Sunday, June 28

Camera, In Memoriam…


Dear PowerShot A75 --

Faithful companion for almost six years, you helped me capture so many memories in pixels – the big family get-togethers and the everyday nothings, the myriad firsts of each of my children, the stuff I’ve made, the places I’ve gone, the people I love.

And remember last summer? We thought it was the end of you – your little LCD screen got all crazy. But good ol’ Internet told us it was a faulty something-or-other that often fails in humid conditions. (Hello, MN summers!). And good ol’ Canon Customer Service fixed you for free!

Yesterday, you took some fun “before” shots of our big yard project. This afternoon, you continued to document our progress, through wind and dust and wetness.

And this morning, you took such lovely photos of the textiles project I finally finished up last night. At least, I think they were lovely. They looked lovely on your little LCD screen.

But alas, I hadn’t downloaded any of these photos before…

...Oh, Camera, I’m really sorry. I thought I put you and House Phone and Cellphone and Keys in a nice shady spot, where you would be out of the way while we worked and yet accessible if I needed you. How was I to know that Ken would back over you with a pickup truck?

I will never forget you.


Thursday, June 25

Cutting Down on Cups and Napkins

Still not done with current crafty project, but figured I’d use the lull to mention some “solutions” I’ve implemented in our home (mostly using a favorite of mine: cardboard from the recycle pile)

Problem #1:
Way too many cups and glasses used every day, especially after summer—and hot hot weather—arrived again! The top dishwasher rack was constantly full of “dirty” plastic kiddie cups. “Dirty” as in, used once for a meal or a snack, then off to be washed.

Everyone gets a “cup for a day” and a labeled parking spot (circles cut out of a cereal box) for when the cup isn’t in use. IMG_4368

We do give them a quick rinse after each use – who wants orange juice residue from snack time mixing with milk at dinner?!? – but I see no need to suds them up if the same person will be using the same glass all day. (Jenny, lover of Germ-X, are you shuddering as you read this?)

Every night, they’re put in the dishwasher. Last summer, I used a little rectangle, folded in half, with a person’s name on it. Not that summer is the only time to do this; honestly, I don’t remember why we quit last time. Probably the little nametags got buried under counter contents and so the system fell apart…

Problem #2:
Way too many paper napkins or paper towels being used at meal times!

Cloth napkins. Some I made – the bright floral, green-backgrounded ones. Some were wedding gifts – neatly tucked away in the drawer, never being used! The rest… (OK, Jenny, you’ll really flip your lid on this one) are old handkerchiefs. Old used handkerchiefs.IMG_4347

But I figure, they’re washed so they’re clean, right? Plus they used to belong to my Oma and Opa (German grandparents) so every time I see the “napkins,” I’m reminded of the wonderful people they used to belong to. The girls especially like using my Oma’s cute, smaller ones (note Heidi’s down below). Oh, and another bonus of using old handkerchiefs: after several decades of being laundered, they are so soft!

But then there was Problem #2-B:
Constantly running out of cloth napkins, because they’d get mixed up after clearing the table and then be tossed in the hamper for laundering, even though they maybe weren’t even used!

Same as the cups, the napkins got labeled – napkin rings made of toilet paper rolls, cut into thirds – and got a designated spot when not in use. Some people’s still get tossed in the hamper after almost every meal(ahem, Lucy); other people’s stay a little cleaner and last a little longer.


Perhaps, some afternoon, the girls and I will sit down and make “pretty” napkin rings and coasters, but for now, the crude cardboard versions do the job just fine.

flip flopsOh, and while I’m on the topic of repurposing  “garbage” for a new useful function, I came across the most amazing transformation of broken flip-flops, saved from the trash and turned into alphabet stamps, manicure toe separators, and window bumpers; see Lisa @ cuci cuci coo’s description and photos here

Do you have any tips on cutting down on waste? Or making home stuff more efficient? …Or keeping my $%@# kitchen counters cleared off?!?

