Showing posts with label simple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simple. Show all posts

Mar 3, 2013

"Twitter" Me Message Board

Hey People,

So this Sunday has become a cleaning and reorganizing day.  Poor little Noah has an ear infection.  We took him to the weekend clinic this morning to get him antibiotics and the rest of the day he's been pretty low key.  Poor little bugger has just wanted to sleep and cuddle (which this mommy doesn't mind at all!).  Because he hasn't required too much attention, I was able to organize his clothes into 0mos, 3mos, and 6mos boxes.  Boy did that kid acquire quite the collection of clothing.  If we have another boy, he'll be set! 

After that was done, I decided it was time to tackle my craft room, which looks like a warzone.  Without going into too many details, let's just say that it was long overdue.  That place was a health hazard.  (2 minutes in there and Noah would probably come out with a pin in his eyeball and something covered with glue in his mouth)  In cleaning out my craft room, I stumbled upon an unused 11x14 picture frame....which got my mind a churnin.  The frame was silver, so I knew that I wouldn't be using it in any of my picture wall hangings (because all of the pictures around my house are framed with brown, white, or cream frames).  But it seemed like such a shame to let it sit there unused.  At the same time I stumbled across this frame, I happened to be sorting through my marker collection.  As I bundled my dry erase markers with a gumband, I remembered an idea I saw on Pinterest using a picture frame as a makeshift dry erase board. So naturally, I dropped everything that I was doing and set about to crafting one for myself.  (Got to love my ADD).

So basically I used some scrapbook paper I had lying around, cut it to the shape and size of the frame, and drew little red lines to mock that elementary school paper I remember practicing my cursive letters on as a child.  Voila...

The message "Twitter Me" was completely impulsive.  I've never used twitter in my life, nor do I have any imminent plans too.  But it seemed like a cute phrase to caption my thought..."Hey write on me, I'm fun!"  The dry erase marker is attached to the frame by a piece of yarn.  (it is tied to the horizontal wall hook on the back of the frame)

Not sure yet where I'll put our little message board.  I'm thinking it may serve some good in the kitchen to jot down quick notes to the hubby or make reminders of things I need at the grocery store.  Best part about that is, no paper, no waste, no mess!  Gotta love that=)

Hope you enjoyed my impromptu craft of the day.

Mar 2, 2013

DIY important dates wall decor



So this next post I am actually really excited to share with you all.  As many people are these days, I am a huge fan of Pinterest.  The last two Christmases I used Pinterest as inspiration for ideas on homemade Christmas gifts.  If you don't know my opinion on homemade gifts, it is simply that I love them.  I love making them and I love giving them even more.  ( I only hope that the receivers like them as much as I do!). Anyway, while browsing Pinterest last year I found the idea for something called "important dates framed". Looking back now I can't find the pin so I'm not sure if I actually pinned it.  But you may have heard of the concept or even seen a similar pin yourself.   The basic idea is a framed piece of  "art" that has important dates printed on it in a semi-subway art fashion.  The majority of the pins I saw had birthdays of important people/family members on them with some kind of cute caption that read "what a difference a day can make."  

So I was determined to complete this DIY gift for my mom and mother-in-law who both became grandmothers for the first time last year. I wasn't sure if they would think it was as a cool as I gift as I did, but I was willing to take the risk!  

So to do the project, I basically winged it on my own instincts.  I decided to go with the anniversary of my parents and follow with the birthdays of all of their children&grandchildren.  To make the art I went into word publisher and played with different fonts, sizes, orientations and layouts until i found a design I liked.  The finished product looked like this...


It was a success, my mom loved it!  And my mother in law seemed to really appreciate hers as well.  So I thought I'd make one for Dan and I, but with a little twist to it.  So here's the tutorial if you'd like to make one yourself. 

Supplies:
You'll need 1/4 yard of canvas fabric in a light color
Steam A Seam fusible paper or Adhesive spray
8.5x11 craft paper or sturdier printer paper
your design in word publisher or another similar publishing program
an 11x14 picture frame

 

Step 1:  Using your adhesive paper web, attach the craft paper to the canvas fabric.  The first photo below is just me sizing the paper against the fabric.  As you can see there is a margin of fabric around the edges of the paper which I'll remove later.


