Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Five of Those Outfits: High School Flashbacks

I'm not ever really worried about anyone else embarrassing me on the internet because I'm pretty darn good at doing that myself.  For example, this post. 

If my memory of hair lengths and housewares serves me correctly, these photos were taken shortly after my 16th birthday, making them almost twenty years old.  This was one of many nights where I would dress up in random clothes, play with my hair (and small bits of makeup), and have my mom take photos.  Not much has changed, I suppose.  ;)
I tended to be a bit of an odd dresser in high school (broom skirt addict!) and wore some vintage but not pieces as flashy as this.  The vintage I wore out of the house at that time was more relegated to Puritan sweaters, various polyester button-up tops, the occasional skirt, and men's pullovers.  The clothes pictured here would have been out of my comfort zone to wear in public and stayed in my 'private' collection...aka the back of my closet unless pulled out for dress up or photos.  Nowadays, I would totally wear each of these pieces in public.  Except those orange poly pants.  No.
Most of these pieces were found at the thrift store - Unique Thrift Store more than likely (I miss you Unique!!!) - with the exception of the cream and green gingham dress below.  That lovely was my aunt's prom dress and the necklaces were some of the many (many) seed bead necklaces I made in my even younger years.  I'm not sure where that dress ended up but do remember it not being in the best of shape when it was in my possession.
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I'm all about that #tbt (Throwback Thursday) hashtag.  I'm definitely a proponent for taking a moment or two to look back at your own past, embarrassing or not.  Reflect on the good times, look at how far you've come, remind yourself of past mistakes you don't want to repeat, laugh at hideous hairstyles, mourn those no longer here, or be in awe for how quickly time passes.  Embrace your past.
Silver fingernails, for the win.  Oh high school Briana, you were OK.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Squarelicious Quilt

Not only did I dip my toes in free motion quilting this week, I also finished a quilt that I had been ignoring for too long!  Yay, progress!
This particular quilt began simply because I wanted to use those last little green and yellow pieces of fabric I had leftover from pillow covers I'd sold.  I had just a small amount left so I just chopped up what remained into equal sized squares and started piecing.  As you've probably noticed by now, with these quilts, I don't really go into them with a plan but rather just start piecing, work my way out, and hope everything turns out ok in the end!  I think this one worked out well.  :)  I highlighted the focal fabric with small bits of a khaki fabric I had stashed away and finished things out with a beautifully rustic old, linen-like fabric.  
 That cream fabric has so much charm with some fading here and there and a few little spots which I think adds tons of character.  I wasn't so sure about using this fabric due to those little 'imperfections' but in the end, I'm SO glad I did.  That's part of the beauty of using vintage fabrics.
The front came together fairly quickly but what stalled me was the back.  I just couldn't find the right fabric in a large enough size that I thought worked.  After letting this one sit around for a month or so, I finally decided that this soft vintage sheet (surprise, surprise!) would be the perfect backing and would add just a little more color.  Of course what I had wouldn't fit exactly so I had to do some piecing and used the last little bits of that focal fabric to finish it out.  Voila!  
I think what makes this quilt really work is the quilting, in my opinion.  I basted it a little differently this time which took just a hair longer but sure seemed to make a difference.
I think this is the the most I've ever quilted a quilt!  I'm sure there's some stitch number to quilt size ratio thing in there but I don't know how to figure that business out.  ;)  All I know is that I wanted a design that showed off the front design and this one just made sense.  I think the extra effort paid off. 
I'm pretty pleased with how everything turned out!  It's funny how sometimes we just have to power through moments that we don't think will work out only to find out it's better than you could have imagined.  With quilting and life, man. 
This little puppy is already up in the shop and is more than ready for its new home.  Want a custom quilt made?  Just say the word!  I need a new project to sink my teeth (and needle!) into.  ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Feeling Free {Motion Quilting}

