Adventures With Visible Mending

I’ve never been much for embroidery or mending.  For a long time, I’d been putting off Chris’s request that I mend a torn glove that he likes to use.  But then I came across a beautiful post by Better Homes on the basics of visible mending.  Since we are still largely in stay-home-stay-safe mode here in my area, I had time to give it a try.

But first I would need embroidery floss.  I found a fun collection of vintage embroidery floss at The Swagman’s Daughter on Etsy.  I ordered six colors, and I love the cards they came on – so cute that I almost didn’t want to use the floss.

Vintage embroidery floss
Vintage embroidery floss from The Swagman’s Daughter.

The shop owner included a note with the package saying that she had recently cleared out an old haberdashery warehouse, and now she has a huge variety of vintage sewing items.  I will definitely be visiting that shop again!

Getting Started

I practiced on the glove (which I still haven’t finished) before tackling some other mending projects.  And, if you are new to visible mending and want to try it, I highly recommend that you practice first before taking a needle to any precious antique textiles you might have.

What I love about visible mending is that it doesn’t attempt to be perfect – or to hide the fact that something was mended:  On the contrary, it highlights it.  The mending becomes a sort of folk art – and a way to make a piece look unique and loved.

Here are few of my simple mending projects.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

Edwardian Tablecloth With Holes

Some time ago, I inherited a beautiful Edwardian-era tablecloth.  The fabric is very fragile, and it has a few holes.

 

I loved that I could use fabric scraps from my sewing room to create patches.

The patch was secured to the underside of the tablecloth using a fabric glue stick.  And then it was pinned.

Then came the fun part:  Choosing the floss colors.

Using an embroidery needle, I created running stitches in a circular motion with a few straight lines added for interest.

 

For a larger hole near the edge, I used a semi-circle patch of fabric.

 

There is not as much of the fabric patch showing through as I had hoped, but I think the subtle look works well for this sweet old tablecloth.

 

 

Torn Jeans

I went on the prowl for other things to mend.  Both knees were torn on my favorite pair of Levis, so they were fair game.

This time I wanted lots of color, so I used a bright batik fabric and blue and red floss.

 

 

I mostly used simple running stitches in vertical lines.  I drew lines first with tailor’s chalk since I didn’t trust myself (and rightly so) to stitch a straight line freehand.  And, although it’s better to do the stitching right-side-out, I discovered that it is impossible (at least for me) when working on knee tears because the inside of the fabric is so hard to reach.

So I worked on this project inside-out, and it turned out okay.

“Ah, there you are, human. Why aren’t you in the kitchen feeding me?” – Eddie.

 

I do wish I’d used a different color fabric.  The red looks a bit like I scraped my knees.

 

A Boring Sail Gets An Edge

I was enjoying visible mending so much that I began to look for other things to mend.  But I couldn’t find anything.

However, the sail on the little toy boat that I’d built with my niece was very plain and boring.

So I made a new sail, and I added a few interesting scraps of fabric.  For this project, I used crossed straight-stitches.

Our innocuous little sailboat is becoming a pirate ship.  With a few more tweaks, we’ll be ready to christen it the “Skeleton Crew.”

My method here was not exactly as recommended in the Better Homes post on visible mending.  I was just experimenting.  But I do highly recommend reading the post (and watching the accompanying video) if you are interested in learning some simple techniques.

 

Rustic Americana Napkins

I found a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that I thought had a fun “old Americana” look when combined.

With a few simple running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.

 

 

More on how I made these napkins can be found in this post.

 

It’s A Gateway Craft

I have been warned that visible mending is a gateway craft.  It can lead to doing things like intricate embroidery.  But I really don’t see myself going down that path.  I’m happy with my basic running stitches and crossed straight-stitches.

And that’s the beauty of it:  Visible mending is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Backyard Chicken 101 – Your Guide to Raising Chickens

I love that raising chickens is catching on as a hobby.  Hens are allowed in my city and, when I see a chicken coop in someone’s backyard, I am always tempted to try it myself.  A friend of mine with a healthy little flock of chickens has told me, more than once, that raising them does take research and preparation.  If the coop isn’t secure enough, chickens can easily be lost to predators – which of course would break my heart.

