Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Top 2

Another top using Simplicity 1693. Sorry to bore you. I bought this dot fabric to make a throw pillow because Blaze has chewed all of ours, then I realized that if Blaze chewed the old ones he would most likely chew the new ones too. So I made this top instead. Same idea as the last one, just a different neck line. 

I only bought 3/4 of a yard, since it was going to be a pillow, so I didn't have enough to try out a different sleeve and just went with cap sleeves again.

I also didn't have enough to make it all the same fabric so I added a back piece in solid purple that matched the purple dots. It adds a bit more interest the the shirt I think. Or it just makes it look like I didn't have enough fabric and threw something together.

Now that I've made this pattern three times it comes together really quick. Like I said before I am going to try a peplum version. We'll see how that goes. It can also have long sleeves so I might make a version to wear in the fall.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spectrogram Art: A How To Of Sorts

One of my summer goals was to paint a picture. On Pinterest a few weeks ago I saw this website where you can turn a voice recording into sound waves and then the company prints the sound waves onto a canvas for you. I thought that was pretty cool, but I didn't feel like spending that much money on it ($700 for some, ouch) I also found an Etsy site that will do a custom sound wave art of a recording for about $40, again didn't feel like spending that much money.

I studied sound waves etc. in college as part of my degree. What I really remembered most was studying spectrograms. Once a professor gave us a quiz and we had to match spectrogram pictures to words, talk about hard, and useless. I have yet to use that knowledge anywhere in my job. That knowledge did come in useful when I wanted to do this project though. I knew there were free programs that would chart sound waves and spectrograms. Enter Audacity. Here is the run down of how I made my spectrogram art.

Downloaded the free program and played around with it a bit. Figured out what I wanted to say. In this case I went really cheesy and recorded myself saying "I love you Charlie."The way the program works is to chart the sound waves, but on the left under "Audio Track" there is an option to switch to spectrogram, if you so desire. Sometimes when Audacity opens it is in "waveform", make sure you're in "waveform dB" if you want to make a sound wave artwork.

Took a screenshot of the program, since I could not figure out a way to export it or copy and paste it.

In iphoto I cropped it down the the part that I wanted (the area in grey). Hilariously enough the below shot of the spectrogram also shows Charlie slamming the door right after I said I loved him. He had no idea what I was doing and was most likely ignoring me.

I wasn't 100% sold on the spectrogram idea so I did screenshots of both the spectrogram and the waveforms. Here is what they looked like. 

I printed them out as a reference, then got to painting. First I sketched a rough outline on my canvas, then painted the background grey and went from there. 

 Giving each color time to dry I worked from the grey to pink and red, then lastly did the yellow and a few different shades of blue. I was not extremely worried about making it look exactly like the real spectrogram. I figured it was a pretty abstract concept to begin with so I might a well make it look the way I wanted to. Plus, no one is going to know that it was not exactly right anyways, except you know now because I just told you.

Then you have a finished product, and I can check #16 off of my summer bucket list. Now I just have to figure out where to hang it up. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Top

I liked my summer tank top so much that I decided to make another one. It's a modification of Simplicity 1693. Here are my model shoot from the beach on Cape Cod this weekend. 

I wanted to make a shirt instead of another tank top, so this was what I ended up with when I added the sleeves the pattern had. I didn't really like them, as you can tell my my expression. The pictures don't make the sleeves look as poofy as they really were. It looked silly, Charlie, my style expert (only other creature I see regularly who talks) said he thought they looked weird too, so I took them off.

To fix the sleeve problem I cut the poofy sleeves into cap sleeves, using the cap sleeve from the Washi dress pattern. I like it much better. Another change is the neckline. I scooped it out a lot more than the first version, to show off more skin, ya know, since I am so risque.

The last change was in shaping the sides more to be a bit more fitted, and leaving a little gap at the bottom seam. I saw that on another blog or Pinterest and thought it looked cool so I did it too. 

It's a fairly versatile pattern, another version has a collar which I might try at some point. I also would like to make a version stemming off of the pattern that is a peplum, which is apparently all the rage at the moment. Just like last time thought I used a fabric with tiny flowers on it, my favorite. 


