Vinyl Record Art!

Today I am supposed to be prepping stuff for a big yard sale at my house this weekend. I have done just 1.5 loads of laundry towards that goal so far.. because it took just one two-second look into the craft room closet for me to get completely off-track. CRAFT SQUIRREL! ūüėČ

Stuff’s happening with my parents’ old record collection. ūü§ď

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I had really good intentions, I promise. Before I began to look in the closet I thought, “I’ll find some craft supplies we aren’t using anymore and sell them in the sale!” but my eyes fell instantly upon my parents old record collection and it was over. Ever since then I’ve been melting and molding old vinyl records into art. It’s so easy and fun to do, and the results can really be beautiful!

Vinyl Record Art
These are just the initial pieces of what will be an wall art installation in our new rec room.

All you have to do is pre-heat your oven to 200¬įF, turn an oven-safe bowl upside down on a cookie sheet, place a clean record on the bowl and let it warm up for about 4-8 minutes, or until you see the record begin to droop with the heat. Then you’ll quickly pull it out and begin to mold it as desired. I say quickly because you really only have a few seconds before it begins to harden again, so don’t hesitate to begin shaping when you get it out of the oven. And don’t worry- if you don’t like your initial design you can pop it back into the oven for another 4-8 minutes and reshape it! Told you it was easy, quick and fun!

I got really excited about this find because it was the perfect excuse not to work on my yard sale. ūüėõ Also, because these are really all the best old records- Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Bob Segar, Golden Earring, Meatloaf, Eagles- the real good stuff. The music of my childhood. The actual records we listened to in my childhood home. My parents loved their 60’s and 70’s rock n’ roll! Forever, I will too. I’m a sucker for sentimental stuff. I knew right away what I wanted done with it.

Vinyl Record Art
This is such an easy, quick, fun, cheap project.

I made five of these today. My daughter and I are going to melt all of the rest of these suckers up and mount them on the wall as an art installation in the rec room she’s going to design this summer. More on that project soon. ūüôā

So, do you happen to have some old records laying around that you’d like to melt and play with? They can be made into some really great things- bowls, wall art, garden flowers, plant pots, bookends, and more. A perusal of Pinterest can show you about 101 things you can do with old records. I can’t wait to show you guys this project, finished and mounted. Likely it won’t be until summer, so check back if you wanna!

Today’s Project: Vinyl Record Art, obvs.. and some yard sale prep.

Today’s Soundtrack: Kendrick Lamar’s new album Damn. Yo. People keep saying crazy things like Kendrick Lamar is the “greatest rapper of all time” lately. I just don’t get that.¬†I’m trying to acquaint myself better with his music so I can decide what I think about it.

I’m Reading: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Butterflies On Your Window – Free Pattern

I love paper. Paper-crafts have always been among my favorite projects to work on and display, and I’ve owned several paper-centric websites over the years. For a while I sold custom invitations and announcements, and once upon a time I worked as a photographer which gave me the opportunity to see my art printed on some of the most gorgeous paper in the world.

I like to make paper flowers and disks, paper corsages, paper confetti, and paper garlands- and you will always find them on display in my home. I find satisfaction in working with paper, and love that I can recycle so many common materials to make beautiful paper art.

What I Did Today

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I have occasionally¬†purchased beautiful and unique papers for use in my paper projects, but for the most part I find that reusing papers found in our home makes for the most sentimental results. My favorite papers come from old family books, travel maps from our road trips, comic books, and envelopes. Each year’s calendar comes down and lands in my paper stash. I found old sheet music that belonged to my husband and his siblings when they were children, and that’s just about my favorite find ever. I like to go through old coffee table books and find beautiful pages to repurpose as art.

The Cats Love Their New Bench

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One of my favorite paper projects to complete with my family (when they cooperate, they are all teenagers or beyond now) is to redecorate our windows with the change of seasons. In fall we put paper bats and leaves up in the windows. In winter we put up snowflakes. In spring we put up butterflies, and they usually remain up until fall comes again. I can often reuse much of the paper pieces from year to ear, only replacing pieces that become damaged. It has come to pass that an undecorated window seems naked and wrong. ūüėõ

The Process

1- Gather materials: paper scissors, scotch tape, used calendars, old maps, old books, sheet music, scrap paper. Hint: if you don’t have these things on hand, you might hit a thrift shop for some old maps, sheet music or books, and you can find calendars at the dollar store year round!

