Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cleaning House

Why is it that the house always seems to get messy but no one did it?

Today we began a marathon house cleaning session.  The DH went off to work and the oldest is dying to start on his pinewood derby car for next weekend's race but the house is calling.  Loudly.  Shrieking.  

We've found this amazing and CHEAP cleaner that pulls soap scum off from the tile and tub without scrubbing.  This same cleaner works marvels when sprinkled on to a dirty carpet and let sit for a few moments before vacuuming.  We also use it to keep the sweaty armpit smell out of DH's undershirts and it works wonders on freshening up a musty car.  What is it?  Believe it or not, it's Arm and Hammer's powdered Laundry Soap.

I was reading a blog  years ago and some woman was singing the praises of the laundry soap.  What got me was that she said that she sprinkles it on to her dry shower, runs a little bit of water to moisten the soap and then uses a washcloth to wipe down the walls and floor with it.  Wallah!  No soap scum.  I had to try it. . . . we have extremely hard water and soap scum is an unattractive part of our bathroom.  It's not pretty and I would spend tons of money on the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers which were the only things I found to work.  And we'd scrub.  And scrub.  And repeat weekly.  I bought a small box of the Arm and Hammer soap and haven't stopped buying it since.  We use it for everything!  The really great thing is that the kids can help out with the cleaning and I'm not too worried about the chemicals.  They're old enough to know not to eat the soap and to wash their hands when done but I was always worried about fumes.  No more.  The poor, overworked children in my household now clean their own bathrooms.

Don't get me wrong.  With the H1N1 going around, the colds and the gross factor, I still bleach the toilets, door handles, sinks and counters.  I just send the kids in there first to get the ick off so that all I have to do is a wipe down.  Fantastic!  

We're off to fold Mount St. Magnus of Laundry.  When that's done, we're going to build the coolest, fastest Pinewood Derby Race Car the Great Plains State has ever seen.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fingerprint Art

We needed to come up with an inexpensive, meaningful teacher birthday present from the classroom.  I was lucky enough to be able to go into my oldest's class yesterday and do a project with the kids.

The project just takes a few minutes.  We made a planter with each students' fingerprint on the pot.  I turned the fingerprints into bugs, flowers and birds.  

You start out with a large terra cotta pot.  I bought the 10 inch size.  In hindsight, an 8 inch would also work but the 10 inch was nice because the prints weren't crowded on the pot.  I painted the pot to look like grass, sky and clouds.  Very easy.

You need three colors of paint, two dry foam paintbrushes and a round dabber brush, like what you stencil with.  Mix the blue paint with the white paint until you find the perfect color for your sky.  Paint the entire pot and let dry.  Don't forget to go inside the pot, about 1/3 of the way down.

When dry, take your round dabber brush.  Mix up white paint with water, about 2/3 paint, 1/3 water.  Dab the round brush in and dab clouds over the pot.  Let dry.  When it is dry, take more white paint, not watered down and go on top of the clouds in a new pattern.  This gives your clouds depth.  I also added a touch of blue and went over them a third time with a watered down version to make shadows.  

The grass is the easiest.  Paint green over the bottom quarter of the pot.  Use a dry brush and pull upward to make the grass.  Let dry.  Put a dot of white into the green to lighten up the green and put on to the grass in a few areas.  Pull upward with the dry brush.  Add a dot of blue to darken it, do again.  This adds depth to the grass.

When the entire pot is dry, it is time to put the fingerprints on the pot.  I had an acrylic paint assortment that came in little pots.  You can buy them inexpensively at a craft store or take a look around your house.  Chances are that you have one that came in a paint by number kit somewhere!  You need to take a little paint and water it down so that it's the consistency of ink.  Have the students put their finger into the paint and then stamp it on to the pot.  Have baby wipes handy to clean off fingers!

We added the kids' names to their fingerprints with a marker.  When it dried, I turned the fingerprints into critters using sharpie markers.  You can draw a line on top of the paint with a pencil, first, if needed.  It erases away if you don't like the look.  When you are done, take a spray sealer (Krylon makes a great one) and spray the outside and inside of the pot where you have painted.  Let dry completely and then it's ready to fill with dirt and a houseplant!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Flowering Teacher Valentine's Day Gifts

We've got a foggy day in the Great Plains today and it is just blah.  The kids are laying around doing absolutely nothing so we pulled out a craft idea.

Valentine's Day is weeks away. . . . . four to be exact. . . . . but we need time for our project to bloom.  Literally.  Today we went out and foraged at the local WalMart, Lowes, Dollar Store and craft store to find a few things that we needed.  And we got them, quite inexpensively, I might add.

