My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box
somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be
wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From
your thoughts, you can create greatness.This is what I need to remind
myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with
gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes
to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create.
Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but
how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around
you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgmental,
love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(Pretty) quick sew-yourself kitchen cafe curtains

Hello, friends!
Well, I didn't get to the compost project like I wanted. Saturday Noah and I had to travel the hour to my parents house one last time (hopefully) to drop of the key to the realtor and pick up the last of the stuff leaving the house empty once and for all...

That took just about the whole day, seeing as we worked Friday night and had to get a little sleep Saturday morning before getting started.
Our ideal weekend was going to go something like this:

     Wake up leisurely...have some hot tea with cream and sugar on the patio...plan out our compost project, and all of the other projects we wanted to get to over the weekend, and work to our little hearts desire.

Instead, we woke up late, jumped out of bed, rushed to get going, stopped for a couple gas station sandwiches and made the hour long drive in two separate vehicles. We arrived at the old house and packed up the remainder of the stuff needing to go and did the last bit of tidying and left the key for the Realtor and headed for home.

Sweaty, tired, and hungry, we were able to at least have a bite to eat at one of our favorite places-Panera Bread. We sat in the air conditioning and talked over Greek salad and panini (we might have even shared a Chocolate Chipper cookie, too!)

Back at home we unloaded stuff, showered and settled in to at least get some of the things done that we had wanted. We straightened up my craft/sewing room (it needed it as I have inherited all of my mother's scrap booking/crafting/sewing supplies), straightened up the foyer to the upstairs of all the leftover totes and shelves from my parents house, and then I was finally able to start on my curtains.

Sunday was a little of the same, a lot of running around and doing things for my dad and getting our son to places he needed to be, but I managed to finish my second pair of curtains, complete with all the photos. Here's my tutorial of  pretty quick and relatively painless cafe curtains you can sew yourself.

All you need is a basic understanding of a sewing machine, 2-3 yards of your favorite fabric, pins, pin cushions, measuring tape, an air/water soluble quilter's pen, a yardstick, your old curtains and a little patience.


                                    First, measure your old curtain valance; length and width.

Measure the folded down hem at the top that forms the channel for your curtain rod...


                                                    ...and also the turned under hem...

              (you will also need to do this for each side and the bottom of your old curtain to ensure you have enough new fabric to allow for hemming before you cut it to size.) Make sure to add the folded over hems to each length and width measurement.

 Start with the sides of your curtains, you'll want to hem those first. I just fold mine over the 1/4 to 1/2 inch that is already marked by the edge of the fabric. Pin that in place.

Then, fold once more to make a double hem. It keeps the raw edge folded in and it looks nice and neat.

To pin that for sewing, I just fold it over the same 1/4 to 1/2 inch, for easy measuring, using the first fold over as my guide. Then I'm able to slip the pin out while holding the fold in place and re-pin. You can get used to this pretty quick, it really does go fast once you get going.

                                                    Place on your machine and sew...

You can start anywhere you like. It's up to you how close to the edge you want your seam. The closer to the bottom of the fold, the better, so that you don't have too much of a 'flap' past your seam, but not so close that the seam is able to come undone. An 1/8 " seam allowance is good. Note where my needle is going in in the photo below.

You'll need to remove the pins as you go. I pin mine this way, which looks awkward, but I'm prone to doing it right to left, so when I place it on the machine, my pins end up facing the 'wrong' way...

I just pause and push them out, grab it, and drop it into a little bowl. It takes too long to stick them back into a pin cushion.

Most people pin perpendicular to the sewing line. If you do this, you can sew right over your pins. I do this also, for most projects. But when I'm keeping little hems together, especially double hems, I like more surface area covered with my pin. I don't have to use as many and it hold the hem tighter so that it doesn't slip out and cause me to sew a crooked hem. It's a nightmare to try to rip a machine sewed hem.You can see the difference here. Now, If you iron your hems with the horizontal pinning before you sew, your hems will stay, but I wanted to get these done fairly quickly, so I only wanted to drag everything to the iron once...when I was DONE!

