Thursday, June 30, 2011

How To Make Patriotic Buntings Out Of Sheets

I've been wanting patriotic buntings for our home for several years.  I got sticker shock when pricing them at the local stores - $20.00 per bunting.  Ouch!

While perusing my favorite blogs, I discovered that Marian had done a tutorial for DIY buntings over at HGTV.  So I headed over there and read the directions.

The buntings needed quite a bit of fabric because they are gathered.  My idea was to hop to the thrift store and buy my favorite source of fabric - sheets.  Much to my dismay, not a single red or blue sheet could be found.  Burgundy - yes.  Baby blue- yes.  But not true blue or real red.  Then I remembered that Walmart sold cheap 200 thread count flat twin size sheets for $5.00 a piece.  Bingo!

I had to buy a fitted sheet in the blue because that's all they had.  I already had white sheets at home (or so I thought - I actually had to cut up an old dust ruffle - but, it worked ). 

After several hours, I had two pretty nice buntings.  I had planned on making three and hanging them on the deck railing, but I underestimated the amount of work they would take and was happy with the two I completed.  Maybe I'll make more next year.  They aren't hard to make - just time consuming.

I pinned them up with thumb tacks.

If I make more, I'll do a better job at making larger pleats.  I pleated them too small and they almost look like a ruffle rather than a pleat. 

Check out Marian's tutorial

I'm linking to these parties:

The Shabby Nest
freckled laundry

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How To Keep Slugs Away From Your Potted Plants

I have two nice urns next to the front porch that I have planted with seasonal annuals. 

The light green sweet potato vine is doing great, but the coleus and geranium have been . . . well. . .

I decided to do something about it.  I discovered that some of the plants had been eaten down to a nub.  Some were gone altogether.  What was needed was a slug deterrent that was organic and cheap. 

Enter - crushed egg shells.

The snails won't cross over the crushed egg shells because they will cut their skin?  exoskeletons?  exterior epidermis?  Whatever the outside of a snail is called.

I'm hoping the greenery will soon grow enough to cover up the soil and egg shells.  Until then, when people ask, I'll just tell them I like to sprinkle confetti around my plants.  Kinda patriotic, don't you think?

I'm linking to:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Safety First With Cutting Boards

Food safety has always been something I've been concerned about, but I've become especially vigilant  lately.

The other evening as I was using my cutting board, I realized that my "raw meat" cutting board was rather  ratty looking and should probably be replaced.  I also noticed that the words "raw meat" that I had written on the edge of the board were so faded that they couldn't be read anymore - which meant that I knew it was for raw meat, but no one else did.  Hmmm. . . that could be a problem!

Enter - solution:

The top board is my regular cutting board.  The bottom board is my new "raw meat" cutting board.  See the writing?  Nothing fancy - just a Sharpie marker right on the edges of the board (write on all sides). 

As long as my cooks can read, they're good to go.  Well, and as long as they can follow directions too.  It's a simple fix, but could save one of us (probably me) from getting sick.  Do me a favor - go check your cutting boards - right now!  I know, I'm bossy. 

*I like to use bamboo cutting boards (yup, it's an Amazon link) because bamboo has a tight grain that resists cracking a warping.  I prefer to cut on wood rather that plastic or glass because of the sound it makes - I know, I'm weird like that!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Motivation: Teaching Children About Life Skills

For the past few Mondays we've looked at organizing and decorating children's rooms and belongings. 

Truth is, though, children need to learn to take care of their own belongings and be a part of the family work team. 


As parents, we are our children's first teachers.  It is our responsibility to teach them the skills they need to be productive in the real world.  And really, it's never to young to start.

As soon as children are aware of their surroundings, they are learning about life.  If they watch their parents working around the house and their siblings helping out, then they learn that working is important.  As they learn to toddle around, they can be shown how to pick up items and put them in a basket. 

3-5 year olds can straighten the covers on their beds, pick up some of their toys, set a table, fold dish towels, or feed a pet, learn their phone number and address.

5-7 year olds can wash dishes, sweep a floor, empty waste baskets, put groceries away, make a better bed, set a better table, dust, clean out a sink, or scrub a tub, make phone calls, and order for themselves in a restaurant. 

8-10 year olds can empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, clean a bathroom, wash a car, weed a garden, write a thank you note, vacuum and dust, write their activities on a calendar.

