Friday, November 11, 2011

Armistice Day / Veteran's Day

When our perils are past,
shall our gratitude sleep?

~George Canning

Field of Poppies, Flanders, France

It is easy to take liberty for granted,
when you have never had it taken from you. 

~Author unknown

This nation will remain the land of the free
only so long as it is the home of the brave. 

~Elmer Davis

Cross Stitch Remembrance

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.
  It means a strong desire to live
taking the form of readiness to die. 

~G.K. Chesterton

 Freedom is never free. 

~Author Unknown


Thank You

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What Can I Do With All These Plastic Bags!!!??

Home From Shopping

Who doesn't recognize this?
Now, I don't know about you, but around here
there are stores that don't even carry paper bags anymore.

Our recycling protocol requires that our
recyclables be organized into paper bags.
More often than not we have run out of paper bags.

At the risk of blaspheming the environment, I rather like paper bags.
I use them when wrapping boxes that I'm 
packaging for the mail.
We use them to cover and protect our children's text books.
Theres nothing better onto which to place your freshly fried foods!
Paper towels get soggy,
paper bags absorb grease
while preserving the crispiness of your food.
We've used them for countless school and craft projects.

But, here we are,
knee-deep in plastic bags.
So, lets make lemonade!

Paint "Shirt"

There are many wonderful uses for plastic bags, too.
This little tot demonstrates how to keep
your tummy clean while painting. 
An impromptu and clever idea when you may not yet have
established a paint shirt.

I use them to cover appliances while in storage.
We have a shelf  in our garage
that holds a crock pot, canning kettles,
roaster, ice cream maker, juicer and bread machine.
All with a plastic bag
draped over them to keep the dust out.

Up in the attic we have recently
put away our fans for storage, each of them covered
with a plastic bag.

This easy extra step preserves the life
of the motor inside by keeping dust particles out
during storage.

With all this plastic literally flying around,
were finding some new uses.
(Naturally, we stumble upon some superfluous uses.
But that is part of the mechanics of ingenuity.)

I'm exploring some practical ideas that we can put to use
in our own homes and lives.
My interest is in turning our abundance,
seemingly negligible,
into daily domestic productivity.
Some will even make enterprising gifts!

Directions For How To Make Plarn

Cut 1 Inch

This is plarn.
Plastic yarn.
Ive blogged about this before, back in March.
Today, however, I would like to share a bit more in depth.
I would like you to see this as something
that you can do to make your life better.

The instructions are simple enough.
You're cutting strips (about 1in) and linking them together.
Once you find yourself with a nice, long length, roll it into a ball.
You may wish to keep your colors separated,
or you may not care.

Balls of Plarn in Assorted Colors

Plarn Bag

With your balls of plarn,
simply knit or crochet your project.
There are many patterns to be found on the web now.
You'll need large needles.

Click HERE for a free crocheted clothespin bag pattern.

Plarn Coil-Weave Bowl

This is a photo of a plarn coil-weave bowl.
You will find directions for how to coil weave on various sites,
You may use clothesline cord, or any sturdy cord or rope.
These make a sturdy textile bowl
that you can shape as you weave.

Spinning Plarn

In order to get that smooth look,
and a smaller stitch,
you'll need to spin your plarn.
This is a whole other step that you may or may not be interested in.
I'm not ready for this, myself,
but Ive highlighted a couple of links for you to check out, if you'd like.
You'll need a drop spindle.
for how to make your own drop spindle.

Spun Plarn Crochet Angel 

Knitting Spun Plarn

Crocheted Spun Plarn Purse

Spun Plarn Snowflakes

A New Twist on an Old Favorite -
Spun Plarn Granny Squares

Tutorial For Fusing Plastic For Fabric
There is another process by which we can
create something new and useful with our plethora plastic bags.

With only an iron and a bit of parchment paper between the board and the iron,
(with your layers of plastic between)
you can create all kinds of things made of this very strong, fused plastic "fabric".

It will take a bit of practice to get a feel for the amount of time
and the temperature you'll need.
The key is to keep your iron moving,
prepare for the plastic to shrink as it fuses together,
and keep on trying!

This is a fun project,
especially when you're itching to create something
useful and practical, but haven't yet learned to knit or crochet.
Give this a try, you'll enjoy it!
Stitched Fused Plastic Bag

Fused Plastic Owl Bag

Click HERE for some very good instructions on how to make a
fusible plastic fabric grocery bag.

Fused Plastic Bag

Above is a fused plastic fabric bag that uses some nice handles.
You may find these at your larger craft stores.
You might also wish to
keep your eyes peeled for some vintage purses that are better-off
in the trash, but have good handles.


Fused Plastic Bag

Here we see someone has created a make-up bag
using some trimmings for embellishment.
There are many examples of this, even to the extent of
being considered art.

Fused Plastic Notebook Cover

This is a great idea for young ones in church,
scratch paper in the car, or purse,
or a funky and whimsical gift idea for your teen.
Use paper that you have;
art projects that you can't throw but don't have room to save,
maps that are out-dated,
place mat menus,
anything that would make it personal and fun!

Fused Plastic Weave Bag

Don't throw all those fused plastic bits that "didn't turn out"!
There's a use for just about anything.
In this case, trim your practice bits and use them in a weave.
This is very cool,
and much sturdier than the free cloth bags that we get at the fair.
(What are those made of, anyway?)
Fused Plastic Bib
Who can argue about this as the quintessentially perfect project
for plastic fusing?

Click HERE for a free fused plastic bib pattern.

You can place images in between your plastic bag layers 
for an applique look.
There are great directions for this on Sustain Lane and Craftzine.

Pattern Idea For Fused Plastic

Fused Plastic Reusable Sammy Bag
Click HERE to get these directions.

Fused Plastic iPod Case

Fused Plastic Eyeglasses Case
Click HERE for a free eyeglasses case pattern.

Here are a few more ideas from one of my previous blog posts,

*Cut up green bags into strips and tie onto child's belt
for Hawaiian “grass” skirt.

*Store over your heaters in the summer,  around your fans in winter.
*Cover ceiling fans during remodeling.
*Keep in kids’ closet for catching outgrown items.

*Cover well-watered plants with transparent bag just before vacation,
keeping out of direct light.

*Dust covers for seldom-worn clothing.
*Store extras in bottom of waste basket.
*Wrap one up to the size of piece of gum, slip rubber band around it, drop in purse
 - never know when you’ll need it!
*Spray paint small items inside of one.

*For intense toilet cleaning, place hand in bag, scrub, then toss.

*Cover shoes before packing to keep other garments clean.

*Keep feet dry inside not-so-waterproof shoes or boots.

*“Wear” when mixing meatloaf.

*Set metal furniture legs into after carpet shampoo to prevent rust.

*Funnel for liquids.

*Waterproof a mattress by splitting and placing under sheet.

*Indispensable for travel, auto, camping, picnic.

Plastic Bags Made Into Flowers

Fused Plastic Flower With Vintage Button

Finally, have fun!
This doesn't need to be perfect, theres not much out there
that's more forgiving.
And, for a while, your resources don't seem to be
in danger of being endangered.
Until then,
proudly display your upcycled plastic, friends!


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ephemera - Get it for FREE

I just love ephemera!
I always have.  Of course, we use to just call it old stuff;
antique, art nouveau, art deco, tin-type photographs etc.

These last two are styles of art popular during
specific eras.  However, ephemera is the word we use lately
that easily encompasses all such
lovely, and even quirky
styles of the past.
Yes, this includes the now-popular vintage.

Whether you are an artist, a teacher,
a scrap-booker, or crafter,
you're reading this because either you love it
or you're curious.
Check out some of these sites for a fun lesson
and start your own collection.

The Graphics Fairy has all kinds of ephemera in which to lose yourself.
She posts the original
and sometimes shares other versions that
might be useful.

Art-e-zine is based in the UK
and shares a myriad collection of old photographs
and postcards.
From geishas to cowboys,
from darling children to beautiful ladies,
you wont want to miss this site. will display thumbnails
for you to peruse, page by page.
Just click on one to see it larger.
This site shares all kinds of ephemera,
from advertising to photographs to postcards.