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bridal Shower Apron V 9.0

Another Apron. I am not tired of sewing these, but I wonder if you're getting tired of seeing all the aprons I make. My Grammy says I am lucky that I have baby showers and bridal showers to go to because all she has to go to are funerals. Unfortunately I cannot go to this bridal shower because my family is getting together to spread my grandfathers ashes. Oy! I bet you wanted to know that. Charlie keeps making references to "The Big Lebowski" that I don't get because I've only seen the first 5 minutes of that movie and I didn't like it. 

Anyways, back to the apron. This one is made for my friend Amanda. We went to college together and were in the same major. We used to study all the time in the big room of the library and we spent way more time talking and stressing about about our test than we ever spent studying. After we both finished grad school she got a job near my home town and so we used to see each other quite a bit since she lived right down the street from my Dad's house. Then she had to move back to Maine. Bummer. She's getting married over Labor Day weekend and I could not be more excited for her wedding. 

I went with a simple apron, not too many frills. The waist tie has bias tape under it because I couldn't find a piping in the color I wanted.

I like the thick ties for the back. Very simple. I hope she likes it.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Today I went for an 8 mile run and I saw a bear cub. It was so cute I thought it was fake. Then when I realized it was real I high tailed it out of that area because I figured the bear momma was not far away. I tried to wave to two cars that drove by tell them to look at the bear cub, but they just thought I was frantically waving hello apparently as the both drove right by. This sighting and long run got me thinking about how I have not really updated any of you on my running since the last race I did.

I have three updates. I think all are quite crazy, and am wondering which you think is the most crazy.

Here goes. First up, I am coaching middle school Cross Country again this Fall. I told everyone who would listen that I was not going to do it again but then I forgot my reasons and agreed to do it. I think I know more about the sport now, and will be more of a hard a$$ this season and not let the kids push me around. Heck, I am twice their age, I should be about to show some authority or authoritah, depending on if they will get South Park references or not.

New shoes for all my training.
Second, in September Charlie and I will be running Pisgah Trail Race. It's a 23K which is like 14ish miles. We both did it last year and it was really fun so I am excited to do it again. Looking at that old post made me remember that I threw away my fuel belt after the race so I should probably look into buying a new one, since I hate my running backpack/camel pack.

Third, a few weeks ago I was taking a nap (ah summer schedule) and Charlie said "Want to sign up for the lottery to do Stone Cat?" In a painting induced haze I agreed. He signed us both up for the lottery. Once I came to on the couch and asked what the heck he was talking about he said "Stone Cat is a trail marathon, there is a lottery to get into it." Ha, I laughed, no need to worry, I never win anything. Never win anything except lotteries to get into marathons you got tricked into signing up for! I have the best luck ever. Charlie also won the lottery so he'll be running it too. He said he won't run it with me thought because I take too long and he doesn't want to be "on his feet" for 7 hours. But apparently it's A Okay for me to be on my feet running for 7 hours.  It will also be fun (positive thinking). My brother in law and sister in law have also agreed to come to see us run, and our friends are letting us stay with them, hopefully, the night before.
Since it takes me 7 hours to run long distances I need chafe protection. 
I also figure this race will keep me in relatively good shape into the winter months when I tend to put on some "Holiday weight".

Start carbo loading before you start even training, it's how to pros do it. 

So which do you think is the craziest? Since my last survey was such a huge success I made another. 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

I would apologize for all of the youtube links, but I'm not really sorry. Goodnight! Lauren 

Monday, July 22, 2013

House Updates

None of these changes seem big enough for a whole post, so this will be quite random. Here are some changes we have made around here in the last week or so. 

1. We got a pellet stove. This one turns out to be the exact one my Dad has. We liked it because it didn't require a pad to put it on top of. It also fits in the space well and doesn't need to be at an angle like the previous one that the last owners took when they moved was. This way there is more room in the area to move around in. I just have to convince Charlie to drill a hole in the floor so the cord doesn't show. 

2. My Dad helped me build this desktop, then Charlie and I installed it, and I painted it. Now I have tons of room to work. I can even set up two sewing machines if I want to. I love it.

3. I won this table for our bedroom reading nook at an auction. Okay, so you don't win things, you pay for them. But it felt like winning. Only $50 for a really nice antique table.

I had never been to an auction before but it was really fun, it was an estate auction so you got to go through the house before the auction started at look at everything. Even if you're not going to buy anything the people watching, and snooping through an old house is enough to entertain you for two hours. I saw this table as well as a few others like it and loved it. My parents used to have a table like this one when I was young and I used to be in charge of dusting it. I liked to let the dust build up on it so that when I did dust it it felt like I was uncovering something super old and special. I was a weird kid in case you didn't know.

