Monday, May 31, 2010

Brought to perfection as one

Yes, it's our anniversary today...

And yes, I'm still mushy and nostalgic from the wedding weekend...

And yes, of course, I've been dying all day to get home and blog all about it!

This weekend was an absolutely perfect anniversary weekend. And it sure wasn't because we were off alone on a second honeymoon, worry free on a beach with nothing to do but gaze in each others' eyes.

Quite the opposite in fact.

And only now that it's all said and done, the kids are safely (and finally quietly) tucked into their own beds, can I truly appreciate just why this statement is so fitting.

Much to my husband's dismay our anniversary weekend (that coincidentally fell on one of his few paid holidays of the year) wasn't going to be spent just the two of us; but rather as a bitter mixture of many long hours driving all over the state with two children 2-years-old and under. Or him alone with those car-weary kids in particularly small hotel rooms while I was off helping someone else (who, naturally, he doesn't really know) celebrate their wedding all extended weekend long.

Maybe it was the near triple digit temperatures, maybe it the lack of sleep from us all trying to do so together in a full size bed in a 300 sq foot room, or maybe and unfortunately more likely it was probably just my suppressed
guilt seeping out for putting my poor husband through this, but I was stressed out and we were both CRANKY!

Crankiness and exhaustion aside, we tried relentlessly to squeeze the most out of the weekend by driving unreasonably far in whatever small windows of time we could find to hit all the "must sees" in the area. What this really meant was even more time in the car with already car-wearing kids and even more aimless wondering in famished hunger to find whatever least gut wrenching, middle of no where, but affordable looking local joints we dared to dine at. I think we arrived to most of our sight sees with just enough time to snap a picture just to say we saw it.

(Note the car-weary "are you kidding me mom?" look on Jonah's face for the
we're-here-now-let's-hurry-and-take-a-picture picture).

Then it hit me, as I stood there next to the bride watching the best daddy in the world gracefully quiet our two children in the far back of the wedding-

I. am. so. lucky.

This weekend signifies just how perfect we are for each other. Most couples probably would never have been in a situation like this, because unlike us, they're normal and likely try to rest on their vacations. Not us, no matter where we are or what the occasion we both still have this burning desire to feel like we accomplished something and will apparently drive to the ends of the earth and nearly kill ourselves of exhaustion just to say we did and we got a great deal on it!

Most couples in this situation would probably have stopped speaking to each other and most parents would've thrown their screaming kids out the window by Saturday afternoon for sure. Yet, somehow every time I was near my breaking point my husband seemed to sweep in with all the grace in the world to help me out and somehow, although I didn't realize it, I seemed to do the very same for him.

Ok, so you're probably still thinking, "the perfect anniversary weekend," she must be crazy???

Ok, I'll admit, even though I love weddings I probably would've much rather had a second honeymoon just the two of us, but since we didn't have the money for that anyway, this was the next most perfect alternative.

So much about this weekend was just like marriage itself and like our marriage we somehow always manage to end the day loving and appreciating each other a little more. We bring out the best in each other and even after all this time I still get butterflies when I think about how much I love him and all those quirky things about him
(I think this picture says enough, what was he looking for in the flowers??).

Even though my groom didn't get to stay to dance the night away with me (not surprisingly, he volunteered to head back to the room with the kids...again...), I was so grateful to be part of the wedding and had a wonderful time! They had a live band, who unlike most wedding bands, honestly was AMAZING. The kind of amazing that makes you still feel like your legs are dancing once you lay down in bed to go to sleep. Yes, that amazing. The bride had the glow of contagious emotion on her face and all of us husbandless Mrs left dying to get back to ours.

Once I finally did, I think I feel asleep faster than I could say "happy anniversary," but at least I spent the rest of the night dreaming I was back at our special day.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life.

I'd marry you again any day!

Brought to perfection as one
~John 17:20-26

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ring pillows

One of my good friends (who I've known since 5th grade!) is getting married this weekend and asked me to be a bridesmaid and wear this beautiful dress from J. Crew

Um... YES and YES!

As if I wasn't excited enough for the wedding she called me a few weeks ago and ask me to make ring pillows for her two bearers. What an honor! I was flattered and oooh so excited.

My guidelines:
Create his and her ring pillows
Colors must be brown, pink and ivory
Fabric must be satin
She also wanted a border on the pillows, but not trim or fringe.

GOT it! Ready, set, go!

I started seeking inspirations since we didn't have a ring bearer at our wedding, I honestly wasn't even sure what size they should be.... so I thought of the one lady who was bound to have some ideas for this type of thing, Martha Stewart! Yup, she sure did!

Some were outside of my guidelines for this round, but this one is definitely bookmarked for my sister's wedding (whenever that might be... no pressure...cough, wink, hehe).

