Monday, September 16, 2013

New Dining Cabinet

Check out my new dining cabinet!  Actually it's an old dining cabinet but it's new to me.  Isn't it awesome?!

I always check out the furniture when I thrift shop even though I have no room for anything just never know when you'll come across something better than what you have.  I am on a mission to replace all my "crap" furniture with nicer stuff.  I have slowly but surely been finding heavy  old pieces, and I'll keep searching since I DO one day plan to be in a bigger house. I want nice furniture to fit the nice house.

This small cabinet was the last holdout from my college days (over 10 years ago).  It is not a quality piece.  It was a thrift store find, incredibly cheap and small enough to fit in a trailer back in Auburn, Alabama.  Can I get a WAR EAGLE!?  Okay, I'll stop.  Karen, if you are checking out the blog, you'll recognize this piece, it's come along way baby.

Actually it is a lightweight cheapy type that was fake oaky colored and I painted it red and then stained it to give it a mahogany look.  Not too bad for one of my early attempts at painting furniture.  It has been everything from a china cabinet to a microwave stand to a media cabinet and now holds pots and cookbooks.  And it is time for it to go!  Enough about that thing,  let's talk about the glorious new piece.

When I walked into the thrift store, I was greeted with a sign that said 25% off furniture.....oh, nice. Let's see.  Then it called to me from across the room.  I ignored it.  It was too huge, I have a small dining area.  It was too nice, probably too expensive.  I browsed the other pressboard pieces, and a couple of older pieces that would need a lot of work to be functional.  I glanced over again....way too big to fit in my minivan.  I made another lap through the furniture...oh why not at least LOOK it over?

What's this?  Oh, it comes apart into two pieces?  Hmmm....I could work with that.

What's this, only $125?  Hold on....25% off that.  Snatch ticket.  Let's go kids, we are ready to go pay.

Trip one to empty van.  I only live about 10 minutes away.

Trip two to get top half home.  Yes I unloaded it by my self.  Don't ask, you learn to improvise.

Trip three to get the bottom half.  And yes I unloaded it by my self too.  And yes it was heavy.

And yes, I was somehow able to put the top piece on top of the bottom piece all by myself.  It took about 10 minutes of noodle scratching but I managed it.  I rarely wait on the husband for anything regarding home decor....I don't need anyone messing with my groove and he wasn't home anyway. I find that if he isn't as excited as I am about what I am doing, I feel like he is nay-saying and I'd rather not deal with that.  It may be just my perception that he is nay-saying when he says, "we don't need that", "what is wrong with what we have", but he is usually happy with the end results.  I just try to skip the whole middle part so he can see the final results.

So this thing was not a perfect piece.  There are a few scratches.  I can most likely wipe some stain over it to fill that it.  Or I can lightly use steel wool to buff that out... Any experts out there?

And there is this little defect on the drawer.  Not a big worry for me.  Adds character.

Some scruffs on the bottom edge.  Again, not a big deal.  Stain covers a multitude of sins.

I had honestly thought I'd paint it a pretty coral but once I got it home and really looked at it, it looks really nice as it is.  And the husband really doesn't want me to paint it.  He thinks it looks rich as it is and paint would cheapen it's look.  Any thoughts?  I do plan to put a pretty fabric on the back, something that will tie in with the room.  Did I mention, the hubby thinks it looks really nice. :)

One other thing I discovered when I got it home was....not only did I get a new china cabinet, I got a new DESK!

Check this out!

Is that awesome or what!?  I LOVE it when I find such a great deal on something so nice and what a nice surprise to find the desk.  It makes it a truly unique piece.

In case you are wondered about the old china cabinet, it was moved downstairs to store movies, since they were crammed in the stairway closet....but the minute I find another nice small china cabinet to serve that purpose, it is gone!  And yes, I moved it by myself too. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Clothing Challenge #5 - Polka Dot Swirl

Polka Dot Swirl

Look at all that fabric and polka dots too! And that swirl effect at the bottom is awesome.  I've sewn a child's skirt for my niece that has that same effect and it is not too hard but it is great to find a skirt with all the work done for you.  If I can find the photos, I'll post the child's skirt later.

Here is my "wheels are turning" photo.  Notice how the eyes are glazed over?  :)  I am thinking it should be fairly easy to just remove some of those strips to fit me.

Maybe shorten it?  Not sure yet.

First I pinned where I want to remove the panels.  Using a highly technical pinch test, I determined that three strips had to go.

Here you can see the basic construction of these types of skirts.  It is basically a  series of "J" shaped strips sewn together.  The bottom of the J gives it the swirl effect. I cut a little away from the line to give myself some fabric to work with while reattaching.

As you can see, this large size gives me plenty of fabric to work with.

