How to make a quick T-Shirt Blanket

One of my favorite blankets is a t-shirt blanket that I made from shirts I found at the local thrift store! Making this does require that you know how to operate a sewing machine. Or, if you are crafty enough, you can use the no-sew tie method to make an interesting, texture rich blanket.

You’ll need:

10 t-shirts

3 yards of fleece

sewing machine, needle, thread,pins,  etc.

Go to the thrift store and buy roughly 10 large shirts. You will be cutting these shirts so it isn’t important what they look like, unless you just really want to. I chose my based on colors. (Orange, Red, Yellow and Turquoise)

Using a piece of cardboard, mark off an 12″ by 12″ squares. You will get two squares per shirt. Place the square on top of the shirts, after you wash and dry them and lay them flat. Cut around the square. It doesn’t have to be exact and in fact, it’s better if it isn’t.

Once you have cut out 20 squares, you’re going to pin the t-shirts together. Take two shirts and lay them atop two more shirts. Pin it one on one side with a one inch border. You will make a seam with on this border. Repeat this step until you have five pairs. Create the seam.

After putting the seam in, you will lay the double squares on top of eachother, once again placing a one inch seam. Make sure all the seams are facing out, as you are going to sew the seams on the top, so that the seam is showing. This will fray as it is used and make for a fluffy texture.

You should now have a large, squarish looking quilt top of tshirts. Continue adding shirt blocks (seams all facing the same way!) until you have enough to cover the 3 inches of felt. Once you have it, place the sewed shirt blocks seam up on the top of the fleece. Pin it together, keeping it smooth, so that the fleece is on one side and the shirts on the other (seams up). It will look sort of messy, but that is ok, you want that.

Using a needle, you will “Tack” the material together, by pulling the string through the material until both ends are facing the same way. Cut it and tie it in a knot. I used embroidery thread, so that it was a big, chunky knot.

Once you get that done, you will make cuts that are about two inches into the fabric on all four sides. Once you have, you will knot the fabric together, for a finish. If you are a little more comfortable with sewing, you can bind the material using a binder, or a binding stich. I am not that crafty, so I just tied the edges!

Homemade Jelly

Artisan jellies sell for a lot of money at farmer’s markets. Free of pesticides, hormones, dyes and preservatives,  these jellies are sought after by people who want to eat clean.

What you might not know is that they are so easy to make! They take about 30 minutes and don’t require you to be able to can, if you are not intending to resell them. They last for about three weeks in the fridge. Since they are a fresh product, they are not shelf stable.

Imagine how impressed everyone will be at the next holiday gathering when you produce a small jar of fresh, wholesome cranberry jam to go on top of Grandma’s rolls!

You will need:

1 large mason jar with lid, washed and sterilized

1 1/2 pounds of fresh cranberries, seeded and quartered

1/2 cup of raw sugar

1/4 cup of white wine (I prefer as sweeter variety, personally)

1/4 cup of raw honey

1/4 water

2 sprigs of fresh mint

 

Cut the two springs of fresh mint into tiny bits. Make sure that they are small enough to be stirred into the jelly without having big, salad like leaves, as this will go in at the last and not be cooked. Spreading jelly with big, soggy wet leaves might not be that appetizing.

In a large pot, heat the wine, honey and sugar on very low heat until the sugar dissolves. Once it dissolves, add water and the cranberries. Bring to a slow boil. Keep on a slow boil, constantly stirring until the cranberries become soft and, as I call it, “smooshy”. Once they have become smooshy, bring the heat up to low-medium and stir until the cranberries begin to take on a jelly like appearance. When this happens, remove it from the heat and let cool while stirring. Add in the chopped leaves, folding gently to release the oils.

Pour into the jar or jelly container before it cools and refrigerate it over night before serving.

*You can change this recipe to Vegan simply by replacing the raw honey with Agave, or leaving it out entirely. Keep in mind cranberries can be very sharp, though so unless you enjoy the tartness I recommend adding the sweetener.

