Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekend Wisdom

The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler
than the road built in despair,
even though they both lead to the same destination.

~Marian Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999)~
American Writer

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Wreath Tutorial - reposting

So, I had another project planned to show you today, but then I had a bunch of stuff dumped in my lap, and the other project just isn't quite done.  Instead, I'm reposting my Book Wreath Tutorial because I seem to be getting a lot traffic from people googling it (that makes me happy!).   

First a tip, then a tutorial...

When hanging things like wreaths, I like to use cup hooks (especially when I'm using ribbon to hang them). It drives me nuts when the ribbon doesn't sit right because of the nail. So, I use cup hooks. I have found that they are a little more secure (and when you live with 2 young boys and a 12-year-old trapped in a 33-year-old's body, security is a good thing!), and I can turn the hook sideways to slide the ribbon on, and it sits the way I want it to!

I have seen these all over the blog-o-sphere, and in a few shops. The prices people are charging for them are INSANE! Seriously...charging $45 for something that costs less than $10 to make is a little ridiculous. Here is how I made mine (once I can make it back to Hobby Lobby, I plan to buy brown velvet ribbon to hang my wreath):

I started my wreath before it occurred to me that I should be taking pictures of the process, but I think you'll still understand my tutorial!

Supplies needed:
Foam wreath
Old Book
Brown, watered down acrylic paint
Straight Pins
Ribbon, Fabric, Wire (something to hang the wreath with)

Take an old book (mine is a copy of "Little Women" that I found at Goodwill for $1) - the size of the book you need will depend on how big your wreath will be - and paint the edges brown.

I used "Asphaltum" by Americana brand acrylic paint.

Once the book is dry, you can start tearing out the pages.

For the back row, hold a page by the top or bottom, and do an accordian fold so there are 3-4 layers (but don't press), like this:

Fold it in half, kind of on an angle...

And pin it to the back of the wreath.

For the rest of the wreath, I held my pages with one hand along either the top or bottom of the page, and crinkled it.

Fold crinkled page in half, and stick a pin through.

Stick page onto wreath, and move on to the next one.

Keep adding pages till the wreath is full, and finish with the last row the same as the first, so that the back looks like this:

Add a hanger or a ribbon, and hang up to enjoy! I used natural colored raffia for mine. I took one long piece, tied a couple of knots about halfway down, shoved a pin through the knots and secured it to the back of my wreath. Then, I grabbed several more pieces, wrapped them around the wreath and tied a double knot where I wanted it to hang from the cup hook. This would pull and scrunch the book pages, which is why I added the single piece. That piece is actually holding the weight of the wreath. (I hope that all made sense!)

My costs:
Book - $1
Wreath - $3
Paint - free (a small bottle will cost $1-$2, depending on the brand and where you buy it)
Straight Pins - free (usually cost around $3-$4 for about 300 pins)

I wish I could say that no books were harmed in the making of this tutorial, but that's just not true. If you're like me, and hate the thought of tearing up books (it feels kind of like burning them), talk to your local public or school libraries to see if they have any that are destined for the trash pile. Trust me, you'll feel a little better about ripping it apart since you're repurposing it and saving it from a much worse fate.

And, don't forget...I'd love to see what you've created!  Email me or join my Flickr Group!

Linking up here:

Monday, February 21, 2011

And the Winner Is...


Congratulations, Jenny!
Send me your address, and I'll get your winnings in the mail right away!

Thanks so much to all who entered my first giveaway!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Have you read this book?

I couldn't put it down once I started it.  It's not a long book, it only took me a couple of hours to read, but it is sooooo good.  Heaven Is For Real gave me chills, the good kind, and it gave me an unexpected comfort.  I want to buy a copy of this book for everybody I know, and everybody I don't know!  Unfortunately, that's not possible.

I did pick up a second copy to give away (along with one of my soon-to-be-revealed library totes) to one of you!

There are several different ways to enter, so please leave a separate comment for each of the following:
1. Leave a comment, any comment, on this post
2. Become a follower
3. Mention this giveaway on your blog
(Leave a link, please)
4. "Like" me on Facebook 

You have from now until 7:00AM (CST) on Monday, February 21 to enter.  The winner will be picked and announced by noon (CST) on the 21st.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

By Request - More Info about the Token Store

Thanks for all the emails asking about and commenting on our newly implemented system for getting the boys to do their chores and keeping them organized. 

Doing chores is not the only way to earn tokens, and it is possible to lose tokens.  The husband and I can also give bonus tokens randomly for good behavior.  Poor behavior can cost the boys tokens. 
Several of you asked for more information about what we have in the store and the prices of each item.