So doggone cute!

After drooling over them for a few days and wishing I had thought to make more stuff for my own wedding... I decided on the pleats, which I thought would look best with my satin fabric.

Maybe it was the practice for all my patio cushions, but deciding what kind of pillow to make took 10 times longer than actually making these. I'd say 2 hours start to finish for both of them, and that was mostly marking, ironing and sewing so many pleats. There's a tutorial here for how to do the pleated pillow that I loosely followed.

Hers- in pink with a brown border and bow

His- in ivory with a brown border and bow

Together, they'll be music to the heart

Does anybody else wish they could get married all over again? To the same man of course! I just love planning for weddings... everything about it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's my first

Blog award!!

Thank you so much to Narelle of the lovely Cook, Clean, Craft!
I had to read her email twice I was so surprised and excited to be nominated for an award. I had taken a little blogging break with all the family in town and couldn't believe the email I had to come back to! It made my day :)

The rules for the Sunshine Award are as follows:
* Nominate 12 other bloggers
* List the award in either a post or on your sidebar
* Link your nominees within your post
* Let the nominees know you have passed this on to them by commenting on their blog

The best part of getting this award- I get to tell you about 12 other blogs that I love to read!
The hard part- how to pick just 12... but here goes:

Craftiness is not optional
Sew Much Ado
The Crafty Cupboard

Crafter Hours (don't you love the name too?!!)
My Creative Stirrings
How About Orange

The Activity Mom
Prudent Baby

A Lemon Squeezy Home
Homemade By Jill
Wee Wonderfuls
Welcome to the Good Life

It's actually so funny that Narelle was the one to nominate me after admitting to the world the other day my love for all things organized and cleaning related... hum... or maybe that was the post that tipped her over the edge!

Even if you hate cleaning you still have to check out her post about home-made cleaning products. With a 2 year old in the house I can't stand having to constantly clean tiny hand prints, nose prints, face prints, who-knows-what-prints off my windows and mirrors, but this number actually made me look forward to it!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Framed in black

Because almost everything seems newer in all black!

Since we've been using our fair share of black paint these days I decided to quietly toss in one teensy extra item on the spray pad while we were doing our patio furniture :) I'm so sneaky, Mr. Painter hardly noticed!

We've had this pine color room divider frame for so long, just standing all alone in our garage waiting for some love and renovation. And... also a little motivating kick to get our guest room/sewing room presentably decorated for all the family coming into town.

You'd think since it's mostly my sewing room I'd take the time to decorate, but until I realized that this would give my crafty stuff a secret hiding place (away from 2 year olds) I wasn't in a hurry.

Once I discovered the potential, I couldn't believe how easy of a fixer uper this would be! 10 seconds later it was off with the screws for ol' framey!

Smoothed off with my trusty sander....

And all ready to meet the Painter!

Which actually got to be me this time!! Either I finally proved myself or the Mr. Painter was too sick of painting and caught me trying to sneak in my project too :)

Either way, I got to test out the sprayer, so I win!! It is everything I hoped it would be and more, and by more I mean honestly, a tad bit harder to use than I expected... but shhhh I played it off like I was a pro ;)

The hardest part of this upcycle was deciding on only 15 pictures to put in the frame!

So I did the only reasonable thing I could...
I printed extra, so I could change them out depending on who was visiting!

Just a little hostess tip I learned from my other mother, who, for the longest time, I thought only had pictures of my family in her house!

Sounds odd at first and almost a little insincere-ish, but if you stop and think about it... Don't you love visiting people and seeing that they keep printed pictures of you in frames??

I got laughed at for it, but I think it's a nice touch :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Patio Furniture Conquest!

It's been a few months in the making, but thanks to you all for that last uphill push to help me conquer my HUGE patio project just in the nick of time!

A few months ago we became the excited owners of new patio furniture!
New to us that is.

By new to us, of course we really mean something like this...

john cenaClick on the image for more before-pics

The price was right for this abandoned beauty, as you can imagine, and naturally, we had a vision to go with it.

A vision that started with a lot of this...

to cover all of this.

And a long and tedious revitalization for 12 of these...

...topped with the all important re-fashioning including custom-made (and quite elegant) red "robes."

After many, many late nights, more movie bribes than I care to admit, and (quite literally on all accounts) a lot of blood, sweat, and tears I conquered the biggest up-cycling project I've ever faced.

Are you ready to see it yet??


Here! It! Is!

Sienna, of course, was the first to test it out.

I think she was as excited as we were :)

But the best test came after naptime...

when Mommy and Daddy finally had the perfect spot to celebrate their hard work with some nice, fresh and fruity margaritas!

A job well done and just in time to help us enjoy my baby brother's graduation as we welcomed nearly my entire extended family to our completed patio for 3 days of non-stop pool side delight!!

