New Genealogy Television Program!

My passion for genealogy is not new, and some would think it can border on the obsessive!  So you will understand that I have to post about a new show I just heard about.  It is called the “Genealogy Roadshow“.

I have only seen previews online, on the PBS website.  I only found out about it because I was checking out a genealogy forum and read a post about a new show on PBS.  It will be a weekly program showing on most PBS stations, which is a great place to find unique programming.

There have been a few television shows recently that have explored genealogy research.  They have included researching for family histories for celebrities and other high-profile personalities. The focus for this program seems to follow the style of the “Antiques Roadshow” episodes, which travel to different areas of the country to share their genealogy expertise and information with local folks.

The 2 trailers or previews can be found on their website, and the start date for the show seems to be Monday, September 23.  My dvr is already set to record in case I have to miss it.  It is apparently a weekly show.  I’m interested enough to check it out!

My hope is that this show will add more awareness of genealogy, what it is, why we are so in love with it, and why it can be special to explore where our families have been.  After all, where we are now is because of where our ancestors have been.

For better or worse, their paths led us to our journeys.

Check it out at www.pbs.org.

The video can be found at http://video.pbs.org/video/2365066727/

Please share your thoughts after you check it out!

 

Other Television Shows on Genealogy    (check out the websites for viewing information)

  • Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.   – PBS
  • Who Do You Think You Are      – BBC
  • Who Do You Think You Are      – NBC – US
  • African American Lives             – PBS
  • Ancestors: Getting Started With Family History – PBS and BYU
  • The Human Family Tree, narrated by Kevin Bacon- National Geographic Channel

Family Reunions – Time to Reconnect!

Family Reunions can be a great way to reconnect with relatives you don’t see very often!  They can also be a place to meet family cousins you never knew!

Reunions can range from a simple dinner at a restaurant for a few people to an overnight or weekend vacation for many.  Whatever the size of the family, the main goal is to reconnect, reminisce, stay in touch, and learn more about each other.

There are many different budgets out there, too, so keeping expenses down can help, especially if there are out-of-town folks traveling to a central site for a reunion gathering.  Many families travel to the hometown area, or where the most of the descendants have settled and are living.

Here are some ideas that might help in planning a special family reunion, one that won’t break a budget, and won’t be too hard to plan or keep going.

SOME REUNION PLANNING IDEAS

  1. The “Old Home Place” can be a perfect location to reunite, if it is still standing or in the family.
  2. Family members still living near the hometown can host a reunion if they have enough room.
  3. Hometown family can host a potluck at a local park or venue if budget allows. Our family reserves a covered picnic shed at a local park that is easy to find and fairly close to the home area where many family members grew up.
  4. Expenses for renting or hosting should be divided among the family as they are able.  Our hosting family reserves the picnic shed every spring, and at the reunion, a collection is taken to help pay them back, with everyone giving what they can.
  5. Help folks plan for the reunion date by setting the same weekend each year  Our family sets the third Sunday in July, and everyone plans accordingly.  Out-of-towners can plan a week or weekend getaway, and attend the reunion, too.  Some plan to visit familiar areas, where they grew up, cemeteries of their parents or grandparents, old homes and schools, or go sight-seeing while they are in town.  Some coordinate and meet up to visit family homes and gravesites together. It helps them to remember where those places were, how to get there, and brings up more memories they can share.
  6. Visiting family may choose to drive in for the day or stay overnight, depending on travel distance.  Some may stay with siblings or cousins in the area, making more time to visit and reminisce.
  7. Plan for a potluck, so everyone contributes.  Our hosting family provides paper goods, ice, and hot dogs.  Everyone else brings a dish or two, side dishes, different meat dishes, casseroles, salads, desserts, and drinks.  People can bring extra chairs for comfort, blankets if they like to sit out on the grass, and toys or games for kids or adults to enjoy. Our family reserves the space from 10-4, so everyone has plenty of time to enjoy, rest, eat, visit, play, share stories, photos, and add news to the family tree.
  8. The hosting family can keep a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, with copies for others in the family. If it is kept on a computer list, the names and contact information can be updated as needed.  This list can be used to mail out reminders and flyers each year.

ACTIVITIES FOR THE REUNION

Family Reunion tree trunk with 15 branches for 15 children!

Family Reunion tree trunk with 15 branches for 15 children!

