Practical projects and crafts

Month: June 2017

First (Official!) Summer Weekend

So…now that I have long term plans figured out (at least a little bit) there’s the chance to think about what I want to do this weekend.

First I want to bake bread.  We’re on the last loaf of Costco bread and I like mine better so it’s time to bake more.  Maybe I’ll also fulfill my months long goal of making cookies.  It’s always possible. 🙂  And while we’re on the subject of wishlist baking, I’d also like to make waffles because it’s been awhile and they’re great.

For cooking I’d like to do something in the slow cooker.  I think there’s a pork shoulder lurking in the freezer and pulled pork sounds like a good lunch option…  And there’s another project too, pre-chopping veggies and meat and things for easier dinner preparation…  That’ll happen when there’s time and we next go to the Costco probably.

The garden also needs some attention this weekend.  There’s weeding to do and the peppers need stakes to stay upright.  There will also be beans to pick (and soon peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes with any luck!).

And I want to finish my dress, it just needs buttons and button holes so I’m almost done.  If I can finish that it would also be nice to do one of the small fabric panel projects like maybe the soft book for the tiny Patrick.  Of course it depends on time. 🙂

In terms of general projects, hopefully I’ll finally get the brakes fixed on my bike (either by following the guidance of the Internet or bribing the grown up Patrick, we’ll see…).  I’d also like to sort the kitchen, but that depends on general motivation and how energetic/tired everyone is.

And I’d like to go to the big park with the Patricks, it’s got a carousel and a train and a butterfly garden and is huge.  I think that would be relaxing and fun (it’s really close so it’d be easy to get to).  And maybe I could go to the farmer’s market, that could be fun.  If I got my bike brakes fixed or if the Patricks want to go too… Or maybe go to the thrift stores?  Those are fun.

So, there’s plenty to do, and it should be fun. 🙂


Goals, Thoughts and Plans

So… now that projects are at least a bit more reasonable… time to plan projects!

I’ve got my usual favorite categories: sewing, knitting, gardening and food preservation.  And I guess I can add “house projects” to that.

So first up sewing.

Green 4th of July Dress

This one’s easy since it’s almost done!  (Just needs buttons…)  It’s a sleeveless Hawthorn with the green cotton+steel fabric I got last year and some neat off white buttons from the thrift store (doing 12 instead of 13 button holes for that reason).  I worked really hard to do the facings nicely so hopefully they’ll lay flat for once.  I also did a very narrow rolled hem at the arm holes instead of bias tape so we’ll see how that goes. (bias tape is annoying and bulky)

Blue Tropical Dress

This is also fabric from last year, that I think will make a fun summer dress.  It’ll be another sleeveless Hawthorn because I like them, they fit and shirt dress are nice at the moment.

Patrick Shirts

These will be shirts for all three Patrick’s.  I have some nice summer weight cotton and also some (hopefully) nice knit fabric for t-shirts.  For the grown up Patricks this will be the usual Butterick pattern.  For the tiny Patrick I think one of the Ottobre patterns.

Ocean Soft Book

I have a fabric panel that can be used to make a soft book that matches the baby Patrick’s curtains.  I thought it would be something he could enjoy that would be a nice keepsake from his room.  I have the pages and batting cut out so I just need to sew them together.  I think this one will be after I finish the dress since it should be a fun quick project.

Advent Calendar

This is another fun project.  I’ve always wanted to try some of the fabric panel kits and I’ve always wanted to make an advent calendar so this seemed like a good project.  Another major plus is that since it’s a quilted advent calendar I can just roll it up to store it, and it’s not breakable!  Which seems like a very useful feature.  I also want to make Christmas stockings to match.  I think I’ll have enough fabric left over from the backing to do that.  I’d also like to make a Christmas tree skirt.  I have my Grandma’s which is nice but I’d like to make one of my own.

And in addition to sewing there’s my other craft projects, knitting.

