Monday, December 31, 2012

The year has come to a close...

... yep, I'm going to join everyone in recapping 2012, and planning for 2013 on my blog. :)

This year has been a growing, learning, and changing year for me. We went through a long process of switching churches, which was a tough time for me, but looking back, I can see that the Lord really worked on me during that time, and grew me in my walk with Him. It also forced me to make lots of new friends, and meet up with some old ones, and I look forward to deepening those friendships in the years to come. :)

2012 highlights:

• Engagements and weddings - LOTS of them! It's so fun to see a bunch of my friends get married, and it's extra fun because I get to help out with their weddings! yippeee!

• Babysitting 4 kids for a week. Such a fun (exhausting) experience!!

• Becoming an "adopted Aunt" to 3 adorable kiddos. You've seen them on this blog before. Love them to death, and looooove it when their little voices can be heard screaming "Auntyyyyy Taraaaaaaaa!!!" :)

• Getting my puppy!!! Love him so much!!!!

• Arranging music for Liberty Day. It was lots of work, and stressful at times, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to do that! (especially getting to sit in all the rehearsals, and put in my 2 cents!)

• Voice lessons. It's really fun to see how much my voice has changed over the past year, and look through all the songs I've learned!

• Our TITANIC BALL!!!!!!!!!! Need I say more??? It was SO much fun!!! I need to dance again....

• Lots of get-togethers with friends over the summer... sleepovers, volleyball games, Six Flags, camp fires, it's all so much fun!

• Finishing my new room!!!!! YAY!

• Teaching piano. Wow, what a learning experience for me! I'm so excited to start up again this week after a short break for the end of the year!

• Thanksgiving with family. Always a highlight of the year for me. I love sitting together, playing games, eating food, and laughing. We don't get to see our cousins very much, as they live in a different state, but we always try to get together for Thanksgiving. My favorite part of the day, though, is when we gather around the HUGE feast and Opa prays... he has a Dutch accent, and when he talks, you can hear it, but it's not overpowering, but when he prays, it comes out in full force. I just LOVE that!!!

• The Do-It-Yourself Messiah. It's a December tradition that I love!! Taking the train, the walk through COLD and WINDY Chicago, singing for 3 hours, and then the train ride back, where we sing for another hour and a half (because we didn't sing enough already!). I've been doing that since I was 11, and hope to keep doing it for MANY more years!

• And finally, this past week, going to the Illini basketball game with Dad. His friend got us seats in one of the "suites" (a.k.a. rich people seats), and it was SO cool! I'm talking, leather couches, delux food, cookies the size of your face, personal bathroom and coat closet, awesome view of the court, and a personal waiter. Oh, and parking 5 steps away from the door, with a sectioned-off lane to get out of the lot and avoid the crazy traffic. Yep, rather a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience for me!!

That's just a few of the fabulous things that happened in 2012! It would take all day to mention everything! :)

Plans for 2013:

• "The Messiah Project". I'm going to try to learn the piano accompaniment to Handel's Messiah. It'll be a lot to do, but should be FUN!

• Read more books. I hardly read ANYTHING this past year, and I think I need to be better about that!!!

• Do vocal competitions... scary.

• Plan another ball. Because the last one was so much fun!

• Sew a medieval kirtle, and "woodsy" type accessories. I need something to match my new bow and arrow set! :)

• "The Downton Abbey Project". An attempt to sketch every ladies' outfit in Season 1 of Downton Abbey, and analyze the construction. And maybe make a few dresses along the way........

• Spend more time in God's Word. This is on my list every year.

• And above all, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!!

What are some of your highlights of 2012, and plans for 2013??

P.S. Remember the 1950's dress I mentioned in my last post... the one I said would be up last week? It's almost done, and I will get photos soon... sorry for the delay - hard to get sewing done at the end of the year, especially when your project is being difficult. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pictures of the finished room!!

I know. Finally.

It's been *so* close to being done for so long. Actually, it's not officially done, because I still need to get the right sized pictures in the frames. I just had to stick a bunch of 4x6 pictures in them anyway because I was tired of having people I don't know staring down at me from my wall. *creepy*

I went with a vintage, french, postcard, eiffel tower theme. 

Hobby Lobby and World Market are dangerous stores, people!

I LOVE my full sized mirror! Never had one before - have no idea what I did without it! :) It also turns and on the back side is a book shelf. Score!

