The weather has been too nice to permit sewing. It’s perfect for exploring though!
My camera and I did a little exploring as well.
The weather has been too nice to permit sewing. It’s perfect for exploring though!
My camera and I did a little exploring as well.
Our weekend revolved not only around the Easter Celebration but also the celebration of a good friend’s wedding. Besides the obvious importance-of-marriage highlights, my top ones include
The band. Seriously, this bluegrass band was amazing. They led the party all night at the reception (we square danced!) then back at the Inn (yes, I laid in bed listening to them play until 2am), and then on Easter morning the cellist played right outside of our window to welcome the morning.
(that is a cello, right?!)
Hiking at the Natural Bridge State Park in Eastern Kentucky
We really had a great weekend full of friends (we did go up for a wedding!), great food (our friends are farmers!), laughing, fresh mountain air, and enough dancing and hiking to make my calves ache again this morning.
To top it all off, we had an Easter morning celebration that included singing Down in the River to Pray and Amazing Grace, a message about the significance of the historical ressurrection of a man named Jesus, and reading a poem by Mary Karr. We sat out on picnic tables over-looking a cliff and had nothing but our voices–no instruments, microphones, slide projectors, anything. It was serene and beautiful, perfect to reflect on the significance of what we were celebrating.
Hi Friends! It’s been a busy week around here with work, dinner guests, and of course Spring! It’s difficult to be motivated to sit in front of the computer when I could be soaking up some vitamin D.
This is what I want to be doing right now!
Pretty Birdie’s Tumeric Dress on Etsy
The busy-ness continues: dinner with a friend tonight, a custom order to finish, a ring bearer’s pillow to sew, a wedding to attend (I still need a dress!), dress shopping, and of course Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter) to celebrate. whew!
If you do not see much of me between now and Monday, please rest assured that I will make it up next week!
If you really miss me, head on over to Quest for Real Food and see some of the changes that are already taking place.
Posted in Accessory, Feature, personal, photography, tagged asymetrical necklace, brittany chavers studio, chariots afire, handmade, jewelry, lilydove & chou chou, pink flower photograph, skirt on March 31, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Some pretty finds from my Favorites List for you on this sunny Wednesday (at least it is sunny in my neck of the woods.)
Enjoy the day, friends!
New Years Resolutions seem to be something you either love or hate. For some people it is a time to set unrealistic goals that will be forgotten a week later. For others it is a time of reflection on the past year and anticipation of the year to come. I fall into the later group.
Why am I bringing this up in March? And what does this have to do with surprises? Or food? Good questions!
Back in December and early January, I spent a decent amount of time reflecting on what I wanted for the year ahead. None of my resolutions were truly groundbreaking or even life changing. Not yet at least. But I did want to continue, deepen, and strengthen one aspect of my family’s life throughout this year, that being changing the way we eat to keep up with our views of how best to treat farmers, the farm, the animals, and the earth. With this in mind, I also realized that we work with a limited budget; although sometimes if you look at my grocery bill you would not believe that.
So what was my resolution? To keep our budget under $100/week but to continue to incorporate as many local, fresh, organic, and sustainably-produced items on our receipt as possible. Of course that incorporates a pretty big ambition and a lot of buzz-words, so to keep myself accountable, and to help the many others seeking to do the same,
Actually, my friend Megan and I are starting this blog. She is knee-deep in boxes in her new apartment in Texas (which she shares with her husband, dog and two children) so she’ll be posting a bit later this month. Megan is amazing when it comes to planning, using coupons, and basically sticking to a budget. I’m looking forward to seeing all that she offers in that department. She is also transforming the contents of her kitchen, so she’ll have plenty to offer there as well!
It is of course a “work in progress”, but after several weeks of thinking about this and brainstorming ideas, I am so excited for you to see it! We will be posting recipes, recipe reviews, shopping tips, and of course chronicles of our own experiences. I hope this is something that will be of value and not just “another blog”. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions, ideas, or comments. We would love to hear from you!
And for those of you who actually read this far down, I’ll let you in on one more tidbit: today’s post is a little how-to for Chocolate Covered Pretzels!
