Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sagamore Yacht Club - Oyster Bay

Although I would not make a good boater, I love taking pictures of boats.

They have a lot of interesting gadgets...

 and colorful canvases scattered lightly amidst the white.

You can almost feel the light breeze just looking at these pictures, can't you?

Imagine living in that house, and having this view out your living room window?

It may be a little frightening during a storm, but it's wonderfully calming on a nice day.

This is where the phrase, "this is how the other half lives" came from. 

If you aren't living on that half, you can always take pictures. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Over-the-Top Flowered Headband

Now that the summer is almost over, I am frantically trying to make headway in doing the things that I've put off all summer.  I am an expert at task avoidance when it comes to certain tasks.   So yesterday, instead of cleaning out a closet or two, I decided to make this headband.

I purchased the items to make this over a year ago.  I loved the roses, and I thought the green/pink one would be great for St. Patrick's Day.  However, I couldn't figure out how to make a headband that was not over-the-top.  And then yesterday I thought to myself, "Oh what the hell, I'll just make an over the top headband, and then I can wear it for Crazy Hat Day."   For those of you who have never heard of Crazy Hat Day, it's a day during Spirit Week at school when everyone wears a crazy, ostentatious hat. If you don't attend the Kentucky Derby, then you need a Crazy Hat Day.

I recommend this craft for those of you out there who have used a hot glue gun before.  If you haven't, you'll probably be frustrated getting the flowers to stick without burning yourself.  If you like hot glue projects and silk flowers, you might just think you're Martha Stewart after this one.

Here are the details of the headband's creation...

I purchased:
1 large pink and green rose
1 medium sized purple rose
1 sprig of pink gerber daisies (about 6 flowers)
3 sprigs of small pink flowers
3 sprigs of purple beaded flowers.
1 fat headband
1 yard of light green cotton ribbon, about 1-1/4 inches wide.

1.  I heated up my glue gun.  I wrapped the ribbon around the headband, gluing the ends of the ribbon on the top side of the headband so it didn't make a bump that would annoy the wearer.  I also glued every inch or so as I wrapped it around the headband so the ribbon stays in place nicely.

2.  Then I snipped the stems off each of the roses - pretty close to the flower, but not right at the base.  I saved the leaves - never know when they'll come in handy!!  I was afraid the would fall apart if I cut the stems completely off.  I bent the remaining stem of each so that it would lie fairly flat.

3.  I glued each of the roses on the headband - on the side, but not TOO far on the side.

4.  I snipped the daisies off the cluster and after deciding how high I wanted them to sit off the headband, I bent their stems at a 90 degree angle at that point.  I then shaped the part that would sit on the headband into a rounded shape so it would adhere to the headband better.

5.  At this point I added some sprigs of pink and green, trying to balance out the headband a bit.  I also added some in between the large flowers.  When I had most of the my flowers glued on, I added some leaves to cover up the glue-mess. 

6.  Lastly, I added a pink daisy and a few more sprigs to decorate the leaves a bit.  

I know the dog looks cute wearing this, but she really didn't care for it much.  Here is is on my head.  

Front view

One side...

The other side...

Back view.

I'm thinking I could get a lot of mileage out of Crazy Hat Day.  I work with loads of nice people who don't have a crafty bone in their bodies, but I bet they'd love to wear a crazy hat during Spirit Week.  I think I NEED to make several more crazy hats of different varieties...

In summation, I've completed another craft project AND avoided several cleaning projects.

My work here is done for today.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hummingbird, flying crayfish or weird bug?

     While we were in Williamsburg, Virginia, we spotted this weird, flying... thing outside a restaurant.  It was flitting back and forth between flowers and hovering in front of the tubular shaped ones, leading me to believe it was a hummingbird.  It was moving so fast, however, that I couldn't see it clearly.  I could tell that it was brownish, but before I got a good look at it, it flitted to another flower.  My husband thought it looked like a flying crayfish.   It was only after we got home, though, and I was able to see it on the much larger computer monitor, that I could tell it was most likely NOT a hummingbird.

     My question is... what the HELL is it?  It actually looks... hairy.  The whole family has speculated, but the only thing we seem to agree on is that it's NOT a bird.

     We're stumped, intrigued, and  since it was rather large, and buzzing around us quite closely, grossed out.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge

The Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge is located in Sag Harbor, NY. It is a coastal area, on the north shore of Long Island's south fork. There are wooded trails that lead down to the water, and an abundance of wildlife can be seen along the way. Chipmunks and birds are fairly comfortable with humans visiting their woods, some may even take food from an outstretched hand. The trick is to stay very still and quiet, and hold a few sunflower seeds in your open hand so that they can see it... In the winter when there is less food available to them, the birds in particular are very willing to come and partake. In the summer, they have other options, but still, an occasional sparrow or chickadee will land and have a seed or two. This is a great day trip for families, the kids will love it, and the beach is at the end of the trail so you can spend time there when you are done feeding the birds!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Create Your Own Throw Pillow

Frequently, when I tell people that I make things with a sewing machine, they respond by telling me that they don't know how to sew.  Many of them even have sewing machines, but they find them too intimidating to use.  So, to all of you people out there, if you can drive a car, you can sew.  You might need a little help threading your machine, but if it came with directions, and you'll be able to figure that part out.  As for the "driving," you steer the fabric with your hands, and press the "gas pedal" on the floor to adjust your speed.  Now, let's make a throw pillow.