Hat for the Tiny Patrick

This is going to be the “Bumble” pattern by Tin Can Knits.  It’s cute and fun to knit.  I think it will make a comfortable toddler hat.  I’m going to use green yarn (Spanish Moss by Dragonfly Fibers) for this one.  It feels nice and I think it’ll make a warm hat.

Sweater for Tiny Patrick

I think this will be the Hearthstone pattern (though I’m still thinking about it) and I haven’t picked the yarn yet.  Luckily tiny person things are fun to knit and go quickly.


The last blanket I knit was really comfortable and awesome so I’d like to do another one.  I’m thinking maybe the “Marley” blanket by Tin Can Knits since that one looks comfortable and will probably knit quickly.  Afterwards I’d also like to try “Bounce” pattern, but we’re going to start with the easy one!

In addition to crafts I’ve got my garden and my food preservation plans.  They’re pretty closely linked this year since I’m hopefully going to be sticking to what the garden produces (except for jam, that’s a special case and the fruit trees need a few years after all…).

For the mid-summer part of the garden I get to do the following:

Harvest: Beans, Cucumbers, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, Herbs and maybe some New Zealand Spinach, Lettuce and Zucchini and maybe some Blueberries

Plant: Beans in July, Lettuce and Brassicas in August

And there will be a bunch of different things to preserve:

Can: Strawberry Jam, Raspberry Jam, Peach Jam, Pickles, Crushed Tomatoes, Pickled Hot Peppers, Relish

Freeze: Beans, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Strawberries, Spinach, Zucchini

Dehydrate: Cherry tomatoes, Thyme, Lavender

For the late-summer/early-fall part of the garden I get to do the following:

Harvest: Beans, Cucumbers, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, and maybe some New Zealand Spinach, Lettuce, Winter Squash and Zucchini, and maybe some Raspberries

Plant: Lettuce and Radishes

And there will be a bunch of different things to preserve:

Can: Plum Jam, Apple Butter, Crushed Tomatoes, Pickles, and I may make a couple jars of apple pie filling for fun (since instant pie appeals)

Freeze: Beans, Hot Peppers, Bell Peppers, Eggplant, Strawberries, Spinach, Zucchini

Dehydrate: Cherry Tomatoes, maybe Catnip?

Then in late fall I get to plant garlic, tulips and daffodils.  Next year there will also be a lot more herbs to freeze and dehydrate.  I’m also hoping to have more established fruit which will give me more options there.  And maybe I can expand my canning plans a bit.  I have definitely learned from past years (canning a reasonable number of jars of jam with multiple types is best, pickles need some work, as does salsa, tomatoes are useful, but crushed tomatoes are probably more useful, pickled hot peppers are great but could use pickle crisp…).

Next year I also plan to expand the garden a bit and add asparagus and potatoes and try onions and peas.

Then last there’s the house projects.

I want to organize my room and the kitchen (since those haven’t been reorganized too much since we moved in).  I also want to fix the table situation and the seating the den.  It would also be nice to get some chairs for the patio, but we’ve got the garden wall, so that helps.

So, plenty to do!

Summer Returns

And it’s summer again. It’s been awhile, but hey, sometimes life has that effect.  But hey all three of us are doing well, and we have a home of our own now, so those are happy things.

Despite all the big things, there have also been projects.  We’ve got a garden going, there will likely be canning and freezing for fruit and veggies this year and there’s been sewing too.  And even a little bit of knitting.

So first, the garden.  After we bought our house we put in 4 raised beds, which has been amazingly helpful.  Around here the dirt has so much clay in it it’s an impressive bright orange (you could make pots out of the topsoil around here) and is also full of large (sometimes melon sized) hunks of sparkly pink quartz.  So being able to garden in actual light fluffy dirt has been a huge difference.  I may even get cucumbers this year (fingers crossed)!

In addition to the raised beds we made some changes to the landscaping in the backyard.  The previous residents had a lot of hydrangeas, knock out roses and other perennials.  For the most part they were pretty but there were a bunch of issues since they took up a bunch of the yard and a lot of them were incredibly spiky and shedding spiky thorns everywhere (one bunch looked like they were ready to defend a magical fairy tale castle they were so big and spiky).  So with a lot of work (largely Patrick being impressive with a saw, heavy gloves and lawn trimming bags…) we swapped those for a mix of tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, rhubarb, herbs of various kinds, strawberries and currants.  So now they’re manageable, much less spiky (blackberries are still a little spiky), and will produce tasty food.