Storm Preparedness

It’s a dirty little secret in the state I live in that bad weather is going to be a constant threat. Ice storms, tornadoes, lightning storms, hail, flash floods… they all happen here roughly 9 months a year. There are many things you can do to be prepared for a natural disaster situation. Here’s a list of things that can help you keep your sanity when things get rough.

  1. A storm shelter. That’s right. With all the state rebates and financing options it’s not something you can afford not to do! Building a storm shelter can actually improve your property value up to 30%, too. If that’s not something that will help your peace of mind, I don’t know what is.  I bought a in ground shelter from Storm Shelters OKC. Quick, painless. They were in and out in two days and I was able to build a lovely flower garden around the vault doors, to keep the storm shelter from being a total eyesore.
  2. Two days of fresh water, bottled up. I used old milk cartons that I cleaned and sanitized. Since it is just me and my dogs, I calculated that we needed a total of 5 gallons of water. This gives us a buffer of several gallons in cash of severe, long term emergency.
  3. Power bars and dried fruit. Power bars and dried fruit don’t go bad as fast as some other packaged foods and you don’t have to rely on a can opener. Should your can opener be lost, moved or broken, power bars and dried fruit can keep you alive for weeks. Make sure you keep enough dry food for your pets in a dry, cool place (like a plastic tub) to keep them fed for several days as well.
  4. A “bathroom bucket”. Unless your storm shelter comes equipped with running water from a pump well, you might experience a lack of running water. Sanitation is an important issue when you are dealing with a survival bunker. I have a five gallon paint bucket that I have attached a toilet seat to, for comfort. I have also made a place for my dogs to go by getting a long plastic tub (like the ones you use for under bed storage) and layering puppy training pads in it. That way, if they need to relieve themselves, the sanitation of the space won’t be called into jeopardy.
  5. Things to do. If you are stuck inside a shelter for more than an hour, the nerve wracking wait can cause psychological distress. Bring down a bucket of crayons, paper, coloring books, books to read and brain puzzles. Crossword puzzles and brain teasers are ideal for this sort of situation as it will keep your mind busy.
  6. Blankets, pillows and extra coats. Make sure that you have two-three big blankets per person and animal. If you are waiting for help to come, you definitely do not want to get cold waiting. Since most shelters are built of concrete, it will tend towards the cold and damp.
  7. Batteries, a small radio, a small power generator and battery powered lights. Get a set of rechargeable batteries to use while in the shelter. If you have rechargeable batteries, and you have a wind up generator (one that requires you to wind it up, rather than use gas) the small charge it will give off will be enough to keep your batteries going for several days.

How to make a small space seem bigger

There are many tips and trips on how to make a small space look bigger, but I only have one opinion on this.

Color, color, color!

Use light reflecting color on the walls to help open up the way light reflects in the room. A satin finish neutral tone will help reflect the light around the room, giving the visual illusion that the room is bigger.

Light colored, smaller furniture that sits comfortably in the space will also make the room seem a larger, as larger furniture takes up more space, making the surrounding space seem smaller. In addition, the light color, if it is similar to the wall color, will blend it all together making it seem like a visually unbroken space.

Once you have the light colored walls and the light colored, smaller furniture, add gauzy, thin drapes to the windows that are one or two shades darker than the walls. Again, it will help the visual interpretation of the room feel much larger.

Adding a rug in a dark color that is slightly smaller than space will actually make it seem smaller. In order to change this, use a neutral or slightly darker tone rug that covers only the center area of the room. For example, if you have an 10′ x 12′ foot space, use a rug that is only 5′ x 6′. That way, it covers the center of the room and leaves negative space to trick the eye.

Speaking of rugs, another thing that can make your room look smaller is the wall to wall carpet in a dark beige tone. Putting in wood floors or even tile in a small, neutral pattern can open the space up.

