Friday, December 17, 2010

My New Ecosystem Journals

Does anyone else ever lose an entire post by going off to find a link?  Arghh! I just did.  I do, however, HAVE  to show you to see the three Ecosystem notebooks I won through Chica and Jo's blog.  I have been staring at them in their packaging for a few weeks now (lovely colors) waiting as I finished up both my work journal and my daily journal.  How is that for timing!  Today is the big day to start all three!!!

These are completely made from recycled materials.  Recycled paper often looks as though it is, well,  definitely recycled.  Not these.  The paper is bright white and smooth.  The covers are sturdy but flexible.  Those features alone make them great notebooks, BUT there is so much more.  They have attached elastic bands to keep them closed, built-in book marks, perforated pages, and large pockets built into the back!  Each notebook has a special identification number on the back pocket that can serve two purposes.   You can use it to find out what materials went into the manufacture.  In addition, anyone finding the notebook can contact the company to get it back to you.  For all this I thought the price would be way up there, but it isn't!  They are really reasonably priced. 

This green lined one begins life as my new work journal.  Throughout the day I write down whatever I'm working on--calls, emails, research, meetings, new ideas, possible problems.  I started doing this for the weekly and monthly journals I do for my AmeriCorps placement. This work journal has turned out to be remarkably useful.     I find myself culling through its pages for all kinds of useful information--dates, times, names, numbers. At the end of  one work day without it, I realized how difficult it is to remember all the little things yet significant things that go into filling the day.

And, finally, to replace all the bits and scraps of paper in my purse filled with random thoughts and ideas for writing and craft project is this little orange beauty.  It's about 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches complete with pocket, etc.  I've tried notebooks for this before, but they always become battered and nasty looking.  The sturdy cover, elastic band to keep it closed, and all-around quality of construction  make this one perfect for the job.

With the new year around the corner, I am ordering their weekly planner in  "grape."  If you are going to begin journaling of any kind or haven't gotten next year's planner yet, you have to check out I think you can buy them at Barnes and Noble, too.  Check the site to see about that for sure.    Once again, I have to give a big thank you to Chica and Jo for holding the giveaway and introducing me to such a great company.  Who knew recycled could be so chic!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Crafty Staci's Rapunzel Scarf

I saw this scarf at Staci's blog yesterday and finished it today!  It's that easy. You can get the directions from Staci's blog, but I did change a couple of things that made it easier for me. 

I used two skeins of yarn--almost all of it--following Staci's directions to make 100 pieces of 8 ft long yarn.  Since I wanted to mix the two colors, I just pulled from each of the skeins at the same time to get the 8 foot pieces.  That  made it a lot faster to cut all those long strings--half the time.

I  used a ponytail hairband to hold all the pieces together to tie the first knot.  Since the band is brown and  blended right in, I just left it there.  The knot covers it.  In fact, I did the same thing at the other end to finish it. 

Staci mentioned  another blogger who made an infinity version of a braided scarf.  That blogger, whose name I've forgotten (sorry, but you can hit the link and find it yourself;-}) tied pieces of yarn down the length of the three pieces to be braided to keep them from getting tangled.  That made the process sooo much easier.

The only thing I might change the next time is that I might try braiding it just a bit tighter. I did it kind of loose because I tend to make things too tight when working with yarn.  If you make one,  experiment with this aspect a few different ways when you start braiding to see what you like. 

I could not believe how quick and easy this was!  From start to finish it was only about an hour. It's a nice quick holiday gift especially if you have yarn in the house.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reusing Old Couch Cushions

I mentioned in another post that I saved some old couch cushions to recover.  I thought I could use one for meditation and just have them around for floor cushions.  They turned out to be more difficult than I thought because my traditional "take the old cushions apart for a pattern and to reuse the zipper and the cording" did not quite work this time.  The material covering the edge cording (which has another name I have forgotten at the moment) was incorporated into the side material.  That sounded like such a great idea!  A real time-saver! As it turned out, it was very difficult for me to figure out how to sew this all together. I gave up twice.  The cushions made their to the garbage area on two frustrating occasions.

Then, I was going through the Feisty Stitcher and noticed that she had a cushion that was sewn to the outside--very simple.  I was using denim that matched the furniture I covered in the four seasons room:

Denim would fray nicely--the perfect look for a rustic kind of fabric!  Here they are!  I'm still working on the edges.  I've been picking out the edges for that frayed look.  It's a nice boring job to do while watching television.

I'm glad they survived two near trips to the garbage.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out and the many uses I'm finding for them.  I love that I can just stack them up in a corner and grab one or two or three to use as needed.   I use one to make meditation time more comfortable and for some yoga things.  My book club is going to be watching Babette's Feast next week.  (Don't you just love a book club that will watch movies, too?)  These cushions are going to help provide the extra seating in the man cave, too. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Tree Is Up With 34 Years of "Stuff"!

Here it is!

I always love my tree.  After 34 years of putting everything possible on it, it's hard to find places for stuff.  And, I do mean everything.    In addition to the homemade ornaments, the store-bought ones, and the gifted trinkets, we have the cheap plastic giveaways from all kinds of companies including Ponderosa Steak House, Life Savers, the Energizer Bunny, M & M's, and last year's coke bottles shaped like ornaments.

