Thursday, March 18, 2010

CDEdesigns Giveaway at Life is Good

Check out my mom's blog, Life Is Good, for a special 100th Blog Post Giveaway. You can enter to win your choice of one of the paintings in my Etsy shop, CDEdesigns.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pink Overalls Refashion

As you may have read in this blog post, I have recently learned how to sew.

For my second project, I really wanted to jump in to clothing. I'd like to start "jazzing up" Eva's wardrobe and making her clothes last longer. I hope to eventually be able to make clothes for her. Or at least clothes for her baby dolls!
(By the way, does saying "jazzing up" make me sound like an old lady? I'm thinking it does, but I really can't think of another way to say what I mean. How about "refashion"?)

Hanging in Eva's closet, I found the perfect thing to "refashion."

A pair of pink velvet Osh Kosh overalls that her grandfather got her at either the thrift store or a garage sale. They were in perfect condition - - they looked like they had never been worn.

Well, the first time she wore them, we learned why someone was getting rid of them: The snaps up and down the legs would not stay snapped! Every time we snapped them up, within 5 minutes they were all unsnapped. She looked like she was wearing a floor length dress. This was no good, especially for a little girl who still isn't quite steady on her feet.

So, I decided to cut off the legs and make it a jumper!

In retrospect, I probably should have waited until I had more sewing experience before I worked with a thick material such as velvet. It was really tough to cut it straight and sew it straight, especially at the seams. But I persevered and was able to hem the jumper - - crooked, but hemmed.

At this point, I looked at it and realized it was a little too short. Plus, I needed something to distract from my awful, beginners sewing job.

Inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Disney at Ruffles and Stuff, I decided to add a ruffle. I love all of the adorable ways that Disney extends the life of her little girl's clothes!

I felt that this needed some kind of heavy weight material to go with the velvet. I searched through my mom's fabric stash and found an adorable flannel fabric with lady bugs on it. My mom had made Eva a receiving blanket out of the material when she was just a few weeks old, so it was exciting to get to use the fabric again for something for Eva.
I ruffled, pinned and sewed (straighter this time, but still not perfect) the flannel onto the bottom of the jumper.

Then, I added a green grosgrain ribbon to bring in one of the colors from the flannel, which also happened to be the perfect contrast to the bright pink velvet. (In my opinion, anyway!)
Somehow, I was able to sew the ribbon on very straight. I was shocked!

The jumper is now complete and Eva looks adorable in it. Well, I think she looks adorable in everything, but you know what I mean.
It looks great with a long-sleeved cream ruffle trimmed body suit and cream leggings. Because of the adjustable straps and the generous sizing of the overalls, I am hopeful that this will fit her next winter.

It certainly isn't the prettiest sewing job, but I learned SO MUCH from this project. I can't wait to makeover more of her clothes, and maybe even mine!

Project Runway, here I come! ;)

I have entered the Ruffle Your Stuff and Win contest:

And Kimba's DIY Day:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscar Picks

I've been a crazy-obsessed Oscar watcher for years and years now. My mom and I used to get all dressed up, make a bunch of hors d'oerves and plop down in front of the TV to watch the Barbara Walter's Special, followed by the red carpet, followed by the main event. Usually, by the time Best Supporting Actress was presented (the first award of the night), we were ready to put on our jammies and hunker down on the couch for the night.

We stopped our tradition a few years back when the Oscars started going later and later, and we started getting older and older and had problems staying awake.

Tonight, my husband and I are going to watch the awards together. I doubt we'll get dressed up. But we will have our ballots filled out.

Here is who I think will win in the major categories:

Best Picture - Avatar

Best Actor - Jeff Bridges

Best Actress - Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor - Christopher Waltz

Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique

Best Director - James Cameron

Best Original Screenplay - The Hurt Locker

Best Adapted Screenplay - Precious

Here is who I think should win:

Best Picture - Inglourious Basterds

Best Actor - George Clooney (however, I've only seen his and Jeremy Renner's performances.)

Best Actress - Gabourey Sidibe (I have not seen Helen Mirren's preformance)

Best Supporting Actor - Christopher Waltz (his is the only performance I've seen)

Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique (I have not seen Penelope Cruz' or Maggie Gyllenhaal's performances)

Best Director - Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds

Best Original Screenplay - Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds (I have not seen The Messenger)

Best Adapted Screenplay - Nick Hornby - An Education (I have not seen In the Loop.)