Thanks for such a wonderful time (all of you who are reading this)
and to my little brother- I'm so proud of you!!

It's been a great week to say the least, but I've missed my bloggy blog world and I'm excited to dive back in. I guess the best part about a break is all the great ideas that seem to just pop in your head without even trying... let's just say I have some work to do!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For Your Little Angel

You can't help but love newborn babies. There is simply something so blissfully angelic and pure about them that you can almost see the little guardian angel wings covering their backs.

But just in case you need a little help...

I just had to make one for our friends' newest babies this Little Angel Wing tee for his baptism this weekend!(Don't worry, just a teensy little break from my no-new-projects rule that it hardly count! Plus, I've been working so diligently on big project that I figured I deserved a break).

I thought I'd spice it up with a little extra cross on the front too. Kind of reminds me of the Lacrosse Alligator or something :)

I couldn't decide on blue bow or no bow. Suggestions?

Mr. Subtle Tee said no bow but it's hard to take his opinion seriously, because he was impatiently waiting for me to finish so we could leave for a party... whether he said no bow, because it was better or because he wanted me to hurry is a tough call. I left it off this time, but I think it could've been a nice touch. Maybe I'll do it for a girl's one instead.

Any other good ideas for baptism gifts??

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to add a clickable image to your blog

I have a confession to make and I would like to partially blame my overly type A personality for this. Don't laugh at me, but...

I get silly excited over new discoveries related to cleaning and organization!!!

There, I said it! I do! I can't help it. Check out this new tip I learned to organize my bloggy blog with clickable images!

We've all seen the regular images like the one below...

And you've probably noticed that the normal html code you get when you upload an image like this one for the ZIP-dee-doo-dah skirt looks like this:

< herf="">

But obviously with your picture in it :)

Now if you want readers to be able to click on your image and pop back to the post for the skirt like this clickable image below:

john cenaAll you have to do is change the html code to something like this:

< href=""> < src="" alt="" border="0">

Feel free to copy and paste this code in your post to try it out, but don't forget to change the following or your post will link back to my blog :)

  • Change the target: In this code the subtle-tee.blogspot etc is my target url, so when you copy this into your post you want to replace this with your desired target url.
  • Change the image: The image url is the flickr address that you'll replace with the url for your image.
  • You can also change the dimensions of your picture by altering the pxs.

Go ahead an try it :) Click on second picture to go to my post for the Zip-dee-doo-dah skirt!

This html stuff is getting a less and less scary each day!! Now, my next quest is to figure out how to get images on BOTH sidebars. Does anyone know??

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Painless Piping

Don't believe me? Here's how I taught myself in only a few tries....

I'm conquering so many firsts for myself in my huge Patio Project and I promise to share all the tips and tricks I'm picking up along the way! The first stop was tackling this whole business of piped cording.

It's one of those
musts for upholstery and really completes the professional look for lots of pillows, purses and even some clothing.

Like this really cute nautical top from Anthropologie....

Or these crisp cushions from Pottery Barn....

I don't know what's up with the navy and white theme, but these were the two examples that caught my eye :)

Here's what you'll need
  • Fabric for your piping cut into bias strips
  • Material to sew it on :)
  • Cording to go inside your piping
  • A zipper foot for your sewing machine
  • A denim needle size 100/16 for sewing through heavy fabric with lots of layers
  • Ruler, pins, fabric marker and your trusty iron
Don't worry, I'll walk you through all this stuff!

3 types to choose from
  1. Store bought cord with 1/2" fabric edge
  2. Store bought cord without any fabric edge
  3. Custom made cord that you make by wrapping fabric around plain or welting cording and stitching leaving a 1/2" fabric edge.
The quickest type of cord to work with is the cord with a fabric edge, as this kind of cord comes ready to go for you to just sew the cord right along a seam. The problem there is you are limited by the colors and styles you can choose from. That's why for this project I used custom made cording, so that it could match my cushions exactly!


Don't be embarrassed if you're not really sure what a bias strip is, because I wasn't either! I see them in the store all the time and it looks just like a bunch of thinly cut fabric strips.

And that is basically it with a few secrets behind the cut. A bias strip is a thin strip of fabric that is cut on the bias (or diagonal line) used to finish edges or in this case, wrap around the cording to making bendable and smooth piping. They do sell a number of pre-made ones in the fabric store, but I just think it's much more fun to pick your own matching fabric and make some yourself.

Hold on! Don't run off to the cutting board just yet. Before your start nipping away at your really, really long strips of fabric let me tell you about this much easier, cheaper and once you get the hang of it, quicker way to cut your own bias strips out of a small square of material!

Personally, I am simply amazed at how this works out. Click here for a tutorial on cutting your own bias strips.