2- Download and print this pattern: Butterflies for your Window – Free Pattern, or draw your own butterfly, fold the paper in half, and cut it out. Use this butterfly as a template to make more. I like to cut out at least 3-5 unique butterfly shapes/sizes to give the final piece some interest and realism. Hint: keep the shapes simple to save your hands and some time- intricate designs can get really bothersome to cut out.

3- Cut out a lot of butterflies! I have a very large front window, and I like to continue my design from that window to the next window over, which also shows from the street. I also like to put some up on my french patio doors. Some years I end up using around 150 pieces, but 25 butterflies in a smaller window is probably quite adequate. Any leftovers you have can be stored in a ziploc to replace damaged pieces next season.

4- Plan your design.. I like to create a swoop or a surge of butterflies that all seem to be traveling in the same direction to give drama and movement to the final result. Sometimes I want to change it up and to gain inspiration I will visit Pinterest and search something like “butterfly wall decoration” to see what others have done with flocks of paper butterflies. I get an idea of how I want it to look and then I get to work.

5- Application: I like to use good old-fashioned scotch tape fashioned in small tubes to affix butterflies to my windows because they do not leave behind adhesive that is difficult to remove. One year I used double-sided tape and had big regrets. I will tear a bunch of tape pieces at a time, or have one of my daughters making me tape rolls to use while I am putting up butterflies. When I begin affixing butterflies to the window I take care¬†to stagger my butterflies so that they don’t look like they are traveling in straight lines, and work to keep their spacing pretty even. I put some up, take a step back and look at them to make sure they are looking like I want, and then return to my work. Sometimes, if I feel that my design isn’t looking like I want I take a nice break and come back later, which always seems to refresh my mind and help me find the next steps to make it just right.

Spring Window

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Project time: when I have to make all new butterflies I might spend an entire afternoon at this part of the project, maybe even two. I always have to take old paper pieces down and store them, clean the windows, and then put new pieces up, so I spend an entire afternoon on the application itself.

Project cost: almost nothing! I can easily kill half a small roll of scotch tape, but because I recycle papers found around the house this is a low-cost or no-cost project!

I’m always so happy to see my butterflies up in the windows because it means warm weather and good times out in the sun! Goodbye and good riddens, winter! ūüôā

Today’s Project: I’m listing a bunch of old football cards on eBay.. it’s destash season!

Today’s Soundtrack: Top of the Charts on Spotify

I’m reading: The Stand by Stephen King

How To Knit Your Own Ukulele Strap – Free Pattern

Knit your own custom ukulele strap with this free pattern.

I’ve had a pair of lovely ukuleles hanging on my wall for years. ¬†I purchased them so that my youngest daughter and I could take lessons to enrich our homeschooling experience, but we didn’t stick with the lessons for very long. Though she loves music, she didn’t love making music, and I am not gifted with stringed instruments at all.

My 40th birthday came around last summer and I woke up thinking, “how do I want to age?” At this point that’s what’s going on, some rapid aging. I’ve begun to feel sluggish, both physically and mentally. I decided to try some things to see if I couldn’t sharpen up my thinking. I had read that picking up a musical instrument at my age can improve focus, battle brain-fog, and provide stress relief. And I’m all about stress-relief!

Shortly after my kids went back to school for the year I changed my daily routine so that each morning I carved out the time to learn to play the ukulele. I dusted off my old books, found a great YouTube channel for video lessons, and got to work. Despite not at all having a talent for stringed instruments, every day I made progress. I also found myself picking up the uke more than just once a day, practicing fingerings in the car, humming the songs I was working to learn, and finding ways to enjoy the process of learning to play the uke more.

No doubt, I’ve also experienced some of the improvements I was hoping for with regards to brain-fog and stress. You can’t stress and play the ukulele. It’s just not possible. At first I felt rusty and confused a lot as I struggled to make sense of ukulele music, but I kept at it and it got easier. I still struggle with strumming, but I’m amazed at how much my hand-eye coordination has improved in just a few months.

