Upcycled Bags!

20140703_1714111-e1404665282233-150x150If you’re like me and have big dogs who eat dry dog food, you’re going to end up with a collection of very large, very sturdy bags. What do you do with yours when the food is gone? Toss them? Recycle them? Our area doesn’t have a recycling program that accepts the food bags. So there you are. Stuck with a pile of bags that are too nice to toss out.

I started thinking about the bags from Costco they sell for your grocery items. They’re not made to last. At least it seems like that to me.  The handles dig into my hands if there’s much weight in the bags at all and…I just can’t bring myself to pay for them.

Now here I have several dog food bags I’ve saved and I turned them into some darn fine grocery tote bags. I made a dozen out of bird seed bags, too, but those are just the right size for a gazillion uses so the kids and grandkids have pilfered them all! I’ll have to make more bird seed bag totes before long. But for today, I want to make the larger bags.

The first second thing you should do is cut off the bottom end. The very FIRST thing you should do is make sure all the food or seeds are out of the bag. Hitting a sunflower seed or piece of dog food with your scissors while you’re trying to cut a straight line doesn’t work well. Once you have both ends open, take the bag to the bathtub and wash all the sticky residue and crumbs from the inside of the bag. You’ll find out later why this step is important. Dry the inside and outside of the bag well with and old towel or rag or hang it outside to drip dry if it’s warm out. This makes the bag more of a tube. You’ll want to either wipe the inside down with a rag with soap and water or take them to the bathtub and give them a nice soak to remove the slippery, sticky film the dog food creates. It also removes the crumbs. I’ll tell you why later that it’s an important step in case you haven’t figured that out yet.20140703_1552491-150x150

Once your bag is nice and clean inside and out and dried well, you can cut a nice straight line across the bottom of the bag. Just smash it flat and use a straightedge to mark a line. You can use scissors to cut along this line or you can do what I did. I use a rotary cutter and a quilting ruler to make a nice straight edge like I would do with fabric.

Measure up from that bottom edge and place a mark at about 30 inches. This will give you enough to make a nice size bag bottom and turn the top edge over where your handles will go. Cut along your new line. The large section is going to be your bag. Out of the smaller section, cut a strip that’s 5 inches wide. Cut straight across the bag. You’ll have a very short tube now. Cut the section from the top to the bottom of your new tube where the heat bonded seam is on the bag. This will turn your tube into a strip. Now hold the cut ends together and fold in half. Cut the strip across to make two strip sections the same size. These will be your handles.

Fold the handle section in half lengthways and use your finger or a wooden pressing stick to make a nice center crease in the strip. Fold the long side cut edge to meet this fold line in the center. Or as close as you can get. Again, press this new folded edge with a pressing stick. Do the same with the other side. Then fold that together and you’ll have a nice edge on both sides (easier on the fingers when you carry it). It’ll almost look like folded bias tape. Sew along each side 1/8 inch from the edge and one more time down the center of the strip.

20140703_1643461-150x150Now it’s time for the tricky part. Sewing the top of the bag over and attaching the handles in the same process. It’s slippery. You can’t use pins.


20140703_1656441-150x150I’m sure you technically could use pins but why put holes in the bag on purpose? I use binder clips to hold the handles in the position I’ve marked ahead of time. The binder clips work as a general third hand but don’t even try to sew near them.  They do not budge when budging is needed. When you get close to the clips, remove them before sewing past the handle. Before you can do this, you have to turn the bag inside out so the pretty side is inside. Did you remember to wash and dry the bag first? If not, you probably now have a mouthful of dog food crumbs. And your hands are sticky. I told you to wash it first! Don’t ask me how I learned how important it was. I’ll admit to nothing. Ever.

Once you get past this challenge, it’s time to form the bottom of the bag. I do this by squishing the corners flat so the end makes a triangle. Try to match both corners up the same. 20140703_1739311-150x150When you’re sure you have the measurements correct, it’s time to sew across the corners. Turn the bag inside out so the right side is showing, press those corners with your fingertips so you get a nice sharp corner. The excess folded triangle corner parts can be cut off or do as I do and leave them in, press them to the center of the bag and forget they’re there. I like to pretend they add a bit more substance to the bottom seam, making the bag stronger. Regardless if that’s true or not, we tested the first bag I made by having a willing adult female step inside the bag while her strong he-man lifted her up in the bag and carried her though the kitchen. No fails!! If the bag can carry a young woman, it’ll hold your groceries without worrying about dumping them in the driveway. And here ya go! A bag that will last a long time and will carry more than you want to lift in the first place!













