Thursday, December 13, 2012

- Christmas-ified

This year I really made up for the fact that I hadn't decorated for Christmas in 2 years and decorated all of the things.

Technically it started with this new fabric because I found it forever ago but time had not lessened my desire for it.  So I bought it and made new pillows.
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It's the floral print.
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Emma's chair got some love too.

And the color palette dictated the colors I used everywhere, like the table:
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I was also very into glittery branches this year.  And not finishing my dining room chair covers because they're too hard and I'm bad at sewing even though I'm actually kind of decent.

As you can see in the background, the little dresser got moved into the dining room to make way for the tree, which I will wax poetic about in a lil bit.
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And I guess I've really missed the glow of Christmas lights the most...because I put them EVERYWHERE. Of course I found this garland on Pinterest where you tie pieces of ribbon around strands of lights and I was all "OMG I want that".  So I found ribbon in colors that matched my new fabric and made lots and lots of garland because I do what I want.
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Extra credit: did you notice I wrapped my storage boxes in some really awesome embossed paper?

And once there was a strand of it over the TV, well then it only made sense for there to be one over the desk.
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Sidenote, because I don't have enought glittery things elsewhere, I whipped up this artwork for the desk.  I'm still finding glitter and sequins places.
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I'm also really into antlers this year apparently.

And then this mirror needed some jazzing up too...
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And then I found a strand of lights with white wires so I put that over the headboard in my bed so I can have some glow in there too.  If you don't think that I'll leave those up year round then you don't really know me at all.  I used another strand to light an old school ceremic Christmas tree that I got from my Mamaw two years ago.  She didn't have any of the light bulbs for it, but luckily there's this thing called Ebay - and they did.  In colors that match my room pretty darn well:
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I got one dove as a bonus in my order.

And then there was the real Christmas tree.

The tree.  Y'all it nearly broke my heart to even look at artificial trees.  I mean...they're artificial.  A lot of my Christmas spirit is tied to picking out a live tree at the Farmer's Market from my favorite farm in Sparta.  But that was how I did it when I was in NC.  And I don't know if you've heard yet, but I don't live there anymore.

Plus, my apartment complex, and most of the ones in Minneapolis, don't allow live trees.  Because of the fire hazard.  If you don't picture me telling you that with the biggest Liz Lemon eye roll in the world then you're doing it wrong.  That is seriously the lamest of the lame.  Since I'm pretty choosey about the rules I break, I decided that my love for having some kind of tree to cover in lights and ornaments outweighed my love for having that tree be alive.

So I started looking at fake trees.  And aside from the complete and utter sticker shock of it all...y'all most of those things are just ridiculously ugly.  I know it's a fake tree and all, but does it have to look so, I don't know...fake?  I looked at all of the fake trees everywhere that sold fake trees.  And what I decided was that I wasn't going to pay more than a $100 for a tree that was FAKE.  Also - I get that Americans are lazy, but I had NO DESIRE whatsoever to get a prelit tree.  Because they NEVER have enough lights on them.  450 lights on a 7.5 foot tree is pretty much a crime against nature.  I finally landed on this bad boy (except in a 7.5 foot version) at Target and I don't really even know why I ever even looked anywhere else because I buy everything at Target anyway.  On Black Friday he was marked down to $90, so I bought him.  Then on Monday I was in Target and happened to find myself in the Christmas section when I saw that he'd taken a further price cut and was now $80.  I went to customer service and found out that at the holidays Target has a price match policy - so if they or a competitor mark an item down within (I think) 30 days of you buying it, they will refund you the difference.  Getting a deal on him kind of made me like him more.  Until I took him out of the box and saw this:
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He almost went back in the box.  I was seriously doubtful that even with my mad skills I could fluff that baby into something acceptable.

But I was wrong.  Just this one time.  I guess if you put 800 lights and a ridiculous amount of glittery ornaments on something, anything can look like a pretty darn good Christmas tree.
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He rocks out in any lighting.

