Entertaining · Gail's Nest

Authentic Entertaining

“Sorry, I will never have you over to my house”, said my new friend who took me out for lunch after we moved into the area. She was a sweetheart to host a lunch out, but I couldn’t help feeling like there was a part of  her that I would never be allowed to know. I’m sure my friend thought I’d think less of her if I saw her home.

Let’s face it. Our homes are the places where we can be real. This is where we love, fight, play, do our hobbies, show our heritage, rest, read, eat, relate, etc. When we want to open ourselves to someone new, perhaps to help them, befriend them, share our lives with them then that means being real. It means that everything isn’t perfect but that we’re willing to trust our family, friends, and guests to love us or at least accept us “as is”.

That also means that we must never judge our hosts’ efforts, but receive their gifts of hospitality graciously. I learned this lesson in China.

Back in April of 2012, my husband and I along with our daughter, Anna traveled to China to vist all the wonderful people we had met while they had been at Cornell University, located in our home town of Ithaca, NY. One of our hosts took us to a hotel in a rural Naxi village northwest of Lijiang, close to the Tibet border. It was of very traditional construction, set in a courtyard style. My American hyper-clean, germophobic self was initially appalled by the room that we were ushered into. The sewer pipe was exposed and gave off a horrendous odor. Our sheets were moldy. The rickety ladder to the loft where Anna would sleep wasn’t attached. “Lord,” I prayed, “I can’t complain or I will insult my host. Help me to get over this.”

I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the most amazing three days of our whole trip. We really felt like we had a real experience, living like the Naxi people. Every morning the hotel owner greeted us with an invitation to join him for a traditional tea pour. And as we drank tea we chatted. Anna discovered he had a dog who just had puppies. She was in love. We learned his family lived far away and he hoped to soon have enough money saved to bring them to live with him. The air was so fresh and the sky so blue – quite a change from the smog in Shanghai and Bejing. I cringe when I think how close I came to missing this amazing treasure on the other side of the world!

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So… here are my tips for easy authentic entertaining.

  • Keep your living area generally picked up. I never have to go to great lengths to clean my house before company comes because I spend a little time each day keeping up with the clutter.
  • Plan on a simple meal so you can focus on your guests. Plan ahead!
  • Use paper plates for easy clean up (use your china for your family!)
  • If anyone asks you, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Always say, “Yes”, and put them to work.
  • Remember that you don’t have to clean your whole house, nor do you have to have fresh paint and everything looking like the HGTV channel. When people come to your home they want to be with YOU, and usually they don’t care about the state of your house.
  • Avoid fussing about stuff when your guests arrive. They will feel like they are an imposition if you are too busy to enjoy them.

Blessings!

–Gail

Gail's Nest · Lydia's Nest · Sewing Project

Date with my Daughter to a Fabric Store

Sewing lovers will agree that entering a fabric store is like walking into an ice cream parlor. You get a rush when you see all the different colors and textures. And how do you decide?

Couple that with entering the store with your sewing-loving daughter and you have a ready made good time.

Triple that with entering the store with your darling not-yet-two grandson and… well, you can’t linger too long making decisions.

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But… I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!

We went to Zinck’s Fabric Outlet in Ligonier, Indiana.

So here was our haul…

This super soft double brushed poly could make great leggings!

I’m planning on making a blouse out of this pretty piece.

I want to make a coat, and I found this fun fabric to test my pattern on! I love the color.

When I’ve worked out all the kinks, I’m going to use these to make a 1950s-inspired coat.

And here’s Lydia’s haul:

Such fun!

These two are for some comfy joggers for Cory. (And maybe matching ones for Deacon!)

You can never have too many basic fabrics – the oatmeal will become a sweater, and the other two are great to have on hand for neckbands and such.

Lydia couldn’t resist picking up some fun fabrics for her baby GIRL on the way!

These last two are very soft – they’ll become leggings and a matching top.

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We had a blast exploring Zinck’s. Highly recommend!

Blessings,

Gail

Gail's Nest · Sewing Project

A Guatemalan Fabric Make

Hey Everyone – My lovely daughter, Rachael, and new husband, Tom, went to Guatemala on a medical mission trip and brought back for me some lovely blue woven fabric. I gave half of it to Lydia, hoping she’ll have time to make something for herself (she recently moved to Indiana and now is expecting baby number 2 so I doubt it will be any time soon!) It will be fun to see what she comes up with!

So anyway… here’s the fabric and here’s the pattern I chose to use:

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The jumper was an easy make. Thank you Rachael and Tom!

And here are a few photos of the newlyweds’ mission trip in Guatemala:

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And the final product…

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Thank you to Rachael and Tom! Lydia – what will YOU do with your fabric?

And BTW – if any of you go on a trip and you’re wondering what to bring back as a souvenir to your loved ones, a great idea for the sewers in your family is a couple yards of fabric! Guaranteed they will love it.

Gail's Nest · Lydia's Nest

How to Make a T-shirt Dress in an Afternoon

I was blessed to visit Lydia and Cory this past week. And of course I jumped at the chance to give them a night off while I babysat my darling grandson. I was blown away at Lydia’s creativity at putting together a nice outfit for their big date. She did it during Deacon’s nap.

She started with a pattern for a simple tee, as well as a black jersey fabric she found on sale at Walmart for $1 per yard. She used less that 3 yards.

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Using a ruler, Lydia added about 10 inches down each of the sides of the tee to lengthen to a dress.

She sewed up the sides, and added the sleeves. After she tried it on she decided it was too baggy so she cut the back in half and then I helped her take it in by pinning the fabric so as to make it more form fitting. She simply sewed up the new seam on her serger, which cut off the extra fabric.