Last night, I crossed something big off of my goal list - I finally took my darning foot out of the package and learned the ins and outs of free motion quilting!  
Last month, Owl & Drum created an event for beginner FMQ and I immediately signed up.  The event had to be rescheduled so I had to wait just a hair longer but it was totally worth the wait.  Ann from Ann's Quilt N' Stuff was our teacher and she was just wonderfully patient and full of information.  While I may use my machine all of the time, I really know very little in regards to the technical side of it.  So not only did I learn FMQ, I also learned general sewing bits and secrets about my machine making the three-hour class invaluable.  
We were asked to bring our machine, two half-yards of solid fabric, quilt batting, and contrasting threads to practice our tails off.  We sectioned off the practice quilt and eventually filled the entire thing up with various designs that were meant to teach us different techniques.  For the record, loops were not my strong point.  At all.  But on the flip side, I surprisingly did pretty good on most of the other designs!  
Even though my test quilt may not be perfect (at all), I plan on binding it and sticking it back for reference and so I can see how far I (hope I) will advance in the future.  One thing's for sure, I'm hooked and am ready to practice more and more!  

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Beauty of a Neighbor

A few recent years back, I became pret-ty jaded about neighbors.  On either side of us, we had those types of neighbors they write sitcoms characters about...or that show up on your evening news.  To begin to list some of the things we experienced throughout those years, well, you just wouldn't believe it all.  Then, one by one, those neighbors got kicked out.  One of the houses was overhauled and sat vacant for a while and then one day, there was a moving van.  My stomach dropped, my anxiety levels went through the roof and I was scared to death as to who our next neighbors would be.  Our previous neighbors had truly scarred me.  I quickly learned that I had nothing to fear.

These new neighbors were a gift and a half and couldn't be any different than those that lived there before.  Early on, Brent took notice that the wife just may be pregnant, as was I.  It was true and we shared our pregnancies and later watched our children bond as time went on.  They brought us homemade jellies, salsas, sweets galore and more.  I'm not saying that's the key to being a perfect neighbor but our bellies may argue that thought.  ;)  After two years of being spoiled by them, they are now on their way back to their hometown.  Tomorrow they move.  I'm really, truly sad but at the same time am excited for them to journey back home as I know it's where they want to be.  I know Rio will miss her little kissing and hugging buddy and I'll miss the folks who restored my faith in what it means to be a good neighbor.  
I've done lots of neighbor reflecting lately and actually, have thought about this post for a while, before I even knew our beloved neighbors were relocating.  We grew up with amazing neighbors; those that you become family with and always stay in touch.  A few of the happy neighbor memories floating around in my head:

*When I had Rio, my very first neighbors were some of the few that weren't family that visited us in the hospital.  They will always be family.  Their children were like my siblings.
*We once had one neighbor who moved away and a few years later, we moved too. While my dad was backing out of the driveway of our new house, he hit a car in the street.  Due to that, we learned that those SAME neighbors from our old house now lived across the street from us again for another ten years.  Crazy.  As a child, their daughter drove my motorbike into our pool.  They both survived.
*There were the neighbors who let me play with their extensive Lego collection and had Thor, the Norwegian exchange student live with them for a time.  Thor ended up naming one of our cats, Sasha.  I gained my babysitting confidence from these neighbors and developed lifelong bonds with their family.
*There was the endearing Italian man who worked at Builders Square and wore his shirts unbuttoned with gold chains and had Playboys delivered to his house regularly.  I'll never forget once when he had heart surgery and his house was robbed.  As a child, that rocked my core.  His name had such a fun ring to it, that I often use it in class for fictitious examples.
*There was the elderly Lebanese woman, Mary, who would make grape leaves from our grape vines out back as a child.  I'll never forget when she passed away.  I'll also never forget the odd Barbies she had on hand.
*There were those friends-turned neighbors that I shared my dream apartment building with and shared drinks with on the front porch many nights.
*There were the neighbors that had a daughter my age who I played in her bamboo backyard jungle with often only to learn in later years that it was a different, more *ahem* illegal, type of jungle we played in.  There are a million memories in my head from my time with her.  From playing in a tent in the front yard while listening to Michael Jackson to getting locked inside her bathroom with push pops in hand, the memories are endless.
*Once in college, my roommate and I decided we didn't want to, or need to, live together any longer and randomly ended up being next door neighbors the following year.  The perfect situation for us.
*There have been the neighbors that have passed while we live on and shed tears for.  There are those that simply offer a smile and wave on a day you need it most.  Golden neighbors.
*Then there's Sammie.  She wouldn't be in our world if it weren't for otherworldly neighbors. 
*And Crazy Crawfish, you're also one for the record books.
So dearest Rogers, among so much more, you helped me to remember the value of a truly good neighbor.  One that you know you can always call on, regardless of time, distance or circumstance.  You reminded me of all of the good that can be found just outside your front door.  You kicked away my neighbor funk.  And I thank you for that endlessly.  There are a million reasons why we'll miss you.  Mondo gives his love to Cadbury, and Rio to Ollie.  Happy trails to you...until we meet again....!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fuzzy Friday: Opal Bebe

