Saturday, July 23, 2011

Handkerchief Bunting - An Easy Little Tutorial

While I was straightening up the basement, I came across my collection of handkerchiefs.  I have quite a few, because several years ago, I was planning on sewing them together for a bed skirt, an idea I had seen in Better Homes and Gardens and torn out for my "Ideas" notebook.  You know, Ideas notebook -- what people did before they pinned all their dream ideas on Pinterest.

But the bed skirt never panned out, as I would have needed about 100 hankies, and collected only 2 dozen or so.  Plus, the problem with handkerchiefs is that they are not a standard size or shape, which would have made piecing them together tricky.

I started thinking about displaying them in my workroom somehow, and came up with using them in a bunting.  And since buntings are popular right now (see my blog header for evidence), and since I haven't seen anyone do one like this yet, I thought I would write up a quick how-to.   What I like best about this easy technique is that the hankies are not cut -- you could take them down to use for another project or display (or for when you run out of tissues.)

First, give the handkerchiefs a good douse of spray starch and iron them well.

Fold the hankie like a kite.  First, bring two sides together in the middle and press:

then the other two sides and press:

Wow.  I really need a new ironing board cover.  Please ignore my scorch marks.

Fold with the points together and iron one last time, with lots of spray starch.
Hang each hankie over a line (ribbon, string, twine or whatever you have) and pin in the back to keep it in place.  If the hankie is a bit flimsy, pin again at the bottom.

Hang the bunting and enjoy it.  I am; this makes me feel like there is always a party in my room.

Just a few thoughts:
I have several white lace-edged hankies; folding them as I described above hides all the pretty lace, so before I folded the diamond into a triangle, I flipped it over, which put the lace on the outside.
I think this would work really well using a Moda Layer Cake packet, like this one; layer cakes are sets of 40 or so coordinating fabrics, cut in 10" squares and pinked on the edges.  You could enjoy the decoration for awhile then take it down and sew a quilt!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Burlap - Not Just for Bags

I might be a little late to the burlap party, but I have seen a lot of burlap projects on Pinterest.  Another big trend on Pinterest?  Scrabble Tile crafts, both with the actual tiles, and projects that just look like the tiles.  As a long-time Scrabble lover, I knew I needed some lettered pillows, so I thought I would mesh the burlap/Scrabble thing and share the process with you.  
First, I lucked into 3-16" pillow forms at Hobby Lobby last week, 50% off.  I cut 3 squares of burlap to 17", then found the center and put a pin there.  
For the stencil, I printed off 8" letters using the Arial font, bold  (the 1's are 3"), traced the numbers onto freezer paper and cut them out with an Exacto:
 Then, after finding the approximate center of the stencil, I matched that up with the center of the burlap square and ironed the freezer paper onto the fabric:
 Using a foam brush and acrylic paint, I stenciled the letters.  I wasn't at all sure how the burlap would take the stenciling, since it is such a loose weave, but it worked great.  I think the key is to use just a little paint at a time.
 If you make sure and iron the edges down nicely, you should get a clean print.  Let the paint set just a couple of minutes, and peel off the freezer paper.  Viola!:
 I waited until the letters were completely dry before I stenciled on the numbers, because I know myself too well, and would have surely had a mess if I tried to do it while the letters were still wet.  I am an impatient crafter, I know.  Stencil on the numbers the same way.

For the backs of the pillows, I used three dishtowels I had stored away in my crafty bins -- I like to use a dishtowel because the edges are already finished.  Cut the towel in half and lay the halves on the burlap square, right sides together, having the towel overlap to create an envelope opening.  ( Freshly Picked has a great tutorial of an envelope pillow.)  Sew all around the edges, trim the seams, flip it inside out and you get this:

Stuff your pillow form inside, give it a good whack here and there to even it out, then put your pillows on your front porch swing.
Zoe thinks this is very cute.  Isn't she just the cutest herself?

One more burlap craft:
One of the genius ideas I learned on Pinterest was to use a swim noodle as a wreath form.  Genius, I tell you. And, right now, you can get one for $1.00 at the dollar stores!
To form the noodle into a wreath, start by bending it little by little -- it will easily begin to take on a circle shape.  I just rolled up a 4"strip of newspaper to make a plug -- stuff it into the hole on one side, and bring the other end around and push that onto the plug.  Bring the edges together as neatly as you can and tape with packing tape or duct tape.  Just keep messing with it and bending it here and there and you will have a perfect circle.
I cut strips of burlap about 2" wide and wrapped them around the wreath, securing with straight pins (I'm sure you could use tape or glue, as well -- you might have to experiment with what will stick to the noodle).
Then, I tried my hand at the fabric roses I also see everywhere on Pinterest -- from pillows to sweaters to headbands.  (There are several good tutorials out there for these, as well --try this great one at Portabellopixie.)  You can secure these with glue or stitching, but I just used a few pins.