The adhesive paper needs to be sandwiched inbetween the layers of fabric and paper.


This is what it looks like once the protective paper is removed.  One side of the paper will be sticky and the other side will become adhesive once ironed.

Step 2:  Activate the bond from the other side by ironing the fabric. 

Step 3:  Trim fabric edges.
Step 4:  Load your paper into your printer


Step 5: Print! (As you can see, the twist on mine was making it into "A Love Story".  I chose to highlight what I felt were the important dates/times in Dan and I's relationship.  I also used graphics I found through google images. 
Step 6:  Set into frame


Step 7: Admire =)




And there you have it.  Make one for yourself or as a gift for someone you care about!

Feb 26, 2013

DIY reusable shopping bag

Just as I promised, I attempted to make my own reusable shopping bag.  The experience took me a few hours and was a little frustrating (because I've never sewn this type of material before), but I think that with a little more practice, I could get one of these puppies done in no time. 

So if you missed my last post, I was rambling on about how awesome it was to be green in your kitchen.  Not only does it save you money but it is also kind to earth.  And I mean, who doesn't love earth?  So if you don't have any reusable shopping bags or you do and are up for a fun sewing project, read on!

So this little tutorial is a mini adaptation of the one I found here at pieandcoffee.org.  If any of my directions are unclear, I urge you to check out this website as they have much more detail and better pictures in their tutorial.

STEP 1:  Get some fabric! And have fun people!  I went a little crazy with my fabric choice, but when else can I use outstandingly colorful fabric such as this piece below?  Plus, I am 100% positive this will make my grocery shopping experience a little more fun & bright (pun intended---hawwwink) I bought 3/4 yard of a stretchy denim/canvas combo.  I thought this choice would be a little more durable.


STEP 2:  Fold your fabric in half and cut your fabric 23 in wide (as per the tutorial above)  This is  what I ended up doing, but I think in the future I'm going to leave the width of my fabric as it comes from the store (27ish inches) and cut the height to 23 inches.  This may or may not have been what the tutorial above actually wanted me to do, since they never mentioned a height measurement.  If so, I was confused, but either way works. 

STEP 3:  To form the pattern for the bottom of the bag you need to cut two squares 5.5 inches wide by 4 inches high out of each corner of your fabric.  Make sure you are cutting your fabric on the FOLDED side. 


STEP 4:  Sew the left and right side of your bag.  Leave the top and bottom squares UN-SEWN.   Now the stitch I used.  This was the most difficult part for me.  I couldn't figure out what stitch would hold this fabric without bunching it, coming undone, or just plain not working.  I experimented with different tensions of my thread, spacing, and stitches, and ended up using a ridiculously complicated stitch that was really unnecessary.  After I finished I found out the best method to use is actually the flat felled seem.  Definitely use this.  It takes a little longer on your machine, since it is multiple steps, but it really will save you time and effort in the long run.  This is my go to stitch for future projects with this sort of material. 

STEP 5:  Pin the corners of the bottom of your bag together and sew.  Now the tutorial at pieandcoffee.org has you first sew the bottom shut with the bag right side out and then has you resew the seems with the bag flipped inside out.  This is the method I used as well, and it turned out alright. 

STEP 6:  Hem that puppy.  This is the hem on the top half of my bag.  And yes, I cheated.  The stitch you see was the original hem I created. But I wasn't happy with how my bag appeared to be too tall for it's width.  (which goes back to the whole 23 inch measurement thing)  So i folded my hem down further and used hem tape the second go around.  Honestly at this point, I was so tired of fighting my sewing machine, plus it was late, that I cheated and used my hem tape I've had sitting around for a year.  Hey that's what it's for anyway right?  So if you feel like cheating too, go ahead, I won't tell.

STEP 7:  With your scrap fabrics, cut pieces that are 4 inches wide and however long you would like your handles to be.  My handles ended up a little shorter than I would like, so make sure you presize them with your bag.  Fold them in half (hot dog style) with the print sides inward. Stitch along the edge, but leave the ends open.  When you've got them stitched, flip them inside out so the fabric print is on the outside again. 


