Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Purses In The Etsy Shop

Braving wind and temps in the 70's today, I finally got my new purses and bags photographed and listed in my Etsy shop.  Just joking. . . it was a beautiful day.

I'm really excited about these new bags.  They were a lot of fun to make.

This first one was made from an upcycled child's dress.  I cut the top part off and added an insert (to hold stuff) as well as some embellishments and a sturdy strap.  It would make a perfect ballet bag for some special little girl.

This next bag was made from an upcycled child's skirt.  I love the hearts, especially so close to Valentine's Day. 

Here's a fun purse for a grown up ballerina (or even a non-ballerina).  Fluffy and Festive.

This purse has great flowy (is that a word?) fabric.  Orange is a hot color right now for accessorizing.  This bag comes with a special removable flower pin.  You'll have to check out the listing to find out what I made it from . 

Thanks for checking out the shop.  Now I'm working on some grocery bags - you'll never guess what I'm making them out of - but for sure it's upcycled!

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Newest Milk Glass Container

One of the rules I set for myself when I go thrifting is that I must find a use for each item I find.  I don't allow myself to hoard things just because they are a good deal. 

Last week I showed off my latest thrifting finds and promised to share what I decided to do with the milk glass pedestal dish.

I thought it would make a great holder for many of the small items I use next to my sewing machine.

The small scallops around the dish are the perfect size to hold small scissors, seam rippers, and threading helpers ( because I'm old and can't see the silly needle slit to thread it - ack!).  The sweet heart fabric is a ballet bag I'm making for my Etsy shop.  I hope to have it photographed and listed tomorrow along with a few other bags. 

I'm enjoying collecting the milk glass containers  to use as accessories on my studio work surface.

I'm still using my grandma's old red tomato pin cushion.  My sewing machine was my other grandmother's machine and I've been sewing on it for almost 20 years.  I love having a family heritage of women who created things. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thrifted Finds To Cheer Up The Kitchen

I was supposed to be shopping for a bedside table. 

Ahem. . . a bedside table. . . not dishes. 

See, if I went to a regular furniture store instead of a thrift store, I wouldn't have this problem.   They don't sell dishes in furniture stores, but they also don't have very interesting bedside tables in furniture stores (at least not the ones I'm interested in). 

Apparently I have a disease called "dish-itis".  I think it's contagious because some of my friends have it too. 

Some of the fun things I found are an amber pitcher (to replace one I broke before Christmas), a mortar and pestle (to grind spices), a yellow glass tray (I think I'll use it in the bathroom to hold bottles), a milk glass pedestal dish (wait until Monday to see what I did with this cutie), a Villeroy and Boch rectangular tray (I need this to serve Stromboli on), and a handmade creamy floral vase (it matches the one I use on my spring mantel). 

Oh, I almost forgot - the brown and cream checkered table cloth was a treasured find too!  Total spent for everything?  $10.79 and that includes tax. 

I still don't have a bedside table, but I'll save that hunt for another day.  In the meantime, I'll just balance my books and coffee cup on the window sill. 

What treasures have you found lately?

P.S.  I did a little bit of research and found that the Villeroy &Boch sandwhich tray in the Mon jardin pattern costs $99.95 at Replacements.  I paid $1.75!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's amazing how God works through His people to get a job done.

A few weeks ago at my Bible study, a friend mentioned that she and her husband were going to Honduras to help with an orphanage there.  She was asking us to donate small stuffed animals or "lovies" to take with her to the orphaned children. 

My thoughts immediately went to a pile of fabric that a dear family friend had given me.  I hadn't been sure of what I would do with the fabrics. . . but now I knew. 

White flannel on one side and children's cotton print on the other.   But what else could I add? 

Silky tags on the corners.  Children love to rub silky things.  The purple ribbon came from wedding gifts my daughter and son-in-law had gotten last year - thank you Bed, Bath, and Beyond for adding plain purple ribbon to your gift wrapped packages.  I didn't even have to take your logo off of it.

I had been told by my friend that they were worried that the gifted items would possibly be taken from the children by the orphanage workers and sold.  I started praying that God would protect these little lovies and make sure they stayed with the children they were intended for.  Well, God took care of that too. 

