Maybe Matilda: February 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February Goal Review

At the start of the month, I posted a few goals I set for February, hoping that the imminent embarrassment of having to publicly admit not completing them would be some motivation for me. It partially worked! Here are my grades for the month.

February goal grades

Bathroom vanity: big fat FAIL. I kind of considered doing it once or twice, then felt intimidated by the enormity of the project, and in the end didn’t even come close to taking a single step forward. Fail.

Clean craft room: success! That room is almost always a complete disaster, which is a shame, because that means I don’t want to go near it and purposely avoid a lot of projects I’d like to do because I don’t want to search through the mess and work in there. I was almost annoyed by how quickly it cleaned up—I’ve put it off for so long, and it didn’t even take that long to get it straightened up. Somehow it would have been better if it had taken hours.

Organize pantry: a low A . . . I got it done, but half-heartedly and only at the last minute.

Add 3 new items to shop: done and done! I’ll post about my new spring items soon.

3 blog posts per week: did it! I just wrote a rough calendar with post ideas for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I didn’t even really follow it that closely, but having a plan (even an unfollowed plan) helped.

Exercise 3 times/week: eh, sort of. Except for one week where I only managed one workout, I did it. Not terribly impressive, but it’s definitely a step up from my usual activity level. Thanks to Fitness Blender for all the free workout videos.

Go on 1 date: we went on two! Go us.

Read 4 books: did it! Here’s what I read . . .

february books

Gathering Blue—so-so. I enjoyed it but wasn’t thrilled. Shutter Island—boo! I knew I wouldn’t like it, but hoped it would pull me out of a mediocre book slump, which it did, because I thought The Light Between Oceans was fantastic! Loved it. Still a bit undecided on The Demon King—I liked it, but wasn’t in love, but was interested enough to get started on the second in the series, so 3.5 stars out of 5, I guess?

1 fun activity per week with Forrest: partial credit for this one. I had been picturing craft projects or baking treats together or playing matching games or something . . . it ended up being more like ‘spending an hour at the play area in the mall’ and ‘woohoo, lunch at McDonald’s!’ Not the most interactive activities, but he definitely had fun at least once per week, so mission accomplished, I guess?

March goals coming soon.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Chalkboard Flower Pots

My little old lady flowerpot cozy project made me a  antsy for spring. Really antsy. And having a little greenery in my kitchen made me want a lot more greenery in there. So I decided to try my hand at growing some herbs. I fully expect to fail miserably in this endeavor. I cannot keep plants alive (or, incidentally, fish, as we discovered recently when Forrest’s 2 pet fish named ‘Shishie’ and ‘Shishie’ only survived a whopping 2 weeks), but darn it, I’m going to try. I love the idea of snipping fresh herbs right off my windowsill while I’m cooking dinner, so I’m giving it a go. And since my windowsill gets a lot of light and attention and I end up staring at it every night while I wash dishes, I tried to make the pots a little more pleasant, too.

DIY Chalkboard Herb Pots

I generally go for very low-effort home décor-ish type projects, and this one is certainly no exception. I just picked up a few clay small clay flowerpots and a can of chalkboard spray paint at the Walmarts.

How to make chalkboard flower pots

Then gave them 2 coats of the chalkboard paint.

Chalkboard paint on flowerpots

The can said to let the paint dry a full 24 hours before writing on it. Hm. I made it, like, 16 hours. Close enough. You’re supposed to completely cover the paint in chalk the first time, so go crazy.

Making DIY chalkboard flower pots

Then wipe ‘em clean and label your pots! I planted mint, basil, and cilantro.

DIY Chalkboard Herb Pots

And I’m pleased to say the cilantro is growing! No signs of life from the mint and only the teensiest of sprouts that haven’t gotten any taller in the past week from the basil pot, but hey. 1 out of 3 isn’t bad. I’ll take it.

How to make chalkboard herb pots

I think those pots are a little cuter than your standard clay pot, and I can re-label them when my plants inevitably die and need to be replaced. A little bit of cute greenery on my windowsill. I like it.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Vintage Book Tablet Covers

Happy Friday! Today feels especially nice to me since I’ve woken up convinced it was Friday three days in a row now. It’s a sad, sad feeling to realize at 10 AM that it’s only Wednesday.

