Tag Archives: k-rafting

when lazy is awesome

So, I told the Boy I wanted to make the kids a permanent fort… enough of this dragging chairs and bed linens and pillows from near and far every. single. day. only to be abandoned 15 minutes later. NO MORE, I say. Mamma is tired.

I told him I wanted 4 poles and a canvas drop cloth. I told him I would attach the canvas with fabric ties. I told him it could be done for less than $100 and I told him not to get all CURTIS JAMES COMPLICATED on me.

I’d say we did fairly well.

Ladies and (a few) Gentlemen, I present to you the Great TeePee Project of Christmas 2012.  Or, in our house, the PEE-TEE.  Ry has a tendency to reverse syllables. It’s endearing.

teepee collage



7 poles – these were 10-foot curtain rods (1.5″ diameter) from Lowe’s cut down to 8.5-feet $8 each

9×12′ canvas drop cloth – also from Lowe’s at $20

safety pins – $3.20

about 18 inches of rope

drill with a 1/4″ or 3/8″ drill bit


This is really simple, Folks.

Drill a hole through each of your poles 24-inches down. Lay your poles flat and thread the small length of ropes through the holes.  Connect Pole 1 and Pole 7 (or whatever your first and last poles are) to make a complete circle.  This doesn’t need to be wicked tight… a little give in the ropes will allow you to even out the structure easier.

The trickiest part is setting up the structure. Man-handling 8.5′ poles is easiest with 2 people.  Just stand them up and scissor them… 4 to the left and 3 to the right… so you nearly have a large X. Now fan each pole out, in order, around the circle until you have you have the spacing even and you’re happy with the placement.

Now, throw your canvas around the teepee frame just under the rope.  We have ours secured with safety pins for now, and it’s lovely, but you could certainly use heavy-duty velcro or fabric ties.  We do not have the tarp secured at the bottom of the poles. We found it’s really not necessary. I’ve not trimmed the tarp or made it completely circular. For now, the rustic-simple-no fuss method is working for us.  There ARE holes at the bottom of the poles.  These are for connecting the poles at the base and making it so they don’t shift when little feet kick at them or slide down them or rearrange them.  A rope or wire through the bottom poles will make it a more rigid structure.  BUT, we’ve not done that either… the 7 poles are super sturdy and, so far, Gideon-Proof (which is saying something).


  • of course, he bought twice as many poles… which isn’t necessary but is definitely awesome
  • he sanded the poles a bit because it looks nice… AND, he knew it was a safe bet Gus Man would attempt to slide down the poles like a fireman.
  • he cut the tops of the poles of at an angle… because it looks cool
  • he made 2 sets of holes at the top of each pole… one at 12″ and another at 24″.  This allows us to make the teepee bigger if we move it outside where ceilings are not an issue. In the spring, I’ll fit the canvas tarp a bit more and remove the safety pins. Maybe we’ll paint on it, maybe we won’t.
  • there is also one hole at the bottom of each pole 12″ from the floor.  This is for either connecting the poles together (as mentioned up above) or securing the tarp to the poles at the floor
  • As it stands now, with the rope attached at 24″ from the top of the poles, you have a 6-foot diameter footprint that is 5.5′ tall INSIDE at center and 7.5′ tall from base to tip on the OUTSIDE.  We can fit our entire family inside… and have, multiple times… with pillows and blankets for movie night.

The kids love it. It is used for naps and playtime and forts and houses and movies and hide-n-seek and everything else. I fell asleep in it Christmas morn… so cozy 🙂

It’s a hit.  A $75 hit.

And it may be the biggest present they ever receive. Literally.

What was your biggest present as a kid?


dreaming about chickens

This week has been, in a word,


But, I did manage to finish a project! I’m still waiting to hang it, but it is otherwise finished.  Pallet Projects are all. over. the world-wide-web right now and I do love me some rustic wood.

Just be sure- even if you’re just making a sign- that your pallet is clean.  As in, wasn’t used to store oil containers or boxes with meat in them or the like.  It’s impossible to know a pallet’s history, really… they are bought and sold like Pokemon cards and do not come with a passport.  But, clean that baby good- just to be sure.

The gaps between boards were small enough that I didn’t make any filler boards. I did coat it with a coat of stain and then spray painted it white.  I should have saved myself the time… the wood soaks up everything.  Be sure to use a good primer under your top coat if you’re going for opaque.

So, you start with a plain pallet.  Clean ‘er up.

What’cha want your sign to say?  Now, if you’re fancy or current (which I am neither) you’ll use your electronic cutting tool to make your letters nice and even.  These machines even cut out vinyl, which you can simply paint over and then peel off.  Genius.

