Simple DIY screen-printing!

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Four the past four months I’ve been co-managing a team of seven 3rd-graders as part of a program called Destination Imagination in preparation for the Jefferson Region’s D.I. regional tournament this past weekend. Destination Imagination is an awesome S.T.E.A.M.-focused program that aims to develop teamwork, creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills in kids from elementary school to high school.

Our team’s name was Creative Crew, and one of the requirements for the tournament was that the kids make a team sign with their name on it. One of the boys took charge of writing the team name on the sign and I loved the character of the letters!

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As the tournament drew nearer, I really wanted the kids to have team shirts. The regional D.I. program offered t-shirts, but we hadn’t ordered them, and since D.I. is all about being crafty and creative, I decided to take the task on myself. I was curious enough about screen-printing and have never tried it, and I was *sure* there had to be a DIY screen-printing tutorial somewhere on Pinterest. Sure enough, there are many! I settled pretty quickly on this one, probably because it said “easy” in the title. After all, I’m a procrastinator and with the tournament only a week away, easy was a prerequisite.

I had decided to use the team sign as the basis for the design. Bringing a photo of the sign into Photoshop Elements, I basically created a digital overlay and ultimately a black-and-white version of the words on the sign. I should mention that the project required an embroidery hoop, which is what holds the screen that you use to print your design. So, “Creative Crew” had to fit comfortably inside my 9.5-inch hoop. I resized the image accordingly and printed it. It looked like this:

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Sheer curtain fabric is used for the printing screen, “synthetic, not stretchy, fine gauge, thin enough to see through easily”. I found some at JoAnn Fabric and bought two yards of it. I was pumped about the project and was sure I’d be screen-printing shirts left and right after this, so my impulsive and obsessive self needed to stock up! Plus, I had a coupon. (If you’re local to me and need DIY screen-printing fabric, let me know. I’ll hook you up.)

I cut a piece of fabric plenty big enough to fit the embroidery hoop and inserted it. Then I taped the printed design to the bottom side of the hoop.

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Using a Sharpie, I traced the design onto the fabric, then painted around the letters and ellipse with Mod Podge to seal those areas closed. This required 2-3 coats of Mod Podge, and holding the hoop up the light periodically to make sure all of the “negative space” was getting covered. Once satisfied with how the screen looked, I let it dry for 24 hours.

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Next was the fun part. In terms of fabric paints, my choices at the store were limited. (Procrastinators can’t be choosy.) There were a ton of tie-dye paints and puffy paints, neither of which would have been suitable for this project. The Tulip soft matte fabric paints were my best option and worked well with my homemade screen.

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Placing the screen where I wanted it, I squeezed out a line of paint and used a plastic pastry tool to swipe the paint upward and downward over the screen. A plastic putty knife would have been better, but I used what I had handy. I would recommend doing a few trial prints on old shirts or cloths first, because I ruined the first shirt by pressing way to hard and pushing too much paint through the screen. The quality of the prints definitely got better as I went along. I made eleven shirts altogether, quickly rinsing and towel-drying the screen between each print. (I’m not sure if this was necessary; it just seemed like a good idea.)

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I applied one color at a time, pulling the paint upward and downward so the edges of the colors blended together, wiping excess paint from the plastic tool onto a paper plate. The colors blended together beautifully and I loved the results!

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For most prints I only had a few spots where the paint didn’t pass through the screen. I used a brush and some of the excess paint to fill in those places. (It probably would have helped if I had ironed out the creases in the shirts first, but again… procrastinator, here.)

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I loved how they came out and the team was thrilled with them too!

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Here is Mr. D. and me on the morning of the D.I. regional tournament, sporting our DIY screen-printed shirts! I’ll definitely be looking for opportunities to do more DIY screen prints! It was a lot of fun!

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Back in the Blogging Saddle

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted. TWO YEARS! I haven’t forgotten about my little blog. It’s been quietly nagging me in the back of my mind. For two years I’ve been thinking about and meaning to get back to it, but life has been so busy. In those two years I increased the amount of hours I am at work and our two kids are now school age and involved in more activities (soccer, swimming, gymnastics, piano). I value our quiet time and we all enjoy just hanging out at home and playing in the back yard. We aren’t usually involved in that many things at one time. However, in an effort to try different things and see what the kids really enjoy (in addition to wanting the kids to learn how to swim), it feels like we’ve been overdoing it. My son informed me last night that he’s ready to take a break from swimming. Right on. He’s been doing great and has really progressed since he started winter lessons in January, but a break is definitely due.

