Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Gardening in Upstate New York

 I hope you weren't expecting flowers!   Sorry about that.  I just had to post this.  So many of my blogs have had spring planting posts lately with all kinds of ideas for clean out the planting beds. I was reading one the other day and looking out my window at this lovely snow falling.  I had to chuckle.

I remember one year at the end of April being outside washing the car, wearing shorts with a foot and a half of snow on the ground.   The last frost date for my zone is May 30. It's gonna be a while before you see flowers on this blog;-)

Will a bird do?  Only this one was brave enough to put up with the snow.  Pine Siskin, I think, maybe??   No, probably a female Purple Finch.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Did You All Remember To Go To Jutta's New Blog?

I had been looking for things to put on the walls of my newly finished "meditation room" when I saw this photo on Jutta blog a while back.  I loved the dichotomy between the zen-like statue and the drum set.  I also love the simplicity of the window setting and slight touch of color in the plant and outside vegetation.  After leaving her a comment about how much I liked it,  Jutta offered to send me a jpeg!  Now here it is hanging in my meditation room! 
As you may well know, the nasty Ohio company named Organized Living had lawyers send a threatening letter forcing Jutta to change the name of her blog from Organized Living Solutions (note it's not even the same name).  Jutta's blog is now named Tales of Love and Chocolate.  You did all make a nice, smooth transition to Jutta's new blog, right?    If not, there are a couple of links there for you!

If you aren't familiar with Jutta's blog, you should go visit.  She is an excellent writer who even shares her thoughts in poetry now and then.  Then there are the many awesome photographs, inventive ideas, and  interesting recipes.  Since Jutta lives in Namibia, you get to experience a place many of us would never see.   Namibia is now on my list of places I really want to visit someday. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tutorial for the Pocketed Nightstand Scarf

If you read my previous post on my nightstand, you may remember that I turned this:
  into this:
  By adding these little pockets to the side side: 
Some people asked for how-to info which is difficult because everyone's nightstand and "stuff" is different.  To put this simply, I made three rectangles of fabric based on the size of my nightstand and the height of the items that would be in the pockets.

  •  I used quilting cotton, but any fabric will do. 
  •  If your fabric is on the flimsy side, you may want to use some interfacing.   
  • Add some thread, and you are ready.

Base piece (scarf)
  •  My base piece needed to be 60" long (30 across the top and 15" hanging down each side) by 14".  That side hanging measurement resulted from measuring the height of the items that I needed to put in the pockets, adding about 1-1/2" between the pockets and another 1-1/2" under the bottom pocket for a total of 15".  
  • Using 1/2" seam allowances, I cut a strip of fabric 29x61", folded it in half to 14-1/2", sewed along one short end and the length, turned it right-side out, folded under the 1/2" seam allowance, and top stitched it closed.
  • WARNING:   The weight of the things you put in the pockets must be countered either by heavy items on top of the nightstand or by weights on the other end of the scarf.   The items on the top of my nightstand are heavy enough and placed evenly to counter the weight in the pockets.  If your top items are not,  you can 
    • add pockets to the other side for items you don't use often OR 
    • add a couple of inches to the length that will be folded over on the end opposite the pocket end to create a sleeve to hold weights equal to the weight of your pocket "stuff."  Coins, dowels, any of the small pieces of hardware that your spouse bought by the box when s/he needed only a couple can be used as weights.
Remember to include the sloped edges of the nightstand when measuring.

Pocket Rectangles
  •  Pocket size will depend on the items you are putting in them.  You will want the pockets to be tall enough to keep the items from falling out but not so tall that the items cannot be seen and easily taken out.  I chose a size that was about 3/4 the height of the items. 
  • My finished pocket strip of 5x13 required 11x14" rectangles (again 1/2" seams) sewn in the same way as the base piece.  Fold the 11" in half, sew one short end and the long one, turn right-side out, fold open end in 1/2 inch, and top stitch shut. 
I lined my things up to determine how wide to make the pocket strips within the 14" space.
  •  Place the pocket strips on the scarf and pin. (You remembered that the sewn seam goes on the bottom, right?)  Slide the items in to determine where to sew the lines to make separate pockets.
  • If you are using two rows as I did, leave space between the rows because the items will extend out of the pockets.  I left about 1-1/2" between the pockets.There is still some overlap, but it's not an issue.
    See, the remote control at the bottom slightly overlaps the top pocket-- not a problem

  • Sew the along the pin lines on the pockets and, Voila!  You are finished.  Hope this helps.  Any questions--just ask.

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kickstarter and a Children's book

Update:  The project received full funding!!  I can't wait for my copy to arrive in July.  

Have you heard of Kickstarter?  This is the description from their site:

"Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $500 million has been pledged by more than 3 million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects."

I think it's a phenomenal idea.  I love the idea of helping people get projects up and going that otherwise might not make it.   The project I am backing right now is for a children's book written and illustrated by Dennis McGregor.  It's entitled Dream Again, and is about a young girl, a quilt, and the Oregon Trail. Click below and Dennis will tell you about the project. 

