Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Great Idea for Storing Kitty Litter Bags


Now that I don't use plastic grocery bags anymore I'm finding that the stash I keep for disposing kitty litter is going down awful fast. I suppose that I was actually recycling them, but as much as we shop, they really were getting out of control. Besides, I heard on the radio that they plan to do away with them completely in the next few years. Many places already have quit using them, as many cities in the U.S. have gone green.

I picked up a package of eight pet disposal bags. They come in a roll so that they fit the nice little holders that people attach to their pet's leash for when they are our walking. That in itself, is brilliant! You know what else they fit beautifully inside? All eight of them fit inside the wet wipes container that you buy in the toilet paper isle at the grocery store. They even have a hole to dispense them one at a time from the rolls, and a cover that flips over so you don't see what's inside. I personally like this idea because Punkie likes to eat plastic bags. This way, she can't get to them, and I can keep this in the bathroom where I keep her main litter box. 

If you are going green in your home and plan on not using plastic grocery bags, be sure to check out my tutorial to make some foldable grocery bags that fit inside a sleeve. They are so easy, even if you don't sew. I was actually told by one reader that it was her first ever sewing project and it turned out great! You can find that HERE.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Tutorial - Pet Memorial Candle

 

If you've ever lost a pet, you know how painful it is, and what a void it leaves in your life. Some of you may already know this but there is a global wide candle ceremony that takes place every Monday night at 9:00 P.M. central time. Everyone who wishes to participate, lights a candle in memory of a pet who has passed, and this is not a religious ceremony, so it doesn't matter what your beliefs are. This is done in the privacy and comfort of your own home. While lighting the candle, you can pray if you want, or you can just remember your furry little friends and the funny things they used to do. For more information, you can read about it HERE.


I used to do this after I lost my first dog CocoaBean in 2001, then somehow I got out of the habit. Since then I've lost two other pets, Sabrina, our shop cat, and most recently Mr. Patches. I thought it was time to do this again. I want the candle to be special though, just for them, so I came up with a few different designs. You can use a purchased glass candle cup, or use small jars. Along with this tutorial, I've included a JPEG image containing several sizes of paw prints and hearts to choose from. Just save the photo in these instructions to your computer and print.

SUPPLIES: 
Baby food jars, plain candle cups, or any small jar
ENAMEL paints (your choice of colors) sold by the acrylic paints
Ribbon, twine, or raffia for the rim (if using jars)
Paint brushes
Palette, plastic lid, or paper plate to hold paint
Alcohol
A couple (soft) paper napkins
Paw print & heart templates (provided, optional)
Cookie sheet to hold jars while baking
Oven
Tea light candles or votive candles

IMPORTANT - READ FIRST:
Always start with a squeaky clean glass and keep it that way. Before you begin painting an area, be sure to wipe it down with alcohol and if you accidentally touch that area during painting, wipe that spot again with the alcohol. The oils from your hands can actually prevent your paint from permanently sticking to the glass. Sometimes it's easiest to hold the glass with your hands or fingers on the inside. At some places you may find that you want to add a second coat. It’s also very important to allow paint to completely dry between coats and color changes. Be sure to wash and dry your brushes thoroughly after each color or between coats.

Note: If you are recycling a glass food jar, by soaking the jar in hot soapy water, the label should peel right off. If you find that glue is left behind, the best thing to use is GooGone which can be purchased about anywhere. If you don't have any, or don't want to buy any, you can use a paste made up of cooking oil, baking soda, and salt. The GooGone is just so much easier and quicker.


Click on the image above to open, right click an save to your computer if you want to use my handy templates.

INSTRUCTIONS:
1.  If you will be using my templates, just cut out the one(s) you want and tape them to the inside. Be sure to press them snuggly against the glass. If during this time you touched the outside of the glass, just wipe it down again with alcohol. While you are painting, be sure to hold only the upper rim, the bottom, and the inside of the glass. If you do accidentally touch the glass, just wipe that area with more alcohol. If you don't like your painting job, you can wash this paint right off and start over, as long as you do it right away. After it has been cured and baked, you will not be able to do this.


2.  Paint your jar as desired. You can see that I made three completely different jars. One candle holder I made with a paw print and wavy lines, and another one I did the paw print and the hearts in two colors. For the final jar I made the paw prints but decorated the entire jar with little dots. This was so easy because all I did was dab the wooden end of the paintbrush into paint, then dot it on the jar. Very simple for a cute effect. If you taped the templates to the inside, remove them after the paint has dried. Make sure to get all the tape off since the candle cups or jars will be baked.

