Tuesday, February 19, 2013

411 On Cleaning: Garden Tubs-Clean Your Jets

Garden tubs should be cleaned periodically, not just the outside, but the inside also. specifically, the jets.

Dust and clean the tub a usual. My tub was slow to drain, so I had to unclog the drain before cleaning the jets. If you've never tried one of these, they are Fantastic. It is gross, but you will get all the hair and gunk out without chemicals, quickly.

This post from Simply Organized is very helpful: How To Clean Whirlpool Tub Jets. She has done a lot of research and has had great success in cleaning her tub jets. I won't give the directions, I encourage you to visit her blog and get the how-tos.

I used this method and was quite surprised at how much came out of the jets.

More Tub and Shower Cleaning Tips:

  • Use a sponge Mop for cleaning shower stalls
  • Use a regular mop to clean the hard to reach areas in a garden tub 
  • Hang a shower curtain on a tension rod inside your shower so the water doesn't hit the glass door. You won't get build-up on the door.
  • Use lemon oil furniture polish on walls and door of the shower stall. (not on floors). Pour onto cloth, rub evenly. It will clean and prevent build-up of scum and hard water stains.

If you have had better success in cleaning your tub jets than I have and you used a method different than Simply Organized, leave me a comment or link. 

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Manic Monday

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine Bookmarks

I don't do a lot of decorating and hoopla for Valentine's Day, but this year I participated in a Valentine Exchange with Jill from Create.Craft.Love and a few other ladies. I LOVE any type of art or mail exchange.

The deadline for entering was Jan 31, and the Valentines had to be mailed by Feb 7. When Jan 31st came and Jill posted the list, I was a little surprised to find out that over 40 ladies had signed up.


I knew I wanted to make Valentine Bookmarks, so I had to think fast about how to make that many in one week's time.

Using what I already had around the house, and a couple of hours here and there, they turned out pretty cute.

Valentine Bookmarks

I was first inspired to make paper book hearts by Meghan from Simply Stoked. Take a look at her Book Heart Art, it is really pretty! I saw her book heart on Pinterest back before I even knew what Pinterest was! Instead of "pinning", I added the pin to my "favorites". Wow...I've come a long way!

I made my own little heart for another project but didn't like the way it turned out, so I put it on my Inspiration Wheel instead.

To make the Valentine Bookmarks, I gathered all the pink and red card stock and scraps I could find in my stash.

After cutting the paper to the size I needed, I tore the top and bottom edges.

Then, I formatted the the quote on WHITE cardstock and used chalk to give the paper an aged look.

After cutting each, I used a distress tool to rough up the edges a bit. You can see the difference between cut paper and the distressed edges below.

I will admit, I am sometimes a little slow when it comes to executing a craft idea. I first started making the hearts by cutting them out, stacking them, and then sewing them together one by one. Yeah...slow in more ways than one. At that rate, I would never have been done in time. 

So, I finally got smart faster by FOLDING 3 book pages over in TWO places, and TRACING half hearts along each fold.

After that, I did one long machine stitch along each fold.

It was so much easier to cut them out once they were all sewn!

I inked the edges of each heart (folded) with a Red Stampin' Up Marker.

A little messy, but easy clean -up. (My work mat already had red and pink all over if from another project).

All that was left was to adhere each heart (bottom page only) to the paper and then adhere that to the pink or red bookmark. I was so surprised at how fast it went. Addressing the envelopes took me longer than making the bookmarks! 

If I was REALLY smart, I would have figured out how to convert the excel sheet with names and addresses to mailing labels. 

Maybe I'll learn how to do that next year.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mushroom Farci

National Stuffed Mushroom Day came and went around here. (February 4th) I planned to have them...but I didn't plan very well. I forgot to buy the mushrooms. Better late than never...

My Stuffed Mushroom recipe (aka Mushroom Farci) comes from a fund-raiser cookbook, published way back in the late 70's. It is my favorite cookbook! The cover is gone, the spiral binding cracked, and the pages have many stains. I like to think of it as seasoned. I transferred it to a small 3-ring binder and sometime soon, I think I am going to recover the binder. It deserves to have a beautiful cover.

This is an easy recipe, tried and true, including my occasional short-cuts.

Stuffed Mushrooms


40 fresh mushrooms, 1-2" in diameter or about 1 lb
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 grated onions
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 stick butter, melted

Wash and dry mushrooms. Trim ends of stalks, then carefully remove stalks from caps. Chop stalks and mix with cheese, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano. Fill mushroom caps with the mixture. (Do not over stuff) Place caps in a shallow baking dish. Spoon butter over mushrooms, being sure to wet each cap. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes.

Shortcuts and Tips:
  • For a small pack of mushrooms ( found in the grocer's produce section), I cut the recipe in half 
  • I omit oregano if I am using Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Sometimes I chop the onions, but it does taste better to grate them
  • If I am out of fresh garlic, I use garlic powder to taste
  • I've never noticed that the recipe says to wash AND DRY the mushrooms. I never dry them.

Did you know the word Farci is a french word meaning stuffed?

I'm sharing this recipe at these great parties:

Share it One More Time Sunday #7 2013
Inspire me Monday

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Homeschool Co-op Classes: Dads, Sewing, Auto Shop, and More!

In the Spring of 2012, our L.I.F.E Co-op  had an usually busy semester. Some of the classes offered (and requested) took extra effort to make happen, but thanks to a couple of our Dads and some remarkable Moms, it was an awesome semester.

Most of our classes are geared for an hour of fun and learning. There are some subjects that simply cannot be taught in one hour's time. Not unless you are incredibly talented and patient, like one of our Dads who taught beginning guitar to a room full of middle and high school students. One of the things that is beautiful about a CO-OP is the fact that we each give of our talents and abilities. The father who taught this class usually offers lessons in his home for a higher fee than he charged for the students in our homeschool co-op. In fact, it really wasn't a fee if you ask me....$10 for the full ten weeks! He rearranged his work schedule to come in for an hour each Friday morning before going to work. It was hard work to get  it all done in one hour, but after 10 weeks, they did a little performance that showed...it can be done!

Another class that seemed nearly impossible? Auto Shop. Yes, Auto Shop is taught in schools during one hour periods, but the class rooms are already set up and equipment is available. For us, another incredible Dad came in, taught our high school students the basics using a workbook approach, and then actually let the students work on his own car! Hands-on experience. They changed tires, changed oil, and even learned the how the engine runs! My teenage daughter can actually talk cars now with my husband. If our car makes a strange noise or has an issue, she suggests what it may be...and she hasn't been very far off with her suggestions since she took the class. Yes, my husband could have taught her himself, but there is something official about taking an outside class with a group of students that makes it more interesting and engaging. We had quite a few happy parents that semester... especially the fathers of girls!

Two moms taught another great class in the Spring of 2012. This one really couldn't be done in one hour, so we got creative with the scheduling and gave them two periods to teach 4th grade and up students how to  SEW! I'm not a fan of sewing. I thought they were crazy. I tried and tried to discourage them (great co-op leader that I am) but they insisted they could do it, and the students could learn in 10 weeks. I walked through each week before and during class, singing their praises and shaking my head in disbelief at the projects they were about to attempt. What happened? Girls who knew NOTHING about sewing in the beginning walked away with a love AND ability to sew! And what did I get for all my nay-saying?  Well, I walked off with this:

At the end of our 10 weeks, during our presentation time, they presented me with this beautiful quilt and matching pillow. They each wrote a special thanks or message on the yellow squares. Here's a close-up of some of them, you can see their fabulous work:

Not only did they make the quilt (without me seeing it), they each made several projects. 

It took some effort to get to co-op early, set up for these special classes and stay longer to clean up, but wow...those classes were worth it!

Below is a list of the other classes we taught that semester, I really don't know how we did it with only 7 classrooms, one of them being a nursery and preschool area. What an awesome group of families!

