Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Bluebird of Happiness

This was my project today: a felt bird key chain from Mollie Makes magazine, issue #26.

It's entirely hand sewn.

And I was able to try the oilcloth coin purse from May that didn't turn out the first time I did it. I got a little further along than I did last time, but I still didn't succeed.

However, I did see what I think part of the problem was here. It seems that when I follow the template (printed out from Mollie Makes' own website) it is too narrow for the coin purse clasp. Which is a shame, because I really liked the oilcloth fabric pattern. I've found that oilcloth, as a fabric, is a sticky little bitch to sew.

But I'm thinking that maybe I can rescue the coin purse clasp and try it again later on with a wider fabric base.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Putting My Clothes on a Diet

I just got done finishing the Merona dress. I put in a few little gathers in the back just above the waist to make it fit a little better. Once I completely removed the belt, it was too big for me.

And I finished another little modifying clothing project. I picked up a emerald green, polyester/rayon short sleeved button down shirt by Apt. 9. This one came from the thrift store but originally, I believe it was bought at Kohl's. I love the Apt. 9 dresses and have a couple of them, so that's how I know this brand.

I bought this shirt knowing it was going to be waaaaaaaaaay too big for me. It was originally a 3XL. But I loved it and knew I could take it in and make it smaller.

I took in both side seams, removing about two inches in width, if not more, and I put in a little pleat in the back, taking it in another quarter inch or so. I also had to make the arms a little smaller as well.

I'll be honest...the inside is kind of rough looking, but I was going for secure seams. And now, I believe this fits like a regular XL sized shirt. I'm pretty proud of it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Update on the Bench

I'm almost getting there! Here is where the bench stands, as of this afternoon. Just last night, my husband (who has been willingly dragged into this project) cut the new wood for the seat, as well as the wood strips going across the front and the two support beams in the middle. The lighter colored wood is new. (I needed to add a strip of wood across the front because the front was lower than the bottom, for some damn reason.) I don't remember if it's oak or pine anymore. All I know is that Home Depot and Lowe's do NOT sell planks of wood wider than 12". If you want wood wider than that, you have to buy it as plywood, which was a bit of a bummer to me.

My husband, who did the wood cutting for me, looked at the bench like this and asked, "Are you making it into a toilet?" Ha ha, very funny! :)
After I fought with the wood screws, attaching this new piece of wood to the frame, my husband comes back out to the garage and says, "You should have used finishing nails," and then proceeds to show me the air hammer he has. :)  He doesn't like the way the screw heads look on the wood and also thinks he should have shown me how to countersink them. He is not content with knowing that the piece of wood here will NOT be seen, unless you go to open the little door. (I'm going to cover a cushion for the seat to make it comfy, so that's why it won't be seen and the screws don't matter.)

Let me tell you...there was nothing even about this piece. The sides are different widths, the angles at which the front "flares" a little wider than the back are different. I think the person who made it did it by eyeball, which there's nothing wrong with that, but it drove Shane a little crazy.

That open area will the small hinged door in the seat for storage space in the bench. It's really only about 3" deep but I couldn't resist. Tonight, I'm going to sand it all again, and I'll find out this weekend if new stain will cover it cleanly.

I did two rounds of stain and varnish stripper already, but you can see places on the bench's original wood that not all of it came off. If I can't get clean, even coats of new stain, then I'm going to let it dry and then find some good spray paint to cover it.

But now, this sucker is SECURE! Before, even with the cushions that were on it, you could feel a little wiggle/wobble on it when you sat down. I sat down last night, next to the opening where the door will go, and I couldn't get this sucker to move at all! It's also bitchily (is that even a word?) HEAVY. I'm going to need help bringing it in the house when it's all done.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cake

Well, here I am, one week down of being a cat-less cat owner. I feel like shit today. It started last night. I just miss Dixie quite a bit. I've managed to go only one day without crying so far (last Saturday). I mean, I was listening to the radio the other day, and "Same Love" by Macklemore came on the radio. I've heard this song a load of times before having Dixie put to sleep, and part of it (as sung by Mary Lambert) has ALWAYS made me think of me and Dixie together.

"And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love, my love, my love
She keeps me warm."

It always made me think about me and Dixie, how she liked sleeping with us, most times, right on top of me. I used to joke I was a cat bed. I miss waking up at night, feeling her jump up on the bed and get comfortable on me. I miss waking up in the morning because she's feeling playful and happy while she is still with me in bed. I realized I couldn't change: I am a crazy cat/dog woman in training. I know where my pets are and what they are doing.

I don't regret putting her to sleep, I just regret having to do it.

So yeah, I'm driving down the street the other day, listening to Macklemore on the radio, crying like a baby. The fact that she was a cat and not human (as I'm trying to remind myself) isn't really working for me. I guess grief is grief, no matter what or who it's for, and I'm just going to have to deal with it.

I've felt no kind of creative spark lately. The closest thing I got to being creative was baking a cake last night. I was trying to organize some loose recipes the other day and came across this one. Apparently, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake was an award winner of some kind in the early 1970's. And I've decided I hate being upstairs in my crafting room alone now, because that's where Dixie and I would hang out quite a bit.

I'm not much of a chocolate cake fan, but this was really good. It was fudgey but I think in the future, I would actually add another half can of cherries to it. They bake right into the cake very well. If you mix it well enough, the sauce from the cherries permeates the chocolate flavoring like a dream.

--Vegetable oil spray for misting
--1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil's food cake mix or devil's food mix with pudding (I used the regular Kroger brand of devil's food cake box mix)
--1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
--2 large eggs  OR 3 medium eggs
--1 teaspoon pure almond extract
--Your choice of chocolate frosting

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly mist a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.

Place the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack while you prepare the glaze, or in my case, let it cool for 30 minutes and then crack open your container of store-bought frosting.