Thursday, May 31, 2012

We've Got a New Home on the Web!

Dear Contemporary Farm Girl Community,

These last few months have been a BLAST. I never expected to gain so many followers in such a short time! I love sharing my journey towards simple living with you all. Know that it's your comments that make this whole blogging endeavor so fulfilling!

Things have been a little crazy lately as the school year winds down, so I apologize for the lack of new posts. Don't despair, I've got some new material in the works that will be posted soon...however, at a new address! 

In an effort to unify my online presence (aren't I fancy, I have an online presence!), Contemporary Farm Girl will now be kiss me awake. kiss me awake is the brand that I created for my Etsy shop and use for my social media accounts, so it only makes sense to keep everything together.

This blog has been set to automatically redirect to my new online home, kiss me awake. Hop on over there to add the new address to your reader, subscribe by email, and/or join through Google Connect. Can't wait to see you there!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Stamp Socks to Eliminate Pairing Nightmares -or- How in Heck Did I Not Think of This Sooner?

We all have it.

The pile of unmatched socks that we keep next to the dryer, hoping that one day they'll all be miraculously reunited with their mates. It doesn't happen. The pile grows, and if you're organizationally OCD like me, starts to haunt your dreams.

We've tried family sock-pairing parties, where we bring the pile upstairs in front of the TV and barrel through, hunting down the estranged couples. This consistently results in my mom and I doing all the work, cursing the men of the house and watching way too much Lifetime Movie Channel. Mom has threatened to just throw them all away, but my eco-conscious mind won't go for that.

Obviously I am extremely blessed, since mismatched socks is the primary dilemma in my life right now.

After weeks of contemplation while folding laundry, I've realized that the root of the problem is that we have seven people living in this house, all of whom tend to wear white socks of various sizes and styles. Different enough that you can't mix and match, but similar enough that they all look the same fresh out of the dryer. I came to the conclusion that we needed some kind of code to be able to tell each other's socks apart and quickly pair them up.

One extremely long introduction later, allow me to introduce you to....

The stamped sock!

Sock salvation? I'm hoping.

I'm hoping that stamping each family member's socks with a shape or color just for them will make it way easier for my mom and I to fold laundry, and will keep that hideous pile to a minimum. Read on for the tutorial!

You'll need:

*Stamp (I used an acrylic I had for paper crafts, but you can use rubber, foam, or even a stencil. Also, simple and blocky is better...details won't show up anyway.)
*Fabric paint
*Sponge brush for applying the paint to the stamp (you could use a regular paintbrush too)
*Bowl or plate for squeezing the paint out on

First, if your socks are brand new, you need to wash them. Here's a good tip for fabric painting in general: if you flick some water on to the fabric and it beads up, that means you need to wash it. If the water beads up, it means it isn't soaking in because of the way the fabric is treated, meaning the paint won't set in either.

See the water beads? No es bueno, must wash.
 Once your socks are washed and dried, lay them out, soles up.

Bottoms up!

Squeeze out some fabric paint. This amount I squeezed out was actually way too much. You need just a tiny bit of paint.

Using your brush, swipe a layer of fabric paint onto your stamp. This is a rare case when less is not more. Because sock fabric is pretty cushy, you won't leave much of a print if you only put on a thin layer of paint.

Stamp that sock, baby!

Here's what I mean about not putting enough paint on the stamp.

For my next try, I was more generous with the paint. The design is less detailed, but that's okay for my purpose.

Here you can see the side-by-side difference of more and less paint.

And, we're already done! That was pretty quick, right? After I had my supplies together, this seriously look me less than 60 seconds.

I've only done my gym socks so far, but my mom and I are planning to get everybody's done in a different color. I'll let you know if this solves or at least alleviates our problem!

First of all, tell me I'm not the only one with this problem in the first place, right? And then, how do you keep your socks paired up?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prettier (But Still Super Easy) Knitted Dishcloth Tutorial

Hey fellow knitting newbies, ready for something a bit more interesting and attractive than the Absolute Beginner's First Knitted Dishcloth? This Prettier Knitted Dishcloth is still super easy and appropriate for beginners, but you'll get to learn a few new tricks AND it looks way nicer than the boring back-and-forth first one we did.

Thanks to Beth at the chiropractor who not only first got me into knitting, but also showed me this fun pattern!