I wanted to share a cool product with you today . . . do you remember my talented mother Kathleen, the owner of the Bungalow Boutique in Heber, UT? It’s an adorable shop of contemporary furniture and home décor, stylish boutique clothing, and handmade treasures made by talented local artisans, and she’s recently branched into online services as well—her site BB Daily Deals offers weekly discounts on Bungalow Boutique items, and she has also opened an Etsy shop to showcase some of her own handmade goods.

bungalow logo

One of her awesome handmade items that I think you’ll love? Tablet covers handcrafted from vintage books.

Vintage Book Tablet Covers from Bungalow Boutique on etsy

My mom has always loved the look of books from the 40s, 50s, and 60s (and good teacher that she is, passed it on to me as well), and she’s built up quite a collection of cute vintage books. And when I got myself a Kindle Fire recently (love it!), inspiration struck: why not use a cute vintage book to create a cover for it and other small tablets/ereaders? Keep the feel of a book in your hands and pay homage to awesome books of the past while enjoying the convenience of an ereader!

ereader cover made from vintage book

The spine of the cover has been carefully reinforced, and only archival quality glues and tapes have been used on the book and illustrations. All the book covers are in great condition, and a few of the pages and illustrations have been preserved and carefully applied to the inside covers, so you can still enjoy the old pictures, type, library stamps, etc. Elastic straps hold your ereader in place, and another strap on the left inside cover holds the book closed when you’re not using your tablet. And with many of the covers, you'll even receive the library pocket and checkout card that was inside the original book. Um, cool. Especially for a library lover like me.

Vintage Library Book turned into ereader cover

I love the idea of using a vintage book while reading an ebook . . . a nice blending of past and present. And let’s be honest: those old books from the 50s are just dang cute.

Make sure to check the book measurements and compare to the size of your tablet/ereader when shopping—since each book is unique, the measurements are included in the listings, so make sure your tablet will be a perfect fit!

Hop over to the Bungalow Boutique on Etsy to shop for a cute vintage book tablet cover, and use coupon code MMDiscount1 for 25% off your purchase for the rest of the month of February!

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Granny Square Flower Pot Cozy

This post brought to you by iBulb. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I was first learning to crochet and spent hours browsing Ravelry for ideas and inspiration (which sure makes it sound like I no longer spend hours browsing Ravelry . . . not so), I noticed--and enjoyed many a giggle at the expense of--a funny crochet trend. Crocheters crochet everything. Whether it has a purpose or not, is useful or worthless, is pretty or ugly, or is just flat-out ridiculous, you can find a crocheted version of a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. Seriously. Anything. And I would laugh sometimes at the 'silly' things people crocheted--toilet paper? (a gag gift, I hope and pray) amigurumi poop? (for realsies--google it) male anatomy inspired lip gloss case? (don't look that one up . . . just take my word for it. yikes.). If you can dream it up, I swear to you, someone has crocheted it.

This project falls squarely under the heading of 'Crocheted Items I Once Might Have Laughed At But Now Embrace.' Because what early-crochet-days-Rachel didn't know, crocheter-Rachel-of-today now understands: crocheting brings joy, and calm, and peace, and plain old homey comfort. So why not crochet something just for the love of crocheting, even if it might seem a little silly to those who haven't seen the light? This may not be your most typical crocheted item, but it was a pleasure to make and the crochet goodness puts a smile on my face.

All this intro to say: I crocheted a flower pot cozy, and I'm not sorry.

Crochet Flower Pot Cozy

When I got an offer to write a blog post about potted bulbs, I jumped at the chance. Everybody loves a little flowery goodness, and with spring still a distant (hopefully not too distant) dream, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring a touch of warmth into my life. These tulip bulbs will make a lovely Easter gift for a friend, and the little crocheted pot cozy adds a bit of handmade love, I hope. I love that the bulbs can be replanted later--a much longer-lasting gift than cut flowers. Perfect gift that can be held onto and treasured. And bonus points since potted bulbs are easy to find (I picked mine up at the grocery store, but you can find them also at flower shops, garden centers, home improvement stores, etc.).

