Monday, July 26, 2010

I Love a Good Clothesline

I went a little crazy with the clothespins.  Stay duvet cover, stay!

I love the way these things smell:
My hubby cooking dinner (any dinner ha ha)
Freshly mown grass
My children's heads after they have had a bath (that sounds funny)
My Mom's roast beef cooking in the oven (a v. v. good childhood memory)
And clothes fresh from the clothesline.

Last year when we moved down to Washington (it's been a year now!) I asked my hubby Marshall for a clothesline.  I always wanted one when we lived in Anchorage, but it wasn't very practical- there is only a very short window of months you can use one.  And I always had this picture in my head of snagging moose (and their antlers) in a clothesline in the backyard.  Really.  But now, we live down in the Lower 48, and there is clothesline weather a great deal of the time!  And I haven't seen any moose.

I found a couple of tutorials online, and my handy hubby Marshall was able to put it together for under $25!

A few recommendations:

*Make sure your poles are a little less than 25 feet apart or you will end up buying two packages of nylon clothesline.  Not that we had to do this or anything.

*Pick a place where they ground is even.  Our backyard (we rent) is not even and is also slightly sloped.  When I am hanging out clothes I look up more than down and find myself stumbling about.  I probably picked the most uneven spot in the yard.  But it gets great sun!

*Look at where the sun is all day long, or at least most of the day, to find a good spot.

*Drill the holes for the clothesline before you put up the poles.

*Let the concrete cure for a few days before you hang up your first load of laundry.  If you don't, your poles might move or lean a bit.  Don't ask how I know this.

Now I am just looking for the perfect place to keep my clothespins.  I love this Etsy seller, her bags are gorgeous!  And she uses vintage sheets?  Sounds like a match made in clothesline heaven.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Real Japanese Craft Books (in a Real Japanese Book Store)

I used to order Japanese craft books from Etsy sellers when I lived in Alaska. I would examine the pages up close on the Etsy sites, just those four or five little pictures Etsy allowed for each book, and make a decision on whether or not those pages would be worth the price. Most of the books I bought always made me happy, but I longed for a time I could page through them myself and decide based on the whole book.

I had heard that there was a bookstore in the Portland/Beaverton area that carried the same books. My sister Johanna lives in the Portland/Beaverton area. I didn't investigate further. I already felt guilty about spending time in Target (Alaska didn't get a Target until fall of 2008) when I visited my family, how could I then spend hours in a Japanese bookstore looking at craft books?

So now that I live down in the Lower 48, I finally googled Kinokuniya.

It is 1.8 miles from my sister's house. ONE POINT EIGHT. Ugh.

So I went!  The following pictures are officially titled...

Japanese Book Store Eye Candy
For your enjoyment.

And I bought two adorable books.

I love them.

Here they are!  The big red one is here.  The small one is here.  The small book's projects are pretty much what you see on the cover.  Small bags for toting your lunch or your shoes.  Or paper.  But the big red book!  Variety!  Behold!

I love all the different bags in the big red book.  So many choices...

And more choices...

And more choices!

I especially liked how clear the directions seemed in this book.  More clear than usual anyway.  It's still Japanese.

How cute are these illustrations?!  These are the designs for embroidery.

If you don't live close to a Kinokuniya, but know which Japanese craft book you want to order, Alicia of Posy Gets Cosy has a post here that talks about the Beaverton store (the one I went to) and how to order your books through them.

And, if you want to purchase them through Etsy anyway, I loved getting them from this shop or this shop.

So, now I have lots of lovely Japanese craft books.  Have I sewn something from them? Uh...not yet.  I am dreaming of taking this class here to teach me how someday soon!

Do you have a favorite Japanese craft book?  Have you sewn something from one?

Monday, July 5, 2010

I'm in love with vinegar.

I have been wanting to reduce the amount of very handy, but questionable cleaning products that are in our house. I have seen a lot of wonderful blog posts with different recipes. Lately, I have been cleaning everything (EVERYTHING) with vinegar and baking soda. I was inspired by Libby's post on creating cleaning baskets for her friends for the holidays. Here is what is in my cleaning basket:

Vinegar spray. This is simply 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water. Vinegar smells when it's wet, but when it dries, you don't smell anything!

Baking soda. This is in a Dollar Store cheese-for-your-pizza shaker. I wanted a plastic one (this one is glass) but I was too impatient and got this.  I use the baking soda from the refrigerator for absorbing yucky smells- when it's outlived it's usefulness there, it goes in my cheese shakers for cleaning!

Microfiber cloth. These were from Ross (Dress for Less).  I love the primary colors.  They SCREAM 'Clean with me!'  (At least in my head.  It's fun when inanimate objects talk to me.)

Scrubbrush.  This one is from the Dollar Store and it is lovely.

Rubber gloves.  Always nice to wear when you don't want skin on toilet contact.

Not pictured:
"Magic Eraser". I love LOVE the official Magic Eraser from Mr. Clean. I found an off-brand at the Dollar Store. I think they work about 1/2 as well as the official brand. Next time I will pay more for the real thing. Do you know how fast it will clean your tub and tile? SO FAST. So nice!

Rags. Marshall picked some up years ago at Home Depot and I use them all over the house. It's much better than paper towels! I recently found some flat fold diapers on Etsy that gave me an idea for functional and sweet (and much better looking) rags. So I went out and bought some of the same fabric from Joann's with my 40% off coupon. Now I just need to hem them up and dye them all those pretty shades of green!  (Translation = 10 years from now when I find this fabric in a pile in my craft room I might get around to this...)

Toothbrushes (old), and a dust pan and broom. Handy tools for all those cleaning tasks.

I currently keep one of these baskets of cleaning products on each floor of the house. It really saves me going up and down the stairs when I need to clean something or mop up a quick mess.

One of the most brilliant ideas I have seen is this one, again from Libby. It's a vinegar laundry softener. The Downy ball was only $1.63 at my local Fred Meyer! There are times I add vinegar to my wash load just to get my whites whiter, and to take smells or stains out of clothing. The 1/2 and 1/2 vinegar water spray seems to take out most mild stains out of clothing.

I can't wait to try this great laundry soap! I even have all of the ingredients. My sister Elizabeth (no blog *yet* but super talented- with lovely Etsy shops!) has made this one and she likes it.

And here is a link to all the wonderful things vinegar (and other household ingredients) can do in your home! I look at this page all the time for ideas.

Some things I can't live without (when I am cleaning anyway):

My Shark Steam Mop. Kind of spendy, totally worth it. I use it every few days to clean all the hardwood floors and tile in the house. All it uses is electricity, steam, and distilled water. I love that there are no chemicals. And it really goes quickly. Believe me, I was washing the floors by hand before and well, that wasn't going to last long.

And, my one holdout in the cleaning department that doesn't qualify as a "green" cleaning solution- OxiClean Laundry Spray and OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder.  I use the powder to pre-soak stained clothing.  I dissolve the powder with a kettle full of boiling water in a large bowl, then place stained items in the bowl.  Usually, most stains disappear!  If it doesn't work the first time, I do it again.  I use the OxiClean Spray on light stains and it is also super effective.

What are your favorite cleaning solutions or cleaning tips?

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