Cheery Blank Cleaning Schedule Printable

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When I started out on my own several years ago, my house was always spick-and-span.  Honest to God.  We put our house on the market and when several realtors came to view our home, they moved the furniture around and left a “bill” as a joke for our realtor.  We thought it was funny, but apparently our home was so clean and tidy, they thought it was staged and that no one was living in the home.  (Pause a moment here while I blush with embarrassment…and I have to admit, a little pride.)

That was several years ago, and as life has changed, my priorities have shifted along with it.  I now have cobwebs and dust bunnies, and to be honest, I just HATE to clean.  So I never do it until it’s so bad that I can’t stand it anymore.

I’ve been wanting to start cleaning more again for a while now, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more overwhelmed I became because, let’s face it, it’s been years in my house since a good deep cleaning occurred.

I researched ideas for cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but none seemed to fit my needs quite right.  I combined ideas and options from several different schedules to create my own, but I still couldn’t find a good printable schedule that was blank to allow me to fill in my own tasks to complete.  So I created one.

I made it bright and cheery (thinking that, hey, maybe that will make me want to clean more).  And I thought I’d share it with you. Click here to get your own.

So what do you say?  Is it time for a little past-due spring cleaning of your own?

Valentine Strawberry and Cream Cupcakes

I’ve been making these cupcakes for a few years now, and my family and friends never grow tired of them.  They’re great any time, spring or summer, but there’s something about strawberries and red food coloring that scream Valentine’s Day.  A friend of mine has a birthday coming up, and we’re getting together this weekend, so I thought I’d surprise her with these cupcakes – she loves them.

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I can’t decide what the best part about this recipe is – the light, fluffy texture of the cake, the creamy frosting, the drool-inducing taste, or how easy these are to throw together.  Perfect for kids and kids-at-heart.  After all, who doesn’t love a cupcake?

You can find the recipe here on the Betty Crocker website.  If you’d like to decorate them like I did, you’ll need an additional container of frosting, a size 12 decorating tip, a frosting bag or Ziploc bag, and red sprinkles.  Happy cooking, and happy Heart Day!

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Chunky Knit Cable Cowl

The Chunky Knit Cable Cowl and the Chunky Knit Cable Cowl Pattern are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop!  The cowl is knit out of soft chunky wool/acrylic blends that keep you snug while keeping the cold winter winds at bay.  Or knit one up for yourself or a friend – using large needles and thick yarn, this cowl works up in no time!

For a limited time, enter the code WINTER at checkout to receive 20% off your entire order.  Not on Etsy?  You can also find the pattern on Ravelry here.  Happy Thursday!

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You can also find the pattern on Ravelry here.

DIY Rustic Star Decoration from Reclaimed Pallet Wood

Today it’s rainy and gross outside.  Storms are brewing, we’re under tornado watch – in short, it’s wet and windy.  In my opinion, the only things these kinds of days are good for (besides nourishing Mother Earth) are fun projects, deep cleaning, and organizing.  It’s been awhile since I did any of the latter, and I thought I’d start with my blog.  I’ve chosen a new layout, which I am MUCH happier with, and while looking through some of my old posts, I realized that I had never posted this project that I did last fall.  It was so much fun, and it’s so cute, I can’t believe I never shared it with you all.

The store where I worked at the time had a bunch of pallets they were ready to throw out, so I brought a couple home.  One is in pieces; the other is still taking up space in our garage.   Nonetheless, I did get this project done pretty much right off the bat, but I haven’t had the opportunity to find somewhere to display it yet – that’s a plan for this weekend.

What I made was a rustic star out of bits and pieces of the pallet, some wood glue, and some nuts and bolts.  Very simple, very easy – once you’ve gotten the pallet apart.  If you’re looking for new ways to add to your outdoor decor this spring and summer, this is the perfect project.  It’s quick and easy, and you can have it out before the daffodils are blooming!

