Forcing Paperwhites Update

It’s been just a little over a month since my last post about forcing paperwhites (here), and they’re now blooming, and smell *wonderful*!
Paperwhites Blooming 2

Paperwhites Blooming 1

…and now it’s time for me to force more of the bulbs, and some of these I’ll be giving as gifts. All I’ll need to do is to pop the top on the jars and wrap a pretty bow around them, with instructions to just make sure the water stays constant at the very bottom of the bulb. I did this a few years ago at my office and it was neat to go into my friends’ offices and see (and smell) their pretty paperwhites bloom!
Forcing Paperwhites

Fleece Scarves in Team Colors

I decided to try making some fleece scarves in team colors – specifically the orange and navy blue of Av’s alma mater, UVA. They’ll be perfect for our next football game!

I bought one yard each of orange and navy blue, and a spool of navy thread to match the fleece.
Craft: Fleece Scarf

I made two different types of scarves, one for the men in our family and one for the girls. Below is a pic of cutting a 5-1/2″ strip the length of the fabric (36″ is a pretty good length for a scarf) for the girls’ design. I cut the guys’ scarves 10″ wide.
Craft: Fleece Scarf

Okay, I know this picture below looks a little sloppy, but that’s what’s so neat about this project – that the tiny imperfections in the ability to cut or sew completely straight (I didn’t use pins) won’t screw it up. What you do is sew a tube – so you just sew along one edge, then the other, leaving a 1/2″-1″ border (but try to stick to one or the other). When you’ve accomplished that, just turn it inside out so your seams disappear.
Craft: Fleece Scarf

Below: here it is, turned inside-out so it’s correct now. I sewed a line across both ends….
Craft: Fleece Scarf

…then cut so that there was 1″ of fabric below the line I sewed, then I just made little cuts almost up to the line, through both layers of fabric, at 1″ intervals.

For the more feminine scarves, I just sewed a line right down the center of both layers of fabric (together):
Craft: Fleece Scarf

Then I moved over to the sofa and cut fringe at about 1″ or so intervals:
Craft: Fleece Scarf

Below:…and here it is, all done! It’s nice and a little poofy, and very fun-looking. I can’t wait to wear it! Wah-hoo-wah!
Craft: Fleece Scarf

Perfume Sachets from the new Martha Show

The November 15th Martha Stewart daytime show included how to make perfume sachets. The thing that made these different was that perfume was sprayed onto rice (which she says holds the scent) and then tucked into little squares of fabric that were sewn.

I made these while watching television – it only took about twenty minutes to set everything up and make five sachets.

To make them, you’ll need plain, uncooked rice (1/2 lb=about 5 sachets), fabric, ribbon or twine, scissors, disposable cups, and perfume.

Here are the instructions:

Making Perfume Sachets
First, fill a disposable cup about 1/5 – 1/4 full of the uncooked rice, and spray inside three or four times with one of your favorite perfumes. You can jiggle the cup while you’re spraying so that more of the rice gets scented.

Making Perfume Sachets
Next, cut a piece of fabric about the same size as a sheet of paper (8-1/2 x 11). I used a pretty fabric with a lace quality (although there weren’t any holes large enough for the rice to slip through). Overturn the scented cup of rice onto the center of the fabric:

Making Perfume Sachets
Gather the corners, and tie tightly with twine or ribbon.

Gather the top of the fabric now that it’s been tied and the rice forms a pouch at the bottom. Cut the fabric straight across the top – when you do, you’ll see that the top is even all around and looks really nice.

I made five sachets: Bobbi Brown Beach, Jil Sander #4, Fresh Wisteria, Fracas de Robert Piguet, and Ciara – which was my Nanny’s favorite perfume and is sentimental to me

The little sachets turned out great! BTW, when Martha made them on her show (her instructions are here), she sewed pieces of fabric together to make square sachets – I decided to make my sachets this way so that no sewing was involved and months later from now when they are losing their scent, I can simply untie them, give the rice a spray or two, and tie back up. Nice!

How to Make a Magnolia Garland

I got some magnolia leaves and decided to make a pretty garland. I figure I can get at least three uses out of the garland each year: I can hang it at Chanukah (decorating with a runner of blue and silver ribbons), drape it on a table with other plants at Tu B’Shevat, and also use it to decorate the sukkah each year. If I get really inspired, I might make more garlands just so they’ll make the sukkah look even more pretty.

