Friday, January 25, 2013

Pack it up, Pack it in...

Let me begin...

I have slowly begun the packing process here at the casa. I have never been so happy to have saved my moving boxes and packing paper before! Sometimes I wonder if it is fate that led me to hang onto that stuff. Usually I am the first person to chuck unwanted clutter to the curb. This is an unexpected, and handy blessing.

I've been using our front porch as a staging area for my packed boxes. This definitely helps keep things out of the way inside the house. I have a few more boxes packed inside, but I am electing to keep them there since they contain extra fragile items like my daughters Disney snow globe collection. The front porch isn't insulated at all (heck, the windows are barely hanging on-- esp on the right side), and I wouldn't want the globes to freeze and break. I've also made sure to stack the boxes at a distance from the windows. When it rains or snows, moisture easily makes its way into the room since the windows do not close properly.

If I keep packing at this pace, we will be more than ready to move by the end of April! Now we just need to find a new place to call home. We've already been pre-approved for our mortgage loan. Now we just need to find the right place! It's been kind of fun scouting out all of the possibilities online. Hopefully we will be able to take a trip to Pennsylvania next month (where we are moving to) so we can spend an afternoon touring properties with our realtor. I'm so excited!

In other news, our taxes are filed. I jumped at the chance to get it done early since it will be one less thing to worry about when time draws closer to our move date. We're also counting on some of those extra monies to help us move since teleportation isn't an option yet.

I also received a phone call from our local school district. Back in August I had tried to sign the cupcake up for pre-K, but to my dismay their program was already full and she was placed onto a waiting list. Wouldn't you believe that now we've planned to leave the area, space would open up for her to go to school. I am sending her anyway-- even if it is for only a few months. Pre-K here is only three days a week for a few hours either in the morning or afternoon. The opening they have is in the afternoon, and it will give her some time out of the house to socialize while giving me a few hours to get things done around here. I may even be able to get some extra napping packing taken care of while she's gone. :)

So, that's what I've been up to lately. I've got a few more projects to finish up in my sewing room, and should have a project to share with you all by this Monday. We'll see if I can get properly motivated to finish it! Anyone else enjoy the packing part of moving like I do? It's SO much easier than unpacking, for sure! I feel the same way about suitcases when preparing for a trip. This will hopefully be the last time we will have to move for a LONG time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

'Bout Time Bedding

Well, since I announced that we will be moving in April, obviously I won't be making any more updates or changes to the house which we currently rent. I've got a ton of ground to cover in the next three months such as finishing current projects, organizing, and packing.

One of the unfinished projects I've had on my "to do" list for quite some time was sewing some new bedding for my daughters canopy doll bed. I posted a little sneak peak of my progress on the bedding last week here.

The pink and white gingham fabric that previously dawned the bed was a 90% polyester blend. It was so sheer and fragile that it didn't even make it through the first year of play before it tore beyond use. The bed desperately needed some overhauling, and it only took me about a year and a half to finally get around to it!

Here's how the sad, little doll bed looked before it got a desperately needed makeover:

Sad, huh? You can barely see it over there on the left-hand side. Cupcake opted to use it as a makeshift garage for her Barbie cars. Can you blame her? What doll would want to sleep in that thing?

Here's where I left you guys last week after I spent a few days laboring over the sewing machine trying to figure out how to make the bedding. I'm not a seamstress by any means, but it seemed straight forward enough. I just hoped that my machine was up to the job (it's been on the fritz for a little while now).

Isn't it cute? I love the material. It's called Infinity and Infinity Flowers and is a fabric line made specifically for Joann Fabric stores. I love how bright and colorful it is-- especially compared to the cheap polyester gingham fabric that came with the set.

Naturally every doll bed needs a blanket and a pillow, so I made good use of the scraps and pieced together a little mini quilt.

Sorry for the dark, grainy photo. Best I could come up with at night using the Ipad. Here she is back in the cupcakes room.

Cupcake seems to really enjoy her doll bed even more now. It's not completely finished, though. There are a few minor details that I would like to add including:

A mini mobile to hang on the hook
A mattress to make the bottom of the bed more plush
Matching fabric covered bins

The bed originally came with fabric covered bins. In fact, I still have those. They still dawn the original pink and white gingham fabric, though, and so I would like to use my leftover fabric to cover them before putting them back on the bottom shelf. Who knows how long that may take me to finish, though. I may just re-purpose a wicker basket and sew a lining to match instead.

