Charging Station

In my house, we charge all of the devises between the couches. The chords are unsightly! So I had to do something about it. Here I make a charging station that fits in with my decor!

 

  1. Buy a box with  lid that will close and stay closed when sat upright. I found a bread box at target with a magnetic lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to try out your box to ensure that it works. Leave open on a flat surface. If you return and find a cat in it, then it’s a good box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Measure the box. The lid will be the front. Choose which way you want the door to open and mark the top and bottom (short ends).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Measure the plug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. On the center of the bottom mark a spot to drill the hole for the chord. I have an 1 1/4-inch long-edge of my plug, so the hole was 1 1/2-inch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mark four evenly spaced (or however many chords can charge at once) ticks on the front lid.

 

 

 

 

 

6. On the back of the box (opposite side of the door), mark two evenly spaced spots along the center. This is to affix the box to the wall.

 

 

 

 

7. DRILL HOLES! Or have your husband do it. It’s his tools, so I just give good instructions. Let’s be clear, I know how to use all of his tools, and am perfectly capable of using power tools. However, I stick to my tools and he sticks to his. . . .and the ones he has absorbed from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Use screws to affix the box to the wall. Use a level to ensure the box is not uneven.

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product in use. Note that our chord has a hub that is plugged into it. There are two standard ports and two USB ports.

Door Draft Blocker

I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s start this set of upcoming posts with a super useful item. A door draft blocker! I needed two for different reasons. First, the block the beer closet from getting dust, pet hair, and other items into the precious beer area. The second is to keep the kitty litter in the cat closet. Sometimes he is messy and gets the litter everywhere! Then we tread on it while walking down the hall, it’s the worst.

 

  1. Measure your doors! The beer door is 30-inches, the cat door is 24-inches and the width of both is 1 1/4-inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cuts!

Length, is obviously just a bit longer than the length of the door. I did 26-inches on the brown, for the cat door and 34-inches on the gray for the beer door.

Width is 15 inches: 1/2 inch on each side for seams, 6 inches on each side for the stuffing and a middle section 2 inches long.

 

3. Seams: I  did the seams two different ways to see which I like better, time will tell.

 

For the gray I did a serger edge on each of the long lengths. Always finish serger seams with some fray check.

 

 

 

 

 

On the brown fabric I did a folded over seam. I ironed a 1/4-inch fold on each long edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Pin: Fold each side in on the long length. For the folded edge, ensure to keep the edge folded while pinning. I left an approximate 1-inch gap between the fabric.

 

 

 

 

On one of the short edges fold under the end to seal the end, leaving the other end free.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sew. For the serger edge, sew at the inside edge of the serger thread. On the folded over edge give a little less than a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

 

 

 

 

 

Sew the folded under short edge closed.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Stuff and seal closed. The obvious stuffing material is the acrylic stuffing that you can buy from the store. I stuffed these with old clothes that weren’t going to make it to the thrift store. Always cut off buttons, take out zippers and save those!

 

 

 

 

 

7. Apply to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the beer closet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the cat closet.

 

   

Fabric Coasters

I’ve been wanting to make coasters for some time now since the wooden coasters I got in Ecuador are falling apart.  You may think: “Can’t you just sew two pieces of fabric together and call it a day?” Well, no because then you still have condensation seepage through the fabric or heat transfer from a hot cup. I can do better than that.

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First I started with some 4 by 4 squares I had left over from various quilts or other projects. I had a few other small scraps of fabric that I cut into 4 by 4 squares. The fabric color choice was to have a set of multi colored coasters to use while gaming; each person in our group has their own game colors they use everytime. The colors are typically red, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and black depending on the game. I didn’t have any black scraps ready so I used dark blue. My typical color is blue which is prevalent in every game, Kyle is always orange but will settle for yellow. The coasters will prevent our game pieces or cards from getting wet when we have drinks while we game! The owls are just cute extra fabric I wanted to use up.

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Next I needed some insulation. I used left over fabric batting. Remember – Never throw anything out! These were small and oddly shaped pieces that I was able to cut into 4 by 4 squares.

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Batting still doesn’t account for the condensation issue. I need plastic! I’ve made these before with painters plastic and I prefer to use that. However my stash was out and right now I’m not buying new supplies unless needed. Instead I can upcycle some plastic bags!

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I tried my rotary cutter first and it worked! Shown below are the bags cut into 4 by 4 inch squares.

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Time to make sandwiches! Put the two fabric squares right sides together. Then lay a plastic square, insulation square, then plastic square on top and pin.

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Next sew the square around leaving a gap along one edge for flipping. Then cut off the extra trimmings and thread.

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Next flip your squares so that the fabric is on the outside.

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Pin the mouth shut.

