Week 38: The Craft Room!

the craft room: before

Confession time: this is what the second bedroom has looked like since we moved in two and a half months ago. This was arguably the part of our new place that I was most excited about (other than finally living with Dan, I guess), but somehow, with moving, and then our birthdays, and then a trip to Cape Cod, and then changing jobs, and then being so busy I don’t have time to text at my new job, I just couldn’t ever muster up the energy to do this the right way.

See, for my 30th birthday, my parents bought me an amazing piece of furniture, namely a wooden cart with EIGHT drawers in which to organize my crafty stuff. It didn’t arrive until a few weeks after my birthday, so ostensibly I was delaying setting up the craft room because of that, and then delaying because I wanted to come up with the MOST PERFECT way to allocate the drawers, and MOST PERFECT is kind of overwhelming sometimes.

Anyway! It was getting hard to do any crafts at all with the room looking like that, not to mention kind of hazardous to get anything from there. Dan’s parents were coming over this past weekend to see the new place, so I finally unpacked and got everything put away just so a few hours before they arrived.

the craft room: ready for action!

And it is SO GREAT in there now. I have light, space to work, and everything is organized in a way that I can rifle through it without making a giant mess that’s overwhelming to clean up. I can even wheel the whole cart over to the table if I want. I’m jazzed. I know I say that every week of Handmade 52, but this? This is what it’s all about, dudes.

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this may have been the kitchen table once a long time ago, but it’s the perfect craft desk.

the best thing ever
the super coolest piece of furniture EVER.

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crochet/knitting magazines, minibooks, and composition books and blank notebooks

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washi tape, embellishments, binder rings

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glue and things that stick things

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scissors and things that cut

stamps and stamp pads!
stamps and ink pads

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paper scraps

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paint and paint brushes

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cards and blank paper already cut small

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bigger things, crayons, buttons, etc.

Week 37: Geometric Paintings

One of the things I wanted to get right in our new place was decorating, in the living room, especially. I had a lot of posters and things that I liked in my old place, and I wanted to keep them, but not necessarily in the same configuration, just so the new place felt like “our place” instead of just everything from my old place but with Dan now.

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So I knew I wanted to hang my Keep Calm and Carry On poster above the couch, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to hang with it. At first I thought I’d buy prints from etsy or somewhere, but that got overwhelming really fast. I have a bunch of frames that I like but never knew how to use, including two worn-in white frames from my parents’ old bathroom. And then I realized that I could just make something to put in those frames, duh, and that I could then make sure the colors coordinated but didn’t match too twee-lee.

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I bought a bunch of craft paint at AC Moore, and just used some extra white cardstock, cut down to 8×10 to fit into the frames. This was my first major hurricane project, done sitting on the floor next to the big glass doors out to our patio. Dan helped me pick the designs and the colors, so that made it feel much more “us” instead of just me.

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I painstakingly cut painters tape into strips, the chevron being WAY TOO FUSSY I should have just used washi tape instead of paint why did I think this would be so easy and straightforward? Ugh.

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Ahem. The stripes were easier, but I still cut the painters tape into narrow strips, trying to paint in a not-too perfect pattern.

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The cardstock became clearly the wrong paper for the painters tape (washi tape would probably have been better, even for the same purpose) as it ripped the paper in some spots when I pulled it up. I tried not to be too much of a perfectionist about it, trying to convince myself that the sort of fuzzy lines go with the weathered frames just fine.

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I finally hung them up this past weekend, in preparation for Dan’s parents coming over to see the new apartment for the first time, and added my old beer bottle cap wreath to balance it out. I’m so happy with how it looks now, and it’s such a nice sight to see as I come in to the apartment, and the colors obviously are super matchy with the afghan that I assume I’ll finish one day, and I couldn’t be happier. Except if the painters tape hadn’t torn the paper but… we’re not talking about that.

