Thrifty Thursdays: Coffee can planter tutorial

Now that we are FINALLY getting some rain in California, I don’t feel ironic for posting garden inspiration and tutorials. Since we will be moving soon, I didn’t want to get my full garden going, so I made a coffee can planter for my rosemary. This is perfect for the novice gardener who is a little nervous about starting a harvest or a seasoned gardener who employs a mini herb garden by the kitchen. And the kiddos can join, too!

b6b58406817a11e38aca0e51ab9d14d3_8I’m so very proud to announce that you can find the full tutorial in the Spring issue of Childhood Magazine, a new kid-centric magazine in Sacramento!

Since I already had the can, the paint and the soil, this only cost me the price of the rosemary – which was a few dollars at the local nursery. Now that the garden season is in mild swing, I will be sharing more garden goodies in the near future.

Have you started your garden yet? If so, do you have anything fun to share? Post in the comments and on social media. And thank you again, Childhood Magazine, for having me. It was a pleasure!

Stay thrifty, my friends.

Yo Momma Monday: Karen LePage

yo momma mondayMeet Karen LePage, 42, a sewin’ mama from Michigan. I met her through Oh My! Handmade and I instantly swooned over all of her work. She not only sews up a storm, but she also creates patterns, sells custom-made garments and shares tutorials on her website at One Girl Circus! Oh, and she also co-wrote a sewing book for boys, appropriately named Sewing for Boys.

Before she started working for herself, she sang at weddings, sold cars, managed a coffee shop, taught German and worked in Strategic Planning. To say she is well-rounded would be an understatement.

Karen started a blog after she read and loved blogs from other people. Initially, it started as a means for documenting her children’s special moments.

“I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not very consistent with it, however, because I was never a child who could keep a journal beyond “dear diary” for more than a few weeks.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

After her mother bought a sewing machine when Karen was five, she started experimenting and made every project in the booklet that came with the machine. From there, she spent several years making wardrobes for all of her dolls. As a kid, she started watching Sewing with Nancy when it came on PBS, a show she still watches to this day.

I always say Nancy Zieman taught me to sew…I still watch it.  I still love it.”

Karen still remembers her first sewing project – a drawstring bag – and she says there have been plenty of disasters along the way. When she first got started, she would wear her disasters; now, she tucks them away until she’s ready to try again. Her latest creation was a Japanese double-gauze newborn outfit that was in a box for six years because she couldn’t stand to look at it.

“I’m so happy I could rescue it!”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

As a mom, Karen says that her children not only inspire her work, but also keep her balanced and admits that if she didn’t have her kids, she would probably just work all the time.

“I love making things, and having humans relying on me for comfort, food, and shelter ensures that I nourish myself with their companionship while meeting their needs, too.”

The creativity bug has definitely hit both of her kids, as her son likes to design the garments she makes for him, and her daughter is a quilter. Her son also shops at thrift and vintage stores, so he has become quite the master at button replacing, and he already has an eye for what can be fixed, and what cannot. Her daughter will often work up a patchwork when she’s in the sewing space.

“She has an amazing eye for color and pattern.”

Karen describes her workspace as chaotic yet comforting. While she is always moving things around in there, she still keeps an open space for her kids to visit while she’s working. She does like to take some time tidying up in between projects.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“But as soon as I have a clean space I’m inspired to start making again – immediately.

Although there’s no such thing as a normal day, there is one consistency in her morning routine – coffee (ain’t that the truth). Her daily activities are determined by deadlines, inspiration and commitments – and she does try to get some sewing in every day.

“I start to get twitchy when I’m away from my sewing machine for too long.”

Karen says that the best and scariest thing about running her own business is that everything – from what get made to what gets published – is all her.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Sometimes it’s wonderful and sometimes it’s terrifying and sometimes it’s wonderfully terrifying.”

She started teaching classes after someone asked her to do it, and that is one of her favorite things about what she does.

“There’s something super-satisfying about nudging my students toward sewing confidence.  I love that it’s a skill they can use forever. I love holding their hands through the tough part and saying “Look how awesome you are!” when they make it through and realize they can make something they didn’t think they could make.”

When Karen is not teaching classes and making clothes –  or thinking about new classes and new projects – she loves reading, hiking with her daughter, yoga and cooking.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“Actually, strike that, I like reading cookbooks.”

And of course, she loves all forms of crafting. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t stopped, and thanks to Creative Bug and the craft section in her local bookstore, that won’t be ending anytime soon. She loves making anything from  baby clothes to formal gowns – all of it.

“If it goes on a body, someone will wear it and love it, and that’s something that makes me happy and keeps me going.  There’s always something new I want to try, whether it’s a technique or material I haven’t yet attempted; I incorporate my latest learning into each new project.”

She gets the majority of her fabric from local fabric stores and loves visiting new stores in any town she visits. When she cannot find a fabric she wants locally, she will shop online.

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

“I spend my dollars locally whenever possible.”