OK. Finally! Let's get started....
Step 1. Cut your bias strips to your desired length and width. In this case, I need to cover big cushions, so my strips were 69" long and 1 1/2 " wide.

Step 2. Cut your welt cording 1 in shorter than bias strip. 68" in this example.

Step 3. Fold your bias strip in half and iron to form a nice crease. Open your strip back up and tuck the cord right in the crease. Pin in place.

Step 4. Crease the fabric you want to sew your piping to along the seam.

Step 5. Open the fold and lay the piping on top so that the raw edges of each piece are on the outside and the piped corded rests onto of the fabric. So the finished product will look like the picture to the left.

Step 6. Attach the denim needle and the zipper foot on your machine. Begin sewing the wrapped cord to your fabric about 1" from the end, so you'll save room to attach it or close it when you're finished. Make sure you get the piping as close to the zipper food as possible.

I actually prefer to sew this with the piping strip on the bottom and the fabric piece on top. I find it's easier this way, because I can feel for the cording beneath the fabric with one finger, while using the ironed crease as my guide for exactly where I want the piping to go as in straight (which is harder than you think with so many layers of fabric!)

Step 7. Finish sewing, make a little hem at the end, flip over and admire your hard work!

Here's a little preview of the piping on one of my patio cushions chairs in progress....

There are different ways to finish the piping if you want continuous piping or piping that does not end, as in the edge of a pillow. While I didn't use continuous piping for this project, the easiest way that I read about basically tucked the beginning of the piping inside the casing of the end of the piping.

It looks like all you do for this is simply sew the piping to the main fabric stopping about a half inch before where you started and trim the end of the piping back to give enough fabric to turn under and enclose the beginning of the piping. The ends of the piping should but up to each other under the fabric. Then all you'd do is fold under the fabric to enclose the beginning of the piping and sew in place.

Sounds pretty easy. I'll have to try this when I get to the decorative pillows for the patio set, so if you've done this before I'd love to hear any tips or tricks :)

Bias strips made easy!

This tutorial is how I learned to toss out the crumpled corner

And proudly welcome THIS delicious smoothness!

The only thing I changed was the way I cut my bias strips :)

Is it just me or does anybody wish that sewing books and patterns were written in plain English?? I have to admit that I still feel as confused as a mole in broad daylight when I try to teach myself new stuff, so I often glance over things that seem easy enough to figure out...

Let me tell you about my most recent adventure with bias strips and how I learned (again) why it's important to read the directions first, so that after you are almost finished with your entire cushion you don't end up having to scrap it, because Mr. Crumple Corner just wouldn't go away...

It all comes down to one tiny over sight. The Bias Strip. These were one of those lovely things that made me feel as sharp as a circle when I thought I was the only sewer smart enough to skip the hubbub and just cut really longs strips. Let me tell you, there is a reason most "sewers" don't just do that!!

A bias strip is a thin strip of fabric that is cut on the bias (or diagonal line) used to finish edges or in my case, to wrap around cording to make piping for my patio cushions.

The "bias" was the key that I was missing in my own looooong strips of fabric you see. The reason quilters and other sewers use bias strips is that they're cut along the material that has the most stretchability so that it easily bends smoothly around corners like this:

Funny how I thought I was taking the easy way out before, because once I learned this way to make them I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was!! And what a difference!

Here's how I did it:

Step 1. Cut a square piece of fabric. In this case I used 21 x 21 inches.

Step 2. Fold the corners together to make a big triangle, make sure the edges match up perfectly (cut any excess fabric if you need to), and finally cut along the folded line to make two smaller triangles.

Step 3. Lay the two triangles together so the tip of each hypotenuse (diagonal line) touches the right angle corner of the other triangle. Like so:

Step 4. Pin and sew a 1/4" seam to attach the two triangles along this edge. Unfold and press your seam open. This is very important so your bias strip wraps or folds smoothly.

Step 5. Using your ruler and fabric marker (or chalk like I do) mark a line across the width of your parallelogram about 1 1/2" apart. You can adjust this for smaller or wider bias strips. Starting with my 21 x 21 inch square I was able to draw 9 lines.

Step 6. After all of the lines are drawn, wrap the parallelogram around to match up the lines from the opposite side skipping the first mark. Again, it is very important to skip the first mark so that a continuous strip can be cut.

Step 7. Almost done! Pin the tube together and sew another 1/4" seam. Make sure to press the seam open as well.

Step 8. Last, but not least, simply cut along the marked lines so that you create one very long strip.

If you're using the bias strip for piping, all you'll need to do is fold it in half once and press to create a pocket for the cording.

If you're creating decorative trim for a quilt or another garment you can hide the raw edges by first pressing a small seam on each side and then folding in half to crease.

And that's all she wrote! Finally :)
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