Thursday, March 29, 2012

Favorite Mobile Apps

I am loving my new smartphone! The only thing it doesn't do is wash the dishes. I can't believe that it took me this long to finally get one. I've had it about a month now and I'm still learning it. What else do I love about it? I love the many apps you can download free to keep your life organized and at times, entertained. I'll share with you my favorite apps and what I like about them. If you have any favorite apps, I'd love to hear about them. I didn't include the links because there are different phones out there. If you are interested in one of them, just google the name and the type of app you want and you'll be sure to find if whether you want Iphone, Android, Ipad, or whatever you need.

SparkPeople: This is my favorite of all! I'm using it to record my food and my exercise. I find that if I have to log it, I won't cheat. It's keeping me on track. My favorite part about this app is that it has every kind of food in it's database that you can imagine, including name brands. I can also add my own and keep them in my favorites. It only takes a minute or two to log food, weight, and exercise.

AnyDo: This is a simple To Do list. It has 4 sections from top to bottom are Today, Tomorrow, Next Week, and Later. Very simple.

InkPad: This is a handy little note keeper. You can have as few or as many notes as you want. Great for keeping track of your Christmas gift list, clothing sizes, medications you're on, etc.

WeeklyAds: This is the ultimate! You just scroll to your state, then city, then pick a store. It has all the weekly ads for your area. Great for anyone who likes to see what's on sale and where.

Love my banking apps! I can check my balance, pay bills, transfer funds, and everything. It's also much quicker than using my computer.

PayPal has a great app too! You can do all of the above right from your phone.

JoAnn's, Amazon, & Michael's: Great for shopping. JoAnn's and Michael's have electronic coupons. Just show the phone to your cashier and she'll enter your number into the register for your discount. Used my 40% one today! JoAnn's also has their ad that you can browse.

YellowBook: Great one if you need to find a phone number quick.

SugarSync: This is wonderful! I can store all my downloads for my graphic & pattern business at their site. Then I can send them the file right from my phone. This will be especially helpful for those times that we go out of town. I'll have the laptop if I need it, but this will be much easier because I won't have to boot up the laptop. Plus, we go places (Northern Michigan) where we don't have Internet access all the time.

The Weather Channel: This is another good one. I can keep an eye on the weather when we have storms coming. I can also bring up the radar quickly.

JuiceDefender: This is a great battery saver. It turns off your Internet when the phone is in the lock position among other things. These phones can suck up the battery if you don't take certain steps to save some power.

YouTube: This is just fun. I don't use it too much. It is nice to have though for those times that you are stuck waiting for something or someone. Nice time killer when you can't do anything else.

Direct TV: This is helpful because this is our TV service. I can look up anything quickly that I might want to watch and get information. Plus, when you have so many channels,  you can never remember what is on what number.

Various Recipe Apps: These are great when you are trying to find something different for dinner. Even greater when you aren't home and have to stop at the store to pick up ingredients.

GoogleMaps: This is great! I'll never get lost again. We have a GPS in my husband's car but now I'll always have mine. I did buy a car charger because this thing is a major battery hog.

GoogleReader: I did forget to mention it above, but this is a great one too. I love the way the blogs appear on the phone.

So that's my list of favorites. Do you have any?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Favorite - Swiffer Dusters 360

It dawned on me today that it's been a long time since I've posted about one of my favorites. No, it's not cleaning the house, but I do love the Swiffer Dusters! I first bought this box a few months back but never really used it until recently. When I realized the fact that by the time my craft & sewing room is finished, I will have 30 shelves to dust! That's a lot of shelves! I decided to give this duster and try and I swear it cut my cleaning time by half. It's great for dusting the shelves and the items on them because it gets into the little creases and around the curves. I plan to pick up one more that will strictly used for dusting the tops of the fabric and on my drapes.

So housecleaning isn't fun or a favorite unless I find something that cuts down the work and the time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Sewing Room is Coming Along!

I wasn't going to show this yet because it's still not close to being complete, but just I couldn't wait. It's functional and it still doesn't look half bad. My room is coming along nicely. As I show the pictures, I'll explain what will be changed. Remember that this room will also convert quickly into a comfy guest room for when family is in town.

The photo above is what you see when you first walk into the room. Right now my sewing machine sits on a utility table. Brian will be making me a nice, wooden sewing table. It will convert to a desk when my kids are visiting from out of town. I can see their laptops on it now. All I have to do is remove the sewing machine and they have a nice desk.

~We will also be purchasing a TV that will be on a hinged arm. I have another place in mind for the quilted wall hanging when we get that, like on the wall that will be seen when the Murphy bed is opened.

This will be a fully functional wall. The big cabinet that you see in the back is actually a Murphy bed that we built. The bed will pull down when guests are staying and in the closed position, it only takes up 16 inches of floor space. I'm still shopping for some pretty bedding.

