Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Sweater Pillow – with how-to!

I just couldn’t stop this evening.  I needed another project, something simple and straightforward that I could finish tonight. 

Do you ever get that feeling?  Fortunately, I had just the project and I even had everything I needed to get it done.  Now *that* is rare!

I decided to do this sweater pillow in an envelope style.  The bottom of the sweater had some great ribbing that I wanted to use, and there’s the added bonus of being able to remove the pillow insert and wash the cover.



1. One wool sweater, put through the washer and dryer several times to make it shrink and felt.  I found this one at Goodwill.

2. Store bought pillow form.  Even cooler would be to use an old decorator pillow from the thrift store.  Reuse at it’s finest!

3. Sewing machine and matching thread.  No need to be perfect here – the stitches shouldn’t show at all.


First, cut apart the sweater.  Cut up both side seams, cut off the sleeves and across the shoulder so you end up with a rectangle.  It’s okay if there are some shoulder seams showing – they may or may not be there when you’re done measuring. 

Sweater cut up

Next, sew the tops of the rectangles together, right sides together – NOT the ribbed bottom edge.  Press the seam open with a steam iron.


Now it’s time to play with the positioning of your envelope opening.  Lay the fabric down, right side down, lay your pillow form on top, and fold over the top and bottom to create the overlap you want. You do want substantial overlap – the stretchy fabric will pull once stuffed.

Once you’ve determined how much overlap you want, remove the pillow form, and re-fold the fabric with right sides together.


Keep in mind that the fabric stretches, and this is a *good* thing.  Measure your folded fabric to be sure that it is slightly shorter than your pillow form’s dimensions. I used 16” for my 18” form.

Now, the sides of the fabric need to be trimmed to one inch wider than your previous measurement (to account for ~1/2 seam allowance). 


Now, pin up those sides and sew’em up!  Turn it inside out, stuff in the pillow and you’re done!


I love these pillows.  I’ll be making several, and am saving the cut open sleeves – eventually I’ll make a patchwork bedspread or blanket out of them…it really will look sharp!

Love to you all – and goodnight!

Sewn Shopping Bag – in progress

The primary goal today was to get the house cleaned.  After that, there had to be some project that wouldn’t cost me much energy (I’m still recovering from a little cold).


I’ve already posted a little about this project, but it might be good to start putting it all together now.

Some time ago, I bought these wonderful hobo bags from Target, on sale of course, with the thought that they’d be great shopping bags.  Well, they are *perfect* for groceries!  Their size, shape, weight and style are exactly what I wanted.  I could never understand why reusable shopping bags had to be ugly – well, they don’t.

I’m not crazy about the blue plaid that the bags are made in, and I knew I’d want more than I was able to buy, so I set about copying the pattern…

The original bag...

The completed mock-up...

The white yellow paper is the paper and tag board pattern that I made from the original.  The plaid is the original bag.  The white is the mock-up, which was perfect on the first try.

Just before Christmas, Mom made up a bag with scraps that we had lying around.  It was a beautiful bag, and the woman who received it was very pleased.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of it…

Tonight I went ahead and started sewing up another bag that I had cut out previously.  The fabrics are terribly obnoxious, but that goes well with my personality.  All I completed tonight was the outer body – tomorrow I need to go buy more rotary blades and will get it completed.

sewn-bag in progress

Honestly, I’m not sure what’s more obnoxious – the bag or the cat!

Love to you all…

Catching up from the holidays…

It has been an absolutely wonderful past couple of weeks, even with Mother Nature trying to throw us for a little loop.  I won’t go into the details, but here are some highlights…

I got the sweater pillows sent off to my sister’s for their Christmas presents.  The purple one turned out great – I had a quick inspiration on how to decorate it, and I’m very pleased with the result:


Our tree looked lovely even if it was a little bare. Our ornaments have been lacking the last few years, but a little trip to Target yesterday took care of that for next year.  It was still a beautiful sight…


Godfrey had to be in the middle of it all, of course…


Jason roasted a duck and vegetables for dinner – it was his first duck and it was *delicious*.  I am so lucky! 


