Saturday, May 8, 2010

Crafty Giveaway from In the Next Room

In the Next Room is having a giveaway to celebrate a new degree and opening an Etsy store.  Take a look at it here--lots of fun, crafty items are included.

Fabric Matching Games ala Chez Beeper Bebe

Chez Beeper Bebe has a tutorial for making matching games from fabric that inspired my attempts.  I have the worst time sticking to directions.  I always end up venturing off the path to try some new idea.  These have numbers of changes from the very nice ones on the tutorial.  So here are my three versions.

This first one has farm animals to match up and a bag that closes with a button.

I used the same fabric for the bag lining and the backs of each piece.  For all three sets, I sewed around the square leaving an opening for turning and to stuff in a square of batting.  I hand sewed them shut and sewed in about a quarter of an inch around the outside to stabilize the batting.  This is a picture of the bag closed.  I used a loop of very thin, rounded elastic (I can't think of the right name for it now) sewn into the back top seam of the bag to pull over the button which is sewn  a few inches down the front center of the bag.

Since I had enough animal prints to do another, I tried out a new bag design.

For this one I tacked the ribbon to the back with a few stitches to keep it from getting lost.  I did the bag as two long strips sewn together leaving an opening for turning right side out. Then I stuffed half of the bag to the inside for the lining.  I made the strip just a tiny bit narrower at one end so that the lining end would fit in nicely.  Since I forgot to put the fabric picture on the front before sewing up the bag, this one just has the picture held in place on the bag with double-sided iron-on.  There is no finishing stitch around the edge of the picture.  The button bag has the edges sewn which I would prefer.  However, I don't think these kinds of things get used heavily enough to make much of a difference.  Here is the bag with the pieces:

The backing is the same as the other set.

I found another great fabric with musical instruments that I thought might work for this project.  I should probably have looked for a fabric that would work with the browns/tans instead of the black I chose for the bag and backing.  It's a bit drab for kids, but here it is:

I tried a drawstring for this bag.

I squared off the bottom of all three bags by sewing triangular corners and serging them. 

I really can't decide which bag I like more.  The drawstring and ribbon will probably travel better.  The button one, though, has the advantage of providing the wee ones with some eye-hand coordination practice.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Super Giveaway to Help a Handsome Little Man

Six-year-old Liam has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.  His mom, with the help of over 50 artists, is raising the money needed to remodel Liam's bathroom with a fantastic giveaway.  Stop by here to find out how to participate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The new clothes line aka manufactured wasp nesting sanctuary

I finally replaced the clothes line (aka clothes tree or clothes umbrella in some parts for the universe).  The old one was, well, old.  Then, the tree limb fell on it.  I followed all the directions putting it up.  I even used a level to be sure the base was straight.  And:

It's a little crooked.  It looks better from this view.

I got it at Home Depot.  This one-and-only-model-available is strangely short.  To use the inside lines, I need to bend down.  My last one was taller.

My  real concern is that there are rows and rows of holes in the  pole.  You push it up like an umbrella and it falls into a set of holes.  I understand that some people might not be strong enough to push it up really tightly and that the plastic lines might loosen over time so that you could push it up another notch.   Consequently, it is reasonable to have several sets of holes to accommodate these circumstances.  But the majority of the center pole IS holes.  I started counting them but stopped at 43--yes,  there are more that 43 sets of holes on the center pole.   In my neck of the woods, that qualifies it as an official wasp nesting sanctuary.  I have a sinking feeling that I will be battling the little stingers all summer.  A few years ago I had to tape over holes in the base of some new patio chairs that were attracting the wasps.  Taping up 43 plus holes multiplied by the 3 sides would be a monumental task.  Besides, I don't relish looking at peeling tape for the next ten years. It's annoying enough to keep up with the tape on the chairs.

Lesson learned:  If you're buying something for the yard, make sure the wasps are not going to like it as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The laundreary room (no, it's not misspelled)

You may have a laundry room, but I have a laundreary room as in:

I made that sign a while ago.  It's not that I hate doing laundry.  I just don't find it all that interesting or fulfilling. I find it dreary.  I've gotten better at it.  I seldom have things shrink or colors run.  I always check the pockets carefully.  Cell phones are small, expensive to replace, and don't work at all after being agitated in sudsy water for 20 minutes.  I shake each piece out before putting it in the dryer rather than grabbing the big ball from the washer and tossing it in the dryer.  It was years before I figured that one out.  I do love to iron, but nothing is going to take the wrinkles out of twisted synthetic material that has been in the dryer for 45 minutes.

I blame the appliance manufacturers for the laundreary problem.  Laundry machines are boring.  Where are the fun gadgets?  Where is the music, video, touch screen?  Why can't the detergents and softeners be dropped in every few months and dispensed automatically?