He woke me up at 2:30 one morning and gave me the idea - write blessings and prayers on the blankets so that they would be less likely to be taken by the workers. 

At Bible study, we sat around the kitchen table and wrote "Gracias Jesus" (thank you, Jesus) and other prayers on the lovies.  We also wrote phrases that warned not to take the blankets because Jesus was watching!  I got help with the phrases from some friends at my church who are fluent in Spanish and have experience working with orphanages.

I was so excited to be a small part of this project.  So many people used their talents and abilities to add their special touch to the project.  God will use these lovies and all the other donations to love on some of His littlest ones.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wrensday: What's Blooming In My Garden In January

It's been unseasonably warm here this winter.  Only a few days (and nights) with frigid weather. 

I'm loving having some blooms around the yard to cheer me up.

Yellow Violas in the window box on the deck railing.

Pyracantha espaliered in the courtyard.

Carolina Jessamine on the arbor gate in the courtyard.

Beautiful pink Camelia near the front porch.  (I bought this bush for $3.00 two years ago at Lowe's  during their fall clearance sale.  I make it a point to shop there every fall to pick up shrubs and trees.)

Buds are starting to form on the Forsythia.  I'll bring a few branches in next week to force.  Then I'll have yellow blooms inside and out.

What's blooming in your garden?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How To Make Clay Tags

I've been up to my eyeballs in clay lately.

Rolling and stamping.  Poking and shaping.  Baking and Sanding.

It's a bit of a process, but the the Fimo clay is very easy to work with and I've been having a great time trying out a new medium.   I bought mine at Walmart in their craft section.

We've got a lot of new mommies at our church, so I thought I needed to make some tags for gifts.  I also made some tags to use with my Etsy orders.  Little birds are always my favorites.  

To make the tags:  Knead a hunk of clay to make it softer and easier to work with.  Roll out the clay with a rolling pin.  I rolled it out on freezer paper to make it easier to pick up.  Use a rubber stamp and ink to stamp your image lightly into the clay.  Punch a hole into the top of the tag (I used the top of an old mechanical pencil - the part that hides the eraser).  Place the tag onto a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.  Bake according to package directions.  After the tags are cooled, use fine sand paper or a nail file to sand any rough spots.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fixing Up A Plastic Bakery Cover

 While thrifting one day last week, I came across an old bakery cover like you would have found covering cakes and other types of pastry goodies at a diner.

What I liked about the cover was it's size - nice and big.  I have an old aluminum cover that was my grandma's but it is pretty small.  Whenever I've made a 3 layer cake or an angel food cake, the cover would smoosh the cake and that's NEVER good. 

What I didn't like about the cover was that it was plastic - not my favorite.  It also had a few scratches and smudges from being used over the years.   At $1.99, I decided to take my chances and see if I could fix it up. 

Here is a photo of what it looked like before:

I used my Gel Gloss which is made for fiberglass, marble and acrylic finishes.  I figured the plastic could be acrylic so I gave it a shot. . .  

The Gel Gloss definitely gave it a shiny luster and buffed away some of the scratches and other marks.  I got the Gel Gloss at Lowe's in the kitchen and bath section.  I've had the bottle for many years and it is still good (it has a price tag on the can if that tells you anything about how long I've had it)

So now when I make angel food cake for Easter I don't have to worry about the top being smooshed down by my bakery cover. 

I'm thinking about putting an etched  "M" onto the side using a stencil and some etching paste.  I've done it on glass before but not plastic.  Do any of you have any experience etching onto plastic?  Give me a shout if you do.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How To Recycle Ribbon

We received a beautiful fruit basket from Harry & David for a Christmas present.  With the whole gang at the house for several days, the basket was emptied pretty quickly.  All that was left was the basket (which I'm using on the kitchen island) and the grosgrain ribbon. 

You know how I can't stand to throw perfectly good things away - especially ribbon!  Well, I had to brainstorm an idea of what to do with the ribbon.  I kept thinking "if only it didn't say Harry & David".  And as I thought that, I started scraping at the writing with my fingernail.  Hmmm. . . the writing started to come off a little bit. 