Magnolia leaves are beautiful when they’re fresh and they dry beautifully too, so you can find other uses for them.

If you want to use a magnolia garland as one of your Christmas decorations, just add red or green ribbon, or hot-glue some holly in so it looks Christmas-y. Garland doesn’t ‘belong’ to any religious tradition, so since it’s a winter thing, I imagine that it would be really neat no matter what you happen to celebrate (or if you don’t celebrate anything, just a nice part of the outdoors to have inside the home) – just add something to it so that it reflects who *you* are.

Anyway, this was my first time to make a magnolia garland, but it turned out to be just so easy.

Magnolia Garland
You’ll need magnolia leaves (my garland used about 250), green floral wire, hot glue gun, snippers to cut the floral wire, and pretty ribbon to decorate and hang the garland once you’re done. This project took me about two hours to complete:

Magnolia Garland
(Above:) I took three magnolia leaves at a time and twisted floral wire around each one. I tried to keep the garland in this pattern – one leaf to the right, one leaf in the middle, one leaf to the left. Every now and then, turn the magnolia leaf over so that the pretty bronze side of the leaf shows. Just add each new leaf at the bottom of the one before it so you keep working ‘down’.

Magnolia Garland
(Above:) Before long, you’ll have a nice length of garland! The leaves that I turned over to show their pretty bronze side make it even nicer.

Once you have a length of garland long enough for where you want to hang it, turn the whole thing over, and just hot-glue some leaves over where the floral wire shows. It’ll only take a minute to do this part.

Magnolia Garland
(Above:) Next, just tie ribbon around each end of the garland, and hang it! I put some pretty blue/silver ribbons around the garland it so it really ties in with my menorahs and candles. If you like, you could put your garland down the center of the dining table with some candles around – that would be pretty, too.

Buckeye Garland

I think buckeyes are really pretty, and I got an idea to make them into a garland for my fireplace mantel. I got 50 jumbo buckeyes from a gentleman selling them on eBay, used mono filament for string (it’s in the jewelry section at the crafts store), and in between each of the buckeyes, I strung on four 4mm silver beads. In the picture below, I also show some tiny blue beads, but they were too small to be threaded on with the needle (regular sewing needle) I used.
Buckeye Garland

This project was so easy! Av took the buckeyes, and with a very small drill bit, just drilled a hole right through each of them. I threaded a line of mono filament onto a regular sewing needle, slipped it through a buckeye, then four silver beads went on, then another buckeye, etc. until they were all on! To make the garland look ‘finished’, I just secured each end of the garland with ribbon, and tied each of those ends into a bow. The whole project was was super-simple and took maybe 45 minutes to complete.

Buckeye Garland

Recovering Bookcase Shelves, Updating Fireplace

I’ve been thinking that it might be nice to place fabric at the backs of the built-in bookcases in our living room….that whole end of the room seems just really white and a little boring. I was originally thinking of using MDF and covering that with fabric, but just last week, the Style Network (which is running the old episodes of Martha Stewart Living) had an episode of MSL dated 2005 and called the ‘special decorating show’….and on this show, Martha was decorating a curio cabinet just like I was thinking, except she used foam board as the base. What a great idea! Seeing the show gave me new inspiration for finally doing this project – and using her idea for foam board rather than MDF….

Just hot-glue fabric around the foam board (at Office Depot), making a hole with an Exacto if you need to make space for an electrical outlet, it’s just that easy:

Bookcases, 2006

Forcing Paperwhites and Amaryllis

Today I started my annual Paperwhite and Amaryllis bulb forcing – it’s one of my very favorite things, because it really lightens up the inside of our home when nothing else is blooming, and the paperwhites make whatever room they’re in smell *amazing*!

