Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why You Need to Know How to install a Zipper!

The Kate Spade design aesthetic is one that I have always loved.
My heart broke when this icon lost her battle with depression.  What a tragedy.

The other day I was at HomeGoods.

I was thrilled to find this pack of 4 wonderful brightly patterned cloth napkins with her label.

Here is something Kate Spade that I can afford!!!

I knew that this cheerful pattern called "Flower Box" would make great summer pillows for the living room.

Since these pillows will be seasonal, I decided to make removable covers for existing pillows.

It is also nice that they are removable because the pattern has a bright white background that could get dirty.

I am not going to bore you with instructions on how to make a pillow cover.
You can figure out that you put the right sides of the two squares together and sew around the edge.
You need to leave an opening along one side to turn the pillow cover right side out!

THAT is where knowing how to install a zipper comes in.
A zipper closure is the absolute neatest way to close the edge of a pillow.

Yeah....I know all the excuses you are coming up with to avoid this!
  • "it's easier to just hand stitch the edge..."
    • well.... actually...a neat hand stitch closer is pretty hard to get "right".
  • "zippers are expensive....."
    • can buy a whole bunch of zippers for less than a bottle of inexpensive wine.

  • "I never remember how to install a looks complicated...
    • sew4home has put together the ultimate tutorial for installing a zipper
    • plus you will learn some crazy things about the history of zippers.
    • for instance: "Interestingly, Elias Howe, the same man credited with inventing the sewing machine, received a patent in 1851 for the first zipper, which he called: "Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure."  Can you imagine trying to tell someone to "check your automatic continous clothing closure!!!???
Hey...wait a minute....there were only 4 napkins in the package.
How did I make Three pillows?

One pillow is made with two napkins back to back.

I "cheated" on the other two and used some nice white duck fabric for the backs.
(this is a great trick if you are making pillows with super expensive fabric)

I hope this inspired you to learn how to install a zipper.
If you already know how....I hope you are inspired to go make a pillow!

Have A Great Day!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Hosta Flowers: Pretty or Not?!

Hosta plants are abundant here at Sweetwater. 

I wish I was one of those people who knew all the names of the different plants and labeled them.
I am NOT that Hosta gardener!

I do love all the gorgeous leaves of the many kinds of Hosta.

These plants are great fill for the shady gardens that are way to big for any good purpose!  The varied colors on the leaves brighten up the shady spots. The textures are interesting.

Now, let's talk about the flowers on Hosta!
The flowers have always seemed to be sort of a nuisance....hanging around on the top of the plant in a way that looks out of place next to the great foliage!

You can probably tell that I am not a Hosta flower fan!

I decided to change that this year.  I started to look....really look at the flowers and see them as possible cut flowers for the house.

I did a little google image searching....and found these examples of other people's arrangements.

This one looks like it uses Snow on the Mountain flowers as well as Hosta...hmmmm....I have lots of that too!
This is so pretty.
Once you isolate the flowers and treat them with some "respect", they have a look that is almost like an orchid.

This is almost Zen like...

So off to the garden I went with new eyes focused on the flowers on the Hosta instead of the leaves.

BTW....have I told you that I can't have Hosta leaves in the house anymore....
Why???  Marvin the cat has decided that if you eat the leaves of the can thoroughly annoy the "help" by vomiting in a variety of inconvenient places!!! is the result of my new appreciation for Hosta flowers.

I am definitely going to start using them more often......
HMMMM....we are going to dinner at some friend's tonight....
Maybe I will make that Zen looking arrangement....they DON'T have a puking cat to worry about.!

Have A wonderful Day!

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Garden for the Windowsill

I bet like me, you spend a lot of time at your kitchen sink.
If you are lucky, you have a window over that sink to look out of.
If you are really lucky, that window has a sill.
I guess that I am really lucky!!!!

A kitchen windowsill just cries out for plants and/or flowers.
It is sort of an indoor "windowbox".

These three copper planters on a tray are a long ago thrift store find.  I love how it fits perfectly on the window sill.  
I know you are supposed to actually put dirt in the planters and grow something.
I decided to avoid the dirt and have a way to create ever changing displays of pretty blooms.

It is simple to just use a plastic tumbler filled with water as an insert.Then....any greenery or flower snippets can be tucked in to create the illusion of a planter.

Regular readers know how I preach about dead-heading flowers in the garden to keep your plants thriving.  I like to "proactively" deadhead. The little flower garden here is filled with some almost spent Dahlias and some geranium heads.  The greenery is Pachysandra.  That seems to last forever and sometimes even sends out roots.

 Keep your eye out for this type of 3 pot planter tray.  I see them often at the thrift store.
If you can't wait......

 You can get them at Amazon....
What a chuckle to see that my thrift store find is worth thirty dollars! is some "kitchen window humor" to brighten your day!

Honey in the Window Painting by Ginger Jamerson

 Have A Wonderful Day!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Illusion vs. Reality in the Sweetwater Garden!

The lyrics from the classic Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now" began running through my mind as I started to tell you about the garden.
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
Now swap out the word garden for clouds and you have the tale of the Sweetwater garden.
Ahh....the illusion of perfection!
From afar the peony garden is perfection!
It is so lovely and colorful.

