Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Suzy Homemaker's the name

You know those days when the stars align and Jupiter is in the fifth house of Saturn and everything just clicks?  I had one of those days today and I have to document it because I'm pretty sure it'll be a while before it happens again.

Sofia started a Mom's Morning Out program this week.  Monday was her first day and tomorrow will be her second.  She didn't do all that great with the full-day program in Dallas so I thought we'd try a morning program and ease her into things.  It's the perfect set-up because it's from 9-11:30 and I found a couple of yoga classes during that time.  So I drop her off, go to class, and head back with time to spare.  On Monday I sat in the car and made a couple of phone calls and finished my grocery list before it was time to pick her up.  It was perfect!

But they wasted no time letting me know what was up.  They handed me a stack of papers when I arrived, one of them being their 'newsletter', where they informed the parents that it was 'Halloween Week' and they were going to have a 'costume parade' and 'feel free to bring treats.'

Well, I know what that means.  It means bring treats or you suck.  And Sofia can't be the kid whose mom sucks because she hates cooking.  I'm already stressing because I thought I could skate through with her hand-me-down costume that's a pinch too small, but there's nothing I can do about that now.  So I had to come through with the treats.

I bought a 29 ounce can of pumpkin (don't ask me why because I have no clue) so guess what?  I'm bringing pumpkin treats!

Thank the baby Jesus the stars aligned and more importantly, Sofia behaved.  She's been pretty clingy lately, but today she was content to be near me instead of on me like she usually is.  I took full advantage of that and got to work.

Not only did I make a shit-ton of pumpkin treats, I even got all the laundry done!  I put in a load, mixed up my stuff.  I took it out, put it in the dryer, then put stuff in the oven.  I took stuff out of the dryer, and took stuff out of the oven.  I was a well-oiled machine!  And the whole time Sofia amused herself by playing on the kitchen floor with her stickers, or standing in her tower 'helping' me.
I want to know why these kids look so creepy.
Also, I got my tower from Craigslist for $60.
I saw the price on Amazon and promptly clicked away, knowing I could do better than that.
I did and Sofia loves it!  She loves being in the middle of the action, but who's really surprised by that?

First up were the pumpkin poppers.  PS, all of these recipes are on my Pinterest, so if you're interested you should follow me!  Or, you know, just click the links.  But you should follow me too because I love finding new recipes to try.
This recipe calls for two teaspoons of baking powder, but the comments said to use baking soda too so I used half a teaspoon of each and they came out amazing!
Pumpkin poppers - success!

Next up were the pumpkin sandwich cookies.  It's a gluten free recipe but I just used regular flour and vanilla and regular everything else.  I had lofty goals of making a gluten-free treat for the kids who may have issues but that ended when I was in the store and saw that gluten-free flour was $6 for a teeny little thing of it!  AND I had nearly a full bag of regular flour at home, that was all organic and grass-fed and non GMO and hella expensive in its own right!  Plus I would have had to buy gluten-free vanilla and I forget what else.  Anyway, sorry gluten-free kids.  
I'm actually genuinely sorry because these little things?  DEE-LISH.
They're more cake-like than cookie but they're soo good!

But I wasn't done yet!  Next up were the pumpkin bars.  I hesitated for a second because it said you had to make them in a jelly roll pan and I didn't have one.  But Google told me that a rimmed cookie sheet is pretty much the same as a jelly roll pan and that, I did have!
My pumpkin masterpieces!
PS, doesn't my backsplash look sexy?

I had leftover frosting from the sandwich cookies so I used that to ice the pumpkin bars.  It was surprisingly easy to get it all done, mostly because they all pretty much have the same ingredients.  It was nothing to mix up a batch, cook it and get to making another recipe.  I put on some music and it was a really fun day.

And I even made dinner to boot!
This is one of my favorite recipes and I make at least twice a month.
It's super simple and super yummy!

All the treats are in their containers, ready for me to take to school and I hope they go over well. Even if they don't, I had fun making them and we have a pumpkin carving party to go to this weekend, so I'll unload them there.

I'm really looking forward to the start of the holidays.  Even though I have done zero decorating for Halloween/fall/Thanksgiving, doing all that cooking really put me in the spirit.  It's been gorgeous here lately and one of the things I didn't realize I missed in Dallas was the change of seasons.  Seeing the leaves turn is a beautiful sight I forgot I loved.  Putting the baby in her stroller and walking the dog has become one of my favorite parts of the day.  Crunching the leaves and breathing in that crisp fall air really puts a smile on my face.