So I thought that this post, brought to me by a guest writer, would be a good starting point in learning all about raising backyard chickens.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Backyard Chicken 101 – Your Guide to Raising Chickens

There’s nothing better than getting back in touch with nature.  And, during the lockdown, many people have been doing just that – by focusing on their gardens.

As a result, raising backyard chickens has become a popular new interest.  With a properly built coop, chickens can be fairly low maintenance. It’s a fun project for the whole family, and you’ll certainly notice the difference between home-raised and store-bought eggs.

 

Where Can I Keep Chickens?

A chicken coop can be built in any private outdoor space. Chickens are very resilient animals and in many cases can cope with both hot and cold seasons. The coop size and shape can vary, depending on your backyard and the number of chickens you will have. Use a little common sense when choosing the position in your yard. You’ll want to provide some shelter to protect them from the elements. Face the front, windows, and outside run to the south to make the most of the sunlight.

Building Your Coop

You can choose whether to build your own chicken coop or buy one. For a little inspiration, here is a selection of poultry homes and accessories. But if you want to tackle a DIY project this summer, you can build a home for your chickens yourself. It’s a good idea to build a one- or two-brick foundation under the edges of the coop to prevent predators from digging. Make sure all walls are sealed with good quality chicken wire. Here is the ultimate guide to building a DIY chicken coop.

What Do Chickens Need?

Chickens need a well-ventilated coop that won’t be prone to moisture. In the winter especially they will need extra dry bedding, hay bales, and a heat source. They are pretty tough in cold weather, but keeping them dry is key. Make sure they have plenty of shade and drinking water in the summer.

Chickens are omnivorous animals and can eat a mixture of ingredients, but it’s better to give them chicken feed to be on the safe side. Here is a guide to supplementing chicken feed.

Safety

It’s recommended that hens be kept on your own property, and in a suitable outdoor space. If you’re renting, it’s very important you speak to your landlord first. If you’re looking for a new place to live, remember to check on which animals are allowed, and are a good fit, for any property you are interested in.  It’s also a good idea to check with previous owners or your realtor. For more advice on plans for your future home, contact https://altrua.ca.

Chickens are not cuddly pets, so be careful when handling them. Many people tame their birds to be very comfortable with human contact, but always wash your hands after handling them, and be especially careful with toddlers. Here is a health and safety guide about the risks involved.

 

 

Commitment

Like any animal, chickens are a commitment.  After lockdowns are lifted, life will become busier again.  So, before you commit to raising chickens, be sure to have an honest conversation with yourself about whether you will have the time to care for them in the future.  It’s also good to have a plan for who will care for your flock when you and your family are away on vacation.

But, if you do your research and take the proper steps, there’s no reason that you and your new feathered friends can’t coexist in harmony. Take good care of them, and they will provide you with delicious eggs all year round.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Upcycling An Ugly Plastic Box

A few days ago, I was looking for somewhere, anywhere, in my crowded garden to plant a couple of squash seedlings that I’d started in my greenhouse.   But my planting beds were already so crowded that the only space left for the seedlings was along the driveway fence line.

A Place In The Sun – But With A Problem

A while ago, Chris had cut back most of the bamboo growing along the fence line.  But the roots remain – in a dense mat that makes it impossible to plant anything.  And adding a soil mount for the seedlings, so close to the driveway, would have been messy.

So they would need to be in a container – preferably something wide, but not too high, so they could safely spill over the sides and creep along the ground.

I didn’t have a container like that, so I started looking for a box – something cute since we would be seeing it every day.  But the only thing I could find was a plastic garbage box – an old, extra box that our trash collectors didn’t want to take back.

It would work, but I would have to dress it up!

 

Putting Lipstick On A Pig

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First of all, the box needed drainage.  Chris drilled five drain holes in the bottom.

