Friday, August 19, 2011

Happiness is a bargain and laundry detergent making 101

This morning on our way to run errands, I stopped at a few garage sales. At one moving sale I found my latest project-- a mirror from the 50's with a funky frame and shelves. I'd never seen anything like it before and bought it for just $10!

After a little ivory spray paint to cover the original flaking gold coat ($3.25 at Walmart), this is what it turned out like.

For a total of $13.25, I now have another fun piece for the baby's room.

My next project for the day was to try making my own laundry detergent. I'd been reading different recipes for detergent and decided the three ingredient ones were the easiest.

I mixed 2 bars of Fels Naptha soap (in the laundry aisle) by grating it with a cheese grater, 2 cups of Washing Soda, and 2 cups of Borax. I stirred it all together and stored it in a tupperware container with a small scoop.

You will have extra Borax and Washing Soda left over for the next batch and it only takes 1 Tablespoon to wash one load of laundry! In all, I believe the total was around $5 (including the generous amounts of the two ingredients left over).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stencil rug = Success!

After a few failures, I'm proud to show off my new personalized rug!

Giving an old rug a facelift proved to be easier than I expected-- once I found a good dying technique. The hardest part of the project was finding a way to dye the rug so it would keep it's color. I purchased two cotton rugs last weekend from a garage sale to try this, but I think this one may have had a stain guard that kept the dye from taking easily.

To make my rug, I first soaked it in a 50/50 water and bleach solution. It didn't take long since the rug was originally an off-white. I then put it through the washer and left it slightly damp to help take the dye better.

I decided to put the dye in a plastic tub I purchased specifically for this project. It was on clearance and would save our bath tub from any unsightly staining. I then soaked the rug for about 10 minutes in one packet of gray RIT dye. After it was the color I liked, I rinsed it in the sink and put it through the wash without any soap. Unfortunately, the rug quickly went back to it's original color.

Attempt #2. I had already thrown out the RIT dye, so I decided to try a homemade dye. I looked up natural dying techniques but getting a true gray was going to be very difficult. I didn't want a red rug (using wine, grape juice, or food coloring), so I opted for a shade of brown. I brewed a strong pot of coffee, added some vinegar, and let it soak for about an hour. That didn't quite get it dark enough.

Attempt #3. So I brewed another pot of coffee, added more vinegar this time, and left it soaking overnight. In the morning, I let it dry before sending it through the rinse cycle of the washer. After it was rinsed, I hung it outdoors to dry again.

Success! I came out with the perfect shade. Once the rug had dried, I took a stencil and white fabric paint and made my design.

I love my new rug and even have the second rug (my backup since this was my first attempt) to make another.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Babies wear suspenders

I recently came across this idea for personalizing a baby onsie by adding suspenders! The idea came from HERE and inspired me to try my hand at some of my own.

This one has my version of a bow tie.

For security, I used fabric glue and then double stitched everything. You can never be too careful with wearables that also endure multiple washes.

I'd love to try applique techniques, but need to find more information to guide my first attempt. What I like about these are that they seem more sturdy than personalized onesies with iron-on designs. Those seem to come loose fairly quickly.

If you have other ideas for making your own onsie, feel free to pass it along.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discipline: The dirty little word

I can still remember when caring for my son meant simply meeting his day-to-day needs. But somewhere along the way he developed something called a WILL and OPINION about every aspect of life.

Suddenly, my cherbic offspring went from following direction and being easy to passify to an entirely different little human. This child tells me where to sit, what he wants to eat, says 'no' and then changes his mind in a fit of tears, tests my direction (such as "come here", "don't touch", and "be nice to the dogs"), and sometimes decides that our errands for the day are not part of HIS agenda. Some days, the slightest bump in the road will send him spiraling into a meltdown. And yesterday for the first time, he ran in the opposite direction when I tried to steer him to the car. Fortunately, he was not in danger but could have been if we were not in Pat's yard.

And with this new trial and test of my limits comes a new descent into discipline. At home, of course, it's easier. I have two time-out spots, safety, and shelter from the prying eye of the public. And if the situation calls for it, a spatula to use for a swat.

But now that tantrums and outright disobedience is trickling into our public outings, the issue is more complicated. It's not always easy to remove my son from a public place to discipline in private, and sometimes he's crying too hard to talk to. In those times, all I can do is leave where we are and deal with it when we get to the car-- if that's an option.

I do understand that sometimes a meltdown is the result of badly needing a nap. It's every parent's challenge to find their balance between when a tired child's crankiness should be overlooked or faced head-on. I hate being that parent/child in a store that's causing a scene. But I also don't believe in giving into a bad attitude by offering candy or impulsively buying a new toy to try and quiet my unhappy little one.

