Saturday, July 23, 2011

learn to sew

It's on the kids' summer list.

Two Christmases ago, we bought Stephanie and Heather this teeny sewing machine because I had the bright idea to teach them how to sew.

Then I got scared. There might be fighting. Crying. Not listening.

So the box sat under my sewing table. Until now.

Yesterday, I pulled up my big girl panties and got the machine out for them.

The air was electric and giddy as I set up the machine and figured out how this little guy worked. We started with a very simple project (tissue cozy) to get used to the idea of ironing, seam allowance, backstitching, etc.

They were both very patient as they waited their turn. Heather ironed first, so Stephanie sewed first.

When she finished the last stitch, Stephanie was pretty proud of herself.

They are learning that sewing takes patience, concentration, and good eye-hand coordination.

This machine is rinky dink, I tell you. I almost marched it right out to the trash can before we even started. It was difficult for me to work with. When I texted Greg with my frustrations, he might have called me a sewing machine snob. Hmpf!

So what if I am?

Since the kids have no prior experience on a machine, they did not find it as frustrating as I did, however. At one point Stephanie even said, "This is easy!" The little machine can stick around a little bit. Maybe they can work up to a more legit machine by Christmas.

Heather was very surprised at one point during her stitching.

And found herself introduced to the seam ripper. Twice.

And we have a finished product. They were so proud of their cozies and so was their mama. We had a great time getting to the finish!

When we were all done, Heather said, "What are we sewing tomorrow?"


Thursday, July 21, 2011

this is the story of a stool

I got this stool for my classroom as I started my first year of teaching & she's been with me all along. This past school year marked my 15th year!

My friend and I each got one at an unfinished wood shop. We decided to paint the legs and rungs red, yellow, green, and blue. Hello, Bob Marley. We didn't do a great job at all. In fact, if I remember correctly we lost interest in finishing the job {happy hour was calling our name} and her father finished them for us.

During my second year of teaching, Greg made me a cool paint rack for my craft room, which he spray painted a pretty shade of blue. Bored of the rasta look, I asked him to spray my stool tool.

And so it has stayed that color since then. It started to show signs of wear. Just a little bit at first, then it got out of hand. I kept saying I was going to redo the seat. I even brought it home over a few long weekends only to take it back to school in the same shape. Last year I didn't even bother bringing it back to school because I was a little ashamed of how it looked. I went an entire year without her. I sure did miss her.

One of my missions this summer was to repaint her and give her a new seat.

Greg asked me if I was going to sand it down to the wood and start all over. "Why would I do that?" I asked him. Silly boy, too much work.

Oh, all right. But only part of the way down to the wood. I figured the surfaced needed to be a little bit prepared for repainting. You can see all the lovely colors it was painted the first time around.  You can also see how Greg neatly taped off the seat when he sprayed it for me.

Next, I painted two coats of Antique Ivory.

It wasn't necessary to have the ivory coat be perfect because that is the underneath color that will show when the stool is distressed in the end. The main color of the stool will be black.

Rub a bent-because-it-was-in-the-heat candle where normal distressing might occur over time or any place you will want to sand the black away to reveal the ivory underneath. The candle wax acts as a resist so sanding to distress takes minimal effort. Remember, I didn't take it down to the natural wood and don't really want any of the primary colors showing though which could happen with too much elbow grease put into sanding later.

Of course, with any project, snacks are always nice. It's a good thing I have kids so there are occasionally Cheetos in the house!

Paint a coat of black. After the first coat of black, I pulled the vinyl seat cover and the batting off. This was pretty easy because it was really only held on by a few of the staples after all the years of wear. The foam was still in good condition, so I used it again in the recovering process later. I did decide to leave all the staples where they were.

After the second coat of black was applied and the underside of the seat was painted, I used this sanding pad to lightly sand the legs and rungs along the areas where I had applied the candle wax. I ran it lightly over most of the areas to add to the distressed look and give the wood a final smoothing.

Then I applied a brown antinquing gel over all surfaces so the ivory wasn't so stark. I started using a brush to apply, then wiping it off with a rag like I do when the entire surface is a lighter color. I ended up just applying it with the rag and rubbing it in a little.