Spring 2012 Classes:

Kindergarten-2nd Grade

Take Off With Flight: From birds to airplanes, learning about flight from the historical and scientific perspective with fun activities, biographies, and experiments. 

Classroom Games and P.E.

Spanish: Alphabet, pronunciation, vocabulary, and fun!

History the Video Way: using Nest Videos with activities

3rd-5th Grade

P.E. and Classroom Games

Arts and Crafts

Artist Quest:  * This is a class I taught, we learned about geography and artists with fun activities, not always involving art. I adapted this lesson plan to work in a co-op setting. We did more geography than art, learning about culture, food and time periods of each artist. You can do A LOT with this idea!


Florida Unit Study: This can be adapted to any state. History, crafts, worksheets and activities

Middle and High School

Claymation II: I'll post soon about this class.

If It Ain't Baroque, Don't Fix ItA study on the art, architecture and music of the Baroque Era.

LIFE'S Story: * Another class I taught, descriptive writing, short story elements, the class wrote a short story together.

If you have questions or would like more details about any of the above classes, leave a comment or message me at fourelevenrox at gmail dot com. I'll be glad to answer any questions. I hope our schedule has given you some homeschool co-op class ideas!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Binding With Fabric

I have recently been using fabric to bind books. I love a closed spine when it comes to storing a book. Open spines are nice in some cases, and I have made quite a few of them, but when giving a special book to someone, I prefer it to be closed. Fabric gives the illusion of a closed spine and is easy to work with.

I first experimented with fabric for book binding in the Encouragement Journal. I used the same technique has I have in some of my mini albums, except that I used signatures instead of folded paper.

Signatures were machine sewn

 I glued the signatures to cardboard...

Cardboard recycled from a water color paper pad

 and covered it all with fabric.

Journal before it was trimmed and the heart was attached.
A brown strip of fabric was added to give it a more finished look.

I was inspired to use fabric in the book binding process from a small album I found at Goodwill. It was bound with fabric and loosely tied with twine on the spine. It was difficult to open. I suppose that's why it was never used and it was donated. (I recycled the paper for another project.)

Basically, just fabric covered cardboard on inside and outside

I loved the raw edges, the simplicity.
Gluing the signatures to fabric for the Encouragement Journal was easy. I omitted the holes, and glued the cardboard directly to the fabric leaving the spine without glue.

I recently bound a book with loose pages. I wanted to use fabric for the cover also, but the same construction could not be used. I wanted it to open easily and I did not want to use rings. Without some modifications, I would have the same issues as the above album. It would not open enough to turn the pages for viewing.

The Kindness Book

For my sister's birthday, several of her friends and family practiced random acts of kindness to others in lieu of birthday presents to her. They wrote about their experiences and shared them with her via email. I bound all of the messages together into one book: Acts of Kindness.

Book bound with fabric and cord

You can see some of the similarities and differences in each of the three albums. I will take you through the process of how I bound the Kindness Book.

Book Binding With Fabric (and cord)

  • Thick Cardboard (recycled from art pads, or use chipboard)
  • paper for pages, cut to desired size of book, PLUS 2" if you want to add items to your pages later
  • Fabric (duck cloth, denim, or other heavyweight fabric is best)
    • I used muslin, then burlap over that
  • pva or tacky glue
  • eyelets, optional
  • twine, cord, or ribbon for binding
  • paper pierce tool, awl, or large nail
  • embellishments
  • scissors
  • paintbrush or credit card to spread glue
If you are using signatures, hopefully the above photos will be enough to guide you through covering your book with fabric. Note:  Apply glue to the front and back signature only, not the spine. The spine should remain free.

If you are using loose pages, you will need to cut  4 cardboard pieces. Two of these will be the spine. Here's how to cut the 4 pieces:

Cut two pieces of cardboard about 1/4 inch larger than your book pages on 3 sides. (Not the spine side, I'll show you.) After you cut those 2 pieces, cut 2 inches away from each, vertically, from top to bottom. This will give you the 4 pieces needed. (see below)

Below is a photo of the front and back covers for the Kindness Book. I suppose I should have put the spine on the left side before taking the photo. (Sorry.) The larger piece will open much like some scrapbook albums, the smaller piece will serve as a spine. You will want your spine to be about 2 inches wide. The other photos will help you understand this better, I hope.

