What Kind of Car Payment Do You Want?

I'm not a millionaire, even though I wish I was. I work long hours struggling to pay my house, car, and other bills on a monthly basis. Grocery brand generic foodstuffs are purchased to save money, and I buy in bulk for household items. Does this sound like you? If you are a hard working citizen who has to be frugal to survive, what will that leave you in the car market? Its obvious you need reliable transportation, that won't leave you stranded like the Flinstone's Car.

I drive a mid sized sedan, primarily due to its great gas mileage. It's nothing to look at, and won't impress anyone. There is a market for middle class individuals, who want to have a good looking car at a reasonable price. Most individuals are not going to buy a $40,000 Audi or BMW, which cost roughly $800 a month for the car payment. That is a mortgage payment by itself, and when you figure in maintenance, insurance, and premium fuel costs it is out of reach for most budgets.

There are choices, and the one premium car that can be purchased on a fairly restricted budget, is the Hyundai XG350. They started new from between $22-$30, and this was the last year of production for this car. It has now been replaced by the Hyundai Azera, which is a little more expensive. I've been driving the 05 model for the last couple of days, and its price tag is $14,200. It has 54,780 miles on it, and is in real good condition. The paint and interior were well taken care of, and it should sell quickly.

Engine Performance/Handling

This car is powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine, that produces 194 horsepower. It's not too fast off of the line, and it will not be confused with those ridiculous powered Northstar Engines. The power is not impressive until you hit about 30 mph, and then it quickly responds to hard acceleration. Its as almost as if it wakes up a little bit after a strong cup of coffee,and decides to become a "big boy." I really enjoy this engine in merging situations on the highway, as it responds at the right time. It also has a nice growl to it, that gives the car a little sport influence, but its not so loud to hurt any luxury appeal.

This car handles fine in most situations, and steering it is easy. For its fairly large size, it is decent in city driving conditions. On the highway, you won't have any problems switching lanes. However, I was a bit disappointed on curvy roads, as it is like driving a cow on wheels. Do not take a sharp turn at high speeds with this car, or you will end up becoming a good friend of a telephone pole. It also tends to be a bit bouncy on the suspension side as well, but not enough to be annoying. For most driving, it will be fine.

Braking is really good, and I like how responsive this car is in quick decision driving situations. The four disc anti-lock braking system is a wonderful safety feature, and I got to try them out in wet conditions. I didn't notice any lag time, and I'm convinced this car could save you from other aggressive drivers. Gentle pressure will work during most occasions, and I like how the pedal doesn't have a mushy feeling to it. The pedal is also easy to reach, so that will give you extra security while driving this vehicle.

Interior Accommodations

I don't like the fake wood grain interior. Although it is understandable that Hyundai was trying to make an impression, I find it to be cheesy. At least make it look realistic, instead of this glistening stuff that looks as tacky as my Uncle Ernie's Christmas tree. Its all over the front dash area, and I wish they would have stuck to their other conservative styling here. The leather wrapped steering wheel is a nice addition, and the gauges look really cool. Other than the fake stuff, it is a good looking interior, and looks more expensive than one would expect for this price.

The front seats are awesome. They are some of the most comfortable I've ever put my posterior on, and I almost wanted to stay in the car when home.(Considering my commute is a nightmare in time and distance, this is saying a lot) If you could imagine driving your couch, this is the closest thing to that. The back support on the front seats is perfect, and the power switches are easy to use and reach. Visibility is near perfect as well, and its easy to see the road and surroundings from the drivers seat. Leg room is above average, so taller folks will appreciate driving this car. I'm 6"2, and didn't have the seat back all of the way.

I wish I could say the same for the back seats, although they do offer lots of legroom. Two adults plus a child will be fine with legroom and space in the back, and the materials used are also premium here. My problem with the back seats, is the support on the back. For some reason, these seats are not comfortable at all, and sitting in it for a short trip can lead to some discomfort. This is supposed to be a family type of car, and while it might be fine for kids, I didn't like these seats. At least the legroom will keep the little ones from kicking you while driving.

What's it like to ride in this car? It's real quiet experience, that will leave you smiling when stuck in traffic. There is almost no road noise, so I have to give credit to Hyundai improving on their usually notorious problem area. The materials used are excellent, and you can barely even hear the engine at high speeds, with the exception of the initial powering up. This compares with higher priced sedans, and the interior features are a plus.