He loved his present – much to the terror of the dog!


I simply have to include this picture of a parsnip from the garden.  We didn’t thin them enough, I guess, because in my stepfather’s words, “That isn’t a parsnip, it’s a housing development!”  And a slightly crude one, at that! 


Well, I’ve got about two week left of winter vacation before I start  my last semester of classes.  And believe me, I am very eager to take advantage of every moment.

Today is all about getting my home picked up, some sort of project, though I have no idea which one, and some studying in preparation for classes. 

I love my life.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving. Bird Watching. Bread Baking. Sewing. Snow. Cookie Making.

It’s been quite a couple of weeks around here, what with finals and the beginning of the holidays…
But my second to last semester is finished, and I can spend the next month being creative, and dangit I’m jumping in head first!
My husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary the day before Thanksgiving and I was thrilled to have him up here for an entire week.  It’s hard living in separate cities, but it’s only six or seven more months and I’ll be able to move down there…
My sister and her family came to visit for a week during Thanksgiving and we had such an amazing time.  They are a beautiful, incredible family and I am so proud that they are part of ours.
For Jason’s and my anniversary, which is always the day before Thanksgiving (whatever day that falls on), we had a wonderful dinner – yes, we like any excuse to eat!
Thanksgiving Eve
For Thanksgiving, Mom and Suvetta put out the good linen and dishes, we all pitched in with the cooking, and it was absolutely lovely…
The other day, just as the weather was turning, the birds came out in full force.  I throw seed on the ground just outside my french doors so I can get a close look (and to entertain Godfrey), so I planted my butt on the floor with the camera and tried to get some shots.  None came out terribly well – I need a better camera for that – but I thought these were rather pretty:
Red Bellied Woodpecker…
Tufted Titmice…
Black Capped Chickadee…
There are two things that I’m really excited about now – one, I am back in the studio sewing.  No pictures of current projects, but I’ll tell you that I’m working on a fitting block dress.  I’ll explain more when I post pictures.
The other thing is that I’m back in the kitchen.  Yesterday I started a loaf of sandwich bread using Michael Ruhlman’s recipe from his blog.  Mom baked it last night, and I’m about to tear into it for lunch. Reviews to come!
bread and cookies
Then today after I came home from work I made chocolate chip cookie dough which will rest in the fridge for a day or two before being baked.  I also made some spritz cookies with the cookie press – now I just need to glaze them…
cookie press
I also have cut-out cookie dough in the fridge and will probably bake those tomorrow. Yes, it’s cookie time – we’re getting ready to make our gift baskets.  What a great excuse, huh? 
I almost forgot something huge – an extremely generous coworker and avid deer hunter gave me an entire deer, skinned, gutted and moderately butchered.  It was unbelievable!  Beautiful, beautiful meat that Mom and I spent several hours finishing and vacuum sealing. We made a roast that night which Mom and Bill didn’t care for, but I absolutely *loved*.  It was incredibly mild, but I guess they don’t like venison at all.  No problem – Jason and I will enjoy it, and we won’t have to buy any red meat for at least a year.  Now *that’s* the way to do it.
To top everything off, I woke up to snow this morning – a beautiful white blanket of snow…
snowy garden
Anyway, aside from my stress over finals, it’s been a lovely couple of weeks. 
Now on to our regularly scheduled program…

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting a little Out of Control!

Well, my living space is getting a little out of control again – it’s amazing how quickly it happens. 

Before I do anything though, I have to start the day off right with a nice pot of green tea in some wonderful vintage tea-ware:


1. No worries, though.  Even after a full day of clinicals, I can still put in 5 minutes instead of the usual 10:

1. Kitchen: done! 5. Hall & Stair: done!
2. Dining: done! 6. Bedroom: done!
3. Patio: done! 7. Office: done!
4. Bathroom: done! 8. Studio: done!
-> Vacuum: done!

