Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pillows of Plenty

When I decided to sew a slipcover for my love seat, I also wanted some fun new pillows to brighten up the decor. Side note: my original goal was to sew slip covers for both the couch and love seat, but I have since decided to hold off on the couch. While I really like the look of my newly neutral tan love seat, the fabric is not as durable as I had hoped. And it was A LOT of work. So for now, I can live with one tan couch and one floral couch.

Back to the pillows... which are WAY easier to sew than slipcovers. By a landslide. I was inspired by some of these beautiful fold over pillows with buttons, from Pottery Barn. See the long rectangular red one? They are about $25 each for just the pillow cover (not including the actual pillow inside). I decided that I could probably make a couple of my own.

I set to work with some fabric off the discount table at Jo-Ann's.

I cut a long rectangle, approximately 52 inches long by 12 inches. You can make it shorter or wider.

I folded it (inside out), to where I wanted the fold and overlap to be. I pinned the main flap to itself, to keep it in place. You do not need to seam the under side flap. Just make sure you leave enough fabric to tuck all the way under. Sew down the entire length of both long sides. Turn your pillow right-side out.

Here is what the inside of the flap looks like. I selected some big buttons, a little larger than a quarter, and sewed them to the outside flap. The buttons actually hold the top fold together.

Now it's time to stuff your pillow. Cotton stuffing can be a little pricey, especially if you are making a bunch of pillows. Look around your house, decide if there are any old pillows you are willing to take apart. Re-purpose bedroom pillows or out-dated throws.

Here it is before and after stuffing. Voila! Pottery Barn style pillows that were so easy to make!

I made another PB style pillow. Here is the store's version for $39.

I made this one myself, using a PB dinner napkin in the same pattern for $6! I put solid fabric on the back. Talk about cost savings!

I like finding ways to make new things AND save money. 

Here are some fake leather (A.K.A. "Pleather") pillows from

I made this dark brown pleather pillow of my own, with material from the sale table at Jo-Ann's (that clearance table is a gold mine!). It's actually backed with felt, so it's not as difficult to sew as you might think.

I made a couple simple yellow pillows to spruce up my dining room chairs.

There you have it. A few pillow creations based on inspiration from Pottery Barn. You already know that I love making pillows. They are a simple way to change up any room, and making them yourself can really save you some moo-lah.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rock Climbing and Sheetrock

I went indoor rock climbing for the first time at Rock Ventures. It was a team building activity through work, and it was a lot of fun! Here I am in a lovely harness. I always thought it would be fun to try, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. My childhood desire to climb trees was finally put to good use! Despite my uncertainty of even being able to climb given my... um....lack....of upper body strength, I made it all the way to the top of this medium-level wall.  Right up there with the orange fish.

I would like to try this wall next time I go. Not sure how I would do with the slanted angle. I did climb the blue area all the way to the far right.

Here's a look at some of my co-workers climbing other walls. It was really fun learning how to belay and support a climber, as well as climbing. The instructors said that people of all ages can learn to climb, from 2 years old to 92 years old! 

Speaking of walls, the walls in our bathroom are really taking shape, making it look like a room again.

The drywall is almost complete. Some more taping, spackling and sanding to do.

Making progress! 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania

During our Easter trip to Pennsylvania, we visited beautiful historic Valley Forge National Park. "Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. The park commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation and honors the ability of citizens to pull together and overcome adversity during extraordinary times." Source - Valley Forge National Historical Park

It was a perfect day for walking around and taking in the beautiful landscape and historic sites. Our first stop was the Washington Memorial Chapel. This early 20th-century church commemorates George Washington's service to his country, and still hosts an active congregation.


Beautiful architecture and intricate details fill the church. The remembrance of soldiers, love for God and country and emphasis on prayer is prevalent throughout the chapel.  

I especially love the vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. It reminds of sitting in Art History class, learning about Gothic architecture and cathedrals.

I also like the Intricate doors and elaborate hardware. Everything is so grand and fancy.

The most breathtaking magnolia tree I have ever seen, grows next to the chapel. The branches are heavy laden with gorgeous pale pink blossoms.

We posed for a photo next to an old cannon. I can't imagine loading those things!

We saw the train station, which is where George Washington had his headquarters.

Nice little old typewriter. 

George Washington's house was really interesting to see. I was surprised at how "modern" it looked on the inside, having many windows, a couple of bedrooms with connecting doors to each other, a small twisting staircase to an attic, where the house staff stayed. The kitchen was separate from the main part of the house. However, I did not see a bathroom...

These primitive log cabin replicas, are where soldiers lived. Dirt floors, tiny cramped bunk beds stacked 3 high (some 12 to a cabin), a fireplace and a door. I can't believe they lived in these, through the winter, for 6 months! I wouldn't last 6 hours. It makes you really appreciate what they went through for the freedom we are able to enjoy.

I like the quaint little country houses, with their stone bordered yards and steps. What a different way of life they lived.

Lastly, my favorite magnolia blossom photo. I just love these flowers! I didn't realize how big they are or how large the trees can grow. I would love to have one in my yard some day. 

When you're in junior high, and you have to learn about American history, it's not very interesting. At least it wasn't for me. You hear stories, learn facts and memorize dates. Maybe for some, fighting in a battle sounds exciting. History never excited me when I was growing up. Now however, I am so interested in learning what people went through, the sacrifices they made, and what life was like. Seeing a historic place like Valley Forge brings it to life and makes you think differently. About people, freedom and America. What's really worth fighting for. What it means to be an American. How blessed we are as a nation. How far we have come from the values this country was founded on.

May we continue to be "One Nation Under God."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter, Forsythia and Sunshine

We had an excellent long weekend, celebrating Easter with family in Pennsylvania. My husband's home state hails the motto "Virtue, Liberty, and Independence." We got an inside look at American history and those who fought for our independence at Valley Forge (more to come on that). But first, our annual Easter family photo in front of a sunny backdrop of yellow forsythia bushes.

Isn't the color stunning?

So bright and cheery, proclaiming spring is here!

 I have always liked weeping willow trees. Just swaying in the breeze.

Meanwhile, back in NY, A.K.A. The Empire State, with the motto "Excelsior (Ever Upwards)," these colorful little crocus have been popping up. They're my favorite because they poke their heads out of  earth before anything else, signifying winter is over. It's a pleasant surprise every single year.

Our Easter Sunday was beautiful, very sunny and warm. The sun was so bright, my eyes couldn't stop squinting. It caused me to think how radiant it will be in the presence of the Lord, the One Who died and rose again, victorious over sin and death. The reason we have so much to celebrate!

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Romans 14:9 "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."

1 Thessalonians 4:14: " For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."

He is risen! 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend with your loved ones too.