Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recycled T-shirts party

This post was 2 months in the making - she has been 11 for a while!

Being a child of the 70's and a sewist (there's a reason we don't call ourselves "sewers"), I have always loved recycling denim.  But these days the hottest recycled clothing trend has got to be recycling and up-cycling T-shirts. 
This year for Earthgirl's 11th birthday party, we jumped into the fun with a T-shirt recycling party.  She grabbed the idea from the September/October 2011 issue of American Girls magazine.  You can find recycled T-shirt ideas from all over the internet.  Take a look here and here,  for example.  I found bunches and bunches of ideas for the future - for example, I'd love to make one (or 15!) of these recycled T necklace/scarves.

Now if one is inviting 14 girls over, and 2 of your projects take a T-shirt apiece, you gotta have lots of Ts!  Our big crafts, requiring a T-shirt apiece per girl, were the fringed scarf and the big T-shirt bag. We invited the girls to bring Ts with them, but knew we wanted to provide plenty.

For several weeks ahead, Earthgirl and I hit a couple of local thrift stores, one which exists to support a local church's international missions; the other to support Hospice.  We like spending our $$ where they do some good works, too!   We snapped up Ts at an average price of about 40 cents.  We looked for colors we liked, designs we thought would look good on a bag, and the right sizes to make bags and scarves (bags can be any size, but a XXL makes a humongous bag, whereas a sturdy size small or child-size makes a nice bag, and our scarves worked best with child-sized, soft, lightweight Ts).

Recycled T-shirt Scarves:
For our scarves, the girls cut off the hem and cut across under the sleeves, leaving a wide tube of fabric.  They fringe-cut both sides, then pulled on the fringes to make them curl up. 

The best-looking scarves had really skinny fringe - but the trick is to cut it skinny enough, but not so skinny that it tears when you stretch it.  This red scarf had the prettiest fringing of all the scarves.

The result is a fringy cowl-type scarf.  If you use a T as big or bigger than your own size, the cowl can be doubled.  If you use a little preschooler-size T, you get a once-around-your-neck scarf.

And then, of course, you cannot resist playing with the leftovers.  Lots of braided headbands, bracelets, anklets appeared!

The scarves also double as hula skirts.

Recycled T-shirt Bags:
Our big T-bags were made simply - cut out the sleeves and along the neckline, leaving something that looks like a tank top.  Check to see that it fits over your shoulder.  Good.  Now, if you want a plain-bottom bag, turn the T inside out, and sew up the bottom.  The cutest bags were sewn with a curve.  If you want a fringe-bottom bag, cut off the T's hem, and sew up the bottom, leaving a 2-3" seam.  Trim the seam in to a fringe. Pull the fringes to make them curl, and you're done! 

In all the excitement, I did not snap 1 picture of any girl with a bag.  This one is taken weeks later.

Clean Read

I read a lot. A LOT.  I like mysteries and histories and mysteries set in history; sometimes I like some just regular fiction, seldom just regular romance.  Some Christian fiction I like; some is just a little too sweet for my taste.

When you read a lot of fiction, you wade through a lot of language (the kind I don't use) and activities (the kind I don't do).  -- And that's just the good guys!

Sometimes it is refreshing to just read something I can trust to not assault my brain with garbage surrounding a perfectly good story.  One of our local libraries (the one a county away where my husband works) puts these little "Clean Read" markers on books that do not include yucky stuff.  I have not checked what their criteria is. ( I just read a murder mystery that contained no bad language - is it a 'clean read"?  After all, there is violence and murder. ..) But I appreciate their taking the time to identify what is not in this book. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Magic Mason Jar

{edited to add:  now I have tried this and it works great!  I just run the blender on low speed, because somehow those whirring blades and the glass make me kind of nervous.}

I don't have a Magic Bullet or other single-serving-type blender.  But I do have a ca. 1984 Hamilton Beach blender and a selection of Mason jars. actually, I think mine are mostly Ball canning jars.  According to Real Simple I can use my jars on the actual blender! 