I made a bunch of roses out of burlap,  and tried a few with cotton strips:

I like them both.  The leaves are just little knots of green fabric.
I think this would be a great project for fall, with a darker burlap and orangey roses.
But no time for that now -- more Pinterest fun to share tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


1. Well, I just love crafting
2. I now have a nifty room to do it in
3. Summertime = a little more free time
4. The County Fair time is quickly approaching (yippee!)

I just knew this would become an addiction for me.  Pinterest is like foodgawker or ravelry, but so, so much worse because I can make it about all the things I love.  A little crafting, a little food, a little kid stuff, a little corgi. And then there's all sorts of enabling, as Pinterest lets you know when other people like and re-pin the things you love.  Good grief -- it's just one big happy family of people who like to poke about on the internets and show off what they find!  I added the Pinterest button over there on the right --- I don't know if that will take you to the general site or to my page, but you should all join.

I've tried a few recipes I've seen on Pinterest (Sopapilla Coffeecake should be added to the food pyramid -- next time I make it I'll post the recipe and pictures) but I just can't stop making things I see on there!

My big plan for while Clay was away was to clean the basement and sort and pitch.  However, my only trips to the basement the past week have been to search out craft supplies that didn't get moved to my work room.

This week, I'll post some pictures of my projects, but here is a set of pillow cases I made last week -- one for  my friend, Keaton, and one for the gift box.

I saw these panels at Craft Town last spring, and couldn't resist, as Eric Carle is one of my favorites -- when I drove the bookmobile, The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of my very favorite books to read, and my sister does a great Grouchy Ladybug!    Pillowcases are an easy project, and I love making them.

Off to craft a little more -- pictures soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fix-up Friday - Jewelry Solution

 I've seen re-fashioned frames like this on the internet for a couple of years now, and have been keeping my eyes open for the perfect frame -- I found it at Trader Baker's last week.  It was really grubby, but only $8, and  with a little gentle cleaning and some spray paint, it is quite shabby chic.  I went to the farm store for chicken wire, but this hardware cloth seemed like a better choice; it was only $3.95 for a roll, and I just used wire snips to cut a piece a bit larger than the frame opening, then used the staple gun to hold it down in the back.  Unfortunately, while I was snugging down the staples with a hammer, I knocked a bit of the carving off, but I've decided to say that that just gives it some character.

I hung my jewelry with little s-hooks that you can pick up at any hardware/farm store.
This was a quick project, and a good solution to the tangled mess of necklaces and bracelets that I kept in a silverware tray!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kindness Sadness

I believe in kindness.
I believe in living for others.
I believe that every person-- even the mean and nasty -- is deep down an image of God, and deserves my kindness.
And, therefore, I  believe that it is as important to be as kind to strangers as it is to be kind to those I know and love.

I know that many, if not most, people agree with this.  But none of those people were in the parking lot at the Greenwood Chik-Fil-A on Tuesday night.

As some of you know, when Clay is out of the country, I can depend on something dramatic happening.  A blizzard, a broken air conditioner, perhaps even a call from the police.  (Twice.)

This time, it was car trouble.  To condense a really complex story, I drove to Indianapolis on Tuesday to visit a sweet little friend in the hospital.  On the way home, I stopped at Chik-Fil-A because it's delicious.  Unfortunately, as  I was paying at the drive-through window, I saw my temperature gauge spike.  I immediately pulled in to a parking spot, turned off the car and then listened while fluids boiled under the hood -- a true "fire burn and cauldron bubble" moment.  Luckily, Clay was up and on his way to breakfast in China, and talked me through -- I was a little nervous and at that point, was certain that this would involve a tow truck.

Everything was blazing hot -- even the hood of the car was too hot to try to open for about 10 minutes.  When the hood was finally up, it was almost another 1/2 hour before the radiator cap was cool enough to touch, even with a rag.  This gave me plenty of time to clean out my car, go into the restaurant for a pitcher of water and consider all the people who stared at me and my open-hooded car and never offered to help.

No one.  