You can make your throw pillow with no zipper, which is even easier than the one I'm going to show you, but if you have a DOG like mine (see above) who thinks all things soft and squishy are for  her sleeping comfort, you're going to want to wash your pillow now and then.  I think it's easier to wash the case and the stuffing separately, so that's why mine has a zipper. 

1.  Cut your fabric into a large square, or as I did, into a rectangle that is a square when you fold it in half.  (One less side to sew!)

2.  Fold fabric or match fabric if two separate squares with the right (Good) sides together.  If your fabric is striped, you'll want to line up the stripes as much as possible, and pin the edge opposite the fold. 

3.  Using a very large stitch size, sew down this edge.  Take the pins out as your sewing machine gets close to them...  you can break your sewing machine needle if you sew over them.  You can live dangerously by not using pins or by trying to sew over them, as I sometimes do, but I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner... and watch out for your fingers. There's really no need for them to get too close to that needle, unless you want to see what if feels like to sew over your finger, as I once did.   

3. Flatten out your seam - you're going to put the zipper on it, lining up the zipper teeth right over the seam.  

4.  Place the zipper in the middle of this seam, and mark with a pencil on the fabric where the beginning and the ending of the zipper will be.  

5.  Using a smaller stitch, go back to the sewing machine, and reinforce with another line of stitching in the places where your zipper will NOT be.  The edges of my fabric are about 18 inches long, and my zipper is 12 inches long, so I reinforced about 3 inches of the seam on each end.  

6.  Now, put your zipper back on the fabric, and pin it down.  

7.  Now, I always have a problem sewing around the lump that is the zipper pull, and here's how I deal with that problem.  I sew the bottom half of the zipper on both sides first.

8.  Then I push the zipper pull down the zipper far enough so that I can sew the top half of the zipper on each side.  

The picture above shows the zipper pull halfway down the seam, after I finished sewing each side.  

I'm sure the Project  Runway alumni have a much more professional way to do this, but this is what I found to be the easiest way.  Before I discovered this method, I used to have sections of my zipper sticking out of the finished product like errant bra straps.  Unsightly. 

9.  Now that the zipper is in place, unzip it carefully.  Where the zipper opens, cut the large stitches you first sewed.  You can use a pair of sharp scissors, or a seam ripper.  Most sewing machines come with a seam ripper.  It's a little gadget that looks like a mini envelope opener - a small hook with a sharp edge on the inside curve.  Slide it along the seam and WALLA - consider your seam ripped. 

10.  Match up your remaining sides, pin and sew them.  

11. Snip off most of the corners, taking care not to cut through the stitching where it crosses to make the corners. 

12. Pulling through the unzipped opening, turn your pillow casing so that the right side is now facing out.

13. Stuff with stuffing. 

14. Zip closed.  

15. Let your dog sleep on the pillow.  

Or not. 

You now know how to sew.  :-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia - Sneaking History Into Your Vacation

We just returned home from a vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Williamsburg is a lengthy drive from our house, but it's still short enough to do in one day.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a great way to sneak a little bit of education into your vacation. My kids have now both learned about the settlement at Jamestown and the birth of the United States, so Colonial Williamsburg (which is what you see in the picture above) now has some significance for them.

There are lots of short, educational demonstrations and talks you can see in Colonial Williamsburg, and it's a beautiful place to look at as well.  There are dozens of refurbished colonial buildings, some of which are shops of various sorts, and some of which are outfitted as if people of that day still lived there...

As an occasional photographer, I loved this scenery.  I tried not to linger too long to keep the kids from getting bored, but I found that if I mixed a bit of this...

with a bit of this...

...they did just fine. 

If your kids are like my kids, they will find something they want to buy, even if it's at "sort-of" historically accurate places such as this:

And then of course, there are the conventional souvenir shops, where you can buy things like this:

Don't worry - he didn't shoot his eye out - it just looks like a real gun.  

Although, if you cut the string on the cork of this pop gun (out of sheer frustration, due to SOMEONE popping it INCESSANTLY), you could see how it might have the potential to shoot someone's eye out...

Don't ask me how I know this information.

We visited the church some of our founding fathers attended while they worried about the fate of the colonies.  One of the guides informed us that you can still attend mass here.  I believe she said it is the oldest continuously attended church in the nation.

And, if you're a bacon lover, like my daughter, you'll probably appreciate this plaque in the church vestibule.

If you're interested in weaponry, be sure to visit the armory.

And visit nearby Yorktown, where you can see a canon fired just a few yards away.

It is my estimation that you can't spend a whole week doing this stuff, but don't let that deter you from visiting.  There are lots of other things to do in Williamsburg.  

More in my next post!