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Look at this cute new shorts pattern just released by Blank Slate Patterns! (affiliate links used where available, at no cost to you, but I may earn a small commission!)

The pattern features button-up sides…

And of course, everyone’s favorite: pockets!

I made my version from denim and used a fun green cotton batik as the facing of the waistband.

On this inside-out view, you can see that the shorts are hemmed with bias binding, and I chose a green to coordinate with my facing. The pattern offers options to have the binding on the inside like I did, or use it as an accent on the outside. (You can’t see them, but my pocket facings are also made from the green cotton batik.)

On the outside, I added some green topstitching to hint at the inside details.

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Now we had some seedlings growing, and not much of a plan to do anything with them. But it’s always been a dream of mine to have a successful garden.

If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you might recall that the garden plot that we have here in our current location (MD) has not been very successful. I think that there are some major problems with the soil, and add in a veritable menagerie of local wildlife (we have deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes (yes, I know they’re not herbivores, but they’re still around), groundhogs, and who knows what else!) that persists in eating the garden produce just before I harvest it, and the fact that last summer I was dealing with ankle issues, and it has all added up to a disappointing track record for this garden.

So this year, I have a new game plan.

I think.

At least, we’re going to try it.

I have decided that I prefer container gardening, after trying in-ground gardening here and in upstate NY. This year, I’m going back to container gardening, and we’re testing out a few things to protect the garden from deer, especially.

After an extensive discussion with Husband, we have decided to reconfigure the garden plot and change our fencing strategy. The old plot (you can see it here at the beginning of last weekend, with the chickenwire fence removed and weeds mowed down) was 8′ wide by 15′ long.

After mowing around it for years, Husband decided that he would vastly prefer it to go all the way up to the corner of the house (the right side of this photo) to close that gap.

We decided to remove the chickenwire fencing we’d been using and use some black plastic fencing material that we already had on hand to create a low fence that would be easier to maintain (the weed-whacker would get tangled in the chickenwire and so the weeds were unpleasantly bushy at the corners and along the sides of the old garden. Husband cut it lengthwise because we wanted it low enough for us to step over it.

We had thought that we had enough of this black material to completely fence in the “new” 8’x20′ plot, but we didn’t. So we made the garden narrower– the footprint is now 4’x20′.

Since I was only planning to have a small number of containers, this isn’t a problem, and if this configuration turns out to work well, we can adjust in the future. (This is basically becoming a test year– will these measures to prevent wildlife from eating our garden be enough to make it worth having a garden?)

After lying fallow for a year, there were a lot of weeds to clear. I attempted to use our tiller tool, but it was getting so tangled that I just attacked it by hand.

Once the weeds were cleared in the new garden footprint, Husband began installing our little fence. He dug a trench so that we could bury the bottom 5″ or so. There are also taller supports for our deer fence (more information on that coming up below).

We put down Vigoro Weed Control Fabric over the entire plot, tucking it into the trench Husband had dug for the low fence. We are hoping that it is effective, especially since we won’t be cutting holes into it to plant in-ground. I will be putting mulch in, as well, but I haven’t bought it yet! (That’s a project for this weekend!)

My container set up is pretty modest this year. I had three terra-cotta pots that have survived since my original 2007 garden, as well as some other large pots that I’ve acquired over the years. I filled them with potting soil and started planting. The first priority was getting my tomatoes out into the containers, and I also brought our pot of carrots into the garden enclosure. Any extra soil would be used to plant cucumbers from seed. Using potting soil completely circumvents the issues that we seem to have with the in-ground soil in this garden plot. (P.S. I’ll be adding stakes and trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers after I add the mulch.)

In the end, (after a lot of reconfiguring the order of my containers, haha!) we have six containers. On the left, there are two pots with two different cucumber varieties, planted from leftover seeds I’d stashed away from old gardens (Ferry-Morse Tendergreen and Burpee Pepino/Salad Slicer). Next come three tomato containers: a smaller square pot of Tiny Tim and two large terra cotta pots with the Best Boy seedlings. To the right of them, I placed the pot with our carrots.

Finally, we installed the deer fence. After talking to some neighbors and doing some research online, I found a University of Maryland Extension blog post that confirmed that the idea of fishline or similar cord strung between supports could actually work to protect the plants from nosy deer. Husband found some bright orange twisted mason line that we’re using to test the idea. Husband lashed some of my tall tomato stakes to the shorter metal stakes that support the black fencing so that we would just reuse what we have on hand already. Then, we strung the cord as tightly as we could between them. If you look closely, you might be able to make it out in the photos below:


I like this solution for keeping away the deer (well, if it works!) because it’s visually non-invasive and also inexpensive. We left a gap at the end closest to the inner corner of the house so that I can climb in and out over the black fencing. We’re hoping that this gap is close enough to the house and the basement window well (and also narrow enough) that the deer won’t use it as a private entrance into the garden!

I’m looking forward to the upcoming warm weather to see how my plants grow in their new home– and I’ll be getting some mulch soon, too!

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Shell bag

Speaking of beach-themed projects (because who doesn’t want to think about a little warmth in the middle of winter, right?), I made this bag for shelling right before we left for our Christmas vacation in Florida.

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I combined ideas that I’d seen in a few internet searches to create this bag: I’m still calling it a prototype, because there are things I would change about it in future iterations, most notably, I will shorten the bag’s length, and I’ll change the order in which I construct it.

However, I liked that I made a wrist strap to hold it rather than a shoulder or cross-body style (I saw a number of these as I was on the beach, as well as online), because it was just right for the way I carry shells.  I also liked that it doesn’t have a closure at the top, because I didn’t want to mess around with trying to open it if I had a handful of shells to put inside!

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This bag turned out to be great for collecting shells, and I came home with quite a delightful haul!

I’ll be making a couple more of these bags with the remaining netting I have on hand so that my kids each have their own for the next time we go to the beach!

 

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Ever since I made my first Joni dress (from Tilly and the Buttons’ Stretch <– affiliate link), I knew that I wanted to make another!  In fact, I purchased fabric for to make this dress last May, but I didn’t end up cutting it out until right before my ankle surgery in September.  It was one of the projects I was able to finish soon after my surgery because I had it prepped!

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However, the fabric and the sleeve style I had chosen weren’t really quite right for winter-in-Maryland, and so I thought I might have to wait until spring to actually wear it!  And then I realized we were going to the BEACH for Christmas!

This dress was perfect for a Christmas Eve church service in a more tropical locale, and my sweet Husband helped me take photos with the Gulf of Mexico as the backdrop.  So pretty!

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The sleeves are altered to flutter as per a tutorial in the book.  I love how I can make the same basic dress look so different by changing the fabric and the sleeves!

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After I had so much fun with family Christmas pajamas last year, I decided to go for them again this year!  I decided to continue the “tradition” (if it’s only 2 years, is it a tradition yet??) of choosing a fabric that has images to relate to something our family has enjoyed in that year.  When I was browsing flannels, I found this great camel print, which of course made me think of the Slugs and Bugs’ Camel Song! Our whole family loves this song, and even though we’ve been listening to this album on repeat at Christmas for years now, the camel song makes me laugh every time.  So, I bought the camel flannel (which is also fun to say five times fast…).

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The pajama pants for Husband and I were made from Simplicity 1504 (lengthened for him, modified for me), and I brought out my beloved Blank Slate Patterns Snuggle PJs pattern for the kids’ pants and shirts.  I bought (at a very good price) 3 matching long-sleeved T-shirts from Old Navy, and after putting one aside intact for Husband to wear, I cut up the other two to make matching shirts for the kids.  I wanted to use a fourth to make a Texana Tank for myself, but I completely ran out of time!  Thankfully, I had a RTW royal blue t-shirt on hand that coordinated!

Merry Christmas from our family!

 

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This summer, I wanted to do some sewing with my kids, especially V, who had been asking to do more during the school year.  I planned a project with her (post coming later!), and in the process, her little brother wanted to get in on the action.  When we chose fabric for her project, he also saw some fabric he loved, so we purchased it for him.  But before we got to that project, I wanted to do a bit of introductory sewing with him.

One day while my daughter had a friend over to play, B was feeling a bit left out, so I called him into the craft room to do some sewing with me.  I cut rectangles of some scrap flannel so that we could make a little pillow together.  Since B just turned four, he can’t reach the machine pedal, so just like when I started machine sewing with V, he sat on my lap.  He “steered” while I used the pedal to keep the stitching going.  He also carefully removed the pins as we approached them!