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Sew around the outside edge. (For a wedding present I made some for a friend and I added a 2-inch square seam and it really popped. I’ve also done some with a spiral square seam pattern and that also looks really good. I imagine you can do all sorts of seam patterns to add extra zest to the coasters and to make them lie flatter.)

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Finally a finished product! The coasters work on hot and cold beverages.

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Note: Since there is plastic inside, do not use these as mini oven mitts. They are machine washable, but I’d let them air dry.

Reusable “Paper” Towels

Paper towels are wasteful. They’re made of paper, not entirely absorbent and you seem to always have them on your shopping list. In an effort to be more green I’ve made reusable “paper” towels from older towels that were past their prime. I’ve been using them in the kitchen for a week now and it makes me feel much better. The main concern from the boyfriend was that we could no longer use a paper towel to grease our cast iron pan and that the towels would leave lint. However, I’ve been using these towels to grease the pan and since they’re older they have virtually no fuzz to leave behind.

You may be thinking, what’s the difference between these and normal kitchen towels? Well these are on the counter and easy to grab just one, they are intended for messes and other things you would use a paper towel for instead of a kitchen towel, and they are smaller – intended to be used once.

Supplies:

  • two old towels
  • a few fabric squares or fabric left overs
  • typical sewing supplies

Step 1: Cut off the edges of the towel.

Step 2: Cut the towel into roughly 10-12 inch squares. They absolutely do not have to be uniform.

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Step 3: Using the scraps or fabric squares, cut 2-1/2 inch wide strips.

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Step 4: Iron the strips in half.

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Step 5: Fold in both edges of the strip so that you are folding each half in half, right sides out. Iron.

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You will need a lot of strips of fabric.

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Step 6: Sew the strips around the edge of the towels, folding corners when needed and adding new strips when you run out.

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Here is a nice pile of finished towels. I originally was going to attach snaps to each towel so that you can roll the towels onto a paper towel holder and pull off a single sheet as you need it. My super smart boyfriend pointed out that the snaps might scratch our pots. I was head strong and started to sew on a few snaps. I then realized how tedious snaps could be and how many I’d need to create a whole roll. So I then pretended like his concerns were valid so that I wouldn’t have to sew on snaps. To be fair, the snaps were metal and I’m sure would have messed up a few pans (if used on pans.)

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I then rolled up the towels and stuck them on our paper towel roll, the towels stay just fine.

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Another view of the roll.

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We pile the “paper” towels in the corner of the kitchen as we use them along with our hand towels and other kitchen fabric to be washed when we do laundry. The impact for using reusable towels is minimal on our lives. Having an easy to “tear off” paper towel substitute definitely makes the difference over using the typical kitchen towel for ease in the kitchen.

Upcycle Grocery Bags into a Macramé Potted Plant Holder

This is a recycle, upcycle, and craft DIY for all of those bags you have in your cupboard. Lets not lie, we all have a time or three where we forget to bring our cloth bags to the grocery store. Then the bagger tells you they’re out of paper bags so you cave and get plastic.  Next you are left with a multitude of plastic bags.

Aside from using them to pick up dog poo and to line your bathroom waste bin, there are a few craft options for you. My favorite is to make rope from the bags. In addition a lot of images of macramé potted plant holders have been floating around the internet which gave me the idea to make this item.  If you follow my instructions you will be able to upcycle 36 plastic bags. I do not provide macramé instructions in this post, your macramé will need to match the pot you want to use.

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Step 1. Lay the bag flat as shown below. Cut the bag in half.

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Step 2.  Align the bag-half on it’s side as shown below. Cut down from the handle to the seam at the base, but do not cut all the way through. The desired result is a circle. To make thicker rope, skip step one and lay the bag shown in the right image below and cut down from both handles at the same time until you get to the seam at the bottom.

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Step 3. Count them! I have 18 loops cut from 9 bags, you want a number divisible by 3 so you can braid evenly.

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Step 4. Knot the bags together. You need three strands that are two bags long to start. Add additional bags as you go, do not tie all the bags together to start, it is HARDER that way.

This is one way to tie the bags. Lay them end to end and grab as I’ve shown in the 3rd and 4th images below. Pull with both hands. (I had to hold the camera with the other hand, so bare with me)

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Pull until the knot is tight, but do not pull so hard you stretch the plastic. You may have to work the bags a bit with your hands. Mine usually get stuck at the point below and I have to work the knot tighter; this is because the plastic bags have friction!

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The other way to do the knot, and the way I do all subsequent knots after the first, is shown below. Grab and pull. Once again work the knot when you get near the end so that it is tight. The desired knot is shown in the right image below.

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Step 5. Tie three of the strands in a knot and begin to braid. DO NOT attach all the bags together first and then begin to braid. Only attach two bags for each strand in the braid, when you get to the end, attach the next bag to each strand. I’ve done this before where I’ve had huge lines of bags tied together, braiding that is a nightmare.

