Lights in the Shower

201508028 - lights in the shower
I prefer natural light in a bathroom, especially when in the shower. There is something soothing about showering with the bright lights off, and just a touch of natural light.

Since my new apartment doesn’t have natural light in the bathroom, I had the idea to hang led lights, but could not figure out where. I turned to Pinterest to see how other people had hung lights in their bathroom, but all I could find was someone had hung lights in the window behind their tub, along the curtain rod… and then I had an idea!

I got a string of regular white led lights, and looped them around the shower curtain rod, between the shower curtains to protect them from water. Then I hung the power pack from a robe hook outside the shower, high up on the wall, and use rechargeable batteries for it.

I’ve been enjoying my soothing ‘shower lights’ for months!

Covering Lamp Shades

20150812 - lampsI’ve wanted to cover my lamp shades for quite a while. I bought them for their size and shape and price in Ikea’s As-Is section… but they don’t really match my décor, the pink ones especially. With Pinterest I looked into covering them with fabric, covering them with wall paper, decoupage, removing the fabric to use the frame, even painting them!

In the end I opted for the path of least resistance, and decided to just re-cover them with fabric. I love how they turned out, especially my bedroom ones where I used leftover curtain fabric (thrifty and matching, yay!), what I was not counting on was that when the light is turned on… the original color/pattern shows through the new fabric. Had I known that I might have been more careful when hot gluing the edges down, lol…

20150812 - more lamps

2014 Garden – Day 2: Burlap Grow Sacks

I looked for old burlap bags, but could not seem to find any locally, and the ones to order online were not cost effective for me. So, I bought the cheapest burlap at Joann’s, and used a 40% off coupon to make it nearly $2 a yard. Then:

1. Cut the yards into twenty inch pieces, so they are 20 inch by 48 inch
2. Sew up the side to form a tube.

You could stop there, however even though I wanted an open bottom ‘bag’, I also wanted the dirt to be able to hold the bag in place, so sewed only the bottom corners of the bag, about three inches in on each side.

Also, I like the rolled down look at the top of the bag, but was having a hard time keeping the top of new burlap rolled, so I tacked it down in all four ‘corners’ of the bag.

So, while crude but effective, this was the neat result!

Food Dispensing Cat Toy

A long time ago I read an article about how cats need to be allowed to hunt for their food, using purchased or homemade food dispensing toys, and I’ve always been intrigued by the idea. You can read more about that here: The Benefits of Using Puzzle Feeders for Cats

My cats already like to chew and play with yarn since I’ve made yarn cat toys before, so I freehanded this on the train yesterday… when I got home and pulled it from my backpack my hubby stated the obvious. “That looks like a turd.” I do agree, the choice of color was unfortunate, however it was just scrap yarn I grabbed as I left the house to catch the train.

Although this worked exactly as I wanted it to, I plan to make a new one when I have time again, in a different color, and perhaps a lot less tapered…. In the meantime, here is the pattern I came up with:

Food Dispensing Cat Toy

Stick
R1: ch 3, join to form loop, ch 1, 5 sc in loop, join
R2: ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around, including 1st ch 1
(crochet rows 1 and 2 tightly, as these will be the food holder)
R3 – R13: place marker, 1 dc in each stich around
R14: *1 dc, 1 invisible dc decrease*, repeat from * around
R15 – R20: 1 triple crochet in each stich around
R21: 1 dc, 1 hdc, 1 sc, sc in each stich around
R22: *1 sc, 1 invisible sc decrease*, repeat from * around

Food Cage
Ch 3, join to form loop, Ch3, 4 triple crochet, leave a long tail

To Attach
Use your thumb to push in the top of the stick to row 4 (to form a small hollow)
Use the long tail of the food cage to sew it over the top of the hollow.

To Use
Push piece of cat food or treats through the triple crochet ‘bars’.
Leave one piece half out, then get your cat’s attention by letting him sniff it.
My cat loved it! He was playing with it all night to get a snack when he was hungry.

Teacher Gifts, Bags & Bons Bons

Not having much experience yet with teacher gifts, I hope I sent a good gift. I embroidered this tree on a reusable bag, one that I made with a size large enough to hold a binder and papers, and that I hope would be helpful to a teacher. Then I attached a small bag of bon bons that are a family specialty, because it’s the holidays and that means chocolate!

