Let’s Calculate!

A few weeks ago I mentioned I used Algebra to figure out the dimensions of the bags, totes, baskets, and boxes I design.

Today I’m demonstrating the calculations I use.

But first a little background….

Last month I said I was making a bag for my daughter-in-law’s school’s fall festival auction using these Premier Prints fabrics…

Tote, Premier Prints, fabric.com

But I really messed up the pocket on the bag plus ran out of the gray thread that I was using.  I was working on a very short timeframe so rather than getting the ripper out and then driving to Jo-ann’s which is 35 minutes away to get more thread,  I pulled some other Premier Prints fabrics out of my stash and made this bag instead:

DIY Tote

Then I put a little tutorial together that explained how I made the boxed corners for the bottom which gives the bag that nice structure.  

And my daughter-in-law just texted me that the bag went for $50 at the auction!

I hate leaving anything unfinished before I move onto another project.  The orange and gray fabric was sitting there nicely cut out and lined in fleece, it just needed a little TLC and I had already picked up more thread. So I decided to fix the pocket and create a new tote.

Let's Calculate! Formulas to figure out size of fabric piece.

And here’s where the calculations come in….

I keep an Excel Spreadsheet on my computer with formulas in it just to figure out–quickly and easily–how to change the sizes on bags, totes, baskets and boxes. 

My three variables are height (h), width (w), and depth (d).

I use 1/2″ seams on all my totes, bags, and boxes.

I want this tote to be 12 1/2″ in height (h), 13″ in width (w), and have a 4″ depth (d).

12 1/2" height

12 1/2″ height

Width, 13"

Width, 13″

4 " depth

4″ depth

So I need a piece of fabric cut 35″ x 15 1/2″. And how did I know that?

To get the width, the calculation is ((2 * w) + (2 * d) + 1)

The 1 in the above formula is for the 1/2″ seam on the sides of the bag.

The desired width is 13″ and the depth is 4″ so I just fill in the variables.

(2 * 13) + (2 * 4) + 1 = 35

The height formula is (h + (1/2 * d)  + 1)

Again, the 1 is for the seams on the top and bottom.

The height is 12 1/2″ and the depth is 4″

(12.5 + (.5 * 4) + 1) = 15.5

One last calculation allows me to figure out how to box the corners.


My depth on this bag is 4″

4/2 = 2″

Let's Calculate!

2″ down from corner

Let's Calculate! Formulas to figure out size of fabric piece.

4″ across

Confusing?  Not really.  It’s easy-peasy. Especially if you put the formulas into Excel. But, I always liked Algebra–except those word problems.

And here’s the inside of the bag.

Let's Calculate! Formulas to figure out size of fabric piece.

With a key clasp and pockets for phone and sunglasses.

I don’t have any plans for this bag yet.  Perhaps it will go into into my inventory so next time I get a last minute text that I need to make a bag–I’m ahead of the game!  

You may also want to check out:

How to make boxed corners

How to Make Boxed Corners

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Saturday we attended the National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs.  Here’s the day in photos!


Numerous booths set up by various local organizations.

Shady Tree Pickers

Shade Tree Pickers

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Jim Green, a volunteer from the Friends of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Terry, Darin and Kathryn intently listening to Jim Green


A real live mermaid!

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Paula Bateman on guitar and Lisa on the bass.

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Mermaid and Merman swimming out to perform.

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

We had a prime spot but this is all we could see. The show was filmed and shown on several TVs around the refuge.

Bob Boccum

Bob Boccum, a volunteer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  He was very informative and told us the names of the Three Sisters — Big Sister, Little Sister, and Pretty Sister. Hey, I have a big sister and a little sister, does that make me the pretty sister?

Ice Cream Boat

Ice Cream Boat on the canal outside of the springs!

National Wildlife Refuge Day at Three Sisters Springs

Matching Camo outfits!

Such a failure

Gotta admit it’s not the first time in my life, but I’ve fallen off of the healthy living wagon. Again.

I didn’t lose any weight this week, I perhaps even gained an ounce or two. Heavy sigh.  I’ve been eating lots of comfort food and not exercising every morning.  

But I’m not too worried about it.  Back at the old fitness routine starting today.  

Not promising anything about the food intake, though.  I’m making lasagna.  Three different varieties.  And it all must be tested before storing in the freezer for guests that will soon be arriving.  Did I mention that lasagna is my all-time favorite food? And even I can’t screw up lasagna!

And there will be some muffins baked up this weekend to join the lasagna on a freezer shelf.  That’s a standard breakfast item, along with fruit and yogurt, for overnighters here at Perfect.  We are busy, busy, busy plus our guests get up whenever they feel like it.  Again, the delicious fluffy homemade muffins must be tasted before storage.  Wouldn’t want to serve my friends and family sub par food!

It’s Terry’s mother’s 90th birthday party in a few weeks.   Family from throughout the country are making plans to attend the big event. And our out of town kids will be spending some time here.  So excited!

Also excited about the Three Sisters Springs open house tomorrow.  After kayaking there last weekend, I’m even more interested in how to help save our springs. Hope all my local readers plan to attend!

Candy Bowl

I don’t suppose this bowl of comfort food has anything to do with my diet dilemma!


