Archive for DIY

Lavender Dryer Sachets

The lavender from the farm dried and Immi helped me de-stem the flowers. (Ok, so there is a lot more to de-stem but it’s a good start!)

…and I made some dryer sachets! I haven’t been using dryer sheets for as long as I can remember (because it adds cost to laundry, I don’t like synthetic smells, and worst of all — it’s not good for us or for earth!) so I was happy to have come across this lavender dryer sachet idea few years back. It’s basically approximately 1/2 cup worth of lavender sewn shut in natural fabric. It doesn’t soften laundry but it does gently scent it and it’s reusable many many times.

I just have to add here that the fabric I used here is a very very nice quality heavy cotton fabric by Laura Ashley. It retails for about $20 per yard, and I got about 13 yards of it — for FREE — at a garage sale!

 

For the Table

Here’s the photo of the antique machine leg I have been cleaning up. This picture was taken last week, after cleaning just the top part. Today, I did finally finished cleaning the whole pair. Whew. Seriously, cleaning up 100 years worth of greasy dusty build up — gently — was seriously a hard work! I still have to buff it up a bit, and then coat it with rust converter (this is a point I debated for some time because I hesitate to modify it, but in the end, I think it is the best way to preserve it), and then clear protective finish. I’m looking forward to seeing it as a finished table at some point!

Reusable Lunch Sack

…So I stitched up a reusable lunch sack the day before Immi’s first day of school because I thought carrying lunch bag on top of huge backpack is an over-kill for a mandatory snack for 2 hour class (Weird right? Don’t get me started…) I was feeling quite smug about it sewing it up — having looked up standard dimension of brown bags and all that. But as soon as I finished making this, it occurred to me that lunch bags with draw string (like bags for Japanese bento boxes) would have been a better design 😐 And what’s more, Immi won’t drink this juice box probably because it’s not organic, and it has “natural flavor” in it — I should have looked more closely before putting it in the shopping cart.

 

In Search of Perfect Dining Table

Partly as a consolation prize for the house we didn’t get, and partly in lieu of “living here”, we are in search of t.h.e. dining table. Because ours is now much too small due to Lucian taking up more than full space, and also because we often have guests for dinner. Actually, I really like the current vintage teal-colored dining table, I imagine we would always keep and use it somewhere. The dining table is one item I didn’t think that I would find thrifting because we have specific requirements for it in both function and style. Much of our favorite times are spent at the dining table, it might as well be something we really love; I think that it’s worth every fuss over it. Besides, I take most of my craft and food photos on it. And in the pursuit of our perfect dining table, we found ourselves here (and if you couldn’t tell, it’s definitely not IKEA):

…And also here (it’s just one table we are after, but really, it’s a two part project — does that sound cryptic enough for you??).

Inside this architectural salvage was a slice of [my] heaven!

I was so touched by how well curated these vintage/antique items are. I can tell that these people really care about what they do. And, everyone who works here were so helpful, knowledgeable, really nice, and [amazingly] seem to know their entire inventory and exact location of each item in this vast warehouse by heart.

When I didn’t see the “no photography” sign anywhere, I asked the person minding the register if I was allowed to take photos inside and she told me it’s entirely fine. (Is “no photography” an east coast thing? There were many places with such signs up in MA and in VA, at bakeries and such.) Even with permission, I’m totally shy about taking photos because it makes me feel like I’m invading someone else’s space. So basically, I just pointed my little camera at quite random places and snapped few quick photos hoping that they would turn out okay enough to capture how amazing this place is. The entire shop is super photogenic anyhow.

I could easily enjoy spending entire week in here (forget spa!)

