Hello, Wisconsin!

At the very end of 2014, Nick and I packed up all of our belongings and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for my new job as a Young Adult Librarian (yay!). We found a cute little apartment in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood that accepted pitbulls and snatched it up as fast as we could. We’ve spent the past month and a half working diligently to make the place feel like home and this weekend I completed a project I’ve had on my plate since we moved in – make curtains for the closet.

You see, our two bedroom apartment only has one closet and it happens to be located in our guest/hobby room and it also just so happens to have no doors (the apartment is missing doors in several key areas, but more on that later…):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at and while I don’t care that my underwear is on display for all to see, it might make some guests uncomfortable. What I do care about is having a room that’s conducive to my creative process and to relaxation and this cluttered mess just doesn’t cut it. I need a place that’s bright, inviting and relatively clutter free!

Luckily I found just the right amount of Jessica Jones’ Leaflet fabric (one of the few fabrics that Nick and I could agree on) at The Needle Shop in Chicago last weekend.

Ian MacKaynine clearly approves and was probably hoping I’d make him some new pillows out of it. Sorry buddy…ianI went with Leaflet, because our hobby room at our old place had a teal accent wall that made the room feel bright and cheery. Plus, I liked the symmetry of the leaf pattern and it seemed fitting since the hobby/guest room looks out onto our yard.

Since I finally had a weekend without band commitments or family commitments, I pulled out the cutting table and my sewing shears and got to work as soon as the sun went down on Valentine’s Day.* OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI haven’t used my sewing machine in a few months, so curtains were a good project to get back into the swing of things, since they’re simple. Most of the work was measuring, pinning and ironing all of my seams, which isn’t so bad if you have good music to listen to…

Closet Curtain Playlist 2015

  1. Adorable – Against Perfection
  2. The Beatles – With the Beatles
  3. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak
  4. The Police – Greatest Hits
  5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Living with the Living
  6. Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  7. Saves the Day – Stay What You Are
  8. Common – Be

After a few stabbed fingers and about a dozen songs into The Police’s Greatest Hits, curtain number 1 was done and I was ready to call it a night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy early Sunday afternoon, the closet looked like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So much better!

I even managed to get the leaves along the center seam to line up fairly well. Not perfectly, but I’ll take it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that that’s taken care of, I feel like I can finally figure out what’s going to go up on the walls in that room and clear out the rest of the clutter in there so it becomes a room I want to hang out in and that I’m not embarrassed to let other people stay in.

Next big project – install doors to our bedroom and the guest/hobby room since the only room that currently has doors in our apartment is the bathroom…

*Nothing says “I love you” better than letting your partner do their thing when they feel inspired even if that inspiration happens to strike on a day when you’re supposed to be glued at the hip.

 

Rekindling My Love of Photography via Boots

Whatcha doing mom?

Whatcha doing mom?

Uploading lots and lots of pictures, baby girl!

I’ve been picking my camera up a lot more lately. Like with every other hobby I have, I go through phases and spring and summer tend to mean more photos. There’s just something about sunny days and green trees that makes me want to capture moments, people and things.

This was the shot that inspired me to start taking pictures regularly again. It’s the first picture I’ve taken that I really, really like in a while.

Boots

Boots – Hammond, IN 2014

It’s a shot of my band, Boots (in which I play keyboard), wearing our boots outside of a punk house in Hammond, IN where we did some of our recording. Hopefully it will end up on the insert of our demo tape. My favorite thing about it is that it captures all of our personalities to a T and if you know us, it’s pretty easy to pick out who’s who.

We’re playing our second show and recording vocals for our demo tape next week! The ladies in the band are strong, smart and inspiring and I can’t wait to spend more time hanging out with them and playing shows this summer!

Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 2 – Table and Couch Assembly

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the past few weeks, Nick and I have been building furniture from old doors and it all started because of the vintage brown door you see above; which Nick found in an alley a couple of years ago. It’s been living on our back porch ever since, waiting for the perfect project.

As I mentioned in my first post about this project, we acquired a few more doors via Craigslist and decided to turn them into a bench, a couch and an end table.

The first thing we built right after cutting our wood was the end table. I got to use a power drill for the first time and managed to break my first drill bit on the fifth hole (whoops!). Nick hovered while I drilled at first and the experience brought back tension-filled memories of my dad teaching me to drive in his car, so I asked him to give me space and he left me to my own devices. I felt bad about the drill bit, but I replaced it with a two-pack a couple of days later.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we had to wait a couple of days to finish the table, due to a broken drill bit, Nick, re-evaluated how he was going to construct it. He decided to use dowels and wood glue in addition to the joint he put in to make it sturdier.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe joints were made from pieces of scrap wood that were drilled into the insides of the table legs and the underside of the table. They’re what I was working on when I broke the bit.

Here’s Nick gluing the leg in place before attaching it to the joint with some wood screws:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here’s the lovely, Ian MacKaynine, posing with the assembled table:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next thing we worked on was the couch, because we needed a place for the Baran’s to sit when they came to visit us last weekend!

We stood the doors up on their ends and Nick drilled holes and screwed the elbow joints in while I help the doors upright.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t very sturdy with just the elbow joints, so we added some off-cuts from an old door along the joint in order to help stabilize it. Then we tipped the couch onto its back and attached the legs with some more elbow joints:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe carefully tipped it right side up and here’s the finished couch!:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext post will cover cushion construction and the bench, so stay tuned!

 

 

DIY Stamps and Zines!

You may have noticed a lack of posts around mid-March. That’s cause I was prepping for the 5th annual Chicago Zine Fest at Columbia College.

This year I made 2 zines. Second City Vegan, a vegan cook zine with recipes from the blog I’ve been doing for a few years (secondcityvegan.org) and the second issue of my perzine Rip It Up and Start Again (not pictured).

