Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY - Window Panels

These are the easiest panels for someone in need of a dark room at night.
It's a very easy project that can be done in under one day - except if, like me, you have a baby and need to stop often to care for your little one. Luckily, I had a great husband that was able to watch her so I could complete this almost uninterrupted.

Window Panel

What you need:

- Fabric (yardage depends on your window size, but I had bought my fabric a long time ago and was able to work with my 6 yards. Also, remember to account for the repeat).
- Black-out lining (again, yardage depends on your window size. I had 6 yards)
- Scissors
- Ruler (L or T shape is better to square the fabric)
- Chalk
- Thread
- Pins
- Sewing machine
- Curtain rod (I used a tension rod since at out rental I can't drill holes on the window walls)

I started by measuring my windows and making a little sketch.

Sketch and notes are very helpful

With my measurements I planned to add 2" on each side, so I can press 1" and then another 1". I added 4" to the hem to have a 2" finished hem (press2", then press 2" - to save fabric, you can instead press 1/2", then press 2"). Lastly, for the top pocket (where the rod will be inserted) I added 3" for a 3/4 rod, so I would have 1 1/2" pocket. You can make that bigger if you prefer, especially if you are going to open and close the panel a lot, so it's easier to slide.

For the black-out lining, I cut it to the finish size, because the lining will fit inside the pressed folds and there is no need for extra bulk. For the ties I cut 2 pieces at 5" wide by 24" long. (I just used the scraps from the sides of my fabric.

My cutting table was filled with other projects, so I went ahead and cut the fabric on the floor.
If you are making more than one panel, you might consider the repeat of your printed fabric. The repeat can be a small one like 1/2" apart or a large one that might measure 36" apart. It all depends on the print you pick. I measured my fabric, then I had to skip a whole 22" to get the same bottom for my other panel. This way my panels will be even when set next to each other. It is a good idea to get some extra yardage when buying your fabric to account for the repeat.
After, measuring and cutting my fabric, I pressed it and then pinned it with the lining inside. Just be careful where you pin the lining since black-out creates a hole where it is pinned. I just pinned it where it was going to be inside the panel folds. You can use a ruler to help you press the hem and side seams all at the same size.

Pressing, steaming and pinning are your best tools!

Prepare to pin a lot. The black-out lining does not stretch as much the outer fabric while going through the sewing machine feeder. I originally pinned the sides at about 12" apart and then while sewing I added more pins as I went at about 3"-4" apart.

Here, the lining is placed inside the panel to be pinned. The sided will be folded 1", then another 1" hiding the lining's raw edges. The hem is folded 2" then another 2". This way, there is no extra bulk.

Pinned and ready to be stitched! Remember to just pin the lining where the outer fabric will cover, to hide holes created by the pins.

Here is a better view of everything pinned together. The top is left open because it will be the last thing to be sewn.

You can see over the pins (just slow down when you get close to it) and occasionally break a needle as I did or you can remove the pins as you sew.
Sew the sides first, then the hem. Lastly, sew the top pocket, but don't close the ends - that's where the rod will go.

Make sure to hold the fabric tight and to sew fairly slow. This will help to avoid broken needles and puckered seams.

For the ties, fold the 24"x5" fabric inside out, so it becomes a 24"x2.5" piece. Sew along one end and the long side with a 1/2" seam allowance. Trim corner, then trim seam allowance to 1/4". Pull the fabric out to get the right side to show.

One tie done, another one to go. Cutting the corner and the seam to 1/4" helps get rid of bulk and give a crispier look.

You can use a wooden spoon or just your fingers. I also used a T-pin to pull the corners out after I reversed it. Press it so it lays flat. Now, fold 1/2" in on the open side to close the tie and top stitch it. Fold the tie in half - this time lengthwise. See a button hole with the two ends touching, so they are attached and then you have a hole to hang the ties.

Well, that's it. You just made a panel. Just hang it up, after sliding the rod through the 1 1/2 pocket. Enjoy your nice dark room!

Hang and enjoy! I think I am ready for a nap!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry for my late post, but I wanted to wish you all a happy -belated- Thanksgiving!
Zoe's first Thanksgiving

I had decided to not go shopping on Black Friday since my experience in retail makes me well aware of the crazies out on the streets on that day. Also, there is nothing really that I need so I know I will spend on unnecessary items. However, laying in bed yesterday morning I see an ad for Macy's Black Friday specials and since there is one a block away from my place I ended up stopping by with my 'Oops! Sorry sales attendants, I know you could do without me, but I promise I am a civilized shopper' face.
In spite of my aversion to Black Fridays, I ended up finding some great deals.
What about you all? Did you do to any crazy midnight shopping?
Some sparkles for me
I found these pants for $4.99 and it worked great with a tee she  already had.