2. Schoolwork!

I think the clinical will count as my schoolwork for the day…


…especially since Godfrey decided to force the issue…

3. Craft!

I have not been happy with the afghan I started for Hubby:

Failed Crochet

So I’m going to switch gears completely.  Same color scheme, but instead I’ll use a bastardized Granny square, loosely following the instructions at Lion Brand 8-color Afghan.  I played with it a little tonight, but didn’t get enough finalized that was worthy of a picture.  I’ll be sure to post one once I’m happy with it…

Off to bed now – I’ve got an early start in the morning…


Listening to: "Plan 9 Channel 7" by The Damned

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Custom Fabrics Galore!!!

Spoonflower is a site where you can print custom fabrics as well as purchase fabrics that others have designed.  It’s wonderful!  Not cheap, but wonderful nonetheless…

Now I’m all inspired to make some lined garments, just for an excuse to have fun, unique linings for a little suprise…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Garden clean-up

Our garden is slowly getting put to bed for the winter and we made another big dent in it today.  Mom rode around in the mower and mulched all the leaves that have coated the grounds and I continued to clean out and layer the beds.

First, a pile of composted goat poop from our three goats.  Beautiful stuff.  Then a layer of half-composted chicken poop from a local poultry grower.  Finally, a thick layer of finely chopped leaves…


We are also attempting to overwinter our artichoke plant by burying it under a big pile of mulched leaves.  We’ll see how it works out – I’d love it if the plant would survive!


This morning  I also got another bucket of parsley cut.  Mom said she wanted parsley, so I grew her parsley!  We’ve had three or four cuttings from what I planted, and I’m hoping to get one more before winter really hits and kills it.  We’ve got enough dried for a couple of years, I think…



I’m not sure what else I’ll get accomplished today since I have to do some studying and I’ve got to be up early (4:30am!) for a 24-hour shift tomorrow.  It’s been a good, productive day, though!  I’m on a roll…

(Listening to: "The Root Of All Evil" by Abney Park)

Friday, November 6, 2009

An entire day!

This is a thrilling, rare experience – an entire two days OFF! 

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve got tons to do.  It’s a great opportunity to get caught up on some schoolwork for one thing. But I simply refuse to let this beautiful fall day go by without enjoying it a little bit.

1. 10 Minutes a Day!

1. Bedroom: done! 5. Studio: done!
2. Bathroom: done! 6. Hall & Stairs: done!
3. Kitchen: done! 7. Patio: done!
4. Dining: done! 8. Office: done!
--> Reorganize CDs: DONE DONE DONE!!!

I have added a new region to my 10MaD – the patio.  Until winter hits, it could use some daily attention, too.

2.  Craft: Toiletry Bag

I’ve gotten pretty tired of having loose toiletries floating all over my suitcase (yes, I use a real, vintage suitcase) when I go out on my 24 hour shifts.

I used this tutorial from as a guideline for making a new toiletry bag. The square shape in the tutorial wasn’t appealing to me, so I went ahead and let it have the angled sides that naturally occur when you use a simple rectangle for a pattern.  The fabric is stuff I have had laying around for years – and it worked beautifully for this project.



The tutorial is fantastic – I only got confused when I tried to not follow the directions (though I still don’t really know what she means when she said to “pivot” at the zipper).  But it’s okay – it worked out in the end and didn't even take very long.


3. Fix the Sun!

Oh my gosh, I did it!  I finally fixed my wonderful, beautiful sun.

Mom gave me this pillow many, many years ago.  20? 25 years?  I don’t remember.  He’s a beautiful hand painted sun with his eyes open on one side and closed on the other. 

He got this little hole a long time ago – at least 15 years ago – and only tonight did I get around to fixing him.  I love him so much and can’t wait to get him hung up.


Can you believe he’s been sitting in this sad little plastic bag for more than 15 years?

tiny repair

And all because of this little, bitty hole.  I was so terrified of it getting bigger that I just put him away…


And of course it took all of 10 minutes to get that little hole mended. Now he’s sitting on my side table waiting for me to install a hanger in the ceiling. It’s so good to have him back!!!

