Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Nursery - Part Four: Curtains

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Six years ago I purchased a sewing machine on a lark. At the time, I thought I would sew myself a sundress. I bought the fabric, the pattern and all the accompanying notions. I think I got as far as cutting out the pattern before I gave up and forgot about the whole thing. The sewing machine sat, unused and unloved, until April 2013 when I got it into my head that I wanted a satin pillow to go inside the ring-bearer box for the our wedding.

I picked up some fabric, wound the bobbin and threaded the machine. I cut out a simple square in the dimensions that I thought I needed. 20 minutes later, I had a lopsided, ridiculous looking pillow that simply would not suit for the wedding. I angrily tossed it aside and sent a text to my mom relating my sewing woes. The Friday before the wedding, she saved me and I had a perfect pillow for the box.
Photo by Tara Lynn Sen
So how did I manage to get from being completely incapable of sewing a simple pillow to sewing the curtains for Peanut's nursery?

Easy! I signed up for a class to befriend my sad little sewing machine. The class, run by Maureen of Sew with Maureen, was extremely helpful and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Metrowest Massachusetts area. After taking it, I realized that sewing is a lot like painting. It requires the right tools and knowledge, an attention to detail and lastly, patience. Feeling empowered by the knowledge that the class had imparted and aggravated that I couldn't find the curtains that I wanted, I began planning how to sew them myself.

Using the dimensions of the fabric I planned to use, I drafted a pattern in Excel (because I'm a nerd and this is what I do) and sent the pattern to my mom for a sanity check. Once my mom deemed my pattern reasonable, I ordered the fabric from, the correct walking foot for my machine and a cutting mat. Between these orders, I took yet another class with Maureen and picked up a lot of little tips and tricks to make my sewing more consistent and repeatable. I also discovered that a fabric glue stick and an iron are very helpful in achieving crisp, well-basted seams. 

Despite having the glue stick and iron, for the first two curtains, I still pinned all of my fabric. I guess I just wanted the practice? I'm not really sure why I did that. However, by the end of the second curtain I was sick of pulling all my pins out before I sewed over them and still having a bit of weird a gap to them. I switched over to using the glue stick and iron method; things went much faster from there.

Once the curtains were hung, I spent some time shopping around for tie-backs that I didn't hate. As seems to be the case with the entirety of this nursery project, I didn't find anything that suited me, so I made up a quick little pattern, bought some Velcro and set to work.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the results. They look presentable from the front and there are only a few spots in the back where I can tell that I made an oopsy with the machine. The only major thing I would change about the curtains is to use a lining. Fortunately, if I really, really want to add a lining to them later, I've left enough leeway in their design to do so.

The Nursery - Part One: Design and Planning
The Nursery - Part Two: Prep Work and Painting
The Nursery - Part Three: Furnished

Monday, February 16, 2015


I see a lot of bloggers make a big deal out of turning 30. They make lists of things they want to do beforehand; they may or may not do those things and they recap them after. I never made a list of what I wanted to do by 30 because I guess I never really saw the point. To me, I think it's more important to reflect on what you did and be grateful for the experiences you had instead of trying to check a bunch of things off a life to-do list.

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Though my birthday was last week, I want to share some memories that stand out from the last decade. It's always easier to see the turning points, the key life events and the little things you never thought would change you but did in hindsight. Some years have just pictures, while others require a little more explanation.

20 (2005)
20 is officially too far back for me to remember anything, alas.

21 (2006)
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I'm profoundly grateful to have experienced that trip. It was the first time in my entire life that I found a group of people who I didn't feel judged by and who I felt like I fit in with. It gave me a glimpse into the woman I could become: an independent woman who wasn't always angry at her life, who could take care of herself on her own and who had friends she could turn to when encouragement was needed.

22 (2007)
Formal schooling COMPLETE!

23 (2008)
Adjusting to real life post college was a struggle for me. I cried a lot. I felt confused. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I went to work every day worried that I couldn't cut it or learn enough to keep up. If I had to pick a couple words to define this year of my life, I'd pick scared and timid.

24 (2009)
I dedicated most of this year to losing the weight once and for all. Then I finally achieved that something that I had been dreaming about since I was 16: I made my goal weight.