Alas....the reality is the many many weeds at the base of these lovelies!
We have such a crop of weeds (Snow on the Mountain) that we actually put landscape cloth down to kill it!  The problem is that we can't spray too close to the peony plants and there was no way to get to all of the weeds....I am simply not that patient.



Perfect Hosta

Regular visits from these creatures;
results in chewed off blossoms....
No matter how much repellent we spray....they still come!
Sometimes a deer will actually chomp off a blossom, realize it has repellent on it, and SPIT IT OUT!

A gardener needs to balance illusion/perfection with reality/imperfection.
I realize that when I pass by other people's gardens......the illusion I see is the beauty of the flowers.
I guess until I can afford to hire a gardener.... I need to look at my own garden the same way!

Have A Wonderful Day!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

We've Moved.....The Fairy House That Is!

The Fairy House or Gnome Home here at Sweetwater has good bones!

READ HERE about how to turn an old stump into a pretty fabulous Fairy Garden structure

That was a couple of years ago....

Just like any home, the Gnome home needs regular maintenance.

Well, this year instead of the usual spruce up of the property....I decided that it was time for the Gnomes to make a MOVE!

You know the real estate it is all about    LOCATION!

Instead of the busy intersection of driveway and front walk....the Gnomes deserve the woodlands and a pond view.

Luckily....the perfect "lot" was available!

Packing up to move is never any fun....but in this case it involved not just the furniture....but all of the landscaping materials....
The WHOLE house too!

 It is a good thing the move didn't involve too much distance....

The Sweetwater Grandboy was there to help with sprucing up the place with a newly painted roof.

The landlord wasn't so sure about the bright blue for the roof....but hey it suits a Gnome....

The process would have gone quicker....

The city utility workers showed up to flush out the water mains....and that diversion was way too interesting to miss!

So....after a short break...

The renovation continued!

As moves go, this one was pretty painless...I guess that is the magic of Fairies and Gnomes!

 I hope the Gnomes like the upgraded pond view!

Remember.....There's No Place Like Gnome!!!

Have a Great Day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Goodwill Clothes Alteration Hacks

I haven't posted about thrift store shopping in awhile.
Never fear....that does not mean I haven't done any thrift store shopping!

This week I was perusing the selection of pants in my closet. is filled almost entirely with black pants and jeans leggings with some fancier pairs for dressier events.
I pretty much live in Yoga pants until it is time to go out.  Then casual is the rule. Ahh...the life of a retiree!

I headed to the thrift store this week with the goal of finding some summer pants that were not jeans or black!  It is usually a mistake to go to the thrift store with a specific item in mind.  Mostly that will be disappointing.

But the Good Will gods must have been watching over me this time.
I found not one, but three pair of summer pants.
AND.....a super cute summer sundress.

But here is the deal!
They were the perfect PRICE....but not the perfect fit.

Instead of passing these bargains up....I knew with very little time and effort I could cure what ailed them.

 I am pretty short so almost any pair of pants is going to need hemming up!
The red pants were the right length but were not tapered enough.....
The white pair and khaki pair needed hemming.....
The sundress hit the floor and then some on little me....and I wanted tea length because I know I will get more wear out of it.

Knowing how to do some basic alterations and/or tailoring is one secret for success at the thrift store.

If you think you have no sewing skills.....remember....the items you are working with cost less than a glass of wine in a restaurant!  You can take a risk and see what happens.

Here are my favorite alteration hacks:

  • Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just turn the existing hem under and do a few tacks with a needle;
  • Fusible hem tape is a great time saver if you don't feel like sewing.
  • Tightly woven knits like athletic leggings with lots of spandex can just be cut off with no stitching.  You will be amazed at how well the raw edge stands up to washing.
  • Alas...sometimes you need to do an actual hem....but don't stress with finishing with hemtape and all that.  Just cut them off....turn it up and stitch. 
  • So many cute tops and dresses have spaghetti straps.  When you try on an item....pull those straps up to see if the top looks better. It is an easy fix to tack the shortened strap to the inside of the back.  This trick fixes a couple of fit problems....saggy bodice, loose underarms, and in some cases, pulling the straps up makes the waistline fit better too.
Under the arm:

  • When you see a top that looks just a little too big, sometimes it is a matter of just taking in the side seam.  This works especially well with sleeveless tanks.  The added benefit here is that you can fit the underarm area and taper it to the bottom.  This gives a little more room for your bottom too!
Baggy Legs:

  • I like the look of fitted skinny legs on most casual pants.  These cute red pants are a great example.  By tapering the inside leg seam just 1/2 and inch, they went from way to "preppy" and hard to find shoes perfect casual with sandals or flats.

Every one of these alterations can be done with a straight stitch with the sewing machine or a few simple hand stitches.
It is definitely worth remembering when you find something wonderful at the thrift store that has "possibilities"! can call a friend who sews :) can find a tailor shop.

AND....all of the above also works for any bargain shopping you do.  If you find a good deal....but the fit isn't good....think of the possibilities for a quick alteration.

Wishing you a wonderful day!