 

Now I just needed to find a way to conceal its ugliness.  I remembered the used burlap coffee sacks that my Mom had purchased at a local plant nursery.  She’d given me a few of them.

 

Yes, one of these sacks would do nicely.

 

 

Wanting to save the more attractive sacks for other projects, I chose one with simple bold lettering.

Burlap coffee sack

 

The bag had some interesting woven seams.

Burlap coffee sack

 

Sadly, I would need to remove most of the seams to make the fabric fit around the box.  But I did keep one nice woven seam intact.

I cut the fabric to roughly the size I needed, leaving a generous amount of excess fabric so that I could position the graphic lettering exactly where I wanted it to go.  (A few leftover coffee beans fell out when I did this.)

Projects using burlap

 

Then, I just wrapped the burlap around the box and pinned everything for sewing.  I pinned the burlap so that it would wrap very snugly around the top of the box, but I wanted the bottom to look a bit slouchy – like a burlap sack.

 

 

On the bottom, I gathered and stitched the fabric at each corner.

Burlap coffee sack

 

The fabric would wrap around the bottom of the box by a couple of inches on each side.

Why didn’t I just cover the entire bottom with burlap?  Because dirty water draining from the box would soil the burlap.

I hemmed the top edge of the burlap wrap just to keep it from unraveling, and then I folded the burlap over at the top of the box.  Since I had sewn the top to fit snugly, this fold-over is all that is needed to keep the fabric from sliding down.

projects using burlap

 

To make the look more interesting, I positioned the lettering to read vertically instead of horizontally.

The lettering is running in a straight line vertically, but I must confess that I was not very careful about making sure that the cuts and seams were straight.  This is no doubt the most slapped-together, slipshod sewing project ever to emerge from my sewing room.  But since it’s supposed to look like a slouchy burlap sack, that doesn’t even matter.

 

The Result

The squash seedlings look happy in their new home.

Burlap coffee sack

 

And the burlap doesn’t just sit there looking pretty:  It will also help to shield the black plastic from the hot summer sun – hopefully keeping the soil and plant roots from overheating.

The one woven seam that I saved helps to carry off the “slouchy sack” look.

Burlap coffee sack

 

But how will the burlap look once it’s been hit by weather?  I found out almost immediately.  The very night after I put the container in the garden, rain and wind kicked up.

The next morning, the rain had stopped and the burlap was drying quickly.

Projects using burlap

 

Later that day, when the sun came out, the plants and the burlap had made a complete recovery.

Burlap coffee sack

 

But I’m not kidding myself:  I’m sure that, by the end of the season, the burlap wrap will be looking very rustic.

More Burlap Projects to Come

If you saw my recent post, where I transformed a burlap coffee sack into a cushion cover, you probably think I’ve become a one-trick pony.

It’s just that burlap can serve so many purposes – and even solve problems like the one I had with these squash seedlings – or when I needed inexpensive light-duty window shades for my greenhouse.

projects using burlap

 

So you’ll probably be seeing more burlap projects from me as I work through those wonderful bags that Mom gave me.

Burlap Coffee Sacks

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

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A Spring Garden Update – And My Favorite Ornamental Tomato

Like many of us, I’ve had more time than usual lately for spring garden clean up.  So, even though my garden is still far from perfect (and probably always will be), today I’d like to take you on a little tour.  Then, once we’re done, I’ll introduce you to my favorite ornamental tomato.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and let’s get started.  I have a ridiculous number of photos here!

First we head to . . .

The Greenhouse

Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more information on my affiliate links, please see my Affiliate Link Disclosure page.

Until recently, our little Sunglo Greenhouse was packed with plants.  Some were brought in from the garden last fall to overwinter.  Some I bought in pony packs and moved into larger pots until the weather warms.  And I started a few seedlings.

Sunglo lean to greenhouse
The greenhouse was a crowded, chaotic mess – but in a good way!

