Garden Party Update

It has been cold and dreary here. All the plants seem to like it, I am the only one who wilts in the cool breeze. The chicks don’t like it either, they cower in the corner of their pen and ruffle their feathers.
The lilacs are in bloom and I can’t seem to get enough of them. Their fragrance is addictive. I also love this flower basket I found in the attic of our garden shed, discarded by the previous owners. 
I have been trying to get this little cabinet painted before our holiday party. The rain is slowing me down.  Meanwhile, I don’t seem to mind the ugly finish so much when it has my pink watering can full of flowers on top of it. By the way, I also found the watering can in the trash. Have I mentioned that I am an obsessive trash picker? I need one of those stickers that says “I brake for Junk”.
The hedge bordering our property is beautiful right now.
In between rain showers I have been busy planting. My window boxes are complete, although I may add a few more vines to them. I love the Silver Falls vine, it’s one of my favorites. The humming birds are back and seem to like my pink primroses. I think they will also enjoy the purple Heliotrope, but I can’t be sure of this just yet.
 A couple weeks ago, we began pulling off the black plastic from our sod where we planned on putting the garden. We began building our raised garden beds out of 10 foot 2 x 10’s, and then realized that we would never have enough compost to fill them. So, we ordered 10 yards of compost to be delivered from our local nursery and dumped right from the truck into the beds.
Here’s what they look like today.
We made a trellis out of long sticks and covered it with netting. I can’t wait for the Morning Glories to fill it!
I also took the time to stencil our little tables that we made from things found in the trash. You can read more about it in my post DIY Trash to Treasure Tables.

I don’t think the table jokes will ever end. My children do not understand my need to stencil.
Oh, well.
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend!
Designer Mom

Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch

I bet you are wondering what happened to me this week. I have spent nearly my entire week outside, in the garden. Everything is blooming and we have had the most wonderful weather.
I picked the first of our rhubarb crop yesterday. We love rhubarb, there are so many delicious things you can make with it. Here’s my simple recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch:
One pound of fresh strawberries, sliced
6 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup Pearl Tapioca
1/2 cup butter
1/2 honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup raw old fashioned oatmeal
Slice strawberries and chop rhubarb.
Add them to the bottom of a 9 x 13″ pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup tapioca. Drizzle with the honey.

Combine remaining ingredients with a fork. Cubing the butter makes it go faster. Work the dough until they are well combined and the butter is the size of peas.
Spread the topping over the rhubarb mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and the rhubarb is softened.
Don’t forget the whip topping!

How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step

How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves is a great skill to learn. You can learn how with this step by step tutorial.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|

 How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves

I have had this post in draft for a while. Altering suit coat sleeves is not difficult if you know a few tricks. It does take a bit of time, but it is very worthwhile. You can expect to spend one to two hours working on this project. Tailors charge $20.00 or more per sleeve for this service, you can do it yourself and save money.

Suit Coat Hem Supplies Needed:

•good quality sewing thread, preferably cotton
•a sewing machine (straight stitch only, don’t panic),
•press cloth or dish towel
•tailors chalk
•roll of fusible interfacing approximately 1″ wide. I use a product called Stitch Witchery. It’s very inexpensive and you can find it in the sewing department at Walmart or Joanne Fabrics.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|

Ripping Directions:

•The best advice I ever received on alterations, was to only work on one sleeve at a time. Don’t be tempted to take them both apart, you may not remember exactly how it went together and you will loose that professional look.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Fit your jacket sleeve length, mark with a pin, and measure how much needs to be hemmed. FYI, the sleeve should touch the top of your hand when your arms relaxed hanging down at your sides.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Remove the stitches that hold the lining to the sleeve. If your jacket has buttons on the cuff you will have to remove those as well. In addition, the lining may be tacked in a few other places, cut the tacks and roll the lining up the sleeve about half way.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•If your jacket is vented at the cuff, remove all stitches holding the vent in place. The goal is to open the existing hem and flatten the vent. If there is interfacing in the cuff, you may be able to leave it in place and will not need to add more interfacing.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Now for the tricky part: measure how much your hem needs to be shortened and mark with tailor’s chalk. The basic rule of thumb is if you are shortening the sleeve more than 2″, you will have to sew the vent closed. No one will know that the jacket used to have a vent. Overall, this is the easiest process. It is far more complicated to keep the vent. Trust me, you won’t even miss it.
•On my jacket, I also used the ruler and chalk to mark the cutting line. Cut away the excess vent fabric. You want the seam allowance edges to be even all the way to the end of the sleeve.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|