Listen to me, getting all mushy over the weather.  Check back with me when it's snowing.  I'm sure I'll be full of my regular hate and loathing.

But for now, wish me luck with my treats for school!  I want the other kids to be like wow Sofia, your mom is awesome.  And yes, I know babies can't talk like that yet.  

I just want them to think it.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The shelves of success

The Curtains of Failure are still in Sofia's room and there's no telling when I'm going to regain the stamina to tackle them.  However, I have a win to report and they are the Shelves of Success!
I'm also hereby done with apologizing for my crappy photos.
This is not a photography blog and my phone is most often the only thing I have with me to capture these moments in between chasing my kid.
This is a life blog and life is blurry sometimes and you have to just go with it.

So anyway, the shelves!  Drew had been gone the whole week, which is why I wasn't online much.  I spent my nights painting or zoning out because Sofia is turning into a real live person with real live opinions.  Those opinions aren't always the most positive and she has no qualms about letting me know what's up.  

As in "I'm done with my dinner right this very second and I'm so done with it that I don't even want it in my presence, therefore I'm going to throw it on the floor.  Oh you want me to drink some milk?  I don't think so.  I'm going to chuck my sippy cup across the room now, thanks.  Oh, was it a little bit open because I know how to unscrew things and now there's milk everywhere?  How unfortunate for you.  Haha, you thought I was done?  For my next trick, I'm going to whine and cry like I've never been fed in my life, but when you give me food I'm going to throw it again.  Isn't this the most fun game ever?!?!"

And that's just dinner time.  Changing her diaper is enough to make me break a sweat because the chick is strong and if she doesn't want her diaper changed, it ain't gettin changed.  This is a problem when she has a poopy butt.  I try to reason with her, but yeah.  Doesn't work so well.

So by the end of the day, all I want to do is have a glass of wine and watch tv or pin things.  I was all kinds of glassy-eyed and out of it when Drew got home on Friday.  A week alone with a toddler is enough to give you a drinking problem.  Oh wait....

Anyway, Saturday we had a family day and we went to IKEA.  I wanted to get some bookcases to make some faux built-ins because I'm jonesing for books in our house.  A house with no books is a house with no soul.  I'm Dying to get my books out of the boxes in the basement but there's no place for them right now.
I wanted to put these in the living room under the tv
and move the mirrored buffet to another wall but they wouldn't fit.

So even though we didn't get the bookcases, we didn't leave empty-handed.  I picked up some shelves for our bathroom and a couple of the RIBBA picture ledges.

I had every intention of making my own.  I even went to Lowe's and had them cut the wood for me and everything!
I even busted out the drill and made pilot holes and screwed them together and everything!

But then Sofia threw food in my face and I lost my will to live.  I had no more energy and suddenly, looking at those bare shelves and knowing that I'd have to screw the other ones together, and then put wood filler over the screw holes, and then sand them, and then prime them, and then wait for the primer to dry, and then paint them, and then wait for the first coat to dry, and then sand them again to get the smooth finish, and then paint them again, and then poly them, well that was enough to make me cry with exhaustion.

So even though it was cheaper to make my own shelves, I spent the money for the IKEA ones because they were already done.  And I didn't even have to screw them into the wall - my awesome hubby did that for me.  So yeah, it was worth the extra dollars.

Because I love my shelves of success!  I love them so much I'm going to show you every single thing on them.
Technically, this isn't on the shelves, but it counts.
Sofia's Uncle Nate and Auntie Julie had this made for her first birthday and 
I love it.  Plus, now that we live in Pennsylvania we HAVE to represent the Lone Star State!
When we were in Rio, there was a guy walking around with tiles and paints.
He spoke no English and we spoke no Portuguese, but that didn't stop him from
chatting us up while he finger painted on the tiles.
I was so bummed that the paint got smudged before it was fully dry, but it's still awesome.
When we visited the Selaron steps, Selaron himself signed one of his tiles for Sofia.
The black pregnant woman is an iconic image throughout all of his work. 
It's said that he lost his wife when she was pregnant and that's why she's in all his art.
I'm no good at Portuguese but I think it says "To live in a favela is an art.  No one steals, no one eavesdrops, nothing gets lost, you stay strong, you obey? you stay fair?" 
Something like that.  I think.
Regardless, it's awesome and I love it.
The day after she was born, in her fancy princess frame.
her first year
This was the first finger painting that the guy did for us.  He was going on and on and I could only pick up every fourth word, but he was talking about family and how they need to be rooted like trees and nourished so they grow, 
all the while making this awesome little finger painting on a regular white tile.
And I love that Sofia's the baby tree.
Next to it is a block that my dear friend Brandi sent to us right after Sofia was born.
My mom gave me this poem and I thought it only fitting to give it to my daughter.
The frame is kind of wedding-y, but it'll do.
Sofia's handprint
Daddy and his baby.  I'm only just now realizing it looks like Drew
has a giant bow on his head.

I'm also realizing I suck at life because I didn't take a picture of the rest of the top shelf.  I have her baptismal Bible, the hat she wore when she was born and a little stuffed giraffe that her friend Mathilda gave her for Christmas.
Hanging off the edge of the bottom shelf.

My shelves are not "styled" with attention to "height" or "layering" or "flow" or any other design terms you want to throw out there.  They are simply filled with things I absolutely love. They mean the world to me and I get the biggest smile when I walk into her room and that makes them a rousing success.

Bit by bit, we are making this our home.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

There oughta be a law

They should tell you that you shouldn't try a new design/craft while you have a raging case of the PMS.  Otherwise, you'll mope and cry about it for days and days and DAYS.

But no one told me that, so I attempted a design craft thing that failed SO HARD that I was completely miserable and inconsolable for an entire day, so much so that we had to leave town so I wouldn't have to face my failure.

Okay, so we were already planning to leave town, but it was a good thing we left when we did because I was a MESS y'all.

It was the curtains.  Sofia's curtains are trying to kill me.

As if it weren't enough that the bamboo shades nearly took my will to live, the curtains had me on the floor, curled up in a ball crying my face off.  Yes it was the PMS, but my colossal curtain failure did nothing to help.
 This is where I wanted to go.
However, I took a wrong turn and ended up at Oh Hell Naw.
You don't want to end up there.

The above picture shows two regular size windows, nice and rectangular and vertical.  My weird horizontal windows should have been my first clue that this wouldn't work.  Oh but no.  I forged ahead with abandon.
See those two side by side windows?  
They're 95 inches wide.
Do you have any idea how frickin wide that is?
It's really frickin wide.

And you can actually see the fabric I chose in the above picture.  I wanted something to coordinate with the striped fabric that was already there, so I went back to Hawthorne Threads.
My original happy stripes.
They make me so happy.
The coordinating color, also making me very happy.

I had no idea how much fabric I would need for my shades, so I was very scientific about it:  When I went to order, it said there were six yards left in stock, so I bought six yards.  Very scientific.

It came, and sat in the bag for over a month because I had so much anxiety about making the curtains.  I eventually got over it and got started.  There were no tutorials for making a no sew roman shade for a 95 inch window, so I had to wing it.  Winging it is not how you want to approach a new project.  

Since this was just a window decoration, I didn't need it to work and this tutorial used staples - that's right up my alley!  This one calls for some sewing and wooden dowels, which is why hers is 56 times better than mine.  I did not sew or use wooden dowels, therefore my curtains sucked.  Ass.

I ironed it and laid it out.
 I bought some more blackout liner, this time just to add weight to the fabric.
I folded the fabric over and fabric glued the two together, just on the sides.

I made my blackout fabric the same size as the orange fabric, which I later learned you shouldn't do - the blackout fabric should be smaller than your outside fabric.

Most of the rest went somewhat smoothly, until it came time to do the pleats.  The Pleats.  Good Lord, the pleats.  I tried everything - I drew a sketch on some paper, I tried to come up with a math formula that would tell me where to fold to give me even pleats, I tried to mock fold my giant fabric.  Nothing worked and I spent hours and hours trying to get it right.
Don't let this picture fool you.  
It only looked good on the floor.
PS, I hung it up using this tutorial.

When you have a shade this big, you need to secure the shit out of it.  I should have sewed it.  I should have used more hot glue.  I should have had a professional do this for me.
Because this is what I ended up with.
Cue the ugly crying.
I promptly fell on the floor and started bawling my eyes out.

You guys, I spent So. Much. Time. trying to get these curtains right.  It took so many nights, I was soo tired, I got glue everywhere, my head hurt trying to figure out the math that would give me even pleats and it didn't even work!

