My $3.99 Night-Table Transformation using my extra scraps!

My $3.99 Night-Table Transformation using my extra scraps!

“A classic model of the stages of creativity roughly translates to 3 modes of focus: orienting—where we search out and immerse ourselves in all kinds of inputs; selective attention on the specific creative challenge and open awareness, when we associate freely to let the solution emerge—then home in on the solution.”

Daniel Goleman, “Focus”

 

The other day my 3-year-old was lamenting the fact that she doesn’t have a bedside table next to her big girl bed. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to set her milk, books or stuffed animals before she heads to our bedroom to sleep each night?

I thought, why not find a little cheap table at a thrift store and fix it up? So, I found this one.

img_20190322_121134208_hdr

Okay, so with this 20% off coupon it wasn’t 4.99 but actually $3.99. What a deal, huh? When you donate to Thrift stores, they kindly give you coupons–EVERY TIME YOU DONATE ANYTHING!

img_20190405_115922336

As you can see, the table was in good condition. It had a very nice, simple structure and made of solid wood. All it needed was a little perking up.

What color? My daughter was set on a soft, powdery, sky blue.

I was reminded of Lowe’s, Home Depot and other hardware stores. They would have tons of colors but I would have to pay for the paint–an added expense to an already cheap table. Not something I wanted to do. The paint, alone, would cost me an additional $5- $10 bucks. But I’m a cheap freak and I like to find ways to use what I already have on hand.

It suddenly dawned on me that, WAIT, I am a (acrylic painting) artist and have TONS of paint in a huge assortment of colors! Not only that, but I knew we had a few half gallons of white paint in the garage from past wall projects. This white paint could be easily mixed with my acrylic artist paint. Why not create my own color(s)?

Also, I found some sand paper amidst everything.  The point? Always search your entire house and garage to find things that can be used before you head to the store! You’ll save time, gas, energy and money.

img_20190324_173144343_burst000_cover_top

Just grab a plastic container from your kitchen storage area (these containers come in handy whether they are take-out containers, lunch meat containers or the containers from microwave dishes)–these are ideal for mixing paint and creating new colors 🙂

img_20190331_121055665

And here I mixed up my (artist acrylic) blue paint with some household/interior white paint.

Once thoroughly sanded and cleaned, I flipped the table over and started painting the tough areas first–bottom and legs.

img_20190329_125920109
I decided I wanted a two-toned blue color scheme.  To achieve the look below, GIVE YOUR TABLE AT LEAST 4 COATS OF PAINT! (1 new coat each day)

img_20190403_162406497_hdr
Finally, I decided that it needed some embellishments. I had a couple jars of shiny stones, tiles and other saved objects that I’ve collected from various home décor stores like Michael’s, Pierre 1 Imports etc.

In a previous life (2010) I did a table top mosaic on a cheap, plastic table. Here it is:

 

Use whatever you might have on hand to adorn your table–old earrings, necklace pieces, pieces of Christmas ornaments, beads, stones, chains, shells…the list is infinite.

I’ve found that a glue gun works quite well for sticking tiles to wood. Notice that I practiced on a piece of wood (pictured here) before I attempted on my freshly painted table:

 

Arrange your adornments/tiles on the counter to determine what you’re going for. Once they’re glued down, you won’t be able to get them off.

img_20190404_082235019

Take out your glue gun. Heat it up and unleash your creative mind!

You never know what you’ll think up next. Simplicity is always a good idea.

img_20190404_114100472

And…change it up on the opposite side if you want.

img_20190404_121950321

A fun bedside table to set books and sippy cup–$3.99 plus a little work.

img_20190407_205756360

2 Homemade Easter Dresses, SAME PATTERN. (sewing steps by pictures)

2 Homemade Easter Dresses, SAME PATTERN. (sewing steps by pictures)

I’ve got laundry, a couple messy rooms, a kid screaming bloody murder (as always) and the other one interrupting me every couple of seconds. In between those interruptions, let’s see how fast I can make this post! Excuse the hap-hazard style and grammar mistakes!

I wanted to show *most* of the step-by-step pictures of the previous little girl dress I blogged about here and an Easter dress I created for my 3 year old (USING THE EXACT SAME PATTERN!).

I already posted the finished results on Facebook a few weeks ago, but thought, why not post a few pics of the actual process? That way, I can use these pics as reminders FOR MYSELF when I’m in a sewing state of stupefaction? I’ve found that sometimes just seeing pictures–and NOT VIDEOS--were what made the difference in learning how to sew different things.

Here you’ll find an assortment of pictures that I took while making both dresses. Nothing is better than being able to design your own dress with the wild assortment of frilly and fun things at your local fabric store.

Here are the materials I picked for my First Little Girl Easter Dress. (It was actually my first dress attempt). This Easter fabric was on sale at Joann’s. After I bought all of this material (including pattern, zipper and pink ruffle) it cost me around $12.

The good news? You can use the pattern over and over again and there are always extra fabric remnants for other projects.

img_20190226_153927645_hdr

Always make sure to wash, dry and iron all your fabric before working with it!

img_20190227_123356497

Next, you’ll want to cut out every single piece of your pattern according to your child’s dress size. Here is an example of the front bodice of the dress pattern piece placed right next to the fold of the fabric. One of the techniques you’ll encounter very frequently in sewing patterns.

img_20190308_133452829_hdr

Here are what the skirt pattern pieces will look like when you cut them out and place them on the fabric you will use (this one’s the green dress). One is on the fold and you will cut it on all the sides, except the fold, of course. The other piece is just situated on the fabric and not necessarily on the fold; this means you will cut 2 pieces and sew those two together).

img_20190308_132738380_hdr

When you cut out the front bottom of the dress, it will look like this (this one’s for the Easter dress)

img_20190301_104554975

Now you’ll follow the instructions to make 2 pleats in the back and one in the front. This is an example of the front (single) pleat.

Follow the instructions on your (front dress bottom) pattern piece. Evenly place pins in material as shown above (and according to the pattern directions for the size you are using). Notice how I flipped the pattern piece over to the other side of the skirt to determine the location of the 3rd pin’s placement.

You will bring the (above) 3 yellow headed pins together (one on top of the other) and they will end up looking kinda like this; see picture just below. You’ll notice the pleat beginning to form.

Now you’ll just have to sew a little line right in the middle area of the pins.

img_20190301_104539029

It will look sorta like this when you initially sew the pleat. You get the idea. Don’t worry, this little seam line will not show because you’ll sew your bodice and dress bottom-half together over that seam line. All you’ll see is the neat little pleat. 

I didn’t take a picture, but you’ll next sew the two pleats on the rear side of the dress. Next, you’ll sew the front of the dress to the back of the dress by placing the two pieces right sides together and sewing down the sides. You can do all the hems later.

img_20190301_105404272-1

Your bodice top pieces (back and front as shown) will look like this.  You can see the seam line in the back bodice piece (which I already sewed together)–sorry, didn’t capture that step.

img_20190301_113649807

Next, you’ll need to work on your sleeves. You can use the setting sleeves in the round method as I blogged about here. OR, you can set your sleeves in the flat, as shown below. This is roughly how you’ll position your sleeves on your top bodice and then pin them in place to do the flat method.

Finally, your top and bottom pieces will be complete. They might look roughly like so:

img_20190301_183558659

Now sew them together and you’ll get a dress kinda like this:

img_20190304_135623710_burst000_cover_top

Extra touches? I added a Peter Pan collar and attached a cute pink, frilly trim on the bottom of the dress.

img_20190311_153558721

And what about that green dress where I used the same pattern/idea but different fabric? Notice that I used the extra pink material from this Easter dress to make my sleeves and some of the collar for the other dress below. Don’t waste any fabric, you’ll find some way to use it. 🙂

img_20190311_153446591

I think she loves it!

img_20190312_142316984

 

 

 

 

 

SLEEVE TUTORIAL- Setting Sleeves in the Round Method, SEWING

SLEEVE TUTORIAL- Setting Sleeves in the Round Method, SEWING

I said I would blog once a week so here I am again. Today’s post is a quickie “sleeve tutorial” with mainly pictures and few words. I’m using the “setting the sleeves in the round” method. This is just a refresher course for me when I need to sew sleeves again.

  1. Your sleeve will look kind of like this when you cut one of them out and sew an additional sleeve/lining onto it with right sides together. You’ll get an instant hem that you won’t have to sew later!

img_20190309_105127833-1

Next, fold the sleeve in half like this:

img_20190309_105133176-1

 

Pin your sleeve where you folded it in half. You will sew roughly along where you have placed the pin.

img_20190309_105202663-1

Sew it with your sewing machine like so:

img_20190309_105214033_hdr-1

Once sewn, it will look like this:

img_20190309_105410711_burst000_cover_top-1

You get the picture. Sew your other sleeve. They will look kinda like this when finished:

img_20190309_105551528-1

For some reason, this was the part where I always got all mixed up (spatially).

You will take the bodice part of your shirt/dress and turn it inside out. Next, take the RIGHT SIDE of one of your sleeves and slide them in the armhole, like this:

img_20190309_113459648

You will put it in all the way and then pin it to bodice like this: (yes, I know you’re supposed to “align the notches” but I didn’t have notches here, so doing my best without them):

It should look like this when you’ve finished pinning the sleeve to the bodice:

img_20190309_110559057-1

Then you’ll sew it like this with your sewing machine:

img_20190309_110825945_hdr-1

Here is another pic of sewing the sleeve to the bodice. You’ll sew all the way around:

img_20190309_110830934

You will turn your dress right side out and here is what the sleeve will look like.

img_20190309_111207978-1

All done.

I sewed 2 GREEN Dresses for under $6.00! HAPPY GREEN MONTH!

I sewed 2 GREEN Dresses for under $6.00! HAPPY GREEN MONTH!

Blogging is difficult for most of us because you have to come up with different things to post, REGULARLY. Blogging favors people who are constantly inspired and effortlessly creative. Those are the blogs that more frequently pop up on Google’s first page. These are the ones that we return to again and again to see “what’s new”. I’ve been too infrequent lately.

Lately I’ve hit a low point in my sewing ambitions. In my attempt to sew leggings/yoga pants/gym pants (whatever you call them), there was a big fail. I didn’t use a pattern. I tried to use an old pair of pants as a template and that didn’t quite work. Let’s just say that a bunch of black knit fabric (which tends to be expensive) ended up being wasted due to my ineptitude. I know.  I’ll find a way to incorporate it into something else.

On the bright side, it’s green month. I’ve found some green things that I’ve made and sewn and I’d like to share them with you here on my blog.

One of the things I’ve been doing lately is scouring thrift stores for old sewing patterns. Most of the time I can find them half off of .49 cents, which means I can find old sewing patterns for .25 cents each! 

img_20190219_190218657

With the pattern above, I was able to make something I’m calling “Renee’s Lime Dress”, for less than $5.00 (this includes the fabric I bought at Walmart and the zipper that I got on sale at Joann’s.) Yes, I thought up the color scheme and added the limes. Below you’ll find a picture without the limes (it might be too loud for some of you). I thought the belt and necklace were nice additions.

img_20190219_174645408

And here is the “less loud” version of the dress, sans limes. I like both of them and very pleased with the CHEAP, EASY pattern I found!

img_20190218_152357208

What does the back of my green dress look like? I’m still working on zipper installation techniques.

img_20190218_151416140-1

 

But what to do with the leftover pieces of green and lime green fabric?????? I sewed it all together almost like a quilt sheet. I used every single scrap of leftover green material from my dress above and sewed it into one big, random block. Now I will use this material to make a little girl’s dress.

img_20190308_125857199

And here goes:

And the finished result with pink sleeves and a pink peter pan collar? Well it can’t be perfect when you’re using a block of randomly sewn leftover fabric together. But hey, it’s fun! And here is a “setting sleeves in the round” tutorial, if you’re a visual learner and would like to see how I made and “set in” the sleeves. (Note, this tutorial is actually for me to refer to).

 

CABBAGE STEW RECIPE

And how about some Liberian Cabbage stew, since it’s green month?

We used this recipe but omitted the maggi bouillon cubes (used our own seasoning combo as seen below) and only used chicken instead of the 3 forms of meat typically required for this African recipe.

Liberian Cabbage Stew Recipe

Always cook a pot of rice to go with your stew. And for the love of god, don’t use a rice cooker!! This isn’t rocket science, all you need is a pot.

img_20190315_184355396_hdr

When the stew is all cooked it will look red because of the tomato paste. It tastes really delicious and is fairly healthy, all things considered.

 

HAPPY GREEN MONTH! HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Other Healthy Ingredients!)

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Other Healthy Ingredients!)

Do you ever have a craving for something sweet, has a decent amount of protein, and is (kinda) healthy too? Well, I’ve been making these healthy cookies for over a decade and I just can’t stop. They satisfy all my requirements of sweet, protein, and satisfying.

Warning: These chocolate chip cookies may not be for everyone, I’ve never known anyone who wants to try my cookies. But I love them, and so do my children.  And that’s all that really matters to me. Since they’re pretty healthy, I tend to overeat them.

Between 2006 and 2010 I worked at a little health food store. I learned all about a variety of interesting ingredients. That’s when I invented this recipe, except then I was using hazelnuts and walnuts with the other ingredients and no quinoa. I’ve always loved their nutty, earthy flavor that pairs nicely with the taste of semi-sweet (or dark chocolate) chocolate chips.

I often use random leftovers like cooked quinoa which goes right into the batter.

img_20190212_190936236

Or, if I have a few crumbs left in a bag like this, I toss them in before throwing out the bag:

img_20190212_190339864

White flour too! No matter what, my chocolate chip cookies will ALWAYS have my favorites: flax seed meal, wheat germ and at least 1 cup of finely chopped up walnuts. Also, finely ground up hazelnuts are AMAZING in this recipe! WAY better than almonds! 

img_20190212_190258440

And throw everything into your chocolate chip cookie batter.

Healthy Cookie Batter:

img_20190212_191154320-1


 

Always have your helper boy beside you, he can offer suggestions and tips during the cookie making process.

 

The finished result:

img_20190212_195545978-1

 

MY RECIPE

img_20190301_191614009

Tasty Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa Leftovers!

Tasty Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa Leftovers!

Earlier this morning I was feeling frenzied and unhappy about all the clean-up and labor that comes with having small children. My wrists hurt and my back hurts.

It occurred to me that the only thing you ever really “have” is the moment you’re in, so why not be happy about it? Why not make the most of it and fully own it?

Like everyone else, I’m chasing after that “final product”, that “accomplishment” and because I’m not there, ever, I find myself unhappy. The cleaning is never finished, the laundry is never done, the kid’s hair is always smeared with food, and all of my side projects are being ripped apart by my children.

I had to finally accept that “I’m never really there, because I’m always in the middle of some project or some cleaning rampage”. And, I’m ALWAYS BEHIND!

What if there was a way to take this moment and turn it into something better? Pretend like it’s glorious and surreal and have that eventually become my reality? Easier said than done.

Speaking of my accomplishments, I’d like to present you with a salad that I made. This salad is an inspiration (and variation) from a salad I saw on the Alaska Airlines menu (mine doesn’t contain chicken, has cherry tomatoes, avocado, arugula and a different dressing). I really like the combination of flavors and it’s great if you already have some of the ingredients on hand and want to use these leftovers in your salad.

So without further ado, may I share with you some pics of my healthy salad adventure?

Start with the sweet potatoes:

img_20190211_140218881

Chop your sweet potatoes into cubes, put some tin foil on a cookie sheet, spray that foil with cooking spray and set your oven to 400 degrees. You can make an olive oil marinade and drizzle it over the potatoes before baking. You’ll roast the sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes (turn them over with a fork half way through).

I like to drizzle my pre-roasted sweet potatoes with a mix of: olive oil, chopped up garlic, garlic salt, garlic powder and dried parsley flakes.

Once your potatoes are done, cool them in the fridge!

Next, look for last night’s leftover quinoa in your fridge (It needs to be cooked and chilled):

img_20190212_190309841

Other ingredients you may want to include in your salad are as follows. Just use as much or as little arugula or baby spinach as you see fit (that will be your salad base).

Make sure to cut a piece of garlic in half and smear your entire salad bowl (especially the bottom) before inserting any salad ingredients. Like many other novice salad makers, I make salad dressing with these ingredients here. Don’t forget a splash of sea salt!

img_20190212_122059962

And here it is! Just cut up the veggies however and how much you want. Mix up your entire salad with the homemade olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and sea salt dressing your made. You get the picture.

Voila! Very simple healthy salad using leftover ingredients.

My Acne Scar Subcision Video

My Acne Scar Subcision Video

I had acne scar subcision on my forehead and temples yesterday and I wanted to show you the video! I’ve been trying to upload these, but as always, my issue with making anything online is ALWAYS THE TECHNOLOGICAL PART, not the motivation to do so. I’m struggling to figure out how to get these here on my blog.

Acne scar subcision is an important, yet less known technique for significantly reducing the appearance of atrophic acne scars.

No portion of these videos may be copied or used without my consent. These videos are a bit graphic (at least by my taste).

If you have acne scars, forget microdermabrasion, forget LASERS, forget peels and most certainly forget any and every topical cream/gel/lotion/concoction on the market!

The BEST THING FOR deeper acne scars is ACNE SCAR SUBCISION. Hands down. I cannot emphasize this enough. Fraxel laser will certainly help smooth out your skin, but that comes with a cost: For me it was a “thinner, over-all look” to my face; a more “gaunt look”, if you will. Many of us with numerous and deep acne scars had thicker skin with more volume—especially when we were teenagers! Once you have a few laser treatments (I had Fraxel) you’ll see a slight change in the thickness of your skin—and you might not be happy with it!

The first time I learned about subcision for acne scars was in 2000. I read about the technique online. I was living in Seattle then and I remember calling every dermatology and medispa clinic I could find asking “Whether they performed subcision for acne scars” and “how much it cost”.

The response, even in a thriving metro like Seattle was pretty much the same, “We suggest you try LASER treatment.” Or, “Maybe if you have one or two scars the doc can subcise them, but she’s not going to want to spend all day addressing acne scars all over your face in a piecemeal fashion.” They must have not been performing very many subcisions in those days so the technique was not yet really developed or refined.

If you’ve endured the brutal agony (both physical and mental) of nodular-cystic acne and the subsequent scars, find someone competent in acne scar subcision. This could be a plastic surgeon, a general MD, a nurse, or, in my case, an Esthetician-turned medical assistant.

The medical assistant I had was AMAZING! I’ve looked everywhere for this kind of treatment but have had difficulty finding anyone who knows how to effectively wield a needle or blunt-tip cannula underneath the surface of the skin to break up the scar tissue HORIZONTALLY.

Remember, dermal rollers/needles and LASERS all work vertically. You need to address acne scars horizontally TOO because fibrous bands of scar tissue attach and pull from all directions which add to the distortion and disfigurement of the skin! This fact is often overlooked in the esthetics world.

Acne scars have thick bands of fibrous tissue that tether them to the deeper regions of the dermis. This, combined with tissue loss from inflammation creates the indentations, depressions, rolling, boxcar and ice pick scars on the surface of the skin.

Deep rolling and boxcar acne scars respond wonderfully to subcision because the underlying bands of scar tissue are being slashed apart, broken down and “subcised”.

The body will initiate a healing response where the scar tissue has been subcised. The skin that was once pulled down by fibrous tissue can lift itself up, reducing the appearance of the depression. Clotting factors will arrive on the scene, a hematoma will form and then matrix remodeling can occur. Collagen and elastin tissue will form like scaffolding where the scar has been subcised. It will not be perfect—but the scar will not be quite as deep.

In this video I’m having my medical assistant perform acne scar subcision on my forehead and temples.

It was a very painful experience (at least for me) because I had really deep bands of scar tissue in my face that needed to be broken up. Thankfully, she did inject a lidocaine numbing agent in each area prior to subcision.

My Acne Scar Videos