Peanut Butter Bons Bons
Makes one tray full

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 oz of chocolate

Mix all ingredients except of chocolate.
Form into small balls.
Melt chocolate and dip.
Let dry and enjoy.

Old Frames for Dry Erase Notes

I saw this awesome idea at the blog Break for Mommy, a dry erase board that instead of being boring white, could be customized with scrapbooking paper in a frame! How right up my alley!! I’ve been wanting to get a board, or cork board, or chalkboard, or something for the entry way for reminders, notes, and weather. Most especially for the weather, so that I know if I need to take rain gear. We got the matching frames from goodwill, with their only redeeming factors that that they had Goodwill’s “color of the week” sticker, making them half off! As soon as we got them home, we repainted them, and I set to work making the 11×17 inch inserts to print out. I think they turned out perfect for our needs, if you like the inserts you can download them here: Entry Way “Dry Erase” Board

For the frame I asked what kind of paint to use at a tool store and they said to use acrylic. I bought a small bottle at Joann’s, along with a sponge brush, which worked for both large frames…. Before and after:

Also, we used this great tip for hanging the frames: Painters Tape to Hang a Frame

Pillow Covers

Dilemma: Our couch pillows are very old, splitting at the seams, and kinda gross. Having been washed and mended, they still are becoming an eyesore.

Consumer Outlook: Buy new pillows. Trash the old pillows.
Crafty Sewer’s Outlook: Make new pillows. Trash the old pillows.
Reduce Reuse Recycle Outlook: Make new covers for the old pillows.

I bought this fuzzy fabric half off on Black Friday, and covered the old pillows, easy peasy!

Quick Spare Key Project

I love this idea to attach a rock to a bottle lid for hiding a spare key! Found at the blog Apartment Therapy, this is simply genius! We have a ring of river rock around a bush near the garage door, so we grabbed a memorable rock, an old medicine bottle, and the spare key. When it came to glue… I was unsure. I thought it might be difficult to open the child proof bottle with a huge rock in the way, so in the end I used a small strip of sticky back Velcro that I had on hand. I put the soft side on the top of the bottle, the rough side on the rock, and… Ta-da!

Reblog: Lighter Than Air Peasant Top

Now that I’m passably good at making skirts, I’ve been wanting to try a peasant shirt, it’s making a comeback from the 70’s, and presumably the 1500’s, and I still love the look and comfort of them. I have purchased a few, but even though I really want to make my own, I’ve been putting it off since I’m scared of managing the armhole part. Eek!

I found this wonderful blog post, at My Gramma Said, about repurposing a regular t-shirt into a peasant shirt, and though this would be a wonderful starting point for shirt making. I got the whole blog post with pictures to fit on five pages, you can download that here: Lighter Than Air Peasant Top.

Soon after I saw that pattern, I happened to be at goodwill and found a perfect extra-large shirt for $3! That is a small enough investment to give me confidence, so let the sewing begin!

I didn’t want the ties hanging down in the front, so I just didn’t put them in. And the shirring didn’t quite work for me, not sure what I did wrong there. But otherwise, it turned out cute!

This is more of a summer shirt though, since it turns out almost sleevless, so I may try this all over again at the start of next summer…

Tulle Skirts for Halloween


My girls’ costumes are done, we finished them in time for their school’s fall festival last Friday. This year, after both initially wanting to be cats, they changed their mind… Meg begged to be “a winter fairy queen” and then she talked her younger sister into be a fairy with her, an earth fairy. With less than a week to pull this off, I went simple and economical, which is also probably how it would have turned out if I had more time… simple and economical being the standard by which I organize most things in my life.


The tulle skirts, supplies about $5 each? (on sale & with extra coupon)
Sew a piece of elastic into a circle, then use a loop tie to attach strips of tulle to the elastic. Keep tying on strips till you can’t see the elastic anymore. I used strips of tulle 3 inches wide and 28 inches long. For the second color, tie the strips between the knots of the first color. I used white tulle I had on hand, but I probably used at least a couple yards of white, and a half yard of color.


