Saving a cardigan for later: Recycled sweater project

recycled cardigan ideaWoah, it has been a while since my last update on here. Sometimes life gets in the way of the simple living. I never meant to step away for so long but I am glad to be back!

I wanted to share a simple project I recently did in just a few minutes to rescue a cardigan from the back of my closet. Since the cardigan seems to be the “in” fashion of the season I was about to go out and pick one up when I was updating my spring wardrobe. Then I realized I already had one wedged in the back of the closet.  It was there because the rhinestone buttons were falling off.  I used $3.00 worth of new pearlescent buttons to update the sweater to the very “now,” minimalist look. The button replacement took about half an hour of my time, and I am pleased with the results.

This may seem like a very “duh” concept to some, but for me it is a new idea. I am now looking through my closet for other items I can modify to suit my needs.

What is your favorite DIY way to update the wardrobe you already have?

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note: This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the third Wednesday in April…

Ordinarily this is the time that I would talk about living simply, but April 15th through 21st is National Volunteer Week and that is too good to pass up.

For the past 6 months I have volunteered with my local Volunteer Center helping to mobilize volunteers to serve community problems. Through this experience I have learned that even though the impact of one volunteer can feel small, together huge goals can be accomplished. A special thanks goes out to all the volunteers for all you do.

Want to learn more about volunteering in your community? Check out the Hands On Network for ideas on where to find volunteer opportunities in your community.

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note: This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the first Wednesday in April…

“What would be the point of living if we didn’t let life change us”

~Downton Abbey
Looking at Change

Source: Serge Melki
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Frugal Gardening 2012: Sprouts Edition

Sprout Update Mar 25thA few weeks ago I mentioned that I was busy preparing for garden season 2012. I had planted seeds in starting pots and was eagerly waiting for them to get bigger. Over the last few weeks they sure have grown! If you ever think that plants grow slowly, take a vacation in Texas for a week and see what they are like when you come home.

I tried to protect the precious seedlings from our week long vacation. The attempts produced mixed results, but in the end the news paper seed pots stayed moist enough that the seedlings survived. It is so important for the seedlings to have ideal conditions starting out.

This week we are starting to think about planting outdoors. It will be about a month before it is a good idea to plant outside. The mid-Atlantic region has had such a mild winter that I am a little concerned about summer arriving earlier than normal. I want to be sure to get the cool weather crops in early so that even if the weather turns extra hot this summer I will still get some spring lettuce, chard and maybe some beans.

Starting a garden in the spring is a lot of work. There is seed starting, weeding, tilling and planting to worry about. I am so excited to have warm weather and spring blooms, and a hope of a summer growing season that it doesn’t feel like work.

Planning a garden every spring is an important step. It is also really fun to think about all the different things that can be grown. Here is my map of what we planned to plant last year:

2011 Garden Plot:

Garden ChartThis year we plan to make a few changes to the space. Our garden plot is part of a community garden space (more on community gardens here…). We have a different plot this year with some preexisting raised beds to work with. All said and done this years plan looks a little different from last year.

2012 Garden Plot:

Garden plan 2012

There is still an empty spot with which my husband and I are trying to decide what to do.  I will be back in the future with further updates, but this is what I am thinking for now.

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note: This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the third Wednesday in March…

It isn’t always easy (or possible), but the last few weeks I have been consciously attempting to stop and truly appreciate the deliciousness of spring.

Have you noticed anything beautiful this spring?

Two Hour Parking

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I’m Back!

I am in the process of pulling together some great new content for this week, but I just wanted to pop in and say Hi! Things have been quiet here on the blog because I spent the last week in Texas visiting family. A great time was had by all, it was delightful to spend time with family and to get to enjoy a little bit of Texas spring.

Here are just a handful of the pictures that I took on the trip…


peach rose


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Book Review: 3-Fabric Quilts: Quick techniques for simple projects

I have written before about how so many crafty skills can be learned on YouTube. From crochet to knitting to candle making YouTube demonstrations are great because you can start, stop and replay them if there are parts you don’t understand. some crafts though are more difficult to master through YouTube. Quilting is one of them.

I was inspired to learn to quilt by this fabulous quilt over at Knotty Bits blog. I wanted to learn, but didn’t know the first thing about the process. I tried teaching myself online but I needed something where I could read about the process both comprehensively and with detailed steps and advice. I found this book: 3-Fabric Quilts: Quick Techniques for Simple Projectswhich helped me work through my first two quilts.
3-Fabric Quilts is a useful resource for those interested in learning the basics of quilting and creating simple quilts. The book gives solid advice about fabric selection, colors and equipment that you need to start out with. For each project it states how much fabric to buy for both a small baby version and standard twin size quilt.

The author Leni Levenson Wiener does a great job giving directions for the basic quilt and then hinting that there might be more advanced techniques to learn down the line. For example, the author lays out methods for both binding by machine, and by hand, but goes into the most detail about hand binding. She makes it clear that there are many methods for binding a quilt, but lays out one simple technique in great detail to get you started.

This quilting book is a really great tool for those interested in getting started with quilts. I would recommend it to a friend :-)

*Note: contains referral links



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Frugal Gardening 2012: Sprouts Edition

Last week I talked about seed starting in 2012, and this week I am happy to report that we have sprouts! Not ready to call them full fledged seedlings yet, but I always get overly ecstatic about the first green of the season and I just have to share.

the first sprouts of spring

more sprouts from spring

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note: This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the first Wednesday in February…

“Better late than never” ~anonymous


Photo Credit: swruler9284

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Paper Mache I: Recycled Bowl

paper mache recycled bowl

I have been obsessed interested craft projects using recycled newspaper in recent months and somehow managed to leave out the entire classic craft medium of paper mache. Paper mache is an incredibly versatile and fun craft medium because it is virtually free to make. It is typically made from scrap paper, and one of a variety of different paste options. For my foray into paper mache I used an old fashioned flour and water recipe.

To make your own paper mache bowl you will need only basic items. I used a bowl from my kitchen wrapped in plastic as my mold and an old newspaper cut into 1” strips (~30 strips of newspaper for this project). To make my  paste I used the following paper mache recipe:


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 pinch of salt


1) Mix flour, water and salt together in a sauce pan.

2) Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Mixture will thicken and become slightly translucent but not clear.

3) Allow paste to cool to room temperature (or a temperature that is comfortable to handle with bare hands).

Creating a paper mache bowl:

Once the paper mache glue has cooled the rest of this project is messy, goey and fun!

1) Pull out your 1” strips of newspaper and dip each one in the paper mache paste until it has softened but is not soggy. Remove from paste and push the excess paste off with your fingers (this is my favorite part!).

2) Drape the strips over the mold you have selected.

3) Keep doing this until you have about 3 layers of paper covering the entire mold. Don’t make the layers too thick, but also be sure not to miss any spots.

4) Allow to dry completely. It took my project about 3 days to completely dry. Once projects dry you can carefully remove them from the mold. If your project happens to tear don’t cry, just use a little school glue to hold it together. You can also trim the edges to create a smooth edge for the rim of the bowl.

This is a great project to make some interesting forms at home using supplies you already have on hand. I would not expect this project to replace your fine china, but it would be great to use these paper mache bowls as favor dishes, or candy containers for a party.

Parting tips:

  • Allow the project to dry completely, don’t rush the process
  • Use caution removing the project from the mold. Depending on how tightly the project is stuck and the general shape of the mold this can be tricky.
  • Clean up the paper mache paste right away for easiest clean up. *yes, this means you are going to need to do the dishes*

Check us out over at: Tater Tots & Jello, Too Much Time, The Southern Institute

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