I used my favorite color combo for my crocheted flower pot cozy: purple and green. These were my wedding colors, so although I love them together all the time, I've loved them even more since my wedding. I always try to include a little purple/green combo in my home decor somewhere, as a reminder of that day. (Awwwwwwwwgag.)

The cozy was easy and quick to pull together--I used scrap yarn from my stash and did just two rounds of a granny square (I haven't made a tutorial for these, but you can just google 'granny square tutorial' and find plenty of instructions and videos. Don't be intimidated by them--they aren't very difficult!).

Green and purple granny squares for flower pot cozy

Then I used more of the purple yarn to stitch them together by hand to form a circle. 7 squares was a perfect fit for my flower pot.

DIY crochet flower pot cozy

Then just slip it on your pot, and you're ready to give it away as a lovely springtime gift, or make it in colors to coordinate with your home to keep yourself. I'm excited to pass this flower pot along to a friend as an Easter present. 

Crochet Flower Pot Cozy

(I know this is far from my most detailed tutorial--if you have any questions about this project, I'm happy to help. Leave any questions in the comments or email me: maybematildaquilts [at] gmail.com)

For more bulb inspiration and ideas, visit the Dig Drop Done pinterest page

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Quick + Easy Spring Chain Cowl

Is the weather getting a little more bearable in your neck of the woods? It’s getting better here . . . we even ventured outdoors for a walk yesterday afternoon! Sure, we only made it a block and a half, and okay, we required warm cookies and many episodes of Dora while wrapped in blankets to warm back up afterwards, but still. The end of winter is in sight!

So when I got my hands on some of Lion Brand Yarn’s new Zpagetti yarn, I knew just what to do with it. Turn it into an easy-to-make, easy-to-wear, lightweight spring cowl that will keep me warm until we can make park visits for longer than 20 minutes, but won’t make me sweaty once the weather gets warmer. Perfect!

Quick and Easy Lightweight Spring Cowl tutorial

The Zpagetti yarn is way cool—it’s made from garment manufacturing remnants, so each colorway is limited edition and unique. And since it’s a super bulky elastic and cotton blend, it’s very sturdy and great for dozens of home décor projects. It has the feel of a smooth, comfortable jersey or knit fabric, and I thought it would make for a great, stylish transition piece to wear into warmer spring weather. I love how soft and comfortable and wearable it is, I was really impressed with the feel and stretch of it, and it was seriously fun to crochet with.

Zpagetti Yarn review by Maybe Matilda

You could of course make this cowl with any bulky yarn, although that might make it better suited to chillier winter weather, depending on the fiber content. If the Zpagetti isn’t an option for you, perhaps you could even try your hand at making a similar version yourself with knit or jersey fabric. But I’m loving the Zpagetti. Fun stuff.

Although portions of this cowl use crochet stitches, you certainly don’t need to know how to crochet! All you really need to be able to do is make a chain and a slip stitch. The absolute most basic basics of crochet. So don’t worry if this is new to you—there’s nothing to be scared of here.

Start by making a slip knot around your crochet hook. I used an N hook because that’s the biggest size I own—the yarn actually recommends a Q hook (mega!). The N worked fine for me.

(If you need help making a slip knot, visit this link for a how-to.)

How to slip knot around hook

Now, you’re just going to start making chains. This is pretty simple stuff, and you’ll be flying once you get the hang of it. Just wrap a loop of yarn around your hook, like so:

How to chain in crochet

(Make sure you’re grabbing the yarn that leads to the ball, not the tail dangling from your slip knot!)

Then just pull that loop straight down and through the loop that’s already on your hook.

How to make a chain in crochet

That’s it! You’ve made a chain. Now just keep chaining.

How to make a chain cowl for spring!

Chain chain chain. (Bet you’ll never guess what song was stuck on repeat in my head while I worked on this.)

chain chain chain for a springy chain cowl!