Now that one project is checked off of my list, it's time to get cracking on a few others. Hopefully I will have the fortitude to complete them before moving time comes around so there will be less for us to haul around to our next home. Wish me luck!

Anyone else an excellent procrastinator like I am? Anyone handy with a sewing machine that can give me some tips on what may be the problem with mine? I've changed out the needle, cleaned and oiled it, and adjusted the tension/tuning, but I still can't get it to make a zig-zag stitch. Maybe it's a sign that I should break down and buy a nicer upgrade. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY Jute Lampshade

Once upon a time, a little lonely lamp was feeling extra ugly and dated despite her functionality. Her sad little green shade had a hole and mystery smudge marks left by a sticky toddler. She longed to be beautiful like the lamps that her owner coveted in stores or magazines.

Seriously, though. We've got one homely little lamp in the living room. I don't know why I have never just broken down and bought a new pair of lamps. Goodness knows that we need them. Perhaps it's because I'm cheap or indecisive. Or both. Probably both.

Anyway. We are moving in a few months, so instead of breaking down and buying the lamps of my dreams, I prefer to wait and see what type of decor our new digs will inspire. Still, that little lonely lamp could use a face lift. I've often contemplated buying a new shade, but with the prices that some of them run, I might as well just wait until I buy new lamps! Then it hit me. I could recover the existing shade. I've never done that before, so it seemed a little daunting and complicated. I also realized that I might have a tough time with fabric choices. The curtains on that side of the room are bold, and the background is an off-white. A dingy shade is not exactly what I had in mind. I've also noticed the lack of natural fibers in this space, and then it clicked. A jute shade could very well be what this little-lamp-that-could needs.

Off to the store I went, and I wound up bringing home two spools of golden thread jute gardening twine. Now, I've never really owned anything jute before, but man does that stuff stink! Is it normal for it to have a WD40 scent? I checked the label to see if it had been treated with anything, but alas! No mention of it. Then I began to wonder if this would pose a problem with being flammable. Well, duh! It's string. I'm pretty sure there won't be a fire hazard, though, since we use a low-watt Eco bulb, and it doesn't really seem to get hot. We also don't use the lamp often. Just occasionally when we sit on that side of the room in the evening.

My apologies in advance for the terrible pictures. There just isn't much natural light in our living and dining rooms, and it's been cloudy/snowy for days.

This project turned out to be pretty easy for the most part. I just unscrewed my bulb, removed the shade, and began to wrap my twine around the shade. To secure the ends I used my hot glue gun. I put a little dab of glue at the top after every couple of wraps, too, just to make sure everything was secure.

When I ran out of string, I just glued my end at the top, and tucked any excess behind the rest of my twine. I made it 3/4 the way around the shade before I completely ran out of twine, and wanted to kick myself for not picking up that third roll at the store. I had contemplated whether or not I would need a third roll, and decided against it. Now it sits there on the shelf mocking me for the extra trip I will need to take to finish my lamp.

So humor me, take a trip to the land of make believe, and pretend that there isn't this gaping unfinished spot on part of my shade, neighbor.

Overall, I think that it looks much better than before. All of the holes and toddler battle scars are hidden, and it only set me back $6 for the twine. I do think, though, that the base could use a little freshening up. Perhaps a spray of white paint and some wax to antique it slightly would give it better contrast. What do you think? Is this a happily ever after or a curse?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rock-a-bye Baby!

Stopping in with a quick spoiler of the first of many projects I've got going on before we pack up and move again. It's not challenging enough to have to house hunt, pack, clean, and manage daily life all at once, so I decided to add a ton of other things to my plate. Totally normal, right? I can get all of that done in 2.5 months. I think.

Anyway, my harebrained reasoning behind all of these extra projects is to help organize and eliminate  any extra clutter that may try to follow us to the next abode. You know what I mean. Those one, two, or twelve boxes of stuff that you didn't really miss (or forgot you had) the first few months of moving in before unpacking them. And so the next few weeks I will be challenging myself on eliminating what I can do without, completing unfinished projects before they get forgotten packed away, and ultimately cut down on useless clutter.