For the price list, I just printed off what we have (or will have) in the store and how many tokens each item costs.  Then, I just put it in a frame, and anything that we are out of, I can just take my dry erase markers and cross out that item.  If  there are several changes that need to be made, I simply have to print out a new list and pop it into place!

Here's a quick rundown of what we have so far...
2 Tokens - *Comic Book, Extra Cookie, Granola Bar
3 Tokens - *Small Book, Extra TV Time, Extra Computer Time, Extra Playstation Time, Candy Bar, Fruit Roll-Up/Fruit Snacks
4 Tokens - *Medium Book, Candy Bag, Ice Cream
5 Tokens - *Large Book, Story Book, Movie, Soda
8 Tokens - 12 Crayons
10 Tokens - $1 Cash
12 Tokens - 24 Crayons
15 Tokens - Bare Book Puzzle
20 Tokens - Toy

*These are the blank books from Bare Books.

{If you don't want to list everything separately, another idea would be to just get some of those multi-colored dot stickers.  Assign a value to each color, then put a dot on each item.}
I store the inventory in a basket, so when it's time to open the store, I just have to grab the basket and set up the list.

Other notes:
~ For the Extra Cookie, I used some card stock and canning jar lids to make these
~ For the extra TV, Computer, and Playstation Time, and the movie, I used cardstock to make little cards the kids can hang on to and turn in when they are ready to redeem them.
~ The Candy Bags are just little baggies filled with a few different mini candy bars
~ The ice cream is for either 1 bowl, if we have some in the freezer, or they can pick out 1 ice cream bar from the store/gas station

Another idea that I'm toying with is letting the boys have "Room Sales" every couple of months, or so.  They will have the opportunity to sell some of their toys/books for tokens.  I'm hoping this will help control the clutter in their rooms!  I need to do a little more thinking on it before we try it out, though.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

From Fat Quarter to 5 Yards! - Bias Tape Tutorial

Bug didn't win any of the categories in the contest, but it sounds like that was due to the way they did the voting.  There were 10 people voting for 5 categories.  They each had to write down 1 name for each category (most original, most creative, best valentine's theme, wackiest, and most colorful), and they could only vote for a person once.  They also couldn't vote for themselves, so each kid could get up to 9 votes total.  Bug got 7 votes total, but they were spread out over 3 of the categories.  He was a bit disappointed, but was proud that he got more total votes than anybody else!

Now, onto the tutorial!

So, I came across this technique a couple of years ago, and I love it.  I used to avoid bias tape altogether, if I could get away with it.  The stuff I could find at the stores was too boring for some projects, and I hated making my own.  I'd measure, pin, sew, rip out, and redo several times before I got it just right.

This not only solves that problem, but it gives me several yards of bias tape from just one fat quarter of any fabric I like! Another bonus is that it's a lot cheaper.  I can spend about $4 on two packages (usually about 3 yards/pkg) of poly/cotton bias tape, or I can spend $1-$2.50 and get 5 yards from a single fat quarter.  There’s also no reason why you couldn’t use the same method with a larger piece of fabric. 

Lay your fat quarter flat on your work surface with the 22” side facing you.

Bring one of the top corners down to create a diagonal fold. Press along the fold to create a crease.  You can use an iron for a rigid crease, but your finger will work just fine, too!

Unfold and cut along the crease. I prefer to use my rotary cutter, but scissors work well, too. Try to keep the cut as straight as possible.

Move cut piece over so that the 18” vertical sides are next to each other.

Pin the two pieces, right sides together, along the 18” vertical sides. Sew together, using a 1/4” seam. You’ll be cutting across this seam, so use a small stitch.

Press open.

Using a straight edge, draw lines 1/2” to 2” apart, depending on how you want your bias tape. (See end of post for more information) If the end is too narrow, you’ll need to cut it off so all your lines are equally spaced.

Fold your fabric, right sides together, and pin together to create a tube, making sure your lines will meet up along the seam. The beginning and end will not meet up with an opposite side.

If you place your pins 1/4” down from edge, making sure the lines line up on the pins, you shouldn't have any problems.

Using a 1/4” seam allowance with short stitches, sew together, then press open. 

Cut along the lines, and you end up with a strip of fabric about 5 yards long!

Almost done!

Instructions for 2” strips:
1. Fold in half, wrong sides together, and press. 
2. Open the fold, and fold one edge till it almost meets the middle crease, and press.  Repeat with other edge. Stop at this step for Single Fold tape, continue to step 3 for Double Fold tape.
3. Fold again along the fold you made in step 1, and press.

