DIY PROJECT: PLANT STAND SCORES NEW PAINT

Like a moron, I had forgotten to take a “before” picture of a simple plant stand I had found at a local consignment store. Even though I have no plans to use it as an actual plant stand, the simple design, the price ($7), and the possibilities persuaded me to buy it. After tightening the screws on the legs (an easy fix), I decided the wood stained plant stand needed to match everything else in my house.

Because the stand was laminate, I covered it with a white spray-on primer and left it to dry for a few hours, which was probably longer than necessary. I was actually surprised how quickly I painted the plant stand despite all the curves and nooks. Two days was all I needed to cover it with two to three coats. After letting the stand dry outside for a few days, I loved the smooth feel when I ran my fingers over it so I opted not to use a top coat.

At first I had no idea how I was going to use the stand, but then a brilliant idea (brilliant might be an overstatement) hit me. A mail stand next to the door leading into the garage! Charlie usually checks the mail when he comes home from work, and after rifling through it, he can leave everything on the stand for me. Brilliant!

DIY PROJECT: FITTED SHEET STRAP FIX

One of many pet peeves is when the corners of a fitted sheet ride up over the mattress. Before heading to bed or after waking up in the morning, I need to tug the corners down because I don’t like the white mattress corner peeking out. The solution — adding elastic straps to the corners — has always been hanging around in the back of my mind, but I was unsure whether it would actually work.
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Thanks to the interweb and Pinterest, my solution is just fine since I’m not the only person with the genius idea. Some stores sell elastic straps with clips on the end, but I fear the clips wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the corners overnight. I have the same fear about sewing elastic straps, which is why I zigzagged the crap out of the elastic to the fitted sheet.
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The entire process was simple and quick (my favorite kind of process!). Sort of. I read a few tutorials to make sure I was on the right track. The only issue I encountered was how far from the corner do I sew the elastic end? Four inches? Twelve inches? Since the various elastic straps measure 12 inches, I figured six inches from the corner would be OK. None of the tutorials gave a measurement so I guessed.
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Not that Charlie and I toss and turn viciously during the night, I wanted to make sure the elastic didn’t pop out. So, I used the zigzag stitch heavily on all the corners. Again, the process was simple and quick, and I couldn’t wait to run the sheet through the washer and dryer and throw it back on the bed. I second guessed my work as I tucked the corners underneath the mattress.

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Instead of six inches should I have placed the elastic 12 inches away from the corner? The elastic straps seemed too close to the edges and corner. However, all my fears and worries disappeared the next morning when all four corners were still tucked under the mattress! Ignore all the cat hair (Riley likes to sleep on Charlie’s side of the bed) and look at the beauty of the tucked corner. Squee!

DIY PROJECT: SIMPLE BABY BLANKETS

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One of my favorite fabric stores is closing, which not only makes me sad but pushes me to visit every few weeks to hunt down bargains. During a recent visit, I found adorable multi-colored dotted fleece marked down and thought the pattern would make a perfect baby blanket for all my pregnant friends.

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Online Sewing Class

For two of the blankets, I simply sewed the fleeces pieces together (right sides together), left a small gap, pulled the fleece through the gap, and sewed a cute border around the fleece. The blanket is simple but yet really cute. I really love the soft colors and dots.

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For the third blanket, I used a flannel remnant in my stash and decided to use it with the dotted fleece. Easy peasy. I trimmed the flannel and fleece pieces to the same size and followed the same steps from the two previous blankets. I’m happy how well all three baby blankets turned out. So happy.

GAME NIGHT: TENZI

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Easiest. Game. Ever! 40 dice in four different colors. The most basic game: a player rolls all 10 dice as fast as they as can until all dice show the same number. So easy. So quick. So fun. At first I was a little skeptical that throwing 10 dice around would be fun, but I was completely wrong.

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A small piece of paper tells the origin of the game and explains other ways to play with the dice. I love the big size and bright colors of the dice — I’ve thrown the dice around in the Roll For It game. I can also tuck the game into my purse and whip it out when the conversation turns silent or awkward.

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A huge thank you to my aunt who gave me and my sisters a game of Tenzi. Becky and Krissy loved the game so much that they knew their offspring would love the game and they needed to buy more dice for a family of five. I also introduced the game to Charlie’s side of the family who immediately fell in love with the game too!