Let that dry well overnight and apply a varnish of some sort. I used a satin finish applied with a brush, but you can find it in spray form as well.

Now for recovering the cushion. I traced the wood seat onto the back of my fabric. I picked a heavier weight fabric since it will see lots of action. I prewashed the fabric as well.

Then I added half an inch marks all the way around the circle for a seam allowance.

Carefully connect the dots to create the outer circle which is the cut line.

Cut out the circle.

I decided to get all fancy and add piping to my cushion. Cut strips of fabric on the bias to make bias tape to encase the piping cording. I needed to cut mine 1.25 inches based on the cording I had on hand. I used this tutorial to determine how wide my bias strips needed to be. You will need a finished product that is several inches longer than the circumference of the stool seat.

To attach your strips to make one long one, place them right sides together at a right angle with pointy parts hanging over a bit.

Stitch together using a 1/4" seam allowance. When you have enough strips sewn together, press the seams open and trim off the little triangles.

Place the cording inside the bias tape, wrong sides facing, and stitch as close to the cording as you can get using the zipper foot.

On the right side of the circle, pin your newly made piping, matching raw edges. Stitch, following the line of the stitching on the piping as closely as possible, still using the zipper foot. The same tutorial also shows two different methods for finishing the piping since this is a continuous loop.

For the band that goes around the side of the cushion, cut a strip that is the circumference of the stool top, plus one inch. For the width, measure your foam (mine was 2") and add 2.25" to 2.5" for seam allowances and room for it to tuck under the seat. That made mine 4.25" wide.

On one of the short sides of the band, make a mark at 1/2" and then 3/4" from the first mark. The 3/4" section will be left open for the casing. With right sides together stitch the 1/2" section and the longer section as shown. You are creating a tube.

Press the seams of the tube open. Then on the long side with the unsewn portion, fold and press at 1/2", then again at 3/4".

The section you left open for the casing should be on the wrong side of the tube at this point.

Stitch close to the edge, completing the casing.

Pin the tube to the circle, right sides together. Use plenty of pins. Stitch using a 1/2" seam allowance, using the regular foot at this point.

This should be the result. We are almost done! Snip the seam allowance every inch or so all the way around the circle.

For the drawstring, I wanted something that was thinner than the cording I used for the piping, but without a shiny finish so it would stay tied. This decorative trim I found at Hobby Lobby was the right size and the right finish. I cut a piece that was about 18" longer than the circumference so it would be easier to tie.

Using a safety pin, thread the drawstring through the casing.

Turn the cover right side out. Place the foam on the seat and then fit the cover over it. Pull the drawstring tight, making sure the cover reaches to the underside of the seat. Tie in a bow and tuck it all under the cover to hide the strings. I did end up cutting the length of the drawstring a little once it was tied.

All done. Isn't she pretty? A little bit fancy and a little bit distressed.

Here you can see where I tucked the drawstring back underneath the cover.

The best part about this cover is that if it gets dirty, I can take it off and wash it real quick. I can also make more covers easily without redoing the whole stool again. Maybe one for Halloween? Christmas?

One of the reasons I decided to distress the stool now is so when any wear happens from my feet resting on the rungs or from it getting jostled about in class, it won't look out of place. It will look like it was meant to be.

Here she is all gussied up with her first day of school outfit on!

I'm linking to:


Monday, July 18, 2011

menu plan monday - july 18

We've been trying new recipes around here ~ some we are really in love with! This past week we tried a figure friendly chicken fried rice and a strawberry spinach salad. When Greg asked why I bought the lemons that were in the fruit bowl, I told him it was for the strawberry spinach salad dressing. And then one night he asked what was for dinner and I told him strawberry spinach salad. Every single time I mentioned that meal he said, "Why do you keep saying those two words together?" Turns out, he l.o.v.e.d. it! Even though Stephanie was skeptical about the spinach leaves altogether, she thought it was pretty good. I highly recommend it! So light and refreshing.