Grandchildren's leaves on the branches

Grandchildren’s leaves on the branches

 

Leaves with a lot and some with a little!

Leaves with a lot and some with a little!

Leaf shape with Velcro square to attach to tree

Leaf shape with Velcro square to attach to tree

  1. We created a large physical tree design on posterboard to display leaves on the different family branches.  Our large family took 6 posterboards and we lay them out on a large table top each year. Each branch represents a child of the main/focus family.  In our case there are 15 child branches, and large green leaf shapes that represent the 46 grandchildren.  On each leaf is printed the family tree outline with the descendants to the present day.  We have added small thumbnail size photos of descendants on the leaves (the ones we have).  This makes the tree more personal, putting faces to names, especially helpful seeing those who are no longer with us or can’t attend the reunions.
  2. Ask family to bring family photos they can share, especially of older family members.  Have a digital camera or portable scanner there to make digital copies to add to the family tree and share with others.
  3. If genealogy research or online family tree information has been done, ask family to bring flash drives/thumb drives if they want copies.  Take a portable laptop with USB slots to transfer family tree, genealogy or photo files with others.  This is a great way to back-up family information, in case of computer crashes or in the sad event of a family death.  Otherwise, the information or photos might be lost or inaccessible.  For those that just want to see the information, a binder with genealogy or family tree information can be displayed for family to look through.  Add photos, stories, family recipes, or anything that might be fun to remember and look through.  From the laptop, family can look at selected photos in a continuous digital slideshow.
  4. Make sure someone is taking photos at the reunion.  Each year, there may be different family able to come, and as loved ones pass on, these photos can be a source of comfort as we remember the great visits we have together.
  5. If you have a really good techy-type family member who can help with video, you can even video some of the reunion memories, if family agrees. Ask permission to video, since it’s a little more personal.  Video great memories, and don’t video people just to embarrass them.
  6. If someone agrees to be taped as they are talking, telling old stories, that’s a great source of family history.
  7. There are many little ways to make the occasion fun and inclusive, reminding everyone that they are all of one family.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.  We took a simple tree shape on plain white paper (printed from the computer).  We laid out 4 colors of stamping ink next to the tree, and everyone at the reunion picked a color and placed one fingerprint somewhere on the tree. And of course, we had some wet wipes nearby.  Another way to show we are all from one family!  We’ll keep taking the tree back each year and hopefully add more fingerprints from those that weren’t able to come this year!
One fingerprint from children of all ages - One Family!

One fingerprint from children of all ages – One Family!

Most important – make it fun, enjoy the visiting, the stories, the memories, fellowship, learn more about each other, and keep it going!  Keep Family Close!

Cherish them now while you can, and cherish the memories when they’re gone. I recently found a quote from a Native American writer, Linda Hogan, who wrote:

“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way.                                                             Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.                                                                     Be still, they say.                                                                                                       Watch and listen.                                                                                                           You are the result of the love of thousands.”

 

Sweet Simple Sides: Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes & Honeyed Carrots

When it is hard to get your family to eat a variety of vegetables, it helps to have a different way to serve them up.  I admit to loving carrots raw, but not cooked.  However, my family likes them better when they are cooked and candied sweetly!

To encourage the orange veggies, I began fixing “honeyed carrots”, and the method works for sweet potatoes, too.  The vitamins from these veggies are important to our health, but sometimes moms are the ones that have to remember that!

Both of these recipes are super simple and don’t take much time to fix at the end of a long day.  I like these as a side for a slow cooker meal, like the Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken.

 

Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes

4 Ingredients!

 

Peel and cube 2 sweet potatoes (about 1 per person)

Parboil (boil in water just to tender, not too soft), or microwave sweet potato cubes in small amount of water to partially cook and make tender.

Sweet Potatoes with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup

Sweet Potatoes with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup

Place in small pan over low to medium heat with:

3 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Cook and simmer over low-medium heat until the mixture has reduced and caramelized or candied the sugar.

Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes halfway there!

Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes halfway there!

Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes Ready to Eat!

Maple Candied Sweet Potatoes Ready to Eat!

 

 

Honeyed Carrots

3 Ingredients!

 

1 can sliced carrots (drained)

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons honey (can use brown sugar)

 

Place butter and honey (or brown sugar) in small pan.  Add the carrots after draining the liquid.  If you use fresh carrots, dice 2-3 carrots and parboil first to partially cook and tenderize.  Then add to the butter and honey.

