Shine a little light

IMG_0437Decided to join the fray and tackle my own set of Mason Jar Solar Lights using Walmart 99 cent solar lights (folks also use Dollar General and such lights). The bottom just pulls off the purchased lights easily. For Mason Jars, Classico spaghetti sauce comes in a mason jar – although where and when you got it means a different size jar. The grocery store has the new smaller one on the left above and the standard mason jar lid no longer fits that narrow one. The middle is the size it was forever and the big ol one on the right is a new bigger size in the Costco 3 pack they started last year – wider jar but still fits the basic mason jar lid.

I’d spied a few versions running about on Pinterest and tweaked the concept to get something I like. For a good tutorial, start with the This Old House version. I can never let anything be simple enough, so instead of the acrylic they used, traced the solar charging cell’s top square opening on a piece of paper, cut that out and drew it on each lid, then dragged out my Dremel tool to cut into the lid (with my handy safety glasses as I don’t need bits of metal in my eye, thank you very much). I just cut an opening – if you don’t go really slow there are sparks, so after I had an opening in the lid I used my meal snips to cut out the rest of the square. Spray painted the lids black.

Got out the E6000 glue and put a bit around the inside of the lid where the square cut is – I want to glue the lights but not get the glue over the solar panel. Craft wire is wrapped tightly around then lid, then heavier copper wire from Lowes (#6, the same that I used for the bird feeders) makes a lovely hanging loop. Pliers will help you get that loop tight and clean looking AND you do need good wire cutters to cut through the number 6 copper.

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I decided to leave the plastic light covers on to refract the light in the jars.13331116_1363113813704185_7424668232788152522_n

Pretty metal hanging hooks complete the look.

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I LOVE how bright these lights are at night! And, they are solar!! I have them on every other fence post and can now see across the yard easily even in the wee hours of the night (remember, rural here – we have a few bears, rather large mountain lion and other critters – if you hear a noise, so much safer to peer out than step outside with a flashlight!). Only one was dull and shut off earlier than the others – for the 99cents, I just replaced it. The next step I may need before the winter rains is to go over each one and coat the edge of the cut lid with a bit of outdoor silicone – otherwise, with a wet winter they could end up with a bit of sitting water in that spot. This is one project I highly recommend to those of you who enjoy crafting.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sunday in My City – pop on in to see what other folks are up to when they have a bit of time off. 

Buttery Scones

Buttery Cream Scones

A relatively new favorite recipe is Cream Scones with Currants from The Feed at America’s Test Kitchen. This recipe yields flat out delicious flaky, buttery scones. I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of what I call sugary muffins masquerading as a scone. These cream scones are the real thing.
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Made them up for the first time this past Christmas and have indulged myself a few times since. What you see on the cookie sheet is a double batch. They freeze well, especially if you’re a fan of vacuum sealers like the Foodsaver.

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If you’re using a food processor, they mix up quickly. America’s Test Kitchen always lays out clear instructions (pulse 6 times .. ) and this recipe is no different. They have additional picture instructions here: The Feed secrets of cream scones but, I find it just as easy to pat them in a circle and cut as use the press in the pan method.

The Recipe: The Feed: Cream Scones with currants is free to view and save if you create a free sign in id. I highly recommend that you give these scones a try. Flour, butter, cream and a few other ingredients yield a delectable treat. Time to put on a pot of tea and nab another one :-) 

 

 

Embroidery Sites for Free Awareness Designs

I periodically stitch for charity fund raising and one of the organizations I support is the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. I’ve shared some of these pictures on here before, but they do help highlight what you can stitch

Awareness Charm Earrings for fundraiser batch 2

Many machine embroidery design companies offer sample designs or regular freebies for you to try out. Here is a list I’ve created of machine embroidery companies that offer free Awareness designs. With a solid color ribbon, you can download any awareness ribbon design and just substitute your thread color. Even if you can’t edit, you can switch out your thread spool. There are some specific two color designs, although there are fewer of those for free. There are autism puzzle free designs as well.

Earrings lg awareness

Many sites require you to sign up/register with an email address before you can download the free files.