This place is my little sanctuary, and I love any excuse to be in here.  We’ve made some fun additions to the greenhouse over the past few years:  The vintage-inspired trouble lights that my brother made, the burlap shades that I made, the simple potting sink that we installed – and the brick pony wall  and bed spring trellis that we added to the exterior.

The succulents that I propagated from cuttings last fall have taken root nicely.

Succulents
Succulents overwintered in the greenhouse.

 

Succulents

 

And now that the weather has warmed a bit, some plants are finally ready to go back outside.

Some of the succulents didn’t go far.  Now they are just outside the greenhouse.

 

Sunglo lean to greenhouse

 

Succulent garden
Succulent container.

 

But it will be at least another month before I trust the weather enough to put the tomatoes outside.  I’m still using my Tomato Tips from Mr. B and having success with that.

 

Our Orchard Mason Bees

We enjoy doing our part to help native bees, and this is the time of year when our orchard mason bees are out and about.  Their active season is only a couple of months long, and they have a lot of work to do in that time.

Orchard mason bee
An orchard mason bee on a flower.

Since they don’t have a hive or a queen, these little guys and gals are very docile as bees go.

They wait patiently in their little bee “apartment house” (actually a nesting block) for the weather to warm enough so they can fly.

Orchard mason bees
Wake up little bees, it’s time to fly!

They have been pollinating our fruit trees for us.

The Back Patio

The back patio is our favorite place in warm weather.  A patio heater helps us extend our enjoyment of the space.

 

Bluestone patio

Around the corner from the patio, a barberry shrub is in bloom.

Barberry

 

On the other end of the patio, a Corsican hellebore is spilling down from the raised bed.

Corsican hellebore

 

Nearby is this little beauty:  A geranium called Brocade Fire.  I just brought it out from the greenhouse.  So cute even before it blooms!

Brocade Fire geranium
A fresh Brocade Fire geranium in a lion pot that’s seen better days.

 

 

Near that is our most-used birdbath:  A cast concrete base (made and given to us by my Mom) with a pot saucer on top.

birdbath

 

It stands near our little green shed.

garden shed

Time to move on to . . .

The Shade Garden

green garden bench

The shade garden is always a mix of things I planted and things that planted themselves.

birdbath

 

Sometimes it leads to chaos and sometimes to a surprising color tapestry.  I try not to be too controlling here.

birdbath

 

The Front Porch

On the porch, we are still enjoying the new burlap coffee sack seat cover that I made for the bench.

burlap coffee sack repurpose

 

Next to the bench, a jasmine vine is blooming and giving us some wonderful fragrance.

Jasmine vine

 

The little myrtle, which I’ve spent years training into a topiary, also came out of the greenhouse recently – with a ride-along lobelia that grew longer all winter.

Myrtle topiary

 

I made a hanging garden sphere last spring and planted it with New Guinea impatiens.  This year, I wanted a simple and woodsy look.  So now the sphere is home to an exotic fern.

DIY garden sphere

 

Oh dear, I’m being told it’s time to wrap up the tour.  Eddie has been watching us from the window, and all this activity has interrupted his beauty sleep.

“This tour has gone on long enough. Get in here and feed me!” – Eddie.

 

I’ll feed you in a minute, Eddie.  First, let’s quickly talk about . . .

My Favorite Ornamental Tomato

Last spring, I bought a little Indigo Rose tomato seedling.  I had never grown one before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It grew into a large and hardy plant, and it bore shiny and intriguing plum-sized black fruit on dark foliage.

They didn’t really look like tomatoes, and visitors kept asking what they were.

Indigo rose tomato

 

The fruit started out green, but the side exposed to the sun turned black as it matured.  The back, shaded side of the fruit remained green, and then it turned red as the fruit ripened.  So I knew (after I looked it up) that if a tomato was black and red, it was ready to pick.

They took a while to ripen.  We harvested our first tomatoes in August.

 

Indigo rose tomato

 

 

The flavor was just average.  But we had very little, if any, split or rotted fruit on the vine.  And they were such gorgeous little tomatoes.

