Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 12, 2018

Easy Sew Wreath

Last summer I went to visit my folks who reside in Arizona. Notice the word summer. Ugh, it was hot! Ok, that was to be expected. Anyway, knowing we would be indoors for most of my visit, my mother came up with this fun project to keep us occupied.

Her idea came from this pattern she found on Amazon:

 fold N Stitch Pattern
Cut N Stitch Wreath Pattern 

She then found these easy, pre cut squares of foam. Sold in a pack of 12 6x6 inch squares, one side already had iron on interfacing which makes creating this wreath so easy: 

Bosal In-R-Foam 6x6 One Sided Fusable Squares
Now, she had only ordered two packs of these squares, one for her and one for me, but we got really into making these and decided to try to make our own by purchasing foam by the yard and iron on interfacing since the pre cut squares were not available at our local fabric and craft stores. It might sound like the way to go in a pinch, but I will explain further on why this didn't work as we expected. So, my advice is order the foam pre cut with the iron on interfacing on one side already.

The next step is to cut the fabric. For this project you can choose two or three fabrics based on your design idea. I chose to use three fabrics. I played around with them prior to cutting using the photo on the pattern. This helped me decide which fabrics would be the back, front, and middle square. Using the instructions I cut the squares of fabric. Two of the fabrics are cut to 6.5" and one of the fabric is cut to 5.5". 

This is the fabric my mother chose for her wreath. Fall appropriate, no?
She chose to go with two fabrics. 
Once you have all your fabrics cut, it is time to start sewing. Place the two of the 6.5" squares of fabric right side together. Center them on the side of the foam squares that have NO interfacing. Sew the seam around the foam square. Carefully cut an X in the center of ONE of the squares, the one not touching the foam. Now Carefully turn the square right sides out through the hole the X created. If you did this correctly, you will end up with the X side on the interfaced side and the foam sandwiched inside. 

Next, layer on one of the 5.5" squares you cut and iron the square so the X is as closed as it can be and the smaller square conceals it. Using a decorative stitch, stitch down the edges of the 5.5" square. Voila! You have a square finished. Do this 11 more times.

Using a hard piece of plastic or a piece of cardboard, make yourself a template of the stitching line pattern. I made mine out of a piece of stencil plastic. Mine looked like this: 

Stencil plastic was used to make my stitching guide. 
Side note: Have you tried those clips you can see in the picture above? OMG, my mother gave me a bag for Christmas and I don't think I will ever use pins again! They are super easy to use and hold tight without poking your fingers or getting lost in the carpet only to be found later when you have bare feet. They looks like this: 

You can get a bag here.

Ok, back to the sewing. Use the guide to determine where to sew your squares together. You must be consistent in order for the circle to be accurate and lay right.

Here you can see how the squares are lined up and sewn together. This was my fun Halloween wreath. Once all the squares are sewn together you will find a circle has formed. It should look something like this: 

Wreath once squares are connected
At this point, you begin sewing the points together. First you want to hand stitch them like this: 

Sew the points together. 
Next, I chose to add a little button as an embellishment. You don't have to, but I thought it turned out nicer, looking a little more finished. Don't you agree? 

Adding a little embellishment for extra pizzazz.
Once you have them all sewn together you can add a hanger to the back to hang the wreath on a door, or, as I chose, make it a centerpiece for your table. The pattern shows additional bows and decorations for a door wreath. I put a candy bowl in the center of mine.  

Finished Wreath
So there you have it. Easy as pie for just about any skill level. 

**Oh, remember how I said I would tell you the problem with cutting your own foam? Ya, well I cut mine a little smaller for the Halloween wreath without considering I would need more squares to make a circle that would lay flat. My Halloween wreath does not lay flat. As a result, I stuck a jar shaped like a pumpkin full of candy in the middle to hold it down, but in hindsight I should have cut more squares. 

Notice how this one does not lay flat? 
Happy sewing! If you give this fun project a try, be sure to post a picture in the comments below!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why is it so Hard to Find Other Blogs?

Lately I have been taking a breather in the morning before I leave for work. Instead of rushing around, I sit with a cup of coffee and try to read a little, then I start my day. I really enjoy reading blogs of a wide variety written by folks who are living their experiences.