I reattached the remaining strips together sewing as close as possible to the previous seam line.  I need the white trim piece to show like it did before, so I am careful to not sew over it. I don't show it here because there is no need to make you suffer through my mistakes, but when I serged over this to finish it, I wasn't as careful.  I encased that white trim the first time and had to remove the serged line and redo it.  Not fun.  Just lucky I only encased it and didn't cut it off...  phew!

After separating the three removed panels, I cut off the J curl off two so I have a straight piece to use for the arm straps.

I sewed those two pieces together.  Then I sewed the long strip into a tube and then flipped it inside out.  In sewing it into a tube, I was careful to not lose the white trim pieces so that it will show on the straps....something interesting.  No need to serge finish any of this on the sleeve part since all the raw edges are encased inside the tube.

I decided to turn the old waistband under so it is not so obviously a skirt.

 The tube was attached right in the middle of two of the white trim pieces and then tied into a knot.

The rest was fooling around with it to make every thing lay properly.  I stitched the turned under waistband on each white trim piece so it is nicely attached to the dress without seeing any stitch-lines.

Then I positioned the straps so that the white trim was evenly distributed and then attached the bottom edge to the waistband.

As you can see, I did a lot of "looking" at it.....does it look right?  Is that laying straight?  Is it obviously a skirt?

I am pretty happy with it but what I am noticing here is how prego I look.  I am not.  Because it has no darts, there is no waist definition.

But how do you add darts on polka dot without messing up the pattern?  And how will the strips look if I play with those trim pieces? Oh well, here goes.  I dart right under each white trim line, just bringing in the waist.

And here is the final result.  It didn't really affect the dot pattern, probably because the scale of the dots was larger.  A smaller scale and you would have been able to see the shifts in fabric by the darts.

I decided I was okay with the longer length because of the swirl effect. Shorten it too much and I would feel that swirl against my thighs with every step and be constantly worried about how high that swirl was flying...if you know what I am saying?  You KNOW what I am  saying.  At this length, the swirl serves to cinch it in below the knees, giving an hourglass shape....VAVAVOOM!

Notice that adding the darts to the waist didn't make it ultra-fitted, it is still a little roomy there.  I just brought it in enough.  Any more fitted and I couldn't have gotten zipper.  But now I don't have to worry about keeping it sucked in :)

I should have mentioned that the fabric is very gauzy, so I should wear it with a slip.  As a skirt it was full enough to not be see through, but once it is fitted it is too sheer in bright light. Thank goodness it is gauzy with some give to it or adding those darts would have made it too fitted to get over these hips or shoulders.  The give in the gauzy fabric makes it stretch like pulling on a t-shirt.  

I think the polka dots, the swirl, the hourglass shape and the design of the sleeves gives it a very 50's feel....I like that.

And he does too, even though he has no clue what 50's is.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rags to riches

I've been a little nostalgic lately.  When I am surfing pages on upcycling, recycling, and reusing in general, I come across a lot of posts about saving money, making your own detergent, reusing your pantry packing (cereal boxes, bread bags, spaghetti jars, etc.) for other things, stretching your meat using beans/rice/carrots, canning your garden know all that stuff that poor people do.  Wait a minute!  Don't judge is also stuff that I do.  It is right up my alley.

Without going into too much detail, we are a two income family, probably over educated and make plenty of money.  Now we do live in an expensive area and have probably made some life choices that have an effect on how well off we may appear (for example, we do not choose to drive fancy cars, could care less about the latest name brand clothing, etc).  And anyone that saw the amount of time I spend in thrift stores and scoping out the garbage bins for used furniture, would assume that I am not very well off.  But to put it plainly, we make plenty of money and don't do without. I do what I do because I enjoy it and it is part of my DNA.

Now having said that, let me get back to the nostalgia.  We may fall in the upper middle class now, but we both came from the working poor.  And even if my family could have been argued to be closer to middle class because they actually owned some land, they still were very frugal because they were both self employed.  And that frugal mindset is probably why I am the way I am.

So when I say I have been nostalgic, I've been doing a lot of thinking and not a lot of doing.  It's called "pining".  Not pinning, as in Pinterest, although that has been in the equation a lot.  Pining as in wistfully pining away with want.  Desire.  Coveting.  Wishful thinking.  Again, not doing.  Pitiful pining.   :

- I've been wanting to can some produce, even though I know if is not a true cost savings if it isn't from your own garden.  I am wanting to find a produce stand and ask to take their "rotten" box so I can cut the spots off the fruit, save the good and make jelly.  I actually bought a canning sieve in the thrift store the other day.  When someone in line asked me what it was, I could tell they thought it odd that someone my age knew what it was for.

A pantry like this would be an absolute dream for me.  I would love to have the time to do this amount of canning. But, I did do much more this year. We have salsa, tomatoes, tomato juice, peach jelly, apple jelly, canned apples, apple butter, pear butter, pear halves, dill pickles, bread butter pickles, pickled peppers, corn, stuffed bell peppers, green beans, and blackberry jelly. I am worn out but well worth it! I love this kind of life!

