Friday, May 31, 2013

'Granite' Vitamin Water

Living in a super dry, desert-like, climate it is imperative for me to keep hydrated. A few weeks ago, my bestie S.K. shared a post, on Facebook, on home-made vitamin waters and I was hooked! Since I don't really drink much on my own, I thought this was a great idea! 

This is my first try using what I had in the fridge this week. I will be posting more, as I experiment, and give you my feedback on flavors. This recipe is called 'The Granite' the ingredients are Strawberries or Raspberries & lemon or lime. I had lime leftover (from a tex-mex night with friends) and my bff S.I. brought me organic strawberries, so I was set. 

Here are my mis en place: 8 cups of filtered water (better if you have a 10 cup pitcher) a few strawberries, one lime and several mint leaves (I wish I had more).

You can see that I chose the ugliest strawberries, since they will be soaked and look wilty anyhow ;)

I sliced the lime very thinly and dunked it in the H²O

Then I halved the strawberries and off they went into the pitcher too.

Then I added the finely chopped mint. The more the merrier ^__^

And this is what my pitcher of vitamin water looked like after being assembled. Unfortunately I don't have a nice clear pitcher, so I used my Pampered Chef batter bowl instead...but a pitcher would be much easier to pour from! Tjmaxx here I come ;)

The fruity water has to sit in the fridge overnight to soak up the flavor of the fruit.
This is what it looked like the next day...

...the water got a bit red once the flavor was extracted from the fruit. This is a glass view...

Conclusion: I loved this idea! I drank all of it in 2 days (which for me is astounding). The flavor of the lime is WAY too bitter for me! I don't usually buy limes, in fact, this was brought over by a friend and left in my fridge. I always prefer lemons, as they are much sweeter and I am more accustomed to the flavor. But since I never waist anything, I used this lonely lime instead ;)

To cut some of the bitterness I added a cup of water to the pitcher each time I poured me a cup. That way, I actually ended up watering it down to double it's original volume. It was a win-win for me, I did not have to make 2 pitchers, but in reality I did drink two! I really enjoyed the flavor of the water-soaked berries too, so I ate them. 

I will definitely make it again, using lemons instead of limes, and I may try raspberries (if I can ever find them organic for a good price) just to switch it up. I also think that the mint is absolutely necessary. So refreshing! Also if you have a pitcher with a strainer of sorts, that will work best in keeping the fruit from getting in your glass. Not everyone may enjoy eating the mint leaves or wilted strawberries like I do ;)

I can't wait to try the other 7 recipes! Stay tuned for more, and enjoy this delicious and natural vitamin water ^__^

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Table Runner Tutorial

Here is the table runner tutorial that I had promised to post. I used the same fabric I had chosen for the chairs, plus some remnants from my patio slider's curtains (up-cycling is the name of the game in my household). Make sure to check out my chairs upholstering tutorial here.

The process was pretty straight forward, really, and quite simplistic too. I decided how wide I'd like the runner to be and I cut out my fabric allowing for seams.

Here are my two fabrics cut and ready to be sewn. Rufus, as always, is dispensing some much needed advice! ^__^

Given the super thick fabric, from the curtains remnants (as well as the thickness of the new outdoor fabric) I only folded the fabric over once for the hems. To avoid unraveling, I first singed all edges with a zig zag stitch. It's a bit hard to see on this textured fabric...

...but it is clearly visible on the patterned one.

Once all the edges were properly finished, I proceeded to attach the two solid bands to the two narrow ends of the patterned fabric.

I then turned the solid fabric over, and did an invisible stitching to the top, to keep everything neatly in place.

At this point I just proceeded to hem the entire rectangle, which was now longer thanks to the two solid bands at the edges. As I mentioned, I only folded the fabric over one time, this was all my cheapo sewing machine could tolerate (notice that the zig zag is visible, if I had made a traditional hem -folded twice- it would just be hidden).

And that's all folks! Pretty easy. The whole project took me a total of 2 hours. It is a very doable craft for even the most novice sewer, and it does make any chairs reupholstering job look more complete. 

And this is how my dinette looks now. Awwww, much nicer I think.

I am planning to add a band of this patterned print to the sliders panels as well. Just to tie things together a bit more in the kitchen. So I will add the tutorial to the blog when I do. Thank you for reading and happy up-cycling :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chairs reupholstering tutorial

My poor dinette has seen better days. It's been with us for 12 years now, through 4 moves and still going. It was in dire need for a makeover and today I gave it one! I found the fabric at JoAnn's for 50% off of $19.99 a yard. It's outdoor fabric so it should take well to wear and tear.

Here is a shot of the old cushions. The fabric was still nice, it just didn't go with the colors we chose for this kitchen. So off goes the old, in comes the new.

First off I unscrewed the chair pad from the frames.