STEP 8:  Attach straps to bag.  So I folded that unfinished edge into the tube about 1/4-1/2 inch and then used a straight stitch to sew around the border of the handle.  As you can see below, I made an "X"  to add extra strength to the hold. 

The upside down view from the other side of the bag.  Sorry, blogger won't let me flip my pictures around for some reason!


STEP 9:  Admire your finished product.  There you go folks.  A finished reusable shopping bag.  I bet this thing will hold at least 4 plastic bags worth of groceries.  I have to go grocery shopping later today, so I'll let you know ;-)





Update:
Look at this beaut! She worked and held more groceries than I coulda hoped for.

Feb 18, 2013

DIY fabric journal

I have another cool tutorial-ish post for you all.  A fabric covered DIY journal.  But let's go back to the origination of this idea.  It all started last Wednesday.  Noah bear had his 6 month old well baby check up.  Emphasis on the well.  Well, he came out of the appointment severely pissed off after waiting 2 hours to be poked and prodded by two different doctors and stabbed 3 times by a not-so-friendly nurse.  Needless to say, the rest of the day I had a pretty grumpy baby on my hands.  By that evening, it was evident that the trip gave him more than a sour attitude, he had developed a lovely hacking cough, waterfall-ish runny nose, low grade fever, and generalized malaise.  Yay.  To boot, I hadn't been left unscathed either, sporting a rather stuffy nose and sexy nasally voice myself.

Thank goodness for the hubby.  He has nursed us back to a semi-healthiesh state the last few days.  I am almost recovered, but poor Noah is still miserable.  I really hope his little body kicks this thing soon.  But anyway, yesterday Dan and I decided we needed to get out of the house.  Even though it was like -40 degrees outside, we thought some fresh air would do the family good.  So we took a trip to one of our favorite go to hangouts, Barnes N Noble.  This brings us to the idea for a journal.  While perusing the store, I stumbled across the journals section.  Nostalgia hit as I remembered this portion of the store being my favorite place to hang out as a little girl.  As a pre-teen and teenage girl, I had more journals than I knew what to do with.  There was just something so enticing about writing down my secret thoughts on fresh, clean, stylish pages I couldn't get enough of.  To top off my trip down memory lane, there was a young girl scouring the shelves for the perfect diary/journal right next to Noah and I.  This prompted my own search for a journal.  "Maybe I'll take up writing one again"  I thought to myself.  Cue searching for the perfect match.  Five minutes in, I abandoned my hunt.  Paying anywhere from $10-$30 for a book I may not even use was becoming unattractive.  And then that voice...."You can make one!"

So I came home, determined to conquer another DIY project. So here's what happened.


I gathered some supplies (all of which I had on hand)
1. cardboard
2. iron-on adhesive sheets (adhesive spray would probably work too)
3. scrap fabric
4. notebook paper
5. ribbon
6. needle
7. thread
8. button
9. rubber band

Step 1:  I cut out the "bones" of my journal.  Using the cardboard (it was of the thinner more paper-like variety), I sized and cut out the front, back, and spine of my journal.


Step 2:  I placed iron on adhesive strips all round the edges of my cardboard.





Step 3:  I ironed the cardboard onto the fabric.  
I'm sorry I don't have any pictures documenting this.  I was doing it as I was watching Noah, so I didn't have a lot of time.  But essentially I had a piece of fabric large enough to fold completely in half and cover both sides of my "layout".  (By layout I mean the three places as I have them placed in the pictures above)  After ironing on each of those pieces separately in that layout, I folded the fabric down over top of them all so that the bottom edges aligned, and I ironed that.  

Step 4:  I prepared my notebook pages.  
I used a standard-ruled notebook and cut the pages to the size I needed for the journal, being careful to leave the little round circles from the spiral wire intact.  I then placed these into the journal so that the circles lined up above the little space of fabric to the right of the spine and to the left of the back cover.

Step 5:  Using a craft needle and some sparkly embroidery thread I carefully sewed my pages to the binding of the book.  (I came up through the back of the book first, through the hole, across the spine, and into the space to the left of the spine and the right of the cover).  

This long, rather arduous process yielded this.
Pretty right?!

Step 6:  I bedazzled.  Using the adhesive paper, I attached two yellow ribbons onto the front cover of my journal.


