Friday, June 29, 2012

Awesome Girls' Night Out

Last night three of my very dearest gal pals enjoyed a fun night at Applebees courtesy of a certificate one of us received to celebrate their "Girls' Night Out".  And celebrate we did!  Two Cosmos, two Bahama Mamas and four peach sangrias later, not to mention a yummy dinner, we were having a rollicking good time!  I was having such a good time I forgot to take pictures!

The highlight of the evening (and there were many) was creating our "princess" aliases. (Even big girls have dreams of princesses.)  So to Princess Starlene DeLauria, Princess Leah Charms and Princess Lorelei Grace, thank you for a lovely evening.  Who needs high tea when Applebees makes killer Cosmos?

cindy (Princess Penelope Calliope)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dress Making Madness

I'm in a dress making mood.  I made one for Mackenzie because she's been asking for something "stretchy" for casual wear.

I love the fact that I was able to "play" with the pattern and the embellishments.  Mackenzie loves it:

It was that ability to "play" that got me going.  I bought a book Absolutely A-Line by Wendi Gratz that has 26 variations on a basic A-line dress.  A-line dresses are my all time favorites - easy to make and easy to wear.  I gave it a try:

Here's another one with a ruffle

I tried a pillowcase dress:

And, I found a cute ladies white gauze skirt at Goodwill that I turned into a little girl dress.  I'm especially happy with this one.  It's not quite done - see the pins?

These are all going in the new Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy).  I'm having a great time breaking into my large fabric stash.  Now can you see why I haven't posted much lately?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Raggedy Rag Quilt

Do you really like rag quilts?  Love that look of raggedy edges?  This is the rag quilt for you.

I'm still using my favorite fabric (flannel) and I used another piece of flannel in the middle of the square "sandwich."  I used 5 inch square blocks and a 1" seam allowance on each side.  Yes, that means the end measurement of the block was 3" square.

It produces a dense, warm (heavy) quilt with lots of rags.  I'm not sure I would do a 1" seam allowance again, and if I did, I would definitely start with a minimum size of 6" square block.  This is still a very pretty quilt, but it takes a lot of squares to get to a crib or toddler bed size.  

One very cool trick I learned was the stitch I used to make the "X".  I used a "S" curve, which I bet is a stitch on almost every sewing machine.  By using the "S" I ended up with an effect on the smooth side of the quilt that I really love (and didn't anticipate).

My picture is not great, but each block matched curves and I didn't do anything special in using the "S" stitch.  Here's another view that might be a little better

I still like these rag quilts and can't wait to try more variations.  Next time I'll try some big squares.  My sewing machine will thank me.

If you are looking for more basic tutorials on rag quilts, check out my post here.  I also have some additional tips on making rag quilts here.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Craft Room Reveal - Sewing Area

I've been showing off parts of my Craft Room over the past few weeks and today I want to show you the part that is near and dear to my heart.  It's the sewing area.

It's really one entire side of the room, across from the scrapbook area.  I love JoAnn's generally, but really regret two (expensive) purchases I have in my craft room.  First, this sewing table - almost $200.  It's small, and the drawers don't open well.  The other thing that is more frustrating (especially tonight) is the ribbon storage unit I bought.  It wasn't well made and I struggled with it until I finally gave up tonight.  (See my solution below).  I am happy with the painted pails that hold needles, bobbins, pins and buttons.

This is the corner next to the main sewing table.  It has my serger and some items I bought at a garage sale. I'm using the lanterns for supplies for headband making and elastic.

As of tonight it is also storing my ribbon after the epic fail of the ribbon holder.  I have some styrofoam balls recycled from Christmas ornaments that I used in another craft.  I took the dowel rods from the ribbon holder and sunk them vertically into the balls.  I put the ribbon on and lined them up on the table shelf.  (BTW, that little table was made by my dad in high school back in the 1940s.)

This is my cutting table.  I bought it at a Blockbuster that was closing for $30.  It's 6 feet long with a durable plastic top.  I covered it with two curtains I bought on sale at Target.  I covered it so I could use the area underneath for bin storage for scrap fabric and yarn.  It works really well with a plastic cutting mat on top of the fabric cover.

Last but not least is my fabric storage.  I described the shelf fabric storage in another post, but I've combined it with the shelves in my closet.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I have too much fabric and need to start using it before I buy anymore.

