I found this pillowcase at the thrift store the other day and had to buy it.  I had this dress in mind when I bought it.   I just love the colors and how summery it looks.  I had purchased some elastic thread a couple months back and have been wanting to try to sew with it (I’ve never used elastic thread).  I love the little smocked tops and dresses – they are so easy to just throw on and go.  So this was my first attempt with the elastic thread – and I think – not so bad 🙂  And I can’t help but LOVE that this is an old pillow case (no hemming needed).

I did add straps to the dress to help it stay on better.  I love the elastic thread.  Super easy to use and super easy to create a quick top or dress or skirt.

Give it a try and let’s see what you create.

A couple weeks ago I was laying on the couch, feeling miserable and sick, Doug had taken the kids out for the day and I get a phone call.  It’s Doug, he’s at the thrift store down the street from our house and he has found an old kitchen hutch, with no back or shelves and needing some TLC but it was a great price and he thought we could restore it and try to sell it (and maybe make a little bit of money – imagine that).  I didn’t feel like thinking about it so I just said “sure” bring it home and we’ll figure it out.

So he loads this thing in the truck and brings it home.  I finally drag my bum off the couch and peak out the window to see what we have gotten ourselves into……. it’s huge!  Holy smokes – this thing looks like it’s been sitting in someone’s barn for the last 30 years!  This is going to require some work.  But as I get closer and I see the adorable (and original) green glass knobs, the wavy glass in the top cabinets ( I love old glass and mirrors – the wavy look of the glass or the darker look of the mirror – it just screams vintage) and the three dowels on the side for towels – I quickly fall in love! 

Fabulous eye Doug!  But it just looks so big there is no way we could keep it.  Our house is, well let’s say quaint, and we already have a lot of antiques we have restored and they all have their “spot” and I don’t want the house to feel crowded.  We rope our neighbor into helping us bring it into the backyard to store it until we can start cleaning it up and restoring it.  So there it sits, and there I sit in the sun porch eyeing it.  I think it was on Tuesday morning when I finally went out there and started measuring it up, then I went inside and started measuring the wall in the kitchen that it would look GREAT on.  According to my measurements it would fit perfectly, except there is already a beautiful antique buffet on that wall.  Hmmm, so I start measuring up different spots to start moving pieces of furniture.  Well, after about 30 minutes of measuring and checking and re-measuring I decide – that’s it we are keeping it and moving furniture around so it can fit in the kitchen.

So begins the process of cleaning and restoring. 

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It actually wasn’t bad since we were just going to paint it white and then add the shelves and the beadboard backing.  It’s a lot more work if you have to strip the layers of paint, sand and then stain. 

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So after two weekends of TLC we moved it into it’s home and now have a place for my grandmother and Doug’s grandmothers China (which have been sitting in our garage for almost a year). 

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Oh, I’m so happy with this restoration.  It just feels so good to give life to something that was going to be discarded and keep it alive.  Things aren’t made as good as they used to and I love knowing there is history with this piece of furniture.  Again, we’ve saved something else from meeting it’s demise at the landfill.

I have been wanting to make a cape for Ryder for so long.  We usually just use a scarf as a cape – it works just fine- but I thought it would be fun to have his own special cape.  So we had his friends birthday the other day and on the invite they asked for a “thrifted” gift.  I wanted to respect her wishes (plus I love that idea) so we burned a couple of our favorite CD’s and I made a cape out of some fabric I had laying around.  It turned out so cute .  So of course,  I couldn’t get away with making a cape for his friend and not him.  So Ryder finally got his own cape (no more silky flowery scarves – even though those can be fun too!).

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Super Ryder to the Rescue!

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After a long day of saving his stuffed friends from the jaws of Milo the Madman and from the clutches of the small but powerful Saige the Savage, our superhero hangs up his cape and rests before another day of rescue, adventure and superhero escapades!

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Sweet dreams my superRyder- until tomorrow……..

Today I had to go to the “mall”, not a big fan of the “mall” but I needed to get something there and I was in the area so I detoured to the “mall”.  (I have it in quotes b/c Doug and I usually say it in a certain tone- anyways) I always leave with such a weird feeling, the first being a feeling of filth – not really crazy about the “mall” clientele and it just always looks dirty and second it’s this weird anxious feeling b/c there is this energy in the air of frenzied shoppers just buying to buy something.  Especially now, with the economy, I noticed most all stores had some kind of sale going on and people were just scooping it all up.

So my point being…. I have really been focusing on buying handmade and/or local.  This particular purchase today was lingerie (for my cousins bachelorette party) and there just wasn’t anything in our little, wine country town that screamed bachelorette party (not that I was looking for something totally sleezy) but something sassy.  So I succumbed to the “mall” and found the item I was looking for. 

