Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More DIY Christmas

Before I show you my recent projects, can we pause just a minute and look at the acronym DIY? DIY stands for Do It Yourself, but I'm thinking it should be DIM ... Do It Myself. On the other hand, DIM doesn't sound as perky as DIY, does it? Oh, well. Perhaps it doesn't pay to examine these things too closely.

Back to the subject of this post, this year I made my Christmas cards. I was a little late making them, but I did get them finished and mailed. This year I bought some card stock at JoAnn's (50% off) and cut the sheets in half. They were the perfect size for the front of a Christmas card made from card stock -- 2 cards to one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet.

Then I used glittery, sparkly gold thread and stitched a tree shape on the colored card stock (I used a variety of colors ... burgundy, teal, spring green, tan, etc). I made a star stamp (using an eraser) and used the round eraser on a pencil to stamp & emboss gold designs on the tree. These pictures show one of the embossed trees and a couple of unfinished examples. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the finished card. Wish my pictures were better. Sigh.

Now, for my gift tags. I have some purchased tags left over from previous years, but I wanted to make my own this year. Since our kids come here for Christmas, any gift we put under the tree is obviously from us, so there's no need to say To: (child's name) From: Mom & Dad over and over again. Just the To information is important. As a result, I decided to do a real simple design. I cut some circles from red cardstock and used white paint (the kind that comes in a bottle with a teensy tip) and I put white dots all around the outer edge of the circle. Then I printed a monogram that I got from Martha here and printed them on white cardstock. I cut out the white circles and glued them to the red circles. You can see how imperfect the circle and dots are. But ........

I think it looks nice on the packages. Sort of classy & distinct.

Last but not least, yesterday I monogrammed some gold napkins I got at a thrift store earlier this year. I really love the font I used. For my Christmas table I have a special crochet tablecloth I use each year (made by Grandma Moses' sister ... really ... no kiddin' ... I got it at an auction in Vermont years ago just after the sister passed away). Anyway, I use touches of gold here and there on the table and it looks sort of lacy and lush and I LUV IT. And I think these new-to-me napkins will add a nice elegant touch.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my DIY (DIM) projects. I'm havin' fun!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Few DIY Christmas Projects

As usual, I've been a very BIZZY bee. I've only created a few things this Christmas ... the rest are ... as we said when we were little country kids .... store boughten.

I've made several of these scarves. Earlier in the year I bought a Knitty Gritty (with a coupon at JoAnn's) and I've been knittying my buxx off!

I used this tutorial to make the matching organza flower brooch. I used 3 freshwater pearls for the center. Sorry about the fuzzy picture.

And I used this tutorial to make the felted wool brooch. These flowers are so much fun to make. I'm using felted sweaters and some of the wonderful felted wool TexNan sent me.

I attempted to make a wine bag using burlap with a silk lining for DH's boss, but my dimensions were wrong and I messed up on some decorative stitching -- it's a lot harder to sew on burlap than I had envisioned. For the embroidered part of it, I used tear-away interfacing underneath the burlap and water-soluble stabilizer on top .... sort of a burlap sandwich ... so the burlap didn't ever touch the sewing machine -- easy breezy. Then I tried to do some fancy stitching without stabilizer of any sort -- didn't work. Sigh.
But isn't the design purdy? I love this font.

Soooo, I made this one instead. It's a silk-look poly.

And I made two of these for the ladies that work for DH.

Notice the little jewels? There are 7 on this design. Do you want to know how hard it is to peel the paper backing off teensy little jewels with big fat adult fingers? First, just separating the paper from the jewel and then the darn thing gets stuck to your fingernail. ARGHH! I don't use jewels often enough to warrant getting one of those tools for bedazzling, so I use the low-tech peel and stick method. That said, I really do like this design and will do it again.

I still have a few more projects to finish before Christmas, but that's all for now. Have a merry!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Once Upon a Christmas

I'm attempting to attach music to my blog.

Guess I put it in the wrong place!! Oh, well.
Since it wound up here in my post I'll just leave it while I'm figuring this thing out.
You can click the start button above and listen to a lovely song (Selah with Dolly Parton) while you enjoy a few family Christmas pictures from this weekend.

After looking the pictures over again, I realized they're almost all of sweet Maxton! Oh, well, he was probably the cutest one there -- enjoy!

Maxton and the train. Hmmm .... interesting!

Hey! Where did it go?

It went down that way!

Wait, there it is again!

Oh the wonder of a little boy and a model train.

And the discovery of a piano. I think a little boy should help the song a little bit down there on that end of the piano. Makes the song better!