I won't bore you with my picks for the remaining categories. But I usually do very well and get accused of cheating, even though there is no way to cheat. Unless you work for Ernst & Young. Which I don't.

And for the record to all my critics (you know who you are!) I have not even picked up an Entertainment Weekly magazine in well over a year.

Best Picture Nominees

Dan and I always try to see all of the Oscar-nominated films before the Oscar telecast. Imagine our delight when AMC started offering a Best Picture Showcase package a few years ago! We were able to see all 5 Best Picture Nominees in one day for a reduced price, plus unlimited popcorn. It was perfect for us!

This year, however, a wrench was thrown into our plans. They decided to nominated 10 pictures this year to help boost the ratings. This is sooooo stupid on so many levels, but I won't get into that here.
The major problem for us personally, was that the Best Picture Showcase would be split between 2 Saturdays. That meant that we would need to get babysitters for 2 whole weekend days. That's a lot to ask.
Fortunately, my mom and step-father were more than happy to watch Eva for the first Saturday (and even watched her overnight - yay!) and my dad and step-mother were glad to watch Eva on the second Saturday (we didn't need them to watch her overnight, but I'm sure they would have.) We are so lucky to have them!!! Thanks Dad, Rose, Mom and Shelly!

The first Saturday, the lineup was:
  • Avatar
  • Up In The Air (which we had already seen, so we went for lunch and to see Eva during this one.)
  • Precious
  • The Blind Side
  • Inglourious Basterds (Dan had already seen this one, so he skipped it.)
Here is the lineup for the second Saturday:
  • Up (which we had already seen, so we skipped it)
  • A Serious Man
  • The Hurt Locker
  • An Education
  • District 9 (we saw this one, too, so we were able to skip it.)
So, without further ado, and if you even care, here are my reviews of the Best Picture nominees. Ranked from 10 down to 1 - - #1 is the film I felt was most Oscar-worthy.

10 - The Blind Side: I’m not really sure what this movie is doing as a Best Picture nominee. It definitely wouldn’t have made it if there were only 5 nominees. It’s a good movie. I love true stories and this is at least an uplifting one. And Sandra Bullock is deserving of her Oscar nomination. But, a Best Picture nominee? No. Just, no. Outside of the Oscar Race (OOR) I would give this film a B-.

9 - District 9: I have no idea what this one is doing on the list, either. No idea. I mean, yes. It is a good movie. It was non-formulaic (always a plus in my book.) It was an escape. But… it’s sci-fi. I love a good sci-fi movie, and yes, Avatar could be considered sci-fi as well (but more sci-fi for the masses), however District 9 is not Oscar worthy. OOR Grade= B+

8 - Avatar: pretty awesome movie (especially in 3D) up until the last half hour, where it became absolutely predictable and cliché. But for whatever reason, the Academy loves pictures like this, and I'm guessing this one will win. OOR Grade= C

7 - The Hurt Locker: I do appreciate a realistic look into the war in Iraq. There isn’t much of a story here, though. That’s what is disappointing. The acting is great, the subject matter is interesting, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of story. Which is too bad. OOR Grade=C+

6 - Up In The Air: this movie would be nothing without George Clooney. I would have been thoroughly depressed and disappointed in this film if it weren’t for the charm of George. Not to say that the other actors weren’t any good. The two female leads are certainly worthy of their Oscar nominations and it’s always good to see J.K. Simmons in anything, but the movie would have been a complete downer without George. George. Oh, George. You’re just adorable. But still, OOR Grade=A. George Clooney is that good.