Next, after your sides are hemmed, you will do the exact same technique for the bottom hem. Measure the old curtain to get an idea for the fold length. I used about 1/2 inch again (twice, making one inch total). Fold once and pin, fold again and re-pin, just like before. Sew your bottom hem. Reinforce your corners! I show this below, too.

Next, you need to make your channel for your curtain rod. You need your old curtain, of course and some pins, (a cute pin cushion), and this time you need the air/water soluble quilter's pen.
Line up your old curtain to the bottom of your new curtain and make a mark at the top of your old curtain with your pen. That should be where you will fold over your fabric to make your channel.

Now, when you first measured out your fabric for the new curtains, you left the extra fabric to allow for hems, right?  Mine, after my double 1/2 inch hem (1 inch total) is 2 inches.

  I first made my double 1/2 inch hem at the top ( I sewed it first, folded it at my mark, and then re-pinned) or
  if you're feeling confident, go ahead and fold it over forming your channel and slip the pins out of the 1/2 inch double hem and repin in place:

Use your measuring tape to measure it every few inches all the way down the line of your curtain to make sure it is the same uniform width (2 inches for mine), so that you don't have an uneven hem. Your curtain will hang lopsided otherwise.

Now you can sew your hem to your curtain forming the channel. If you sewed the double hem already, be sure to sew right over or at least just above or below your hem sew line. This will show up when the sun shines through your curtain, if you look closely enough. This is why I just pin mine to the curtain and sew once. I used an 1/8 inch seam allowance:

If you want a ruffle at the top after you put your curtain on the rod, you will need to sew another seam at the top of your channel. You determine how much of a ruffle you want, but be sure to leave room for your curtain rod! I just wanted a small ruffle effect, so I sewed at 1/2 inch from the top. Place your curtain on the sewing plate. There are guide-lines in plate 'A' and two in plate 'B'. By using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, my fabric ends right at the channel I'm pointing at below (it's right at the edge of my fabric, sort of in the shadow.) Just keep your fabric along that guide-line, and you'll sew a straight line.

Reinforce your corners by using the reverse function on your machine, and back again. Snip, and that seam is done!

What I did for my panels was to just lay out my new fabric, and lay my old curtain right on top of that. My fabric was a toile pattern that ran the long length of my fabric, not the width, so I had to be creative. I knew that my old curtains were plenty big enough for my windows, so I knew I had plenty of wiggle room to make them a bit smaller, due to the fabric I had. Keep that in mind when you purchase your fabric. What I had happened to be folded right down the middle, so I just made sure that, even after the hems, the curtain would be wide enough if I cut right down that fold. It was, so I just made sure I had enough from top to bottom and used my yardstick and quilters pen to make a straight line to cut them out.  So, grab a yardstick, and your quilters pen (and a four legged helper, if they insist) and lay out your fabric and curtain:

After I layed out my curtain leaving the room I need for my hems and channels ( I eyeball mine, mostly, but you can measure it just like in the steps above), I used the yardstick to keep my line straight and marked with my pen. (My cat is beyond curious and has a thing for pens and pencils and I could hardly get my line drawn.)

After following all the same steps for the panels as for the valances above, I iron my curtains for a nice crisp finish.

                         Here's my before curtains that I made a few years ago for my kitchen...

 And here are my two windows after, with my new black and cream toile cafe curtains. I will be painting the sashes white next, to match the frames...

I hope this was helpful enough to encourage you to attempt your own cafe curtains, bathroom curtains, or even living room curtains. You can get beautiful fabrics for way less than ready made drapes. Try looking for sheets or shower curtains on sale, or using painters drop cloth from a home improvement store. It can be so much more cost effective to make your own, and it really is not all that difficult. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, as long as they hang straight. No one will notice ;)

Have a great rest of the week. Friday we are going to finally get to work on that compost area!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's the little things...

Hi, everybody!

Hope you had a great weekend! Ours was B-U-S-Y, as usual. I'm blogging a little tutorial on quick curtain making next, I'll be finishing that up tonight.

