Friday, May 30, 2014

Teacher's Appreciation Gift 2014

This year, JJ's class has all the wonderful elements to make it an awesome one.  The kids are all ready to learn, bright, respectful, and full of smiles.  The parents are all supportive and active, and some have become really good friends of mine.  And the teacher, Mrs. O, is just DA BEST!  She is an inspiration to all around her, always encouraging, loving, positive and so much fun to be with.  
She often jokes about her classroom organization.  But, I believe she's just being modest.  After all, she could always find what she needs in the right places and the kids never go home missing any homework or handouts.  So, my conclusion is that she just has much stuff in the classroom (I mean, which teacher doesn't!?) 
So when it comes to teachers' appreciation week, naturally, I think about making a large, roomy, carry-anything pouch for Mrs. O. 
It goes well with the iPhone pouch, too!
Love the pull tag and the large handle.  She could hang the pouch or carry it by the handle.
So thankful that the seam ripper was having a vacation for this timely project.



I think I should make one for myself next...
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Creative Creator

For the past week, it had been too hot to walk Maxie during the day.  So, we took her and JJ for a walk in the evening.  At the school field, JJ picked up a few interesting looking pods that looked like small wooden spoons left on the ground.  I looked up and saw more hanging from a large tree, along with many pinkish red bell-shaped flowers. 
  I was in awe of God's creation.  Then, these verses came to mind:

"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."--John 1:3
"For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
--Colossians 1:16
"For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
--Romans 11:36
  There's no one like my God.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Lesson on Temptation

One of the things I have been training Maxie is resisting temptation.  She used to think if I held out a treat, it's a hind for her to grab it.   Sorry, honey, not anymore.  
Maxie could smell dried duck breast as soon as I unzip the bag and she'd come to the kitchen as fast as her legs would bring her.  Saying no to this treat takes tremendous self-control.  I am so proud of Maxie that she's learned the best way to do so.
When I hold out the treat, Maxie would look away.  It doesn't matter how close I place the treat to her nose, she'd turn her nose away and refuse to even sniff it.  
Ignoring the temptation.  Staying strong.
Of course, her self-control is always rewarded.  Good girl, Maxie!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Feeling Stuck

I started sewing a Michelle pattern messenger bag back in January.  Loved (and still love) the pattern.  But when I was half way into sewing the bag, I realized that I added 3/4" seam allowance to all the cut fabric!  I was horrified!  What could I do?  At first, I was in denial and said to myself that the proportion of the bag would not change if every side added the same seam allowance.  But who am I kidding.  I had to figure out with seam allowance was necessary and which could be left along.  The 3/4" does not help, either.  I did not want to deal with fractions.  I wanted to SEW!  It was a mess.
It's been almost 4 months now and I have not had the courage to finish this bag.  I have found ways to escape by completing 2 other bags and shifting my attention to gardening.  Sigh.  Aiyah, so stuck.
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Friday, May 2, 2014

Compost Box Tutorial


Pinterest is a wonderful resource for all kinds of DIY projects.  I have been so inspired that I finally invested time doing research and installing a drip irrigation system for the front porch.  With that, the front porch project grew.  I got more plants to pot and found more tips to keep the plants healthy and happy.  Making compost then became a no-brainer.  According to several pinners, I do not need an expensive compost bin.  Just a few simple materials/tools could get any rookie like me started.  
I found a large 30 gallon storage bin I got from the Halloween sale and emptied the bin by dumping all the content into another container.   The bin is ideal since it has a latch lid to keep my dog and cat all pests away.  I use my handy dandy Fiskars hand drill to create holes on the lid, on the bottom and the side of the bin for aeration .  Hubby was laughing at my slow drilling and offered help with his power tool.  Thanks, honey, but no thanks.  I could not believe how easy it was and how much satisfaction came out of all that drilling!  It was so much fun that each of my 3 kids begged to help.  Yap, they begged because mama did not want to share her hand drill.  I had to very gently remind them that I did not need hundreds of holes drilled.  Please note that when JJ drilled the holes, my hand was holding the drill so she could turn the rotary handle and not hurt herself and her mom.  (I asked her to pause and post for these shots.)  JJ noted that the shaving looked like dried shrimp!  LOL.
After marking/decorating the bin, JJ and I placed crumpled up newspaper at the bottom of bin, sprayed water (the materials should be as damp as a rung out sponge), placed the composting ingredients on top (vegetable/fruit peels and bread crumbs mostly; no meat/fish, bones, grease or dairy), and topped with shredded paper to avoid stench.  Close the latch lid, place the bin outside the kitchen on top of another plastic lid to catch any leaks and voila!
I have been diligently collecting kitchen scraps for my compost box, keeping the layers of the content one green (kitchen scraps), one brown (shredded paper and leaves), and using a shovel to turn the content every 1-2 weeks.  In a few months, I should be able to "harvest" the compost!  My plants WILL thank me.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

JJ's Garden Surprise

After a week of rain, one afternoon, JJ showed me something she found in the yard next to a stepping stone.  It was a sunflower seed with a tiny root.  We planted it in a plastic cup.  Slowly but surely, it grows.  I guess we will always wonder where the seed came from.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Gift of Life

Scarlet Runner Beans
Right before school ended last year, for the science unit, Ms. W let each student plant a scarlet runner bean (see how big those beans are?).  Soon, JJ came home with a 5" tall plant in a foam cup.  She was so thrilled to have her very own plant that she watered and watched the plant grow every day.  As the plant grew taller, it started to become floppy.  With my help, JJ transferred it to a terracotta pot with stakes (...well, they were really space filler pieces from an IKEA shelve packaging, disposable chopsticks, garbage bag ties and long rubber bands). 
Sitting on the kitchen windowsill, the bean plant flourished.  It was funny to see the vines tended to cling to the window to kiss the sun.  Then, we spotted the white and yellow bean blossoms, though most just withered after a few days.  Just when we thought nothing else would grow out of this plant, JJ went into the kitchen one afternoon and squealed with delight.  Without fanfare, a slightly curved oblong bean pot had been quietly forming.  By the time JJ picked it, the pod was almost as long as her palm.  Curiously, when JJ opened the pod, she found the bean inside to be creamy white, instead of scarlet, like its mother plant.  We planted the white bean a few weeks ago and found it sprouted this morning (exactly a year after the mother plant was planted)!  Life just keeps on giving.  Isn't it a beautiful thing?

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Box Shape Wooden Handle Tote

Sewing this tote was a piece of cake.  I attached the ruffle for added interests.  (I feel lightheaded when staring at this bright orange longer than 10 seconds...).  However, I procrastinated on cutting the dowel to size for the handles for months.  Earlier this week, I finally had enough motivation to look into my husband's tool box and found the hacksaw to do the job.  After a little sanding, and a few stitches, the handles were attached.
When I was in high school, mom got me two totes of this kind, one white, one burgundy, to carry my heavy text books to and from school.  They were perfect because of their wide bag bottoms and wide openings. They stood well on the floor, too.
Making this tote sure brought back memories.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Peek A Boo Pouch

This is a fun pouch to make.  I love when it is filled with goodies inside and expended, the contrasting fabric peeks out.  Reminds me of a chubby dumpling.  I made the boxed corners 1/2" deeper than usual.  It's perfect for holding makeup (the compact could sit at the bottom so there's no worry of it popping open).  However, the spaciousness does not allow the pouch to need room to expend...  I had to stuff 2 skeins of yarn in there to force the pouch to pop up its belly.  Perhaps my next peek a boo project would be another pouch with no boxed corner.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Tutorial: Pattern Tracing--New Trick


In my October Aha!--Pattern Tracing Options post in 2011, I mentioned about using the clear folder as pattern tracing plastic.  Well, that worked for me...mostly.  With tracing the pattern onto the plastic using permanent marker, I still needed to write pattern information on the plastic.  Although the marker has the word "permanent", the ink did not stay well.  After just one use, some of the writing would rob off.  If I had a bad day, the ink would stain my hands, too.  Then, I would need to wash my hands before handling the fabric and rewrite the pattern info. yet again.  Not fun.

So, just a few days ago, I went through this whole routine of pattern tracing, my hand got stained as expected.  I looked at the plastic and thought, there's got to be a better way.  Then, a light bulb went on!  Here is my solution:

Picture 1: New solution on the left (pattern B) vs. the old way (pattern A)
Picture 2: (old way) Tracing with permanent marker with ink robbed off.  (steps taken: trace, cut, write pattern info.)
Picture 3: (new and fast way)
You'd need: your pattern, plastic sheet, masking tape or painter's tape and a pair of scissors
a) I use painter's tape (loop it so it works as double-sided tape) to secure the pattern on the back of the plastic sheet.
b) Then cut both the plastic and the paper pattern at the same time following the pattern outline.
c) Remove the double-sided tape and secure both layers (cut plastic and paper pattern) with masking or painter's tape around the outline.

Now, you have a sturdy pattern piece with all the pattern info.!  The seam allowance wheel works smoothly with the plastic pattern, too!   Best of all, your hands and fabric stay clean!!
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tutorial: DIY Cinnamon Christmas Scrub

Thanks to Pinterest, I have been reading about how others created their own beauty products.  From mineral make up, lotion bars, to lip balm, you name it.  Feeling inspired, I started making my own concoction of facial/body scrubs.  My first one was a disaster.  The mixture of nutmeg, honey and some other ingredient was so runny that I thought my face was falling off.  (scary huh, good thing that no one saw me...) And there was the lemon honey sugar scrub.  Nah, too citrus for me (though there was only 1 table spoon of lemon juice in that big old jar).
After a few experiments, I went back to the pantry and grab a few of my favorite things.  It was simple, yet everything I hoped for.  If I love it, then I think it's gift worthy.

Here's how I make my Cinnamon Christmas Scrub:

1 cup of sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp grape seed oil

Mix well and spoon into a jar.  Tie a ribbon or add a label to finish it off.  I tied my gift tag with a piece of thin elastic.

Notes:
The grape seed oil has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and is fairly light.
Honey has antioxidants as well as antibacterial properties.
Cinnamon has anti-bacterial properties and smells great!

Note: this post is featured here.
Made By You Monday
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