The pillows were the first things I got for my room, which made me decide to do this theme. I was debating between this and a very bold/modern look. Then I saw these pillows and said "I need them" and the decision was made.

Funny thing is that my sister is also re-doing her room, and the first thing she got was pillows too! :)

So there you have it! Sorry it took so long to get up pictures! Today I'm going to try to work more on my 1950's dress and have pictures up sometime next week - no promises though! :) 

Oh, and last picture - me with a bunch of the gifts my parents gave me for my birthday. You could title this picture "The Many Different Sides of Tara":

Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert on CD, Beatrix Potter collection, Bow, and a sweatshirt that says, "Caution: Prone to Sudden Outbursts of Song". Um, yes, that's me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feeling blessed

I'm so blessed to have so many friends in my life.

Today I turned 19 (eek), and had a very busy day - teaching my fabulous piano students (love you guys!!), lunch with Wendy (who just happened to be in the neighborhood - surprises are so fun!), my voice lesson (where I got to sing one of my favorite comic pieces), and then I came home to a LOAD of birthday messages in my inbox, family blog, and pinterest. I am so grateful for everyone in my life.

I am incredibly blessed.

Thanks to everyone who made my day with your kind notes! Love you all!!

P.S. 1950's dress in the works. Stay tuned.

P.S. #2 My room is two steps to being done as well...... pictures to come

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Room


My name is Tara.

You know - the "lass of yesteryear" who is supposed to diligently write about her life, her sewing and any other topic she thinks might be interesting (or maybe not interesting).

Here, if you happen to remember me or even bother to check this blog anymore, is another attempt to explain my absence and once again say "I'll try to post more often" (which never seems to work).

What have I been up to since I last wrote, you ask? (or you don't ask, but I like to put that in anyway and make me think you've been wondering about me.... :)

Well, I've been... living. From washing dishes, to singing at the top of my lungs, to TEACHING my first piano lessons (it's SO strange to be on the teaching end, after 12+ years of being the student - but I have some awesome students who also happen to be good friends, and that makes things less scary), to caring for my puppy, who has discovered the burn bin by the fireplace and thinks it is his personal toy box, to getting together with new and old friends (did someone say volleyball?? Let's cram in as many games as possible before it gets too cold!!!). Let's just say, I've been busy. :)

Anyway, (since that was probably more than you wanted to know about what I did this past month), I'm posting because my room is finally done, and I just have to get the furniture moved in and I'll be DONE! (see the old room HERE)

The walls got sanded. No problem.

The paint went on. No problem.

A new fan went in. No problem (except having to put a new switch in).

And then.... I began sanding the floor. It was exhausting, dusty, and went very slow (yeah, I was using a belt sander...). After a few days of sanding for about an hour every day, my nose just couldn't take it anymore (did I mention my skin is allergic to those dust masks?? Kind of inconvenient), and ended up in an hour long nose bleed. Fun. After that my family and some friends ganged up on me, and told me I couldn't touch the floor any more and that we were hiring someone else to do it! I gladly surrendered the job. :)

It took a while to finally get a good price and a day when they could come out and do it, but it only took one day when they finally came. One of the guys looked in at the room and saw the 3/4 sanded floor and said "All this with a belt sander?? Wow!" in his Mexican accent. When they finished, he offered me a job sanding with him! Haha!

I'll probably put up another picture when I'm all moved in, but for now, this is what it looks like!

See ya'll later! I'll try to be back soon - but I'm not making any promises!! :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

From Skirt to Shirt

Yep, another remake. This one was a super fast job! :)

This past weekend we attended the wedding of our good friend, Grant. Grant is my "rent-a-brother", as we like so say, since Kathryn and I have no brothers, the Strand boys became our "rent-a-brothers". It was a very joyous occasion, and we had a great time, but we were very very tired by the end, since Dad and I played the music for the ceremony, Mom ran various errands, and Kathryn was the photographer.

Sunday we all took naps and woke up still pretty exhausted.

And Monday I went with some friends to Six Flags, and walked around all day and went on roller coasters, and generally made myself even more exhausted (but is was sooo worth it! :)

All that to say, the past few days have been "recovery time", and rather un-productive. Yesterday, I just really needed a simple, relaxing project, so I pulled out this skirt from my grandma, and whipped it into a shirt. All in all, it took me about an hour. Perfect way to relax, and still get something done!