I have all the supplies for canning, just no cheap produce source.

- I want to put raised beds in my back yard to grow my own vegetables......a little late in the summer for that.  And my yard is so small, I'd never grow enough for canning.  I am on the look out for free pallets so I can attach them to the fence to make an upright garden for herbs.

Gardening with Arthritis

Got any pallets lying around? Look what you can do with them!

But then I read that you need to know the source of the pallets because some are sprayed with pesticides and such.  I had wanted to take a few apart to see it I can cut them and use them like a picket fence for some circular raised beds, but then saw how easy this would be.

Got Pallets?  Hate weeding?  Don't feel like turning up a bunch of grass? Use a pallet as a garden bed - staple garden cloth on the backside of the pallet fill with dirt and start growing!    Courtesy of:  Backyard Diva
Courtesy of: Backyard Diva

I even saw someone use painted old tires as a raised bed but those are toxic to grow food in.  Maybe just for flowers?

Love the color

Then I saw this.....on a smaller scale of course.  This is totally doable and I can build it as I drink :)

Glass fence

-Since I am not much of a gardener, I don't want to waste money on things that I'll likely kill anyway.  So back to my frugal roots, I want to get plants from kitchen scraps. Sweet potato vines, onion sprouts, potato sprouts, carrot tops, avocado pits, pineapple tops, beansprouts from beans, etc.


I was thinking that maybe I'll use thriftstore cups and kettles to do it. Since fall is coming soon anyway, it will have to be indoors.

herb favors stamped spoons

tea pots @Alyssa Eckley instead of giving away the teapots use them like this!
facebook group: upcycle

- I want to bake desserts instead of buying store bought cookies.  Not a good idea when I also exercise daily and actually want to see the results.  We've made two batches of chocolate chip cookies so far.

- I want to find a butcher so I can get some decent country sausage!  Nothing in the stores here in MD comes even close to the country sausage I grew up with.  Shout out to Conecuh Brand Sausage back in Alabama....but they don't ship it.  Has anyone ever tried the brand below?

Country Sausage - Four 1 lb. Packs. $35.95

And while I am at it, I want to get lard from the butcher.  Dirty lard for flavouring and leaf lard for baking.  I've been researching it and it NOT bad for you.  I want to fill my freezer with meat and some lard. According to this, I can even can it.

Canned lard
Pinterest photo

 And speaking for freezers, mine is way too small.

- I am on the lookout on Craigslist for a BIG chest freezer.  Mine is only midsize and a real pain.  I want one big enough to section off and really organize for use.  Which will mean less room in my already tiny laundry room.  Maybe I should just organize mine better.

This blogger is right up my alley with reusing boxes to organize it.

organizing a chest freezer for little to no cost

This cloth bag organization is a something I had never even thought of....but should have, with all my cloth.

use fabric shopping bags to organize deep chest freezer- it's nice & super helpful because you can pull out the bag, look through it and set it back inside.

- I want more vignettes everywhere in my house.   That's a fancy way of saying I want knick-knacks.   Which makes me realize how little furniture I actually have compared to my mom's house to put knick-knacks on...  And how few knick-knacks I actually my house too cold?

great vingette

- which makes me want to buy some more furniture.  More antique, substantial pieces.  Quality stuff that looks like its been loved.  So I am back to wanting to start finding those great pieces now for when we buy a bigger house.....I know I should wait, but I still want.



- I bought mostly t-shirt type stuff for my daughter for the new school year.  It makes me realize that I want her to actually dress nicer and that there are dresses in her closet that aren't being worn.  Why?  She loves the dresses I sew for her.  Why?  Because they need to be ironed.  Kids are just like adults, they don't want to wear it if its not ironed.  So yes, nostalgia means I actually want to iron some clothes.  I am going to put an ironing board and iron in their excuse for me to not want to drag their clothes downstairs.

Boutique kid clothes sewing patterns

I sew a lot of patterns from createkidscouture since I bought their once a month patterns.  I am ready to bust out some sewing again.

- I've been trying to years to get my family to use less paper towels.  I have huge stack of dinner napkins for use during meals.  For some reason the hubby just hasn't bought on.  He is a convenience type person and prefers paper towels.  Well, he'll get over it when there are no paper towels in the house.  To achieve this, I also have to go back to my roots in using rags for cleaning and clean up.  That means cutting up old clothes to have on hand for spills, and general cleaning.  And how convenient that I just cleaned out the kids closets for school.  I'll also need a small container in the kitchen to hold dirty rags and napkins until laundry time.  Otherwise, he'll wash greasy rags right along with the colors.

So anyway, that is where my mind has been lately.  What the heck is happening to me?  I'll be 40 that what this is?  OMG!  Okay, that wasn't real nostalgic.  I should have said DANG!