*Strip Width - Tape Width*
Single Fold
1/2” Strip = 1/4” Tape
1” Strip = 1/2” Tape
2” Strip = 1” Tape

Double Fold
1” Strip = 1/4” Tape
2” Strip = 1/2” Tape

Now you're ready to add some cute bias tape to finish off your projects!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Bug has a Cub Scout meeting tonight, so we celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday with some uber delicious Hunan's...mmmm...Sesame chicken and crab rangoon.

We spent most of the afternoon making these...

...and this.

There's nothing like waiting till the last minute!  I wanted to do the sucker Valentines last year, but I didn't come across the adorable idea till after I had already bought 2 boxes of other cutesy valentines.  Before school on Friday, I took the pictures of Bug and Awesome by themselves.  As I was editing the pictures, I came up with the idea of doing the picture of both of them so we only have to send 1 valentine to each of the cousins instead of 2.  The individual pictures just say, "Happy Valentine's Day!  From (Bug or Awesome)".  The picture with both has "Be Mine!" above Awesome's head and, "No!  Be Mine!"

Usually, the boys have made their Valentine boxes at school.  This year, Bug's teacher is having a contest with a few different categories.  Bug decided he wanted to make an aquarium, and is hoping to win either the Best Theme or the Most Original category.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

It has been so cold and snowy for what seems like FOR.EV.ER.  At 9:00 this morning, the sun is shining and it's a balmy 30 degrees.  Made me think of the Beatles!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Token/Reward System

In yesterday's post, I briefly mentioned our Token system. Here's how it works:

As I mentioned, every night at bed time, we look at the Chore Lists, and the boys earn 1 token (we're just using cheap Poker chips) for each box that has been checked. I have given both Bug and Awesome their own jars and strongly suggested they keep their tokens in the jars.

*In order to prevent us from running out of chips too quickly, we have designated different values for each color. White is worth 1, Blue is worth 5, and Red is worth 10.*

About once every week - two weeks, we open the "Token Store" when they can redeem their earned tokens for cash, snacks, and other items. I recommend sitting down with your kids and asking their opinion about what they would like to see in the store. Awesome came up with an idea that proves he deserves his nickname...

We have had to take toys away from the boys (usually because they refuse to pick them up, and we get tired of doing it for them). Awesome suggested that any toy that gets taken away gets put into the store, and the only way to get it back is to buy it back!

We just started this, so I'll update you in a couple of months to let you know how it's going!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chore Charts

I have 2 boys. Bug is 10, Awesome is 6. They are both very head-strong and easily distracted, and most days, I feel like I am spending all my time fighting with them about doing their chores, brushing their teeth, etc. What I came up with is a system that I'm hoping will cut down on the fighting and help keep my life the boys' lives a little more organized.

The first step is to make one of these:

This chore chart was sooooooo easy to make.  It's just a $3 frame from Wal-Mart that I primed and spray painted (I used Krylon Nickel Satin finish).  Then, I just printed out a list of each of their chores and popped the list in the frame.  To add a little bit of fun, I used a Harry Potter font for Bug and a Ghostbusters font for Awesome.  They were still kind of blah, so I let the boys each decorate their lists. 

I gave each of the boys a skinny dry-erase marker, and every time they complete a chore, they get to check, X, or color in the box.  Since they're writing on the glass, we just have to wipe them off to be used again!

Every evening at bed time, we'll be going over the lists, and for every box filled in, they receive 1 token which can be redeemed later for cash, extra snacks, or other items.

My favorite things about this project:
~ Easy and cheap to make
~ Easy to personalize for each child and make changes as needed

Another note about the lists - Bug's list has 18 items on it, but they are not all chores.  I also included several things, like brushing his teeth and taking a shower, going to bed on time and getting up on time - things that they need to be doing, but we are constantly fighting with them about.

Tomorrow, I will be talking about the tokens mentioned above and our Token Store.

**Edited to add: Info about Token/Reward System here.  More detailed info about Token Store here.

Join me on Facebook!

In a previous post, I mentioned that Summerstead is on facebook.  This is where I'll be sharing some of my web finds, blog posts, and I'll even give you a heads up for (and extra opportunities to win) upcoming giveaways!

A couple more "new-for-me" things to mention can be found just under my blog banner.  If you'd like to subscribe to Summerstead via feed or email, just click on "Subscribe" to do so.  I also have started a Flickr Group (link can also be found above).  If you've used any of my tutorials, I'd love to see your creations!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ruffle & No. 143 Pillow Tutorials

Hi all!  Last week, Kindra from At Home With K, hosted the Be Mine Bonanza.  Along with her own awesome project, she invited six more talented ladies to guest post, including your truly!  I had so much fun creating these little gems, and I hope you enjoy them, too!