That’s not a cookbook!

better homes and gardens vintage cookbookI received my first Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in 1975. You know, the one with the red and white checkered cloth covers? I used that book so much the pages were falling out, some of them were stuck together or had been stuck and were now torn from separating them. So by the early 90’s I thought it would be fun if I’d go treat myself to a new copy of the book. This was before they shrink-wrapped them so you don’t know for sure what’s inside until you buy it. But back then you could flip though the pages at will.

The crisp, clean pages were such a treat to fondle. No sticky spots, no coffee spills, no pages glued together from dripped egg whites. But wait. This looked odd. They’d changed the format. I flipped through to the cake section and I was appalled.

The chocolate cake recipe in the old book began with
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
…and so on.

The new book had changed the ingredient list quite a bit. Now it read:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil…

What? Excuse me? Aren’t there instructions right on the cake box? Why would I need to buy a cookbook that has the exact same instructions that you can get on the boxed mixes? I thought maybe I was mistaken and maybe this was the quicky cooking section. So I started looking under the main course index for a spaghetti sauce recipe.

Again I read:
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 lbs. ground beef
I pkg of onion soup mix…

My audible gasp could be heard two aisles away. That’s not my idea of “cooking”. That’s “slam some crap together and call it food because you’re too busy to bother with real food” cooking. I didn’t buy that new cookbook. Instead I went to the stationary department and picked up some of those little white binder ring page enforcers (remember those?) and put my old cookbook back together. I’m still using that thing and the kids argue over who’s going to inherit it. Of all the crap I’ve collected over the years, lost or misplaced and replaced, I’m glad I have one thing they all value!


Homemade Watercolor Paints

Post developed by Pie Birds.

Homemade Watercolor Paints

Jack has become quite the little painter this summer. He loves to mix colors and create new ones, dip items OTHER than paintbrushes into the paints (like matchbox car wheels, the end of a plastic hammer, a rubber ball, etc.). It is fun to see him be creative but his paints have dwindled quickly from so much use. We got him this fabulous watercolor set by Melissa & Doug but I can’t afford to buy a new one every couple of weeks. Sooooo I decided we would make our own watercolor paints. After researching online I found out how easy they are to make, especially after seeing Martha’s video tutorial.
Here is what you need: baking soda, white vinegar, light corn syrup, cornstarch, food coloring, a container to make your paints in (plastic egg cartons work great), and wooden skewers or popsicle sticks for mixing
The half dozen plastic egg crate is perfect for making your paints in.
And the bonus is that you can get two sets out of one plastic half dozen egg crate, just cut to separate.
First, 4 TBSP of baking soda with 2 TBSP of white vinegar. Your kids will love to see the fizz!
Once the fizzing stops, add 1/2 tsp of light corn syrup and 2 TBSP of cornstarch. Mix well until all the cornstarch is dissolved.
I mixed my concoction in a 2 cup measuring liquid measuring cup to make this step easy. Pour into your egg container. This recipe will make enough to fill 6 egg cups 3/4th of the way. I made a second batch for the other container.
Now the fun begins! Using your food coloring make your paint colors. Drop a few drops of food coloring and mix with your wooden skewer or popsicle stick.
Mix really really well. It will take about 60 seconds to really mix the color in and reach a uniform consistency.
Now the hard part. You HAVE to let this sit and cure for up to two days.
You can see how liquidity and wet the mixture is. You want to achieve complete dryness before they are ready to use.
This is what it should look like after a couple days. Now your little painter can dip a brush into water and paint away!
The colors were vibrant and showed up well onto paper. I was skeptical but this really worked well! And the nice thing is that the egg partitions are deep and these will last much longer than the sets you buy. And you can have fun making your own color combinations! Here are a few suggestions from Martha:
Color Recipes
•Reddish pink: 10 drops red •Orange: 1 drop red, 6 drops yellow •Yellow: 5 drops yellow •Leaf green: 3 drops green, 7 drops yellow •Sea blue: 5 drops blue •Violet: 4 drops red, 2 drops blue
Have fun!


Re-purpose those wipe contaners!

You know how I love giving new use to thrown out or old stuff. I collect containers (don’t even get my started on my Crystal Light container collection) and found the perfect reuse for old Lysol wipes containers. This is the perfect little gift to give yourself or a friend for the summer…a grocery bag container. These are wonderful to throw in a beach bag for wet suits. They are perfect to have in your car for summer road trips. Whatever you reuse plastic bags for having a container full of them looks a heck of a lot better than stuffed in a drawer. Plus they are so much more portable this way.


I figured out how to fold them so that they are interconnected and one bag comes out at a time but pulls the next one out a little.


12 plastic grocery bags (I used Target ones)

coordinating fabric

Empty wipe container

Fabric Mod Podge

Foam brush

Spray adhesive

scissors or rotary cutter

quilting ruler


1. Grab a dozen bags and flatten them out pushing all the air out.


2. Fold them in half again pressing all the air out.


3. Overlap the handles onto the top of the previous bag. Do this for all 11 bags lining them all up into one big row.


4. Fold the first bag’s handle upward. This will be your middle and the first bag you pull out of the container. All the other bags will be connected to this first one.


