The sling shots

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Two Christmases ago, the kids received a sling shot each, made especially for them by our friend.  She remembered how she made them when she was growing up, and told us the stories of how her and her brothers made them, and how her mom used to get mad at them for cutting the tongue of their leather shoes, so they could make these.  She has 6 siblings, so I bet their mom did get upset!  (I wonder if they each cut the tongue of their own shoe, ruining 7 pairs, or if they cut both tongues of a pair, and so ruining just 3 pairs?  I wonder…)

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Anyway.  She made Lucas and Siena a sling shot each, and apologize in advance for any damage they might cause.  We loved all of it, and will take the consequences, I guess (I hope my kids are not reading this one.)  This time she cut leather from a glove she had.  For the elastic part, she couldn’t find a good rubber even after going to the bike shop to get a popped tired.  She says the tires are not elastic enough these days, different from heydays growing up.  So she had to get surgical tubing.  And it works perfectly!

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We liked when she told us about her stories from growing up, as much as her stories on how she was trying to make them this time, and her thinking of all the possibilities they could use these now…. here in the city, as oppose to the farm she grew up at.

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The kids took their sling shot when we went for a hike here and there, but it was way more fun in Idaho.  DSC_0038 DSC_0039

They of course, were not throwing at anything to injure.  They were rocks, rabbit and deer poop sent to the air, or to touch the water, or reach the other side of the pond.  Real testing of what it could do.

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I remember I used to have one too growing up.  I wonder how many of us used to play with one, and how many kids today have one.  It was fun to see the kids play with it and not having to worry to damage anything or anyone was a big bonus!  Our friend knows us well, I guess.   Thank you Linda!

Making : Vintage Sheet Quilt

As I am trying to organize my pictures from last year (trying to make a photo book, inspired by my post few weeks ago, inspired by SouleMama’s post, I’ve realized there are many projects and things I didn’t post last year.

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I did take a long break from blogging last year (about six months) and it felt so good to not have to spend as much time in the computer.  But I’ve realized there were lots of pictures in folders that I never looked at.

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I’ve been saving all those old (vintage) sheets I’ve found in garage sales and thrift stores for years.  I’ve thought about using them to make pajama pants (something like these), or maybe bags (envelopes or for grocery bags), or napkins, flags or buntings, hot pads, or pillows, bias tape, tunic or an apron, or curtains (in our bedroom we need something to cover our closet, which is of a funny shape, and the extra heavy door fell down almost 20 years ago)  or any of the exciting projects you can find on Pinterest.

DSC_0323 copy I decided to start with a quilt.  Like a summer-ish quilt.

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I also made one for my mom, that I didn’t take a picture of.  They turned out pretty cute I think. DSC_0327 copy

I don’t want to forget those months of no posts, in the hopes that somehow this online journaling, will be part of “a thing” .  Not sure what exactly that thing would be but I am hoping it will turn into something so my family can remember these growing and learning years.

I don’t know if there is a correlation between me not blogging all those months and all the projects I did and finished. Maybe.

making : linens summer quilt

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For years now, I’ve been collecting linens.  I have lots of linens from my mom. Some she has made, others from my Omi.  And others are from even someone else special.

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But every time I see a kitchen towel or a table cloth in a garage sale or thrift store, pretty and handmade, I get it.  I love the stitches.   There is something really special about them.  Someone worked really hard on it, dedicated long hours.  They spent lots of time to make this something beautiful.  And hopefully it was loved, used, and cared for.

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DSC_0104-small DSC_0103-smallSometimes you can see the worn out threads or the thin parts of the fabric.  Someone really used them well.  It makes me happy to see.  Other times you can see they are almost new, sometimes they are unfinished projects.  I wonder what their story behind is.  I still get them.

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While cleaning up and organizing the past few months, I put all these linens together and picked those I wanted to use first.  My idea was to make a quilt, using the best pieces of (mostly) these tablecloths.

DSC_0111-smallAnd this was the hardest part.  Cutting the linens.  Oh my!  It took me few tries before I was able to do cut these large tablecloths.  I kept thinking maybe this was not the right project.  Maybe I could use these tablecloths and doilies for something else.  Something maybe I didn’t have to cut them?  Not sure, I closed my eyes and went for it.

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I cut pieces 13 inches wide and whatever length I could manage, with the best fabric.

