Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sweater Tote Bag

Merry Christmas!

We have a lot of sweaters in our house.  I adore them and tend to buy them when I find nice ones at garage sales.  Unfortunately, when I get them home, there are the few that don't fit.

We donate most of them but there are a few that we keep for projects.  I pulled out a sweater today to make a Christmas gift.

This is what it turned out to be:

I made it out of this:

It's an old sweater and some fabric I had left over from a bulletin board I put up.

Start by cutting the top off from your sweater.

Decide how big you want your bag to be and add a few inches.  Cut this out of both sides of the sweater at once.  I like to flip my sweater inside out BEFORE cutting. . . you don't have to match up edges before sewing this way.

Lay your pieces on your fabric.  This will be the lining for the bag.

Cut out a piece the same size.  I folded mine in half so I didn't have to stitch the bottom.

Cut off the top of the fabric.  These two odd pieces will become your handles.

Fold those odd pieces in half, right side together.  Stitch.

For those noticing and wondering, the answer is yes.  Yes, I do know that the presser foot is all wrong.  You don't see the bobbin that is also all wrong.  I loaned my sewing machine and supplies to my neighbor who left town for the week.  She feels terrible and offered me her garage code to go inside her house and get it but we're not THAT close of neighbors and I wasn't comfortable with that SO I pulled out my old machine that is missing a leg (it rocks while you stitch. . . how nice).  My bobbins are over with my sewing machine so I improvised and I'm not sure where the foot went for this machine but I found the zipper foot. . . oy.  It works, though.

On to the project. . . .

Flip your "tubes" right side out, press and top stitch.

 These are now your handles.

Stitch together your sweater on three sides.

Take the point where the bottom of the bag will be and stitch across on each side.  This makes your gusset.

Stitch your lining together.  You should now have two separate bags.

Here's where it got tricky.  I did this wrong a few times and had to pick my stitches out with a pair of scissors and a needle (seam ripper is at the neighbor's house.)

The thing to remember is that the RIGHT (the pretty side of the bag) will always go together and you always want to stitch on the WRONG side of the bag.

Start by pinning your handles RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER to the right side of your bag.  You want the handle pointing DOWN instead of up.  I have no pictures of this but you can see the same idea in the potholder posting HERE.  Look for the info about the hanger tag thingie.

The sweater should be right side out with the handles pinned on.  Handles should point down.

Slide the whole bag INSIDE the lining.  The lining should be inside out so that the right side of the lining is touching the right side of the sweater bag.

Pin the top together and stitch almost all the way around.  Again, no photos of this step but check out the potholders again.

Through the opening, pull out the lining from the bag.

Tuck it into the bag and top stitch, closing up your hole.

As you can see, the sweater stretched as I was working with it.  I would suggest making your lining a bit larger if your sweater is a stretchy one.

It's finished!  I decorated it with a little rose I made out of a strip of the lining fabric and a scrap of lace.  That baby is hot glued on.  You can see the instructions HERE for the roses.  Same concept, different fabric.

If I do it again:

1.  I'd use my regular sewing machine with the correct presser foot and correct bobbin.

2.  I'd cut the lining a bit larger since the sweater is so stretchy.  I forgot that was why I got rid of it.  It looked great on for about a half hour and then it was so stretched out of shape it was like wearing a lampshade.

3.  I'd make sure to have all supplies. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hot Cocoa Stirrers

I have been a bit "grinchy" this Christmas season.  Fortunately, my daughter has a big enough heart for both of us!

She wanted to give something to the neighbors so we came up with these:

They are hot cocoa stirrers.

The end of the stick has marshmallows smeared with chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy cane.  You drop this into your hot cocoa and the marshmallow starts to melt, the candy cane dissolves and the creamy chocolate helps make your cup that much richer.  Mmmm!

Here's how she did it!

Melt a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave.  Take your marshmallow and, using a knife ('cause these are going to the neighbors and you shouldn't use your fingers), smear the chocolate on the bottom half.

Sprinkle with candy cane.

Let dry on waxed or parchment paper.

Put a stick in the middle and package up pretty!

They are very yummy just eaten plain, no hot cocoa needed.

Merry Christmas!

If I do it again:

I would find some wood coffee stirrers.  I know they sell them but I couldn't find them at the grocery store.  I couldn't even find popsicle sticks.   I asked the manager and she had the bakery sell me a handful of the sticks they use for their caramel apples.  They are big and thick and definitely overkill but I have no desire to go to any other store at this point and time.