DIY PROJECT: PRETTY CLOTH NAPKINS

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How beautiful is this fabric? I love it.

Over a recent weekend, I received an amazing opportunity to rummage through a huge fabric stash and sewing supplies that once belonged to Charlie’s grandmother (and great-grandmother, I think). My collection of thread, elastic, lace, and bias tape are well stocked now. The most difficult part was looking through all the fabrics because I wanted to keep almost all the fabric!

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Two squares (a little over 12X12 inches).

So much beautiful and vintage fabrics, but so little time and too many project ideas. Some of the thoughts that ran through my head, “I could make a vintage-looking quillow.” “I could start a quilt using random pieces of fabric.” “How many skirts do I need?” “How skirts do Tova and Shelby need?” “My sewing machine is going to busy!”

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Napkin sewn together (right sides together) and extra fabric cut.

But my willpower was strong, and I tucked away fabrics that caught my eye and made the wheels in my mind spin. However, I couldn’t keep my eyes off one piece of material. The quilt-like fabric was just too pretty and interesting to give up, but at the time, I had no idea what I could do with it. As much as I love the pattern, I couldn’t see myself wearing it as a skirt — a cute little tank top, maybe. Maybe. Maybe not.

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Pulling the fabric through the little gap. Almost done!

During the drive home, cloth or fabric napkins leaped into my mind. PERFECT! I know my sister and her family use cloth napkins, and I like the idea of using resusable napkins. The process was very easy and simple thanks to the square pattern on the fabric. I cut out 12X12-inch squares (about 12.5 inches to allow for the seams) and sewed two pieces together with the right sides facing each other.

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Sewing a cute little border to keep the napkin together.

I left about a 2-inch gap on one side and snipped off the extra material. After pulling the fabric through the gap and poking out the corners, I sewed the gap closed with a simple stitch and proceeded to sew a fancy border around the napkin. Piece of cake! I took the time to experiment with some of the fancy stitches, and the six napkins all have different stitches.

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Beautiful except I could probably iron them a little.

If the season finale of American Ninja Warrior didn’t distract me, I probably could have completed the project in a few hours. But when a bunch of shirtless guys run around on my TV I have a tendency to pay attention. A little over three hours to complete the project isn’t too bad. Anyway, I absolutely love the six cute cloth napkins that I can add to our towel drawer and cannot wait to use! Yay!

GAME NIGHT: SUSHI GO!

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Sushi Go! is another easy to learn and quick to play game. Plus, the illustrations on the cards are ADORABLE! I love the cute little dumplings and pudding pictures. So cute!

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Starting with a certain number of cards (amount depends on number of players), a player will pick one card to keep and then pass the rest of the cards to the player on the left.

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If a player can collect three sashimi cards, 10 points are awarded. Collect two tempura cards, 5 points are collected. The player with the most points after three rounds wins the game.

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Charlie and I played this cute little game during a small dinner party. Everyone liked the game because it was easy to learn and quick to play.

RECIPE: DIY EASY ICED COFFEE

COFFEE CAN. 1/8 TSP SCOOP.

COFFEE CAN. 1/8 CUP SCOOP.

I love love love love iced coffee, and I feel a little guilty anytime I buy a cup at a coffee shop or a carton at the grocery store. With a little research, I know I can make my own iced coffee and save money. For some weird reason, I’m not fond of cooled hot-brewed coffee. I’m sure the odd taste is a figment of my imagination.

TWO HEAPING SCOOPS IN A BOWL.

TWO HEAPING SCOOPS IN A BOWL.

So, I did some research. Iced coffee can be made several ways. Apparently, cooling off hot-brewed coffee is one method — just make sure to double the grounds. Once the coffee is cooled and poured over ice cubes, the double strength mixture won’t become watered down when the ice cubes melt. Well, that just makes sense.

ADD WATER AND MIX.

ADD WATER AND MIX.

The method I’ve been using is pretty simple. I dump two heaping 1/8 cup coffee grounds into a large mixing bowl that I can cover later because I’ve been gifted with mixing bowls with lids. Fill the bowl with water, mix water and coffee grounds, and throw lid on bowl. Let the coffee grounds steep for eight to 12 hours.