What are you waiting for? Check it out!
Ladies (and gents if you’re interested)
I need a little help. It just happens that I may be attending a very fancy-pants, bust out your shiniest and most expensive black-bow-tie type of ball in just about a month. Last time I attended a function with these same folks, I showed up wearing jeans and my red pumps while everyone else sported dresses and suit coats. I’m surprised I was not thrown out!
So here is where you come in. If you know of a great resource for finding sewing patterns or pattern reviews (yes, I’ve already checked Vogue…see below), please comment below. If you are my friend (sorry, no strangers here) and want to babysit while I sew, please comment below. If you are my friend and think I’m crazy for making my dress, please comment below. (please be aware that I may not heed your advice. unless it is really persuasive.) If you know of a great place online or locally to find a beautiful evening gown for an even better price, yes, please comment below.
So far, here is what I have found.
The dress I really like and may need to be talked out of making. It’s a little low cut for my taste, and I’m not sure I’m ready to include alterations in my formal dress sewing repertoire. Vogue Pattern 1030 (V1030)
The one I also kind of sort of like and would probably be easier to make. I like the back and the gathering at the waist but am wondering if it’s a little too…two years ago. Is it? Vogue Pattern 8556 (V8556)
And then, there is THIS ONE. The one? The vintage 1960s Simplicity 8497. Doesn’t that sound dreamy? It is beautiful but I could easily see myself running to my mommy crying(I love you, Mom!), and that’s tough to do when we live 2,000 miles apart. But it really is beautiful, isn’t it? (the big gold one in the picture)
Please do comment and offer any help you can give! My wallet and sanity both thank you in advance!
I distinctly remember a day–just last week–when there were no flowers in sight. Now they are everywhere. I may have mentioned it once or twice, but let me just emphasize that
I love the longer days, the bounty of color after a long winter of brown, gray, and white, the birds singing, the fresh foods that will soon be arriving on my table…the list goes on.
Speaking of fresh foods. I have a little surprise for you. No, it’s not a puppy. Or a cheesecake. But it does involve food, me, and you (yes, you.) On Monday I will tell you what it is.
Until then I will be enjoying the sunshine if it chooses to come back, but definitely the flowers and the birds and quite possibly even a little time to get creative between now and then.
There are times when I set the auto focus on my camera but it goes in and out of focus attempting to determine where or what the object of focus is. Sometimes I need to make a few adjustments before the camera can actual focus itself on the composition of the photo.
That is how I feel right now. Term 1 of Indie Business 2.0 has come to a close, and my brain and heart seem to be going in and out, trying to determine where or what the object of my focus is.
Do I focus online or locally? Craft shows or consignment? Produce singular items or multiples? Children’s clothing or home décor? Blogging or personal networking? Do I stick with Irene Design or think up something catchy and slightly more original? Am I a hobbyist or a business entrepreneur in the making?
Do you all know what it means to DTR? (Define the Relationship). Back in my college days (I went to a Christian liberal arts school and loved it by the way), when a couple started to get serious about actually being a couple—or when one person wanted to let the other person know that they weren’t really into taking that next step—one would approach the other and hold a DTR chat. The relationship was defined, boundaries were set, and usually within a few hours everyone at the school knew what the outcome had been. It was a big deal.
I need to hold a DTR with myself. That’s half of why I took this course—to determine what I even needed to discuss!
The reality is, as much as I push against this, choices must be made. I cannot have it all; boundaries and limitations must be set. As I continue trying to determine where and what my focus is, my immediate reaction is against any kind of binary either/or. I want it all! But this is reality. I have just a few hours a week that I am able to devote to Irene Design, and that limitation must be kept in view or focus will never be achieved!
These questions do not mean that I am not enjoying the course or getting anything out of it. To the contrary, this is exactly what I wanted! I needed a little nudge, some adjustments, to get me to a point of being able to really focus on what matters.
