Recently I told you about a project my seven-year-old granddaughter and I started in between her online classes. We gathered seedsfrom my gardens as well as the kitchen, then tried to sprout them in a mini greenhouse. A month later and we have success. Well, some success.
Our melons were the quickest out of the gate, and are looking the best so far…
Others, like hibiscus, red peppers and lemons are a bit slower, just starting to show signs of growth…
Roots from cuttings
For another project we tried placing leaf cuttings in water so they would form roots. I had read that coleus are particularly fond of this treatment, so I took several cuttings of the numerous coleus I planted in gardens this past summer. They were so gorgeous I just had to give propagating them a try. We are also trying to root some begonias that looked spectacular next to the coleus in containers I planted at our local hospice…
Bingo, the coleus rooted up well, in less than one week! The thicker, fleshier begonia stems are still a work in progress. Eight rooted coleus stems have now been promoted to pots with soil:
When many of our seeds showed no growth at all, I investigated further. Rural Sprout for told me some seeds just don’t germinate well straight from the garden or kitchen. We will keep trying though.
We learned to water the seeds from below (inside the tray the pots sit on) instead of from above. This prevents the formation of mold on the soil surface. It also prevents the stems from rotting once they start emerging from the soil.
With the cuttings, we learned to remove all but one leaf from the stem and keep that leaf out of the water. You learn this from the foul smell that the water quickly emits if any leaves touch (rot in) the water. I knew this from fresh cut flowers in vases, just forgot to apply the knowledge to this project. To prevent the leaves from touching the water you can use plastic wrap over the jar of water with holes poked in for the stems.
I have a perfect solution in a glass vase spacer, basically a glass disc with holes in it that fits on the top of a vase. In this case, it sits on a cup full of water…
I have a kitchenette in my basement with lots of counter space, a sink, and a nearby window to provide natural light, providing a perfect setup for these botany projects.
Come spring we should have lots of plants for our gardens and containers. Any ideas of other seeds we can try? We’ve got lots of time!
Anyone trying to complete a DIY project involving wood this summer knows what I mean about a lumber shortage. I’m not sure just how wide spread the shortage was, but we sure felt it here in the Ottawa area. Of course the shortage is COVID related, isn’t everything bad related to the dreaded virus these days?
Enter the pandemic, throwing everything and everyone into chaos, even the best laid plans.
Luckily hubby had some pressure treated lumber stashed away, remnants from our deck project several summers ago. I won’t be living down this (only) advantage of his “discard nothing” personality anytime soon!
We were able to get started using this leftover lumber, but had to wait (what seemed like) forever for the floor boards. I was finally able to locate some 12 footers we needed to finish the project this past week. Thankfully, our son has a large truck and could transport the boards from Ottawa to the cottage for us.
We finally completed the project, a few months later than planned. This base will look awesome next summer when the cedars are trimmed and a few of my specialties, planters full of colorful flowers, are added.
A quilted wall hanging is an easy DIY project for any room in your home. This one was created for my granddaughter’s bedroom. I was looking for fabric with butterflies or flowers in soft colours, but fell in love with the vibrant pink, blue, purple and green hues of this seahorse and mermaid panel.
I love what I call these “cheater quilt” panels for the ease in which the wall hanging (or blanket if you prefer) can be assembled and sewn. The panels are purchased in whatever length and width their motif (theme) is repeated in. Some are sold in individual panels, this one came in a roll of fabric, so I purchased just enough of the fabric for one complete repeat of the pattern. Then choose coordinating fabric for as many borders as you want to add to finish the project. You also require fabric for the backing and batting for the middle layer.
My dining room makes for a great sewing room, with the table a perfect size to lay out, measure, pin and cut the fabric panel and borders I chose. My granddaughter’s big girl room (her parents are expecting another baby soon) was recently painted in a soft grey colour with one wall in bright bubble gum pink. For that reason, I chose a bright pink thread and outer border to enhance the pink in the mermaid’s hair and multicolored border, as well as her accent wall. I also chose to use pink thread and a zig-zag stitch on the borders to increase the pink content.