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Week 36: Baby Shower Gifts

We found out a few months ago that Dan’s youngest sister was pregnant, expecting their parents’ first grandchild. (A momentous occasion that I’m sure makes my own parents jealous.) Anyway, I knew that I wanted to make something for this future baby, just because it’s also going to be Dan’s first niece or nephew. I waited until we found out she was expecting a boy to plan my craft, and decided to make a small stroller-size blanket and hat to match.

handmade52.36: baby shower gifts!
Jeanette’s baby shower was this past weekend, and I finally got around to starting this project during the hurricane, and finished it over Labor Day weekend.

bear hat #3!
The hat is one I’ve now made a few times, and it always goes over so well that it’s hard to stop making it. I was hoping this one would end up more newborn-sized, but it’s probably going to fit Future Baby D when he’s a few months old. I added in the blue to the tassels to make it more of a set.

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The braided tassels were mirrored in the blanket’s border. The blanket is from the Happy Hooker book and was simple and easy, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

a baby blanket
And giving a handmade gift at a party where they make a big fuss out of the present-opening? Is pretty enjoyable. But mostly, I’m excited for Dan’s soon-to-arrive nephew and have already volunteered him to babysit, just so I can snuggle as often as I can.

Week 35: Fajita Chicken

45.365 :: fajitas!

Dan and I haven’t cooked anything at home in a while, and when we were writing our grocery list on Saturday morning, we figured that we might as well make a nice dinner since we were making a big trip to the store to replace all of the food we lost during the power outage anyway. We had this amazing marinated chicken at our friends’ place last month, and Dan loved it so much that he’s been asking if we can make it ourselves ever since, so that seemed like the best thing to try.

handmade52.35 : fajitas!!

The marinade (I’m not sure where Jess got it, but it might have been a Moosewood cookbook?) consisted of a jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and a few other things, and wasn’t too difficult to put together. The chicken marinated for about 15 minutes before we cooked it in a pan on the stove (note to self: get a grill pan, asap!). Confession: I haven’t ever cooked chicken this way, and we were trying really hard not to call my mom to ask for advice, just because we really need to start figuring this shit out for ourselves. I got a bit snippy at Dan during the process, just because I feel like I should know this already, and not be so grossed out by raw chicken at the age of thirty.

we made fajitas!

It worked out fine, and we worked well as a team cooking and cleaning as we went. We cooked three bell peppers in the same pan, and then rolled them into fajitas. It was SO TASTY I can’t even tell you. We couldn’t resist second helpings and didn’t end up with any leftovers at all. All in all? This wasn’t a difficult dinner, and one that we both really enjoyed. Plus? It wasn’t unhealthy, which is pretty huge, too.

Week 34: Pompoms

When we first looked at our new apartment, it was hard to get past one thing: the awful, ugly mint green walls in the dining room. Because the space is so open, you can see it from wherever you sit in the living room, and I knew that it was something I wasn’t going to be able to get past. Not that I really wanted to paint… but luckily, my mom convinced me that painting was not as much of a hassle as I was making it out to be. We took the easy way out, and asked the landlord if we could paint the walls white. (As much as I love color, I also ADORE crisp white walls. And furniture. And actually? If I could have a totally white canvas then all of my too-brightly colored items would look even better!) So the weekend before we moved, my parents came up and the four of us painted the dining room walls white. And it made SUCH a huge difference; I only wish I had taken a before picture so you could see how awful it was before.

dining room and kitchen

And as much as I adore the white walls, the longer we lived here, the more it seemed too empty. Too white. The fact that the table and chairs are white too didn’t really help. I have some ideas for how to decorate other spaces, and while I don’t want to NOT decorate, I also don’t want to go too crazy because I don’t know how long we’re going to be here and I’d like to avoid making extra holes/doing anything that might get us in trouble down the line.