DSC_27-smallI lined them up.

DSC_28-smallSome of them were different shapes, so I sewed them to another piece on top, to make it square (or rectangular).  I used the same linens I was cutting for the back of them.  I wanted to use all recycled materials, and especially since I was cutting the tablecloths up anyways.  I didn’t want anything extra to go to the trash can.

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I sewed them into strips.  Then I sewed those strips together into the top of the quilt.

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I measured our bed and I made it the size to fit.  I want to use this quilt in the summer, when our comforter is too hot to use, but it’s not hot enough for just a thin blanket or just a top sheet.  Something in between.  Something for mid season.

DSC_0013-small DSC_0014-smallSo I used mid weight cotton batting and a queen size sheet as the backing.  I set this sandwich on the floor and pinned the layers.

DSC_0016-smallI found this flower sheet set at the store.  I used the flat sheet for the quilt.  Now I have the fitted sheet and the pillow cases to use as a new bedding (I have a new quilt AND new sheets, smart huh!)

DSC_0017-smallI decided to not use a binding, but instead fold the backing (the sheet) into the front of the quilt and sew it in place.  Giving it the same border than the (new!) sheets we’ll use in the summer with it.  I’m not one to match everything around the house, but I thought it looked cute making it match those times the sheets and the quilt were used together.

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I also decided to sew around the edge only.  I am going to tie the quilt instead.  I want the beauty of the hand stitches themselves to be the center of the quilt, not the quilting of it.

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And so here it is now.  On top of our bed.  I like it.  Some days it is still a little chilly without the flannel sheets I put away few weeks ago.  So we are using my new quilt and the comforter underneath.  I like it also that some weeks we are all matchy-matchy with our new soft sheets and quilt.  All those flowers might just bring spring and summer back to us.

DSC_0038-small DSC_0037-smallIt started raining again this weekend, but I think it’s just a short visit.  We have flowers blooming everywhere.

 

making : another (upcycled) bag + doilies

After I made the other bag last month, I found one I wanted to cover up the words and add a little “something” to it.

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As you can see from my pile, I have this thing for doilies.  Crocheted one, or tattling, those little hand stitched pieces that no one really uses anymore.  I know.  They gather dust, they get stained, they get wrinkled and buried under books…

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But if I see them at a garage sale or at the thrift store I want to bring them home.  I don’t know how to make them, but I have lots of them.  A lot of them from my mom and my Omi.  But these… these that I’m using to sew into bags are going to be taken to a thriftstore and if no one saves sees them they’ll head to the landfill.  A terrible thing for many reasons.

Some are handmade, and so beautiful.  Others are store bought, but they are still good for working with.

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They do a great job at covering the words of those bags with stores, businesses or conferences I’ve never gone to but I like the bag.

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And because there’s plenty of them in my stash, both sides can get covered easily!

And because doilies are… well…. doilies after all!  They made me think of this episode of Portlandia.  Funny!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFdq-8wwNeM

making : upcycled bag

Remember the placemats I made last year with an old quilt I found at the thrift store?

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I still have some blocks left, after I cut up that quilt.  I also had a bag I thought I could fancy up a little, because I wasn’t too crazy about the logo in the front.

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So I put these two together…

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cover up the ripped parts…

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and a few ruffles and doilies…

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And done.  I love how it came out.

celebrating

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As it has become, the tradition is to get together with our friends on Christmas Eve, and celebrate with a special meal, as I did growing up in Chile. Together, in family, with our dear friends.

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This year, even more special than ever, with the cutest little one in our arms.  And she can’t make this aunt happier with her beautiful smile.  A special gift indeed.

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And a morning, full.

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Full of surprises.

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Full of playing.

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Full of traditions.

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Full of handmades.

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Full of smiles and fun moments.

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And this photo to remember later, that we did pretty good on the cleaning part.  Just a handful of bags for the garbage.  A grocery bag full of recycling.  And a whole bunch of fabric bags and boxes we will reuse and use them again, many more times in the future.  Ahhhhh… it feels good to waste less.  It feels really good.

We had a beautiful, slow Christmas. Together as a family.  I love seeing the faces of these three lovely people I live with, open their presents.  Those presents we’ve been hiding for a while.  Those we’ve been making for a while.  Those we thought and figured out how to make for that special someone.  How beautiful it is to share with those we love.  This time, it was again, just wonderful.