Something I have noticed it how difficult is is to just find new blogs to read. There is no real directory and most of the time I stumble upon them by accident. Keep in mind I am not talking about the popular blogs that are boosted by advertising on social media and email your inbox endlessly about offers and past posts. I am speaking of ones like mine, written by by everyday folks, not those who have an endless budget and a marketing team. You know what I mean?

Sure some small time bloggers have managed to parlay their blog into a good source of income, but most of the time those blogs turn into a great big advertisement, repeat the same information over and over, and really do not engage me long term. I read blogs almost as a voyeur; I get a chance to peek into the lives of others, seeing the good and the bad, the ups and the downs of their day to day lives. Those are the blogs I feel are genuine and interesting.

So, I thought I might do some of those smaller bloggers a solid and mention them with a link here in my blog. There are a wide variety of folks to follow in this list. Some are religious while some have quite the colorful vocabulary, some are on a budget, some are living in ways we may never considered. Here are five of my favorites:

  • The Broke Costumer: This gal creates amazing costumes on amazingly small budgets. She really has a knack for recreating the past on a dime. I love how she can reuse parts from other costumes to stretch her budget. I also love that she details how she goes about saving and explains her inspiration for her creations.  I also enjoy the history lessons tucked into each of her creations. She truly is an artist.

  • The Paratus Familia Blog: I stumbled on this blog years ago and have been a faithful reader. This family lived in a Shouse in a very rural area and embraced a semi-off-the-grid-life. I found the blog while researching cooking on wood stoves. This blog documents the ups and downs of their lives and Enola Gay (yes that is a pseudonym and you get 5 points if you make the connection) even produced a cookbook (you can find it here) on prepping along with cooking and baking on a wood stove. The family recently made a big move and opened a Butcher Shop to process meat for hunters.

  • Can We Have a New Witch? This One Melted: An irreverent and explicit blog, I adore Leanna. A self-described Texas Housewife, Leanna has some significant health struggles and helps keep a positive spirit by blogging. Dirty jokes, political opinion, and lots of cussing keep this blog on my radar. I crack up reading all the memes she has skimmed and posted each week, as well as the stories she tells about her husband, David. If you like dirty humor and don't get offended easily, check her out. 

  • Sadie Seasongoods: Sadie is truly an inspiration when it comes to upcycling and recycling goods. Sadie scours thrift shops and resale shops then turns what she finds into relevant, updated creations. I am amazed by her endless creativity. The bonus is she sells a lot of her creations in an Etsy shop. If you like a particular creation, you may just be able to purchase it! 

  • WindTraveler: The family this blog follows lives in the British Virgin Islands on Tortola. They live on a sailboat and run their own business of excursions on other sailboats. Together with their three children they live a "tiny life" on a boat. Well, they did, until Hurricane Irma destroyed Tortola and sank their boats. Thankfully the family was in the states visiting family when the storm hit. Life has not been the same for them since. They recently, after four months of being displaced, returned to Tortola. Their lives are an epic journey and now we can all follow along as they rebuild. 

How about you? What blogs do you follow? Please leave some links and info in the comments below.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Part II: Out to Sea - December 15th and Costa Maya, Mexico December 16th

Day at Sea December 15th

The best part of cruising is the sleep. I know, ya'll are thinking it is traveling and sight seeing, however as an insomniac, good sleep is worth its weight in gold. I actually slept in until 9:30 am!! The motion of the ship was gentle and the seas calm, so I felt absolutely no seasickness. Professor and I discussed whether we wanted a cabin with a balcony, stateroom, or just an inside cabin. I voted for an inside cabin because they are pitch black when the lights are out. I also felt for the $200 difference a day, the balcony was not really a worthwhile investment. With the quality of sleep I was getting, I was glad we chose the inside cabin. 

The cabin was cozy and comfortable. 

After getting up and moving, we headed up to get breakfast. One thing that is not lacking on a cruise is food. Oh my, the selection was incredible. I went with poached eggs and Canadian bacon on an English muffin, bacon, a small waffle, and black coffee. 

This first day in the Gulf of Mexico was "at sea" meaning we would not hit a port until the following day. Professor headed off to the Casino and I went to find the library as I am not a gambler. I brought along my laptop with the plan to spend a good deal of time writing, but when I got to the library I discovered I needed a 220 plug converter as all the plugs in the library all required one. Of course I did not bring one. In fact, I couldn't even buy one on the ship. I was disappointed, but used my laptop until it would run low, would take it to the cabin to charge, and go find something else to do. That was how I discovered I am a lousy shuffleboard player. 