One thing that bothers me about my uke is how slippery the sucker is. If I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt I cannot hold the darn thing. I know I’m probably doing something wrong there, holding it is not yet natural to me, but I wondered if a strap might help? I turned to Pinterest for answers.

There is a whole world of amazing ukuleles and ukulele straps out there! Thanks to Grace Vanderwaal and America’s Got Talent, there seems to be a big resurgence in interest in the ukulele happening right now. I found that many people had made themselves great ukulele straps. I decided I would try to knit one.

Learn how to knit your own ukulele strap.

The first one I made was too long, because knitted straps are pretty stretchy. So I made another, and I liked it so much that I made another. Now I have cute straps to match each of our ukuleles.

I find that using a strap helps a ton, especially if I am standing to play or have a long-sleeved shirt on. This makes it easier for me to concentrate on learning to play instead of always worrying about the instrument slipping.

I would like to share my pattern with you but I caution that your strap may need to be longer or shorter based upon your size. I am a tall woman at almost 5’10”, so it is possible you may need to shorten your strap. Luckily this is a super quick and easy project that requires little yarn, so if you don’t like your strap you can adjust the pattern and remake it without feeling too bad about wasting yarn. I adjusted my first pattern by attaching the strap to the uke, putting it on, and then guessing how many more/less rows I would need to be more comfortable.

Learn how to knit your own Ukulele Strap

I love how this strap can be made in any colorway to suit your tastes. The only limitation is that chunky yarns won’t fit under the strings where you need to attach it to the instrument. I used Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn¬†for one of the straps, and some hand-dyed stuff I had purchased on Etsy some years ago and had squirreled away for the other.

Ukulele Strap Pattern
For the main strap:
Yarn: the sky is the limit, nothing too chunky or that frays/felts easy.
Needles:¬†sz 5 (you’ll want to knit fairly tight stitches, so choose needles and yarn that work together to create a nice dense pattern.)

C/O 2
R1 K
R2 k
R3 inc, inc
R4 K2, YO, K2¬†(this leaves a hole to thread your tie-on’s through.)
R5 inc, k3,  inc
R6 K
R7 inc, k5, inc
Rows 8-75 (or 23″) K
R76 k2tog, k5, k2tog
R77 k
R78 k2tog, k3, k2tog
R79 k
R80 k2tog, k1, k2tog
R81 k, inc, k
R82 k2tog, yo, k2tog
R83 k
R84 bind off

For the tie-ons:
Knit two¬†I-Cords approximately 30″ long and 16″ long.
This cool knitting blog has a good I-Cord tutorial if you need one: I-Cord | Purl Soho

Putting it together: Now you can take your I-Cords and thread them through the yarnover holes you left in either end of the main strap. For the longer I-Cord you will want to make sure that it is secured in such a way that leaves one side longer than the other. ¬†I secured it so one length was 18″ long, and the other length is 12″. For the shorter piece of I-Cord I just ran it through the hole so that each length is the same. I used coordinating yarn and an embroidery needle to secure the I-Cords to the main knitting strap.

And that’s it! Now you just have to attach your strap to your uke and get to banging on it!

How to knit your own custom ukulele strap!

Today’s Project: Research ways I can destash a whole bunch of fleece I have left over from the mermaid tails I made kids for Christmas last year.

Today’s Soundtrack: Roller Derby Roadtrip Playlist on Spotify

I’m Reading: In a Different Key: The Story of Autism

How to make Handwarmers

These fingerless gloves, or handwarmers, are easy and fun to make.
These fingerless gloves, or handwarmers, are easy and fun to make.

I’ve been making variations of this handwarmer pattern for more than six years according to Facebook’s timehop! I knit them up in multiple color schemes for myself probably once a year and wear them every day from October through March because in my old age I get coooooooold like a popsicle.

I also give them as gifts each Christmas because when I don’t people ask about them. And because they’re fun and quick to put together! I can sit down to an hour long TV program and get one glove done. Even if I am distracted ¬†I¬†can put together a pair in an afternoon, no problem.