I really like the six speaker stereo system. I'm not sure why there is a cassette player, but apparently some people still have old Hall and Oates tapes to play. The CD player AM/FM stereo is powerful, and I like how the controls are easy to reach and use. If you like a good sound experience while driving, you'll have no complaints here. All of the stations came in perfectly as well. The A/C and heating is outstanding as well, and the car will become the desired temperature in just a few minutes. I was impressed how quickly the car warmed up on a cold day too, as I was completely hot in under five minutes from starting. The Cruise Control is a nice feature to avoid speeding tickets, and the power sunroof is a wonderful touch for people with more hair than I have.

Gas Mileage Info

Don't expect to get the mileage you'd get in a Camry or Civic. However, I was impressed with how its efficient for its size, although I did not get the EPA 17 mpg city 26 mpg highway. I averaged about 17 in the city, but was at around 23 mpg on the highway. Considering that the car has some miles on it, that could have led to some decrease in its overall gas mileage. However, with experience, I have found the governments numbers to be a bit optimistic. Considering its fairly large size, I consider this to be an acceptable level of efficiency, and it has a 18.5 gallon tank. It will also happily accept 87 octane, which should save a few extra bucks.

Final Thoughts

I like the XG350, although it is not as refined as the new Azera. It is a good car for someone looking for a bit of luxury, without going into debt and having to pay loan sharks. It does have some minor issues, including the back seats and handling on curvy roads. However, even with these slight deficiencies, it is a contender for people on a budget. If you are considering buying a used car with some luxury features, then this might be a good choice. It can be found at used car dealers throughout the country, and usually for a mid range price.

4 Easy Summer Hairstyles for Men with Medium to Long Hair

Stylish hairstyles designed for men with medium to long length hair can be difficult to find. These four easy summer hairstyles are great for men who want a little variety with their hair and want cool, fun summer hairstyles.

  1. Surfer Beach Hair

Surfer style hair is a summer favorite because it's easy to style and looks fun and casual. The surfer hairstyle is often associated with Owen Wilson.

Start with dry hair. Take a pea sized amount of hair wax or putty, preferably one that is designed for the surfer look, and rub it in your hands to warm it up. Now, stroke your fingers through your hair, pulling your hair back off your face. If you have bangs cut into your hair, stroke your fingers through your bangs straight out from your face so that your bangs fall flat onto your forehead.

  1. Soft and Smooth

Soft, smooth long hair on men is a favorite of women because it looks so touchable. Soft, smooth hair is also great for summer because it's easy and fun. The hairstyle is best represented by Zac Efron and Justin Bieber.

Start with towel dried hair that is still damp. Use a nickel sized amount of creme or mousse with moderate hold and work through your hair evenly with your fingers or, preferably, a wide toothed comb. Blow dry your hair dry while brushing it from underneath it a broad, flat paddle brush. If you have bangs, brush your bangs from underneath with the paddle brush, but at the bottom of the bangs roll the brush downwards to flip the ends.

  1. Slicked Back Hair

A slicked back hairstyle brings class to an otherwise casual summer season and keeps hair out of your sweaty face. Made popular again by George Clooney, this retro style looks great on medium to long hair lengths.

Start with dry hair. Part your hair on the side. Take a dime sized dab of hair gel in your palm and rub it between your hands. Stroke your fingers through your hair, pushing your hair back and to the side. Now, take a small dab of pomade or hair wax and smooth down any hairs that are still poking up. The last step is to use your palms to smooth the sides of your hair over your temples.

  1. Spiked Out

Spiky long hair can look wild and exciting, just what you want for summer. Many rock stars have been wearing this hair style for years.

Start with towel dried hair that is still damp. Rub a dime sized dab of max hold hair gel between your hands. Run your fingers through your hair, pulling your hair up and outwards. Once you've applied all of the hair gel to your hair, blow dry it while continuing to pull your hair up and outwards in all directions. Once your hair is completely dry, you can fine tune any strands that look out of place or are in your face. Be careful not to flatten you hair by over working it.

Violence in Movies

The movie is too violent. One of the most famous reasons for criticizing a movie.

But is society really getting affected by the increasing amount of violence in films, or is it that people are changing and becoming more desensitized towards violence, so the regular amount just doesn't satisfy us anymore?

