Wednesday, September 30, 2009

cowboy boots!

Hey everybody! I hope you're having an excellent week so far: mine feels a little surreal. I just wanted to make a quick post about these boots I just listed in my Etsy shop!

Pretty cute! These are size 7 - they're a bit roomier than some size 7 shoes and they almost fit me comfortably... but I can't realistically see myself wearing red boots in public. Not brave enough! I had fun pairing them up with an outfit for the photos, though.

I've got some other neat pictures from this week, but I had a migraine this morning and I totally feel like I'm moving in slow motion today. I'll be back another day when I can think clearly!

Monday, September 28, 2009

easy breezy

The rain has finally stopped. After nearly a week and a half of constant stormy weather, it feels amazing outside. Cool, sunny, a nice breeze... excellent for spending time outdoors. I have a few errands to run today, so I spent a bit of time dressing up. It's been a while since I did any outfit photos - I've been boring lately. I'm excited about the upcoming seasons, though, because I am a layering fiend.

My hair is getting increasingly unruly!

Look at my bracelets while I watch someone bike by, like a startled rabbit!

I know, I know, I wear this jumper all too often. But we're in love.

This is the best way to avoid making a cheesy "outfit photo" face.

This is actually the third thing I put on this morning - the first two outfits were no good. I think I may ban anything with puff sleeves from my wardrobe, because I always feel uncomfortable with how I look in those. Cheap accessories [minus the wedding ring] courtesy of a bag of makeup and jewelry I recently stumbled upon from my high school years. Ah, nostalgia! Sparkly rubber bangle bracelets!

Also, even though you can't see them, I'm wearing some tights that I picked up from the thrift store last week. Before you get grossed out, let me just say that they were new in the box! Well, it had been opened... but the tights still looked like they would fit a baby, so I knew no one had been wearing them.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

little feet

It's been a while since I did any serious thrifting, but earlier this week I definitely had the urge. I wasn't specifically looking for things for my Etsy shop, but I did find two pairs of shoes that I couldn't pass up. And... since they don't fit me, they'll be going in the shop!

These beauties - Paradise Kittens... could they have a cuter name? - are a size 5.5

Riding boots! Size 7

I was really hoping the boots would fit me: they're exactly the sort of thing I've been looking for! They're just a half size too small. I did manage to squeeze them on my feet for a few photos, but it was not enjoyable at all. So, all you ladies with smaller feet than me: keep an eye on the shop this afternoon if you're interested!

Monday, September 21, 2009

cake stands

Happy Monday! I hope everyone's week is off to a good start so far. Nothing exciting has happened for me yet, but I wanted to drop by and share something with everyone. Miss Olivia Rae of everyday musings has opened an Etsy shop: love liv. She's selling some gorgeous little cake stands over there! Here are my two favorites.

Wouldn't these look amazing holding a pretty cake? Or just about anything? I think so. Olivia definitely has a knack for finding lovely vintage pieces and putting them together! Be sure to visit her shop!

Friday, September 18, 2009

five senses friday

It's been a while since I did a five senses friday post - normally whenever I remember these, it's not a Friday! But you get one today.

Put an embroidered thing in my Etsy shop - finally!

Got lipstick all over this ice pop thing I was eating. - gross/neat!

This week's sensations!:

See: It's been dark and rainy all week. Lovely to watch.

Hear: Rain, thunder, quiet time! Also been enjoying this Bat for Lashes song a lot this week.

Taste: Spicy foods and popsicles. Veggie tacos! (check out the recipe!)

Smell: Rainy outdoors, strawberry lip balm, cooking peppers.

Touch: The fabric on my latest embroidery project was sort of thick and my fingers got very sore of pushing the needle through.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

quiet time

How is everyone's week going so far? I've been quiet, but I'm keeping pleasantly busy over here! I really like this week so far. I've spent a lot of time reading and have also been doing a bit of editing each day (for my husband). We've even started having a sort of "quiet time" each evening where he works on writing and I write in my journal or read. It's all rather bookish! But it's a happy time.

