The past 6 months…

It doesn’t seem like long ago I was posting photos of the fires and looking forward to our summer trip home to Michigan. And now I am once again looking forward to a trip to Michigan, but it is for Christmas. Where on earth did time go? It was a time filled with stories, events, friendships, as well as some hardships. Things continue to be crazy, but in an effort to assure you I am still alive and kicking, here is a very summarized version of what I’ve been up to: Planned and implemented another even bigger clothing swap! It appears it will be a successful bi-annual event that I have  laid on myself to own. I hope to post some more specific tips and tricks in the coming months.

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I had yet another show in November at my favorite place in town, Yobel Market. They even allowed me to sell some of my crafted goods, of which I did many. It was a last minute switch to show in November instead of December, so I didn’t take many great pictures, but you will be seeing some tutorials on these goodies in the months to come. A little late for the christmas gifts for you, but there are many reasons to give gifts between now and next Christmas!

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SO MUCH BAKING. The people want to gather and eat when the whether starts cooling off, and I hate keeping things simple, so how about some apple, brie, and honey crescents? Or maybe a baked apple, squash, cranberry and brown sugar dish?

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And the following is where a large amount of my time has been spent. I have a great passion for what the store Yobel Market (yobelmarket.com) does. By encouraging fair wages, having personal relationships with suppliers, and supplying business trainings, they are helping people around the world break their bonds in poverty. In areas where a woman’s only hope of survival was the prostitute herself, she is has now learned to sew and is making a living for herself and her children. People living in poverty in northern India thought they were cursed because their businesses always failed, no matter how hard they tried. After getting business training and making local support groups, they have newfound hope and success. Every item sold at Yobel has a beautiful story of hard work, of perseverance, of redemption, of HOPE. And they are simply beautiful products to begin with! I have been wanting to do something meaningful with my photography. I do believe having a cherished family photo is meaningful, but I also have a conviction to help the poor, not just those who can afford to pay me for a photo. So, Yobel had a need, and I had the ability to to fill it, and I have had the joy (seriously, joy, even with the extra  hours of work) of helping expand their online selection and make it easier for people around the country to find and buy these great products that raise awareness and literally save lives around the globe!

web board

birds stroyboard

Kantha Coin Purse

Necklace Storyboard

Other Storyboard

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Simple Mother’s Day Love

I need to be very honest when I say, I HATE fake flowers. Whenever I go into Hobby Lobby and see the whole lovely array, I feel deceived. And annoyed, They are oh so practical, but I think I would rather have no greenery than fake greenery.

Now, let’s make some fake flowers.

I love these. I think the difference here is the style. These lovely things aren’t pretending to be real, but are still very nice to look at. They have that hint of hand-made quaintness but could look great in the classiest of home. I made these as a supplemental gift for my mom, mom-in-law, as well as a couple for myself.

What you need:
nylon based fabric – I used a chiffon in this case
Scissors
a candle
embroidery thread for center of flowers (you can also use beads or buttons if you so desire, don’t forget to get something to sew them on. Thread, clear fishing line, etc.)
hot glue gun (for attaching stems or safety pins)
floral wire/stems
Safety pins 

I would do a tutorial, but there are a few out there, and it is pretty self-explanatory. Here is the one I used. Cut out circles of different sizes (they dont need to be very exact at all), hold the edges close to a flame, assemble into flowers. Bam.

Here are 2 options for attaching a stem. Attach directly to the outside or  put a fabric layer between.

Assemble all of the petals except the largest. Cut a small slit in the largest and put the stem through.

Put a spot of hot glue on the circle of the stem, set the assembled petals on the stem,  let it dry.

Repeat until you have  a nice little bouquet!

I also put safety pins on a few. This method, just attach all petals together, put a spot of glue on the back, and attacha  safety pin. Then you can use it to brighten up a sweater, a scarf, or slide a bobby pin through and have some summery hair!