I loved the little flower-like pattern left where the stems had shielded the fruit from the sun.

 

Indigo rose tomato

 

I wondered if the inside would be black as well – or maybe a crazy mix of black and red.  But it was just a pinkish red.

Indigo rose tomato

 

They added interest to salads and appetizers.

Caprese appetizer
A simple caprese appetizer with cherry tomatoes and Indigo Rose tomatoes.

 

Sadly, with many local stores currently closed, I haven’t been able to find any Indigo Rose seedlings or seed packets this year.  But vendors, like this one on Etsy, are offering seeds.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  Thanks for coming along today!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
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Decorating and Holidays
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A Burlap Coffee Sack Repurpose

My previous post, called “Survival Sewing,” featured DIY cloth face masks and a DIY paper towel alternative.  But in today’s feature, I’m sharing a survival sewing project of a different kind:  One that lifted my spirits during these strange times.

On a recent sunny day, I took a socially-distanced walk around the neighborhood, and I noticed something:  People sitting in their front yards, on their front porches or stoops, in their driveways, or even on parking curbs.  Instead of enjoying the privacy of their back yards, they were sitting anywhere they could see other people – and be seen by them.

I’ve never appreciated my front porch more than I do right now.  But the cushion cover on our bench needed to be replaced.  So, I decided to sew a new cushion cover using something that would remind me of travel – specifically Hawaii:  A burlap coffee sack that we’d purchased at a coffee plantation on The Big Island.

Burlap coffee sack

 

 

 

Transforming a Burlap Coffee Sack Into a Bench Seat Cushion Cover

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  More information can be found on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Here it’s important to mention that the sack was brand new and had never been used to store coffee beans.  Had it been a used sack, I would have needed to wash it first.

I would like to say that the burlap sack measured at exactly the right dimensions and I could just slip the cushion into it and be done.  But of course that was not the case.

I needed a plan.

Fitting the Coffee Sack to the Bench Cushion

I ripped out the seams of the sack until it was one flat piece of fabric.

burlap coffee sack repurpose

I love the graphic on this piece, and I cut the fabric so that the portion with the graphic could center perfectly on the cushion.

Then I cut another piece measuring the same size for the bottom of the cushion.

These pieces would, when sewn together, be wide enough to wrap around the cushion.  But they were too short to cover the entire length.

A Simple Solution

For me, simple is always best.  So I decided to sew a new cushion cover with a nice outdoor fabric.  Then I would sew the sides of the burlap sack together, leaving the ends unsewn, and just slip it over the new cushion cover like a sleeve.

I could leave the ends of the burlap sack unsewn because it had lovely selvaged edges that were showing no signs of wanting to unravel.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap sack selvage edge

 

For the cushion cover, I would use this beautiful Sunbrella fabric that would coordinate nicely, both in color and in texture, with the burlap sack.

burlap coffee sack repurpose
Burlap coffee sack with Sunbrella outdoor fabric

Off to the sewing room this all went.  I made a cushion cover with the Sunbrella fabric and then a simple slip cover with the coffee sack.

 

The Result

It worked!

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I paired it with a throw pillow that I’d found at an outdoor market in Hawaii.

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

I was going for a look that said “staycation” rather than “shelter in place.”  For a different look, perhaps during the holidays, I can use the red Sunbrella cushion cover without the coffee sack.

But for now, I’m enjoying this little bit of Hawaii on our front porch.

 

DIY Burlap cushion cover

 

 

We also hung a string of chili pepper lights as a little socially-distanced “hello” to neighbors.

 

For some added entertainment while sitting on the porch, we hung a little house that contains nesting material to attract birds.

Nesting material house

 

And next to our front door, a Himalayan maidenhair fern is thriving.  It was so tiny when I bought it last summer.

Himalayan maidenhair fern with cyclamen and primrose.

 

We humans might be experiencing a pandemic, but nature still goes on.