Hoping your holidays were beautiful too.

 

 

Making : upcycled placemats

A couple of years ago, I found this very worn and well loved quilt at a thrift store.  It was so pretty, I couldn’t leave it.  I carried it all around in the store, and wondered what I was going to do with it, and if I should buy it.  It was too ripped to try to fix it for a new quilt.  But I loved the pattern, the fabrics, the hand sewing…. someone spent a lot of time making it.

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So I bought it.  I think my reasoning of doing things like that goes something like this: Someone spent so much time and love creating this, I can’t leave it like this.  I bet they’ll take it to the dump if it doesn’t sell, and how would I feel if one of my quilts ends up like this, in some thrift store, fifty years from now.  I would hope someone would get it and do something with it, and really hope it shows signs of love.  That’s what is all about.

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So I brought it home with me.  I really had to.  You know? It’s been in my fabric shelf for many, many months.  A couple of dozens of months I’d say.  Yeah, I know.  That long.

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I loved the fabric they/she used.  The colors, the designs, the quilt itself.  So much love went into making it.

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But there were lots of pieces that I couldn’t really fix.  Actually most of the quilt was very torn, ripped, with the fabric barely holding on.

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So I thought and thought about it.  It took me few nights staring at it, and well, few years really, to actually get the courage to cut it up.  You know, for the same reasons I bought the quilt, someone did spend lots and lots of hours creating it.

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I couldn’t just cut it.  But I did.

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I wanted to make placemats for our new table.

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I was able to save six of these quilt blocks. I cut them up with the rotary cutter.  Most of them were 15 in x 14 or 13 in.  I added a strip of about 4 inches on each side, to make it rectangular to fit the place.  I used different calico fabrics I had, that matched a little bit the block I was using.  But each one has different fabrics.  They ended up being about 15 in x 20 in.

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Then I added a layer of batting.  I also had enough batting for 5 of them.  And I used a fleece baby blanket we used many years ago with Siena I think, as a batting for one of the placemats.

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Then I cut a fabric that I had purchased at a thrift store a while back, for the back piece.  That I had enough to make all six.  I stitched on the seam of the block and the strip of fabric I added so the “sandwich” didn’t move so much with the washing.

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And finally, I added a binding.  I’ve made these from many different fabrics, mostly left over from quilts I’ve made.  One binding I had enough for four of them, and the other two have different fabric.  I think it add beauty and more color to the mix.

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Except for the batting and the thread, the rest are all upcycled materials.  I love when I can do that.  Quilting started for this same reason.  Making a blanket with the cloth from clothes that were torn or worn out.  Make something new from something old.  I just wish I’d knew a little more about the history of the original quilt, like who made it and for who it was made for, and when and where it was created.

They were pretty quick to make.  I think I’m going to have to make some more placemats to use when these are washing!  I’m really enjoying seeing these placemats in our table these days.  They are so bright and cheerful.  And it makes me feel good that I’m helping the environment a little bit, and I’m making last this love, this lovely creation just a little longer, with new stories to be told.

Back to white again

We painted our bedroom when I was pregnant with Siena, over 10 years ago.  Back then we switched from our bedroom to our art and hanging out room.  It was white, and me being the one who cares the most about the colors and looks of things, I felt I needed color, so we painted it yellow with blue trims.

We’ve turned it into our bedroom again, since Lucas was born over 6 years ago.  And it needs a new paint.

This time, I’m needing white again.  Mark is pretty easy in these types of decisions, so it was all up to me.  And that’s what I did.

I painted it all white.  And added a ceiling fan.

And I love it!

And of course, I moved the furniture around while we had everything outside. I enjoy changing things around in my house, and this time was the perfect time to do it, while we cleaned everything and had to bring things back inside.  Perfect time to re-arrange.

Our bedroom being right next to the kitchen made the kitchen look even darker.  We’ve had these colors for 15 years, and we’ve talked about wanting more light and changing colors for a long time.  But it’s the energy and enthusiasm I didn’t have.

Until last week!  I was ready.  And because the kitchen has the hallway to the backyard, I had to do that too! I also painted the basement stairs… you know, they are right next to the kitchen…. And the bathroom is right there too but I got too tired to continue.  Maybe that’s next year.