So, that's it!  It is my new favorite place - where my family knows I'm at when they can't find me.  Yep, I have everything but a bed in here.  Let the creativity begin in earnest!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June Project List Update

We're more than halfway through June, so I thought I should make myself accountable and check on that June project list.  As of today it looks like this:

1.  Finish the baby rag quilt/lovies.
2.  Open my Etsy store
3.  Make two dresses for my daughter
4.  Make a headband
5.  Finish the two step afghan
6.  Finish the checker afghan.
7.  Make a pincushion
8.  Finish the craft room
9.  Scrapbook enough pages to get my kids to age 3 (they are 9 and 11 now)
10. Make a new rag quilt

Hmmm, about 40% done.  Now this is the point I rationalize.  I did finish the baby rag quilt (which I will post about soon), but I didn't make any loves.  I did make one dress for Mackenzie (which I will post about soon), but didn't start another.  I did, however, make two other dresses for other kids (which I will post about soon), so if I don't get another dress for Mackenzie before the end of the month, I'm going to count those.  I'm sooo close to opening the Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy), I just need to give my photographer a little time to take pictures.  The "two step" afghan is the never-ending-project, but I am seeing light at the end of that tunnel.  Pincushion?  Scrapbook?  New rag quilt?  Ummm, looking dim.

I do like going through this exercise because it brings some sense to my creative wanderlust.  Yes, there is some method to my madness.  Let's see how much I can cram in finish before July.

On a side note, I started a new little blog on Tumblr.  It's called Just a DIY Junkie and you can find it HERE.  It's a blog where I compile the awesome DIY blogs I have discovered into lists and categories.  I already have a post about quilting tutorials, so if you want to find the best blogs for quilting tutorials, head over to Just a DIY Junkie and check them out.

Stay cool in the summer heat!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Chance Encounters

I've mentioned before that I ride a commuter bus every morning.  I see the same people most days, but the bus is generally very quiet while everyone reads their Kindles, looks at newspapers or phones (or in my case crochets).

There is a young man who is there every day.  I've never spoken to him, and I have never heard him talk to anyone else.  I know his name (at least his last name) because it's printed on the hat he wears every day.  In fact, he wears the same clothes, hat, boots and carries the same backpack every day.  This would sound weird except his clothes are camouflage.  He is a member of the U.S. Army.

I believe he's a recruiter, but when he gets on that bus with his close cropped head, full fatigues, army boots and camouflage backpack, I can't help but feel a sense of pride.  He exudes dedication and dependability.  It's all right there in his uniform.  I have never spoken to this man, yet I admire him.

Funny thing about admiring soldiers.  Somehow people believe that to admire a soldier means you admire the current military policies and actions.  On the other hand, if you don't like the current military policies or actions, some people accuse you of failing to support the troops.  I don't want to debate whether recent military actions are good or not.  What I do want to say is that I admire that soldier on my bus.  Period.  Has nothing to do one way or another with whatever military action in which he may or may not participate.

I am offended at the suggestion that the litmus test for supporting military personnel is support of a military policy.  This soldier I see everyday has put his life in the hands of his country and its leaders.  It's not his job to make decisions about military policy or where he will live or what he will do.  He may be a recruiter this week, but next month he could be halfway across the world under fire.  All he knows for sure is that he has put his life in the hands of his country and has a job to do.  Does his position on the politics behind a particular military action have anything to do with his valor?  No.  In fact, I think a soldier who doesn't agree with the military decisions/policies yet does his job may show even more valor.  He made a commitment to do a job and he follows through.  That's honor.

Tomorrow I'm going to look right at him and tell him thank you.  Not "I thank you because I support the policies which might send you into battle," or "I don't like you because your job represents a war I don't like."  Just "thank you for your service."

I think that's all he wants to hear anyway.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Scrapbook Station

I've been so busy trying to finish a few projects before opening the Etsy store (Pretty Pretty Cindy), I haven't had time to post, but I'm excited about showing one of the best parts of the new craft room - the scrapbook station.

 I started with this armoire/computer station which I didn't want to move out of the room.  The first challenge was getting the corkboard to stick to the back of the cabinet. After a lot of fits and starts, I came up with VELCRO!

