Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mismatched Chairs


We have this spectacular, huge, old table. When looking for chairs, I wanted a mismatched look. This seems almost too simple of an idea to make it a "tutorial", but when I posted these for free on craigslist, I got an overwhelming response. They were gone in about 30 minutes. When I responded to those that it was too late, a few of them replied that they were disappointed. I told them how they could do it themselves, they said they hadn't thought of it.

How can that be? Maybe some people don't love goodwill as much as me. Actually, all these chairs came from Mile High Thrift at Sheridan and Evans. This place looks incredibly scary from the outside but has the BEST stuff.

So here are the chairs:
Normally, they're around the dining room table, but they were placed out on the curb for the criagslist add. Here's the tutorial:
1. Get 4 mismatched chairs from a thrift store (try not to pay more than $7 per chair)
2. Try to get them all roughly the same height (see how the short one throws things off a bit?)
3. Get a high gloss spray paint in a color you like-I think I used about 2 cans per chair.

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to stay cool in Denver: Don't be in Denver

First of all, I think I'm having a Flowers for Algernon moment with my Spanish. I practice my absolutely terrible Spanish whenever I can and Julia is my greatest teacher-I speak Spananglish to her almost daily. I went for one week without the opportunity to talk to her and just in one week found myself rusty. Well, moving to Korea I can just see all 10 of my Spanish words starting to vanish.

On to today. Oh this heat. It's been 103 for days! Julia and I packed a picnic lunch and piled the kids into the minivan and headed to the mountains. The kids got antsy around Georgetown (roughly 30 minutes in the car) so we pulled over and set up our picnic by the lake. We ate! They drew! They played tag!
Here are some pictures of today....
Look how NOT hot they look

Julia and August discussing current events

August checking Ruby's work

David, getting out the art supplies

Children playing tag in the mountains rather than melting in Denver

August thinking about all those hot people in Denver. "Oh, Snap!"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Want to relax? Go painting with these guys

9 years ago Jim got me a water color paint set for our 1 year anniversary. I did some painting, didn't think I was any good and set it aside. Well the girls found it last week. I was looking through my paintings and I think I was pretty good. The girls were inspired and I told them that before we left for Korea, we would go and paint. We've been hanging out with Julia's kids a lot this summer and her son, David, is quite an artist so I invited them along too.

We drove down Federal (mistake) to that spot at Speer and Zuni that overlooks the city. We parked illegally at an office building and walked to the perfect spot under some trees.

We sat and drew and painted. The weather was perfect and it was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done (and definitely the most relaxing thing I've done with my should know that the 2 year old was napping at home with  a sitter...).

A funny side note. I know, my dear faithful 9 readers, you think my children must be gifted-I mean look at their mother-I think they must be: When we got to our spot over looking the city, the girls didn't quite get why we were there-as they sat facing the opposite way.

I pointed out the city, but they didn't care because they see art everywhere.

Ruby with a beautiful portrait of the Ramada

Grace who decided to paint Jamie Atlas' studio (she added a water feature to it-Jamie I think you should consider it)

David and his portrait- AMAZING!

My picture

Brayan and his picture. So artistic!
We ran out of time, so we didn't get a chance to paint our drawings, but we haven't left Denver yet, maybe we'll return to finish. I hope so.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Julia's Awesome Enchiladas and Salsa

I LOVE Julia's (HOO-lee-uh's) enchiladas. Love. them. I told her that she would have to mail some to me when I move to Korea, and I think something was lost in the translation because instead she told me that she would teach me to make them. How does that old Mexican saying go?.. if you catch a fish for a man he'll eat enchiladas for dinner but if you teach him to make enchiladas he'll be happy forever? Something like that.

Mi Maestra!
You might find some of these ingredients hard to find if you don't live near a Mexican grocery store. How many Mexican grocery stores do you think there are in Korea? Even though she won't mail the enchiladas, maybe she'll mail the chili's?

Here's the recipe:

Julia's Awesome Enchiladas
1lb. chicken breast (on the bone or not)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
dried spearmint
5 medium Chili Guajillo
20+ flour tortillas (Guerrero is preferred)

Step 1: Prepare the chicken
Boil the chicken in water with a little bit of onion, garlic and spearmint (90minutes)

Step 2: Making the authentic sauce
Boil water
Add 5 or 6 medium sized Chili Guajillo (but first-even if you are Mexican-take out the seeds).

 Boil the chili Guajillos in the water until they are soft (about 10 minutes)

Drain the water
Put the chilis, 1/2 clove garlic and one slice of onion and 3/4 c. water in a blender
Blend it! (you probably know what it looks like, but here's a picture anyway)

Pour blended mix through a strainer back into the pot.

Add about a tbsp of salt

Step 3:
Shred the chicken.

Step 4:
warm the tortillas (no oil) on a pan.
Put the warmed tortillas in a towel to keep them warm

Step 5: the Magic
Heat oil in a pan
Dip the warmed tortilla in the sauce, then fry it up in the oil-very quickly on each side*
 *Your sauce needs to be somewhat thin. When I made these the first time my sauce was about the thickness of spaghetti sauce.When you dip the tortilla in the sauce, it's a quick in-and-out. I found out the hard way that if the sauce is too thick the tortillas will fall apart!

Put the chicken in the tortilla and roll it up.

Repeat 20 times.
Serve it with Julia's awesome salsa, lettuce and some sour cream.