Burlap Coffee Sacks As Art and Textile

Burlap coffee sacks are affordable and fun.  My Mom gave me some used coffee sacks that she bought at a nursery, and I can’t wait to wash them and start using them for crafts.

A huge selection of burlap sacks, and the crafts made using them, are currently available on Etsy.

I especially love the selection at The Burlap Farm By Kris.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

Replace, Repurpose Or Repair? Tips For Homeowners

I think we are all going to learn something from our time of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the things I’m learning is that I can make do with less – and I can work with what I already have.

Especially now, with many shops closed and me reluctant to go out, I find myself carefully evaluating whether I really need to throw something away or whether I can find another use for it around the home or garden.  It’s what generations before me did, and it actually feels very satisfying.

So I thought this post, brought to me by a guest writer, would be a fun one to share today.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Replace, Repurpose Or Repair? Tips For Homeowners

If you’re a homeowner, chances are that you will, at some point, find yourself in a situation where you need to decide what to do with household items, furniture and appliances that have seen better days.

Most of the things we buy today won’t last a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that tossing them in the trash pile is always the best course of action. In many cases, it is possible make repairs or to repurpose your possessions to extend their lifespan. If you’re a creative crafter, a DIY enthusiast, or a savvy saver, here are some tips to help you make the most of the items you buy or inherit.

Furniture

Furniture is functional, but it also has a hand in making our homes look fabulous. If you’ve inherited or purchased pieces of furniture in the past, you might find yourself wondering what to do with a chair, chest or table that is past its best. If you’ve fallen out of love with an armchair, your tastes have changed, or your table has got a wonky or missing leg, there are options you can explore.

If the piece is in good working order, you could consider donating it to charity or selling it online. Another option is altering the aesthetic so that it complements your style and the look of the room. Painting kitchen units is an excellent example of a simple way of revamping and freshening up something that might not be to your taste to create a brand new look, for example.

If you have pieces that are tired, worn or damaged, explore the possibility of breathing new life into your furniture before throwing it in the trash pile. You could exercise your creative skills and talents and take on an upcycling project.

Upcycling is increasingly popular and it involves restoring and potentially repurposing items to use or display in your home. You could turn an old coffee table into a cool, retro games table for the kids or grandchildren, for example. If you’re new to upcycling, you’ll find a host of guides and video tutorials online.

 

Image by courtesy of Pixabay

Appliances

Buying appliances for your home can be expensive, so it’s natural to feel a little anxious if your refrigerator has started making funny noises or your washing machine isn’t working properly. When thinking about repairing or replacing kitchen appliances and electronics, it’s always wise to weigh the pros and cons before you decide what to do. If it’s going to cost you a huge amount of money to call an expert to repair your freezer or refrigerator, and the work won’t extend its lifespan significantly, it’s worth considering buying a replacement.

On the other hand, if you can arrange quick, affordable freezer repair, and you won’t need to worry about buying a new freezer for a few years, this option is likely to appeal. Get some quotes for repairs and research the cost of buying new. If you purchased your appliances a long time ago, replacing them might save you money in the long-term, as new technology is greener and more energy-efficient.

 

Image courtesy of Pexels.com

Home Accessories

Many of us like to use decorative accessories and finishing touches to make our homes aesthetically pleasing and unique. Buying accessories is a great way to channel new trends and change the look of a room without spending a fortune.  But you don’t have to get rid of the accessories that have fallen off of the interior design magazine seasonal must-have lists or chuck broken items out. If you have plant pots or frames that are damaged or dated, for example, it may be possible to either repair or revamp them. You can reframe pictures and photographs or restore existing frames, and you can often fix broken storage pots and ornaments that have taken a tumble or spent too long in a box in the attic.

The choices you make will depend on how much you want to keep the item in question and the extent of the damage, but it’s always worth exploring all the options on the table. It’s worth seeking advice if you do want to restore a vase, a clock, a mirror or a frame, but the job requires specialist skills and expertise.