Then I carefully removed all the old staples and fabric. You can skip this step if you like, but since this is the 4th time I reupholster these chairs, I always take off the old fabric so I don't build up too much. Next I laid the old fabric on my new fabric, and cut a piece about 1 inch or 2 larger than my old ones (you can always trim but you can't add fabric!). I trimmed off a bit too much last time ;)

Then I laid my cushion over the fabric (wrong side up). If you have a directional pattern, like I did, you need to make sure that the pattern is also going the correct way (or my birds would have ended up upside down LOL).

From now on it was a whole lot of making sure the fabric is taught and stapling it in place.

I like to staple two opposite sides, before I move on to the 3rd and 4th side. Here I started with the front and the back of the cushion, but then I realized it was better to start with the sides, since they are a bit slanted.

Once the first two sides were stapled nicely, I moved over to the corners. I made regular pleats (3 per corner), gathered the fabric to make it taught and stapled in place. If you are new to this, you can staple down each pleat as you fold. I try to avoid over-stapling since I know that, sooner or later, I will be removing those staples and cursing along ;)

Once all your cushion is done you can trim the excess fabric.

At this point I cut some slits or holes where the screws would fit into. You can usually 'feel' the holes with your fingertips. If you don't do it, and the fabric you have is not super thick, you may end up getting snags in the fabric (screws pulling the weave). 

And that's all folks. I repeated the process 4 times and this is the final product. Same sad dinette, cuter seats! I am planning to use this fabric to sew a table runner, a window valance and possibly lengthening my current sliding doors curtain panels. I will keep you posted on the progress.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Happy reupholstering!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Embellished Curtain Panels Tutorial

Slowly but surely I am getting back to the swing of things and to my projects. Next in line, for the past 2.5 months, has been embelishing a pair of Ikea MERETE panels for my DH music's room. 
Photo courtesy of
I have tried to purchase curtains at discount stores, but I could only find 84-86" length, VERY narrow panels. Ikea was the only affordable place to get curtains that were both long and wide enough to cover my windows. I chose these white panels, I had them in my cart when I crossed the isle to the fabric section, and low and behold the sky opened! Guess what was in the discontinued sale bin? This!!!
Photo courtesy of
If this is not serendipitous I don't know what is! Music room anyone? 
I paid less than $5 a yard and this ended up to be the perfect missing link in the equation. Something that will infuse some print into the room, but still remains subtle enough not to overwhelm the tiny space. The fabric is lightweight and perfect to add as a border to the panels. So I got to work. 
First off I washed, dried and ironed the curtains AND the music fabric. I was afraid of having the two fabrics shrinking later and making a pulling/puckering mess!
I laid out my fabric on the floor over the panels just to figure out how thick of a band I wanted. 
Rufus is always quit the helper!

With a size in mind, I proceeded to cut my panels. Tip: if you make a small cut and then tear the fabric, the weave will make you go straight and you will save much time! PS: never mind my ugly hands, I was also simultaneously working on a paint job. Oil paint does ugly things to hands! -__-

I made sure both panels were of equal width, then I cut and tore the second one.

At this point I laid the printed fabric face down (wrong side towards me) in the "middle" of the panels. Keep in mind that my plan here was to make a straight stitch on the lower portion of the music fabric. Then I'd flip the fabric down and blind stitch over it, for aesthetic reasons. I had to do quite some thinking, to make sure that the print would face the correct way. It contains script, so it is crucial for it not to be upside-down! Smokey was also happy to lend a paw in the process ^__^

Here is the lower part of the music fabric pinned to the panel and ready to be sewn.

Straight stitching the panel in place.

This is what the straight stitch looked like.

Then I flipped the fabric over and blind stitched on the right side of the print. Now that the fabric has been flipped over, I am stitching on the top of the music panel. I hope this makes sense.

I laid the curtains flat one more time, I folded over twice the sides of the music fabric, pinned it in place and straight stitched it.

This is what the stitching looks like on the right side of the curtain panel.

For the hem I decided to just do a straight stitch (to keep the curtains and the panel together) since I would be hemming using the enclosed Ikea hemming tape. I am always thinking ahead...what if we move and I need longer panels? Easier to let the hem down with hemming tape! ;)

At this point I hang my curtains up and pinned to desired length.

I then took the curtains down and got ready to ironing the hemming tape. It's hard to see with the white on white, but all that was needed was to tuck the hemming tape under my pinned fabric...

And then press over it. Easy peasy.

I then re-hung the curtains on the rod and admired my handy work. Here are the panels completely closed.

And this is how they look when they are open.

It's hard to take a good photo of a window, with the direct light coming in...but this is another shot.

With time I am planning to use the rest of the music fabric to make other accessories for the room (pillows, maybe modge podge a box and so on).
Now, time for your very own creations!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Plug in Air Freshener Tutorial

Don't you just love a nice fragrance filling the air, when you return home, after a long day's out? I sure do. I am always paranoid of my house smelling badly. I do open the windows, weather permitting, and I do keep smelly culprits away, as much as possible...but I always yearn for that good smell. 

