My new daughter-in-law gave me her bridal bouquet five days ago, and it still looks wonderful!  I have been cutting the stems afresh every day, which really seems to help.

We put together our own flowers, which saved heaps of money, though I never thought we would dare try such a thing.  The internet made it easy for my flower team:  my sister-in-law and her two daughters.

First, they watched information about how to loosen up tight rosebuds (although in practice that didn’t go over too well):  Rebecca Cole’s “How to Force Rosebuds to Open”

Next, they made 14 corsages and boutonnieres out of roses and hypericum berries, using a photo I found on the internet along with Kara Beckett’s videos for “Wiring and Taping a Rose for a Boutonniere” and “Add Accent Flowers and Greenery to Your Boutonniere.”  

The corsages and boutineers were exactly the same.  Here is my sister-in-law showing one of the finished ones.

And here is my son wearing his own.

The bride carried a bouquet made of short-stemmed roses, made with the assistance of Crystal Nassar’s video.

And the bridesmaid had a bouquet of gerbera daisies.  They’re such exciting flowers we were afraid they would eclipse the bridal bouquet!

All told, it took the team about 3 hours to put these together and I’m so proud of them!  (the flowers AND my relatives)



When I was young, Mother sometimes made gifts for her sisters at Christmas time.  One year she made these pincushions–completely wonderful because they have the thread contained right inside, making mending projects so easy.  These pincushions will last for years and years.


My sons made their own pincushions as a sewing project when they were younger.  This year I made several–one for my future daughter-in-law and a few as thank-you gifts for those who helped us with the wedding.  No complicated pattern needed.  Here’s how:

1/3 yard fabric OR pre-quilted fabric
a whole package of bias tape–double-fold, extra wide
1/3 yard quilt batting (if you did not buy pre-quilted fabric)
stuffing–at least 1/2 LB, possibly more
9-10 small spools of thread:  white, black, navy, brown, light & dark gray, baby blue, tan, and heavy-duty craft tan     *** See note about size at the bottom

1.  If you bought pre-quilted fabric:
Make a 9 1/2 ” circle of out paper.  Use this to cut out 2 circles of the pre-quilted fabric.

If you bought regular fabric, you will have to quilt it yourself:

Make a 9 1/2″ circle out of paper. 

Use this circle as a guide to cut out 4 circles of fabric that are 10 1/2″ to 11″ in diameter.  (I make these bigger because it all tends to shift and get out of line when you’re sewing the quilt lines.  This makes it easier to deal with).

Also cut out 2 pieces of quilt batting that are 10 1/2″ to 11″ in diameter.

Wedge a piece of batting in between 2 fabric pieces, WRONG sides together (remembering that the raw edges will end up being covered with bias tape).

Sew straight lines 2″ apart to quilt.  Do this with the other piece of batting and 2 fabric pieces.

Lay the 9 1/2″ paper circle on top of each again and cut them out to that size.

2.  Sew the bias tape onto the raw edges of both quilted circles. 

When you get to the place where the 2 ends meet, tuck one end under and over the other end to make a neat finish. 

3.  Lay both quilted circles on top of each other, and pin them together.

4.  Make a 6 1/4″ paper circle.

5.  Lay it in the center of the quilted pieces and trace around it with a washout marking pencil.  This will make your sewing line.

6.  Sew the 2 quilted circles together, stitching around the inner circle–but leave an opening (about 3 inches) so that you can put stuffing inside later.

7.  Sew “pockets” for the spools of thread to go into:

Sew the quilted circles together just at the bias tape, spaced every 2 3/4″ to 3″.  You should be able to get 10 of these pockets, with an 11th one that may or may not be too small for a spool of thread, but is big enough to tie a bow at the end.

8.  Stuff the inner circle with batting.

9.  Sew the opening closed–by machine if you can manage it with a zipper foot, or by hand if you cannot.

10.  Take the remaining bias tape and make it skinnier so it can be used as a “rope” or string.

One way to do this is to fold it in half and sew it. 

A prettier way is to partly open the tape, fold the 2 halves inward, and THEN fold it in half and sew it.

11.  Place a spool of thread into each pocket, threading the bias “rope” through the holes of each spool.  Do it this way:  thread spool #1; continue the rope into pocket #1; continue the rope into pocket #2; THEN place spool #1 into pocket #1.  Thread spool #2, continue the rope into pocket #3, etc.


Make sure commonly used colors (such as white) are nearer to the opening end so they can more easily be removed if they get empty.

