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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little blue clutch..and more

Lots of sewing going on. I made this little clutch wallet yesterday. I like the way the pockets on the inside line up so that the graphic remains almost the same as the front of the pouch. (you can kind of see in the first photo) There are six pockets for cards, a place for a checkbook, and a paper money pouch and a velcro closure tab.

I also made a couple of more complex projects, a mini-duffle bag with a draw string top and a large duffle bag. The mini-duffel is really cute. I think I'll make a bunch of them in different colours. I dont think I'm ever going to tackle that large duffel bag project again. It was HUGE and difficult. I ended up using finishing tape to try to hide the disatrous mess I made of the circular end pieces. The drink pouches and the heavy lining material made the bag so stiff it was hard to work with. My fingers are full of pin holes from the many times I jabbed myself while struggling to finish it. Way too much work-- I'd have to charge $200 to make it even close to worth it...Haven't got time to take the pictures tonight- will post tomorrow.

Started a Halloween-themed bag tonight. Green (strawberry kiwi) and Orange pouches alernating on a large bag. I think it would work great as a shopping tote or beach bag. Photos to follow when I finish it.

Off to the thrift store in New West tomorrow, where a little birdie from Craigslist told me I can get jeans for $1 a pair.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two night shifts and a mini backpack

Just finished my two night shifts at work. I had to go into the office last night which always makes it a bit more of a challenge for me. I didn't sleep well after my first night, so I'm really mixed up now. It's nearly 1 AM and I'm still going strong here.
I bought some instructions online for the cutest little backpack today. I made it this evening and didn't make too many mistakes, although it was definitely a learning experience! I think this one is a big hit. Alison said even SHE wants one! :-)
It has a little cell phone pocket in the front, a drawstring closure around the top, and the straps are really cute, made by using cut up pouches backed with lining fabric, and trimmed with finishing tape.
It took me several hours to finish this one, but it was my first try. Next one should be quicker and easier. I have some cute bright pink fabric with blue flowers here, an extra piece I found at Walmart for under $2. I think I'll make a blue backpack with the pink lining next.

Off to bed now. Lots of busy days and nights just past and I need to recover!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Come see my ETSY shop!

I just opened my Etsy store today! If you aren't familiar with it, Etsy is an online store where people can show and sell their handmade items. They have vintage stuff too. There are so many great items there, and you can search locally too and avoid shipping. There are quite a few sellers listed for the Vancouver area. How do you like my banner? My first attempt at creating a graphic using Gimp...well, I did have to find an online tutorial, but I did it. Those are my stargazer lillies from my front garden in the background. I had to dim down their intense bright colours so the text would show up!

I'm so excited that my items have already had a few viewings. Go ahead, go have a look-see:-)

Fingers crossed for Graham

Graham, my brother, got up at 5:00 this morning to go and wait in line for the opportunity purchase a new townhouse. It's a huge development here in Delta that has been in the works for years. Apparently, it's the last big parcel of privately-owned land that was left for development in Delta. I have my fingers crossed for him, as he tells me there are hundreds of people there now. Some folks even camped out ovenight! That's really amazing in this down-turned real estate market. I suppose all the media hype has worked for them. I hope he makes the best choice for him. Would be fun to go visit and swim in the pool next Summer (hmm, not sure when the pool and other amenities are going to be finished actually) This is the first phase of the townhouses that are selling. Just 25 for sale today and he thinks he's about #15 in line....

This is the place:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lined makeup bag

I love this little bag! I just made it this morning- only took me about an hour, I'm getting faster! Figured out a few more tricks to make it easier as well. The presser foot on the machine doesn't like to slide over the vinyl very well, so when I'm sewing with the vinyl side up, I put a scrap piece of material under the foot for it to slide over- works great!

