Archive for November, 2007

Hardly Homemade with Meredith T

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…just a little Food Network humor.

Here’s a yummy pumpkin spice cake recipe I picked up at Weight Watchers a while back (don’t let the Weight Watchers thing scare you, though, because it’s delicious.)

Take one box of spice cake mix (Betty Crocker or similar) and thoroughly mix with one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (use just 100% plain pumpkin, not pie filling.) Add some sweetener to taste (sugar, brown sugar, Splenda, whatever– I used Splenda brown sugar blend.) Spray a pan with Pam or similar (I used a large pie plate.) Bake at 350 degrees until your fork comes out clean (about a half an hour.) Done!

Weight Watchers does not recommend that you top this with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. But I do!

November 29, 2007 at 9:00 pm 1 comment

Marble Magnet Mania!

I love making marble magnets.  I discovered these around this time last year, and I made quite a few of them as Christmas gifts.  The best part about making these as gifts is that you can really personalize them by using pictures that suit the recipient.  You could also draw your own pictures or use your own photos, which I haven’t tried yet.

The best tutorial I have found on making marble magnets is on the Not Martha website.  There are just a few things I would add: 

(1) Before you glue on the glass gems, hold them up to the light and make sure they don’t have imperfections in them.  Discard (or find another use for) the ones with too many imperfections– you won’t be able to see your pictures through them.

(2) I used Aileen’s Tacky Glue for this project and it worked really well (and has held up well in the year since I made my first marble magnets.)

(3) This year I used stickers as well as digital collage sheets and they worked great!  I did glue the stickers to the background to make sure that they stayed put.  If you search etsy for digital collages with 3/4 inch circles, you may find some pictures that you like and save yourself some time looking through magazines for pictures to use.  Once you purchase a digital file (they cost about $3 each), you own it and can print it as many times as you like (although the seller may specify that you cannot use them for mass produced goods.)  I used some from Piddix’s etsy shop, that’s a good place to start looking.

Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s marble magnet creations (I still haven’t figured out how to take good pictures of these)…

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On an unrelated note, I was excited to see some photos of the toys collected for the Mirabel Foundation at Meet Me at Mike’s blog today: here’s a link to the entry.  I was able to spot my little guy amidst all those fabulous toys (if you click on the first photo to enlarge it, he’s in the top row, fourth from the left.)  I wish I could jet to Australia to check out the display!

November 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm 4 comments

Good times and pies were had by all.

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Great family, great times, great pies… lots to be thankful for.

November 23, 2007 at 7:44 pm 2 comments

Finished Project!

Last night I completed my latest furniture project, an old chair sorely in need of refinishing, the newest member in my family of rescued chairs.

To refinish this chair, I removed the upholstered seat, sanded the wood down, and filled in the holes with wood filler. Some of the dents and holes were large so I had to apply two or three layers of wood filler. Then I sanded it down again, and wiped it clean with a wet rag. Next I applied a primer using a small foam roller.

Once the primer was completely dry, I applied my paint. I used a high gloss paint from Ace Hardware in a shade called “Wicker,” again using a small foam roller. The high gloss paint tends to be more durable for painting furniture. (From past projects, I know that there are also some specialty furniture paints at Home Depot and Lowe’s that will provide durability but are available in other finishes like satin or eggshell., if you don’t like the glossy look.) I had to give the chair two coats of paint and then did a few touch-ups to get good coverage. I made sure to let the paint dry completely in between coats.

Reupholstering a cushion like this one is very easy. I removed the old foam and fabric (yuuuuucky…) which had been nailed on. Instead of new foam or cotton batting, I used an old fleece blanket as my cushion (another upcycling success!) I cut three layers of the blanket and one piece of my upholstery fabric to a size that would cover the seat and reach around the back of the seat to a spot where I could staple it securely. I then used my staple gun to secure the blanket layers and the upholstery fabric to the seat. It’s best to start with one staple in the middle of one side, then one staple in the middle of the opposite side, and then to work your way around that way. You also need to keep checking to make sure that your fabrics are pulled tight and are not bulging anywhere.