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Once the braid is long enough I highly recommend tying it to a nearby post/table/chair so that the braiding becomes easier.  The second image below shows what the knots look like in the braid: there is a slight budge but it is really not noticeable. Usually the knots will be at different points along each strand so that you will never have a point where all three knots come together at once.

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Step 6. Macramé time. After you have all of your strands then it is time to macramé them together to form your potted plant holder. I used 4 strands made up of 9 bags each. The second image below shows the somewhat finished product. I hadn’t noticed that the knot was off center until much later, so that has been adjusted since this image was taken.

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This is what it looks like in my garden.

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Lessons: I need to macramé better and next time I may try to color coordinate the bags. Other than that I’ve made rope before from bags and each time I get better. This time I had much thinner rope because I cut the bags in half first. A thicker rope will look like the image below from last year. The rope was intended as a dog deterrent and it worked!

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Gardening Season Has Begun: Some tips and tricks

Winter is not coming. Winter is over. Now it is time to shape up the garden.

Protect: I inspected for caterpillars, weeded and found a slug! It was really gross since I touched it while weeding. We’ve had a few slug attacks at this house in the past. To protect from slugs I do a border of used coffee grounds around the plot and toss a few among the plants as well. In addition to slug protection the coffee provides nitrates into the soil.  I also made a blanket of pine needles for the winter cabbage to keep the weeds down. The pine needles make the cabbage look so cute!

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Transplant:  Remember the grocery store green onion post? Well after a few harvests inside, I was determined to get more life from these plants. So, I’ve planted them as a pest border in my garden. Green onions can be planted as a companion to most plants to deter bad insects but do not pair well with peas or beans. I planted the onions approximately 2 inches apart around a 2′ by 2′ section of my 4′ by 4′ plot (the remainder of the plot has cabbages). In the center of the 2′ by 2′ section I’ve planted two rows of beet seeds. I do not expect all the onions to transplant well, but most of them will survive and be my first line of pest defense.

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Potting Prep: Normally we use the Lowes brand of basket fiber liner for our wire pots (you can see them hanging in the background). However having no excess liner on hand this past Sunday and being reluctant to go to Lowes, we’re going to try something new.  My boyfriend used the pine needles from our yard to line this wire basket and I can’t wait to see if it will work. The basket will be planted with lettuce once the extremely wet soil dries out a little.

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Roof top garden: Another big concern with our garden is that everything has to be above our dog’s pee height, which is about 2-3 ft off the ground. The height constraint has made us use creative garden planning. In the image below you can see that we use his dog house as a rooftop garden. In the background there are potted plants on various pot holders and throughout the yard we have a number of metal supports for hanging plants.

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Creative Ideas:  Shown below is the 4′ by 4′ plot during last year’s summer planting season with a few of our hanging baskets. On the right is the old juicer repurposed as a pot and hung from the fence.

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Seeds that were planted outside before last frost date are lettuce, spinach, parsley, cilantro, basil, beets, oregano, and a few pansies that we bought at the store. The seeds that were started indoors will be planted when the weather gets warmer.  Most of the seeds are from the heirloom seeds supplier http://www.seedsavers.org

Glasses Case DIY

I do actually need glasses, but not to function, just to keep the headaches at bay.  After getting new glasses I wanted a way to hold them at work when I needed to put my safety glasses on. This is a DIY fabric glasses case tutorial.

What is the number one rule of DIY? Never throw anything away. Here I use an old felt/fleece blanket as the inner layer and a fabric square to create the outer design.

1. Cut a 7 by 7 square from the fleece and fabric square.

2. Cut a 2inch by 5 inch (approx) section from the fabric square for a strap.

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Step 3. Sew the strap right sides together lengthwide.

Step 4. Sew the fabric square on three sides giving approx 1/4 inch seam.

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Step 5. Invert both the fabric square and the strap, iron flat.

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Step 6. Fold the free end inward by 1/2 inch and sew the the free edge giving approx 1/4 inch seam.  Start the seam about 1/4 inch from the edge, and end it the same way.

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Step 7. Fold the square so that the fleece is inwards. Fold inwards both ends of the strap so that the free edges to not show. Then place the strap on the upper end of the fabric square “hotdog” as shown below so the ends are at least 1/2 inch into the square. The upper end will be the sewn edge in step 6.

Step 8. Sew along the two free ends (two edge without a seam), sewing the strap into the square as you go.

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Step 9. Always use seam sealer when you are done!

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The finished product:

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Lessons learned: I would probably have used a rectangle about 7 inches by 8-1/2 inches because my glasses fit in this case, but there is no excess room at all. I would rather have my glasses have 1/2 inch or so of free fabric at the end for better protection.

I’ve attached this glasses case to my badge at work and have used it for the exact purpose describe above. When I get on the work site I need safety glasses on and normal glasses safe.