This would maybe save a step of clean-up, so I think I will try it soon.  Of course, I will have to think through the entry/exit - I turn the blender upside down?  That save-a-step clean-up may turn into a well-the-whole-kitchen-needed-cleaning-up-anyway scenario!  Whatdya think?

The old blender layered up with ingredients for Russian Tea

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What homeschooling looks like today

Remember those school days when you just wished you could sit in a really comfy chair with your kitty beside you?  Well, that's what homeschool looks like here today:

...and just in case it seems lonely, here's a look at what homeschool looked like yesterday:

Monday, September 26, 2011

More of 17 - Big Summer Project

My BIG project for this summer was to paint most of our pulled-together-from-here-there-and-hand-me-down bedroom furniture the same color - a warm, distressed black was my plan.  I never listed this project on a published blog post, but it is one of the 17 projects - OK, it was one of maybe 35 projects swirling around in my head. 

Once I started painting, I realized I did not get before pics of everything, so I'll just have to describe the "befores" for the most part.

I don't have "befores" for the 2 little chests, but the one on the left was an unfinished piece originally planned for Earthgirl's room.  She now has a bigger chest of drawers (one my parents started housekeeping with over 50 years ago!), because she is a T-shirt clothes horse.  The chest on the right used to be in Nanny's sewing room.  It originated in the 70s, maybe even the 60s, and sported a home finish of reddish-brown stain, maybe oak?

The "before" headboard was a pickled-look finish veneer headboard.  My Mama picked it up at a second-hand store for her guest house, and I traded my brass headboard for it.  (The very plain very 1980s brass headboard, purchased when a store was closing,  was always supposed to be for just a little while, but we slept against it for about 17 years.) 

See what I mean about the furniture being second-hand-and-hand-me-down?

Headboard before:

The shelf is part of a 3-piece entertainment center, a Sauder piece, in a similar pickled look to the headboard.  The entertainment center was our family Christmas gift around 1995.  We put it together ourselves. 

The headboard, the 2 chests of drawers, the cedar chest, and the bookshelf are painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint, in Graphite, then distressed and waxed with both dark and clear wax. The inside color of the shelves is Chateau.  All the new drawer and door knobs came from Hobby Lobby, and are a purposely eclectic mix.
This chest started as an old, plain, not valuable cedar chest from Nanny's closet.  Daddy says he thinks the FFA boys made it in shop and sold it as a fundraiser, maybe back in the 60s?

Cedar chest before:
The doodad on front of the cedar chest also came from Hobby Lobby.

It add a little something, doesn't it?

Ahhh...Honey, we're home!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More of 17 - Buffing the Buffet

Christmas 2005

My buffet is the bottom portion of a hutch handed down from my mother-in-law. They had it made about 45 years ago, when they lived in a nice old house with hardly any storage space. 

We've had it for 6 years.  When we first hauled it home, we thought we'd paint or refinish it immediately, but once we put it in place, it looked OK, and we decided to live with it for awhile as is.  Or as was?

I took these pics back then to show Mom how good it looked with the reindeer she gave me.  Isn't he elegant?  Since the hutch really had some beat-upped-ness to it, I usually kept some kind of cover on top.

Christmas 2005

But finally the time has come to make it my own, now that I have some cool Annie Sloan chalk paint that can be painted right over almost anything without stripping or priming!

I painted the buffet inside and out  in Chateau Grey, a soft gray-green. ( I also painted the back in some leftover dark gray latex so that all the outer wood would be sealed.  ("wood would," clever, huh?) I painted inside, too, because the hutch had lived for a few years in the basement where some flooding has occurred, and it still had a bit of that mustiness that would not go away.  It's gone now!

 We have 2 pieces of furniture from the sixties that have 60s-type wood paneling used as a backing and drawer sides.  I guess it just made for good wood scraps.

Then the real fun began.  I clear-waxed it, then dark-waxed and wiped off, waited overnight, then buffed until my shoulders hurt.  I rewaxed the top just for some extra protection. 

And here is my "new" buffet.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homeschool Hooky Day 2011

When Public school started up a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the first day of school by NOT doing any school! We went with friends for pizza!