And then it hit me. Tissue paper pompoms! I put them on my 30 Before 30 list last summer because I have absolutely adored them since I started seeing them everywhere on the internet way more than a year ago, but I never got around to it. (At just over a month into 30? This is TOTALLY counting.) Party decorations? How about all the TIME decorations? I wasn’t really sure I could convince Dan to let me make some to hang in the dining room, but I made a hard sell, because they are temporary, easy to make and hang, and most importantly, a simple way to add some color to such a big blank canvas.

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(the tissue paper is from Target. I’m sure you’re shocked.)

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(the first one definitely wasn’t the best, but I don’t think anyone other than me would be able to tell.)

Dan surprised me by agreeing to the idea, as long as I didn’t make pink ones. I’ve had the supplies for a while, and once I heard that the hurricane was coming, I knew the universe had aligned to make it happen. After we ate our power outage pb&js, I sat on the floor next to a window and used one of our trusty Lack end tables as work space. It was the perfect power outage craft, and I cranked out six of them before I realized it was probably time to stop. (I even made a pink one). I used Holly’s tutorial, which was super easy to follow.

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(working with the wire is a pain, but it does the job so easily.)

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(power outage snack: baby goldfish crackers!)

I even hung them up in the semi-darkness during the hurricane power outage, because once they were done I was WAY TOO excited to wait. (Dan actually never commented on the pink one.) I hung them using fishing line and the tiny Command hooks I buy every year to hang Christmas lights, and you can’t even see the fishing wire or little hooks from a distance.

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(one day I won’t be too lazy to tidy up before taking pictures like this)

Overall, I don’t think I could be happier with this project. It’s fun, bright, and cheery, and if I get sick of them? No big deal. (But I really don’t think I’ll get sick of them.)

Week 33: Wide Angle Love

I sometimes forget that I built an escape clause into this whole Handmade52 project, namely that photos could count if I needed them to. (Yes, again, that old refrain about how my own rules are too strict and I promise I can stop this project any time really I mean it blah blah.)

But a few weeks ago, I asked my friend Pete if I could borrow his wide angle camera lens, just for something different. I knew I wanted to get some good shots of our new apartment, and I figured it would come in handy during my brief trip up to Cape Cod, too.

I didn’t expect to love it so much that I kept “forgetting” to give it back. I guess I know what’s now at the top of my Camera Lenses I Would Buy Assuming I Had An Extra $700 Anyway list.

The lens is the Tokina 11-16mm, which is great indoors and just all around fantastic. I rarely took it off of my camera during the three weeks I had it, and I think I could do a lot of damage with a wide angle and the 50mm. Here are some of my favorite shots with the wide angle lens.

20.365 :: just sit

25.365 :: clam chowder

the salt marsh

Nauset Light

27.365 :: early morning beach

the living room!

32.365 :: draft day

the picnic area

at the paddock

Week 32: Getting Settled

I’m sure it’s nothing but obvious that at this point, I’m struggling with this Handmade52 project. Once the move was over and I finally had a moment to breathe, I just couldn’t muster much creative energy. I have a few ideas but following through on them… just hasn’t been happening. I’ve been so TIRED.

And as I was using my borrowed wide angle lens to take some photos of what our new apartment looks like, now that it’s almost at a point where I want to show it off to people, I realized that settling in, unpacking, arranging furniture and tchotkes is creative and handmade, too. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s not like I haven’t been doing things since I stopped counting them for this project. So. For week 32 of Handmade52, I’m counting getting settled into our new place, because I think we’re really close to being where we want to be, minus a few wall decorations. And that’s super good stuff.

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the living room!

dining room and kitchen

craft room/second bedroom

the craft room/second bedroom

extra bathroom

master bedroom

master bedroom

the patio

Week 31: Summer Vegetables and Pasta

I haven’t cooked in a long time, and really didn’t know what I wanted to make. But because it’s the middle of summer, it seemed silly not to cook something that used the seasonal things that are at their best right now. At first, I thought I wanted to make ratatouille, which I have made before but which perhaps wasn’t as tasty as I originally wrote, because I have never been drawn to make it since then. I perused some recipes, and came to the conclusion that what I really wanted to eat was tomatoes and zucchini.