The ship  offered plenty of entertainment. That evening we went to the Bliss Ultra Lounge which offered Karaoke. Professor is an accomplished classical singer, so he belted out his best tunes and ended with The Impossible Dream. It was a fun evening and there were some folks who really sang very well. This gal, however, is not one of them. Watching and listening was enough for me. 

We called it a night around midnight and headed back to our tiny cabin. My first night of great sleep was an anomaly. I couldn't sleep well, so I got up quietly, grabbed my laptop, and headed to O'Sheehan's Pub, which was open 24 hours. I parked myself in a booth with view of the ocean (which I really couldn't see because it was dark) and set to writing. Sometime during the night the winds had picked up and I could feel a gentle sway in the ship. 

As the sun rose in the east, which just happened to be on the side of the ship I was sitting on, I could see fat rain clouds in the sky. The affect of the suns rays passing through the clouds was just gorgeous. I headed back to the cabin to try to get some rest until it was time to head into port at Costa Maya. 

December 16th Costa Maya, Mexico

Costa Maya is a typical tourist port. The assorted shops offered all the typical goods such as sugar skulls, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) figurines, knock off purses, and over-priced jewelry. I browsed through the shops while Professor tried to find an internet connection to check his email. I luckily had free international on my cell phone, so I was up to date at each port. I found him camped out at a Starbucks with 25 - 30 other folks doing the same. 

We chose not to participate in an excursion at Costa Maya. The only real excursion of interest to us were the Mayan ruins. The excursion would have taken the entire day. I really did not want to be limited to one activity as I would prefer to people watch and enjoy the beautiful climate. It was actually pretty warm this day and being out in the sun for hours at a shot was not on my list of fun activities. 

A tender on its way to port.
After browsing the shops we headed back to the ship and ate a nice leisurely lunch while enjoying the views. Because so many people were still in the port, we found the ship to be pleasantly under populated. We finally pulled out of port around 4pm towards our next destination, Grand Cayman. 

Costa Maya, Mexico as seen from the ship.

My Tiny Life on the High Seas - Part 1

December presented me with an unprecedented opportunity - a 9 day Western Caribbean Cruise!!

Let me fill you in since it has been a bit since I have updated the blog. I started dating a very nice man in the autumn of 2017. Of course the topic of Tiny House Homestead came up which inevitably led to the topic of my bucket list. Intrigued, my boyfriend who I shall call Professor to keep his identity private, asked what else was on my bucket list. Of course I rattled off a list a mile long, but on that list was travel to other countries which would require me to use a Passport, taking a cruise, and visiting New Orleans.

Professor enjoys travel and travels frequently. He has traveled to many of the places I wished to travel and has yet to travel to some of the other places I wish to visit. Jumping into action, Professor booked us a cruise to the Western Caribbean which left from the Port of New Orleans. I was speechless. What an opportunity!

December 12th we flew to New Orleans and stayed the night in a LaQuinta Hotel close to the airport in Kenner, LA. It was a nice enough hotel, but it could have been a dive and we wouldn't have cared because we were so tired from traveling.  Early the next morning we dodged the traffic and ran across the road to a small restaurant for breakfast. Fanny's was fantastic! The food was delicious and the waitress was delightful. If you get a chance, stop in for breakfast, you won't be disappointed.

With our bellies full, we trotted back across the street to catch a shuttle to the Port of New Orleans. We shared the shuttle with another couple who were taking the same cruise. They were from Canada and cruising was their retirement lifestyle. That is certainly something to aspire to!

We were scheduled for a 2 - 2:30 pm embarkation, so we got drinks and sat outside people watching and observing all the luggage being loaded into the ship. Our cruise was with Norwegian Cruise Lines and our ship was the Pearl. Being next to such a behemoth of a ship really is incredible. I know there are bigger ships out there, but the experience was something else. I had to use panorama settings on my camera just to try to get the ship in one picture!

Finally it was our time to go through customs and I pulled my passport out with pride. I was worried when I sent for my passport in November that I may not have had enough time for it to be processed before the cruise. I was elated when I found it in my mailbox just two weeks later. Now I was was finally able to cross off getting a passport AND using my passport off my bucket list.