Once the layers are assembled, begin stitching around the features in the pattern. Be sure to pin the layers together every few inches before sewing to prevent the layers from shifting or bunching as you sew. Start sewing from the middle and work your way out to the edges. Also be sure to add stitching to bare areas, leaving no more than two inches between stitching. These tricks also prevent bunching of the fabrics. In this pattern I simply stitched along the colourful weeds, fish, and other sea life depicted on the panel.
Since there were so many colours in this quilt top, I used different colours of thread. Check out the colours on the black backing I used; I think this adds a unique feature to the project, especially if it is to be used as a blanket.
My eldest son just turned 30, although sometimes it seems like he was just born yesterday. His safe arrival was the best Christmas present ever, especially after the struggle we had the few years prior to his birth. A few months ago I started thinking of something I could do to commemorate this special birthday. I much prefer unique DIY projects rather than store bought gifts. Over the years I have collected childhood memories in the form of ribbons, pictures, schoolwork, even teeth and hair from all three sons. I planned to use this huge bucket of memorabilia to make a scrapbook for each son, eventually. As I was wracking my brain for something to do or make, I remembered the bucket, stored with all of our other “stuff” in the basement, and the birthday scrapbook project took off.
I started with a catchy cover, but I guess you had to be there to understand just how significant it is. When our boys were young, we always sang “happy birthday, birthday boy” to them on their special days. I think they found it more annoying than funny, but I think it makes a perfect title for the scrapbook…
First I had to wade through all the items in the stored bucket.. I swear I have saved every report card, birthday card, award and more. Years ago, when scrapbooking was the rage, I was ambitious enough to divide the memorabilia into three separate buckets, one for each son, but that was as far as I got. I even purchased one large 18×18 inch scrapbook around the same time with good intentions. It was still in its packaging, just waiting for me to put it to use. A friend supplied lots of stamps, stickers, fancy scissors and other scrapbooking paraphernalia she had collected over the years.
My first page was dedicated to my son’s first few days of life. I had a copy of his family tree (from his baby book) hospital bracelets, pictures of him with his grandparents, newspaper birth announcements and even a newspaper clipping of what was going on in the world in 1989…
Pictures and mementos from his early years were next, including a few baby teeth and a sample of his first haircut…
…followed by pictures of him with most of his family members. Mom & Dad, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Next came Christmas memories, mostly pictures, with two personalized letters from Santa, courtesy of a friend’s father who spent hours writing back to children every year. I had also saved a few decorations used at a New Year’s Eve street party celebrating the turn of the century…
Another page was dedicated to birthdays. Lots of party pictures, with a special “pocket” created to hold birthday cards, especially the hand made ones from friends and his younger brothers…
Hanging With my Friends was the next page, displaying pictures of accumulated friends from pre-kindergarten to university. The picture in the top left corner appears fuzzy due to the steam off the hot tub my sons and the neighbourhood kids used to love to hang out in…
My son played many sports growing up and is a huge sports fan as well. The next page contains many ticket stubs, Brier autographs, pictures of sporting events and stadiums visited, as well as two curling idols, Brad Gushue and Wayne Middaugh…
The next two pages are full of vacation memories: Texas, San Francisco, Florida, New Orleans, Dominican Republic, Cuba, NYC, and our family cottage here in Ontario, with the second page reserved for our trip to Hawaii. Mementos include ticket stubs from various attractions, a boarding pass to Hawaii, and lots of pictures.
My son attended both Beavers and Cubs within Kanata Scouts, so I had lots of memorabilia in those categories…
Soccer (outdoor and indoor) is a sport he played and still plays, 25 years and counting…
The other sport he started young and still plays is curling. In fact, he met his wife at the curling rink way back in the Little Rocks program. He has so many accolades in the curling world that I had to dedicate two pages to the sport…
Other sports played included volleyball, swimming, T-ball, and cross-country running…
When he wasn’t playing or watching a sport, he was at piano lessons or practicing at home. At the time, he was the youngest to take lessons at Music For Young Children, starting at the age of 2.5 years old! His first recital was just before he turned 3 where he nailed Row, Row, Row Your Boat. We discovered his love for the piano when he would often go across our street to play the neighbour’s piano. She just happened to make puppets for MYC, so knew the founder, convincing her to let my son try the lessons at such a young age…
I had lots of memorabilia saved from the three schools my son attended from kindergarten through high school. There are four pages for Castlefrank Elementary School with two of them exhibiting his early artwork and writing journals. The pink piece in the top right corner of the first picture is a cupid, on a valentine card he gave to us. One page is dedicated to Katimavik Elementary School where he attended grades 7 and 8. A fourth page is for Earl of March Secondary School, grades 9 through 12. The awards in the packets are for his honor roll and math contest achievements…
After high school my son attended Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, graduating in 2011 with a degree in Civil Engineering. I didn’t have as much paraphernalia from those four years, most likely because he did not live at home. The next page combines items from his jobs over the years as well as the Queen’s stuff I did mange to accumulate, including a false ID.
