Maybe Matilda: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Did we all have a nice Memorial Day weekend? What did you do? Jeff, Forrest and I headed out to watch the Quad Cities Criterium bicycle races yesterday.

Jeff is a bit of a cyclist, so he had a great time watching the competitors fly by (and whine about their $2000+ bikes compared to his $100 bike bought off craigslist. All in good time, my dear. I do believe we can add that to the list of Reasons You Wanted to Become a Doctor).

It was the perfect chance for me to play around a bit with my camera's manual settings (which reminds me, a photo post with some of the suggestions you've sent me to learn photography is coming soon!):

(I actually think the top ghost riders picture is my favorite)

Forrest, surprisingly, had a fun time, too--this boy usually hates being in his stroller, but I think there was enough action to keep him interested.
And I had to toss this one in, because if all you know of me is this blog and I can make myself look however I want, you'd see this and maybe just for a moment you'd think, oh my, isn't she chic and cool?
But here's where we'll get real and you can see how my life really goes (and if you real-life-know me, you'll think, yep, that sounds about right)--I got cannonballed right in the gut with a cyclist's water bottle like 10 minutes after Jeff took this photo. It was less than chic. Did you know that the riders just ditch stuff as the race goes on so they can pick up more speed toward the end? Let me tell you, a water bottle released by a cyclist going 35 miles per hour comes flying at you pretty dang fast. Consider yourself warned: cyclist debris could be flying your way really, really quickly. And, if you're me, will be flying your way. More than once. I dodged a second water bottle--this one coming at my head--by mere inches a minute or so after the first one tried to knock me out.

Tres chic!

(by the way, this isn't the funny story I referenced in my post yesterday . . . still working on that one. Hopefully it won't be a total dud now that I've built it up so much. That'll be awkward.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Belated Spring Sweater Refashion

Do you ever have something totally crazy and hilarious happen to you and you know it would make, like, the blog post of the century? But you're afraid to write about it because it involves some acquaintances who may or may not read your blog and could possibly be offended if they read it? And you're trying to decide which is more important to you . . . maintaining a casual acquaintance-ship or writing a hilarious blog post? Well, that, friends, was my weekend. And while I try to figure out if I can/should make that blog post happen, you can read this unhilarious one instead.

I kind of forgot I had this project waiting in the wings to be posted until I stumbled across one of these photos today. I can't neglect my poor little forgotten project any longer--I'm sure it's feeling left out and depressed, waiting for its moment to shine. Here you go, little project, enjoy your 15 seconds of fame!

Little Girls' Spring Sweater Refashion
One of my best friends has a sweet little girl who just turned 3, and I wanted to make her something fun for her birthday. She's such a cheerful, spunky kid, so I wanted to make her something just as cute and happy as she is. 

We couldn't convince her to try it on for me at her birthday party, but who can blame her when she's surrounded by dozens of other presents to open? I'm impressed she could even pause long enough to hold it up so I could snap a picture of her with it--I would have been attacking all the other gifts if I were her.

Click read more below to see how I made it!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Five Favorites and a Whole New Look!

Have you noticed my blog's new look? My little sister, Bekah (an advertising/graphic design major at BYU), is amazing and gave me a makeover. She very subtly mentioned one day, "So do you . . . uh . . . do you like how your blog looks?" Kind of reminded me of the husband's, "Is that what you're wearing?" So discrete. But hey, if she's gonna offer, I'm gonna hit her up for free design work! 

Another of her many talents is sewing nagging my mom to sew for her! They were inspired by my crazy cat lady thrift store dress makeover and did a little makeover of their own on a less-than-lovely thrift store dress.
Thrift Store Dress Redo @ . . . doesn't everybody have a craft blog?
 Isn't she cute? I love the after--they shortened it up a bit, added little cap sleeves, and tied a ribbon around the waist. Nice! And courage in the face of awkward pictures must be a family trait . . . I'm looking back at my dress makeover before pictures, and here are Bekah's . . . we must both be missing the dignity gene. (Bekah, however, possesses the highly desirable body-of-a-Barbie-doll gene, and I'll never forgive her for that.)