Step 7:  I attached a big white button.  This was a little more tricky.  First I marked where my holes needed to be with a permanent marker.
Next I took a pin and poked through the cardboard to get a pathway started for my big fat craft needle.  Then I threaded my needle through and attached said button in no particular fashion.  I just made sure I criss-crossed, zig-zagged, and all sorts of things to keep that puppy on there tight.


Step 8:  I used a yellow rubber band to make a "tie" for my button.  First I poked a hole through the back cover using the pin and craft needle again.  Next I knotted my rubber band on one end so that it would hold onto the inside of my back cover.  Next I forced the end with the loop through the hole and out the back of my journal.

inside back cover
outside back cover
And looped around to fit the front. (I originally wanted to use a hairband, but couldn't get it to go through the hole, so I gave up when I saw the yellow rubber band).

Well there you have it.  A homemade journal for $0.  Although, it did take a few hours to come together.  Anyway, it's amazing what you can do with the things you have lying around your house.  I love "tinkering" and finding ways to make old or unused items new!

Let me know if this tutorial helped you at all and if the directions were unclear in any part, let me know!
Happy Crafting =)









Feb 16, 2013

DIY Recipe Organizer

In the spirit of simplifying our lives and being budget-savvy, I decided that our weekly grocery shopping trips needed to change.  Dan and I can easily drop $100-150 every week to two weeks on groceries.  While this was never an issue before, I can foresee it becoming one in the near future.  Plus, I feel like that is a good bit to be spending on food for a family of 2 1/2.  Now obviously we make food a top budget priority because before all else, we need to eat....however, I've seen blogs where families of four live off of $200 a month for groceries!  I think that is amazing!  I'm not sure if I'll ever be that good at couponing, planning, and budgeting my shopping trips, but I know there is certainly more that I can be doing to save money than I am now.

So I took a good, hard look at what we were purchasing week to week and which items were the most costly.  Turns out prepackaged snack foods are the culprit.  Not only are they pricey, but they are also notoriously unhealthy and packed with lots of additives, chemicals, and lord knows what else.  I figured if I could find an alternative to these packaged snacks, it would be healthier and cheaper for all of us.  (Packaged snacks for us include(d) cheese and cracker sticks, rice krispie treats, granola bars, brownies, fruit cups, etc etc.)  So my plan....replace each of these packaged snacks with a homemade, healthier, cheaper version. Sounds simple enough right?  Wrong, I knew I'd have a 150 lb road block in my way....my husband.  You see, Dan likes his lunches the same way, everyday.  And let's be honest, he's not so keen on accepting change.  For example 95% of our date nights, we usually end up at TGI Fridays.  Not once have we ever eaten at a Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, Korean, Indian, Japanese, or any other of the sort restaurant. (Now I'll admit, I'm partly to blame for this too...I just really like TGI Fridays, but now I'm getting off topic)  Anyway, I knew it would be a challenge to get him on board with my new approach to snack foods. But I was up for it.  I figured if I introduced one new homemade snack food at a time, I wouldn't overwhelm him, and maybe, just maybe, he'd come around to liking them!?  One can hope right?

So the first switcheroo I tried:
 Prepackaged Snack vs. Homemade Version Number 1: cheese and crackers. (one of Dan's favorites)
Product Image
google image
A box of 15 of these puppies is approximately $6.  And what is the snack essentially?  Well 5 crackers and some soft cheddary cheese dip with a few chemicals and preservatives.  How can I replicate this for cheaper?  A block of Cheddar cheese and some club crackers of course!  (Okay, Okay, I know what you are thinking.  Calling store bought cheese and club crackers "homemade" is a bit of a stretch, but since I don't own a goat, and have no idea how to make my own cheese and crackers from scratch, this is as close to it as I'm gonna get people.  So just go with it)
Now a block of Cheddar cheese is ~$2.70 and a box of of 128 club crackers (store brand) is ~$2.50.  Cutting this block of cheese into small squares will give you around 15 servings.  And 128 crackers will give you about 25 servings (5 crackers each).  So do all that math and it comes out to one package of crackers is 0.40, And one homemade equivalent is 0.28.  You save 12 cents per package and $1.80 for the entire box.  Did you follow?   That small hunk of change adds up, and imagine how much more I could save if I did this sort of thing to all of our snack food?

