Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Scary Trip…

into the cellar.

So I was looking at photos of kitchens on Pinterest—always dangerous. When I came upon this one:




It made me sad. Confused yet? First I talk about a cellar. Then a picture of a beautiful sink makes me sad. Bear with me!  I promise it will all come together. But first, let’s travel back in time.

I lived next to my grandparents growing up. Therefore, I spent A LOT of time there (understatement!). I wish I had had the wisdom to appreciate that place when I was young! There were chickens and rabbits. Sometimes there were goats or a horse. You could often find pigs. It really depended on whatever my grandfather decided to have around at the moment. He grew grapes. He had a couple of apple trees and a pear tree. Don’t even get me started on the gardens. Yes, gardens—plural! Massive gardens! Oh, how I wish that I had pictures to share. But back then we took pictures of family, not something we considered massive work…..and it was work for the entire extended family!

He was also a collector of much stuff. Some might call it junk. Get an episode of Hoarders out of your mind. He used his stuff to make other stuff. One of these items was a cast iron, porcelain coated sink. Well, it wasn’t in great shape. Just some discarded item. I must admit, I do not know where he got it. But I wouldn’t be shocked if it came from a dumpster. Yes, there was dumpster diving in my youth. Anyway—I sure can get easily side-tracked—he took that sink and made a little stand for it outside and my grandmother planted petunias in it. Most people at the time probably thought that it was rather tacky. I realize now that my grandfather was just ahead of his time! ;-)

After my grandfather died (when I was not quite 13), things just weren’t the same. He was definitely the glue that held everything together…how much so, no one realized until it was too late. No more gardening and canning. My grandmother stopped piddling with flowers. The sink grew only weeds. Now it really was just tacky lawn junk.

Fast forward to about 6 years ago. Pre-blog…so still no pictures. Use that imagination of yours! Picture in your mind’s eye a sink similar to the one above—but much larger--full of dirt and weeds, sitting in the elements for 25+ years (maybe a lot more…I can’t remember the sink NOT being in my grandparent’s yard). Man and I are starting to remodel our kitchen in our home in NC. I go to my grandmother and ask, “Memaw….you can say no if you want to…but can I have the sink that’s in the yard?”

Let’s just say, the look on Memaw’s face said that she was concerned for my sanity. It didn’t get any better when she asked me what I was going to do with it, and I told her I was going to put it in my kitchen.

Man was with my grandmother….He too thought that I had lost my” freakin’ mind”. Yet, he painstakingly refinished the sink. No money for a professional! Actually, he painstakingly refinished the sink about 3 times. He couldn’t get every single, microscopic “flaw” out of the finish! I had to remind him that I liked things to have “character”. He said things I can’t repeat!

The kitchen HAD to be designed around the sink. That sucker was HUGE! Many unrepeatable things were said during the cabinet build, rebuild, install, uninstall, adjust, etc, etc, etc. But it was finally in. The centerpiece of the kitchen. And yet NO PICTURES! Sorry. I had never even heard of a blog. I don’t even think we had a digital camera yet!

I got to use my sink for less than two years before we were moving to NY! We never even finished the entire kitchen remodel. A few upper cabinets needed to be replaced…so it was mostly done. Man got SUPER busy. My cabinets were designed by moi and built by Man and one of his friends. Believe me I LOOKED and LOOKED for cabinets like I wanted (now they are EVERYWHERE). Man finally told me to talk to a custom cabinet maker. But he told me this in front of aforementioned friend; who said, “We can build those.” That was the moment that I knew my kitchen would NEVER be finished! But I digress. Where was I? Are you even still here? If so please comment below! Oh yes….moving to NY. There was NEVER any question in my mind that my sink was coming with me. I did not care if all my other possessions were sold (okay, I exaggerate…but just a little), that sink was coming with me. Yep, I’m that person…the one that moves and leaves a huge gaping hole in the kitchen for someone else to figure out how to fix! Those people? My parents….but they were warned before papers were signed or money exchanged! My mother was more bothered that I was taking my kitchen island that Man and friend also built.

kitchen island

Look, I actually had a picture of the island. It was taken in this house when we first moved in about 3 1/2 years ago. Of course, the kitchen has been re-arranged since then—dozens of times—but it is a little too…umm…shall we use at the moment for an update. What can I say…it’s Autumn…my serious cooking season.

So today when I saw the picture on Pinterest, I decided to take you down to visit my sink…in my cellar. Yes, that is why the picture made me sad. See once we got here, we decided that renting was a better option than buying---we don’t consider ourselves permanent NY residents. So my sink was placed in the cellar.

I hate the cellar. First you have to go down these:

Scary Cellar stairs

Then you find this:

Scary Cellar

and this:

Man's Optimism

Man’s attempt at growing one of his favorite foods—cucumbers—during an Upstate NY winter. I’ll let you know how that turns out!

And then I turn the corner to find my sink buried under boxes and other stuff. So still no pictures….Sorry. I tried. I really did.

My poor, poor sink! Oh…I forgot to tell you…EVERY time my grandmother came to my house after the sink was installed, she asked for it back. Sorry, Memaw! I told you that you could say “no”!

Until next time….


