"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

Add your email address here & receive new posts from This American Home!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vintage Valentine's

Happy Valentine's Day!

Be kind to each other & sweet to yourself!

Be mine!

(Because, really, doesn't a dirty butcher's knife and a hanging dead duck really just say it all?)

 I heart corny puns!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Guerilla Crafting: DIY Hot Water Bottle Cover

In a winter of Polar Vortexes and Bombogenesis, may I suggest we consider an oldie-but-goody: 
the hot water bottle.

An vintage idea that deserves a comeback. Sometimes Nana does know best.

Available in drugstores and online (Amazon) in a number of (affordable!) sizes, shapes and colors, slipping a hot water bottle beneath cold sheets on a chilly night feels like absolute luxury.

The best part, a hot water bottle can stay warm until morning --which means maybe you won't have to crank up the heat quite so high...

In spite of my warm clime in Southern California, I have been a fan of hot water bottles (and drafty old houses!) for years. Recently, I upped my game and made my own hot water bottle cozies using cashmere sweaters from the thrift store! 

You can too:

To start, you'll need a super soft old sweater (nothing scratchy!).

Next, place your hot water bottle on top of the body of the sweater with the mouth of the hot water bottle facing the finished hem of the sweater. The finished hem will be the opening for the cozy, aka, cover.

Step two: Using a permanent marker draw around the hot water bottle leaving an inch margin that will allow for sewing a seam (Note: my photo shows about a 1/2 inch margin - I would recommend extending that to an inch!). Draw extra wide around the mouth of the hot water bottle because you need to be able to be able to transfer the hot water bottle in and out of the cover easily. (See photo below)

I decided to use one side of the sweater as a finished edge to eliminate the need for unnecessary sewing. Brevity is the wit of the soul. Laziness may have played a part too...

 Step three: Using a pair of pinking shears (or sharp sewing scissors) cut just outside of your marking.

I used a large zig-zag stitch (but if you have an overlock machine this would be the perfect time to pull it out!) -and sewed the cut pieces together creating a sort of pocket shape with an opening at the neck. Then, since I expect the cover to see a lot of use, I sewed around it a second time for durability.

*Disclaimer: I never claimed to actually be good at sewing, think of it more like guerilla crafting...

Finally, turn the pocket right side out, slip in your hot water bottle and placing a towel around the neck to protect (pre-heated!) hot water from spilling onto the cover -fill 'er up!

Finally, select a length of ribbon or twill tape to tie around the neck of the bottle to hold the cover snug.

Bringin' cozy back. 

Next time those temps take a dive --you'll be ready.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Style At Work: Mary Pankiewicz

I recently finished up writing my second bookazine (hooray!) which is due out in stores in the coming month (I will keep you posted!), only this time instead of flea markets my topic focused on how to get organized for Spring. It was a terrific project, and as some of you may have guessed -I needed to get some expert advice...which is how I met Mary Pankiewicz.

Mary is a certified professional organizer (CPO), the owner of Clutter-Free & Organized in Tennessee and the mother of seven grown children. Needless to say she was a tremendous resource  --and you can look for her insight and expertise coming soon in Organize: Spring.

While I was checking out her website, I ran across this photo her darling office.

To be filed under the heading: How Cute is This? I asked Mary to tell me a little more about the clutter-free cottage she calls, The Biltmore Birdhouse. (Named after the family of house wrens that took up residence during construction)

Orginally constructed by her son, Kenneth Pankiewicz, as a place to store a windfall of inherited antique furniture, the vision changed after a particularly inspired shopping excursion.

"I went to TJ Maxx," she recalls, "and they had the most beautiful wastepaper basket --it was just so me!" Ever the organizer, however, she says, "I looked at it and thought don't buy it unless you know what you're going to do with it --and then it hit me!...I could turn that building into my office...so now I think of that as my $8,000 waste basket!"

"At the time, there wasn't electricity, it was really just a framework of a building," so once again her son got to work and transformed the structure into a dream office for mom. A place of her own, ironically after all seven kids had left the nest. Her favorite part: the french doors that face the barn and look out onto the meadow beyond.

In fact, Mary says after purchasing an L-shaped desk for her space she put the piece on gliders for easy repositioning in the room, "I would not let them put a hole in the floor [for an electrical outlet] until I knew that I had the right view out of all the windows."

In addition to the desk, Mary says she also created a second, 'stand-up' desk using her father's art board. "It's a hollowed out door on top of two A-frames that I painted white," she explains. "I put my laptop on the stand up desk because I found out I was much more efficient with my emails if I am standing up...we make much faster, better decisions when we're on our feet and we're standing," says the CPO. "If you have stacks of paper to go through -if you go through it on your feet, you'll go through it a zillion times faster."

Although, the mini-farmhouse that mirrors the design of Mary's main address just 50 feet away is all hers, she admits she shares the digs with an adopted cat and the occasional hummingbird. 

Mary suspects the cat may be under the impression the space is actually his. "He's even walked across my computer," she explains, "and I've had to have a computer person out to figure out what he stepped on."

Photo courtesy of Clutter-Free & Organized.

Follow American Home here!

Share It