Roof Pallet Garden

So you have likely seen the vertical pallet garden by now, right? Well, we live in a second floor apartment with a door to a  south facing “porch” which is actually a flat piece of roof with no railings. We love it. (We have no children…)

But we want a garden. And not some silly little flowers packed in tight, we wanted to produce food from our plants. So our pallet garden looks a little different:

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What You Need:

  • – Pallet – if you are going to eat from your pallet, be careful to not get one treated with chemicals.
  • – Landscaping Fabric – keeps your dirt inside the pallet and not all over your porch.
  • -Staple Gun
  • – Dirt – our pallet was smaller than standard size 50in by 25in , and used less than 3 cubic feet of dirt (Get the potting kind! We had to exchange ours…)
  • – Plants – do a little research as to what you want and what works well in your region and in smaller spaces.

Start by fixing up your pallet. Clean up any stray nails/screws and sturdy up any loose boards.

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Some of the plants. We also bought a bunch of tomatos (already potted here) to see how they’d do. I eat tomatos like candy…

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Attach your landscaping fabric. We went overboard with the staple gun, but I don’t regret it. Went along all four sides as well as the support pieces that go across the middle.

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Make sure to keep the “top” open if you are going to put this upright at all. If you put it completely upright you will want to plant here, if it is at a slight upright (like ours) then it helps to collect rain water.

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Start filling with dirt, make sure to tuck it in the bottom and under the support pieces so there won’t be too much movement when you put it more upright. Don’t overfill yet, you need to put your plants in still.

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Happy garden making!

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Now put in your plants! Make sure to loosen the roots of the plant so it takes in its new place, but don’t disturb the roots too much, it’s hard on the young plants. Tuck them in fairly tight (but not too tight) with more dirt. Full in any sneaky holes, and save the rest of the dirt to fill in as it settles.

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The finished product a few weeks later moved to it’s final resting place:


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Facing slightly east for extra sun, with our struggling tomatos in front. (I trimmed all that blight off, but they still have a pile of flowers, so I think they will be OK!)

Thus far my main improvements have to do with my plant care, but this neat little pallet keeps out weeds and many ground varmints. I am however experimenting with how to keep the squirrels from digging, but so far they haven’t ruined any plants. However, the fight is on once fruit starts forming…

T-shirt Rug

I am always looking for things to do with t-shirts. So much fabric, I hate to get ride of it! We are nostalgic folks, so in order to keep room in the dresser but not lose the memories I have made some t-shirt blankets for my husband and I. Since I only used a square of the shirt that included logos etc, I had plenty of jersy fabric left over from them. At least half of the t-shirt, more if you only used the front! How could one ever even think to toss it (and maintain cleanliness, organization, and space…)?

Well, it was high time to clear a little space and use this stuff I’d been hanging on to for a while. I thought about making a latch hook rug like these but wanted something a little flatter. Maybe a bit of crocheting or braiding like my mom used to do? Nah, I reverted back to my elementary school years of weaving random bits of string to make small mats that decorated my bookcase of trinkets. For years after I would end up with various yarns from who knows where and with whatever cardboard was available continue to make them. So, time to make a bigger one:

What you need:

  • T-shirt (or other fabric scraps) – I used the leftovers of 10-12 shirts for my rug that ended up at 1.5 x 2.5, and I didn’t end up using all of them.
  • Decent scissors
  • Yarn/thread/twine/other long fabric scraps/whatever you want to make the initial lines with. I used sturdy yarn that more or less matched the fabrics I ended up with.
  • A loom. Don’t panic, I just used 4 folding chairs and strung my yarn between. Looked great and took up the little bit of spare space we had left in our apartment! (I had the idea later to use a large piece of wood, like particle board with a bit of reinforcement, with nails. This way you could make your string tighter, and possibly put some guide nails along the middle in order to help prevent the hourglass shape. If we had room and more t-shirts I’d try it…)
  • A ruler/yardstick/measurer
  • A good back if your “loom” is on the floor like mine
  • A bit of patience.
Let’s go!
If you have anything screen printed on your tee’s, I’d cut them off. I had a small bit of print on one and it looked super noticeable. (feel free to give it a shot, could look interesting if all your colors have bits of screen print?) If you are using on-hand tees, choose colors that look good together.

Trim off all seems. They are a bit too chunky and don’t roll as well.