Anyway, yesterday I was so busy. I work the night shift, but not on Sunday nights, so I have all day Monday to get some left over errands and housework done. This is what I did all day, including picking my little Aunt (mom's sister) up and dropping her off at the Doctor's office, going to get my son from school, dropping him at the library to work, going back to the Dr.'s office to sit in with my Aunt for her Cardiology appointment, taking her back home, coming back to my own home, finishing up laundry, dishes, etc., taking a shower, whipping up something to eat for my son and I (Noah had to sleep till four and leave for work himself at five), then run out to the library to get my son at 7:00, all before I could lay down and sleep before I had to leave for work at ten.

So, on my way back inside the house, on the sidewalk, big as you please, I found this guy (look at your own risk, 'insect' haters of the world):

I know, it's not for everybody, but look at what you can see if you slow down and take the time to notice...

So curious...if an ant and a slug can have a civil interaction, why can't all of us? We are a bit higher on the food chain, after all...

He was just so content to look around and I thought I would frighten him, but on the contrary...

He was very interested in what I was doing, as a matter-of-fact, I have a video on YouTube of me trying to persuade my "subject" into being cautious of me enough to pull his eyes and "feelers" in so I could video him extending them fully...instead, he found my finger quite what happened here. ( Excuse my thrilled reaction, I sound like a kid at Christmas...I wasn't counting on using the video at all, but what the heck, right?)

Don't worry...I won't be taking 'adorable' pictures of anything too icky to share with you. ( there was a HUGE stinkbug on my screen today. NOT getting close enough to photograph THAT!)  I know, I know...this is pretty icky to most of you. I'm sorry...I thought he (or she) was adorable, and very sweet. He wasn't afraid of me at all. Thanks for reading!

Have a wonderful evening!    N

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New projects on the way

Noah brought me home some pallets that I had been wanting for so long.

Around here, they're not too easy to come by, so I want to use the few that we got for my most pressing needs first.
We've been wanting to revamp the compost area for so long, so we're pretty psyched to do that this weekend. I found a great post for building a cheap compost bin here, and it is exactly what I was thinking, based on an article I recently read.

This is the small pallet from the top of the pile above. I've never seen one this small. Noah wants to use it in the basement, but I think I can do something with it in the house. It's the perfect size for what we both want, I wonder who will win?

A close up of the numbers stamped on the ends of the one pallet. A shame to miss using those on something cool in the house, but I'll find more. I have great ideas I've found and pinned on Pinterest.

Stay tuned for what we use them for and a step by step of the new compost area! (and whether I convince Noah to let me have the cute small one for myself our house!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A further introduction...