He's a keeper.  You know, until I move somewhere else where I can have a live tree.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

- Winter Wonderland

Today we had our first significant snow event in the Minnie.  It started right around midnight and it didn't stop until around 6pm.
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Early this morning, when I woke up like a little kid on Christmas to see had happened while I was asleep...
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Snowfall throughout the day.

Emma and I have gone out just once.  I think that this kind of weather is best experienced cuddled up on the couch watching seasonal movies in between watching the flakes fall.  Although, the way snow drifts on tree branches is one of the prettiest parts.
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Emma is not a very big fan of this much snow, and I don't really blame her.  With her short little legs she basically has to swim to get anywhere.  She managed to find a line of uncovered ground under a row of bushes...but then there was an avalanche of sorts, and I took this as I was carrying her back inside. 
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Snow is one of the best backdrops for a black dog.

Coincidentally, as the snow was starting here, Jaclyn and Matt were headed to he hospital for the arrival of their new baby girl.  She is absolutely perfect and I can't wait to meet her and spend time with my favoritest family of four.  It's a day that would be filled with magic regardless, but coupled with the snow, it's been emotionally wondrous and festive.
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

- Thankful

On Monday night I wrote:

My brotard (Aaronus) used to write songs and play music.  On his mandolin.  Or keyboard.  Some were about kidney stones and ridiculous toes, and some weren't.  He still jams out occasionally but once I asked him why he doesn't write and sing songs anymore.  He said it was because he was happy and in love.  It's easier to write songs when you're tormented and dark and twisty.

Writing is the complete opposite for me.  If I'm not incandescently happy with my life, I feel weird writing about it here.  I feel like if you know me in the slightest, it will be too easy to see the cracks in the facade.

So, I don't write.  Or eat much more than ramen.  Or make my bed even though the sheets are clean.  Or check Facebook.  Or Twitter.  Or Instagram.  And "Carolina In My Mind" comes on my Pandora station while I'm working on a craft project and I find myself sitting on the floor no longer glue gunning, but crying instead.  Because I'm so far into my head and my own crappy thoughts that the only way out is through a river of tears.

Since I moved to Minneapolis I know there has been a hole in my heart.  I haven't tried to hide that.  But the other parts of me have been so full that it is easier to ignore.  Lately though, the things that are missing in my life have gone from being barely noticeable, like a picture absent from a locket, to a gaping black hole of nothingness.  A void so oppressive that I sometimes fear it will disengage its jaws and swallow me whole.  

And I wonder if I ever felt like this in Raleigh.  I know there were some low points but maybe you never remember quite how low they were until you're feeling them again.  It's always easier to remember the good and forget the bad.  All I know is that there is a very big part of me that wants to go home for Christmas...

And never come back.

But really, this is all terribly dramatic.  I'm fine. I will be fine.  I will realize that this is ridiculous and I have far too few reasons to feel like this.  I will start to re-focus on the things that I do have in my life, and am lucky to have - rather than focusing on all of the things that are missing.  And one day, sooner than I think, I will start to hope again that those things that are missing will find their way into my life.  Unfortunately, that day is not today.  Today I'm a little bit broken.  

On Tuesday I woke up feeling not much better than I had Monday night.  I hadn't intended to publish what I wrote, but I just needed to get it out of me.  I needed to let the bad out so that some good might have hope of finding it's way in.  And then I got a text from The Drew saying that he was in town and wondering if I had time to hang out.  At first I was hesitant because I was in such a sad state I knew I would be sorry company, but I couldn't ignore the cosmic interference of it all.  Not 12 hours before I was pouring out my heart about how utterly alone I felt, and all of the sudden there was a good friend asking to see me.  So, I went.  And it healed me.  Never underestimate the power of open conversation with a good friend.  As we sat there commiserating and laughing and talking about everything and nothing I could literally feel some of pieces fitting back together.