A little solo performance by Max. First the "warm-up"

The triumph of success! Give yourself a good hand, sweet boy.

All in all it was a wonderful day for the whole family.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Goodwill ROCKS!

Yesterday DH and I did some serious shopping and got some really great deals. We're trying to get all our Christmas shopping done in November .... like that's ever happened before, but we keep trying!

We went to Steinmart early in the morning for their big sale and really scored some great gifts ... none of which I can mention here because I don't want spoil the surprise. Also we've been looking for some wool slacks to replace a pair in DH's wardrobe, but it's difficult to find quality slacks for under $50.00 a pair and we won't pay that much unless we MUST. As we were standing in line to check out our Christmas goodies, we noticed a closeout rack that had clothing including slacks. DH checked it out and .... there they were! The perfect wool slacks -- in his size! -- and marked down to $20.00. WOOHOO!

Then we went to Big Lots and loaded up on several smaller items for stocking stuffers ... like really pretty insulated travel mugs in the perfect colors (to match the cars) at 2 for $5.00 and wool socks at 3 pair for $5.00. Since my Andy is still in Colorado, I figure he'll appreciate the socks.

Then we went to Goodwill.

Since Lewisville is an affluent community, I was hoping for some really good finds and I was not disappointed. We got several smallish items (a Mikasa crystal candleholder, a Mikasa crystal clock and a beautiful hurricane candleholder) at really good prices. All will make great additions to gift baskets. Also, we found a pair of Dockers jeans for $6.00 in perfect condition in exactly the right size. DH really needs to replace his work jeans ... those that I've patched several times ... so the Dockers will be a perfect replacement.

NOTE: Lest you think we're poor ... or cheap ... we're not. We're unabashedly frugal. DH and I choose to live WELL on as small a budget as possible. We may drink champagne frequently, but it's not Dom Perignon. As a result, we can afford to drink champagne frequently. Nuff said.

Back to our Goodwill adventure, the really big score came (again) as we were about to leave the store. I noticed several large boxes (containing entertainment centers, etc) and one of them had a steel shelving unit in it. I immediately thought of my pantry. Now my pantry is large and already contains shelving, but I really needed additional storage. The pantry upgrade is pretty low on the master TO DO list but, when I saw this shelving I knew this would be a great stop-gap. Heavy duty metal shelving like this is around $100.00 and we paid $20.00!!!!! STEAL!!

We put it together this afternoon and got it into the pantry. Okay, the fit is not perfect (it sticks out into the doorway a couple of inches) but I don't mind. When we finally get around to doing the pantry upgrade, we'll just move this out to the garage and it will work perfectly there. In the meantime, this is grrrrrreat!

So here are my pictures ... one showing the pantry through the door and the other just showing the shelving.

Is it pitiful to be so happy about getting an organized pantry????
Maybe so, but I am sooooooo excited about being able to get some of my occasional-use-appliances-and-paraphernalia out of the way.
I am one happy .... FRUGAL ... chick.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coffee House Chair Makeover

Some of you already know about Denton Freedom House, but for those who don't, it's a non-profit residence program for men who choose to walk away from their addictions (drug, alcohol, whatever) and who want to become more Christ-like. I believe with my whole heart that it saved my son's life. As a result, I am, of course, very, very grateful to the Freedom House and am always willing to volunteer my time and talents (such as they are) whenever there's a need.

To accomplish some of their future plans (a Freedom House for women and the expansion of the existing packed-to-the-rafters men's program), they'll be opening a (for-profit) coffee house in Denton at the beginning of November. They've been preparing the location for awhile ... which includes receiving donations of chairs, tables, etc, some of which are in less than perfect condition. That's how I came to participate in today's project -- reupholstering two matching chairs. Super SASSY to the rescue!!
This is what the chairs looked like BEFORE. Really not too bad when you look at them straight on.

But this is what they both looked like from the side -- clear evidence of a CAT DESTRUCTOR at work , I think!

One of the volunteers had donated 5 yards of putty colored chenille upholstery fabric (she bought it at a thrift store in Roanoke for $1.00 per yard ... and YES she gave me the name & location) which would be perfect for this project. Since it was a pretty simple color and pattern and I didn't want to make my own cord, I picked up some corresponding braid (is it braid or gimp? TexNan will know) at Hobby Lobby and used it to spruce up the newly reupholstered chairs. If you add the cost of the braid and the cost of the fabric, that's $10.00 per chair. Not bad I say. They're going to use these next to the "fireplace" at the coffee shop. I used quotes around the word fireplace because it's a fireplace surround. I haven't seen the finished mantel yet, but they tell me this fabric will look great next to it.