I should have glued the entire orange fabric to the blackout liner.  I should have sewed, because it was just too wide and too heavy to hold its own weight.  I was so upset that I wasted the fabric and  the time and that I'd probably have to start over.  At one point, I asked Drew to help me and he was all matter of fact and logical and was like, "It's almost 11 at night, this is your project."  When it was such a failure he was like "What do you expect?  You weren't prepared and you didn't know how to do it."

Never EVER say that to someone who has a raging case of PMS.  NEVER.  I may have thrown a fit and been like "Never mind!  I regret asking for your help ANYWAY.  You're SO MEAN.  Never mind!!"

Lucky for him, the next day we left and spent the day in Philly.  We had a family day and took Sofia to the Please Touch Museum and on the drive to Philly, he apologized for not helping me and we brainstormed how to fix the curtains and salvage as much of the fabric as possible.  Spending time as a family, away from the house did so much to improve my mood. 
So did my little bus driver.
Checking out at the grocery store
They crazy thing is no one's ever told her that's what you do with cow udders.
How do they learn this stuff?

We had a great day in Philly and it was nice to get away from the Curtains of Failure.  Of course, they taunt me every time I go into Sofia's room because I don't have the energy to take them down.  Eventually, I'll have to return to the drawing board but I just can't right now.

So, in classic me fashion, I've moved on to something else.  I finally painted our living room and I'm taking on another project.

I already got my wood, they cut it all for me and all I have to do is assemble and paint them!  Now this is something I can do and I'm hoping this little project will give me more success than the Curtains of Failure.  

Because I hate those stupid curtains.

And of course, if y'all have any advice on how to salvage them or tips or suggestions, I welcome them.  Anything to save me from more tears.  

Who am I kidding - we all know I'll be right back here next month.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The bamboo shades that nearly ended me

Hi.  It's me.  I have an epic tale to tell and I need a favor from you.

I don't ask for favors often.  Well, maybe I do, but this one is for real.  I need you to pin this post. I need you to share this with your friends, your mom, your grandma, your teacher at school.  I nearly lost my will to live completing this particular task and I don't want my suffering to be in vain.  If I can help just one person, if I can keep one person from cursing and crying and shaking their fist at the sky, well then, my job here is done.  So please, tell a friend or use this info yourself, whatever.  I just don't want this information to go to waste.  Here goes.
And just so you know I'm serious about you sharing this, I'm not even going to curse in this post.  Even though there was so much cursing in real life.  
Oh so much.

Okay, so here's the deal.  We have a ranch house built in the 1960s.  Ranch houses very commonly have what I will henceforth refer to as 'weird windows.'
They're gorgeous and huge, but they're horizontal instead of vertical
 and they're really close to the ceiling.

I come from the land of 'regular windows.'  You know, vertical rectangular windows where you can cut some fabric, hang a rod and call it a window treatment.  I was all ready to do the same to these windows, scouring Pinterest and Google for 'corner window treatments' when I ran into the problem that nearly ended it all for me.

We have baseboard heat in this house.  That's the white thing along the floor.  Instead of central heat with the vents in the ceiling or even old school vents in the floor, we have to have these long heaters along all the floors, TOTALLY jacking up my plan for window treatments.

Because you see, you can't hang curtains anywhere near baseboard heat because of the fire hazard.  Even though the heaters don't get hot enough to burn and I've seen people ignore the rule and hang curtains anyway, I didn't want to chance it in my baby's nursery.  The furniture is in front of them, a safe distance away, but that didn't solve my curtain dilemma.

They say that IF you did curtains, they'd have to stop 12 inches away from the heater.  That's in the middle of the wall and that is NOT the business.  So I ditched that idea with a quickness and went straight to Plan B:  Bamboo shades.

They look great, give a bit of texture and they're not expensive.  I ordered mine from Overstock because they have a billion different kinds with not-easily-found widths and lengths.  Plus, they have fast shipping and their customer service is the BOMB.  My windows are 41.5 inches and I mistakenly ordered the 40 inch shades instead of the 41 inch ones.  When I went to return them, online it said I couldn't.  But when I called customer service, not only did they authorize my return, they gave me a $15 credit to use when I ordered the 41 inch shades!  How's that for customer service!  So buy your shades from Overstock.  That's about the only thing I did right.

However, the 41 inch shades were 98 inches long - waaay too long for my 35 inch long windows.  So off I went to Google to find a tutorial for shortening bamboo shades.
Found it!

This is a great tutorial, and I don't have much to add to it.  But her shades and mine have different hardware so between the two, I'm sure you'll be able to shorten your shades too.