Enters the plug in air fresheners. I used to buy those guys all the time, and I used to love coming home to fragrant lavender fields, or rose gardens, or fresh linens. That was, until I found out the evil of plug ins and air fresheners!

According to in 2002, EPA researchers (testing air freshening units that plug into electrical sockets) determined that, when the fragrance chemicals in these products react with common indoor air pollutants, they produce serious health hazards. These chemicals include toxic substances such as: benzene derivatives, pinene and limonene, aldehydes, phenol, and cresol.

Pinene and limonene react with ozone, a common outdoor and indoor air pollutant, creating formaldehyde and a variety of related chemicals which have been implicated in multiple chemical sensitivity and respiratory distressAir freshener chemicals have been implicated in cancer, neurological damage, reproductive and developmental disorders, and other conditions. The synthetic chemicals in air fresheners also can aggravate asthma and/or trigger attacks. MMMM, DOES NOT SOUND GOOD!

Researching air freshener/plug-in ingredients, from their Material Safety Data Sheets, the following were found to be toxic:

Benzyl Alcohol “...upper respiratory tract 
irritation, headaches, nausea and vomiting, a depressed central nervous system and a drop in blood pressure.”

Camphor“On EPA's Hazardous Waste List... readily absorbed through the body tissues...irritation of eyes, skin, nose, and throat...dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions...avoid inhalation of vapors.” (MMM...THE PLUGIN DOES NOTHING BUT VAPORS!!!!)
Dichlorobenzene-- “extremely toxic, a central nervous system depressant, kidney and liver poison. One of the chlorinated hydrocarbons that is long-lasting in the 
environment and is stored in body fat. Vapor irritating to skin, eyes and throat. Banned in California.”
Ethanol-- “... derived from petroleum and is carcinogenic... toxic to the skin, respiratory, cardiovascular, developmental, endocrine, neurological, and gastrointestinal systems.”
Formaldehyde-- “...toxic if inhaled, poisonous if swallowed, skin and eye irritant, carcinogenic...”
Limonene—“ ...Carcinogenic, prevent its' contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer ...always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating or not inhale limonene vapor". (MMM, VAPORS MENTIONED AGAIN?!? NO BUENO!)
Naphthalene-- “... a carcinogen that accumulates in our waters and marine life. It can be irritating to the skin, alter kidney function, cause cataracts, and is toxic (cardiovascular and developmental), especially to children. It can be poisonous if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.
Phenol-- “...can cause skin to swell, burn, peel, and break out in hives ... cold sweats, convulsions, circulatory collapse, coma and even death. (DEATH YOU SAY?? O.o)
Pinene-- “...Flammable. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents. Eye, skin, & respiratory irritant. May be absorbed through skin...very destructive of mucous membranes.

So, this is how plug-ins got plugged-out of my sockets and ended up in a box at the back of my closet. Although my mind knew that plug ins were evil, my heart still yearned for that fresh homey scent. So I researched online, and I found that many people were already doing what I had only suspected to be possible: refilling the plug-ins with 100% natural essential oils. Awwww, I am a happy camper again! This is how it works.

I got my old plug-in, a vial of lavender oil that I had in hand, and a knife. With the knife I forced the plastic cap (and wick) off of the glass jar, you may also use a screwdriver for this if you have nice knives. The wick is purple, as the last freshener was lavender and off course mounds and mounds of chemicals MUST be used at all times to impress buyers! :( 
If you want to, I have seen youtubers opening the plastic lining, removing the fiber wick, washing it, and then reassembling the whole thing using clear tape in place of the plastic liner. It did however, not look the same once it was 'jerry rigged' like that. The wick was not as tight, it looked a bit 'fluffy'. So until I find a better solution I will be using the original wick. I am hoping that with time the wick will saturate completely with the essential oils and the yucky stuff will dissipate...fingers crossed. I am keeping the house well ventilated in the mean make sure we are breathing the least amount of residue left on the wick. 

At this point I filled the plug in glass receptacle with 1/3 of essential oil

I then filled the bottle with 2/3 water making sure not to fill it to the brim. Leaving at least 1 inch to the opening, assures that once the wick is re-inserted the content won't overspill.

At this point I re-inserted my wick (and later snapped it in place).

And finally I put my bottle back onto the plug-in and stuck it into the socket. 
Awwwwwww! I love it.

The scent is not as strong as the commercial ones. But I can definitely smell the lavender in my dining room and the Eucalyptus in the bedroom. I love it and now I am hooked. 

Now go and get yourself some essential oils and hack your own plugins. If you check your local natural store, you should be able to get some on sale. I just got a very large bottle from Sprouts Market for $11. Whole foods for sure has some too, and I bet Trader Joe's does as well...but I will have to wait a few more months for IT to open in Denver. 

Happy smells to you all! ^__^