Stuff I Learned!

Hanging Gardens:

Slipcover Piping:

Coffee Sack Market Bag:

CLICK PICKS (this week's most clicked links):

#1 Eyelet T-Shirt

#2 2 Ingredient Lemon Bars

#3 House Numbers

Flag Tee Controversy - Feedback Friday

Msnbc covered a story this week about a French designer who has designed a controversial tank top to resemble a ripped, tattered, and burned American flag that is held together with safety pins.

The tee has a hefty price tag - $1,515 and knock-off versions have been popular at stores like Forever 21. Young celebrities like Ke$ha (I can't believe I actually spelled her name that way) and Kate Bosworth have been spotted wearing similar styles.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, a federal law about the proper use of the American flag, the flag should never be worn — but that’s only if the garment is made from an actual U.S. flag.

It's Feedback Friday...

Does this garment breach "flag etiquette"?

Does the fact that it appears tattered and burned make a difference? What if it looked new?

Does this shirt feel unpatriotic or is it just fashion?


Basement Reveal, cont...

Sick of my basement yet? I only have a few more pictures to show you then I promise I'm done!

The previous basement posts are Here and Here

Right next to the TV/sitting area is the pool table (we got a ping pong top for it that's on in these photos) and the "bar". Would you believe that this window shown here is actually an egress window with a 6 foot deep window well and a ladder? Blinds can hide a multitude of interior design sins!

This is adult recreation zone, with a pool table, dart board, and our own TV!

We decided to put a discreet "bar" area in that more resembled a kitchenette. Our boys are getting older and we didn't want to send mixed signals when they were downstairs hanging with their friends. A sink, some cabinets, and two small glass-front fridges for beverages and we were good to go!

Remember that giant piece of cherry we used for the mantle? Well, there was enough left over to create a shelf for drinks!

And, finally, I know this was the source of much controversy around here a few months ago. It was one of my most commented posts and I had lots of passionate responses, but...


But, we installed a urinal! I have anywhere from 4-10 male humans here at any given time and I was sick of cleaning up strange pee splashes! We got a nice, small, dare I say "cute", urinal and have been very happy with it. The kids added a step stool so even munchkins can wee in it!

So, that's that! I might post a run down of the finishes we used if there is an interest, but I promise I won't make you look at any more photos of my new basement...probably...



Paper Roses - Special Touches for Guests

I love to see the ways different people make guests feel welcome in their homes. This Easter I visited my brother and sister-in-law and, maybe it's because I'm a blogger, but I was fascinated by their guest bathroom!

The toilet paper was twisted into a rose:

Of course, I had to take it apart and figure out how this was done. This is what I figured out...twist the loose end of the roll four times around your first two fingers. Next, push the next bit of paper closest to the roll up through the center from behind. Ta da!

The tissue was also fashioned into a bow with two tissues, one for the bow and an extra one was folded lengthwise and wrapped around the center to resemble the knot:

Disposable, monogrammed towels were set on the sink and the bowl was filled with marbles:

I got busted while photographing the toilet paper, so we posed for a picture!

Little touches like this made me feel welcomed and special. Try it next time you have guests!

To thank them for their hospitality, we promptly broke their screen door:


Tutorial Tuesday - Button Bracelets

My girlfriend came over to refill my estrogen reserves last week, and brought with her a fantastic craft for us to do together while chatting, laughing, gossiping and catching up after her long vacation. One third of the way through summer vacation with three boys, she knew just what I needed. She brought over a bunch of stuff for us to sit down and make our own button bracelets. So fun! The greatest part was that each of our bracelets turned out differently!

Do you want to join us? Let's make some funky Button Bracelets!


Buttons in various sizes (test to be sure your cord will fit into the holes)
Round leather or coated cotton cord (1 mm in diameter)


Arrange your buttons ahead of time to lay out your pattern

Begin with a length of cord about 18 inches long (you will adjust this to fit at the end, but cutting it too short will result in frustration and some swearing...trust me, I know). The more knots you intend to make the longer the cord.

Fold your cord in half and tie a knot in the looped end, like this:

Now, begin threading the cord through your button holes.

Criss-cross your cord for the 4 hole buttons like this:

The same is possible for the two holed buttons. Bring a cord up through each hole then back down the next hole like this:

You might also want to thread your button onto one piece of cord then knot, like this:

To finish off your bracelet, just pull the cord through the last button and tie in a square knot. See?

You can pull the last button through the loop at the other end to attach to your wrist.

Now, go crazy! Try to be random and mix it up, stack some, knot some, criss-cross some, there is no right or wrong way to do this! Get creative, girl!

You might end up with something like this:

Or simple shell and wood buttons look like this:

Or you could go nuts and work in some beads like this:

Now, gather some buttons, call up some girl friends, set the kids into the back yard to play, and have some fun!

