cooking (25) crafts (10) Fitness (1) gardening (3) Home Organization (10) kids (68) school (9) sewing (28)

Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Garden--Help Me Get Rid of Tomato Worms!!!

My garden is growing quite well so far!  a lot of this stuff was planted from seed, so I am super excited that it is doing so well.  The tomatoes are the only thing that I planted as plants. 

In the back/higher garden I have: cherry tomatoes, carrots, garlic, cucumber, onion, potatoes, and a creole tomato.

In the front/lower garden I have: green beans, strawberries, broccoli, lettuce, thyme, marjoram, bell pepper, and a TON of basil that reseeded itself from last year. 

I also have huge bushes of parsley and rosemary from last year.  The only thing that doesn't seem to be growing very well are my hot peppers, so I will probably go out and buy a plant.

My only problem is tomato worms.  I have always been able to deter tomato worms by planting marigolds in the vegetable bed, but it doesn't seem to be working this year.  I have been finding worms on my cherry tomato almost everyday.  Today, I found 5!!! I have been thinning the tomato plants down (removing stems with just leaves/no blossoms on them) so that I can find the tomato worms better.  Does anyone have any advice?

Oh so happy!!!  There is fruit and flowers on so many of the plants already!  A couple close ups of my maters.

Tutorial--Make Your Own Shorts/Pants

As my sewing skills and confidences grow, I would like to start sharing my knowledge with others.  This is the first time I am trying to write a a tutorial.  Hopefully someone will want to try and out and let me know how it worked for them!

Making your own shorts or pants without a pattern definitely isn't a new thing.  I have no idea where I learned how to do it--I read so many amazing blogs that have helped hone the skills that my mother taught me.  All you need is a pair of shorts/pants that fit well, some paper (I use a roll of kids craft paper), fabric, elastic, and a sewing machine and thread.  For Ayden's shorts, I used a little less than half a yard of fabric.
The first thing you need to do, is turn the pants inside out and tuck one leg into the other.  Try to get the piece as flat as possible so you can see all of the side seams.  These shorts did not want to lay flat, so I drew the left side out to where they should have lain flat.

Lay the shorts on the paper and trace around them, about 1/2 inch away from the seam to account for seam allowances.  The bottom and top edges are about an inch and a half below the seam, to allow for a 1 inch cuff and a 1 inch waist band.

The front and back pieces of your clothes are not identical, so you need to trace both the front half of the shorts and the back half.  Make sure you label your pattern pieces!  And if you would like to make the shorts again, you might want to label the size.

Cut out your pattern pieces.

You will need 2 front pieces and 2 back pieces, so I fold my fabric in half and pin my pattern pieces on top.

Cut the pieces out.

  To ensure that I don't mess up my front and back pieces, I labeled my front pieces with an "F."  Note that I use a pencil that will disappear when it is washed.

Now the sewing begins!!!

Pin 1 front and 1 back piece together, with the right sides facing each other.  (You will only see the wrong side of the fabric.)

Sew up the long, straight side, using a 1/2 seam allowance.  This is the side seam of your pants.

Repeat for the other two pieces.

Open the pieces up and iron flat.  You will have 2 pieces that look like this.

As a side note, I do not have a serger.  . . (yet) so I like to make french seams because they look more professional.  If you would like to make a french seam, all you have to do is (1) put the pieces together with wrong sides together (2) sew a narrow (3) open and iron flat, trim extra fabric (4) press the fabric with right sides facing each other (your seam will be smooshed between the 2 layers) (5) sew 1/4 seam.

Ok, back to the normal tutorial.

If you don't want a cuff, skip to the next image.

To make the contrasting cuff, I made a narrow hem on my polka dot fabric.  To make a narrow hem, place fabric on the ironing board right side down and press 1/2 inch of fabric over twice.

I pinned this fabric to the pant leg, lining up the unfinished (bottom) edges.  The rolled hem that I just made is at the top where the pins are.

