THREE-DOG DETECTIVE AGENCY: Kenai, Sophie, and Junie are sniffing out the Case of What is Under the Back Deck? Top two suspects are a carrot-loving rabbit hopping away from its dark past and a wise-cracking vole that knows it’s cute and tiny. A spokesperson for the agency says a furry suspect will be apprehended soon.


With my sister and her family and my dad off camping for the weekend, I had the honor of dog-sitting the Three Stooges. After I blocked the side area with a step ladder, the dogs sniffed out the scent through the deck boards. All the dogs ran around the deck, following some scent and completely ignoring me.


Kenai: “I think I can lick my way through the boards. I’m pretty sure I can.” This dog is so weird sometimes, but I love him so much. He may be gigantic, but he’s so friendly and fun. I light up every time I see him.


Finally! Junie and Kenai play tug of war with a rope toy. Despite Kenai being quite bigger, Junie is definitely not intimidated by him. When Sophie’s not around, I believe Junie is the alpha and doesn’t take any crap from Kenai.


See the second gross rope toy in the left side of the picture? When Kenai is not playing tug of war with it, he likes to chew it to pieces. Unfortunately, the stinker pulled it into the house, which I didn’t notice right away. Stinker.


I love Sophie so much, but she can never have too much attention. Unfortunately, when she wants attention or affection, she licks people. Blah. But look at her beautiful sad eyes and face! I can never stay mad at her for very long.


As much as I love the three dogs — Kenai, Junie, and Sophie — I love my two cats more. I love spending time with the three big puppies, but it’s also a reminder why I kind of prefer cats. Our washing machine is entertaining my big Riley cat. What a cutie.


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summer party supplies



jute bags

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I’m back at the apple orchard this season! Although I hate sweating the moment I take a step outside in the August heat, little curious kids amuse me with their blank stares or silly questions or statement (“My dad lets me play video games.”). Near the end of the tour, the kids receive a small treat. Last year, tour guides handed cute little honey sticks, and this year, the kids will get a cute little canvas tote.


However, the canvas totes are blank and I brainstormed ideas on how to transfer the orchard’s logo easily and nicely. At first, I thought the freezer paper method would be the easiest, but I had issues figuring out which parts I needed to keep and which to iron. So, I tossed the freezer paper method out the window because it wasn’t quick and easy. What other methods do I have in my creative arsenal?


I totally forgot about my handy dandy little iron-on transfer pen! Brilliant! I reversed the logo on my computer, printed it out, used the transfer pen to trace the logo, and ironed the image onto the two canvas totes. Beautiful! The outlines are little faded, but that’s OK. Now, which paints should I use? Acrylic paints? Or fabric paints? I had two totes and two types of paints. Let the testing begin.


Despite only needing three colors, I didn’t like working with the acrylic paint on the canvas tote. I think the canvas sort of soaked up the paint, which meant I needed several layers. And unfortunately, my paintbrush sort of wandered outside the outline and the logo definitely isn’t perfect. I kind of doubt the kids will carefully inspect my artwork, and somehow a drop of red paint fell outside the outline. Oopsy.


The tote on the left was painted with fabric paint, and the tote on the right with acrylic paint. The fabric paint was much easier to work with (took so much less time), but I need to find a better paintbrush that won’t wander outside the outline and I think I can create a better stencil for the logo. With fabric paint and a good stencil, I’m confident I can whip out more cute apple totes in no time!


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I found this simple peach striped shirt in the men’s department for $3.50. The shirt fit just fine, but it was a little boring. Also, please ignore the the small red stain in the picture — I had a cherry popsicle earlier in the day.


With a few fixes here and there, I added a touch of femininity to a men’s plain tee. I shortened the sleeves a few inches and added three white buttons on each sleeve. I was going to call it a day after that, but then I found some lace remnant in my stash and thought it would be perfect to create a V-neckline.