It’s that time of year…

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These really are one of the items I make that get the most use. My daughters don’t like to wear gloves at all, they like their fingertips free to text and tap, but these leave your fingers free while keeping your hands toasty. They love when I make them handwarmers in their favorite colors (rainbow or black usually.) They tend to claim any handwarmers they see me currently working on, they’d own a dozen pairs apiece if they could.

I made some hand warmers and Liana claimed them. I asked her to model them….

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How to Make Handwarmers

I usually use Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarns for this project when knitting for women or children, and often choose a heavier wool yarn for the guys in my family (and then adjust the pattern as necessary), as that is what they seem to prefer.

When using Caron Simply Soft yarns I use size 5 needles to knit the pieces, and a size 10 needle to bind off on the rectangle shape.

Be sure to check your yarn for gauge recommendations and make adjustments as necessary.

To make handwarmers you just need to knit two shapes, a rectangle and a triangle.
To make handwarmers you just need to knit two shapes, a rectangle and a triangle. You will hand sew the pieces together using the long tails.

One of my favorite things about this project is how easy it is to change the pattern up. You can get creative with the pattern as long as you end up with rectangle and triangle shapes that are properly sized.

The first thing I do, if I can, is measure for the person wearing the handwarmers so that I can custom fit the glove to their hands. I can usually get away without measuring for width, but I like to measure from mid-finger to the base of the hand so that I know when I can begin knitting the wrist detail. If I can’t measure for length, I usually just make the Large Handwarmers pattern below for adults, and Small Handwarmers pattern for kids.

Handwarmers Patterns:
(This pattern is for the fingerless gloves pictured just above, feel free to experiment with the pattern and design your own gloves!)

Large Handwarmers РHand Piece 
Cast on 34 stitches to size 5 needles using Caron Simply Soft yarn in your choice of colorway. Your finished rectangle should measure about 6 1/2″ wide.
R1-3 K
R4 P
(Continue in garter stitch for 33 rows or 4″ (or your measured length from wrist to mid-finger)

Begin wrist detail:
R38 (RS) P
R39 K
R40 p3, k4, p2, k4, ps, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p3
R41 k3, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k3
R42 p3, k4, p2, k4, ps, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p3
R43 k3, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k3
R44 p3, C4F, p2, C4F, p2, C4F, p2, C4F, p2,C4F, p3
R45 k3, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k3
R46 p3, k4, p2, k4, ps, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p3
R47 k3, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p4, k3
R48 p3, k4, p2, k4, ps, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p3
R49 p
R50 k
R51 k
R52 p
R53 k
R54 k
R55 p
R56 k
R57 bind off loosely using a larger needle (sz 10)
*Be sure to leave a long tail for you to use to hand sew the glove together

Handwarmers – Thumb
Cast on 15 stitches using size 5 needles
R1-R3 K
R4 P
R5 K2tog, k11, k2tog
R6 p
R7 K2tog, k9, k2tog
R8 p
R9 k
R10 p
R11 k2tog, k7, k2tog
R12 p
R13 k2tog, k5, k2tog
R14 p
R15 k2tog, k3, k2tog
R16 p
R17 k2tog, k1, k2tog
R18 p
R19 k2tog, k1
R20 p2tog
*Be sure to leave a long tail for you to use to hand sew the glove together

Small Handwarmers РHand Piece 
Cast on 32 stitches to size 5 needles using Caron Simply Soft yarn in your choice of colorway. Your rectangle should measure about 6″ wide.
R1-3 K
R4 P
(Continue in garter stitch for 25¬†rows or 3″ (or your measured length from wrist to mid-finger)

Begin wrist detail:
R30 (RS) P
R31 K
R32  p2, k4 to end
R33 k2, p4 to end
R34 p2, k4 to end
R35 k2, p4 to end
R36 p2, c4f to end
R37 k2, p4 to end
R38 p2, k4 to end
R39 k2, p4 to end
R40 p2, k4 to end
R41 p
R42 k
R43 k
R44 p
R45 k
R46 k
R47 p
R48 k
R39 Bind off loosely using a larger needle (sz 10)
*Be sure to leave a long tail for you to use to hand sew the glove together