This week we are trying a couple of new recipes as well. Some are familiar dishes with a new spin. Hopefully these will be just a delicious as the ones we've tried recently.

  • chicken marsala (new recipe)
  • green chile-chicken casserole (new recipe)
  • classic spaghetti & meatballs (new recipe)
  • southwest salad with cilantro lime dressing
  • chicken quesadilla with corn salad (new recipe)
  • vegetable barley soup

What's for dinner at your house? Visit Finding Joy in My Kitchen (guest host for Menu Plan Monday this week) for more menu planning inspiration.

See you in the kitchen!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

birthday sale!

Greg's birthday is this weekend! 

To celebrate, let's have a sale today and tomorrow. Use the code
in my shop to get 15% off your purchase (before shipping). 

What are you waiting for? Go now!


adventures at the dentist ~ day 2

Day two at the dentist this week. Turns out ~ no impressions ~ just like last time. Stephanie did, however, get fitted with her second occlusal guard.

She has to wear this 24 hours a day for two weeks, then 12 hours a day. We've been down this road before.

She's a little frustrated because she has to learn to talk with it in all over again. She was a little sore after a couple of hours. There's a lot of extra spit right now (lovely, right?).

She is quite thankful that the period of wearing it 24 hours a day is happening in the summer, not during school. Whew! Good thing the dentist pulled that tooth instead of letting it take its own sweet time.

But all in all, she's a good sport!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

adventures at the dentist

Somebody wasn't happy with the our trip to the dentist today. Heather had to have a filling. She knew it, of course, but I was purposefully vague about the details ~ namely the s.h.o.t. It wasn't until she was sitting in the chair chatting me up while we waited our turn that she found out.

Sheer terror washed the color out of her face.

Good thing I said "heck yes" to the laughing gas when they asked if I wanted her to have it.

A few tears were shed when she got the shot, but other than that she was a brave girl. The dentist even complimented her on being really still for him. Imagine this is the one I used to have to physically hold down so the dentist could look in her mouth as she thrashed and screamed bloody murder.

Somebody else's dentist visit was less traumatic. Stephanie got three sealants. As the dentist was doing the scheduled ortho check, he reached in and unceremoniously yanked out her last baby tooth.



That was a little traumatic for me! Maybe I needed some laughing gas too!

That last baby tooth had been loose and needed to come out in preparation for her next appliance ~ another occlusal guard. This rounds out her 4th appliance. We are thankful for these appliances because it seems as if we may have successfully dodged the braces bullet. The route she started in second grade has been a long one, but a less painful one for her...and a cheaper one for us than braces would have been.

Impressions are tomorrow. She's thrilled because she wants to get the period of wearing it 23 hours a day over before school starts.

Apparently she's forgotten the drama involved with impressions.

And gagging.

I know, I know, what kind of mama makes a pitiful-faced patient go to Hobby Lobby after all that? Luckily much was made better by some pampering attention and a piggy-back ride from her older sissy.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

new shop item

When Greg was on vacation and we took the kids and their friends to the indoor amusement park, Stephanie's friend carried a little drawstring backpack with her wallet, phone, etc. inside. It was perfect because it was smallish like a purse tweens like to carry, as well as being hands free.

While cute enough, it was just a solid color. And it had no inner pockets.

That got me thinking.

And that got me making.

So here we have the drawstring backpacks that are kid/tween/teen sized. They are kid/tween approved as well. With each one I make Stephanie and Heather claim that one is the one they want.

These drawstring backpacks are great for trips to the amusement park {well, of course}, the mall, the beach, or the pool. They can be used to tote P.E. clothes to and from school. Really, they are wonderful for anytime you need to carry something, but don't want to bother with a purse or regular-sized bulky backpack.

Check out those glasses! They both have the same pair. Who could say no to them when they were on sale at Old Navy for a dollar & change!

You can find these adorable drawstring backpacks in the shop right now.

All six of them.

Unless you don't hurry.

And someone beats you to them.

Each one is lined with something fun inside and there are pockets!

Here's a peek at what I couldn't resist yesterday. I went for a specific fabric, which they were out of, and came home with all this instead.