a pretty cool life.: September 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

My tiniest craft project

Here they are.  Meet our little pocket sized family. 

Looking at them now, I feel like I should have added more detail and sealed them to save them from the inevitable abuse they will suffer in our house of boys and pets.  But they are a whole lot like our real family...not too fancy, not perfect, a little banged up from playing...but still lovable. 

I intentionally chose not to paint their faces and let my boy use his imagination.  I'm also going to be on the lookout for a little wooden house for our family to live in.  I may even let him paint it.  He's been very interested in "make things Mommy" lately.  (Where on earth could he have learned that behavior?  Certainly not from me!)

I know it's impossible to completely avoid all the plastic toys like Buzz and Woody and their little Disney counterparts, but I have always thought that every child's toy collection should include items that require imagination (building blocks or dishes and tea sets for instance) and things made of natural materials.  I already hate myself enough every time I walk into our playroom.  Or family room.  Or kitchen.  Or the boys' room.  There is far too much plastic and far too many things that light up and require batteries. 

I'll just hope that someday my boys will appreciate the effort and creativity I put into all the little things I make for our family and that they both will have memories of their mom making things. 

Okay, seriously, enough sappiness!  Is anyone even still reading this??

To see some completely adorable, already beautifully painted little people, check out this etsy shop.

So what's with the new name?

While I am still desperately trying to be the coolest mom on the block, I think my blog has gone in a different direction than I originally started.  What began as random ramblings of a stay at home mom has morphed into projects and crafts and sharing all the "stuff" that I am trying to accomplish.  So I figured it was time for a title change...

I also wanted to tie the name into my etsy shop, just pretty, that will finally be stocked by the end of this week.  I am so thrilled that I'll be able to realize one of my goals of actually selling some of the things I love making so much.  

The Coolest Mom on the Block + just pretty = A Pretty Cool Life.

And it's true.  I do have a pretty cool life.   I hope you'll continue to enjoy reading about it.  (And no matter what title this blog has, I promise I'll still be your cool friend Cheryl!) 

Life just the way I like it: sewing, complete with paint stained hands.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Monkey business

I can remember not that long ago when my Saturday nights involved going out and staying up late.  Now I happily spend those evenings at home making things like this.

I did some by memory and some from this tutorial.  (It's not the best, but it's okay.)  Two episodes of TiVo-ed Law & Order later, I was done.  (And I also reminded myself why I avoid sewing by hand at all costs.)

Sometimes I could swear I have craft ADD.  I saw those Chicago Bears colored socks in Target yesterday and decided to temporarily abandon all my other projects for this! 

Friday, September 25, 2009

And the winner is...

Number 26, Janna, who said...

"I love Martha Stewart! I remember watching a Martha halloween show where she decorated a whole room for halloween, using things from around the house. Like pie plates,cups,etc."

Congrats Janna!  Happy reading!  Email me with your info, and I'll get your subscription sent to you right away.

And for the project I promised yesterday, well...it's still in the works.  Two little boys who decided not to nap put a little crimp in my plans...  But those of you who guessed a rug are right.  I'll share it as soon as I can. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Up next...

Can you guess what these towels will be?

I've been shredding...

and shredding...

and shredding...

them for my latest project.  I can't wait to share it!

And if you're interested, don't forget to enter to win a subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  I'll pick a winner at 5 pm central time tomorrow!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rice heating bag and removable cover (and all from scraps!)

Do you have one of these?  Is it just about least attractive thing you own?  (That beaten up cutting mat I insist on photographing is a close second.)

I never realized how gross our rice heating bag was until the other day when I woke up with a super stiff neck and wore it around the house all day.  It's basically a sock with some cheesy plastic rope on the ends.  Not cute. 

So I whipped up a much prettier one in no time at all.  I still look like a nerd with a heating bag around my neck, but at least it's slightly more stylish.  What's even better?  I made it entirely out of scraps. 

Here's what I did...

For the actual heating bag, I had some ticking stripe fabric left over from pillow cases I've been making.  I cut a strip 10 inches x 23 inches.  That's how long my Bed Buddy is, counting the handles.  I think the mattress ticking makes for the perfect inside, and the extra heft of the decorator fabric works well. 

I folded it in half lengthwise and sewed down the long side and one short side with itty bitty, short stiches so the rice wouldn't escape. 

I turned it rightside out, poked out the corners and filled it with rice.  A 2 pound bag was just right...I used nearly the entire bag.  It only needs to 3/4 or so full to still bend.  (I love how the rice is called "fancy."  No plain rice would do!)

I then tucked in the the other short end and sewed it shut.  Heating bag complete!

Next for the cover.  I gathered up all kinds of scraps and pieced together two long strips, 6.5 inches x 24.5 inches each.