Violence in films has been an issue for a very long time now, films like Bonnie & Clyde or A Clockwork Orange have been criticized, even banned because the level of violence within the films was considered shocking.

A film like Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, for example, the violence in it is not graphic. It certainly doesn't compare to more modern films like Scarface or Pulp Fiction in terms of blood and gore. It's the way that the violence is presented within the context of the film.

Context:

What makes a movie more violent than another? Most '80s slasher movies have a notorious amount of blood and gore, but when asked which movie is more violent, Pulp Fiction, or A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pulp may be the obvious answer, despite Nightmare featuring a scene of an excessive amount of blood gushing out of a bed.

The violence in the so-called slasher movies has become a gimmick. People in the audience cheer for the killer to finish the victim in an over-the-top manner because that is basically what the movie consists of. The violence becomes so excessive that it no longer shocks the viewer, since it becomes cartoonish and hard to take seriously.

But in a film like Martin Scorsese's Casino violence is presented in a brutal manner with little stylization. Given the context of the film, the violence automatically becomes more real, in-your-face and not something cartoonish and over-the-top. The audience is still watching a bloody scene just like in a slasher movie, but this violence is shocking and disturbing.

Style:

The way violence in movies affects the audience also depends on how the violent scenes are being handled. If the violence is directed from the dramatic point of view, it will cause a different impression than if it's being directed by a comedic point of view.

For example, the beginning of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan is a collage of different and disturbing violent images that will surely cause the audience to gasp and have some of those images stuck in their heads.

On the other hand, filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, or Guy Ritchie can approach violence in a much more comedic way.

Look at the ear scene in Reservoir Dogs, a violent scene that is quickly added humor with one line said by a character; or the woodchipper scene in Fargo, what could have been a highly disturbing moment because of the amount of blood, becomes hilarious after one visual moment when we see that the foot being fed to the woodchipper still has a sock on.

Final words:

There is a line from the movie Scream "Movies don't create psychos. Movies only make psychos more creative." Some people will always be more affected by movie violence than others. It's true that we, as an audience, are becoming more used to watching violence in movies and television, but that's all it is, a movie.

Movie News and Views

Movie News and Views

I know that I've been lagging on this column, and I'm not making any excuses. So, without further ado, here we go:

"Skinwalkers" – A mother and tries to protect her son from werewolves bent on killing him. Her son is the cure against turning into a werewolf. Aoooohhhhhh…. Opens July 27, 2007.

"Resurrecting the Champ" – Josh Hartnett is a sports writer who saves the life of a homeless man (Sam Jackson) only to find that he is a former boxing champ thought dead. Based on a true story. Opens August 24, 2007.

"Feast of Love" – A rom-com with Gregg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman, and Selma Blair. What is love? Baby, don't hurt me… Opens September 14, 2007.

"Into the Wild" – Emile Hirsch gives up his middle-class life and hits the road. Based on a true story/novel. Opens September 21, 2007.

"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" – Aaahhh… costumes, warfare, love, death, and the Elizabethan times. Stars Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, and Geoffrey Rush. Winner of my I Didn't See THAT Sequel Coming award. Opens October 12, 2007.

"Sleuth" – Michael Caine hires out-of-work actor and wife's lover Jude Law (this is the story, not the reality) to steal from his home. I gotta nothin' else to say. Opens October 12, 2007.

"Gone Baby Gone" – Casey Affleck is investigating a missing girl case and the cops are on the take. Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris also star. Ehhh…. Opens October 19, 2007.

"Lions For Lambs" – Political intrigue with Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Tom Cruise. I'm on the fence on this one. Opens November 9, 2007.

"Mister Magorium's Wonder Emporium" – Dustin Hoffman is the owner of a magic toy store who is turning it over to his employee Natalie Portman. Justin Bateman also stars. Winner of my What Kind of Title Is This? Award. Opens November 16, 2007.

"The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" – A kid finds a small egg that hatches and becomes the infamous Loch Ness Monster. The real Nessie is unavailable for comment. Opens December 25, 2007.

"The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie" – For all of you out there who just can't get enough of VeggieTales, here's your fix. As for me, I'm beating my head against the wall after watching this trailer. Opens January 11, 2008.