Cook over low to medium heat until the carrots are caramelized or candied.

These carrots make a great side dish for most meals, especially for chicken or pork dishes.

 

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

 

Two of my favorite things – the crock pot and BBQ!  I am depending more and more on my crock pot.  A few years ago, I used it occasionally, and sometimes forgot about it!

Now, I really depend on my crock pot when I have a long day ahead, or know that I won’t have time to really make a good dinner after I get home.  As long as I have a few ingredients on hand, or plan a day or two ahead, I can throw a little into the crock pot in the morning or in the middle of the day, and still have a great meal ready to go!

This BBQ recipe is easy to adjust to your own taste and adjust for a few or several people. And it only has 3 ingredients!  I like things simple and easy, as you can tell.

For a couple of big appetites, the following meal is quick, and goes great with a simple side, like sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, beans, or slaw.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Only 3 Ingredients! Serves 2-4 people.

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup chicken stock (low sodium, please)

 

Chicken, stock, spices

Chicken, stock, spices

>>>  Place in the crock pot for 4 hours on high, or 6 on medium.

>>>  If desired, add a little extra seasoning to the chicken. I sometimes add some garlic pepper seasoning, and some sweet smoky paprika.

>>>  During the last hour, add 1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce.

 

After 4 hours on high, shredded with fork

After 4 hours on high, shredded with fork

When finished, the chicken should be tender enough to shred with a fork.  Shred completely before serving.  Add extra BBQ sauce to taste if desired.  This could also be served up on a bun for a BBQ chicken sandwich.

 

Ready to serve, with a little extra BBQ sauce

Ready to serve, with a little extra BBQ sauce

Serve up with some garlic bread and some candied sweet potatoes or mac & cheese!

 

 

Five Pointers for Parents – Emotional Health for Babies, Children, and Their Parents

Children really do learn to imitate what they see, hear, and experience from the people around them.  Some of it is wonderful and precious, and some of it, unfortunately, is not.

No parent has ever been 100% positive that everything they do is the right thing.  We learn by paying attention!  All parents have to learn along the way, because every little personality is different, just like their parents!

Here are 5 quick pointers that I have learned being a parent and a teacher. These are ways to be positive and help babies and young children learn that they are loved and taken care of.  These are ways to make sure there emotional health is taken care of.

We can feed and clothe a child, but if we aren’t paying attention to how they are feeling or how they are being treated, they won’t be happy or learn to trust others.

5 Pointers for Parents

  1. “Read Between the Lines”                                                       Observe the behaviors your child is showing.  Listen carefully to their sounds, their words, and try to figure out what they need, even if it isn’t obvious.  Behaviors and sounds mean something, whether we understand them or not.  Infants who cannot talk learn to communicate in many ways.
  2. “Use Positive Words and Tone of Voice”                                          Using positive sounds and words encourages your child to be positive in interactions with others, too.  Since all children are individuals, not “good or bad”, only their actions are “appropriate or inappropriate”.  Directly praise “good actions”, such as “good brushing”, or “you’re doing a good job keeping your feet on the floor”, or “thank you for trying so hard to tie your shoes”, or “I’m glad you said please”.  Try to tell children what action they are to do.  As they get older, you can ask them what they should be doing.  Avoid “no” and “don’t”, or they will remember and do those inappropriate actions.
  3. “Stay Attentive and Available”                                                            Be on the same wavelength emotionally as well as physically.  When taking care of household chores (cooking, cleaning) continue to listen and observe, and put down chores when necessary to “be there” for your child.
  4. “SMILE”                                                                                         When the so-called “terrible twos” begin (at any age!), adults tend to forget that the child will be a mirror of their important caregivers (family, friends, teachers).  Smiles, positive words, having fun, are imitated and copied; so are frowns, no’s, don’t, and whining.  If you want your child to be positive and listen, you also have to be positive and listen.
  5. “Enjoy Your Child”                                                                 Remember to enjoy your baby, your son, your daughter.  We can get so caught up in daily routines and problems that we forget to notice and enjoy all the great little gestures, facial expressions, phrases and movements that these miraculous little ones show us every day.  Stop and take the time to listen, watch, and photograph or “video” those wonderful moments that you can’t get back.  Time really does fly fast when we’re not looking!

