Monday, December 31, 2012

What I Did Today: Sewing Corner

We had a lovely day at home today.

7:30 am - Grocery Shopping
After several crazy weeks in November/December, and then a week of travel to visit family for Christmas, it was a treat to go to the store first thing this morning and stock up on groceries again. (And if you know me, grocery shopping is usually a dreaded chore...I almost never say that "it was a treat to go to the store." But it was.

As I was checking out, the checker said to me, "Looks like the new year is coming - lots of healthy food here." I appreciated the compliment and the sentiment towards new years resolutions, but I wanted to say...We eat like this all the time! Well, except when the schedule gets crazy-busy. Or a holiday comes around. Or we are staying with someone in their home. Whatever. We mostly eat like this all the time.

What a miracle age we live in! My cart was half-full of fresh produce: avocados, mangos, papaya, strawberries, mushrooms, lettuce, zucchini, December. I am so grateful.

11:30 am - Les Miserables
Mark and I went to see the film version of Les Mis. He had never seen the stage version, didn't know the story. I saw it on stage once, over 20 years ago. I know that there are more-or-less critical reviews out there, but I am not a critic. I am just me, and I enjoyed it immensely. So did Mark. It was a 3-kleenex show on this end.

It was a little odd, in the first few moments of the film, to adjust to the lack of dialogue. It's all singing. I expected it from the stage version, but it was still a little odd in the film genre.

Have I mentioned that the plot of Les Mis is a bit melodramatic? And sometimes hard to follow if you don't know that much about the history of the French revolution? No matter. The music is amazing. It was definitely worth seeing.

In the evening - Organized my new sewing corner
I was so inspired by Hillary's tidy sewing area when we visited them last week. This afternoon Mark cleared out some shelves in the family room that had been clinging to some of his old clutter. We found a pretty table on Craigslist for $20, and I spent the evening puttering and organizing in my new space.

Before: Mark has cleared off the shelves for the fun can begin!

Ta-da!! This tidy little corner is the consolidation of some mega-messes in the living room closet and the kitchen nook. I'm quite pleased with this arrangement.

 FYI - My clever and cheap-o fabric organization system. I covered 8 paper boxes with contac paper years ago. There's a box for light-weight woven, heavy-weight woven, patterns, knits, craft supplies, yarn, etc.

I love this part of my sewing organization system. I've probably been using this same box for 20+ years. It's designed for a workshop - sold in the tools section at the store - for little nuts and bolts and such. I use mine for needles, pins, fasteners, etc in the different drawers. Genius.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Craft Tutorial: First Aid Kit

 I made several of these unique First Aid Kits for Christmas gifts this year. They are quick and inexpensive to make. I made the one in the picture below about 15 years ago, and I LOVE it. I have used it all these years whenever I go hiking because it is lightweight and so easy to use outdoors. This kit also fits easily into the car's glove compartment.

You can see the size of it compared to my hand. My kit is stuffed "full" of many useful items. A new kit will probably have a more streamlined least for a while...

You can fit so many more useful items into this kit than you can into a hard container.

Here is what the kit looks like when it is untied. The two sides are still held together with velcro.

And here is the kit fully opened. This is such a great design! You can see all of your supplies at once, and you are able to retrieve exactly what you need without having to dump all of the contents.


Rip-stop nylon 12" x 15"
Laundry mesh fabric 10" x 12"
12" sew-on velcro strip
12" single-fold bias tape
52" double-fold wide bias tape
24 or more inches of shoe lace or sturdy ribbon

Note: all of the measurements are "-ish." You can adapt the measurements to make the first aid kit smaller or larger according to your needs.

You could make the kit out of another fabric, but for durability and light weight, I strongly recommend the rip-stop nylon. You won't be sorry!

Also, do not substitute tulle for the laundry mesh. It will tear too easily. You need the stronger mesh fabric.

1. Using a cool iron, press over 1" on the shorter ends of the rip-stop nylon (the sides that are 12" long. This will make the fabric 12" x 13". (Caution - a hot iron will melt the fabric - test it on a scrap.)

2. Sew the velcro strips over the folded edge on each side, concealing the raw edge. Stitch both of the velcro edges. Sometimes my machine skips stitches with velcro...does yours do that, too? If so, just re-sew any sections where the stitches have skipped.

Now you'll be working with the piece of mesh.

3. Cut two 12" pieces of the wide double-fold bias tape.
Sew the double-fold bias tape along the 12" edge of the laundry mesh.
Do not worry about the raw ends of the bias tape. They will be covered soon.

