My Mom's Garden Tour

For Father's Day weekend Rand and I drove down to see my parents. They live about an hour away from us, in a little cabin in the big woods. While I was there, I snapped a few photos of my mom's garden.

My mom has an amazing garden full of a huge variety of interesting plants. I love looking through her garden and greenhouse each time I visit and noticing the new blooms. Plants can be so beautiful and weird.

Aren't these little heart-shaped leaves sweet? My parents broke up an old sidewalk to create the little path below.

This garden has taken years to get to this point. She has some of the most massive Aloe plants and Hastas I've ever seen. She also some plants that only bloom occasionally, so you have to catch them at just the perfect time.

Little by little, I'm learning what I can and can't grow and how to make it all work. This summer has been insanely rainy, so even my plants are looking pretty good this year. I still have a long way to go to catch up with the variety and size of my mom's garden, though.

Do you have a garden? Flowers, herbs, or vegetables? 

How long have you been gardening?

Has it been rainy where you live? Are the bugs eating you alive, like they are me??

A Little Travel Loom DIY

I can't stand to feel like I'm wasting time. Is anyone else out there like this? I have so many things I want to accomplish, and I feel really guilty letting a precious second slip by. So of course, when Rand and I want to drive somewhere (we'll hop in the car for a road trip on a moment's notice) I feel like I need to take something with me to work on. 

I thought a little travel loom might be a good idea. I tried taking my other loom in the car the last time we made the three hour drive to St. Louis, and it didn't work out so well. It was so big I couldn't get anything done or get comfortable. Fortunately, looms are very easy and cheap to make! Here's my version:

I used a dowel rod, canvas stretchers, and my staple gun.

I used these canvas stretchers from a local craft store. They come in all different sizes and fit together easily, so you can just pick your dimensions. 

My staple gun is one of my best friends.

Just fit the stretchers together like a picture frame and staple. Don't be afraid to nudge and tap the stretchers into place until they line up.

So easy, yes?!

I tested out a new warping method, and so far, it has worked pretty well. I tied these two pieces of yarn around the top of the loom and the dowel rod.

This part was a little tricky, but next I tied my warp thread around the dowel rod and the bottom of the loom. I started in the middle to help keep everything even.

I kept going, tying warp threads the same way until I had the number I wanted. This method was a little more trouble than just wrapping it back and forth around the loom, but I'm hoping it will allow me to weave all the way up to the dowel, and when I'm done with the weaving, I can just remove the dowel and the weaving in one piece from the loom. I originally saw this idea on Instagram from Hooked on Happy and I thought it was brilliant.

So there you go-all ready for a good weave.

Now, with a little Dramamine, I'll be ready for my next road trip.

How to Clean Vinyl Records

Display of nine of my favorite vintage albums from my collection

There is something special about listening to music on vinyl records. I love digital music, but with records, it's more of an activity all by itself. Rand and I love to put on a scratchy record and relax in our living room together. It's not hard these days to get into vinyl, since new record players can be purchased at a pretty reasonable price and there are records available everywhere. A lot of new music can be purchased on vinyl, and often they include complementary digital downloads of the album. This past Christmas, Rand got me my favorite Neutral Milk Hotel and Green Day albums on vinyl records.

New albums are a little pricey, so it's also nice that there are bins and bins of old records for sale at nearly every flea market. It takes a lot of crouching down on the floor and digging through music you hate just to find a treasure, but it is so worth it. When I finally discover a record I've been wanting, I usually squeal and run for the register as though someone else might try to take it from me. Some of my favorite recent finds include Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, Carole King, and Linda Ronstadt albums. They usually range from $0.50 to $5 in the flea market bins.

You can find some amazing deals digging through flea market record bins, but you should always check the record itself before you buy it. First of all, make sure the record is actually in there and that it's the correct record. Second, look it over for scratches. Some records look like they've taken a lot of abuse, and if you see deep gashes in the surface of the record, those can't be fixed and will affect the sound quality. However, don't be intimidated by a layer of dust and dirt. That can usually be fixed.

Peter, Paul and Mary vintage album before cleaning

Here's a recent record I picked up at a flea market in Springfield. I have loved Peter, Paul, and Mary since I was little, so I was pretty excited to find this album for $2. It had a couple of small scratches, but mostly it was just covered in grime. Here's a closer look at the surface of the record. I can live with a couple scratches, but look at that dirt. 

Peter, Paul, and Mary dirty vintage album close-up before cleaning

Since it wasn't too damaged but it still didn't sound great, I went searching for a method to clean the record without hurting it. It turns out, once again, Dawn is the best choice. Is there nothing that stuff can't do?

