I'm on Etsy!

Friday, August 30, 2013


Ready to celebrate Memorial Day! (You don't mind this was three months ago, right?)
 I love bunting. I read a long time ago in Better Homes and Garden magazine that you can get the kind of plastic lined fabric that is made for outdoor tablecloths, cut triangles, and sew it to a line of fabric without even having to sew the edges. That is a great idea, but my fabric store only had that plastic fabric in two ugly colors. So I had to use regular cotton. Since I like things to be different, (and easy) I made some rectangle bunting instead of the usual triangle bunting. This is easier because you just fold a rectangle in half and sew up the sides.

Do you know about assembly line sewing? When you finish sewing down one side of your fabric, instead of pulling it out, cutting the thread and putting the next piece in to sew, you just leave a small space without pulling the fabric out, or cutting the thread, and start sewing the next piece. Do one side of every piece, then do the other side. They will all be hooked together like a ladder. Just cut the thread between each one when you're done. This will save a lot of time on this sort of project.

Here's a good example of assembly line sewing:
Just kidding. Here it is:

I sewed the top with half inch wide double fold bias tape. So much easier than cutting thin strips of fabric and ironing it and sewing it together.

I changed it up by making some wide and some skinny.
Then my friend was having a baby and I wanted to make something special, so I tried the triangle bunting. I cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape I wanted so they would all be the same.

I laid this out to figure out which color I wanted in what order with what color letter.

Some of you may have fancy machines that cut out letters, but since I don't have that, I printed out some letters in the font I wanted. I carefully cut the paper letters out, pinned them on to the fabric, and then cut the fabric. I'm not gonna lie, that took a while. But I really like making things. If I wasn't spending my time cutting out letters, I would have been spending useless time on Facebook. 

I ironed on the letters with fusible webbing and then sewed them on applique style before I sewed the triangle halves together. Sew the bottom two sides of the triangles (right sides together) and cut off the point at the bottom so the extra fabric isn't bunched up inside.  Turn it inside out and use a knitting needle to poke it out extra pointy. Iron it and sew around the edge for a more professional look. Sew the top to some double fold bias tape. Make sure you leave enough room on the end in order to hang it up.

We had the baby shower at my house, so we hung it up as a decoration and a present, which is not the usual way of doing things. But I don't feel bound by tradition.

I'm pretty sure I put those toys away before the shower started.

Here's a funny picture of my two year old for no reason.

How to organize your thread

Not too long ago, my craft room was covered with plastic drawers full of yarn, fabric, batteries, paint, coloring books, and all kinds of craft supplies. I had my eye out at the yard sales for a big solid wood cabinet with lots of drawers. Eventually, I'm sure I would have found just the right piece of vintage furniture, but we ended up buying something new and very heavy. It was my anniversary present. We had to ask the neighbor to come over to help us get it out of the van. Thanks, neighbor!

When we got rid of the plastic drawers, I wanted a pretty way to get organized. So I found a thrift store frame. You might have a good one in your closet. It was a pink frame, and obviously we can't have pink frames hanging about, so I spray painted it. I found two and a half inch finishing nails. Husband told me they were called finishing nails. It means they have a very small head and you can easily fit your thread on it. Depending on what the back of your frame is made out of, you might need to add a piece of cardboard, or a thin piece of wood. I got a pretty piece of scrap-booking paper that it turns out, you can hardly see, and then I hammered the nails on top of it one and half inches apart. I didn't need a large frame since I don't have that much thread. Each spool takes up about two and a half inches square, so you can figure out how big a frame you need.
This would look prettier if all my thread was the same size and shape.

I put all of my tiny spools in a jar.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What kind of fictional character would your name represent?

I've noticed more and more in my reading that character's last names often correspond to the type of person they are or the role they play.  This probably happens more in kids books, which is what I usually prefer to read. For example, in the Forgotten Garden (a great book) Mrs. Swindell steals from children and Miss Makepeace attempts to play the role of a peacemaker. So I got to thinking, what if our last names indicated the kind of people we are? With a name like Wood, what would I be? Wooden-headed? A wood worker? Perhaps a mysterious maiden who lives in the wood. Maybe someone who would do anything, as in: Charlotte Would. Take my maiden name, Paris. I think a character with that name would probably be stylish, but maybe promiscuous, which is not what I would want my character to be. In case you were wondering.