Perhaps it was my intimidating appearance.  This 51-year-old, blonde, Birkenstock-shod, cross-wearing grandma could have looked like a serial killer, I guess.  Perhaps it was my intimidating ride:  a soft gold 2000 Chrysler Town and Country van with 180,000 miles and a Life is Good sticker in the back window.  Perhaps it was the time of day:  7:30 PM, which in Indiana in July could be considered broad daylight.  Perhaps it was the area -- Chik-Fil-A.  Right outside the Meier.  Across from the Target and Steinmart.  Just down from the Starbucks.  Scary.

Now, I had great automotive and emotional help on the phone, and I knew what I had to do to get my car running -- I didn't really need anyone to come to my rescue (although I had warned Maggie that she and Nate might have to come up and get me if indeed I had a hole in a hose or something unfixable).  But the fact that no one even offered as much as a kind word just makes me sad.

Having grown up in the country, where everyone waves at everyone else and where folks will stop you on the road to be sure you are OK even if you're just out walking your dog, I just don't understand why not one of the many people who saw me in that parking lot asked if I needed assistance.  But I do have a message for the man who was parked right across from me and watched me as I was pouring water in the radiator and he was strapping his two little girls into their car seats:  Sometime in the future, one of your girls is going to be all by herself and need a little help (I don't wish that on them, it just happens to everyone).  Can you imagine how sad  you would be if no one offered to help your daughter change her tire or find her lost dog or pour water into her radiator?    Trust me, you'd be really sad (and probably pissed) if someone like you didn't at least stick his head out his window as he was getting ready to drive away and say, "Hey, can I call someone for you?"   That would have been the kind thing to do, daddy-o, and the kind of thing you would want someone else to do for your sweet girls.

Oh, I don't believe kindness is dead -- I see it every day.  We teach it in kindergarten.  We live it out here in Smalltown, USA.  But maybe we're all just going too fast and have gotten out of the habit of looking out for each other.  I hereby give you permission to give me a swift kick in the butt if I ever get too self-absorbed to notice others' small needs or too busy to share a small kindness.   Just a little kindness keeps the world from being a sad and lonely place; I can attest to this, because Tuesday night in that parking lot, I felt very sad and very alone.


PS  FYI, I made it home just fine.  Just in case, I bought 2 gallons of water at the Meier, drove without the AC and kept watch on the temperature gauge.  The hour drive seemed a lot longer than usual, and it was a huge relief to be in my own driveway.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fix-up Friday - On Monday

I blogged eight days in a row.   Eight!  But you knew that it would end, didn't you?  If I am anything, it is inconsistent.  But here is the post I had planned for Friday, before life got in the way.

This dresser came our way many, many years ago from Clay's mom and dad.  It's an inexpensive piece, but all wood; Dad had already re-finished it a couple of times, and when we got it, it was orange.  That 1970's burnt orange.  The dresser sat out in the garage for awhile until I painted it black and brought it inside.  I had some rub-on transfer rose motifs I rubbed on each drawer front, as rub-on transfers were all the rage back in the day.
I saw a map-decoupaged chest on The Nate Show, and decided that this dresser was the perfect candidate.  I just cleaned the drawer faces, removed the knobs, sanded down the transfers and cleaned again.  Then, I cut up a large paper map of the world (that I thought I got from, but I can't find it on there anymore -- if you want to do this, I know you can find a good paper map at a teacher store).  For measuring, I used my quilt mat, quilt rulers and rotary cutter -- great time saver.  Then, I Mod Podged each map section onto a drawer, waited for it to dry and then screwed the knobs back on.

The top of the dresser was a bit messed up, as several years ago I had left a tinned candle burning, and the tin caught fire.  (Yes, I did learn a lesson that day -- no more tinned candles!)  So I decided to put a map on top, too -- you can't see it in this picture, but it's a map of Beijing, and Clay had circled some of the spots he was visiting on that trip.    I thought it would be fun to display some of the treasures Clay brings home from his trips, so there is a Japanese fan and a Chinese Buddha on the top -- those cute dolls from Belarus, however,  had to go back in the cabinet, as Clay was pretty sure some little boy we love would decide they needed to go in the super hero cubby or take a ride on a Gator.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stories - Strength and Homemade Ice Cream

My dad was a strong man.  He didn't lift weights or have a plate-sized belt buckle to prove it, but he could easily fling two 50-pound bags of seed corn onto his shoulders to load a customer's truck.  Clay likes to tell the story of dad lifting a wrong-way, 150-pound pig out of a chute by the snout and tail and giving him a toss across the fence to make another go of it.  But maybe his strength was best displayed every summer when we made ice cream.