If you need help determining the color of ribbon for what you choose to support, Wikipedia has a good reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awareness_ribbons

Sadias

Ann the Gran
Heart with ribbon on it
http://www.annthegran.com/prd/Designs/Embroidery-Patterns/Pink-Ribbon-Heart/1/EMP00649.aspx

Butterfly with word HOPE
http://www.annthegran.com/prd/Designs/Grand-Slam-Designs/Hope/1/HOG606T1.aspx

Apex Embroidery fonts
Autism awareness
http://apexembdesigns.com/autism-awareness-ribbon-embroidery-design
applique split awareness ribbon
http://apexembdesigns.com/embroidery/product/ribbon-split-frame-embroidery-designs

Artistic Thread Works
A multi colored Ribbon representing all the Cancer organizations signature colors, 4 different designs
http://www.artisticthreadworks.com/public/698.cfm
Monkey with ribbon
http://www.artisticthreadworks.com/public/6764.cfm

A Time to Stitch
6 designs on Freebies page – includes troop support and red white and blue ribbons in addition to cancer awareness, just scroll down
http://www.atimetostitch.com/freebies.htm

Craftsy Embroidery
Awareness mug rug
https://www.craftsy.com/pattern/embroidery/machine-embroidery/in-the-hoop-cancer-awareness-mug-rugs/72013
Ribbon Heart
http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/embroidery/machine-embroidery/ribbon-heart-free-machine-embroidery/104910
Ribbon with hearts on it
http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/embroidery/machine-embroidery/awareness-ribbon/71734

Criswell Embroidery and Design
ITH ribbon bookmark – bottom of page
http://www.criswell-emb.com/frontpage/singles/singles72.html
Criswell FSL earrings and charm – Halfway down the page – I’ve used both sizes for earrings
http://www.criswell-emb.com/frontpage/singles/singles71.html

Embroidery Designs
http://www.embroiderydesigns.com/freeembroiderydesigns.aspx?searchtext=awareness

Embroidery Library Inc.
Butterfly of Hope
http://www.emblibrary.com/EL/Products.aspx?Catalog=Emblibrary&ProductID=E3982

EMS Cross Stitch Lovely designs with lots of jump stitches. When you go to register, her site does not like ‘real names’ as the user name but accepts all sorts of other usernames.
http://www.cross-stitch-board.com/forum/downloads.php?do=file&id=466

FiveStarFonts
Fill stitch in 3 sizes
http://fivestarfonts.com/free-awareness-ribbon-embroidery-design
Double applique Ribbon design
http://fivestarfonts.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=37&product_id=426

GG Designs Embroidery
Awareness tree
http://www.ggdesignsembroidery.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=129

Hyfi’s House
Several here – just scroll past the first for purchase one to the free listings
http://www.hyfis-house.com/powder-room

JHB at Oregon – pretty set of ribbon with phrases of hope http://www.oregonpatchworks.com/collections.php?id=jhb

Just Sew Pretty
Infant loss applique ribbon with foot prints
http://www.justsewpretty.com/item_946/PAIL-Footprint-Ribbon-Applique.htm

Just Sew Sandy and Debora – filled butterfly ribbon
http://justsewsandyanddebora.com/free/39-awarenessbutterfly.html

Lynnie Pinnie
Two Color in two sizes
http://lynniepinnie.com/shop/free-embroidery-designs/two-color-mini-awareness-ribbon-4×4/prod_10545.html 

Pamelas Embroidery
Lots of filled designs also a couple of quilting blocks
http://www.pamelasembroidery.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=56&product_id=423

Sadia Sews – Closing website the in 2016
Free ribbon designs – all are FSL
http://sadiasews.com/inmemory.html
FSL with hearts, has a hanging loop
http://www.sadiasews.com/hero.html
Cancer Dedication Bracelets
http://www.sadiasews.com/cb.html

Sewterific
Save the Hooters owl – bottom of page
http://www.sewterific.com/babygirlowls.htm

