Friday, May 29, 2009

PVC Tent-Weight Tutorial

Tis the season for arts and crafts festivals! Having proper tent weights is mandatory for most shows and some may even refuse to let you vend if you don’t have them. Be sure you are aware of the requirements!

I have seen dozens of methods and styles of tent weights, with sand bags and water jugs being the most prevalent. I don’t like the bulkiness of these, not to mention the hassle of filling and lugging enough water for the proper weight. So I decided to make the pvc variety. They are tall and narrow so it minimizes the tripping hazard and they are white, a bit of camouflage. If you have never used concrete before, don’t worry, it’s easy!

**This tutorial makes four 30lb weights. ** (most of the photos are from the smaller 2” weights I made, you will be using 4” pipe)

All directions are approximate. Supplies and results may be slightly different for you.

weight tute2

You will need:

Two 60lb bags of concrete mix

Four 2.5' pieces of pvc pipe, 4” in diameter. Or one 10’ length, cut into 4 sections. It comes in two thicknesses, get the thicker one to minimize cracking should the weight fall over.

Four end caps. I recommend the flat bottom caps so the finished weights will stand freely. The above photo shows rounded caps. These must be hung. You may also want to get four more for the tops for a cleaner look.

Glue/Epoxy. Anything that will affix plastic. Super Glue is fine.

Four hooks or eye bolts. Make sure they are long enough to ensure the concrete will hold them.


Sand off any rough edges on the ends of the pipe and wipe clean. Glue on end caps and let dry. (If you are going to use caps for the top, drill or cut holes in them to allow for the hooks or bolts.)

Mix your concrete. I suggest mixing and using small amounts at a time as wet concrete is heavy! Only mix up what you can comfortably stir. This keeps the mess down too.

Begin filling pipe. I used a garden trowel (2” pipe shown below) and stopped periodically to tap the pipe on the ground, to assure that the concrete settled properly. One bag of concrete will fill 2 pipes. Fill them both and make sure they are filled equally (or use a bathroom scale if you are going for a specific weight). Repeat for other 2 pipes.

weight tute5

Insert screws. You can do this now or let the concrete set a bit. There may be several inches of unfilled pipe. You can leave it as is , to hide the screws, or cut it off. (If you are using caps on top you will need to cut the pipe flush with the concrete, cap it, then insert your hooks. Also be aware that the extra pipe will gather water if it rains. A small drain hole may be a good idea if you don’t cap the top.)

Be sure to clean the pipes well, removing any unwanted concrete. It can be sharp when dry! Also, it helps to have a plan to use or dispose of any leftover concrete should you have any.

Let cure for a few days.

Ta-daa! Done! Here are the 4” and 2” pipes, tops and bottoms shown.


weight tute4

NOTE: the 2” pipe yielded weights that were less than 10lbs each. They are not half the weight as the 4”. I use them for the back yard only.

Now your challenge will be the best way to attach them to your tent. I do not recommend suspending them directly from your tent! The little button that telescopes the leg on most canopies was not meant to hold 30 extra pounds! Rest them on the ground and use something with a little give like rope, or something adjustable, like strapping for a car. I have also seen heavy duty bungees.

I have quick-release ratcheting ropes we got for our kayaks that work like a dream. I simply hook the weight (resting on the ground), hook the canopy and pull the slack tight. I push the ratchet release to loosen it. (I’ll add a photo of them to this post when I get one)

You may also add some sort of carrying handles during construction for easier transport.

NEVER underestimate a good gust of wind! You need the proper weights! The last thing you want is to spend your day holding on to your canopy every time a gust of wind crops up. BE SAFE.

If you have any other tips on pvc weights I’d love to hear them!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happiness is a hot grill

Here are some images from BH&G’s Meat Cook Book, 1957.

Hope you’re having a great Memorial Day!







Thursday, May 21, 2009


I found these vintage booklets and thought they were an appropriate follow up to the embroidery.


I just can’t fathom the amount of time and patience it would take to do these!



This one is more lace than hanky! Amazing.


These are a little more my speed but I still doubt I will ever take the time.




These kinds of details are virtually a lost are these days. Time is too valuable and no one can afford to do it any more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Notes on the Farmer’s Market

As many of you know (because I wouldn’t shut up about it) I had my first market this Saturday. It marked not only my first farmer’s market but also my first outdoor venue! It was a great success and great fun.


I thought I’d share some general notes, ideas, and experiences for others who may also be market virgins or have never done an outdoor show. I’m a bit of an over-preparer and spent a lot of time going over every aspect I could think of. Perhaps you may find it useful

I kept my display as simple as possible for ease of set-up and take down but kept it colorful. My bunting made my booth easy to spot from a distance (that part didn’t occur to me, i just thought it was cute!) and may just become my booth signature.

My first piece of advice is practice! Firstly, it’ll make you more efficient but secondly, you must work out the bumps of being outside! So very different than an indoor set up.

My first instinct is to protect my items from the elements. This means never leaving them outside where dirt, dust, mud, pollen, water, sticky fingers and spills can occur. The week prior to the show was drizzly and breezy, perfect practice weather. I dressed warmly (it’s cold that early in the morning!) and set up my canopy and display outside,

  • I discovered some leaks. Good thing to know. Marked them until I can re-seal the seams
  • If you think the weather may change during the day, hang your walls then bungee them up out of the way. That way you won’t have to scramble to put them up later.
  • Get used to your babies being outside! I had to really desensitize myself. This way I didn’t spend opening day fretting over the earlier mentioned elements.
  • Don't underestimate a light breeze. Make sure everything is attached or your signage, business cards, or gawd forbid, your product, will be floating down the street.
  • Be flexible with your set up. Have several booth configurations. For sunny weather I will to the “outy” configuration. If it’s rainy I’ll do the “inny” (keep your product and your customers dry). Also, be aware that you may have 1 to 4 sides open. Be prepared!
  • I tend to get a little nervous the morning of a show and everything I practiced goes out of my head. Make a list, including the order of set up if you need to, or take pictures. Referring to a picture really helps me. Especially since I frequently change my display(I forgot my pics this weekend and spent 5 minutes trying to remember what tablecloth went with what products).
  • Be prepared for uneven ground. this was something I didn’t even think about until I was shown my space on a slanting surface. I have a floor cover as well. If something drops to the ground it will be on the rug, not on the dirt, pavement, grass etc.
  • Be ready for custom order requests. Since your customers will be back weekly this makes custom orders much more simple to deal with.


Something else I have always found helpful is keeping a show journal. This is especially useful when you do the same show annually or weekly. I note the date, weather, location of my booth and who my neighbors are, items I forgot and any other special events that are also happening in town that day, etc. Make notes all day long – I already have ideas for 5 new products, all recommended by regular market goers.

As for my own experience, I had great fun. I saw friends and neighbors and folks I hadn’t seen in ages. Market goers are a friendly bunch and all the feedback I got was positive. My neighbors, the cupcake folks you can see in the pic above, not only gave me samples all day but drew a large crowd down to our end of the market. They even packaged their goods beautifully so I don’t have to worry once about sticky fingers making their way into my booth. We would happily be neighbors again.

Now I  am eager to replenish my inventory and get to work on some of these new ideas!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vintage embroidery

I meant to include some of this with National Apron Day but didn’t get the pictures done in time.

Like my apron collection, I have inadvertently ended up with a large stash of textiles. Ok, I confess lately I have been looking for them when I hit yard sales and thrift shops but I don’t consider myself a collector.

For Mother’s Day I took my mother yard sale-ing and while there weren’t many, the ones we hit were good. At one small sale there was one small basket of embroidered linens. It was $8 for what looked like 8-10 pieces but I didn’t really look closely. A bargain at any rate. Here are just a few examples;





What a find! Not just because of the embroidery, which is lovely and well done but because of the edging.


I have just learned how to crochet so I can appreciate the amount of time, energy and care that went into this but I think everyone can see that just one napkin would take ages, let alone a whole set!



It makes my head and fingers ache just looking at it!

Also in this bunch was this adorable apron;


I have never seen such fine needlework. Look how tiny and neat those stitches are! I’m so in love!


