Frugal Life Skills: Mending Clothes

cohdranknsewing4.JPGPrior to being a blogger, I made costumes. All kinds of costumes from Jedi Robes to A Prince Charming Costume for someone’s wedding. One skill that I am adamant about everyone having is the skill of sewing. You don’t need to be able to stitch a wedding dress, but sewing on a button, fixing a fallen hem, and repairing a seam rip are all simple and good, money-saving skills that everyone should be able to learn.

To get started, you’ll need a sewing kit. I have one like this. If you want to gather one on your own, here are a few items that you need:

  • Needles: I usually have a variety pack, like this.
  • Thread: A good variety of colors may not be needed, depending on which colors are in your wardrobe. I recommend Coats and Clark thread. Essential colors are- Black, white, tan or natural, navy blue.
  • Scissors/snips
  • Pins: I prefer pins that have a large colorful head. They are easier to find if/when you drop them on the floor. Spoiler alert: You will drop pins on the floor.
  • Safety Pins: Always good to have safety pins in the house. I usually get a package from 99 Cents Only or Dollar tree and stash them in my sewing box.
  • Seam Ripper: Seam rippers are great for picking out hems that have fallen. Or, you know, ripping out seams when you make a mistake.
  • I also like having a pin cushion. This helps cut down on losing pins and then finding them later. With your bare feet. Ouch. Fun Fact: On the Tomato pin cushion, the little attached pepper/strawberry is full of  pumice/sand that is used for sharpening your needles and pins.
  • I keep all my sewing goodies in a box like this. It’s big enough that I can also stash the foot and cord to my sewing machine in the box. (BTW, if you want to buy one from Wayfair, here is a link where you can get an extra 10% off your order).

Now that your kit is assembled, You’ll need to learn how to actually sew. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I searched on YouTube and watched a bunch of videos trying to find one that is the easiest. I really thought that this video from Nifty teaches 4 simple ways to mend most things.

Recently I had to fix a pair of jeans that had a worn out pocket. The back pocket had worn thin because of  where my husband keeps his leather wallet.

I picked up a package of Denim Iron on patches at Joann’s- I used a 50% off coupon, so they were only $2.14 with tax! And I still have half a package left, so I can repair another pair of jeans too!

I set up the ironing board and iron and set to work.

 

IMG_16461-Find the hole, and make sure that the patch(es) are cut to the right size. You want to cover the hole completely, and the surrounding area, so the patch has some stable fabric to fuse to.

 

 

 

 

 

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The shiny stuff on the back side is the fusible adhesive.

I like the iron on patches- they have fusible adhesive attached to the back, which is basically a heat activated fabric glue that bonds the patch to the garment.

Once fused to the garment, it takes a lot of get the patch(es) off. For this project, I used two patches: one on the interior of the garment, and one on the exterior. Basically making a hole sandwich.

2- Place the patch(es) over the hole/rip, and fuse into place with the steam iron.

IMG_16513-Once the clothing/patch has cooled, you can stitch around the edge to make it extra secure, however, in this case I did not. I would do that for the knees of kiddo pants or other high wear areas.

Overall, this is a very simple project that anyone can do.

Our culture tends to discard garments as soon as they are not longer shiny or new. If you take care and mend clothing and other household goods, they will last longer and you will not have to spend money constantly replacing clothes and household items.

I spend about an hour a month mending clothing. I do it while watching TV at night. It is worth the time to fix a pair of pants for $2.14 instead of spending $30 to buy a new pair of jeans.

Talk Back: Can you do a few simple stitches to maintain your clothing? How do you take care to keep your clothes looking great?

Disclosure: Some of the links contained within this post are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click on the links above and make a purchase, I may be compensated with a small commission. for more information, check out my disclosure page.

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Easy Home Made Ice Cream Recipe!

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Yes, we made this at home!!

We love Ice Cream! But, it can be expensive, a carton that’s not a half gallon can run upwards of $5.00 around these parts. Most cartons of ice cream are 1.5 to 1.75 quarts, that’s a decrease from 2 quarts or a half gallon just 10 years ago. Same price (or more) and less product. No thanks.