Simon Haskins
(Jenny Haskins son, both well known digitizers) has leukemia and there’s a FB page with free files (files tab) with multiple different designs (to go on fabric) that people are making quilt blocks for leukemia awareness fundraising – for ribbon, pick your color and you’re all set.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/317778385023199/?fref=ts&refid=52\

Sonia Showalter –
FSL Ribbon with Rose
http://www.soniashowalterdesigns.com/cancer-awareness/cancer-ribbon/
FSL Angel with Ribbon
http://www.soniashowalterdesigns.com/angel-of-light/angel-of-light-cancer-edition/
Ribbon
http://www.soniashowalterdesigns.com/cancer-awareness/cancer-awareness-ribbon/

Stitch it Cheap
Save the Hooters filled and redwork files http://www.stitchitcheap.com/index.php?rt=product%2Fproduct&product_id=478

Sulky Embroidery Club http://www.sulkyembclub.com/designs.aspx?cid=1&scid=36&pt=4

Swak Embroidery
Mini Autism heart and ribbon (or stitch in one color) http://www.swakembroidery.com/info/free/SWAK_op_FREEAutismAwareness_2Deisgns.htm

Autism Awareness
https://www.swakembroidery.com/info/free/SWAK_jkd_free_autismawareness.htm

The Country Needle
Two color or one color FSL
http://www.countryneedle.net/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=253

I checked all the links on May 6, 2016. There are also many companies that will offer free designs in concert with October Breast Cancer Awareness – some of these are temporary and go for purchase or disappear before the end of the year. This may not be a complete list as designs are always being put up and down – but it is more than enough to get you started if you have a cause you’d like to stitch an attractive embroidery design for. There are also many beautiful embroidery awareness designs for sale.

Spring in the Garden

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Daffodils ushered in our early spring with joyful color. For my Sundays in My City friends, I hadn’t really been snapping shots lately – so went on a binge🙂 .

Absolutely love my Galanthus (snow drops).

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And, it’s time to make a chard, onion and cheese quiche. The chard is just going gangbusters right now. The other 3 veggie beds have been prepped with manure and are just resting until the soil heats up a tad more. With row covers to help that out, it’s just about planting time.

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If you like checking out what others are doing in their neck of the woods, top by Sundays in My City at Unknown Mami’s blog – always something interesting happening there.

 

Joined the hoardes

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I’ve ventured into a new-for-me crafting area with the Brother Scan N Cut 2. Days spent with an aching back, tense neck and fingers permanently clenched in holding-the-cutting-knife-position are a thing of the past.  No more laboring strained over a mat with cutting knife and templates for me.

Automatic cutting machines have been around for quite a few years. The first ones just cut rudimentary proprietary images and were used predominantly by papercrafters. You can cut all sorts of materials with the newer ones and design your own images to cut. The industry has spawned  masses of folks making YouTube videos and selling cut files. Unfortunately, the whole living rurally thing means that YouTube videos chew up the monthly data allotment on satellite service. Not to mention the fact that surviving a YouTube video viewing often means enduring torturous tinny music. Don’t know why anyone thinks that’s a good idea. And, some of the folks selling cut files haven’t got a clue about copyright – you’ll find files for sale that you know the seller doesn’t own the image rights to and Pinterest boards full of “free” images that are not free – the owner of the image would really like to be paid for their work.  It’s a messy world out there.

All that said, here are my learnings. First, the machine is light. Set up is relatively easy. You can follow along with their picture instructions and go right out of the gate. The gotcha for most folks is blade depth setting.  Although Brother has recommended settings, some of them ruin your cutting mat by slicing right through it. Luckily, I’d browsed the internet and saw that warning before I set mine up. Brother recommends you do a small test cut often and every time you change your blade or the material being cut. They’ve built an easy test capability right into the machine.  Some new blades in their carrier arrive not calibrated, I had to turn mine around once as it was loose, and now it works beautifully at setting two for vinyl, pressure zero.  Some folks send their blades back, but I’m not a patient type.  I don’t plan to repeat all the detailed instructions as I found the Brother sheet easy to follow and recommend new folks use that. If you flick back an edge of vinyl and look at it’s depth – barely more than a hair – you know that you barely want the teeniest tip of a blade to show on your cutting tool – really, just a smidge past not there at all.

