Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrating Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here. We usually have a huge family dinner here at our house because we have the biggest dining room. For a few years now, my husband has been making a Maple Brine Turkey (it marinates for 3 days) So Good...But our oven has croaked and we are in the beginning stages of planning a major renovation to the kitchen. We only have a microwave to cook in, so we’re still waiting for the rest of the family to make a plan. Perhaps we’ll go out for once. But I’m sure either way my hubby will still be baking the traditional pumpkin pie (from the Halloween jack-o-lantern) and his delicious cranberry pie. Guess his mothers traditional squash casserole will have to wait till xmas.

Photo credit also goes to my talented husband.
P.S. as requested, here's the Cranberry Pie Recipe:

1 double pie crust (Pillsbury crust is good, and easy. It’s found in the refrigerated section at the store, usually near the cans of crescent rolls and cookie dough.)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
12 oz. Cranberries (one bag, fresh or frozen*)
1 orange (about 1 Tbls. grated rind and ¼ cup juice)
½ cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg, (optional)
1 tablespoon water (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Fit one crust into pie plate. Mix sugar and flour and sprinkle ¼ cup of mixture evenly over bottom crust. Coarsely chop about half the cranberries. In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped berries, remaining whole berries, grated orange rind, orange juice, raisins, nuts, and butter. Mix thoroughly and pile mixture into pie plate. Sprinkle remaining sugar/flour mixture evenly over filling. Place top crust on pie and seal edges. If desired, brush the crust with a wash made by beating together the egg and water. Cut at least one vent hole near the center of the top crust. Place on a baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake at 375 F for 50 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*If using frozen cranberries, DO NOT thaw them. Use a food processor to chop them or leave them whole.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Upcycled Laptop Bag

My husband needed a bag to carry his new laptop and he wanted a few pockets for the cord, mouse & other accessories. So I went through his closet and found an old pair of jeans with nice large pockets.

I picked out a quilted fabric piece for the inside lining and wanted the case to be padded, so he brought me some foam sheeting.

After sewing the lining I wrapped it in the foam sheets.

I used portions of the jeans legs to make handles and a closing strap. I also added a piece of fabric inside the fly to make it into a zipped pocket.

After all the layers were put together it was quite thick, so I had to choose another lightweight fabric scrap to make the binding around the top edge. Wasn’t sure my little sewing machine would handle it, with the pockets and such there were quite a few layers. He’s very pleased with the way it came out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EtsyBlogger of the Month

This months featured Etsy Blogger is The Fab Miss B aka Becky Kazana. Oh what a prolific blogger. Not only does she blog about her two wonderful Etsy Shops including how to’s, but she also has sweet stories of her family life and travels. Her one shop is full of vintage finds, check out her blogs about gifts for her friends, she has quite a stylish eye. Her other shop if full of her own artwork, she really is creative.

You have to give her a visit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rebecca’s eBook

My friend Rebecca wrote a nice little eBook on how to make a Princess Choker. It’s available to download for just $5.00. I saw the choker and it’s so lovely. She also has lots of other great stuff in her Etsy store, Moonwise Jewerly.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

DIY Halloween Décor

Although they seem to be available almost everywhere now, about 10 years ago I made my own headstones to decorate the yard for halloween. They are a bit old and worn now as you can see in the photo, but you get the idea of how they look. Here’s the how to:

Foam insulation sheets (they go behind drywall - I bought mine at home depot)
Scrap pieces of thin wood molding, plant stakes, metal rods, etc. approx. 8” long (use whatever you have on hand)
White painters caulk
Box cutter or large kitchen knife
Black, Silver and/or Gray paint
Thin paint brush
Letter stencils or paint free hand

1) Cut the panels in half to make two 2’ panels
2) Place the stakes or rods so about 6” extends below the panels, this is to stake them in the ground.
3) Use the caulk to glue the 2 pieces together. You need to be cautious about what kind of glue you use to sandwich them together. Some industrial panel adhesives will melt the Styrofoam.
4) Draw out the shapes of your gravestone and cut them out with the knife. There are many shapes you can use, but if you use the cross, then you only need one stake in the bottom.
5) I used a faux marble painting technique to paint mine. I just used a fine paintbrush and did small diagonal veins in gray paint. Experiment with other techniques if you like.
6) Then paint on the epitaphs. I did mine freehand, but feel free to use other methods. There are plenty of ideas out there for funny or scary sayings on the headstones. My husband even has a book of strange real ones from the 1800’s.