"1-18-08" – From producer J.J. Abrams comes a birthday party for a guy named Rob in L.A. Trouble is, L.A. is being attacked by something emitting a weird sound and shooting balls of flame. I don't get it either… Opens January 18, 2008 (couldn't guess that, huh?)

"The Spiderwick Chronicles" – Two children move to a house and open a book that takes them to a fantasy world where a villainous creature wants the book back. Shouldn't this be a warning stamped on the book in the first place? Opens February 15, 2008.

"Vantage Point" – Dennis Quaid, Forest Whittaker, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt star in a movie about a Presidential assassination told from eight different points of view. I thought three sides of the story were difficult enough… Opens February 15, 2008.

"10,000 B.C" – From the guys who brought you "Independence Day," comes a movie about life, death, good, love, hate, and action sequences set in 10,000 B.C. No word as to whether Grog or the Fat Broad will appear. Opens March 7, 2008.

And:

"Hitman" – Tim Olyphant shaves his head and becomes the video game character. Opens October 2007.

"11th Hour" – Leo DiCaprio follows Al Gore's footsteps and does his own documentary about global warming. It's not easy goin' green. Coming soon.

Movies You May Have Missed

I have some favorite foreign films I want to share.

Looking for a romance with realistic characters and lovely scenery? Check out a Swedish movie called Under the Sun. A lonely middle aged farmer living in the Swedish countryside puts an ad in the paper for a housekeeper. A lively woman answers. I came to really care about these characters, and wish for their happiness. More realistic than American romances. This film is for mature audiences.

Do you enjoy quiet foreign films with stunning visuals? I enjoy a Vietnamese film called The Vertical Ray of the Sun. The story concerns the lives and loves of three VIetnamese sisters. I found the story interesting but a little hard to follow. The visuals made me feel like I was meditating or in a trance. SO BEAUTIFUL!

Are you an animation fan? One of my favorite animated features is a French movie called The Triplets of Belleville. A young professional bike racer is kidnapped. His grandma and faithful dog set off to rescue him. They receive help from frog eating 1940’s nightclub singing triplets. Filled with music and other intriguing sound affects, this is a creative film. I particularly enjoyed having an old woman hero.

Do you want a movie that give you a lot to think about? I recently saw a German film called The Edukators. Young anti WTO activists bond with and debate with each other and their yuppie hostage. They must decide what their moral values are, and how to make their actions reflect these values.

I hope you enjoy these movies. I hope you do too.

 

Warning, Destructive Forces Ahead: Technology is Lurking

Thirty years ago, no one had any idea what an iPod is. Xbox, Satellite radio and touch screen phones are just a few of the amazing feats in technology that we have accomplished in these past years. In today's society, we fell compelled to have every single gadget that's in "the now". We strive to be up to date with all the new gizmos and toys there are on the market. But is this increasingly rising power using destructive forces to pull apart the very fabric of human life? Today, we stay home more often; we use technology to do our jobs for us. Consequently, we are becoming lazier and more dependent on electronics for everyday tasks. This new "tech" age also see's the rise in weaponry and nuclear development, something everyone knows can have serious if not deadly effects on our civilization. As technology rises, does our intelligence grow at the same speed? We live in the fast lane, cruising through life without a care in the world, knowing our computers are handling everything for us. Are the upsides really bigger than all the downsides?

Why go to work when you can sit at home and buy and sell products on auction sites such as Ebay, or go outside and play when videogames can be just as if not more entertaining than baseball and basketball? Electronics make life easier, and way more fun. But from this "fun" we see a higher rate for obesity, arthritis and heart disease. Less and less people are walking to work because of the simplicity of a car. Outdoor activities are overshadowed by the need to "pwn nubs in FFS". As this ever-growing wave of new technologies engulfs our lives, making staying healthy a near impossible goal. So we must make the decision of facility or difficulty. Now this question sounds dumb and obvious; we will always pick facility, but is that necessarily the right answer? Although it is much harder, going outside and walking instead of driving can improve your quality of life. You will not melt because of the light, and no your corneas will not explode. With this new rush of technology, this goal seems harder and harder to reach. Cars and television become too enticing to continue living a hard, but healthy life. For example, cars, busses, subways and other modes of transportation have all made our lives easier, quick ways to travel between point A and point B. But is it necessary to drive to a location that can easily be obtained by walking? The extra two or three minutes of travel time will pay off in the long run. You will stay fit, have more energy, won't get sick as often and you will feel better overall. Today we live busy lifestyles. "Drive thru's" may be easier; you don't even have to leave your car to eat. But what if we didn't have cars? "Drive thru's" would be non-existent. We would have to sit down to eat our meals slowly and properly. When you eat, your digestive track goes to work. Remember the old saying don't go swimming 30 minutes after you eat? Well this theory applies to all sorts of activities. It's not healthy to eat and drive. Your body can't digest the food properly because it is already focused on something else. You begin to feel bloated and nauseous. Sitting down and slowly consuming food allows your body to focus on digesting, giving you more energy and leaving you feeling ready to go. But technology doesn't only have a bad effect on our lives.