What I had seen and did not pay enough attention to, was that new mats can be too sticky. You place your item to be cut on their mat – a standard mat comes with the machine and should work on most items (again see those instructions, it won’t work on tissue – you’d need a light tack mat for that). The crumpled looking owl and samples above plus large bits of paper stuck to the mat are to let you know it wasn’t smooth sailing right out the door. Didn’t want to scare anyone off by putting these  images first. Getting the image off the mat took TONS of scraping – I didn’t think I was going to be able to for awhile – the effort almost rendered the image unusable and got paper bits on the sticky side of the viyl that also had to be picked off so it would stick. I cleaned the remaining bits off  the mat with a non-alcohol baby wipe and used the wipe to scrub at the map to make it less sticky.  This isn’t something Brother recommends, but many users do. I am so glad I started out with vinyl as card stock would have been worse to get off the ‘tacky’ standard mat and the cut pieces would have been unusable. It is better now.

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Being a thrifty sort,  with what some might call too many craft supplies, I worked to save both the lettering for the words and the label for the words by rolling as I peeled them off.  This gave me two labels from each small piece of vinyl as you can see below.  Another Internet tip that worked well for me was using Press N Seal instead of transfer tape ( it does not work as well sticking to heat transfer vinyl – HTV if you mess up and also cut the transfer sheet that comes with it – but that’s another post…). The machine arrives with all parts to get you started except that it does not come with any vinyl test sheets or transfer tape.

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I’m also using the free Brother cloud software-  Canvas (wish it were downloadable as people report the servers are unusable a lot depending on your area). I started using it before my machine arrived, so I was set to go with that 12 X 12 vinyl sheet full of labels and decals. You can load a picture (many formats accepted), SVG or Brother Cutting File (.FCM) and edit in the software to make your own cutting files with images any size (that fits on their mats – up to 12X12 standard included mat or optional 12X24).

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The owl artwork is from Urban Threads – they do allow people who have bought a machine embroidery design to use it in their own personal crafting (no sharing or selling of their images, a lot of folks get tattoos from them). Many machine embroidery design companies only allow you to stitch the designs they license to you – always best to check. I worked an image of it from my digitizing software in photo editing on the Mac then used the Brother Canvas to get my laptop decal cut file. The vinyl pictured is from a roll of Brother brand adhesive re-positional vinyl I bought at the same time as the machine. I’ve also bought and am happy with Oracal 631 and 651 vinyl.

Useful links:

There are some I see in Facebook groups who are frightened to set up and use their machines – or who tried once or a few times, had issues and gave up.  You need to be willing to experiment and even be willing to lose some material to the learning process. If you can do that – it’s a pretty nifty piece of equipment to have in the craft arsenal. I have so many things lined up to make – the cake carrier is just in progress, I’m on my way for some indoor and outdoor signs, HTV on t-Shirts, more laptop decals for the nieces – I just need more hours in the day!

 

A little gift

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A friend of my mother had drawn a sweet design, nabbed this quote and embroidered it for her. My sister could recall the wall hanging, but no one knows what happened to it. She decided she really wanted it, so I set about creating one for her.

maggie tea

The original had a little boy and tea cups, but I couldn’t find a ‘ready to purchase” design of a boy that fit my concept and I did really like these stacked tea cups from Embroidery Library. I tried it with a few different fonts (loading up Embrilliance’s font program as my TruEmbroidery digitizing program is not good with purchased fonts and doesn’t have all that many to choose from). Once I had the quote, I gave it a very slight slant and saved it; then edited with TruE to place tea cups, move the paragraph lines, nudge things. Also made and added the apostrophe there.  The font is Jolson’s Hand Print Floss Stitch. Below is one of many samples that were part of the design creation process (also a Jolson’s floss font – I was really going for hand look embroidery).

