T-Shrit Bag Recycling Project

The Ecological Footprint

It is estimated that with the standards in which we are currently living, our yearly consumption is regenerated by our planet in one year and six months. This “overshoot” is a threat to the well-being of humanity and the health and sustainability of our planet. It’s an issue that is all too often unaddressed, set aside or completely ignored due to various factors.

What part of my Footprint can I influence?

“Some of each person’s Ecological Footprint is dependent upon choices they make in their own life, such as how much they drive, recycle and purchase new products, and some of it is their per person share of their societies’ infrastructure. The first part can be influenced directly. The second part is equally critical to living within the means of one planet, but must be influenced through more indirect action such as political engagement, green technology and innovation, and other work toward large-scale social change. For more information on these distinctions.” Footprint Network

Awareness and education…They are at the forefront of resolving this type of issue, and while I would greatly enjoy sharing all of my thoughts – and opinions – on this topic, I think the dilemma is best confronted in simplicity…one small change at a time (myself included!). So, rather than dive into a controversial, political or otherwise potentially contentious discussion, I’m going to veer of and share a recycling project – yes, I might be considering presidential candidacy in the future, wink!

T-Shirt Bag How-To (by Martha Stewart)

1. Turn T-shirt inside out and pin bottom of the T-shirt along the hem. Using a sewing machine, sew bottom of T-shirt closed. Flip shirt right side out and lay flat on table, making sure all seams are lined up.

2. Place medium-size bowl about half-way over the neck hole. Using a water-erasable marking pen, trace along the edge of the bowl. Cut along the outline, making sure to go through the front and back sides of the shirt, in order to create an opening for the bag that’s larger than what the neck hole allows.

3. Line up the hems on the front and back side of the sleeve and cut, making sure to go through both sides of the shirt. Repeat on the other sleeve. Tip: A jersey shirt would also work well for this craft, as it is already sleeveless, and it’s made of a great mesh material.

T-shirt bags are extra durable and machine washable. I keep a couple in my vehicle just in case – which has come in quite handy – and I grab a couple more when heading out to the store. Use a variety of t-shirt sizes for bags that will suit your various needs. Yes, absolutely grab a shirt from your child’s collection because as this becomes a new, healthy lifestyle change for you, you’re going to need all sizes!

This is my favorite way to make use of race t-shirts that are either too large or just a strange fit. They’re more durable than plastic bags and look way smarter too. Oh, and depending on the t you choose, you can make a statement while you shop! #promoteyourcause



Learning to Sew

Sewing may be a trade most common to women – dear to mothers – but I think this is a hobby that everyone should feel empowered to do. A simple skill, fairly simple machine…and user interface design to confuse the best of ’em, ha! Learn the basics and go wild with your new confidence to master this powerful machine:

Learn to Sew With These Sewing Machine Basics

You never know what you’ll feel inspired to create!

Simple Decorating Tips From a Not-So-Professional Home Decorator

No, I’m not trying to scare off readers with the title of this article – I just want to be real clear in case my advice doesn’t work out so well and moms everywhere come looking for me, yikes. So, now that you’ve been warned, feel free to read on!

Summertime…these long, lovely days pose ample opportunity for several quick but beautiful alterations to your home’s appearance. Take advantage of the warm weather, leisure time and all the extra help you have now that your kiddos are out of school. Reality: you’ll have to squeeze it in between playdates and laundry AND convince your kiddos it’s fun, but they will likely enjoy seeing the results and knowing that they were part of the process – they might even learn something along the way…like that mommy gets really frustrated with paint handprints even when done artfully on the wall ~ but it does make for a sweet memory, right?

A quick way to liven up a room is by adding some color. Many decorators suggest combining colors opposite each other on the color wheel. I use a variety of greens in our home and have accents in red, rusty reds and oranges. I throw in a teal here and there to bring it all together. Sounds funky, right? Done the right way, I think almost any scheme can be successful. Just remember – it has to be what YOU like, so do it your way and don’t be afraid to break the rules because there are no rules, just guidelines to help you along the way.

Choose your colors
I suggest starting with one color you love. For me, this would be a shade of green. Find your color the wheel. Take a look at the colors next to your choice – these “next to” colors will always accompany nicely because they coordinate and match. Sounds easy, but here’s the tricky thing…if all your colors coordinate perfectly, you may be loosing some of the possible effect. Most rooms will have a better overall look if there is an opposite color splash – to keep it interesting.

Blend appropriately
With green, I choose to blend olive and a bit of blue-green or teal. Then I look directly across the color wheel for some splash inspirations. With the shades of green I’ve chosen, I prefer a rusty red or the red-orange. This color pairs well with reds and oranges, so I shop with that in mind.

Don’t skip the neutrals
Neutral colors can be thought of as a clean slate – something to work with, not around. I like to have most of my wall space in a neutral shade and vary the shades for depth – then, I can add color as I please. An example of using neutrals includes the ability to add a dramatic paint accent – applied to a small portion of the room – over a fireplace, on a dividing wall or any space providing simple paint boundaries in a small area (too big and it won’t be an accent.) Talk with a paint store consultant for suggestions on the best shade of paint for you needs.

I prefer neutral furniture as well as walls…some dark, some light. That way, I can switch up my color craze as the times and trends change and won’t have to spend a fortune on staying in “the now” with our large purchases. Throw pillows are more affordable than loveseats and couches.

However, we have inherited a good amount of furniture, and I’ve discovered that if you wait long enough, the style might come back around, wink.

Grab a Magazine
Nope, not time for a break yet. We’re going to use some examples to formulate a plan. Sometimes I think I know what I want to do but then I see it in a magazine – or see something better – and realize I was all wrong. So, find some looks you like and use that as a framework for what you’ll do with your colors.