To kick things off, I decided to knock some of the things that have been on my project list for a while. My daughter has the cutest canopy doll bed, but the lackluster, cheap bedding it came with did not stand up to the rigorous play of a toddler. The Jill of all trades in me thought, "I can make a new bedding set. No problem." That's was almost two years ago. Awesome, huh?

Well, I am glad to report that I've finally gotten off my bum and started taking care of business. I had no idea what I was doing, but I am crafty enough to figure something out. I saved the old, tattered remnants of the ugly pink and white 90% polyester bedding that formerly dressed the canopy and sides. They were too far gone to provide a useful template, though, so I just decided to wing it. I have to tell you that I am loving the results. I'm not a professional anything-- especially when it comes to sewing. My $40 Craigslist sewing machine and I have learned a lot through trial and error. Some days more error than not. I've got several seam ripper tools handy for those days.

I haven't finished the blanket or pillow, yet, and I have the crazy notion to go above and beyond and make a mattress for it. Dolls got to sleep comfortably, too! If you're still reading my ramblings,  you're probably thinking, "Shut up, and show some pictures already!" Here you go.

Check back later this week to see the finished result!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Boy did the holidays fly by. We went "on tour" to visit family for about two weeks, which didn't leave a lot of time to stop by here. We put a tree up, but I didn't really bother taking many pictures of it since we didn't really spend much time here at home. I did make some new, cute stockings to hang on our mantle. This was the first year we had a real fireplace to hang them from, and so I felt as though we needed an upgrade from the basic red and white dollar store ones that we've used for the past couple of years. It was a pretty easy project to complete, and I used one of the old, felt stockings as a template. Here's how they turned out:

I didn't even get a picture of them all hung on the mantle. How incredibly lazy am I? Ah well. There's always next year, right? 

As for our tree, it looked a little something like this.

Classic red and white has been our default style for years now. I like it so much that I don't see myself choosing anything else, but you  never know! There's just something about the white lights and red trimmings that speak to me and say "Christmas"! My little cupcake was so excited to help us decorate the tree this year. Maybe next year we'll gather around it with family for the holidays. (Ps. if you can see the giant pile of uniforms dumped on the chair in the background, ignore it. This has been my husbands "drop zone" after he gets home from work. Nothing like smelly work boots and ACU's laying around the living room to fuel my Pinterest addiction and keep me pining for a mudroom.)

So now that the tree has been put away until next year, I've been rearranging furniture and dusting. And preparing for our move. Yes, that's right. It's time to move. Again. This time Uncle Sam isn't responsible (for once) as we have chosen to move for reasons that we'd rather not air here. Let's just say that it wasn't meeting our expectations. Fortunately, the landlord has been gracious enough to cut our lease short without losing our security deposit. So for now we have some big decisions to make. I've been leaning towards purchasing a house of our own. My husband and I aren't getting any younger, and we'd prefer not to spend retirement renovating. Unfortunately that also means that we'll have to make some sacrifices. If we put down some roots, we would like for it to be in Pennsylvania-- closer to family and friends. I grew up in South Central Pa, and it's an excellent area to raise a family. It's funny because I spent all of my young adult life trying to get away from that place, and now I would love nothing more than to move back. Anyone else experience this dilemma?

It's certainly a place we would want to settle down, however my husband's job still remains in Upstate NY. There is no possibility for transfer to a closer location which means he would stay in NY if we moved to Pa. I'm a pretty tough woman when it comes to enduring deployments. I've been through my fair share, and it never is easy. Especially when you have kids. My husband doesn't plan to retire for another 12 years, and so we would basically only get to see each other on extended weekends and holidays. There is also no guarantee that my husband won't deploy again soon. He has been on standby several times since we have moved here. And so that is where I am torn. Do we pull together and keep on moving around from place to place as my husband is reassigned? Or do we put down some roots close to family to provide some stability for our daughter and our future, and basically have a long distance relationship with the man we love? I'm torn. Does that make me a bad person? Does it make me a bad wife that I would consider spending time a part from the man I love? I've been able to make it through a year on our own while my husband was deployed, but I'll admit that it was hard not having friends or family close by. It's been a little over a year since he returned home from his last deployment, but he's been deploying on average every two years or so (which, thankfully, is much less frequent than others). What would you do if you were in my shoes? Any advice or perspective I should know?