Start cutting your shirts into strips about 1 in wide. If you have a fancy cutting device to keep your strips amazingly straight and even, go for it. After weaving, you really can’t tell how straight they are. You might be able to see some thickness difference, but I like to think imperfections give more character.

– I later found a tutorial on how to make 1 long “thread” from a shirt. Could definitely save you time. I had many awkwardly cut shirts, and I wanted to use as much of the shirt as possible, so I still cut them into straight strips. Also, depends on the final look you want. Thick stripes? This method will work. Multi-color heathered? smaller pieces would be better.

Cut slits in both ends of every thread.

Originally I started off cutting the slits as I went along (below). Save yourself som energy, and just do the snipping all in one sitting. I forgot to take a picture once I figured this out. Learn from my mistake, it makes way more sense.

Peek ahead for some larger pictures of the “loom”. Just set the chairs apart from each other, more distance apart than the length you’d like your rug, and tie whatever thread you choose across. Mine started off being about 1.5 inch apart, but could have easily been closer to make the rug a little tighter.

Loosely tie your first tee-thread to one end, and start weaving! (For noobs, that means over, under, over, under and repeat endlessly.)

to attach the 2 pieces check out this tutorial

Put the end attached to the loom through the slit of the new piece of  tee-thread.

Then put the other end of the new piece of tee-thread through the slit on piece attached to the loom.
Confusing enough? Makes more sense when you do it yourself.

Most of mine looked like above. Every one in a while they look like below. Helpful tip, make sure they strands are curling in the same direction when you connect them.

(A slightly better view of the “loom” below.)

Continue weaving. I started doing random colors. Not long after this point, I decided to try thicker stripes, and liked it much better. I think with different colors, this could look cool, but not stripes were better this time.

Be sure to not pull to tightly on the tee thread when weaving. If you don’t leave a bit of breathing room on the outside edges, the rug will get more and more narrow as you go, making it triangular, until you get to the other end/start adjusting, when it starts to look like an hourglass.

When you’ve made it as long as you can/want, cut the yarn with enough room to tie the ends.

Take the yarn in pairs and tie it off. Trim excess. (If using other tee-shirt thread for this part, could make nice tassels?)

And you should have a rug!

Ways to do this better than me:

  • Wash the cut up tees before weaving them. Spare yourself the ridiculous amounts of t-shirt dust everywhere.
  • Use my modified idea for a loom (see “what you need” list to get my vague description. Or ask for clarification) OR find an antique loom and modify that! Check out this lady’s rugs on etsy
  • Choose a better color scheme. I was at the mercy of the colors I had, I refused to spend money on this one. Someday I’d like to either buy a bunch of shirts in similar color to get a “heathered” look to the rug, or be more intentional about the color combo with stripes, or buy a bunch of white shirts and dye them whatever color you’d like.

Let me know how yours turn out!

It’s February, it’s cold!

We LOVE ourselves some old-timey Victorian downtown apartments. Tall ceilings, wood floors, classic trim, wavy glass… and oh yes, lots of breezy windows and doors. We have one window that literally collects dirt on the window sill from anything that makes it through on the dry gusty days. Therefor, I set out to test out those draft stoppers. You’ve likely seen them around, here is how I did mine:

What you need:

  • Fabric – amount dependent on your project.
  • Matching thread.
  • Sewing machine, or hand sewing with significant patience.
  • Rice – I quickly used up my 1lb bag and dug into our stash. If making one for a window instead of a door base, 1 lb should be enough.
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Clips (to hold the rice in if you need to test it out before sewing it shut)
  • Funnel. This can be a piece of paper rolled up if you want.
  • Vacuum to clean up the giant mess of rice you spilled all over. Or a good friend to help poor the rice.

(For all you Meyers Briggs lovers, can you guess if I am a J or P?)

Measure the amount of fabric you need. Our door goes to an unheated general space shared with the downstairs tenants. Emphasis on unheated. To help keep it in place I decided to have 2 connected “tubes” filled with rice with space in the middle to slide under the door. That way it would stay right under the door when we came and went.

Start pinning to the necessary shape. If doing a single tube of rice remember to turn the fabric inside out for sewing 3 of the 4 sides. For the double tube it isn’t necessary since the bottom will be facing the floor always.

