1/1/10 - 2/1/10

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Yo-Yo Flowers on Tote BagsTutorial

Yo-yos make the prettiest embellishments! They can go on just about anything--the possibilities really are endless!What you need to make these lovely flowers, the ones that our brave grandmas made quilts out of, are just colorful scraps of cloth, needle and thread, and some cute buttons to make the centers.Really-- it's super easy to make a yo-yo flower!
First, I fold a 4" paper square in fourths and cut off the corner in a curve.  When you open it up, you will pretty much have a perfect circle.  Measure the distance from the inner corner to the outer edge of the folded square. Mark that same length several times radiating out from the same inner corner.  When you connect the dots, you should have a perfect curve.

Stitch all the way around the outer edge of the circle with a running or basting stitch by hand or machine.

Pull up the threads to gather the circle into a puff. Secure with a good knot.  I sometimes sew some of the inner raw edges of the circle together to pull them into a tight center.

Using several strands of thread in a contrasting color, or embroidery thread, sew the button to the yo-yo flower several times through the holes to make it 'look pretty'..as if it had already been sewn to something.

When sewing the button on the yo-yo flower, I  use three to four 18" pieces of thread at a time and then knot them together as one piece so I don't have to make so many stitches to sew on the button.  Don't sew the flower with button center on to the bag yet.

NOTE:  It's important to decide exactly how you want to arrange everything before you start ironing things down!  I iron stitch witchery tape to the back of ribbon or bias tape to make stems for my flowers and then when I know where I want them to go, I iron them on the bag.

I also iron wider stitch witchery to the back of fabric that I choose to make leaves out of.  I cut the leaf shapes out. To prevent fraying, I either iron them on and then outline them with fabric paint, or I edge stitch the leaves with a colorful zig-zag stitch (blanket stitch if doing it by hand) and then iron them on to the bag.

I usually find that it is best to iron the stems and leaves down first, and then stitch the flowers on.

After you have decided where everything should be placed, sew the flower to the bag. Use only one thread (two strands when folded in half)pulled through the needle and knotted at the end.

Sew through the cloth folds of the flower as close to the button as possible to hold the flower (with button already sewn on) on to the item you are embellishing. I try to make my stitches down in the tight folds of the flower so they don't show very much.

The last step is to outline the leaves and personalize the item with a name with fabric paint if you like and let dry.  (It's a good idea to practice first on paper!)  Sometimes, I just cut the leaves out with pinking shears and paint the edges with fray-check instead.

When you are done, you can stitch a piece of ribbon to the center where the stems meet, and tie it into a bow, so it looks like a bouquet if you like.


Copying Store Bought Clothes


Do you have a favorite blouse, dress, or nightgown that you wish you could have a duplicate of without ripping it apart?  Well, so do I! In fact, I had several items of clothing that I wished I had two or three of. But I didn't know how to accurately make a pattern from a store-bought piece of clothing.  In fact, I had several items of clothing that I wished I had two or three of. But I didn't know how to accurately make a pattern from a store-bought piece of clothing.  

Then a friend asked me if I would be willing to make a pattern from a very unusual and expensive version of a modest bathing suit for her daughter.  She didn't want to have to buy another one. We are talking about an $85.00 bathing suit! As usual, through trial and error and a hint from a college sewing textbook, I figured out how to do it and got paid a lovely $40.00 for making a pattern off of that suit and her favorite nightgown!  Not only that, I learned a valuable new skill!As a result, I spent a month this summer sewing blouse after blouse, skirt after skirt, and even copying my very favorite worn out nightgown. 

Step 1:  Lay out the clothing item on a piece of butcher paper which is laid over a cardboard cutting board.  Flatten out the piece you want and pin it all the way through the clothing item, the freezer paper, and into the cutting board.

Step 2: Remove the pins and clothing item.

Step 3: Observe and mark all the dots left by the pin holes.
Step 4: Connect the dots! These are your seam lines.

Step 5: Measure and draw new lines  5/8" away from the seam lines you just drew. These are your cutting lines.