So why didn’t I just make that?

15.365 :: summer in a bowl

The way my mind treats cooking is not always so simple. I did some online recipe searching, and couldn’t decide between a few recipes that were mostly the same. I read once that the evolution of a cook involves moving from strict recipe-following to looking at recipes and taking aspects but combining them into something new. I’m not about to say that I know what I’m doing in the kitchen by any means, but I will say that I did not use a recipe for dinner tonight, but read a few and gathered information, which I then used bits and pieces of in cooking this meal.

Basically? This was just whole wheat pasta, with tomatoes and zucchini, as I’ve said. I cooked up some garlic, an onion, two zucchini and about two pints of grape and cherry tomatoes (because I still can’t decide which type of tomato I prefer), fresh basil, and some other seasonings. I misjudged the cooking time, so the zucchini was a bit underdone, while the tomatoes were mushy…

But Dan and I ate our first truly home-cooked meal in our new apartment, complete with wine and napkins and real dishes and rolls on the side. I cooked, he did the dishes, and we ate an extremely tasty meal together that we both would like me to cook again. So that’s pretty much a win-win situation. Yay!

Week 30: Moving Announcements

I don’t know what it says about my personality, but one of the things I was most excited about when it came to moving was picking out and sending out moving announcements. I like everything about sending mail, from picking out cute stamps to writing out my friends’ and family members’ addresses, to updating my address book (I always write addresses in pencil so I can update neatly!), to putting a giant pile of envelopes in the mail slot at the post office.

I mean, I had our moving announcement picked out and favorited before we even picked out our apartment.

I fell in love with a print-at-home announcement from nelliedesign’s etsy shop, not only because of the color scheme, which is pretty much exactly the colors we’re using in our new living room. She emailed me with the final high res version within hours of my order, and I printed them once we hooked up my printer in our new place.

oh craft room, you are so great

One of my goals with my birthday Paper Source trip was to get some red envelopes, and since the whole point of moving announcements is to reveal your new address, I just stamped our initials in place of a return address.

e : d

And then covered the envelopes with washi tape. And bought the cutest stamps ever.

handmade52.30 moving announcements

It was fun, I got to use my new craft room and my paper cutter, I got to gather some new addresses, and I got to send mail. It was a good re-entry into the crafty world, since I haven’t been in that mindset for quite a while. So it’s super good.

Week 29: Button Earrings

I’m behind in posting my Handmade52 projects, but I have still been working on things. Or, I worked on some things ahead of time to keep the project afloat through the move.

Way back in May, Dan and I saw Bridesmaids and I became obsessed with solid colored stud earrings in various shapes. I wrote about it in a guest post on Cynthia’s blog, too, and intended to turn some buttons I’d bought into some super sweet earrings.

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Except as it turned out, I couldn’t find any craft tools or tool-tools in my arsenal that would remove the shanks from the buttons that I bought so cheaply.

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Luckily, I have a dad who has some pretty awesome problem-solving skills. Namely, when there’s some sort of handiwork type problem I can’t solve, I can be pretty confident that Dad will be able to figure it out. So I brought my buttons over to him and let him do his magic. (I’m still not sure what magic that was, but the button backs were removed so I could go on with my craft.)

I wasn’t sure what type of adhesive to use; I’d had bad luck trying to repair the red earrings with hot glue (the red ones used to be real earrings and I loved them so much that I saved them for over a year, hoping to be able to make them back into earrings someday). In the end, I just used krazy glue, and it worked like a charm.

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It turned out that the yellow and pink buttons weren’t flat enough in the back to be able to glue them to earring posts, so if you ever decide to do this yourself, do yourself a favor and doublecheck that the buttons are flat on the back.

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So! I am super jazzed about my earrings. But since I can’t really be asking my dad to saw the backs off of buttons all the time, I think I’ll leave this craft to the etsy masters in the future… unless I find another set of buttons that I can’t resist.