When you fall in love with screw back earrings…

…time to pull out the pliers.

The school where I teach uses navy and orange for its colors, and the principal loves spirit days. Occasionally I’ll spot little treasures that function with both my personal aesthetic and are school colors, everyone wins.

So when I spotted these awesome geometric creamsicle bakelite earrings, I snapped them up…even though they’re screw back.

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I wore them a few times as-is, because I was too lazy to pull out my pliers, but tomorrow is “homecoming” and it’s going to be a long day of wrangling students. So I decided to pull out the pliers and swap the findings so I they’d be more comfortable.

I prefer round tip needle-nose pliers for working with jewelry, they seem much less likely to damage old metal.

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It’s really just a matter of opening the hoop on the earring, taking the original hook out and putting a new one in.

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Et voila!

Citrus/Vinegar Cleaner for Whiteboards

I like to use as few chemicals as possible in cleaning, but my school gave me whiteboard cleaner and so I’ve been using it. I think it’s about the same as windex, from the smell of it….and I definitely don’t like the smell.

Last week, my document camera (the overhead projector of the new millennium) stopped working between 2nd and 3rd periods while I was modeling writing in paragraphs/proofreading to my kids.

I went to the whiteboard and realized that all of my dry erase markers were too thick for the job of writing a bunch all at once, and too temporary to stand up to proofreading. So I grabbed a wet erase marker and went to town.

Afterward, I tried to clean the board and this happened:

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Big smeary mess! That’s actually after two attempts with the expo cleaner.

So today, I decided to put citrus/vinegar cleaner head to head with the expo.

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Grudge match!

The winner?

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DIY Driftwood Jewelry Organizer

When I started teaching, I started wearing a lot more necklaces – I’m not sure why, it just happened that way.  So, until recently, my bathroom counter looked like this:

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I had half my beauty accoutrements organized nicely in their vintage containers…and then my necklace pile splayed all over and tangled.  But all summer I’ve been thinking of creating a driftwood jewelry hanger.  I’m not sure why I decided on driftwood, but it stuck in my head and wouldn’t get unstuck.  So when I found the perfect piece of wood, I immediately came home and whipped up this:

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AND I’M IN LOVE WITH IT.  <33333

All the caps lock all the time.  Not only does it get my necklaces (well, most of them) up off the counter, but it’s just gorgeous (if I do say so myself!).  It was a pain in the butt to hang on the wall (I ended up nailing through some thinner spots) – but so worth it.  All it is is a piece of (free!) driftwood and about 10 1/2″ brass cup hooks.

Labor Day Lavender Mint Lemonade…and Lemon Vinegar Cleaner

Labor Day is that day when we all realize that summer is pretty much over…sigh.  But in honor of our national day of rest, I cooked up a batch of my favorite lemonade…and (because my little cherubs at school are all starting to be sick) I used the lemon peels to make a citrus surface cleaner.  I love multi-tasking.  For about $3 I got a delicious pitcher of lemonade and enough spray cleaner to last me into the new year.  Wanna know how?  Let’s go!

The first step involves your herbs – you can use fresh or dried.  I had fresh lavender in the garden, but wanted to use up some of last year’s dried peppermint.  I gave my lavender a bit of a haircut.  Once the leaves were stripped from the stalk (just like with rosemary, invert and scrape) I had about a quarter cup of little lavender needles and a few flowers.  I grabbed about a cup (not packed too hard) of peppermint leaves from their jar – with dried you always want to use more to make up for the potency lost during the drying process.

Put 5 cups of water in a saucepan – if you’re using sugar, put 2.5 cups of sugar in with it and boil until the sugar dissolves.  If you’re using honey, which I do – I use about a cup and a half of honey and *never* boil honey, it destroys the lovely enzymes in it and is just not necessary.   So for honey – heat the water to almost boiling, remove from heat add the honey and stir until it dissolves.  Then (for both versions) add the herbs, stir until they’re saturated in the syrup, cover and leave covered until cooled.  As with many recipes of this nature, it may only take 30 minutes to cool to room temperature, but the longer you leave it, the stronger the syrup.  I always recommend leaving it overnight.

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Next we make the lemonade part!  You’ll need about a 2lbs of lemons (about a dozen).  Usually when it comes to citrus, you don’t really need to wash them…but because we’re using the peels – I like to give the outsides a little scrub (and take the stickers off).  Halve them and juice them.  I love any excuse to use my vintage citrus juicer!

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Strain the seeds and pulp out of the lemon juice and pour it into a pitcher.  Once the herbal concoction has cooled, strain that into the same pitcher, add 4-5 more cups of water (you might want to spot check it for strength as you go), stir and serve over ice.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, add a shot or so of gin to the mix and garnish with fresh mint. 🙂

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Pictured with my favorite gin….that I will need to figure out where to procure now that I’m not in the northeast!

Making the cleaner is the easy part – pack a mason jar (or jars) with the peels, pour vinegar into jar and let steep for two weeks.  I periodically check to make sure that the vinegar is covering the peels and to agitate it slightly.  Once you’re ready to use it – fill a spray bottle 1/4 full with the infused vinegar and the remaining 3/4 with water (or half and half if you’ve got a really dirty mess on your hands, but I find 1:3 works great).  You can also use citrus vinegar as a base for salad dressing or in cooking.  It’s useful stuff! 🙂

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DIY Sunglasses Organizer

Inspired by a post I saw on pinterest (which links to this blog post) I decided to make my very own sunglasses holder/memo frame.    I have a bit of a sunglasses addiction and they all end up in my car.  When I cleaned out my car to hang them on the frame, there were 5 pairs in there.  I never need 5 pairs of sunglasses in my car.  My car doesn’t even seat 5 people!

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I found the frame in the basement of Decatur Estate for $5!  I took tiny hooks that I had leftover from another project and screwed them into the frame in regular intervals.  Then I laced them up like a corset…or like a shoe…whichever…with garden twine.  Et-voila.  Sunglasses holder with plenty of room if my problem continues to grow…and spots to clip cards and notes if I want!

Now that I think about it, I’m missing at least one pair….hmmmm.

Everyone I know is pregnant.

Pretty much everyone I know is pregnant, so even though it’s stinkin’ hot, I’m knitting my little fingers off.  I need to get all the baby blankets done before school starts or I just won’t have time!  Because I had 3 that I knew I wanted to do, I picked a simple pattern that I could internalize and do in my sleep.

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The first one went to Baby Olivia who lives in Spain and is my honorary niece.  I lived with her mama’s family when I was an exchange student in Spain in the 90s and her proud Tia Eri (pictured with her) lived with my family and me in the states for a month or so.  I’m so happy to still be connected with that wonderful family!

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The second one went to Baby Risa, my cousin’s baby.  I had to SPEED through it because she had the baby two weeks early!  Risa means laughter, I love it!

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The third one went to one of my besties who isn’t due until around Thanksgiving, but I wanted to get it done! 🙂

The pattern is from Espace Tricot and the yarn is Knitpicks Shine Worsted.