Sunday, June 21, 2015

Adding Paint to Hand Embroidery

Design (mine is slightly modified) is from Green Bean Baby's Etsy shop
 I've never added anything to hand embroidery aside from the thread, but I'm branching out!  The finished sample on Etsy had some color added, and my piece looked all wrong with just the lines of red thread for the hair.  The others from Green Bean looked fine to me without additional color, but this one needed more.
Off I went, down the crafting rabbit hole, to find a way to save the already half-embroidered piece.  The short and sweet is that I wasted too much time and money before contacting one of my artsy bloggers, Tiny Rotten Peanuts, for ideas on fabric paint.  She suggested a few things including Jacquard Textile paint which I ended up using.  Jacquard's True Red and colorless extender were the final choices to get the red here.   

I wanted the extender to make the color less opaque.  That didn't happen, but the extender did make the paints bleed less.  That was really important since I had already embroidered the hair outline. 

Once the painting was finished, I realized that the red thread practically disappeared in the paint.  Black would have worked better around the painted area.  Rather than pick all the red thread out, I weaved Christmas Red Fuzzy Stuff thread which is literally fuzzy thread with gold metallic pieces in it.  You can see it in this photo.

Love the end result. Being that she looks like a bit of a hussy, I gave her gold bead earrings along with a bead on the bodice.  

Lessons learned:
  • Never use water with the paint because it will bleed (unless you want that effect).
  • Sharpies don't hold their color in the wash.  In fact, of all the products I tried, Sharpies were the worst for bleeding and failing in the washing and drying tests.
  • Mix more than you think you will need and find a tiny container to save some extra in case you miss a spot--not that I have any experience with that.  That giant carrot top was a design choice--really.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Birdbath 2015

I'm liking this one.  It's origins are sad, however, because it came about as a result of my "Hogwarts" birdbath's demise.  Well, just part of it, the bowl part, didn't survive winter storage. (I'm blaming Brian for carelessly rummaging through the shed, but he's denying it.) I found this replacement bowl piece at my favorite gaudy glass pieces place, Marshall's.

It's not worthy of being on the grounds of Hogwarts as was the original in my not-so-humble opinion.  Just look at it!  It was practically "growing" out of the ground. 
Which one do birds prefer? Neither, Their first choice is the puddle on top of my pool cover.  They only use the fancy ones when I drain the top of the pool. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Project #2: Replacing the Plastic Hose Reels and Hoses

I scoured Pinterest to find replacement ideas for our rickety plastic hose reels. We decided to install the wood posts in the photos below. Okay, I decided and Brian the did the actual work.  I do anything that has to do with actual gardening.  He does anything that requires a trip to the hardware store.  It's all in the details!

As for the hose, I finally decided to try one of the lightweight hoses after reading a positive review about them on the Hypertufa Gardener blog. You can see mine in the second photo.  The Hypertufa Gardener acknowledged that they don't last more than a season or two but said she was willing to continue buying them because they are so much easier to use.  She was right about it being sooo much easier than a rubber hose!  I need a hundred foot hose in both spots to reach all the grass and flower beds which makes for some really heavy rubber hoses to have to take down and roll back up.  This new hose is practically a pleasure to use.  I'd still rather Mother Nature watered for me, but if I HAVE to do it, I'd rather be using this new hose.  The other hose will be replaced soon.

If you want to make the hose post, here's what you will need:

  •  An eight-foot treated wood post.  OR you could use untreated wood and replace it a lot if you want.  Brian sank the posts four feet down which made them sturdy enough to eliminate the need for any cement at the base.
  • Something to hold the hose.  After reading many posts (What is it with all these pun opportunities lately?) about post hose holders, I found that you need to be careful about what piece you choose for the hose hanger.  If the edges are too sharp, they create breaks in the hose over time.  We picked up the metal ones you see in the photos at Target, but they are available on Amazon as well. 
  • A top piece if you want to kick up the fancy factor.  There are all kinds of wood finial to be had at wood stores. I chose the ones with a bit of copper on top because I have a thing for copper. I would love a copper roof, but this is about as much copper as I can afford. 
  • A post hole digger.  Borrow one if you have to.  It will make the job so much easier. 

Onto the next project. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Summer Project #1 with a Little How-to on Shrub Removal

What would summer be without some back-breaking garden projects?  I don't know the answer to that question although I would like to know it.  Below is a pic of the forty-plus-year-old shrubs in front of my house. This pic makes them look much better than they did close up and in person.  They needed trimming because of the walkway which would have left them with little green except on the tops.