AK-47, Saw Automatic Machine Gun and nuclear bombs are only some of the new weaponry and defense systems that technology has given us. Electronic equipment allows military forces to build and design new firepower's to use. What can we say technology has given us? We are now faced with the fear of a nuclear bomb being set off, the accidental firing of a gun and of course a plane flying into a building. Good country America, isn't it? Evil minds are constantly at work searching for weaknesses with their enemies. Peace seems unattainable and out of reach. Why stop building new weapons if you can? The technology is there and boy are we using it. It wont be soon enough that we have to wear gas masks outsides to prevent nuclear poisoning from a nuke. But it's not just weapons that technology has helped out. Humans have gotten smarter. We have the ability to track down our enemies using radar, satellites, call monitoring and more. Technology enables us to be smarter than we really are. It's like a second brain, one that is twice as big with one hundred times the amount of knowledge. Is this really what the world needs to continue turning around the sun?

Technology has created many numerous opportunities and advantages, but it also has created a turmoil situation that can almost never be overcome. We have such a high dependency of technology that one day, it will be our downfall. Although there is so much bad from this one source, it brings along a load of good too. We are more organized, intelligent and we can do much more than we thought we could do. What would we do without a cell phone or a laptop? Almost our entire lives are in these devices. Without them, it would be much harder to continue living a regular life, whatever regular is.

 

5 Romantic Movies for You and Your Sweetheart

Frankly my dear, I’d prefer a romance; not exactly Rhett Butler’s line from, Gone with the Wind, but romance is one of the main genres in the film industry. Let’s take a look into a few romance movies that have hit the silver screen and may ultimately become classics.

The Notebook- Released in June of 2004, this romance stars Ryan Gosling (Noah Calhoun) and Rachel McAdams (Allie Hamilton). These two young teens fall in love and spend every moment they can together. However, Allie comes from money and her mother and father feel that Noah is not good enough for their daughter. The young couple becomes separated due to social differences. Will their love rekindle after many years apart? This Nicholas Sparks novel, turned movie will have views searching for tissues as they follow the troubles and trials of Noah and Allie. The Notebook has won 11 awards and 7 nominations.

A Walk to Remember- This Nicholas Sparks novel was adapted into a screenplay written by Karen Janszen. This 2002 romance stars Shane West (Landon Carter) and Mandy Moore (Jamie Sullivan). The two teenagers meet after Landon gets into trouble with the law and has to perform community service. This romance has won 3 awards and 2 nominations.

Grease- This screenplay by Bronte Woodard was released in June of 1978. It takes you into the life of two high school teenagers, John Travolta (Danny Zuko) and Olivia Newton-John (Sandy Olsson) as they meet and fell in love over the summer at the beach. However, when the two discover they are attending the same school after the summer ends, will their love continue or does Danny’s fear of loosing his bad boy image tear them further apart? Grease was nominated for an Oscar, along with another 3 wins and 7 nominations.

Titanic- Released in December of 1997, this romance starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson) and Kate Winslet (Rose Dewitt Bukater) takes you into the story how a poor boy falls in love with the rich girl. Their relationship is ill-fated from the start as they meet aboard the ‘unsinkable ship’ Titanic, heading for America. Written by James Cameron, this heartfelt romance has won 11 Oscars and another 76 wins as well as 48 nominations.