Here’s my setup:
I bought one amaryllis and 18 paperwhites – today I started the forcing the amaryllis and four of the paperwhites. I’ll force another three or four paperwhite bulbs each Monday until I run out (or decide to buy more and keep going ) so that we’ll have paperwhites blooming for a couple of months.
I use a bigger pot (the green/pink one) for the amaryllis, and canning jars and carafes for the paperwhites.
I also use a variety of stones and marbles to set the paperwhite bulbs in:
Forcing Bulbs

This is the pot for the amaryllis – you can use either water (like I do) or pro-mix to pot the amaryllis in. I’ve put some glass pieces in the bottom so that the bulb is stable:
Forcing Bulbs

Then I just pop the amaryllis bulb in, and fill the pot with water just to the base of the bulb (not any further, because then you might have to deal with bulb-rot (ick)) – but always covering every bit of the roots.
Forcing Bulbs

With that done, I took a quart canning jar, put marbles in to a depth of about three inches, and then just popped a paperwhite bulb on top:
Forcing Bulbs

Forcing Bulbs

This paperwhite I did differently – I have some carafes, and I just place the paperwhite bulb in the mouth of the bottle, and fill with water to the bottom 1/3 of the bulb. These are *really* neat because since the bottle is clear, you’ll get to see the roots growing.
Forcing Bulbs

Here are the paperwhites I started forcing today. I’ll just put them in a nice sunny window (they even do okay without a lot of sun – I’ve had them all over the house and no matter what, they always turn out really well, it seems). The only upkeep they need is to make certain that the roots always have water. They’ll start blooming between four-six weeks from now, and after they’re all done, you can save them and plant them in the yard to bloom for next year.

Ultrasuede Fall Leaf Placemats from the New Martha Show

The November 4th episode of the new Martha Stewart daytime show featured her making ultrasuede Fall leaf table decorations – in particular, placemats (on her website here). I really liked the idea of making my own Fall placemats…and because I got the suede at 50% off at Hancock Fabrics, the whole project cost only about $18!

First of all, here’s what’s needed for the project, to make eight placemats:
One yard each of two complementary ultrasuede colors
One yard of Heatnbond
fabric scissors
fabric glue (unless you can sew) for making clean placemat edges
paper for drawing the leaf on. I just free-handed an oak leaf shape so they didn’t look just *so* perfect – more wabi-sabi. My oak leaf was about 12″ long.
scissors for cutting out the template (if you make your own)
a marker for drawing the shape of the template

Take the two colors of fabric, and decide which to make the leaves out of

Cut the one yard of fabric into eight placemats (I just cut it in half width-wise, and each of those two strips into four, so I would up with a total of eight). This makes the perfect size placemat.

Fall Leaf Placemats
Here are the placemats all cut out now. This is the part to either sew the edges, or use fabric glue to fold over all the edges so they’re neat and don’t fray.

Fall Leaf Placemats
Next, iron the Heatnbond onto the fabric that you’ll be cutting the leaves out of. While you’re ironing, you’ll be able to ‘feel’ with the iron when each section is bonded completely – it only takes a few seconds per section.

Fall Leaf Placemats
Next, draw the template leaf shape onto the fabric that has the Heatnbond ironed to it (you’ll be drawing on the Heatnbond paper), then cut it out. Don’t pull off the Heatnbond paper until you’re ready to iron it to the placemat. In the picture below, you can see that I took the scissors and marked leaf veins into this leaf….I did that to all of them and it turned out really well (although it doesn’t show up so much in this picture).

Now, peel the Heatnbond off the leaf. In the picture below (at full size) you can see that the fabric’s underside, where the Heatnbond was ironed to, has a new texture on it.
Fall Leaf Placemats

Turn the leaf over (the Heatnbond paper has been removed) and put it on the placemat exactly where you want it to go. Just iron over the leaf until it doesn’t peel – I did it one or two minutes, and that worked perfectly.

Fall Leaf Placemats

…and here they are, finished! I really like the way they turned out. I can also see how they could be embellished more, but for now, I’m just enjoying how simple and neat they look.

Katie Brown Fleece Project

Katie Brown comes up with some of the neatest ideas – and they’re never difficult. A few months ago, I was watching a re-run of her show All Year Round with Katie Brown – it was the episode where she made a reverse applique baby blanket. The overall idea is so simple – I figured I could make the baby wrap with the measurements she uses, and also make the dimensions bigger for a separate adult-size blanket for long car trips or just whatever!

A few days ago, I got a mailing that Hancock Fabrics was going to have a big sale on fleece this week, so I went in earlier today and bought material for three different projects – two of the ones I finished tonight are below:

Here’s the adult-size reverse-applique blanket:

I bought two colors of fleece and asked to have them cut to be 2 yards long each. In the picture above, I’ve put one color fleece on top of the other, and started to trim them up so they’re an exact match in dimension.

