Wednesday, July 29

Curtains… and Decluttering Loot

My mom  is here for a visit this week. (Sister-in-law and nephews and niece too!) Reminded me that I meant to post photos of the curtains I made for my parents’ living room.


Well, since they don’t actually close over the windows, perhaps they’re not technically “curtains.” So, photos of “window treatments” then.


Most of the fabric was unearthed during our Whole-House Closet Reorganization; I just bought a bit of blue to tie it in with the blue wall.  We found some old curtain tape too, so that made the gathering of the panels super easy!

And as a thank you, she sent me home with lots of other goodies we unearthed: lace and other scraps from my grandmother, eyelets and an eyelet pliers (so I don’t have to use a hammer while making my labels), a bunch of other stuff, and these big flat baskets, which now reside here on my used-to-be-SO-empty wall.


(Note of confusion: my amaryllis bloomed once, beautifully, this winter. Then I read that one could make it bloom again by cutting everything off and continuing to water. Sure enough, a shoot emerged. And another. But they just keep growing longer and longer. And no new blooming shoot in sight. Hmm, I think I should probably cut it off and put the thing to rest til winter again…)

P.S. Just finished chatting with a friend who told me she shrunk her curtains and needs to make new ones. Perhaps will post a little tutorial soon… when the house isn’t so busy and full of people.

Friday, July 24

Finally Fiddled with Fondant…

…and here is the result:


A practice version of the cake to top my friend's daughter's wedding cupcake tower next month and a very happy me for finally trying my hand at fondant. This stuff is so fun!


It's not "real" fondant, the stuff with crazy ingredients – gelatin? glycerin? glucose syrup? gum arabic or gum tragancanth for crying out loud?!? The stuff that, from what I hear, tastes horrible – I don’t care how beautiful it looks; if a cake doesn’t taste good, why bother?!?

No, it's marshmallow fondant.

Yeah, it’s made of melted marshmallows.

And powdered sugar.

And water and a bit of shortening. How bad can that taste?!?

And only four ingredients, all ones that I'm already very familiar with. What a lucky day it was when I stumbled across this page where PegW tells all about this marvelously fun gooey goodness.

So this friend of mine is the one who gave me her huge stash of tips, coloring gels, etc. When she asked for help making her daughter’s wedding cake, how could I say no? Then we found out from the bride what cake she saw on Cake Boss and really really liked... See photo below!


OK, guess it was finally time to try out the fondant recipe!

So here’s the cake with the fondant on and the beginnings of the “quilted” look the bride loves (and with the bride’s mom and sister in the background mass-producing colored shapes)...


…and here with more stuff stuck on (we brushed the backs with water to make them stick better) and dots piped into each intersection.


Perhaps when I make my second practice cake later this week, I can share more info, if anyone's interested.

But PegW's site has great photos and instructions for the fondant making process; and also this nice tutorial at For fondant rolling and placing tips, see this page at Or feel free, as always, to leave any comments or questions below.

Oh, and here are some of the practice cupcakes:


We’re trying to decide – little shapes? big shapes? centered? off-centered? big background squares? smaller background squares? Which are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 21

If I say “Board Games”…

…do you think “kids’ stuff”? e.g. Candyland, Chutes and Ladders

Or maybe “not if I want to stay married”? e.g. Monopoly (you’d have to ask my in-laws about that, but I’m sure you can imagine!)

If so, just wanted to let you know there’s a whole world of fun board games out there! I was reminded of that this morning, while reconnecting with a friend who now lives in Brazil but is in the States for a few months. She reminded me that she learned to play Settlers of Catan at my kitchen table many years ago and told me she has now taught it to many of her friends in Brazil, who all love it.

settlers catan{all images from}

She also told me about another game she discovered recently – which is another favorite of mine too: Carcassonne. So fun and fabulous!


So I figured today was a good day to teach her another great game, Ticket to Ride, which uses a map of the USA as the basis for its board…

ticket to ride2

…but which – due to the graphic manipulations of talented individuals around the globe – is also available using maps of various other countries for the game board, including Brazil!

And while I was at, I saw that I could add a widget of “recently played games.” Notice it there in my sidebar? (How could you not – it’s hugely long!)

Sadly, our time spent boardgaming dwindled drastically when Ken started his MBA a few years ago. But now he’s almost done; I have hopes that we’ll soon be shaking dice, collecting cards, and placing tokens again on a regular basis.


But this all has got me thinking – do I initiate a regular craft night, as mentioned previously? Or a regular game night? Hmmm…

Or perhaps a craft-a-game night? Ha ha…

7/23 Edited to add: Thanks for the additional suggestions for more great games -- see comments. Any others you love? (And why?)...

Monday, July 20

Nursing Cover, the 2nd


Yay, I’m home again! Spent the afternoon today in the sun with some friends, one of whom is due this week.

And since I stash and hoard and hang on to stuff, I was able to make her a nursing cover before I left the house. But it did make me 30 minutes late… Oops.

Like the one I made last February, it’s reversible…

IMG_0773(these photos show the cover folded in half)… IMG_0772

…and like before, instead of boning I just used a triple layer of felt (plus some stiff interfacing for good measure, since I had some left over from the tote bag handles).

Note: When asked recently, the mom who received the cover back in February assured me that her stiff portion is still working great. So I should really stop worrying about how it holds up after numerous wearings, washings, etc and just take her word for it.

