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February is an awesome month, and not just because my birthday is in the middle of it. February is the month you start to appreciate the New Year. February is great for the sports fan, and celeb watchers.  February lends itself to a feeling of accomplishment, because you move through it so fast.  February is a month that often gives you the first hope of Spring.

And February is an opportunity to celebrate more birthdays of people I know than any other month. Quick date list – 1st, 2nd, 10th, 11th, 12th, 15th (times two!) 18th, 19th (times two!), 22nd, and I’m sure I’m missing someone.

To everyone out there – Happy Birthday!

Let’s just say I didn’t stick to the list, nor did I just use the fabric on hand.  I have several projects in my queue, half finished, and in the meanwhile, accumulated more fabric because I’m a fabric junky.  Yes, I have plans for all the fabric I picked up, and yes, that is likely more than a year’s worth of projects for me, but since I like checking the box, here’s what I accomplished and where I got a little derailed.

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This wasn’t on my crafting list

Cape)  Check!      Bedroom Curtains)  Not complete.  By the way, we’re now in a new house.  Does that count for something?  Garage Curtain)   Yep.     Heidi Dress)  Started, and nearly finished.  What will help me finish this one is someone who can help me tame the bodice.  And I think she’s coming in April (Yippee!!)      Couch) Probably my biggest accomplishment in the crafting arena in 2012.  I might even try to find a chair to recover (Husband groans)    Alter Husband’s dress shirt)  Started, and then put it back to original.     Housewife kit)  Complete and with evidence of the newlywed couple enjoying the chocolate croissant recipe.      Huck Finn Cap)  Complete and RIDICULOUSLY cute on nephews.      Lisette Traveler Dress)  Complete with mixed results.  I did a good job of major alterations for above average bust, and then went and screwed it up with a ribbon placket.  Also, the blue makes it look like a lab coat.      Helix Dress & Grey silk dress)  Not started, would still love a dress out of those fabrics.    Dye & Make Corduroy Skirts)  Dyed some fabric – more to go.  How did I end up with 10+ yards of corduroy?    Copy Grey Cardigan)  Finished in January (2013, I know) – turned out well!    Pinstripe)  Not started, same goal for 2013.    Comicon Costumes)  Didn’t happen.  Drat.  Ironing/Blocking Board)  Thank you Husband!  Finish laptop sleeve)  Still in same state as when I wrote the original list.  Baby Blanket)  Complete!     Dress form padding) Kind of but not really.

That’s 9 of 19 projects completed, just under 50%.  My original goal was 75%, whoops!  There’s a few things I would still like to do (Helix, Grey Silk & Pinstripe) and a few which are in progress and remain on my list of things to do.  As I organize my craft room, I’m putting them where I will see them.  This year, I’d like to finish what I’ve already started, and use fabric on hand (for real).   Here’s to hope and crafting in 2013!

It was a sunny first day of the year, and we all managed to get out on the local trail for some sun and start recovering from holiday excesses.  It was a wonderful holiday season, particularly in our new house as we hosted Mother In Law (MIL) for two weeks, hosted a Scandinavian themed meal with friends, and both of Husband’s parents for Christmas Day.  And now it is time to review my goals for the year.

Looking back, the goals were:

1) Move: Check that bad boy off the list.  I even got the dishwasher, craft room and a third garage stall.  Granted the latter needs to be cleared of stuff from the other house, but it’ll get done eventually.

2) Sell or rent current house:  Check!  Rented just last month – whew!

3) Eat More Vegetables: Think I do okay on this one – there were a few vegetarian recipes which worked their way into my regular repertoire, and still think I feel much better when I eat more veggies

4) Rest:  Could have done better on this one.

5) Finish at least 3/4 of my current craft project list: Um yeah about that… I’ll follow up on a separate post.  Moving might have slowed that one down, or else I’m just making excuses.

6) Run a personal best half marathon:  Nope, not even close.  Not pleased with that result, but I wasn’t planning to run another marathon last year, and dropped time by 20ish minutes.

7) Weekly-ish blog post: It wasn’t perfect, but not too shabby on this one

8) Lose some bulk:  Nowhere near my goal, but still ended the year less than where I started it.

9) Organize my crafting supplies/space:  It got done, but needs to be done again.

From where future me sits on 1 Jan 2014, there are a few things I would be pleased to accomplish in 2013.

1) Paint.  Have I mentioned this house is mainly beige?

2) Yard.  Have I mentioned that the former owners loved their yard and took pretty good care of it?  They were certainly very proud of it, and it was something we liked about the house, but we’ve also come to the conclusion that they were quite well-intentioned, but perhaps not the most knowledgeable gardeners.  The yard is beautiful and feels very private, but we’d like to reclaim some grass, bring the roses and rhododendrons under control with some heavy pruning, and relocate a few ferns though Husband would just like those gone.

3) Run a personal best half marathon. I’m signed up for one in early March (get training lady!)  and am looking to do the Seattle Half again in late November, marathon is tbd.

4) New clothes will be made, not purchased.  Challenge accepted! I’m debating on the underlings aspect of this one…  This will also help me destash a few yards of fabric and catch up on some of the projects which stalled in the move or those in which I just lost interest.  I also have a digital notebook of all the clothes which have interested me recently.  Time to try and recreate a few looks I think.

5) Finish up works in progress.  Yeah yeah yeah…. I have a few copied items which are still in muslin stage, one thing I found in my ‘delivery’ from my mom which can be altered, and at least two other things which should be altered/adjusted to make them wearable.

6) Organize craft room.  Even with my own craft room, things have been packed away for three years and I’m pulling things out of bins to better manage my inventory.  Scraps are even going to get organized; resealable plastic bags are going to be my friends.