To make this version more hubby friendly, I pre sliced the block of cheese and sorted it out into separate baggies.  Convenience is a big thing for Dan, so the pre-cut cheese in baggies made this more appealing to him and the transition was smoother.  And the verdict....the big guy reluctantly admits that this version "is tastier"!  Zing! I win.

Next week I will continue my slow overhaul of snacky foods with homemade granola bars (I am for real making these ones!), so check back later for that.  But now, the real point of this post.

 Because I want us to be more responsible about our eating and snacking, I decided it was time to organize our recipes.  Up until now, they've had no organization.  Some are in our heads, others on the ipad, others on pinterest, and still more in cookbooks and on recipe cards.  It is far past time for all of them to come together in one nice, organized, and preferably stylish place.  So voila, here is what I came up with.


 An old binder

+ some scrapbook paper

+ some scrapbook vintage-y stickers I had lying around

+ some handy dividers from another notebook

+ post it note labels all cut up and fit on there.

+ recipe pages of course (i designed in word publisher with a picture of vintage notebook paper & downloaded font from Fontex.org)








= a spectacular solution to our scattered, unorganized, recipe problem

Well folks, that's all for now!  Hope you enjoyed.

Feb 12, 2013

5 Totally Awesome Must-Have Books According to This Momma

Hey all!

Good news... not only is my blog going to be about DIY tutorials, but I'm also going to sprinkle in a little mommy stuff here and there, along with family posts, budget-y posts, and healthy eating goodies!   

So straying from the sewing posts a little, I wanted to share with you my totally unprofessional and uneducated mommy opinions on the best baby books around. Ok...here we go.

Not unlike a lot of mommies I know, I love to read.  Seriously, I LOOOVE to read.  I have always been a "bookworm",known to devour one book after another.  My poor hubby knows that when I start a book, there will be very little bonding time or even talking time till it's finished.  But let's go back to the beginning.  The story of my learning to read is actually quite comical.  So comical in fact, that I feel it necessary to share with you all.

Rewind to 1990ish. According to my parents, when I was a little tot, I would memorize my favorite books after hearing  them over and over again.  Once I had them memorized, I would sit by myself in my room and "read" my books  aloud.  Funny part is, I was genuinely convinced that I was indeed "reading".  I'm sure you can picture that scene..., me sitting there, probably holding the book upside down, babbling off all sort of nonsense, feeling self-important and awesome. I was "reading" and I loved it.

Then kindergarten rolled around and part of the curriculum  was actually learning to read...go figure!  The irony of this was, I couldn't learn it!  No matter how hard I tried to learn to read, I had A LOT of trouble.  My parents think that as per my personality, I was just too impatient to get to the reading part to hunker down and learn my basics.  In other words, I didn't feel it necessary to bother with the alphabet and learning what letters made what sounds.  That was a waste of time,  I just wanted to look at a page and well….read it!  If you know me, this is hilarious.  Because 21 years later, my personality is EXACTLY the same.  Little to no patience, focused on the end result, and blatant disregard for the basics!  These days though, I really try to step back and take my time to do things the right way.  The saying "haste makes waste" rings true to me.  But no matter, I digress.  Back to little ole illiterate Mary. 

So after nights and nights of working on my reading with no improvement, my parents caved.  What I'm about to reveal to you all is outstandingly embarrasing...but it must be said.  I know all of you 90s kids will know what I mean when I say…. I Mary Grace ..... was hooked on phonics.    There it is, I said it! Hooked-On-Phonics...... The combination of that and my two patient parents finally got the reading thing to happen for me.  Thank the lord because I was almost a lost cause.  So to wrap up my long, seemingly irrelevant story, I eventually mastered the whole reading thing and the rest is history.  Since kindergarten, I've read hundreds and hundreds of books, and I wish I had more time in my days now to read more! 