Anyhow, I don't have any exciting pictures of my own today, but I think it's time to share some Etsy favorites! I just stumbled onto an amazing shop-- one of those that makes me wonder why I didn't already have it as a favorite, and where every item is so appealing: trampoline

I'm in love with the way everything is styled and photographed. So inspiring, don't you think? The photos of these items seem to describe the mood I'm in this week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

unicorns and dinosaurs and such

I love weekends. Although they're technically not all that different from regular days for me, they're always so much better. Robert is home and we have things to do and everything is lovely! Here are some pictures.

Raisin bran muffins

My "new" bird dress! Haha, you can still see where the hoop was...

New unicorn shirt because I can't stay out of the kid's section at Target. (By the same designer as this one!)

Robert tried scouting a bike-route to his office, and he found this guy on the side of the road!

Poor little fellow! Someone cut off his foot and tangled him up in rope and threw him out a window (I guess).

By the way, thank you for all of the nice comments on the embroidery tutorial! It's seriously so much easier than you can imagine. I hope to start a couple of new projects this week.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

tips from a little blue bird

Hey everybody! I'm back with that tutorial post I promised yesterday. This is going to be somewhat picture-heavy, and I hope no one minds. I also apologize to anyone who's not interested in embroidery, but that's the topic for today!

I've been noticing embroidery everywhere lately, and thought it would be nice to share some tips and show a couple of basic stitches (in fact, the only 2 I know) for anyone who would like to try it. So this is just a very basic "how to start & finish an embroidery project" tutorial!

I mentioned before that I'm using the Stitch-It Kit, but as lovely and helpful as it is, there's no reason to buy a whole embroidery kit if you'd like to learn. You only need these materials:
  • 1 Embroidery Needle (it's just a big sewing needle)
  • some Embroidery Floss/Thread
  • 1 Embroidery hoop (to keep your fabric in place while you work)
  • Iron-On Embroidery Pattern (OPTIONAL - you can either freehand a design or draw something with pencil on the fabric)
  • A hot iron (if you're going to use an iron-on pattern)
  • Fabric to stitch on (your choice! Cotton is probably best - just make sure it's not something really stretchy where your stitches could become distorted)
You can see the iron-on pattern I was working with above. The bird was originally holding a banner, but I didn't like that so I cut it out!

The first step is to figure out what you're going to sew and where. I'd already chosen the bird, and I wanted it in a certain place on a dress. If you're using an iron-on, heat up your iron to the wool/cotton setting. Don't be scared - you're just transferring the picture; this is easy. Supposedly the ink transfers better if the fabric is hot, so warm up the fabric with the iron and then place the pattern face down where you want it. Now carefully press the iron over the pattern. Make sure you get each bit of the picture, or else you might have some missing pieces (though you can always improvise if that happens). Go over it a few times - the pattern might be too light otherwise. You can lift up an edge and peek, but be careful not to shift the pattern.

All done! Mine was a bit light, but I could see it so I was happy. The next thing you'll need to do is to get your fabric in the hoop. An embroidery hoop is a 2-piece creature which is pretty simple to use. You put the smaller hoop under your fabric, then lay the slightly larger one on top. After you've smoothed out the fabric, press down the top hoop and tighten it up. You don't want to stretch your fabric too tight, but that shouldn't really be a problem unless you have ridiculously strong hands. Not too tight, not too loose, but TAUT! I hate that word, but that's what you're going for.

See? Like that. You just need a nice little work space so your stitches can be consistent and even.

Time to work with the embroidery floss. Can I call it thread? I'll call it thread. You need to cut a length of thread to work with. The book that came with my kit had a very good suggestion: cut a strand about as long as the distance from your fingertips to your elbow. It'll go a long way! You need to put the needle on the thread - that's easy enough! I hope I'm not breaking any rules, but I just left the thread like that in the above picture... You'll tie a knot at the other end (below), but I was confused about what to do with this end of the thread. I left it open like this... Is that proper? I don't know, but it worked for me! When I'm using regular thread to sew, I knot both ends together, but I wasn't sure what was protocol with embroidery.