Easy peasy. I love this shirt even more! The shirt may look “tunic” long, but it’s not. I dramatically shortened dress form and found it was much easier to work on it. So, shirts may look a little long in pictures, but really they’re not.



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A few weekends ago, Charlie and I and his parents walked around the Amana Colonies’ event Colonies in Bloom. Unfortunately, the event wasn’t very well organized because we weren’t sure which gardens were part of the garden tour and which were normal every day gardens. According to a very nice but chatty lady at the visitor’s center who provided us with a map of the garden tour, some of the businesses didn’t post flags indicating they were part of the tour.


I snapped some pictures of pretty flowers anyway as we walked around the area and ducked in and out of the stores. Without the distinct markers, we gave up on the garden tour about 30 minutes into the visit and simply shopped (or sampled a ton of sweet fruit wines). I bought a refrigerator magnet that made me laugh out loud: THIS WINE MAKES ME AWESOME. True statement.  :)


One of my favorite quotes: Where flowers bloom, so does hope — Lady Bird Johnson. I love looking at flowers, but I don’t want the responsibility of maintaining them. My dad is always planting something in his yard, and I love looking at sorts of flowers that pop up in front of his house or near the mailbox. Hmmmmmm. I should probably snap some pictures of the pretty flowers at his place.


I absolutely love this patriotic fabric flower! If Charlie wasn’t in such a hurry to get out of the humid weather and shining sun, I would’ve inspected the fabric flower a little closer and figured out how the flowers were made. In retrospect, I probably should have bought one of the flowers to support the Amana Colonies.


My second favorite fabric flower is probably the rainbow-inspired flower (lower left), but then again, I really like the red flower with the yellow center. *sigh* Now, I’m kind of kicking myself for not splurging and just buying one. The more I look at the pictures the more I’m kicking myself. Argh!


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Earlier this year, I refashioned a plain purple T-shirt by adding a super cute multi-color trim to the bottom. Well, I curved the bottom hem and then added the trim, and I really liked the refashion. But I felt the shirt was missing something — I couldn’t figure out what the shirt needed. To add matching trim to the sleeves or the neckline was too much, in my opinion. So, the shirt sat in my closet for months until I figured out the missing element.


Even months later, I still stand by not adding more fabric to the sleeves neckline because that would look too matchy matchy (if that makes any sense), but what about a decorative side tie on the higher portion of the hem? The tie wouldn’t be used to cinch or tighten anything because the shirt fits just fine. The side tie would be purely decorative. I totally visualized the idea in my mind and believed my purple shirt could be saved. Yay for brilliant ideas and second chances!


What I did:

  • snipped open about 6 inches on the higher hem side
  • created two narrow stripes with the same multi-color fabric (about 12 inches long)
  • sewed a strip to each side of the new opening
  • added a red button at the top of opening
  • added a small panel of fabric underneath the opening


Love! That’s the first word that popped in my mind when I looked at the finished work in the mirror. I just needed to fix one more tiny little issue — the open space between the ties. When I move around in the shirt, I don’t want to feel self conscious about the gap so I decided to cover the gap with a knit remnant from my sewing stash. Beautiful! Now, I can show off my refashioned shirt at work! Woot!



Happy National Siblings Day to the best two sisters who let me shine in arts and crafts and have made me the best aunt ever to six amazing nieces and nephews. Thank you, Krissy, for making me laugh until my tummy hurts and giving me brilliant craft ideas. Thank you, Becks, for living on a farm so I can chase all the animals around with my camera and yell, “Let me take your picture! Let me love you!”


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Sitting in front of my sewing machine feels good and bad. Good because I finally put away my painting supplies and returned my little sewing buddy to the table. Bad because my back shoulders feel the pain as I hunch over to inspect my work. Anyway, I needed to store my painting supplies because I will start teaching painting classes soon (think: sip and paint events).


Plus, I started a new part-time job with a local company and I will again spend a few months at a local apple orchard, teaching young kids how apples grow and giving the stink eye to the volunteer parents who feel a field trip is a time to socialize with each other and not keep an eye on their child who is touching everything in sight.