I’m working old-school here, so I have the alphabet in 300 point Caracteres font.  Look familiar?  It’s the font used in French transportation signs.  It’s also the font I’ve used for years on my celebration banners.  Long ago, I printed out the alphabet onto plain paper.  I cut that out and then traced each letter onto empty cereal boxes.  These have been my stencils ever since.  The letters fit almost exactly (which, according to how words work, is not exactly) on the pallet boards… but good enough for me.  I was not about to cut out a whole new alphabet!

I played around with the letters… some t’s are out of place and the i’s are always a bit low… just to make it interesting. The quote was roughly traced with a black sharpie and then filled in with black acrylic paint.  All in 10 minute increments.  This place is crazy.  I kid you not.

The two empty boards at the bottom bug me to no end.  So, they will be cut off.  OR, some hook will be added to hold towels and swim suits after Sprinkler Time. I can’t decide.  Either way, some foam will be glued to the back so the pallet doesn’t scratch our siding, and then the whole thing will be hung on the back porch with some rough rope.  It’s huge and perfect for filling up some major dead space.

Love it.

Now I need one for the front porch, but I’m having trouble finding to perfect quote.  Suggestions are welcome.

Have a great weekend, Folks!
We love you here at TexasNorth!

Christmas 2011

I don’t know about you guys, but ideas for gifts for my parents have been particularly evasive the past 5 years or so.   What do you get for folks who have paid off their house, have kids who are independent now, and can buy their own underwear?

Chicken wire, that’s what you get ’em.

You take an old frame, you staple chicken wire to it, and then you leave it around your house for about 6 months.  You’ll trip over it and move it 14 times, but your children will still find it, drag it out, and cut themselves on it repeatedly requiring about 17 band aids.

After you give birth to your third child (which we’ll talk about Thursday- there’s a Russian Spy involved, so get ready), you tackle your children and scrap piece of paper.  You trace their cute little choclately hands.  You think once will be enough, but then you’re surprised at how difficult it is to get a really decent, non-amoeba-like trace of a child’s hand… particularly the 5 day-old child.  She’s wicked strong.

You cut out the hands and then trace them again onto a beautiful piece of plain fabric.  Use a disappearing pen for this part.  Ask me how I know.  These pens fade when you put water on them.  It would appear from my photo that I didn’t erase the blue erasable pen lines, but I did.  I just took my pictures unprofessionally.

Let’s all comment on the fact that Gideon’s hands are exactly as wide as Rylie’s but half as tall.  Chubby little bruiser. And what’s wrong with Abby’s pinky?  She’s brand new, right?  Shouldn’t be broken yet.

Now, grab a few strands of thread and trace over your lines.  Imperfection is fine.  Charming, even.  Rylie’s hand is purple because she wishes she herself and everything around her were purple.   Gideon is brown because he and dirt are tight. Layers and layers of symbolism in this gift, I tell you.

If your mother happens to be a prolific quilter, you can frame your art on a vintage quilt square and double the impact here.  The goal with moms is always tears- that’s how you know you got it right.  Then, simply attach the finished piece to the chicken wire with a little knot in each corner.

And there you have it: a meaningful, painful, handmade gift for the woman who has everything.

Merry Christmas, Mom!

What do you get your parents these days?

some things I made

whilst on my blog walk-about:

sweet owl pillow for a new baby

poof/wrestling pillow for the basement

[eyeballed from this pdf]

painted chalkboard square on an over-loved desk

a couple of new (knitted) winter hats for winter kids

12 owls commissioned for a new shoppe downtown

pillow for Martha who is in labor RIGHT NOW…

Go, Martha, Go!

twist and shout

My home country, Tejas, is known to throw a tornado or two in the April mix of things. Michigan, on the other hand… who knew?!  Way to be crazy last night (Tuesday)!  Thank you to the sirens that sounded in town AFTER the hail and storm had passed. My tax dollars at work.  Amen.  And to our friends down south in AL, MS, GA and further… our prayers are with you as you restore.

Internet in my neck of the woods is down.  Forgive my lack of email-response these next couple of days. How this post even published is a mystery to me.  For today, I’ll give you a quick story and some beauty:

Two years ago, The Boy came home with 6 very sad screens from our very sad rental house. I, being the ambassador for loving the un-lovable of old furnishings, was smitten immediately.  They were gorgeous.  Before he had even stepped out of the truck I yelled, “CAN I HAVE THOSE?!”   He said, “No. No you may not.  I have to fix them and take them back. THEY ARE NOT FOR YOU.”  But this weekend, they were still sitting in the back of the pole barn, still gorgeous blue, still un-mended. 