Julia's awesome salsa:
5 Chili de arbol 
20 tomatillos (the smaller the better)

Boil about 5 Chili de arbols and 20 little tomatillos until soft (about 10 minutes).

put in a blender with a 1/2 clove garlic, about a 1/2 c. water and a dash of salt.
Blend, blend, blend. It will look green at first, but keep blending until it's got a lot of red color in it.

This guy loves enchiladas
 Nutrition (I'm not a nutritionist, but I used a recipe nutrition calculator online and this is what it said)
Per Enchalada:
Calories: 115
Fat: 6
Carbs: 11
Protien: 3

Thursday, June 14, 2012



Well, the cat's out of the bag, dear faithful readers. We're moving to Seoul Korea!
The nature of the blog is going to change someone in the future. I'll still be sewing up sweet creations in Seoul, but I'm also going to be posting adorable family photos too. Be ware.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

flowey dress

Well, my fav store Fancy Tiger was having a 50% off sale on rayon cotton fabric. It's SO beautiful. I picked the most beautiful one for a dress. Using what I learned from experience and Improv Sewing, I went to work. From my practice run on shirts from Goodwill, I learned that if the fabric isn't really stretchy, my pattern would be too small. So I grabbed a dress out of my closet and laid it out. 

See the dress here, next to the beautiful fabric (wrong side out, so you can't really tell)

Then I folded the dress in half, lengthwise and laid my pattern that I made from my Gap T over it. See the difference?

My apprentice worked hard too

I took note that the difference between my pattern and my black dress was about from my fingertip to palm and cut accordingly.

Here's the cut.

I added sleeves. Cutting generously around the pattern as I had done with the body of the dress.

Here's how it looks. Eeeew. Not my style. 

Here it is with a belt. It looks much better, but the last 2 dresses I've made have been this shape and worn with this belt-and I'm no one trick pony!

I decided to re-think the style. How could I take this gorgeous fabric and make this dress wearable? I've noticed a trend in hemlines recently-short in front and long in back. That was one easy fix.

I put the dress on, cut a small slit in the center of the front right about where I wanted the hem to go up to. I took the dress off, turned it inside out and cut a gradual line from where I had made the cut, gradually going outward, down the the side seams.

Additionally, I cut off the sleeves and added cute ties and a matching wrap around and around and around belt. Here's the final result. So flowey and pretty!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hey Lady, nice sweatshirt!

At work, everyone was given a staff sweatshirt for Christmas:

I've been giving a makeover to some. And here's more reverse applique fun for this one. First thing I did was cut the sleeves to 3/4 length, cut the neck into a slight V and cut off the bottom elastic.

Next I did the reverse applique. I had some leftover jersey from my dress and thought it would look nice with the hood fabric I picked and the blue of the sweatshirt.

I turned the sweatshirt inside out and laid the jersey over it

I wanted to do the reverse applique with my friend's name. Fortunately I remembered before I started that I would need to write her name in REVERSE to make it work. Then I sewed over the lines for the letters.

Next I flipped it over and cut off the inside of the letters exposing the pink under it. It wasn't easy to separate the blue from the pink, but I was careful.

I thought the letters look a little unfinished so I zigzaged around it.

Finally I attached the hood.

It needed something on the front, so I added a bird, of course!

Here it is on Hursta herself!!!


Goodwill Outlet

Well. There's a back way to Costco from my house. It's a road that goes by the Platte River and by several factories (including a brick factory!). One day a new sign caught my eye.

I googled it to see what this meant. It means what you think it means: all that stuff that doesn't sell at goodwill ends up here. In these bins:

Hats in with sheets in with sweaters in with shoes. It's crazy. AND you pay by the pound!

I decided to check it out with a specific purpose-another project from my new book Improv Sewing. The "armies" project looked so easy that I had to try it and figured I could find a sweater for super cheap at the outlet.
I dug through the bins and found a plain black sweater from Old Navy. The total came to $1.02. I know it's a bargain, but I kind of feel like I could have found the same deal with less work on a 50% off day at the regular thrift store. Just saying.

Now on to the "armies"
Super easy. I cut off the sleeves, blanket stitched up the ends, cut holes for my thumbs and put them on. That's it. Because of the material (you know, Old Navy sweater material) I think they could be better, but they look pretty good and on a chilly day like today, they're perfect!

Reverse Applique

I was inspired by InStyle magazine telling me that denim vests are BACK!

Look-there's Jessica Alba wearing a flowey dress with a denim vest!

I went to the thrift store and picked up a denim jacket for $4. I immediately cut off the sleeves. It was a little boxy and made me look ...I don't know a little less Alba and a little more

I went home and went to work. First I took in the side seams to make it more fitted. Then I took some inspiration from this guy:

He's cute, but look at his shirt. SKULL! I found a tutorial online for a reverse applique of a skull and will show you how I used it here:

So the first thing I did was pick fabric from my scrap pile and laid it on the INSIDE of my denim vest.

Then I drew a skull on a piece of paper.

 I didn't have any interfacing on hand so I used muslin for stability. I cut out my paper skull and traced it on to the muslin. 

Then I sewed over the drawing (like tracing it with thread, if you will). It used my free-hand presser foot-there's a name for it that I can't remember. It's for quilting, etc. It definitely takes some practice, so I went back to my regular presser foot. 
Next, I flipped it over and cut right along the stitch lines-very carefully so I only cut the denim and not the fabric underneath. See how it exposes the pretty fabric, yet looks so rockin' at the same time?

It's starting to look like a skull!

I finished by adding two flower eyes from another scrap fabric and now it looks like this! I'll add a better picture when I can. This picture was taken by a 4 year old...