Use what you already own
Now that you have your colors and a guideline for the type of look you’re going for, shop at home…where everything is FREE! Some of my ideas…

~ fabric or an old quilt to be reworked into a pillow or table runner

~ old photos in storage to make a collage…scan and print in sepia or black and white

~ a large, odd item that might work with the new look

~ glass vase to be filled with wine corks, rocks, flower petals, colorful candy

~ things to be painted: planters, storage containers, rugs, frames, wall hangings

After shopping at home, shop at your neighbor’s homes #yardsales. Don’t forget to check out off-retail shops, and then, if you see something you love in the mall, you’ll have the extra cash to get it. I love a designer look but not the price tag.

Add foliage
Everything looks better with a touch of green…and I’m not just saying this because it’s my primary decorating color of choice. I’m certainly not an expert on Fung Shui, or any decorating theories for that matter, but I do like the way the Fung Shui system of aesthetics pulls a mix of nature indoors.

For extreme simplification: add plants to your decor. To prove I’m not certified: use fake ones too – honestly, we’re moms, and keeping our children, spouse, and a pet(s) alive is a lot of work – we can’t expect to have a house full of living plants, beautiful yard, garden and potted flowers too, whew. So, absolutely, add a lovely, fake plant of your choice…and if you mix it in with living ones, people might not even notice. It’s a great way to brighten a dark corner or add flair to an otherwise plain overhead space.

Transition the look
I love to see a home with an assortment of color usage. Each room can have it’s own, individual look…but it helps to transition. The way I do this: I choose “across from” colors as my main choices – when the rooms are visible from one to the other. I then select “next to” colors from the wheel to transition. The transition colors are the colors I choose to be in sight when standing in one room, looking into the next.

The “reds” room in our home has red-orange visible from the “greens” room. So, when a visitor comes to the front door, they can peer in and see the “greens” transition into the “reds” room with the help of the red-orange accents (curtains and throw pillows.) The deep red color splash atop the fireplace mantle is not visible until entering the “reds” room. A teal potted plant is also used as a transition item – it sits atop a half-wall between our “greens” room and our “reds” room. The teal planter is visible from both rooms and moves one from the “reds” into the “greens” nicely.

With all that being said, hard to believe there are no rules, right? Just remember that you and your family have to like it and that’s what matters most. Enjoy the time decorating together…and laughing when it doesn’t work out quite right.

photo: better living publishing

Pillowcase Dress for Easter

A friend of mine sent me a photo of a beautifully made pillowcase dress for a little girl and asked if I might be able to duplicate the pattern. She’s expecting and, already having three adorable sons, is thinking she may be having a daughter this time around. If so, she’s anxious to adorn her in lovely dresses and bows, as most mothers would. I felt that same sentiment when Noelle was on her way, and remembering back to my years as a dress-despising tomboy, prepared myself for the day that my little sweetheart would reject her pink lace attire to sport ragged denim and cowboy boots…and here we are.

So, when I saw this lovely dress, I thought I’d give it a go, see if I could come up with a workable pattern and possibly, just maybe, convince my daughter that she’d look beautiful wearing it for Easter this year!

I took her with me to the fabric store and let her pick some colorful, coordinating looks. I made a big deal out of pre-washing the fabric, cutting the pieces, and pinning it all together. She was far more impressed with the pincushion, freckled with sharp pins, than the fancy dress we were making.

As I completed the final stitches, I asked her to try it on. Thankfully, a neighbor friend was here because when she objected, her friend happily skipped over and volunteered to model it…and then asked if I would make her one. Well, at least someone appreciated all that hard work, and I can still make a dress for my friends sweet baby – and it may even be a little girl.

These are the “simple” instructions I found online – altered for a more modern pillowcase dress:

1. With a pillowcase in mind, sew a wide hem on the bottom of two rectangles of fabric – this is the bottom of the dress (use length chart below and add 3-4 inches for neckline).

2. Pin right sides of rectangles together and cut armholes –  approximately 3 inches deep and in the shape of the letter “J” on the left side and backward “J” on the right. (I use the cutout fabric from the left side to duplicate on the right).

3. Fold neckline on front and back sides and seam each, leaving a tunnel for wide ribbon (the ribbon will tie in large bows over each shoulder).

4. Right sides together, sew sides of the dress and reinforce arm holes and neckline.

5. Trim and turn right side out. Thread ribbon through neckline tunnels, gather fabric to fit along the neck and back and tie bows on each side.

6. Use extra ribbon to make matching hair bows!

This concept can create a very simple dress or, with the addition of fun fabrics and ribbons, a detailed masterpiece. Regardless of how your creation turns out, your child will feel loved knowing that mommy made something special just for her – even if she refuses to wear it!

Sizing Chart (shoulder to hem):
6 mos. – 13″
12 mos. – 15″
18 mos. – 17″
2T – 19″
3T – 21″
4T – 23″
5 – 25″
6 – 27″

Firehouse Quilts

During a recent visit to the Denver Fire Fighter’s Museum, I learned about a really cool non-profit group, Firehouse Quilts of Colorado, Inc.  This group of volunteers collects, sews, and donates quilts to fire departments, low-income hospitals, victim advocate offices, and women’s shelters so that the quilts can be passed out to women and children to help provide comfort during a difficult time.  The volunteers collect fabric donations and schedule sew days at the Northridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch – no experience necessary.  You can also donate assembled quilts either 45′ square or twin size.  Any style or pattern will gladly be accepted.  Detailed information can be found on their website at http://www.firehousequilts.org/.