Handwarmers – Thumb
Cast on 15 stitches using size 5 needles
R1-R3 K
R4 P
R5 K2tog, k11, k2tog
R6 p
R7 K2tog, k9, k2tog
R8 p
R9 k
R10 p
R11 k2tog, k7, k2tog
R12 p
R13 k2tog, k5, k2tog
R14 p
R15 k2tog, k3, k2tog
R16 p
R17 k2tog, k1, k2tog
R18 p
R19 k2tog, k1
R20 p2tog
*Be sure to leave a long tail for you to use to hand sew the glove together

Once you have your finished hand and thumb pieces ready, use an embroidery needle to sew the glove together utilizing the long tails of yarn you left. I begin by¬†sewing the thumb piece together right side facing from the top (cast-on row) to the beginning of the decrease rows. Set the thumb aside. I then fold the hand piece in half so that the right side is inside, and beginning at the bottom¬†of the glove I use the tail to sew up from the bottom, stopping one stitch beyond the beginning of the wrist detail.¬†I then turn the hand piece around, and sew from the top of the glove down, about 1″. Now I place the thumb piece into the thumb hole, making sure right sides are facing, and sew the glove edges and thumb edges together. I then use what is left of the tails to reinforce seams, and weave in my ends when I’m done. Try it, it’s easier than it sounds, and you get the hang of it after making a¬†pair or two.

Handwarmers are cute, convenient and cozy. They are also easy to make!
Handwarmers are cute, convenient and cozy. They are also easy to make!

I hope you can understand my pattern, it is actually the first time I’ve ever written one of my own down with the intention of someone else utilizing it. Please do let me know if I can make improvements!

I know there’s one way I can make big improvements to my new baby blog and that is to actually take the time to do a proper photo shoot for my posts. So far I haven’t gotten around to digging out and warming up my old camera equipment. So, for now, you get my muddy iPhone photos and no pretty staging. But wait- doing things this way is convenient, and I almost always end up with a furry photobomber in the mix. Everyone loves cats, right?

Usually it’s Poofy getting in my business, but today it was Spirit, my daughter Lillie’s cat:

Photobombed by Spirit, my daughter's cat.
Spirit came to see what I was up to.

Today’s Projects: T-shirts and umbrellas for the Women’s March in Sacramento this weekend.

Today’s Soundtrack: Classic Rock playlist

Reusable Grocery Bags

In the 2016 election California voters decided to ban plastic bags at the grocery store. Quite quickly local grocery stores began providing much sturdier bags that are reusable and compostable and dum-dum dum: 10 cents each. They are also loud and crinkly, and not very cute to have to carry around. We have a large family to provide for so we were suddenly buying a LOT of these bags.

For years I’ve been saying we should use reusable bags but I never did, mostly because I am busy doing what I want and not being inconvenienced. It’s the sad truth. So¬†I’m glad they passed the law, because what did I do? Start making and using reusable bags. And it was a fun project! And they are cool. People seem to love them. My husband at least really likes using them. It took a push, but here I am doing what I should have done all along.

The first thing I did when the law passed was pull up Pinterest, my absolute favorite place to look for sewing ideas. I searched “reusable grocery bags” and quite quickly found several free patterns to try. ¬†When I had decided on a few patterns I hit up the Black Friday Sale at JoAnn’s for 75% off fabric, because fabric these days is stupid expensive. I picked out some materials I just loved, which always makes sewing more enjoyable.

I made this bag first:  Pleated Tote- Free Sewing Tutorial
The tutorial is easy to read. You will have to make your own pattern given their dimensions, I used craft paper to make mine. The finished bag is spacious and cute. I made a mistake making mine by using very old and too-stiff interfacing. It did not damage the integrity of the bag, but I feel that if I carry bulky items it will wrinkle the bag. I do not suggest making my mistakes ever.  I like the bag enough though that I bought new, lighter interfacing so I could make myself another.

And then I made a bazillion of these: Tutorial: Fat Quarter Reusable Grocery Bag with free pattern
This is a really nice tutorial complete with a free pattern that you can print easily on your home printer, easy-to-understand instructions, and lots of pictures. The sewing techniques are basic and you can put a bag completely together in under two hours. Maybe others are faster than me but I get hungry and have to pee or take the dogs out, so never trust my estimations if you are a pretty focused, efficient person.