Giving your old records a scrubbing is incredibly easy. Grab some Dawn, a rag, and get to the sink. Squirt some dawn all over the record, but try to avoid the paper label in the middle. Get your rag wet and scrub both sides of the record.  Rinse the record off under cool running water, again doing your best to avoid getting the label wet.

Four steps to clean vinyl records

Towel dry the surface of the record with a lint-free cloth, then lay it out to air dry completely. From what I've read, it is very important that the record is completely dry before you play it. 

Peter, Paul and Mary album after cleaning close-up

I was amazed at the results! I did my best to capture the difference in photos, but the real improvement was in the sound quality. It still sounded like a scratchy old record, but in a much better way. Does that make sense?

Cleaning vinyl records before and after photo

Of course I had to go through and clean all my records after making this discovery. Things are sounding much better around here these days.

Thrifty Finds // 9

There's been a little thrifting happening around here, and I've found some good stuff. I've also found some thrift-loving blog friends like Jessica and Kate, which makes digging through old smelly junk even more exciting than it already is. I love thrifting, but thrifting with a buddy is the best. Not only do you find goodies, but you can chat about all the items you spot from your childhood and laugh at all the creepy/strange/funny things for sale. There's never a shortage of those things.

Here's my latest haul:

1970's DIY books-$1 each
Thrift Haven

My brain exploded with inspiration after looking through these books. Then I became overwhelmed with project ideas and had to recover by taking a nap.

Aloe Vera plant-$10
Vendor's Mart 

I've wanted an Aloe Vera plant for this bullet planter for a while now, so I was pretty excited to find a big one already in a ceramic pot. All I had to do was set the whole thing in the planter. Best part: the cats don't eat succulents!

Candy Dish-$2.50
STD Flea Market (I know, I know)

One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to expand my studio pottery collection, which is a joke because this is only the second piece of studio pottery I've ever purchased. Now I'm just slightly closer to being able to say I have a collection. I love the color of that dish.

Falsa Blanket-$4.00
Urban Market

I'm seeing a lot of vintage textiles from around the world lately, so I picked up this Mexican Falsa blanket thinking maybe I could use it to create some pillow covers. Then the thought of sewing made me so tired I had to take a nap. I hope to tackle that project very soon.

Be sure to check out the Nifty Thrifty link up at A Living Space. There are some incredible finds over there. Until next time, be thrifty!

Introducing Eck Art // My Etsy Shop

I've been up to something.

Do you see that new button up there at the top of the blog? The one that says SHOP? Yeah, now you can SHOP!!

I finally decided to go for it and open an Etsy shop. It's far from perfect, and sometimes I worry my products suck, but if I wait for everything to be perfect, it will never happen. I love weaving, and if I could sell weavings and earn a little money to continue weaving, that would be enough for me. Weaving is heavenly, but it's not cheap.

The name Eck Art was Rand's idea. His best pitches for shop names also included Don't Stop Beweavin' and Take It or Weave It. I've added my four favorite tapestries that I've made so far, although there have been many pieces I've made and not liked. Those have mostly ended up pulled apart and rewoven into something else. I'm still unsure if my pricing is anywhere close or if I calculated shipping correctly, but I learn best by doing, so I'm jumping in.

So maybe you'll click that button up there and look at what I've made? Maybe you'll think it's kind of good?

It's a bit scary to put your art out there into the world and then wait to see if anyone likes it.


Oh, hey. Remember me?

I've got excuses, like work 'n stuff. But mostly, it was just writer's block that's to blame for my almost-month-long break from blogging. I wasn't in the mood.

But now I am. Let's blog it up.

Tell me how much you love our new scooter. I look like a huge dork riding it, and I don't care. I was born to RIDE.

My post on how to grow huge ferns is my most popular post ever, but no matter how lush your ferns get, they will still die if you stop watering them. This one was dead from neglect, but when I went to throw it out, I discovered baby birds inside. I couldn't argue with those three glaring faces, so I let the dead fern hang on our porch until they left. 

Then there's Max. He still doesn't care what you think.

I discovered this Bambi Airstream the other day, and now I'm obsessed. I want to move in and be a nomad. Only in a camper that is this retro and stylish, though. Now I'm on the lookout for a vintage starter camper, like a Shasta or a Scamp. 

Ok, we're caught up on me. So how are you? What's new? What have you been up to? Does anyone still read this thing?

I've got a few DIY/decorating/creative stuff posts lined up, so soon we'll see if I'm still any good at this.
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