Finally, I screwed the new cushion into place and… TA-DA! A lovely new chair. Here are the before and after shots:

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It’s hard to tell from the photo for some reason (okay, it’s because of my poor photography skills and bad lighting), but the chair was originally in much worse shape than the photo makes it look. Now it’s my new favorite chair. And did I mention I have LOTS of chairs?

…oh, no! Look who else loves my new chair already…

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November 20, 2007 at 11:36 pm 4 comments

I used to be a sweater…

…and now I’m a cozy pillow.

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I just love this pillow! Recently, one of my lambswool sweaters escaped my notice and ended up in the dryer. When I pulled it out, to my great disappointment, it was really fuzzy and too small for me to wear. I didn’t want to part with it, so I made this pillow.

It was a very simple project. I used my sewing machine for most of the sewing, so it took me less than an hour to complete. I cut out two pieces of the same size and shape from my sweater, put the right sides together, pinned, and sewed all sides together (leaving about four inches open for turning and stuffing.) Then I turned it right-side out, used a pencil to pop to corners out, and stuffed it with polyfill. Then I used a whipstitch to close the opening. Knit fabrics like this are very forgiving– there’s no need to stitch perfectly, because once you pull the stitches tight you can’t even see them.

I love settling in with a book and this pillow in the evening. It’s so soft and it’s just the right size (unlike the shrunken sweater!) As the holiday season approaches, which too often becomes a time of excess, I love knowing that I made something that otherwise would have been discarded into something that will have a place in my home for a long time to come.

November 19, 2007 at 8:42 pm 3 comments

Work Barely in Progress — Sneak Peek!

I’ve been so busy the last few days that I haven’t posted much, and today is no exception! But I did get a chance to run into JoAnn’s Fabrics this afternoon to use a coupon that was burning a hole in my pocket– and I found these lovely fabrics that I couldn’t resist. I’m planning on using them to make these, another fabulous project suggested by Posie Gets Cozy, another blog I love and will add to my Blogroll once I get around to making one!

(Sorry for the terrible photo quality, I took it with lousy light and will try to get a better one tomorrow!) Thanks for reading!

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November 18, 2007 at 12:45 am 2 comments

Thousand Words Thursday

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Just because a picture is worth a thousand words doesn’t mean I can resist saying a few about my ferocious cat. She is surprisingly docile in this picture but if you look closely, you can see that she has a fang!

I live in fear.

November 15, 2007 at 7:16 pm 3 comments

Fun With Freezer Paper

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I know I am a little behind the times. I am just now discovering so many great ideas that have been floating around the blogosphere (oh, I can’t say that without laughing…) for a long time now. One such idea is the freezer paper stencil. I was so excited when I discovered Angry Chicken’s tutorial on these. Using freezer paper to make stenciled shirts is ideal for me because (1) I am picky and I want T-shirts that look exactly the way I like them, (2) I am cheap and don’t want to pay more than a few bucks for anything, and (3) I have a short attention span for this sort of thing, and this project only takes a few minutes to complete. You do need to wait a while for the paint to dry– so all you instant gratification seekers out there, don’t try using a hair dryer, waiting thirty seconds and then frantically peeling of the stencil. That won’t work. Trust me. You’ll ruin the shirt and then be mad you wasted $2.99 (see #2).

Freezer paper works great for this project because it is shiny on one side only, so you can easily iron it only fabric and then peel it off when you’re done stenciling. Here’s what I did: I drew a simple sketch. Since I’m new at this, I didn’t want to try anything fancy. I like simple designs anyway. When you’re drawing, you have to think about what part will be painted on the shirt and what will be negative space (the color of your shirt.) If you’re brave you could try using more than one color by stenciling in layers. This would take a longer so I didn’t try it (see #3.)