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Adventure with….

drop cloths, Citra-solv, and The Graphics Fairy—my favorite trio! Today’s feature is the tea towel/kitchen towel/napkin. Call it what you want. Use it how you will. I have bought some fancy-smancy (spelling???) tea toweling in the past. It was nice stuff…a little expensive (not overly so). It had a nice French Country feel to it. However, it just doesn’t do it for me when it comes to everyday use. I wash my kitchen linens in HOT water. It just makes me feel better about the kitchen culture. Anyway…the toweling kind of crinkles and just doesn’t look so great when washed in hot water (the care instructions said cold, but….). Plus my image transfers just didn’t take as well as I would have liked, and they faded quickly with washing---like two washes and you could barely see the image. What’s a girl to do? Go back to her favorite stand-by, of course. Yes, that humble drop cloth. With each wash a towel/napkin made from a drop cloth gets more absorbent and softer. Images transfer well using the Citra-solv method. I can usually wash them over and over and over—sometimes using bleach—and the image hangs tight. Note the “usually” in that sentence---I have used drop cloths that don’t take a transfer as well or whose images faded in the wash, but that has been the exception in my case. Who knows what the difference was…same brand, different results.

Anyway…here are a few of my latest creations:

Halloween Versions

Halloween Towels


Little Witch Towel

Skull Towel


Farm Animal Versions

Farm Animal Towels

Chicken Towel

Pig Towel



Remember my machine sampler from last time? It was useful for deciding on some decorative detail for the towels.

Here is a close up of the pig towel detail:

Towel Detail

It is actually four rows of stitches—two different styles combined. Remember: NO RULES!

Here is the detail on the chicken towel (it reminded me of chicken feet):

Towel Detail 2

And finally, the detail from the skull towel:

In Stitches Detail

It just looked Halloween-ish. Kind of like Frankenstein’s stitches.

Oh…one last detail….

Twill Tape Hanger

a twill tape hanger sewn into the seams across one of the top corners. Hang your towel from a hook or from the pull on a drawer or cabinet door. Definitely not necessary, but a nice touch.

Okay, that’s it for now. So until next time…..


Let’s Party:

Totally Transformed

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Machine Sampler

I think the creative part of my brain has taken a vacation. I’ve scanned my idea books. I’ve checked out a few of my favorite blogs. I’ve done the Pinterest scan. Nothing! I decided I needed a little sewing therapy. I scanned my patterns. Made a mess of my fabric stash. Still….Nothing! I told myself: “Self, just do something. ANYTHING! “ So I decided to make a “Machine Sampler”. What is a machine sampler?

Machine Sampler 2

sampler close up 1

It is a sample of your sewing machine’s stitches.* I wrote the stitch number next to the sample. Very handy reference for when you are sewing…especially when you want to add some decorative stitching. And don’t think that you only have to use the stitches classified as “decorative” to add a little something extra to your projects. Experiment. Have fun. There are no rules.

*If you decide to make your own machine sampler, choose a piece of fabric larger than you think you will need. I completely underestimated the amount of space needed. Therefore, part of my stitches had to go on another piece of fabric!

Unfortunately, even trying to jumpstart my creativity with the sampler project didn’t work. So I decided to stick with an oldie, but goodie. I started working on some tea towels with ink transfers. Pictures coming soon.

While my creative part of my brain has been on vacation, the domestic goddess has made an appearance. So I’m off to do some cleaning and cooking (maybe that will induce some creativity???).


Until next time,


Monday, October 8, 2012

Tote with Image Transfer

Okay…let me just go ahead and shock you before we get started. I did NOT use Citra-solv for this image transfer project! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my Citra-solv, but I was stuck in a rut of sorts. So time to experiment…
So here is the transfer medium for today’s project:
liquitex gel medium
Since I live in the middle of NOWHERE, I opted for the convenience of purchasing from Amazon.
I was just going to transfer the image to a panel of canvas fabric, but decided instead to put it onto the body of a canvas tote. I’m in the process of replacing all those ugly grocery store totes. Yes, they were only 99 cents, but….they look like they cost 99 cents. Anyway…two projects in one.
Now this WILL NOT surprise you. I headed over to The Graphics Fairy to look for an image. This was my choice….
wake up image
I printed it in reverse since it had lettering. Oh, how many time have I forgotten to do that!!! Anyway, this image seemed so appropriate for our current political season. Yep, I am a political junkie. I inherited this illness from my father.
I cut out my tote bag and got ready to transfer the image. First you need to brush a generous amount of gel medium onto the image:
 image covered with liquitex
Then place the image down onto the fabric. I used this lovely little wallpaper tool (from a kit I bought at the $ store) to smooth the image and remove air bubbles. But you can smooth it with your hand or the back of a spoon.
press image onto fabric
Now…you wait…and wait…and wait for it to dry COMPLETELY!
Then you forget to take pictures of the next step. You KNOW that I am THAT blogger! Stop acting surprised…Really though, the next step is easy. Wet the paper….some people use a spray bottle. Personally, I just get a small paper cup of water and dip my fingers in and wet them and use them to wet the paper. You can be pretty generous with the water. The point is to wet the paper so you can remove it from the image. I just rub the paper with my fingers or an old cloth to remove it. Actually I got pretty aggressive. My finished image is NOT perfect (it usually won’t be with this method). But even with my aggressive rubbing of the paper, very little of the image came off the fabric.
finished wake up tote
Here is my finished tote. If you click on it, you can open a larger image and see a little more detail.
Okay….ready for a do-it-at-your-own-risk bonus? I decided to see if the image could survive the WASHING MACHINE. It did! But first, I ironed the image (before I made the tote) by placing an ironing cloth on my ironing board (to protect the cover) and ironing the reverse side of the fabric with a HOT iron. My hope was to set the ink, while praying that I didn’t melt the medium. IT WORKED! I have only washed it once in cold water, but I did NOT use the gentle cycle.I DID let it air dry, but… far, so good.
Until next time,

Let’s Party: