Thursday, April 30, 2009

Making a Mosaic Table Top

Pier I Imports has some attractive outdoor tables with mosaic tops. Depending on size, the prices range from $99 to $399. After some discussion about a possible purchase of one of these pricey tables, DH suggested we "recycle" two of our table tops. He encouraged me to make a mosaic pattern atop each table and to do it myself. That way, the pocketbook would barely be impacted, and the back patio would have a new look without purchasing a ready made item.

After some internet research, including this site on E-How and here at Homemade Simple, I decided to take the bait and try to make at least one mosaic table top. (Am aiming for a bigger piece, but learning on a small wooden circle...)

This is where I began the project:

1) Finding a design: often, coloring book pages for children have simple lines relating to a particular motif. The simpler the design, the easier it is to fill in the design with tiles. My first thought was to use a sunflower, so I sketched one using this design:

But, it was too complicated with too many lines in the design of the petals.

I redrew a sunflower using the design that a new blogger friend, Michele at Extremely Crafty in the UK, has on her blog. Check her out. She was so kind as to send her tutorial for this bag. You can receive it, too, if you email her with your request.

So Michele's flower looked easier to draw for a table top flower design (picture is courtesy of Michele, and her blog website is extremelycrafty.)

Step 2: Drawing the design on your work area. Here is a picture of a similar flower design on a wooden table topper that I drew yesterday:

3) Purchasing necessary materials

Home Depot provided three colors of ceramic tiles (reasonably priced at 39 cents apiece). And a sheet of 1 inch blue squares in glass was also purchased. Yellow, blue, and autumn brown tiles were broken by hitting with a hammer, and each piece was then loosely fit onto the table as shown in the picture below:

4) The next step is to adhere each broken piece of ceramic tile to the wood, then grout and cure. But that is a post for next week when I return from Dallas!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tee Shirt Purse - Easy!

Previously, I blogged about making tee shirt purses and got lots of inquiries on "How to Sew a Tee Shirt Purse" from Google.

So, it must have meant people were looking for easy ways to make purses from retired cotton jersey shirts.

The references from the September 2008 posting about how to make the satchels were this website and the Craftbits website and the Curbly website.

Then I received a comment from a reader (Fenna), who said an even easier way to accomplish making a bag from a t-shirt was to:
1. Cut off the arms (she says to feel free to make a big arch for a more dramatic look)
2. Cut a large scoop out of the neck (this will vary depending on design of the t-shirt)
3. Turn it inside out and sew the bottom of the shirt together.

Fenna was right on!

Here was an old tee shirt from Hawaii that just begged to be used for a craft project, along with some scrap ribbon that was forlornly lurking in the knickknack bin in my crafts closet:

Following Fenna's directions, the sleeves were cut out and the neck was scooped down with scissors. The only sewing involved was turning the shirt inside-out and seaming the bottom closed. It was gussied up with ribbon around the raw edges overlaid with a buttonhole stitch, but that step was not really necessary.

The Maui t-shirt bag is now holding my hand made sock stretchers purchased from the Etsy Squire Country Craft Store, along with some yarn for the next sock project. These sock blockers are a very nice product for knitters, entirely made by Montana crafters.

Here is a picture of all the craft filled bags in my catch-all closet. They each hold a UFO (unfinished object) that I'll get around to finishing sometime (maybe).

Note that the black mice with their tails wrapped around the hangers stayed over from Halloween. Maybe they were sniffing around for an overlooked scrap of yarn or material to take back to their own sewing burrows.

Using an outgrown baby sized t-shirt with a whimsical motif on its front would make up into a darling little baby bag (bottle warmer?). You can think of many applications from this easy method of recycling t-shirts.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Daffodil Principle

No matter how many times you might have seen this, it is worth another look:

One person CAN make a difference.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Economy: A Perspective

Just how bad IS the economy?

Cats are so dramatic

This came to my mailbox today via Dorothay. Thanks, Maud.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Easy Hummingbird Food

My friend Jan says that April 15 is the date not only to file taxes, but also THE DAY to put out your hummingbird feeders. Taking her advice, we purchased two new feeders and put them out over the weekend.
There was some attractive red liquid available for purchase at the store, but it is quick to make your own (the red color is not necessary).