The liner is flannel with teddys printed on it. So cute!
Found some instructions for making a belt so I'm going to try that today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

First attempt at a wallet

Well, I think the wallet is pretty cute but I'm not sure I'll make these for the craft fairs. They are pretty labour intensive with stitching in all the pockets. There's a clear vinyl pocket for picture ID too, and a velcro tab for holding it closed. I think I can make the next one better- this was just a trial to see how to do it.
...and another pencil case which turned out a bit better than the first one. I think I've got the hang of working with the zippers now:-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trying new options

Here's the little red bag I made today. I experimented some more with this one, adding a denim lining and the back pocket sewn in for a cellphone/pen pocket.
This one I learned a few things on-- test the fabric before using to see if it's stretchy. It's hard to sew with stretchy material!
I think making the lining would have been so much easier with nice non-stretch denim....although I do like the black with the cherry red drink pouches. It also looks more faded in some parts of the denim which I think looks cool.

Back to work in the morning for a set of 2 days and 2 nights, so probably won't get a lot of sewing done. Oh well....gotta make a living too!

How about a shoulder bag?

This little bag took me longer because I needed to figure a way to do the flap closure and make an adjustable shoulder strap. Had to find the plastic parts to make the strap slide through. Added a velcro closure under the flap too. I love this little bag- perfect size for a lunch kit, a purse, or taking small toys to a friend's house to play....trying a red one next I think, perhaps adding a demin lining and inside pocket for the necessities (cell phone, Ipod:-) Maybe even a buckle closure in the front.

Took Mom for her lithotripsy procedure at VGH yesterday. It ended up being a full day. We left the house at 10:00 am and didn't get home till 7:00 pm. She had to have a CT scan, x-rays, you name it...but hopefully that kidney stone has been blasted to smithereens now. She's feeling fine- stayed overnight at our place because they said she shouldn't drive after the sedation. She just gone home now and I'm back to my sewing. It's a quiet day- love that sun, the sky is gorgeous!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More craftiness

I did some more sewing last night and today and completed 3 more bags. Devon thinks this smaller one is the best one so far...I guess he likes the graphics of the kids doing sports on it...perhaps a bit less childish for his sophisticated teenage tastes:-) I also did a little shoulder bag, just 2 pouches wide in orange with a fold-over top which is really cute. I have to get some velcro fastening tape for the flap closure and some plastic hardware to make the shoulder strap adjustable. Will post a photo when I'm done with it!
Got some jeans for fabric today from my buddy Yvette (thanks sweetie- that is Dave's Levi's on the smaller bag-heehee!) My previously discussed "pouch supplier" emailed me today and said she has 600 MORE pouches for me from today's catch of recycling. I have to hand it to her. She's got an 8 week old baby and she's out there helping her other son collect containers to raise money. She's incredible. (thank you Ingrid!)

Off to the hospital with Mom tomorrow so she can get her kidney stone 'shock-waved'. Will browse the fabric store for supplies while I'm waiting for her.

I'm having so much fun-- can you tell?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A new hobby

I've been bored lately. I'm so sick of TV-there's nothing on anymore and feels like such a waste of time. Jon is very busy lately with Toastmasters (he's an assistant area governor now) and his BCIT classes and homework, and the kids are off doing their own thing most of the time so I often have time on my hands.
I was browsing the internet, looking for something crafty I could do. I wanted to make something useful and I like the idea of using recycled materials. I found this pattern for a tote-bag made out of foil drink pouches. Apparently these little bags cannot be recycled for the materials, although they are returnable for deposit (you pay $0.5 deposit when you buy them) I decided to give it a whirl. I bought a couple of boxes of these drinks, tried to get the kids to drink them, but ended up pouring about 10 of them into a jug in the fridge because I wanted to get started.
I was working the last couple of nights, so while I was planning the project, I posted a message up on Craigslist under 'wanted', looking for these pouches and offering to pay $0.15 each for them. I found another ad where a woman in Delta was asking for returnable containers to help her son raise money for a hockey trip to New York. I emailed her and offered to pay her $0.15 each for any drink pouches they collected. Well, to my surprise she emailed me the next day (after a bottle drive) and said she had 200 POUCHES waiting for me!! I hadn't even made ONE project yet at that point! So, I picked up the pouches and got started last night. I should mention how much recycled drink containers stink before they are cleaned...yuck, until I get them all washed, the garage smells awful.
The worst part of the process is washing and drying the little pouches and trying to get the goo off the front (where the straw is stuck on) I had some 'sticky out' solution and that really helped.
So, this is the tote bag I made! It's Blue Raspberry on one side and Tropical Fruit (teal green) on the other, with recyled denim (Ally's old jeans) around the sides. I'm so proud of myself because I'm not much of a seamstress...I actually failed Textiles in grade 9 :-) (but that's just 'cos I didn't want to make a 'dumb' tailored shirt so I dug my heels in and the teacher failed me... yes, I was a very stubborn teenager!
Alison (my 18 year old daughter who took sewing at school up till grade 12) helped me set up the machine and showed me how it worked. (thank you Ally!) I made her this little lined make up pouch out of a chocolate bar package. I think it's a bit too small for all her stuff, but she loves it anyway. She was a little upset when she saw I had used one of her baby pillowcases for the lining though. What do you think of the pencil case? I still have to get a hole-punch to make the holes for it to go into a binder.
These are all my first tries, so there were a few mistakes. I also made a little change purse out of a Mr Noodles package (which Ally also claimed!) ...but I really messed up on the lining...oh well, it was just a tester. This was really fun! I may just build up a stock and see if I can sell them at craft fairs. Anybody have thoughts about how much I should/could charge?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eat Shrink and Be Merry