There are different incentives depending on the amount of money pledged.  For my $25 pledge, I will get a signed copy of the book when and if it is printed. The payment goes through Amazon if the project is able to get enough funding. If you'd like to find out more about the project and see some examples of previous work by McGregor, you can visit kickstarter at:

Even if you are not interested in pledging, it's worth  a visit just to see the author's amazing artwork.

UPDATE:  The pledge amount exceeded the goal!   My copy of the book is due to arrive in July.  I shall post about it  as soon as it arrives.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Junk in the Trunk (No, not THAT Trunk)

This week  Danni's Tongue-in-Cheek Tuesday link party is all about junk--those places where we just seem to accumulate stuff.  Since I've been unemployed for a few years now, my junk has been my work.  I have gone from room to room organizing and  tossing.  I told my husband that I couldn't come up with anything to join in the party.  He pointed to my nightstand.
Okay.  Right.  My bad.  I clean this up and it fills right up again.  There is no excuse for those socks sitting in the middle of the mess.  There is really no excuse for this box of IPod and Kindle connections as well as too many headphones.
Certainly there is no reason for a book on cd set that I can only listen to in the sewing room, five pairs of reading glasses, three more headphone sets, pens and pencils, a nail file, and two lip glosses.

This is especially true since I have this drawer right underneath (and yet another pair of glasses).
 I really want it to look like my husband's nightstand below.  Those glasses?  Mine.  No wonder he pointed out my mess.  I'm infringing on his side now!
Once the "really needs to be gone stuff" was taken care of, I still had a problem.  I want all these things on the nightstand.  Too much and most of it out of reach from the bed! 
My solution once again involved sewing rectangles.  I have a thing for sewing with rectangles lately.  I came up with a fabric piece with pockets on the side near the bed to hold these "essentials".
 How's this? 
 Some close-ups of my pockets in action.

Thanks for the kick in the butt, Danni!

Friday, March 8, 2013

And Then Danni Said...

Danni who blogs at  Silo Hill Farm and Inspiration Cafe  suggested that I make a post about one of the towel creatures from Carnival's little book of towel creations so that you all can give it a try.  Here it is!

I'm going to show you the book pages as well as some photos of my in-the-works creature because I know I won't write it up as well.  Between the two, you should have no problems.

How ironic that I'm writing a wordy post on the very day that Danni posted her wordless one.  While she is trying to cut down of the words, I seem to be heading toward novel-size posts.  Most of this is photos--I promise!

Here's what Jumbo should look like when you are finished.
In case you missed it, I have owned up to being a dreadful photographer. As I always say, it is so much better nothing!

 First I'm going to show you the directions from the book on how to make the body portion.
Step 2 is in the next photo!  I wanted to get close so you can read it.

Step 2 as promised
For the body, you are just rolling a bath towel from the short ends into the center which will look like this:
 Turn it over and fold in half.
This looked so difficult and was so easy! I had to hold mine between my arm and body to do this part:  pull out a little tab of the four corners of each "tube".  Once you can grab the corners,  you are going to take hold of two corners in each hand and pull!
See those four corners?

Make sure you take the right two corners--see the center of the towel bundle? 
 This is what it looks like after you pull.
 Flip it over and move on to the head

The head  requires a hand towel--not one of those really small ones, though.  Here are the book's directions.

I cannot get the trunk to be as nice and pointy as theirs.  If you figure out how, let me know.  Here are my photos.
Just folded in half

I try to roll the trunk end kind of tight

Flip it over

Pull down the two edges of the towel to form the face area.
 Once you have the face area folded down, just play with it to get the trunk turned up a bit and the ears looking good.  I fold the edges of the towel under for the face.  I use buttons with bead-head straight pin for the eyes (and nose on other creatures).  The cruise people used little circles of felt.  Googly eyes would be cool, too.

 Ta da! Here is the finished product.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cruise Ship Towel Creations

Since I loved coming back to the room to find some new creature made from towels while cruising on Carnival, I bought the book!  My husband may well be regretting that he encouraged me to do this.  Almost everyday since our return, Brian has had to admire and gently move the day's creation before getting into bed at night. I, on the hand, am having a wonderful time even though my creatures seldom look like the one in the book.  Take this guy for instance.
 Doesn't he look like Alf from the old television series (for those of you who are old enough to remember that ancient show)?  It's supposed to be a rabbit looking like the one in the photo below.
 It's not the directions which are perfectly clear with wonderful illustrations.  I just need practice.  Lots of practice.  Can you guess what this one is? 

No, not The Blob.  It's supposed to be a manta ray.  I keep using the same towels over and over.  I think I need to move on to some fresh ones--and keep practicing.  The other night Brian looked at what was my version of a pig and said, "Wow! What a great monkey!  Great job!"  He's so sweet.  At least they look like SOME kind of beast.  Close enough for me.