 Then I taught Earthgirl's BFF (one of many BFFs) to chain stitch while Earthgirl took her piano lesson.  I couldn't quite go for hooky from piano  - I pay whether we are there or not.  Since we waiting gals were "hooking" on our crochet hooks, I guess it was still hooky.

And there was peace sign art, because Earthgirl just loves peace signs.  I did when I was her age, too!   So many styles and motifs from my growing up years are back in style.  Her friend just wanted to keep crocheting, and asked me to teach her to do a single crochet.  I think she will be a natural!

Earthgirl is in 6th grade this year.  What a blessing it is to be her teacher.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More of the 17 - Birds

I've been painting away - a chest, a buffet, a chair, but the finished, buffed, and photographed projects are the little starter projects.

I decorate with birds all over the house.  I think there may be a bird or birds in every room. 

After I painted my first blue frame (see 1-2 posts down), I had this nervous paintbrush wanting to spread the pretty Annie Sloan Provence color paint...and I had these 4 birds.  They have always travelled as two pairs.  Sometimes one pair has been on the back porch while the other pair fluttered on a bookshelf.  Most recently, one pair perches at my bedside while the other pair makes its home in my bathroom on the way too big "plant shelf." 

Before birds:

A pair of birds in blue?...happiness!

After birds:  the one on left is finished, while the one on right only had paint, and is still waiting for a coat of clear wax, then dark wax, then a rub-off and buff.

The finish, both color and texture remind me a bit of McCoy pottery

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More of 17 - Framed!

This collection of empty frames have been designated to decorate the guest room. They have just been waiting for me to paint them all the same color. 

The biggest one I purchased at a thrift store for a whoppin' 25 cents (notice the red crayoning in the left bottom corner).  It's already seen duty as a photo framer.  The others I bought at twice that price.  Yup, that's $1.75-worth of frames.

I considered painting them all bright green, like my cool chair.  But then I got some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Annie Sloan wax, and these seemed like the perfect starter project!  I used Provence, a pretty blue-green, and antiqued them with dark wax.

I purchased my paint and wax at Alice and Jay, right in downtown Sasser, GA, which is on the way between here and my family's fame up in south Georgia.  I had a great visit with them on a Monday, when they are not officially open.  I contacted Alice ahead of time, and they opened up for us!  I met Jay, up on a ladder, (Jay, not me) and spent quite a while with Alice, learning about applying the paint and wax.   Pluto Boy got to see the old bank vault.

Alice was so helpful - opening up her paints and painting and waxing a few paint-stirring sticks so I could see what the color would do.  Fun, fun, fun.  I'd have taken a picture of us together, 'cause that would've been cool, but my camera was still AWOL. 

As soon as we arrived at home, I was itching to start painting.  One of the HUGE draws for me was the promise that I would not need to strip, sand, scuff, or prime anything beforehand.  I would only sand if I wanted to distress a piece.  Yay!

Love the detail in that formerly-gold frame.
After I painted the frames, I read up on recommended techniques for painting, waxing, distressing, buffing, color combos...I am indebted to many generous bloggers, including Perfectly Imperfect, Southern Institue of Faux Finishing, and Modern Country Style. If you search using terms like "distressing with Annie Sloan chalk paint," you get a kabunch of places to look. Since some of these have link-up parties devoted to Annie Sloan chalk painted peices, you can waste spend the entire day reading up. Thanks, everyone!

I am now an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint fan. More to come!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What's cookin' at your house?

I've got some country-style ribs cooking up in the slow cooker.  They are simply seasoned - splashed with a little Worcestershire sauce, and sprinkled liberally with black pepper and Soul Food Seasoning.

I first picked this up at Winn Dixie on a whim, and it has since become a family favorite.  It's mostly salt,  red and black pepper, garlic and paprika.  We all love it on pretty much all meats, with vegetables, salads, and with one-dish meals - soups, beans-and-rice, stews, you name it. 
This seasoning makes almost every food taste better.  When I pull it off the shelf, I know I'm going to make whatever I am cooking work better, make it more palatable for my family.   