Posted in Accessory, For baby, personal, tagged baby mary janes, baby shoes, irenedesign, Pattern Review, reversible baby shoes, sewing pattern, sweet pea patterns, sweetpeapatterns on March 15, 2010 | 5 Comments »
What: Reversible Mary Jane baby shoes, Size 0-18 Months
Pattern Type: Electronic, Adobe PDF
Sewing Level: Intermediate (just over Beginner)
Can you sell items made from the pattern? YES.
A few weeks ago I was browsing baby dresses and patterns on Etsy and came across this pattern for reversible Mary Janes with three strap options from SweetPeaPattern. I will admit that this was a bit of an impulse buy, but from the listing I thought these little shoes would be a great little project to use up some of the many fat quarters and other fabric scraps I have overflowing my boxes in the sewing room.
The pattern came to me via email within several hours. I have come to appreciate pdf patterns on several levels. I like that there is no middle-man; I receive the pattern directly from the person who made it. That usually translates into a decent priced pattern for me, and more profit made for the designer. I have also found that pdf patterns are usually a labor of love: the photos are in color, the details are clearly laid out, and if something is not easily understood, the designer is usually readily available to answer questions.
After receiving the pattern, I printed it out and cut the pieces for a 6-9 month shoe with ribbon ties. The pattern comes with lots of pictures and does not assume that the sewist knows more than s/he actually does. Given the method of sewing the pieces together, it would have been very easy to make the directions more difficult than needed, but instead there were very clearly written directions and pictures to answer questions left by the instructions. There are even little side notes and tips to make sure your shoes don’t pucker or cave.
All in all it took me about 70 minutes to make one pair of shoes. I am so pleased with the outcome, even on the first try. My daughter is nearly 7 months old, and I would have been fine using the 3-6 month pattern for her. I think these will not actually fit well for another month. She does love the shoes though and enjoys playing with the ribbons!
Did I mention yet that these are reversible? I love that these can be made with complimenting fabrics, and both fabrics can be used as the liner or the actual shoes!! The other good thing with this is that all of the seams are encased so there are no unsightly raw edges.
I have not made the other two versions of this shoe yet, but I plan to do so soon. Once you make one pair, I think it will be easy to make the others without a great deal of additional effort.
One more note to make, SweetPeaPatterns not only offers these sweet little Mary Janes but also has some loafers for little boys, kimono style shoes, seamless slippers, ballet style shoes and a pattern for car seat strap covers.
Want to buy the pattern? Visit SweetPeaPattern shop
Want to buy some already made shoes? Contact irenedesign@ymail[dot]com
Irene Design was not paid to conduct this review and is not supported by SweetPeaPattern. Sewing Pattern Photos come from and belong to SweetPeaPattern.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I am assaulted in the floral department. I love flowers, especially fresh cut flowers on my table. I can usually pass by unharmed, but not today. Today it was a cold, gray, almost-spring day, and I could not resist the bright sunshine yellow ranunculas smiling up at me. I picked up one bunch (I did resist the second. and third.) and went happily on my way.
When I got home I played around with our camera and then iPhoto and these are two of my favorites. Which one is your favorite?
Did you know I have owned the same umbrella for just a few months shy of ten years? It’s true. My French teacher gave me a beautiful umbrella just before I headed off to live in France for a year. She knew how much it rained there!
One of the first exercises we did for the Indie Biz 2.0 course was to design our “business umbrella”. In short, this umbrella is the theme under which all of my products and services fall. So for me, “combining function and beauty” is what I want to be the common thread that runs through all of my work. Under the umbrella of function and beauty rests not only the products I already have but those I want to include at some point.
This concept of having a business umbrella has helped me not only bring some definition to what I want as I move forward with Irene Design, but it has also liberated me from the idea that I should only “do one thing and do it well.” That model just doesn’t work for me; I like to explore far too much to just do one thing.
Along with sewing, I would love to incorporate photography as I get a little better. At some point, I may bring in some paintings as well. This umbrella is big enough to fit all of that but strong enough to keep some sort of consistency even with the variety.
The umbrella exercise has also been a great reference point. I had some free time tonight and was able to look at that before deciding what to make. Rather than starting one of the many random projects I have though about over the week, I was able to pick one that I knew fit within the umbrella.