11-14 year olds can wash and dry laundry, iron, cut grass, wash cars, cook meals, start a savings account, and babysit.

15-18 year olds can make a budget, grocery shop, detail a car, clean the house - top to bottom, wash windows, make appointments, hold a part time job, and plan for their future.

Lest you think I'm all about child labor, it's really more than that.  In our effort to keep "the peace" in our homes, sometimes we find it's easier to just do the work ourselves than go through the effort of teaching and supervising our children as they learn. 

I've discovered a few ways to help the process along:

1.  Work alongside your child - children learn their work ethic from you.  Model and Coach well.

2.  Never tell you child to "Go clean your room".  That's too big of a job.  Give them one job to do at a time. 

3.  Inspect what they do.  If you never inspect their work and give them feedback, they'll never improve.  Don't expect perfection at first, just expect the best they can do for their age.  Whatever you do, don't let them see you redoing their work.  If they have to redo their own work, then so be it. 

4.  Let your children know they are part of a team - your family team.  Learning to work together as a family is good preparation for working outside of the home.

5.  Praise your child for a job well done.  Teach them to find their reward in working hard and getting things done.  

6.  Help your children pace themselves and set fun things to do after their hard work.  Life is about balance.

Any ideas from parents out there?  How do you teach your children life skills?


Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To Make Artwork With Jewelry

 I found this nice frame at the thrift store yesterday.  When I saw it I knew right away what I wanted to do with it.  I wanted to frame a special pin that was given to me by a special friend.

Of course, I couldn't leave the frame as it - I had to spray paint it.  Actually, it was a nice color but I wanted it to coordinate with three other frames I already had in the hallway. 

After the paint dried, I had to decide what color mat I wanted to have to show off the pin.  I decided to upcycle an old wool plaid skirt (are we surprised?).  It picks up the colors in the other two matted pictures. 

The pin had it's own pin mechanism but it also had a hanging mechanism so that you could hang it from a chain and wear it as a necklace.  I decided to safety pin it to the fabric through the hanging mechanism.  It seemed to lay flatter on the fabric.

Well, it didn't lay perfectly flat.  The bottom of the pin seemed a bit droopy and needed a quick fix.  Here's how I fixed it.  I took two foam scrapbook spacers, colored the sides black with a marker, and adhered them underneath the pin to elevate it. 

There, much better!

Now I have some new artwork for my second floor landing. 

The story behind the pin:  Years ago, we lived next door to a wonderful lady.  Our kids loved her and thought of her as second grandma.  One thing I had in common with her was the love for particular artist named P. Buckley Moss.  We both enjoyed collecting several of her pieces.  Last year, she sent me and each of my daughters our own miniature piece of artwork in the form of a pin.  Every time I look at it, I think of this special lady. 

The other two pieces of artwork are also P. Buckley Moss prints.  The pin's artwork is of a mother and father in a buggy with two daughters and a young son of about the same ages as our children were when we lived next door to our neighbor.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wrensday: Bee Balm

I've been waiting all Spring for my favorite flower to bloom. 

Who am I kidding?  I could no longer pick a favorite flower than I could pick a favorite child or grandchild.  I love them all!

But, Bee Balm certainly makes me smile.

The flowers reminds me of miniature pineapples.  They are so darn cute!

And guess who else likes them? 

Can you pick a favorite flower? 

I'm linking to: 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting My Hands Dirty With Furniture Projects

A few pieces of furniture have been calling my name.  They're in great need of a makeover.

The first is a Roadside Recycle.  My son and I found it and hauled it home.  It will become a sideboard for my oldest daughter's home.  

This blanket chest has been in my garage for over a year.  The finish is in terrible shape but I think it will clean up nicely. (Since this pic was taken, I've already used Formby's refinisher on the top and the wood grain is beautiful.) 

I plan on finishing these two projects this week.  Wish me luck!  What projects are you working on? 

*An Affiliate Link is embedded in this post.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Motivation: What Do I Do With My Children's School Papers and Keepsakes

This blog post was first published on Saturday, June 6, 2009 

As we come to the end of the school year, we're faced with a dilemma. What do we do with all of the schoolwork our children have brought home from school. If you're like me, my sentimental side wants to keep everything my child has touched. However, the practical side of me screams "what do I do with all of this stuff?" I'll give you some ideas to keep both sides of your brain happy.