 Step 6. Cut out the pattern piece.
Step 7. Label the piece marking the grain line you want, how many you should cut out, and any other reminders you need. (Mark fold lines.)

Step 8: Keep laying out the piece of clothing in whatever position is necessary to get at the pattern piece you need.

Step 9: Write some instructions to your self of how to put it together. (I know...sometimes easier said than done!)

Step 10: Lay out all the pieces on some cloth from your stash that is still folded in the original 22" wide when folded manner.  Try to come up with the best possible use of the fabric while keeping the grain lines straight.

Step 11: Take a picture..and print it. This is your layout.

Step 12: Measure how much yardage it takes to lay out all of the pieces.  This is your yardage.

Step 13: Put all the pieces in a 5 x 8 manilla envelope and tape a picture of the item to the front of the envelope.   Now you have a pattern of your favorite clothing item and can use it as much as you like!


How I Really Clean House

After reading some of your comments, I had to chuckle a bit.:o)  You are right...what I've shared so far is not a cleaning system at all!  Those tips were tools for cleaning during a crisis.  It seemed appropriate to do that after the holidays.  At least all the stores seem to think so or why do they always sell CONTAINERS in January?!! I was amazed at how popular the wee bit of info I had shared on cleaning was when I checked my stats this week! So I decided to post a bit more about that topic yesterday.

However, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I do follow FlyLady's cleaning plan pretty regularly, and she has a great system which I have been using and teaching for years. For some people who aren't organizational nuts like me, though, it's just TMI. (Too much info.)

One of my goals with Homemaking Made Easy is to help those who have a harder time than most handling the every day challenges of homemaking.  In fact, we can all hit times in our life when we fall into that category ourselves.

However for those who would like to have the BIG  PICTURE, I would like to share with you, how I "really" clean house!!  If you want to know even more about it, you really must check out FlyLady's website www.flylady.net  For those of you who are cleanies, she will help you get even more efficient than you already are and for those who really need help getting 'organized', she could change your life!  She sure changed mine!

I'm a homemaking nut and have a whole collection of books on house cleaning methods. I've learned so much over the years that it has become subconscious.  Housecleaning and homemaking are really my hobby as much as my profession. But I also LOVE to do art, sew, help others and I need to teach school every day.  I needed a system that used as little time as possible with maximum results!  We pick up a lot!!! Maintenance is the key to keeping things orderly around here. However, cleaning is another thing altogether.

A Cleaning System
Any normal cleaning system usually breaks down into daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly routines. Because I've homeschooled five kids for over 20 years now and am still schooling and raising three busy teenagers with regular visits from adult children and grandkids, I would say that I have never been busier than I am now!!

Grandma cleaned the 'old-fashioned' way--top to bottom cleaning every Saturday. She had a baking day, sewing day, washing day, ironing day etc.  When I first started homemaking, I loved that idea and tried to make it work.  It even worked during the homeschool years from grades 1-5.  But once I hit fifth grade, I started getting buried. School was taking a lot more time! (Not to mention five kids ages 1-6!)  By the time I was 40, I was getting downright depressed! I have to say that I have way too many homeschooling friends who called it quits about the time their oldest got into his teens.  It's called BURNOUT!

That's when FlyLady came on the scene.  Her way, which is VERY EFFICIENT, is to deep clean ONE ROOM PER WEEK instead of the whole house. Revolutionary!!! Every Monday, you lightly clean the rest of the house doing a few basic jobs, but then you really dig in to that one room, decluttering and cleaning for a good hour or so. By the end of the month, you've not only thoroughly cleaned most of the main rooms of the house, but you've also gotten rid of a lot of junk at the same time.

Here is my system....