You’ll go on and on and on. When you’ve got a big ol’ pile of chained-up yarn, start testing the length by draping it around your neck. Make sure you’re keeping it loose enough that you can pull it straight on and off—the little button cuff on the finished product is purely for show, so you’ll need to keep it loose enough to just slip on and off.

Make an easy DIY spring cowl

(Butterfly removable hand tattoo courtesy of my sister and the Valentines she gave us last week. Think I should make it permanent?)

If it isn’t big enough, chain some more. When you’re happy with the look, just make sure you have enough chains on your hook to reach back to the starting end. If you need to, add a few more chains or pull a few out so they’ll reach nicely.

To connect the ends, you’ll use a slip stitch. With your hook still in the ending chain’s loop, just insert your hook through one of the loops of the first chain:

How to slip stitch in crochet

Then grab a loop of yarn, just like you’ve been doing all along:

Crochet Slip Stitch

And pull that loop straight through both of the loops on your hook.

Slip stitch in crochet how to

That’s a slip stitch!

To finish it off, make one last chain:

DIY spring chain cowl

Then snip the yarn a few inches out and pull the chain all the way through.

Finishing off springy crochet cowl

You’ve got your cowl all finished! Now, if this marks the far reaches of your crochet experience, you can just wrap some of your extra yarn around a side of the cowl to hold it all together and secure it while you wear it. But if you know how to make single crochets (or are willing to try it out), then let’s make the button cuff.

Start by making a slip knot and 6 chains.

How to chain/single crochet

Now just work 5 single crochets back across the row, starting in the second chain away from the hook. If you need more details on this, you can visit this tutorial of mine, or this great one from One Dog Woof.

Single crochet

When you reach the end of the row, chain 1, turn your work, and single crochet back across. Repeat.

Single crochets for springy cowl

Keep going until your rectangle is long enough for the ends to meet when wrapped around your cowl.

How to attach button cuff to spring chain cowl

Then just slip stitch the ends of the rectangle together—insert your hook through a loop on each end of the rectangle, grab a loop of yarn, and pull it straight through. Slip stitch down the ends until your rectangle is fully closed, then fasten off just as you did when finishing the chain cowl.

Tutorial to make springy chain cowl

Once again, you’re at a good stopping point! If you like the look of just that little cuff, leave it as is and proudly wear your cute new springy cowl!

DIY lightweight spring cowl

I thought some little buttons would be the perfect way to finish it off. You can of course sew these buttons on—I was in no mood to search through my mess of a craft room for a needle and thread, and my hot glue gun just happened to be left out on the counter from an earlier project, sooooo . . . I just hot glued them on. As long as you keep the glue along the outer edges of the button so it doesn’t squelch up through the buttonholes, no one’s the wiser.

DIY this lightweight, quick and easy cowl for spring!

There you have it! A quick, easy, comfortable and lightweight spring cowl. I love the cheerful red color, I think the little button cuff is a fun finish, and I love the feel of the jersey-like yarn.

(With most crochet projects, you’ll want to weave in the ends of your yarn to hide and secure them. I didn’t have a needle large enough, so I just made sure all the ends were pulled as tight as I could make them, then cut the yarn off about 1/2 inch away from the knot, and hot glued the ends down.)

Yarn provided by Lion Brand Yarn.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

A response to “Dear mom on the iPhone”

On Friday, the Deseret News posted an article by Tonya Ferguson called Dear Mom on the iPhone. The author shared a letter-style article written to a mom at the park who checked her phone as her kids played. Ms. Ferguson informed this mom of all the sweet moments with her children she was missing or only engaging in halfheartedly while she placed most of her attention on her phone. She informed this mother that although she is sure her heart is in the right place, she needs to “put [her] eyes back on [her] prize” and stop showing her kids that “the phone is more important than they are,” because their childhood is passing quickly and (apparently) every moment not spent fixated on the children is a reminder of their unimportance in their mother’s life.