4. We got new lights installed in the kitchen. After much searching online I had an idea of what I wanted, then the electrician told us where the lights would go and that if we got hanging lights they would be right in our faces over the island we decided to get recessed lights. There were already two recessed lights in the kitchen but it was not bright enough so we had four more installed. Now it is super bright in the kitchen and I can clearly see all the food I am poorly cooking. 

5. While the electrician was here he also installed a light above the mirror in my bathroom. It was much too dark in there for me to adequately primp myself. Did that sound snotty? I was trying. It was just dark in the bathroom and we wanted a light.

So that's what we've been doing around here so far. We still have painting to do on the outside of the house. The scary side is all that's left, so I've been putting it off for as long as I can.

Hope you enjoy the recent changes.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Survey + Hair Do's

The results of my survey are in, and 56% of people said I should keep my hair long. I was kind of hoping that's what would happen anyways. I am still perplexed by my trick question to see if my Dad reads my blog anymore. His name is Nevan, so I expected one or fewer answers of the last question. I think someone was playing a joke on me. Also, someone responded that they "could care less, I don't even know why I read your blog." Wonder who said that, maybe my brother reads my blog? It gave me a good laugh. 

So since I am going to keep my hair long I've decided to put a bit more effort into doing my hair, thus making the longer length worth the added hassle. The main reason I want long hair to begin with is so I can have it braided, or do fancy updo's. Most of the time though I just put it in a pony tail or messy bun and call it a day. Not anymore. Pinterest to the rescue.  For the wedding I did my hair using a modified version of this post. The change was to hold out two pieces on either side, do the twisty flippy thing, then twist the two side pieces and tuck them into the back. Then hide with a snazzy barrette. Sorry if that was super confusing. This is the best picture I have of the updo. It stayed in really well. 

Then yesterday, for our anniversary whale watching expedition, I used this video to do a summer hairstyle.

This looked good for most of the trip. My brother in law told me to take/ bring dramamine on the boat in case we got sea sick. I've never been sea sick but his story about everyone on the whale watch he was on puking was enough to scare me. The box said to take the pill 1 hour to 30 minutes before the activity so I did. I did not feel sick at all but the dramamine made me so tired and groggy. I fell sleep for a little while on the way out to sea at which point my hair got messed up, but it was windy so I didn't really care. 

We were going to go out to eat when we got home but the trip took a lot longer than we had thought it would so we didn't end up going out since we were much too tired, and it was too late. Maybe some other time this week we'll go out to a nice meal, then I'll have another chance to try a different updo, perhaps some other ideas from this blog


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Embroidery Quote

We have a lot more walls in our house than we have ever had before so some of them are quite empty. In order to remedy that I embroidered one of my favorite quotes onto a piece of fabric and framed it. My friends have a wall hanging at their house that their grandmother made and I've always loved the quote. It says "Having somewhere to go is home. Having someone to love is family. Having both is a blessing." 

It is hard to photograph since it's on the wall and there is a lot of glare. I really like how it turned out. I needed a mat and couldn't find any good colors at crafting stores so we went to Backroom Art Supplies in New London and the nice old man who works there cut a mat for me.

I really like how it turned out. I might be making more for presents someday.

Also, today is our wedding anniversary. Can't believe two years have passed already. We are going whale watching.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Washi Dress; V 3.0

This past weekend my aunts got married. It was so much fun and I think everyone there cried and had a blast. My mom told me a few months ago that she would buy me a dress to wear to the wedding. Then when we were at Alewives Fabric I mentioned making my dress so she bought me the fabric and I got to work. It's the Washi pattern that I have used before. I changed the neckline, and lined most of it. I didn't have enough fabric to line the whole thing, bummer, but the entire top is lined. To do the lining I used all of Rae's videos posted here. The videos are very helpful. My one fail was trying to do a French Seam, big mistake. I should practice more (a lot more) on scrap fabric before trying it again on a garment.

Charlie was a good sport and measured the hem for me. Good thing he doesn't read my blog, he'd be embarrassed I told you that. The dress is made out of viole (pronounced vwall; I just learned that), by Anna Maria Horner, it's so unbelievably soft. The temperature was pretty hot at the wedding but I was cool in the dress, until I started dancing at least. The best part was people didn't know I had made the dress and kept asking me where I got it. Biggest compliment a seamstress can get is asking where their homemade clothes were purchased.