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

As a homeowner, you might find that your taste changes or you find yourself trying to decide whether to replace or repair a kitchen appliance or a treasured piece of furniture. Sometimes, it’s possible to restore and revamp furniture and accessories and to extend the lifespan of washing machines, freezers and ovens. Before you decide whether to replace, repurpose or repair, weigh up your options, consider costs and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

Survival Sewing – Cloth Face Masks and A Paper Towel Substitute

How have you been faring during these strange days?  Locally, our mandate to shelter in place has just been extended into May.  Ever since the mandate began, I’ve been telling myself that now I have absolutely no excuse not to start deep cleaning and getting organized.

But then my neighbor rescued me.

Sewing Face Masks

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She got me into sewing face masks to donate to hospitals from kits and instructions that Joann Fabrics and Crafts was handing out.  The kit I received from Joann was well put together, but still a bit lacking in supplies – possibly because of a growing scarcity in local stores of things like elastic.  But since I already had some supplies at home, I was able to complete the masks. (Note:  At this writing, Amazon still appears to have plenty of elastic cord .)

 

 

I found this video to be very helpful. The masks were so simple to make that the hardest part for me was actually sitting still to watch the video.

Then, with my own fabric, I made a few for myself and family.

 

But the whole time I wondered:  Are these masks even effective?

Do Cloth Masks Even Work?

There has been a dizzying amount of information circulating about whether or not we should wear masks in public, which masks are effective, and which method and fabrics are best for sewing a DIY face mask.

But now the CDC is actually recommending that the public use cloth masks as another measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This link will take you to information from the CDC about making, wearing, and caring for, a cloth face mask.

I’m not a medical expert, a mask-making expert, or even a particularly good seamstress.  But today I thought I’d share a few things that I learned while making my masks.

 

Things to Consider When Making A DIY Cloth Mask

Washability

A mask used time and again without being properly cleaned will eventually do more harm than good.  So to me, the best thing about a cloth mask is that it is washable.  I made sure that everything I used in the making of my masks could survive repeated trips through the washing machine.

I wash my mask after every single use. And when making masks for others, I launder the masks before giving them away and only handle them with clean hands.

Contrast

After wearing my mask once to the grocery store, taking it off in the car, then trying to reapply it at the gas station, I realized that I could not keep track of which side of the mask had been against my face and which side had been facing the big, scary world.  I’d sewn both sides with identical fabric.

So when I made a few more masks for family members, I decided to use contrasting fabrics for the front and back of each mask.

DIY cloth face masks
Mask fronts

 

DIY cloth face masks
Mask backs

The small mask fits a preschooler who loves cats.  Although I used the same fabric for both sides, the cats are different on each side.

I doubt she’ll be going out much, but if she does she will look stylish.

Which leads me to . . .

Pretty But Still Practical

We’re using words now that we never thought we’d need:  Pandemic; shelter in place; social distancing.  The world has become quite a bit heavier lately, so I like to lighten things up by using pretty fabrics for these masks.

After all, if I’m going to wear a mask in public, I might as well make it a fashion statement – up to a point.

I’m still using practical, washable fabrics and a mask style that is comfortable to wear.  I’m using non-woven washable interfacing between the fabric for an extra layer of protection.

And, no matter how tempting, I’m not embellishing these masks with things like buttons or notions on the theory that sewing on embellishments might create little holes for the virus to get through.

But most importantly, I’m not letting my mask give me a false sense of security.  I’m still mostly staying home.  And when I do go out, I’m still using social distancing, sanitizing, and hand washing to stay safe.

 

A Paper Towel Substitute

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a difference in our daily lives.  When this all started, we had three rolls of paper towels in the house, and there were none left on store shelves.  Since I was constantly sanitizing at home, I was going through a lot of paper towels.

So I decided to cut old cotton kitchen towels into six pieces and quickly hem each piece so the fabric wouldn’t fray.

Now these little cloths sit in a bowl on the kitchen countertop, and I can reach for them instead of paper towels.  Since they’re more durable than paper towels, I’m actually starting to prefer them.