I am hoping that this will help me to stay somewhat focused rather than having fifteen projects going at once that do not really fit together. It’s fine to have some variety, but I really want to keep it well within the reaches of my umbrella.
It is actually a good thing that the pattern I ordered last week has not come in yet, because last night the reality of my To-Do list for this weekend set in. It comes in the form of a pile of 22 napkins that need to be hemmed and sewn, 3 sandwich wraps to sew, and some keychains to put together–all while making sure we have groceries, a clean house, and make it to both of our commitments on Saturday! Now I know why I feel so busy.
Back to the pattern because that is what I am really excited about.
I found a dress online last week that I really liked but we’ll just say it was out of my price range (as in out of my Christmas/Birthday wish list price range even). So I decided to look at patterns, and I came across this one and decided I liked it almost as much as that dress that I cannot afford. I found some gorgeous ceylon blue cotton fabric and hope to have this finished in the next couple of weeks after I start whittling down that List (which I forgot to mention also involves 6 Christmas presents). The best part is that with a few modifications I plan to make (like adding a tie belt where the third set of buttons are) this will really be one of a kind and I can say “I made it.”
I’m off to tackle that napkin pile and am not even going to look at the mailbox until I’m at least half way through!
Posted in Clothing, For baby, personal, tagged baby gifts, baby girl clothes, baby girl dress, boutique style baby dress, Etsy, handmade clothes, irenedesign, newborn dress, Pattern Review, pinafore, romeo and mae, romeoandmae on November 5, 2009 | 1 Comment »
I could (and sometimes do) spend hours browsing through patterns and fabrics online. I would do it in person if I had the time. I recently found some patterns by Romeo and Mae that I fell head over heels for. What’s a girl to do when she falls head over heels for a pattern but buy it? (How materialistic does that sound? yikes!)
I purchased the Milla Modern Pinafor pattern and haven’t looked back. I made three dresses in one weekend and another dress this past weekend but couldn’t get the pictures because I had this huge ordeal with trying to get the snaps on. The short version of the story is that I finally had a coupon for Joann’s so I bit the bullet and bought a real pair of snap pliers. It was the best decision I made since buying this pattern.
The pattern comes as a .pdf straight to your inbox so you don’t have to wait a week for the mailman to show up. You can also print it out in every size rather than messing around with folding the right size from your pattern.
The pattern and directions are very straightforward; there were no points of confusion for me, and that is saying a lot. I really do not do well with directions, but this pattern may be the first exception.
My one complaint–and this is a small one–is that the sizing seems a bit off. I have an average sized two month old, and when I made the first dress using the 0-3 month size, it was too small for her. So I have been making one size up for her. I still need to make a few adjustments to the sizing because even the 3-6 month size is border line too tight around the chest. If Iwant her to be able to wear the dress for more than one month, I will need to widen the chest area a bit and lengthen the straps. I would say that a 1/2″ addition to all seems would do the trick.
It takes me about 1.5 hours to make one dress from start to finish. I think I am getting it down to closer to an hour though.
One thing I love about this pattern is how versatile it is. The dress would be really cute in the summer as a stand alone outfit, but it can also be paired with long sleeves and tights or baby legs for the fall and winter months.
I also love that I can mix and match my fabrics.
This pattern is a great pattern for anyone who can sew at an intermediate level or above. It does take a little know-how with maneuvering the neckline through your machine, but other than that, it is very simple.
Adeline wore the pink one to church last weekend.
This one is probably going to be one of Adeline’s Christmas party dresses. She is a popular baby, so she will need more than one Christmas party dress.
This is the first one I made. It would be perfect for a newborn or very petite 0-3 month old. It is currently in my shop.
Want to make a Modern Pinafore? Check out Romeo and Mae’s SHOP.
Want to buy a Modern Pinafore? Check out my SHOP.