I let myself wander every so often, and wouldn’t you know it the day that I do, what should I find in my email inbox tonight?  But a new “Green Mom Finds” – “Big Green Purse” Book – a book about shopping with an eye for environmentally-safe, socially responsible products and services. And it teaches about how you can use your dollar wisely when it comes to purchasing eco-friendly, fair-trade items. 

So after seeing that it just reiterated my desire to continue to try to buy local and/or handmade when buying presents.  I can say more than 80% of the time I shop local/handmade for my family and I (we love thrift stores, consignment stores and garage sales – even Ryder has learned how cool garage sales are!) But when it comes to presents I sometimes fall back on the “convenience”  of going to the “mall” or another retailer ( I hate admitting that).  So I am trying to make a vow for the upcoming holidays to either make the presents myself (I do have a lot of canned goods now that will be given as gifts), or buy from another local crafter or the thousands of wonderfully talented artists/crafters on Etsy.

Check out Green Mom Finds– subscribe to it and get daily emails about great green items.

Try to buy local whenever possible and handmade, support your local artists.  This holiday season seek out some local craft fairs or check out Etsy and if you can’t buy everything, maybe just one item (more would be good, but you have to start somewhere).

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Another great store at the local children’s consignment store.  I went in looking for a present for my niece and spotted this absolutely sweet dress for Saige.  It just screams innocence. 

the detail work is the sweetest.

Of course she wore it the next day.  I just love consignment!

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We are the ultimate thrifters.  We live for garage sales, re-use yards, thrift stores, etc.  My husband more so than me (for some things).   I am always looking for fabric, yarn, books, pretty much anything that catches my eye. 

I recommend, to anyone who may not do much or any thrift store shopping, to give it a try.  It definitely takes patience and an open mind- but you can find so many treasures.  Plus you are reusing something that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill and then another new item would have been made (also the money usually goes to good charities- i.e. salvation army, goodwill industries, local non-profits, etc.).  I just love to give something a new life. 

 

What may have once been a window can now be a picture frame, or an old wine barrel can become a table or candle holder.

 

I wish I had more time to spend on making “trash to treasure”.

We are normally not into buying the big plastic “stuff” for the kids, but….. Doug found all the items in our backyard either at the re-use yard at the county garbage station, by talking to someone who had it in their truck on their way to the dump, or craigslist.  We call it Ryder-vegas.  It’s his (and now Saige’s) own private playground.  This is when thrifting is best, for kids items.  I love having books and the thrift stores or library sales are the best for used books.  You can get them for under $1.  Clothes are also great to get second hand, kids wear something once and then they grow out of it- or play with it a couple times and then their parents give it away.  You do have to be cautious with watching for recalls on bigger items such as carseats, strollers, etc. since you wouldn’t have registered the item yourself and with safety- some people have different levels of tolerance when it comes to used car seats, cribs, etc.  But otherwise it is so much fun to make that “score” and come home with a treasure.  Ryder even gets into it and it teaches him the value of re-use. 

Everyone knows the universal symbol for recycling but I think most forget that the wording attached to it is REDUCE, RE-USE, recycle.  By re-using you are reducing the amount of goods being produced, reducing the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and the amount of natural resources being depleted to make those items.  And I’m about to sound like my grandparents but… “they don’t make ’em like they used to”.  I look at the quality of the wooden toys I had (which my mother saved) and it’s far superior to today’s products.

I went to hear Julia “Butterfly” Hill speak (about 9 years ago) and something she said stuck with me (actually a lot of what she said stuck- but here’s one point).  She challenged herself to carry around a bag full of all of her “garbage” she generated in a day (it may have been a week- but regardless she had to carry around her garbage) and it really made it hit home just how much waste one person generates.  After hearing her made me think about the amount of waste I generate (and at that time I was already mindful – or so I thought- about how to conserve and be conscious) so I started to add that theory to my everyday thinking.  Instead of buying bottled water (which I’ve never been into- why should I pay for water) buy a bottle for water and bring it from your tap at home (which is more regulated and cleaner than the water that is purchased), use a hankie (I know some people probably think it’s gross -at one time I did too) but think about all the tissue you go through in a day when you are sick- go out and buy a bunch of hankies/bandannas and use a couple throughout the day- then you just wash and reuse.  Plus you can buy a bunch of cute colored ones or pretty old ones (from garage sales, estate sales, etc.) . Use cloth napkins- pack one in your lunch bag instead of using paper napkins, bring you own utensils with you for lunch instead of plastic utensils and bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop.  Most coffee shops even knock off a couple cents for bringing your own.  These are all just little things you can do to minimize your impact on the earth.  Of course your not always going to be able to bring your own utensils- but even if you just start doing it occasionally – every little bit counts. 

For those of you just venturing into the world of re-use you can even start at a consignment store- the store kind of does the work for you- they weed through the items and decide what is worth selling- it’s a bit more costly and not much “hunt” involved- but still a good thing to do.

So, try it out some time, you just may like it (and you are keeping that item from ending up in a landfill).

This we know: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
Chief Seattle