Making Reverse-Applique Fleece Blanket

Second, I decided to make the reverse-applique a heart shape, so I made a template out of just regular copy paper.

Third, I drew the outline of the heart with a marker, then folded the material in half and cut it out (so it would be perfectly symmetrical). Remember to draw the template onto the color that you want to be the window – for instance, I wanted the heart to show up in pink, so I cut the heart shape out of the lime green.

Put the two pieces of fleece back together. I smoothed out the fabric and carried it to a table to do the gluing.

Fourth, I took my Aleen’s Tacky Glue and ran a bead of glue all around (under) the heart-shape cutout. I left it alone for a couple of hours to set (overnight would be a good idea too).

Fifth, I cut a five-inch notch out of all four corners (this makes doing the fringe possible). Then, I took my scissors and made a 5″ cut through both layers of the fleece, about 1-1/2″ wide (you don’t have to measure, just try to make them uniform). On the left side of the pic above you can see the fringe I haven’t knotted yet, and to the right are the ones I have.

Just tie the two colors of fleece together, all around the blanket. It will look best if you tie them all the same way – just make a knot, but do it in such a way that you always pull the same color out of the knot hole (so for instance, I pulled the green piece to the side, and pulled the pink side out of the hole of the knot, so the pink pieces are pointing ‘up’ all around the blanket).


…and here it is! It’s really nice and cozy, and because it’s fleece, washing it will be no problem (although I’ll wash it by itself). Neat!

Here’s the baby-size wrap/blanket:

Hancock Fabrics had some nice baby-themed fleece too, so I decided not to to the reverse applique on this project. This is a really pretty lilac fleece with embroidered teddy bears. I cut two squares of the fleece to 45″ squares and matched them together.

Next, I cut the notches – I made 4″ square cutouts.

Then, I cut the fringe, going through both layers of the fleece. I cut them about 4″ long, and about 1-1/2″ wide.

All the fringe gets knotted.

Fleece Baby Wrap

Finished! I think it will be a perfect gift!

The fleece I used for these projects was just the brand that was available at Hancock. I just noticed that Katie says that she used Polartec brand fleece – that’s made by Malden Mills. Malden Mills is the company that had a huge fire in 1995 and 3000 people were out of work – but the owner, Aaron Feuerstein, paid everyone their checks for months – $25 million total, and rebuilt the mill rather than just taking the insurance payout (60 Minutes story here). Next time I will *definitely* buy my fleece from their online store.

BTW, Katie Brown has a new book – it’s called ‘Katie Brown’s Weekends : Making the Most of Your Two Treasured Days‘ (I’ve got it on order now) and her website says that she will be starting a new show this coming Spring on PBS called ‘Katie Brown Workshop’. Great!

Glitter Pumpkins from the New Martha Show (and Indian Corn!)

Ever since I saw these neat glitter pumpkins on the new daytime Martha Stewart show, I just had to try it!

What you need:
small pumpkins (I did Indian corn stalks too)
glitter in pretty colors (Martha suggests – they have some really pretty colors. My glitter came from Michael’s – they don’t carry Art Glitter, and they didn’t have a very big variety of colors, but I think it came out pretty well. If I had the extra time, I would have definitely ordered from
foam paintbrushes (the cheapy ones)
craft glue that dries clear (I used Sobo)
brown acrylic folk-art paint (optional)
also: newspaper, paper plates, wet paper towels (for sticky fingers) for your set-up

Step one: put your pumpkin on a paper plate (I put that on top of newspaper too – I did this on my front porch so if I made a mess with the glitter it wouldn’t be a big deal).

Step two: use the foam brush, loaded with Sobo glue, to ‘paint’ the glue on the pumpkin. Don’t worry about painting the very bottom of the pumpkin, since nobody’s going to see that, and so whatever you eventually sit the pumpkin on later won’t be all glitter-y.

Step three: sprinkle your glitter all over the pumpkin. I think I used about 1/8 the bottle of glitter on this pumpkin – a lot of it I was able to pour back into the container from the paper plate. Step four (only if you want): paint the pumpkin stem with the brown paint.

Av asked if I was going to try it on the Indian corn we had, so I thought that was a great idea! I used the exact same steps as above and they turned out really nice!