Friday, January 31, 2014

Housewarming Gifts to Keep On Hand

I like to have a few inexpensive gifts on hand for different occasions.  I usually have a boy baby gift, girl baby gift, and a housewarming gift ready to go for those occasions my husband comes home and says "I need a gift for. . . "  This does happen more often than I care to admit!  The nice thing about the housewarming gift is that it can double as a birthday gift, if needed.  Making gifts ahead of time lets you shop sales and keep things thrifty.

I bought two two-pack of dish towels from a discount bin.  I had two cute lime green spatulas left over from a cheap four pack I bought to make two gifts. 

I combined them.

The one on the right is the one I made first.  My daughter pointed out that you couldn't see the other dishtowel underneath so I folded the one on the left a bit different.

I also added a piece of cardboard to the middle of the dishtowel on the back.  It gives it a bit of support.  I also put a dab of hot glue on the spatula handle and stuck it to the ribbon so that it doesn't fall out.

I will add an appropriate tag when I'm getting ready to give these.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Makin' Whoopie Pies

We have a few gals getting married so they're getting a dual bridal shower.  I was trying to figure out a thrifty, creative gift to give.  They are both "established" and have much of the kitchen/bath/bedroom stuff that they already need so putting together something with essentials wouldn't be especially helpful.

I decided to dance on the edge of implied naughtiness.

I gave myself a budget of $20 apiece.  I made it!  I bought everything off from Amazon and got free shipping!

I started with a whoopie pie pan.  These would be great for making muffin tops, too!

I got mine here.

The cookbook was a cheap one from Amazon.  They have several options and several different ones.  I went with this one.  (Mine was cheaper when I bought it.)

I bought a four pack of the spatula spoons. I only used two.

I also picked up two packs of cute towels that I didn't use.

Stack everything up, put a few dots of hot glue to hold things in place (it peels off pretty easy) and add a label.

 These turned out nice!  I have plans for the other two spatulas and the dish towels I didn't use.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Playing with Rit Dye

My daughter has a shirt that fits really well but has a stain. I've tried and tried but I was not able to get it out. 

Cute Shirt
Sad stains!
 You can't really see it but there's a lot of little blue stains all over the bottom of the shirt.

I took some blue dye. . . .

Mixed it up in a bucket. . . .

And plopped in the shirt.  I went on a hunt for some more things to dye because it was a shame to waste a bucket of blue!

I found these. . . .
A very nice sweater that I never wear because it's see thru

Assorted Scarves

Fits great but so see thru!

This is one of the girl's.  It's SO dingy!

And the results!

My see-thru T. . .Love this!

Sammy's stained shirt. . . what an improvement!

Disappointed with this one. . . it just looks dingy now.   I'll bleach it and see if I can get it back to its original see-thru state.

But the hanger ribbon. . . I love the color! 

Love this one!

This didn't take much dye but at least it isn't the pukey yellow it was.

I do love this one!  It turned out great and I like that the stitching didn't take dye so there's some contrast stitching.

If I do it again:
I would crumple up the shirts more.  I like the speckled look a lot!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Terry Cloth and Flannel Burp Cloths

I have a co-worker who is having twins and I was trying to think of a useful gift to give to her.  I actually Googled "useful baby gifts" and was reading through different lists different mommies have put forth.  Burp cloths are one of the top ten (depending on who makes your list!)

My beautiful first born was also a projectile vomiter.  He could hit the opposite wall with his barf without batting a beautiful, curly eyelash.  The volume that kid could produce, too.  Whoa!  The cutsie cloths people made for us never worked.  It was like tossing a paper towel into the bath water, hoping to sop it all up.  We bought cloth diapers, thinking those should work.  They didn't.  I ended up buying a big stack of cheap hand towels and using those.  They were marvelous.

Taking that thought, I decided to try my hand at making burp cloths out of towels.  I looked online for some tutorials and there are plenty!  Tons of people have tons of ideas how to make the perfect burp cloth. 

 These are mine.  They're not perfect.  If you look too close at the seams you may wonder if I was drunk when I sewed them (not this time).  You would giggle if you knew how many times I had to cut the darn chevron fabric.  They're far from pretty.  Let's be honest, though.  They're absorbent and they're made to be puked on.  These will work great!

There's a right way to sew, a wrong way to sew and the Jennifer's incredibly lazy and likes to toss things together way to sew.  Guess which way I do it?  If you like to use patterns, own a seam ripper or know what a seam allowance is, you may not want to continue reading.  I will frustrate you.

Start by deciding how big you want your burp cloth.  Because of the size of the fabric I had and the least amount of cutting I had to do, I decided to do 10x18 inches.  They turned out to be a good size.  You want two pieces of fabric per cloth.  I used a nice flannel for one side and terry cloth for another.  Buy yourself a cheap towel. . . this is a great way to get terry cloth on the cheap.  You can also buy it by the yard.  WASH YOUR FABRIC BEFORE SEWING.  This time it's important. . . shrinking will mess up your seams.

10x18. . . perfect size!  Notice the cuts are actually straight!
Getting the cuts straight was kind of important.  It took a few tries on this one!