Sundays were ice cream days.  Through the week, mom had frozen blocks of ice in freezer boxes, and after Sunday dinner we'd haul these out to the yard as she stirred together the milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Dad would bring the blue ice cream freezer from the garage to its place beneath the catalpa tree in the yard, and break up the ice blocks with a hammer.  The ice cream mix was poured into the canister, ice and lots of salt all around, and the handle assembly fixed into place.  Then mom would put a folded-up rug on top of the freezer; one of us kids would sit on top while another took their turn cranking.  We cranked and changed positions, cranked and changed positions and cranked.  And cranked some more.  Mom would check every now and then, adding more ice and salt, and we whined and complained and continued to crank until our arms were sore and the dasher just wouldn't budge any more; we just knew that the ice cream was done.  Someone would yell for dad to come check; he would kneel down, put one big hand on top of the freezer, the other on the handle, and crank like his arm was a motor, as if the ice cream was still just soupy milk.  Every time.  And every time, we were amazed that he was able to turn the handle at all.

When he finally judged that it was done, he disassembled the freezer and pulled the canister out, being careful not to let any salty water get to the ice cream.  The dasher went into a big mixing bowl, and the canister into the kitchen, where bowls and spoons were waiting.  And I will tell you, it was the best ice cream ever.  Ever.  Oh, without any stabilizers or emulsifiers or whatever, it melted quickly, and didn't re-freeze very well, but then again, there was rarely any left.  Over the years, there was some experimentation with additions of fruit and different recipes (cooked vs. non-cooked) but plain old vanilla was the family standard.

I don't know what happened to that old blue freezer, and I don't remember making ice cream after mom got sick; I guess there were just too many other things to worry about.  But my dad was still the strongest man in the world through mom's battle with cancer -- always positive, always pushing for a new treatment or drug, always trying to get mom to eat and always trying to make her happy.  It wasn't until the day she died that we watched his strength disappear -- her death was his Sampson moment.

I miss my strong dad every day.  Not for just for cranking the ice cream freezer or lifting heavy objects, but for lifting me out of a dilemma, sadness or regular old funk.  And not with soft words, pats and smiles, but more with a figurative kick in the pants and a toss back into the pig pen.  Luckily, dad's lessons have stuck with me.  Doubly lucky, I married a strong man much like him; early in our relationship, we almost broke up when Clay told me to "get your head out of your ass" and move on.  I have no recollection of what I was whining about, but after I got over being ticked, I realized it was pretty good advice, and the same advice I would have gotten from dad.

Here's to strong dads.  And ice cream.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten  (or 1 cup of Eggbeaters or liquid pasturized eggs if you're disturbed by raw eggs)
2 1/2 c. sugar
6 c. milk
4 c. half and half
2 T. vanilla (I like Marion Kay the best; here I go on the Indiana kick again)
1/2 t. salt

Stir eggs, sugar and about half the milk together until all the sugar is dissolved; all the rest of the ingredients.  Pour into ice cream freezer, and freeze according to the directions.  We have a Rival electric freezer I think we received as a wedding gift (so it is OLD); Clay had to cinch it together with a strap and the motor was a little bogged down, but it works!  Have lots of ice ready (we went through one of those huge bags) and lots of salt -- several cups worth.  Water softener salt works great; the more salt, the colder the ice mix, and the faster it will freeze.

You know, I am a pretty simple girl and don't want for much (besides a Mini Cooper, a vintage travel trailer and a new sewing machine).  But I would like one of these:

just so the kids can sit on a folded rug while we all take turns cranking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some fun, some finds

On the 4th, rub-a-dub-dub, three sweet boys in the tub,  after supper and playing and freezer pops and playing and homemade ice cream and a little more playing, but before jammies, fireworks and books.  

 We could see the city's fireworks display from our bedroom window, and after, Adam put on a display just for us.  It was great fun.

Earlier that day, Clay and I drove to Louisville; I had always wanted to go to the FANTASTIC Kentucky Flea Market (as they say on the TV commercials), and I was hoping to find some treasures to fix up.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the kind of flea market I dream of -- just lots and lots and lots of new stuff -- purses, deodorant, health drinks, jewelry, shampoo, doggie sweaters.  "Craptastic," to quote Clay.