Next was finding a place for all my stamps.  This cabinet has a double pull out tray, one for the computer keyboard and the other a work area.  I used the computer keyboard tray, put on some non-stick/non-slip shelf liner and arranged the stamps in a small antique drawer in a way I can see them all.

Next, I had this old two-sided hanging thing for jewely. I turned it into a sticker/embellishment holder. Again, I can see everything and it's double sided!

I moved on to these plastic baskets I found at Goodwill and attached them to the corkboard with push pins -perfect for little items.

I used an old letter holder to keep bigger items.

I found these 4 glass candle holders at a garage sale and turned them into cute storage for ribbon and adhesives.

I bought a scrapbook/photo album and used it to keep all my letter stickers. You guessed it, I can see them all.  If you have a lot of letters, buy two books -mine is a little too full.

This was the one item I splurged on - a turning caddy. I bought it at Michaels, but I used a 50% off coupon to make the sticker shock go away.

I bought some pretty baskets at Michaels (on sale) and stored assorted items I want to keep out of sight.  An extra bonus is that the shelves are just a little deeper than the baskets, so when I pull out the basket, I can tilt it on the drawer so it stays accessible while I look through it.

Here's another item I am proud of.  I converted a shoe keeper we never used, took out a divider and it became instant paper storage!  I've heard that the best way to store paper is upright, but I'm not sure how to to that.  I did spend a tremendous amount of time sorting the paper by color.  You're looking at about 30 pounds (or more) of paper.  I need to give some away because I couldn't possibly use it all.

Well, that's it.  Here's the funny thing - although I have a good amount of scrapbooking stuff, I don't really get a chance to scrapbook much.  I've always worked out of travel containers on the dining room table.  My kids are 9 and 11, but in their scrapbooks they are 1 and 3.  I have more scrapbooking on my project list for June.  Now that I have an awesome place to work, maybe I'll get inspired.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Craft Room Reveal!

The day is finally here - my new craft room is DONE!!  I've been working in there and I love it.  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll show some detailed features of the new craft room, but in the meantime, here's some before, during and after pictures:



I have too much fabric!




My new cutting table where the couch (and mess) used to be.  There is storage under the table for scrap fabrics and extra yarn in bins.  The table cover is made from two curtain panels from Target.  The beer can collection is gone!




Finally, a functional sewing area!  Now I don't have to drag my sewing projects into the dining room and keep them spread out for weeks at a time.  My favorite part of the room.



I'm really proud of this part.  I've never had a place to scrapbook and now I have a scrapbook section of the room!  This was another big revelation - I have WAYYY too much paper!  I think I have enough for 20 scrapbooks, maybe more!

So there it is!  I'm so happy it's done, and frankly, so is my family.  It's my very own room for creativity.  Over the next couple weeks, I'll show all the sections of the room and how I organized them.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy Anniversary Straddling the Gap!

This week marks the one year anniversary of Straddling the Gap.  It's gone by so quickly, but I have learned so much since last June.  When I started this blog on the suggestion of my dear friend Katie, I couldn't even figure out what a blog was or why I should write one.  Some days I'm still not sure, but I now have an awesome creative outlet.  Better than that, I have encountered a whole new world of interesting, funny and amazingly creative people.  If you do a Google search on "how to" or "do it yourself" on any topic, you are sure to find at least one blog in the first five results.  (Don't believe me - give it a try).  I'm having fun being part of this enormous community and plan on sticking around as long as someone is reading (even if it's me).

For the next week, to celebrate my anniversary, Straddling the Gap will feature some new projects, bring back a few old projects and end the week with the introduction of Pretty, Pretty Cindy, my new Etsy store.

If you've been reading Straddling the Gap this year, thank you!  I'm looking forward to more adventures in being a wife and mother while pursuing my creativity - I'm still straddling the gap. 


P.S.  Tomorrow is the first big day - the craft room reveal!  Don't miss all the picture

Monday, June 4, 2012

Who Will Be Little Miss Coppertone?

If you are of a "certain" age, you remember the iconic "Coppertone Girl"

I'm not really that old, but I do remember a slightly updated version of this image when I was a kid.  The Coppertone Girl represented a "healthy tan."  Now we know Coppertone has always protected us from the harmful effects of the sun.  Actually, Coppertone has been a staple in my beach bag since I was a kid, once to get a suntan and now as a sunscreen for my children.  

