First Home Photoshoot

Alas, another cold has it’s painful talons on my throat. As much as I love Colorado, a TINY bit more humidity in the air in the winter wouldn’t be the worst….

So, I’ve been sleeping. I’ll get a hold of some halloween weekend photos to post soon, but in the meantime, here is a collection of photos from my first “First Home” shoot! I had the honor of shooting this beautiful couple’s wedding, and jumped at the chance to do this.

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Fruit Fly Trap

This tutorial is a bit icky, but oh so rewarding… killing massive amounts of fruit flies.

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Can you see them at the bottom of that cup? More pictures at the bottom.

Call me a weird person for being so excited about it, but man do I dislike those things. Colorado doesn’t get much for bugs, so when this cloud invades our kitchen (or entire apartment) when the trash has a lot of “fresh” food in it (because we don’t have a compost), I get grumpy. Don’t stay grumpy, do something.

A lot of people have tried vaccuming the flies. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always kill them, and if you don’t own a vaccume that has it’s own bag, the flies will just get out when you empty it. Many people have heard of the plastic wrap over a bowl of fruit and/or vinegar method. this traps a good number of them, but it doesn’t really kill them, and it just produces a breeding ground so if any of them do find their way out you just have more!

Trust me, you need to try this method.

All you need:

  • small cup or bowl
  • Vinegar (I go with apple, not sure if it makes a difference)
  • Liquid Soap
  • Somewhat high pressure water (or something else to make it “frothy”)

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This is all super simple, not sure why I have so many photos.

First: pour a small amount of vinegar in the cup. A few tablespoons should be sufficient to start, but it depends on the size of your cup or bowl.

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Then, do about 1 pump of soap. I’ve heard people stop here saying the soap is toxic to them and kills them. I recommend going 1 step further.

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Give the mixture a quick blast of water to create some good suds. Now, the flies will come to the smell of the vinegar, and then they get caught in the suds and drown.

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You would be amazed how quickly this knocks out a swarm! Check on it a few times a day and refresh the suds as they die down. The vinegar smell is usually still strong enough even if you fill the cup up toward the top.

Can you see those black dots around the bottom of the cup? ALL fruit flies. This has typically killed off most of the swarm in just a couple days. That is a LOT of flies!

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So gross. So satisfying.

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Beginning of Fall and Applesauce

It’s been more eventful lately, and I’ve taken photos… so I just might be posting more in the near future!

To start, I talked in my last post about how I am going to occasionally post more outfit photos. Well, twice in a row, I might start pushing “occasionally”… but it’s becoming Fall, and new seasons are so much fun!

For one of those perfect sunny and 65 days:

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Jacket: Guess – second hand, Tank: J.Crew – swapped, Jeggings: Mossimo – thrifted, Belt: Marshall’s clearance, watch: Thrifted, Necklace: Yobel Market
 

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This is one of my all time favorite necklaces. Simple, geometric, just a great little accent.

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And I was so proud of myself for wearing my hair down (I lasted the entire day!), I took another photo. However, when getting my picture taken (even if I am taking them of myself) I get a little weird.

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In other news I made a GIANT batch of applesauce for us, and we are almost finished with it. If you want your house to smell amazing and celebrate fall, do this recipe. Super simple (besides the whole peeling and slicing apples part), and it’s worth it. Go here for the recipe I used, and maybe wander around, because I love their blog.

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And topped it all off with some sunset reading next to my thriving tomato plant with this super great applesauce. Including a vintage pyrex bowl, vintage silver spoon (from my grandma) and vintage lawn chair. IMG_0990

Hanging Railing Planter

It’s garden time again! Due to the traveling we did this spring, I didn’t bother starting any seedlings because they never would have made it. Thankfully I have some over-zealous friends who planted a ton extra so I got some of their bounty! I’m learning from some of my mistakes this year and utilizing our new deck to create some shadier spaces to keep the plants cool. They say they are full-sun, but they haven’t met the match of Colorado draught sun on a roof!