COVER BOWL WITH LID.

COVER BOWL WITH LID.

I usually make a batch in the evening and let it steep overnight. In the morning, I prepare the coffeepot as if I was going to brew coffee. With the glass pot in place and the coffee filter in the basket, I simply pour the water-coffee mixture into the lined basket. The yummy goodness drips into the pot, and the filter catches the grounds.

COFFEEMAKER READY

COFFEEMAKER READY

Once the pot is filled with my delicious iced coffee, I store it in a pitcher in the refrigerator. I can drink the iced coffee with or without my ice cubes. All I need to do is mix in sugar and milk, and I’m ready to indulge in my own iced coffee. What I love about this method is I’m using items I already have. I don’t need anything special.

YUMMY GOODNESS FILTERING THROUGH

YUMMY GOODNESS FILTERING THROUGH

Some recipes or some people need a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, and a gigantic plastic tub to make iced coffee. Instead of using a fine mesh strainer and a cheesecloth, why not use a coffeemaker? I’ve tried the strainer and cheesecloth method, it can get messy really quick. Plus, patience is required and sometime double filtering is necessary.

MMMMMMM. MY ICED COFFEE.

MMMMMMM. MY ICED COFFEE.

Anyway, I’m glad I finally found an easy DIY recipe for iced coffee. Now, I can enjoy iced coffee without any guilt and save a few cents! A win-win-win situation. Quick question: Is it OK if a few coffee grounds go down the kitchen sink drain? I was just wondering …

DIY BOOT SOCKS: SEW EASY!

Um, why hasn’t anyone told me the magical power of boot socks? Hmmmmmmm. Normally, when I wear my knee-high boots (or as I like to call them: hooker boots), I’m usually wearing tights or tucking in my skinny jeans. I never really thought about boot socks until one day I found myself running around in a skirt and my boots. The day was still kind of warmish so I opted not to wear tights (I probably couldn’t find a clean matching tights) so I wore my normal low-cut socks underneath my boots.

DIY BOOT SOCKS!

DIY BOOT SOCKS!

My legs kind of felt naked without tights or jeans. Over the past year, I’ve noticed the simple tutorials on DIY boot socks and the accompanying pretty pictures, but I never thought I needed boot socks. The second time I decided to wear a skirt and a brand new pair of brown hooker boots, I immediately knew I needed boot socks to complete my outfit. I felt matching tights would be too formal for a casual dinner with friends, and I NEEDED boot socks in five minutes (I picked the outfit at the very last minute).

PAIR OF CHARLIE'S SOCKS

PAIR OF CHARLIE’S SOCKS

So, how did I make my very first pair of boot socks in less than one minute? The other four minutes were spent taking off the boots, sliding the socks on, putting the boots back on again, and adjusting the socks for maximum awesomeness. With Charlie’s permission, I took a pair of his white crew socks and cut them right above the heel line. Boom! Done! Days later, I completed the boots socks with a zig zag stitch to keep them from fraying. But for one night, the one-minute boot socks worked beautifully in a pinch.

MY RILEY CAT KEEPING MY BOOT SOCKS WARM

MY RILEY CAT KEEPING MY BOOT SOCKS WARM

Now, I’m absolutely in love with boots socks. I. LOVE. THEM. To me, even Charlie’s old plain white socks just added a little something to the boots-skirt combination. Down the road, I plan to incorporate a little bit of lace and a few buttons on future boot socks. When I shared my newfound love for boot socks to Charlie, he asked why not just buy some knee high socks? Because I would be spending money on something that I could easily make from old shirts and sweaters.

POTENTIAL BOOT SOCKS

POTENTIAL BOOT SOCKS

Plus, big and knitty socks will make the calf area just fatter (harder to zip the boot) and really warm (hello, sweaty legs). Fake boot socks will eliminate the extra padding and the tropical temperature, but yet keep the knee area warm and fashionable. This winter, I am determined to successfully refashion a sweater into a nice warm skirt! I know I can do it! And now, I can use the sweater sleeves to make boot socks! I feel warm and fuzzy knowing I can create two refashions from one sweater. I love great ideas.