Now Coppertone is looking for a new little girl (ages 2-7) to be Little Miss Coppertone.  Don't worry - there will be no dog pulling off swimsuits or revealing pictures of your child.  In fact, they are not replicating the iconic image, so your child doesn't need to look like the little girl or even wear a swimsuit in the picture.

Here's how it works:  You submit a picture of your little girl, ages 2-7 on Coppertone's Facebook page.  No purchase is necessary.  Contest ends June 22, 2012 (6/22/12).  Click HERE for official rules and FAQs about the contest.  Allison Sweeney will be one of the guest judges who will determine the finalists.  On or about July 13, 2012, voting for the finalists will begin on Coppertone's Facebook page.  Be sure to see the FAQs and official rules so you can send in a picture that meets the requirements of the contest.

I'm sorry to say my Little Miss Coppertone is too old to enter, but Coppertone is the only way I can leave her in the Arizona sun in the pool.

If you do enter and your little girl becomes a finalist, please let me know so I can vote for her on Facebook!  I can't wait to see the next Little Miss Coppertone!

Disclosure:  I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post.  No monetary exchange took place.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

June Project List

I've often said that I don't have nearly enough time to do the projects that are swirling around in my head.  Recently, I found that other smart bloggers are making little project lists at the beginning of the month and crossing each off as they finish it.  Really, this isn't project-a-day.  I'm going to try to pick little ones so I get them done.  Of course, I've never made a list so short I could finish it.  Here goes:

1.  Finish the baby rag quilt/lovies.
2.  Open my Etsy store
3.  Make two dresses for my daughter
4.  Make a headband
5.  Finish the two step afghan
6.  Finish the checker afghan.
7.  Make a pincushion
8.  Finish the craft room
9.  Scrapbook enough pages to get my kids to age 3 (they are 9 and 11 now)
10. Make a new rag quilt

Yep, definitely an ambitious list, but notice I only picked 10 items.  Notice also number 2 on the list :)  I'm opening an Etsy store, "Pretty Pretty Cindy".  I'll have all kinds of "pretty" items, just enough to have an outlet for the stuff I like to make.  Examples are crochet afghans, rag quilts, headbands a couple little girl dresses (and anything else that tickles my fancy).

Also, this week is the one year anniversary of "Straddling the Gap".  We'll have to see what surprises we can think of to celebrate.


Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm Naked -Where's My Phone?

The last week has been scary. I've been disoriented and disconbobulated.  I've been without a phone!

More accurately, I've been teased with a phone only to have it snatched away.  It started about a two weeks ago when my HTC Rhyme started to get hot - really hot.  After the guy at the Verizon Store burned his finger on the SD portal, he suggested we send it back for a replacement.  Two days later I had a "like new" Rhyme.  I meticulously reloaded all of my lost apps and thought the unpleasant experience was over.

No. Two days later my "like new" phone wouldn't turn on and it was hot.  I called Verizon and they agreed to send me a new type of phone.  After an endless holiday weekend, it finally came - another Rhyme?!?  I had to change SD card because the phone practically burns up with the old card.  It's still hot with the newer card, but not as bad.  I'm trying to deal with it.  Who knew this would be so traumatic?

My daughter thinks I grew up with cans strung on twine, but I can say as a kid I was excited when we got a phone on the wall with a long cord.  It was awesome because I actually talked on the phone with my friends.  The best game we "played" on the phone was the one where we pranked the lady down the street by asking her if her refriverator was running.  I remember being amazed in the 80s when I saw Michael Douglas in "Wall Street" walking on a beach with a shoe phone.  So rich!  So futuristic!  Now I can't go 5 days without a phone, and I don't even talk on it.

Definitely the worst part about being without my phone was my recent jump into all things social media.  I just started with Instagram and haven't been able to take a single picture because I didn't have my phone (15 years ago people would have looked at you funny if you said you couldn't take pictures without your phone).

I'm recovering nicely from my traumatic adventure, thank you.  I'm getting reacquainted with my "new" phone.  Hopefully this one won't leave me in the cold (wait, the problem was with heat so we should be OK).

It's a love affair I tell you. (Just don't tell my husband)