Mark, Siena and Lucas went camping for a couple of nights and I stayed to paint.  I had to take everything out.  E V E R Y T H I N G! You know, all the dishes, and cups and containers and ‘kitchen stuff’ we’ve accumulated in the 17 years of living in this house. All those dishes in the way back that we haven’t used in years.  What a chore! Perfect time to donate some of them.

And I sanded.  So much paint.  So many layers.  The orange, green, yellow and red I had painted 15 years ago, on top of the white it was when we bought our house.  And under that first white?  Almost the same exact green I had painted years later!

So white it turned, slowly.

Not easy, but it finally did turn white.  Three coats in most places.  It was that dark.

Never mind the ceiling light falling…

Or the unfinished (for 11 years) back splash…

It is white.

And bright.  And I love it!  Worth every sore muscle and shoulders and hands. Everything worth it.

I haven’t out anything on the walls yet.  We have so many things we would like to see up there, and we’ve always have put them on the walls.  So now, I am enjoying a little wall empty-ness while I think what to put up first.

It just looks beautiful! Well, you know… I painted it so I might be a little skew on my opinion.

making : stained glass on recycled materials

I took Siena and her friend to a workshop the library did last month.

There were two different ways they could use the supplies to make stained glass.  This first project we made, we cut black paper with scissors and hole punching.

Then, on a piece of transparency (that works with heat from the iron) you put shavings of crayons.  All colors all sizes.

Then you put another piece of transparency on top of the one with the crayon shavings, and a piece of newspaper on top.  For about 5-10 seconds, you move the hot iron on top, moving in circle motion, so the crayons melt, in between the plastic sheets.

It will look like this.

Then you can glue the black paper with the holes you made on top of the transparencies with the melted crayons.

You can also put a frame, or card stock to frame your work.

Another way to do a stained glass look-alike, is with paints.

On a plastic folder (two pieces of plastic folded in the middle) you can draw with oil pastels, making the outline of your drawing.

Or you can use paint.

Then with paints you can work on your drawing.

Then you fold the plastic and cover your paint.  Making sure not to squeeze it too much, so not to mix all the paints around before drying.

It was lots of fun to learn a new craft project, and be on a craft outing with two other girls. Perfect afternoon if you ask me!

Potato planting : a tutorial

With all our enthusiasm we got too many potatoes at the nursery.  Even with Mark growing up in Idaho, we haven’t planted potatoes more than two times in our adult life living here in Portland.  But here we are this year, catching up I guess!

On a side note, potatoes (aloo in Hindi) were cultivated in South America for centuries until they were introduced to Europe by the Spanish.  then, immigrants brought them from there to North America.  Crazy how me being from Chile and Mark being from Idaho show all the signs that we were meant to plant potatoes!

By no means we are experts in potato gardening, but this is what ‘we’ learned (by ‘we’ I mean Mark doing the searching) in reading books and online.

TUTORIAL: How to Plant Potatoes

1- First you need to get some good helpers. That is the most important part, so it can make it even more fun to be outside growing your own food and getting everything done and taking good care of them.

2- Then you get the potatoes you bought from the nursery, or those forgotten potatoes in the back of the basket growing roots already.  If they are big enough you cut them so they have an eye per piece, and are just big enough. For those potatoes that are small (like fingerling) you don’t have to cut them.

Lucas said this is so pretty! And yes it is so pretty! Love the color.

3- You need to let the potatoes dry a little where you just cut them, for a day or so, so they don’t get infected in the dirt and survive and grow healthy instead.  Note: some places they said to coat the potatoes with sulfur, but we decided not to do it this time. 

4- Then you get into your garden and loosen the soil.

5- Make a trench and make sure the soil is loose in the bottom.

6- Place the potatoes in the trench with the eyes and sprouts up.

7- Plant them about 10 inches apart in the trench.

8- Cover them with about 3 inches of soil.  When they start appearing you cover them back up again.

9- Get everyone together and decide where two feet are in your bed and start your other trench.

10- Dig another trench and plant the same way.

11- Then, get everyone together again and find wood you’ve had laying around from other projects and build another raised bed, for the other dozens of potatoes you already bought.

Lucas also made the comment on how pretty this cut wood looks. And I agree again. It is really pretty.

We didn’t get to finish our raised bed, but I’ll post the rest of the pictures when the rain stops again and we are ready to set our bed next to the other ones to continue our “potato field.”