The crowns, supplies about $2 each? (on sale & with extra coupon)
For the headpieces, I bought strings of beads from Joann’s, left the string they came on intact, wound thin silver beading wire around the last two beads in the string to join them into a circlet, then continued winding the silver wire around to decorate and strengthen the crown, at the front I attached a pendent bead that I bought already wrapped in silver wire, also from Joann’s, then continued the silver wire around to the back. I attached it with bobbypins.

The rest of their ‘consume’ were just leggings, shirts, layering shits, and fairy wings that we already had on hand. They seem a little ordinary/generic to me, but the girls love their costumes, and that’s all that matters!!

Cheap and Cheerful Werewolf!

First of all I am thrilled the doing a guest post for my sister Starr. I think she is amazing and I love love reading her blog!

Here is a little background for costumes this year in our house. My 6 year old son wanted to be Scooby this year for Halloween. Nothing new, he wanted to be that last year. He adores Scooby so I thought this was perfect. However, strangely enough last year a few weeks before Halloween (and before I started his costume thankfully) he switched to wanting to use his costume from the previous year. Who was I to argue! lol SO this year Scooby Doo was on! That is until I overheard him talking to his dad a couple weeks ago about how excited he was to be a werewolf! What? I told him that it might be a good idea to tell the costume maker!

So……we started on the werewolf! We are on a shoestring budget these days and thanks to my upbringing can be very resourceful and crafty. I am not as good at recycling and upcycling as my sister Starr but I do enjoy the bits I do.

So I went to work, of course to get some inspiration I had some ideas but headed to pinterest and youtube to find out if I wanted to do would work. I had the idea to rough up a pair of jeans and to cut up a shirt and then to sew fur behind it so it would look like the fur was coming through as the clothes were being ripped by the werewolf transformation.

So first I checked my fabric stash and my moms fabric stash to see if we had any fur. Unfortunately we didn’t have any that would work so during fall break from school my son and I headed to Joanns. We found the perfect brown long hair fur! And it was only $17/yard…. (gasp) thankfully 1) it was on sale for 40% off and 2) they had a coupon for an additional 15% off in top of sale prices. So I got 1/2 of a yard for about $5.50 and decided whatever we did we would make it work. Next stop was the Dollar Tree, our local dollar store and we were able to find Halloween make up kit with the correct colors for…$1!!! I was going to head to Goodwill on a 50% off day to see if I could find some clothes to cut up. Before I could get there we had some very unexpected medical bills come up and I was looking for even more ways to cut corners. I remembered that I had just gone through my sons clothes to weed out the ones that don’t fit anymore. We headed to the pile to find something that wasn’t to tight. My light bulb idea was to cut the clothes up anyway, so I figured I could cut the waistband and collar on the shirt to make it work. My son was excited to search through the pile! We found my favorite pair of jeans that I was sad he grew out of and then his favorite worn faded camo t-shirt.

So with my total cost at $6.50 I was excited to get started. I started by “aging” the jeans by taking my gingher scissors, opening them up and scraping them. You need to apply a good amount of pressure to this step. As you do this fuzz comes up from the jeans and eventually you will see the threads start to get bare and show through. At this point I would keep rubbing and pulling threads away. I would then also pull the jeans on either side of the whole to rip and tear the jeans. I then cut out pieces of fur to cover the area that I just ripped. I stitched around the rip and then fluffed the fur out into the rip so it looks like fur is coming through. I also trimmed the fur around and close to my stitching to cut down on so much bulk. I just picked a few random places on the jeans to do this. Then since the pants were too tight I cut through the elastic on the inside of the band so that it wasn’t visible on the outside.

For the shirt I cut 3 slits in a diagonal direction across the front and then pulled the t-shirt so that the knit would curl. I cut a piece of fur big enough to cover the whole chest area and sewed it down. Again once I was done I fluffed the fur out and trimmed around my stitching. I also cut one slit on one of the arms. After that I thought I should rough up the hem on the sleeves and the bottom. So I cut slits and pulled it to curl it. And since I was using an old shirt it looked worn and faded which was perfect!