 

Next, Lydia cut out a long retangular piece which she then folded and sewed up along the neckline to create a cowl neck. For an easy trick in sewing up the cowl neck take a look at this video. You’ll need to go to 3:40 to see the helpful demonstration:

After hemming the bottom and the sleeves she was done! And then off she was with Cory for dinner and a movie!

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I hope this inspires you to bravely venture out to make something new – for next to no money!

Blessings-

Gail

Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Sewing as Therapy

I heard an amazing podcast on Love to Sew. It was Episode 25 with Caz Adams from Useful Box. She’s an Aussie sewist who nearly lost her life after the birth of her son. As she recovered from the trauma, sewing became a way to return to equilibrium.

I was totally relating. Sewing is therapy for me too. I love to sew. I’ve been sewing since I was in junior high. Once I became a mom my sewing was reduced to curtains, costumes, and Easter dresses. But now that my kids are adults I am finding solace and healing from life’s stressors in sewing.

This is what sewing does for me:

  • It tickles my right brain’s desire for creativity.
  • It releases endorphins that trigger such a sense of calm, satisfaction, and peace.
  • It provides an outlet of escape from tension and stress.
  • It makes me so happy and proud of my accomplishments.

Two recent therapy sessions produced these fun projects:

The first is a cat house from a free pattern from See Kate Sew. I used fabric from my scrap bin and just had to buy the 1/2 inch foam. I thought it would be complicated but I found the directions to be straight forward, clear, and correct. It came together pretty easily. I gave it to my daughter, Rachael, and her hubby, Tom, for their cat, Inara.

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I think she likes it! SCORE!! (Yes the endorphins are flowing right now!!)

My second therapy project was a tote. I found this pattern at The Inspired Wren.

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I found the directions a little complicated (certainly not for a beginner), but the pictures were helpful. I bought heavy cotton (from the remnant section at Joann’s) and used lining from my stash. The suggestion for the bottom panels was to use duck cloth but I used black vinyl that I had leftover from another project. I was so happy with the result. Here are pics from the process:

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Ahhhhh. I feel sooooo good. Try it. It’s what the doctor ordered.

Blessings!

–Gail

 

 

 

Gail's Nest

The Art of Ironing

 

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I walked into my friend’s home and saw a familiar sight: shirts draped over a chair and an ironing board waiting nearby, I said to her, “Yay – a kindred spirit! A fellow ironer! We ironers are few and far between! It’s a lost art, isn’t it?” She agreed.

Really, it’s more like a curse. My mother ironed everything – even T-shirts and jeans! So naturally I couldn’t NOT iron. But when people stopped by and would catch me ironing they inevitably would say, “Why are you ironing?” Here’s my answer: I DON’T KNOW!! I’m sorry, but I just can’t seem to get to the dryer exactly when it finishes to get out the shirts. So my clothes come out a little wrinkly.  So I hang them up and put them in my ironing closet until I have a block of time to do about 20 shirts. It’s in my dna, I guess. I just like to the look and feel of a nice crisp shirt.

Would you like to know the steps to ironing? Here they are:

  1. Set up your ironing board and iron. Get the iron hot.DSC00493
  2. Put on a favorite TV show or netflix movie.DSC00494
  3. Use the wide part of the board to do men’s shirts. The narrower part is better for skirts and dresses.DSC00496
  4. Iron the right front, the back, the left front, and then give the collar a good pressing. I like to use Magic Sizing spray to give it a light stiffness.DSC00498
  5. Next press the shoulders and the yoke.DSC00500
  6. Next do the sleeves one at a time, folding them so the underarm seam is at the bottom and you can get a nice crisp pressing.DSC00499 - Copy

That’s it! How was the movie?

Blessings-

Gail

Gail's Nest · Jewelry

Steampunk Jewelry Tutorial

Everybody should do something creative! It’s quite the stress reliever and the joy of producing something that is fun, beautiful, and that people actually like receiving as gifts is very satisfying. So here are my latest makes:

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Steampunk is a style that is hard to describe verbally – it is mechanical parts, watch parts, keys. It is Victorian Sci-Fi. You’ll see it in modern movies, literature and fashion. Words that describe steampunk are corsets, lace, time travel, metal, futuristically old.

If you’re still puzzled, here are a couple of images to give you the gist:

Can’t say I’m into the fashion, but I love the jewelry and it is so fun to make because you are putting together metal parts in a way that only suits yourself! I started by pinning some of my favorites on pinterest.

So where do you find the parts? Look around your home and collect washers, springs, old watches, and keys. I really hit the jackpot when I walked into an antique store and discovered a desk with lots of drawers. I started pulling out the drawers and found a bag of watch parts. I asked the owner how much the watch parts were, and he said they went with the desk, as he put them in the drawers for interest in the desk. I said I didn’t want the desk but only the watch parts. He was confused and asked why I wanted watch parts. I told him I would like to make jewelry with them. He hesitated for a moment and then said, “The watches were my dad’s and I’d love to know they had a second life. You can just have the watch parts for free.” Yippee!

So after sorting through the pile, I picked out a few pieces and washed them. Here is a step by step of how I made them. The first ones are my washer necklaces: DSC00711

I traced around the washers on colorful scrapbooking paper and cut them out and then superglued them onto the washer:

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Then I put about 3 coats of a dura-gloss to give them a shiny raised look:

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It was easy to slip a cord through the middle.

Next, I superglued watch parts. The above pic shows a washer with an old watchface and springs glued together. I used a metal-gloss product to spray over them to give them a sprinkly shine:

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I looked for parts that naturally had holes to slip earring loops or jump rings through them:

 

Here are my other photos. If you are interested in purchasing any of them they will soon be available at our etsy store.

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Let me know if you try to make steampunk jewelry! I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings-

Gail