What will change:
~Where you see the drawers next to the wall unit will be shelves that will take up the entire space. I purchased large baskets for the bottom shelf on each side so guests will have a nice little stash place to put personal items.

~The 6 foot white table will be replaced with a wooden table that Brian will be making. It will be 4 feet by 4 feet and the top will flip upright on a hinge for storage. It will be on a wheel base that can lock in place when the table is open. When guests are here, I will flip it up, unlock the wheels, wheel it out, and I can then pull down the bed.

~Where you see the picture on the left side will also be a hanging file organizer which I'm making now. Hmmmm, do I see a tutorial in the works?

Here are the first set of shelves my totally awesome husband built for me. I wanted some covered storage but didn't want wooden doors, I wanted something with a softer look. I bought these spring rods for about $3 a piece and made simple little curtains to hide the ugly stuff. I really love the look of this unit!

I've had this cabinet for years. I have it filled with felt squares and felt by the yard. The photo on top is a scrap page of Brian and me. The basket on the right is filled with Yankee candles. My favorite indulgence.

As you can see, it's coming along nicely. I'll post more pics as I add the new furniture. He plans on making the shelves for the other wall next, then I think he'll take a break and do yard work before making my tables.

He definitely is the BEST HUSBAND EVER!

I'm tired, it's been a long day and I'm heading to bed. I'll visit you all shortly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Alligators Are Not Pets!

Dogs, cats, gerbils, birds, and even small snakes make good pets. But many animals, wildlife in particular, should never be turned into pets. Our newest residents at the clinic are two alligators. Both are about two to three feet long and not happy campers. They are stuck in cages with a tub of water until we can re-home them someplace where they can act like real alligators. They were purchased as small babies, and now the owners realize that they can no longer keep them.

People buy them when they are 6 or 8 inches long and they are so cute! But they grow and even though they are still cute, they become aggressive, and can get quite big.

Fortunately these two alligators are temporarily safe with us, and will go to a PROPER place to spend the rest of their lives. A couple weeks ago one alligator was not so lucky. He was much bigger and was found in a local river dead, with is mouth taped shut.

Some of the things I see on a daily basis at the clinic just breaks my heart :(

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tutorial: Ironing Board For Crafting

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I whipped this crafting ironing board up in just over an hour. No more big ironing board and no more unstable tabletop ironing boards. The tabletop boards are too skinny to even work with. I chose one of the fabrics that coordinate with my sewing room, but any 100% cotton fabric would work. As for the bath towel, any old thing will work. See the horrible thing I found in the laundry room (a couple images down). I'm really happy with the way this board turned out.

1/4" plywood or luan
Old thick bath towel
3/4 yard of 44"/45" fabric (I used a med weight decorator fabric)
Thread to match fabric

General sewing supplies: needles, pins, scissors, ruler, sewing machine, iron, cutting mat & rotary cutter (optional)

NOTE: If you will be making your board a larger size than mine, take that into consideration when choosing fabric. With my board being 16" from top to bottom, this allows plenty of excess fabric to fold to the back. If making a much bigger board, you will need to choose a fabric that is bigger than 44/45 inches.

Cut your plywood to desired size. I had mine cut 16" x 23"  If you don't have the tools to cut the wood, your home store or a friend can do this for you.

Fold the old bath towel in half and lay your plywood on top with the bottom edge of plywood (the 23" long edge) at the fold of the towel. Cut the fabric about 1" away from the plywood along each side, and the upper edge.

TIP: This is something you will want to do outside because the little loops in the terrycloth will be all over the house. Be sure to shake it good after cutting. 

Leaving the towel folded, stitch up each side with a 3/4" seam allowance. Leave the top edge open. Take it back outside and cut away some of the seam allowance, shake again. This will reduce the bulk at the edges. 

Turn right side out and slip the board inside as if you were stuffing a pillowcase. I just slip stitched the open edge closed. I used large stitches with contrasting (heavy duty) thread so that I will be able to remove them quickly if I ever need to launder this piece. These stitches will never show.
Since different towels are different weights, or in the event that you cut your board a different size than I cut mine, wrap a tape measure around the board/towel along the widest edge, but don't pull tight. Mine measured 50" so I divided that by two and added an inch which means I'll be cutting my fabric 26" wide. You will be using a 1/2" seam allowance which will give the outer fabric a nice, snug fit.

With your fabric in half so that your selvages are meeting at the top, cut the fabric to your desired width. Mine is 26" wide which gives me a piece of fabric 26" x 45" when opened up.

 Fold in half with right sides together (selvages meeting at the top) and stitch each side, leaving the top open.