As I first started to read the article, I’ll admit to feeling the defensiveness of the damned. Why, just a few days ago I took my son to the park and planted myself on a bench to read a book while he played. Every few minutes, he’d come over to me and take my hand, and I’d stand ready to catch and ‘swoop’ him at the bottom of the slide or help him climb up a high step, then I’d head back to my bench and pick up my book and let him play on his own for a few more minutes. I felt a guilty prick as I read the article: was I really that terrible of a mother because I didn’t spend every moment at the park playing with him? Did he really feel he was unimportant to me simply because I brought a book to read while he played? Was I really teaching him that he was unloved or unworthy of my attention because I stole a few moments of playtime at the park to enjoy a moment of quiet with a book?

Then my guilt transformed into a feeling of annoyance, and different questions replaced my self-doubting ones: when will this judgment stop? When will we, as mothers, band together in love and support of each other instead of continuing to come up with an infinite number of ways to criticize others’ parenting style and choices? Why can’t we, as mothers and parents and women, trust that we are each doing our best, no matter how different that ‘best’ may look from one woman to the next? Why can’t we each be given the respect to make our own choices with our children, and not be made to feel like failures when we don’t all make identical choices?

My visit to the park with a book would surely have warranted the criticism of Ms. Ferguson. Because I heard my son “whee!”-ing his way down the slide and continued reading after only a quick glance up at him to say, “Good job!” Because after a few minutes of chasing and tickling him while he laughed and shouted in excitement, I told him, “Ok, have fun! Mommy’s going to sit down for a few minutes.” Because once or twice, when he came to take my hand and pull me up from my seat on the bench, I told him, “Go on and head down the slide! That looks like fun!” and chose to stay sitting with my book instead.

But what Ms. Ferguson doesn’t see is the rest of the picture. Every other moment of my—and the infamous ‘mom with the iPhone’s’—life. She is armed and ready to criticize us for our moment of quiet at the park, but what she doesn’t see are the meals enjoyed together, spent laughing and joking and talking about the day. She doesn’t see the game we played together before heading to the park, or the snuggling while we watched a movie together after we came home. She doesn’t see the book we read together before naptime, or the comfort we offered after a scary nightmare last night, or the ‘tickle monster’ attack when Daddy got home from work that day. She doesn’t see our tears as we question our choices or worry about our children or wonder if we’re doing a good job raising them. No, just the moment with the book or iPhone in the park is enough for her to decide that “the phone is more important than [the children] are.”

I want my children to know how precious they are to me. I want them to know that they are loved deeply and cherished and worried for and thought about and prayed for, and I do everything I can to make sure of it. But another important lesson that I want them to learn is that mom is a person, too. Just like them, Mom has her own needs and wants that might be different from theirs. I want them to know that the world does not revolve around their every whim and desire. I hope to teach them, perhaps, that mom could sure use a few minutes on the couch with her book to regain some energy to play with them more a little later, and that I have responsibilities and interests outside of their daily care. I want them to learn that I trust them to be able to entertain themselves, that I have confidence that they will be able to play on their own and have fun without Mommy’s constant interaction. I want them to see and know that just as they sometimes want a moment to play alone or watch TV or not participate in an activity that doesn’t look fun to them, Mom also sometimes needs a few quiet minutes or a chance to catch up on something she needs to do.

So, no, I do not feel guilty about reading my book in the park the other day. And I’ll do it again, gladly, because as important as my child is to me, I also value myself, my own wants and needs, the person that I was before I had a child and the person that I am today who, just like my son, also deserves nourishing and time and growth. I love my son and I make sure he knows it, and I do not believe that taking a few moments for myself detracts from that love in any way. In fact, I truly feel that I am a better mother after taking some time to focus on myself and meet my own wants and needs, and if that time for myself comes in the form of a few moments to read in the park or—gasp—to use my phone to text my sister or catch up on friends’ news on facebook, I will gladly embrace it. Sure, I might miss a few sweet moments here and there while taking time for myself, but the trade-off, for me, is worth it: I’ll be rejuvenated enough, renewed enough, and whole enough to appreciate more greatly the moments I am fully present for.