It’s been a good day.  I guess I’m on the right track…

Monday, November 2, 2009

Falling behind – Catching up

Getting a little behind in some of my obligations, so I will be focusing a little more on the work and a little less of the fun for a while…

1. 10 Minutes a Day!

1. Bedroom: done! 5. Bathroom: done!
2. Office: done! 6. Studio: done!
3. Kitchen: done! 7. Hall (5): done!
4. Dining: done! 8. Stairs (5): done!

--> Sewing desk: done!!!

2. Schoolwork!

Got my 12-lead views with their reciprocals memorized.  It’s a start!

3. Project!

Alas, no project today.  But I did get to go to dinner with Mom and Stepdad and I haven’t done that in a long, long time.  We’ll count that as today’s project, how’s that? 

Good night!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Plant tags/markers out of soda cans!

I only have a short time today, so I decided that a quick and dirty project would be just the thing.

Some time ago I saw this great idea for plant markers made out of soda cans.  Last year I made several and they were adorable.  Unlike the ones in that link, I made them larger, punched a hole in the top, then attached them to think wire that I curled and made into stakes.  They truly were wonderful – I wish I had pictures of them!

So I’ve been collecting soda cans (I don’t drink soda often) and today I started prepping them. 

So here’s Godfrey watching over my preparations. I have a boatload of aluminum cans, all washed. I’d already taken the tops off of several some time ago, but you can see the can opener there waiting for the rest. 


Once the tops are off, then I cut off the curved edge on top and on the bottom, leaving me with a flat sheet of aluminum. Be sure you use kitchen shears to cut that metal – it will dull a regular pair of scissors before you know it!

Here’s as far as the prep work got today.  There are a few sample finished tags there, but that’s all that will be done until we get started with our spring garden and I know what we’ll be planting.


And look what I just found!  This person is using scrapbooking craft punches to fancy things up a bit.  I love this idea and will certainly be using it!

It’s the little things in life!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting better!

My cough is almost gone!  I actually slept through the night last night with only two coughing fits. My voice is almost completely back and my energy is getting back to normal.  

The great news is that my camera is here and all set up to start taking real pictures.  I’m still not worrying about getting that beautiful studio-esque shot, but hopefully we can at least get away from all the blur!

I didn’t get much done today, but I’m not too worried. 

I did get some wonderful banana cinnamon muffins made…


And I helped Stepdad get our coldframe into the barn…


And I started mowing the leaves, but the mower broke, and I wasn’t up to raking them…


Otherwise it was an absolutely beautiful fall day.  Look at the last remaining colors behind the goat barn..those trees look like golden spears.  It’s incredible. 


I did do a very little bit of cleaning, and of course laundry.  But I’m tired now, and I’ve got to be up at 0400 for work tomorrow, so its off to bed I go…


Monday, October 26, 2009

Not too demanding.

Well, I’ve been fighting with a cough for a few days now, and yesterday I was awful hoarse.  Today, though…today I have no voice at all and I’m starting to get a headache to go with it.

I’m definitely a little under the weather, so we’re going to take it real easy. 

1. 10 Minutes a Day + Laundry

10MaD today  isn’t going to be timed.  Just a quick pick-me-up in each room with a sweep/vacuum and I’ll call it done. 

1. Bedroom: done! 5. Dining: done!
2. Office: done! 6. Bathroom: done!
3. Studio: done! 7. Hall (5): done!
4. Kitchen: done! 8. Stairs (5): done!
-> Laundry: done!    

2. Applesauce!

Mom and I were both buying apples left and right for a while, and we ended up with a bowlful that were starting to go bad.  Well, we can’t let that happen, can we? 

So first thing this morning I set out to make applesauce. I love applesauce.  Unsweetened, of course.  And since this was a tremendous variety of apple types, I just knew it would make an excellent sauce.

