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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Heart Pillow

Let me start this by saying if it was up to me this pillow would have never happened. While figuring out our next craft day, I showed Katie this heart pillow tutorial I had pinned forever ago. After reading it, I said it was too advanced but Katie said we were going to do it. Well folks, she has greater confidence in our sewing ability than I do but thank goodness she did or 3 of us wouldn't have fabulous heart pillows!

I won't lie to you... it was quite a challenge while making it but now I think it would be easier to do a second time. But I'm not making another one anytime soon :)

Great addition to our kivik

We followed the tutorial by Noodlehead but I wanted to provide some tips and lessons learned:

  • I didn't want a 20x20 pillow so I sized down the template for a 17x17 pillow (use photoshop or a copier) and made my own pillow form using muslin and polyfill - cheap and pretty quick 

  • Feel free to go outside of the traditional look if you want. Katie did her heart in purple and background fabric in gray.

  • Don't be confused when the two templates you cut out don't fit inside each other. They won't and somehow by accounting for seam allowance and how its sewn together, it will just work, trust me. Maybe someone more advanced can explain how this really works out. Also double check what you are doing before you cut your templates because it's not entirely clear.

  • The hardest part the only really hard part is the two times you sew a red heart half to a front background half. You can't pin the pieces which was super hard for my always pin-happy self. Go pretty slow so you can guide the curves easier.

  • When you don't make it all the way to the end of the background fabric curve on one or both heart halves you can adjust and line it all up when you do the middle heart seam... that is why it's important to leave a little extra fabric on the top, bottom, and outer edge (side away from the curve you are sewing on) on your two background cut outs.

  • If you are worried about your heart halves not lining up perfectly when you sew them together just be prepared because it will happen. It happened to all 3 of us doing this project and even happened another time when one redid theirs but it did make it better. Mine only ended up being barely off at the bottom (lots of pinning helped!). A background fabric with some pattern to it like mine will help... it is more noticeable on a solid background. Also being off at the bottom of the heart is less noticeable than being off at the top.

  • I didn't line my front background fabric like she did because it didn't really need it... unless you were using a thin white fabric, then line it.

  • If you are more comfortable using an envelope closure for the back or don't feel like buying a zipper you can do that instead. For my 17x17 finished pillow I cut both pieces 11x18 to account for seam allowance. You want to make sure you have at least 3 inches of overlap and I accounted for 4 due to my pillow being a little more fully stuffed. 

I really heart this pillow (ha!) even more in person than when I looked at the pictures in the tutorial.

We decided it would be fun to do other seasonal pillow covers to swap out for this pillow so perhaps that will be a future craft day!

Have you attempted a rather challenging sewing project or craft lately? I am so happy we did and my pillow is living proof! (And yes as you can see below I am having tons of fun experimenting shooting in manual!)

Linking up at these fun parties

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Update on the Home Front

Our lovely home has been on the market for a few months now and we have had a good bit of showings but no offers yet. It's just a matter of someone coming along and loving it as much as we do... we want the next owners to enjoy living in it as much as we have! I guess it would be like giving away your dog's puppies and wanting them to go to a good family not that I've ever been in that situation but I can imagine that is what it must be like :)

I can say we have probably cleaned the house more times in the past few months than in the whole time we have lived here haha. It's really mostly a lot of keeping all surfaces free of anything on them which is something most people don't do. No pan left drying out in the kitchen. No glass left on the coffee table. No lotion or toothbrush left out on the bathroom counter. No pile of clothes out ready to go into the washing machine or a clean pile ready to be folded. Etc etc. When you sell a house and want it to show well you become conscious of these things! I'm sure if kids are thrown into the mix you have to let some of that go. 

Meanwhile, our new home is coming along. 

The framing is now fully complete. These pictures were taken over a week ago when they were pretty close to being done with framing. It's so much fun seeing it go up step by step. We are trying to visit it at least once a week to take lots of pictures. We found that especially helpful in our current house when wanting to tackle a DIY project and wondering what the pipes looked like behind a wall or where studs were. 

That's Eric in the garage and me in the kitchen... pretty typical.

So that is what is happening regarding LaForce house updates. Please pray for us as we hope to sell our current home soon and for patience as we will have a very busy spring with lots of unknown dates at this point. We have an open house this Sunday too... I'm baking right before so the house smells like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, oh and those that come can eat them too. Maybe the key to someones home decision will be through their stomach!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lights. Camera. Manual.

I took a photography class last Saturday from my super talented friend Brittany of Brittany Lauren Photography. Brittany specializes in newborns, high school seniors, couples and families. We used to work together before she decided to pursue her passion for photography and start her own business in NYC... so proud of her! Go check out her website!