Sewing Directions:

•After trimming away the fabric, sew the vent closed using a straight stitch, and catching the interfacing to hold it in place in the side seam. If you need to add interfacing to the hem of your sleeve, do that before sewing the side seam shut. Keep the interfacing parallel to the raw edge of the sleeve. It should be centered over the fold of the cuff for a crisp finish like in the photo below.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Time to trim the excess fabric from the hem. I had to shorten my sleeves 3″. I removed 3″ off the raw edge. Mark with ruler and chalk, then cut.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Mark and cut the same amount from the sleeve lining.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Press the fabric slightly to make it easier to hem. Be sure and use a press cloth if your jacket is wool. Also, do not press your suit coat sleeve completely flat, it will look rather funny when wearing it. You may choose to use a rolled up towel in the sleeve to avoid creases, or use a sleeve roll if you have one.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Fold the hem in place. Using the other sleeve as a guide, re-measure sleeve allowance and pin the lining in place over the raw edge of the sleeve. Try the jacket on and make any necessary adjustments before completing.
How to Hem Suit Coat Sleeves, Step by Step|Designers Sweet Spot|
•Hang in there we are almost done! Time to slip stitch the lining to the hem. Using a needle and thread, pick up only a thread or two of the wool sleeve and then the same amount of the lining. If you are not much for hand sewing, remember the lining won’t show. If you pick up more of the lining fabric at first it’s okay. Just be sure your stitches are not visible on the outside of the sleeve.
The finished hem.
•Finally, refer back to the original sleeve for button placement. Sew the buttons on the finished sleeve in the same position as the original. A light pressing (use the press cloth), and you are done! Time to start all over with the other sleeve!
That wasn’t so bad, now was it? You can do this!
Best of luck on your sewing project!
Check out these other fun posts!Meet Betty Bling (Faux Garden Head) - FBMeet Betty Bling
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Meet Betty Bling

Making a Faux Garden Head isn’t as hard as it looks, keep reading to meet Betty Bling! 

Meet Betty Bling (Faux Garden Head)|Designers Sweet Spot|



Meet Betty Bling (Faux Garden Head)|Designers Sweet Spot|

My Gardening Obsession

 I am obsessed with gardening. It’s one of my compulsive behaviors. Like my obsession with ButterfliesGiving Away Books, and Learning About My Dead Relatives. Did you know that I once painted the 11 rooms in our big, old Victorian house 33 times in a span of 10 years? I really do get obsessed with things. I just can’t help myself.
Meet Betty Bling (Faux Garden Head)|Designers Sweet Spot|
 Right now, my gardening obsession comes from the fact that it’s late spring and it’s still cold outside in Wisconsin. I am desperate for an outlet since I still can’t plant anything in the garden.

 If you follow me on Pintrest, you will know that I have had this garden head photo pinned for a while. You see, I used to work at a greenhouse. Every spring the owner would get a shipment of these heads and they would sell like hotcakes. Every year I would promise myself I would buy one but I never did. Probably because they retail for $75.00 or more and just didn’t fit into my thrifty home school mom budget. But, I still wanted one. Badly. Have you ever put something off that you regretted?
Recently I spied this foam head at the craft store (Hobby Lobby) and I got to thinking…. Hummmm, I wonder if that would work as a garden head? It was only a few dollars so I decided to try it. I also picked up some Magikote Primer and some Krylon Stone Metallic Spray Paint. I decided to name my garden  head Betty Bling.