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He was thrilled to get to stuff his own pillow, and we sewed it closed together.

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This project got finished so quickly, and he put it to good use right away!

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And then he was hooked!  He kept asking about the next project, and so I quickly got the fabric he’d chosen pre-washed and cut out so that we could make…. SNUGGLE PJ pants!

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He sat on my lap as I sewed every seam (even some of the serging that I did to finish the edges), carefully removing pins as I came to them.

 

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I deliberately lengthened them so that they will last a bit longer– he is growing so fast!  I love this colorful Star Wars fabric that he found.  It’s so fun!

 

 

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In honor of iNSD this past Saturday, I have some scrapbook layouts to share!

First up, this “traditional” layout that I made with BasicGrey’s gorgeous Highline collection.

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I love how this layout turned out.  It is one of my favorite memories from this past summer, and the inspiration for the design came from a layout that I saw on the Citrus Twist blog a while ago.  As soon as I saw the layout, I could envision these photos used in a similar way– I especially love the top third drawing the main focus.

I used a lot of old stash for this project.  First, I finally opened the collection pack of BasicGrey Highline that I’ve had for a while– I have no idea why I’ve never used it!!  It’s so pretty.  I used several papers for layering as well as a few of the stickers from the included sticker sheet.  I also added in some doilies for softness, and some pink patterned vellum that I inherited.

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I used some Maya Road grey acrylic letters for the “Goose” part of the title, and did a print-and-cut of the script words to pop up on top with foam adhesive.

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I added droplets of Tattered Angels (Vivia Pink) and Heidi Swapp (Gold) mists and a few black enamel dots to finish everything off.

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Saturday was World Cardmaking Day!  For maybe the first time ever, I was able to participate in a hobby holiday: I had a quiet weekend at home, and I made it a priority to set aside some time to do some paper crafting.  Not only did I get to make a scrapbook page with V, but I worked on these cards, and she planned a card, too!

These cards are based on two specific challenges I saw: the October Paper Smooches challenge to use pink, and the Jillibean Soup sketch challenge for WCMD.

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They both are based on the first sketch at the Jillibean Soup challenge post…and this first one uses patterned paper from the older Jillibean Soup “Blossom Soup” collection 6″x6″ paper pad.

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The featured stamp is from Paper Smooches’ “Blossoming Buds” set, and the greeting is an older stamp from KaiserCraft.  I colored the flowers with colored pencils before mounting them on foam with a little yellow banner underneath.

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These are fairly plain-and-simple cards, but I hope that they will bring sunshine to their recipients!

 

http://papersmooches.blogspot.com/2016/09/september-challenge-anything-goes.html

 

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My husband tells me that I’m hard on computers!  I must be, because three years after I got a new computer (that we thought was optimized for how I use one…), and one year after I replaced its fan, I am in the midst of transferring all of my files over to a new machine.  I hope this machine will be better for me (psssst: I’m switching to Mac!  Gasp!!).  The transfer process is going much more slowly than I anticipated, so while I have a post or two scheduled in advance, I am not yet in a position to add my photos to some posts I have planned (and written).  Soon, soon, I will have some new content!!

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In the past almost six years, I have made approximately 100 regalia ornaments for about 63 different schools.  I have had some incredible interactions with some wonderful customers.  I have learned a lot about academic regalia.  I have learned a lot about owning a tiny self-run custom order business.

Including: having a custom-order business is not healthy for me.

And so, as I closed custom orders for the 2016 season, I also made the decision that my Etsy shop will be closed for the foreseeable future (read: forever).  I will be accepting NO MORE custom ornament orders.  I am grateful to all of my customers, past and present, for your support!

Below, you can have a look at the final regalia ornaments that I made for my Etsy shop.

 

Auburn University

Auburn University

Auburn University

Another for Auburn University

Florida International University

Florida International University

Kennesaw State University MS Nursing (with honor cord)

Kennesaw State University – Masters in Nursing

Regent University (Theology)

Regent University

Stanford University

Stanford University

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Layfette

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota

Univeristy of Cincinnati

University of Cincinnati

University of Rochester

University of Rochester

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University of South Florida

 

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