One idea I’m trying out this year is to use a “planter” of sorts that doubles as some extra shade for the plants below.

hanging railing planter

What you need:

  • A fabric shower curtain or window cover (try thrift stores or discount stores) or a couple of yards of fabric. – Be sure it’s some sort of polyester  you don’t want the planter disintegrating byt he end of the summer.
  • A sewing machine. – I have a pretty basic machine that only does straight lines and zigzags and it was sufficient.
  • Heavy Duty thread.
  • Cord or rope to attach the planter to your railing. – You could also create some straps from fabric if needed. Again, keep it synthetic, cotton and hemp aren’t going to last.
  • Dirt – plan on 1 cu ft  bare minimum. This also depends on the amount of fabric you have and the final size of the planter. Bags of dirt never go as far as you think they will, be safe and go with 2.
  • Plants. – I went with some heartier plants that do ok in sometimes dry soil. These hanging fabric planters lose water faster than pots. I also bought some basil which isn’t the heartiest, but I wanted to give it a shot and have some fresh stuff on hand.
  • Gardening tools and extras you want. – those other things that you want, gloves, fertilizers, labels, etc.

Start of by folding your curtain in half, bring the bottom up to the top. If there is an obvious “outside” (a pattern or nicer seems) be sure to start off by sewing “inside out” and have the pattern on the inside. If you don’t have a curtain that is already reinforced at the top, it would be a good idea to create a sort of thick hem on top that will be strong enough to support the planter. If you do already have a reinforced top, leave a little bit of that uncovered to use to hang from.

Then, simply sew the edges together. My machine has a harder time with thick spots, so I just kept it right on the outside edge of the seems.

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Be sure to keep the top open, that is one of the slots you will be putting dirt in.

Then, reinforce those seems with a zigzag. There will be a lot of reinforcing on this project, wet dirt gets heavy!

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Once you have the sides sewn at least twice, go ahead and flip it right side out. Now you will have the pattern (or nice side of the fabric) facing outward. We will be working with it this way the rest of the project.

Next, sew a couple more pockets. I decided to just do 4 total, but you can split it up as much as you want. I kept the pockets larger since my plants need a bit more space for roots. Be sure to double sew these lines as well.

*On this project I did not leave extra space in between top and bottom pockets. If you are doing larger pockets like this, I recommend you put at least a few inches of space between the bottom of the top pockets and bottom pockets so your plants have more room to grow up. You can see in my later pictures my mint and lavender are a little “cozy” on bottom.

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At this point you have sewn at least a couple of “pockets” shut. Cut a slit in the top layer. Don’t cut all the way through both layers!

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Sew around the raw edges of fabric, you don’t want them to fray away into nothing.

Also, on the outside corners of the pocket opening run that zig-zag a few extra times and make a nice thick edge. The corners will take a lot of weight and want to split.

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You can really see my perfectionist sewing coming out on this project… look at all those not-so-straight lines. That’s my life, friends, I hate straight lines. You know what? This thing doesn’t have to look perfect to function well!

Sew some super reinforced “buttonholes”. No need for a fancy machine to serge this, just zig zag over itself multiple times, leaving a space you will soon cut open to run your cord/rope through.

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I put 3 on top, and 2 on the sides to keep it from blowing in the wind.

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Again, 3 cheers for imperfection!

Cut some small slits in the button holes, and strap your planter to your railing. If you know some fancy knots, you can make it so you can move the planter if needed. Otherwise, just tie it tight.

Fill your pockets up with dirt leaving a inch or two to the brim. That way if you get a downpour you won’t loose too much dirt. And plant your plants! Look at my herbs, nice as cozy:

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As I mentioned before, you can see how the lower plants are a little tight. They have room, but they have to dodge the pocket above them. If your pockets are smaller, this likely won’t be an issue. If you are doing larger pockets, be sure to create more space than I did.

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Here is the rest of my garden as well. A large variety of squashes  I found this lattice for a few bucks at our local ReStore (a crafters dream). I love beans, so decided to plant them late anyway. I’m also going to see if I can train the watermelon to grow up instead of out.