We boarded the ship and found our cabin. After living so long in a tiny house, the small cabin did not seem small at all. The cabinetry and storage was clearly well thought out. After dropping off our carry on items, we headed down to our safety drill.

Breaking in my unlimited drink pass, I stopped at a bar and ordered a Bloody Mary to enjoy as we pulled out of port. Professor and I headed off to the deck which would allow us to watch the ship cast off, however cast off was delayed and we got bored. Heading inside we found a buffet and seating located on the back of the ship. We watched the sunset as we pulled out of the Port of New Orleans and traveled down the mighty Mississippi River.

Follow along on part 2

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tiny House Homestead Episode #37

Life continues to be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!

Check out this episode!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

5 Ways I Welcome Fall

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Well, for me at least. I adore Autumn. I love the sun setting earlier, the cool nights, the changing of the leaves, and most of all, as an Okie, I am grateful all the summer bugs die off or disappear. Here in Oklahoma we still have 80+ degree days, but the nights are cooler and temperature swings are common. For example, this upcoming week we are forecast to have a high of 88 degrees and a low of 47 degrees. It as if Mother Nature cannot make up her mind. But I still embrace the idea that soon I will not be hitting the wall of steamy humidity Summer offers up and can go back to wearing sweaters. Here are five ways I welcome fall.

1. I haul all my sweaters and jackets out of storage and get them cleaned. I locate all my gloves, scarfs, hats, earmuffs, etc. Now is the time I make any repairs or replacements. I also get my winter boots out. I put out my boot tray on the porch (if you don't have one of these yet, you gotta get one). I like to think I am sending a message to the universe that I am ready to be done with the heat.

2.  I hit the book store and find a couple of good books. This "me" time is something I always come back to in the Autumn. There is something about being inside a warm and snug home while the cold, and sometimes disagreeable. weather is outside. I pick one or two books for self improvement and one or two just for entertainment. When I read in the fall, I light some scented candles and make myself a nice cup of coffee or cocoa. I really enjoy spending time escaping into a book.

3. I make lists of unfinished projects which can be accomplished indoors when the weather outside turns bitter and cold. Autumn means more rainy days around here as well, so outdoor activities are more limited. Now is the time for me to nest and prepare for the long winter nights. This is the time of year I get painting and decorating jobs finished. It is also the time of year when I deep clean. Since I am going to be spending substantially more time indoors, I try to make the space as comfortable as I can. I consider it a form of nesting.

4. I cook crock pot meals more often. One of my standby recipes is my 3 Packet Roast. I love coming home to the delicious smells of a hot meal I didn't have slave over. I don't know about you, but I don't always enjoy spending time making a meal after a long day at work. An added bonus to utilizing a slow cooker is I always have left overs for the next night or take with me for a hot lunch. Another great (and oh so easy) hot meal if I don't use the slow cooker is whipping up a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Cut the sandwich into four pieces so you can dunk the slices in the soup. Simple, quick, and delicious!

5. I prepare for bad weather. This is a process, but I normally start by making sure I have ice scrapers, ice melt, I locate my snow shovel (by now buried somewhere in the barn), and buy a few bags of cat litter to keep in my vehicle. I also make sure I have a blanket (or two) to keep in the car as well. I buy Hot Hands in bulk keeping some in the house, some in my purse, and some in the car. I keep a change of clothes, two extra pairs of socks, and some basic toiletries in case I cannot get home due to poor weather. I put these items in a storage container to keep them clean and ready to go. To prepare for cold weather at home, I begin buying extra cans of soup and non perishables in case the power goes out at my house during the winter. I buy some Kerosene for my space heaters and make sure the heaters are functioning properly. I try to replace wicks now, instead of when it is really cold and I am without power. You can read more about my winter preparedness on my post from last year here.

In case you haven't figured it out, I adore this time of year and the anticipation it brings. I moved to Oklahoma because I wanted to see weather. This year it is predicted we will have a cold and wet winter. When it is 90 humid degrees outside it is hard to imagine the snow will come, but the cooling of the days and the chilly nights show signs of promise. Bring on Autumn!!!

What is your favorite time of the year? Are you as excited as I am by Autumn?