...and after all that turkey, what is there to do?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall, birthday boy, and some deliciously simple carrot cake

It is Fall! The leaves are changing and the temperature dropping. I know this is a lot of people's favorite season -- not mine, mine is Summer if you ask me. However, this past week I realized how I take it for granted the beauty of Fall. It's been 7 years since I moved to the States and I quickly forgot or got too used to the great spectacle of Autumn. So much color. I had friends over from Brazil and they wanted to take photos of the amazing colored trees. My friend said to me: "it is so much color; green, yellow, orange, red, purple, brown." I realized I never really stop to appreciate Fall because I am too consumed with getting sad that Summer is over.
Is during Fall also that I celebrate the birth of one of the most important person in my life: my best friend, my soul mate, and my love. His birthday was this weekend, so we took off for a fishing trip (fishing for him, shopping for me and little Z).
My husband's favorite cake is carrot cake, so I made this recipe for his birthday with some minor changes.
Instead of the 1 1/2 cup of oil, I just added 1 cup and then I added 1 small can of pineapple chunks, a small box of raisins, and about 1/3 cup of chopped walnut. For the icing, I wasn't sure how much was the amount of the sugar in the box for that recipe, so I just added about 1/4 bag. It was deliciously simple as the name says.
What is your favorite Fall thing to do?

The fishermen in his natural habitat (in Branson, MO) and lots of fall foliage (at the Arch Park)
Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Friday, October 12, 2012

Nursery decoration and a happy environment

I still feel that I need to do a lot on her room. I had so many pins on inspirations for Zoe's room and in the end I still didn't do half of what I had envisioned.
In the meantime, I couldn't paint or put wallpaper since we rent, but I was able to put up some maps and fun papers up. Zoe loves to look at her inspiration wall and we talk about all the places she's been or will be while looking at her maps.
Here are some tips for a fun, happy environment for your little one: 
An inspiration wall
A mobile they will love
Great morning light

And HANDS! Those are fascinating little things, don't you think?
And they are yummy too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Routine and more.

Zoe - 3 months
So, It's been 3 months already! Crazy how time flies! Our little baby is not little anymore -- Justin said this morning. It is true, she is getting so big, so fast, but now is a lot more fun too. Zoe loves talking and she can go on on her cooing for a long time. She smiles a lot too which is great and she also tries to laugh. It is so funny. I don't have a lot of toys for her and I don't want to overwhelm her with all those colors and noises from those activity centers. She really loves looking at faces and we take her often on walks on the park so she can see nature and hear different noises.

This past month Zoe flew on a plane, had a blast in Maryland with her aunts, uncles, and cousins, and she also went on a boat ride. She is so busy this little girl.

1st plane ride

Boat ride
Enjoying nature in MD

Working out - morning routine
Throughout the week we keep busy by going to the gym every morning. While mommy sweats, Zoe sleeps, wakes up, and then waits for me patiently. I like to go in the morning to get it out of the way or else I won't work out. Also, right after her first feed and after a little awake time it is when she takes her longest nap, which gives me time to work out, shower and eat when I get back before she has to feed again. I am not very strict with routines but this morning schedule works very well for us.
What about your routine?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Life changes.. (new baby, move and everything else).

Wow! Once again, it's been a while. I will really try to commit on writing more often this time, but you know, I just had a baby. Well, it was 2 and a half months ago, so life is pretty crazy. I can't complaint though. Little Zoe is already sleeping through the night. Yeah!!! She is such a good girl and she gives me so much joy. I never thought I would feel so good as a mother.
Zoe already did so much in her life: We have moved from Columbus, OH to St. Louis, MO, traveled by train to Chicago, IL, gone to Kansas City, MO, visited Springfield, IL. Also, she often go out with us to restaurants, art museums, parks and even the Zoo. That is a lot for a 2 month old baby, but she does it so well.
Now we are learning to fall on a good eat, play, sleep schedule. I can't wait to see her doing things like crawling, talking, laughing, but it is kind of sad how fast she is growing. I don't have that tiny little baby we left the hospital with anymore. She is filling up, but that's all good because she is a healthy happy little girl. And, Oh my! She is so pretty! -- ok, you can tell I am the mother -- ahem..
Well, I'll leave you to that.. I am going to work on a raspberry jam now and will post about it later.
Me about to pop at 8 1/2 months

Zoe - 2 weeks old, sleeping in mommy's arms

 2 weeks old

1 month old

2 months old

 She is just so pretty!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Big News - Small happenings

Yes, we are expecting our first little one!!! This is week 17 of baby Sutters and I am thankful for many things during this first 4 months:
I am thankful for my husband who makes me fresh squeezed OJ every morning and is always taking care of me. (Love!)
I am thankful that I did not get morning sickness (except during weeks 11 and 12 that I felt a little nauseous).
I am thankful for water (plain, room temp water or a nice cold bottle of Perrier or Pelegrino).
I am thankful for the internet and all the information I can access about pregnancy (since both of us lost our mothers and feel a little lost during this first time run).
I am thankful for days-off (as mentioned in previous posts)

On a random note I made this delicious banana and doce de leite pie (or as you might know dulce de leche). I followed this recipe:

PS: I did make a slight change on mine, since I was afraid a whole can of doce de leite would leave it too sweet. I used a little more than half can of doce de leite then I added half prepared box of french vanilla flan, which is about 1 cup. All the rest is the same. Yummy!

Happy weekend!!!