7) Eat more veggies.  Or said another way, find more vegetarian recipes for my repertoire.  Anyone have a good recipe for kale?

8) Lose some bulk.  Slow & steady, right?  Same target as last year, let’s see if I can get there.

9) Find a nice chair.  This is wrapped up in making the house ours, transitioning into ‘grown up’ furniture and paying down debt.  We will also like dining room and bedroom sets in the long run too.

I’m still thinking this through and might have an addition or two later this month.

Happy New Year everyone!

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Julbordet at church, always a wonderful evening

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Tree in our new house and the straw goat, which haven’t seen the light of Christmas for several years.  WP_001168[1]WP_001172[1]

Got a little painting done too. Pretty puppy, who ‘helped’ paint again.WP_001213[1]

 

For a little food – it wouldn’t be right without a little Scandinavian cuisine.

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All in all, a good season with food, family & friends.  There is much to be grateful for this year!

WP_001106[1]Our house was built in the late 1970s and a trademark of those houses is a popcorn ceiling.  Lovely little piles of mud, potentially laced with asbestos.  Yuck.  For a number of reasons (primarily aesthetic), they have to come down.

Starting with a spray bottle with hot water, a wide mud/taping knife, and a crate ready to catch the falling mess we began.  The trick was to get the popcorn just wet enough to easily scrap off without getting the underlying sheet rock too wet and damaging it.  Even with a drop cloth, this was an extremely messy process – we scraped the hallway and craft room, and that was about enough.  Time to clean up and even that was quite the process.

WP_001169[1]Next step: sanding, repairing and sanding once again.  A new orbital sander with a vacuum vent reduced a good portion of the dust, but even two weeks after all the sanding is complete, I’m still finding dust in places where we weren’t even working.  A face mask is  necessity for this whole process, and a really good vacuum.

We decided that we would apply a texture before painting, since this meant the repair and sanding process didn’t need to be flawless.  I learned that a gentle approach to applying the texture reduced caking on the roller and came out more evenly on the ceiling.  Thankfully, the texture came off the walls where we accidentally got it on the places  we had already painted.

This is a process I’m okay not doing again anywhere in the near future.    Since a lot of the work was being done in my craft room,  my project list has been paused (and growing) and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.   Incredibly messy and time consuming as it was, I’m still glad that there is less popcorn in the house.WP_001107[1]WP_001170[1]

I find that creativity is most productive as a group process.  This might tire some people out, but I thrive on being able to see what works for the crafters near & dear to me.  And this is where my own efforts take another nod from my sister and her craft room.

Her house is quaint, and that there is a craft room at all I was quite jealous of before our recent move.  We’re guessing 6×10, in which she has organized her fabrics (also a great idea), has a cutting table and a sewing table.  She’s made the most of the wall space too, and as I am setting up my own room, I am giving her credit for the pegboard which now hangs in there.  I also picked up a steel board from IKEA where I can put up my pattern directions and project lists with magnets.

I’ve also started painting in the room, and decided that this was the one space I could get away with a nice peacock teal wall.  Next to the icy turquoise it looks horrendous, but that’s what the grey is for, right?  To provide a non beige neutral against which the accent colors will really stand out.  For a little decoration and fun, a peacock ornament from World Market (one of our favorite stores for several reasons) now roosts on the board. The picture was taken with a different purpose, but you can see the pegboard, the teal paint and the peacock!

Getting set up is more than painting and being thankful my thread spools are now beautifully organized and out of a bin.  Partly it’s unpacking/discovering all that’s been stored for the past few years – and that is enough for another post and another area of creative inspiration.

It’s the stormiest part of the year here in the PNW, and a Sunday afternoon is a perfect time to start a few soups for a busy week.  Soup is also an easy thing for me to have when managing a few other projects at the same time.

French onion soup had been on my list for a while, as had a butternut squash soup recipe that I had shared with a friend but hadn’t had the opportunity to try out myself just yet.  First, the French onion.  I’m still getting used to the oven here, which runs a bit faster than our previous one.  The effect on the soup was that toward the 90 minute mark of the of the ‘cook for 11/2-1 3/4 hours longer’ I took a peak at the onions which had a very dark crust at the bottom of the pot already.  After a momentary thought of ‘oh crap, I burned it!’ I took out the pan and started to deglaze the pot.  What a beautiful fond, and it actually saved me the bulk of the work.

At the same time, I halved and seeded the squash, and put it face down in a rimmed sheet with a little water in it.  It cooked for 45-50 minutes, and was done at the same time as the onions.  After it cooled, I took a spoon to scoop out the guts; ready for a quick meal later in the week. When ready to cook, I realized I forgot the leeks but quickly grabbed a shallot, diced it, and threw it in the pot with the butter to develop a fond.

In went the veggie broth, the thyme and bay leaf to simmer for a while.  The herbs were removed and I grabbed the immersion blender to smooth out the larger squash pieces.  Back on the burner to simmer a bit, and then some water to thin it out just a bit.  Into the bowl, and I threw in some of the croutons from the French Onion soup.  The soup cream flipped over the crouton in the picture, but everything together had a great flavor.  Delicious!

Ingredients (From Cook’s Illustrated)

*2 1/2pounds butternut squash , peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch chunks (about 7 cups)  *  2 tablespoons unsalted butter   *  1 leek , white and green parts only, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly (about 1 1/2 cups) *  Salt and pepper * 4cups vegetable broth  *  1 – 2cups water  * 2sprigs fresh thyme  * 1 bay leaf  * pinch cayenne pepper  * Sour cream for garnish

Enjoy!

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