The final touch to any room to increase the size of your room, after the neutral, light colored palette has been applied, is to add small pops of vivid color. The key here is to use splashes of color to break up the monotony of the neutral palate and give the eye something to focus on. Throw pillows, or an accent color on the rug, or even a throw blanket and bring the room from tiny blah to open wow!

 

Creating your own art

I know two things about art:

It should be seen. 

There is no such thing as “bad art”. 

No matter what your skill level, or personal experience with art is, YOU can make art! There are literally thousands of tutorials on how to make art online. Today, I am going to share one of my favorites, object stamping!

For this project you will need:

1 large paper bag, like from a grocery store.

1 potato, cut into half

1 paring knife,

2-3 fresh green leaves from your garden, a tree or even a bush. They can be big or small. Pick them based on how well you like the shapes.

1 wine bottle, empty

Several pieces of paper (I used plain coffee filters and printer paper)

Coffee grounds, glitter, or old eyeshadow.

Several medium to small brushes

4 shades of craft paint. You can buy these at the craft store or local Wal*Mart for cheap. Pick colors that you like and that you think would go well together. I used turquoise, lime, cobalt and lilac. You can use shimmer shades or metallic, if you like.

1 paper plate.

 

  1. Cut the potato in half. On each half, cut a few random strokes into the cut end of the potato. You can leave the lines as they are, or cut through the potato at a 90* angle in order to create a raised pattern on the cut end of the potato. This will be your stamp. Do the same thing, but with a different pattern on the second potato.
  2. Cut open the paper bag. Lay it flat on the table. Choose a color of paint and cover just over an 8″ x 10″ area. Let it dry. This will be our background.
  3. Rip up bits of the paper and set it aside. On the paper plate, put out a small amount of the original paint color. Take the paper bits you ripped up and stick them to the top of the paper bag by painting them on there. Play around with it. Putting some paint down first will help the paper stick, but sometimes, the paper being pulled off because it didn’t stick leaves some beautiful texture!
  4. Once you are happy with the way the paper texture looks, put your second color down on the paper plate. Dip the potato end in the paint and press it to the paper. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out clearly. It will make the final image more interesting! You can press the image exactly the same way side by side in a pattern to develop a rhythm or you can randomly pop it anywhere you want! There is no such thing as too little or too much.
  5. Once you have this and it is dry, you’re going to take a small amount of the original paint color and mix it with one half water, so that it is kind of thing. Now, take this paint mix, called a glaze, and put it right over the top of the paint you just laid down. It will change the color a bit and catch on the texture, but that’s ok. That’s what we want!
  6. For the next to final step, you can mix in coffee grounds, glitter or old eyeshadow into the third paint color, if you like. Or leave it alone and go for a solid color. Take the leaves you picked out and turn them over so that the bottom side faces down. Using one of your brushes, paint the entire leaf. It doesn’t have to be a great coat, just as long as you get the basic shape. Before it dries, lay it on the paper bag. Anywhere, it doesn’t matter. Lay a paper towel or another bit of paper over the top and using the wine bottle, roll over the paper to press the leaf into the bag. After you are done, pull the leaf away. It will leave a pattern. You can do the same thing as many times as you want.
  7. For the final step, take one of the printer papers and fold it into thirds. Remember how we used to cut snowflakes as a kid? We are going to do that now. Cut a pattern out of either one side, or the bottom of the paper. When you are satisfied, unfold it, place it against the paper bag and paint the pattern onto the paper. Once you’re done, pull the paper away and voila! You have a custom, hand made, one of a kind personal work of art!

Welcome to My Lifestyle Improvement Blog

Thank you for visiting my blog! In this blog you will find all kinds of self help, home improvement tips and great ways to improve your mental and spiritual health.

I am an avid DIY’er with years of crafting experience. I love making new things and firmly believe that the feng shui of a home can completely transform a person’s life!  I also think that feng shui can be modified a bit to fit the modern American lifestyle, as well.

Keep checking back for more. 😀

-J