement in the future.

Note the small seam just to the right of the first column. Note: the cat is not dead; he's just lazy.

Fast forward to June and it was finally cured enough to be painted. Which is exactly what Susanna did when she came to town two weeks ago. We still need to cover those columns and finish the underside of the overhang, but we're starting to look more respectable!

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