Tie a knot in the other end of the thread. If anybody needs help tying a knot, here's how I do it! Wrap the end around your forefinger (pointer finger?) and then roll it with your thumb. You should have the beginnings of a little knot that you can tighten up! I hope this isn't too obvious -- all I know is that when I'm learning something I like to see lots of pictures and have things thoroughly explained: if you're not familiar with something, it's very easy to get confused and lost in instructions!

Once you've got your thread all ready to go, make your first stitch! You can start anywhere, but you may want to think about your strategy (especially if you plan to use multiple colors). Just bring your needle up through the back of the fabric and then bring it back through again, staying on the line of your pattern. Easy!

But what next? There are a number of ways to make stitches, but here's my favorite: the Split Stitch. See the above picture. When you start your next stitch, bring the needle up through the middle of your previous stitch.

Then put the needle back through the fabric, making another stitch. Just like that!

Annnnnd.... bring it back up through your second stitch! It might look funny at first, but keep going. I like this stitch because it sort of makes the thread look like a little rope or a braid! Continue stitching like this.

Next thing you know, you've got something really cool looking! Just continue doing stitches like that, following the pattern you've made. Sometimes you'll need to start on a new line -- if it's not too far from your last stitch, just go ahead and pull the needle through the fabric wherever you want to start that line. See the above picture for an example. But if it's a completely different section, you may need to stop, tie off the thread in the back, and begin in a new place. We'll talk about that in a minute.

Once you get going, this is really addicting. Just make sure you've got good lighting and some nice music to listen to.

Here's what the back should sort of look like. When you start running out of thread or you want to change colors or start in a new place, it's time to tie off the thread and snip it! Give yourself at least a couple of inches, maybe more to work with.

There are a few ways to do this, but you basically just need to tie a knot in the thread. I like to put the needle in the open knot, and then as you tighten it, press down so that the knot will be as close to the fabric as possible. Whatever you're comfortable with! You can also separate the strands of thread and tie a knot like that.

Keep going and going, until you're nearly done! Or until you're completely done.

I wanted to use yellow for this guy's beak, and I wanted to use a different type of stitch! The best way to fill a solid area, in my amateur opinion, is the Satin Stitch.

You just go back and forth with your stitches, making them as big or small as you need to fill the area. I think it's supposed to look a lot nicer than this, but that's okay! I need to practice.

I used that same technique to fill in his eye, and then I was done! I think the finished result is really cute, and I can't wait to do even more embroidery!

I hope that was helpful to anyone who's interested in trying embroidery. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll see if I can answer them! I'm definitely no expert, but sometimes experts know too much and can't explain the simple stuff so well.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

today is a good day

I've been ridiculously productive today, and I'm proud of myself! You might not believe it, but being home alone all day generally doesn't provide much motivation to get things done. Sometimes a lack of posts and pictures here means nothing inspiring is going on, but in the last couple of days, it's meant I'm keeping busy. And that's a good thing! But here are some pictures of things that have been going on lately, to try and win your favor back.

Pretty heirloom tomatoes!

After the last couple of weeks of birthday celebrations and good times in general, Robert and I are sort of dieting this week. When I say "sort of" I mean he's actually seriously dieting, and I usually end up going along with whatever he does because I'm like a child and can't make food.. haha. Anyhow, I took pictures of the dinner process last night, and whenever Robert writes the text to go along with them, there will be a new recipe on our food blog! I'll let you know when that happens.

I have a secret love for low-light photos.

Yesterday evening I started decorating with a few of my birthday presents. This is a little cabinet in our dining room where we store miscellaneous kitchen items which don't live in the kitchen. And you probably can't see the framed photo from this view, but remember this print I won? It's finally found its new home!

Ignore the wrinkles!

And finally, here's my first finished embroidery project!! I know steam isn't brown, but it made sense at the time! What do you think? I think I'm going to iron this and mail it to my mom. She'll appreciate it; moms love that sort of thing, right?