I decided to take action.

Years ago I was gifted a gorgeous bread towel from a dear friend… it was her grandmother’s and, while of no use to her today, she couldn’t just take it to Goodwill.   I considered framing it with barn wood behind glass, but it seemed so expensive and a bit –much- for such a simple piece. [It says, “Remember the MILLER when you Eat your Bread” – I know, right?  LOVE.]

I gently washed and starched the towel.  Then, taking some brown embroidery thread, I attached it to the framed-screen using 7 simple x’s.  Easily undone should another option come available, simple and rustic for the time-being.

I hung it, without permission, above the bed his father made for us.  I think it’s just absolutely perfect.

If I told you summer through a metal screen is my favorite smell, would you understand?  Or would you shake your head in wonder? DOUBLE high-five if we’re speaking the same language.

Happy Happy Day

Ry turned four right around Thanksgiving and I never got a chance to tell you…

that she sang “Happy Day” to herself all day (week?) long

that she got a riding helmet

that she blew out all her candles in one breath

that she weighs 32 pounds soaking wet and is 36+ inches tall

that she eats frosted mini-wheats every. morning. for breakfast

that she carries Little Baby (now held together with white duct tape) with her everywhere she goes

that she always puts her shoes on the correct feet

that she rarely finishes a meal, and by rarely I mean never

that she has unbelievable maternal tendencies

that she babbles and sings herself to sleep

that she is addicted to books

that she was an angel in this year’s children’s Christmas program and waved at us the whole time

that she still naps in the afternoon at least 3 times a week

that I made her a crown so she could be a princess on her birthday… and any other day

and I made one for you, too

Just say hello today in the comments and tell me about your most memorable birthday gift.  I’ll announce a winner on Monday. 

Happy Happy Day to you!

ho ho ho

edited to say, “HOLA.  The sewing is going really decent, but I am losing daylight and my children are feeding themselves Christmas tree ornaments.  I’ll have to take photos tomorrow and will load the etsy shop at 3pm.  GRACIAS.”

I just cracked myself up… I’ve been singing Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum but just realized it’s YO ho ho and a bottle of rum. *sigh* Funny.

As I sat down to ease my desire for home•made Christmas stockings, I realized I had no idea of the origin of the tradition.  A quick google search led to hundreds of versions of the same story:  

There was a kindly nobleman whose wife had died of an illness leaving the nobleman and his three daughters in despair. After losing all his money in useless and bad inventions the family had to move into a peasant’s cottage, where the daughters did their own cooking, sewing and cleaning.

When it came time for the daughters to marry, the father became even more depressed as his daughters could not marry without dowries, money and property given to the new husband’s family.

One night after the daughters had washed out their clothing they hung their stockings over the fireplace to dry. That night Saint Nicholas, knowing the despair of the father, stopped by the nobleman’s house. Looking in the window Saint Nicholas saw that the family had gone to bed. He also noticed the daughters stockings. Inspiration struck Saint Nicholas and he took three small bags of gold from his pouch and threw them one by one down the chimney and they landed in the stockings.

The next morning when the daughters awoke they found their stockings contained enough gold for them to get married. The nobleman was able to see his three daughters marry and he lived a long and happy life.


So, now you know.  It’s all about marrying off the daughters.  Isn’t it always?  I do love stockings, though.  As we get a little older, I’d like to transition from the Christmas Present Panic and move into the Presents Must Fit in the Stocking. Especially for the adults.

ANYWAY.  I found templates.  And photos.  And websites.  Thank you for all your help!  My printer and I are in the midst of performance negotiations… darn thing is seriously unionized.  It would not print even with considerable coercion.  I was left to my usual Wing It strategy and it worked lovely.  Sometimes, Winging It results in many tears and shredded fabric, but not this weekend.  I did make Curt look up from his ridiculous Angry Birds game several times and answer questions like, “Curt.  CURT.  Does this look like a sock?” “How ’bout now?”  “Should the toe be shorter?”  “Is the ankle too fat?” “Do you still love me?” Curt is awesome.

The stockings are made out of men’s shirting fabric, vintage sheets, and up-cycled sweaters.  IT makes every stocking different, which is a good lesson for me in conformity.  Wool knit has a mind of its own under feed dogs.  After playing a bit, I decided to use NO interfacing or stabilizer.  They hold their shape, but they are certainly not as stiff as traditional felt stockings.  But, these aren’t traditional stockings.   

[The NICE stocking… the toe… needs a little trimming, I see.  Too boxy.  This may never end.]