12.  Tie the “rope” into a bow and you’re finished!

**** 10 small spools can fit into the instructions I gave.  However, nowadays they’re hard to find.  I had to drive out of town (Joann Fabrics) to get them and even then, they were new-fangled with fancy tops that make them taller.  If you buy these kind, either reduce the number of pockets you make (and make the pockets larger) OR cut off the fancy tops and bottoms.

Comparing an old-fashioned spool with a new-fangled one

This is after cutting off the tops and bottoms


If you’re looking for a craft to get you in the mood for Christmas gift-giving, I would highly recommend making a man’s tie.  It doesn’t require a sewing machine and it can fill a specific need that can’t be found anywhere else.  It will result in lots of compliments to the person who wears it (and to you, by default).

Here is one of ours that gets many favorable comments.

My husband has two of them for falltime.


People also remark upon his Christmas tie every year.

He always wanted one with cows:

And here is a tasteful one for St. Patrick’s Day:

Buy yourself a pattern from the store (or find one online), and for easiest future use, trace it onto non-fusible interfacing–then you can use it again and again without it coming apart.

It takes a yard of fabric.  It does take time and careful hand-sewing, but it’s worth every minute.


A lot of people are enjoying cloth purses right now, so those who have plenty of free time (or actually–just a little bit of free time) can still whip off a few wonderful shoulder bags for very nice Christmas gifts.

Because I’m handicapped when it comes to following sewing directions, I’ll direct you to website directions that even I can follow:  TinyHappy’s Shoulder Bag Tutorial

Here is a bag I have given as a gift:

I used Walmart “upholstery” fabric and made my straps 6 inches shorter than the original.  I have gotten many compliments on the one I used this summer (graciously modeled by my younger son):


I almost forgot to tell you about a great Christmas gift idea I had for last year!  Because I didn’t want to spoil any surprises, I couldn’t tell you then; now it’s time:  Cafe Press.

No, they’re not paying me to advertise (that would be delightful!), but I think it’s a great place to shop.  They specialize in items that are personalized with whatever photo/picture/logo you design.

I made two logos for my dad’s farm (one vertical and one horizontal) using PrintShop.  Then I uploaded them to Cafe Press, and the computer created my own Putman Farms store, automatically putting the logo on a whole bunch of stuff such as hats, t-shirts, dog dishes, mugs, clocks, stationery, tote bags, etc.  Even (ahem!) underwear.

I did have to go in and adjust some of them, as perhaps they weren’t centered where I wanted them to be, or the right size.  And since I had two logos, I had to decide which logo I wanted.  I made a special logo for a clock and for a license plate holder.

I waited for a Store Owner sale, and bought all sorts of things for my whole family at 20% off.

Other family members can go there any time and purchase things on their own.  Way cool!

I’ve made a store for our speech & debate club as well.

I hope YOU have an enjoyable time trying to delight your family this year!


Recently I came up with the strong desire to own something I can’t afford right now:  a charging valet.

This fantastic little piece of furniture lets you put all the items you need to recharge in one place, with the cords hidden inside.

I had never heard of these, but when I saw one in a catalog, I became absolutely convinced it would solve all my life’s problems (well, maybe one of them, anyhow).

Who has $40-50 to buy one of these?  I do not.  So I came up with a wacky idea of making my own, and I’m SURE you will want to make one too!  Disclaimer:  the images below are a prototype; you may want to make yours more aesthetic than mine.

1.  Choose a shoebox that is big enough to hold a power strip.  Paint the box or cover it with contact paper or giftwrap.

2.  Cut a hole down low in the side of it so that when the power strip is inside the box, its cord can come out.


3.  On the top of the box, cut at least 3 of these little door flaps.  I put a V notch in them in the hopes that they would keep the cords in place better.

4.  Put the power strip inside the box and plug your rechargeables into it. 

5.  Thread the rechargeable cords up through the little door flaps.

6.  Now you have a safe and consistent place in which to plug your cell phone, recharge batteries, etc. etc.!


Today my son taught me how to use a drill.  It gave me the thrill of riding on a roller coaster and I laughed aloud with maniacal glee!  The power of it, punching holes with a roar!

We “made” two compost bins out of plastic trash cans by drilling holes into them.  For years I’ve tried to make compost by having two bins created by skids, but all I’ve been doing is feeding the trees.  The trees send roots over and up through the compost, making it a tightly woven pile of tiny roots, much like an overgrown potted plant.

Lately I’ve been noticing posts of other folks, who use the easy plastic trash can approach, so we’re on our way to a new (and hopefully more aesthetic) method.



It was terrible fun.