And honestly, there are a lot of weird ingredients in store bought ice cream. Food stabilizers, thickeners (like seaweed), and artificial flavors/colors. No thanks!

After meeting with a nutritionist recently regarding my big kids food issues stemming from sensory issues related to ASD, she recommended more full fat dairy products to help make sure he was getting enough fats in his diet. A kid can only drink so much milk, so I decided to make some ice cream from scratch.

I borrowed my parents Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which you can buy on Amazon, or probably at your local Bed Bath and Beyond. It makes 2 quarts at a time. It comes with a great cook book full of all kinds of great recipes and ideas.

After looking through that cook book, as well as looking through several of my own, and a quick internet search, I came up with several ideas on how to concoct some tasty ice cream. I asked the kids for flavor suggestions.  Two choices were the big winners:

Peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chips- I opted to use PB Fit instead of blending peanut butter into the milk/cream/sugar mixture- so it would have a better texture. I was also worried that the extra fat from the peanut butter would mess with the fat ratio and inhibit the hardening of the mixture.

 

Chocolate Malt- I used the basic recipe below, but added 1/4 c malt powder. I buy a huge container of malt powder on Amazon every quarter, but you can get smaller sized containers at Walmart or in the grocery store.

 

 

Making Ice Cream is easy.  If you’ve got an ice cream maker, you just mix up your ingredients, pour into the drum of the maker, put the lid on, flip the switch and 15-20 minutes, you’ll have a pretty soft ice cream. Scoop it into an airtight container with a lid (like Tupperware), and freeze it for about 2 hours. Then it’ll be hard enough to eat.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t fret, you can use two coffee cans (cleaned out of course), some ice, salt, and duct tape and make it at home- This is the method we used when I was a kid. You can read all about it here along with a true and funny story about making ice cream with kids. This is also a fun thing to do while camping- You can pre-mix the ingredients and take it in your cooler.

Here is the basic recipe I use. Please note that the ingredients used are chosen specifically for their fat content so the ice cream will be creamy. If you alter the ingredients at all, the ice cream will be gritty, grainy, or have ice crystals in it.

Ice Cream Base (makes about 1.5 quarts)

  • 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream- DO NOT USE half and half, fat free half and half or non-dairy creamer).
  • 1 cup whole milk- You have to use whole milk or you’ll get ice crystals
  • 3/4 c sweetener (I used white sugar, you can also use brown sugar, or 1 for 1 Splenda)
  • 1 T Vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare Ice Cream maker as machine instruction call for, or set up your Coffee Can ice cream maker.
  2. Place all ingredients into chilled mixing bowl, and mix with hand mixer until all ingredients are well blended,
  3. Pour into cream cream maker.
  4. Turn on ice cream maker, or start rolling your coffee cans!

Variations:

If you want to make my PB Fit ice cream, add 3/4 c PB Fit and 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips in step two.

Chocolate Malt ice cream is the base recipe with 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 c malt powder, and an additional 1/2 c brown sugar.

Now onto the economics: Is making your own ice cream cheaper? Usually, yes. We used flavorings that we already have on hand, and I recommend that you do the same- You know what flavors you like, and you probably already have some flavorings on hand.

  • 32 oz. Whipping cream- $4.99
  • 1 qt. Whole Milk .99

That’s enough cream to make 2  2-quart batches of ice cream.

You can watch a video of the ice cream maker going here, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram too! I post all kinds of fun stuff there!

Disclaimer: I have linked to items on Amazon. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. Monies earned through commissions are used to offset the costs associated with running the blog (and the occasional cup of coffee).

Talk Back: What is your favorite flavor of Ice Cream? Have you ever made Ice Cream at home before?

6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

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It’s July, and for most of us, Our New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past. Mr. and I were talking today about ways we could reign in our budget. We’re not making it rain by any means, but… we could make a few changes. Here are my top ten tips, and trust me, I’ve already started incorporating some of these. I’ll have all of them back in the works by weeks’ end.