Now, I don’t mean for this post to just be a backlash to the “Mom on the iPhone” article. I have no doubt that Ms. Ferguson is a fabulous mother, and I hope that she didn’t intend her article to be a criticism of other moms and their need—which maybe she herself doesn’t feel—to take a moment for themselves amid the wildness that is a day with young children. I hoped that I could touch on something bigger, and could maybe start to reverse the idea that we, as mothers and women, somehow have the right to criticize each other, that we have the role and responsibility of making others’ decisions for them and deciding after a moment’s observation that we know what is best for someone else’s family and their children.

From now on, this will be my mantra: “I am doing my best. And so is she.”

I truly can’t think of a mother I know who does not appear to be doing her best with her children, who doesn’t value and cherish those little ones and make sure they know her feelings toward them. And I similarly can’t think of a mother who isn’t already acutely aware of her shortcomings and failures with her family, who doesn’t despair over the things she’s done poorly and try to improve them. I can’t think of a mother I know who would hear a parenting criticism from a stranger without thinking, “I already knew that, and I already feel badly about it.” We don’t need to criticize each other—we’re all doing a magnificent job of criticizing ourselves already.

Some moms’ best might include balancing a full-time job with motherhood—more power to them. Some moms’ best might involve homeschooling their children or planning elaborate Pinterest-worthy activities to educate and entertain them—good for them. Some moms’ best might mean frequent iPhone checks throughout the day to connect with family and friends to feel supported and loved and validated. We’re all doing our best, whatever that may look like. And I hope we can all start trusting that our ‘best’ doesn’t all have to look the same, and start doing each other the favor of respecting and supporting each others’ ‘best’ without feeling the need to criticize or look down on their choices and actions.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

5 Crochet Blanket Patterns I Love

I have a problem, and since it’s common knowledge that the first step to recovery is admitting the problem, here we go: *deep breath* I’m addicted to crocheting blankets.

This is probably not big news for you since I thrust them in your face every time I finish one and try to talk you into buying them. And frankly, it’s not an addiction I feel particularly compelled to fix, so there. I’ll just carry on. (Is denial a step in the recovery process?)

I’ve been wanting to make a throw blanket to toss on my living room couch (you can see this room HERE). This probably shouldn’t be all that big of a decision, but since I know it’ll take weeks or months to finish, I’d hate to put all that work into something and end up feeling anything less than wild passionate love toward it.

blue + green living room

While I figure out what exactly I want to make, I’ve had my gray + white zig zag blanket on the couch. I love that blanket, and I do think it fits in pretty nicely, but it isn’t really big enough for the sofa (although I think it would be a great size for a chair), and I’m thinking zig zag blanket next to zig zag pillows might be a little much. So I thought I’d share some crochet blanket patterns I’ve been eyeing. I’m leaning towards a pattern that I can make in a solid color, but that has lots of great texture.

1. Summer Lace Afghan

Summer Lace Afghan free crochet pattern

This is currently the leader of the pack in my search for the perfect throw blanket. I love all the texture, I love that it looks comfy and cozy for winter but airy enough for spring and summer use, and I think it would fit in nicely in my living room. I love browsing the crochet tags on Instagram for inspiration, and I wish I could remember whose version of this blanket I saw there. It was amazing, and I’m glad it pushed me to look up the pattern (which is free, by the way—bonus!).

2. Chunky Cables Throw

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a blanket before that made me more excited than this one at the thought of snuggling up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. (On second thought: keep your hot chocolate as far as possible from this gorgeous thing. I can only imagine the conniption I would have if someone spilled their hot cocoa all over it.) I think it’s bulkier than what I’m going for (I’d like a year-round, lighter-weight afghan), but would be so perfect and so homey and cozy during the fall and winter.

3. Zig Zag Afghan

Lion Brand Zig Zag Afghan

This one is definitely not right for my room, but isn’t it cool? I love the sort of tribal look, and the colors they used are perfect. I’m not sure where it could fit in in my house . . . but I keep coming back to it anyway. Such a neat look.

