Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frugal Decorating With Abundance

The Shabby Nest is having a frugal decorating linky party today. Frugal decorating is the only kind I do. So, I am looking forward to reading everyone's ideas today!

In the last few years I have developed a few strategies for living more frugally and these same tools work for decorating as well. Right now, living in an apartment is the most frugal thing for us. Therefore, all my decorating has to keep building regulations and *limited* storage in mind.

Calendar Page
Calendar page from the day I got engaged.

These are my decorating mantras!

1. I have all that I need and more! So, I avoid the mall. Seriously. I used to go to the mall for entertainment. When committed to I to buckling down to save money, I avoided the mall to avoid temptation. What I discovered was that I really didn't miss it. In fact, when I finally went to the mall after more than six months of avoiding it, I could see more clearly that the whole mall is designed to make you feel lacking. My life and home are extremely abundant! I certainly do not want to be sold on any other ideas.

2. Hang your heart on your walls. We have framed all sorts of personal things around our apartment. My husband is a huge music fan. We have some of his favorite records on the wall. At Christmas we swap them out for vintage Christmas albums we got from our parents old collections. Not only do these records, dishtowels, calendar pages and post cards remind us of good times and places, they add a lot of color to the rental beige walls. When you come to my home, it won't necessarily look like a magazine, but it does reflect us.

3. Love the ones your with! I already have tons of great decor items that can be displayed in new ways. To keep things fresh, I rotate my "art" frequently. If I can avoid boredom, I can steel my resolve not to buy new! I keep all my framed pictures behind the sofa. If I should walk through the room with an itch for change, I can quickly swap out pictures on a whim.
Gallery Storage

Valentines Cake Stand
4. Look around for new ideas. These heart shaped rocks were free! Sometimes they are in my planter, sometimes I bring them out for display.

5. Take some risks! I wasn't sure I would like my wallpapered fridge, or that it would last, but I knew I hated the ugly old look. And, I knew that each day I could hold out on buying a new one was a day of savings. The wallpaper was just rubber cemented on and now it's a bit frayed. My next plan is to paint the fridge with chalkboard paint. I have a yucky fridge but it is fun to change it up!
Still trying to get a good pic of the color

6. Join a swap! If you are crafty- and so many people are even if they don't practice it daily, there are wonderful swaps all over the internet. Participating in swaps has been a great way to collect wonderful handcrafted and thrifted goodies for my home. This collage and banner are just two of the many cool things I have collected through swaps!
Bits N Pieces SwapMerry Christmas Banner

Well, none of these ideas are totally new, but I hope that they have reminded you that you have everything you need to make your home beautiful!

More great ideas at The Shabby Nest!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apron Giveaway Winner!

Ruth from Farm Girl in My Heart is the apron giveaway winner!

Molly Monkey Twins

I've been very busy on the crafty front.

1. I managed to get two more Molly Monkeys out of that old pair of pants! (I think there may be one more too, if I play my scraps right!) Boy if the third time isn't the charm! The blue one has a weird pucker on the side, but the orange one came out perfectly! I am loving orange and turquoise right now. Especially since those are the original Lady Monkey colors.

2. Last week my friend Kat came over for another series of crafty play dates. This time Kat is trying to spruce up her apartment while on a super tight budget. We went down to The $2LB Loft and bought some really nice fabric to recover her couch cushions with. They are looking really nice and I can't wait to see the results!

3. I started a real I Spy quilt this weekend for a special little girl at church who is having surgery on her spine. I am super please with how it's coming together. All my previous experience is paying off.

4. Oh, and I started a spray paint project this weekend too. I found the *perfect* shade of green. It's called RustOleum American Accents "Sea Side Green." It is the exact shade of the chairs at the Fairfax Farmer's Market that I have admired for years. It is just a smidge darker than Jadite.

So, lots to show in a few days!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thank You Service Families

This is a photo from Arlington West, a weekly memorial put on by Veteran's for Peace.

I have a similar postcard on my kitchen bulletin board to remind me daily that this crafty, thrifty, creative life I live is brought to me by the men and women who work daily to protect our way of life.

I don't want to forget whilst trying new recipes or sewing up monkey dolls, that we are a nation at war.

This is a special message to the families of service men and women. Thank you. I have come to learn that when one person serves, the entire family serves. Thank you for your sacrifices.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Saved from the Trash

Paint stained yoga pants

For some reason I really thought I could paint without getting paint on my yoga pants.