I ended up with three sizes: 

  • Grande (7×14 from cuff to heel)
  • Nice (5.5×12)
  • Elf (4×7 • perfect for gift cards and neighbor treats)     
I’ll be loading what I can into the etsy shop today as my children permit.  It’s a lofty goal and assumes no one will puke on me OR the fabric.  I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.
I hope this isn’t too personal, but perhaps you can settle a debate:  Do your stockings hang with the toe facing left or right?


A bowl full of cherries is what y’all are. 

Thanks for all the feedback on last Monday’s post. I did reply to everyone’s comments, so be sure to take a peek if you haven’t already. I think 3 craft shows with 3 disappointing outcomes = perhaps a lesson in there somewhere.  Like I’m, oh I don’t know, stubborn or clueless or my hand to heaven both. 

I’m so glad none of you are like that.  I have a lot to learn from you.

I will, of course, continue to sew and knit and write and create.  Please remind me, though, next time I mention a show: Kate!  Potential Heartbreak ahead!  We’ve been down that road before! You have my permission. No. More. Craft. Shows.

I sincerely hope you Americans in the TexasNorth neighborhood had lovely Thanksgivings… and, Susannah, I hope yours was lovely last month up in Canada!  Susannah and I are on a mission to find the best Christmas stocking.  We’d each like to make some out of sweaters/knit/wool for our families this year.  Does your family do stockings?  I grew up doing stockings.  Our stockings were stuffed with unwrapped, small presents that my brother and I were allowed to dig into before my parents woke up.  I realize now that this is a genius sleep-extender for parents out there.  So wise, my parents.  So wise.

Do you know how many Christmas stocking patterns there are out there?  Thousands.  Go ahead: google ‘christmas stocking pattern’.  It’s insane.  AND, all of them are incorrect.  I cannot find a perfect template shape for a stocking. You’d think there would be hundreds to choose from in that google batch… but, no.  Too boxy.  Too pointy.  Too elfy.  Too wide.  Too weird.   Not one decent stocking in the lot.

This photo, for me, is almost perfection.  These are antique sock forms (image from this month’s Country Living magazine), and the smaller sizes are awesome.  The toes are a liiiiiittle long but maybe not.  Maybe they’re perfect.   This JC Penney version (and for only $13) is pretty darn close.  The toe is a little square but maybe not. 

Maybe -I- am the problem here.

I will draw it out. I will attempt to marry the Country Living and JC Penney stockings into the world’s best stocking pattern template.  FYI: I draw all my patterns/stencils out on the back of  tag board… also known as cereal boxes.  Cereal boxes are thin enough to store but strong enough to trace around hundreds of times.  All the letters for my celebration banners?  Cut out of cereal boxes.  All my gift tags?  Cereal boxes.  These also make great painting paper for kids like Rylie who put the WATER in watercolor. I cut boxes into paper-size sheets and keep them in her craft basket where she can grab and color, paint, marker, cut at will.  Save those boxes.  They’re awesome.

I’ll let you know how the stocking comes out. I know you’re dying to know. 

PS: A guy I know went out Thanksgiving morning and shot an 11-point buck.  It’s a monster.  It made us late for church and there are deer guts in my backyard… but I do so very much really like him.  Thank you for your sweet comments about him last week.  He was embarrassed but handled it well by saying, “I told you so, Kate.”  And, now we’re fighting.

Just kidding.

and so it goes

[settle in, Folks]

Last Monday, I participated in a small craft show hosted by my church.  It was untraditional for several reasons: little advertising, program in the middle on preparing your heart for the holidays, free recipes, and no table fee.  You heard me.   It’s a brilliant idea: the church supporting members who have at-home businesses while providing a time for reflection and community before the Holiday Season (and let’s be honest, your family) rips your heart out and stomps on it.  It’s a great way to start fresh and clear-headed.

I spent 2 weeks sewing at night after the kids were sleeping… finishing hats, a few half-aprons, some wine-bottle sleeves, and some garland.  Pillows and Banners were there as an example of what can be custom ordered.  I’ve mentioned before, I do love sitting at shows and sales.  People-watching with a fountain coke and Jimmy Johns?  Yes, please. I was excited to go.  Hopeful, even.  Know what?  I sold two things.  Now, I don’t think anyone that night had a fantastic evening.  I really don’t.  But, I found myself disappointed at the end of the night.  Feeling like I’d worked really hard and people didn’t like me.  Ridiculous, I know… but as an artist (?) crafter (?) homemade maiden (?), your personality and work are in every stitch, photograph, and fiber.  When you don’t sell, you take it personally.