I did not at all use fat quarters to make this bag. I started out making these bags with flannel that I had bought at Joann’s 75% off doorbuster event, and they are cool. But they are bulky when you roll them up between uses and pick up animal hair and stuff easier than cotton. We have pets galore so I prefer cotton for this project.

I bought some fabrics I perceived as “manly” to make reusable grocery bags for¬†the manly men in my life for Christmas. The men around me¬†are the grocery shoppers of the family and had been griping constantly about having to pay for bags. I picked an Army motif for my dad, and zombies for my husband and guy friends. These turned out so fun. The guys are telling me that they get asked about their bags, or complimented on their bags every time they use them.

I liked this project enough that I ended up making these bags in numerous color/pattern combinations for all of my loved ones. I made dozens. I made eight just for my husband. For real. And then after Christmas, when my husband began really using his bags, he asked that I make another full set of eight bags to keep in my car, after the first time he used my car to shop and didn’t have any of his bags because he forgot them in his car.

Current Status

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I’m so sick of making them now. Thankfully, I finished the last one yesterday. I’ve received a few requests to make more, have had people ask after a price for a set. I regretfully admit that it doesn’t make sense to sell these bags. When you add up materials, even purchased at a steep discount, and factor in the two hours you spend making this bag, you’d have to charge at minimum $25 per bag to make minimum wage. Nah. Who is going to pay that? I wouldn’t.

I made mine for probably about¬†$4 per bag, which means they should pay for themselves in 40 uses. They are really sturdy so I believe they will give me at least 120 uses. If so, each bag will save us $8 over time and will keep 120 bags out of landfills. And they are snazzy. And I¬†learned a new technique- french seams! Don’t worry, it’s easy.

Project time: approximately 2 hours if you take breaks and are slow like me
Project materials: I’ll let you check out the tutorial for those, but I made 6 bags in each color combination with 4yds of the main pattern and 2 yards for the linings.
Thoughts: Cotton makes a sleeker bag, but many sturdy fabrics would work for this project so it’s perfect for destashing old fabric. I also used flannel to make these bags and they are fine. I think it would be cool to put together a little carrying case to hold four bags, to keep them nice and squared away between uses- if I ever do that I’ll hook ya’ll up with a pattern.
Product review: we’ve put everything in these bags now and they hold up great. We put four bottles of champagne in one on NYE and it was comfortable to carry and plenty sturdy. The first time or two you use them you may struggle just a tad to fold them back up properly- I made sure to show my friends how to do it so they wouldn’t get too frustrated. I like to keep one rolled up nicely in my purse for impulse purchases. The cotton bags are sleek enough that you could probably fit several in your purse if you carry a bigger bag than me. I’ve always preferred a small purse.

Today’s Project: Handwarmers (keep an eye out for an upcoming post on these!)
Today’s Soundtrack: Today’s Top Hits Playlist on Spotify
I’m reading: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Putting Up Lemons

I’ve been putting lemons up, a little each day, all week.

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Several years back we put in what was supposed to be a miniature lemon tree. We planted it in a maybe five feet wide strip of land bordering our driveway. Of course it was not in fact in any way “miniature” and has grown to the point where we can hardly avoid driving into it. We’ve trimmed it drastically several times, but it’s hardy and growy. I have scratches all down the side of my new car.

When we got it, it was already producing some, so it was quite a disappointment that it didn’t produce at all for two seasons thereafter. We thought it was because it had grown a large sucker, a kind of parasitic take-over. We cut out the parasite and waited, thinking that it might do better, but it still didn’t produce. It caused nothing but problems.

Finally, finally, I decided to google it. At that point my dad, who is also my neighbor,¬†was threatening to dig it out of the ground. Dudes, google everything. So yeah- our giant miniature lemon tree just wasn’t getting the right stuff from our soil. A few treatments of citrus fertilizer later and I’m putting lemons up for days and days. Annnnd feeling a little dumb. And neglectful.

So, what does putting up lemons involve, and why would you want to go to the trouble? I’ll tell ya.