I have also recently added a gate to the graveyard. I got two short scrap pieces of plastic fencing that someone tossed out. I spray painted them black. I found some thick plastic chain and attached it between the fence panels, this prevents people from traipsing through the graveyard (The first year I put them out, some were stolen and we found them in a yard around the corner, the mom made her boy come apologize to us) I guess that’s one advantage of DIY, you can always spot your own stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Honey Pot Bag

My friend is planning to go to a Halloween Party as a Bumble Bee. She wanted something to use as a small purse. She brought me a small remnant with a bee print and a small plastic food container and asked how she might make something that looked like a honey pot. So I drew the diameter of the container on the fabric and cut a circle with seam allowance. Then I sewed a drawstring pouch and gathered it slightly to the circle. I taped it to the bottom of the container so it would stay in place & then added a black shoe string for the drawstrings. She is thriller & it seems pretty sturdy with the plastic liner. I may have to make a few more bucket pouches now.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Threads of Crafting

How can I have so much thread and still never have the color I need?

UNSEWN – my abstract photo
(When upcycling clothing, sometimes I need every inch I can get so I have to undo seams. I just though this made an interesting photo)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Giving Myself a Pat on the Back

I know I shouldn’t be bragging, but it’s so exciting to make Etsy’s Front Page. A set of my pillows were featured last night. Of course I didn’t know till this morning when I found a number of people had faved my shop and then looked at (great website if you haven't seen it). A very big THANK YOU goes out to alyanna, isn’t her treasury just lovely, I love the color and layout, and especially like each of the items on either side of my pillows. What a lovely assemblage of artists to be grouped with.

p.s. My husband had been using the computer last night to upload some lovely pictures from our trip to the AH-TAH-THI-KI Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. You can find a link to his great photos on my sidebar, look for “BaubCat”.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Matching Outfit for Barbie

My great niece (ugg can’t believe I’m that old) just turned 7, so I made an outfit for her birthday. She LOVES Barbie, so I decided to make an outfit for her too. My fingers aren’t as nimble as they used to be, was more work than I had expected. But they were both a hit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making Gifts

There are always so many birthdays and other occasions I need gifts for. More and more lately I’m hand making my gifts. Here are just a few I’ve created lately. A small handbag, a pair of button earrings, a hand painted hat and an upcycled totebag.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Passing on the Knowledge

The last few weeks I spent some time giving my niece her first sewing lessons. She’s never sewn before, even by hand. We decided to start with a tote bag, I thought it would be a fairly simple shape for a beginner. The original pattern had grommets and a drawstring through the top, but after she chose her fabric, I was concerned about the grommets on the satiny fabric, so we left them out. We then added the handmade flowers for a decoration. I had to help with a few things like making the piping that went around the bottom, but she amazed me how quickly she learned to get the right pressure on the foot pedal. I remember that being very difficult for me when I was a child. Anyway, she made a great tote bag. I’m very proud of her.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Renovation Existing Tile