When I was happy with my sketch, I cut it out using an X-Acto knife. You want to cut your design with the shiny side of the freezer paper down. For this design, the stencils I needed were a piece of freezer paper with a pear shaped hole cut out of it, and two tiny freezer-paper eyes and a mouth. What you’ll need will vary, just figure out what area of your design will need to be painted and what will be negative space– the freezer paper needs to cover all of the negative space in your design.

Next, I ironed a piece of freezer paper inside the shirt behind where my design was going to be. (Put the iron against the papery side, not the shiny side, obviously.) This kept the stencil from slipping while I was painting it, and it also kept the paint from bleeding through the fabric. Then I ironed my stencil into place: first I placed the paper with the pear-shaped hole in it exactly where I wanted it, shiny side down, and iron it to the shirt. Then I placed my pear eyes and mouth when I wanted them, shiny side down, and ironed them into place. In stencil-parlance (ahem), the eyes and mouth are called islands because they’re not attached to the main stencil. The smaller your islands are, the harder it’s going to be to peel them off the shirt once they’re covered with paint, so I wouldn’t advise making them any smaller than I did!

Once my stencil was secured, I painted using a foam brush and fabric paint. I used Tulip Matte Soft Fabric paint from JoAnn’s. It worked well, and it looks pretty good except that I wish it looked a little bit smoother. You might find a paint that you like better (and if so, I’d like to hear what it is!) I covered the area evenly without letting it get too gloppy. Once it dried, I put on another coat because I could still see some of the black shirt coming through. Once I was satisfied with the coverage, and having learned a valuable lesson the first time I tried to peel the stencil off too soon, I let it dry completely by leaving it overnight. The next morning, I carefully peeled off the stencils. When peeling those tiny islands off, I used the X-Acto knife a little bit to guide the paper as it peeled off the shirt, being very careful not to cut the shirt in the process.

Now I have a lovely smiley pear T-shirt! Next, I want to make an angry ice-cream cone T-shirt for my husband. I will try to resist the urge to make the cone say “Eat Me!” so that the shirt can be worn in mixed company.

For more information and inspiration, here are links to the sites I consulted before beginning (I basically followed Angry Chicken’s post step-by-step):

Angry Chicken’s Elf Tee

Crafster’s Tutorial

Flickr page with TONS of inspiration

November 14, 2007 at 8:01 pm 3 comments

Hooray for felt!

I am loving wool felt right now– the mottled look of it, the feel, and how easy it is to work with. I’d really like to make something useful with it. When I buy it, I’m thinking, “Wallet? Journal cover? Tote bag?” … but I keep ending up with little monsters…

Don’t call me practical.

Well, this guy does make me smile when I spot him grinning up at me. He reminds me of the time I spent in Japan, where cute little monsters abound. I think I was inspired by Domo-kun, a mascot who I often saw on TV in Japan and who I am now seeing in shops all over the place here in the U.S.

Next time, a change purse!

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November 13, 2007 at 11:54 pm 5 comments

The Save a Chair Foundation

I have a thing for chairs–old, lonely woebegone chairs, sitting on the curb wondering what fate awaits then when the garbage truck rounds the corner. I don’t really need any more chairs, but I keep rescuing them. I see them sitting next to the old mattresses, broken lamps and pizza boxes, full of promise, each with something special about it that its former owner failed to notice or forgot all about when the new dining set arrived from Bernie and Phyl’s.

All I have to share today is a picture of my latest find. This is the “before” photo– I’ll post the “after” photo when it’s finished. In the meantime, you can see another chair I rescued in my last post. This one is a little rougher-looking than the picture reveals, but it will get a fresh coat of paint, a softer cushion, and some snazzy new upholstery. It too will find its place at my table of adopted chairs. The next time you take a walk on garbage day, won’t you save a chair too?

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November 12, 2007 at 5:59 pm 1 comment

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