Monthly Archives: May 2015

Looking for the Perfect End-of-Year Teacher’s Gift?


I don’t know about you, but I’m always a little blindsided by the end of the school year. After spring break, the time just flies, in a buckle-up-and-hang-on kind of way. On top of the day-to-day stress of just getting the kids out the door fully dressed with a lunch, finished homework, and the latest in the flurry of signed permission slips for end of the year field trips, we’re also shepherding our two boys through last-minute touches on final school projects, rushing them off to soccer or track practice a few times a week, and rearranging schedules to attend spring concerts and performances.

So it’s no wonder that I’m usually scrambling during the final week of school to come up with a thoughtful way to thank teachers for all their time, patience, and creativity throughout the year. This time, though, I’m ahead of the curve, thanks to a good friend of mine who stated the obvious when we were out for lunch a few weeks ago. She said (and I quote), “The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book is the perfect end of year gift for teachers!”

Who am I to argue with that? From the start, this book has been all about teaching kids how to garden by empowering them to do it themselves–digging with their own hands in the dirt, planting their own seeds, and growing their own food and flowers. With more schools planting gardens on site and incorporating lessons about growing your own food into the curriculum, this book is the perfect welcome to summer gift. And, in the spirit of the strawberry basket project on page 22, my plan is to also give a flowering plant or herb in a small basket. The kids will make the cards!


You’ll find inspiring gardening projects for all seasons in The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book, available through Amazon or Millbrook Press.

In the Garden, Week 1


Happy Spring (almost Summer), and welcome to the first installment of In the Garden, a weekly play-by-play of what’s growing in my back yard and at my community plot. In the spirit of my October Craft a Day project posts, I’ll make these short and sweet. I’m always amazed when I come across photos of how barren the gardens look early in the season, so I thought it would be fun to watch things grow…kind of like watching hair grow in a picture a day project.

With the typical ups and downs in Minneapolis spring weather patterns (36 degrees on Tuesday evening…really??), my gardening projects have been an on-again off-again thing. But I have managed, with the help of my trusty gardening helper pictured here, to get a few things done this week at our community garden plot.

One GIANT accomplishment was clearing the weeds…you can see the results of our three hours of bending, prying, digging, and prying again here. We filled this giant wheel barrow and then came back to retrieve a few stragglers. Whew. The first weeding of the season is always a little grueling.

We also pulled up an old, tattered chicken wire fence that lined the north and west side of the plot. This scraggly thing had been bothering me for the past year, and I couldn’t wait to get rid of it. I think I will replace it with a length of vintage garden fence edging that’s been in the rafters of the garage for years. But that’s for next week’s post. My oldest trimmed along the edge and even insisted that we drag the reel mower out of the garden shed to mow. Nice!

I thinned the raspberries and even brought a few of the extra plants home to try to get some growing along the side of our garage. Here’s hoping they take.

Stay tuned for more garden updates. Until then, check out some of the fun projects in the Nitty Gritty Gardening Book!


Trimming along the garden’s edge…so nice not to work around the fencing.


Garden plot, weed free!

Last-Minute Mother’s Day Scarf


I admit to being a bit scarf obsessed, and I certainly don’t need to add another to my collection. But when I came across this scrap of vintage polka dot fabric I couldn’t resist making another. This fabric has a history. When we were living in our last house, I went hunting for cloth with a fun pattern to dress up the windows in our 1920s kitchen. The kitchen was a light yellow and white with original cabinets and a new red linoleum floor. I loved it, and the white polka dots on red were the perfect touch…especially when paired with a valance made from vintage dish towels with a cheery floral pattern. I found both of these lovely bits of fabric at Grand Remnants, a store in St. Paul that carried vintage fabrics of all sorts. Alas, it no longer exists, and I miss it! Anyway, this scrap went unused, except for the few times I tied back my hair with it, raw edges and all.

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The scarf stash…See what I mean? I wasn’t kidding around when I said I had way too many scarves.

A month or so ago, I unearthed it when I was sorting through my scarf stash. It was wrinkled and shoved in the back corner of the armoire, but still cheery, so I decided to put it to good use. Inspired by the scarves I see all over the place these days that are embellished with small tassels, fringe, or tiny bobbles, I went on a mission to find the perfect edging to make this scrap a cherished scarf (thank you JoAnn Fabrics!). It was so easy to make and I’m super happy with how it turned out! Seriously, think Mother’s Day, in a “Happy Mother’s Day to Me!” kind of a way (Sorry, Mom!) One hour, maybe an hour and a half, and you have a cute, handmade gift. Here’s how.

You will need

favorite fabric

trim, in yardage to completely edge fabric

thread to match fabric

iron-on adhesive bond tape

1. Cut fabric to the size you’d like. My finished scarf measures 34 inches long by 13 1/2 inches wide, but be sure to add a half inch on each edge to allow for the hem.

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2. Iron fabric, folding over each edge by a quarter inch twice to form hem. Press to hold.

3. Use a sewing machine to sew hem along each edge.



4. Measure trim against each edge of the scarf and cut trim to size.

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5. Cut bonding tape to match size of trim pieces. My tape (5/8 inch) was too wide for the trim, so I cut the tape in half lengthwise to make more narrow strips.

6. Following the directions on the bonding tape package, adhere sticky side of tape to back side of trim with a hot iron. When cool, peel paper from tape.

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7. With wrong side of the scarf face up on the ironing board, align the sticky side of the trim face down, taking care to match the edges.

8. Use the iron to press the trim on to the edges of the scarf.

And that’s really all there is to it. I had so much fun making this scarf (and wearing it today), that I have fabric and trim for another ready to go. If you decide to make a scarf using fabric scraps you have on hand, please share photos! I’d love to see what you’re up to.

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The next scarf, to be made with another set of old curtains. Love this dangly trim!