Shared here:
 Frugal By Choice, Cheap by Necessity

Monday, December 17, 2012

Confetti Desk Set

I am in constant need of open containers for my desk.  Last week I ended up dumping out my pencil container to hold game pieces for a classroom game so today I decided to fancy up some jars and bring them in.

This is what I made:

These were somewhat inspired by Anthropologie's confetti glasses:

Mine are a lot bigger.

These are old candle jars:
And Nail Polish (stolen from my daughter's stash):

I just dotted it on to the outside of the jar and let it dry.  I also added a piece of felt to the bottoms:

This way the glass is quiet on a desk.

They didn't turn out much like my "inspiration" pieces but these were free for me to make and free is a lot better than Anthropologie prices!

If I do it again:

More dots!  I wouldn't be in such a hurry!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What to say?

I would like to say something regarding the horrific shooting that took place in Connecticut yesterday but I do not know what to say.  Something like this is so horrible, so monstrous, that I can't find the words to eloquently express what I am feeling and the message I would like to say.

Please remember to hug your loved ones a little closer.  Please kiss your kids and tell them how much you love them.  Please say a prayer for all the victims. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tea Light Candle Set

I wanted to make some cute, inexpensive gifts to give some people at work who have really helped me transition back to the working world in a somewhat graceful way.  Unfortunately, my budget is small.

This is what I came up with:

They are inexpensive and fun to make.

I bought these:

They are $1.97 a box at WalMart and each box has sixteen candles in it.

I also bought the candle holders at WalMart for fifty cents apiece, regular price.

I had this stuff: 

It's called Washi Tape but it's basically fancy masking tape.  You can buy it at Michaels.  They have some fun Christmas prints!  I believe a three pack is around eight dollars.

I also had the boxes.

The tape is the same width as the metal tea-light holder.  I wrapped a layer of tape around the base, packaged three up with a glass holder and will wrap them as gifts.

Total cost per is under a dollar a gift.

If I do it again:

I probably would cover only two of the tea lights since I put the third inside the glass holder.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Is Chivarly Dead?

A few months ago I was at Sams Club.  I was purchasing a mini fridge for our garage for food/harvest/drink overflow.  (The amount of money we would save on electricity by putting the mini in the garage vs. a big old fridge made the purchase worth it.) 

I found the fridge on the shelf but no one to help me put it on to the dolly.  I wrestled it on myself.

I checked out.  No one offered to help me to my car.

At this point, I wasn't worried.  I thought it was odd but I handled the fridge fine to this point and thought I could do it myself so I didn't ask for help.

I got it to the van, pushed down the rear seats and proceeded to sweat, curse and grunt it up from the dolly into the back of the van.  I should have asked for help.

What surprised me is the number of men that walked past me.  Some even smiled.  One commented that it looked heavy.  Huh?  No one offers to help?

Granted, I probably don't look like I need help.  I'm an inch taller then Brooke Shields (I'm 6'1) and I weigh as much as she does.  I'm built the same way (without that awesome, gorgeous face and flat stomach).  I probably outweighed and was definitely taller then most of the men that walked by.  Still.

I laughed about it and chalked it up to being at Sam's Club. 

Today I had to buy salt for the water softener.  Those bags are awkward and heavy (think 50 pound dog food bags).  Same issues!  I hefted all five of them into the cart and made it through the check out.  No one offered to help.  I made it to the van, unloaded them and headed on my merry way with nary a gentleman in sight.  Lots of men but no gentlemen.

I understand that I should ask for help if I want it and, believe me, I do.  Sometimes it's just nice to be offered the help, though.  I am not that old but I do remember the days when people held the door for you, when you offered to return someone's cart if they were done with it and you were heading into the store and when people offered a hand to someone, male or female, old or young, that looked like they could use one.   That, my friends, is old fashioned consideration.

So, moms and dads, teach your boys!  Teach your girls, too, for that matter!  Being considerate is best taught by example.