My mother and I didn't always get along. I'm ashamed of that. We had a rocky relationship from about the time I was 14 or 15. I was sassy, thought I knew everything I needed to know. I saw my mother as weak, and as allowing herself to be a doormat much too often, though I probably didn't know that that was what it was at the time. As I grew older, and I'm really talking just in the last couple of years, I saw myself in my mother a lot. Not the things I thought were "bad" qualities (because I later found out she was none of those things), but I saw the frustrations of adult hood, parenthood, and marriage. I was starting to understand everything she did, or didn't do. I just wish I had realized all of this sooner. I was truly starting to work on a better relationship with her. It was slowly but surely happening. I just couldn't erase 36 years of lifelong relationship issues in just a few months. My mom was often difficult to get along with, could really bring out the worst in you , if you let it.  As I started my journey through this new spiritual awareness I was going through, all of my judgements and grudge-holding dissolved. I would speak to her about how I felt about certain spiritual subjects, but I was sure to do it respectfully and slowly. She was newly re-baptized back into her Catholic faith, and my mom loved Jesus. I have slightly different views, but she really was accepting and respectful of them, and of course, I hers. We were just getting to the meat of our bonding when she was taken away from me.
This is usually a post I would reserve for my other blog confessions of a thinkaholic, but I am wanting to introduce you to us a little bit here, and you may not be interested in fully immersing yourself over there, though I would be honored of you did.
Anyway, on March 30 (but more likely the 29th), my mother passed away. Alone. In her bedroom after being sick and vomiting all evening. I had no idea. I had just spoken to her the day before and she told me she was on a new medicine. A morphine patch. I had no idea that that would be the last time I spoke with her. That was the evening of the 28th. The morning of the 30th, my dad, a disabled veteran in a wheelchair for most of his time, hadn't heard from her all morning and thought she had slept in. He stays downstairs in their split level, and her bedroom was upstairs. He made it up those stairs and found my mom.
Finally after almost four months, we received her death certificate from the coroners office. It was ruled a cardiac arrest due to fentanyl overdose. Needless. Mom was just having back pain. Her dose was apparently too high.
I'm not trying to share gruesome details with you for sensationalism or sympathy. But what has transpired in my family over the next several months is almost unbelievable.
After we finally were starting to put the pieces together after moving dad the hour to be in our town, straighten out his finances, (that was a lot of work, as he took care of none of that), and getting everything settled, in June my husbands mother was a victim of a violent crime and was taken from us as well. We got on a plane to bypass the 18 hour drive it would have taken us otherwise, and started all over again. We were able to be with my husbands father and sisters and we took his 79 year old grandmother with us, and his aunt flew in from Europe so we could all be together. It was like going through it all over again. Funeral arrangements, insurance arrangements, meal planning. I am so grateful I was able to be there with them to handle things for them to make their transition a little softer, as I had just done it all myself not two and a half months earlier. In between both of these tragedies my teenage son had totalled my SUV. He's fine now but what more needs to come our way? After June when we started to settle back into almost normal daily life after my mother-in-laws death, my nephew became very sick and was admitted into a children's hospital for a week ($15,500 bill that my sister HOPES insurance is going to help pay), and my moms sister was admitted into the hospital for emergency cardiac catheterization due to severe clotting in her arteries and both legs and had been about 5 minutes from death herself.
So, what do you do with all of that? I asked myself the same question after mom died. Then again after Noah's mom died. We struggled a bit to find the answers. The why.
What my point here is, we could have reverted to anger, outrage, sickness, depression, hatred. But we chose not to. We chose. We have not always been the best most optimistic people. I've written a lot about that. My message to you is: you can change anything in your life. No matter what. You are the creator of your 'world'. You get to chose what happens in it.
No, I didn't choose for all of these horrible tragedies to happen, and neither did our families. But we get to choose our reactions to it. We get to look for the deeper meaning in them. We get to look on the bright side of any situation. Am I happy about what has happened?
Definitely not. I wish I could take it all back. I miss my mom so much and I feel cheated everyday that I didn't get to finish our journey together. The same goes for Noah and his mom. And all of our family. These women weren't done living. They were vivacious, and had goals and dreams like anyone else. My mother had just turned 69 on March first and Noah's mom was only 61. They didn't choose for this to happen to them. I don't know all the answers, I'm not an expert. I just know that everyday when we wake up we have the chance to make choices. Noah and I chose love. Loving memories, loving feelings, and forgiveness. We know our moms are together out there, and that they are at peace. I believe that my mom finally knows how I feel and has all of her answers. It's us back here on the earthly plane that mourn the loss. Choosing to love one another and not harbor negative thoughts and feelings is in honor of our mothers, our Creator, and ourselves.
My wish for all of you is that you love one another, say what is in your heart, forgive while you still can and live each day of your life with gratitude and as if it is the ultimate gift...because it is.

I wish you all wonderfulness...


*I recently wrote an article for a wonderful website called Tiny, you can read it here. It's about the deaths of our moms, and handling life after tragedy and finding peace.

**I wrote this post on Saturday night, but held off posting it because I wanted to put the link to the above article in it. I was willing to wait the other month it would potentially take to be posted. Tonight I had a feeling I needed to check my email, just in case. Lori at Tiny Buddha had sent me the email I was waiting for with the link to my post two days before...I immediately posted this with the link, then went back and read the comments when I got to work. I answered them, but while re-reading this, it says just about everything each one of them said. Synchronicity.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make your own fragrance!