SCRUBS REFASHION: KILBY SEPTEMBER

ONE OF MY FABRIC SCRAP STASHES

ONE OF MY FABRIC SCRAP STASHES

Between my fabric scrap stash and clothes Charlie won’t wear anymore, I should be able to add more cute refashioned clothes to my wardrobe. As much as I would love to snag great deals on the clearance racks, I should really focus on reusing items found in my house. One day while rummaging through my stash, I found some old scrubs from a previous job. As an administrative assistant, I was nowhere near any blood, vomit, sweat, or death in my scrubs. So my scrubs were clean and in great shape.

NOT TOO OLD PAIR OF SCRUBS

NOT TOO OLD PAIR OF SCRUBS

At first, I had no idea what to do with two pairs of matching scrubs (a light blue pair and a maroon pair). Did I have the patience and the knowledge to turn the scrub pants into a skirt? I think we all know the answer to that question. I have very little patience to begin with – nope. One look at the inside seams had me searching for my scissors. Then I remembered a blogger taking the waist area of an older pair of pants or skirts and then adding different material for the skirt. Hmmmmm. I think I could do that … right?

CUTTING THE SCRUB PANTS IN TWO PIECES

CUTTING THE SCRUB PANTS IN TWO PIECES

So, I cut off the waist area of the scrub pants right above the crotch area and then cut off the bottom portion of the matching scrub top (right beneath the armpit areas). As I lined up the two pieces, I noticed the scrub pants was a slightly different shade of blue than the scrub top. Hmmmmm. I don’t think anyone will really notice or care about the slight color variation. I bravely forged on with the project, and I think I created pleats in the front and back of the skirt. The top was slightly bigger than the pants so I fold some fabric in certain areas.

YAY! SUCCESS ... EXCEPT FOR THE SEAM.

YAY! SUCCESS … EXCEPT FOR THE SEAM.

Once the pinning was completed, I sewed the two pieces together. After trying on my refashioned skirt, I was very pleased because it fit perfectly and the length was just right. Yay! However, I had one minor issue with the skirt (nickname: Kilby September) – I didn’t like the seam line joining the two scrub pieces. The most obvious solution was to cover it, but with what exactly? After rummaging through my ribbon supply and picking ribbon suitable for washing, I found three ribbon rolls that would pair well with the skirt.

FROM MY RIBBON STASH

FROM MY RIBBON STASH

I won’t share the agonizing tale of how I picked among the three ribbon rolls – it really wasn’t that dramatic. I chose the wide striped multi-color ribbon because I just liked it the best out of the three. Once I pinned and sewed the ribbon over the seam, I really liked the simple result and toyed with the idea about adding another row of ribbon. After placing a second row above the first one, I really loved the idea, giving the skirt a little bit more color and brightness. Yay! Now, I can wear “scrubs” to work!

DRESS REFASHION: JENSEN SEPTEMBER

ONE OF MY MOM'S EASTER DRESSES

ONE OF MY MOM’S EASTER DRESSES

For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to throw one of my mom’s old dresses into the donation pile. The pretty dress was in really good shape, and I vaguely remember her wearing it. My mom always bought two new dresses for Christmas and Easter church services. Growing up, I remember my sisters and I shopping with Mom for church-appropriate dresses for those two holidays. Talk to one of my sisters, and they won’t hesitate to bring up a very less-than-flattering photo of me dressed in a new Easter skirt and sweater.

EDGES OF THE ELASTIC BAND AND THE SKIRT

EDGES OF THE ELASTIC BAND AND THE SKIRT

Although I am highly tempted to scan the photo and post it to my blog, what I really should do is find and burn all remaining copies of the photo. Trust me – it’s not a good photo of me. Anyway, I’m guessing from the bright yellow that Mom bought the dress for Easter one year. I normally don’t wear yellow because I personally believe it’s one of the few colors that don’t look good on me. I know I couldn’t wear the dress as is because it’s too small for my fat frame, but I knew I could easily turn the dress into a cute little skirt.

SEE THE BUBBLE OF FABRIC?

SEE THE BUBBLE OF FABRIC?