Front of yoga pants

So, in an effort to save money and use what I have, I bought some freezer paper, some craft paint, and some fabric paint medium and decided to resurrect these destine for the trash pants. See how that "save money and use what you have" stuff works? LOL.

The stenciling was pretty easy. I searched Google images for a simple leaf pattern and traced it onto the freezer paper. That part was easy. Cutting out the stencil wasn't hard either. Ironing the freezer paper inside the leg of pants to back the stencil was a bit tricky.

I was very pleased how the front came out.
Sad stenciled bird
So puffed up by my success, I added a bird to the back. The paint and medium mix was a bit too runny and it bleed through the fabric.
On the Back

Fortunately, not too many people examine the back of my right leg with a macro setting on their cameras. So, I wore these out of the apartment today. For about $10 I saved the pants and have a big pack of freezer paper and some more craft paint to play with.

Don't forget the apron giveaway! Last day!

Thrifty Thursday!

Other fashiony projects:
Button Scarf- Embroidered grey felted wool side
Sweater turned scarf.
Caps for Babies in Haiti
Shorts and T's to baby Caps

Baby Sweater
Adult sweater to baby sweater

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pressing the Corners

I wasn't quite satisfied with the All Day Tote that I recently made. The corners weren't square and because of the thick quilted lining, I wasn't able to iron them.

It Stands By Itself!! All Day Tote

So I clipped them for a few hours.
Clipping the Corners

Sharper Corners

I think it helped! I have been using binder clips more and more with sewing as you can see from my new header. There are probably a thousand uses for clips!

What inventive ways do you use binder clips?

Don't forget! It's not to late for the apron giveaway!

Happy Birthday Piper!

Molly Birthday

Nobody likes birthdays more than my friend Piper. Happy Birthday Dear Friend! May this year be your best yet!

Molly is celebrating Piper's birthday with a special party hat. To make the hat, I rolled a piece of card stock into a cone shape. Then while holding the cone shape with one hand, I carefully trimmed the extra paper and made the bottom edge even. I used wonder under fusible web to attach fabric to the card stock. Using hot glue I secured the cone and with a bit of of bias tape and more hot glue, I finished off the edge. To make the scrappy pom pom, I took a bunch of 3" strips and secured them in the middle with an elastic band. Next, I fluffed the strips into a pom pom-ish shape and glued it to the hat. Molly Monkey has no chin, so I had to safety pin the hat on! Ouch! It's tough to be a party monkey.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Apron Giveaway!

I am no stranger to the many philosophies about clutter. I was a pretty big feng shui fan in the day and actually found that moving my stuff, did change my life. Years later, my friend Lisa even introduced me to the feng shui author/guru, Karen Rauch Carter.

Still, staying on top of my stuff is not a strength.

I've blogged about my depression era grandparents who could make anything out of practically nothing. Well, I have inherited that skill. Trouble is, in order to make anything out of practically nothing, one must save everything.

Everything can become something!

So, this weekend, whilst reading one of the many organizing blogs that I hope will one day transform me into an organized creative, I saw this post about getting rid of 50 things!

Since I am feeling kind of stuck right now. I decided to try throwing out 5o things yesterday. (And, by throwing out, you know I mostly mean Good Will.)

If you counted multiples, I made it to 50. Are old magazines one item or can I count them individually? Can I count each piece of fabric?

How about these aprons? They are adorable! Vintage!

I have enjoyed them, but alas, I don't have a proper place to display them. They sit in a drawer neglected. Perhaps, it's time to let them continue on their journey.

When you live in an apartment and like stuff, it's important to view these things as visiting friends.

Maybe one of you would enjoy these lovely aprons and give them a new home?

Leave a comment on this post. I will draw a name on Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Softer Side of Green

Glass Jar with Reusable Makeup Remover Pads
Junie Moon is one of the blogs I read regularly. She is an excellent example of making "green living" beautiful and easy. Recently she posted about making reusable makeup remover pads. At first, I thought the idea was nice, but unlikely for me. We failed at cloth napkins so teeny tiny makeup remover pads weren't likely to succeed in my home.

Then I ran out of cotton balls this morning and that big piece of *super soft* velour that was part of my Michale Levine's Loft haul started to call to me.

Junie's pads are made of flannel and pretty fabric and they are all the same size. I believe she used this tutorial.

Mine are more like ravioli except that they aren't all square.
Reusable makeup remover pads

I simply folded a large scrap of the velour and started sewing squares (quadrilaterals anyway). When I was done, I cut them out with pinking shears.