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A smattering of peppers, some hot and some sweet. The fruit crate planters are holding up well enough from last year.

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Our lonely tomato plant. Our friend didn’t have many extras, and since they didn’t do so well last year we decided to wait and see this time around. I will be giving this guy a lot of TLC, because there is nothing like a fresh grown tomato.

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A variety of leafy greens. They are doing better than I expected, so I will likely have to find a few more pots to put them in. Or possibly test them out in the pallet again, trying to keep it a little shadier. Also saving some space in the pallet for some more herbs!

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And I couldn’t resist getting some flowers this year. Even if we have another rough summer of draught, I can keep a little bit of bright color and life around with the cosmos. And maybe even get another bloom out of the Amaryllis!

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Here we go again, another summer of experimentation on the patio. Let me know what you think!

Working with Wine Bottles (pt 1)

I’m sure you’ve seen the tutorials floating around Pinterest. Easy DIY Wine Bottle tumblers/chandelier/candle holder/vase/planter! Just drink some wine, make some cool stuff. Simply___(fill in the blank)___ and it just splits right in half, right?

Well, if you’ve tried it, it probably didn’t go as well as they all said.

I tried the ole “acetone soaked thread” method and couldn’t get a single break, and most reviews said it was pretty dangerous. No glass flying through the air please! However, this video tutorial is the best I’ve found. I still rarely get cuts as clean as his, but because of this tutorial, they are usable.

Suggested Materials:

  • Glass Bottles
  • Glass Bottle Cutter (see below for notes on these)
  • Glass Cutter with notches at the end (similar to this one)
  • Course Sandpaper
  • Goo Gone to remove labels, if wanted.
  • A computer to turn on your favorite shows… I like background TV, makes tedious jobs less tedious. Obviously optional.

Notes on Bottle Cutters: I use this one and mostly like it, I found it at Hobby Lobby and used my 40% of coupon (woo!). They were hit or miss on carrying it, though, had to search a couple stores. It’s compact and lightweight, and does the job I need it to. It’s made of aluminum and does feel flimsy, and sometimes the wing-nuts get loose. I went to my local hardware store and got some steel ones that I can tighten more. It is, however, much harder to use this one to cut other glass jars or jars without that same spout. If you are looking to do more with it, I have tried this one, but honestly didn’t love it. It’s design felt cheap, and I had a really hard time getting a straight cut, which defeated the purpose. I’ve been brainstorming how to make my own with a simple glass cutting tool.

Let’s Go!

Firstly, decide where you want to make the cut. If it is above the labels, then you don’t need to worry about cleaning the labels off before cutting. If you plan on keeping the label on, you are saving yourself even more time!

If you need to take the labels off, hope that you get a nice easy one like this:

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Clean, beautiful, easy, time saving. However, most of mine looked something like this:

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Pity.

Try and scrape a good bit of the labels off, soak with some warm water to help if needed, and finish with some Goo Gone. For now, take off only the goop around where you want to score. Since there is a decent chance you bottle won’t cut as clean as you’d like, don’t waste too much time cleaning it until you are sure it’s good to use.

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Further instructions are using the tool I mentioned earlier. If you are using something else, follow directions for scoring.

Adjust the cutter so the vertical bar is perfectly vertical, and the top horizontal piece forms 90 degree angles. Adjust the cutting wheel to a 90 degree angle from the glass. This takes some extra effort when you are experiementing with cutting curved parts of bottles.

Once set, apply even, and lightly firm pressure and rotate the bottle until the line overlaps with the start. You will notice a change in the sound, almost like it suddenly became sandy. It doesn’t take much for a nice score. Press too hard and the score won’t work as well, press not enough, and the score won’t exist. I am still working getting this down. The score should look like a thin hair around the bottle, try and avoid the sandy/gravely look.

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Once you have a good score, I HIGHLY recommend you use the hot/cold water method. I have tried both pouring and dunking (have a pot of boiling and a pot of ice water), and find the pouring method easier and more reliable, especially when you have a shortage of deep pots.