Getting ready

Here I’ve got my bowl with lemon water to put the sliced apples in to keep them from browning.  Behind that is my scale – love that thing. On the other side of the cutting board is my bowl full of apples to be used – I had exactly enough to do a half-batch.

Prepped vs. peeled

Peeled, cored and weighed apples on the left, and happy goats on the right!

Immersion blending

Everyone with even the slightest interest in cooking needs an immersion blender.  So much easier. 

All done

All done!  Six pounds of prepped apples gave me four pints and two half-pints (ran out of pint jars!).  Beautiful color, amazing flavor. 

And boy, do I need a real camera. My cell phone really isn’t adequate for this…

2. Schoolwork

Nope, none today.  Just couldn’t bring myself to concentrate.  I’ll be paying for it tomorrow though…

3. Craft! 

I got the mock-up of the Target bag done!  I’m very excited – it came out exactly right on the first try.  That never happens!   But I’ll take any small victory I can get. 

Unfortunately, my mock-up was made out of an old white hospital sheet; guess I should have gone ahead and used good fabric.  No problem, though – I’m just glad it all works and looks good. 

The original bag...

Above, you see the original bag with the pattern I made from it.  The white fabric is from an old hospital sheet – perfect for a mock-up. 

The twins!

And here’s the twins!  Sorry for the horrible picture, you’ll have to trust me that they’re identical.  I’m so proud!

Been a good day.



Friday, October 23, 2009

A day off…

And so much to do!

1. 10 Minutes a Day

before: Today’s 10MaD will end up being a 5MaD.  Not up to doing the whole bit, so I’ll just cut it in half.  It will still make a difference.

1. Bedroom: done! 5. Dining: done!
2. Office: done! 6. Craft: done!
3. Kitchen: done! 7. Hall: done!
4. Bath: done! 8. Stairs: done!

after: So what did I learn today?  Well, five minutes just isn’t enough time.  I ended up stressing out more than if I had just taken the full 10 minutes.  Interesting.  But it did make a difference.

I suppose that with 5 minutes I was able to get everything picked up.  With 10 minutes, I am also able to do additional work, be it scrub the tub or organize a drawer or cupboard.  Its the difference between treading water and swimming toward land I guess. 

2. Harvest gourds

My big project today was the get the gourds harvested and do a little work on cleaning up the garden.  I’m still a little sick, so I wore out quickly – but I did get those darn gourds in.  And they’re beautiful!  I’m really hoping they’ll dry and not rot…

Dead gourd vines

The fall vegetable garden is always so depressing and ugly.  But look, there’s treasure under those dead vines!

Gourd and Luffa harvest

Not a bad harvest.  The cannonball gourds are a kick – I’m looking forward to making baskets out of those.  And some of the luffa are huge!  If they dry properly, they’ll be very useful – nothing like home grown scrubbies!

Gourds outside the greenhouse

All lined up and pretty outside the greenhouse.  The larger luffa are hanging in the goat barn.

3. market bag

I bought these fabulous bags at Target when they were on clearance.  I think I’ve got six of them.  I’m sure they were designed to be purses, but they’re perfect grocery bags.  Now I want more so I’ve got to make them.

I made the pattern a few weeks ago.  I only have time tonight to cut out the first draft (thus the white fabric) and will try to sew it up on Monday.   That’s fine – it’s a start!

shopping bag

4. menu/food

I managed to get food together to get me through my 36 hour shift starting tomorrow.  If we’re not busy, I’ll get a menu for the rest of the week together at work.

5. string the black peppers:

I’m not sure this is going to work, but I thought I’d give it a try.  They certainly look pretty…

hanging peppers

They’re Hungarian Black Peppers and we really didn’t get to experiment with them as I would have liked.  The weather didn’t give us a very good pepper harvest though we had beautiful pepper plants.  Supposedly they make a good spicy paprika when dried, so if this works that’s probably what I’ll do with them. 

Lovely day.  Hope to have more like this!