Supplies Needed:

•Magikote Primer

•Foam Craft Head

•Krylon Stone Metallic Paint

•Sharp knife

•wine bottle


•trailing succulent

•old jewelry and old glasses

Garden Head Directions:

•First of all I painted Betty with 2 coats of the Magikote Primer. It seals the foam and makes it ready for the finish coat of paint.
•I put Betty atop an empty wine bottle to dry. She has a hole in the base of her neck that works great for this purpose. My kids said it looked creepy. Nah. I don’t think so.
•When she was dry, I drew a 6″ circle at the top of her head with a compass. I used it as a guideline for painting, I didn’t want to paint the portion I knew I was going to remove later for planting.
•Then I sprayed Betty with the Stone Metallic paint. I used two coats which would have dried sooner had I brought it into the house. Why do I not think of these things until it’s too late?
 •When she was finally dry, I hollowed out the top of her head with a sharp knife. I probably should have purchased the special knife for cutting foam at the craft store, but instead I used a parring knife which really made a mess of things. Sometimes I am a slow learner.
•Finally, I made a hole for drainage…..
 Seems like this was easy since she already had a hole at the bottom of her neck.
•Then I added some small pebbles to the wine bottle for stability.
•I fell in love with this succulent from Home Depot and decided it would be perfect for Betty’s hair.
• Betty got some Bling with a few pieces of my old jewelry and some extra glasses.
I hadn’t intended to keep the garden head Betty on the wine bottle permanently, but I kind of like her there. She looks more interesting floating in the air.  Maybe I will change my mind about this when it comes time to put her outside, but for now she’s going to stay put.
Someone said she kind of looks like me. Nah, I don’t see it. Do you?
Have a great day!
p.s. I have gotten some of the nicest comments lately, thank you so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it!

Pin this post for later! 

Faux Garden Head (Meet Betty Bling)


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Need to Laugh?

I need to laugh.   In the past week,  I have fallen down the icy stairs behind our house, not once but twice. I have bruises on top of bruises. Then yesterday,  I cut off the tip of my thumb by accident. Now, I also have a bandaged hand to go along with the rest of my ailments. I need a few more days to get back on my feet, so I am post-phoning this week’s give away until next week. I am re-posting an article I wrote on hair color, no one really read it back then. If you really need to laugh, here it is!
Clairol Nice 'n Easy Color Blend Foam

There are two schools of thought on hair color: either you dye or you don’t. I personally have chosen the dye route in recent years. When I was younger, I used to wonder why women dyed their hair. Now I know.

As a child I used bottled lemon juice on my hair during the summer. I would pour it on and sit outside in the sun waiting for auburn highlights to magically appear under the crust of dried lemon juice.

As a teen, playing with dye was fun, although back then I don’t really think it was very popular. I had a friend who wanted to be a beautician, and at her slumber parties we would frost each other’s hair by pulling the strands with a crochet hook through what looked like a plastic swimming cap. I went from brunette to blond, presto! Just like Duran Duran. Remember them? The essence of cool.

Then I remember pouring hydrogen peroxide on my hair. The bleached Madonna blond look was all the rage. Or maybe it was Annie Lennox. I can’t remember.

In my 20’s I had burgundy highlights for a while. It made me look like I got mugged by Cindy Lauper. Not a good look at all.

So now that I am “that age” (the age of grey), dying has a new purpose and has become a regular event. Well, okay, it’s probably bordering on an obsession, but only a tiny bit. Everyone does it, right?

Being a super thrifty home school mom means having my hair dyed in a salon is out of the question. Why would I spend $80.00 when I can buy a box of dye for only $8.00? That’s crazy!

The only thing is, I seem to have a little issue with remembering to dye every 6 weeks. I put it off more and more until my greys are frighteningly obvious, and my last color has faded everywhere but the ends of my hair. When I look like a sundae with white ice cream poking out from layers of chocolate sauce, I know it’s time to dye.

I also have a problem remembering which dye I bought the last time. All those little boxes of color look alike on the shelf. Did I get soft black, dark chestnut brown, or light chestnut brown? Was it Clairol or L’Oreal?  At last I think I recognize the girl on the package of darkest chocolate brown, so I purchase that one. Then again, maybe she looked like someone I saw at the mall recently……..

My brainstorm has been to save the empty dye boxes so I can remember which one I bought last. But now, my shelf is full of empty boxes and I can’t remember which ones I liked and didn’t like, and I absolutely never remember to take any of them with me to the store. So much for the brainstorm.