One of the highlights of the last year is that we now have backyard chickens! I plan to write a whole post on that, but in short: husband built a coop and a run, and in March 2015 we got six Golden Comet chicks (red sexlinks). The kids loved watching them grow from chicks and have continued to love and care for them. They even gave them names. The chickens deserve a blog post of their own, so we’ll cover all that next time around.

In the meantime, it’s April and the weather has been gorgeous (except for the last few days of heavy rain). We’ve gotten our garden started, and since my garden is the topic I blog about most (aside from my kids, maybe), I wanted to share a few pics of what we’ve got going. I’m also home today with a sick kindergartener, so while she’s resting and watching The Land Before Time (a favorite movie series around here), I decided to finally bring back the blog. 🙂

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Our new chicken coop and run along the side of the garden. Also, last year Mr. L. added a fence around the garden to keep the chickens, dogs and deer out. It’s been working great!

 

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This is late afternoon and as you can see, the garden gets a good bit of shade then. I usually try to start planting in the far end and save the sunniest parts of the garden for tomatoes.

 

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The first transplants include cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. I will need to keep an eye on them so I can see when the cabbage worms start to show up, then take action.

 

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Our “walking onions” popping through! My dad gave me a bunch of these a few years ago and I save the bulbs to replant each year. They develop a flower at the top with a bunch of new bulbs that get heavy and plop over, starting a new plant, which is how they “walk”.

 

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These two were really into helping garden this month, so we harnessed that enthusiasm! They helped plant onions, potatoes, and green beans. Miss D. also helped transplant the Brassicas one afternoon when her brother was at soccer practice. We still have lots to do!

At the recommendation of my Uncle Joe, I’m currently reading Growing Great Tomatoes in preparation of planting our own tomatoes in the next week or so. I’m also checking out Straw Bale Gardens and am thinking of giving that technique a try at some point. There’s always so much to learn!

To be continued…

 

 

Spring Garden, 2014

We got a late start on this year’s garden, due to the harsh winter that ran into spring. However, this spring has been mostly nice and cool, and our garden is looking pretty good so far! My goal this year was to space things appropriately (everything was super cramped and overgrown by October in years past) and to stay ahead of the weeds, which overcame the garden in previous years. I’d get to point where I just gave up, and the weeds won.

This year, I laid much more leaf mulch, thanks to the nifty leaf compost bin that my husband made out of wooden pallets last year. It was packed full of leaves that we collected in the fall.

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I’ve also been trying to get out there regularly to pull weeds and cultivate. It’s working so far, although I fell behind in a few rows… mainly the peas and the radishes/carrots. The weeds don’t seem to be bothering the peas, but I know I have to clean up the row with the carrots or they won’t grow. Does anyone know the best way to weed around carrots?

We started harvesting a couple of weeks ago. First out of the garden were lettuce, radishes, and spring onions.  I love growing radishes and spring onions because they are so easy.

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This year we had better luck with lettuce, too, partly because we started with plants. I think the last few years I sowed lettuce seeds too late, and I waited and waited for them to get big enough to pick, and then they bolted. It’s working out much better this year, from plants. We have big, full heads of lettuce. I’m sure the cooler spring is helping too.

Our most recent harvest from the garden has been peas. During our first year gardening, we had a great row of sugar snap peas that seemed to produce early, and just kept giving us peas. This year I sowed three rows of peas, one of Frosty Pea, one Sugar Bush, and one Sugar Snap. Not sure why I dedicated three rows to peas, but I did. They grew strong and big, but it seemed like the blossoms were never going to develop. I even considering pulling out the plants so that I could put something else there, because I was starting to think they wouldn’t produce for us. Then, after a recent weekend of heavy rain I walked out there and they were full of beautiful little pink and white blossoms! It’s been my favorite part of this year’s garden so far, particularly the pink pea blossoms. I went out there last night and snapped some photos before the blossoms were all gone.

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Are you keeping a garden this year? How is it doing?

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Gettin’ Dirty

What a gorgeous weekend! The late, heavy snows that we got in March delayed the start of our gardening, so I tried to get caught up this weekend. It was the perfect weather for it; just like those perfect couple of weeks of true spring weather that we get between winter and the hot summer weather that always seems to come too early. I remember a couple of years ago we had what felt like two full months of true spring weather. Hoping for another spring like that this year, now that spring has finally arrived.

We spent most of the weekend in our back yard, transplanting and sowing in the vegetable garden, as well as making a butterfly garden next to the kids’ play house. I’ll follow-up with a post on those, but in the meantime, here’s what we got started in the vegetable garden this weekend:

  • Egyptian (“walking”) onions (actually planted a few weeks ago; my Dad gave me these spring onions a couple of years ago)
  • sweet onions
  • potatoes (Kennebec and red)
  • lettuces (Buttercrunch, Bibb, and mesclun)
  • swiss chard
  • cabbage (early flat Dutch and red)
  • peas (frosty pea, sugar snap and dwarf sugar bush)
  • Tepary beans (heirloom from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company)
  • carrots (short n’ sweet, and rainbow)
  • radishes (easter egg mix)
  • arugula
  • parsley
  • dill

After all of that, I have over half of the garden planted already, which I always find a little depressing. I can never keep up with our garden, once the weeds move in. Then I wish it were smaller. But when I’m planting and sowing, I always wish it were bigger.

We all got very dirty and by Sunday evening, I was tired and sore. But it was a divine weekend. I took this photo of my daughter playing in the less-than-half of the garden that we haven’t planted yet. She had gone inside to fetch her favorite blanket and brought it out to the garden. This photo pretty much sums up how I felt about the weekend. 🙂

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Hoping you also had beautiful weather this past weekend and got outside to enjoy it!

 

Snowmaggedon 2014

Finally! A legit snow day. We’ve had several school closings for ice or slippery roads this year, but today we finally got a real snow day due to several inches of snow on the ground, with more snow expected tonight and more closings tomorrow. Granted, who knows when schools will actually let the kids out for the summer, since they’ve been out so much this winter. But it was fun to get out and play with them in the white stuff today. I’m not complaining! We didn’t make a snowman yet. Maybe we’ll do that tomorrow! In the meantime, here are some photos of our day today.

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He wasn’t interested in wearing his real winter coat or a pair of gloves. I decided to let him be until he decided he was ready for a heavier coat and gloves, but he never complained.

 

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I love how she decided the sample the snow like it was an hors d’oeuvres! She sat there and nibbled on that little snowball until it was all gone.

 

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Maddy had fun, but was ready to go in…

 

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We hope you enjoyed your snow day, if you had one!

 

Where Has Summer Gone?

I can’t believe it’s already August and I haven’t posted a blog since January! The summer is nearly over, my boy is about to start kindergarten, and my garden is drying up and full of weeds. Ugh. There is just not enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do (or even to accomplish the list of things I should do)!

We did manage to take our first family vacation to the beach last month though! It was Miss D’s first time to the beach, and though it was Mr. D’s second time, he doesn’t remember his first visit (at 18 months old), so it was like his first time too. They loved it! I was just looking at some photos of our visit and was really appreciating this one in particular, which seems to simply say “slow down and enjoy the journey”.

A Beautiful Day for a Hike

It’s been so warm outside! It’s almost impossible to come up with an excuse to NOT be out there. Last week the four of us went to a nearby park that has a small network of trails. My son LOVES this sort of thing. He loves to lead the way while we follow. My daughter also enjoys being out in the woods, but we’re usually slow to get our act together on the weekends and we didn’t get to the trails until almost lunchtime, which is always followed by a nap for my daughter. So, she was starting to fade and we had to carry her much of the way. (I confess, part of me really looks forward to when we drop that afternoon nap!)

Of course, I had to bring my camera (much to my husband’s dismay, who said “Next time we go hiking, no camera!”) I guess I’m just not smooth enough with it to not let it slow us down. But I know if I hadn’t taken it, I would have been wishing I had. So, it’s always better if I take it along… “just in case”. 😉

It wasn’t long after we set off that my daughter asked to be carried. (Why do I always forget to bring that Ergo?) We took turns carrying her, but she got a special treat when Daddy put her on his shoulders.

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Everybody follow while big brother leads the way!

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The hikers share the trails with horses and their riders, so much of the trails are a bit muddy and heavily trodden, with horse “droppings” for us to dodge along the way. It’s not bad, but you do have to watch where you step. Little sister was happier walking in the drier stretches.

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But she still wanted at least a little help getting around some of the muddy spots.

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My son didn’t mind the mud. He was having a blast!

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“Daddy, take a picture of me and D!”

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Hiking around a bend, we came upon a small stream. The kids love to explore streams and big brother’s favorite thing to do is to jump over them.

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“I told you I could jump over it!”

Little D mostly just looked around and watched with curiosity…

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At one point she was mesmerized by a large pile of horse doody on the trail.

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I’m not sure what she spotted overhead, but it must have been interesting!

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A little wooden bench along the trail makes for a nice break and photo-op. 🙂

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Little D started to lose steam, so it was back up on Daddy’s shoulders!

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When we got back to the parking lot, my son insisted that we sit at a picnic bench to have a snack break before heading home. So, that’s what we did. Then we went home for the rest of lunch and nap time.

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We’re really loving this warm weather. However, whenever Mother Nature feels like sending some snow our way… at least enough to pack a few snowballs or make a small snowman… we’re ready. 🙂