PS (JoAnn's has some bags of fantastic HUGE buttons with HUGE holes for the little ones to get in on the act. It will be a HUGE relief to use these buttons for them.  A bloggy friend suggested dipping lengths of yarn in clear nail polish and twisting. Once dry, they will thread easily for the kiddos.)


Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to Teach Me Stuff counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

Check out the Stuff I Learned last week...

This week, I showed you how to make Photo Collage Wall Art.

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios

Photo Collage Wall art

A few weeks ago, Kimba shared a blogger who created an amazing Photo Wall in her home. I loved it, I wanted it, I obsessed over it! Could I, regular mommy with a Nikon Coolpix camera, create a wall with amazing photos that could remotely compare to that of this amazing photographer?

I spent a lot of time choosing the best photos from my collection. They had to meet the following criteria...

They couldn't have been cropped or overly zoomed - I was looking for nice, close photos that would be super crisp when blown up.

They had to be interesting.

They had to really show the personality of each of us, not just "pretty pictures".

They had to spark a memory of a fun time or place.

I chose my 9 photos and then loaded them to Picnik where I cropped them square (1980 x 1980).

Next, I used the editing capabilities to brighten colors and adjust contrast. Some photos I made black and white and others I boosted the color using the "cross-process" effect to create a more interesting look. Just experiment!

Finally, I created the black "frame" around each photo using the "vignette" button. I was careful to choose a size and strength number I liked to create the effect I was looking for, and wrote down the number so I wouldn't forget. I used a value of 50 for "size" and 70 for "strength":

Make sure to use these values for each photo so they look uniform when hung together.

I knew I didn't have room in my home (or good enough photos) for the HUGE (stunning) 20x20 inch photos from the inspiration project, but I did have room (and money) for a collection of 10x10 inch photos. I taped off a square 34x34 inches just to be sure. I laid out my photos to arrange them:

Then, I hung my frames, with stick-on hangers, 2 inches apart using a crazy yardstick and level system to make sure everything was level and even.

Here are the products I used:

Command Damage-Free Hanging Strips

Winkflash 10x10 inch photo prints ($3.39 apiece)

Quadro 10x10 inch clip frames ($24 for a box of 6)

I love it! I stare at it while eating my lunch. I stop to stare at it when I walk by. I make my friends and neighbors come in and stare at it with me!

Thanks for the inspiration Tara and Kimba!


The War on Easter Eggs - Feedback Friday

Yahoo News reported last week that a teacher in a Seattle elementary school, trying to maintain the districts' "Religion and Religious Accommodation" policy, attempted to rename Easter Eggs, "Spring Spheres".

The public school policy states: "No religious belief or non-belief should be promoted by the School District or its employees, and none should be disparaged".

The eggs were brought into the classroom by a teen volunteer who wanted to bring the students a treat. The teen claimed the teacher saw the eggs and said to the students 'Oh look, spring spheres!'

In addition, a government sponsored Easter Egg hunt has been renamed "Spring Egg Hunt" in Ohio, yet the annual White House Easter Egg Roll has kept it's name for 2011.

Here is a funny take on the whole controversy from Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Easter Under Attack - Egg Edition
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

It's Feedback Friday...

Do you think students should reference Easter Eggs in public school?

Do you think of Easter eggs as a religious symbol?

Is it driving you crazy that an egg is not shaped like a sphere?!? :)

Happy Easter!



A New Blog and a House Tour

The Treat Girl and I visited a friend who needed some help starting a new blog last week. If you've read this blog for some time, I'll bet you kind of "know" her. It's our kickboxing instructor and friend, Tammy! I love my kickboxing class, let me refresh your memory:

Open Letter to my Kickboxing Classmates

My Secret Life as a Kickboxer

Kickboxers Unite!

Little did I know that this friend also lived in an amazing home! So, meet Tammy, author of the new blog The Strength. A blog full of health and fitness advice, motivational words, and healthy recipes.

Now...check out her pad!

This is our first view of her stunning home:

The view through that amazing wall of windows is awesome!

This stacked stone fireplace must stretch 20 feet to the peak! Check out the wood ceiling - Tammy stained each of those boards herself.

Here is the fireplace at the bottom, so cozy!

That fireplace is open on the other side too! Here is the back of the fireplace in her kitchen. I know, right?!?

This industrial stove and the amazing slate back splash really makes this kitchen special:

She hasn't forgotten unique details - check out the coal cart turned coffee table in her family room:

And Gallery Walls are all the rage in the blogsphere right now, look at her arrangement of special family photos:

So, if you want to give a new blogger some love she would really appreciate it as she finds her way in this new venture. Who knows, you may just find yourself healthier for it!

Your Skin Fix, December Edition