Put your flannel on top of your terry, just like it's going to look.  Wrong sides together, pretty sides out.

Round your corners.  Find a cup or bowl or something and line it up on the corner of your fabric.  Draw a line and cut it.

Trace and cut  

I decided to use double fold bias tape because I like it and I'm lazy.  You want to pin your pieces together so they don't move.  You then open up your bias tape and pin (yes, even I pin here) your tape to the edge. 

I do the fancy foldover so I don't have to sew the tape together at the end.  LAZY!

The edge of the tape should be at the edge of your fabric.

Pin all the way around.

There's a crap load of pins in this thing!
You want to sew in that first fold, closest to the edge of the fabric.  You're supposed to sew IN the fold but I never manage to do that.

Wavy lines!  Really, how hard is it to sew a straight line?  Well, let me tell you. . . .
Get out your iron.  This is the best way to do the bias tape around curves.

Fold the tape over to the other side.  Using your fingers to hold, blast some steam on the corners and press into shape.  The steam helps the bias tape stretch around that corner and look awesome, no puckering.

While you're at it, fix that folded area by folding over the other side and pressing it flat.  I give it a good couple seconds with steam just to get it extra squashed.

Take the piece back to the sewing machine and top stitch the tape in place.  Pretty, right?!?

I like to iron one more time, since it's a gift.  I make sure to snip threads and run a lint roller over the top and bottom, just to get the pieces of fluff off.

I'm not sure how I'm going to package these, yet.  I'm brainstorming ideas.  I would like to do something a little more fancy than tying them all up with a ribbon.  If I come up with something other than tossing them into a gift bag, I will share that!

What's your go-to baby shower gift?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Letter To My Daughter: Ten Things I Want To Teach You

I love to write letters and I find it easier to write my thoughts.  Sometimes, when I say things, they don't come out quite the way I intended.  Writing is so much easier for me.

I have a notebook that I periodically write letters for my children in.  They read them now and my hope is that they'll read them again when they're older.  

I wanted to share a letter I wrote to my daughter on New Year's Day.  I was talking about some of it with a friend and she asked if she could read a copy.  I gave it to her and she suggested sharing on my blog.  Here it is.  Because some of it references specific people, I took names out.

Letter to my daughter:  January 1, 2014

Dear Samantha,

You are such a beautiful little girl with a strong spirit.  I love your sense of humor and your quick wit.  You definitely inherited your sarcasm from me.  I love watching you grow up! 

I don't know if you will remember the Christmas break this year (2013).  The day it started, (our neighbor)'s granddaughter's boyfriend broke into their house and started beating (granddaughter) up.  They called Daddy and he called 911 and ran over to help.  I had to go over, too, because the guy was hurting (neighbor) and (granddaughter).  You were very scared and begged me not to go but I had to.  It was the right thing to do because they needed help.  Before I went, I made sure you were safe and I locked you and your brother inside the house so no one could get in.

What happened and what I saw made me start thinking about your generation.  When I was a little girl, I watched Star Wars and wanted to grow up like Princess Leia, kicking some Imperial Army butt.  I didn't watch things like Twilight because the girls on shows like that are so silly.  Who wants to wait around for a man to rescue you?  I know a lot of your friends watch Twilight and want to be like Bella.  True love is great but, I promise, it won't come as a werewolf or as a vampire!

There are a few things I wanted to write down so that I don't forget them.  I hope that I am successful in teaching these lessons to you.  If you want to ever talk about any of them, I would love to talk with you.

Here goes!  Ten things I want you to learn from me:

1.  Don't wait to be rescued.  Rescue yourself.  There are real life heroes but they are few and far between.  Most people will choose not to get involved so waiting for a hero to show up might take awhile.  You have the right to rescue yourself.  Do it.

2.  Stop panicking and start thinking.  When you panic, you quit thinking.  Take a second and think things through.  What should you do?  What should you not do?  Are you safe where you are at?  Do the smart thing, not the emotional thing.

3.  Marry someone who wants to take care of you but don't need anyone to take care of you.  You don't want to have to always be the one that has to take care of everyone emotionally and physically.  This way, you will always have support when you need it but you can share in things equally.

4.  Don't fight every fight but do fight the ones that matter.  Decide what is important to you and fight those fights.  Let everything else go.  It's not worth it.

5.  No one should ever lay a hand on you.  Ever.  Don't throw the first punch but, if someone else does, fight back and fight hard.  You don't have to take it.  You are not a punching bag.

6.  You are in charge of your own happiness.  Don't expect someone else to make you happy.  Surround yourself with things and people that make you happy.  If you feel yourself falling into a funk, do what you need to do to pull yourself out.

7.  Everyone makes bad decisions.  You will, too.  Fix it, if possible.  Face the consequences.  Get over it.  Learn from it.  Move on.  Making the same bad decision over and over is not acceptable.

8.  Don't remain a victim.  If something bad happens, if you become a victim, don't let it define you.  You have the choice to stand up, deal with it and move on.  If you use it as an excuse or let it overtake your life, you've let the bad guys win.  Ask for help if you need it.