4. One Skein Throw

I love the lightweight look of this one, and I bet it would be a breeze to work on and come together quickly.  Although I’m having a bit of trouble believing you could really get a decent-sized throw out of just one skein . . . maybe a baby blanket, but a throw? I don’t know. Somebody try it out and change my doubting ways.

5. Spider and Cobwebs Throw

Spiders and Cobwebs crochet blanket

Although I’m having trouble getting over the horrific name of this blanket—not to mention the cheeseballs with a side of extra cheese photo—I have to admit that I actually do like this pattern. Breezy and airy with lots of great texture. I think it would be lovely in just about any color.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Crochet Dog Stuffies for Valentine’s Day

I’m not all that into Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s nice, and I always appreciate getting a card or candy or flowers or something, but my husband and I don’t typically make a big deal out of it. We went to Chili’s last weekend . . . that’ll probably count as our Valentine’s date. Chili’s! The ribs! The romance!

But now that we have this little boogerface stinking up our house, I kind of want to make it a fun day for him. So we’ll be spending today baking up Valentine’s goodies, and I can’t wait to give him his present tomorrow . . .

Crochet Amigurumi Dog by maybe matilda

A little crochet puppy! He’s cute, huh? The sweater gets me. It gets me every time I look at him. Forrest is pretty into puppies (and kitties aka ‘titties’; yes, that’s right, titties) at the moment—his new favorite game is coming up to me while I’m on the couch, meowing or barking at me, then saying, “gent-oh? gent-oh?” (which is how we try to remind him to pet nicely, I think he thinks ‘gentle’ just means ‘pet’) and waiting to be petted or have his belly rubbed. It’s pretty sweet. I hope he likes his little puppy dog.

And I couldn’t resist showing him off to my sister ahead of time, and she liked him a lot, too, so guess what she is also getting tomorrow?

Girly Puppy Amigurumi by maybe matilda

The girly version! I like this one even better than the one I made for my son. I like the colors better, and I did a better job with placing the facial features. I almost don’t want to give her away.

Amigurumi Dogs

I used the Amigurumi Dog pattern from Lion Brand Yarn, and they were a cinch to work up. Relatively quick (although making all the separate pieces is kind of slow and tedious, I’ll admit), but overall a very simple pattern. I wasn’t crazy about the ears in the pattern, so I went for a more folded-over look instead. I like how they turned out.

Crochet Puppy by maybe matilda

A moody close-up. She’s pondering the state of the economy, or maybe thinking about something deep like . . . I don’t know . . . the poetry of . . . Ginsberg? (The only name that comes to mind . . . it’s early, I’m still waking up, cut me a break.)

I tossed up some listings in my shop for custom versions of these little puppies—you can find the boy puppy HERE and the lady puppy HERE, and message me for a discount if you plan to buy two or more! As always, feel free to play around the colors when you order . . . I’ve got a nice big yarn stash, just begging to be used in whatever creative color combos you come up with.

Did you make any Valentine’s gifts this year?

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Living Room Tour + Gallery Wall Tips

Remember how 6ish months ago, we bought our first home? And although it had great ‘bones’ and tons of potential, it was a bit of a mess when we moved in? (If you’d like, you can revisit the ‘before’ tour HERE.) Certainly not terrible, not much demolition involved, but very bland, very boring, very neglected and abused by previous owners, and very dirty and disgusting.

Well, we’ve worked hard, as I’m sure I’ve made abundantly clear by my near-constant complaining about it, but we really got burned out a few months in and have mostly taken the winter off from home renovations. And although I’ve had all sorts of great intentions to post in-progress and after pictures, there is no after in sight, not to mention that it’s rarely to never clean enough for an unembarrassing in-progress picture.

But I figured I’d put on my big girl panties and tidy up one room today so I could start a proper tour. (I’d like you to know that besides the typical household/toddler clutter, I found two cars, one firetruck, and one Christmas countdown block hidden in the couch. Like, wedged into cushions and under pillows. My son is a scavenger and a packrat and displays many early hoarder warning signs.) To start out my house tour, I picked the room that is seen the most by outsiders anyway and is thusly the most finished room in the house. Gotta impress the neighbors, duh.