Sew a straight line down the pins. (I remove pins as I go, to avoid possibly breaking a needle.)

Repeat for the other leg.

Another "professional" touch that I added, was sewing 2 parallel lines here.

Next, place the two legs together, ride sides facing each other.

Pin up the J shaped curves on either side.  These seams will be the waist to crotch and waist to butt seams.

Sew where you have pinned with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Open up the shorts so that the seams lay flat.  I have a pin in the picture above so you can see the seam that we just sewed. Your fabric should look more like shorts now!

Now I have flipped my shorts around.  Pin the inseam.  This area is shaped like a U.  That middle seam is the seam that you sewed in the previous step.  Since I made a cuff, I was careful to match up the cuffs on the front and back pieces.

Sew, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

If the clothes are going to get a good bit of wear, you might want to reinforce the crotch inseam.  Come back and add a line of stitches at the crotch on the outside of the seam that you just sewed.

At this point, I like to try the clothes on just to make sure nothing needs to be adjusted before I hem up the bottoms and create the waist.

To make a cuff, make sure the pants are inside out.  Flip over 1/2 inch of fabric and press it flat.  Next flip over 1 inch of fabric and press flat again.  You will not see any of the raw edge.

Sew the cuff down.  I life to line my presser foot up with the top edge of the cuff.

Repeat for the other leg.

Since I already had a line of stitching on the cuff, I flipped my pants around so they were right side out to sew the cuff down.  I then sewed right on my upper line of stitching and carefully removed each pin before I got to it.

 Lastly, you need to make the waistband! Just like the cuffs, with the shorts inside out, fold over 1/2 inch, press, fold over 1 inch, press again.  At this point, I like to make a little tag.  I just use my pinking shears to cut a square of fabric and insert it into the center back waistband.

Pin the waistband down.  You are going to need to leave about an inch and a half open so that you can insert the elastic.  To mark the open spot, I use 2 pins on either side.

Stitch around the waist, using about 1/4 inch allowance.  Start at one set of double pins, and end at the other set.  Note, too, that my opening is in the back.  This is just in case I get a little pucker, mistakes aren't as noticeable in the back.

Put your elastic around the wearer's waist (not stretched) and mark where you need to cut.  (This is 3/4 inch elastic.) I usually cut the elastic just a tad shorter than the person's waist circumference.

To thread the elastic through, use a safety pin.  Be careful to keep the elastic from twisting.

It also helps to use "non-roll" elastic.  My store was out of  the non-roll, so I am making due with standard elastic.

Overlap the ends, and stitch, using a zigzag stitch.  I go back and forth a couple times to make it strong.

Distribute the elastic evenly through the band.  If you want to make sure they fit well, you might want to try them on before you close up this seam.

Sew the seam closed, doing your best to line up your stitching with the other ends.

Congrats!  You just made a pair of pants!  Enjoy!

One last thought.  Anyone can sew.  All you need is patience, a good iron, and lots of pins.  It is like carpentry, take your time, measure twice, and mark your patterns well and you, too, can create whatever your mind can think up!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Car Seat Safety

I would like to take a moment to share my two cents about car seat safety.  I know that car seat laws say that you can turn you child around at a year.  With your first child, it is exciting to turn your kid around!  They are growing up, they are so cute, and now you can see them when you drive!!!  I turned Jack around on his first birthday.

But then I started doing research.  I looked into many many different car seats.  First, I looked at Britax, because everyone says they are the safest.  But here is the problem with Britax: they have 2 different car seat standards--1 for Europe and 1 for the United States.   If you can get you hands on a European Britax, then you have a really safe car seat.  The testing standards are much higher in Europe than the US.  Unfortunately, the car seats sold here only pass the US standards (which isn't that bad, but not the best).