Here's what you need:

*A ball of Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn (you'll be able to make at least 2 dishcloths out of one ball)
*A pair of #7 knitting needles: as I explain in the first video, you might want to have both 9" and 13" needles
*Scissors and a yarn needle for finishing off
*The pattern...since it's not the same thing over and over like our first dishcloth, it's nice to have as a reference just to double-check yourself

Prettier Knitted Dishcloth Pattern

1. Cast on 4 (remember, the slipknot counts as 1)
2. Knit 1 row
3. Next row: knit 2, yarn over, knit 2
4. Next row: knit 2, yarn over, knit to end of row
5. Continue step 4 until there are 45 stitches on needle
6. Next row: knit 1, knit 2 together, yarn over, knit 2 together, knit to end of row
7. Continue step 6 until there are 5 stitches left on the needle
8. Next row: knit 2, knit 2 together, knit 1
9. Cast off 4 stitches
10: Cut yarn and weave in ends

Let's get started! 

If you need a review on tying a slipknot and casting on or how to knit stitch, go ahead a take a minute to view the videos linked in this sentence.

This video will get you from the slipknot to the halfway mark of the dishcloth. You'll learn how to increase, or add a stitch to each new row, which is how we start from a corner and knit diagonally.

Here's mine after a few minutes. See the pretty border made by yarning over?

As you keep increasing, your 9" needles might start to feel a bit too short for holding all those stitches. In this video, I show you how to switch out to longer needles.

Once you've got 45 stitches on the needle, woohoo, you're halfway there! Now it's time to decrease. Watch below.

Just to emphasize that it's perfectly fine if you make mistakes, here's some proof of my knitting fallibility.

Finally, when you've got 5 stitches left on the needle, it's time to cast off and finish the dishcloth.

Aaaaaaand, voilà! I love making these in bright colors, they're so cheery and make me feel like my new granny pastime is somehow hip and cool.

So, how'd you do? Give it a go, then come back and tell me about it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Someday Project: Greenhouse from Salvaged Windows

Last weekend, we went to a salvage sale in nearby Binghamton, NY. They had tons of doors, pillars, molding, and a big collection of windows, all beautifully junky and shabby in the style I LOVE. 

Future baby (plant) makers
The huge collection of salvaged windows priced at just a few bucks each got me and Tomasi thinking...GREENHOUSE! We've always said we'd love to have a greenhouse once we have our own place, but I've heard they can be pretty pricey. The salvage place had a lookbook of projects made from salvaged materials, and one that really caught our eye was made from a hodgepodge of mismatched old windows. Way cheaper than a kit, and (ding, ding, ding!) good for Mother Earth! 

Tomás is handy enough that I know he'll be able to put together one of these babies once we have our little homestead. In the meantime, here's some awesome inspiration I found by searching on Google and Pinterest.

Seattle Tall Poppy

Better Homes & Gardens

Sustain Lane

Better Homes & Gardens

Green Home Building

Country Living/Donna Griffith
Speaking of Pinterest, I started a greenhouse love pinboard to keep track of my inspiration for this someday project. You can follow my board here.

Oh, and if you live in the area and want to check out that salvage sale, there's info here.

Anybody out there have a salvaged materials greenhouse? Comment and inspire me!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Genius Antique Shop Idea: In the Rough Room (Americana Roads Antiques Part 2)

Remember the amazing treasure trove we toured in my last post? (That spool cabinet...COVETING!)

As promised, welcome to Part 2, featuring the oh-so-fun In the Rough Room.

Now, I'm not enough of an antiques buff to know if this is actually that unique of an idea, but I was just totally taken with the concept of an "as is" junk room in an antique store. It was such a neat experience as a shopper to find this picker's paradise in an out-of-the-way room off the main store which is otherwise so gorgeously meticulous.

I was smitten with this compartmentalized shelving unit (maybe an old mail sorting cabinet?).

I would love it as an oversized trinket cabinet, like this but with deeper shelves.


Back in the regular showroom, I fell in love with this salvaged wood table. I think Tomás could make us one!

I actually might like it a bit more rough ... double entendre anyone? ;-)

Vintage luggage looks super chic stacked. Imagine this...

luggage for sale at Americana Roads this.

from 6th Street Design School, lots more great luggage ideas!

Even with nothing in them, these vintage photo frames look beautiful grouped together!

Love the shape of these little mirrors!