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I’d Google searched the tea quote and found references to a quilt that it was stitched into in the 1840’s (Wisconsin statehood was 1848, and this was brought into the new state with settlers). Found another where a son had quotes his mom had written in a notebook – he thought they were hers – many ladies in the 40’s kept collections of Valentine quotes or things to do needlework in –  theirs was after the quilt by a hundred years and now two websites are crediting that mom with this little poem (yes, I am a nerd and love tracking down data). It shows up in a few places as being one of those short quotes you see on Valentine’s cards. Bottom line, it’s been around a very, very long time.

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Also had my nerd hat on for mounting – had looked up all variations and will save you some of that detail, went with an archival self-adhesive foam core board for ease, they make them for needlework and you can usually find them in the major craft stores with the needlework supplies. The frame was just barely deep enough for the embroidery plus foam core – no room for a glass pane. Something to be aware of when shopping for frames. I hope to get the supplies to do what has been around for awhile in needlework – short steel pins (short common pins) that you use to stick into the edge of foam core and all the way around to attach – this way, if your piece is washable – you can take it off the mounting and wash it down the road.

Editing this as I got a question on Facebook. There’s a Facebook group Embrilliance if you have questions on how to use it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/582705468485594/?fref=nf. If you buy the Jolson’s font and download the BX format, it comes with a PDF telling you how to download Embrilliance and use the software. The free version will let you load a purchased digitized font and then use your keyboard to type. It sometimes interferes with TruEmbroidery. Best to put Embrilliance on a USB and just plug it in when you’re using it. TruEmbroidery also has a Facebook group – http://www.facebook.com/trueusers/ and a Google+ group – https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102963886496719470234 . If you have trouble getting in to Google+ (you need a free Google+ id), let me know as I started and run the TruEmbroidery Users group.

I am so pleased with this one, been wanting to make some time to stitch one up for myself🙂 .

Ricotta Pie

pie slice ricotta

I did cook up a few new items over the holidays that I’m head over heals in LOVE with. First up is an Italian Ricotta Pie. It’s so easy! Can’t believe I haven’t baked one before.

Ricotta Pie 1-1

So, for Unknown’s Mami’s Sundays in my City, know that Sunday is often baking day for me and this is what’s on the agenda for a repeat performance this morning. I love to know that no matter how busy or harried the work week, there’s a little treat of some sweet, or a ready to go lasagna or casserole waiting to greet me at the end of an exhausting day.

Obviously, I’m not one of those who worry about cracks in cheese pies🙂 It comes out of the oven poufy and settles a bit. I know it’s a traditional Easter pie for many Italians, but was in the mood to try it now. This is a delectable, yummy dessert with significantly less sugar than other dessert choices (it’s great for breakfast too!).

RECIPE: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2013/03/15/ricotta-pie-buona-pasqua/

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If you click over to the recipe  – at the bottom of the blog post, you’ll see some reviewers thought it bland. She’d mentioned grated orange peel was traditional but she leaves it out. I went and added in the finely grated peel from about 2/3 – 3/4 of a large orange using a micro-planer (makes tiny bits for mellow flavor dispersion). Also because of the few negative comments, I used the 2 tsp vanilla where she says one or two. And, as I’d seen other recipes with a regular pie crust, I did that (no graham crackers on hand so I improvised).

Saw a few in web searching recipe choices made with no crust at all – it would be a ‘one bowl, mix it up’ pie without the crust. My sister tells me that’s how the Italian bakery she buys hers from makes them. Just crack your eggs into the bowl first so you can be sure there’s no shells and you have a super fast dessert with hardly any clean up required. So yummy!!! No topping is needed if you put the orange peel in the pie. I mixed mine in the bowl of the Cuisinart to give it a smoother texture. If you care about cracks – I probably have more as had taken it out of the oven and measured temp; but had to place it back in (I’m in the mountains – higher altitude baking always takes longer, but you’re never quite sure how much longer). Know that ricotta pie is not the same as cheesecake, the texture is quite different. This recipe is a keeper. I love it.

Stop by and see what others are up to this Sunday  Unknown’s Mami’s Sundays in my City.