Before. Just a knit, drawstring skirt.

After - a comfy summer shirt

Back seams - those seams were the original seam down the center back of the skirt

Scrunchy, flowery design. I think I saw this on Pinterest....

More bedroom photos will be coming soon - all the painting is done, and now I need to get to work on the floor. As I said, not much has been done recently with the wedding! :) And I hope to also work on another remake of an old linen dress.... we'll see what that turns into! :) For now, here's a picture of my puppy:

See ya'll later!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Re-making...

... but sadly, not in the line of sewing. I actually haven't touched my sewing machine since my last project, which is depressing.

I'm currently working on re-finishing our guest room, soon to be my room. My sister and I have shared a room since we were little kids, but as we've grown older, our schedules have changed a little, and our tastes have changed, and it would be nice to have some personal space. So I'm moving into the guest room, and she is taking over our room, which means we both get to re-decorate (we are done with the pink - oy!)

I'm going with the vintage/french/postcard look, so the walls are going to be two different shades of tan, and the trim is going to be a creamy off-white.

This is what our guest room looked like before. Yes. I know we have a lot of stuffed animals.

I'm excited about the big closet all to myself....!!

The ceiling looked like it had those stick-on glow-in-the-dark stars all over it, and when they were removed, it left marks, which got painted over, so that needed a LOT of sanding. The lower half of the wall was paint-speckled with several different colors, so that needed a TON of sanding. And the top half was nice and easy, except that it looked like about a hundred pictures were hung on the walls in the course of time, so a it needed a BUNCH of filling in. And the floor looked unfinished, so that needs to be sanded and stained.

That was the only wall I sanded by hand. My dad found me an electric sander which made the process go MUCH faster!

This is what it looked like yesterday - all primed.Yesterday I put another coat of prime on the lower half of the wall and did the ceiling. Now it has blue painters tape alllllllll over, and tomorrow I will get the color on the walls! I think it is a huge improvement thus far. 

I, on the other hand, look... well, yeah. 

More updates on the progress to follow. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From Modern to Retro

My grandma gave me a couple outfits to use the material how I wanted. I put them in my closet and there they sat for.... 2 years? I didn't have any special ideas until I was looking one day and looked at the tag and saw it was 100% Rayon - and of course, I immediately thought "1940's". It was pretty simple from there - button down, with a little waist band, shorten the sleeves, cute buttons, put some gathers in, voila! :)

This is the original

And here's my remake

I got my shoes on sale - eeeeep! I love them! :)

I made dorset buttons to go all the way down the front - and I realllllly like how they came out! It was worth all the work! :)

Rather than take out the sleeves to pull in the shoulders, I just gathered the fabric.

Oh look, there's my hair. My sister did it for me, and I am quite pleased with it! :)

The back bodice is gathered, and the skirt is 1/2" pleats

Up close pleats

This is the first installment of a series of "remaking" posts - I have a lot more to remake! :)

Sorry I haven't posted much lately - summer has been super busy and sewing hasn't been a huge priority. Just some random tidbits into my life:

• Going to see a youth play of Les Miserables, and hearing the VERY BEST version of Bring Him Home EVER! Oh my goodness.... it was amazing - worth the price of admission plus some more! :)

• Getting ready for bed, and glancing up to see a huge black spider on the wall. Being the "brave girl" that I am, I grabbed a tissue to smash it and it escaped by climbing onto the top of the tissue and proceeded toward my hand. I, of course, stifled a scream and flung my hand around, which meant I didn't know if the spider was in my bed or crawling on the wall behind my head. Needless to say, trying to go to sleep after that was a bit hard. :)

• Puppy got his hair cut, and I miss the fluff, but he is realllllly cute still! :)

• Trying to sing in French and Italian and not confuse the two by switching the vowels! LOL!

So that's about it! :) See ya'll later!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I kind of missed posting on the 4th, but late is better than never right? I had a great day spent with friends in 103ยบ weather, including great food, cute babies, volleyball and Andy Griffith.

Sorry, no pictures, but I'll leave you with a video instead - it's not the best quality, but the words are great. It is from Liberty Day back in March, and I arranged the music for the piano, violins and cello.