I knicked this ad from my favorite cookbook's website. These Canadian girls have made it big with their 3 cookbooks that make eating healthy taste GOOD. (and I mean GOOD!) I use their books almost exclusively because we love these recipes. This latest one is my fave. Tonight we're having Rome on the Range, which is a yummy roasted veggie and meatball soup. It smells delicious.
Really tasty food and good for you too. Not to mention all the funny, interesting information that's in here too. They have a show on the Food Network called 'Eat Shrink and Be Merry'
Anybody know somebody who works at HARPO? These girls gotta get on Oprah! :-)
Check 'em out

Foyer changes so far

First photo here was taken during one of our visits prior to buying the house. You can't really tell here, but the foyer walls are wallpapered in with a very ugly (though subtle) chevron pattern. When I see ugly wallpaper I just itch to tear it down. As you can see, I eventually did so! We had to get our odd Greek painter guy in to help us finish the upper parts of the walls and to fix the wall under the wallpaper. (it had been patched really badly) I wish I had a full photo of the hilarious light fixture that was hanging here. You can just see the last bulb of it in the first photo. It consisted of 4 or 5 brass round bulbs with bare bulbs sticking out of the bottoms, hanging at different levels. Yikes-- we got rid of that when we had the ceilings painted (the painter helped Jon hang the new fixture you can see here)
The wall paint is called Sable Sands. It's sort of a brownish green I think. At the top of the stairs, the wall around the doorway is Ryegrass, which extends from the dining room to the left. The other wall is the rest of the hallway, which I painted with Manilla Tan. I think they all look pretty nice together.
you can also see what a big difference the new front door and sidelights makes. We hung a mirror over the window that looks into the living room. It just looked like it should have a mirror there. We still aren't sure what to do with the other side of the window in the living room. Would like to close it up somehow eventually so we can use that wall for our big screen TV (someday!)
We also want to change out these chunky stair rails and spindles. We'd love to do black iron rungs with stained wooden handrails. We got a quote from a railing place once, but to do the railings here and also across the dining room overlook was going to cost around $3-4K, so we're living with it for now.
Another 'someday' for this area is a new tile floor. This parquet floor is in rough shape near the doorway, and I've never liked this look. Something else for the 'to do' list....

Living room updates

Here's the living room before we bought the house, and then after I stripped the wallpaper (yeah, I know it doesn't look like wallpaper-why did they bother?) painted the walls (Warm Muffin) got our new couches (ordered from Inspiration Furniture and waited 6 months for them!) We also had new custom-fitted fireplace doors installed, hung new drapes, and added wood blinds. Eventually we'd like to get rid of the 1980's-dusty-rose carpeting and go hardwood or some other hard surface flooring. Perhaps an area rug (but at least one of the dogs thinks carpets are grass for some reason....hmmm) This room is probably my favorite room because (other than the carpet) it feels finished. At first we thought about installing a gas insert for the fireplace, but we actually really enjoy having real wood fires in the Winter. This room doesn't have great insulation, so it ends up getting pretty chilly in here.