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling like a much better version of myself.  Feeling normal.  It helped knowing that in a few short hours I would be on the way to Omaha to spend Thanksgiving with Liz.  More time in the company of another good friend.  More time to heal.  More time to bounce back.

Today I am thankful.  Thankful that I have such wonderful friends and family in my life.  I am thankful for that every day, but some days it is harder to realize before other distractions press their way in.  This week has taught me how important my loved ones are in keeping myself whole.  And I don't intend to forget that again anytime soon.

Monday, November 5, 2012

- The OG

For all you hoodrats out there I'm not talking about the "Original Gangster" - this title refers to the Original Garland I made for my fall decor.  It was all inspired by this wreath that I found on (waitforit) Pinterest.  But, I already had a fall wreath, that I liked quite a bit...
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Since I really loved the idea of the leaves, I decided I would try to make a garland replicating that shape that I could hang on the shelves over my TV and desk area.

When I went to Hancock Fabrics - the nearest craft store - I quickly realized that I wasn't going to find the felt colors that I wanted.  So, I went rogue and picked some fabrics that I thought would work well with my fall color palette.  Since I was already complicating things by choosing fabric over felt, I basically decided to embark upon making this garland as complicated as possible.

I started with tracing leaf shapes onto the wrong side of one fabric.
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Then I cut those leaves out, and glued them another piece of material.  Because my leaves were too special to have the same fabric on both sides.  Notice that I did not try to dumb down my leaf shapes.  No way jose.  I picked the most detailed shapes I could find on the interwebs because I like things good and intricate.
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Just to reiterate, under this system, I cut the 30 leaf outlines...twice.  Talk about a raging case of claw hand.

Oh you think those leaves are done?  Didn't you know that leaves have veins?  Veins that I decided to incorporate by hand stitching them on with embroidery thread.
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Of course, after all this, I realized that the garland as I'd designed it wasn't going to hang the way I wanted it to.  So, this is what I came up with to try to mimic a swag like shape without spending any more time working on the garland.
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Notice the new Emma bookends I found on sale at Tar-jay.  Five dolla holla!
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Last night while I was taking down my Halloween specific decorations and putting up the new-old leaf garland I stumbled across all of the leftover fabric I used on the project.  Then I found another bag with a few pieces of leftover felt from when I made the Halloween garland.  I also had this old grapevine wreath.  It was the first fall-themed one that Mamsie and I ever made for my apartment in Raleigh.  But that was over 7 years ago and my aesthetic has changed quite a bit since then.  Since we had just hot glued the decorations on, they came off really easily and then I was left with this plain grapevine wreath that was in perfect shape...which took me back to my inspiration photo, and I realized...

I wanted another wreath.  

It was like a lightbulb went off when I came up with the idea to use the leftover fabric and felt to make more leaves for the wreath.  Although, it may come as no surprise that I wanted this to be simpler than the last time.  I like to become more efficient with my crafting.  This time, I started by tracing the shape onto the felt.  I chose my favorite shape and the one closest to the inspiration photo because I really wanted to keep that same look.
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Then I glued the fabric on top with Fabric Tac.  I would like to point out that in the process of making all these leaves I have now used an entire bottle of Fabric Tac - which is a pretty major crafting accomplishment.  Under this new system I only had to cut the leaf shape once for each one.  Which means that instead of working on this project over the course of a few days, I started and finished it in the same night.

It was also faster because I decided that these leaves didn't need veins.  The fabric kept them pretty enough.  Plus, I'm lazy, so there's that.
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Time to glue.

Wham, bam, thank you ma'am.
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Perfection.