My son is so so excited to be a werewolf. And I loved that this costume was cheap and cheerful!

Costumes from Last Halloween


Thought I’d take a moment to showcase my kids Halloween costumes from last year. As always, about two months before Halloween I started talking about costumes, and out of the blue Meg said she wanted to be… A GLUE STICK! And not just any glue stick, she was very specific, she wanted to be “the one with the cow on it, the one I use at school”. With no precedent to work with, I just assembled everything as best I could.

Dress
Starting with about a yard of white felt I sewed up the back to form a tube, cut armholes so that the tube was at her chin, and cut the bottom off to rest just above Meg’s shoes. The whole thing kept slipping off, so I cut a few strips of felt, braided them, then stitched them to the tops of the armholes to form inside straps to hold the “glue stick dress” up from the inside, (you can kind of see one of the braided straps in the laughing picture below). She wore a white long sleeved shirt and jeans under it.

Branding
For the decoration I found a high quality picture of the glue stick from the Elmer’s website, and used photoshop to enlarge it. I printed out the large glue stick parts, cut them out, then used the cutouts as patterns to cut the shapes and words out of felt, which we ironed onto the glue stick with Heat n Bond iron-on hem adhesive. We also cut squares of orange and iron attached those to the bottom for the twisty part of the glue stick. Finally, for the logo, I used the paper cutouts to cut the silhouette of the cow out of felt, then sketched the ‘cow’ onto the shape, embroidered it in blue, and attached with the iron on strips.

Cap
The hat we made by cutting a circle out of orange felt, and sewing two strips around the circle, crude but effective.

Meg loved her costume!! Her favorite part was ducking her head down in the high part of the dress so that it appeared she was a ‘closed’ glue stick! She got wildly excited comments and praise at school, during trick or treating, and from family and friends. This was one of those flash-of-inspiration-costumes that really came together perfect!

For Kay’s ghost costume I cut a hole into the top of a square of white felt and sewed uneven strips of tulle to the inside of the collar/hole, adding a tulle hood last, simple and functional! She wore the poncho style costume over white leggings, a white skirt and, a white longsleeved undershirt. Perfect for a quick cheap four year old costume!

10 Easy Steps to Dip Dye Fabric with Fruit!

 One of my favorite things to look for when clothes shopping are things that are dip dyed, where the color fades from dark to light. I’ve never even considered that I could do it myself, when I accidentally came across a tutorial while searching for something else. I was unbelievably excited!!…until I discovered how chemical, and plastic laden, the process is :( As I researched it more, finding other tips and tutorials, I learned that it uses harsh chemicals, some suggest that you wear a face mask, all suggest that you use heavy rubber gloves, and I’d need to buy a big plastic bucket that could be bleached after, and a plastic drop cloth that I could throw away after, and… I started to lose my excitement. Then, just at the end of my researching, I clicked a link for “natural dyes”, hoping for something that would be less toxic to myself and the environment. I was instantly thrown back into enthusiasm for the project as I watched a YouTube video of a girl dyeing yarn with onion skins: How-To Make Your Own Natural Dye with the EtsyLabs. But could this be done with fabric? Yes! But could it be used as a dip dye! Double yes! I was most influenced by this fabulous tutorial: Brittany Makes – DIY natural dip-dye

Making a Fruity Dip Dyed Skirt!

Supplies
$2.00 for a 2lb bag of frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)
$1 in non-iodized salt
$2 for a white 100% cotton thread
$4 for 2 yards of white 100% cotton muslin (it was on sale)

Instructions
I sewed the cotton skirt with the cotton thread, using my usual skirt pattern.
(click here to view the Effortlessly Earthy Skirt Pattern)
(Also, I forgot to pre-wash my fabric, I do suggest doing this first)