The hummingbird recipe, from  AllFree Crafts:
1 part sugar/4 parts water

Boil the water first, then measure and add sugar, at the rate of 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water. Let cool and store excess in refrigerator until ready to use. Do not add food coloring, honey (which ferments), or artificial sweetener, which has no nutritional value.

Hummingbirds cannot smell and depend on their eyesight to seek out flowers and food sources. Inexpensive hummingbird feeders are readily available and will attract the busy little birds without the need for coloring the food - the bright red container and easy food source will keep them coming throughout the day. Since hummingbirds are territorial, you may want to hang two feeders - one in the back yard and one in the front, to accommodate as many hummingbirds as you can. Hanging the feeders in a shady spot will discourage fermentation and spoilage of the nectar.
Keeping lookout both Saturday and Sunday, we did not view any hummingbird males scouting out the territory for the females that will arrive a week to ten days later. Maybe the males were just hanging out, watching tv, or doing what hummingbirds do in their spare time.

In the meantime, I'll try to keep the nectar and feeders freshened once or twice a week and keep a lookout for the little critters.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oil Paints on Wood Furniture; Minwax Wipe-On Poly

Last summer, I posted about painting a wooden table top with fine art oils. You know the type of medium: the small tubes of paint found at craft stores for canvas work. The individual tube of oil paint costs about $5. Compared with buying a new quart of paint for repainting a small project, this type refinishing product that you can mix up yourself is less expensive, and gives a stained result that allows the wood grain to show through the color.

A wooden rocker, painted for donation seven years ago for Hospice of Western Colorado, needed a face lift. It had set for about 2,500 days in a sunny east window of a business owner who generously purchased the rocker for the Hospice CHAIR-ity Fundraiser. He proudly shows off the CHAIR for CHAIR-ity in his waiting room, where his clients made good use of it. However, after seven years of strong sunlight exposure, the back slats were VERY washed out, as shown below:

So it was definitely time for a quick face lift to freshen up the red color. DH picked up the rocker from our accountant's office and carted it home so I could do a little color tuning on it. Here is how it the colorization was done:

Gather materials of oil paint, mineral spirits, rags or paper towels, a container for mixing the stain, a disposable stirring utensil, linseed oil, and rubber gloves for skin protection.

Squeeze out about a two inch ribbon of paint from the tube and mix it with about a 1/3 cup linseed oil and 1/3 cup minerals spirits. The mineral spirits will help dissolve the oil and allow the paint to spread more easily.

Spread the mixture over the wood (first primed with a light sandpaper brush to take off that old and faded top layer). Use several coats for thorough coverage. Let it dry for several days and then apply a polyurethane gloss for durability. I found a clear gloss product, Minwax Wipe-On Poly, that worked very well on the rocker. "Hand rubbed beauty with polyurethane protection" is labeled on the front of the can. It was accurate; truth in labeling definitely applied to Minwax.

Here is a picture of the rocker with its original colors (the yellow flower was not repainted):

Refurbishing it made a HUGE difference in the looks of the rocker, and its backside is a bright new red. It is again ready to face the sun with a shiny new finish.

Now this rocker, donated and painted with butterflies and poppies in 2003, is the next one up for a face lift:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Geraniums: New Plants from Cuttings

Last spring, I wrote about attempting to keep geraniums alive over the winter. Not only did the three plants survive the winter in a pot watered only occasionally, they even blossomed in our non-heated garage. Here is a picture that I took yesterday of the straggly plants fresh out of the garage, a bit chilly but still green.

Now it was time to cut down this pot of geraniums and try to start growing new plants from the year-old stock.

Concise information about geranium propagation was found at Martha Stewart to-the-rescue.

A quick trip to the local gardening supply house would supply the potting medium and growth root stimulator. I still needed some pots for starting the propagation process, and knew there were a few that could be scrounged from prior gardening projects.

I came across a handy article about recycling tin cans for mini container gardening at Craft Stylish. The picture below is courtesy of the same website.

Opting for the packaged container of 2 inch peat moss flats (but alas, not incorporating the clever idea shown at Craft Stylish), here are the 18 geranium starts begun over Easter weekend:

These 18 new starts from the three "winterized" geraniums were transplanted using tips from Martha Stewart to-the-rescue.