I know that this is just a time we're going through, and some days I feel more or less capable of handling what he throws my way. But at least I understand that being two means coming to terms with new emotions he's experiencing and trying to find the words to express his thoughts and feelings. I know it's frustrating and I know he understands that no matter what, I love him. And at the end of the day, he's still my best buddy who says goodnight with not one but TWO hugs and a kiss.

And I know that everything will be allright.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Make-it-yourself baby mobile

So last week I gave a little teaser by sharing the fabrics I was using for a new project. After a few test runs, I finally made a mobile for the baby's room. Here's where I got the idea.

The fun patterns certainly caught Maddox's eye and he wants to play with it!

I'm not very skilled with glue, so I sewed the hanging strands around the rim of the mobile by hand. I also added buttons on the bottom circles to help weigh it down and add a little extra cuteness. I toyed with the idea of also putting buttons around the rim of the mobile but decided it would be too much going on.
I plan to hang it up with more brown ribbon, a little chain, and a hook.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Toddlers love velcro blocks

This week I came across an idea for putting velcro on building blocks from Chasing Cheerios. I'm always looking for ways to occupy my busy toddler and blocks are one of his favorite things to play with.

Not only does the velcro allow him to build in new dimensions, but you can always add new shapes to keep their creativity flowing.

When I couldn't find regular building blocks at the craft store, I picked up plain wood square blocks and a bag of wooden spools for $2 each. I then chose red and blue velcro. A small glue gun gave the velcro the sticking power to resist the pull of the velcro, but if you try it make sure the corners are well glued to keep them stuck on tight. A few came loose and needed to be re-glued more securely.
As mothers know, toys like blocks end up scattered all over the room and always end up underfoot. So I found the perfect storage solution with a cute canister on clearance. My little one loves taking the lid on and off and has done a great job keeping his new block set picked up.

Actually, he loves the blocks and canister so much that he won't let me touch them. When I asked if I could see them, Maddox stated very matter-of-factly "No, my blocks!"

"His" blocks were even tucked securely under his arm tonight while watching his Veggie Tales movie (so mom wouldn't put them somewhere) and I'm sure would have gone to bed with him had I allowed it.

My next project is almost done and will be for the baby. I won't tell you what it is yet, but will give you a peek at the great fabrics I'm using.

Feeling craft-y? Do-it-yourself artwork

This week has been inspiring. I tackled multiple do-it-yourself projects and crafts that I'll share in the next few posts.

I admit that part of the motivation came from moving/house-shopping stress coupled with the physical and mental drain of weekend trips to Knoxville (this will be my third weekend making the drive and I'll be working on Sunday). The other side to the story is that I've been in tremendous pain this week and keeping busy helps take my mind off of it. The doctors are working hard to help me find some relief, but mostly it's just the unfortunate side of pregnancy symptoms. 

Yesterday evening I had a great shopping trip to Hobby Lobby. I almost forgot how much I LOVE that store. The prices are lower that JoAnne's and it's much more convenient to our house.

I found a fantastic roll of fabric for 30% off. I then found this adorable frame for 50% off. By combining the two, I created a great piece of artwork for our bathroom.
And look how well it matches the rest of the bathroom!
I am in love with the look so much that I'm considering making a collection of small framed fabrics and mixing in some photographs for the kids room, or framing three other fabrics I love and hanging them over the master bed.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bibs, booties, and... a hand-stitched quilt

The quilt I started is finally done. I love that it incorporates the room colors but isn't so baby-ish that it has to be put away as he grows. 
I picked out the fabric for the smaller squares from furniture sample pieces on clearance. The backing is more of a muslin fabric and very soft. 
Instead of doing quilting, I decided to add buttons in corresponding blue, green, and cream. And while it doesn't make for a baby-safe quilt, it will be more for decoration anyway. Since it's hand-stiched I'd hate to have to wash it if it got dirty from use.

My squares and grid aren't as perfect as I wanted, but I still like how it turned out as a shabby chic handmade project.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tis the season to can tomato sauce

I love tomato season. There's nothing better than a locally grown, vine-riped tomato that makes store bought varieties pale in comparison.

Today Pat gave me a box of her garden tomatos so I decided to make and can tomato sauce. Pat is a gardening genius with a huge spread of garden-- I could learn a lot from her sucess coaxing vegetables from the soil.

I combined two recipes but here is the basic recipe I relied on.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
10 lbs tomatoes, washed, cored, and chopped
3 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp sugar

I then added some of my own fresh basil and parsley, olive oil, and Thyme.

Just put everything into a large pot and simmer for 2 hours. Then pulse in the blender and return to heat until tickened.

Finally, coat canning jars in lemon juice and fill 3/4 full. Screw lids tightly and place in boiling water bath for 35 minutes.

Not only is this nutritious, but our house smells delicious!