The other big news is I finally got to plant my trees!  We now have two apple trees and a plum tree which will hopefully grow into awesome fruit trees (of a reasonable size…).  Overall things are going really well despite doing a lot of work in a short time.  I think several years of gardening practice is paying off.  It’ll be a couple years before we get much fruit (just strawberries this year I think) but hopefully it will be successful.

There’s still more projects left to do (of course).  Next year for example we want to try onions too and I want to put asparagus around the back of the shed (it’s sunny back there) and add shallots and bunching onions to the multiplier onions for scallion production.  Oh and since other previously challenging veggies are doing pretty well, I want to try peas next year too.

So far we’ve gotten lots of lettuce and radishes and we just got the first batch of beans, so I’d say all those are successful.  And it looks like we might get hot peppers and cucumbers soon too so that is awesome.

For sewing I have made a lot of curtains.  A. Lot. of. Curtains.  But hey, that’s part of moving.  The people we bought the house from left curtains (included curtains?) as part of the house.  But…they were roman shades, with cords, or polyester Target curtains.  And some were really dark navy and they had dogs, and they were kind of funky…  So, lots of new curtains were needed.

So I made curtains for 8 windows, which ended up being at least 14 curtains, with a bunch of them being lined curtains too.  On the upside, I definitely learned from my last make-all-the-curtains experience and these are much nicer.  I had originally planned to but grommets in them, but I ended up doing rod pockets instead.  I decided they’d give better coverage that way and the grommets that were available were kind of sad looking plastic and it is really annoying to do nice custom sewing on beautiful fabric and have to finish it with ugly plastic hardware (that usually ends up falling apart).  But on the upside we now have nice looking (and baby safe) curtains and sheers for all the rooms (haven’t hung up all the sheers yet since first we need to hang double curtain rods…but that’s another project…and hey the curtains are all up!).

So that was a lot of sewing, yeah it was all straight lines but I still had to cut them all out (precisely) and match them with the backing (precisely) and sew very straight seems (precisely) so it was a major project.  I’m very happy with how they turned out though.

So now that that’s done I can start other sewing projects.  My body is more or less a consistent size/shape again (and I hit my goal on that too, yay!) so I can make my 4th of July dress this year.  And yeah, it’s totally one of the dresses I mentioned in the previous post, not much clothing sewing ended up happening last year.  Size changes were too rapid and life was too intense.  But hey, it means I have awesome fabric waiting for me to make something fun with it.  I’m starting with the green dress (since I had that one cut out).  I re-cut it to my current size/shape using my old traced patterns.  I should remeasure and adjust my patterns but…life is busy…and the fit is close enough it works based on my clothes I made before.  I have most of the bodice sewn up, so I just need to add the pockets, sew and attach the skirt, hem and do the buttons (sigh, buttons…).   I think I can do that by the 4th of July.

I also got some fabric panels for fun projects. I’ve always wanted to do those.  I have a cloth book for the tiny sir which matches the curtains I made him, I have a panel with a cute US map for a play mat and I have an advent calendar.  I think a quilted/sewn advent calendar sounds like a great plan since not only does it look fun to make but it will be easy to set up and store (yay unbreakable, roll-able fabric!).

I’m also planning to sew some shirts for the various Patricks.  I have nice fabric waiting for that too, and tiny person clothes, because those sound fun.

I also have done some knitting, mostly baby socks since it was really hard/impossible to find socks that were comfortable for the tiny son’s feet.  I’m also making slow progress on a pair for me and re-knitting the top of my yellow hat so hopefully it stops sliding off the top of my head (I think I need at least one more repeat before doing the decreases…we’ll see).

So yeah, there are definitely still projects and this is an excellent thing.

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