Materials

  • 5 pieces pallet wood, or any reclaimed wood, all about the same length and width.  Mine measure approximately 30″ x 3-1/2″ x 1/2″.  You could also use new boards for this and paint them.
  • 10 coordinating nuts and bolts.  I used 1-1/2″ bolts that are treated so they won’t rust outside.  You can find these in the bins at your local hardware store.  Ask an associate if you’re not sure – the one at my store was very helpful.  Note that if you’re using thicker boards, you’re going to need longer screws.  Mine stick out about a half-inch from the back of the boards, and I’m fine with that.  However, if you’re worried about it scratching something, you need to either use shorter bolts or remove the ends after you’ve put it together (my husband’s suggestion).
  • Drill and bit, coordinating with the size of your bolts
  • Wood glue – optional
  • Clamps
  • Permanent marker
  • Gloves and eye protection  – please, please, please make sure you wear these – very important!

1.  Let’s get started!  Put on your gloves and eye protection – I am a stickler for this!  Pallets can carry harmful bacteria, and we don’t want any splinters turning into something nasty, or any bits of sawdust flying into your eyes.  I prefer to douse my pallets with a potent mix of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and leave them to set in the sun until dry.  This will help to remove any odors as well as kill bacteria.  I know there are mixed opinions about the use of pallets for decorating.  I am very picky when choosing my pallets, and I advise you to be too.  I would never put pallet wood inside my home because of the potential hazards –  I prefer to use them to cheer things up in the garden.

2.  Once you’ve prepped, you’ll need to take your pallet apart.  This is time-consuming, but it will be worth it, I promise!  A hammer and crowbar are your best friends for this job.

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Make sure to remove all nails from the wood – if any are stubborn and won’t come out, make sure to either saw off the back of the nail or bend it with a hammer so that it lies flush with the board.

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3.  Once you’ve gotten the five pieces that you need, you’re ready to begin.  It’s really quite simple.  Remember how you drew stars without lifting your pencil when you were a kid (or, if you’re like me, still do)?  You’re simply going to do the same thing to lay out your boards, arranging and rearranging them until you’ve got them laying well.  The most important part here is to make sure that the top board at each point of the star lays pretty flush with the bottom board at each point.  You don’t want any big gaps.

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4.  Now you’re ready to clamp.  Place clamps at strategic points on the star so as to keep everything from moving.  It needs to be held together very well so that when you drill, nothing moves.

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Take a permanent marker and mark two spots on the top board of each point of the star – these are the spots where you will drill.  Make sure they are in far enough from the edge.  Just wing it.   It’s rustic – if all the bolts aren’t positioned exactly the same, it just adds charm.

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Now get your drill and drill a hole at each of the spots you marked – there should be 10 total.  Drill all the way through both boards.

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5.  Thread a bolt through each of the 10 drilled holes and secure with a nut on the back of each.  If you’d like, you can loosen the clamps in small areas at a time to squeeze some wood glue between the boards before you secure them with the nuts and bolts.  This is not necessary but may make the end result hold up better, should the wood begin to rot, or the bolt strip through at some point.

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6.  If you used glue, leave the clamps on overnight to allow the glue to dry.  If not, remove the clamps – you’re done!

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Where will you hang yours?

Current Projects: 1/4/2013

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I haven’t been on here in ages…but in my defense, I’ve been a busy girl!  I started some online classes in December, I’ve published two knitting patterns, I’m trying to dedicate more time to my true love – writing – all while attempting to spend more time with friends, old and new alike.  I suddenly found I have much less time to blog than I thought!

Anyway, I’m still cranking along on that Granny Stripe Blanket, and I’ve started two new knitting projects and completed a third.  I never can stick with a single large project until it’s done – I have to have smaller ones to carry me through.  Right now, I’m working on my first ever (believe it or not) shawlette, aptly named Balm to the Soul by Jaala Spiro, as well as a pair of socks, entitled Busy Bees from the book Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence (the pattern’s available for free on the link – it’ll take you to Ravelry), that I am enjoying but that are going mind-numbingly slow on size 2 needles.  Perhaps developing patience would be a good goal for me this year.

I recently (as in 5 days before Christmas) finished the Hallows Scarf for my husband.  Nothing like waiting until you’re down to the wire.  It was easy as pie, but I enjoyed making it.  Berroco’s Vintage worked up into a very warm, cushy scarf.  I think I’m going to have to make one for myself.

Now that fall is over, I am anxiously awaiting spring.  However, I would like to finish the shawl and the socks before spring arrives – which, around here, is usually in Mid-March.  Guess I’d better get crackin’!

DIY Dog Bed for Senior Dogs

I have a 10-1/2-year-old Collie who is just the sweetest thing in the world, and compared to others of her breed, her health is remarkable for her age.  She still runs around the yard and barks and plays like a puppy at times, so much so that sometimes I forget how old she is.  A couple of years ago, she started having a little bit of joint stiffness during colder weather, but it’s really started to kick in this year.  It’s not even hit the 30s here yet, and she’s really showing how sore she is.

So what’s a girl to do?  I purchased her a bed about six months ago that seemed all perfectly fluffy at the store, and when it had been laid on for about 3 days, it completely de-poufed.  As in, she was sinking so far that she was basically laying on the floor with the stuffing all around her.

She needed a really good supportive bed for her joints, but they can be so expensive – for a dog her size, easily upwards of $150, and it still might not turn out to last all that well.

After spotting some great sales at my local JoAnn’s, I loaded up my coupons and headed out to get the supplies I would need to make my own.  In all, I spent just under $62 (they were having some awesome sales!).  Not bad considering the alternative.

Materials

  • 2 yards 54″-wide outdoor fabric, or other heavy-duty fabric of your choice (I chose outdoor fabric in the hopes that it will repel any accidents that may happen.  My tiny schnauzer has a habit of, ahem, regurgitating on beds that are not her own.  Not cool.)
  • 2 yards 3″ thick foam padding (the green stuff – they will cut this to size at the fabric counter for you)
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Appropriate sewing machine needle for heavy-duty fabrics
  • 64 ounces polyester fiberfill

Step 1)  Decide the size you would like the bed to be:  I had a cover from a previous bed that I wanted to go over the new one, so I chose to use the measurements of that cover:

  • Width = 33″
  • Length = 42″
  • Height = 3-3/4″

If you are using your own cover for starting measurements, always go with the smallest measurement if there are any variations in length or width (i.e., some parts of the cover measured 33″ wide, some measured 33.5″ wide).

Step 2)  Cut pieces:  Add an inch to each measurement for seam allowances.  If you are following my measurements, fold your fabric in half and cut the following pieces, using the diagram below to show you where to make your cuts on your fabric – make sure your folded edge is in the right spot – do not cut folded edge:

a) 2 pieces for top and bottom – 34″ x 43″ (width x length)
b) 2 side pieces – 43″ x 4-3/4″ (length x height)
c) 2 end pieces – 34″ x 4-3/4″ (width x height)

Step 3)  Start sewing:

  1. Important Note:  Use a 1/2″ seam allowance at all times.
  2. Take one piece “a” and one piece “b“.  Place right sides facing and stitch a hem along one long side.  Repeat with second “b” piece on opposite side of same “a” piece.  Press seams open.  (Note:  You may wish to pin the fabric in place before stitching.  Personally, pins just get in my way, so I skip them a lot of the time.  However, if you are a new or novice sewer, I would recommend using them.)
  3. Using same piece “a” as in previous step, take one piece “c” and place right sides facing on one unsewn edge between hems for pieces “b” from previous step.  It may be a little too long.  That’s okay – just overlap each hem by an equal amount, but start and end stitching at hems – don’t go past.  It should look like this: Repeat with second “c” piece on opposite end.  Press seams.
  4. Add backing:  Place one long side of backing piece to long side of second piece “b“, right sides together; stitch.  Repeat, matching the opposite side of backing piece to second “b” piece.  After this, you should essentially have a giant tube.  It will look kind of like a giant pillow case with openings on both ends.  Repeat again with ONE shorter end, starting and stopping at the seams as on the top piece, leaving the corners of the casing pieces unstitched – we’ll come back to those later.  Here’s a hint:  If you hold the casing piece on top while you stitch, it will be much easier.  (Be careful not to catch any unwanted fabric in your stitches!)  Leave the other end unsewn until the bed has been stuffed.
  5. Stitch corners:  Starting on one corner of the closed end, match up the edges of the unsewn corner and stitch.  You may want to stitch again for reinforcement.  To do this, just put another row of stitches 1/4″ outside your seam (toward the cut edge of the fabric).  This is extra reassurance for you, just in case Poochie puts on a few pounds this winter.  In fact, you can do this to all your seams if you so desire – it’s up to you.  Repeat with the other corner on finished end.  Just a heads up: This is where my bobbin ran out (and I started with a full one), so you may want to check yours.
  6. We’re going to leave the other two corners and the opening unsewn for the time being to prepare the stuffing.