The amount of space in between will be dependent on the width of your door. I made the space slightly smaller that the width of the door so that when filled with rice it would stay nice and snug against the door.

Sew 3 of the 4 sides of the tubes.

I was feelin’ fancy and used a zig-zag stitch. Totally unnecessary, just make sure the stitching is tight enough that you don’t have rice sneaking out every time you use the door/window.

Fill with rice. Don’t overfill, having it loose helps it fit into the cracks a little better. I was alone when making this, but having an extra hand would have been immensely helpful. One person to hold the fabric/funnel, another to pour. To do it yourself ends up with little rice surprises for the next week…

Before sewing the ends shut, use some good clips to test it out. I am glad I did this step, because I overfilled my rice and there was no chance of it fitting under the door. Once it is the desired fill, sew your ends shut…

…and put it to good use saving energy!

For all those Christmas Cards

As adults now, we get a pile of Christmas cards from people we love… and I want to show off how loved we are!
I have seen these at friends places, often in girly colors or with shiny ribbon. (I, of course, am avoiding the girly-ness for our place, gotta respect the husb.) I love simple design and practicality, but I couldn’t find one for under $20… And of course that mantra went off in my head: “I can totally make that.”
Here is what I used:
  • Bulletin board, or other large, flat, sturdy surface, whatever size you want. You could probably use a peice of wood, it would just be heavier.
  • Fabric – color of choice, enough to cover your board + a good 3 or 4in over every side.
  • Foam – 1/4 to 1/2 in thick, as much as you need.
  • Elastic – wider holds things a little better without creasing them. I used plain white, but you can find colors and pretty versions out there if you want to be adventurous.
  • Buttons – depending on the size of your board and the number of times your elastic crosses over -enough for both front and back (see directions to understand), and also holes large enough for your choice of needle to go through.
  • Large thick strong needle – mine came under the title of “heavy duty hand needle”
  • Strong thread or embroidery floss
  • Stapler – I had a tiny one, it survived. One that opens up all the way is VERY beneficial, and if you use wood, you should probably get more than a basic office stapler…
  • (mini saw or heavy scissors if you are silly like me and don’t measure ahead of time, or just too cheap to buy more foam.)
After a couple of moves I had an old bulletin board laying around that had some stuff I had to rip off the front. Don’t have one laying around? You can probably get one for 3 bucks at your local thrift store.
As you may have gathered from earlier, I didn’t measure, but assumed the foam was enough, but it was just under. I was tired of waiting to make it, I had the time, so I just took the frame off the board and went a trimming. When measuring, I think it looks best when the foam is barely over the edge of the board. If you go over too much, it leaves weird lumps on the edges of the final product (learn from my mistakes… see finished product)

Cutting, I decided the little saw worked WAY better.

The edge closest to the camera is an ideal location for the foam. The edge on the right is probably a little too much extra foam that will result in the “lumps.”

No need to be super exact in the measuring on the fabric. Just give at least a few inches of fabric on the back.

Time to staple. Staple until it is secure on the back, pull it nice and tight so that there isn’t wrinkling on the front.

Never said it looked pretty… When you are done you can always cover it with something prettier, but lets face it, it will be against the wall.

Same with the elastic. Pull it a little tight, no need to overly stretch it, and staple it at least a couple times (Again, doesn’t look pretty on back.)

Do the big elastic X across the middle first, then add the outer elastic.

(In some pictures you see hemp, but I changed my mind to using black embroidery floss.) Take your needle, stab THROUGH the board (drill, get creative if you are using something harder). The cork cracks and makes a fairly large hole, this is why you will need buttons for both sides.

Put the string through the front button and put both ends through the eye of the needle. Pull it through the hole. Put through the holes on the back button (or whatever equivalent you decide to use) and pull it TIGHT. If you can go through the buttons again with success, do it, but I had too many issues, and it is still holding strong with just the one time through. Make sure you try and keep the knot tight enough that there is a “dent” in the foam, almost like buttons on a vintage chair would look.

Tighter all your buttons and Viola! Start shoving your Christmas cards (birthday cards, random pictures, receipts…) and show off how awesomely loved you are!