Anyway, there are already SO many nursing cover tutorials out there so I won’t add yet another to the mix! But as a reminder to myself for “next time,” here are some quick notes:

  • finished size range: 26”x38” - 28”x40”
  • “boning”: 16” long
  • straps affixed right next to boning (a.k.a about 10” from sides)
  • cut strap fabric 4-1/4” x (36-38)”; sew tube (with tapered end), turn right-side-out and topstitch, cut 10” off the open end

If you want to sew a cover like this but need a little more to go by, check out this tutorial by the creative force behind Make It and Love It; it’s for a reversible cover with some fun contrasting stripes and stiffened with boning.

Hmm, wish I had one more photo to finish… like one of my friend modeling it, in all her “I have a basketball tucked under my shirt” cuteness! Can’t wait to meet the babe, SB!

Thursday, July 9

Garden Re-do, Part 2: Side Yard Transformation

Now you see it, now you don’t. I’m talking about the lawn on the north side of our house. And, hopefully, the mulch and the newspaper underneath do their job and you don’t see it a month from now either!


Below is a view from the deck. I thought the whole area was shaded, being the north side of the house, but in the weeks leading up to the project, I took photos at various times of day and noticed that the shade never covered more than half the area. So I can plant some sun-lovers eventually too!


The stepping stones seen above right are more free ones from Freecycle. Our stack is almost gone now. But now the neighbors have rearranged their rocks (you can see more of their landscaping in the photo below, my view when I’m washing dishes) and they have a huge stack of extras that they’d love to share with us. I’d like to put some of them in as an edging on our side, to continue the line started on their side.


I’ve been thinking about doing this project for a couple years already – we never “use” this area of lawn so why keep it. I’d rather have plants. So when another neighbor mentioned he had to divide his hostas and offered me some, I figured it was time to start. Below is what he meant by “some.” Wow.


I gave a portion of them to another friend. And after staying out past dark planting the last of the two dozen clumps I’d divided out of that mound, I wished I’d given away more! And these were no small, measly clumps. Some of them you can’t even tell that they were divided.


You know, I vowed that this year I would finally make an effort to get to know my neighbors better. I didn’t think that decision would result in this kind of goodness. (Another neighbor and I have been borrowing ingredients back and forth. Love the interdependence that’s forming.)

Oh, and in looking for photos for this post, I found the last photo taken with my old camera. It’s quite ironic. Or perhaps foreshadowing is a better word? But not tonight. This post is already too long. Tonight bed. Tomorrow pack and leave Ken alone to batch for a week while older two girls are at Grandma Camp and youngest and me are at Help My Mom Clean Out Her House Camp. So, not sure when I’ll post next…

Tuesday, July 7

Back Corner Garden Re-do

My inside project, which I’m so excited about, is under wraps ‘cause it’s a gift for someone. So instead, here’s an outside project, which I’m also quite excited about, that we worked on before leaving town last week.


I’d already divided my hostas at the start of the season, but they were so full, I was able to divide them again. Oh how I love hostas! So hard to kill.

It’s not totally done – I still want to rearrange the perennials under the window, and also put in some sort of edging – but it’s so much nicer than it was!


And now the girls don’t have to pick their way over the rocks to get to the grass (and trampoline, which is moved now too). Last month, I picked up a bunch of free limestone pieces from a generous member of my local Freecycle group; now we have a nice path from the patio to the grass, and also from the grass to the “secret passage area” between the house and the shed.

IMG_0506 IMG_0518

Someday, I’d love to put a huge tank in that gravel area above, with a spigot hanging over the little retaining wall. I’d funnel all the rainwater from the roof into it and have loads of water for tending the lawn and gardens. Now just need to find a big tank. That fits that space and my budget.

Oh, and check out what we found when we were grabbing some limestones from our huge pile. The girls weren’t home so I had to snap a photo for them.

IMG_4465 Idn’t he cute?!?

Sunday, July 5

Started Starling Handbag #2…

Just came back from a weekend spent with family and friends. Between eating and playing cards, tubing and building sand castles*, I also found some time to start crocheting my second Starling Handbag. (Still learning new camera settings; yarn much more green than shown in photo.)IMG_0362

Now I’m off to check my stash and find some lining fabric…

*One of our castle was a “dribble castle,” which one of the families had never seen before. If you’ve never seen it before either, here’s a quick 19-second video I found on youtube; you gotta start with super-wet sand. By the way, our castles were fun, but nothing compared to the guy’s in the video… Wow!

Wednesday, July 1

Crocheted Starling Handbag


I borrowed a CompactFlash card reader from my neighbors and – yay! – was able to download the last pictures my poor A75 took, including ones of the handbag I alluded to in this post.  Followed a free pattern from futuregirl, altered slightly to include some double crochet rows in the sides instead of just single crochets, so that I could weave some ribbon through. Bought buttons to add too, but decided to just put a bow instead. IMG_4475

For the lining, used this crazy blue (same as for Ely’s tooth pillow), with a tiny bit of aqua peaking over the edges of the pockets. Wide pocket and two pen slots on side…IMG_4481

…and a cell phone pocket at one end. (That’s what that “bunny” became.)  Note for next time: put the cell phone pocket on a side, not an end – the weight of a cell phone made the bag hang crooked when carried. Oops.IMG_4478

And on the other end, opposite the cell phone pocket, I sewed in a little handmade label (inspired by futuregirl’s), with some eyelets added for fun.IMG_4479

And I love how the bottom looks like I sewed a separate rectangular piece onto two side pieces, but really it’s all one piece and was super easy, thanks to futuregirl’s lining tutorial and her genius little 1/8” seams. IMG_4485

Here it is with a bunch of my stuff tucked inside. But that was only for a photo op – the handbag is already off to its new owner, a belated birthday present and big thank-you for letting me borrow her sewing machine for four months or so.IMG_4493

So now I need to make another one. For ME!


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