In order to get from there to here:
 and, eventually, to here:
I needed to get those ugly shrubs out. You can easily find articles online for planting things, but far less on removing things.  To help new homeowners out, here are some things about shrub and small tree removal that I wish I had know thirty-five years and two houses ago. 
  • Roots get thinner the farther out you go. 
    •  Start a foot and a half or at least a foot away from the trunk.
    • Your shovel will break most of the roots if you do this, although you may still need to use garden clippers for some of  the thicker roots.
  • Just when you think you are going to be able to just lift that sucker out, it may well appear to be as firmly attached to the ground as when you started.  What???? 
    • Your tree or shrub will have some sinker roots (those that grow straight down) near the center in addition to the lateral or side roots.  Sinker roots are a royal pain because they are hard to get at with the shovel due to their angle (or lack of it??).
    • Sinker roots are also thicker and usually can't be broken with a good push on the shovel anyway, but don't give up!
    • Sometimes you can use the shovel to get to them and clip them with those trusty clippers. Lucky you.  Other times you have to root (pun intended) around with your hands to clear a path for the clippers. It's a dirty job but well worth it.
  • Get as much of the dirt off the root ball as you can by shaking it and/or jabbing with the shovel or trowel. It can make the difference between carrying a really heavy mess or a really light mess. You also won't need as much topsoil to fill in the hole(s).  An added bonus is that you can take out all your frustrations for having bought a house with crappy landscaping at this time.  
  • DO NOT get a manicure before starting a project like this one! 
  • DO get a manicure and a pedicure and a hot stone massage upon completion of the project.  You freakin' deserve it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Birdseed Bag to Grocery Bag

I noticed that the birdseed I buy comes in bags made of a fabric similar to what Joann's sells as shopping bag fabric in its utility fabric section.  Yup, I did try turning one of those seed bags into a shopping bag. The seed bags are colorful and have a plastic coating that makes them even sturdier than the Joann's fabric while still being easy to sew through. 
The seed is from The Tractor Store.

I washed off the bag, cut it down a bit to be the size of a regular grocery bag, sewed up the bottom edge, boxed the bottom corners at three inches, turned down the top edge (just once cuz it doesn't unravel), added webbing handles, and fifteen minutes later I had a very nice shopping bag.
So there it is!  It's stiff enough to stand on its own for loading groceries which will hopefully make the store clerks happier.  It also folds up nicely for toting around

Those birds are gonna have to eat faster so I can make a few more.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Jewelry Roll is Finally Finished

I could not find a jewelry roll pattern that I liked completely.  As a result I chose pieces from different designs to come up with my own pattern.  I used leftover fabric from Agnes' quilt.

The top strip that holds necklaces and bracelets is sewn down in a few places across the top so that it won't sag when the jewelry is on there.  The necklaces obviously get hooked onto the strip.  The center stuffed strip is for rings.  It snaps at the right side for access.
I reinforced the snap area with interfacing.

In addition to the rings, I put some of my circular earrings on here which works well, too.

I saw one design that had the pockets at the bottom.  In addition to providing a place for things like solid bracelets, long necklaces can be tucked in.  That made a lot of sense to me, and it was something missing from most jewelry roll patterns.  Without it I think things would possibly be sliding out the sides.
There are the pockets, sewn down the center to create two...

long necklaces out....

and long necklaces neatly tucked in.
I thought about putting in something to hold stud-type earrings, but decided to just push them through the pocket top.  
The studs and wires are not much more than a large needle and don't damage the fabric.

One mistake that just happened to work out was the placement of the ribbon at the center back.  I should have placed it at the bottom end.  Were my roll longer or shorter the ribbon tie may have gotten rolled up making it rather useless.  Luck was with me, though!  It works perfectly.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I did like cruisin' with Norwegian in the Carribean

Finally got my Photoshop Elements to work well enough to get photos for blogging, so I thought I'd share a few of the fun or unusual thing we loved on this trip aboard the Gem.
Best place in my not so humble opinion:  The Baths at Virgin Gorda. You can go though a massive collection of toppled boulders to get to a fantastic beach area.

There are some slippery areas and a few places that are a bit tight or require care when traversing, but it's not difficult to get through.

You do have to walk though some water, but this is as deep as it gets

Almost to the beach!

We made it!

I collect rocks from places I visit, but these had to stay.
Now for some of the unusual.  This family strolled onto the beach while we were there.

I'm pretty sure Mom was telling her chick to just ignore the rude tourists snapping photos here.

I'm also pretty sure that was not their blanket, but what do I know about chickens!

The islands seem to have a thing for letting their chickens roam freely.
Just hanging by the side of the road.
 Then there were the feral cats at Puerto Rico--not so many that it's annoying, but they were plentiful.

One blue eye and one green!  How cool is that!

Nothing wrong with him.  He was just stretching after a nap.
Iguanas!  I love them.  I wish we had them here.  Maybe I should move there. Yeah, I wanna live here, too.

Last, my favorite place and activity on the ship:
Sun, sea, comfy lounge chair, and my Kindle.  Perfect.
It's only been a month, and I'm ready for another cruise.