5 - Up: This is your typical Disney/Pixar film, and while I really did love it for what it is, it seems to be out of place in this Best Picture line up. If they had made a full movie about the first 20 minutes (the love story between Carl and Ellie) it would have been amazing. Of course, the whole theater would be sobbing like little babies, but it would be Oscar worthy and completely out of the box for Disney/Pixar. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Kevin, Dug and Russell, but movies like this are becoming a dime a dozen anymore. OOR Grade=A-

4 - Precious: Wow. This movie was tough. Tough to watch. Tough to digest. Tough to critique. This movie is dirty and gritty. It makes you angry. It makes you sad. It gives you small glimpses of hope and happiness, only to take them away almost immediately. It’s so far into realism that one gets incredibly uncomfortable. I can’t decide if this is the mark of an Oscar winning film, or if they’ve gone too far beyond what a movie should be. I have a feeling that this is a new era of realism in film. The Hurt Locker is part of this as well – and maybe even Up in the Air. I’m just not sure if I want that much realism in my movies. I use movies as entertainment. An escape from my own reality.
That being said, the actors in this movie are AMAZING. Even Mariah Carey. I can’t believe I said that.
And, if you’re a fan of Lenny Kravitz (or just like looking at him) he’s in it, too. OOR Grade = B+

3 - A Serious Man: The Coen Brothers have done it again: they’ve made a highly entertaining movie with a really great story, which ends abruptly with no conclusion. At least I didn’t leave the theater with the anger I had after No Country for Old Men. Maybe I’ve come to accept their style of movie making. At least it’s not predictable. Yet. OOR Grade=A-

2 - An Education: I fell in love with Peter Saarsgard and the girl who played Jenny almost instantly, and got swept up in their love story just like Jenny. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a cross between Audrey Tautou and a young pre-Scientology Katie Holmes – clever and cute and maybe a little precocious. You want to be her. I really enjoyed this movie (and enjoyed seeing many of my favorite British actors from all the Jane Austen movies that I watch repeatedly) and would rate it as one of my faves, but I’m just not sure it’s the winner for me. OOR Grade=A+

1 - Inglourious Basterds: Let me start by saying that I am a Quentin Tarantino fan from way back. I apparently have some screws loose and am a girl who not only loves Jane Austen, but also loves excessive violence, Tarantino-style. Now that I think about it, I don’t really like excessive violence in other movies. Just Tarantino movies. He does it in a funny way. Yep, I have some screws loose.
Anyway, back to the movie. This movie is awesome. I can’t even describe it. You just have to go see it. If you see any movie on this list, this should be the one. Does that mean it’s Oscar worthy? I would say it is. But I doubt that the Academy will tonight… :( OOR Grade: A+

I’d put money down on Avatar winning Best Picture. And I’d bet a little money on the side for Precious, because I like to gamble.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Google Analytics is Awesome

If you are a blogger and aren't utilizing Google Analytics, you are really missing out. Especially if you are a nerd like me and love charts, graphs and spreadsheets.

If you aren't familiar with Google Analytics, I'll tell you a little bit about it. It is a free service offered by Google (duh) and it analyzes all of the traffic on your site and presents it to you in an easy to read and understand format, using lots of charts and graphs (squee!). If you have multiple blogs, Etsy stores, etc. you can track them all in one simple place.

For example, I have all three of my blogs (Change is Good, La Petite LaPointe and CDEdesigns) and my Etsy store on my Google Analytics account. I can easily switch back and forth between all four website profiles to view their reports.

Setting up your Google Analytics is a little tricky -- I would say you need to be an intermediate level blogger. But using their basic setup is definitely on a beginner level.

Since I'm really starting to try to get the word out on my main blog and my Etsy site, one of the features of Google Analytics that I particularly find valuable is the "Traffic Sources" section. It tells me how people are getting to my site.
Currently, for this blog, 22.5% of my visits are from direct traffic, 77% have been from referring sites and .5% are from search engine searches. The majority of the referring site visits were from entering a linkup party such as A Soft Place to Land's DIY Day. In fact, 50% of my visits were from that particular linkup. (It helped that I was one of the first 50 people to linkup, so my entry didn't get too buried in all of the links.)
This information lets me know that there is value in these linkup parties. That they are worth the effort it took to make the post, add the links on my blog, and then post the link on the linkup party's blog. Which sometimes takes a great deal of time, especially when you have a 15 month old little one who demands your attention (and rightly so.)