Anyway, I am in love with new part-time job because the dress code is jeans and a T-shirt! JEANS AND A T-SHIRT! If I can’t wear sweatpants to work then jeans is the next best thing. I have five or six pairs of jeans in my arsenal, but I know two pairs are too small and I should throw them into my refashion pile. I have another two pairs that are my favorite because the fit is perfection.


And the last two pairs I’m too scared to try on, thinking they might be too small and fearing I’ve gained a few pounds. Instead of trying on the jeans, I went shopping instead — logical thinking, right? After rummaging through the clearance sections, I didn’t find any pair of jeans I liked but I found a pair of nice dress pants and pair of men’s drawstring khaki pants.


The men’s drawstrings khaki pants were too long, too big, and too baggy on me. No problem. Fixing the baggy issue was very simple — I sewed a new inseam. Normally, I slim down jeans or pants by sewing new side seams but the crotch area was really low. The new inseam solved the baggy problem AND the low crotch area! Yay! A new hem to fit my short length was a piece of cake.


I tried on the refashioned drawstring pants, and I love it except for one issue — the dumb side pockets. The pockets drastically poof out at the sides, making my hips look really wide and weird. Hmmmmmm. I took in the side seams around the hip area, which made a small difference but not enough. When I tried the pants on, I tugged at the pocket fabric and looked for solutions.


Buttons. I think. Very carefully I folded some of the excess fabric and sewed the adjustment in place. The nips and tucks don’t look very pretty, but the buttons cover up the fixes nicely. I sewed two buttons on each side and would’ve sewed on more but couldn’t find more matching buttons after the fourth button. Even without more buttons, I still like my new pants and now I just need more appropriate work shirts.


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Painting Supplies

CHALLENGE 7: Teach myself to paint three “complicated” 16×20 canvases.

I’m pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to paint 8×10 canvases, and I feel ready to try more “complicated” paintings on 16×20 canvases. One down two to go! Woot!


I have been painting up a storm during July, and I am so so so so so happy with the way my Up theme painting. I did a test run on an 8×10 canvas and loved the painting even with minor errors here and there. After touching up the 8×10 canvas one too many times, I just decided to paint a 16×20 canvas. For the background, I took the canvas outside, sat on the front lawn, brushed blue and white paint all over, and left the canvas outside to dry.


The white bank of clouds was the first thing to paint, and I went over the bottom area just once. Mistakes were bound to happen with the quote “ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE,” and more white paint would be needed to cover the errors. I chose to paint a yellow house because I didn’t want the house to blend in the blue sky. With the flat end of a big carpenter pencil and three days, I used many different colors and shades to complete the balloons.


“ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE” was probably the hardest part of the painting for me. At first, I tried to freehand the quote, but I really didn’t like the look. Second layer of white paint for the clouds. Next, I tried a wooden scrapbook embellishment quote “ENJOY THE VIEW” and that worked OK with some touch ups here and there. But after a day of glancing at it whenever I added more balloons to the bunch, I was not happy with the result. Hello, third layer of whit paint.


And finally I returned to freehand and used the “dot” method. “IS OUT THERE” were the words I painted in simple capital letters and dotted the letter tips for a playful, fun look. Personally, I think dots make everything look better. I was working on a completely different project when I found some old thin cardboard letter stencils! Hmmmmmm. The stencils kind of worked — the stencils gave me a really good outline of the letter and I needed to paint in the letters and touch up some rough up edges.


In the end, I really love my new painting and I can’t wait to hang it up on my wall of art! Plus, I really love the last two paintings before I boxed up my paint supplies and dragged out my sewing machine (I’m so overdue to mend and refashion some clothes now). I had fun painting cute little fish and impressed myself with painting “JUST KEEP SWIMMING.” And I love my first ever hedgehog holding a bunch of red heart balloons, and I free painted “LOVE” on the canvas.