I may or may not have opened my door a few times last night just to look at it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

- Homestead Happenings

I went home this past weekend for one last visit before I make my holiday pilgrimage in December.  It was glorious.  Why?  I'll show you...
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I ate these until I made myself sick on sugar.  Krispy Kreme doesn't exist in MN.  When Fahtar was all "You want that?  Man we got to go 15 miles into town to get them." I was all "15 miles?!  You want to know where the nearest one to me is?  267 miles away in WISCONSIN."  That settled that, and I finally satisfied my craving.  Their pumpkin spice donut is my new favorite thing.  The stomachache I got from eating 3 donuts in one day is my new least favorite thing.

True to my being home form, I wore pajamas for like two straight days.  Then, when I got back to the Minnie I pulled out my sweatshirt and it smelled like home.  It still kind of does.  I don't want to wash it because I don't want it to not smell like home.

It's where my heart is.

One of my favorite things to do while home is to roam the homestead.  Like our free range chickens.
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Those are the Americanas.  They are about one month from being mature enough to lay eggs, and when they do, their eggs will be a pretty blue-green color.  Those ladies were just little chicks when I saw them for the first time over the 4th of July.  The coolest thing about them though...is how prehistoric they look...
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Look at those cheek tuffs.

When you have this many chickens (with plans to get even more) not all of them get names.  Out of this flock of 8, I caught two completely appropriate names: Greybeard, who is shown here in the bottom right and Brownie, in the top left background
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Also pictured: Random Americana in the left forefront who photobombed my shot.

The coolest thing about these guys, by far, is the way they sound.  It's not the typical "bock bock bock" sound that our other chickens make and Tweety imitates.  It's this other noise that sounds like it's straight out of Jurassic Park:
Some of the louder sounds in there are me trying to get them to "talk".  Also in the background you can hear our rooster crow, because he's always crowing.  
Those are the other chickens, the first flock my mom got.  I believe she started with Jeff the crowmaster and 6 hens.  One died early on, 4 got carried off when a fox literally got into the henhouse, which just left one black hen who apparently hadn't ever laid an egg in her life and was clearly at the bottom of the pecking order - which is totally a real thing.  Then Mom got the two big white hens from someone else and Blackie apparently started laying eggs.  Mamsie let her sit on some and when one hatched...it was another rooster, Jeff Jr.
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Jeff - he's pretty but he is no where near nice.  He will come at you spurs first in the blink of an eye and Fahtar regularly has to use a garden rake to corral him from a safe distance.
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Jeff and 2 of his 3 women
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Baby rooster (Jeff Jr.) on the left, Jeff on the right.  White hen photobombing.  What is it with those hens getting up in my pictures?

If you think the chickens are the only thing "talking" at home - think again.  This is one of our outdoor tabby cats, Smudge.
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She's sweet and mews and likes for you to pet her.  The other one Smidge is a complete weirdo who also mews loudly at the front door, but when you come out she just runs away.  She's also really fat and will disappear for days.

Then there's Nina.  Old Neens.  A gigantic oaf of a barrel chested black lab who refuses to great you empty mouthed.  She brought me an empty canister of ant killer, and a small rotten tomato before I made her get her bone.  Not wanting to be left out, she will also "talk" to you in the form of this friendly growl she has.  
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Tweety, my resident cockatiel, also talks.  But he's pretty much useless and wouldn't let me photograph him - but there should be plenty of opportunities for that later.  He's moving to the Minnie with Emma and I after Christmas.  

Besides the animals, the garden is still going in full force.  On Sunday after Hurricane Sandy skirted through town Mom and I went out to there to "harvest".  They have anaheim peppers out of the wazoo so we picked some for dinner, collected the pecans that had fallen from both of our trees and gathered the eggs from the chicken coop.
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Then I went back inside to lay on the couch because chasing chickens for photographs is hard work, and I am after all, a "city girl". 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

- Halloweenie

Y'all, I don't know where the last month went.  All I know is I rocked it.  Or, I think I did...I can't really remember.  Where does the time go?

