August 18, 2013

D.I.Y. Water-Resistant Outdoor Blanket


Happy Sunday KorKers!

     I hope you’ve had a great weekend! I’ve been pretty busy since Wednesday, as I have been helping plan, assemble, and am currently working at my college’s freshmen orientation as an Alpha. At my college, Alphas are students (sophomores and up) who volunteer their time and energy to help incoming freshmen to adjust easily into the college culture and the basics of being a college student. This way, by making orientation for incoming students easier, they aren’t struggling as much compared to someone who is dropped into college blindly. As Alphas, we can be friends and mentors to these students as they adjust, answering any questions they may have, etc.

     While being an Alpha is a big job, especially when planning and putting all of the information together for the students (in individual and personalized folders with helpful and necessary information for orientation and beyond), us Alphas get to bond as a team as we prepare for the new students to arrive. This year, we’ve all gone out for a nice dinner, went bowling, and also had a movie night on one of the campus lawns with s’mores, popcorn, and drinks. How cool is that?

     Well, in preparation for the movie night (which was planned months previously), I wanted to make something that I could use for that night and long after- an outdoor blanket that could withstand the usual wear and tear of multiple trips and also be water resistant and comfortable to use in any and all situations. 

     So after looking through Pinterest for ideas, which consisted of multiple shower curtains and towel combinations, my Mom and I went to Hobby Lobby to see if we could come up with an improvisation that would work a little better.

     As we were looking through the seasonal items that were recently stocked, we came across this tablecloth, which was not only pretty to look at, but it was also water resistant!

     Needless to say, that came home with us, along with about 3& 1/2 yards each of two different colored/patterned flannel material and some matching thread. (You can also use one solid color of flannel- just make sure to get enough to cover the area of the tablecloth! Ours was super large, so we had to get a lot of flannel.)

     To make the blanket, we first sketched out how much of the flannel that we needed to cut and sew together to make the inner panel connect to the border- to create the flannel side of the blanket’s entirety. After pinning, sewing, and ironing the flannel pieces together and the folds down, came the interesting part- pinning both the tablecloth and flannel backing together to prep for a final sewing.


     For our blanket, my Mom and I kept an one inch border around the length of the blanket whereas for the width (shorter ends), we did a two inch border; to help with identifying which was which for folding purposes later on.
The border width for the shorter ends (the width of the blanket). 
The border width for the length of the blanket. 


    Once you’ve sewn the final borders down, you’re done! You now have an amazing outdoor blanket that is perfect for those fall nights, summer trips, or just for an emergency- the options are endless. 

     For me, I enjoyed using mine during our Alpha Movie Night with some of my amazing friends as we watched the newest version of ‘The Great Gatsby’, which is one of my favorite books.


     I hope you give this one a try! Please leave your comments below about this project, any suggestions for future projects (here, on my suggestions page, or by email at koolorkatstrophy@gmail.com), and I’ll see you next time!
KorK Rating: Kool
-Katie <3

August 14, 2013

Back to School 2013?! Already?


Happy Wednesday KorKers!

     Well, it’s that time of year once again in which all of the stores are setting out the dreaded ’Back to School’ displays filled with pencils, notebooks, and various school supplies. For most students, it’s a time of impending doom, as the supply displays are a warning that summer is almost at a close, whereas for others (such as my sister, who’s a teacher), it’s one of the best times of the year- almost any and all supplies are on sale at cheap prices. 
Photo Credit: (Morgue File- Original Image) (Photo Editing Credit/Final Image Above, Credit: Katie Barbee) [This is a image that was edited by me! The credit for the original image in which I edited goes to the specified user above on MorgueFile.com!]

     For me, it's a time of shock and excitement- this is my senior year in college! On one hand, I'm a little scared and nervous to find a job after college in my field and I'm still surprised at how fast time flew but on the other hand, I'm still excited to start my last year! 

    Whether or not you’re an educator or a student in high school or college, everyone has to face the wrath of getting back into the usual swing of things when school comes back around.

     For college students however, especially college freshmen, they have it a little tougher. To start, they’re adjusting from a high school to a college or university setting, which is a drastic switch from the usual comfort of home to dorm rooms or apartments and having to put your own education into your own hands as you go to class and look out for yourself. For some, that can be easier said than done, whereas for others, it may be a simplistic and instinctual switch.