One of the other really cool features of Google Analytics, is the Map Overlay. The Map Overlay shows you how many people have visited your site from around the world. Currently, on this blog, I have received visits from the following:
United States 372
Canada 10
Australia 2
New Zealand 1
Philippines 1
Spain 1
Japan 1

I am fascinated by all of this information, and slightly obsessed with checking my analysis every morning. :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Goodwill/Target Toy Bench Makeover

Back in December, my husband and I were looking for a toybox for Eva for a Christmas present. We both really wanted something in wood, with seating on top. Something like we both had as kids. The only ones like this that we were able to find were WAY too expensive for us. We're still looking for one. Hopefully we'll find one by next Christmas!

In the meantime, I needed something to help control the clutter of all of Eva's new toys from her birthday and Christmas.
I found this Circo Storage Bench at our local Goodwill. Our Goodwill always has tons of awesome new items from Target. Some items are overpriced, and some are not. This was probably a little more than I would normally spend for something at Goodwill ($29.99), but I got it anyway. (Original Target price is $89.99)
I like it because Eva can open and close the drawers without pinching her little fingers.

The box had been opened, but it didn't look like anything had been removed from it. The pieces for the bench were still wrapped in plastic and packed in styrofoam. I also made sure to check that the screws, etc. were in there. Goodwill does not accept returns and does not guarantee that the items from Target are complete.

So, we got a little busy in December and the storage bench remained in the back of our Jeep until the beginning of January. My husband finally brought it inside and we started to put it together. Only to find that the screws were not in the box. But I swore I checked for them! I kept looking in the box and looked all around the house - - they were nowhere to be found. I was so disappointed.

We called Circo and they were able to send the parts to us - - not a problem at all. It took about a week or so to receive it, and then we finally assembled the bench.

Meanwhile, I had purchased fabric to cover the seat and new storage cube drawers to help make the bench a little less boring. Navy blue was just way too serious for me.
I bought some really cute Heidi Grace fabric from JoAnn (on sale, of course). I waited until the drawers went on sale at Target ($5/each) and bought a color that matched the fabric.

I asked my mom to make the cushion cover for me, and she said she would, but that it would have to wait until after Valentine's Day (since she had 2 parties planned that weekend.)

I would have just done it myself, but I don't know how to use a sewing machine. It's just something I have never been able to "get." 8th Grade Home Economics was the only time I ever cheated in school. Seriously. I had one of my classmates sew my bermuda shorts for me. (Actually, they were "jams." Remember those?)

ANYWAY, back to the story. If you're even still reading this. This turned out a lot longer than I had planned...

After Valentine's Day, my mom had time to turn her attention to the project, and somehow it was decided that it was time that I learn how to sew.

My mom showed me the basics on a few little scraps of fabric, then left me on my own to experiment and learn by doing. She went off to choir practice, and by the time she came back, I had made a little tote bag for Eva and a cell phone bag. Then I made a pillow using some other adorable Heidi Grace fabric. (See pink pillow in the pictures below.)

Now, for some crazy reason, I felt I was ready to tackle the task of covering the seat cushion.

With MUCH, MUCH help from my mom, a ton of math and lots of ironing, I made a very nice removable cover for the seat cushion. It even has velcro on it. I did all of the sewing myself, on a machine, and I am so proud of myself. :)

What do you think?

I am so pleased with the results and feel like the makeover makes this much better suited for a little girl's playroom than the original did.

Breakdown of costs of project:
$29.99 for the bench
$10.00 (approximately) for the fabric
$10.00 for the drawers


Not exactly a bargain, but it's still cheaper than the original price at Target for the bench and I've customized it in a style I like.

I can't wait to do some more sewing. I have a ton of projects lined up in my mind!

Oh, and the screws for the storage bench? I found them in the back of our Jeep last week. They must have fallen out of the box when Dan pulled it out. I'm NOT crazy after all! (Well, just concerning the screws for the bench. The jury is still out on my sanity in general.)

I'm participating in Kimba's DIY Day, Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party and Twice Remembered's Make Your Monday.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

2009 in Review - July

I've had this post almost-ready-to-go for a few weeks now. I'm just going to go ahead and publish it now and hopefully add my text to it later. And I rrreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllyyyyyyyyy want to finish up my year in review, for my own sake (it was an interesting year and I don't want to forget it.) So I'll get back to it at some point. I just don't want it to keep me from posting current stuff, so forgive me if August - December gets posted sporadically.