We found two containers that we wanted to use.  We opted for metal because they were cheap but you could use ceramic, a terra cotta flower pot or plastic.  Wood is probably not a good idea unless you want to spend the time lining the inside with a plastic bag.  Once you have your containers, you can either leave them as be or decorate them.  Decorating them is super easy.  All you need is some acrylic paint, some foam stamps or a sponge that you cut out into a shape (hearts are easy!) and go for it.  Spread the acrylic paint out on a paper plate very thin so the kids can use that as a stamp pad.  Paint your container first, if you want, but we got lucky and found red ones.  Stamp away!

These are our containers:

If you are not using a flower pot with drainage, you will need to fill the bottom of the container with rocks or gravel to allow the water to drain.  If you don't have access to gravel or rocks in your yard, you can get a bag very cheap with the gardening supplies at your local store.  Fill the container about 1/4 of the way with gravel.

Top with soil up to the top of the container.  Have the kiddos gently press the dirt down and make holes or troughs in the dirt.  Put the seeds into the dirt.

Cover with another handful of dirt.  Press gently!  Water lightly until soil is damp.  You don't want to drown the seeds!  Keep dirt moist. . . . the seeds will start to show sprouts in a week to two weeks.  Depending on the flower, they should be blooming around Valentine's Day if planted soon!

Finished project by a proud youngest!


We used a mix of wildflowers.  Some will start blooming immediately, some will not be in bloom for six weeks.  We should have a pretty mix of flowers to present the teacher for Valentine's Day.
The project didn't take a lot of time but it got us all up and moving.  That's what counts, right?

By the way, the Orange Rolls were Fabulous!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mmmm. . . . Orange Rolls

The kids and I made up a batch of Bread Machine Orange Rolls for a yummy Saturday morning treat.  This is a great, foolproof recipe that is fun to do the night before.  This is the recipe that we put together by using parts from several different ones to make it perfect for our family.  Here's how. . . . .

Bread Machine Orange Rolls


1 c orange juice, heated to warm, not hot
1/3 c honey
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
3 c flour
1/2 T bread machine yeast

Peel from 1/2 orange
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar

Mix together
4 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 c powdered sugar
thin to frosting consistency with orange juice (about 3 Tablespoons)

Put dough ingredients into the bread machine in the order listed.  Start on the machine's dough cycle.

When the dough is rising, cut the peel off from one orange.  We use a sharp paring knife.  Try not to get the white stuff, just the zest (orange part of the peel).  Keep the cuts small.


Either chop the orange peel very finely and mix with the butter OR put the peel into the blender and chop.  I like to take my butter frozen and put 1/8 c chunks into the blender at a time until I get 1/2 cup.  It will chop up the frozen butter with the orange peel.  Put into a bowl, add sugar and let the butter soften.  Blend.

When the bread machine finishes, put dough out on to a floured surface and pat into a rectangle.  Spread with the butter/orange peel mix and roll up.  Slice and put into a greased cake pan.  Cover with foil and immediately refrigerate.

In the morning, uncover the rolls and put into a COLD oven.  Turn the oven on to 375 degrees and set the timer for 28 minutes.   Remove at 28 minutes.  Frost with glaze while hot.  Serve warm.

Enjoy!  I'll post a photo tomorrow morning if I can find the camera before they're all gone!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to School and Rosary Making

It's back to school for the kids so, unfortunately, my vacation is also over.  Time to make some money!

I finished a few rosaries this weekend and added them to my eBay line-up.  I did this one two weekends ago and have it up on eBay. . . . no one has fallen in love with it yet but it's one of my favorites.

This beauty is made with genuine Jasmine Petal beads.  The flowers are dried, petals crushed and formed into beads.  The beads smell DIVINE!!!  I capped each one with a antiqued gold bead cap.  The centerpiece and crucifix are made with both silver and gold toned metals.  The centerpiece can be engraved.

I managed to get a handful on one decade rosary bracelets and a few of my five decade rosary bracelets up on eBay.  I've got a lot more in the basement left over from the trade shows this year that I need to get online, either on my website or eBay, but I truly hate the selling part of making rosaries!  If I could just stock a store and not have to worry about selling them, I'd be living my dream!

I'm off to take more pictures and list more rosaries.  

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Birthday Parties and Presents

Little Girl's Birthday Parties.  These are the social event of the season and the price of admission is your gift to the Birthday Girl.  The way my youngest and her classmates carry on about birthday parties, you'd think they were the equivalent of the Debutant Balls of the South.  We discovered really quickly that birthday parties are expensive. . . . not only HAVING a birthday party, but GOING to birthday parties.