  1. Back to meal planning and sticking to it. No more trips to Denny’s when I am feeling lazy in the morning, or Mondays after group therapy.  That means I’ll be back to meal planning posts and new recipes too. And I’ll have several “back up dinners” on-hand in case the day gets away from me, or it’s too hot to cook the original meal. I took advantage of the sale on chicken breasts at Smart & Final the other day, and picked up 10 lbs. I came home and cut up the whole half breasts into more manageable sizes, and marinated some of it with different spices and put it in ziploc bags in the freezer. 10 lbs of chicken should get us 5 dinners, plus leftovers from each meal.
  2. Back to maintaining a robust snack bag in the car, refilling it daily, and remembering our water bottles when we leave the house. I fill our water bottles (we have these for the kids and these for the adults- in 40 oz) with water and ice before we leave in the AM and refill them as needed throughout the day in various places.
  3. In conjunction with #2, start taking surveys on receipts for deep discounts and free stuff again. I am Sonic’s text list, so when they have a daily deal that I have change in my car for, the kids and I stop for .50 ice cream cones, 1/2 price drinks (cherry limeade!). Frequently when you check out, there is a survey on the bottom of the receipt that will score you an XL (Route 44) size beverage for free! I really need to get back into stretching the buck.
  4. Check all my apps before I go shopping. I’ve been bad about this over the past few months. I’m sure I’ve missed out on Ibotta deals, Checkout 51 offers, and Cash Dash promos. No More! I’m back, baby!!
  5. Allowance. Yup, just like a teenager, I’m putting myself on an allowance, and Mr. is going to as well. I’m sticking to $40 in the summer, and $25 once we are back to school. This will just be for “fun money”. I still shop around for gas to stay within budget for gas each week. Costco is usually the cheapest.
  6. Keeping eyes open for cheap entertainment. Big Dude is in ESY (summer school) for the next few weeks, so a lot of the traditional summer things that are fun and cheap we haven’t been able to do (like Regal Summer Movies). We’ve mostly been doing fun stuff at the library, which is free, but I think we need to look beyond that. It’s starting to get too hot for park play dates!

I’d love to hear from you about how you combat the frugal slide. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping off your track?

Simple Sewing Project- Pillow Cases!

I love making Pillow Cases- They are quick, simple projects that you can make for a very small amount of money, and they really can tie together a room.

I tend to buy plain colored sheets for the kid’s beds. Then I make pillow cases with colors or characters they like. In the past I’ve made Batman pillow cases and Thomas the Tank Engine pillow cases for Henry, and floral print and eyelet lace trim for Margaret. Most of our blankets are either down comforters in plain colored duvets or handmade quits.

I found a bunch of 1 yard pieces of fabric this morning, so I decided that today for art for 100 days of art, I was going to make a pillow case or two. I’m doing 100 days of art and chronicling it on Instagram. I’ve done some pretty cool projects so far!

You only need a yard of 45 inch wide 100% cotton fabric, matching thread and about a half hour of time. Oh, and a sewing machine. If you are looking for a good, basic sewing machine, I like this one-  It’s similar to the one I use.

Pre-wash your fabric in hot water and dry on high. This gets all the sizing out of the fabric. There will be no further shrinkage.

IMG_8710Lay fabric out, right side facing up.

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Fold fabric in half so selvedges (the finished edges)are together.

IMG_8711.jpgUsing a straight stitch on your sewing machine and a 5/8 inch seam allowance around one skinny end, turn the corner and sew up the side with the selvedge. IMG_8713

My sewing machine has measured out and notated hash marks on the throat plate (that’s the silver part in this photo).

I use a 5/8 inch seam allowance. It’s what most commercial patterns use as well.

 

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Trim off any stray strings. Set your machine to zigzag stitch, and stitch over the free edge of the fabric. I recommend using matching thread, I used a contrasting thread, so you could see my stitches.

 

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Fold the open edge over twice, pin or press down. Stitch down the folded edge. Take care to open the pillow case and slip the arm (the part of the machine with the bobbin in it) into the pillow case so you don’t end up sewing your pillow case together.

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Clip off any stray threads, and turn the pillow case right side out. Pop your pillow inside the case and you are all set!

This is a great 1st sewing project for kids and adults. You can make your pillowcase a little fancy by adding lace or ribbon around the hem of the open side.

I’d love to see what kind of pillow cases you make!

Tie Dying: Family Fun!