Daily Routine-   (10-15 min. each)
  • Devotions
  • Process a load of clothes
  • Swish the toilets
  • Spray and wipe bathroom mirrors and sinks 
  • Start Supper
  • Declutter for 15 minutes (in room you will be cleaning for the week)
  • Take out garbage
  • Sweep and vacuum only as needed
  • Update finances, throw away junk mail
  • Wash, dry, and put away dishes 
  • TEACH SCHOOL 8am-3pm 
  • Pick up the house (or straighten) before bed
  • (Blog AFTER everything else is done and only if Hubby or kids don't want my company at the moment.)
Weekly - 
  •  Errands- Gift shopping- Send packages -Buy misc. fresh groceries (while running kids to their activities)
  • Home Blessing - 15 min each-mop kitchen and bathrooms, vacuum main traffic areas, garbage, scrub tubs, dust, wipe finger prints with 409, throw away magazines/papers, change sheets, spray & wipe appliances.
  • Deep Clean 1 Room (Straighten Fridge- discard leftovers)
  • Update Finances- Update Lesson Plans
  • Wash Car/Yardwork (Date Night)
  • Sewing on Saturdays or in the evenings (instead of TV)Also Family night!
Monthly - (1st few days of the month)
  • Plan Lessons for the month
  • Plan Menus for the month - Make Grocery List - Shop at Sam's (Buy all ingredients for dinners)
  • Do Budget and Pay all the bills for the month
  • Deep clean kitchen, bathrooms, living room, and bedrooms- one area per week (entry way and porch on the in-between days) .
Our family is very busy with church, speech and debate, cello lessons, square dancing, sewing, guitar, and I work part-time when I can for Tim's boss. (4 hours here and there).  So this schedule works best for us. And remember--  I delegate everything that I can!

Happy Homemaking!

PS. I must give credit to the wonderful artist , Cobean, who illustrated my favorite homemaking book. It was out of print when I bought it our first year of marriage in 1987 from a rare book company. It's entitled, "How to Keep House by Mary Davies Gillies."


Square Foot Cleaning

How do you clean..when you don't know where to start?!

I'm sure you are wondering, "What in the world is 'square foot cleaning?'  Well, it means exactly what it says...cleaning...one square foot at a time. It's my solution to a house that has 'run amuck'.  We all have times when things get out of control.  After years of doing morning routines (per FlyLady's advice), I rarely get in that position.  I declutter regularly.  But still, crisis do come...and with it...huge messes.  Sometimes it's a new baby, or a move (We've moved 22 times in 23 years!) or it's downsizing, or someone moving into your home, or like me..it's a relative passing away and you suddenly inherit their 'stuff'.

Or maybe you are like one dear relative of mine for whom cleaning is an emotional issue...there's just a mental block that you have never been able to get over.  This dear relative actually hired me to come make 'paths' through their house and get them somewhat functional again.  That's when I discovered this technique...cleaning..one square foot at time.  I walked in and literally did not know where to start.  She reminded me that she had told me it was 'bad'.  Loving her as I did, I gave a little smile and took a deep breath and told her that it was OK--I was fine--I just needed to get my bearings.  

I thought, I just need a cup of tea...and then I can figure out what to do.  But their water was heavy with chemicals which makes film on the top when you make tea...every glass and cup was dirty..the sink, dishwasher and counters were full of dirty dishes and I couldn't really get to the faucet to wash a cup.  The microwave was buried. 

I sent the relative to go buy me some water and ice. I spent the next six hours washing dishes, but I had to put the dishes from one of the sinks on the the floor so that I could have a square foot of clean space to work from.  As FlyLady puts it so well, the best place to start is the kitchen sink. It took an hour the next day to excavate the microwave and clean it.  It was surrounded by piles of stuff--but the microwave was beautiful!

I could not allow myself to worry about the whole house.  I made a decision to just establish one cubic square foot of clean so I could feel some sort of sense of accomplishment.  As goes the sink, so goes the kitchen. As goes the kitchen, so goes the house.  I felt like an army general establishing territory one foot at a time.   I didn't get the whole house clean--it would have taken several weeks. But I did get the kitchen and bathrooms working and the laundry on track. I cleared a place for sitting and the coffee table. I cleared the kitchen table and chairs--so they could use it for eating again.  And I discovered the piano and made it possible for them to sit and play music.  