It was a double-edged sword however. I had stupidly believed that losing the weight would make me happy, would fix everything. It wasn't the end-all of solutions I'd thought it to be. It set the stage for the next year of my life, one of the most difficult years of all.

25 (2010)
Writing about 25 is difficult. I almost want to leave it out but it wouldn't do my wonderful husband any justice. Nor is life always happy and full of rainbows. This was the year in which I broke up with my then boyfriend of three years (not an easy decision) and then began dating Eric. Eric will tell you that my dating him was not an easy decision either. Breaking up with someone, who at that point had been one of my friends for five years, remains to this day one of the most difficult things that I've ever chosen to do. I was an emotional train wreck; I didn't know which way was up or which way was down. I ran too much, I ate too little. I looked like a ridiculous bobblehead but eventually I trusted in both decisions. I believed then, and have not a single doubt now, that they were the right ones for me.

26 (2011)
Ravenclaw represent!
26 was the year I took my very first vacation after graduating college. I had diligently spent the previous four years paying off the largest of my student loans so I finally had enough money (and PTO) to splurge on a real vacation. Eric came with me but I don't consider it our first vacation since I basically said I was going with or without him. Yeah, I was kind of a brat about it.

This was also the year that I traveled to Norway by myself for work.

27 (2012)
We went on our first real vacation together. You know, one where we decided on a destination together.
Oh, and we got engaged.

28 (2013)
This was a huge year.

Photo by Tara Lynn Sen

29 (2014)
This one was easy. Nothing more exciting happened this year than this:

She's what is going to make 30 one of my most memorable years ever!

Monday, February 2, 2015

MistoBox Review: My First Box

Ever since my stint with the Foodzie box (I miss you Foodzie box) and because monthly subscription boxes are a thing now, I've been a regular visitor to My Subscription Addiction. I love the concept of mystery subscription boxes because they encourage me to try new things that I might not otherwise and a little variety is never a bad thing.

Over the past year, I've considered several different boxes: 21 Bundles, POPSUGAR Must HaveYarnbox and finally MistoBox.  Of all those boxes, the two that I spent the most time contemplating were the Yarnbox and the MistoBox. Eventually practicality won out and the Yarnbox got removed from the running. If I'm completely honest, I already have way too much yarn. I didn't exactly want to be caught on my own personal episode of Hoarders, surrounded by giant piles of yarn, wailing about how pretty each skein was and how much it meant to me.

Coffee is much more practical than yarn and thus, it was down to the MistoBox. I already brew my coffee using the my favorite (and the recommended!) Chemex method (affliate links: Chemex and filters), so there wasn't really much of a decision left to make.

My first box arrived the second week of January:

The Coffee
Overall, I enjoyed all of the coffees in my first box but a couple stood out. I've ordered the following list by personal preference.

1. Green Planet Organic Blend by Dillanos Coffee Roasters

Roast: Medium
High Notes: chocolate, floral, balanced

Of all the coffees I received in this box, this one is my favorite by far. Smooth and definitely not bitter, so it definitely hits its balanced high note. I don't know about the floral high note, but it definitely had a chocolatey scent to it.

2. Queen Anne Blend by Ladro Coffee Roasters
Roast: Medium
High Notes: chocolate, nutty, rich

This one definitely hit all its high notes, but didn't taste quite as balanced as the Green Planet blend.

3.The Heavy Blend by Barefoot Coffee Roasters
Roast: Dark
High Notes: dark, chocolate, bold

This was definitely chocolatey and bold. I had a hard time deciding if this was my second or third favorite, but the Queen Anne blend just barely bumped it down.

4. Afrique Blend for MistoBox by La Colombe Coffee Roasters
Roast: Medium
High Notes: earthy, baking spices, rich

This one was just okay. I would drink it if it were given to me, but it wouldn't be my first choice. It hit its high notes, and I think that was my problem. I tend not to prefer earthy; it reminds me too much of loamy soil which doesn't conjure up dreams of coffee in my brain.

Was it worth it?
For me, the answer to this question is a resounding yes. Between boxes, I'm working through my stash of Britt coffee so that once I finally run out I can order a large bag of one of the ones I've tried via MistoBox. I enjoy the variety and am already looking forward to my February box.