This method (frankly the entirety of this process) is helpful with 2 people, but doable with one. Like the video tutorial I referred you to early in this post, run some cold water in a sink, and have a kettle of boiling water. Wear thick rubber gloves or even oven mitts to protect your hands, and some form of eye protection. There shouldn’t be much flying glass, but better safe than sorry! I often put a few dish rags at the bottom of the sink to protect falling pieces. Run cool water over the score, letting cool water touch all of it, then slowly and gently pour the hot water. Be careful not to burn yourself, and there is no need to use a lot. You will likely start to hear it cracking, and in the right light you can see it cracking (hopefully) along the score, until POP!

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It separates! I jump almost every time. It doesn’t make a loud noise, but you can never quite anticipate with it will come apart.

This particular cut was a real winner! What did I do right? Honestly, I have no idea. A far larger majority of mine look more like this:

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(also note the score, it’s not a great one, I pressed too hard) I call these extra pieces “teeth” as they are often smaller and sharper. This is a pretty large one that I was still able to clean up a good bit. This is where the other glass cutter comes into play. Not to cut more, but to use those prongs to break off the teeth.

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Try to use leverage against the score, and bend the glass toward the inside of the bottle. (USE SAFETY GEAR! Especially eyewear!) It should break right along the score. The break won’t be as clean as the hot/cold water break, but can sanded down with a good bit of elbow grease.

I found it best to cut some course sandpaper into strips, then dampen them with a little water and sand down the rim. BE CARFUL and make sure you get the whole thing sanded down. No accidentally cutting yourself!

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Now give them a warm water bath and a Goo Gone scrub and get all the label gunk off, and you are ready so use as you choose!

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I turned many of mine into candles, full tutorial on that later on another date

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Other notes:

  • My overall “success” (usable) rate for wine bottles cut around their middle was 50% – 75%. Smaller bottles (beer etc.), and odd cuts (on curved parts of the neck) had a lower success rate.
  • Certain smaller bottles scored better than others. I was sad to find that the bottles from our favorite brewery score terribly. I also found that thinner wine bottles were more likely to have stray cracks. Some good ole 2-buck-chuck was an abundant bottle, but also ended up abundantly in the recycle bin as a failure.
  • I read a note that the darker the glass, the harder it is to get a good cut. I found some truth to this, but it wasn’t significant.

Have you tried cutting bottles? What was your experience?

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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Frost-Proofing the Roof Garden

Pallet Garden Frost Proof

So the timing of this post is off. Talking about frost in July? It is Colorado, but I’m not too worried about it.

It was, however, a crazy spring, and it seems better to get this seed planted (pun intended) in your brain so when you have your own pallet garden and you get that surprise snow storm you’ll be prepared.

What You Need:

  • We inherited a roll of what I believe is painters plastic, which just so happened to be the perfect size for our pallet. Any large piece of plastic or old bed sheet would work.
  • Sticks or dowels taller than your plants.
  • Staple gun (or another way to hold the plastic down and make sure it doesn’t fly away in the wind)
I took some dead branches from a tree hanging over our porch, broke them into pieces that would hold the plastic above the plants. This is important, you want to keep the plastic off the plants as much as possible to help keep them from freezing. If they touch, they are more likely to freeze. If you want to look a little more clean and less haphazard, get a dowel or two, or even some paint stirrers, and cut them up. Place the sticks around the outside edges as well as throughout the middle trying not to upset your plants too much.

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Lay the plastic over your pallet and get it arranged and straightened. It was a good windy storm, so we went all out and stapled the corners down instead of just laying something heavy on the corners. Start at one end, get all the excess gathered, and make sure you pull it fairly tight. You don’t want to wind catching too much of the plastic and ripping it off.

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The plants, all cozy! They kind of look tucked in for bed. All the rest of the plants were still in small pots  we just brought them inside for the night.

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And safe and sound the next morning!

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The snow was already melting in the sun, and next to nothing was damaged. When I unrolled the plastic I only detached it from one end and left the top stapled in case we had another round of frost.

What method have you had luck with?