My two kiddos average about ten birthday party invitations per year, each.  We tried a budget of ten dollars per gift but, with twenty invites, that's still expensive.  Besides, have you seen what's available for ten bucks?  Not much.  We started making our gifts. 

Girl Gifts are a lot easier to make which is why I am glad that this weekend my youngest has a birthday party for a little girl.  I am not up to being too terribly creative today.   Here's what we did.


We made little girl's bracelets and put them in a really cute, very inexpensive box.  The bracelets themselves are really cheap to make but you do need to start out with a "beginning expense".  At your local craft store, you can find all-inclusive Jewelry Making kits.  It includes your beads, wire, clasps and crimps.  They're anywhere from $10 to $20 and up.  If you have a Michael's in your area, sign up for their email list and get 40% off coupons sent to your inbox.  That makes this expense pretty low.  Out of a large kit, you can get a few dozen bracelets.

Here's how you do it: 


First, pick out your beads.  I like to lay them out in a line and make sure that I have enough to make the bracelet but that's not always possible.  This selection made it impossible because of the shape of the beads.  

These are the tools and supplies you will need.  The wire comes in a jewelry making kit.  The little silver beads in a bag are called crimp beads.  They're soft beads that you'll smash with the green handled pliers.  Those are regular pliers.  The blue handle pliers are nippers.  That's what you will use to cut the wire.  You can also get a pair of chain nose pliers if you want. . . I use them and will show you what I use them for but it's not necessary for bracelet making.


Cut your wire to length PLUS a few inches.  There's nothing worse than spending the time to string the wire and not have enough to finish the job.   Put a crimp bead on the end, string the wire THROUGH the clasp and back through the crimp bead.

Smash the crimp bead with your pliers.  Now the clasp is firmly attached to the wire.

String your beads in the pattern you want.  

Put a crimp bead on the end.  I like to put a piece of chain on the end so that the length is adjustable and the bracelet can fit through some growing.  I put the wire through the chain and then back through the crimp bead.  Smash that crimp bead flat and trim the excess wire. 

I like to put a dangle on the end of the chain.  Use a headpin and put one small bead on it.  Headpins will come in your Jewelry Making Kit.

Bend the headpin at a 90 degree angle.

Use a pair of chain nose pliers to make a loop.  

Use the chain nose pliers to hang on to the loop.   It should be flat inside the pliers.  Take your regular pliers and grab the end of the wire sticking out.  Wrap it several times around the wire between the chain nose and the bead.

Clip off the excess wire.  Mine tends to get mangled a bit when I twist it around the wire but it doesn't matter because you cut it off.  Carefully separate the last link of the chain on the bracelet and slip this bead on.  Close the chain.

We made two bracelets.  They turned out quite nice.  

Keep an eye out at the dollar store or department stores for really cheap, cute boxes.  Or, you can purchase a "lot" of them online on eBay.  Don't forget to take shipping charges into account when you buy them.  We pair these with a card we print off the computer using Word and wrap them in whatever wrapping paper we have available. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Eight of January. . . . already

So, as I stated in my "about me" and the title of the blog, I started The Thrifty Catholic Mom in an effort to keep track of my New Year's Goals.  I wanted a way to hold myself accountable and to document what I'm doing.

It's the eight of January and Kansas is in a deep freeze.  It's too cold for the kids to go out to play and school has been canceled for the last two days.  We're all slightly stir crazy since the weather has acted like this since Christmas.  Record Breaking Lows, folks!

We decided to start a table top tile project.  My oldest has a small end table with a drawer that he uses for a game table.  The top holds his most precious Chess board. . . . a Christmas gift from Grandpa.  Grandpa found a chess set made out of marble and onyx. . . . or some black and white stones.  It's pretty neat looking but the table is an unattractive garage sale find that serves the purpose of holding games and game pieces.  We are going to tile the top.  

For sixteen cents each, we bought 4x4 ceramic tile at Home Depot.  The tile are nothing special, just white and glossy.  The kids took crayons and drew pictures on the tile.  The crayon transferred really great to the tile and when they made mistakes, rubbed off clean.  We're sealing the colored on tile with some basic spray sealer.  It's a clear gloss sealer that we found in the spray paint section.  It will take four coats to completely seal the crayon on to the tile so that it doesn't rub off.  You need to wait 24 hours between coats and you can't go very thick or it will gunk up. 

We need a total of sixteen tile to cover our table top so I'm dolling out the tile gradually for our project.  I've attached a picture of the first six we've done and we're all pleased with the results.  When we get our sixteen done and sealed, I'll grout them to the top of the table.  More on that as the project progresses!