Based heavily on the above tutorial, this is how I dyed my skirt:
Day One…In the evening…
1. Filled large stockpot over halfway full of water, add one cup of salt, and boil the skirt for one hour.
2. Right before the skirt is done boiling, use a blender or food processer to puree the thawed mixed berries, with a half cup of salt, and roughly two or three cups of water. Then boil the mixture in a saucepan for less than five minutes.
3. Place a tarp down and put two mixing bowls on top of it.
4. Pour the skirt and extra boiling water from the stockpot into one bowl. Leaving the top of the skirt in bowl one, stretch the end of the skirt, into the other bowl. (see photo below)
5. Pour the berry dye into the bowl with the bottom of the skirt, and make sure it is submerged.
Day Two… the next morning, roughly 12 hours later…
6. Briefly boil one cup of salt with four cups of water.
7. Poured the newly hot salted water into the mixing bowl with the fruit dye, and very carefully stir around without splashing.
8. Next drag in another portion of the skirt, make sure it is submerged, and leave it alone again.
Day Three…
9. While soaking in the mixture this whole time, the water and dye have slowly climbed up the skirt. Ever so carefully lift the top half of the skirt out of the bowl that was only salted water, and taking care not to let any of the white part of the skirt drop into the dye, take the whole mess to the bathtub.
10. Shower the skirt off, making sure the top stays at the top and gets no dye on it, while washing and wringing the bottom to get all the fruit and seeds gone. From experience, I discovered this is easier with four hands, so have a friend handy if possible. Let the skirt hang dry, then iron it out.

The fruit dye was a deep red, but as the dye came off, the skirt became purple, and as it dried it faded to a lovely light purple/grey. I love this skirt, and can’t wait to wear it out! I plan to wear it first on Halloween as a part of my costume, it’s just too good to pass up, to be wearing a fruit dyed skirt for a fruit fairy costume!

Another great tutorial can be found here: itty bitty IMPACT or simply google “DIY Natural Fabric Dye” for tons of ideas! I can’t wait to try more experiments in organic fabric dyes!

Non Candle Home Scent

With autumn comes halloween, and around this time I always buy at least one pumpkin spice candle, even though they are expensive, and even though they are usually full of chemicals, the scent brings me to fall like nothing else. This year I wondered if there is any other way to do it, so I did a little google searching and came across this link:
How to Make the House Smell like Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice Scent
Sauce pan
Pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
Cinnamon sticks
Vanilla extract
1. Fill a sauce pan with water and set it on the stove. Turn the heat on high so the water will boil.
2. Add 2 tablespoons ground pumpkin pie spice to the water. If not available, add 1 tablespoon each of nutmeg, cloves and ginger to create pumpkin pie spice yourself.
3. Place 2 to 4 fresh cinnamon sticks into the water.
4. Pour 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract into the boiling mixture. Turn the heat down to simmer once it has reached the boiling point.
5. Simmer the ingredients for an hour to freshen your home with the scent of pumpkin pie spices.

We tried it and it worked as well as a candle. It made the kitchen smell good. The scent kinda sneaks up on you. So if you leave the room and come back you really notice the great autumn aroma!

On a side note, here are the only two pumpkins that came out of our little garden this year!

Composting

I’ve been wanting to start composting since the moment we moved into the house last spring, however I don’t have great skill with building things, and we didn’t really have money for the wood anyway. I happened to see a compost bin made of pallets in the Mother Earth News magazine a couple months ago, and filed away the info for a later day, and that day finally arrived!

I daily check the free section of craigslist, and sometimes I see free wooden pallets, and email about them, but I’m always too late. So anyway, Sunday morning we groggily stumbled out of bed, turned on a heater, and began poking around in the kitchen for breakfast. I turned on the power strips in the front room, and turned on the computer… …checked my email… then checked the free section… and… FREE PALLETS!! A whole stack of them! Posted late the previous night, so there was a good chance they were still available, and with an address so I didn’t have to try to contact anyone! I quickly google mapped the address… and… they were only several blocks away!!!!!! Too good to be true! I raced around the house gathering people, shoes, jackets, hurriedly explaining my plan. All Sunday morning sleepiness gone, we shot out the door at a half run, pulling our garden cart, and hoping for the best!

The best happened! The whole stack was still there! We got the pick of the best ones, and dragged them home eight blocks to build this fabulous compost structure!!

I’ve read the compost section in several books over the last year as I’ve been starting to garden. Apprently none of it really stuck in my mind though, so I’ve been following this easy guide for layering the compost: WikiHow – How to Compost