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.    
                  Colossians 4:6

The manner in which I use words should be just like that, too.  My communications are often hurried, whiny, harsh, or flavorless.  As I sprinkle the Soul Food Seasoning on tonight, I am thinking I need to remember to sprinkle my language with Soul Food Seasoning, too.

Happy Sunday

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First of 17

OK, maybe I did not really get 17 projects done this summer, but I did accomplish a few crafty, sewy, cook-y, painty things. Actually, by the time I toss in some sewing for friends, I may have more than 17 projects.  Here are a couple of the 17-ers:

A Red Front Door!

This was our Independence Day weekend project. I have hesitated to paint the door a color (it was white) because of the glass insert with internal white blinds.  I thought it might look funny.  But we went for it, and I am glad.  I can hardly wait for Christmas and the hanging of a bright Christmasy green and red wreath!

By the way, this door with the miniblind inserts was here when we bought the house.  At first, I did not care for it - not my decorating style.  But this type door is very easy to live with.  I can let light in, just as much as I want, and the blinds stay clean.

...and a patriotic wreath!

I got the idea from Landee See Landee Do.  I didn't like mine as well as hers, and when I looked back, I realized she had some solid color ribbon and paper, too, and it broke up the business of the patterns.  But I did not want to take anything apart, and now the little fireworks wreath is growing on me.

more to come...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Few Sounds Heard 'Round Our Household Recently

* Plock *
The sound of a full bottle of olive oil shattering on the kitchen floor
* Whooeet! Whooeet! * 
The sound of me whistling to call the kittycat. 
* Whooeet! Whooeet! * 
The sound of a the kittycat?  Lucky for the mockingbird, the kitty has learned to ignore us both.  A mockingbird in our yard once learned to mock our phone ringing.  Very entertaining.
* Thoomp!  Thoomp! Thoomp! *
The sound of a little gymnast practicing round-offs
* Thoomp! Thoomp! Thoomp! *
The sound of a little gymnast practicing back walk-overs - they are quieter than round-offs

This picture has no relation to the post above it, but I am just so happy to have rediscovered my camera, tucked into my crochet bag during Gymnastics camp, and wanted to show off what's left of my first 2 batches of bluberry jam.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ouch! Ouch! Blueberry! pretty picture...

Growing up on the farm, we always made jam, jelly, and preserves during the summer.  Blackberries, plums, figs, pears, peaches, and even  watermelon rinds processed their way through the kitchen into jars and jars of homemade treats.  I never remember working with blueberries, though.  In fact, I'm not sure if I ever tasted a fresh blueberry until I was grown.  (I think Mama planted a couple of blueberry bushes once, but if I remember correctly, they came to a sad end before yielding fruit).  Now I find blueberries readily available, and love eating them on cereal, with yogurt, on salads, and in cobblers.

Today for the very first time I made blueberry jam using this recipe for blueberry jam from A Few Shortcuts.  This recipe made 3 half-pints and almost 1 other pint, and it was REALLY, REALLY easy.  (When I used this recipe, just to remind myself, I checked out general canning procedures at "Canning-the Musical" on Southern Plate.)  Now we just have to see if one of the jars refuse to seal.  That's the one we claim for home.  The others can be gifts. 

Yummmmmm. I'm sipping some iced tea to sooth my tongue, 'cause it was SO-ooo good that I burnt my tongue but good tasting it.

Here would be just the place to insert a picture of the little stash of jam, but my camera is AWOL.  I know it 's at the bottom of one of my bags and bins of craft supplies and flotsam left over from gymnastics camp crafts, part 2, which I have not blogged about at the Sm'Arties blog because, well, no pictures.  When I last saw camera, we were at the gym, the camera had escaped its little pouch, and was spotted with Mod Podge and a little paint. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sew Helpful

Amended to add:  Cynthia's invisible zipper tutorial looks great - I think I will try this method next time.  Thanks to Jennifer from Sewplicity for recommending it!

Sew4Home has a great post:  You Asked For It  -  a long list of detailed sewing basics.  I'll look at their invisible zipper tutorial later this evening before I attempt my second-ever invisible zipper installation.  I have never thought of using an invisible zipper on a pillow, but what a cool idea.