Kitten update.  First things first, the all-important name.  We had three names in the running and a self-imposed deadline of a week to decide and ultimately felt that this little fluffball was none other than Opal Bebe.  Opal is actually my great-aunt-in-law's name (get that?!) who always had the coolest hairstyles and an oval rug in her house.  As a child, I was obsessed with the fact Opal had an oval rug.  Anywho, since our little Opal is full of various colors and markings, the name worked well to represent her changing hues.  We added Bebe for two reasons - when she first came home, that's how I would call her which meant that's what Rio also called her and since Opal sounds very similar to apple, it gave it some distinction for Rio.  
For the first few days, she lived in our bedroom, mainly under the bed but it sure didn't take long for her to begin exploring and become accustomed to our crazy household.  You rarely find her under the bed anymore.  We currently have her wearing a teeny-tiny collar with bell on it so we can keep track of her so whenever Rio hears the bell, she perks up and says "Is that Opal?" in Rio-speak.  It's pretty much the cutest thing ever.  Seriously.  And when she sees her, there is often a great squeal which Opal is slowly getting used to.  
One thing that I have been most surprised by is that she sleeps with us all. night. long.  I was always under the impression that kittens did their craziness during the night but I was wrong with this one!  Remember, I have very, very little kitten experience.  Back to sleeping.  Little Opal prefers to catch her z's between mine and Brent's heads until about 7:30 in the morning.  Precious.  What's not so precious is that when she awakes, she is a holy terror.  Any body part is her target and I have the scratches to prove it.  All part of kittendom though.  There is a sweet side to these sharp antics though.  While these shenanigans are happening, she's randomly bringing us her toys to bed.  She's grateful, as are we.  
She's truly a sweet, sweet kitten which makes me so excited for our future with her.  Her purr is louder than all of the other cats' combined and she loves a good petting.  Brent even noted how there are many similarities between her and Pimmy.  From stealing the warm spot to squeaking and from bunny-kicking to crazy antics, it's like Pimmy is giving her directions from time to time.  Having her around has been healing for me in that arena.  
In regards to the rest of the herd, they've seen this song and dance before.  There have been some hisses and slaps but that's all part of getting to know each other.  Mondo has been an absolute gem with her which is no surprise to me.  She's already taken to rubbing all over him and yesterday, she was even biting his toenails!  He just takes it all in and watches the crazy happen.  ;)  We have had a few dietary issues which have since been straightened out.  Let's just say that I've dealt with my fair share of gross things over the past few weeks and now feeding rituals take three times longer than before.  But I do what I have to do.  
Unrelated to Opal, Mondo and Sammie have had a few medical issues that we've been dealing with.  We believe Mondo got kennel cough while waiting for his vaccination FOR kennel cough and poor Sammie had an acute pancreatic attack last week which left her at the vet's for three days.  It's her second bout with this and I truly hope her last.  She's doing SO much better now and is back to chasing me around the house and chowing down nonstop.  To say it hasn't all been stressful (and expensive!) for me would be lying but I couldn't imagine a life without a fuzzy family. 
Kittens, man.  Cuter than cute.  We're sure happy to have little Opal Bebe in our world.  For sure.

Monday, May 12, 2014

An Escape to the Cabin

Our little family packed up last minute on Friday and headed to the woods for a much needed break from the every day.  Rio had only been to our family cabin once before when she was eight months old so it was a treat to see her there so much more grown up and interactive.  I think it's safe to say that she was enamored with it all. 

The weather was better than we could have dreamed and since it was Mother's Day weekend, most cabins were vacant which meant things were quiet, still, and ideal.  We ate every meal outside, took a family adventure walk, gave the beast a bath in the outdoor shower together, sat by big bonfires, star-gazed, fished (Brent), golfed (Brent), napped (Rio and I...I haven't napped in forever!!), bird-watched, feasted, and just enjoyed our break away from it all.  It truly couldn't have been any more perfect. 