I hemmed a short side of each of the pieces and sewed two 10 inch ribbons onto each piece, 2 inches in from the outside.

I then pinned the two pieces, rightsides together, and sewed the 2 long sides and unhemmed short side.

I turned it rightside out, poked out the corners and stuffed in the rice bag.

Tie the ribbons and that's it!  I might still look like an old lady walking around with my heating bag around my neck, but at least it's a lot cuter than it used to be.  To heat it, stick it in the microwave, 1 minute at a time, until it's the right temperature.  Be careful and don't burn yourself.

A little note:  I always pre-wash and dry my fabric to try to eliminate any future shrinkage.  If you don't wash and dry your fabric ahead of sewing it, I would add an inch to the dimensions of the cover.  You don't want it to shrink in the wash and then be too small for the rice bag!

Another little note:  I said "rice bag" about a million times in this post.  Doesn't "rice bag" sound like a mean name to call someone?  Like "What a rice bag!!" or  "Hey! That rice bag just cut me off!"  It could catch on...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pretty wax paper for autumn treats

After making the fall leaves the other day, my mind has been spinning with possibilities and ideas.  Why didn't I ever realize wax paper had so much potential?

Here is another idea I came up with to make fall cookies and other treats extra special and festive.  (Somehow it also seems vaguely familiar, but I couldn't find it anywhere...if this is your idea, tell me!) 

Target had these little fall punches in the $1 Spot, so I snatched one up and punched a whole bunch of leaf confetti out of scrapbook paper.

I sprinkled it over a sheet of wax paper.  I'd recommend using double sided scrapbook paper because flipping over all the white leaves was a pain.

And then I covered it all with another sheet of wax paper.  With my iron on the lowest setting, I ran over my wax paper sandwich.   I let it cool and trimmed the uneven edges.

That's it!  Now hostess gifts and treats have a special little touch.  This is another project I'm going to re-use and re-use each holiday.  Wouldn't it also be cute as wrapping paper over a plain box?

The resident hand model at it again.

And in keeping with the fall spirit, we're also making applesauce for dinner. 

Do you have one of these?  They rock!  My helper and I peeled a 5 pound bag of apples in just a few minutes!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who needs toys...

when you have this going on down the block?

There couldn't be anything in the world more fascinating for my little guys to watch.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re-run of my guest post: Ottoman slipcover tutorial

Remember Laurel let me guest post on her blog last week? One project I shared was a tutorial on making a slipcover for an ottoman.

Here it is again:

I got this ottoman to match the gingham glider I have in our nursery. After a boatload of customer service issues with Babies R Us, I actually ended it up getting it for free. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and the price was right, but in nearly 3 years, I've never used it for anything but a place to stack clean laundry.
Moving it elsewhere in our house will be far more practical.
I'll admit making a slipcover seems a little intimidating, but this project is actually quite simple. All the sewing is straight lines, so nothing fancy or complicated, and after the fabric is cut, it doesn't take long at all to complete.
So what I am I waiting for? Here we go...
First, I took measurements of each section of the ottoman. No, I am not a professional artist in case you thought that from my lovely sketch.
Then, for the purpose of the tutorial, I labelled each section:
A: top cushion
B: long side of cushion
C: short side of cushion
D: long side of skirt
E: short side of skirt
F: inside of pleats
Since I knew I would be using ticking stripe fabric, I drew each section so I could have a visual of how the pattern should face once I cut my fabric. If you have an all-over fabric, this doesn't matter.
After my fabric was cut, I started by sewing the alternating sides of the cushion (B and C) to the top cushion (A).
Once the long sides of the cushion (B and C) were sewn to the top (A), I sewed the short sides of pieces B and C to one another. This should end up being what looks like half a shirt box.
I then started on the skirt. I alternated inside pleat pieces (F) with long skirt pieces (D) and short skirt pieces (E). I did this all the way around, forming kind of a tube.
For the skirt, it should go pleat piece, skirt piece, pleat piece, skirt piece, etc.
After the skirt was completely sewn, I pinched the top corners of the pleats together and sewed them shut.
At this point, I was ready to sew the two halves together. I took the top cushion part and put it, rightside up, on the ottoman. I then pinned the skirt to the top part right on the ottoman, being careful to line up the corner seams for the pleats.
I sewed the two pieces together and hemmed the bottom. That's it!

And don't forget to stop by Kimba's for DIY Thursday to see what other creative DIY projects there are out there!  

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The big two-eight

 Happy September 16th to me!
What a good lookin' birthday girl.  That was you-know-who circa 1984.  I remember being thrilled about that Strawberry Shortcake cake, too. 

Already I've had a breakfast of bagels out with the boys, a day full of not much, and am now gearing up for sushi with the hubs...28's going to be a great year, I can tell. 


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