Dirty Dancing- Released August 21, 1987, this romance stars, Patrick Swayze (Johnny Castle) and Jennifer Grey (Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman). Baby, visits the summer camp with her mother, father and sister and ends up falling in love with the camps dance teacher. Viewers will “Have the Time of their Life,” watching this coming of age romance. Dirty Dancing has won an Oscar and another 7 wins, along with 5 nominations.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092890

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0281358

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_%28film%29

http://www.imdb.com

Tips To Maintain Your Microwave To Make Them Last Long

Microwaves are one of the most important appliances in every household. We will not be wrong if we say that, it is probably the only appliance of the kitchen which is as useful as the person who is doing the cooking. A microwave is used for a wide variety of purposes in every kitchen.

The only issue with Microwaves is that they start to malfunction if they are not taken proper care of. So, if you have purchased a microwave recently and want to use it for a long period, then you must take care of it. Here, we will tell you about the tips that you can follow if you want to increase the life of your microwave.

  1. Regular cleaning

The most basic as well as the useful way to prolong the life of your microwave is by cleaning it regularly. Every time after you use the microwave, make sure to pull its plug out after the work is done. You should let cool completely every time after you use it. After all, this is done, you need to take a damp cloth and then wipe the inner surface of the microwave carefully.

  1. User proper containers

 

One of the most important things to keep in mind while using a microwave is to use the correct containers. You should always try and use microwavable glass as well as ceramic dishes. You can also use plastic containers in the microwave, but you should always use containers which are microwave safe. You should avoid using dishes which have got a wooden handle or dishes which have got paint or metallic trim. Another thing which should strictly avoid in a microwave is tinfoil.

3. Avoid damages to the door

The one thing that you can do to make sure that the door of your microwave remains safe is to work as much gently as you can. There are a lot of microwave users who just slam the door, well if you do so, then you might end up with a blown-up fuse. If the people at repairclinic.com are to be believed, there are three switches in a microwave oven and there’s a particular pattern in which these switches need to be closed. You can only make sure of this only if the door of the microwave is closed gently.

  1. Proper positioning

This is also one of the most basic as well as the important tips that you need to keep in mind to keep your microwave safe. If you want to make your microwave last for a longer duration of time, then this is probably one of the most important things needed to be kept in mind.

These are some of the most important points that you need to keep in mind to take care of your microwave. If you follow these tips then your microwave is sure to last long. If you have invested, then it’s best to make the investment a bit lasting. 

Kristy Lee Cook Performs Mariah Carey’s “Forever” Tuesday, April 15

Kristy Lee Cook Performs Mariah Carey’s “Forever” Tuesday, April 15


American Idol Mariah Carey week was like a dream come true for me. I have been a fan of Mariah Carey since I was a little girl and to hear these songs re-done was awesome. What was truly awesome to me was Kristy Lee Cook’s performance of “Forever.” Mariah said that Kristy’s rendition gave her goosebumps, and I have to admit, it gave me goosebumps too.

Her performance on Tuesday was phenomenal. She sang it with a country twist but she didn’t make it too country, which was refreshing. Mariah Carey week could have been an absolute disaster for Kristy, since she lacks a little “flavor” that I think makes Mariah Carey so special. She usually puts such a country twang that it completely changes the song, but tonight, she rocked it out!

Even though I am not typically a fan of Kristy I felt that she gave one of the best performances (if not the best) of the night. Tonight, she had a little bit of the “flavor.” Maybe she truly is coming into her own, after working out a few kinks. Her Tuesday performance was truly amazing. Kudos to you, Kristy!

I’m not sure that Kristy has made it to front runner status yet. She is definitely getting better each week, so she might reach front runner status but at this point I think there are a few other contestants that can give her a run for her money, like David Archuleta, Syesha Mercado, David Cook (who did an awesome rendition of “Always Be My Baby”) or Jason Castro.

Most of the remaining contestants are very talented and all have a chance at winning this season. If the winner was being chosen from tonight’s performance, the winner would be Kristy Lee Cook. She made an excellent song choice and gave an excellent performance. If she keeps going in the same direction, she could easily be at the top!

Beginner’s Sewing Projects: Gifts You Can Make Your Kids

Beginner’s Sewing Projects: Gifts You Can Make Your Kids


Sew Children’s Gifts for Holidays, Birthdays and More

If you’ve learned the basic techniques and basic stitches in sewing you’re ready to start making your kids some fabulous gifts! You might not have much confidence in your sewing abilities right now, but once you see the fantastic things you can make for your children, you’ll gain lots of confidence! Make things for their birthdays, holidays or just because you feel like it! They’ll love the new gifts, and you’ll have so much fun making them, the party will never stop!