Posted in Feature, For baby, personal, Uncategorized, tagged apron knot dress, baby girl clothes, baby girl dress, pattern, pinafore, romeo and mae, romeoandmae, sewing on October 16, 2009 | Leave a Comment »
Romeo and Mae (formally known as Lil Peas and Carrots) have some of the cutest patterns for little girl clothes. A friend of mine has a dress for her baby that is made from this pattern, and it is absolutely adorable. This is at the top of my list of items to buy next for Adeline.
I want to make some clothes for Adeline, and I am already thinking about making her First Christmas dress. I bought the Milla pattern this week and can’t wait to get started on it. Depending on how it turns out, this just might be the dress for her. I love this style because it is so simple but could look really cute with a long sleeve onesie and tights underneath. I also have lots of ideas for different fabric pairings to make the dress.
*Photos are from the Romeo and Mae shop.
I was recently contacting by “B” who has a blog about the “irreverent look into a jobless 24 year old’s surprisingly chaotic life.” I appreciate the honesty in that statement and am glad she has an outlet for the adventures that arise from the “aftermath of pressing the reset button,” as B describes it. She is starting a new series on her blog about local artists and crafters, and I was honored to be the first one.
You can read the interview at B’s blog, Polka[dot]bop.
Yesterday while the hubby and I were sitting in the OB’s office waiting our turn, he mentioned an article he read on the BBC’s website regarding a study that has shown that “there is no evidence that organic foods are any better than non-organic foods.” I thought that was an interesting concept and wondered what he might mean by “better”. Better looking? Better tasting? Better for the environment? So, I read the article. You can read it too by going here.
Now I am no scientist by any means, and I have done little research compared with these folks, but it seems pretty clear to me that the title of the article is slightly misleading. (The article says “Organic has ‘no health benefits’”) . What the article is actually getting at is that based on the study cited, there is no proven nutritional benefit to organic foods over conventionally grown foods. OK, I’ll grant that. Like I said, I’m not a scientist. However, I think it’s still safe to affirm that organic foods are indeed healthier if not for the nutritional benefits. Think of all the things you do not ingest when you eat organically grown foods. Pesticides, chemically-derived fertilizers, anti-biotics and hormones in meat…the list goes on. To me the common sense still says that organics are better (i.e. healthier) whether or not they are more “nutritious”. Just my humble opinion; did I mention I am not a scientist?
I will continue to buy organics where it seems to make the most sense to me. I will continue to savor every bite of the vegies I am fortunate enough to be able to buy from a good friend at the market every week. (He currently has the tastiest onions I have ever had. I think I could sautee one of those and just eat that if it weren’t for the inevitable heartburn that would ensue!)
With all this to say, I’m curious what you all think. I know that for some folks this is a very touchy subject and others rarely think about it. Also, on a similar note, has anyone seen the documentary, Food, Inc. yet? It only played in select theatres, unfortunately not in a city near me. I’m curious how that was.
Enjoy whatever food you are blessed to be eating today!
With every delicious sip of my gingerbread half-caf latte from JBC, I can feel my jitters coming on a little big stronger. This is what happens when I drink just about any amount of coffee, and for some reason decaf seems to make it worse (which I always forget when I’m ordering my wonderful brew). Oh, but I loooove coffee (so long as it isn’t that crap that leaves my mouth tasting like a nuclear waste plant). I don’t ever want to have to stop drinking coffee. ever.
And sugar? Well, let’s face the facts, people. I’m an addict. My name is Irene, and I eat too much sugar. I think I may need an intervention. Seriously.
I have been doing some studying on the impact various foods can have on you, and beside being petrified of almost anything that can enter my mouth, I am coming to realize that my normal diet has got to change. This change is going to come slowly (that is what works best for me), and it is going to come after Christmas (let’s be realistic here!). No, I’m not going to go on some crazy no fat, no sugar, no food diet. But I am going to be paying a lot more attention. And I think I am going to join a co-op (thanks, mom for the great idea!). I still need to run this by the hubby (so don’t ruin any surprises by telling him!), but I just found out that there is one within walking distance from our house. That’s right. I no longer have any excuses. I am going to be cooking more whole foods and less processed foods. I am going to try to do less of the whole refined sugar thing, and I may even cut back on the coffee…scratch that. I’m not cutting back on coffee.