 

 

Low Sodium and Full of Flavor!

On my journey to keep myself healthy, I realized my purpose for doing so is not purely selfish.  My biggest inspiration to take better care of myself is that I want to be able to watch my family grow!  I want to be here for my husband and my children, experience special times with them, and be able to support them on their journeys.

Now with a little 6 month old grandson, I want to be healthy enough to help care for him and any other grandchildren we might have. I want to watch him reach his first milestones as he grows and still be able to celebrate his graduations and accomplishments in the years to come!

If I don’t pay attention to this body that God has entrusted me with, then I cannot accomplish more on the journey He wants for me.

To continue with strategies for reducing the sodium in my diet to prevent high blood pressure…………………………

3 Easy Ways to Increase Flavor and Lower Sodium:

  • Experiment with spices.  Try all those spices that are hiding in your cabinet, use them alone or in different combinations to add a variety of flavors to meat or vegetables. No need for the salt!
  • Add lemon or lime juice and zest to meat and vegetable dishes. 
  • Some types of wine can add another layer of flavor to some recipes and sauces.  Use sparingly at first until you see how it changes the taste or consistency.

Nice Flavor Combinations:

  • Lemon and Lime   (the zest and/or the juice)
  • Garlic and Lime   (have tried this with salmon and chicken)
  • Garlic and anything!  (We love the flavor garlic adds, even to mashed potatoes)  Instead of salt, we use the Smart Balance butter, lowfat milk, black pepper and diced garlic when mashing up potatoes.
  • Lite Soy Sauce   (still has sodium, but much lower content)  Mix with brown sugar and ginger for a simple teriyaki style flavor.  I just mix some of each, don’t really measure.  There are several recipes out there for specific amounts for a teriyaki sauce, if you like exact measurements.
  • Parmesan Cheese and Black Pepper  (great with panko breading for meat – no extra salt needed)

Please comment and share any other flavor combinations you have found that add great flavor to meat and vegetable dishes!

 

 

 

Controlling Your Blood Pressure! — Low Sodium Choices

Now that I’m in my 50’s, the hereditary blood pressure has kicked in.  I used to have low BP as a rule, so this took me by surprise!  It shouldn’t, since my parents both have high BP (or hypertension).

After a hospital visit and follow-up doctor visits, I was placed on a minimal dose of medicine to control my blood pressure.  After the scare of wondering if I was having a heart attack, I gladly do what I can to make sure I don’t have one! I want to stick around and watch my family grow!

The medicine is doing its job, but I need to be responsible and do mine! Watching the sodium/salt in what I eat and drink is important and easy!  At first it seems hard to find low sodium foods, because there is so much salt added to prepared food products and restaurant menu items.

FIRST———————

  • I researched!  Be informed about what you are eating and drinking.
  • Read Labels!  If sodium content is listed as 5-10% or lower, then it’s probably okay if you realize that 10 items of 10% sodium is considered the total intake for the day.   If you already have high BP, your goal should probably be less than that.  If something has 30-40% sodium, walk away!
  • Easy online searches reveal sodium content in all kinds of foods, including soft drinks, condiments, canned foods, soups, and most packaged mixes.   I found these 2 sites helpful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.lowsaltfoods.com                                                                 http://www.nutritiondata.self.com
  • Check out the restaurants you visit.  Most now have menus online that show nutrition content, and some have items identified as “healthier” or “heart friendly”.
  • Medical lab work showed that I had low potassium, even though I was already eating a pretty good diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables. But changes as you age affect those levels as well.  So it was recommended to add a banana every day.  Potassium levels apparently have an effect on how your body processes the sodium, so this is one of several things that can help regulate your BP!
  • I learned more about foods that provide protein, potassium, and other essential nutrients to maximize good food without increasing how much I eat.
  • Controlling my weight and increasing exercise also need to be higher on my priority list.

NEXT —————————

  • I acted on what I learned!  I could not ignore what I needed to do – mostly simple steps.
  • I started depending less on prepared, canned, boxed and frozen foods. I simply started using more fresh options, and NOT adding extra salt!  Other spices can add lots of flavor.
  • I read labels on everything I pick up in the store!  It has become an easy habit, and very eye-opening.  Many grocery stores have been adding more items that are labeled “lower sodium” or “no salt added”.  You still need to check the percentage of sodium.
  • My doctor’s advice as I walked out the door was:  Eat a banana every day, and don’t touch the soft drinks!  I also drink more water, like we all should.