When renovating a bathroom, most home improvement sites and books will recommend completely ripping out all the fixtures and tiles and updating everything. They say that you will usually recover the cost when you resell the house. That’s fine if you can actually afford the thousands of dollars in demolition and replacement. Many of us don’t have those resources. And with the current housing slump and home values having dropped dramatically, sinking thousands into a renovation may not pay off.
I have updated both the bathrooms in my home without replacing all of the tile. I have redone just portions of it. I did it myself, and it does involve some delicate precision and hard labor. I’m not sure tile contractors would like my approach either. Hiring someone to do this work may not be easy as they most likely feel it’s easier to tear it all out and then cover a clean flat wall.
Easy doesn’t always mean best for the environment. My approach is to preserve as much vintage tile as possible and to add as little as possible to the waste stream. Where does all that old tile end up? Probably a landfill. Maybe if it were being recycled for some other use, it wouldn’t bother me so much, but most of the time, you see large amounts of construction waste just packed up into dumpsters and trucked away.
Here’s what I did with the 1st renovation. We had broken tile on the windowsill, some edge tiles at the floor that were cracked, a broken ceramic wall mounted towel rack and worn out ceramic soap dish and toothbrush holders above the wall hung sink. After removing the sink, we also found holes through some tiles and cracks in others.
I loved the 50-year-old tan speckled tile but knew I probably wouldn’t be able to match it. The room had black edge tile, so I had to come up with a pattern to insert black tile to fill in the spaces where I removed the broken stuff. It required placing black tiles where the new towel bars would attach to the walls, black tiles on the new windowsill and a few rows of black behind the sink. It also involved preserving at least one tan tile to fill in a spot where one towel bar was removed. Getting tiles off in one piece is the trickiest part & mostly comes down to luck.
Here’s a few links on how to replace a broken tile…,,20051584,00.html

perhaps I’ll post more about my own repair work at a later date as this is already getting too long winded.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Uses For Hardware And Such

These necklaces are made using a variety of hardware. The turquoise one is made with metal washers, stacked buttons and painted metal scrapbook embellishments. The rectangular one has beads that are made from sliced pieces of pyrex pipettes from a medical lab. The three tier floral pendant is made from epoxy scrapbook stickers over metal washers. The coral color one is made from a C-clip that is some kind of auto part, semi-precious stones and buttons.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I created my 1st Treaury

I created my 1st Treasury on Etsy. It took a while to get settled down and wait for the 333 to pass, but it is fun, I think I'll get into this.
Good luck to all the creative designers I included.
Please check out these lovely Evening Bags by June 17th when my Treasury expires.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Earring Cabinet

Being an earring junkie, it tends to be hard to find a place to store them all, or to locate the pair I want. I decided I needed a cabinet. I envisioned something similar to a CD cabinet that provides storage on the doors when they open.
I went to Lowes and bought some 1x3x2’ boards to build the boxes. Originally I had intended to also put necklaces in the box, hence I chose the 1x3’s, but 1x2’s probably would have worked fine and the box would have been a bit less deep. I decided widthwise to make each door out of a 1x6, and so I also bought some ¼”x6” craft boards to glue together to form the back. I decided to make the doors slightly larger than the box so that I could put a decorative curve on the top, something to match our wooden window valances in the bedroom. The extension on the bottom works as a door handle. I also wanted a shallow band across the bottom of each section to stop anything that fell from dropping out. I just went with some flat ¼” trim molding. I measured the pieces and marked my curved top and my husband cut them for me. He used his router to make a groove to recess the bands across the bottom. I just used a simple butt joint and screwed the boxes together and glued & nailed on the front & back. My original idea was to put in rows of wire and wrapped them around screws to hang my dangle earrings over. I tried getting the wire taught, but all the earrings kept sliding toward the middle. Then my husband had a great idea, remembering the pile of martigras beads we had. So we cut the strands, strung them across and around the screws, wedging a bead between the screw and the side of the box. They work great because the beads separate each pair of earrings. Originally I had left the sides off the middle of the doors (I thought they might bind together when opening and closing) but I ended up adding a strip of the ¼” molding to finish off the edge and cover the ends of the screws & beads.
I own a few pairs of post earrings, so I used some wire and formed a small hole and loop, so I could attach the earring thru the hole and hang them in the box too. It’s kind of a pain, so I end up not always putting them away properly. I’m considering adding a strip of needlepoint mesh in place of the beads, but haven’t tried it yet, or perhaps I’ll find another solution.
I finished it off by painting it white and modifying the stencil from the window valances up the front. The lovely vintage hinges I used on the sides came from our Aunt’s old house. Now I have plenty of room to make and store new earrings.
This idea can be adapted to any size and I have also included a picture of a similar but smaller earring holder I made for my sister using a wooden picture frame and strung beads. I just used some decorative paper across the back. A sheet of needlepoint mesh would also work well if making one from a picture frame.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Coral Rose Handbag

I made this elegant purse without a pattern. I used the coral color fabric sample just the size it was. I sewed up the sides and created a corner on each side to form the bottom. I thought it would look nice with a front pocket, so I looked thru my scraps & found the lovely floral fabric (left over from a round cushion I made). I cut out the pockets and flap and sewed them on. Then I realized I might have just enough scrap left to add a zipper closure across the top. My mother had recently given me a beaded necklace. I restrung one of its strands onto wire for the handle. Look for it in my Etsy shop.