So, here is what I want from you, fancy pants ID reader. I would love to hear about your experience and advice with a co-op if you have any, or give me some recipes for good, whole foods that can be cooked ahead of time or in under 45 minutes. To be honest, this is my biggest set-back. I work full time, and going home to spend an hour cooking dinner just doesn’t sound fun. Call me crazy, but I like my chill time. In return for your words of wisdom or resourceful recipes, I will be giving away a java sleeve so that you can enjoy your own cup of caffeine with a little more style, comfort, and pizzazz. I’ll even let you choose the color scheme. That’s right folks, this is a good, old fashioned blog giveway (hold the applause, please!) resulting from a java-induced stupor. So get crackin! Give me those tips and tricks. You have until the wee hours of next Thursday morning (12/18/08 in Louisville) when I decide to pick a random winner (and you don’t have to be from the US either).
Several years back I was on a tour bus somewhere in the English country side between London and Bath (yes, this is a true story). This was day one of an eight-day tour, and each participant was introducing himself or herself to the group. It was my turn. We were of course to tell our name, where we are from, how we made it on this tour (I was there because my friend won the tickets on the Ricki Lake Show), and then we were asked the question, “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” We could answer honestly or cunningly as we pleased, and I think I chose honesty for the most part. I have no idea which super power I chose, but that is because up until today, I have never really wanted any super powers (except maybe to be able to be any place around the world I want to be instantaneously…that would be a.ma.zing.)
I think I now know what my superpower would be (if I could not have the ability mentioned above). I would like to have the ability to take pictures with my eyes.
There are countless times each day when I see something and I wish I could take a picture of it. However, taking a picture at that moment would probably be really akward. Take today for example. I’m walking down to the bank and I pass a sushi chef obviously on break after the busy lunch hour, enjoying a cigarette and smiling with warm eyes as I pass. snap. I’m coming out of the coffee shop and walking up the garden path to the sidewalk. At the end of the path is a bus stop full of people ready to board. Bundled up against the cold wind, talking, thinking, waiting, the bus is off in the distance. snap. Yesterday I get out of the car and begin to walk toward the door. I stop to take in the beauty of the moment. My home with snow falling gently all around and disappearing as it lands on earth. snap. There are so many more I cannot share with you because my little brain cannot contain them all.
So today if you ask me which super-power I would like, I would answer honestly that I would like the ability to snap a picture without anyone knowing.
Posted in custom order, For baby, kitchen, personal, tagged amy butler, baby blanket, brown minky fabric, custom burp cloths, Gender Neutral Baby Gifts, Pleated Apron on November 30, 2008 | 2 Comments »
This vacation is coming to a close just like any other: wishing I had “one more” day of it to enjoy! I can’t believe Sunday evening is already here and I will be getting up bright and early tomorrow to head back to work. Good thing I like going to work, or I may seriously consider a sick day!
This short break was wonderful! It consisted of nothing particularly special, but everything entirely wonderful! I had family (well, my husband!), friends, food, a little bit of shopping (I really tried to resist, but by the time Saturday came around, I had to go), and of course plenty of sewing. Here’s what I did when I wasn’t eating, cleaning, sleeping, playing games, walking, cuddling on the couch, watching football, or anything else!
The vintage style apron is a gift for my cousin for Christmas, and I had enough fabric left over for the Martini Apron which will be up in my shop. I used the insructions from Amy Butler’s In Stitches to make that one (with a few modifications of course). The first one took me a really long time. For some reason I find that her instructions are really difficult to follow. But once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing, the second one was made in half the time or less. I always say to myself that I am never going to use one of her patterns again, but I inevitably do because they really do turn out great, and hopefully the more I make, the better I’ll get at following instructions )
The elephant burp cloths are for an order from the weekend, and the star burp cloths and baby blanket are for my best friend from college who is having a little boy in a couple of months! I picked up the cute animal print fleece at Joann’s on Saturday, and I already had the chocolate brown minky. I love the softness of both fabrics, and the print makes me want to wrap up a little baby all tight and cozy in there!