Here's the AFTER shots. The braid is blue in the center and dark putty on the outer edges. The picture ---of course! -- doesn't do it justice, but it's really pretty in person.

If you make it to Denton, Texas, the coffee house is catty-cornered across from the civic center and it's called Zera's. Check it out!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Closet Rug

Today I bought an oriental runner for $15 at the thrift store (see the post below for another great buy). Did I score today or what? And these are not the only goodies I got, but this is all I have time to show you right now.

Okay, I know everyone doesn't need a rug in their closet -- they have carpeted closets. But I have a tile floor and I NEEDED a rug in my closet. The floor was cold and I don't want to step on a bare floor - I hate cold feet (I know .... what a Princess!!). When I spotted this one at the thrift store, I checked for stains and for quality --- it feels great! I'm okay with a synthetic rug for my closet, but I don't want it to FEEL like it's made of plastic ... know what I mean? It needs to feel like it's made of wool. This one doesn't have a tag stating content and I know I can test it to see if it's wool, but I don't WANT to. I mean .... after all, it's a CLOSET rug. It's just there to keep my feet warm and my eyes happy.
And my eyes ARE happy!

Thrift Store Candleholder

Just had to quickly share this thrift store find. When describing it over the phone to Nancy, I called it a Forrest Gump candleholder because it reminds me of Forrest's leg braces. Is that rude? Couldn't think of any other way to describe it.

Now the decisions -- polish or not -- paint it pewter or leave it brass. Whatcha think?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Creepy Critter!

Just had to share the pictures I saw at Let-It-Shine ( -- they made me laugh. Now I would love to have one of THESE creepy critters in my garden!

Gives new meaning to the phrase "Cute as a bug"! Love it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Remember my killer tomato plant? Several years ago I bought a tomato plant - yellow pear tomato - from Lowe's and planted it in the front flower bed. I have drip irrigation in the front so I thought that would be the best place for it - my job plus 3 hour commute left me with little to NO time for watering plants that weren't on the drip system. Well, that tomato plant was so happy in the front garden it had to be cut back drastically because it was trying to take over the flower bed and the porch ... hence the Killer Tomato nomenclature.
The following year, we had volunteer tomato plants ... I guess a couple of tomatoes must have fallen to the ground and seeded the soil before I removed the big-honkin-mother-plant in the fall. Well, I let one of the volunteers grow and kept it cut back so that it wouldn't take over. Hey -- it's free tomatoes. Then the following year I transplanted yet another volunteer to the newly created back garden. This year the latest round of volunteers is going gangbusters and I have a huge crop of tomatoes. YUM!

Having said all that, I come to the CRITTER part of the story. Today I went out to get some tomatoes for dinner and I saw this HUGE caterpillar walking on the cable system to which the tomatoes are tied. It's really creepy looking and GI-NORMOUS. So I grabbed my camera, took some pictures so I could do some investigating. Isn't he creepy looking?

Per my Google search, he's a Tobacco / Tomato Horn Worm. DUH! Now I notice some of the top leaves are eaten down to the stalk. Okay, I'm waiting till DH gets home to get rid of it 'cause I'm not touching that thing!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Price of Makover

We've been working on our master bathroom makeover for quite awhile (read years here). It just seems to go on and on and ON AND ....
But I thought I'd give you a teensy, teensy glimpse at the progress. This is how the master bath looked when we bought our house. Pretty uuuuugly, but it had possibilities.

This is the direction we're moving (courtesy of some unknown person with wonderful taste on Rate My Space)

The cost of getting there??
$150 for Jacuzzi whirlpool (thru a classified ad --a $3000.00 2-person Jacuzzi that was in perfect condition .... SCORE!)
$75 for 3 new light fixtures (on closeout at Lowe's)
$35 for paint (on sale)
$100+ for wood and molding
And ...... it looks like maybe $218 for masking tape??

And just forget about the cost of sore knees (ever painted baseboards BEHIND the porcelain bus?) and aching muscles. Maybe I need to start yoga again because I really needed the flexibility today. I ended up scooting around the bathroom on my patootie (felt like a doodlebug) to get the baseboards painted in a bright white. Poor DH kept making Michelangelo remarks because he was painting the crown molding. It's not the Sistine chapel, but oh my poor baby!
And we're not finished yet ... DH found some great travertine on closeout at the Home Depot last weekend, so we've got a much needed counter replacement in our future ... and perhaps new sinks, etc ... and we're thinking about tile around the top of the shower to match the tile around the Jacuzzi .... BUT that's part of Phase III. I'm just glad we're ALMOST finished with Phase II of the everlasting quest for the perfect master bath. I'll post pictures as soon as Phase II is complete.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Little Kitty Heaven

Ran across this blog and just had to share her great idea for a cat bed.