Here are our family rules:

You always offer to help someone if they look like they could use a hand.  You hold the doors, don't push and shove and always drop your change into the Salvation Army Kettles.  If you have a huge cart of items and the guy behind you had a small handful, let him go ahead of you.  Be patient with the mom whose children are screaming in church.  You screamed at one time, too.  Don't judge.  You don't know what happened in their life earlier that day or week.  You might not be handling it as well as they are.  Be polite.  Send thank you notes by US Mail.  E-mail does not count.  When you answer the phone, say "Hello."   Before you hang up, say "goodbye" or "thanks for calling".  Don't interrupt people, even if you think what you have to say is important.  If it is important enough to interrupt, apologize for interrupting.  Don't be rude to people, no matter how your day is going.  They don't deserve that.  Be kind to your sibling.  They will be your best friend later in life.  An apology does help make things better.  When you receive an apology, acknowledge it.  Be quick to apologize when you are wrong.  Stand up for yourself and stand up for others.  Say "Please" and "Thank You" no matter what.  Say "excuse me" when you enter someone elses' space, when you pass gas and when you burp.  Say "Bless You" when someone sneezes, even if you don't know them.  If you drop something, pick it up.  Be patient.  Try to understand what someone is saying to you, even if their accent or disability make it hard for you to understand.  Listen to others.  The only person you should laugh at is yourself.  It is okay to laugh with people but make sure that they are laughing, too.  Keep your sense of humor at all times.  Problems aren't that big if you can find something about them to laugh at.   Listen to your mom.  She wants the best for you.  Remember that your mom loves you so much more than you can ever imagine.

And our newest:  If you see a woman trying to load a refrigerator in her van, offer to help.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Best Lemonade. . . Ever.

I love real lemonade!  Not kool-ade lemonade and not minute-maid lemonade but real, pulp in it, lemonade. 

The best lemonade is my homemade lemonade.  It's not something I make often because it's not really cost effective, except when lemons are in season.  Guess what?  Lemons are in season!

The secret to the "best" lemonade is your proportions.  I use a 1:1:1:2 proportion.

I use 1 cup of fresh lemon juice.

 If you notice, I have Meyer lemons and "regular" lemons here.  I don't think it matters much.  Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter.

I use an old fashioned reamer.   It gets out a ton of juice but I end up having to strain out the seeds!

Put your one cup of lemon juice in a saucepan.  Add one cup of sugar and one cup of water.

Heat until the sugar has dissolved. 

Add the sugar/juice mixture to two quarts of water. 

Serve over ice!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Feel Crummy

You may have noticed I haven't posted for a week.  You may not have.  Those that have noticed, THANK YOU!

Truth is, I haven't felt like it.  I started fighting a cold with zinc and vitamin C two and a half weeks ago.  Last Sunday it proceeded to kick my butt.

I didn't quit!  I went to school and taught my classes all last week.  Even after my left ear completely lost its hearing I still (very stubbornly) went to work.  When the kids all told me I was shouting (I couldn't hear myself talking) I hung in there.  I had a big event I was in charge of today and I had to get some things done.

Yesterday I threw in the towel, accepted help and handed the controls over to some very competent people.  It was the best thing I could have done.

Today I made it to the Walgreens Take Care Clinic and got some antibiotics for my two ear and sinus infections.  I am feeling a lot better.

Before I get to the whole point of this posting, I want to throw out a big HUZZAH for the Take Care Clinics.  Honestly, I may start going there instead of my doctor.  My doc usually can't see me for a few weeks for anything routine and if it's something I need to see him same day for, I have to come in on their schedule.  The Take Care Clinic will see me when I want to be seen (you can make an appointment if you don't care to wait or you can walk in) and they cost the same as my doctor co-pay.  The REALLY great thing?  Once you are taken back there is no more waiting.  You don't wait in the waiting room and then wait in the exam room.  You are seen and your prescription can be filled before you leave, if you choose.  Awesome.

And now for the real value of this posting!

I will share my mom's super secret (unless you have google) Russian Tea recipe.  She used to feed this stuff to us when we were a bit under the weather.

Russian Tea

1 jar of Orange Breakfast Drink (like Tang.  Not Kool-Aid.  I use generic because they use real sugar.  Tang uses an artificial sweetener and I don't believe in those.)
1/3 cup instant tea (I use Lipton.  You don't want the Iced Tea mix.)
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 t ground cloves

Mix all together and store in a container.

To use:  Mix two teaspoons into one big mug of hot water.

It's hot and feels nice on your throat (the ginger helps.)

I will be back to posting on a regular basis now that I have some great antibiotics coursing through my system!  It's holiday time and it's also a great time for some crafting!

Thanks for hanging in there with me!