Art-e-cats also shares thumbnails.
There doesn't appear to be many,
but what is there is worth checking out.

Victorian Vignettes is a blog site that shares images
and makes it easy to find what you may be looking for.
A column on the right side will direct you
to animals, Egyptian ephemera, seasonal, flowers, and more!

that shares lost advertising for travel,
automobile, gasoline,
cruise travel, and more.
This one is interesting just to look at!

Reminiscene is another UK site
that has displayed many lost photos obtained from
Antique shops and fairs.
Their goal is to reunite these with their ancestors.

Outside the Margins shares some fun photographs
that are worth looking at.
Many are colorized,
most are fun or even quirky.

Karens Whimsy displays another nice list
from which you can choose from.
This one is located on the left-hand side
and offers an array of interests,
including the ancient past, Native Americans,
silhouettes, vintage fashions,
and so much more!
This is a fun site.

Briar Press  displays printer block images
that you will find in black and white.
They share single letters, frames, labels,
and clip art.
While some are for sale, they offer many for free.

What do you use ephemera for?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crepes - For Any Meal!

Sauteed onion, spinach, mushroom, bacon filling

Crepes are not really as difficult as their reputation purports.
The thin batter is incredibly simple to make.

All you need is a small, flat, nonstick pan and a good flick'o the wrist.

Anyone who make crepes will tell you,
the first two or four are not very pretty.
They are, however, entirely edible,
and as delicious as the pretty ones!
These are for growling tiny, impatient tummies,
or the hungry cook to nosh
-just to be sure they're up to par, of course.
Wink, wink.

Shrimp, roasted red pepper, fresh herbs

Something we've become stubborn about
is that crepes should have sweet fillings,
and that they are for breakfast.

That's too bad.
These are perfect to make ahead of time
and keep in the refrigerator for a day
- an anytime meal.
They'll keep in the freezer for a month!
That's handy for such a treat.

Originating in Brittany,
(the northwest corner of France)
and once reserved for the royals,
these are still made and filled with meats and cheeses.

It wasn't until the late 19th century that
the Prince of Whales
would request a dessert crepe.
It was the prince's beautiful lady companion that would be the namesake
of the since-famous Crepe Suzette.

Fancy crepe-making tools

Thin crepe batter

Fun Vintage Crepe Recipe

This makes 20-24 crepes.

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Sift together flour, and salt.
Set aside.
In a separate bowl beat together eggs and milk.
Beat in flour mixture until smooth.
Stir in melted butter.

When you're ready to make your crepe,
lift your pan off the heat first.

Heat your lightly oiled pan over med-high.
Pour about 2 Tablespoons for each crepe.
Quickly tilt your pan and spread this around,
cook light golden.

The first side will need about 45-60 seconds to cook.
Flip this gingerly with your rubber spatula,
this takes practice.
Let yourself make a few mess up - remember, the mistakes are edible.

The other side cooks much quicker.

As for "perfectly thin" crepes,
well, that's just silly.
We're not having some sort of contest,
we're eating!

To tempt you...

Batter up!

Catch ya on the flip side

Let me share some other savory filling ideas
for your next crepe dinner:

Ham and cheese
Prosciutto and Gruyere

Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce
add some Boiled Egg

Spinach, mushrooms, & Swiss Cheese
with some Freshly Cracked Pepper

Smoked Whitefish, Sour cream, Chives, Horseradish

Roasted Peppers, Pine Nuts, Grilled Chicken

Chorizo, Avocado, Sun Dried Tomato

Smoked Salmon & Arugula

Poached Egg, Spinach, Avocado

Chicken Marsala Crepes!

Chicken, Artichoke, Sun Dried Tomato

Crepes are great for leftovers... 

Think Thanksgiving turkey with a smudge of cranberry
or sauteed green beans.

Christmas ham with sauteed Apple
and a slice of Cheddar.

Easter's boiled eggs with Smoked Fish and Chives.

Summer's Grilled Meat with Roasted Pepper
and Sauteed Garlic.

Creperie en France


About Me

My photo
As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!