     For these college freshmen, here are some pointers from one of the many students who volunteer to help you out at orientation (this is my third year assisting with my college’s freshmen orientation).

     -Make sure you ask questions to your RA, Orientation Helper (Alpha, Student Volunteer, etc.), or someone in Student Affairs if you have any questions about what you can or cannot have in your dorm, how laundry works, etc. They’re there to HELP YOU, so feel free to bother and ask them questions to make sure that you understand- it’s their job!

     -Plan out a list of the things that you will or may need throughout the year (for at least the first semester if you’re going home over the holiday breaks to change winter clothes out for spring clothes, etc.) and make sure to cover all of the bases- if you join a music or performance group on campus, etc., you may want particular things for them- along with your basic school supplies (laptop, notebooks, pens, paper, stapler, paperclips, etc.). It will prove superbly helpful to have things that you may need at the spur of the moment or in emergencies.  [Also, make sure you bring an alarm clock!!! Your phone may not work as an alarm clock as well as you may think!]

     -With that, make sure to follow the first point about what you can or cannot bring with you to your campus- some schools will have lists or specifications for what you may have in your dorm. If they have them, please FOLLOW THEM. They are on the list for a reason (fire hazard, etc.).

     -Make sure to get a good night’s sleep- you’ll definitely need it during orientation, in which you will most likely be walking around and listening to a lot of valuable information at once. During orientation, make a point to ask questions if you don’t understand something, want to genuinely ask about a certain major/minor/etc., or just to contribute to the conversation, DO IT. It can help to break the tension that you may have (if you have any) and just from contributing, something positive or meaningful may come out of it. (It’s better to ask- there are no stupid questions- NONE. There is probably someone else who may be wondering the same thing- I’ve seen it happen numerous times.)

     -Lastly, be yourself. Don’t put up a facade or alter ego up when you’re at orientation or on campus- it will lead to a whole lot of trouble and soon, you might get over your head in a rough situation. Just be yourself and as you meet people, be nice and courteous to others- you’ll never know what kind of people you’ll meet- from orientation throughout the year! (I actually have met some amazing people this way, and I’m lucky to have them as my friends. It’s worth a try! ;] There will be people who have similar interests as you, don’t worry!)

     To the incoming college freshmen and all students and educators who are returning to school, good luck and have a great year! :D

Until next time! –Katie <3

August 4, 2013

Gardening With Sunflowers: Kool or Katastrophy?

Happy Sunday KorKers!


     I hope you’ve had a great weekend! I’ve had a wonderful weekend filled with spending time with amazing people, bowling, kayaking, and watching my sister perform with her marching band! I could definitely go for another go at that weekend- it was incredibly fun and relaxing.

     Alongside having a lot of fun this weekend, I helped out with some chores in the garden with picking tomatoes, peppers, and beans among other things. One of the crops in my family’s garden that is my contribution is planting sunflowers. Yep, sunflowers- the ones where you get the amazing snack of sunflower seeds from.

     I love to grow them during the summer not only for the amazing color that the flowers give, but also for two other reasons. If you plant sunflowers next to cucumbers, the cucumbers have a more sweet taste. And, the sunflowers provide you with a snack, seeds to replant them, and food for birds and other creatures. (They also make for a gorgeous backdrop or subject for photos!)

     After about two months or so of enjoying the tall and amazing sunbursts of golden yellow, several of my sunflowers had started to droop over (and some had even broken their stem) due to the heavy load of sunflower seeds the sunflower head was carrying; for some of the heads were the size of large dinner plates!
This is the head of just one of the giant sunflowers!
This is how packed with seeds it is! It looks pretty cool, right?
     So, my mom and I went through the flowers and cut the heads off of the ones that were drooped or fallen over completely and placing them off to the side on top of a small building to dry out in the sun. (It also helps to get the bugs and extra water out of them as well!)

     Once they’re dried out, you can roast and salt them for a snack, dry them out and store them to plant next year, or put them in a bird feeder for the birds to feast upon. The options are endless. If you, my readers, are super interested in planting these, do it! They’re definitely worth it, especially when you can watch various birds and creatures (including yourself) use the flower as a valuable resource or for a snack.

     So, this is just a little insight into my life (and my family’s garden) for this summer. I hope you take a moment to comment below with what you think about this idea for gardening along with any suggestions or ideas that you have for future posts! I’d love to hear from you!

 KorK Rating: Kool
Until next time! –Katie <3