All my candles were painted all the way around so when the flame was flickering, it made a pretty "dance" on the wall behind it, or the table under it.  

3.  Once the glasses are completely dry, you will have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle of the paint brand you are using for finishing. For example, for the brand of paint I used, I was to allow my paint to dry for 48 hours. After that, I set them in a cool oven, I set the temperature to 325 degrees, baked for 30 minutes, turned the oven off, let them cool down in the oven before removing. Your instructions may be different depending on the brand of paint you used.


4.  After they have cooled off, you can add your ribbon, raffia, or twine to the rim if desired. Pop in a candle and join in on the Monday night candle lighting, or as I have also done in the past, light the candle when you have moments where you are missing your little guys so much.

After they are baked, they can be washed. The bottle of paint I used said they are top shelf dishwasher safe, but I would still wash by hand. If you give them as a gift, perhaps to someone who has recently lost a pet, be sure to print out the Monday night ceremony page to give along with it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Project 365 - Week 37


Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 246 - My mushroom is getting so big and it's still growing. It's about the size of a luncheon plate now. Anyone have a clue what kind it is? There is another one next to it but it isn't perfectly round.

Day 247 - Filled in at the animal clinic today. Sometimes we have to use the employee bathroom to isolate a sick animal. Nothing like looking over and there is an 8 foot snake looking back at you!

Day 248 - I got to babysit this precious cutie today! She was having so much fun playing with her dog. That poor dog! She just lays there and takes all the Paige abuse. Oh those vicious pitbulls!

Day 249 - My printer died a couple weeks ago so I bought another one. I never could get the new one to feed the paper without pulling my hair out so I took it back and this time I came home with an Epson. Thought if I changed brands, maybe I'd have better luck.

Day 250 - These are the last of the Halloween mug rug designs for this year. I have one more Halloween project in the works to be released next week, but it's not a mug rug.

Day 251 - Our front door that Brian just recently repainted. For some odd reason, the sun changed the original color to a funny blue. Now it's back to green and matches the rest of the green on the house.

Day 252 - Have you ever heard of Pink Martini? They sing a song called "Hang On Little Tomato." My daughter gave me their CD several years back and I still love this song! At the time she gave it to me, I was going through a rough spot and waiting for my "sunny someday" to arrive. And it did, it was Brian!

Words to Hang On Little Tomato:
The sun has left and forgotten me
It's dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I'm gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion

Somebody told me, I don't know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you're feelin' all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find

You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it's dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love

Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you'll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something's coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead

And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you


For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Favorite - Italian Cheeses, The REAL Stuff!


I thought it would be fun for a new "favorites" post. I share with you my thoughts on Italian cheeses. I'm not talking about the powdery stuff in the tall, green cans either. I'm talking about the fresh stuff you find in the refrigerated area. I like to buy it in the plastic tub but you can also buy it in the zipper bags. I love each one of these (Parmesan, Asiago, Romano) but I love them even more mixed together. I have been putting this stuff on everything! It's especially good on a salad. I even use it on other things that are more simple in taste such as plain veggies, or chicken, and even baked potatoes.

The thing about this deliciously fresh cheese is that you don't need to add a lot for such a huge punch of flavor. A little bit, even a teaspoon, goes a long way. If you are watching calories, this is the best cheese to use because don't use a whole lot of it, a light sprinkling will do you. For the past several months, it has become a staple in my home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Project 365 - Week 36


Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 246 - Getting ready to send my daughter a signed copy of the latest book I'm a contributor to. I'm going to be visiting her soon but I'm shipping the book as well as her birthday presents so I don't have to take them on the plane.

Day 247 - I've been keeping my eye on this mushroom that we found in our yard. I want to see how big it gets. I have no idea what kind it is.

Day 248 - Don't you just love your house after you spent the day cleaning? I do! I was sure to light some pretty scented candles and kick back with a glass of wine.

Day 249 - Went to my beautiful niece's third birthday party today. The kids had so much fun in the bouncey house.

Day 250 - My favorite Chardonnay at the end of the day. I rhymed!

Day 251 - All along one side of our property is lined with pine trees. Right now there are pine cones everywhere. It's also fun watching the squirrels running around with them in their mouths.

Day 252 - I was waiting for this storm to roll in but it either weakened, or I slept through it.

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, September 8, 2014

All Free Sewing and My Blog Tutorial!