And timers!  What are the manufacturers thinking??  Timers are boring at best.  More often than not they give off some ear-shattering noise akin to the sound one would expect from a high strung ocean liner.  Have the designers of these machines never heard any pleasant sounds that might attract us to the laundry room in a peaceful manner rather than in a frenzied rush to stop the horrific noise?  How about a pleasant vocal  recording that announces that the laundry is ready to be dried or folded?  I think my dryer has the same sound device used in World Ward II air raid horns.  Consequently, I don't use the timer and usually forget to take the clothes out until the laundry has cooled down and the wrinkles are set.  It's a good thing I like to iron.

I guess my laundreary sign is going to stay until manufacturers give us something more innovative than a window in the front of the machine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I've been making Perfect Little Stitches' "towel wraps for your hair"

I've been  experimenting with making these hair towels from Perfect Little Stitches for a while trying to get the appropriate size for me.  Skip to My Lou  put up directions that I find little easier.   Adjustments to sizing were definitely necessary for a better personal fit.  I apparently have a pin head.  I've known it for a while. Baseball caps pulled down to fit the top of my head leave the tops of my ears stick straight out.  I wasn't surprised when my first few attempts quickly became gifts for women with normal sized heads.  I love these things, though.  They are so easy to use, stay on so much better than a regular towel, save on laundry--they're smaller, and they have that great little elastic loop to hang on the back of the bathroom door.

I used terry cloth fabric from Joann's instead of towels as the tutorials suggest.  Originally I did this because I wanted to experiment on inexpensive fabric.  As it turned out, the terry fabric is a great weight, washes well, and dries quickly.  I can make two hair towels out of a yard of fabric which is definitely less expensive than using towels especially if you get the fabric on sale.   

The patterns are 36 inches long which I found to be way more than necessary.  In fact, I found that length to be uncomfortable hanging down my back and harder to put through and take out of the elastic hoop.  I cut that down to 32 inches.  However, for someone with really long and/or thick hair, the 36 inches might be necessary.  I also cut the height from 12 inches to 10.

If you've made them yourself, let me know how the sizing worked for you.  If you haven't, give it a try.  It's a quick and easy project.

A Short Look at a Short Book: Peter Kreeft's "If Einstein Had Been a Surfer"

I wanted to put the book title above in italics or underline it, but Blogger setup does not support that even by cutting and pasting.  If someone knows the trick, I'd appreciate knowing how to work around this.  Oh, but I can do it here!!  If Einstein Had Been A SurferOh, no!  That was supposed to be in italics, but the Amazon link will only let me underline it.   Does this level of focus on italics indicate an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

So, about the book.  I have a love-hate relationship with this beginner's guide to a subject that baffled even Einstein.  It is the author's redaction of conversations by three "friends" relating to what Einstein called the "Unified Field Theory."  Others have since called it the "Theory of Everything," and, in this book, Libby suggests calling it, "The Universal Wave Theory."    The three in conversation are a Christian who is a scientist with a  theology degree, a Muslim philosopher/scientist, and a Christian surfer/poet/psychologist/psychiatric social worker.  Obviously religion plays a large role in their discussions.The conversations introduce some of the hows, whys, and problems of the theory at a very basic level.  My brain would normally quickly send me signals to stop reading this subject matter.  However, the book manages to provide information at a level I could understand and enjoy.

While I found useful, thought-provoking information in the book, I too often found that the interactions of two of the participants (Isa and Libby), were negative to the point of distraction.  Isa whips out his religion constantly in a most unbending manner, using it to rudely bash beliefs and ideas presented by the others.  He appears to have little respect or even liking for Libby.  Libby does, however, often go off on tangents.  The surfing analogy was useful, but overdone to the point of distraction.  Her attempts to be the intellectual laid-back surfer end up making her look like a bit of an airhead.  The list of jobs Kreeft attributes to Libby indicate she has had some trouble deciding what she wants to be when she grows up.  She actually refers to herself as "surfer girl" at one point. [Note to Libby:  You are grown up now!  You are a woman!  If you must define yourself first and foremost as a surfer, fine.  Just drop the girl.  With all the credentials and jobs listed, you've got to be at the very least in your late twenties.]  Libby also has the unattractive feminist habit of attacking what she thinks may be anti-feminist remarks rather than dealing with them in a reasoned manner.  As a result, Evan, the last member of the trio must not only contribute his viewpoint, but also serve as moderator (referee?) for the group.

That said, the book had some significant pluses.  The simplified explanations of concepts and theories offered throughout the book make this difficult subject absolutely approachable. The book introduced me to the idea that the mechanics relating to waves may extend much further than I had imagined.  There are light waves, sound waves, brain waves, etc.  But Isa brings up the idea of thought waves and soul waves.  Libby mentions that emotions come in waves.  The what if's of these ideas inspire me! The waves discussion and the one on synchronicity alone made it a powerful read for me. Throughout the book, however, novices will gain useful information and clearer understandings of some complex issues . 

I now not only know that a unified field theory will require that ordinary physics, quantum physics, ordinary conscious, and unconscious be unified, I care enough to want to know more.
If Einstein Had Been a Surfer: A Surfer, a Scientist, and a Philosopher Discuss a "Universal Wave Theory" or "Theory of Everything"

If anyone else has read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts.