May 29, 2012

Compost Along – Week 1

One of my favorite blogs is hosting a Compost Along! This makes me more excited than it would normal people, but I never claimed normality, and it makes me happy that there are other people just as excited as I am. :D

I have joined, and our first assignment is to decide how we want to compost (bin, pile on the ground, etc.) and how we are going to get materials for it.

My family already has a compost pile in the backyard next to the vegetable garden. It’s the very shady spot that never was able to grow much. A lot of it was used up in this year’s planting, and I’d like to put more work into it to make better compost.

Homework #1 – How do you want to compost?
In the pile next to the vegetable garden.

Homework #2 – Where are you going to get materials?
Here is what I can think of, based on the Week 1 list:
  • Herbivorous animal manure
    • My bunny has promised to make weekly contributions to earn his keep with the family.
  • Cardboard rolls
    • Toilet paper/paper towel rolls?
  • Clean paper
    • We shred junk mail; I suppose I could use that. I’m not sure about the ink, though. Maybe that’s what it means by “clean”? Hmm… I’ll ask about that one. Actually, I use shredded paper for my bunny’s litter box, so I probably have enough shredded paper to add to it. Problem solved.
  • Coffee grounds and filters
    • I don’t drink coffee, but my parents do. I could have them collect their used coffee grounds.
  • Dryer lint
    • From the dryer, of course!
  • Eggshells
    • Perhaps I’ll put a plastic container with a lid next to the sink to collect these things. I think that would encourage my family not to put these things down the disposal.
  • Fireplace ashes
    • We don’t have a fireplace, but we have a fire pit in the backyard.
  • Fruits and vegetables
    • I’m not sure about this… My dad said it’ll attract rats. I’d like to add some, though.
  • Grass clippings
    • We use ours as “lawn mulch” (it’s a legitimate thing, but we’re actually just too lazy to be bothered to collect it). Perhaps the neighbors will have bags, though I’d have to get up rather early to get them.
  • Hay and straw
    • I bought my bunny some oat grass hay to eat as something different from Timothy hay, but he doesn’t seem to like it much, so I can compost that. I can also compost the old hay that he doesn’t eat that gets mixed with his droppings.
  • Leaves
    • I can add these in the fall.
  • Nut shells
    • We do love our peanuts.
  • Shredded newspaper
    • We have a shredder and get the newspaper.
  • Tea bags
    • I <3 iced tea. I make it all the time in summer. Once I find my iced tea maker (or give up and just make it the old-fashioned way), I’ll have plenty of tea bags to contribute.
  • Yard trimmings
    • We have lots of old dead herbs that I had to dig out of the pots this year. I saved them to put in the compost, except for the mint. That’ll go in the yard waste bin because I don’t want to take any chances of it sprouting and running rampant in the backyard.

My main concern is getting enough green material. I don’t have any grass clippings, and I’ve been told that putting fruits and vegetables in the compost will attract rats. I’m thinking I could perhaps walk down to the lake after storms and collect leaves from fallen branches. I think that might work. Hmm…

March 24, 2012

Kanga Excitement!

Black and dove grey kanga.

I bought a kanga yesterday from Sense & Sensibility’s charity kanga sale on Etsy this week. All proceeds go towards a charity that teaches women in Kenya how to sew to support their family. I’m so excited for it to arrive! Jennie said it should ship Monday, since they take the weekends off. I bought this kanga. It looks more navy blue and white in the picture, but Jennie describes it as black and dove grey, which still sounds lovely, and it matches my Winter color palette, according to the book Color Me Beautiful that I got from the library. The phrase in Swahili means “Do all, say all; God will compensate me.”

