Monday, February 1, 2016 0 comments

Dyeing Yarn with Kool-Aid

I recently decided to start tackling my stash of natural fibers and knitting them. My stash is rather large, but a lot of it is the wrong color for me. Rather than donate it to someone else and buy yarn in the colors I wear, I decided to go ahead and start dyeing some of it. I've done it before, but on a limited basis. I think this is my first time to dye a whole sweater's worth of yarn.

Before I go on, you need to know a few things if this intrigues you:

(1) It only works on natural fibers (i.e. animal hair) and nylon.
(2) Kool-Aid has citric acid in it, which makes the dye stick permanently. If you don't use Kool-Aid, you'll need to add a bonding agent. (I think I've seen people use vinegar, but you'll want to double-check first.)

I started out with this Patons Wool yarn in a mauve color. Mauve is NOT my color at all. I look like death when I wear it, although I know people that look beautiful when they wear it. The yarn was a fantastic clearance deal, though, so I bought it. I need a more vibrant color, so I chose to go to a darker and brighter red. At least, that's what I was aiming for.

The general rule to get vibrant colors when dyeing with Kool-Aid is to use one packet of Kool-Aid per ounce of yarn. I had accumulated quite a stash of Kool-Aid for dyeing purposes, but I had to mix a few brands and flavors to come up with enough (14 packets total for the whole batch). If you're a perfectionist (like me), you'll need to let go of that a bit when you dye yarn with Kool-Aid. I *thought* I'd get a vibrant, true red. I ended up with a slightly different - but gorgeous nonetheless - color.

Unfortunately, I can't link to the tutorial I used since I'm writing this on my tablet without Internet access (at least until it's published). But the information is readily available online if you just search. I used the "hot water on the stove" method.

This is what the yarn looked like when I first put it into the pot (after soaking in plain water).

About 10 minutes later, this is what it looked like (after all the color was absorbed).

See? The water was clear after I took the yarn out.

Here's the yarn hanging out in lukewarm water, returning to room temperature.

And here it is, hanging to dry in my bathroom. You can see that the color is a bit different than it looked when it was fresh out of the pot and wet.

Lastly, here it is in ball form, dried and ready to be knit. It wasn't the color I set out to make, but it's a lovely color (somewhere around tangerine, I'd say) that will look good on me. I'll keep you posted on what I make with it!

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 0 comments

Rag wreath for a primitive bedroom

If you know me well, you know that I don't usually decorate in the primitive style. Nothing against it, but it just doesn't go with the decorations I've accumulated over the years. But when we moved to a home that had a bedroom wallpapered in a gorgeous primitive style, I decided to capitalize on the theme. After all, we had sold almost all of our decorations when we moved from the last house, so I almost had to start from scratch anyway.

Here's the catch: It was my 12-year-old son's room. Hmm ... How do you make the primitive style look good for a boy that age? Fortunately for me, my son isn't into cartoon themes and such. I ran the idea past a friend that decorates a good bit in primitive style, and she advised me to capitalize on the blue stars in the wallpaper. I created a board on Pinterest, filled it with ideas, and then showed it to my son. He liked it, so that's what we went with.

My very first project was a rag wreath. I found the tutorial on Pinterest, but I really did my own thing once I saw the basics of how it was done. I didn't want to have to spend money needlessly, so I used an old metal coat hanger as the base. I was afraid my wreath wouldn't be very full since I wasn't using the kind that you buy with at least three layers to them, but I shouldn't have been. It turned out beautifully!

Here it is in progress. You can get a better idea of what my coat hanger base looked like.

And here it is finished. I was surprised at how nice it turned out!

And here you can see what it looks like on the wall.

This wreath used a total of two yards of fabric, so it wasn't expensive to make.

I have a few more projects to share from decorating this room, so stay tuned!

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, January 1, 2016 0 comments

God cares about shoes.

If you've been around for awhile, you may remember the story about the Vermont Teddy Bears that my kids wanted when we were on vacation once. We just didn't have the money for them, but God provided one for each of my kids from thrift stores - the exact fur color and everything! (I'll try to insert a link to the post, but if I can't figure out how to do that from this blogging app, you may have to search for it on the blog. It's from May 11, 2011. It's still here and is one of my favorite blog posts of all time.)