I never knew you could spray paint shoes! Oh, the possibilities! How adorable are those flats?!

 I love green and purple together--they were actually my wedding colors--so of course I'm crazy about this necklace! And isn't that rosette neat, with the chain twisted in?

Jen was invited to Jessica's Pattern Remix Series at Me Sew Crazy (seriously, coolest series idea ever: take an existing pattern/tutorial, change it up, make it yours!) and created this incredible dress, inspired by a Shabby Apple number. It looks a-freakin-mazing . . . even better than the original!

Now that I'm gazing at that lovely dress, I'm not really sure I should be looking at something like this (I'd like to be able to fit into dresses that I sew . . . ), but really? Chocolate chip cookies, cookie dough ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream? Be still, my beating heart!

If you were featured, snag yourself a button to show off if you'd like:


What are you working on this weekend?

Friday, May 27, 2011

My Take on the Vintage Crafter's Challenge at Simple Simon and Co.!

You know the blog Simple Simon and Co., right? If you don't, where have you been? You're missing out big time.

It's an awesome read written by two sisters-in-law who share a name and a love for all things vintage, girly, and handsewn.

I was tickled pink when Elizabeth and Liz invited me to be a part of their Vintage Crafter's Challenge a few weeks ago! Here's the scoop: they sent out packages of vintage goodies to some crafty bloggers--the packages contained vintage fabric and notions, and our mission was to create something amazing using our packages.

And today is my day! Head over to Simple Simon and Co. to see what I came up with for their challenge!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crisp Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

I definitely would not call myself a fancy cook . . . although I love trying out new recipes and experimenting with flavors, I'm not a very creative or talented chef. But I love testing out new dishes, making little changes, and pretending nothing happened if it turns out poorly.

This, however, was a success! I saw this tasty-looking chicken salad recipe at Real Simple and thought it looked delicious. I made a few little tweaks and mmmmmmmm . . . this recipe is definitely worth repeating! I love light, crisp, fruity meals for the summertime, and this one is definitely a keeper. 

One tip, though--you have to use fresh basil. Have to. This is not a drill. I know, it's kind of pricey, but don't even bother making this if you're going to replace the fresh basil with the dried stuff . . . it just wouldn't be worth it. Put that ice cream back in the freezer at the grocery store and spend your $4 on fresh basil instead. You'll be so glad you did!

Crisp Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

(You can find the original recipe from Real Simple here, but come on, don't you trust me?)

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil 
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Boil the chicken in lightly salted water until fully cooked, then place in a bowl of ice water while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine lime juice, vinegar, mayo, and sugar; add scallions, apples, and pecans. Shred or dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the basil, salt, and pepper. 

Toss and enjoy!

I'll be sharing this recipe at Tea Rose Home, House of Hepworths, Fingerprints on the Fridge, and the Shabby Nest!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Come visit me at Midwestern {Sewing} Girl!

I'm sure you remember Maggie from Midwestern {Sewing} Girl from her visit here last week to share her ruffle camera strap cover (I can't wait to make one for myself!). I'm hanging out over at her blog today with the scoop on how to  make this cute lace peekaboo slip!

Fun, right? I think you'll appreciate the secret ingredient used to make this fun slip . . . 

Head over to Midwestern {Sewing} Girl to see how that abomination turned into something I now love to wear.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Five Favorites 5/21

First of all, thank you all for your tips and encouragement on my photo frustration post! It seems I'm in good company . . . many of you, too, seem to have hoped that a nice camera = amazing pictures, and are kind of annoyed that it doesn't work that way. I got some great suggestions of places to start learning, so I'll be compiling those into a post for next week so those of you who are interested in learning with me can figure out where to begin. I've been doing a little playing around with the manual settings on my camera, and it's not quite as scary as I thought it would be. Sigh of relief!