Any little colorful treasure that made its way into the house at Christmas time including fast food restaurant giveaways got a ribbon on it and was slapped up on the tree.  Small toys that had been outgrown during the year are there and even a rubber chicken.   All the outgrown dolls and stuffed animals ended up in the Christmas boxes and grew to the point of not needing a tree skirt.  You couldn't see it under all the stuffed animals anyway.

Taking a picture of any portion of the tree will turn up a strange collection like this.  The handmade thing with a hat has a smiley face on one side and a frowning one on the other.  Who could resist that at a craft fair?  The blue at the top is one of those clear glass balls with acrylic paint rolled around inside.  I absolutely have to do those every year.  The Chinese doll is something my sister brought back from Chinatown at least 20 years ago.  I couldn't figure out what to do with it, so it went on the tree.  Peeking out from the side is the crafty little box sewn together using yarn with a pompom bear inside.  Those were popular about 20 years ago.  My oldest son made the sled in school.  Notice the very Christmasy colors of black and white.  You will see that this inability to get that Christmas things might be in Christmas colors is something that none of my kids ever understood.

Before we home schooled, my kids would buy things at a little fair the elementary school set up.  Students had a special day to buy items at special prices as gifts.  Here are a few of the things my kids brought home.

Yes, those are the traditional orange, blue, and yellows that we all put on the tree, right?  How about this one.
He paid for this!  Frankly, I was used to strange things coming from these craft fairs by the time these two trinkets were proudly carried into the house.  My daughter started the tradition of strange things with this item:
Who sells this stuff to unsuspecting children?  I've had this for over 25 years now, and I still laugh until I cry looking at it.  I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face.  You know the worst part?  She liked it so much she bought two of them.  Yes, for 25 years I've had two of these 7 to 8 inches long and about 4 inches wide dangling from my tree.

By far the most bizarre item has to be this one. 
It is some kind of imitation stained glass on plastic glued on a sawed off cardboard oatmeal container.  Believe it or not this side looks better than the other.  I have no idea who made this stuff or why the school foisted them off on my kids. I know these were not made by students at the school.  The idea that no more would get into the house may have been in the back of my mind when I decided we'd home school.

My kids contributed their share of strange things, too. This "ornament" is about 5 by 8 inches.

Kyle gave me this for Christmas.  The F K had me momentarily stunned, but it turned out to be, "To Mommy from Kyle."

Fortunately, it's a big tree and crowded to the point that it is hard to take in all the individual oddities without working at it.  I'll bet you didn't even notice the rubber chicken.  Oh, yes.  It's on there. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

2011 Owl Calendar Freebie From My Owl Barn

Want to create your own calendar using incredible artwork of owls from 30 talented artists FREE?  Go to

It is so easy to do!  The hardest part is deciding which of the pictures to choose for each month.

The pictures are even more impressive when you see them in the final pdf.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Introducing a Young One to Harry Potter this Christmas With Chica and Jo's Help

Ever since I saw the butterbeer recipe on Chica and Jo's blog, I've been planning this basket.  Being kind and generous, Chica and Jo made a recipe card that can be downloaded free.  They even offered very reasonably priced stencils at their online store so that I could copy their etched butterbeer mugs.  It's so nice to have someone else imagine great things for me ;-})

I thought that the first Harry Potter book, a copy of the recipe which soon became two recipes when they created a hot version, some butterbeer mugs, and a few other Harry-inspired items in a basket would be a great way to introduce a special young one to Harry this Christmas.

So here it is.  Yeah, it needs a few more things, but it's a good start. 

In back of the book, is the black Hogwart's robe from a simple pattern found here.  Wrapped around is a polar fleece scarf in Gryffindor's scarlet and gold colors.  This is just rectangles of polar fleece, twice as wide as long, sewn together.  Then the strip is folded in half lengthwise to get the square blocks of color.  The edges are sewn all around leaving a spot large enough to turn it right-side out.  Last, that opening is sewn closed. 

My mugs--actually very large cups--were too rounded to use the full stencil. I HATED losing the lovely decorative edging, but they look really great with just the lettering.  This picture doesn't do them justice.  I love the font Chica and Jo used. 

In back of the mugs, you can see the recipe card Chica and Jo made.  I printed both recipes on nice heavy card stock and used double sided tape to put them back-to-back.  Laminating them would be even better.  They'd make a great bookmark!

Last is the wand.  It's just an old long-handled paint brush.  I took the brush part off, sanded it, painted it black, and covered that with gold glitter paint.    Yes, I know there were no glittery wands in Harry Potter.  I think Hermione and Ginny would have wanted them, though.

I need to find some Harry Potter candy to finish this off.  It's not even Thanksgiving and one Christmas gift is done!   We just won't think about the fact that I'm still working on the Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins.  Well, maybe it will be the Christmas tablecloth with napkins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Early Winter Wonderland

Nature must have decided to make up for the completely dark sky we have at five o'clock this time of year by dropping lots of crisp, wet, white snow to reflect the outside lighting needed to see when I left work.  I'm not a big fan of cold, snowy, icy, winter weather, but I must admit the first snow is always a nice--just the first one, though.

It even made the left over pumpkin look good (albeit a bit lonely).

To Elke in lovely Florida:  Do you guys even HAVE shovels down there?