But this find also makes me a little sad. Someone worked that hard only to end up in a half-rate yard sale for less than a buck. It breaks my heart actually. So i thought they deserved another life. To be shared and enjoyed by others who can admire all that hard work and TLC!

I have many more pictures of many more linens on Flickr. Please enjoy them. Use them as reference or inspiration for your own needlework projects. Or just wonder in amazement why anyone would put so much work into that little thing.

Some of the more well worn and torn items I hope to someday turn into something lovely like Primrose Designs does here. But in the meantime, until a worthy project arises, I’m having a wonderful time rescuing and sharing my finds!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shelves and Jars

I’ve mentioned before that I’m learning about preserving, canning, drying, freezing and stockpiling. Nothing too deep mind you, mostly just to learn these skills, and while I’m at it, be more frugal and have tastier, healthier food! But where to put this bounty…

We are very storage poor in this house. It is a large house with no garage and only ONE closet. We have done some remodeling in the past to amend this but still, we don’t have much space for storage. There was a  strange nook in the kitchen that was never finished. A space next to the fridge that had a large pipe behind it. Ugly and flimsy shelves that collapsed under too many bottles of wine (onto a white tile floor. It looked like a murder scene)


I decided this tall narrow space needed to be my pantry! With help from my handy step-father and my reluctant-to-paint-but-I’ll-do-it-because-you’re-my-daughter mother, we got it done in no time.


This cute set up will change as I begin to replace the bowls and dishes with with jars and cans of canned, preserved and dried goods. Some home-preserved, some bought in bulk and moved in to jars for ease of use (and because it looks nice!)

Since we had the paint out I also painted my kitchen book shelf to match.


Now my kitchen is finally “finished”. Everything has been fixed, painted or replaced. Some time ago I had cleaned all my cabinets and reorganized them as well. If I could keep the darn place clean for more than 5 minutes I would take a picture.

Moving on…

I have become obsessed with saving jars. I will keep saving them until I run out of space and uses for them. As I said above, I’ve been buying in bulk, like this;


Then dispense into smaller, more attractive jars and bottles as needed like this;


My favorite is the tall blue bottle. It was a vodka bottle I think. Now with a pour spout it’s my vegetable oil bottle. With new clean corks, lids (got mine at our local wine & beer making shop) and pourers (super market or liquor store), these bottles are ready for many uses! The others are full of vinegars, the balsamic one was just refilled when the original contents were used up.


More ingredients I buy in bulk and parcel in to jars. Yeast, nuts and coconut. Use a grease pencil/china marker to write the date on them. Lucky for me I have a bar fridge in the basement that holds the remainder of them.

Just a few uses for common jars in the kitchen-

Baby food and spice jars;

Perfect for condiments (I love to make up fancy mustards and mayos) and leftover sauces.

Refill with bulk spices (so much cheaper than a new jar!)

Fill with your own dried herbs! (another post when they are ready to harvest).

Fill with toothpicks. You can even punch a hole in the lid (from the inside out so the pick doesn’t get caught on any edges) so you can shake out a pick without touching the others. Handy when stuffing that chicken breast and you need to seal it closed.

Baby food jars are perfect for wet ingredients – use them if you are traveling somewhere where you will prepare a dish away from home. I travel often to a poorly stocked kitchen. I make my herb blends, marinades and any less common ingredients (sesame oil), at home and bring them with me.

A tip I have heard but not yet tried- punch holes in the lid of a smaller, jelly/jam jar and fill with flour (or corn meal etc) and use it when you need to evenly sprinkle flour on a surface or food.

Taller bottles are great with a pour spout for oils and vinegars. I leave mine right next to the stove where I can grab them.

Consider moving dry goods like crackers or cereals into large jars or plastic containers after they’ve been opened. It will keep them fresher a lot longer than the plastic no one(ahem, men) remembers to close up.

If you have any clever uses for bottles and jars please share!

Soon I hope to have an additional freezer as well, opening up even more storage options! More on that when it happens.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good things come in dry, shriveled packages

I have borrowed a dehydrator and am having great fun! My primary goal was to just make some beef jerky since it is a favorite snack of ours while on the road. Our favorite local spot to buy it is no longer there and our search for a replacement has been in vain.