And now a million photos.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One of Those Outfits: A Vintage Love Affair

Two outfit posts in a row?!  I don't know what's come over me!
On Saturday before the Derby shindig, the kid and I took the beast to the vet (tonsillitis!), dropped him back off home and headed to the flea market.  It's been a while since I've been able to leisurely stroll through my favorite Saturday haunt so I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  It's also been quite some time since I've bought anything at the Flea Market.  Most of the time lately, I just like to 'window shop' and catch up with the random folks I run into but this time, I found a few things to take home!  I happened upon a booth that I didn't recognize which was filled with OLD vintage clothes and linens, aka my heaven.  Most of the clothes though weren't really my speed but her prices sure were!  Another woman in the booth pulled out the dress I'm wearing here and I totally had a moment of 'I want that! jealousy.  I did my best not to make it obvious though, because that's just tacky, and held my breath that she'd put it back on the rack...and she did!  When I got my grubby hands on it and held it up to myself, I wasn't sure that the bodice would fit me but for $5, I couldn't leave it behind so home it came along with some HeeHaw overalls for the kid (they are heeeeeeelarious).  Once I got the frock cleaned, I tried it on with bated breath and it fit perfectly!  I had to do a little mending which took no longer than 5 minutes.  I'm in LOVE with it.  It also came with a sheer matching top but in my opinion, the two pieces together are just too much but separately, they are both uh-mazing. 

Well, that was a lot of talk about buying a dress.  Happens.
Sometimes vintage clothing makes me appreciate my body more than modern clothing.  It took me many, many years to wear more form fitting clothes (you should seriously see some of my majorly oversized outfits I wore growing up) and to embrace my body more.  Many vintage garments seem to fit me well and emphasize the parts of my body that I also want to emphasize!  Take this dress, for example.  I don't have much size difference between my waist and my hips but the cut of this dress gives the allusion that there is more of a difference than there actually is.  I'm sure no one notices this except for me but what it does do is give me a little extra boost in confidence when wearing a garment that feels more flattering to ME.  I'm sure there are many modern frocks that can give me that boost as well but my pocketbook leans towards the vintage-priced side of things.  Plus, vintage often means one of a kind.  Yes.
Add all that babble to the ongoing list of reasons why I love wearing vintage.  It makes me feel good, man.

Vintage Dress - Flea Market / Sweater Jacket - from my high school days / Shoes - Birkenstocks / 
Necklace - Self Made from vintage earring

Monday, May 5, 2014

One of Those Outfits: Derby Dots

I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty lame to start off a post talking about the weather but HOLY COW, this weather is beautiful!  Winter hurts my bones but these summery days just make me feel all good inside.  And when the seasons change and I've got these good vibes going on, I just want to wear pretty things.  And wearing pretty things is what I've been up to this weekend.
If you know me at all, then you know that sports just aren't my jam.  They are, however, one of my mister's favorite things.  It's cool though.  One of the things that I can get down with when it comes to sports are our friends' gatherings to watch various sporting events.  I'll give you two guesses why the Kentucky Derby watch party is always my favorite.  Dresses and hats.  I'm in.
I actually picked this number up at an estate sale last year and have had it in waiting for this very day ever since. This is why my closets are at capacity.  When I put this dress on for the second time (ever), I commented that it really would be the perfect dress if it had pockets.  Lo and behold, hours later, I discovered a pocket that I had missed somehow!  It is perfect!  On me, it's just a smidge too long but still wearable.  And probably one of the most comfortable dresses I've ever worn.  Fact.  My mom was kind enough to loan me a cute hat to wear but the black band that adorned it just didn't jive with this ensemble.  That's when I decided that I preferred the dress without a sash and just tied it on the hat which, in my opinion, brought it all together. 
Let's have more days like this.  And more sporting events that require fancier duds.  I think that would be swell.