This way they are two sided. Easy peasy.

I used one this morning and was quite pleased with the softness- but what to do with the dirty? I stood there at the vanity thinking, "what now?"

Quick trip to the stash and I whipped up a super simple drawstring bag to collect the used pads in. Now, I can toss the whole bag in the wash and dryer to keep them together.
Drawstring Bag

Maybe I need to make a cloth napkin collecting drawstring bag and give those a second chance.
By the way, my favorite eye makeup remover is a few drops of Johnson's Baby Shampoo diluted well with water. It works great for mascara. No more tears! One of my colleagues got this advice from her eye doctor. That bottle up there has lasted me several years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sentimental Thrift Journey

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This morning I had some errands that were near one of my favorite thrift stores. As I was driving on my way, I was thinking about my list of things to look for. I was thinking about my vow to use what I have. My thoughts turned to my grandmother, who could make use of anything.

My grandfather was also creative and thrifty. He could tell the best stories. I spoke at his funeral and recited Robert Fulghum's Storyteller's Creed:

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history - dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death."

My grandparents have been gone for a long time now. More than ten years. Yet, I miss them more today than I ever have.

About two years ago, I had a dream that my grandfather came to my classroom in LA. He was wearing his usual light blue cardigan. Our conversation was as real to me as any encounter I have ever had awake. Unfortunately, I spent the whole dream asking him how he got to LA and if it was safe for him to fly so far. I have prayed so many times to have that dream again so I could go back and really talk to him.

They say youth is wasted on the young, right now I'm thinking I need my grandparents now more than when I was a kid. They lived through the depression. They took financial risks in uncertain times. They weathered more than a few storms. I so wish I could seek their advice and hand holding now, as an adult.

I can easily well up thinking these things.

Anyway, I was thinking all of these thoughts as I drove to my appointment. When I finished, my favorite thrift was closed. I decided not to wait a half hour for it to open. Then I remembered that a new Goodwill had opened on Fairfax and Beverly and decided to check it out.

It was a big, beautiful store chuck full of nice furniture, lots of new things still in the packaging. They had many bedspreads still in the packaging. If I had a house, I could have scored with lamps still in the package. There were a few figurines that I admired. Terrific baskets. I walked around for a long time just taking it all in. I was getting just a bit frustrated that they had so much great stuff that I really couldn't use or store. The store had only been open for a few minutes and the staff was still putting stuff out. On my last lap two things caught my eyes.

Home is where your story begins.

My husband is a writer and I have long admired the "Home is where your story begins" sign. I have had it in my hands at a few gift shops only to leave it behind because, "I could make that." For $1.99- I'll just snap it up thank you!

And the book, A Grandparent's Book, my own grandparents filled out similar ones for my brother and I called A Grandmother Remembers / A Grandfather Remembers. My book is a treasure to me. I snatched up this like new version for my own future kids.

So there you have it. I believe these deals were a sign from my grandparents right there at the thrift store.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bed Time Baby Tutorial Up

Bed TIme Babies

I made some adjustments to my pattern and created a tutorial on flickr.
Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bed Time Boys

This weekend I discovered a new site called Craft Hope. I love to blend my passion for crafting with charity giving. It's one way I can stay in our budget and still give to others. Of course when I read about their plan to take dollies to the Casa Bernabe Orphanage in Nicaragua I was right on board!
Simple applique

I went to the flickr group and saw that most people were making girl dolls. So I decided to make some boy dolls. I have a few boy doll patterns in a vintage doll making book I got many years ago at the thrift, but they all required yarn hair. The hardest part about making a boy doll, in my opinion, is the hair. I don't have any yarn and wanted to use my stash and not add to it.

For better or for worse, this summer is going to be all about using what I already have.

I decided to do baby dolls for the sole reason that they can be bald!

A quick google search and I had my "inspiration doll." Before long I drafted my very first pattern! I used the sleeve design from my raggady anne dolls. It wasn't to hard to draw a big "U" for the bunting, but getting the proportions right was a bit trickier.
Sewn in sleevesWorking with the pattern

I have a thing for bald fades! I think that swirl on the back of a bald fade boy's head is absolutely precious. Sponge painting with simple craft paint worked great for the hair.
Sponge Paint a Bald Fade
To make the eyes show up on the dark fabric, I first made circles with fray check. Once it dried, I went over the circles with a sharpie. I also used sharpie for the mouth and cheeks.
Frey Check for eyes

Tah Dah! Bed Time Boys! I am going to tweek the pattern a bit more tomorrow and then I will make a tutorial.
Bed Time Boys

What do you think... long and lean or short and chubby? I am thinking of making a rounder head with the long body.
Bed Time Baby Boys

* The hats were created using a mini version of Soule Mama's Caps for Cap- Haitien.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

School's Out for Summer! ( My Track Anyway!)