Messy bookshelf is a perfect addition to my library love Pinterest board!

Someone left this message on a vintage chalkboard. Couldn't have said it better myself!

"this is a place with old stuff"

The sign on this box of old photos gave me a good giggle!

If you live in the NEPA area or happen to pass through, be sure to stop at Americana Roads Antiques. Even if you're looking to buy, it's a great place to get vintage-inspired decorating ideas.

What's your favorite antique shop? No matter the location, tell us about it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Awesome Local Find: Americana Roads Antiques in Springville, PA (Part 1)

What aspiring farm girl doesn't love a great antique store?

Last weekend, my parents and I were lucky enough to stumble upon Americana Roads Antiques in Springville, PA. I made a small ($17) purchase, but way more valuable than that, the items and displays at Americana gave me lots of inspiration for things I'd like to incorporate in our home one day.

Americana doesn't have a website, so I'll do my best to give you the grand tour right here.

Here's what you'll see when you drive up. I actually decided to stay in the car and knit while my parents ran in, but my dad was back out in minutes to tell me I just had to come in. I'm so glad I did!

Americana is located on Main Street in Springville
View when you walk in the door

The first floor is set up with kitchen and sitting room displays.

Love the antique glass bottles in this cabinet

Have you ever seen an antique spice box before? I would put this on a display cabinet in my kitchen or dining room.
I just loved this piece; complete with nutmeg grater!

I'm used to seeing (baby) grands in black...I love the polished wood look of this one! It would take up a good chunk of space in a room, but since I can (kind of) play piano, and more importantly, really enjoy playing, I think the space consumption would be worth it if we actually put the piano to use. Functional beauty, baby!

Tag said "Hazelton Bros., est. 1849"

Now this piece was THE awesome find of our visit. This is a rotating spool cabinet by J. & P. Coats. Rebekah (the very sweet proprietor who showed us around) explained that a shop owner would have used this in the 1800s to display the Coats thread he had for sale. I just adored how Rebekah had it set up as a side table. Again, I love the idea of not merely displaying an antique, but using it and incorporating it into your daily life as well.

My new love

Roll up that front panel, and you can see how the thread is inside.

Squeal, just love the rolltop (rollside?) panel!

 Another side is glass-paneled so customers could see right inside to the spools of thread. 

It's like an antique vending machine!

There's a hinged flap at the top where the show owner could restock and drop in new thread.

Notice the numbers-gotta love that organization!

However much in love we were with this extremely rare and unique find, it was already sold - for $1,500, which I think is a very fair price considering how special it is. I just hope that a similar one crosses my path again one day when I'll be able to afford to take it home with me!

I was really taken with this little beauty, too. It's a 19th century foot warmer, marked at $155. I love the primitive punched heart design. I think this would look really neat on a mantle or on the floor near a fireplace or woodpile.

I'm a sucker for antique house goods turned rustic decor!
Tomás really loves copper and cast iron cookware and kitchen utensils, so I can see us doing something like this in our kitchen. Of course, as per the recurring theme in this post, I would want the cookware to actually use the cookware, not just display it. (*Does anyone use vintage cast iron for cooking/baking? I'd love your take on the feasibility of using that versus modern cookware--comment at the end of the post!)

Could hang over counter space or an island
This was my parents' drool-inducing find. It's an 1890's medical cabinet, where a surgeon would keep his instruments (yikes!). It's marked at $1,950. My mom is thinking about getting it, but she wants to make sure she'll put it to use and isn't yet sure what she would do with it. Any ideas on what to store in here?

Very neat how the shelves swing out!

See those adorable, tiny antique books? That was my big purchase of the day! $17 for all six. For now, I'll use them as props when I take pics for my Etsy shop, and then I'll find a cute way to display them when we have our own house.

I've never seen such tiny books--none of them are over 6" tall!

See that cute screened-in pie safe? We really liked that, too. Tag says $595.

I think that pie safe would look great in a kitchen, storing pots
and pans. Also might make a good little pantry.

The last thing I'm going to show you today is this awesome suspended ladder used as a shelf for those baskets. How cool is this? I'm not sure where I would put this or what I'd use it for, but I heart it very much.

That's a pretty long, photo-laden post for one day, so I'll let you digest and bring you Part Dos in a few days. Don't forget to comment below if you have any knowledge about using antique cast iron cookware!