And look at this post about sewing an invisible zipper with a facing from Colette Patterns!  How cool is that?  I plan to line my skirt, and may try to make this technique work to attach the lining, skirt, and zipper all in one scary step.

Here is the skirt I am working on:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are you stalking these children?

I think I will step into controversy:

Twice in one week I had a child (2 different children) inform me that someone was stalking them. 

"Stalking us," that was the exact phrase.

Incident #1
In the first case, at Gymnastics Camp, on that beautiful day when we went outside and spray-tie-dyed T-shirts, a girl, a 9-year-old, I think, sidled up to me and spoke low, out of the corner of her mouth, "There's a stalker over there." 

Me: "What?"
She: "There's a stalker over there.  That lady is stalking us."
Me: "Where?"
She: "Over there, in the window.  That lady is looking at us. She's stalking us."

OK, seriously, who taught this little girl that no adult is allowed to LOOK OUT HIS/HER OWN OFFICE WINDOW at a bunch a rowdy children who have appeared on the lawn unexpectedly without being accused of stalking? 

This is what we were up to - in case the stalker wanted to know
I explained to her that this lady probably was sitting at her own desk in her own office, and heard us having fun, and since this area did not usually have a rowdy bunch of children having fun, she looked out HER OWN WINDOW to see what was going on.  Then she saw us with the T-shirts and spray cans and was curious to see what we were doing.  That's not stalking, looking out your own office window.  I tried to limit the sarcasm in my reply, but probably failed.

Can you imagine if I had stomped up to the window and hollered, "KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR DESK! STOP STALKING THESE YOUNG'UNS!?"

Incident #2
Later that same week, my daughter was hanging out with a couple of friends, and one of the friends reported to me that a lady was "totally stalking us." 

Me: "What? Who was stalking you?"
She: "A lady.  She was stalking us."
Me: "What do you mean, stalking?  What did she do?"
She: "She was looking at us."

That's all.  A trio of giggly girls caught her attention, and she...the nerve of her!...LOOKED at them.  She didn't keep looking.  She didn't follow them.  She just looked at them.

I know it is hard to balance, to teach discernment.  It's easier to teach a child that no one has the right to look at you, everyone is a danger to you.  It's easier to raise children to be fearful, untrusting, always scared, but, hey, at least they are safe. 

Please, while we teach our children to take care, let's also teach them that adults who look at them are almost always NOT the Bogeyman.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hero at the Next Table

Friday evening we sat just one table over from a hero. 

He looked just like many of the other men in the restaurant, in his early 80s, silver-haired, suntanned, wearing bermuda shorts and a polo shirt, eating and talking with five other vibrant senior citizens. 

These seniors can be found all over Florida, but Friday evening we were near The Villages, where most of the residents are retired, all the landscapes are manicured, and shopping centers and grocery stores have parking places designated for golf carts.

The lady seated next to the hero, a much younger retiree, chatted with him, and, as folks do at a large table in a busy restaurant, they turned toward each other to speak, which directed their conversation in my direction.  I tuned in when the lady said, "...ya know, like in Saving Private Ryan? The movie?  You were there?  On D-Day?"

The man answered, "In Normandy? Oh, yeah.  I was there."  Their conversation within my earshot continued long enough for me to hear that he was on the beach that first day, D-Day. I sat,  a little awestruck.  An American hero.  Part of the push that won the war.  So THAT'S who he was.

Yes, I know there were thousands there that day.  I know that this man, and many, probably did not want to be there, but were simply following orders.   He may have been no braver than soldiers who were back in the states, filing paperwork, driving trucks, casting off ropes on troop transports.  They are all my heroes. 

A few of them are in my family - less now than a few years ago. 

Every few months lately, our community has sent off an Honor Flight.  A plane full of elderly veterans and their escorts takes off early in the morning for Washington, DC, where they visit several locations, including the World War II Memorial. They are saluted as heroes everywhere they go.   They fly back the same day.  These flights are publicized ahead, and the community is invited to meet the returning heroes.  Hundreds show up each time.  Our community is patriotic like that.

The schedule has not worked for us yet, but maybe next flight, in October, will find us in the crowd forming a cheering line.  Cheering the heroes.

Monday, May 30, 2011


The lack of ability to comment on many blogs is making me batty.  I wonder if maybe blog friends have tried to comment to me and been rebuffed.   I feel like a big ol' wet blanket had been tossed over the party.

So here is another peaceful beach picture to make things better - not that I expect any comments on it.  My expectations are lowered considerably.

Originally I planned to attach the straps on the ruffly skirt dress to the back, too, since it would hold the back up better.  We decided to leave it halter tied for this wedding, then do the tedious adjustments to get the straps just right after we came home.  but now I like the flowy scarf look of the chiffon hanging down her back, so I think we will leave then as is.

And I loved her cousin's dress  - almost a 50's look, don't you think?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Comments and Yum

In recent days I have found it impossible to comment on some Blogger blogs.  (Hmm...I wonder if I can comment on my own...).  Amy, I wanted to leave a comment.  Crispy, I tried to say something nice.  You, too, Jennifer. And Alida.

But Blogger has kept me mum.  I understand there were some bigger Blogger issues a few days ago - some folks could not post at all!  I did not learn this firsthand, having neglected both blogs for a few weeks.  But imagine the hairpulling angst - something to say, and no way to blog it!

Yes, this blog has been greatly neglected.  I toss a few thoughts or a picture in, but have been slow to complete posts.  I have - gulp  -39 partial posts.  Some will never be posted - they are from long ago, and I have just not cleaned them out.  But at least 10-15 are recent...thinklings. School is finishing up, summer is getting all planned up, travel is coming up, and I just have not finished posts lately.
But just because I want to finish this post and to leave with something good:

Go here for Brownie-covered Oreos.  Serious yum. 
 And I don't even really like Oreos.  But I like these.  And I like Oreo cheescake.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sew far...

I could spend all day reading Meggiecat's links.

...but I am NOT reading her entire blog right now because I am sewing!!!  I am working with ruffled fabric for the very first time.

Pretty cool, huh?  This fabric did not come from the website above, but from a store in the Orlando area. We love the colors.

 I wanted to do Earthgirl a dress kind of like this one, only big girl size.  But she wanted something more along the lines of a ruffle-skirted sundress like her friend's dressy cream-colored sundress.  So we borrowed the dressy sundress (actually, we borrowed her little sister's almost-identical dress) and I am creating something similar from looking at that dress and one of our favorite patterns. 

...but first, before I cut into the not-so-inexpensive chifffon-y stuff we got for the bodice, I am making a muslin out of some cotton - it will be a sundress top. 

...and there is shirring involved in the back. 

I am sew crazy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grace and Patience

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Gal. 5:22-23

It is SO easy to get frustrated with the very folks we love the most.  It's easy to become aggravated at friends and family members who make poor decisions.  It is easy for me to become irritated with myself.  Grace and Patience - we need it.

Feminina says it so well here:  Grace on the Fly.    "...try to be a character you would like..."?  Well said! Please, go read her whole post.

Monday, April 11, 2011

More on the Wall

an update on my April 1 post

The scrapbook paper wall art, mounted on 12"x12" canvases (I trimmed the paper to about 11.5" square), with blue, green, and charcoal ink smeared around the edges

I need to put that pillow cover on the sewing list - it's still just folded on with 1 safety pin.

--and the girls have taken over the TP roll art!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Here is some of that wall art I was talking about

Making TP roll art is addictive!  

I cut and glued this little piece together in about 15 minutes during the tornado warnings last week.

Spray paint with a little "Hammered" and clear coat, and we are ready to hang.

Pretty good little doodad, huh?

I picked this little metal and canvas piece at Hobby Lobby's 90%-off section. The frame was scratched up.  The sentiment was OK (not my fave...), but the green giraffe-skin background was probably the whole reason it never went home with anyone.

I used a brown acid-free marker to fix the metal frame, painted the canvas black, stencilled on my own sentiment, rubbed a little brown over it to age it, sprayed the canvas part with acrylic clear coat, and hung it up.

 -and you can see the faux metal doodad through the open door.
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