4. Lay the finished mesh piece over the rip-stop nylon. The velcro should be facing up.

Measure to find the center of the kit, and pin the 12" piece of single-fold bias tape right along the middle. It will be like the inside "spine" of the kit.

Since the finished edges of the ripstop nylon (next to the velcro strips) are now about 13", the single-fold bias tape will probably be pinned at about 6.5 inches, so that it's half-way between. Once you have everything centered and pinned, sew along both edges of the single-fold bias tape.

(Sorry, I took photos of the pinned single-fold bias tape, but I forgot to snap a photo of it sewn in.)

5. Cut two 14" pieces of wide double-fold bias tape. Fold the ends under, and sew the double-fold bias tape along the sides of the first aid kit. This will conceal the raw edges of the fabrics, the velcro, and the other strips of bias tape.

6. Measure and pin the pockets that you will sew in the first aid kit. I like to stitch 2 pockets that are 4" wide on each (out)side, and 2 pockets that are 1.5-2" wide towards the inside. You can make the pockets any width you like, but these have worked very well for me. It will give you a total of 8 pockets.

Note: it's all right if some of the pockets are "poochy" at the bias tape edge - see the photo below. It just makes it easier to insert the items into your kit.

7. Cut 2 lengths of shoelace or other cord, 12-18" each.
Sew each one about 3.5" from the loop side of the velcro, on both ends of the first aid kit.
Go back and forth several times to make the ties very secure.

Ta-da!! Now you have a wonderful first aid kit!
Fold the velcro edges together, and then tie the ties together to secure the kit.

What will you put in it? Here's my suggested list:
I have found these items to be useful over and over again as I have used this kit for 15+ years on many outings. Yes, all of these items really do fit into this kit! That's why mine is kind of fat.

Of course you will want to replace medicines when they reach their expiration date. I shop the "travel size" section at the drug store to find tiny containers of ibuprofin and other meds. Some meds come in plastic blister packs (such as Pepto Bismol chewable tabs) and it's easy to tuck one of the blister packs into the kit.

Antibiotic ointment
Cortizone itch cream
Small scissors 
Latex gloves
Alcohol wipes
Fingernail clippers
Pocket knife
Super glue
Pepto Bismol

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Vacation 2012

12/21 - Friday night, right after work, we headed to the airport for Las Vegas. Looking forward to several days with Angela, Tim, Sam, Audrey, and JJ.
 After The Nutcracker with Angela and Audrey.

 Building a volcano with Sam. (He was impressed to learn that Grandma and Grandpa have actually climbed on top of a volcano!) (More on the volcano project later...)

 Play time at the park with Grandpa (Audrey & Sam).

 Painting the volcano...

 Ta-da! Stay tuned for the eruption...
 Christmas decorations at The Bellagio...pretty grand, pretty crowded...this was the only place we went to in downtown Las Vegas. It's family friendly and it has...
 ...the largest chocolate fountain in the world. Mmmm...all behind glass.
 Closeup of the triple-chocolate chocolate fountain.
 This is the ceiling in the lobby of The Bellagio. It's a huge glass installation of glass flowers by the glass artist Dale Chihuly.
 Christmas eve bowling event. Gotta admire Grandpa's style.
 JJ missed out on most of the bowling...
 Sam in action
 Audrey strikes again.
 And JJ finally woke up!

 Last event on Christmas eve - making "gingerbread" houses on milk cartons. Since Sam and Audrey can't be around gluten, this was a safe (and easy) option for a fun activity.

 Finally...the volcano erupts!
 A quick group shot with dear family, and then we headed to the airport for a short flight to Salt Lake City so we could enjoy time with Josh & Hillary and their son Ethan.

 Ethan is 3 1/2, and so much fun. We enjoyed a little shopping trip.
 Snowy weather in the Salt Lake area! We were enchanted with the snow + red berries outside the library.

 Making new friends at the library. Rex the Dinosaur above, and the Reading Boy below.

 A quick battle--Grandma with a banana, and Ethan with his pirate hook & sword. Who won?
 Uncle Michel and Aunt Julie came by one evening for dinner, and Uncle Michel got an impromptu ukulele lesson.
Bye, Ethan!

What a wonderful vacation we had! Mark strummed his ukulele, I worked on an embroidery project, we got to see Angela & Tim's new home (they're moving today), and we were on hand to help Josh & Hillary prepare their home for sale. It sold after only 2 viewings! They'll be moving to Arizona for Josh's job transfer next month. We're heading for the airport now - we had wonderful & relaxing family visits, and we are looking forward to another week of vacation in our own sweet home.

Happy New Year!