I also tried the natural henna route. No go. I neglected to read the entire package before smearing the greenish, gritty, manure like substance on my hair until it was too late. Apparently you can’t use metal spoons when mixing your henna, who knew? I was only green for a couple of weeks……….

So today, I attempted once again to master the grey streaks. I purchased the chic foam style dye on the recommendation of a co-worker who said it worked great. What can I say, but the wench LIED. This stuff might work for someone with short non-grey hair, but let me tell you it was not pretty for me.

I was under the impression that the “foam” was like the foaming hand soap that you can pump out of a bottle with one hand. Not so, of course they don’t tell you that on the package. After mixing this stuff, the bottle has to be SQUEEZED out of the bottle at a precise angle. Then you are supposed to squirt it into the palms of both your hands and “shampoo” it into your hair. What they don’t tell you is that it takes 3 squeezes of the bottle to get a small handful of the stuff. I have long, shoulder length hair. When applying dye, I have to hold the hair on top of my head or it falls down splattering dye all over me and everything in the vicinity.  How the heck am I supposed to squeeze the bottle, catch the foam, hold up the hair and smear it on the grey all at once? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I decided to pick the bottle up off the counter and deposit it on the top of my head for easier access. However, the bottle has to be squeezed at a PRECISE upright angle or it doesn’t work. I spent such a long time squeezing, foaming, and shampooing, my arms went numb from lack of blood flow. Several times I squeezed and moved by accident shooting dye down my face, back and chest. How am I going to explain these large black age spots to my family? To make matters worse,  I dropped a lock of dyed hair into my eyes which made me look like I have gone completely Goth. When the deed was done, I sighed with relief.

I efficiently covered my hair with a plastic grocery sack and tie the ends together on my forehead to keep the hair from escaping again. Didn’t dye used to come with a little shower cap thingy for this very purpose? How cheap can you get? I put on my robe to wait. Our youngest son James knocked and came into the bedroom sniffing the air, wrinkling up his nose. “Your doing that thing again Mom, aren’t you? It stinks!” He looks at me in disgust and runs from the room. I slammed the door behind him and got back to business.

I realized it took me so long to put the dye on that I forgot to check the clock to see what time I started fermenting. Dang. I wasn’t sure what the directions said because I couldn’t quite read them with out my glasses on, but I think it was 15-20 minutes without grey, 30-35 minutes with. I wondered if I should count what was probably a good 20 minutes of squeezing, foaming and shampooing? Or not? I decided to go middle of the road and opt for 27 minutes.

I worked on today’s blog post for a bit, and then checked the clock. It sits across the room, and I can’t quite see it without my glasses. I got up and to my HORROR it has been a whopping 45 minutes! Way past time to rinse! Double Dang!

I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed. I cringed at the blackish muck discoloring the tub and the piles of my fried locks that began to clog the drain. My hands turned brown from touching my hair which suddenly felt rather like straw. I tried to wash away as many of the grungy black stains from my skin as possible, but some still remained. I squeezed the condiment size package of conditioner onto a minuscule amount of hair and silently curse the CEO of Clairol for being so cheap. He must be bald.

After the water FINALLY runs clear, it’s time for the big reveal. The roots, what’s left of them, are somewhat orange, the ends are dark and frizzy, but to my relief the grey is gone. Whew! That was really worth it, wasn’t it?

The dye cost me $7.95, the extra large bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles to clean the muck out of the tub was $5.00, the large bottle of Draino $6.49, the new towels and bathmat I had to buy because I dripped dye on the old ones cost me $10.00. Then, the supplies to sand and refinish the dye stain out of the bathroom cabinets were $20.00. Replacing the tooth brushes wasn’t too bad, they were only $2.00, and the box of Oxy-clean I needed to bleach the brown halo out of my white pillowcases that I slept on after dying was only $10.00. But the good news is that the hat I bought to cover my orange roots was only $5.00 at the thrift store.

The next time I am in the store staring at a bottle of $7.95 dye, with a pretty model on it who has never experienced a grey hair in her entire life, I will remember that it actually cost me nearly $100 to dye my own hair, and I think I will book a salon appointment instead.

Designer Mom