Atlanta Maker Event – call for participants

A local charter school is hosting a Maker event this Spring and is looking for participants. Do you do carpentry, metalwork, large scale art projects? Do you craft or work with your hands? Know sewing, canning, or how to build a solar oven? If so, they want YOU!


and if you further want to inspire the kids of this local charter school, there is also a maker career day:

spread the word, let’s get kids interested in building, making, designing!

HomeMade Bias Tape

Bias tape is simply folded fabric strips cut on the “bias”, which means diagonally to the grain of the fabric. This allows the fabric strips to bend and stretch effortlessly around curved seams and edges, making it a great way to finish garments or other sewing projects. It’s inexpensive to buy, however the color and fabric choices can be pretty limited.
Making your own bias tape for your sewing projects not only means you know it will match perfectly, but it also helps use up your leftover fabric which means it’s practically free. It is also much easier than you might think, and you don’t need one of those fancy electric machines to do it. Are you ready to learn how? Here’s what you’re going to need:

Scissors or rotary cutter
Sewing Machine
seam ripper or very long pin
tape folder

First, iron your fabric and then lay it out on a large flat surface. Line the selvage edge up with the edge of your table or cutting mat.


If your mat has bias markings on it, and you can see thru your fabric, all you need to do is cut along those diagonal lines, making strips about an inch and a half wide. (for wider tape, cut strips about 2.5 inches)

If you aren’t using a mat or you have opaque fabric, take the cut side and bring it across to the selvage side, making a triangle. Iron the fold, then open the fabric back flat. This fold mark will serve as your bias line, and you will cut your strips parallel with it.

Cut your strips. (a quilter’s square and rotary cutter make quick work of this part!)

Line up the ends of your strips, with right sides together, so they form a right angle. Stitch a very narrow seam along the outside edge.


Straighten the fabric and iron down the seam. Make sure you iron all your seams in the same direction as you go down the length of your tape. This will be important later.

Feed one end of your tape into the backside of the tape folder, and use a seam ripper or long pin to feed the fabric thru the slot until it begins to come out the other end. Make sure all your ironed seams are facing away from the end you start through the folder so they don’t get caught up in it.

As the fabric starts to pop out the front of the folder, have your iron ready. Use the hottest setting you can with steam, to make sure that your new folds stay put.

voila! bias tape in any fabric you need, and fewer fabric scraps for the bin.

Now just fold it around the edges of your project and stitch. Perfect, finished edges are yours in no time.

this post was originally written for the EcoEtsy team blog. you can check it out as well as the rest of their 14 days of crafting series right here

A Screened Catio

LucieFur and I are enjoying a nice mosquito-free glass of cabernet on the newly-screened catio.

(ok, who am I kidding. LucieFur hates cabernet, and that’s not a particularly “nice” one anyway.)

Of course not 30 seconds after I let the rest of the zoo out, Monkey proceeded to climb the screen and try to wiggle out the hole between the crappy roof and the rafters.

Catio construction, round two, will commence this weekend.

Dammit, Monkey.

Building a Catio

Backstory: Our house is still undergoing renovation. The inside is getting there, but we’ve been pretty well ignoring the outside. We’ve got a small covered deck that we eventually hope to totally replace and expand across the whole back of the house, but that’s a project for a day when we have a LOT more money. In the meantime, the railings and stairs were horribly unsafe, and we rarely used the space due to mosquitos.
Also, since we finally finished our master bathroom, and are using it, keeping the kitty litter boxes in there was just gross.

So, we decided to build a Catio.

Trying to do this inexpensively since it will all have to come down when we finally re-do the whole deck, yet still making it sturdy enough to keep the cats inside was a challenge. We couldn’t just screen the whole thing, because the cats would rip right through it. So, we decided to run 3 feet of lattice around the inside to keep them away from the lower screen bits.

It’s still a work in progress, I need to paint the wood and we need to run the screening, but here’s a sneak peek!

(can I just interject here how AWESOME it was to finally take a sledgehammer to those god-awful rails?!? I have wanted to do that for SIX YEARS)

We’re going to build what looks like a bench along one side, so we can hide the cat boxes under it, and then put a cat door leading into the kitchen. Also, we need to reinforce the door screen with hardware cloth, so little kitty claws don’t destroy it.

Axes and Hammers and Crowbars, oh my!

The Lady L was gracious enough to give up part of her friday evening to help me conquer the drop ceiling in my to-be aerial room. It was very cathartic.

Next up, removing the faux “rafters” and repairing the original plaster ceiling.

I’d like to say I’d get that done this weekend, but I don’t think I have the money in my budget for a few weeks to finish all of it. I’ll probably have to put up cardboard in the meantime since there are some actual holes from where the old roof leaked. Also, we discovered that the 12 foot original ceiling was for a room with a different footprint than the current room. At some point, a hallway was carved out and so the 12 foot ceiling extends across the hall, and the wall for the room does not go all the way up. I think that I’m going to lay a floor across the rafters over the hall and use it as storage. I can put cabinet doors on it from the room side, instead of rebuilding the wall higher. I’ve lived places with this sort of storage before, and it’s drastically more convenient than having to get all the way into the attic. We also unearthed the remnants of another fireplace, but sadly they disassembled the lower part and build a closet where the mantle would have been.
Sometimes the decisions people make while “renovating” old houses make me very sad.