Downstairs bathroom...well, at least we like it now!

Here's some before and after shots of our downstairs bathroom. When we bought the house, this little bathroom was so dark, dingy and YUCK that we didn't even notice it had a shower stall in it, behind a wall next to the sink. We hired a design/contractor team to completely gut the room and start over. I can't even bear to tell you how much this all cost in the end. It turned out lovely, but there were many mistakes made along the way. (they installed the wrong size shower door and enclosure and it had to all be redone) It was a very painful process! Anyway...turns out the kids use that bathroom and we are stuck using the old upstairs bathrooms. We should have known better than to use all white tiles and grout. It's a real pain to keep clean, but at least we have a nice guest bathroom when anyone comes to stay. The shower stall is huge! Hard to take pictures because the room is quite small though. Favorite feature: Low-flow Toto toilet with a soft-close seat!

Endless home renos

This first photo is how our house looked just before we bought it back in Jan 2005. It was built in 1980 and very little work seems to have been done since then! It's a great neighbourhood, but there are still so many things we would love to change. Unfortunately, finances are such that anything other than painting and needed repairs aren't likely to be getting done any time soon. To make me feel better, I like to remember everything we've done to it in the past nearly-4 years. I took lots of before and after shots, but had nowhere to post them, so maybe I'll start here.
One of the first projects we took on was taking part in the Home Smart program through BC Hydro and Teresen Gas. We had our home's energy efficiency tested, then certain upgrades were recommended. We replaced all of the old aluminum framed windows and patio doors with double vinyl, and replaced the exterior doors, added weather stripping, caulked around the fireplaces, doubled the insulation in the attic and crawlspace, bought a new higher-efficiency furnace and installed bathroom fans. The new windows and doors made a huge difference in the look of the house, inside and out- and are much better for security (anti-shatter glass, UV protection, etc)
The second photo was taken after this work was done. We also bought wood blinds for the big front windows and took out some of the big plantings in the front garden. The last photo I took today. We had the exterior painted last summer and we are so happy with the colour change. It's called Tuscan Hillside. (I like paint chip colour names and I usually remember them!) Our neighbours said it looks like a new house! We also had the gutter downspouts replaced which doesn't show here, but looks so much better. The old ones were peeling and falling apart.

You can see our little Pink Dogwood tree near the end of the driveway. This was a wedding gift from my mom that we planted Summer 2005. I hope to see it grow tall and covered with blossoms one day. For now, it gets about 20 flowers in the spring.

Working from home (or WFH as we like to call it!)

I've been part of a pilot project for the past 5 months, working as a telenurse from home. It's the best job I've ever had for so many reasons. I started telenursing for the BC Nurseline about 5 years ago. I thought I would miss working at the hospital (I worked for 10 years at BC Childrens' Hospital in the ER and as an IV nurse) but after a period of adjustment, I've settled into this new role which I really enjoy. I still get to help people and use my nursing knowledge and I'm still learning something new everyday. In fact, one of the best things about telenursing is the ability to work with one patient at a time until I've met their needs, before moving on to the next one. Another great thing is taking regular, scheduled breaks during my shifts! No more working 8-10 hours straight because things are too busy to get away.
Now that I'm working most of the time from my home, I have even more advantages. I work in my PJs most of the time, and spend my breaks doing what I want to do, checking the mail, tidying up, taking a shower, playing with the dogs, talking to the kids or Jon. I get more sleep and even doing night shifts isn't as painful as before. I know I can fall into my own bed 5 minutes after my shift ends, which is wonderful. I used to be so nervous driving all the way home after being up all night.
Any BC nurses out there who want to come and see what the Nurseline is like-- let me know, I'd be happy to fill you in, take you on a tour, whatever! We need more nurses, as the Ministry of Health is planning to implement 811 soon, so our call volume is about to increase dramatically.