Let's start with the pillow form.  For a 14" square pillow form, you will need:

1/2 yard Muslin/old sheet/any kind of fabric that is a light color (white or off-white usually works best) and cheap!
Tape Measure
Sewing Machine

Not pictured:
Embroidery needle
Sewing Machine
Iron & Ironing Table

First, you need to decide what size you want your form to be.  Let's go with 14"x14" so you can use it later on in this tutorial.  So, you will need to measure and cut a piece of fabric that is 15"x29" (formula: height + 1 by width x 2 + 1).

Fold your fabric in half, with right sides together, so that it measures 14-1/2" x 15". Pin the three non-folded sides and sew together using a 1/2" seam, but leave a 4-6" opening.  Make sure you backstitch at both the beginning and the end of your stitching.  I also like to reinforce my corners by backstitching there, too.

If you snip the corners, they will be sharper when you flip the pillow form right-side out and stuff, which is the next step.

Once you have it stuffed to your liking, just use a simple whip-stitch the opening closed, and you're done!

Now, let's get to the fun stuff.  First up is the No. 143 Pillow.  143=I Love You

Solid fabric
Accent fabric
12x16 Pillow form
Super duper gigantic ric rac (I found mine at Hobby Lobby)/ribbon/other embelishment
Iron-on Transfer paper
Coordinating threads

Prep work: Print "No. 143" onto a sheet of the transfer paper.  I used Engravers MT font at 200pt.

Cut one piece from your accent fabric that measures 13"x25" and set aside for now.  With your solid fabric, cut one piece at 13"x17".  Following the directions on your transfer paper package, iron on the "No. 143" about 1-1/2" from the edge.  Then measure 5" from that same edge, fold the fabric towards the back side and press.  Be careful to iron the side that does NOT have the transfer!

At the end opposite from your "No. 143", fold the edge over 1/2" toward the back side of the fabric and press.

Fold it over again, 1" this time, and press.  Repeat these last 2 steps on one of the 13" ends of your accent fabric, too.
With right sides together, sew your solid fabric to your accent fabric along the "No. 143" edge using a 1/2" seam.  Press the seam open, then add your ric rac and sew into place.

Remember when I had you measure 5" from the end and press?  Go back to that spot, and fold along that line so that the right sides are together, and pin.

Measure 16" from your last fold, mark it with a pin, then fold over so right sides are together and pin into place.

*Ignore the extra seam you see in these last to pictures...I cut my fabric a little short, so I had to add another piece to get the length I needed!*

Sew along the two long sides, then turn right side out, and stuff the pillow form in!

Finally, we have the Romantic Ruffle pillow...

14"x14" Pillow Form
White Muslin
Tape Measure
*Rotary Cutter
Coordinating Thread

Not pictured:
*Self healing mat
*Quilter's ruler
*Fray Check
*Pinking Shears

{*not necessary, but helpful}

Cut 1 piece of muslin 15"x39", and 3 strips that are 1"x44" (most fabrics are 44" - 45" wide).  *You will want to either use some fray check or pinking shears on the edges of your 1" strips to prevent them from fraying.*

On both of the 15" ends of your large piece of muslin, fold the fabric over 1/2" and press.  Fold over again 1", press and sew into place.  Set aside for now.

Make your ruffles.  (I forgot to take a picture. Doh!  It's pretty simple, though.)  There are several different ways to do this, even without a special ruffle foot.  This is what works best for me... On your sewing machine, set your stitch length to the LONGEST stitch or the HIGHEST number.  Set your tension to the TIGHTEST setting or the HIGHEST number.

Do a simple straight stitch down the middle of your 1" strips using the instructions above to make your ruffles.

Lay out your big piece of fabric, and measure 12-1/2" from the left and pin your first ruffle all the way down.  Using a straight stitch (don't forget to switch your stitch length and tension settings back to normal!), and using the ruffle stitching as a guide, attach the ruffle.

Pin your second ruffle right next to the first, and sew it on the same way.  Repeat for the third ruffle.

Measure 11-1/2" from the left and mark it with a pin.  Measure 14" from that pin and mark the second spot with another pin.

With wrong sides together, fold fabric at the pins and press.

Using the fold lines as a guide, fold right sides together and pin.  Sew a 1/2" seam along the unfolded sides.

Turn right-side out, and pop in a pillow form!

And now you have some LOVEly, romantic pillows!  Happy Valentine's Day!

I'd love for you to share with me what you've created with my tutorials!  Email me or join my Flickr Group!

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