You say goodbye and I say hello.

We have this great big dining room table that we painted with chalkboard paint (thanks, Emily) and we love it. It’s perfect for doodling during dinner parties and score keeping for games. It seats 10 people, comfortably: a rarity in a small city apartment. The problem is that I think by the end of every lingering dinner or game night, our guests go home cursing us because our chairs are so darn creaky and uncomfortable. Here’s the line-up:

You say goodbye

I’ve collected our dining chairs over the course of a few years at various Salvation Armys and thrift stores. The point was to have an eclectic mix with no pretense of them even trying to match. The lot of them cost probably less than $8. For good reason. So after some significant Craigslisting and comfort testing (Alex approved), we purchased six of these babies. Hello hello.

Hello Hello

The price was right (aka cheap). And you know I love a good DIY, so I’m ready to get out my spray paint and give these guys a makeover. Almost.

Brightly colored dining room chairs are so hot right now. Let me show you:

emerald

sea foam

yellow

orange

So I’m wondering if I should try something bold. Or stick with a classic glossy white:

white

What do you think?

Dining room

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Images from: bhg.com, marieclairemaison.com, designsponge.com, sfgirlbybay.com, littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com

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Ain’t she a beaut?

I got a sewing machine for Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Mom and Dad! Ain’t she a beaut?

Beaut | Handmaden.com

I recently took a sewing class at Lill Street Studio and loved it. My friend Caitlyn let me borrow her sewing machine for a few weeks after the class and it only solidified the fact that I reeeeeeeeally wanted one of my own.

My mom is a whiz on the sewing machine. So anytime I wanted to sew myself a scrunchie, she was there to thread the machine and fix my mistakes. Even with her help, the last time I tried to sew something was in high school when I wanted to make some pajama shorts. I sewed the leg hole shut. Three times. I never finished the shorts.

But after 12 years of running away from the sewing machine, I’m ready to face it head on.

I started this blog to encourage you that you are creative, so act that way! And to hopefully inspire you to tackle something handmade, even if it scares you. Now it’s my turn. This sewing machine scares me because I have no clue what the heck I’m doing. So you should know that anything I post about sewing is experimental and meant to show you that if I can do it, you can do it! So get out that machine you’ve had stashed in your closet for too many years without touching because we’ve got work to do!

I decided my first project needed to be something very very simple. And what’s simpler than 4 straight lines?

Pillows | Handmaden.com

One afternoon later, I have two lovely new pillows brightening up our living room. I generally followed these instructions, and here’s how it went down:

First I chose fabric. Lucky for me, my talented interior designer mom let me raid her fabric sample collection over Thanksgiving. So I pulled out a few contrasting patterns and a soft velvet. I cut them down to fit the two pillow inserts I have. (And in the process realized that cutting square corners is probably the hardest part of sewing.)

pillow fabrics | handmaden.com

I already had two pillow inserts to work with. One from an IKEA pillow that I got home and kicked myself for buying. And another insert that I had from a past never-realized project.

pillow inserts | handmaden.com

Once I had the pieces cut, I pinned them right sides together with openings on the bottom.

pinning pillows | handmaden.com

After sewing around the edge with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, I trimmed off some excess fabric, turned the pillow covers right side out, and ironed around the seams. (Take a hint from me, and don’t sew with velvet the first time you pull out your machine. It was a nightmare and I changed the fabrics for Pillow #2 so that I wouldn’t have to use the velvet again.)

ironing pillow covers | handmaden.com

Stuffing in the pillows was so satisfying! The only thing left to do was handsew the openings closed while watching The West Wing. You won’t get to see any photos of my handsewing. I still need to learn how to make those stitches invisible…

sewing the pillows closed | handmaden.com

It took me about the same amount of time to sew the pillows closed as it did for CJ and the gang to get President Bartlett’s poll ratings up 9 points. So I’d say it was a successful day all around.

handmade pillows | handmaden.com

Thirty by 30

I’ve always struggled to know the line between contentment and ambition.

I want to travel and eat good foods and push myself at work and make new friends and take on challenges and be involved at church and learn new crafts and write letters and take meals to people who need them and exercise and have a welcoming home and do special things with Alex. All great things. And all things that take effort and planning and some amount of wanting things to be different than how they are right now.

So the question is how do I keep that desire — for change and challenge and newness — while being content with who I am now and the things I have now?

I’ve been married for just over a year now. The most significant thing I’ve realized is that my attitude is always my choice. I choose to be annoyed and resentful at a teasing comment or I choose to laugh along. I choose to talk about something or I choose to give the silent treatment. I choose to smile in the morning or I choose to stomp around and brood about running late. Living with someone else suddenly makes my choices much more visible.

This year I will turn 30. I’ve thought for the last 6 months about compiling a “30 by 30” list of things I want to accomplish before June 20. But I decided that it might be more helpful for me to compile a different sort of list. Still a “30 by 30.” But in a spirit of gratitude and contentment, this list will celebrate the opportunities I have already had. This year I want to look back on the last 30 and simply say, “Wow. Thank you Lord.”

Perhaps the answer is that simple: choose thanks.

Perhaps contentment, thanks for the gifts and opportunities we’ve already been given, is the very attitude that spurs us on toward a full life of creativity and newness, as we live with gratitude toward the Giver of all good things.

Psalm 103

. . . . .

Happy New Year from the Wilgi!

Happy New Year!