We all had a fabulous time.


Thursday, July 11, 2013


I felt bad that my blog header did not have Blaze in it. He was getting a little peeved about it too. So I fixed that by spending 20 minutes making a new one. See above! It's a picture from a hike we took the other day.

Blaze was also sad that he didn't make an appearance on the "About Me" page so I updated that too and added the cutest picture of him. Now Blaze feels like a true member of the family. A tag with his name and our address/phone number just wasn't enough.

And, just because here is another cute cute cute picture of Blaze.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Drink

Hi Friends! It's pouring rain here and about 67 degrees, so it seems strange to post about my new favorite summer drink, but oh well. I can't scrape or paint the house so here it comes. You will need:

When I say "real" Maple Syrup I mean only from New Hampshire maple syrup, none of that junk from Vermont. Some people will find this hilarious I am sure because I don't even eat this maple syrup on my pancakes, I use the fake stuff. If you don't have a Soda Stream to make sparkling water, well 1. You should get one, it's the best thing ever, and 2. I feel bad for you, and 3. You can just use club soda or sparkling water from a can I suppose. We used Newman's lemonade, but have been using the Tropicana lemonade; which I like better than Newman's; sorry Paul. Once you have assembled your ingredients proceed to step one.
1. I have no idea how much this actually is, maybe a cup or lemonade.
2. Add sparkling water to almost fill the cup.
 3. Add a bit of maple syrup to taste; perhaps a tablespoon (but don't trust me, I can't cook)
4. Stir your concoction; taste, add more maple syrup to make it sweeter. If you wanted to you could even add some real lemon for garnish/added flavor. I used all of our lemon trying to lighten my hair.

5. This is a pretty obvious step. I should have added, use hashtag #summerdrinkcourtesyoflauren when posting pictures to Instagram.

Let's hope the rain stops soon so I can continue painting the house, sit in the sun and read my book and lighten my hair.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Summer Tank

Two weeks ago sewed a summer tank top for myself. See I told you I was sewing. Then the weather was too cold to wear it, and then I wore the shirt, and shorts for three days in a row waiting for Charlie to take my picture. And then the stars aligned, the sun came out, and Charlie agreed to take my picture. 

The pattern is Simplicity 1693. Very simple. Surprisingly I did not change anything about the pattern. I had tried to make this shirt over the winter with some sale fabric and it was a disaster which ended up in shreds, then in the trash. (Whenever a project doesn't work out I MUST tear it to pieces to make myself feel better. Learned that move from my Mom. Anyone else do that?) Anyways, I was leery of the pattern, but it turns out my fabric choice this winter was to blame, not the pattern. 

As with most of my sewed clothing, it is a tiny purple flower print. Learned that preference from my Mom as well. I like the elastic around the waist, and the keyhole in the back. I did not sew a button hole for this, it only asks you to make a loop out of thread. Easy enough. Even easier still is that I can take the top on and off without even unbuttoning it.

Sometimes I realize how egocentric blogging is. Here look at some more pictures of ME! Here's one of me with my plants. I haven't killed them yet, nor has all the rain. 

Lastly, in case you need some Lauren Cheese-Factor. Here you go. 

Luckily I can now change my outfit. 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pattern Organization

When I was shopping with my Mom at Alewives I pulled out my little pattern book to reference. She commented on it and said what a good idea it was so I figured I'd share the idea here too in hopes that it could help someone out.

I find that when I used to go to fabric stores I would either find patterns on sale that I liked and buy them, or I find fabric that I liked and buy it. The two things don't usually happen at the same time. This resulted in me having patterns I never used, and fabric that I bought 1-2 yards of because I thought it was pretty, and never used. Not anymore. At the beginning of the year I vowed to not buy fabric unless I had a clear plan and pattern to use it for. (I've only made one slip up thus far). To remedy this I made a cheat sheet of my patterns.

In Goggle Docs I created a table 2X2 size and wrote the pattern name at the top, both designer and pattern number. Then in the table I added either a picture that I liked of the pattern, most found on pinterest, or a copy of the sketch from the back of the pattern. The sketches are easy to find if you just google image search the pattern number. Then I used my measurements to figure out how many yards of fabric I would need for each pattern, wrote that into the document, wrote the notions I would need, and the recommended types of fabric for each pattern. I printed the document and pasted each pattern write up in a little book that I carry in my purse. Speaking of purses, I also have a few write ups about the purse patterns I have, just in case I find some awesome fabric I want to use to make a Bonsai Bag, even though I wasn't planning on making one (true story, this actually happened to me.)