Well, my kids have grown up a bit since then. My son turned 12 this year, and he's turning his attention to things like tennis shoes these days. Around his birthday this year, he told us he'd like some expensive Nike shoes that he had seen another teen wearing. Since my husband was unemployed at the time, we just couldn't justify $80 for a pair of shoes when he already had a pair that he could fit. And because of his age, he sometimes seems to outgrow a shoe size in one month. We promised to keep an eye out at thrift stores and buy him a pair if we found them there. We looked and looked ... and were still looking when his birthday rolled around. He had even mentioned that he'd love to have those shoes for his birthday present (a sure sign that he's not a little kid anymore).

I probably don't need to tell you that I had prayed many times, asking God to prove Himself to my son at this time in his life. Yes, my son remembers the Vermont Teddy Bears (we still have them), but I wanted another reminder for him that God hears him when he gets older, too.

Well, we still hadn't found the shoes when his birthday came. On the morning of his birthday, I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus. (I later found out that it was the flu, but I didn't know it then.) My husband had work to do for someone, so I was the only parent around during the day. Since we homeschool, I have the liberty of taking the day off when it's my kids' birthdays, and we always do. We do something special. I asked my son if he'd like to go to the local thrift store to look for shoes, and he said that he would. I felt a bit better later in the morning, so we went.

Now I have to tell you that my son takes after me. He was a bit skeptical that we were ever going to find those shoes because he knew as well as we did that they weren't a real *need* - just a *want*. Even at his age, he knows that we don't always get what we want.

But we went straight to the shoe section that morning and found not one, not two, but *THREE* pair of those shoes - all different colors - *IN HIS SIZE* and in beautiful condition!! It's just like God to answer my prayer over and above what I ever could have expected. He even got to pick what color he wanted!

Needless to say, my son was grinning from ear to ear when we left the thrift store that morning. God had come through just in time and given him a special birthday present. I made sure he understood that God had provided even more than we had asked for this time.

I knew it would encourage other people, so I wanted to share it here.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, December 26, 2015 0 comments

Sorry I've been MIA

I disappeared rather abruptly and unexpectedly. Sorry about that! My laptop died, and then we moved where I don't have Internet access on a regular basis. I'm going to try to post more often now that I've replaced my laptop with a tablet, but it probably won't be as regularly since I'll have to use a public hotspot to do it. :)

To catch you up ... We accepted a 6-month pastorate at the beginning of December. After 6 months, we'll evaluate how the arrangement is working for us and the church. We're allowed to keep our evangelistic meetings, so it works out well for us. We also have a very nice place to stay for the winter (without heading south) as well as a steady income, so we're counting our blessings.

This has to be short right now, but hopefully I'll have another, longer post for you soon. See you then!

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 20, 2015 1 comments

Sheets, Steps, Closets and a View of My Kitchen

If you have an RV with bunks, you know that regular sheets will not fit well on the bunks. They are 9" narrower than regular twin beds. I originally planned to sew a seam down the middle of the sheets to take in the excess, but then I remembered the sheet straps I'd seen at Dollar Tree.

Sure enough, they did the trick. This is how the sheets look with these straps in place:

You can see they work very well! I'm thinking about making my own version of these with metal "teeth" grips to keep the comforters in place, too. I'll post more about it once I get it worked out.

The next improvement we made was to cut a traditional rubbery mat (with "teeth" to clean your shoes) in half and bungee-strap it to our fold-out steps. I got the idea from Pinterest, and it works very well. I didn't realize I was going to need a second mat, so the middle step is waiting on that. This works well to keep mud out of the trailer and should keep our carpeting nicer for a longer time.

Our smaller wardrobe closets needed some form of shelving to be most useful to us, but they're a weird size. I stumbled upon these plastic shelves at Aldi for $10, and they fit perfectly. I didn't use the rollers on the bottom, so they should stay in place nicely while we travel. I may add a non-slip liner to the bottom of the closet just to be safe.

There is enough space at the top for another shelf, and we're seriously considering buying another 3-shelf unit to add a shelf to each set.

One caveat if you need a similar shelving unit: Because of the size of these, you have to put them together inside the closet. It's not the easiest thing you'll ever do, but it's certainly not the hardest, either. If you need to remove them in the future, you'll need to take them apart inside the closet so they'll come back out.

Lastly, here's a picture of my kitchen area in action. We had just hooked up our hot water heater, so please excuse the dirty dishes in the sink.

We start homeschooling next week, and I'll try to keep you posted about changes we make and how things are working for us.

Oh, and in case you remember the last post about our power converter not working, it happened again. :( We're going to have to replace it.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 1 comments

We're (almost) moved in!