So far, so good!  So………in summary, what has worked for me:

  1. Read labels.
  2. Cut out soft drinks.
  3. Don’t touch the salt shaker.
  4. Eat that banana, alone or with cereal.
  5. Check restaurant nutrition.
  6. Drink water and increase movement.
  7. See the doctor regularly to monitor any changes.

Disclaimer:  Remember!  I am not an expert, and definitely not a doctor. These are suggestions that have worked for me.  Hypertension/High Blood Pressure is not something to mess around with.  Please see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment that is best for you.  Check your blood pressure regularly, and see a doctor for regular checkups, especially if you are in your 40’s and 50’s.  Lots of changes occur and sneak up on you, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle!

 

Next time, I will share some ways to add flavor to foods without the salt! Check out my previously posted recipes, since most of them are already light on the salt!

 

Sports Towels – Fishing or Bowling

The bowling towel I made for my husband was a combination of several ideas.  He loves to fish and bowls weekly on a league.  He uses a towel for keeping the bowling ball clean, and fishermen need towels or rags to clean all kinds of messes!  I chose to make the bowling towel.

Wanting to make a personalized towel for him, I could have sewn a cross-stitch aida cloth into a towel, but I chose to go with a premade towel I found at a JoAnn’s Craft store.

In our area, we have a choice of some well-stocked crafts supply stores, both chain franchises and independents.  I have checked out most of them, depending on the project I’m working on.  Sometimes I browse online or in the store to get ideas for a gift I’d like to make.  Most stores and online suppliers also offer some type of in-store or online classes.

Links to Crafts in My Area:

  • A. C. Moore                             www.acmoore.com
  • Hancock Fabrics                      www.hancockfabrics.com
  • JoAnn’s Crafts                          www.joann.com
  • Michael’s                                  www.michaels.com
  • Carolina Foam and Fabric Outlet (Buncombe County, NC)
  • Discount stores, such as Walmart, Target and Kmart sometimes have a craft supply section with a few items
  • Search online for other local craft stores

Searching online, you can find even more.  In most stores, for example, they don’t stock all the possible cross-stitch supplies and kits that are available. They don’t have that kind of space.  Check online for catalog suppliers and independent craft kits and supplies.

Kits are a wonderful way to start out, since the cloth, design directions and thread are already assembled for you in the kit.  It’s a great time-saver if you find the kit you need.

Links to Online Craft Suppliers I have found:

  • www.craftsy.com    –   supplies and online classes, lots of quilting
  • www.createforless.com
  • www.etsy.com
  • www.herrschners.com  –    wonderful cross stitch and needlework kits
  • www.everythingcrossstitch.com
  • www.janlynn.com
  • www.overstock.com  –  I had no idea they had great kits for surprisingly                                      good prices
  • The Stitchery! – www.stitchery.com  —  huge list and variety of kits and                                                                 supplies

For more ideas for cross-stitching, quilting and other crafts, don’t forget your local library for books you can check out for free!   See my post on Nurturing the Love of Reading in Children from 7-1-13 for library links.

Grandpa’s Bowling Towel

  1. I used a premade cross-stitch towel I purchased.
  2. I found an old bowling cross-stitch design to place on the left end of the towel’s aida cross-stitch insert.  I centered the design on the aida cloth.
  3. I chose my own colors, making the bowling ball the same color as the one “Grandpa” uses.
Left side - Green bowling ball, Right side - Year

Left side – Green bowling ball, Right side – Year

  1. In an old craft magazine, I found a lettering chart that was a perfect size already for the “grandpa” letters I needed.
  2. I used 4 basic colors red, green, blue, purple, for the letters.
  3. Then, with my need to make everything even and symetrical, I had to find a design to bookend the letters on the right side of the towel.  After over-thinking a little, I realized I could use the year his first grandchild was born!  2013 fit perfectly in the space, and I centered the numbers at an angle to complete the blank space.
Cross-stitched Letters in Bold Colors

Cross-stitched Letters in Bold Colors

So even though I don’t consider myself artistic, I was able to create something unique as a gift.  All you need is the desire to create  —   and some great craft stores  —  and some online searches  —  and maybe some leftover materials to spark a new idea!