See how the last part of the name is disappearing?

I got out a scrub brush and some "Sparkle Cleaner" and went to town.  A few minutes later and the names were gone.  There's only a faint shimmer of color every now and then. I washed it in the washing machine and it came out great.

I'm not sure where this ribbon will end up, but right now it is nestled in with my other purple ribbon, waiting for just the right project. 




Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wrensday: I'm Dreaming Of A Veggie Garden

I've been browsing through my seed, plant, and bulb catalogs this past week and I'm so ready for spring.  I can't wait for the tiny sprouts of green to start popping up through the brown dirt.  It makes me giddy.

Speaking of giddy - get a load of these tomatoes.  Couldn't you just drool?  I want a tomato sandwich.  Now!!!

What will you be planting in the spring?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fun New Etsy Items

I've been working on several items for my Etsy shop and I finally got them photographed and entered into the shop.

This was a fun project.  An upcycled evening bag got a punch of color from a floral skirt and several men's dress shirts (the rolled flowers). 

This next one is just a preppy little wool purse with vintage buttons on the front and back.   

This utility apron is unusual because it is a full size apron. Useful in the kitchen, classroom, or while running a craft show or yard sale.  Lot's of potential.  I love that it is practical but feminine too.

These next two aprons aren't in the shop because they were a custom order, but they certainly are adorable.  I couldn't show them off before Christmas because they were being ordered for Christmas presents and I'm pretty sure the recipients read my blog (at least I hope they do). 

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Word For 2012

I've been contemplating what my word for 2012 would be.  2011 was quite an amazing year and I've been thinking that 2012 would just sort of be a shadow year.  You know, one of those years where you just live - nothing big happens.  You live in the shadow of what happened previously because it was so bright and shiny that everything else paled in comparison. 

Well, as usual, God wouldn't let me live in a shadow.  He reminded me that he healed me from kidney disease and paralysis for a reason -
 for a PURPOSE.   
(Sarah Jane Studios has some adorable artwork - sarahjanestudios.com)

Selfishly, I wanted a year to rest.  A year of sabbatical.  A year of just hanging out. 

But do you know what happens to you when you rest for a whole year?  You turn flabby.  Your mind turns to mush.  You stop going forward and start to drift backward. 

That doesn't sound too good to me.  How do I find my purpose? 

Every morning when I wake up, I dive into God's word and ask him what He has for me to do.  What is my purpose for the day?  Who am I supposed to minister to? 

Some days He puts a particular person or project on my mind.  Other days, I just focus on looking for opportunities and He provides them.  I don't need to create purpose - it's already there waiting for me.  I just need to keep my eyes wide open and pay attention. 

I can't wait to see what happens in 2012. 

I'm ready to live my life on purpose.

I'm linking to:
The Lettered Cottage

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Motivation - Your Home's Entrance

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you're familiar with Monday Motivation. Monday Motivation was a prompt to help you clean and organize your home - one room/area at a time. By the end of the year, we had gone through the entire house (including the car) and purged, sorted, and organized. I've decided to include these posts, once a month, for those who want to continue through their home again. I'll be doing this in my home too. I've already started on my foyer closet!

The first Monday Motivation post of 2011:
This is this first post of 2011 that deals with decluttering and organizing our homes. Since we're moving in an organized fashion, we'll start with the front door.

When people enter your home through your front door, what do they see first? Piles? Shoes? Stacks of Papers? Maybe you don't even have a real entrance, like a foyer, in your home. If you don't, can you improvise by placing a short bookcase or sofa table perpendicular to the door to make a mock entrance?

(Here is a photo I found of a bookshelf that one family built in but you could also use a freestanding one as well)

Perhaps your family enters your home through the garage or back door. That area needs to function as well.

First impressions are important for guests, but think about you and your family too. Does your family come home to a mess every day? Do they have a place to put their belongings when they come home to roost? That's what we'll work on today.

Here are steps to help you work on this:
1. Stand at your front door and take a good hard look at the entrance to your home. Ask yourself these questions. . .
a. Does my front door look welcoming?
b. Is this area too crowded to function properly?
c. What seems to cause the biggest mess in this area?