And it seemed like a lot of you were hoping this would turn into a bit of a photography series . . . is that right? I could probably make that happen. Let me know if you'd be interested in a Photo 101-type series on this here bloggy, and if it seems like something a lot of you would like, I'll see what I can do. I know some people. It could happen. It might be awesome.

On to the main event! I loved these five projects from some amazingly-talented ladies this week: 
This little dress is so sweet--I want one for me! It's sewn using a cozy knit material, and depending on the size you're making, I bet you could make this out of an adult top that you don't plan to wear anymore. I love repurposing old stuff!

These bulletin boards are so cool! (I think every time I've typed the word "bulletin" in my life, I've spelled it "bulleting" . . . it's just too hard to resist adding a "g" to any word that ends with an "in". Same deal when I talk about my cousings or baking pumpking bread.) When I saw these, I misread the title and thought it was nailhead headboards . . . and now Kristy has me itching to transform her great bulletin(g) board idea into a headboard for my ugly bed!

Hey, I know some earrings this necklace would look awfully cute with . . . isn't that a fun necklace? I sure like it.
{Want to hear a button story that's (hopefully) kind of funny? My freshman year of college, I was so fortunate to end up as roommates with a wonderful girl who is now my baby's godmother (I'm LDS and we actually don't do the whole godparent thing . . . but I've always liked it, so Forrest has one. You pick and choose your favorite parts of various religions, too, right?) and one of my very best friends . . . but she's just one of these sweet, kindhearted, innocent girls who is so fun to play tricks on. She had a favorite button that she hung onto forever, waiting to use it on the perfect project because she just loved this silly button. If I remember right, I think it was actually used on a few cards, but she would always ask to have it back later. Anyway, another roommate and I thought it would be funny to kidnap her beloved button and ask a ransom for it. To make it really authentic, we took a few pictures of her button tied up and being held at knife-point and emailed them to her. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm kind of surprised she's still my friend after I put her precious button through such a traumatic experience. But no buttons were harmed that day.}

What a cool piece of artwork! Kaitlin (who has a bunch of really neat projects on her blog) created this using little thrifty finds and leftovers from around the house, including pieces from her wedding bouquet and early sewing projects. I think that's a really amazing way to hang onto those sentimental little pieces you can't bring yourself to toss out, but would otherwise just be cluttering up a closet somewhere.

I just stumbled across Emilie's blog this week, and I'm so glad I did! It's full of really clever ideas and tutorials for sewing, home decor, and fun parties. She created this skirt from . . . wait for it . . . a thrifted men's blazer that she picked up for $1.50 and turned into this adorable prep school skirt! I love it, and she wrote up a tutorial so we can make one, too. Smart lady! I love it!

If you were featured, feel free to grab yourself a little trophy:

And leave a comment letting me know if you'd be interested in a photo boot camp series!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Enroll me in Photo 101!

I'm going to take you back--way back--to before this little nugget was born:

In fact, in the point I'm taking you to, he really was a little nugget . . . I believe I was just a few weeks pregnant with a baby the size of, like, a pinto bean when I decided that I needed to have great photos of the soon-to-be nugget as he grew up. 

So I treated myself to this little nugget:

Oooooh, welcome to the family, First Child!

And I thought to myself as I got out my wallet, "9 months is a really long time! I'll learn this camera inside and out, and by the time he's born, I'll practically be a professional photographer!" And then my hormone-riddled mind would swim with images of the perfect blue-eyed baby boy (check!), his life perfectly documented in crisp, artistic, frame-worthy photos.

ERRRRNT! Wrong! Flash forward 18 months and although I have the pretty baby, I still have no idea how to do much of anything with this camera. A year and a half I've owned it, and it still lives on Auto mode. It kind of makes me depressed to think that I bought this amazing camera that is living out its existence with me instead of someone who will give it the chance to shine.