 

Have you ever heard of ALL FREE SEWING? It's a website that has a gazillion free sewing and craft projects. So many fun projects in one place, and they are all free!!! Today I got notification that my cellphone or tablet sleeve pattern has been accepted for publication on their website. When you have some time, you are going to want to stop by there and you will probably find a ton of patterns that you can make for Christmas gifts!

Here's the link to my project, which many of my readers have already seen, but be sure to look at the links at the left to find all the fun projects and patterns they have to offer.

http://www.allfreesewing.com/Miscellaneous-Projects/One-Size-Fits-All-Tablet-Case

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fun Trees at State and County Parks


One of things that Brian and I enjoy doing when on vacation is to find local, county, and state parks. We look for hiking trails because we love to get out there in nature and walk. We are also very lucky to live so close to so many here as well. And those who know me, also know that I love to take pictures to document those walks. Above are some fun trees that we've seen on our walks.

From left to right at top:
Loved the pine needle pathway on this trail at Ludington State Park in Michigan. What I found even cooler was the way the roots creep up above the ground. I highly recommend a visit to this park if you are ever in the area. Beautiful trails with lots of scenery. It also has a pretty lake, and an area where you can see turtle sunning on rocks. I love turtles so I was fascinated.

How cool are these roots? Look at how they are all tangled up in each other. This photo was taken down in one of the canyons at Matthiessen State Park in Illinois. If you love to take scenic walks, you have to stop by here! You go down into the canyons, hike beautiful trails, and see awesome waterfalls. So worth the drive if you aren't too far away.

From left to right at bottom:
I call this one the Bear Tree. When you are coming around the corner, you spot this tree and it looks like a bear. This tree can be found at the Indiana Dunes State Park. I've been hiking these trails for many, many years. I live a short distance away so it's a great place for us to get in our walking. It sits along the shores of Lake Michigan and my favorite trail is Trail 9. On that trail you get a little bit of everything. You get the trees and woods through parts of it, and the beautiful views of Lake Michigan on other parts. Trail 8 has spectacular views as well, but that trail is BRUTAL. It takes you up the three highest sand dunes. It's rough, but so worth the views.

I think Graffiti Tree would be a great name for this tree, don't you think? I wish I could remember where we saw this tree at, but I can't. I do know that it's one of our local parks that is within a super short drive from our home. It might even be in our own county. I'll have to revisit them to find out for sure. I personally wouldn't deface nature this way, but as you can see, it has become a favorite place for kids to leave their mark.

The photo in this tree doesn't quite give the effect that you see when you are standing under it and looking up. It has all these really cool waves in the bark. I just thought it was so pretty. There were quite a few like it in this are of Bendix Woods County Park. This park was probably about an hour drive from us, so we packed a picnic lunch, which we love to do, and headed on our way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Project 365 - Week 35


Project 365 - One photo a day for a year. Kind of like a photographic journal of my entire year!

Day 239 - Making some fun projects with these fun fabrics. You can see the tutorial that became of these pretties right here.

Day 240 - Reliving the days of packing up the kids and heading to the library to get my craft and sewing inspiration.

Day 241 - Dinner at Noodles & Company, then shopping with the hubster on Friday.

Day 242 - I was so worried about hemming this dress because of the delicate and fancy fabric. It actually came out very nice!

Day 243 - Stopped in for a quick visit with Baby Paige. She's growing up so fast.

Day 244 - Hello September! How did you get here so fast? The September Quilt Block of the Month is ready at Craftsy and Etsy.

Day 245 - RIP Mr. Patches. It seems like yesterday when we found you under our deck, yet it was over eleven years ago. You were so sick, weak, and tiny. The vet was shocked that you were able to survive those days of sub-zero temperatures until we were able to catch you. I will love you forever!

For more of my Project 365 - Click HERE

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tutorial - Foldable Tote Bag with Matching Sleeve


There has been a lot of "going green" happening at my house these days. One of the things we are doing is refusing to use plastic bags. I keep reusable totes in all our cars so they are ready when shopping. I also came up with this simple and super quick to make pattern for this tote bag. It folds up easily, and you can slip into the little matching 6 1/2 inch sleeve. When they fold up this small, you can stash them all over! Makes great gifts too. The tote bag measures 17 x 17 inches (not including handles) when open. 