7 pound Ayden and 20 pound Audrey.  Both rear facing in their Sunshine Kids seats
Somehow I stumbled on the car seat company Sunshine Kids (now called Diono).  These car seats are the narrowest on the market--you can fit 3 across in the car.  They are made from steel--not plastic, so they don't have an expiration date.  And best of all, kids can be rear facing from 5-45 pounds.  As you can see from the picture above, Ayden is cradled quite comfortably and the sides of the seat are low, so Audrey (still today) is very comfortable in her seat.  Oh, and these seats fold flat so you can carry them like a backpack.  We have used them on airplanes quite easily.  If you want to use your car seat on an airplane, it MUST have an FAA sticker on it.  The flight attendant will check for this sticker as soon as you walk onto the plane.

The number 1 thing I would recommend every new parent get is the best car seat you can afford.  Amazon carries these car seats  or you can buy them directly from the company

For those of you interested in crash test data:

EDIT:  The latest news that I found on Yahoo

Monday, March 26, 2012

Living Area Re-Do

Describing a home layout is a little difficult unless you have actually been in a house, so I will do my best.  

We bought this home because there are so many angles; the rooms are not just square boxes.  This makes the home interesting, but kind of difficult to "stage."  When we moved in, I had the entertainment center on the wall that now has pictures.  That door is the door to our bedroom.  To the left of the pictures is our dining room.

Basically all that I did in the living room was repaint the walls, rearrange the furniture, and made new curtains and pillow covers.  I will be making white slipcovers for the couch and chair next.

This is the view of the living room from the couch and big chair.  I painted the canvases above the fireplace.  It is hard to see, but they are just blue (the same blue that is in the dining room) with 2 fleur de lis on them.  I also painted the vase that green color and put fake flowers in it to pull the red from the Yuengling poster.  The lamp is an old yucky lamp that I spray painted black and bought a new lamp shade for.  The bird on top of the entertainment center also got a coat of blue paint.

On the other side of the entertainment center is the hallway to the kids' bedrooms and bathroom.  That wall is a collection of all Bryan's airplane pictures.  That is our front door at the end.  On that cool angled wall is my sewing "room."  I have 3 long shelves, I guess about 6-7 feet long, my sewing table and some plastic storage bins underneath. We also mounted lights under the bottom shelf so I can see better when I sew. Oh, and the sewing "room" wall is painted the same color green as the kitchen.

The kitchen got a nice new light green coat of paint, Bryan hung the nice small shelves for me, and I made a new valance.  The valance is a three tier, ruffled valance made from blue, green, and a floral fabric.  (This picture is taken from the dining area.)

Last but not least, is the room that took the most time.  Our dining room got a coat of blue paint and then I stenciled a creme color on top.  It creates a wallpaper effect but for much less money and if someone moves in and hates it, they don't have to strip off wallpaper!  It wasn't a hard project, but it took 2 1/2 days to do the stencil alone.

 A close-up of my 3 tier blue ruffled valance and two pillows.  The floral is the same fabric in the kitchen.  It is the shape of a stop sign and has a cuddly minky fabric on the back.

Now, how much did this project cost us?  I don't have a definite figure, but I can tell you that I bought 3 gallons of paint at $20 a gallon.  The stencil was gifted to me.  The stencil paint cost about $5.  The shelves cost around $100.  (Shelves btw, are funny.  The Shelves themselves are cheap but they get you on the brackets!)  The fabric was my big ticket item.  The floral is a custom order upholstery fabric that I got for $50 (and that was half price off!  $25 for 2 yards).  The blue fabric was only like $4 a yard but I bought a whole bolt of it (I think that is like 7 yards).  The green fabric was also pretty cheap around $6 a yard and I only bought 2 or 3 yards.  I have used just about every inch of the fabric!  So I believe that is around $270. The project is worth so much more than that!  Before, the living room just didn't feel right and my sewing area was a wreck since I only had the table and plastic drawers.  It is all so comfortable now.  We have gained seating with the window seat (it had awful miniblinds before) and the fireplace hearth.  And the house will show that much better when we have to sell. But I love this house so much, I am not looking forward to selling anytime soon.