Now, 2 sold-items plus one sold-item 2 years ago and 3 shows total = me having zero business offering advice, but I’m a-gonna anyway 🙂 Some things to keep in mind as you’re perusing the crocheted toilet-paper covers, personalized ornaments, and soup mixes looking for gifts:    

Generally, tables cost $25 to $100 at a show.  You pay to be present and then you keep your profits.  Those sellers have invested time, thought, and physical effort (let’s not talk about how many trips to the car it takes to set up) to be ready at opening.  They aren’t there because this is an easy way to kill a Saturday and rake in $400.

If you feel that you could make something you see yourself at home… kudos.  We’re happy to be an inspiration.  But, please do not say that loudly to your companion as you walk by NOR ask the seller how she did this or where she bought that fabric.  No.

It’s not a garage sale.  Bargaining on a single item is a faux-pas, Folks.  I will not sell you that bib for $5 instead of $10.  I MAY, however, make you a deal on five of them.  But not one. It’s an awkward conversation.  Please don’t do that in front of people.

If you like the display, say so.  Presentation is huge!  It’s likely that the seller put a lot of thought into what to bring and how to make it stand out.  If you like it, say so.  It’s a huge compliment. 

I did a few things right for this last show:

My items are really decent.  Well-made, functional, definitely ‘Katie’.  God bless all you family and roommates who’ve lived through Handmade Christmas Presents Past with me.  Your loyalty knows no bounds.  Good Lord… the bookmarks.  I am so sorry. 

I set my prices ahead of time, so I would not be tempted to change them when I arrived and saw the other items.  I priced according to what I felt they were worth.

I decorated well.  I grabbed frames and blankets and crates as I ran out the door to use for decoration and elevation.  My table, if I may be so bold, rocked.  I do so love styling an event.  Or, as it were, an 8-foot table.

I used my recycled (cereal boxes), distinctive tags that Ry helped me stamp.  They were a big hit with everyone.  This saves me on buying ‘business’ cards and allows me to keep my logo consitent on different papers and fabric.

I brought knitting and my niece with me, so I wasn’t staring down browsers willing them to find me worthy of a purchase.  I was doing something appropriate for the setting (knitting another market bag) and I was spending fun-time with my family.  We had a great time together.  I looked cute.  I did.  It was a great excuse to put on boots, the skirt, the necklace… ok, basically the same outfit the Asheville people saw a couple weeks ago.  S’ok.  It was new here. I felt good, and I think that shows.   

The bottom line:  I sell enough online to keep sewing without going to these goofy craft shows. Enough to keep me busy but not enough to make it a part-time job.  No more sewing like crazy for two weeks just to watch Granny sell doilies all day long.  Nope.  I’ll stick to my happy, word-of-mouth, I’m looking for exactly what you’re making kind of sales. 

And I’ll be giving away a lot more.  Curt said something to me that night that really hit home.  In the midst of my snot and tears he said, “Kate… give it away.  Make what you love, sell what you can, and give the rest away.”  And I said, “But it’s worth something!  It’s really good stuff!  I paid for that fabric!  I stole time from you and my kids for that pillow!”  And he said, “Yep.  But the money doesn’t make it worth it.  It’s their reaction to the gift and the effort that you really love.  So, sell what you can to buy supplies and give the rest away.”


He’s exactly right.

I love that man.

You all win. All of you.  All of you from last week win.  Give me a little time, and you’ll get a little surprise in the mail to keep or give away.  Numbers 10, 11, and 16– my favorites that made me absolutely laugh out loud, you get to pick: hat or knit market bag.  The rest of you will get hats.  Cute, happy hats that need a loving home.  Make sure I have your mailing address, ok?

Happy Thanksgiving.

I am so very thankful for you.

wreath 2.0

I’s sick.  Fever, chills, achy eyelids sick. Ry’s not far behind me and Gideon is just as happy as can be thelittlebugger.  So today, you get a wreath photo tutorial.  Total cost $3.  It hides an ugly front door perfectly and kills a whole 30 minutes with children under 4.  Watch the scissors, though.  And the daisy ingestion.  Just sayin’.

Caption the last photo for me, would ya?  I’ll pick my favorite one and the winner will get a winter hat or a knit market bag.  Comments are now closed!  Thank you!  Mmmm hmmmm.  See what happens when I’m hopped on NyQuil?

: finished wreath :

: materials – $3 grapevine wreath from Hobby Lobby, goldenrod and daisy wildflowers from backyard and side of road :

: have ‘helper’ cut flowers into manageable bunches – aka distraction : 

: leave the stems long and simply weave them through the wreath – I did secure this with florist wire just to keep everything attached over time.  There’s a lot of front door slamming in this house. :

: occupy other ‘helper’ with non-toxic plants :

: return from basement with wreath-hanger to find Harry quite at home in his new digs :