Materials
5/8 yard of lightweight 100% cotton fabric (44/45")
     Novelty fabrics or quilters cottons are perfect weights
Thread to match fabric
Cutting and measuring tools
Marking pens
Pins, needles
Sewing machine
Iron

Instructions
1.  Using the illustration for the fabric layout below, cut out the fabric as follows:
(1) 4x44" strips (then cut in half so you will have (2) 4x22" strips
(2) 18x18" pieces
(1) 5x17" piece



2.  Place the two 18 inch squares together with right sides together. If you are using directional fabric, be sure the design of the fabric is going in the proper direction. You'd hate for your design to be upside down or sideways on one or both sides. At the bottom corners, cut out a 2 inch square at each corner. This is so that you can box the corners later. Stitch down both sides and across the bottom edge using a 1/2" seam allowance. Just do the straight edges, leave the cut out corners un-stitched. Press the three seams open.


3.  Box your bottom corners by lining up the two raw edges (at the cut outs) and stitching them closed, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. To make the edge a little stronger add another row of stitching next to this one. Just make sure the second row of stitching is on the side of the seam allowance.


4.  Turn the bag right side out. Turn the upper edge 1 1/4 inch toward the inside of the bag and press. Turn that raw edge 1/4 inch toward the inside and press. You are making a 1 inch hem at the upper edge. Stitch close to that folded edge, then top-stitch about 1/8 inch away from the upper edge of the bag.


5.  Take the two 4x22 inch strips and turn the short ends 1/4 inch to the wrong side and iron. Next fold them in half lengthwise and press. Take the long, raw edges and fold them toward the inside so that they meet at the center and press. These will be your 1 inch wide handles. Stitch close to the folded edges along the length on both sides beginning with the side where the two folded edges meet.


6.  Place your bag on the table and pin the handles 4 inches from each seam, keeping the ends of the handles on that folded hem. Stitch the handles to the bag, keeping your stitches on that hemmed area where the fabric will be stronger. I stitched a square with an "x" in the center to make it nice and secure. Once both of your handles are stitched to the bag, set it to the side and make your sleeve.


7.  Take the remaining 5x17 inch fabric and fold it in half with right sides together, meeting at the short edges. Stitch up each long edge 1/2 inch seam allowance. We are going to box the bottom corners a little differently than we did on the bag. Since this is a small piece, there is an easier way to do it. Just take the corners and pinch them so that the side seam meets up with the bottom fold. Mark a straight line at an angle about an inch long. Stitch on that line, then cut away the corners. Turn right side out.


8.  Turn the unfinished upper edge 3/4 inch to the inside, then another 3/4 inch. This will make the hem along the upper edge of your sleeve. Stitch close to the folded edge at the inside of the sleeve, then top-titch 1/8 inch from the upper edge of the sleeve.


Since I used directional fabric for my cat bag, I didn't want my cats to be upside down on the other side of the sleeve, so I cut the fabric in half and stitched at the bottom using a small 1/4 inch seam allowance. This small change in finished size made absolutely no difference for the bag fitting in the sleeve.

To fold the bag so that it fits nicely in the sleeve, first fold the bottom edge up so that the bag lays nice and flat. Fold the left side over so the fold is at the 1/3 point of the bag. Now fold the right side over so the outer edge meets the fold at the other side. Bring the handles down and flatten. Starting at the upper edge, fold the bag down so that it fits nicely in the sleeve you just made for it.



Three of the fabrics in the samples were purchased from these great Etsy shops:
Tea fabric and cat fabric from:
Cups fabric:

NOTE: If you prefer to keep a copy of this pattern on your computer, you can download it from my Crafsty shop for free where you'll find it in PDF format.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Many of You Remember the Old Days?


What an exciting age we live in! Back when I was a stay at home mom and I needed some inspiration or wanted to make some gifts or holiday decorations, I loaded up the kids and headed to the library. I would easily spend a whole morning there looking through books and magazines. I'd make copies of patterns and check out loads of books. I would do the same thing for recipes, nature photography, and decorating. I even went as far as bribing picking up the kids a Happy Meal on the way home since they were really good.

At the present time I've been posting quite a few tutorials on my Facebook page, as well as my Pinterst boards. Many of these, I actually plan to make. Some sooner than others. There are some brilliant and creative people out there and I thank them all for sharing these fun projects and ideas with us.

I also remember my old designing days. Back in 1993 when I had my first pattern published, I had to type it up on a typewriter, then ran to the library to make myself a copy before mailing it in a self addressed, stamped envelope. But not before I had to buy film, load it in my camera, take photos, hope they were great, and take them for developing. In the earlier days, they didn't even have 1 hour developing. Today, all my publishers accept emails and digital photos.
We are so lucky to live in an age where there are tutorials (free and to purchase) at our fingertips! Oh boy! I'm going to be busy!
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