Saturday, February 13, 2016

How To Make A Heart Shaped Valentine Banner

My younger daughter tagged me on a cute pin on Pinterest showing a Valentine banner. I texted her back and explained how to make it. Not really thinking I was going to be the one making it....

This is a test run of the finished banner on my front room fireplace. 

I asked what colors she'd like and she chose red and orange. That sounded easy enough, until I started matching up prints. Reds can have a blue tint, which doesn't work with most shades of orange, just like lipstick. The color is pretty and looks good until you actually put the lipstick on or put the fabric next to your other colors. 

I ended up with three fat quarters - or quilter quarters, and then bought a 1/4 yard of three other fabrics and two yards of pellon. This was enough to make two banners, so half as much would easily make one. The second one is still unfinished, because I didn't have enough of the tie-on cord left over, but I picked up more, so it will eventually be completed. 

**the print fabric on the far left had a dark flaw all the way through that didn't show up until it was on the cutting table at the fabric store - so I picked out yet another one. 

Then I had to find something to tie the banner together and onto the fireplace. Red Rickrack jumped out. This kind was sold by the bolt, I think it had 12 yards, total. 

**not really enough for two banners. 

The hidden component was fusible Pellon. The heavy duty craft weight. It's the magic that holds the two fabric pieces together, so no sewing or messy glue. It also gives the fabric some body, helps it hold the shape and the edges won't fray as much. Only one side of the fabric hearts need to have this as the backing. 

I needed something somewhat sturdy to make the pattern and used a heavy watercolor paper I had on hand, I use for earring cards. Lightweight cardboard would also work, a cereal box cut open or a gift box. 

If you are going to give this a try, fold your pattern paper or thin cardboard in half, so both sides are mirrored or the same. I just cut away the paper, until I had a good enough heart shape. The typical banner V-shape or any other shape would also work, if you aren't feeling the heart. Stars would be cute in a sparkly fabric for the Fourth of July. Just keep in mind the fabric has to be able to withstand a hot iron. 

I doubled the pellon, traced the hearts on, and cut out two at a time. After ironing the wrinkles out of the fabric (don't iron the pellon), I stacked three layers on top of each other, pinned it together, traced and then cut. That way I could save time by cutting out more than one at a time.

** Remember, you need twice as many fabric hearts, as pellon hearts. 
** When cutting out the hearts, cut INSIDE the traced lines, so the ink line stays on your scraps and not your final heart or shape. 

A lot of tracing and cutting later. 

Here I was trying out different pattern combinations and color orders. 

This worked for me. 

Removing the paper side of the iron on backing was the most difficult part of the whole process. Why? because my iron had auto shut off since I'd ironed the fabric smooth and the temp wasn't high enough to completely bind the two together. Ack. I didn't even know this iron had an auto shut off and I panicked, went back and rechecked the pellon to see if I had messed up and bought the wrong fusible webbing. Then I noticed the iron wasn't hot and had shut off. I ended up having to re-iron about half of them and then wait for it to cool. Again. 

Another reason I used rickrack, was that it would lay flat between the two pieces of fabric. 

I placed the rickrack at the top of the heart, then put the corresponding fabric heart, without the fusible backing on top and pressed it with a dry, hot iron. You could mix this part up- do one side in one set of colors and the reverse in another, just made sure the opposite side doesn't show through. 

More hearts, more pellon... 

The tiny lights are battery operated. I bought these on eBay, but I've seen some that are much the same at Home Depot in the outdoor lighting section. I think those were longer, but doubled would be good, too. The votives have little battery lights in them, too. I don't do real flames. Too many scent issues, plus cats and open flames are never a good idea. Meow.

The sun was down when I finished and I wanted to get this packaged up and ready to mail the next morning, so these are all a little dark. 

There you go! 
( FYI, the birdcage is not in the foreground, it's right next to the fireplace and around 8.5' tall.) 

Here is the photo my daughter took of the banner on her mantel. I did over estimate the length, but better it's too long, than too short. 

If I'd make another heart banner, I'd probably make the hearts smaller, but for a first time trial run, it turned out OK. :)

I have already picked up more fabric to make another one - it was a quilters stack, which is a mix of several fabrics already matched up and this one was all kitty prints. I'm not sure what shape I'll make with them, but it's waiting for me when I get to it! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fireplace Before And After Renovation

This is the before of the basement fireplace. It's not bad, it just doesn't have much personality. 

We are going to give Airbnb a try and thought some decor improvements could be made first. I'm kind of going for a DIY Pacific Northwest look combination of Pendleton Wool Home meets Ralph Lauren's Poor Relations. Plus it's fun to walk down the stairs and feel like I'm on vacation, too. 

Do you use Airbnb? Do you like it? Any suggestions or hints?

The kick to get us started was the not so very old TV died. It wasn't being used too often, but we discovered, rather late, that when the fireplace was turned on the heat was traveling up the wall here and may have shortened it's lifespan. Big oops. Check yours if you have a similar setup. Hot stuff. 