I’ll be building some sort of support from the attic side to hold the rigging points, but that is also a project for a day when I have help.

In other news, part of the reason it’s been quiet here this week is because I was also up north, helping my mom with her house. She lucked out when ripping up the carpet, and the hardwoods underneath can get by with only some minor work (well, there are a couple spots that need new boards, but that will wait for a while, they are in a closet and mostly hidden) We did some minor repairs and refreshed the finish, and it looks so good! I’m also getting a chance to brush up on my electrician skills with a couple of tiny projects – replacing light fixtures and hunting down a new exhaust fan motor for her kitchen.
It so satisfying to see immediate improvements. Flipping the switch and the new chandelier works? Simple, but a nice payoff. Small projects tide me over while the big ones are waiting on more funding.
I really do love working on houses.

problem kitchen

The kitchen in the Yellow house is driving me insane. Something must be done, but since the whole house will get gutted in a couple of years, the “fix” needs to be cheap and relatively easy. Paint will go a long, long way, as one of the things I hate most is the horrible faux finish the last owner applied.
My problem is what color.

(taken at nite, sorry, it’s a little off, but you get the idea)
The cabinets are a pale oak-ish color, and are too nice to rip out. Painting them would also be a headache I’m not quite ready to tackle, although that may happen within the year (and they would go white, at least the uppers). The floor is a beige-ish ceramic tile which would actually be passable except for the horrible brown grout. Apparently changing the grout would also be a PITA, so that’s out. The countertops are black/brown speckled formica. (changeable, but why bother for 2 years when they’re in good shape?)

Here’s the other side. The island used to be twice this size, but I ripped half of it out and put up the beadboard, which also needs painting. The top is temporary, will probably get an Ikea butcher block top for it, since that would be re-useable. You can also see where I started painting the back wall, it is now a giant chalkboard.

Most of the photos of kitchens that I see online with this combo of floor/cabinet/countertop are painted some variation on beige, which seems incredibly boring. The room gets a ton of light, has 10 foot celings and french doors onto the deck. It also only opens onto a hall, so coordinating with other rooms is not an issue.

Examples of kitchens I love are here, but as you can see, they are pretty far from what I have to work with. (and I know… I’m complaining about beige being boring and most of these are white. I know. )

Here’s the side wall, just for good measure. The drop-leaf table is going to my mom’s, so pretend it’s not there.

Contemplating an apple green, or maybe turquoise. Or not. Anyone got any good ideas they want to share? Bonus points for pictures!

Vintage quilt squares potholders, version 2.0

I was cleaning off my desktop and realized I never posted these photos from December (because they were gifts and I didn’t want the recipient to see them!) Ayway, I wrote a tutorial way back here if you want to check it out (altho I think they’re pretty self explanatory) These were made for my aunt from fabric squares saved by my great grandmother, and salvaged from the Florida house.

Brr! Here comes the chill!

The weatherman tells me it’s going to drop to 28 degrees tonight. Yikes! Time to cover some plants and bring the pots in.

The temps are expected to rise again this weekend, but this is still as good a time as any to get our house ready for winter. If you haven’t gone through your house yet, here’s a handy checklist to help you get started.

1. Change your furnace filters and have your unit inspected if it’s older.
2. Check your windows and doors for worn, cracked or missing caulk and weatherstripping. You can do this by walking around your windows and doors with a candle. Replace the weatherstripping if necessary. It’s also good to give your windows a cleaning before winter starts, since sunshine is at a premium in dark winter months.
3. If you use a real fireplace, get your chimney inspected and cleaned. If you use space heaters, make sure those are in good working order. Test both your fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector while you’re at it.
4. Burst pipes suck. Insulate vulnerable pipes in your crawlspace, and don’t forget outdoor spigots.
5. If you have storm windows, now is the time to take down your screens and put them up.
6. If you have ceiling fans, switch the direction of the blades and turn them on low to encourage warm air to circulate down to where you need it most.
7. Check and clean your gutters. All those fallen leaves can clog them quickly, which can cause a spectacular amount of water damage when the water finds a new route. (because it will, and you won’t know until the ceiling comes crashing down)
8. If you’ve got a little extra time and cash, consider adding insulation to your attic. We did this a couple years back and it made a huge difference in our heating bill.
9. Last, but not least, pull out those sweaters, fleecy throw blankets and warm slippers. Wrap yourself up and get cozy instead of turning up the thermostat.
10. Bonus round: If you suffer from SAD in these dark months, try to make sure you get at least 15 minutes out in some bright sunshine, or in front of a sunlamp each day. You can also invest in some pretty candles or a set of gas logs. Some people find fire helps their mood, plus it’s just pretty!

The good: most of our floor is down. Still have to do a patch in the dining room and the hallway, plus the transitions and baseboards, but hopefully later today my furniture can be no longer in a pile in the middle of the room. And I’ll have a floor. For the first time in 5 years.
progress photo:

The bad: I already know how to clean chipmunk off of it. (no photos of Monkey’s handiwork, sorry)

The ugly:”> Uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, our Congressional parties now post prices for key slots on committees. You want it — you buy it, runs the challenge. They even sell on the installment plan: You want to chair an important committee? That’ll be $200,000 down and the same amount later, through fundraising.

click and read and be disgusted, many thanks to MDaniel for the link.

oh and here, this is pretty nifty: pictures of homesteaders and their claim shacks. Amazing how many of them are single women.