So while I occasionally get lucky on Auto and end up with a picture like this:
I end up taking duds like this one far more often:
 And I'm brought back to reality: my fancy camera did not magically transform me into an artsy photographer. But every time I start to try and learn, I get overwhelmed and give up--aperture? Shutter speed? F-stop? No, you stop.

I really do want to learn how to use this camera to its full potential, and I'd love your help and suggestions. For those of you who take gorgeous photos (you know who you are--I've seen your blogs!), how did you get there? What helped you to learn? (And please don't say reading the manual. That thing might as well be written in Chinese.) Anyone else out there want to try and learn how to use their fancy camera, too?

I'm hoping that by writing about it here, I'll feel committed to actually stick with it this time around and really learn something instead of giving up in despair and switching back to Auto. So feel free to offer your suggestions, point me in the right direction, and occasionally harass me to make sure I follow through. Mild, friendly harassment only, please.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Peep Toe Baby Shoes

(Did you see the camera strap tutorial yesterday? Check it out!)

I was thrilled a few weeks ago when I won a giveaway for three patterns from PeekaBoo Pattern Shop, run by someone I'm sure you already know and love . . . Amy of Naptime Crafters. My first pick was the pattern that made me so eager to sign up for her giveaway in the first place--her Peep Toe Booties pattern--absolutely adorable!

So when a sweet friend of mine told me that she was having a baby girl (a much-anticipated girl, after her two sons), I knew just what to make.
Can I just put this out there in case the universe is listening? I neeeed to have a girl next time around! Boys are great, Forrest is fantastic, I love him to pieces . . . but no amount of cargo pants, overalls, onesies with trucks on them, and little loafers can compare to pink gingham and zebra stripe peep toe booties.
I hit a few bumps in the road in the making of these booties . . . very stupid, obnoxious road bumps that led to one of these booties (the one on the left, in case you need to know which one to feel sorry for) being chucked against the wall in frustration. I sewed the top of the shoe on with the wrong side out. Then I spent 20 minutes carefully unpicking each little stitch because heaven forbid I accidentally rip a hole in my friend's gift. Then I sewed it on the right way, and quickly realized it had actually been correct the first time and I had just been looking at it wrong, and had to unpick and redo it again. The poor shoe probably did not deserve the abuse it received, but really, wouldn't you have gotten violent, too?

I'm very tempted to let Forrest take these sweet booties for a test run. But the poor boy has spent his whole life so far modeling my crochet girls' hats for my shop. How much can I realistically expect him to put up with? At some point he's either going to start fighting back or dressing in girls' clothes without my forcing him to.
I'm not sure which would be worse.

I'm linking this project to some parties . . . take a peek!
Tip Junkie handmade projectsmake it wear it

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ruffle Camera Strap with Maggie of Midwestern Sewing Girl!

On Friday, I promised you a great guest blogger. And I don't renege on my promises. (How obvious is it that I've always wanted to use the word "renege" in a blog post? Glaringly?)

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Maggie of Midwestern {Sewing} Girl! Have you and Maggie met? Ever since stumbling across her blog a few weeks ago, it has been my deepest sorrow that I haven't real-life-met Maggie yet. You will love her soft, romantic style (it always blows me away) and her incredible photography (I need her to come teach me how to take my camera off Auto, like, right this minute), plus she is a total sweetheart (seriously, every comment and email I get from Maggie is like Christmas morning. Only better.)

So here she is! Take it away, Maggie!

Thank you so much, Rachel, for having me as a guest on your blog!!! Eeek! My very first guest post…I hope I don’t mess it up…

OK, here goes…

Hi, Maybe Matilda readers! My name is Maggie & I write a little blog called Midwestern {Sewing} Girl… (and as you will see, I use far too many ellipses…)

This is me…

And these are some of my projects…

Today I have a super-fun (and easy!) tutorial for you...a ruffle camera strap cover! Yay! The best part about this strap cover is that it's easily taking your strap off of your camera and then having to work like the dickens to get the strap threaded through the cover...nope...this one attaches lickety-split...

Let's have a go at it, shall we?

(Click read more below to make your own ruffly camera strap cover!)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Five Favorites 5/13

Are you so happy Blogger is back up? I think I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms without new posts from my favorite blogs. It was a rough couple of days, but I'm sure with a little time and therapy I'll soon recover. Peeking back at these favorites from throughout the week sure made things easier, though!

I can't believe this beautiful duvet (a Pottery Barn knockoff) only cost Crystal $75 to create, including the duvet itself. It looks incredible! Definitely a top contender in my bedroom plan after we move next month--I would love to sleep on a bed like that!

The lovely ladies of Simple Simon & Co. have done it again. (Do you read their blog? Go. Now. I'll be here when you get back, and you'll thank me for it.) What was once a very Where's Waldo maternity top turned into a chic little number for a cute little lady. Adorable!

Speaking of repurposing old clothing, I'm crazy about this bag that Dora created from an old, unloved sweater. Totally kicking myself for cleaning out my closet a few weeks ago and getting rid of all my sweaters that went unworn this winter. I should know by now not to ever throw things away. Or attempt to organize. It comes back to bite me in the butt every time.

Yet another reason to not get rid of any of your old stuff--check out this wreath made entirely out of sewing notions! This would be so fantastic hanging on the wall in the craft room I don't have. Lynda used all vintage sewing notions to create this . . . even the frilly, flowery background filler is made of sewing pattern pieces. Amazing!

Have you visited Trisha's blog yet? You really should . . . she's full of fantastic ideas, like this adorable hook rack. I love the colors she used together (reminds me of the quilt I made for Forrest!), and of course, we all love chevron, correct? (Answer: correct.)

If you were featured, feel free to grab yourself a little trophy:

Did you love all those projects or what? I had a really hard time narrowing my favorites down to just five this week--there are always so many amazing projects out there!

And stay tuned for next week . . . we have an amazing guest post coming your way from one of my very favorite bloggers that you will loooooooooooove! And I mean it. You'll love her. Like, creepy stalker love her. I know I do, and when she places a restraining order on you, you can totally blame me for it. I'll even pay your legal fees and visit you in prison if you take things too far. (No, I won't.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Mission: Make Cute Babies EVEN CUTER!

One of my absolute favorite things about crocheting for my etsy shop is hearing back from happy customers after they've received their order, especially when they send me pictures of their adorable little ones wearing the hats I made for them. Honestly, I do a little happy dance every time I see an email in my inbox from a customer saying, "Look how sweet little ______ is in her hat!"

 When I first made my pixie hat, I didn't intend to make them for babies--I just made it in a grown-up size (which my husband hated--he said it looked like I had a Hershey Kiss on my head) and got an email from Jessica (here's her website and her etsy shop) asking if I could make it in a newborn size for her photo shoots . . . and I'm so glad she asked, because look at this darling picture she sent me:

How cute is she?!

And here's everyone's favorite, the bear hat . . . I received some absolutely gorgeous photos from Lisa (check out  her website--this girl knows what she's doing!): 
(I love that grouchy face--she is none too pleased to be wearing that hat.)

Another shot by Lisa:

This next photo from Laura of Laura Kruger Photography took my breath away . . . how badly do you want to cuddle this little bear?
This little lady is so precious in her button beanie:

I love this chubby little guy who modeled my newborn nest for me--that is one chunky (and adorable) newborn! (thanks to Erica for this picture!):

(Are you noticing that all of these babies are asleep for their pictures? This feels like a slap in the face to me, since I swear my baby never slept until he was like 4 months old. Seriously.)

 And lest you think my hats are only cute on newborns--do you want to squeeze little C's chubby cheeks or what?! She looks so sweet in her hat!

Thank you all for sharing your beautiful photos! I love seeing your cute kiddos in their hats!
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