The 5 hour class, Lights. Camera. Manual. was offered in Rock Hill, where Brittany grew up, to raise money for her friend Melissa's adoption. Melissa and her husband are adopting from Uganda. Melissa, a graphic designer, was there the day of the class and had made a little personalized gift for everyone, personalized our water bottles, and made the yummy food. Yall know how I just swoon over anything Clemson!

The class was small - 9 ladies - which I absolutely loved. Nothing like lots of one on one attention from the instructor!

The main purpose of the class was to teach everyone to shoot in Manual mode. Of course to do that you need to understand the basics so you know what to adjust when and how much. I had a pretty good understanding of the basics and mostly have been shooting in Aperture mode but didn't know how to shoot in manual mode.

Here are just some of the things we learned:
  • How aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together
  • Basics of what those components min's and max's should be in different situations
  • Shooting in manual mode - adjusting the components until you are balanced
  • How to read adjust the settings while looking in the viewfinder 
  • Lighting
  • How to light meter and when to do this
  • Using Focal points
  • When to use Manual vs. using Aperture or Shutter priority
  • How to read the histogram and when it is and isn't important to look at it
  • Other tricks, tips and effects
Everyone took a before picture using their current photography knowledge and then an after picture at the end of the class. My before was in aperture priority and my after was in manual mode. I love seeing the difference!

Another before and after by utilizing light metering to expose for the flower.

A couple more shots from the day are below. We did most of the hands on portion outside because let's face it outdoor pictures usually look better than indoors... gotta love natural light!

Brittany answered our questions throughout the whole day easily in such a small group.

All the fun attendees and their cameras with Brittany and Melissa. Everyone was so friendly and helped each other out. Photo courtesy of Brittany.

For anyone who is wondering I have a Nikon D3100 and LOVE it! It's not professional level but it's a great DSLR for my needs right now. I learned so much at this class in just a few hours and cannot wait to shoot in manual mode now that I know how! Hopefully Brittany decides to do some future classes so I can continue to learn and improve :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Christmas in FL

We spent Christmas in Florida with my family before going on a New Year's cruise which will require many blog posts in the future.

We celebrated Christmas on the day after with a Christmas dinner including my godmother and my best friend Emily.

Turkey turkey turkey. Free turkey from Publix to be exact. My mom (and many many others I'd imagine) got a free turkey for getting a flu shot there. Preeeeetty nice deal.

This was my granny's roll recipe. Mom did a great job, they tasted just like hers!

The dessert I personally requested.... pecan pie! Delicious!

Besties... Em and Em

Glad I got to enjoy a Christmas tree and have it actually feel like Christmas since we didn't decorate.

The rest of the days before the cruise I spent time relaxing, shopping with mom, having a fun day with Emily, and a few trips to good ole Publix :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

3rd annual gingerbread house making party

A couple weeks before Christmas we had friends over to eat, drink and build gingerbread houses! We love hosting this party each year and this year was no exception. Check out year 1 and year 2.

Here are a few shots from the party.

Some of the snacks and desserts

Making the cement icing

And now for some of the houses. Eric and I did a church complete with a little cemetery and big cross atop the church.

Another great year with friends!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vegetable Tian

I pinned this on pinterest a long time ago and found the perfect occasion to try it out.. this year's Thanksmas! It's very colorful, the picture taken with my phone doesn't really do it justice. It was relatively easy to make the morning of - just some chopping. I doubled the recipe and made it in my 9x13 but the instructions below are not doubled.

Vegetable Tian
By Budget Bytes, serves 6

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 med yellow onion
-1 tsp minced garlic
-1 med zucchini
-1 med yellow squash
-1 med potato
-1 med tomato
-1 tsp dried thyme
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup shredded italian cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Finely dice onion and mince garlic. Saute both in skillet with olive oil until softened. Thinly slice the rest of the vegetables. Spray inside of 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.

Spread onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place sliced vegetables in the dish vertically in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

This turned out to be delicious and a great side to have at Thanksgiving. It was quite juicy which is normal with that many baked vegetables (especially tomato) so if I could figure out a way for it to have less juices next time or a way to drain them off it would be even better!

Linking up at these fun parties

Friday, January 4, 2013

LaForce Likes #29

I saw these awesome Bottle Brush Trees and these immediately went on my craft list aka Pinterest Christmas Crafts Board for next year. How fun!

These would be great to get together with a couple of people and do a few sets of them together while you are doing the dye and such and split those costs even.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Keith's grad party

The Friday before Christmas we visited Columbia for the second time in a month (see Thanksmas for the first visit) to celebrate Keith graduating with his MBA from the school that must not be named... just kidding, but seriously Keith I might just tell people you got your MBA from somewhere else. It's all about pride!

Here are some photos from the party. Megan had dinner food catered. The cake was from Chocolate Nirvana in Columbia and the name really says it all.

Congrats Keith!
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