So I went through my facebook friends, and if they/you had a name that evoked a quality, I wrote about what sort of character they/you would be in a book. (I'm not saying this is what you are, just what a character with your name would be).

Mr. Abraham - An old man with biblical wisdom.
Mrs. Bell - A musical friend (which is true).
Mrs. Beman - A second-rate friend (which is untrue).
Mrs. Sotelo  - With a name like Sotelo, you'd be a gossipy lady in my book, which doesn't fit you at all.
Mrs. Boozer - You know what character you would play. :)
Mr. Clapper - A yes-man, perhaps, or maybe someone who is encouraging and cheerful.
Mr. Conner and Mr. Connors - the con men.
Mrs. Cravens - Would be someone who is never satisfied.
Mr. and Mrs. Crews - Would either be characters who don't take anything seriously (just cruisin') or would be militaristic in their organization and discipline.
Mrs. Crossley - You would be thwarting the hero at every corner.
Miss Daly - A reporter, perhaps.
Mr. Dupin - Always fooling people.
Mr. Fawcett - Would never stop talking.
Mrs. Fender - Would be the great defender. Or the great offender. :)
Mrs. Finley - Someone with attention to detail.
Miss Gallman - Impudent bad guy.
Mrs. Goshorn - Would have to dramatically sell all of her hair in order to survive.
Mrs. Goodyear - Would bring wonderful things to the story.
Mrs. Hite - A rock climber, or someone who thinks herself above everyone else.
Mrs. and Miss Hunter - Searching for something.
Mrs. Jarchow - Would be a gluttonous bad guy.
Ms. Joy - Would bring joy.
Ms. Key - Would be the answer to the mystery, but you wouldn't find out until the end.
Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood - Would try to keep Ms. Key from discovering her secret.
Mrs. Love - The heroin who falls in love with and marries the hero.
Mrs. Luckie  - Miss Luckie would be a kind friend.
Mr. Lynch - Obviously a bad guy.
Mrs. Markey and Mr. Marks - Might be marked for an early demise.
Mrs. Marsh - Mrs. Marsh would be a simple woman, living off the land.
Mrs. Maxwell - The mean rich lady. Or the generous rich lady.
The Family McBride - Would end up getting married, but you couldn't be sure that he/she would until the last chapter.
Mrs. McCann - Can do anything.
Mr. and Mrs. Moody - I suppose they would be moody.
Mr. Mounts - Tends the horses.
Mr. Noble - The noble hero.
The Family Paris - I already mentioned that you would be stylish and possibly promiscuous.
Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes - You have a long journey to make.
Mr. Peacock - Would think too highly of yourself.
The Family Pope - Would be evil papists.
The Family Pugh - What can I say? You would have to be a bad guy that smells bad. But in real life, you all smell very nice.
Mr. and Mrs. Purtle - Would be slow.
The two unrelated Quinns - Would be writers, because I am reminded of quills.
Miss Ransom - Would be the kidnapper.
Mr. and Mrs. Ray - Would bring sunshine. Good thing you aren't a Pugh anymore. :)
Mr. and Mrs. Read - Would be the smart professors.
Mr. Reuter - The plumber?
Miss Riggles - Either a two year old or a dancer.
Mrs. Snow - The winter queen.
Miss South - The exotic beauty.
Mrs. Strange - Would be a shadowy character of mystery.
Mr. Stump - A pirate!
Miss Summers - Another exotic beauty.
Mr. Swales - Drinks too much.
Mr. and Mrs. Toothman - either a dentist, or a bad guy with ugly teeth.
Mr. Waddell - Short and fat and frantically waddling.
Mr. and Mrs. Walker - Never give up.
Mrs. Weeks - has to wait for something.
Mrs. Wellman and Mrs. Wells - Doctors maybe?
Mr. and Mrs. Westa - Pioneers.
Mrs. White - A pure character. Although, in China, white is the color of death, so maybe a character who gets killed off.
The Family Wiles - Characters employing the wiles of the devil. :)
Mrs. Witcher - a bewitcher.