But fret not!  Since having Noah, I've entered a whole new genre of reading material….baby books!  And let me tell you what the secret to the baby books is, the baby doesn't care what you are reading.  Well, not yet at least.  So since the baby doesn't care what you are reading, be a little selfish and pick something you want to read. Seriously, why bother with those dull 2 word sentences books that are supposed to be developmentally appropriate.  Or those black n white books with one word per page.  Not only are books like those tremendously uninteresting to you, but they are also a complete waste of energy (in my unprofessional and uneducated mommy opinion) Let me explain...to read one of those one-sentence-a-page books,  it'll take you all of 20 seconds.  Twenty seconds of frantic, pointless page flipping while your baby flails around restlessly in your arms waiting for something more interesting to happen.  Now don't get me wrong!!!  I'm sure those books will be great and educational at some point in Noah's young life, but for a 0-6 month old, I believe not so much. 
So this brings me to the types of books that are AWESOME to read (in my unprofessional and uneducated mommy opinion).  Number 1, I like books with rhyme and Noah does too.  He enjoys the inflections I create with my voice while reading them and the musical quality of the reading grabs his attention more easily.  Number 2, I also like books with some colorful illustrations.  I've seen more than a few baby books with black and white pages and weird sketchy drawings.  Now I'm sure that some genius somewhere has a perfectly good reason for why these books are developmentally appropriate and preferred, but I'm not buying that my 6month old son would rather look at a stick figure then a page full of wonderful, colorful, woodland creatures.  And lastly, isn't early reading supposed to be familiarizing baby with different sounding words, sentence structure, emotion, conversation, etc?  How are you supposed to get all that from the aforementioned one-sentence-a-page books? 
So that brings me to what I believe are the most awesome (to date) baby books for you and your bambino.  But before I get to my list, I must reflect on what I've written and say that it's entirely possible that I'm just encouraging you to be selfish and read what YOU like with complete disregard for what may or may not be developmentally appropriate for the reading age of your child.  But to that thought I say pshhhh, ANY reading is good! (within reason people)

Number 5!  Moo Baa La La La 


This book was recommended to me by one of my fellow mommies.  I love the simple noises, rhymes, and animal sounds in this book.  I'm sure as Noah gets older, he'll love it more too.  It is a little short for my tastes, but it makes the list nevertheless.

Number 4! Ten Tiny Toes


Now this book is just priceless.  Noah and I found it one day at Barnes N Nobles.  I was immediately drawn to the sing/songy rhyming words.  Plus it was just too freaken adorable to pass up.  "And nothing on earth you could even suppose, can ever be loved quite like Ten tiny toes!?"  How stinkin cute. SOLD.

Number 3! Little Blue Truck

I got this book from one of my childhood neighbors.  Love. love. love!  There are a lot of things I love about the Little Blue Truck book.  The illustrations are fantastic, the rhyming and sentence structure are so fun, and the animal noises are a blast to sound out for Noah.  He almost always starts shouting and babbling along with me when I read this book.  When I found out that it had a companion sequel...we bought it instantly.  Not quite as great as the original, but still a fun read.

Number 2! Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You

Ok now this book is just a must-have for every mommy out there.  The first time I read it, I had tears in my eyes.  This author so beautifully describes the love a mother/father/whoever feels for their "baby".  And she does it in beautiful rhyme.  What I love most about this book is the truth and meaning behind the words. As Noah gets older I want him to remember that "My love can find him, my love can fly".  Insert tears.

Number 1! Bear Snores On


Oh gosh, this book is a gem.  Dan and I found it on date night at Barnes N Noble.  Another fun rhyming book with great illustrations.  The book is complete with fun rhymes, different voices, sound effects, suspense, fun, and a fantastic ending!  Imagine our elation when we went to Barnes N Nobles just the other day and found that there are more diamonds like this one! (Yes, we bought them all) Hallelujah!  Fun, exciting, reading ahead!


There you go people.  Let me know if you know of any books I should reconsider ranking into my top 5.  I'm always on the lookout for the next great book to read to my Noah bear!


But in all seriousness, you are bombarded with advice to read to your child daily, so why not make this a fun time for both of you by finding exciting books that you look forward to reading.  I'm hoping that as the experts say, daily reading will set the child up for success in their future learning.  Because I for one, do not want Noah to be hooked on phonics.  =)

Disclaimer:  As I said, this is (in my unprofessional and uneducated mommy opinion) and mostly meant to offer some mommy suggestions for wonderful reading material.  I am not in any way educated in early childhood learning, nor do I pretend to be.  So  Please do not be offended by my sarcasm =)