Cut the cardboard first, then paint it 

Paint the cardboard if the fabric you are using is light colored. The color of the cardboard may show through.

For each piece, apply glue to the cardboard, spread EVENLY with a paintbrush or credit card all the way to the edges. Be sure to cover the edges well. Do this for all 4 pieces.

Keep your fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN on your work surface and place each glued piece onto the fabric. Be sure each piece is centered correctly and evenly before applying pressure. 
I use a ruler to line mine up.

Also: leave a small gap between the spine and the larger piece. This gap should be the equivalent of the thickness of your cardboard. (see photo b)

The gap between the front and back should be the equivalent of the pages. Be sure to measure before you glue down both spines. (see photo a)

photo a - measure width of pages

photo b - be sure gap is large enough to allow the cardboard to bend

Once your cardboard is centered onto the fabric, use a brayer or bone folder to smooth and secure it. START FROM THE MIDDLE and work your way out to avoid any bubbles or wrinkles. 

Please note, if your fabric has a loose weave, the glue may seep through. I used burlap, so I first covered with muslin, then burlap to hide any glue spots. Test your fabric first. 

Trim fabric as desired. For the Encouragement Journal, I left an edge of fabric because I wanted it to fray slightly. I trimmed closer for the Kindness Book.

Trim fabric before the glue is completely dry so that it doesn't get too hard to cut.

If you plan to sew your embellishments onto your cover, do that BEFORE you glue the fabric onto the cardboard. I glued the muslin down first, then adhered my embellishments to the burlap, then glued that onto the muslin.

I used a stamp to print an embellishment and adhered that with paper fasteners. 

I always check to be sure it will bend and open before I bind it.

Next step is to bind the book. My paper had holes in it already because I salvaged it from another album, also from Goodwill. The handmade paper was all I was interested in, not the cover.

Ideally, your paper will not have holes; making the holes at the same time as the holes in the spine helps the pages stay together better.

Also, folding each sheet of paper the same size as the spine will give it some "grow room" to add photos or embellishments, but it is not necessary. Each sheet of paper in this book was folded over 2 inches near the spine. (You can see the folds in photo c below.)

photo c - paper folded
The fold was made BEFORE cutting the paper to desired book size.

Secure the paper together on at least 2 sides. Line up the spine edges exactly, leaving 1/4 inch around the top, bottom, and other side.

Mark your holes, and use an awl, paper piercing tool, or nail to make the initial hole. I started with a paper piercing tool, and then used an awl until it was the size I needed. At this point, you are only making holes in the cardboard, not the paper.

I wanted to use eyelets, but that is not necessary. If you use them, understand that the cardboard is thick and use the right size. Mine were barely big enough, but they would not show on the inside so it was OK

USE A MAT to protect your work area. Yes, I forgot!

Once the holes are made, and eyelets adhered, you can cover the inside (cardboard) with fabric if you'd like. One piece on each side, front and back.

At this point, if your paper doesn't have holes in it already, line up your paper and attach it to front and back of the cardboard with clips. Using the holes in the spine as a guide, punch  holes into the stack of paper with an awl or large nail. Yes, it will take work!

If you already have holes in your paper, line up the holes and proceed with the next step.

To keep the book bound, put tape around one end of the cord, string, or ribbon. Working from the back insert the cord into the book. Do this for the top and bottom and then tie (tightly) into a knot or bow.

Work the cord into the back spine, then the pages, then the front.
Tape helps to guide it through easier. 

And that's it! 

I added the title with some iron-on letters I found on clearance. 

Here's the Intro page:

And the finished book again.

If you have any questions, please ask in the comment section. I'm not that great with tutorials, yet.

I hope you have great success binding books using fabric. There are several ways to do it, these are just two I've discovered. I'll be sure to post about any other variations I find. 

Thanks for dropping by!

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