Your names have inspired some interesting characters! Maybe I will get started on writing that book.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Reusable Containers

Do you ever buy these things? I like to keep these sorts of containers on hand in case I am sending some food home with someone. Then I don't have to worry about getting the container back from them. Although, if it was this container, at least they would know it was mine.

But I don't buy these Take Alongs. I noticed the sandwich meat I usually buy comes in same kind of containers! Walmart brand has the same kind. I guess I forgot to take a picture. So I wash them and keep them.

I like to keep some glass jars on hand too. They're good for sending soup or some other hot food home with someone. Sometimes you need a small container for paint.  That's what I'm keeping those small bowls for.

Sometimes you need something to organize your craft supplies.

Sometimes you need something for your home-made cappuccino.

You know I'm a big fan of most things Walmart brand, but I recently bought this more expensive spaghetti sauce, because I like that little Atlas jar. I'll put something pretty in it.

I think it's great to reuse stuff when you can. But don't go overboard. If you have a lot of plastic grocery bags, you can just recycle those. You don't have to crochet a grocery bag purse. Although, I suppose you could do that. Just make sure it's a pretty one.

How have you reused containers?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sewing mistakes

I have made many mistakes while sewing.   It may be that the only way to avoid these mistakes is to make them yourself, and then learn from them. But in case you can learn from my mistakes, here are some of the blunders I have made.
Meet my friend, Seam Ripper.

1. Sewing the top of a pocket closed. I made a lot of aprons for Christmas one year, and I definitely sewed a pocket closed.  On this subject, I hate it when they sew pants pockets closed. If I had wanted pants without pockets I would have bought them that way.

2. Letting fabric get folded and sewed. I am happily sewing along, full speed, when out of nowhere, from underneath the fabric something gets folded up and sewn in.
Where'd you come from, little guy?

3. Sewing the wrong sides together, instead of the right sides.
4. Sewing one right side and one wrong side together.

5. Running out of bobbin thread and not noticing. This usually happens when you are sewing something complicated, and it often takes about two feet of fabric before I notice.

Have you made any good mistakes?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mirror update: three tries. Make that four.

My mom is redecorating at her house and getting rid of some stuff including some great furniture! She gave me this mirror. And it's cute, but it doesn't match anything in my house.

Mom told me I should paint it. Why didn't I think of that?  Normally I would spray paint something like this, but it wouldn't be easy to tape around the round edge of the mirror, so I used craft paint. And I'll scrape the excess paint off with a razor.

I propped it up on these handy cups so the paint wouldn't stick to the towel.
Uh-oh. This paint is going on thin. This might take a while.

After the first or second coat, I notice that you can see the lumpy flower shapes under the paint. Maybe I should sand. But I am optimistic, for some reason, that after more coats you won't be able to tell.

I paint another coat. Because I'm stubborn. Obviously it's still lumpy, so I break down and sand it.
It seems pretty smooth now.
I didn't sand that as good as I thought I did.

It's hard to tell in the picture, but the walls in the bathroom are gray.  The color isn't cute true to life, but I can tell that it doesn't look right.  So I racked my brain for some sort of stencil design I could use to keep some of the silver and add a lot of black.

This is my inspiration:

The Bird's Nest, in China.

I have obtained some extra skinny tape from my secret sources. I would have preferred to have two, but since I like things to be free, I made do with one.  I used this tip to avoid the paint bleeding under the tape.
I am feeling so optimistic about this design!

I finally got around to looking through our whale of a collection of paint cans to find the black one. How many different shades of white does one family need?

One tip about old paint: Instead of using a paint stirrer, just shake up the can. It's less messy. Generally. Make sure the lid is on tight. I won't make that mistake twice. Ha ha! Heh.

Pull off the tape, hang up the mirror. Voila!

Just kidding.

I didn't paint a base coat of kilz under the silver. The skinny tape is not painter's tape. And maybe craft paint is not made to stand up to tape. So when I pulled off the tape, this happened:

I'm so glad you can learn from my mistakes.

I didn't have the heart to try this same design again, but I hope that one of you will. And I hope you send me pictures!

Now I guess I have an opportunity to sand properly. And I have helpers!

They may not look too happy, but they are! They are having a blast!
Paint two coats of kilz and two coats of black. I'm going to do this little pearl necklace design. Use the back of a paint brush to make perfect circles. Dip in the paint, dot on the surface. When you do it, there may be a lump in the middle of the dot, but as it dries, it will spread out like a cookie in the oven. The paint will be extra thick, so allow it plenty of time to dry. I used a small paintbrush to make the small dots. If you don't dip your paintbrush after each dot, it will make a smaller dot each time. You could use that to make a sunburst design.

It has that slightly uneven, hand crafted look, which is totally what I was going for. 

I put up those towels just for you! 

Husband loves it! He can barely contain himself.

I think this mirror took eleven coats of paint, not including the dots, from start to finish.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Bible has a lot to say about money.

I volunteer as a financial counselor at my church. This means I get to meet with people and help them plan a budget, discuss ways to save money, and make a plan to get out of debt.  I love that my church has this ministry. Since this ministry is important to NewSpring Church, they are planning to put together a devotional about getting out of debt, and they invited each of us financial counselors to write an entry or two.

NewSpring Church has campuses all over South Carolina, and anyone can make an appointment for free financial counseling here. You don't even have to attend NewSpring.

Here's my entry:

2 Kings 4:1-7
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.
3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors.
4Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”
5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!
“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.
“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.
7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

In verse 1, we see a widow who would have had very little earning power. She is in so much debt that her kids are going to be repossessed. We don’t know how she got into debt. Maybe it was her husband’s doing. Maybe he was borrowing in order to start a business and then suddenly, he died. Maybe he always took care of the money, and she just didn’t know what to do after he died. Whatever the reason, now she’s desperate and she comes to Elisha for help.

Read verse 2 again. Elisha is acting as her financial counselor. He’s getting all nosy in her personal business like us financial counselors do. He doesn’t go to the church and take up an offering for her. He asks her what she has that she can sell. She didn’t think that she had anything that people would want to buy, but I guess she didn’t realize what kind of stuff people would buy on Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon.

In verse 3, her friends supported her in her effort to get out of debt. They lent her jars, but it wasn’t a big deal, because she gave them back after she sold the olive oil. They didn’t pay her bills for her, but they had a small thing to lend, and she wasn’t afraid to ask for it.

In verses 4-6, God miraculously multiplied her olive oil. God may not decide to miraculously multiply your bank account, but when you decide to make a plan for your money, God will multiply your efforts! Proverbs 21:5 says: Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

Her sons were helping her with the olive oil, and you need to get your kids on board and helping you. Every time they ask you to buy something, you have an opportunity to teach them about managing money. Sit down with them and have a serious talk. Tell them you are changing your spending habits and they can’t ask you to buy stuff they don’t need. It’s ok for them to know how much money you make and that you are paying off debt. Otherwise, how will they learn? If you feel they are old enough, you can put them on their own budget for buying clothes and doing fun things with their friends. Kids that are old enough can mow lawns or babysit to earn this money. Older kids should get jobs. Kids as young as two can do chores around the house to earn money. Of course, they might not do a very good job... The important part is for your kids to start learning that money comes from working hard and it is not going to be handed to them.

My prayer is that your children will learn from your situation and never have their own financial difficulties.

In verse seven, the widow sold her olive oil, paid off all of her debts and they lived on what was left over. They had to make it last until her oldest son was able to earn some real money and support the family. This time around, the widow knows that they have to make a plan and live as frugally as possible. Never again will they live with the threat of slavery!

Never again will you be a slave to your lenders!

What can you sell to help pay off debts? Maybe you have books you’ve already read, dvds you’ve already seen, or video games you’ve already played. Maybe you have recreational vehicles that you aren’t overly attached to.

In what ways can you ask your friends for help, without asking too much? For example: trading babysitting services, so you can both have free babysitting; if you are paying for a storage unit, maybe you have a friend who has some empty space in the attic; if you have a business, your friends could tell their friends about it; you could carpool.                                                                                                                          
What can you teach your kids about money? Is there anything your kids can do to start earning their own spending/saving money?                                                                                  

What is your plan for the future?