The kanga comes with free PDF instructions on how to make a wrap skirt or an A-line skirt from the kanga, which can otherwise be bought for $1 on (pictures of both styles shown in the Etsy link). I can’t decide which one I want to make. At first I was leaning towards the wrap skirt, but now I’m leaning towards the A-line. I’ll just have to wait until it arrives to play with it and decide. :D

March 10, 2012

30 Minute Warm Compress Rice Bag

Due to a combination of recent school stress, bad sleeping positions, horrible posture, ill health, an American exercise routine (read: lethargy), and a deflating pillow, I hurt everywhere. My shoulders and neck are like rocks, my right jaw is slightly swollen and painful (a blocked parotid gland, according to the school nurse), and I have some sort of pimple on my upper leg that makes pants painful. For the jaw, the nurse recommended sour lemon candies (to stimulate salivation) and a warm compress, which is what I also need for my shoulders. Thus, I decided I needed one of those warm compress rice bags immediately.

I didn’t want to do any measuring or fussy things like that, so this is a quick-and-dirty version. I didn’t even pin. I used some leftover washed, pressed, and folded bleached white muslin from another project and some plain, brown rice that was “best by Jan 12” (oops…). White rice would probably be better because it has less oil and chance of going rancid, but brown is what I had. And just so you know how on the fly this was, when I say my fabric was pressed, I mean I pressed it three months ago. If I were making a gift, I probably would press it for real but not when it’s for me and my back hurts this much.

For this project, you’ll need:
  • A small amount of 100% cotton or linen* fabric – I used a scrap of plain bleached white muslin (see my idea at the end about making a removable cover!)
  • 100% cotton* thread
  • Rice (white if you have it) – the amount depends on the size of your bag and how full you want it; I used probably a little more than 2 cups

*A note about fabrics: I strongly advise using 100% natural materials, such a cotton or linen, for this because they don’t melt in the microwave, unlike polyester and other synthetic fabrics. You’re only microwaving it for a minute, but it’s better safe than sorry.

March 3, 2012

Reversible Holiday Placemats

My mom’s birthday is this month, and I’ve wanted to make her some cute placemats for her birthday. The idea I had was to make reversible placemats for two holidays. I originally had this idea for Christmas, but I didn’t have time to make them as a Christmas gift, so I thought I’d make an early birthday gift instead. These placemats are (Peanuts!) Valentine’s Day-St. Patrick’s Day themed. My mom and I love Peanuts, so when I saw this fabric, I knew they’d be perfect. I based them off of the tutorial here.

I was very uncomfortable cutting through poor little Snoopys face.

February 26, 2012

Regency Stays Interlining Pictures

I finally found the time, energy, and batteries to take pictures of me in my Regency corset mock-up 2 / interlining. I’ve been sick and busy in the last several weeks while trying to get my research project to the point of IRB submission (which will be this Monday! I’m crossing my fingers it won’t take too long for approval).

Yes, I know its not good to tie your laces like that, but its convenient for fittings when you have three yards of excess lacing. :)

Unfortunately, my roommate was busy playing Star Trek online and Skype-ing with his friends, so I had to lace myself in this time. I also felt weird about going into his room to use the full length mirror to lace it myself (I knew he would have a running commentary about it), so I used the small mirror in the bathroom. The top half of the waist is cinched in too much and the bust isn’t tight enough, but it still looks ok. The bust isn’t as supported as it was last time but only slightly. I used the binder clip to keep the top edge of the fabric flush with the busk, which is what helps keep the, er, “ladies” in place.

February 5, 2012

Regency Stays

I’ve been making Regency stays using The Mantua Maker 1810-3 Regency Corset pattern. Even for being my first corset, I've found it not to be that difficult to use and fit to me. I made my mock-up a size 16 (with D-cup gussets) in dark brown cotton duck from Joann’s (never again! too much fraying and so flimsy!), and it more-or-less fit. The bust gussets were a bit too small and the stays laced closed in the back. On my second mock-up in a much sturdier unbleached cotton drill, the only change I made was to increase the width of the bust gussets by ¼”.  I thought about cutting a size 14, but I liked the way everything else fit, so I figured I’d make a 16 and cut it down if needed. I thought perhaps the duck was just too stretchy and flimsy, and since it frayed so badly all the gusset seams were popping out.