I did all this before I got a smart phone, which makes looking up your patterns a lot easier, but you still have to remember what patterns you have at home. I've also e-mailed my smart/tech-savvy friend about creating an app like this little book, but I think he said there is already something like that, or he thinks I am crazy so he ignored me. I'm not sure, both are very real possibilities.

This system works well for me. I have added the two links to my google docs of all the patterns so you can get a better look and copy/modify the documents as you see fit, if you'd like.

Do you like how I write this posts like 10,000 people who sew read this blog, when really most of my readers are my family and friends who don't sew at all, some of whom I force to read my blog (Hi Charlie!) My little book also contains random musing on life, grocery lists from 2007, a King of spades I found on the ground in Charleston, and this sketch of my dorm room layout circa 2005. Good times.

I hope this helps at least one person in blogland.


P.S. Happy Anniversary Dad and Marylou!

P.P.S. Happy Almost 4th of July, and Engage-aversary to Charlie and I.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kitchen Painting

Charlie and I decided that since it's been so hot and humid it was the perfect time to do two things: 1. Buy a pellet stove, and 2. Paint the kitchen. 

You might remember that there was an outdated fruit basket border around the kitchen, and a maroon/red paint on the walls. I didn't like it instantly when we looked at the house, and was sure it would be the first thing to go when we moved in. I did purposely rip the border while cleaning the walls 2 days after we moved in (so no one would like I actually liked it), but aside from that we lived with it for the last two months. Mostly because I wasn't sure what color to paint it.  

On Sunday I had had enough of the border and immediately following breakfast I began to tear it down. It wasn't until 2 that I realized I hadn't brushed my teeth. It was tough work. I wished we were either shorter, or had longer arms. We had to stand on the counter to reach the boarder, but that involved bending your neck. We tried to use a step ladder, but then our arms weren't long enough to reach over the cabinet. Also, the recessed lighting kept burning my face and hair. It took us four hours just to get the border off. After that Charlie cleaned and entertained the dogs and I got painting. I think he was sick of being in the kitchen with me, and listening to my 90's music choices.  

I did two coats on the bottom and one coat on the top on Sunday, then we went to a friends for dinner, thank goodness because the kitchen was a wreck and we wouldn't have been able to make much of anything in there. Then on Monday morning I did another coat above the cabinets. It didn't take too long, because there wasn't really much wall space. I used less than a quart of paint. So glad I didn't let the guy at Home Depot talk me into buying a gallon.

Some parts were a real pain to paint though. Like this little area between the cabinet and door to the garage. Luckily I had a tiny art paintbrush that did the trick.

I told you it was a disaster in there. After letting everything dry we out everything back, mostly in the same spot. We realized how much cabinet space we have that we weren't using so some things that were on the counter and now in cabinets. Here is the before and after. 

Much more my style. I like it a lot. I can't tell if Charlie has a style/likes it or if he just likes it because I like it. Some more after shots, goodbye fruit basket border. 

Now that the border is gone I can focus on the other (smaller) things I want to change in the kitchen. First up is the cabinet doors below the sink. I am not sure why the previous owners painted them green, but they did. My dad says there is no way we can stain them again so I guess we'll have to paint them as well. Any ideas on colors? I was thinking about stenciling them but I think that would make it look like a 95 year old woman lived here, and my sewing room already gives that impression, we don't need more of that. I also thought about taking the doors off and having a little fabric curtain there, Charlie said no to that idea though. 

 The next thing is the track lighting above the island. Only one of the three lights works, and we don't like the light to begin with so we're not going to spend $5 on a bulb if we don't actually like it. I've been looking online for some vintage or vintagesque lights. I like the look of milk glass lights (surprised?)  and "schoolhouse lights", but am worried about buying them online without seeing something like it in real life. I'm on the hunt for something like this, or this.

Lastly, I think this swishy wave accent above the sink needs to go. I'm just worried it will leave a mark on the cabinets when I take it down. Perhaps I should not smash it with a sledge hammer to get it down, which is how I imagine doing it. 

I really like it and feel much happier in the kitchen now. Not happy enough to cook though! 


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