This is what it looks like from the outside -- a suitcase with feet.
This is what it looks like on the inside. She's made a wonderful reversible cushion for the bottom, a teensy matching pillow and a gallery of cat pictures!
This is what it looks like with the occupant curled up inside -- without the cushion she lovingly -- and painstakingly -- made!
LOVE IT! Looks like her cat loves it too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I have three things to share today.

ITEM ONE - During my recent Twin Needle Sewing Class, I learned an easier way to join bias strips. I don't know about you, but when I just need a yard or two of bias tape, I'm not interested in doing the whole sew-an-off-center-tube-thang. And going the other route ... cut out your bias strips and join them ... has not been a roaring success because I rarely get it right on the first try. You know what I mean. I end up with something that looks like this instead of a nice - straight - strip.
I always hated doing bias tape because I'd sew it, rip out the stitches and re-sew it. But with this new technique, I just zing right through. Here's how it goes: instead of trying to join the angled ends, you cut off the angles so the strips have a straight end, lay one at a 90 degree angle to the other and sew diagonally. See (rough) drawing below. LOVE THIS TECHNIQUE!

ITEM 2 - A sewing machine repairman showed me how to release thread when it gets caught in the bobbin area. Some threads come out right away, but some get caught ... and even broken off from pulling on them. I don't know about all machines, but on my Pfaff, there's a way to get a thread unhung without a repairman.

This is how my Pfaff bobbin area looks. There's an arrow pointing to the screw. All you can see from this side is a little hole, but that's where the screw is. There are three on the housing, but you have to manually rotate the wheel to see all three ... one ... at ...a ... time.

This is how the side of the bobbin housing unit looks when it's out of the sewing machine ... but don't take it out!!! Slow down! We just want to remove a little tension from the screw. The arrow points to the screw and if I had a better picture, you could see there's a little spring around it. (Okay .. I know my drawing of a screw with a spring is lame, but it was the best I could do this afternoon).
Sorry this picture is fuzzy. What he's doing here is pressing on the screw which relieves a little of the tension. It only moves about a hairs breadth, but it's enough to get your thread out.

He's using this dental tool -- it's great for reaching around to press on the screw. And there's not a lot of space in there when you're coming at it from the front.
I'm so glad I learned how to do this yesterday because I had to use it this morning. Since I didn't have a dental thing-y, I just used a teensy screwdriver, but IT WORKS. HA!

ITEM 3 - I finished the test apron and, all in all I'm pleased. I'll use the pattern again, but I'll probably use a wider bias tape next time. I think Sophie looks great in this. Wish it looked this good on me!

Have a fabulous day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Potatoes and Onions in Bags! Oh, MY!

I've been busy sewing for myself instead of for a shop - what a surprise - think of that -- sewing for myself! One project I made was burlap bags to hold onions and potatoes. Since up to this point I didn't have a good storage solution, I decided to make bulap bags and embroider them to identify what's inside.

I made them of 2 layers of burlap ... it still allows the air to circulate and the double thickness makes them quite sturdy, so they stand on their own. And they're completely washable. Woohoo!
Since I made this in a flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method -- ummmm - my usual method -- I used a satin stitch to join the layers at the top, but I think if I make these as gifts (or to sell in my shop) I'll make the bag out of one long piece of burlap with a long seam ... fold it in half with the seam inside and then I'll stitch along the top of the fold. Maybe I could embroider along the top edge .. like Pommes frites .... Spuds .... Taters ... etc. Hmmm, I guess I'll have to research names for onions.

The potato bag holds just over 10 pounds of potatoes and the onion bag holds more than 3 pounds. I like it. Works for my kitchen!

Also, recently I took a twin-needle sewing class. I haven't had a formal sewing class since Miss Nowatny in 9th grade home economics . This is the finished project.

I think it almost looks like heirloom stitching. I didn't notice until I took the picture that the center pintucks are slightly off center! DOH! Nevertheless, I learned a lot of really good techniques in the class and now I've signed up for a towel embossing class. I have several embossing designs already from Emblibrary.

Hellooooo! Good Christmas gifts! Can't wait!

TODAY I'm working on a "test" apron. I call it a test apron because I'm testing my pattern on cheap-o fabric before I commit scissors to the expensive stuff. Sooooo I'm using beige cotton with red trim. Sisters may remember the red fabric from my retirement Girls Only Party. I used yards and yards of it for the tablecloths. Doesn't Amanda look sweet?

Gotta go now. My break is over and my sewing machine is calling out to me.