We moved out of our traditional home last Wednesday and started moving into our travel trailer. The transition has not been a completely smooth one. We discovered what we thought was a bad power converter (no overhead lights, no a/c, but the outlets worked). It took us nearly a week to find the power converter in the trailer (hiding behind the kitchen drawers, not anywhere near the fuse box where it usually is), only to discover that it was working fine. I'm not complaining, mind you. The part alone is around $300; labor to install it is extra.

In this whole process, we brainstormed with knowledgeable RV owners and thought to check the battery. Sure enough, it was deader than a doornail, as they say. We bought a new one, hooked it up on Monday, and it seems to have fixed the problem.

Since I wasn't sure if we would need to tow the trailer to a mechanic, I didn't move a lot of things in at first. I wasn't sure what the protocol was for how much you leave in your trailer when you take it in for repairs, especially when you're living in it full-time. Thank goodness our trailer is parked in my parents' backyard! We've been using their facilities and eating with them for a week, not to mention all the boxes of our stuff that are temporarily sitting in their extra bedroom.

I'm looking forward to getting water and sewer hooked up today, and then we can eat, shower, and actually live in the trailer properly.

Lest you think that it's been a completely and totally frustrating week, here's the view out my screen door:

When things got overwhelming, I'd just sit down on the couch, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery.

I did manage to get a few organizational things accomplished, and I thought I'd share them with you.

First of all, I had to maximize my kitchen cabinet space. We have an impressive amount of kitchen cabinetry for a travel trailer, but I was used to a lot of cabinets in our previous house. My parents had these plastic-coated wire shelves sitting around and offered them to me.

I didn't think to take a picture once I put our things in, but you wouldn't have been able to see the shelf at that point anyway.

I added non-slip shelf liner beneath them and on top of them. According to a fellow RVer, it should work. The weight of the items on the shelf will help to keep them firmly "attached" to the nonslip liner. We'll find out when we tow it to get it inspected. I hope she's right! :)

The other challenge is dresser space. All four of us had a dresser to ourselves in our previous house. Now we have two drawers of dedicated dresser space for all of us combined. I'm still working on some of it, but here's what I have so far ...

I discovered that these white baskets from Dollar Tree fit over the sides of the drawer, but not too snugly to close the drawer. It's almost like they're on a track.

I put pajamas on the bottom and added underwear to the baskets on top. It works perfectly!

This is how I'm organizing the space above our queen bed - squarish plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, turned on their sides. These slide along like they're on a track, too. I just left a little bit of space at each end so we could get to all of them. We were able to fit four of them in there, and it should easily accommodate the things we need to store there.

Lastly (for now), I'm cutting apart this shoe organizer to fit inside each of the smaller wardrobe compartments. Between the two of these, we should be able to store all of our dressy shoes (basic black for the guys; a pair of white and black for us girls). The casual shoes will most likely be used on a regular basis, and I anticipate those being stored by the door. (One pair each isn't too overwhelming.)

I hope you've enjoyed the peek into our week. I'll keep you posted on new solutions as I come up with them.
Monday, July 13, 2015 0 comments

How I'm keeping the purging/moving momentum going ...

I'll be honest. I am not a 24/7 motivated moving machine. I can't even wake up in the morning and start purging items from my house as soon as my feet hit the floor. I need a little "down" time, even when life is hectic and busy.

So I've learned to go with the ebb and flow of my energy levels. There are at least a few hours every day that I can purge household items "like nobody's business," as they say. I take advantage of those hours and do all my purging/throwing away when I'm energized for it.

So what do I do when I'm overwhelmed or just need a break? I do things that aren't hard on the brain and/or don't require tough decision-making:

  1. Take pictures of things I need to sell.
  2. Upload said pictures to local Facebook selling groups or Craigslist.
  3. Browse Pinterest for more ideas for RV living. (Hey, at least it's relevant!)
  4. Play a game on the computer. (This is for some serious brain vacation time, after I've made really hard decisions and feel like my head is going to explode.)
  5. Take a 15-minute nap if I'm tired.

I try to limit #3 and #4 to about 15-20 minutes at a time, since they can easily get out of hand. The important thing is that I'm giving my mind a break from the hard decisions, and then I'm usually energized to get back at it.

This is nothing earth-shattering, but it has helped me tremendously in the last few weeks. We still have a few weeks before Moving Day, and I'm hoping this strategy will help me to get everything done in time!