2. Decide what activities need to be represented in this area. Coat storage? Shoe storage? Key storage?

3. Check to see if you have a place for every activity. Do you have a closet or hooks for coats? A bench for shoes? A hook or bowl for keys?

4. Remove any items that aren't needed in the area and store somewhere else in your home (or even better, get rid of it).

5. Look for things that will help this area function better. Perhaps you have a small bench in your kitchen that can function as a place to sit and remove shoes. Maybe a small table in your bedroom can be used to hold keys and the dog leash. Window shoping might be needed to pick out a set of hooks to hold coats or a new door mat. (tip: hold off buying anything until you have weeded out and decluttered the area)

Today we're only looking at the function and "hardscape" of the entrance. The rest of the Monday Motivations in January will be devoted to weeding out belongings and making the area function properly.

Now. . . go forth. . . and organize!
This week's Monday Motivation is a continuation from last week. Have you already done the first step in organizing your entry way?

With step one out of the way we'll start step two - cleaning out the coat closet. Because I've already blogged about this step before, I just copied it to this post (no reason to reinvent the wheel). I've updated the links so everything should work.

I like the look of this functional coat closet from REAL SIMPLE. I think most of us struggle with keeping the coat closet tidy because during the cooler months that closet is in constant use. I think this week is a good time to purge the clutter and organize the useful.

1. Start with the top shelf. Take everything out and sort like items with like (hats with hats, gloves with gloves, etc.)

2. Go through each pile and remove items that are worn out, don't fit, or you don't like any more. Put any items that are still useful into a bag for the thrift store or homeless shelter.

3. Gather containers that you can use as a drawer/bin for each of the groups of items you have. I have one for gloves, one for hats and scarves, and one for tote bags.

4. Now, do steps 1 and 2 with the clothes that are hanging on the rod.

5. Place clothing back onto the rod according the person they belong to. For example, start with your smallest person. Hang up all of their coats on the left side of the bar. Then, go to the next tallest person. Hang up all of their coats to the right of the previous person's coats. Continue on to the tallest persons's coats. This will give you extra floor space to the left of your closet.

6. Next, gather everything from the floor of the closet and go through steps 1, 2, and 3. This would be a good time to vaccuum the floor and baseboards. Also, check for any mold that may have grown in the dark depths of the closet when you weren't looking (Ewwwww). Wipe it down with a bleach cleaner and let it dry thoroughly.

7. If you need to store shoes in the closet, place an extra door mat or a shoe tray on the floor to catch any dirt or rain/snow drips from the shoes.

8. If you're in the mood to make some improvements to the closet, you can add some hooks to the door or use an over-the-door hanger to hold an organizer. There are many to choose from. Here is one I like and here's another good idea.

I like the double rods in the picture above. It would work well if you only had shorter coats. Long coats would hand down over the bottom rod. I also like the rolling bin. It would be good for back packs and re-usable grocery bags. If you only have one pole, you can add one of these hanging shelves to give you a bit more storage space. I have a few of these I have purchased from Walmart and I love them.

When my children were little I used a series of tote bags for keeping everything organized and ready to go out the door. I had a different color bag for every activity we had (library, church, PTA, work, beach). When I came across something, like a library book needing to be returned, I simply placed it in the correct bag and it was ready to go.
If you've been following the Monday Motivations in January you'll probably be looking at a nicely organized closet in your home right now. 

There are a few items that I'd like to purchase for my closets as my budget allows. I thought I'd share them with you. If you have some items that work for you, please share them in the comment section.

1. My first wish list item is the new skinny hangers, sometimes called Velvet Hangers. I found some at Ross for 50 cents a piece (they came in a package of 12). If your closet is crowded, these hangers will give you a little bit of extra room on your rod. You can also get them on Amazon.com.

2. Another item I like is the square utility totes from thirty-one. I got to play around with one last Fall and found that they were so much lighter than the heavy wooden ones I'm using now.

3. Lastly, I'd like to get a few of these cute hooks to put on the inside of the closet door. I just can't resist them!

So, how's your foyer and coat closet coming along? If you're really proud of it, send me some pics and I'll post them.
So if you're game, join me in going through the house again, getting everything ship-shape.  Just look for the Monday Motivation post on the first Monday of each month.  Don't forget to leave any comments or suggestions in the comment section (or email me) so we can all learn from each other. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ten Things I Got Rid Of This Week

Ten things I got rid of this week:

1.  3 pairs of shoes that hurt my feet.  Remember, life is too short to wear shoes that hurt your feet.  One pair got thrown out and 2 (almost new) pair were donated.

2.  1 worn out make-up brush.  In the trash can.

3.  14 books I'm never going to read again.  Donated.

4.  Christmas wrapping supplies from my wrapping bin that were too wrinkled or smooshed to use.  Trash.

5.  Several pens that were out of ink.

6.  3 worn out towels.  Put in the garage to use as car washing towels.

7.  6 coffee mugs.  We got 6 new mugs as Christmas gifts, so 6 old ones go out.  Donated.

8.  1 warm blanket that we didn't need anymore.  Donated to homeless shelter.

9.  1 half dead plant.  I have fought to keep this plant alive, but I'm over it. The return on investment was just not there.  Compost pile.

10.  1 pot holder with holes.  Trash. 

So here's a challenge for the weekend - can you find 10 things to get rid of? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wrensday- Bloom where you're planted

Wrensday has always been my favorite day here on the blog.  I enjoy taking photos around "The Wren" as we call our home.  I decided to make a "wrensday" button and it will be featured every Wednesday (Wrensday) to announce the photo(s) of the day. 

I love that this little Black Eyed Susan was still blooming on New Year's Day.  It's starting 2012 off on the right foot (eh, I mean root).  Bloom little girl, bloom!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Few Ideas To Inspire You In 2012

I think most of us look at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to do better.

  Do a better job at taking care of our bodies, our jobs, and our homes.

 Work on our relationships with our Lord, our spouses, our family, and our friends.

Learn new skills, new words, and new knowledge. 

After the Christmas decorations were packed up I spent a bit of time on the computer looking for ideas for the new year.  What new things would inspire me?  I bookmarked a bunch of sites and thought I would share them with you.  Let me know which ones you like the best. 

I'm not the kind of person who usually says the "C" word - but I love this quote and this is how I want to live.

I would love to get a new Bible, but I'm so comfortable with my old one and I love reading the notes and dates I've added over the years.  See the notes in the margins?   (PS. . . this is not my Bible - I got the pic from Pinterest).  I love the quote from C. Spurgeon that goes with the picture:

“A bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” -Charles Spurgeon

Ok, this is really silly - and probably a bit OCD - but it makes a difference.  This site shows you how to fold a plastic grocery bag into a little triangle to save space.  I take my own bags when I shop so I don't get too many of these, but I like to keep some handy in my kitchen and in my preschool classroom.  I'm serious - it will change your life.  It's folded the same way we used to fold notebook paper into a football shape and flick it over our finger goal posts when we were kids.  Anybody ever do that?  Anybody?  I guess I'm dating myself. 

I'm getting ready to use this idea in my kitchen and bathrooms.  A simple and inexpensive tension rod can hold several spray bottles and make more room under the sink. 

Money Saving Mom has created this free form to customize and print out for your daily to-do list. I like how she has a way to monitor her water consumption (see the little glasses midway down in the middle row?) Click on the link to see how she uses her daily list in her homemaking binder. This is the most manageable and practical list I have ever seen.

Healthy Living:

A new blog I'm reading "Our Simple Farm" has given me inspiration to grow more of our own food to eat.  We're already raising chickens for eggs, growing a lot of veggies, and trying our hand at growing some fruit and dabbling in bee keeping.  There is so much to learn!

It's Satisfying To Stock Up The Pantry With Home Canned Goods

The Healthy Home Economist has some great posts, including this one, about eating healthier. 

The Nourishing Gourmet has a recipe for making homemade sauerkraut that I'll be trying soon.  You can read all about the importance of eating fermented foods. 



Source: pinterest.com via Dani on Pinterest

Thanks Pinterest for all of your help and inspiration.  You rock!
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