Blue + Green Living Room by maybe matilda

I wanted to keep this room kind of soft and subtle, but still welcoming and cozy. So hopefully the above picture made you think, “My, that room is soft and subtle, but I’m really getting some welcoming and cozy vibes.”

The rug makes the occasional appearance in Instagram pictures, and I almost always get a question about it. You can find it HERE on Overstock. It is actually an outdoor rug, which I was a little worried about—would it feel scratchy or uncomfortable or plasticky or something? But no, I’ve been very happy with it. It seems that outdoor rugs are much more affordable than most indoor ones, but it’s plenty soft and comfortable for bare feet inside. It definitely isn’t fluffy like some indoor rugs—it’s a tight, dense weave—but I have zero complaints and wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.

I sewed the pillows on the couch and chairs, and just yesterday picked up two new pillows for under $10 each at Ross to toss on the window seat.

Cozy Windowseat

And although no one ever sits and reads there, I made sure to set a book out to make sure you picture me serenely reading and pondering while snow falls gently outside, maybe sipping hot cocoa with a dog sleeping at my feet. This has never happened. But it makes for a nice mental scene, doesn’t it?

And as long as it’s clean and straightened up in here, I really enjoy the view as I come down the stairs in the morning. I love the blue and green accents, and I love how they look against the silvery wall color. I like how the natural accents (like the wicker chairs and burlap lampshades and twiggy vignette on the side table) keep it looking kind of cozy and homey and comfortable.

Blue, Green, Gray living room

Now, I always seem to get comments from friends and visitors on the photo gallery wall (which secretly thrills me to no end, because I feel like a really good gallery wall can be kind of hard to achieve). So, I’ll give you a few details on it.

Photo Gallery Wall by maybe matilda

I spent lots of time looking up and comparing different gallery walls, and here’s what I decided my preferences are:

1. I like gallery walls to be more or less symmetrical. Not perfect, and not a grid, but I do like them to have a sense of order and shape and symmetry. (For instance, on mine, it is roughly rectangular instead of a big frame blob; the edges are more or less straight/grid-like; and the frames meet and connect pretty well without any big gaps or spaces between, or random frame outliers that don’t fit in and make sense with the overall shape.)

2. I like the frames to be close together. I see a lot of gallery walls with bigger spaces between the frames—personally, I think anything more than, say, 3 inches makes it look kind of haphazard and unplanned.

3. I like the pictures to have a theme—same/similar frames, same/similar photo coloring (like all black and white shots, or all prints from the same photo session, or at least photos with similar colors/editing). I purposely planned our outfits in these pictures to match the décor, and tossed in coordinating scrapbook papers in two frames for a little subtle variety and texture.

4. I think they should be hung low on the wall. A decorating pet peeve of mine is when art/photos/mirrors/etc. are hung too high on a wall. Who wants to have to crane their neck and tip their head back to look at your family pictures? Have you ever been in a house with photos or art hung just a few inches from the ceiling? I have, and I’ve got to say, I think that looks a bit silly. Art has no business being almost at the roofline. According to my interior designer mom, wall art should be hung at eye level.

Here is my gallery wall setup:

Photo Gallery Wall Setup by maybe matilda

All the frames are Virserum frames from Ikea—I purchased them months ago, so I could be remembering wrong, but I think that I spent something like $70 for all of the frames. You really can’t beat Ikea’s frame prices.

Now, just for before and after purposes, and because it makes me so happy to know that we made this house not look like this anymore, here’s the living room when we moved in:

living room before

Very bland, very boring, very carpeted (do you see the windowseat on the far left? Even it was carpeted!), and, although this photo is not a scratch-n-sniff so you’ll just have to take my word for it, very stinky. I think our changes are a definite improvement. And check out the view through the front door when we bought the house:

entry view before

Compared to the view from the front door today:

Bright and cozy entryway

Much better.

For other home progress posts, you can check out the kitchen renovation and the staircase makeover. And I’ll work on getting the rest of the house in presentable condition.

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