Afloat for Summer

I went a little crazy making last day of school cupcakes for the Crayons. My insanity included using a toothpick to make teeny tiny goggles.
I am pretty sure I was inspired Bakerella.
shark attack
When I got tired though, I went for the easier shark attack cupcake which is all mine. I am sure the kids will love it!

Proving that the opposite of Nesters famous saying is also true:
It doesn't have to be beautiful to be perfect!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Challenging Myself

I got this pattern for a BB Bag a few years ago in a swap. I held on to it, but was intimidated by it for quite some time. It has two zippers and lots of bias tape. Plus it is small and curvy. It's wasn't the directions or the pattern, I swear! I was intimidated before I even opened the pattern. I am sure others wouldn't have the same hang ups.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the balance between pushing myself with sewing skills and remembering that it's just my hobby. Sewing is my stress reliever. Getting immersed in a new pattern/ project can take me so far away from my ghetto classroom that an hour can pass with nary a concern. Something too frustrating defeats the purpose.

Arg! My head just went to teaching. This is what I deal with in the classroom every day! Where is the edge of learning? How do you walk that line without going overboard? Akk!

Another reason I sew is to support our thrifty budget. Yes, I do spend money on fabric and notions, but by making my own (I hope meaningful) gifts, I save myself the mall experience. Sewing makes me feel abundant, the mall, not so much.
Traveler Bag

Anyway, Mother's Day was just the incentive I needed to try this pattern. It's good for walks and trips to the beach. Just room for keys, a debit card and some cash.

I took it slow and worked a bit at a time. I did break three needles on that metal zipper! And, I learned that cheap metal zippers ($0.10) from downtown are not worth it! Pay for nylon! Other than that, it wasn't too tricky at all.

I like it. It was a bit wonky and needed a button to hold it closed.
Traveler Bag
The handstitching is something only a mother could love. I won't go there. My feelings about hand sewing are "a whole 'nother Oprah."


The Kitchen Linens Book

Look what my mama sent me! I was so surprised! Actually, I was a little startled. I had been looking at this book on Amazon, so when it arrived, my first thought was, "Yikes! Did I press '1-Click' ?" I am trying to save not spend!

Nope! My mama sent it. She knows my passion for vintage linens well!

Reminds Me of My Grandma Mary
This page reminds me of my Grandma Mary. She had a very similar hot pad to the grapes. Each "grape" had a bottle cap in it. Just looking at it reminds me of sitting in her kitchen eating Fig Newtons from her special cookie drawer. With my love for junk, that bottle cap hot pad thing was quite intriguing. And that pot holder loom! Another blast from my past. Don't be surprised if I come home from the thrift this summer with one of those.

Lots of eye candy in here plus some reproduction tea towel transfers. Of course, I like those so much I may never be able to use them. That's so like my Grandma Mary.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Trash To Treasure: Bag Makeover

This week's Trash to Treasure is nothing too original, but this kind of "upcylcing" really does prolong the life span of promotional items. A simple patch made from scraps and a bit of fusible web makes a cheesy freebie fourth grade acceptable. I did use this pattern for the monkey face.
Free Tote
Molly Monkey Tote Bag

This bag was made for Mulberry, one of My Many Colored Crayons you can read her story here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Reminder for Me

In November my good friend Berry asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding! I am thrilled to oblige.

She's not yet engaged, but that hasn't stopped her from planning the wedding.

Berry figures, by planning early she will save money and spread costs out over time. Also, she wants to walk down the aisle moments, well, days after the proposal. What can I say? When you know- you know.

For my part I have starred a dozen or so shower ideas on my Google Reader.
Post- It Case

This is a memo pad/ Post-It case I made with a pattern from the Moda Bake Shop.
Post-It Case Open

All it requires is fabric, fusible web, a photo brad thingy and of course, a memo pad.

I'm thinking these would make good favors. I need a catchy phrase...
"Thanks for remembering Berry's special day."
"Thanks for making this a note worthy day."

Or maybe I should skip the catchy phrase altogether.

Whatever, I have time.