We had some old wood we'd scavenged from a fence that had been torn down and thought it might give the design interest we wanted. Plus, it had been stored in my little garden shed long enough to be dried out (it rains here off and on most of the winter) and was readily at hand. 

So, throwing all common sense out the door, we took off a perfectly good semi-OK wood mantel. It never really looked that great, to me and I thought hey, if it doesn't turn out, I'll take responsibility for the mistake. Not to say I didn't wake up in the middle of the next night thinking I'd really screwed up and caused a lot of unnecessary work. 

We called our good friend Jill, who owns  The Furniture Girl Shop a couple blocks from our house and she came over and scooped up the mantle. Except it wasn't scooped, it was lugged. It's solid wood, really heavy wood and took three of us (four would have been better) to wrangle it up the stairs and into her pick-up. 

When she got it back to her shop, she gave it a whitewash and it sold the next day to a woman that is now using it for a headboard! Happy ending...(but I was still kind of panicked I made a mistake at this point).

Part way there. Nothing is ever as easy as you think it might be, especially in older homes like ours, when nothing is level or even. Nothing. Never. Nada. 

Getting closer here. We took off the front of the gas fireplace to clean the glass (grotty is an understatement) and vacuum out the dust. The manufacturing info was underneath everything. With this new information, an Internet search found there were compatible blowers for it. Hard to believe there never was one, isn't it? The heat was never projected into the room, it just hung there and slowly warmed things the TV. 

Mr. Bad Monkey House working on the wiring for the sconces he made. Really. He just went out to the garage, pulled stuff out of boxes and whipped them up. He is handy! 

We decided the finished look with all that great old wood was too handsome to cover with the new, larger TV, so this vintage deer mount we got at Portland Expo a year or two ago and the ornate old frame were moved from across the room to here. The sconces are BMH old tooled saddle tapadoras with small Edison lights. 

Bet you've never seen one of these before. Cool, huh! They are hard wired and turn on with a switch when you enter the room. 

You can see how the whole fireplace is wrapped in wood. The new fireplace blower came, was installed and didn't work. At. All. Damn it. But the company was super cool, said throw it away and mailed out a new working one, lickety split. 

The little wood fence is to keep the grand baby from getting too close and possibly burning tiny fingers while checking out the flames behind the hot glass. That funny looking blue bench is actually an old buggy seat we got from The Furniture Girl, Jill. It got parked there when we didn't know what we wanted to do with it and seems to work for now. 

The baseball cap on the deer was temporary, too. Didn't fit or look right, so I'm hunting for an appropriate chapeau. Any suggestions? What's your deer wearing? 

We do have another, even older deer in our entry upstairs wearing a rather elegant ladies hat, fur scarf and glasses, too. I'll share her fashionable look, another time. 

The other side of the fireplace with my chippy scratched $1.00 mirror hanging on it. That odd looking light in the corner was a kerosene heater at one time. I think that was an Expo find, too. Mr. Bad Monkey House wired it into a light that puts out a warm glow, minus the heat. The homemade game board on the wall was a $2.50 Value Village find. I really miss that store. Ours closed a few years ago and I still mourn the loss.

So, what do you think of the fireplace? Did I mess up or do you like it? 

I think it's a great improvement and now am even kind of glad the TV died and got us going. 

I'll share more of our basement decor redo next time. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016


It's throw back recipe time.

 I updated this old granola recipe I made quite often back in the mid 80's. I changed the vegetable oil to coconut and left out the wheat germ to keep it gluten free. I also didn't even think to take photos until I was finished, but it's an easy one and you can change to your own taste. 

Granola -

1 1/2 - 2  cups old fashioned oats
   1/2   cup shredded unsweetened coconut 
   1/4   cup oat bran 
   1/2   cup wheat germ (leave out for gluten free) 
   1/8-1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional)
   1/4-1/2  cup sunflower seeds
    1/2  or more cup almonds or other nuts
    1/4  cup coconut oil
    1/4 cup honey OR maple syrup
     1/2-1 tea vanilla extract 
     1/2-1 tea almond extract or maple             flavoring (or your favorite) 
      1/4 teaspoon or more of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom or whatever spices you like. 
     3/4 cup or more raisins, dried cherries, cranberries or other dried fruit (chop up larger fruits, such as dried apricots, apples)

*preheat oven 300deg. 

Tumble together oats, sunflower seeds, coconut, bran, wheat germ, nuts and seasonings in big bowl. 

Heat oil and honey together until thin and fairly hot. Remove from heat, stir in extracts. 
Pour over dry ingredients and stir to coat evenly. Spread in single layer on jelly roll pans and toast in oven, stirring from time to time, until evenly browned. 10 minutes or so. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Stir in raisins or other dried fruit. 

Serves 8-10. Recipe can be doubled and stored in tightly covered containers. 

Monday, January 4, 2016


We started this year with a skiff of snow, quickly followed by freezing rain. Not fun. 
A good reason not to leave the house, too. 
It warmed up enough we could make the all important kitty food & litter run. 
They'd even sent out the bat signal, worrying we might run out. 
I hope your New Years was good!