The last page is entitled “the Next Chapter” with mementos from his new house, engagement, wedding, the birth of his daughter and his new, expanding family…
This scrapbook was lots of work, but definitely a labour of love and a sentimental walk down memory lane for me. I knew I saved all that stuff for a reason! I hope I have inspired some of you to put your collection of memorabilia to good use too.
After you’ve read all about this project, please take a few extra minutes to check out my other bog where I make gardening my business.
As I was removing window boxes filled with perennials and frost damaged annuals at the hospice I volunteer at, it dawned on me that these window boxes would look awesome with winter evergreen arrangements in them. Evergreen boughs with pops of red for a splash of color against the white walls of the building and snow on the ground.
Thanks to the early arrival of winter weather in our area, the plants and soil in the window boxes were frozen solid. I brought them home and put them in my basement to warm up to enable the change of décor.
Once thawed, the first thing I did was remove the dead annuals. Next I trimmed the dormant perennials hard, back to a few inches from the soil level. This step was to allow space for the evergreen boughs and decorative trimmings.
Most grocery stores sell evergreen boughs in bundles this time of year for such DIY projects, as do home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot. I just take a walk through the woodland trails in my neighbourhood with a pair of clippers and a bag. Cedar, pine, and spruce boughs as well as pine cones are plentiful. Sometimes I can even find some vibrant red dogwood and/or contrasting white birch branches and twigs. If not, the stores sell those as well.
Your local dollar store will provide the finishing touches like artificial poinsettia, bows, red berries etc. Battery powered twinkling lights were also added for night time pizzazz.
Looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift? Check out this Facebook page for Classy Glass Upcycles! Select a beautiful creation to enhance your Mom’s garden, yard, or indoor location. Indulge in one for yourself too!
These awesome creations are lovingly handcrafted in Cornwall, Ontario by a family friend. Each item is unique, (re)using the beautiful glass found in so many vintage vases and bowls. What an fantastic idea; I love the idea of upcycling these exquisite treasures from yesteryear.
Visit the page to check out the posted creations currently available. Or commission one (or two) in the color, shape and size of your choice.
My latest DIY project was a patchwork quilt created from my granddaughter’s old clothes. Knowing it would be a BIG project, I started last winter and just finished in time for her 5th birthday last weekend.
The bigger the desired quilt, the more squares you need. I was making a quilt for a double bed, so I needed lots of squares. These are the original squares, and the piles of nine squares (for the nine patch block) laid out on my dining room table…
When researching ideas, I loved the look of the “disappearing nine patch” quilts. This pattern is a variation of the traditional nine patch block quilt where you sew nine squares of fabric together into a three by three block. The twist happens when you then cut the sewn blocks of nine squares through the center both horizontally and vertically. This gives you four larger squares, each with different shapes in it so the nine equal and square blocks have “disappeared.” Experiment with the layout before you cut through the centers so you know which fabrics will be more dominant in the final pattern. For example, large patterns should be placed in the outer corners of the original nine block so they will not be cut.
You then arrange these four new squares and the four squares from each of the other cut nine patch blocks into an attractive pattern.
This will create your quilt top layer. Here are a few pictures of my assembled (still unpressed and unquilted though) quilt top…
Once all your blocks and squares are cut, arranged and sewn together you will require a coordinating backing fabric. The size of quilt will dictate the size of the piece of fabric you require. Your third layer of the quilt will be your batting which goes between the quilt top and the backing. This is my pieced backing (I used fabric I had on hand and pieced it to fit) and the (white cotton/polyester) batting…
Sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece, then sew the backing and quilt top together with the wrong sides together, leaving one short side unsewn. Turn inside out so both right sides of quilt top and backing are showing and then stitch the last side. There is another method that involves binding, but it is much more labor intensive. You sew the batting to the wrong side of the backing piece as above, pin those two layers to the quilt top (so batting is in the middle and right sides of both quilt top and backing are showing). Then add strips of backing (or other coordinating fabric) to all edges to “bind” the layers together.
Other than being very time consuming, the DIY project went well. One of the problems I did encounter with this patchwork quilt was the size of the clothing I had to use. All were baby clothes, so quite difficult to get many 6 inch squares from any one piece of clothing. Next time (if I ever use this pattern again) I would go smaller and use 4 inch squares. Another discouraging fact was that these pieces of clothing were made of different types of fabric, some much stretchier than others. That made matching the seams of the blocks very difficult. The best advice I can give you when creating this type (or any other for that matter) of quilt is to iron/press between steps. Iron your fabric before you cut it into squares, before you sew the squares into rows or blocks and your seams after sewing the rows and blocks and borders together. You will thank me for this advice when your seams are easy to match together and turn out nice and straight!
My granddaughter loved the finished product, (as much as any five year old can appreciate a quilt) but I think her mother appreciated it even more as it invoked a trip down memory lane.
While I was bored this week because it was too hot to garden, I tried a method I found online to remove toxins from my body with a foot bath. Years ago I remember a friend asking me to go with her to some clinic somewhere locally that offered this type of detox. We never did get there, partly because I was skeptical especially because of the price involved. When I saw a home remedy online recently, I thought I would give it a try at home.
The main ingredients (in this version of detox) are salt. Equal parts sea salt and Epsom salts with more baking soda. The “recipe” called for two cups of baking soda, but I did not have that much on hand, so probably used just 1/4 cup. I added a few drops of citrus (you could use any scent you want) essential oil for a nice smell. You add these ingredients to a container large enough to soak your feet in, then add hot water to dissolve the salts. Soak your feet for at least 30 minutes.
That was the difficult part for me, to stay sitting in one spot for that long, especially as the water started to cool off. Always a multitasker, I wrote this post as I was detoxing. The water is supposed to turn dark in color as the toxins are removed from your body through the bottoms of your feet. Here are my before and after pictures…
Although I’m not sure how many toxins this foot bath removed from my body, (the water turned a bit murky but not dark) my feet do feel nice and smooth!
Well this rag quilt has taken me almost a year to finish, but finish it I did, finally. Although I would not recommend this particular DIY project for a beginner sewer, you could start with a small sized one. Crib sized would be much more manageable.
The process is simple, start with squares cut from assorted fabric. Preferred fabrics include flannels and quilting cottons, because they fray well. Others fabrics, such as denim, could be used but they are not as soft. As my grandson’s room will be dinosaur themed, I chose a white flannel with blue, green and red dinosaurs on it as the main fabric. I complemented that with solid blue, green and red fabrics and a red polka dot fabric.
Wash all fabric first, then iron it smooth before you start cutting. Calculate how many squares you need of each fabric, keeping in mind that each finished square on the quilt requires three cut fabric squares. Because my quilt was so large, I actually used a spreadsheet to calculate how many of each I needed. Lots. Use a quilter’s template (a big plastic square that has dimensions marked on it for easy measurement) to measure and cut your squares. A rotary cutter works best. I did this step last spring when watching the Ottawa Senators in the NHL playoffs.
6 inch squares
fabric sandwiches laid out in rows
fabric sandwich, overlapped to show color combination
When you have all your squares cut, you then make the “sandwiches” using three squares in each. The lesson I learned here is not to use the solid red or polka dot red as a middle square (the few that I did bled through the white main fabric on top when washed) The last three pictures above show the sandwiches I used, with the last two overlapped to show the possible color combinations.