This time around, I was prepared to simply add 1.5-inch white elastic (the store didn’t carry 2-inch elastic) to the waist area after pinning and folding a small hem for a clean look. Fortunately, the elastic waistband was an inch or two smaller than the skirt waistband, which meant I could simply pin the two pieces together. I stuck pins in the center back and center front of the elastic and skirt. Then I pinned the left and right sides, creating a small bubble of fabric between the pins (which is completely fine).

THE TINY SPACE BETWEEN TWO PINS IS ALL I CAN HANDLE

THE TINY SPACE BETWEEN TWO PINS IS ALL I CAN HANDLE WHEN I USE THIS METHOD

For good measure and because I completely suck at this method, I stuck more pins between the main four pins. I pretty much eyed the center between two pins and stuck a third pin in between, continuing to leave a bubble of fabric and not folding the fabric into a pleat or dart or whatever. Once I was satisfied with the amount of pins, I started to sew the elastic to the skirt. Now, here’s the area where I start swearing up a storm because sometimes I am just incapable of doing anything right.

Between two pins where I have the little bubble of fabric, that fabric should lay straight now and gently pull on the elastic to match the flat fabric. Once the fabric is flat and elastic matches the length, sew that area between the pins and release it once you arrive at the second pin. Does that make sense? The technique sounds easy, but only I can make it so much more difficult. This is the reason why I use so many pins with this method. The smaller the space between two pins, the easier for me to pull the fabric flat and tug on the elastic to match the fabric length.

Believe me, I’ve tried this method with a large gap between two pins, but I’m not coordinated enough to keep the fabric flat, gently pull the elastic straight, and sew a straight line for more than a few seconds. Seriously, I just cannot do it, which is why I resort to using a ton of pins and leaving smaller gaps or bubbles. Anyway, by using this “pull and release” method (I don’t know the technical term), the fabric will automatically bunch into the elastic. I like to use this method when I don’t have the patience for the “bunchy” method.

THE NEW WAISTBAND AFTER FOLDING DOWN THE ELASTIC.

THE NEW WAISTBAND AFTER FOLDING DOWN THE ELASTIC.

So, may I take a minute or two about the elastic waistband? I’m 10 skirts into this project, and my track record with the 2-inch elastic waistband is pretty hit and miss. At this point, I believe luck played a huge part in the success of the Andersen August, Darby August, and Gadsby September skirts. I think I ignored a red flag when attaching the white elastic to the Jensen September skirt — the elastic band wasn’t dramatically smaller than the width of the skirt. Obviously, the skirt waist was too big for me, but the elastic band was slightly stretched to a perfect fit.

HOW COME I NEVER NOTICED THE SIDE SLITS DURING THE REFASHION?

HOW COME I NEVER NOTICED THE SIDE SLITS DURING THE REFASHION?

When I pinned and finally sewed the two pieces together, why didn’t the elastic band fit me perfectly? The band was too loose for me. Thankfully, I mismarked where I should cut the dress in two because the skirt was a little too long for me. So, I folded the elastic band down into the skirt and folded it one more time to sort of hide the elastic. When I did this, I lost a few inches on the length – which was fine – and tightened the waist area a teeny bit – but not enough to create a perfect fit. What am I doing wrong?

THE BACK OF THE SKIRT

THE BACK OF THE SKIRT

And Gadsby September and Jensen September (both items from my mom’s closet) had an almost silkish lining underneath the patterned almost gauze fabric. Sorry for the lack of technical terms regarding the fabric, because obviously, I’m not entirely sure what type of fabrics they are. Does the fabric type make a difference? I know I should try the skirt on after pinning the elastic but I don’t like being pricked with pins and somehow my pinned work would probably come apart during the fitting. So, I’m taking a huge chance by skipping that step.

COMPLETED EXCEPT FOR A FEW MINOR DETAILS

COMPLETED EXCEPT FOR A FEW MINOR DETAILS

Anyway, sorry for the tangent … because I didn’t want to fiddle with the waistband anymore than I had to, I decided to leave the skirt alone for awhile. I just need to some time to figure out how to tighten the waist area without too much work. I wore the skirt to work once but I felt pretty self conscious about it slipping off me or the side slits showing the world more leg than I want. I love the skirt, but I just need some time to perfect it. If you have any brilliant ideas, please let me know!