Dress - Estate Sale / Hat - Whole Foods Tulsa

Friday, May 2, 2014

Binge Quilting

Beginning this past week, I've started to take one day off work for two reasons:  for Rio and I to go and do some fun kid stuff (this week was the library for story time!) and for me to concentrate on Biff business at home.  One week into this (temporary summer) arrangement and I can already tell I'm going to like it.  This week, I was able to fire off another quilt!
When I first started this one, things were going in a completely different direction and once I started piecing it together, I hated it.  I spent some time just staring at it and then staring at other potential fabrics and then back to what I had already done.  It just wasn't working.  Then I took everything apart that I had already worked on.  I knew that I wanted to use that vibrant floral fabric and the black but couldn't find the right complementary fabric until I scrounged around a bit more and came up with that graphic black and white number.  It was like angels were singing and I knew I had found the missing piece.  I'm SO happy with the way this one turned out!   It's definitely the most bold quilt I've ever made!
It's a great size for a crib quilt, if you're in the market for a baby gift!  When Rio first saw it completed, she gasped and then lightly petted the flowers for a bit.  That was, of course, pretty cute.  Those graphics really sing to little ones! 
All of the fabrics are vintage and are in great shape.  The backing fabric is one I have used time and time again.  Super soft and with a subtle pattern that works well with the focal colors.  Plus, I have tons of it so it works well for large projects. 
It's totally available in the shop and is ready to be packaged up and sent out!  And if you order before Monday, you can get 20% off anything with the code KITTENFEVER at checkout.  I'm not going to let you forget about my kitten-fueled sale!  ;)
I already have another quilt being built and hope to finish it up within a week!  I hope you guys are loving my quilting binge as much as I am.  :)  Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Journey from Jewelry

I made jewelry for many, many years.  Like, since I was a kid.  I was obsessed with seed beaded necklaces, looms, and those nostalgic friendship bracelets.  Being the business-minded kid that I was, I would of course sell my creations or even barter with them.  I once got a pretty sweet custom painted turtle photo for a necklace that I would now cringe at.  Organizing beads, creating order out of tiny chaos, and making things to adorn our earthly bodies made my world sing.  Making jewelry helped pay for my college drinks and eventually even led to me meeting my mister.  I swore I would always be making jewelry.

It's been almost two years since I've dug out my beads.  I've done some custom wedding orders here and there and lots of repairs but I haven't felt inspired to make jewelry since I was pregnant.  What happened?  To be honest, I'm not one-hundred percent sure.
Photo from this Tulsa People article.
There are some things that come into play, I believe.  For one, messing with tons of tiny little beads and jewelry-making parts is difficult (for me) with a kid.  I'm a messy jewelry maker!  I also tend to make things that I'm into at the moment.  Once I had Rio, I quit wearing most jewelry, aside from earrings.  I'm just now starting to get back into wearing necklaces after an almost two-year hiatus. Then there was the 'too many jewelry people' aspect of the handmade world.  Seriously, everyone and their dog makes jewelry and figuring out how to stand out was no easy task.  It was exhausting.  I also lost the urge to hunt for vintage jewelry to use in my work.  I had SO much already that I think I was maxed out which eventually led to a jewelry-making/hoarding/coveting burn out.
Honestly, it does make me a bit sad in a way.  Jewelry-making has always been such a HUGE part of my life and now it's not there.  On my own accord, though.  On the other hand, why make something when I'm not inspired to do so?  I'm enjoying sewing so very much right now that I can't imagine NOT doing that.  It's strange because I feel like I had a pretty good eye for jewelry and was pretty damn knowledgeable and adept at it.  With sewing, I've learned lots but I still have a long way to go to feel at the top of my game.  But all of that is ok.  I'm listening to my gut, and am doing what feels right at the moment.  And I'm loving it.

It's still on my mind though.  People still ask me constantly if I am still making jewelry or if I still have that jewelry business.  Seriously, all of the time.  I'm still being given bags of jewelry to use and am asked to fix private pieces often (which I don't mind at all).  I know I'll make it again.  I still have boxes (and boxes) of things to work with and have been playing with some designs in my head lately.  It's still in there but other creative methods are singing louder to me right now and I'm listening to those.

I do have some jewelry left from my heyday in the shop at reduced prices (and remember there's that 20% code KITTENFEVER until Monday!) which I would absolutely love to be worn by someone (Mother's Day gifts??).  I've been pairing down my personal collections in the instagram shop and will also have lots at this fun event on Sunday.  It feels good to be decluttering that part of my life. It's been therapeutic.  Hell, everything has been therapeutic for me lately, it seems. And I'm digging it.
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