Sunday, June 21

To my Dad, on Father’s Day…

Here’s a video I made just for you, Daddy.

(Ant Running In Circles – The Original was filmed by my father about 30 years ago and starred an ant on a Styrofoam swim tube adrift in a vast swimming pool.)

IMG_0126Momma may have taught me to sew, but it was you who taught me to use power tools. Thank you for including me in so many building projects over the years. Remember all those weekends spent renovating IBC? Not sure what other grade school girls were doing at the time, but I sure loved hanging sheet rock with my dad.

And I would love to write more, but my children’s father wants to get to work on some house stuff and is waiting for me to join him. (Apparently, it’s true that a girl often marries someone just like her dad.) I better go.

Ich hab dich so lieb, Papa!!

Saturday, June 20

Ruffled Layer Skirt, and a Bunny?

A friend invited me over so we could get started on our plan of sewing skirts for our daughters together. Here’s what I got done for Sophie:


We used this tutorial from Tanya at Grand Revival Designs but I changed just a few things. First off, I put the skirt on a peanut who wears 3T-4T rather than making it for a size 5 or 6 as listed; I wanted the skirt to go down past her knees and the dimensions listed were perfect for that.

Also, because the top layer fabric has little silver sprinkles that I thought might be kind of rough if I made the casing as listed, I added a separate band of the green fabric, which happens to be sooo soft, so perfect as a waist band!

Lastly, I clearly hemmed only one of the layers. : ) ‘Wonder what that unfinished eyelet edge will look like after its first washing…

* * * *

And here’s something else I’ve been working on. Not a bunny. Better pictures when it’s all done, which will hopefully be tomorrow!


Thursday, June 18

I’m filled with hope and excitement…

…because while my house still often looks like this…
(for example, at 4:25pm today)  IMG_4277

...I AM making progress.
Case in point, at 4:02pm, I was able to enter this…
(a.k.a. the murky darkness of our under-the-stairs crawlspace)

and, without the aid of a flashlight,
find and emerge, at 4:03pm, with this…

(hence the hope – 
I knew exactly where something was
and found it in less than a minute!)

…so now I can get started on this… 
(from the brilliant yet oh-so-down-to-earth futuregirl)

(hence the excitement
it’s been way too long since I’ve crocheted something)

…but only after first throwing 5 minutes at my living room,
which at 4:30pm then looked like this…IMG_4279

Aaah, I’m definitely feeling a little serenity now too.

P.S. What would 5 minutes do in your home? Care to stop right now, go find out, and then come back and tell me about it?

P.P.S. futuregirl's tutorials are so detailed, informative, and well thought- out, with LOADS of photos – if you don’t currently crochet, you just might start after seeing her site!

Wednesday, June 17

I’m A-Doodlin’

I while back I came across these fantastic “doodles” by Stephanie at Homegrown Hospitality


  {click images to go to her galleries and see more!}

And then I saw that I could sign up for a doodle class. So I did!

{You still can too! Top right corner…}

For Week 1, we eased into things by coloring and further embellishing something she’d already penned. Here’s the result of my bit of fun with colored pencils and a black pen:


And here is one of Sophie’s:Doodle-Wk1-Sophie1

I’ve loved seeing what some of the other participants did too:

So, you wanna doodle too?

Tuesday, June 16

One Tutu Done…


…except the topmost layer keeps bubbling up. Might fix that. Might not.

I can’t really strike it off the list though, can I? since I have (at least) two more to make?…

But it does feel good to be done with one.

Monday, June 15

More Tooth Pillows

These are for my friend Suzanne’s girls. And just in time, since Kayla just lost her first tooth yesterday! Essentially they're the same as the ones I made for mine, except the pockets are a little smaller and, instead of white on the back, I used the same fabric as on the pocket, just to jazz them up a little.

The lighting in the bathroom isn’t ideal for picture taking, but I had fun trying to get the front and back in one photo.