To begin with we picked the lemons over the course of a week, choosing just the ripest first because I planned to immediately preserve them. Then each day I would dust off the handy dandy juicer we got for like $20 on Amazon, push through about 20 lemons, and strain the juice. (Some of my people like pulpy lemonade, so I didn’t strain the first few batches just for them.)¬†I strained the juice through¬†a couple layers of cheesecloth, then poured the strained lemon juice into ice trays and froze them overnight. Once the lemon juice was frozen into cubes I transferred them into labeled freezer bags and tossed them in the freezer. Additionally I zested the prettiest peels and put the lemon zest in a small jar in our freezer for baking throughout the year.

Project time: We didn’t spend much time picking lemons, we saved time by using clippers and hurrying to beat the rain that just won’t stop in California right now. Each day I spent about an hour and a half from beginning to end (set-up, transferring the day before’s cubes to the freezer, juicing, straining, pouring, clean-up) for a yield of about 5 cups juice, which filled a little more than three large ice cube trays. I only zested lemons one day and it took me less effort and time than I expected, even using an old-fashioned hand zester. ¬†A little zest goes a long way, so I’m not sure if I should put up more or not- we’ll see how fast we go through it when we have it on hand! All I know is that I didn’t put up all the lemons last year, as I got bored of the process after three or four days.. and guess what? We were out of lemon before spring. This year I’m not gonna slack. Fresh lemon juice and zest can make so many things absolutely wonderful. Here are a few of those:

Lemonade. There are so many wonderful things about lemonade, and the lemonade made from lemons off our own tree is somehow so sunny and magical and light tasting.

Lemon juice for health: it’s full of good stuff for ya, and you can read about the many ways you can use it for health benefits all over the interwebs so I won’t bore you. Google everything.

Lemons for cleaning: I loved how, after clearing the juicer repeatedly¬†in the sink with the dish disposal, I noticed that the slightly moldy, not wonderful smell that had been in that sink was gone. Lot’s of people use it for varied cleaning purposes so please, google, google.

Lemon juice for cooking, oh yes. So many things are improved by lemon juice. One our favorite ways to use it is to add a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice directly into our bowls of chicken soup. This was an old tradition of my husband’s family, and since I discovered it I never eat chicken soup without a dash of lemon juice!

We love to bake with lemon in this household! I made this the other day and it was really great:

Sunburst Lemon Bars

My daughter Lillie made these fantastic wonderful amazing cupcakes for me for my 40th birthday:

Pink Lemonade Ruffle Cupcakes

My husband tried a new chicken picatta recipe recently too and it was pretty good. I’ll bug him for that recipe.

And hey! Let me know if you find anything else interesting to do with lemon! I have enough to get a little creative this year, I hope.

Today’s Projects:
-Lemons: I’m getting closer to done putting this year’s crop up.. must. not. give up. We DO need all this lemon, I’m pretty sure.
-Reusable Grocery Bags: I have one last bag to make today and then we should have enough to put a full set in both cars. More on those soon!

Today’s Soundtrack: Today’s Top Hits Playlist on Spotify
I’m Reading: The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey



I’m baaaaack!

Wow, Poofy, what sharp teeth you have.

A photo posted by Phaedra (@phaeriedust) on

For years and years I maintained a lifestyle blog but then came Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. My journaling became fragmented. ¬†A little bit of me went here, a little there, and my blog withered and died. Sad story, eh? Whatever. I’m back dudes.

Here’s what I’m thinking.. I CONSTANTLY create and do stuff. But nobody knows it! That’s weird. I’d like to show you what I’m up to- and how I learned to do it… and where I got my best resources… and whether or not I’m making any money at it (usually not.)

I have a lot of interests- I get bored easy and try new things- so I’ll probably bounce around a lot, but my primary interests are crafting (mostly sewing and knitting), genealogy, web and graphic design, baking, reading, roller derby, swim, travel, music, photography, philanthropy, and art. Pretty much something for everyone, I hope.

So yeah! Stop back by sometime soon and see what you think.. that would be cool.

Today’s Projects:
This Blog- customization
Lemons- today is day 5 or 6 of putting up lemons.. only a few more days to go?
Reusable Grocery Bags- more on this soon, but here’s the pattern!