Anyways...even though I started talking about fall/Halloween decorating when last I wrote (which, again, was ALMOST a month ago...I have gotten really bad at this blogging thing), I just recently finished it.  And that happened mostly because I offered to host a going away party for a friend at my place, so it had to look presentable.

I got most of my decorating ideas from Pinterest.  (Insert sarcastic surprised expression here.)  Originally I thought I would decorate for fall, with some Halloween accent pieces that could be removed when November rolled around.  I made this fall leaf inspired garland to hang above my TV and over the desk area.  But after living with it a few days I decided I really wanted to just go all out with Halloween for now.  So I did, because I do what I want.  And I made a new banner...but don't worry, I worked way too hard on that leaf one for it not to show up in November.

Let's start with some wide shots of my space - here's the living room:
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There are lots of pumpkins in this picture - 9 to be exact.  But only 1 Emma.

And the flip side of that is the dining room/"office":
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Notice that my dining room chair covers didn't happen.  That project is like, really really hard you guys.   However, this look is just as bad so I need to do something soon.

This is the gallery wall across from the kitchen...and perhaps one of my favorite vignettes:
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Garland from the TV & desk area, bats, and spiderwebs inspired by this blog post 

Bats!  Bats!  Bats!  (That's for all you Weeds fans out there!)

I pretty much loved that blogger's festive style and decided I wanted some of it.  Or, pretty much all of it.  Her garland was so genius that I'm kind of mad I didn't think of it myself.  Plus, it is super easy and CHEAP because felt is almost free (30 cents a piece what what?!) at the craft store.  But, it did require cutting out lots and lots of circles.  And then some more circles.
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I watched TV while cutting so I didn't notice the fact that my hand had cramped into a claw shape...as much.

In addition to having lots of pumpkins everywhere, I also have lots of sparkly spiders.  There are green and blue ones in the kitchen climbing on things.  There are silver and pink ones on the dining room table - along with some festive taper candles I stumbled upon at Michael's 40% off.
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And there are orange ones in the desk area - which is where I got the most festive and even changed out the artwork.  The smaller spiderweb on the left is what inspired me to try it on the mirror on the gallery wall, because it just looked so darn cool.  And it was so darn easy.  Plus, it was another way to use some of the awesome yarn Kayla gave me for Christmas.  Yarn that I thought I lost shortly after Christmas.  But it turns out it just fell out of one of my bags when I was staying at Emily's and rolled under something, which is where she found it in May.  And then she told me about it a few weeks ago and it was like Christmas all over again to get that leftover yarn back.
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The orange picture on the shelf is a free printable that says: "Eat, drink and be scary" a la the famous "Keep calm and carry on" sign from England.  It has a little witch flying on a broomstick instead of the crown, and I kind of love this concept so much that I want to do one for every month of the year.  The bigger picture on the bottom was really hard to photograph without glare, but here's the best I could do:
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"Something wicked this way comes"

I also found that design on the interwebs and then I just traced that onto a bigger piece of craft foam and filled it in with glitter puffy paint.  It turned out way better than I ever thought it could, which is just a testament into how skilled I am with glitter puffy paint.  I can only attribute this talent to my Mamsie - who had me using puffy paint to trace and accent appliques that we ironed onto sweatshirts, at like the ripe age of 7.  That's 22 years I've been working with the puffy paint medium, and believe you me, I'm a pro.  This art is legit.

Welp.  That's how I decorated for Halloweenie this year.  Since "breaking the seal" of holiday decorating I don't know that there will ever be a time when I am not putting up some kind of holiday decoration.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

- In Progress

If ever I am in danger of realizing that it's been too long since I wrote something here - Jaclyn reminds me.  She acts like I have all of this super exciting stuff to write about all the time...but in reality my life of late is pretty boring.  I kept thinking I would have something to update peeps on because I kept thinking that I would start a project, and then finish it.  I mean, that's how projects are supposed to work.  But lately I've been starting something and making a huge mess to work on and then just...well...leaving it and the huge mess "in progress".