Finding a good jerky recipe, as it turns out, is merely a question of preference. I like the teriyaki style, my husband likes it peppery. Above all it must be moist! None of that pressed cardboard crap they call jerky. Not fit for consumption.

My mother’s attempts to make jerky have been varied. All have been wonderfully tender and moist but so salty it was almost inedible. I was very nervous of making the same mistake and was a little over-cautious. It could use a dash more (curing) salt. I used a bbq recipe and added soy sauce until I liked the flavor. I sliced a flank steak (a very versatile cut of meat) thin and marinated the slices over night. I drained off the excess marinade and placed in the dehydrator. It’s good to check periodically during the process and remove the thinner pieces, as they become dry the quickest. Remember, no cardboard allowed! Delicious! We ate most of it before I could take a picture of our dried bounty.

I also wanted to try drying some fruit to see which ones we liked. Apples and pears are a shoo in, they have a great flavor and texture.

I wanted to try pineapple! I’ve always been fond of it (and it’s a common ingredient in many 50’s foods!) and pineapple is in season now. I bought two whole pineapples. Cutting and slicing is a bit tricky and very juicy but fun. I completely filled 3 trays and a few bits on the 4th.


Drying took almost 12 hours and the results fit into just one jar! It is so sweet and the intense flavor is fantastic! Nothing like those dried, candied nuggets you sometimes find in trail mix. This has been a favorite of everyone whose tried it so far.

I spotted the cantaloupe I had bought for breakfast and decided I had to try it too. The book said melons come out very candy-like. I was not a fan. My husband loved it. Cantaloupe has a distinct flavor that is intensified during drying (as all foods are) so I would recommend trying a small batch first like I did.


Pictured above are pears and raisins (store bought, and I’ve tasted better home-dried pears) and the pineapple and jerky. The first of many jars of dried goods that will go onto my new mini pantry shelves. I’ll share more of that another time.

I’m going to continue to experiment with small batches and see what we like. No sense in buying pounds of fruit to dry if no one likes the flavor! I hear strawberries wonderful.

Now i stare at my own pear tree whose pears are no larger than my thumb, and the neighbor’s apple tree, and see visions of sweet, succulent, shriveled gems of flavor! I can’t wait!

I have also planted a good number of herbs that I also plan to dry later in the season.

Here are some websites that discuss dehydrating in depth: (about 3/4 of the way down the page) explains the basics very well. Q&A style includes specific drying times and several jerky recipes!

There are many wonderful(and mostly older) books on preserving and drying foods but I have discovered that while most of the recipes and techniques are valid, the technology is old. Dehydrating is one area that suffers a bit in that way. Unless you plan to build your own dryer or learn about solar drying I suggest researching online first as it is so up to date. Electric dehydrators are pretty common now and so easy to use!

Once you start drying foods you’ll begin to see everything as a potential dry, shriveled bit of joy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

National Apron Day


In celebration of National Apron Day I thought I’d share a bit of my collection. I have been making my own aprons for a while now but never intended to collect vintage ones. That happened by accident. People give them to me! I have never gone out of my way to purchase a vintage apron. I have bought lots (as in a batch sale) of textiles that have included an apron or two. Here are a few favorites.


You can’t see it very well but it’s a kitten (on the pocket) playing with a ball of string.



The red apron is made of a quartered handkerchief and sheer organdy. So sweet!


Another apron of sheer organdy. I love how the pocket is faced with the same fruit fabric and folded over. Nice detail.


This orange apron is one of a batch a friend gave me. All are gingham of different sizes embellished with cross stitching and pulled thread. They are some of my favorites.



I still can’t figure out how the pockets were put together on this one. They are very cleverly pieced.

I adore apron patterns but many are collectible priced quite high. I’ve paid as much a $12 for one I couldn’t live without (I’ve seen some for $35! Eek!). The one on the far left I got this weekend for five cents.




I adore the pattern on the far left! It may be the $12 one. The points are sweet little pockets. In fact, I have made a few of them to sell!


half harl 1

pink grn front

I hope to soon add aprony links so if you collect, make, blog or Flickr aprons share them and/or leave a link!