 

 

 

Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

This has to be one of the easiest cookie recipes I have ever found!  It only has 3 ingredients and is easy to remember, too.  My great-aunt used to make these, and when I need a quick dessert with items I have on hand, this is it!

This is the only recipe for peanut butter cookies I have used for the past 30 years.  Even as a young mother, just learning to bake and cook, this one was super easy with great results!

Because the recipe is so simple, it is easy to double.

Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 egg

That’s it!

Stir together.  Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet (lined with non-stick mat or spray).  Press down with a fork to make the design and even out the cookies. Dip the fork in flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Bake at 325 degrees for 5-8 minutes, depending on  your oven.

TIP:  If you want to make a double batch, it may be easier to stir one recipe batch at a time.  Then mix the next batch.  It seems to go quicker, and is a lot easier on the arm muscles!

 

Recycle and Upcycle Old Clothes

You love that old t-shirt or that old skirt. You don’t wear it anymore, or it is beyond patching.  So recycle it like we do boxes and jars!

Old T-shirts are a popular item to re-create!  We have lots of old t-shirts from concerts, from vacations, and even from restaurants, that don’t fit now or are past their prime.  They cost too much to waste, so my first project was turning 2 shirts into a pillowcase.  I simply cut out the center design from the front and back, and measured to make sure they fit the bed pillow or throw pillow.  2 t-shirts make a standard or large bed pillowcase, and 1 t-shirt is perfect for a standard throw pillow.

You can choose similar colors,  2 concerts, or 2 vacation spots to put together.  For my first pillowcase, I chose 2 concert shirts that had different shades of blue.  I used simple straight seams, keeping the seams as close to square as possible.  Tip:  T-shirt material is stretchy, so you need to stitch slowly through the machine, so it doesn’t get stretched too far out of the square shape. Guide the material gently, but don’t pull tightly.

Bed Pillowcase 

Approximate measures for a standard pillowcase – 20″ wide x 30-32″ long

  1. Cut 4 t-shirt squares (front and back of 2 shirts).  Leave plenty of usable space around the designs to allow  for seams.
  2. Lay out and measure pillow length, then pin seams and sew right sides together.  Front and back of one shirt will be side by side now.
  3. Do same for the other shirt and you should now have 2 rectangles.
  4. Re-measure to make sure you still have the length and width you need for the pillow.
  5. Pin one end (short side) of the rectangles together (right sides together), and stitch the closed end of your pillowcase.
  6. Pin each of the long sides together and stitch the sides of your pillowcase.
  7. Turn right side out and make sure all seams are complete.  Then turn wrong side out again to stitch a reinforcing seam 1/4″ away from original seam. Trim excess cloth.
  8. Complete your pillowcase by turning under 1/2″ hem and stitch.  Then turn under once more 1-2 inches depending on your pillow length to make a final top-stitch hem.  You can make this a narrow (1-2″) or wide (5-6″) hem depending on how much material is left and your preference.

Standard Throw Pillow

Approximate square size – 12-18″

  1. Directions are similar to the bed pillow, but you just need one t-shirt (front and back)
  2. There are 2 options – Cut 2 squares and simply stitch 3 side seams and stuff, finishing with a hand stitch or topstitching the open side.  Or, you can leave the t-shirt in one piece and stitch the desired square before cutting the cloth.
  3. For one of my pillows, I measured the length of the square sides, then turned the light blue shirt wrong side out and stitched down the 2 sides.  I then hand-stitched the top collar sides together, leaving the collar on.  I placed my pillow inside the shirt, measured to make sure I knew how much excess cloth to trim, and then stitched the bottom to fit the pillow. The remaining short sleeves were still in good shape, so I hand-stitched them and the collar to the outside, visible next to the design. I used a larger visible stitch with darker blue thread.
Front of t-shirt pillow

Front of t-shirt pillow

Top of pillow, handstitched collar

Top of pillow, hand stitched collar

Back view of top, with sleeves hand stitched

Back view of top, with sleeves hand stitched

4.  Reinforce the strength of the seams by stitching that extra seam 1/4″ from      the main seam.

These pillows and pillowcases are easy to wash and very soft and comfortable!  My next idea may take a lot longer to complete. If I ever have the time, I will be using a few more t-shirts to make a quilt.  Very ambitious for me, and I will probably do it in stages!