When your sandwiches are assembled, sew an X through each one to hold all three layers in place. Then sew squares together to make rows. It helps to have a pattern (that’s why I used a spreadsheet) to consult with to keep the squares in the right order within the rows. Sew using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, paying close attention as to which sides should be together. You must keep all the seams on one side of the quilt. This is trickier than it sounds because as a sewer you are trained to put the “good sides” together, leaving the seams on the “bad side” On this rag quilt there is no good and bad side.
When the rows are complete, you then sew them together to form the quilt. I laid my rows out on a bed (a floor or table would work if your quilt is smaller) to keep the rows in order. Be sure to sew around the perimeter of the quilt too, also using a half inch allowance.
Next, using very sharp sewing scissors or a rag quilt cutter (below) snip into all (including outer edge) seam allowances, being very careful not to snip the actual seam. The next step is to wash the quilt (on a very low, setting equivalent to a hand washing) to encourage the seam allowances to fray. It’s called a rag quilt for this reason.
snipped seam allowances
The final result is quite satisfyingly striking, even though I had a few discouraging setbacks. I learned these lessons the hard way:
use heavy duty sewing machine needles, the first few I used kept snapping because of the thickness of the fabric layers
wash all of the fabrics well first, before you start cutting the squares to cut down on “bleeding” (that’s where the color of one fabric soaks into another) The worst bleeders are red fabrics.
use a plastic template and rotary cutter to cut your squares to ensure precise cutting. Any errors will show up glaringly when you join the squares and rows!
do not use cotton thread, it breaks much more than polyester thread
be very careful when snipping into seam allowances. If you mistakenly cut into a seam, your quilt will be full of holes after the first wash. I had to reinforce a few seams that my clippers got too close to by hand sewing them.
Here is the final result, on my grandson’s double “big boy” bed! The C is for Carter…
Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca
One of the DIY projects I worked on for Christmas gifts included what I call a cheater quilt. I call it that because it takes a lot less time and fabric than a real, patchwork quilt. I have made several of the latter over the years so I know the difference.
All you need to make a cheater quilt is…
a panel (precut piece with a cute pattern on it) of fabric. Choose the pattern wisely, based on how much quilting you want to do or have time for. (Busy/complicated patterns will take much longer than simple ones)
a piece of complementary fabric for the backing, the same size as the panel. Most of these panels have a row of colored dots along the edge showing the colors used in the pattern. Use these dots to choose a coordinating or complementary fabric for the backing.
a piece of batting, also same size as the panel
some large safety pins
a good pair of sewing scissors
contrasting or complementary thread (I used white all over, but you can mix it up!)
The steps are as follows…
iron both the panel and backing
lie the panel on the floor or a table, with the good side facing up
place the piece of batting on top
place the backing fabric on top of those two pieces, with good side facing down
you now have a “sandwich” with three layers
sew three edges (2 long and 1 short if quilt is rectangular) together, using 1/2 inch seam allowance
snip corners of seam allowances so seams will lie flat.
turn the quilt right side out, so both fabrics show their right side and batting is the middle layer.
hand stitch last side.
evenly distribute safety pins throughout quilt top, pinning all three layers together. This prevents the layers from shifting while you are quilting. I choose spots at the edge of the various design patterns in the fabric panel as those spots will be sewn over. (otherwise you may end up with holes in your fabric where no pattern in)
sew around the design patterns in the fabric panel to achieve a quilted look. Try to stay on the lines for a tidy look. This is referred to as “stitch in the ditch.”
ensure quilting is evenly spaced over the quilt to avoid bunching of batting when completed. In my panel I stitched around the large patterns, around the edging and around the floral pattern in the corners etc.
remove the safety pins. If you have placed them on the edges of the pattern as suggested, remove them as you quilt.
The finished project, a DIY cheater quilt, can be hung on the wall (add tabs to the top) or used as a baby blanket for the crib or stroller. These make great, personal gifts for the mother-to-be on your gift list. Choose fabrics to complement their nursery décor as I did here with a baby jungle and pink/green color scheme. You can see I forgot to iron my panel and backing before I started; oops. I hung the finished quilt in a steamy bathroom to remove the wrinkles instead. It is not advisable to iron a finished quilt as a hot iron will flatten the puffiness.