As requested, blue for Ely…IMG_4074

and “purple… and red…” for Kayla. Sorry it doesn’t have any “…and blue…” on there, kiddo! Maybe the yellow will make up for it?


Names embroidered with two strands of floss using chain stitch. If I make any more, I think I'll put a little ribbon at the top so they could hang from a bedpost, door knob or other hook...

Heidi, when she saw them: “Why doesn’t mine have a backing like that?” Poor girl, stuck with Momma’s prototype…

P.S. Heidi's crazy dangling uni-bucktooth fell out a few days ago!!! And there was much rejoicing.

Saturday, June 13

Last Two Shoulder Bags: DONE!

Another thing from my list: the last two bags for Kristin.

Side A:


Side B:


These are essentially the same as the reversible purses I’ve been making as little girl birthday gifts. In fact, they were made as a result of one of those purses. Last August, I made this little purse, and matching  notebook cover, for one of my daughters’ friends for her birthday.

IMG_1710IMG_1714 IMG_1720

Soon after, the girl’s mom was thinking about what she and her co-leader could give to her group of girls from church. Ah yes! Make the purse a little larger and it would be perfect for carrying a Bible and the spiral notebook each teenage girls would be using in their study.

The prototype I made seemed too long to me. (Happily, my work wasn’t wasted; a teenage friend of mine didn’t think it was too long and now totes her stuff around in it.) So we decided to make them wide instead of tall, more like a shoulder bag.


The three of us spent way too much time in the fabric store and eventually picked out four prints and two solids that all coordinated.


Then we had a couple fun assembly line sessions where we put together the purses, each having a different combination of one solid and two prints. So, like the girls for which they were intended, they would all belong together yet each one would be unique.

Like the purses, each bag got a monogram. But there were only 10 girls. So we only finished 10 bags. The last two have been stuffed in my “current projects” cubby, waiting for monograms/owners. Since September 2008.

I finally finished them up without personalizing them. But since I had an extra “j” and an uncut square leftover (in the correctly matching fabrics no less!) I laid those in place before snapping the photo below, to kinda show what the monograms looked like.


Hmm, this reminds me – I never did make that purse tutorial way back when, did I? But that will have to wait til the ballet skirt (#1 on Sophie’s Mommy-To-Do list) is finally finished too.

Wednesday, June 10

Tooth Pillows


A tooth pillow, mentioned in this post at the end of March, was finally made, in honor of Heidi’s third lost tooth.

Also, a pillow for Sophie. Who is (assumedly) still years away from losing a tooth.

But she was so excited by all the tooth fairy talk that I had to make her one too.

That, plus the fact that it was her white fabric I wanted to use, a fat quarter she bought when we were at the fabric store last week.

I started to take pictures along the way, but forgot to continue after I sat down on the couch next to Kenny to embroider the names. So I’ve made a one-page pattern with notes. (Thanks for the format idea, LiEr.) Let me know if it’s helpful – it’s my first attempt at something like this. I’ll also include thumbnail photos at the end illustrating the steps I did capture…

tooth pillow pattern

By the way: Reason behind NOT cutting tooth shape out before sewing in step 8 is that, this way, you don’t have to worry about the two layers shifting a little as you sew the curves. I didn’t even bother pinning – just held the fabric and guided it through, lifting my presser foot (with the needle in the down position) as needed to help get around the tight curves. Also, if you’re using a hoop to embroider, it’s a lot easier to place if it the tooth isn’t cut out yet. (See last photo below.)

I’m hoping Heidi can make use the pillow again soon! Her other front tooth is s000o loose and she, of course, enjoys doing crazy things with it like making it look like Nanny McPhee’s uni-bucktooth. Lovely!

IMG_3893 nanny mcphee

(Click to see larger size)
Steps 1 & 2:
Steps 3 & 4:
Steps 5 & 6: 
Getting ready for Step 7:
The end…


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