1. At the beginning of the school year, label a small file box for each child.

Storex Economy Portable File Box, Black (61502U01C)

2. Label several hanging files for different areas of paperwork you might want to save for your child. Each child will be different according to their age and activities. Some examples are art, handwriting, poems/stories, awards/pictures, research etc.

Pendaflex Recycled Standard Green 1/5-Cut Tab Hanging File Folders, 25 per Pack (81602)

3. Every time your child brings home a paper, decide first if it is a keeper. You don't have to keep everything. In fact, if you try to keep everything, you will be overcome with paperwork very quickly.

4. If you love it or your child loves it then you might consider keeping it.

5. Once a month, go through what you've kept and decide if anything needs to be thrown out. Maybe your child has a final copy of a poem he wrote. You can safely throw out the rough drafts.

6. At the end of the school year, go through your files and keep only what is special and represents the school year. You should have enough to fill a large manila envelope or a 2 pocket folder. Label the file/folder with the child's name and school year. Place it in a storage bin and store in a dry place. At the end of 12 years, your child will have a bin of memories to enjoy.

Sterilite? 16 Quart Basic Clear Storage Boxes with White Lid

7. If your child has a large piece of artwork or a bulky project, the best thing to do is take a picture of the item. Maybe you can take a picture of your child holding the item. Some artwork is nice to frame. I've seen some very simple artwork matted and framed and it looks beautiful.

8. Now that my children are leaving the nest, I've given them their keepsake bins to keep. Some of the items were kept, but some were thrown away. I feel like I've done my duty and protected their childhood memories. Even so, some of my favorite memories were not my children's memories.

9. If my child made me a mother's day card or a special picture that was just for "Mommy" then I have kept it in my own keepsake box.

I hope these ideas will help you get a handle on your child's paperwork.  Please use the comment section to share the solutions you use to corral your children's schoolwork.
Just a reminder:  I am an Amazon Associate and this post contains links to Amazon.  If you choose to purchase something on Amazon from my site, I will earn a few cents.  Thank you kindly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How To Make Your Own Exercise Bike For Next To Nothing

Remember back in April when I had a kidney transplant?  Well, the kidney is doing great (thanks, Cathy, for taking such good care of it when you owned it).  There was one little glitch, however.  During surgery, the retractors they used caused some nerve damage in my right leg.  When I woke up from surgery, I couldn't move or feel my leg.  The docs felt like the feeling would come back but the paralysis had them stumped. 

A visit to a neurologist ruled out a stroke and a CT scan showed some fluid which was pressing on L4 and L5 (medical talk which means I couldn't feel or move part of my leg).  The prognosis is good and I'm recovering pretty quickly.  In fact, I've left my cane behind and I'm walking freestyle without falling.  My next goal is to be able to drive.

I've been itching to get back to exercising (physical therapy doesn't count) because my medication causes me to gain weight and I need to burn some calories.  Running? - nope.  Walking? - can't do it fast enough.  Rebounder? - are you kidding?  Swimming? - can't drive to the YMCA.  Biking? - Hmmm. . . my balance is off but I could ride an exercise bike.  Seems like we're fresh out of exercise bikes around here. 

No problem.  Hubs to the rescue:

He took my regular bike and made a stand for it to sit on.  I can bike on the back porch!

The only thing he had to purchase was a set of pegs to put on the back axles.  Then he placed the pegs into slots he drilled into the stand he made from scrap wood.  He's my hero!

Updated:  Want to make one of these for yourself?  Hubs put together some measurements for you.  Just click on the link to Plans For A DIY Exercise Bike Stand 

I'm linking to:

The Shabby Nest

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Aprons To Preview

I completed two more aprons this week to add to my Etsy shop.

The first one is in response to several readers who've been asking for larger size aprons.

I really love the combination of paisley and eyelet. 

The apron looks smaller on my dress form, but the sashes are generous and allow for adjusting for just about any size. 

I had a hard time giving this apron up.  I love wearing a utility apron when I work.  It's so handy to keep a pair of scissors, a pen, kleenex, whatever. . . close at hand.

You can fasten the ties in front or in back to make access to the three front pockets easier.  The vintage ric rac is a fun adornment.