Step 4)  Stuffing:  Measure the width and length of the finished cover:

  • width = 33″
  • length = 42″

Now, subtract an inch from each number (trust me – it will be much easier to stuff if you do this), and, using a serrated knife, cut a piece of the foam the length of the bed – beware fingers and surfaces!:

  • width = 32″
  • length = 41″

Now, measure the width of the cut piece.  I needed my foam to be 32″ wide, but my foam was only 24″ wide.  To use the foam best, I cut two 6″ pieces of foam and cut them to reach a combined length that matched that of the bigger piece.  So, for the project, I used 60″ total of 24″‘-wide, 3″-thick foam.  I had purchased 2.5 yards, so I actually have enough left to make another smaller bed that would measure 31″ x 24″.

Step 6)  Stuff the bed:  Put the foam in first, unstitched hem on the bottom of the bed.  Now, if you only want a foam bed, skip to finishing the cover.  My baby, however, likes a really thick, fluffy bed (she’s not high maintenance AT ALL), so I’m going to put some fiberfill in the top.  Only fill it about 3/4 of the way.

Step 7)  Finishing:  Start hand sewing up your seam, however you prefer.  I don’t have the patience to make my stitches blind, so I just stitch a cute (albeit somewhat childlike) topstitch, making sure the seam is strong.  I have a cover that’s going over this, so honestly, I wasn’t really worried about appearance, but feel free to stitch the end shut however you want.

Voila! You’re done!  You wanna know the best part of the whole project?  Putting your feet up together when it’s done.

.-Shannon

Pinecones and the park

Hubby and I spent a leisurely morning at a park in our area recently.  It’s a great little place – never too crowded, except on those too-gorgeous-to-resist days, when the park is crawling with photographers trying to get that perfect family portrait.  You park, you walk past the playground areas, and suddenly, you come upon a covered bridge, which we don’t have many of around here.

There are picnic areas, and once you’ve crossed the bridge, if you are in a mind to go off the beaten path a bit (which we always do), there’s a little path that goes around and loops back to a gorgeous rocky area of the river.

We finished the loop and came back up the path to the covered bridge.  As per the understood laws of society, the interior is covered in “Jimmy loves Norma” in every imaginable form.

On our way into the park, you know what else I noticed they have there?  Pine cones.  That’s right.  I spent the last 15 minutes or so of our adventure picking up pine cones.  They were just so huge and perfect and fresh!  (No, I do NOT have a pine cone fetish.  At all.)  You see, I came across this wreath project awhile back that I have been just itching to make.  I mean, how beautiful is it?  And it really can stay up for two seasons – fall and winter – which makes it the perfect project for me right now.

This garland and this topiary are just two more projects I would love to make for our home.  I have gobs upon gobs of pine cones now, so I ought to be able to make several.

Hubs got a bit bored towards the end.  I tend to get tunnel vision, and that day was no exception.  He had that “Isn’t this enough pine cones?” look on his face (on other days, you may also enter “yarn” in place of “pine cones”).  But he was such a good sport about it.  That’s just one of the many things I love about him.

-Shannon