The first square foot is the hardest.  There are so many decisions to make!  It can be very overwhelming, but you have to force yourself not to worry about the whole house---just that one square foot!

I use this same approach when helping my younger teen son to clean his room. He is truly ADHD. When I want to have him help clean--and I do make him help--I assign him one square foot at a time.  I train him to keep coming back to that spot and not get distracted.
 Here's how it works:
Step 1: Pick the easiest room first! Why? The idea is to give you cleaning success--fast! It may not seem efficient to keep going back to the same square foot of space rather than collecting all the trash or dishes, but we want motivation--not efficiency! 

Step 2: Pick any messy spot in the room and mentally box off 1 square foot of space.

Step 3: Pick up each item in that spot and put it away. If you don't have a place, get a box or bag to collect similar items  so that you can group them.
Step 4: Keep going until that square foot of space is perfectly clean. Ta Da! You've done it!  Now let's move over to the next square foot!

Let's put away a square foot of mess from my desk. Here is what my mental process is like.   First I pick up the  homemade wrist rest (sock with dry macaroni)and throw it away. I put the new gray wrist rest  (on the right) from Dad's house next to my lap top. There is a sympathy card on top of the pile--it goes to the sympathy box in the livingroom--or in a zip bag of scrapbook items.  There is Dad's bible--given to him by my step-mom's mother. I want to give it back to her, but I know I have lots of items from Dad's to be given to family members.  I start a box or bag to put all items like that into and set it near the back door.  The voltage meter came from Dad's and is a gift to my son.  I'll send a child to run it out to the carport to put in the box of tools we collected for him.
I pull out all the misc. wires and gadgets for my new Ipod Touch. I put them in one of the drawers of the new desk drawer divider.  My CD player is under that. It usually goes in the second drawer of my desk--so I put it there. There's a program to the funeral--into the sympathy box. (The funeral home provided this box.)  A CD is at the bttom of the stack and goes with the rest of my music CD's.  At the bottom of the stack are bills, which go into the bill holder.  The mouse belongs where it is, so I leave it.
Desk Before..

 Desk After...
Yes...this is tiresome, but in 10 minutes, I was done and a third of my desk was now clean! I actually started in the livingroom after taking the pictures above (two days ago) and got the whole livingroom clean before bedtime.  I didn't put it all away--some things went in boxes for going through later.  The boxes were fine--but the mess...clothes, shoes, glasses, chip bags etc were not fine!
In each picture, there is the same pile of misc.  All the items could be identified and put away. By yesterday evening, I had the living room, kitchen, and dining room all clean.  I woke up energetic this morning and ready to tackle the sewing room and desk.  I was so depressed when I started...but I talked myself into cleaning ONE SQUARE FOOT...and it worked!

We are almost back to normal already and you can be too!


German Musical Quilt

Well, it took a lot of stitching--but I finished Klaus's quilt while in Germany. I really wanted to stitch each key down which would have looked awesome, but I just didn't have the time. Instead I quilted the instruments, the white keys, and the bass and treble clefs.

I really like the look of that gold border--and it matched Klaus's living room which was a plus. I didn't know what his living room looked like. He really liked it and plans to hang it there.

Klaus is the second singer from the left and sings tenor for at least two symphony choirs.  Klaus played a special morning concert just for us. It was exquisite. He played a long piece from Mozart. We had such a great visit with him in his flat in Germany and I was so glad to get to make something that would be a meaningful gift to him.


Dad's Art

 Christ dying in Mary's arms....scultped by my Dad, Stephen A. Smith

 I was able to scan many of Dad's drawings and take some photos of his statue and thought you might enjoy seeing them. I only wish I could have drawn so well!  I really love his work.


Ads For Acme Western Wear Company in McKinney, Tx. Dad drew all the art for their advertisements.

Little Sister Trisha, at 15

Dad's self-portrait at age 37
“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Sangster

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