9.  You will be guilty by association.  If you surround yourself with bad people who do bad things, you will be looked upon as such.  It doesn't matter if you're the angel among the devils.

10.  It is okay to cut people out of your life.  You can only give so much of yourself before there is nothing left to give those who really deserve the best part of you, like your spouse and children. 

Sammy, above all, know that I love you and would do anything for you.  You can always come talk to me.  Nothing you ever do will make me stop loving you.

Love, always and forever,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Top Posts in 2013

This is a post for New Years Day but we all know I'm a procrastinator so you get this a few days later.  I thought it would be fun to take a look at my most popular posts of 2013, thanks to the Blogger Stats page!  These are posts that were written and posted this past year.  For the record, it looks like you enjoyed 2012 more than you enjoyed 2013.  Sorry 'bout that!

#7 - Prepping For Guests
This post blew up between November and December, which makes sense.  Apparently you all wanted to know how to make your guests feel comfortable, or you wanted to read some of my confessions about my feelings regarding guests.  Either way, I hope it helped!

#6 - DIY Roll Up Shades

I created these back in February and they're still working great!  I will probably, eventually, take them down and run the sewing machine on the black bottom to secure a bit better but that's an eventual project.

#5 - Why I've Been Absent

This one surprised me when I saw the stats.  I didn't get a lot of comments on this post but it somehow resonated with people, either good or bad.  I said it before and I'll say it again. . . thanks for all the support, especially during that timeframe!

#4 Tween Girl Party Games

One of the first comments I received on this post was that the party games seemed boring.  Okay, I could accept that.  Our party was over and, at that point, I didn't really give a hoot.  The next comments, however, were very encouraging and very, very nice.   I even got a "thank you" email from someone who had a party using the games.  Whoot! Whoot!

#3 - Tip:  Getting Rid of Yellow Arm Pit Stains

I guess this is a problem in more homes than I thought!  This is also a pin that blew up on Pinterest. . . it shocked me the number of people who were interested in reading about my stain woes and who wanted to know how I took care of it!

#2 Food Tote for the Car

Someone on Pinterest actually called this idea "brilliant"!  Since my brilliant moments are few and far between, I savored that comment for weeks, maybe even a month or two!  Apparently you all agreed because this was the second most popular post of mine for 2013.

#1 - Rainbow Loom Fishtail Bracelet
I had no idea that this post would have gotten as much attention as it did!  My daughter bought herself a rainbow loom and was promptly frustrated with the directions that came with the loom.  One day while she was at school, I figured out this technique and made a quick tutorial for my blog.  It was a spur of the moment thing but it became very popular very quickly.  This is actually my second most popular post of ALL BLOG HISTORY!  Woa!  I'm actually planning on posting another tutorial for another technique so check back soon!

Thanks for another fun and successful year of blogging!  I am honored and humbled by all you that have chosen my blog to peruse and read.   Leave me a comment or two. . . I adore hearing from everyone.  

Best wishes, good health and many blessings to you in 2014.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Crafting Fail - Ironing Tissue Paper Between Waxed Paper

Happy New Year!  May your 2014 be your most blessed year so far!

I thought I would start out the New Year by posting a crafting fail.  I saw this neat idea on that included punching out hearts from tissue paper and ironing them between waxed paper.  I was looking for a nice way to wrap lotion bars for Christmas gifts and I thought this might be a good solution.

I did deviate and decide to use whole pieces instead of punches.  I picked my paper. . . ..
. . . and ripped off sheets of waxed paper.  The goal was to melt the wax on the waxed paper enough to stick to the tissue paper.

I layered a paper towel, my waxed paper, tissue paper, a second sheet of waxed paper and another paper towel on top.  I set my iron to low. . .

. . . nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.

You all know I'm renowned for my patience (:snicker:) and so I cranked the heat up to medium.  Nope.  Not working.  I went slower.  Nothing.  I cranked it up some more.  Not happening. 

By this time I'm a tad torked and I take one layer of waxed paper off because, really, I don't need two.  I change out the paper towel for an old pillow case, add water to my iron and blast it with some steam.  This works.

Waxed paper side. . .

Tissue Side. . .

I decide I've figured out the trick of it all so I start with sheet number two, thirty minutes after starting sheet number one.

Five minutes into the blasting steam on to the waxed paper I'm realizing it's not working anymore.

I give up. (Cue sad music.)


I remembered I found a can of Scotch Spray Adhesive when I was thinking about cleaning up my crafting hole.  It's not the snotty kind of adhesive.  It's really light and doesn't do much for a tough stick job but for this. . . it might work!  I sprayed a light layer, laid down the non cooperating waxed paper and in less than five seconds had a sheet of pretty waxed paper to put my lotion bars in.

For me the ironing didn't work because:
1. I used whole sheets of tissue paper.
2. I wasn't patient enough.
3. I found spray adhesive and don't have a reason to do the ironing thing anymore.

I'm actually quite stoked that I found this trick.  I don't think it would be a good idea to do it with food but for anything non-foody that needs a layer of waxed paper, it would be great!

Happy, Happy New Year.