I flipped my shade over and it looked nothing like hers, but it was very straightforward.  The loopy things on the left control the accordion motion of the shade.  The straight cord makes it go up and down.  I measured how long I wanted my shade to be and started to unwind the cords from the keyring holder things.
Once you've decided how short your shade will be, tie a knot at the lower ring and carefully make your cut.  If your desired length falls between rings, cut your shade so it's longer.
It's better to be longer.

So far, you haven't cut the shade itself.  That's because you have to hot glue it first, otherwise when you cut it, it will promptly unravel and you'll have little bamboo shoots all over your floor.  That's the first time I cursed.  The tutorial was like 'you may want to glue the leftover part of the shade.'  I say you MUST glue it unless you want to stop in the middle of your project to clean up bamboo shoots.
 Glue dots above and below the bamboo shoot I'm going to remove.
The tutorial said to glue the front and back of the shade; 
I found that gluing just the back was plenty fine.
I used a box cutter to get underneath each little thread to cut it loose and remove the shoot.  Once I had it removed, I used scissors to cut the rest of the threads.
I don't know why this picture won't load right, but you can still get the idea.
See how my ring is a good distance from the end of the shade.  You want that because you're going to fold up the shade at least a couple of inches to 'hem' it.
So that's how much I folded up to hem the shade.  I just ran a line of glue across the shade, folded it up and pressed them together.
This is different from the previous picture because I was learning as I was going.
Good thing I had three shades.
The previous picture didn't have as big a hem and I wish it did because the shade lays better with a bigger hem.  Let my mistake make your shades be more awesome.

That's it!  Flip your shade over and hang your new, shorter, bamboo shade!  A few notes of caution though:
  • The pull cord will be crazy long.  Make sure the shade is all the way down before you cut the cord.  Otherwise you will curse your face off because it took you so ridiculously long to figure out how to shorten the stupid shade, only to cut the cord so short that the dumb thing can't be let down all the way.  Then you'll have to go to JoAnn's, cursing the whole way to buy more cord because you have to restring the whole stupid shade because you weren't paying attention.
  • Hot glue will burn you.  Be careful.  I lost feeling in my right pointer finger for a minute because I burned it so badly.
  • Now that you know how to do it, it won't take you three days and lots of cursing to do it.  Be happy about that. 

But you will have your shades!
And no, they're not even on the bottom and I don't care.
Getting this far took me entirely too long, with way too much cursing
and near tears so guess what, that's how they're staying.

Now comes the hard part.

Sofia's room is at the front of the house and when cars drive down our street, it's as bright as the day in there, so I had to line the shades with blackout fabric.  For that, I found this tutorial.
She made it look so easy.
It's not, unless you do it right.

This tutorial is very straightforward, but she left out one very significant bit of knowledge.  A bit of knowledge that caused me to yet again curse my face off when I realized my mistake.  But I'm giving you this bit of knowledge so you won't have to curse your face off and once again, you'll be able to do this right the first time instead of having to hang up and take down your shade at least five times, like I did.  You ready for me to drop this knowledge?  Okay!

You must stitch your shade at the points where it folds.  For my shade, it was at the rings.  If you don't, regardless of where you stitch, your lining will droop and you will curse your face off.
Like so.
This was the first shade I stitched and there was oh so much cursing when I pulled it up and the blackout lining drooped from behind.
I learned from my mistake and the second and third shade went off without a hitch.
Again with the horizontal pictures loading vertically.
Blogger is working my nerves tonight.

Anyway, you see the outline of the ring under the blackout fabric?  You draw an imaginary line across your shade at the ring and you stitch along that line.  You must have a curved upholstery needle to do this; a straight one won't work and you can get a pack of them at JoAnn's for like five bucks. Feel the shade for any of the threads and sew the liner to the shade, being careful to stay clear of the pulleys.  

After about a week of trying to get this done during naps that were never long enough, I finally finished.  I shortened my shades and lined them with blackout fabric.  It's totally worth it because Sofia's room is pitch black now and the shades look great in the daytime.  It wasn't easy and I cursed and cried, but it's done.  And again, if I can help just one person then it was worth it.

Now I just have to muster the will to finish her curtain.  I mean, her faux no sew roman shade/valance.  That little project is going just swimmingly.  There's not nearly as much cursing, but trying to construct a 95 inch valance is kind of a pain.

Actually, it's a huge pain.  A 95 inch pain.  I really hope it looks good when I'm done.



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