So today, I visited a few antique/junk/flea market stores, and gathered this haul:

Not too bad for $44.  I read one sweet little story in Fairyland Visitors and knew I had to bring it home; however, I passed up a half-gallon ice cream freezer at that store, and am already starting to regret it (a post on homemade ice cream coming up this week).   I have a hard time not buying sweet pictures of kids and dogs, but I'm not sure what my current attraction to kitchy Chinese figures is all about -- this is my third set this year.  I am excited about the bingo board and cards (I think I can feel a decoupage project coming on!) and I am going out to spray paint the big frame right now!  Finished project soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The DIY Wedding

What a fun time we had getting ready for Sharon and Dave's wedding!  A little crazy, a little stressful, but still great fun.   Although we didn't get any good pictures of the bride and groom (thank goodness Jennifer did!), here are a few of the DIY projects.

The ideas for the table decorations were taken from the many wedding blogs we stumbled upon.  Sixty wrapped books, blue mason jars with orange gerber daisies, lots of candles, and 30 different saying/poems/lyrics/pictures in the silver frames we found at the Dollar Tree.

The cake table was a highlight.  Wedding pictures of our mom and dad and Bill and Shirley, cute little owl salt and pepper shakers and moss-covered initials.  (Maybe we should have pressed that table skirt!)

The cake was our favorite Bride's Cake from the Cake Doctor, filled with raspberry and iced with White Chocolate Buttercream.  200+ cupcakes -- mocha, chocolate, orange marmalade and strawberry.

Sharon found two slices of tree that had been up in the teachers' closet for years, apparently from a very cool science lesson; no one claimed them, so Clay and I  turned them into her cake plate -- oh how I love power tools!  We tucked leaves of ivy from our back yard around the cake, just like Grandma Hunley used to.  

 The "guest book"was a large canvas.  Sharon drew the tree and did the wording; the small frame on the right asked the guests to make their thumbprint leaves and sign their names.  You can see Sarah's family's branch below:
Everyone loved the photo booth, perhaps more so as the evening progressed and they enjoyed the sangria!    Sharon had all sorts of fun props, from hats to boas to mustaches.  Now they have a great collection of wacky pictures to hang next to their guest book!

Brother Kenny made up strings of lights that gave a soft vintagey feel to the big room, and hung some blue and orange paper lanterns; he also made sure that the air conditioning at the K of C was up and running, thank goodness!  

We didn't cook the food, tend the bar or DJ (or perform the wedding ceremony, which Father Dan did perfectly in his typical warm and loving fashion), but the rest of the event was all family!  I think mom and dad would have been quite proud.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

What better way to celebrate than with an explosive bowl of fruit?
Happy 235th Birthday, America, and Happy 80th Birthday, Doc.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Reading

Now that things are quieting down a bit, it's time to read.  We had a nice discussion at our last Knit Night about knitting fiction, and Julie suggested the Debbie Macomber Blossom Street series.  I barreled through The Shop on Blossom Street, and started  A Good Yarn immediately.  They are sweet books, and Julie says the shop is just like the one she imagines me running one day -- how could I not read these?

But Blossom Street will have to wait, as I have downloaded a great one to my nook:  State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.  At first, I thought I was going to have to stop reading, as the book centers on the death of a man who dies while on a trip for his employer.  Yikes!  Not something I like to think about, but something I always think about, especially when Clay is in the middle of nowhere, like the character Dr. Eckman was.  I'll give you a full review when I finish, but I can already tell that this is one I'd recommend.  July 5 -- I finished the book this morning, and would recommend it highly!  I think it would lead to a great book group discussion -- I can't wait until Clay reads it so we can talk about it, but in return, I have to start reading The Bronze Horseman, the first of a 3-book series by Paullina Simons so he will have someone to talk about them with.   

The greatest thing about the nook is that you can get free samples of books before you buy them -- much like reading a chapter while standing in the bookstore.  After 20 pages, I knew State of Wonder was one I would purchase.  On the other hand, a few months ago, I had downloaded a sample of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; although it was highly rated on many lists, it just didn't grab me.  I have a lot of critically acclaimed books scattered around here that I just couldn't get in to -- the nook relieves a lot of my book-buying guilt!

The rest of my summer reading list:  South of Superior (Ellen Airgood), Ten Thousand Saints (Eleanor Henderson), Twin (Allen Shaw),  The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (Gayle Tzemach Lemmon) and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (Tom Franklin).

Off to read.  Peace.