When boyhood’s fire was in my blood I read of heroes valor,
For land and home who bravely stood, against the tyrants banner.
Then I prayed I yet might see our hearts in light ascend,
And our country long aslumbered be a great land once again.

And from that time, through wildest woe, that hope has shone a far light,
Nor could love's brightest summer glow outshine that solemn starlight;
It seemed to watch above my head in mountain, field and fen,
Hope's angel voice sang round my bed, A great land once again!

It whispered too, that freedom's ark and service high and holy,
Would be profaned by feelings dark and passions vain or lowly;
For freedom comes from God's right hand, and needs a Godly train;
And righteous men must wake our land to Liberty again!

A great land once again, A great land once again!
My country long aslumbered be A great land once again!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Bring You Up to Date....

... because it has been 2 weeks since I posted anything.

My life lately... in a nutshell.

• Practicing music. Currently working on Pirates of the Caribbean theme song - we'll see if I can have it perfected by the end of summer, Star Wars Love Theme for a wedding, an arrangement of For the Beauty of the Earth with my Dad on the violin, and a bunch of other classical pieces. Singing I'm doing songs in German (which isn't a very pretty language to sing in), Latin and English, and hopefully I can start French soon!!

• Studying the IPA. It's really really neat!! But I think my head is about to explode with all the memorizing! :) Seriously though, I'm realllllly enjoying it! And hopefully it will be helpful when I sing in other languages!

• Weddings. Helping out at weddings and planning for weddings. Seems like the marrying year in my circle of friends! To quote An Old-Fashioned Girl: "Occasionally a matrimonial epidemic appears, especially toward spring, devastating society, thinning the ranks of bachelordom, and leaving mothers lamenting for their fairest daughters."

Beth and me at the wedding last Sunday

•Puppy. Need I say more?

Chivery right before his haircut.

• Get-togethers with good friends! It's summer, so we are taking advantage of people being off school and enjoying spending time together!

• Just watched my first "Horatio Hornblower" (yes, that's right. I have never seen it before). While naval war isn't exactly my favorite type of movie, I really can't resist 12 hours of Ioan Gruffudd. *winks*

• Singing in a trio with Emily and Kathryn! I have soooo missed doing this since Emily went to college, but I think we might be getting back into it! YAY!

Sisters! I love these people!!

• Trying to decide what the next school year will bring as a high-school graduate................

So that's pretty much it! And it keeps me hopping all the time - it's tiring at times, but I love it, and God always gives me strength to make it through the day! :)

I promise I'll post about sewing soon! Just out of curiosity, do you like these random posts about things other than sewing, or should I just stick with the sewing stuff? Because I DO have a life outside of sewing... I'm just not sure if my readers want to know about it! :)

Alright, I'm off to get a good nights rest before a busy day tomorrow!! Whatever you do, don't forget to smile! (Tara's corny advice for the night)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just a Simple Dress

My sister and friends were planning a photo-shoot, and I really wanted an off-white dress to wear to it. I had the idea of what I wanted in mind, but really didn't think it would happen, because I couldn't get to the fabric store in time. But then I remembered I had this crinkled off white fabric in my stash, and decided that I'd make that work.

I didn't really use a pattern... just cut a big rectangle with a neck-hole and arm holes and gathered some frills for the neck, and put elastic in the waist. Pretty easy. :)

There's the elastic thread. I am soooo thrilled with this stuff right now for modern garments. It's so much nicer than making a casing with elastic! Plus it's comfy!

Anyway... that's my latest project. Working on a few more things now, and have a LOT more in my head. :) Will post a link to some more pictures of the above photo shoot when my sister posts them. 

Thanks for stopping by! :)

P.S. What do you think of the new blog header??

Monday, June 4, 2012

Girls in Khaki

These are the two dresses I made for two adorable girls I know. The bigger one was from Simplicity #5695, and I pretty much just made it as it was supposed to be, except it needed a lot less elastic in the neckline than the pattern called for. Then I added cloth flowers that were stitched on the machine to be rather "whimsical". The smaller one I just made up. The "buttons" were also cloth flowers, but 3 layers of fabric to be more sturdy.

These pictures were taken after a full morning of taking portraits with my sister, and we knew it might be a little rough for a little girl to do more, but she was so thrilled with the parasol that she posed perfectly, and then wanted to take pictures of my sister and me with the parasol! So cute!

Cuteness overload.


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