Paper towel substitute

 

Like paper towels, the cloths are meant for single-use jobs.  Whenever I do laundry, which seems to be pretty frequently during this pandemic, I just throw the soiled cloths into the machine with the rest of the load.

It’s been working well, and I have yet to run out of clean cloths – even though I use them almost constantly.

 

 

I hope you are still managing to find beauty where you can in this strange new world.  Stay safe, friends!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

Escape To A Tropical Garden

“Strange days have found us.” – Jim Morrison

It seems that we have all suddenly stumbled into uncharted territory.  I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy.  My community has been particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 virus, and my hat is off to local authorities for the thoughtful way that they are handling the situation.

One thing I keep hearing, and that I have chosen to believe, is that fresh air and sunshine have disinfectant qualities.

So since we have been mandated to stay home anyway, I’ve been getting a jump start on spring garden clean-up.

This pile of mulch isn’t going to spread itself

 

Of course what we should not do right now is travel.  We had travel plans that had to be cancelled.

So this post combines what we can do right now (garden) with what we can’t do right now (travel) to bring you . . .

Design Inspiration From A Tropical Garden

On our most recent visit to the island of Hawaii, we toured the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.  This world-class botanical garden was the brainchild of Dan Lutkenhouse, and it is the result of years of planning and hard physical labor by Lutkenhouse and his team.

Touring the trails of this garden, it seems there is a surprise around every corner.

A basket fern grows on a palm tree

 

Cannonball Tree

 

 

There is also inspiration.  It struck me that the things that make a good tropical garden so interesting are the very things that make almost any garden interesting.

Structure

Structure can be found in the most unexpected places, like root systems.

 

 

Or unique trunks.

 

Going Vertical

Vertical gardens are trending with us humans, but Mother Nature still does it best.

Although, here, Mother Nature probably does have a little help from the garden caretakers.

 

Anthurium on a tree trunk
Orchids nestled in trees

Scale

One of the most dramatic elements in any garden design is scale.  In a tropical garden, it’s easy to feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

 

Sometimes, to get a real sense of scale, you have to look up.

 

Undergrowth

Undergrowth brings contrast to a scene and provides the eye with a reference point for scale.

 

Undergrowth on the island in Lily Lake

Pattern

Pattern can bring a sense of order to a garden.  Here, natural patterns are everywhere – especially on leaves.

Pemba palm

 

Specimen Plants

In contrast to scale, it’s always nice to have interesting details for the eye to zoom in on – like points of color and unique specimen plants.

 

Phillipine orchid

 

Pitcher plant

 

Ramshot Croton

 

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed our mini tour of this fabulous garden.  Photos don’t do it justice.

Sadly, it’s time to go . . .

Back to Reality

Please stay safe, dear reader.  And remember that, even at times like this, there are silver linings if we look for them.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

Cute DIY Moss Pouches

No special skills are required to make these cute and natural-looking moss pouches.  And the fun thing about this project is that it is not an exact science.  If something ends up crooked or a little lopsided, it just adds to the natural look.

But if someone is looking for perfection, this may not be the right project.  When the plant is watered, the bottom of the moss pouch gets soggy – and a bit of the soil residue can even leach out.  For that reason, these moss pouches should be kept on a saucer.

Making the Pouch

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I started with a 12 X 7 piece of sheet moss (specifically, Instant Green Supermoss) and a similarly sized piece of light-duty landscape fabric.

I removed the paper backing from the sheet moss to expose the grid.

And I placed the landscape fabric over the grid where the paper backing had been.

Then I folded the moss and fabric in half so that the moss was on the inside and the landscape fabric was on the outside.  Then I pinned the sides together.

On the bottom part, where the fold was, I cut each corner at a 45-degree angle.

Then it was time to stitch.  This project was messy, with little bits of moss coming off of the sheet.  So there was no way I was going to put this into my lovely little sewing machine.  I would stitch it by hand.

Because the grid that the moss is adhered to is somewhat loosely spaced, there wasn’t much for a t