Monday, June 1, 2009

This Months Feature at The ReFORMatory on ArtFire

Because I enjoy working on so many different types of crafts, each month in my ArtFire Studio I feature a different style of craft. This months feature is “Vintage Button Hairpins”. My button collection started with hand-me-downs from both grandmothers and now my mother, mother-in-law and other friends have also added in. I find that small to shirt size buttons work well for hairpins. I enjoy embellishing some of them with beads and other items. Check them out on ArtFire until June 30th.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Paper Goods and Recycling

I save everything, especially if I find it attractive. I have a huge stack of wall and desk calendar dating back years. So I began transforming them into gift bags. I first started making them for family gifts, but now have made a few for my shop. I look for two pages that coordinate nicely, usually from the same calendar, but not always necessary. If I have a gift I need a particular size bag for, then I work from there. When needed I add other pages, paper or cardboard to form the sides and bottom. Sometimes I just fold the calendar page over to form the sides. I tape them together and then look for ribbon, yarn, string or even twisted paper to form handles. I also collect a lot of old books, mostly from thrifting or garage sales. I turn them into lovely little pillow boxes. You can find instructions and patterns on the net for how to construct the boxes. I don’t use a set template, but size the boxes so that I can work a particular photo or illustration into the front of the boxes. I especially like the ones I made from “The Big Book of Pets”, I allowed the text from the story to wrap around the boxes. They can also be embellished with ribbon, buttons and other decorations. My sister-in-law and niece have made some lovely ones with embellishments. The lighter the weight of the pages, the less sturdy the box, so they need to be used for lighter gifts, or you need to reinforce them by double the thickness or adding cardboard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pillows and Patchwork

I like making pillows. I have many small remnants and pieces of designer decorator fabric samples. Most are not large enough for one pillow on their own, therefore I have fun trying to find new ways of combining coordinating fabrics into one pillow. I also enjoy using up my yarn and fringe collections to make trims. Here are some examples.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Button Ponytail Holders

I often see pontytail holders made with new fabric covered buttons, I prefer to use old and vintage buttons. Old buttons are easy to come by, especially large ones and you can layer buttons together, add fabric and yoyo’s or add beads, each having a unique style.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upcycled Bathroom Heater

We recently renovated our main bathroom. I chose not to demolish the existing tile (unlike most major renovators would recommend). First of all, I liked the tile, secondly most of it was still in great condition and thirdly, I prefer to add as little as possible to the waste stream. The problem with preserving 60 year old tile is the fact that they no longer make it and new tiles are not available.
We had an old recessed wall heater just below the window. It was no longer working and with new central air and heat, it was no longer needed. But since it was recessed into the wall removing it would have left a hole that would have required new tiles to cover. Since it was located on the wall right next to the toilet and the center opening provided a good size, I decided to convert it to a magazine rack. I removed it from the wall and unscrewed the face from the part that held the heater coil. I then cut some pieces of craft wood to line the rear and sides of the recess in the wall. I stained them to match the dark wood color we were using for our sink vanity. I then built a wedge shape out of some more wood and stained & polyurethaned it. I screwed it on through the same holes that had held the rear part of the heater on. I also stain some strips of wood to go behind the beautiful cut outs, because the edges of my inside frame now showed through . I chose to leave the original label and toggle switch on the face to give it some character. It works great and I didn’t have to add any more problems to my tile renovation (more on the subject in a future blog).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Welcome to The ReFORMatory
I am setting up this blog to share design, crafting and renovating ideas. I hope to also feature ideas from other creative artisans too. I am new to blogging and hope you will enjoy my posts. Lets hope I can learn the ins and outs of blogging quickly to keep my readers interested.


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