Make a tub play area for your child – or a friend’s – by starting with an old blanket. Set the blanket in the bathtub and cut it around the edges so that it fits well. Start pinning a wide ribbon around the top edges of the cut blanket. As you go along, create small puckers, then cover them with the ribbon. These puckers will allow you to shape the blanket like the tub. Stitch the ribbon on and remove the pins. If you want extra padding use fabric glue to attach pieces of foam to the underside of the blanket, on the bottom and the sides. Babies often cry to go in the bathroom with Mom, and now when ever Mom is fixing her hair or getting ready for work, baby can play in the tub – protected from harm. Throw in some toys and he or she will be all set.

Make bed pockets where kids can tuck in books, tv remote and other items. The pocket set can hang off the side or the end of the bed. Cut a long, wide piece of cloth and hem all the way around it. One end of the cloth will be pushed way back, between the box springs and mattress, while the other side hangs over the bed. Sew on pockets from old garments or create new ones from squares or rectangles of fabric. Or, just stitch one long, rectangular piece across the bottom that hangs near the floor. Stitch sections into this piece and kids can store many items. These are great for adults’, too.

Make your little girl a cute purse by starting with a rectangular, cloth place mat. Lay the mat so that one short side is facing you. Grab the edge and pull it up to the center – or slightly higher. Pin and stitch up the sides. As you near the top edge place the end of a piece of roping, ribbon or other strap material. Finish sewing and back-tack the corners. Fold the flap over and stitch on a velcro piece to close the purse. You can decorate the purse with fabric paints, tassels, fake jewels, sequin and other embellishments.

Make a purse that features your child’s favorite cartoon character by simply stitching two wash cloths together. Leave the top corners open and insert a long strand of beads for the handle. Cut the cartoon character from a piece of cloth. You’ll find many characters at a store that sells fabric. Use fabric glue to attach the image then use fabric paints to outline the design. The paints will hide the raw edges and secure them to the washcloth. This little purse is perfect for any young girl.

Make backpacks for little kids by using a towel and folding it as you did the above place mat. Lay the towel so that one short end faces you, fold it up a little over halfway, then stitch the sides shut. Before sewing the sides you can stitch on pockets, loops and other holders. Use wide ribbon or wide binding to make the straps for the backpack. Use a piece of velcro to secure the flap.

Make a gift for a boy or a girl by cutting 2 long pieces of fabric. The fabric should be about twice as wide as a crayon. Lay the two pieces of material right-sides together. Stitch around one short end and both long sides. Turn the material right-side out. Stitch closed. Fold one long end up until it is only a couple of inches away from the edge. Stitch down the sides and you’ll create one very long pocket. Lay a crayon next to the edge of the pocket and draw a line beside it. Move the crayon to the opposite side of the line and draw another line. Continue moving the crayon down the pocket, drawing lines to mark where each crayon will go. Stitch these lines and you’ve created a unique crayon holder. Tie shut with a ribbon, mark a spot where the ribbon meets the fabric, and tack the ribbon to the cloth in this area. Kids can roll the crayon holder into a circle then tie shut with the ribbon. Make each narrow pocket slightly wider to create a magic marker holder; make the pockets much longer to hold colored pencils. Stitch a length of string across the unfolded edge of the crayon holder, and leave excess string on each end, and kids can wear the crayon holder instead.

Make scarves for the family by cutting long pieces of sweater material. Cut the pieces wide, place right sides together, then stitch along the length. Turn the piece right-side out and stitch the ends closed or just tie them in a knot. Other materials you can use include lightweight blanket material or even velour.

Teen girls will love towels they can wear around their bedrooms or after they’ve been swimming. Take a large towel and fold it in half, then stitch the edges together. Stitch a piece of elastic around one end of the towel and the girl can simply slip the towel on. Or, don’t create a side seam at all but instead, overlap the towel at the top. Pin the overlap shut for the moment, stitch the elastic in, then remove the pin. This creates a split-side towel that’s great for wearing after swimming. You’ll really love practicing your new sewing skills and your kids will love all the new gifts they receive! Keep on practicing and you’ll soon be making them lots of clothes, curtains, bed sets…