Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More T-Shirt Fun: T-Shirt YARN!

Hope everyone made it through the storm okay- we were very blessed that our home was fine and we were all safe and sound. :-)

Check out this old t-shirt! Now, you know how much I get scissor-happy around old t-shirts. And this one was an XXL, so I decided it needed a LOT of cutting! It was the perfect candidate to create t-shirt yarn! I found the tutorial by Polka Dot Pineapple at one of my very favorite sites, So You Think You're Crafty. It's genius, really- since jersey knit t-shirt material doesn't fray, you can get an old t-shirt without side seams and create one looooong piece of material from it.

It took a long time to cut that baby up, but you should have seen the look on my face when I wound my masterpiece into an orb the size of a softball. I was positively giddy.

Now I'm using it to knit this scarf...or neck warmer? (might not be long enough for a scarf, we'll have to see)

I'm planning on getting more side-seam-less t-shirts and making more yarn so I can try out this great No-Knit Scarf from Martha Stewart. Fun stuff! I will be sure to share my results!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Winners PLUS Infinity Scarf & Flower Tutorial!

And the winners are...

1st Place: Alyssa, of Live. Love. Craft. I'm so glad that Alyssa won! She's a fantastic young lady with a terrific blog and a heart of gold (not to mention oodles of creative talent!)! Congratulations, Alyssa!

2nd Place: Lyness! A great friend and a phenomenal mom. Congratulations, Lyness!

3rd Place: Alicia! Alicia and I go waaaaay back. Like, Dark Ages, seriously. She is also a phenomenal mom and can always make me smile! Congratulations, Alicia!

I will be contacting all of you to choose your prizes!

FYI, winners were selected by making a numbered list of every comment (16), then putting tallies by each for the numbers of entries received. I then wrote the numbers on slips of paper- for example, since my 7th commenter had 3 entries, I wrote '7' on 3 slips of paper and tossed them in the box (there were a few duplicate comments and comments that were 'outside the contest' that I excluded from the box). Numbers were then drawn at random.

Okay, so maybe you didn't win my giveaway. Are ya bummed? Well DON'T BE! Because today I'm going to show you how EASY it is to make your own infinity scarf and flower!! Yes, I know that it makes me a lousy businesswoman to show you how to make something that I'm trying to sell, but I prefer to be a friend first, businesswoman second.

If, however, you prefer to purchase a set (or anything else) from my etsy shop, I'll help you out- For one week you can use the code THANKS300 to get 20% off your entire order in my shop for the rest of the month of August! A little thank you gift from me to you. 'Cuz I love ya. Anything that doesn't get claimed as a prize from the giveaway will be listed within the next few days (plus even more goodies).

On to the TUTORIAL.

For those of you who have been following me for awhile, you will probably see that this is very similar to the Felt Flower Clip tutorial I did a few months ago. If anything seems confusing to you here, just check out that tutorial (I had a few additional photos in that one) and it may help clarify.

Quick, go grab an old t-shirt. Doesn't have to be yours. Raid your husband's drawer. One without side seams is preferable, but not mandatory.

Find one? Good. Now get scissors. Good, sharp ones.

Got 'em? Great. Now plug in your glue gun. Let it heat up. It's time to start cutting! (insert evil laughter here)

Step 1. Shirt. Check.

Step 2. Cut bottom seam off shirt. I cut way above my bottom seam because this shirt had some stains on it. Goodbye stains!

3. Cut off rest of bottom of shirt, usually just below the arms. Now you have a big loop. Stretch it.

Ta-da! Infinity scarf!
On to flower! (Yes, you may wear your scarf while you make your flower.)

Step 1. Use extra shirt material and cut it into circles. I just do this freehand- try it, it's easier than you'd think! They do not have to be perfect. Do several layers at a time. Makes it go faster and the fabric is easier to handle that way. Give me 10 circles, ladies!

2. Glue gun nice and hot? Yes? Good. Stick a dab of glue in the center of a circle. Fold it in half. Put another dab of glue on the halved circle and fold it in half again. When you're done, it should look like this. (Don't they look like they should be hopping around and meeping?) Leave one circle unfolded for the base!

3. Prep your clip. (By the way, you don't have to do a clip. You can always just make the flower and then pin it.) I happened to have felt, but if you don't that's fine. You just need to sandwich the top part of your clip between two pieces of fabric. Clip one piece of fabric in the clip, then put hot glue on it, then stick your other piece on top. This is the underside of my clip.

4. Flip it over and start gluing down your petals! Fit them together just like this. Do your second layer of petals so they overlap the lines between this first layer.

5. For your center, cut off the bottom corner of one of your petals. That gives the glue something to hold on to. Glue it right in the center, standing straight up.

Ta-da! Flower hair clip! Now, if you want to get a little fancy, here's another technique you can try...

1. Take your fabric circles (for your petals) and fold in half.

2. Fold 1/3 over to center.

3. Fold other 1/3 over to center, so they overlap (do you love the dried hot glue on my thumbnail?)

4. Use your scissors and round the corners

5. Open it up and you'll have this! If you use these for your petals, you can use the same method in step #2 of the flower clip instructions- just fold them in fourths. The layering looks really cool and makes for a more flowery flower.

Ta-da! Finished scarf and clip set. Go, my little crafters. Go and make your own and rejoice in your craftiness!!!

Are you going to try one? Leave a comment and let me know how it goes!!

Linking up to...

Transformation Thursday

Keeping It Simple

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

First, I want to remind everyone of my 300th Post Giveaway Celebration that's going on right now- don't forget to enter to win your choice of infinity scarf & flower set or flower hair clips! 3 winners! Very few entries, so your chances are good!

As I mentioned before, I have been reading a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. The premise of the book is that the author and her family moved from Arizona to Virginia in a quest to consume only food that is locally grown. If possible, they grow or raise it themselves. If not, they should at least know the name of the person who did, and be able to drive to their farm within 30 minutes.

I always thought I was pretty smart about my food. I try to eat healthy- big on fruits and veggies around here, not too much meat- and I know where my food comes from. Well, I know in the sense that I know that apples don't magically just appear on shelves at the supermarket- they grow on trees (like MINE!). The chicken in my crockpot was once a living, clucking animal, and somewhere a wheat field was mown down to make my crackers. I'm okay with all of that.

What I didn't consider, however, is the point that Barbara Kingsolver is making in her book: lettuce doesn't grow in Virginia in January. Which means if I want to have a salad on New Year's Day (always good to kick off the new year with a healthy start) the lettuce I purchased in the store had to come from someplace where it's springtime- or at least feels like springtime. And last time I checked, that ain't the Midatlantic coast in January.

So yes, it grew on a farm, but what farm? How much gasoline was required to ship that head of lettuce from Springland to my grocery store? Could we maybe make a better choice for our planet by forgoing well-traveled lettuce and stick with more seasonal vegetables? Kingsolver writes, "Transporting a single calorie of a perishable fresh fruit from California to New York takes about 87 calories worth of fuel. That's as efficient as driving from Philadelphia to Annapolis, and back, in order to walk three miles on a treadmill in a Maryland gym."

In her book, Kingsolver recognizes that in order to embrace the "locavore" diet, she and her family would have to be very aware of the seasons and the produce that comes with them. No more peaches in April, no more strawberries in February. But in so doing, she discovered a few things:
  1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When it's not there, it just makes you even more excited when it's finally time!
  2. Real fresh is different from grocery store fresh. Ever eaten a strawberry straight from the plant? You know what I mean!
  3. If you can't have what you love, you love what you have. Kingsolver and her family have discovered incredible recipes using only seasonal ingredients that they never would have enjoyed otherwise.
Kingsolver's daughter wrote,
"The first step, shopping, is actually easier. When you peruse the farmers' market for fresh produce, the options are clear. You don't miss what's not there, either, like Skittles placed at a third-grader's eye level at checkout. No wailing kids or annoying tabloids (omg...is Brangelina really over?!). Just wonderful, fresh things to eat.

When I saw giant boxes of strawberries piled on the tailgate of a farmer's truck, I didn't waste ten seconds asking myself the questions I would mull over in a conventional grocery: "Hmm, do I really want berries today? Are these overpriced? Are they going to mold the minute I get them home?" I power-walked past other meandering shoppers and bought a bucket load."
(She had been waiting for those strawberries all winter long!)

Ahh, the joy of the farmer's market. The funny thing is, there are so many people who assume that a farmer's market is pricey, but in truth I've always found farmer's market prices to be quite comparable to that of the grocery stores, if not better. Plus, you know for a fact that you're getting something fresh and, most likely, miles tastier than anything in the supermarket produce department.

On Saturday I stopped by the farmer's market in Ashland, VA to pick up something to take to a family gathering. I found a good sized "passport melon" (cross between a cantaloupe and a honeydew) for $2 and bought a half dozen pears for another $2. The pears were sold to me by a very kind elderly gentleman who insisted that I take a bite of one before I bought any. I had one bite and I was hooked. The sweetness was incredible. Little Boo swiped it from me and by the time I wrestled it out of her little hand all that was left was about a nickel-sized piece of pear flesh with five seeds stuck in it. Not sure where the stem went. Hmm...

My farmers' market shopping experience was lovely. I got to chat with the people who grew the food I was about to eat, and there was even a musician there serenading the shoppers with live music. Little Boo was free to run around in the grass while kind shoppers and vendors laughed at her silly antics. It was a nice day and all in all, I felt happy to be there.

So I've decided to try. I can't go totally locavore like the Kingsolver family, but I can try to choose fruits & veggies that are in season and I can try to be more conscious about exactly where my food is coming from, and attempt to make better choices according to my knowledge.
I am also going to try to think of my garden as more of an important food source for our family and not just a nice hobby. I am one of those people who hear about others harvesting their pole beans and I think, Pole beans? When did you plant those? Am I supposed to be planting something now? I recently did some research so that I can stay more on top of this stuff, and I went to the Virginia Cooperative Extension website and discovered this fabulous Vegetable Planting Guide. It gives you nice little formula to figure out when to plant what- you just fill it in on the handy dandy chart!

I am also very fortunate to have a brother who was smart enough to marry a wonderful woman who is a walking green thumb. She blessed me with this bounty from their garden, her kitchen, and their chickens.

That's a dozen free-range organic chicken eggs, 3 zucchini muffins (okay, there were more, but we had them for breakfast!), yellow squash, zucchini, and some kind of strange long purple beans that she says are really tasty. That's a whole meal right there!

After I had gathered the eggs my 7-year-old son looked at a chicken, then at the basket of eggs. He pointed at the chicken, then to the eggs and asked in a worried whisper, "Mom, does he KNOW?"

I laughed. Yes, Monkey, she knows. And so do I. :-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


First, don't forget to enter my 300th Post Celebration Giveaway!

And now, remember that Wedding Letters contest I entered last month? Well, I'm a finalist! Hurrah! The finalists are posted on Jason F. Wright's facebook page (he's the author of The Christmas Jar and several other fabulous novels) and the letter with the most "likes" wins an iPad2.

So come help a sista out and vote for me! Then tell your friends to vote too!! THANKS!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Belated 300th Post Celebration Giveaway!!

This was my little project this morning. Weird, knit wrap shirt thing turned into a cute vest and flower clip! Woohoo!

It has been a reeeaaally long time since I've done a giveaway on here, and so I decided that a giveaway would be the perfect way to celebrate my 300th post! (it was last week...I kinda missed it, but oh well.) Here are the details!

- There will be 3 winners- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place

- Contest closes at midnight on Thursday. If you comment after that, it won't count!

- Winners will be announced on Friday morning, the 12th

- You have 3- count 'em THREE!- ways to enter:
  1. Leave me a comment. Say hey, what's up, whatever. Just give me some love.
  2. FOLLOW me! I love me some new followers. If you follow me, mention it in your comment (follow me everything is alright, I'll be the one to tuck you in at night and if you wanna leave I can guarantee you won't find nobody else like me....come on, you know you were singing it in your head too!)
  3. Twitter/Facebook/Blog me- just post about my giveaway on one of your favorite places to pontificate and then let me know in that great comment you're going to leave me.
So, for example, if someone posts and says, "Hey, what's up? I am your newest follower and I posted your contest on facebook!" Then they get 3 whole entries! If they say, "Hey, I just posted you on Twitter!" Then they get 2. You get the idea. I would recommend, for your friends' sake, that you not post about it EVERYWHERE, because as much as I would love the publicity, it might annoy people. I don't need human billboards. Just sayin'.