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I wanted to fill the white space under the banner with something so I came up with the idea of making stamps of kitchen images (a pizza cutter, a mixer and a knife). This was my first foray into making stamps and I was lucky enough to have Nick’s steady hands at my disposal. I drew the images for the stamps and he carved them for me. Next time I plan on carving them myself now that I’ve seen him do it. I also may update the mixer to make sure it includes the beaters, since we missed them somehow.

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I ended up selling out of both the 1st and 2nd issues of Rip It Up and Start Again at the fest, but I still have a few Second City Vegan zines which I will be putting on consignment over at Quimby’s later this week. I also ended up selling a bunch of my photo post cards!

Overall it was my most successful zine fest yet and I had a great time tabling and talking to folks about my zines and my photographs!

 

Keeping the Winter Blues at Bay

February is probably my least favorite month of the year. Even though it’s the shortest month it always seems to drag on forever. It’s cold, gloomy and monotonous and there isn’t a lot to look forward to besides Valentine’s Day. These days all I can think about is starting my veggie seeds indoors, enjoying temperatures above 40 degrees and taking long walks with the dogs.

I think Ian and Harlow are in the same boat:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our apartment has been so drafty the past two months that they spend a lot of time cuddling together; rather than playing, so whenever we go outside Harlow pulls like she’s competing in the Iditarod. Then she gets cold and plays “let’s see how many paws I can lift off the ground and still move”, which is both funny and heartbreaking, so our evening and weekend walks together have been very short.

Unfortunately for us it looks like this winter is going to be a long one, so in an effort to break up the monotony of life, I have 1) started playing fetch indoors with the dogs and Nick has started creating treat scavenger hunts for them, and 2) I’ve started knitting a hat.

I like hats, because they’re quick, easy and extremely useful in this weather. I’ve had my current hat for four years now and I’ve worn it every single day this winter, so I figured it’s time for a change.

Here’s my old hat:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made this hat using Lion Brand Homespun in Blue Moon on circular needles. However, I had problems using the circular needles when I made it since they were too long and once I joined my initial stitches it was a pain to knit around ’cause everything would get too tight, so this time around I’ve decided to use double pointed needles, which I have never used before, in the hopes of making the process easier and faster.

Here’s what I started last night while watching TV:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This time around I’m using Lion Brand Homespun in Colonial, which has an indigo hue to it. I’m excited to have a new hat and will hopefully have it done by early next week. As much as I’m enjoying making the portrait of Ian, I just needed a break since it’s an involved project.

Next on my list of side projects: ZINES! Chicago Zine Fest is 29 days away (March 14 & 15 – mark your calendars) – I have so much to do, yikes!

La Loteria, Frida, Stars and Roses!

Thanks to Sew Mama Sew, I took advantage of a couple of great fabric shops (Fabric Worm and Hawthorne Threads) year-end sales and acquired these awesome fabrics. I’m excited to oil up the sewing machine and start working on projects!

I’ve been in love with Frida Kahlo since I was in my early 20’s. Her story and her art taught me a thing or two about self-acceptance. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this. I’m thinking of either turning it into a skirt or a tote bag. La Loteria (which is kind of like the Mexican form of Bingo) print will probably also meet a similar fate.

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I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the Valentina Ramos print below for quite a while now. I plan to make it into a lovely summer dress. I have several patterns for such a thing, so it’s going to be hard to decide.

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Finally, this last fabric caught my eye because it reminded me of the Chicago flag and it will probably end up getting turned into a wallet or pouch of some sort.

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I probably won’t be working on any apparel items until I’m done cross-stitching Ian’s portrait, but in the meantime I may complete a few small projects like totes and placemats!

Let it Snow

As much as I hate the ice snow eventually melts into, I love the calm, quiet beauty after it’s just snowed and those cold snowy days give me an excuse to stay indoors and work on crafts! Lucky for me we’ve had a snowy December in Chicago.

Life has been a little nutty lately thanks to the upcoming holidays, but I’ve managed to finish a few projects I had in the works and start some new ones that I’m pretty excited about.

Here’s some of what I’ve been working on lately:

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Sitting on my little wooden chair at my sewing machine for hours can get a little uncomfortable, so I bought some teal fabric to match the craft room’s accent wall and made myself the cushion/pillow you see above, so I can either sit on it or use it for back support depending on what I’m working on.

I made the blanket draped over the back of the chair back in early November at one of The Needle Shop’s mitered blanket classes. It’s baby blanket size, but since I wasn’t completely happy with my top stitching on it, I decided to keep it as a lap blanket for myself when I sit in the craft room since it can get pretty chilly in there, rather than having other people see my botched work. It just so happens that the fabrics in the blanket match my accent wall AND pillow and the little elephants just make me smile every time I see them. Next I’m planning on making some placemats to practice my new mitering skills.

Mitered Blanket

Here’s a shot of the blanket I took, right after completing it in class!

We’ve been dropping into negative temperatures a lot lately, so I recently bought myself these fabrics from The Needle Shop to turn into blouses and shorts for the spring/summer, as a reminder that after this weekend the days will start to get longer and warmth and sunshine are just around the corner.

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Finally, since I love stitching AND photography, I recently decided to purchase WinStitch so I can turn my photos into cross-stitch patterns. First up, I’ll be stitching up this adorable picture of my dog, Ian MacKaynine.

ian pillow

I’m on the fence as to whether I should turn it into a throw pillow or frame it and hang it up somewhere – it all depends on how much time I end up putting into it and what the finished product looks like.

We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm in Chicago this weekend, so hopefully I can use it as an excuse to stitch to my heart’s content.

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice!