Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blue Jean Stocking Ornaments

Here is the box of ornaments I made this weekend. Brit left a comment that she could not see the picture and was interested, so I decided to do an entire "how-to" post.

Step One: Trace a stocking pattern on the front side of some old jeans. You will cut right on the line you draw.

Step Two: Stitch about 1/4 inch inside your cutting line. Leave the top edges open.

Step Three: Clip all around the edges (including the top edges). Be careful not to cut through your stitching line. This will become your fringe.

Step Four: Now you need to wash your ornaments to make them fray. Find an old pillowcase or something that you can sew into a big pouch.

It should be something that you can throw away when finished. Throw all of your completed stockings into this and double fold over the top and pin it. Make sure to pin it or you will have a big mess of fuzz in your washing machine! You don't need to do a separate load of wash, just throw the pillowcase in with a load of jeans. Throw them into the dryer (it takes about an hour to dry these).

Unpin and remove. See all the lint?

And I only had six in this batch. It is nice to remove them outside so you can shake off all the lint. I did three loads, shaking out the pillowcase in between. After the last load, I just tossed it out because I have a lot of old 'rag' cases if I ever need another one.

You will need to iron the stockings. Then stuff a small amount of fiberfill in the toe area and fill them up with whatever you desire. Hot glue on a bow if you want to.
They are super easy (although messy!) to make.

Here they are on the blue jean/gingerbread man tree:

If anybody decides to make some, be sure to post a picture so I can see what you decide to do with them. If you do a denim-themed tree and also have a blue jean quilt (Brit, I am thinking of you!), the quilt would make a great tree skirt around the bottom. I am still working on finishing my blue jean quilt. I doubt that it will be done by Christmas.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

My Garden Today

I am still Alive

Blogging is a lot like exercise. You miss a few days in a row and it is very hard to get back in to it!
I have been busy working on Christmas ornaments. As I mentioned before, I am the chief Christmas decorator at the hotel where I work. I have to do 5 trees and a big wreath to hang over the fireplace. I have to start thinking about what I want to do in October as I usually decorate in mid-November (we usually start with Christmas parties right after Thanksgiving). Very often I make ornaments to add to the things I already have, which is what I have been doing the past couple of days. I am making more blue jeans stockings . This year I am adding a raffia bow and filling them with a candy cane instead of the mouse. They will go on a very country-themed tree with sunflowers, garland made of twine, red-checked burlap, lights that look like red/green peppers and lights that look like bottles of BBQ sauce -- and I am thinking of putting a cloth chicken doll on top! (Our restaurant has a BBQ theme and is decorated with a lot of sunflower items). I love to do the 'different' trees! I will be sure to show you a pic of what I actually end up doing.

I also added hooks to some cinnamon star-shaped cookies I made a few years ago. The hot glue I used to hold the wire did not stick very well, so I am trying a different glue.

I also went to Joanne's and bought a bunch of artificial floral pieces for the wreath. The tree I do in the lobby will have hydrangeas on it and I need something to coordinate. I have not been inspired to start working on it though.

I went to Wally's World and they had the cutest gumdrop garland. I bought two 9-foot packages, but have not yet decided if I will keep it for myself or use it at work.

I am leaning toward keeping it myself and doing my own tree in gingerbread men, cookies, and candy. We shall see. I made a lot of gingerbread men a few years ago, which are just too cute on a tree. I am planning to make more tomorrow. They are much more work than the blue jean stockings, so I need to get started. Oh, good, I found a picture to show you what they look like. The tree even has the star-shaped cookies on it.

Is anyone else starting to think about Christmas decorating?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cute Halloween Idea

I just made this little Halloween candy container. Each side is a different character and it will hold about 5 miniature candy bars. I thought it would be cute to make a few and take them to work Monday for some of my co-workers. I found it at Martha Stewart's site
You just print it out on your printer, cut it out and glue the sides together. Very quick and easy. You do need Adobe Acrobat Reader as it is a pdf file. Just thought I would share in case anyone else wants to make some. It can also be used as a votive candle holder (although I am not too keen on using paper for a candle holder).

Friday, October 21, 2005

Happy 51st Anniversary, Mom & Dad

October 23,1954

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Since I am leaving for the weekend, I am posting this a little early. The anniversary is actually Sunday.

Last year my 3 siblings and I gave Mom and Dad a 50th anniverary party. These pictures are from the party.

We think they look even more beautiful today!

Getting the room all ready for the 100 guests

Mom with her wedding dress

I made candy bar favors for all the guests to take home

The cake was made by niece. She did a great job.

I Hit Upon a Winner

This meatloaf was a big success! I did not have a recipe--just winged it. It is fancy enough for company, don't you think?

 Posted by Picasa

Maybe it's time to retire

I have really been enjoying staying home the last two days. It is amazing how much I can get done when I don't have to go to work. Unlike many women I enjoy domestic activities. Right now my stuffed meatloaf is in the oven and I have potatoes soaking in salt water almost ready to be oven roasted. I washed all the back outside windows earlier and then took a walk around the wooded area. There is an old horse barn right behind my gardens. It is only visible in the winter when the trees shed their leaves. I walked over there and took some pictures.

It is just an old dilapidated structure, but I always thought it would make a neat garden shed.

I also took a picture of my shrub border with its burning bush almost done flaming.

And just when everything else is dying for the winter, the poppies put out their new green growth for spring's display.

I Feel Like Aunt Bea

Remember Andy Griffith and Aunt Bea? DH and I love that old show. In fact, we own most of the episodes on tape. Whenever I don't have to go to work and I flit about cleaning and cooking all morning, it makes me think of Aunt Bea. She took great pleasure in her daily domestic duties. It seemed like such a simple era.

Here's to the memory of Aunt Bea. May she rest in peace.

Cream Cheese Apple Strudel I made early this morning. What a nice little breakfast treat.

For dinner tonight I am making meatloaf. But not just your plain jane meatloaf. I am going to try a loaf stuffed with ham, munster cheese, carmelized onions, and spinach. I love to try new dishes.

DH and I are going away for the weekend (leaving 7 a.m. tomorrow), so I will be eating in restaurants for the next two days.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Conquering Clutter

Did you ever get to the point where you just had to throw things away? I am talking about clutter, junk, excess STUFF. Clothes, magazines, shoes....I am being overrun by all of it. I decided yesterday on the spur of the moment to take two days vacation and conquer the monster before I am eaten alive. I have clothes in 2 closets, 3 dressers and big rubbermaid containers in the basement. I have more pairs of shoes than I know what to do with (a few years back I counted them and had over 60 pairs...mostly work shoes (i.e. heels)) The last time I counted I had 16 magazine subscriptions. I think I may have less now as I let quite a few expire.

Thursday is garbage day at my house. That is why I decided to take today off. I wanted to get those bags to the curb and have them taken far, far away before I had a chance to change my mind and dig a few things back out (I've been known to do that).

I worked my butt off today and was quite successful. I had about 6 garbage bags and 2 boxes full of stuff. About 1:00 p.m. I was working out in the yard and the garbage men came. I stopped to watch as bag by bag by box my STUFF was thrown into the big truck. It felt so liberating! I can't wait for next week to have even more of it hauled away.

In between throwing stuff away, I made bean soup (dried navy beans) and cornbread for dinner. The soup cooks for hours on the stovetop so it is the perfect meal to make when you don't really have time to cook. Every now and then you just give it a stir and then go back to whatever you were doing. I put carrots in my bean soup and I was so wishing my new knife would get here. Carrots need a sharp knife!

So did I throw EVERYTHING away? Heavens, no! Look at one of the things that escaped the big black garbage bag.

I found three bags with styrofoam balls in them. Now why did I take the time and effort to take them from their bags and stack them nicely in this big glass container? Why didn't I just toss them? I used to enjoy crafts, but since getting a computer years ago, my crafting has given way to surfing and blogging. It is not likely I will ever do anything with these silly things. I thought to myself, "you never know when you may need a styrofoam ball." So here they are just waiting for the day I may need them.

Simple Project that took me 3 Years to Do

See this table? It has looked like this for about 3 years. I had always planned to refinish it, but it just never happened.

Until today.
I said to myself, "I am REALLY tired of looking at this worn finish."

I then grabbed a piece of sandpaper and took the little table out on the deck to sand. It took about 5 minutes.

Then I wiped off the dust and applied tape around the edges. I grabbed a can of black spray paint and put a light coat on. It dried in about 20 minutues. I applied 3 additional coats of paint.

Here it is finished. I like it so much better now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Calphalon Katana Stainless-Steel 5-Inch Santoku Knife

After 30 years of cooking, I have finally broke down and purchased a good quality chef knife. I just ordered it on Friday and expect to get it within a week. I am expecting all the frustrations of chopping vegetables with a dull knife to disappear once I get this little beauty in my hands. The sales pitch reads, "Calphalon's Katana Series is an all-purpose Asian-style knife that's designed to cut meat, vegetables and fish with little effort. The indentations along the blade's edge prevent food from sticking while slicing and its straight edge sharpens easier than ordinary stainless, maintaining its edge longer. You'll feel like a pro chef when using this knife to slice, dice, mince and cut." I can hardly wait to test it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Busy Day Today

I decided to make frosted sugar cookies (DH's favorite cookie). I don't make them very often because they are waaaaaaaayyyyy too much work! When I do decide to put in the extra effort, I always make a double batch and freeze them.

Today I discovered the joy of meringue powder. Does anyone ever use it? What it does is make a nice hard frosting, so you can stack the cookies and they won't stick together. In the old days people used raw egg whites; now meringue powder is used because of health issues. They seem to be setting up quite nicely.

I also cut down the last of the deck plants (dahlias and canna plant). Everything is now gone from the deck and all of the containers are stored away for the winter. It feels good to have that done.

I still have plenty of fall chores to do. TONS of stuff to cut down, but if I don't get to it, it can all wait until spring. If we continue to get nice weather then I may cut more down this week.

There really is only one thing left that I must do and that is spray all the evergreen shrubs and cherry trees with spray to keep the deer and rabbits away. I ordered some stuff off the net in June that supposedly only has to be sprayed once and lasts for six months. The problem is that the paper directions that were in the box were shredded by mice and now I don't know what it is or how to mix it. There is no name on the container itself. So I am now off to search the net to see if I can find it. I only know that it is made by Nott Products.

Sweetest Day Surprise

DH and I tend to ignore all of the "Hallmark" holidays (the ones made up to sell cards). So imagine my surprise when he came home from getting groceries yesterday with this little miniature rose bush. He's a sweetheart!

Some nice fall color yesterday

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Are these aphids?

Every year I bring my hibiscus trees into the basement for the winter. Every year they get like this by January (this is a picture from last year). I am assuming these are aphids, but am not really sure. I have tried spraying them with soapy water, but it does not seem to help much. Even though it looks horrible, there really does not seem to be any damage to the plant. When I bring them outside in the spring, I soap them up and spray with a hose and the little nasties just seem to disappear. It has been happening for four years now, so I have just accepted that it will and I don't worry much about it. But if anyone has some idea what I can do to prevent them this year, I am open to all suggestions. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Whatever Happened to Christopher?

Does anyone know where he disappeared to? I was hoping he would be getting a new show on HGTV when TLC axed him, but so far he has not shown up any place. I used to like his show and really miss the decorating inspiration.

With the autumn season I always get the urge to change things, so I have been looking for some new project. So far, though, I have not found one.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Seed Packs

If you are in a garden club or are participating in some other seed-swapping event, you may want to take the time to make your own little seed packets. I made these last year and had quite a good time doing it.

I got the idea from this site, where the webmaster so generously shared her pattern.

You can use them as is, or do as I did and personalize with photos of the blooming flowers of the seeds within so that the recipient will know what to expect.

Here are the back sides

Sunday Day Trip

I rarely stay home for an entire weekend. During nice weather, DH and I like to take little day trips almost every weekend. (It is one of the benefits of being aging empty nesters!) I am a very early riser, so Sunday I got all my housework done before 8 a.m. and we were off by 9 a.m. I was hoping for some nice fall color, but there really wasn't much. I can't tell if we are a week away from "The Peak", or if we aren't going to get much color this year.

So I had a lovely weekend. Saturday night's wedding was very nice as was Sunday's day trip. And I have not had to cook dinner since Thursday! Although I did some baking Saturday -- banana cake and pound cake.

This is a rest stop with a nice view of Lake Huron

This is the Mackinac Bridge. Of course, they are doing construction on it. I have never gone over it in the summer months when they weren't doing something to impede the traffic flow.

Have you heard of Mackinac Island? The Grand Hotel? No cars--only horses... famous for fudge. A Christopher Reeve movie was made there, but I forgot the name. 'Somewhere in Time' sort of sticks in my mind, but that could be totally wrong...I almost never watch movies. (I bet Dianne knows as she seems to be really up on movies!)I am just wondering how far away people know of this Island. Anyway, that is Mackinac Island out in the distance.

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's two penninsulas

This is called 'Castle Rock'. It is a huge natural rock formation. You can walk up to the top and there is a viewing deck up there. We did not walk it yesterday, but we have many times. You need to be in pretty good shape to climb this rock without using the resting benches provided every 50 steps or so.
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