Easy Peasy Halloween Pillow

Easy Peasy Halloween PillowOnce upon a time in a land far away, I hosted an annual Halloween bash.  And collected boxes and boxes of fun Halloween décor over the years.  But that was a different life.  We’ve only had one Halloween party at Perfect and that wasn’t even supposed to be a party.  It just turned into one and fortunately I had decorated for the season.  But this year, I wasn’t planning on even getting those boxes of orange and black out. 

Until I saw these creepy little mice from Martha Stewart.

Creepy Mice

And I had to make a pillow!  Which means I had to drag all those other boxes out to keep that pillow company!

Now you might think that it’s too late to make this before Halloween but this is an easy peasy pillow that anyone can throw together.

Here’s the link to get the creepy mice template.

I picked a couple of those mice out, cut a piece of freezer paper the size of printer paper – 8 ½” x 11”–then printed them to the paper side of freezer paper.  I ironed the freezer paper onto black felt.

Freezer Paper mice

My printer didn’t like the freezer paper this time and kind of crinkled it a little.

The heat on the freezer paper makes a temporary bond so you don’t even have to pin the template.  If it comes loose while you’re cutting, just iron it down again.

Then I cut out B O O from that same felt.

I had a 16” square pillow that needed a new cover and some flannel and a bit of orange cotton fabric in my fabric trunk. 

I cut the flannel 16” x 40”   (32” around + 1 1/2” seam allowance + 6 ½” for coverage on the back. ) This should give me a 15” square—I like the case to be tight on the pillow.

Press under ¼” on each short end.  Then press under another ½”.  Stitch 3/8” from both edges.

Just to mark the center of the fabric, bring the short ends together and press the fold.

Cut the orange fabric 15 ½” x 16”.

Press under ¼” on the 15 ½” sides.

Fold together to mark the center and press.

Place the wrong side of the orange fabric onto the right side of the main fabric with the pressed centers of both matching. Top stitch close to the side edges of the orange piece.

Easy Peasy Halloween Pillow

The hardest part was deciding how I wanted to arrange my appliques.

Easy Peasy Halloween Pillow

Then I stuck them to the orange fabric with fabric glue!

Easy Peasy Halloween Pillow

The fabric glue says to leave it sit for 2 – 4 hours.  I had places to go and people to see so I let it set for several hours. 

I could have left them like that because the fabric glue is permanent but decided to do some top stitching around the edges because I like the look.  Totally unnecessary.  (If you do stitch, make sure the glue is dry or it will make a mess! Not that I’ve ever experienced anything like that!)

Fold the main fabric in at the edge of the orange fabric and overlap the flaps over the square. This should measure exactly 15” square. Plus that seam allowance on top and bottom.

Pin top and bottom and sew ½” seams.  Trim the corners.

Easy Peasy Halloween Pillow

Turn right side out and stick that pillow form in!

Here’s Maggie thinking, hmmmm, mom just went upstairs with her camera.  There could be a biscuit or two in this for me!


Maggie and Pillows

That pooch loves to pose!

 Easy Peasy and SO CUTE!

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

I have a confession to make – I love Ben & Jerry, no really. One thing I love about them most is that they make one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors – Chunky Monkey. Oh, yeah you know the one. Full fat banana flavored ice cream with chunks of chocolate and walnuts,… all it needs is a cherry and some whipped cream. Oops, I’m drooling on my keyboard. 

Problem is it’s just too, well, chunky,…on my backside. Seriously. I could eat the whole pint myself. I can fix that though, the chunky part – I’ll still eat the whole pint of this one. Only, I won’t have to run around the world twice to work it off. Come on I’ll show you.

Not So Chunky Monkey

1 lb Frozen Bananas (about 4 cups, or one tray, or 5 or 6 bananas…this is why I weighed this one out)

1/2 Cup Low Fat Sweetened Condensed Milk (about 1/2 can)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Vanilla Paste * optional, not everybody has this in their cupboard.

1/3 Cup Walnuts chopped

3 or 4 Tbl Home Made Magic Shell, check out that post here

Step 1:

Step 1, Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Get out all the goodies

Step 2:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Measure out those frozen banana slices. I buy bananas and keep them in the freezer in a ziploc  for smoothies.

Step 3:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

In a food processor, add the bananas, milk, vanilla.

Step 4:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Give it all a whirl, pulse it so that all the pieces get a chance to be mashed up.

Step 4a:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

There – now it’s a frozen treat. I can’t really call it ice cream – even though there’s cream in it. Hmmm

Step 5:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Get it into a freezer safe container. I like a stainless bowl because it freezes quick.

Step 5a:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Drizzle on some of that Magic Shell – you did see that post, didn’t you. On that post I showed you to put the chocolate on a plate and freeze to have larger crunchy bits to fold into ice cream. They’re good to have because the drizzles aren’t always thick enough to be considered ‘chunks’. Don’t forget to fold in those walnuts too.

Step 6:

Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

Cover it with plastic wrap, right ON the ice cream so has to keep the bananas from being freezer-fied. Get it chilled until firm – at least a couple of hours.


Adventures in the Kitchen with Michelle, Not so Chunky Monkey

That’s it ! A Low Fat, high flavor and all around good-for-you treat. Not banana flavored ice cream – it’s actually bananas !!! So good – and still has an ice cream texture. Enjoy!