A great big thank you to my friend Sarah Pena for helping design my space.  There were so  many times when she question my color choices and kept me on track!  Anyone in the New Orleans area that needs help designing the home, Sarah is a very affordable choice!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tackling Clutter- Mail and Entryway Stuff

Please ignore the bag of party stuff under the shelf.  Those are supplies for the kids' birthday party and I don't know where else to put them.

Does anyone else feel like their lives are consumed by junk mail?  I don't think there is anything else that drives me so crazy.  I also have a tendency to lose things like my keys and sunglasses (a must here in southern Louisiana). To address these two issues, I asked my dear husband to mount these things in the garage.  This is a corner of the garage, right next to the door to enter the house.

The white board and key shelf were in the house previously, but they are really not pretty items that I want to look at every day.  I keep stamps and return address labels on the board.  On the shelf, I have a small bowl that we keep change and other things you might empty out of your pockets.  The large shelf is just a scrap piece of plywood.  It is screwed into two cleats (also scrap lumber).  On the shelf, which I will use like a desk, is my address book, blank envelopes, my shredder, and a container full of pens and pencils.  Underneath the shelf, I have a plastic tote that can also function as another shelf space (I usually keep my purse on it), a garbage can, and an umbrella bucket.  There is also space for shoes, so I can take them off before I enter the house.

So now junk mail never even enters the house, I *should* always be able to find my keys, purse, and sunglasses, and best of all--the project cost $0!!!  I hope this helps other people trying to conquer junk mail clutter.

Monday, March 19, 2012


It has been a while since I have posted an updated picture of the kids.

Quick update


So I set some goals for myself this year and for lent.  Among them,  I decided that I would sew consistently and stop yelling.  Here are some pictures of my latest sewing projects. 

I made these two pillows.  The flowered pillow is shaped like a stop sign and has super soft fabric on the back.  The checkered pillow has a flap opening in the back so I can easily take the pillow form out and wash the cover.  Up top, I have a three tiered ruffled valence.  It took a lot of fabric to make, but it was really easy.

For the kitchen, I sewed up another three tiered ruffle valence, but i used all three colors.  Once again, a super simple  curtain that uses quite a bit of fabric.  Bryan also put these pretty white shelves up for me.  There are two of them.  The other shelf is a little bit higher than this one.

I also made two of each of these pillows.  The floral pillow has a flap opening in the back.  The blue and green pillow has an invisible zipper on the bottom.  My next home sewing project is to make slip covers for the couch.  Call me crazy, but I will be slip covering them in white.  Yes, white.  Yes, I have children.  Yes, they are messy.  No, you are not going to convince me to use a different color.  Don't even try.  They will look awesome, and I will buy stock in bleach.

And finally, a note about my Lent resolution.  If you missed it before, I have decided to give up yelling for Lent.  The whole point of giving something up (for me) is to rely on God for strength.  And there is nothing that requires more help from God, than holding my temper.  It's funny, I actually know a couple other moms that have given up yelling for Lent too.  So far, I have succeeded! Life has been so much more peaceful, and school with Jack has been much more enjoyable.  If you find yourself yelling a bit too much too, I really suggest committing to no yelling for a week.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Laundry Detergent Recipe

I linked the laundry detergent recipe to a previous post ("Home Economics"), but it is kind of buried now.  So I figured I would repost the recipe.  I found this particular recipe at a website called "Living on a Dime."

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, grated
6 cups water
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Heat 6 cups water and soap in a large pan until dissolved. Stir in washing soda and Borax. Mix and heat until dissolved. Boil 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (It will have the consistency of honey.*) In a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, add 1 quart of hot water, then add the soap mixture. Mix. Add enough cold water to make a 2 gallon mixture. Mix until well blended. Let sit 24 hours. The soap will gel*. Use 1/2 cup for each load.
Makes 2 gallons. (Approximately $ .40 per gallon)

I also posted a few tips in another post.  Click HERE to go to the post with my helpful hints in making the laundry detergent.