The amazing thing about this salvage is that they had exactly what we were looking for. In fact 30+ different ones for us to choose from 🙂

Fixing Things

The zipper on Ashland’s favorite back pack broke. It was a stuffed black bear with zipper on the back of it’s head with straps on so that he can “wear” it on his back. I contemplated quite long moments what to do about it — I didn’t think that I can really donate it because it is broken, but I didn’t feel right about putting it in trash either seeing that the bear was still in reasonably good condition. Fixing it though, I knew would take some serious effort. When I thought about the how much it would cost to simply replace with new one, and contemplated my hourly worth in $s, it didn’t make much sense for me bother fixing it. But I was annoyed with myself for even thinking this for a moment — I’m appalled by our ‘everything disposable’ culture, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Especially when the kids are watching (ha!) because I believe in leading by example.

After a big long sigh, I rummaged through my craft supplies and found a perfect size zipper replacement (it’s light brown and not black, but hey, it could have been worse). And I ripped apart the broken zipper off the bear’s head, ripped the inside seam of the pouch lining (so that I can sew on the zipper inside out) and installed the new zipper. Now, when I say “installed the new zipper”, this is the bit that took quite a lot of determination because it required me to work with very fuzzy material lined with flimsy cotton which has been stuffed full with fluff and I had to stitch all this up by hand in small back-stitches (for durability) from a very small opening (kinda like real surgery, I tried to keep the “incision” as small as possible in a entirely discrete location).

I am pleased to have successfully completed the trickiest zipper installation I’ve ever done. I hope Ashland will be happy to have his bear back. And hopefully he will grow up to be a responsible person who can contemplate 1)fix, 2)re-purpose, 3) re-use, 4)donate, 5)recycle before chucking items into trash bin.

Making Water Kefir

I started making water kefir! I had been contemplating making some kind of probiotic drink because Todd drinks store bought Kombucha sometimes to help his digestive system when it feels sluggish. Years ago, I made milk kefir from enzyme packets (At the time, I could not source milk kefir grains. It was one of those things that was “shared”, not bought. You can easily buy them online now!). I like milk kefir, but there’s limit to how much dairy one would feel inclined to consume in a day so I decided to give water kefir a try.

And I’m glad I did, because it’s easy (a lot easier than making milk kefir!) and it tastes great! Even kids like it. Immi thinks it tastes like apple juice, and Ashland calls it lemonade. (I put papaya in this one for flavor)

Why did I choose to try water kefir over kombucha? Well, quite frankly, the “thing” that makes Kombucha (it’s known as SCOBY) is scary looking. Kefir grains on the other hand, is kinda pretty. Yep. I’m shallow like that sometimes.

 

Mending and Baking

Todd brought me his jeans that had belt loop rip off of it (leaving a small frayed area) and asked me if it can be mended. I like a good challenge so I gave it a try. I remembered seeing a stitch called “darning stitch” in a vintage embroidery book, and I figured it must have once been used for darning (…and a bit of googling proved me right!). Anyhow, here’s the little hole in the jeans mended with darning stitch and I’m about to re-attach the belt loop.

I’ve been baking dark & white chocolate chip cookies lately. My cookies look a lot better (rounder and more evenly sized) now that I have a perfect ice cream scoop (I found it for $0.99 at thrift shop — it’s totally great, simple solid metal construction …unlike modern ones that are metal plated plastic with bulky rubber handles :O) for making dough balls with.

Princess Wand

I made a faery princess wand for immi. She’s gone through many many wands over past few years (it’s easily one of her favorite toys) because they break all the time! I got tired of store bought wands getting irreparably broken only to end up in the landfill, so I made one that’s less fragile (and anyhow easily repaired with things I already have on hand). The stick portion is made from a light weight but quite solid aluminum tube so I don’t think that it’ll be cracking anytime soon. The star is wool-felt — it should be reasonably safe for immi to wave around.

Dress

I got a totally comfortable and very pretty summer dress at a serious bargain price…which of course meant that some minor alteration was required. I don’t have the skill to do this for a more complicated dress but for a simple one like this, I got it to fit me well just by taking in the side seam a bit at the top of the dress (did this with sewing machine to save time) and shortening the strap (by hand, some things are much more neatly done this way!).