Hello, there...
If you read my last post, you'll notice I had a candle in a couple of the pictures. I love that candle. It is a Gold Canyon, Comforts of Home citrus garden herbs scent, and was my mother's. I think she only burned it a few times before she passed away, and now I have it. I'm usually a Yankee Candle girl, and I had never smelled one of these candles before. I don't know where she got it, but I MUST get another one before this one is gone.
Anyhow, after a while, the melted wax was starting to dampen the two wicks, so it was not burning as bright, and was wanting to 'go out'. As I was taking pictures for the last post, I had a thought that I needed to get some of that wax out of there, but I didn't want to dump it and leave a big wax-y mess all along the side, so I reached for a plastic spoon. As I was starting to spoon it out, I thought what a shame it would be to waste even this little bit of wax. Then I remembered that I had several half-used BHG tart packages in my kitchen drawer (couldn't bear to pitch those, either...I might use them for something!)
I grabbed one and spooned some wax right out of the candle (after I blew it out, of course ;) and right into the little compartments. It was so quick, and no mess!  So...I grabbed my camera to show you how I did it:

Remember the picture from the last post? Look at all that wax sitting on top of the candle. It was making the candle burn too low. There was just a little too much...

                                                           I gathered what I needed:

A spoon and the empty tart package...

And my candle...

Next, I blew out the candle, let the wicks burn out, and just dipped a little wax out with the spoon and poured it a little at a time into each little compartment. It was quick and not as tedious as it seems...really!

It started setting-up pretty quick....

A view of all the wick 'real estate' I now have!

After about 20 minutes or so ( I just let them set-up while I arranged my oranges)....

 ...I had four little tarts, the three here plus the first 'practice' one I made.

I was able to just pop them right out. I had been slightly worried about this part because this particular candle has a very creamy, soft wax, but they set-up perfectly and came right out, no problem!

                                                                     Very cute ;)

Put one or two in your favorite tart burner and no more wasted sented wax!


This works for that wax left over at the bottom of your jar candles and votives, too. You can just set one down into a slightly simmering pot of water to melt it out when the wicks burn down to the metal holders. Or put them in the freezer for a while and get it good and frozen. The wax shrinks enough to be popped out. Then you can melt that down and pour into whatever mold you have.

Have fun!

Thanks for reading, Nanette

Drying Orange Slices

Hi there!
While cleaning the kitchen today, I realized I had some oranges that were a little past their prime. I hate wasting food, but with everything that has been going on lately, our grocery shopping has been a little neglected, as well as our cupboards, our pantry, and our refrigerator. I'm so glad school has started back up. Even though my son is a Senior this year, we still have a family schedule that I like to keep to. We are starting to get back to a normal routine, and the start of school and the beginning of Autumn is always my favorite time of year.
Anyway, I didn't want to waste the oranges, so I did what I always do...sliced 'em up to dry out.

I used four oranges and only discarded the ends, which we composted. This is what they yielded:

They seem a little thick, but if they are cut too thin, they turn very brown too quickly. This seems to be the right thickness, I have found, for the best results while drying, as they thin out quite a bit as they lose their moisture.

You can let them dry naturally like I do, but it does take a while. You should pat them with paper towels first to remove excess juice. You also need to flip them every day and keep them on racks to let the air circulate all around them for even drying. You can also put them in a food dehydrator, if you have one. Just follow the manufacturers instructions for drying fruit. Or you can bake them in a low temp oven at 275* for the first hour, then 225* for the next two hours, turning them very often, or place them on racks on a cookie sheet. If you place them directly on a sheet, they may stick a little, so you must keep an eye on them (I've heard that some people use a little cooking spray for this. I do not, so I don't know first hand what the results of that would be on your fruit for decorating). I recommend the oven only if you are in a hurry to get them done but have the time to watch them. They will make your house smell wonderful in the oven, though!

I use mine for potpourri in bowls:  

But my favorite use is tied with twine and hung from our Christmas tree.
 I love how the light shines through them and makes them look like candy. Try glittering them, or baking them with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a more prim look, and a wonderful fragrance throughout your home.

There are so many things you can do with an old (but NOT moldy) orange besides throwing it out. And the same can be done with lemons and apples, too.
For more great ideas for dried orange slices you can check out Pinterest by clicking here.

Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous day!