I especially enjoyed these little loopy sections!

So, that's what I've been up to. I was actually excited about doing laundry this morning so I would have some things to iron... specifically because I wanted to do an iron-on pattern and begin a new embroidery project! And that's exactly what I've been doing all afternoon. I think I may have reached a new level of housewivery. Do I get a reward?

With the new project, I've been taking pictures of each step. I was planning to do a tutorial post today, just a simple how-to about beginning a project and the easiest stitches... but I don't think I'll have enough time before Robert gets home.
Do you know what's going to happen as soon as he gets home? The Beatles: Rock Band. YES! (Of course - he pre-ordered it and it was delivered today- If this game had come out when I was about 10 years old, I would have died from happiness. My sister and I had a major case of Beatlemania in the mid-90s.)

But expect a tutorial tomorrow! I promise I'll do it!

Monday, September 7, 2009

back home

We're back from a little weekend trip to Memphis! We had a nice time visiting Robert's family and hanging around town. Unfortunately my camera battery was running low, so I was very conservative with my picture-taking and don't have many nice photos to show!

photo by Justin!

My brother-in-law took it upon himself to take a billion ridiculous pictures of us, and I thought this one was nice so I made him email it to me. Robert's parents have such a cute house. Good times all around!

I'll try to come back with a real post in the next day or two-- I was very happy to see all the interest in embroidery on the last post, and I'm excited about starting some new projects!

Friday, September 4, 2009

stitching into the future

I'm happy to announce that I'm completely addicted to embroidery! I finally got started with my Stitch-It Kit a couple of days ago, and I haven't looked back. I'm still working on my first project, a tea towel, but I'm already way past the point in the picture (which I took last night). It's an easy and relaxing activity that allows me to feel like I'm doing something creative and productive all at once -- those sorts of things are hard to come by for me, because I'm easily distracted and I don't like big projects.

I've also been thinking up more things I could do with my newfound-skill! It's sort of exciting. I'm considering expanding my shop beyond vintage, to include handmade items (or reworked/embellished vintage). To tell the truth, my shop was originally all handmade items, but I only ever sold 1 thing [to someone I knew, so I felt like it didn't count] before I realized that vintage was a much bigger seller. However, as you may have noticed, I'm sort of getting bored with my Etsy shop. I feel awful saying that, but I just haven't been enjoying the process as much lately! I think I'll keep it up, but the items going into my shop have definitely slowed down. I think I may be taking it in a new direction soon! Let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject; some of you readers have been customers and you're all lovely people so I totally value your feedback.

I hope everyone has an exciting weekend - we've got a long one coming up, and I'll be out of town for most of it so I may not post here for a few days!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

rainy days

Check out this awesome rain coat! Yesterday afternoon I decided to check out a thrift store* I haven't been to before, and I'm so glad I went. My first impression was, "Wow... this place is nice." Everything seemed in very good condition and thoughtfully arranged. I wasn't sure it was my kind of thrift store, though (I'm sure you know what I mean!), until I found a rack of 50% off Autumn coats. Everything on that rack was amazing, and I immediately grabbed an armful of retro raincoats that were priced between $5-8 (and marked half off of that). I had to calm myself down when I found all of the boots... I actually had to go put most of the coats back because they were getting in the way of my boot-looking. Oh, I wish I'd had an excuse to buy some of those boots! Unfortunately, most of them weren't vintage (so I couldn't justify getting them to resell) and none of them fit me. But I shall return in the future to peruse that boot section!

Anyhow, there's an incredible thunderstorm going on today and I'm trying to figure out how to jump-start my brain [it's so dark out - I don't want to do anything]! I've obviously fallen off the blogging-wagon this week. There are just so many things to do. I'm going to try to add a few things to my Etsy shop this afternoon - keep an eye on it if you'd like!

*If you're curious, it was Our Thrift Store, and I'd definitely recommend a visit by anyone who happens to be in the area! I had a little chat with the owner; he was super nice! I can't wait to go back for more thrifting action (and for personal shopping.. because really, I wanted everything there).