Time, sun and water and a little luck should help in making even more viable plants that can be used on the patio this summer. And there will be sixfold the amount of new plants from the three geraniums kept over the winter.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Artwork

Good Friday, a most holy day in the Christian spiritual year, has been depicted in artwork over the centuries. Each work shows some form of Jesus' love, sacrifice, or death before resurrection.

This first work, a print of an original woodcut made by Sister Mary Grace Thul, (Caterina Benincasa Dominican Monastery, Dominican Nuns) shows Jesus washing a disciple's feet the night of the Last Supper. A print can be purchased at this site.

This stained glass picture came from Church Year. It shows the grief of Mary while placing Jesus' body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

Frederick Buechner talks about the symbol of Easter being the empty tomb. Please listen to Buechner speaking his 3 minute essay at 30 Good Minutes.

Windmill Ministries says:

The gospels mention that after the crucifixion Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. On Easter morning that tomb was found empty. Finding an empty tomb by itself does not prove a resurrection, however it is an essential confirmation that the resurrection really happened.

This stained glass artwork was found at The Road Least Taken.
Good Friday is the Friday within Holy Week, and is traditionally a time of fasting and penance, commemorating the anniversary of Christ's crucifixion and death. For Christians, Good Friday commemorates not just a historical event, but the sacrificial death of Christ, which with the resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith.
Have a blessed Good Friday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mud Time: Robert Frost

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

- Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, 1926

This is just the middle portion of Frost's poem that can be read in its completion here. It seems appropriate for this first week of a cool and wet Colorado April.

Frost's entire work of Two Tramps in Mud Time can be downloaded for your listening pleasure here.

Daffodils, crocuses and grape hyacinths are coming up in our garden patch. It snowed in the mountains just 45 minutes from our town over the past two days, but spring really is in the air.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Craft - Edible Decorations

Do you need a new Easter project for the kids, or perhaps one to put in Easter baskets? How about one to use as a dining decoration? Try this edible treat for an easy, sweet craft that can be served several ways.

Start by making Rice Krispie Treats, modified with using chow mein noodles instead of cereal. The recipe can then be used to make little bird nests, a perennial spring time favorite and especially appropriate for Easter.

Use the standard marshmallow recipe, but substitute the cereal with chow mein noodles, and create a unique, sweet treat that looks like a small bird nest. Add a few jellybeans or chocolate eggs, and even the birds might go for it!

This idea came from Kendra, who has an insane amount of cool crafting ideas at this website.

From The Old Stand-By Rice Krispies Treat Recipe:
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies®

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper, evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2 inch squares.
To make the bird nests, substitute chow mein noodles for the cereal, and carefully mash the sticky ingredients into large muffin tins. Use a greased piece of waxed paper for forming nests, and make a depression into the chow mein noodle mixture while in the muffin cup so the eggs can be placed there.

While the mixture is still malleable, you can form it into the desired shape. Don't worry about breaking up the noodles; remember that birds must tweak their long twigs into workable pieces to finish up their habitats.

Here is a picture of the finished product before complete drying time elapsed.

The marshmallows in the mixture looked a bit too white at this point, so you could use some Wilton's Color Mist Spray in brown and spray all over the entire confectionery nests. (The white does get darker as time elapses, and the nests looked more realistic later in the day.)

Lauren Whitney, local morning television anchor at Grand Junction's KKCO TV (see her blog page here), will talk about this project on air April 9, 2009 during the 6 AM News.

Have fun making these edible treats!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Easter Craft eBook Source

While blog hopping this morning, a thoroughly referenced eBook (FREE!) crossed my computer screen. It was too good not to share, and was found at this website hosted by Jamie.

This is a great resource for Easter Craft Ideas, including:
* 130 Pages of Craft Ideas for Easter
* 12 Easter Egg Decorating Projects
* 20 Easter Table Ideas: Centerpieces, Napkin Rings & More
* 10 Easter Chick Craft Projects
* 20 Easter Bunny Craft Projects
* 10 Easter Recipes
These Easter Craft Ideas can be found at Easter Craft eBook.

Another craft will follow for a spring dining table centerpiece next week. (But first, I have to get busy and work on a few.)