Karen loves being a part of the handmade community because she has always been just one of a handful of people she knows that love sewing. Of the four high schools she attended, she only found one friend who could sew. ONE! Now that she has a whole community of friends who also love the same kind of things, she counts it as a blessing.

“I feel so energized and inspired when working collaboratively; even when working on my own thing amongst fellow makers.  The handmade community is what has made my 30s and 40s the best years of my life.”

She currently has two patterns in the Stitch Magazine Spring issue and there will be another one in the Summer issue. She is also working on a handmade garment line and is hoping to hire some local people to help with the sewing and sales of her products.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’m also thrilled to have a steady stream of consultancy projects.”

Photo from Karen LePage

Photo from Karen LePage

Karen hopes to inspire people by being an advocate of all things handmade – whether its making, buying, spreading the word, or all of the above.

“I also hope I can inspire people to try something new every once in a while, and to really enjoy the process of making.”

Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Karen for participating in this series! You can find her blog here, buy her stuff here and read the book she co-wrote here.

If you enjoy this series and would like to be a part of it, or know someone who should, please leave a note in the comments or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram. Next month, I will be talking with Jane Skoch from Maiden Jane!

Momma’s garden project: Week 13

I was fearing for the worst when my garden started to die due to the heat over the last few weeks. But then I increased the amount I was watering them and all of a sudden, they were blooming again! The most awesome plant in my garden thus far has been the tomato. I have been able to give A LOT of them to my family and still keep a bunch for us. We always buy tomatoes when we go to the grocery store so it’s pretty awesome to not have worry about that for a while.

The peppers have also been insane as of late, so it looks like I’ll be making some salsa soon! Along with the homemade tortillas I’m learning to make, we’ll be good! The only issues I’m having are with the potatoes and red onions, which are in the ground. We tried to pull them a couple weeks ago to see how they were doing, and we got nothing. But I’m going to pull them again next week and hopefully I will have a few potatoes to show for it!

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The most recent prompt for the Grow Write Guild was to write about a plant that is in bloom, which seems to perfect for right now, since all I can talk about is how wonderful my tomatoes are right now! I’m not even a tomato fan, I just can’t wait to make my salsa right now! The only thing I would change about the tomato is getting cages for all the plants. I do like the way it looks growing wild, but when I water it, I end up watering all the weeds too so it would be better if it was maintained!

Definitely getting cages for all of the plants next time around.

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The broccoli isn’t really doing too good right now. I’ve been pulling the weedy parts, so that all of the water goes to the broccoli, but it’s still taking a while. I’m going to pull the flowers that I have growing right now to see how they do.

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But what has been improving is my compost! I stopped adding to it, started mixing it up a lot more and kept it hydrated, so the food was able to compost faster. I’m hoping to have the compost ready by next Spring since I already have enough soil to last me for now. Luckily, the smell doesn’t completely blow me away when I go out there and I haven’t found any unwanted visitors…yet.

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So this is my garden right now, how is yours doing?

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Feel free to share your garden’s progress with pictures and the hashtag #yardlife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Or share your pictures and stories by linking to your blog in the comments! You can check out more of my project on Facebook page and see more of my garden inspiration on Pinterest.

Momma’s garden project: Week 4

SONY DSCWe are into the third week of the garden being moved to the backyard, and last weekend was the first weekend that I really grasped how much work this whole garden thing is. When my dad came over with the garden beds he made, we just had to attach the hinges and transplant everything. It wasn’t super easy, but it was fun.

Well, last weekend I decided it was finally time to plant the potatoes and onions. Sam’s dad told me I would have to dig a two inch row in order to plant all the potatoes. So I did that and threw them in there. Yes, I know we have YouTube and Pinterest for every tutorial known to man, but I thought I knew what was up.

Then, I came in the house to grab some water and was informed that I would have to cut each potato a few times, which means I would have to dig a lot more rows to house all of my potatoes. So I did two rows. With a shovel. If you haven’t done that before, don’t do it. Ever. Unless you’re looking for a really good workout.

I also made the super smart choice of starting to work on the garden around 2pm (when I say super smart, I really mean super dumb), so by the time I was done with those two rows, I was getting dizzy and blurry-eyed from the sun. The sun and I don’t really mix well together.

SONY DSCThe next day, my stepdad came over to help me with something else and ended up showing me a MUCH easier way to dig a row. He used a hoe (hehe) and got the job – which took me about two hours to complete the day before – done in about 10 minutes.

Whatever.

So, we planted the rest of the potatoes and onions. And we were done with everything about a half hour. Seriously. It was crazy.

I also started my compost, but when I was informed that I would have to get processed poop to get the ball rolling, I opted out. Now surfing the webs for a little bit, I found that you don’t need poop to have a good compost! Hooray! Digital high-fives all around!

I took a whole bunch of other photos, so if you want to see more of this garden project, check out my Facebook page. While you’re there, could you make me the happiest girl ever and click “like”?