Trim away about 1/4" from the seam allowance to reduce bulk. You can finish the edge of your seam allowance if you like by running a zig-zag stitch along the edge you just trimmed.

Turn right side out and slip the covered board inside. Flip the excess fabric to the back.

I turned my edges in slightly and stitched the sides to the back of the board. This only took a few minutes and will be easy to remove the stitches when cleaning or replacing this outer fabric. You also have the option of attaching snaps, eye hooks, Velcro, or other fasteners if so desired.

Do you like free embroidery designs and tutorials?

Be sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter to get a free design every weekend (unless I'm running a sale). Sign up for Sher's Creative News

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fresh Air!

Wow! It sure has been too long since I've posted here at my blog. All is well, I've just been really busy. I've been concentrating on my health and fitness plan because I'm not getting any younger. Less time on the computer means less time on my butt. I even cleaned out (and scrubbed) two kitchen cabinets today! My plan is to do one or two a week.

I've also been organizing my sewing and craft supplies, and making some new things for my room. We are hoping to get the shelves hung next week. I know it seems like it's taking forever but when hubby works 40+ hours a week, he can only do so much. He is doing a wonderful job because he wants me to have the best craft/sewing room a person could have.

So far:
Shelves are completely built. Just need to add the finish and hang.
Murphy bed is finished. Just need to buy new linens.
Sewing machine is set up in the room along with a temporary work table.
Craft supplies are getting organized into boxes, jars, drawers, etc.
All fabric is wrapped! You can see that process here.
Made the curtains. You can see them here.
Made a new ironing board. A tutorial soon to follow.
Bought LOTS of stylish storage containers.

Left to do:
More organizing.
Make a wall organizer to match room.
Make a roman blind for my fabric & supply shelves.
Make the shelves on each side of the Murphy bed (Hubby).
Make a great and functional work table (Hubby).
Make a sewing machine table (Hubby).

There is still a lot to do but it's so much fun organizing!

On another note, the weather has been unseasonably warm. We're breaking all kinds of records! Punkie is really enjoying the open window. I know it's hard to see a black at against the night view in the window, but she's there.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Silicone Bakeware

Have you tried any of the silicone bakeware yet? Since it first came out I've been playing a little with it. Some I found that I love, others lasted about a month in my kitchen before I got rid of it.

I've discovered that I wasn't fond of the type that you actually bake in. I tried several varieties of these and although they cooked evenly and nothing got stuck, I didn't like the way they didn't come clean. I could never get the gunked on cooking spray off. I tossed them.

What I do love are the utensils! My personal favorite is the little spatula. It's only about 7 inches long but I use it for everything that I can spread or scrape for small places. The little brush is handy as well. The whisk, I'm not a fan of, but Brian likes it for making his pudding. I prefer my nice, top quality chef's whisk that is made from stainless steel. The little heart shaped muffin cups are super handy. They are great for saving broth, sauces, frosting, and gravies that I can't use up before they go bad. I just pour the above into them, freeze, then remove, and bag. The individual muffin cups are fine to bake in because they clean up  nicely.

Have you tried any of them? Do you have any favorites?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Awesome Fabric Storage

As my room is getting closer to completion I've begun the task of reorganizing my supplies and fabric. I've gotten such great ideas from blogs and Pinterest. I love the idea of wrapping your fabric around the comic book backing boards because I plan to have all my fabric exposed on my shelves like books. This has actually been a quite relaxing and enjoyable task. Look how neat and tidy it all looks! It's going to be so nice to be able to see all my fabric without having to pull out my storage bins. I still have a lot of fabric to wrap. I bought 300 boards and I hope that will be enough.

These backing boards are a great idea even if you keep your fabric in tubs or boxes. It just keeps everything so neat and will cut down on the wrinkling. Whoever thought of this idea is brilliant!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Busy, Sick, Life

My poor blog! For the past few weeks I've been neglecting my blog, my Etsy shop, my website, and pretty much anything involving the Internet or computer. Between working on my sewing room, being sick, and life in general, I've been pre-occupied. So much to do and so little time. This stupid sinus infection has lasted forever and has had me in slow motion for weeks.

Today I got a huge energy bug and made the curtains for my sewing room. I'm so happy with the way they turned out and they look so much better than the boring blue ones that were there before. I thought it would be cute to "button" the valance to the curtain. How perfect for a sewing room.

I also got a good start on wrapping my fabric today but I'll save that for another post. But let me say that I love the comic book backing boards! My fabric never looked so neat and tidy. I plan to wait at least a couple of weeks before putting it on my new shelves (being built now) because I want them to have time to cure. In the meantime though, I can at least see what I have and can even throw together a few little things.

And did I mention the view from my sewing room? This picture was taken last spring. These guys live in the woods behind my house. I can't wait to see this year's babies!

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