5. Now tightly roll up your bags tucking in the new handles as you roll.



6. After you roll up 12 bags you are ready to insert them into your wipes container.




7. Tuck the first bag’s handles through the top. Now you are done.


Done? What do you mean done?

8. Cut out a piece of fabric roughly 8” x 10”. With your foam brush “paint” Fabric Mod Podge onto the fabric. The Mod Podge seals the edges and gives the fabric a durable water resistant surface.


9. After it is dry cut it to size. For one of the Lysol wipes containers I cut mine 7 1/8” x 10 3/8”. Then glue it in place. I use a spray adhesive because it is quick and easy. Overlap the pieces one over another. Adorable and practical!




Clean Your Dryer Ducts – Prevent Fires

Quoted from http://www.prettyhandygirl.com/2011/11/time-to-clean-your-dryer-ducts-prevent-fires.html:

Once the weather turns cold and the heat kicks on, your home starts to get dry and static electricity arrives once again. This minor nuisance that causes siblings to shock each other for fun can actually be dangerous if it ignites lint that has built up in or around your dryer.

Why you should clean out your dryer ductwork:

According toThe Consumer Product Safety Commission, ( CPSC ), annually there are 15,500 Dryer Fires, Up To 30 Deaths and over 310 injuries, due to dryer exhaust duct fires. You should clean your dryer hose and around it once a year, and inspect the vent and hose for any blockages at least every 6 months.

You could pay a professional to clean your dryer ductwork, but the price could be anywhere from$65.00 to $150.00! Ummm — no thanks — I’ll keep my money and do this myself. It only takes about 15 – 20 minutes to do and it is easy! As long as your ductwork is fairly accessible, you can handle this!

If your dryer exhaust hose tube is longer than 10′ this may be a bit more difficult. And if it is longer than 10′, did you know that your dryer may be working extra hard to dry your clothes? Worse yet is if you have a long tube that goes up into the attic (or the eaves) and then out the roof. The warm moist air from the dryer enters the cold attic, and condensation forms in the exhaust tube. Do you know where this little story is going? Well, at first your dryer can’t dry as quickly because the tube is blocked by water. Eventually it will fill with enough water to cause the exhaust tube to split and guess where all that water goes? Through your ceiling, that is where! Trust me on this one, it happened to us in our old house.

So, why don’t you sit back down and let me give you a little tutorial on cleaning out your dryer exhaust ductwork.


Start by unplugging your dryer and turn off the gas if you have a gas dryer.

Remove your lint trap and remove any lint from the screen.

Using a brush (designed for cleaning out the coils under your fridge) bend the brush and run it inside the lint trap. Then follow up by using a shop vac or vacuum to suck up any lint and dirt loosened by the brush.

Pull the dryer away from the wall and disconnect the exhaust duct tube from the wall and the dryer. There are normally two kinds of hose clamps holding the tube to the dryer and wall port. The first is a ring with two prongs. Simply squeeze the prongs toward one another to loosen the clamp.

The second type of hose clamp requires a screwdriver to loosen the bolt attached to the clamp.

Slide the exhaust tube off the dryer and the port (hole in the wall.)

Use your vacuum to clean out both the dryer and wall ports.

Then use the vacuum to clean out the dryer exhaust tube.

If you have an older style vinyl tube, it is important that you replace it with a foil style one. The vinyl ones are fire hazards. Also, if you can’t get your tube clean, go ahead and replace it. They are inexpensive, normally it costs just under $10 for a new foil flexible duct tube.

If your tube is long or difficult to clean out, you may want to purchase a hose brush like this one:

Brushtech B68C 10-Feet Long Dryer Vent Duct Cleaning Brush src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ea8-Yf+lL._SL500_AA300_.jpg”
width=”300″ height=”300″>
Amazon.com: Brushtech B68C 10-Feet Long Dryer Vent Duct Cleaning Brush: Home & Garden.

While you have the dryer pulled out, vacuum off the back of the dryer, the washer, and the wall behind both. Eliminate as much lint as possible. A clean laundry room is safer than a lint covered one.

Re-attach the dryer tube to the wall and the dryer.

Gently push the dryer back towards the wall being careful not to crush the tube.

Locate your exterior dryer vent.

If you can reach the exterior vent, go ahead and clean it out also. Make sure the vent closes properly when the dryer isn’t running.Otherwise you may get birds, rodents or bugs in your vent. I don’t think I need to tell you that they won’t be helping your dryer’s efficiency!

And that is it?! That was easy wasn’t it. Be sure to keep your home and family safe by cleaning your dryer exhaust ductwork yearly.