- In your comment, PLEASE leave me your e-mail address so that I can get in touch with you. name(at)whatever(dot)com. No e-mail address = no prize = sad you. :-(

- If you forget to mention something in your comment (like that you blogged about me or started following or whatever) please go back and delete your first comment. I am easily confused.

- Winners will be chosen at random for all 3 spots- first name I pick will be first, second will be second, and so on. Last one's a rotten egg! (just kidding)

- PRIZES! I have gathered a selection of goodies that are going to be listed in my etsy shop (that's right, you'll get a sneak preview!) and the three winners will get to choose their prize from among them. First place winner will get first choice, then to second place, and then to third.

Prizes are as follows:

1. Your selection of Infinity Scarf & Flower set. This baby is so versatile, it's crazy. A big shout out to my bloggy friend Alyssa of Live. Love. Craft. for her fabulous Mum Clip Tutorial that inspired me to do these matching flowers! She is having her own giveaway this week (in which I'm one of the sponsors- so you can win more goodies from me!!) so head over there and give her some love!!

Here I am rockin' the Misty Mint:

You can go long...

You can wrap it up...

Or go relaxed and dress up the hair!

Infinity Scarf & Flower sets are available in the following colors (only have 1 of each right now!): Lemon Butter, Misty Mint (pictured above), Fair Skies, and Berry Blossom (the one on the far right below- no matter how hard I tried, I could not get it to appear the same color that it is in real life- it's purple. Really, honest-to-goodness PURPLE!).

If an infinity scarf isn't your thing, you could choose from these lovely bloomin' hair clips- pick any 2! I have plenty of fabric left over from the scarves above as well, and I could make you one of those flower clips (without the scarf) if you'd like one of those to be one of your two that you choose.

And heck, since I'm feeling generous, take a look in my shop. If you win and you see something there that you'd rather have for a prize, let me know and I'll bet you we can work something out! ;-)

Whew! This contest stuff is COMPLICATED! I am looking forward to hearing from everybody and giving away some FAB prizes!!!

Linking up to...
Keeping It Simple

It's a Blog Party

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Freshly Baked Pita Bread- and my 300th Post! (How did that happen?)

Hey, guess what...this is my 300th post! And for lack of a better topic, I'm going to show you PITA BREAD MAKING! :-)

(actually, if I'd had my act together I would have had some fun giveaways for you, but alas, I did not. But they're coming soon, I promise!)

So, my husband recently underwent some pay changes at work which have significantly impacted his paycheck- in a negative way. So I have decided to start working my thrifty muscles and try to stretch our dollars once more.

Luckily, for me that means trying my hand at making things that I would normally buy. Chicken salad was on the menu for this week, and we love to eat it in pitas, so I thought hey- why not see if I can make pitas?

I used this recipe for pita bread, and at the end I used the damp towel method for softening the bread. All in all, it was a very simple process- ingredients go into the bread machine set on the dough cycle (takes 90 min) then dough gets turned out, divided into 8 pieces and rolled into circles. They relax on the counter for 30 minutes, then get put into the oven.

Our family has a new pastime. It's called pita races- each child bets on a pita to be the first to poof up and they see which one poofs first. Lots of fun for a 5-year-old and 7-year-old! (okay, I admit it. I was pulling for the one on the left.)

They only take about 4-5 minutes in a 500-degree oven and then they look like this: bread UFOs.

Here's the one we broke open to sample. Mmmm, fluffy pita-y goodness. You can't tell in this photo, but the pockets inside turned out perfectly.

And there are our pitas, all soft and lovely, awaiting the yummy chicken salad that is to be their filling. Today's Thrifty Adventure = SUCCESS! My husband has actually asked if we can just skip buying sandwich bread altogether and just have me make these. Umm, okay!

Have you had any great thrifty successes lately? Leave a comment and share!

Linking to:

ThriftyThurs Thrifty Thursday Week 34
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