Like this sad attempt I started at making dining room chair covers.  2 weeks and this is as far as I've gotten:
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In my defense, it took a really long time to get the curve of the back of the chair right.  And I sort of lost my steam after that.  But, I firmly believe that if I could just get started again, I could power through them.  After all the first one should be the hardest.  Right?  RIGHT?

Because I plan to use all four parsons chairs at the table, that meant I needed a new desk chair.  I did manage to buy one from Ikea and put it together and place it at my desk.
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Voila!

My redecoration of the living room is also in progress.  I kind of got tired of the yellow, pink, grey, navy thing I've had going on since my last apartment, which is so last year.  So, one night a few weeks ago I decided to peruse the internets and see what kind of fabric options were out there.  And lo and behold I found this:
(From Hawthorne Threads)

It was the most amazing fabric I'd ever seen in my life.  (Slight use of hyperbole).  Or, it was definitely the most amazing fabric I'd seen in a good long time.  I absolutely loved the combo of teal/orange and the fact that I already had a lot of things it would work with in the living room.  But, it was $20/yard.  Which made me pause and really think about whether or not my life could go on without owning this fabric.

It couldn't.
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It's even better in person.  To make room for it in the living room I shifted the old material/color scheme to the dining room.  I made some pillows and found these new director's chair covers at Pier 1 for 50% off or only $7.50 each which is an amazeballs price.
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This is all I can show you of the dining room because that's where the majority of the mess has taken up residence but I actually think this is the best use of the fabric that I've come up with because it looks pretty damn awesome on that pillow.  Now, back to the new fabric...due to the spendy price tag I only ordered a yard.  But, using it as just pillow fronts allowed me to get 4 pillows out of it.  I used some leftover grey silk I had for the pillow backs.
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I love love LOVE my life with this fabric in it.  I didn't even realize how well it would work with the canvas I painted until I put the finished pillow in the chair.  I really think that this new color palette is even more me because it has green.  True story: Green is my most favorite color.  Every time I think I have a new one, I always come back to green with the realization that it's totally my jam.  Forever and always.

The new fabric brings me around to something in my life that is exciting: it's fall y'all.  Temperatures have dropped up here in the Minnie and I recently bought this at the grand opening of World Market:
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I seriously think that this is my most favorite time of the year.  I love the pumpkin in everything.  And the apples.  And sound of dry leaves being blown around by the wind.  But mostly I love that you get to start the countdown to Christmas with wonderful weather and fun holidays every month.  Plus there are a ton of decorating opportunities along the way to December.  Decorating for the holidays is one of my most favoritest things, but I haven't been able to do it for the last two years.  Last year I could have, but because I knew I had to move out at the end of December it was like, why torture myself by decorating for fall when I knew I couldn't finish off the season with Christmas due to packing.  But this year my lease isn't up until April, so it's about to get crazy festive.

Spoiler alert - it's already gotten a bit festive...
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Sparkly spiders are all the rage this year.  For me, personally.

But there is definitely more to come on that...as it is still in progress.

I think most of the in progress status on projects is directly related to how good the Song of Fire and Ice book series is.  I mean, I've only been reading like 300, and as many as 700, pages a week since I started it a month ago.  I'm currently in book 4 and book 5 is the last one published even though I think there's going to be 7 total.  It's like Harry Potter all over again where I'll be waiting waiting WAITING for a book to come out so I can devour it in my quest to know how the series continues or ends, only to be left waiting again.  And since I started this post with Jaclyn, I'll come full circle.  I was living with her and Matt when the last Harry Potter book came out.  I remember staying up all night on their futon in the office to read it because once I started, I just couldn't stop.  So, while I haven't really finished any projects I've started in the last month - I have managed to finish 3 books...and now that I've given Jaclyn her obligatory blog just before a month of silence passed, I'm off to read a few more chapters before bed.