I love to tie dye! It’s a great way to give clothes that may have been stained a new life. Since I get most of our clothes from clothing swaps, I often find really cute light colored kids clothes with minor stains.

Well, and when you’ve got kids, a lot of stuff ends up with stains, and not just their clothes, I have several shirts that I had to tie dye to cover little people stains from dirty hands and faces rubbing on my during hugs.

There are a lot of tie dye kits available at your local craft store, but what they don’t tell you is that the dye in those kits doesn’t last.  We used this kit last year and the remaining shirts we have have faded to very light pastels. So, if you want to do some awesome, vibrant tie dyes, I recommend using Procion Dyes like the ones Dharma Trading sells.

I also have cultivated an Amazon Store with all the stuff you will need , including a kit that contains Procion Dyes- All you need is a bag of Urea and the kit is ready to dye! Procion dyes are best for Cotton, ramie, hemp, rayon- Natural plant based fibers (not linen- that stuff is a bear to dye).  If you have blends with synthetic fibers (like polyester, acrylic, lycra), the color will not be as vibrant. Anything less than 50% natural fiber will end up being pastel.

Since Tie Dying can be a little intimidating, let’s break it down. In addition to your dyes and chemicals…

You will need:

  • A big open space (We use my parents backyard)
  • 2-3 6 foot tables covered in protective plastic (tarps or trash bags work well)
  • 1-2 Large Buckets (5 gallon buckets from Home Depot are great)
  • Access to warm water
  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons (I recommend plastic ones)
  • Plastic bags or plastic wrap (to cover up /wrap up garments after they have been dyed)

Here is my pinterest board with tons of great folding techniques and patterns. You are ready to fold and tie once you’ve selected your garments and laundered them without fabric softener. I love incorporating marbles, canning jar lids, clamps  to make tie dying more interesting.

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Folded, tied, and zip tied!

Once everything is folded/tied and secured (either with rubber bands, zip ties, or cotton string), it’s time to mix the washing soda and hot water. 1 cup of washing soda per gallon of water.  Mix together in the buckets, and soak the tied garments for 15 minutes-1 hour. The washing soda raises the pH of the garments allowing the dye to be more readily absorbed.

Washing Soda is NOT BAKING SODA.  Washing soda is caustic and will hurt you if you submerge your hands in it. Wear gloves when you handle it. Wring out the garments after soaking so they are damp, not dripping.  You can keep using the same water for your entire session.

While your garments are soaking, mix up your dye.  The most dye will come directions, but remember to mix your water with Urea. 1/4C of urea to 1 quart warm water. Urea helps the dye dissolve and remain mixed. It also helps the colors stay vibrant.

TIME TO DYE! Once your soaked garments are wrung out, it’s time to apply the dye. If you aren’t sure which colors will look good together, Get a color wheel. It will help you with color placement too. When you tie dye, colors will run together, so using complementary colors will help your garments look better when they are finished.

Remember to apply dye all sides, and if your garment is bunched up a lot, you may need to squirt dye between the folds to make sure the dye penetrates all of the layers.

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Bags and bags of baby onsies!

After the garment is dyed, place it in a plastic bag, or wrap it up in plastic wrap. You want to lay the item flat.  Let the garments sit for 24 hours (or over night), rinse the garments one at a time under cool water until most of the water coming from our garment is clear or a very pale. Then remove the binding (rubber bands, zip ties, string).

Wash completed garments with Synthrapol. It’s laundry soap that binds the color molecules to the fabric and sheds the dye that is not bonded. Once you wash the finished garments with Synthrapol, the clothing won’t shed dye or rub off on you, you can use your regular detergent from then on out. I also throw a couple Color Catchers in the wash too for good measure.

Once your garments are dry, the are ready to wear! I use the word “garments”, but you can also dye fabric, bed sheets, even pillow cases.

Here is some of the most recent stuff I dyed:


Tie dye shirts make great gifts! You can also tie dye socks- That’s what Bitty Bird is getting in her Advent Calendar this year!

I have utilized Amazon links within this post, prices can change at any time, and I may receive a commission when you click the links to Amazon and purchase items linked. Commissions help cover the costs associated with blogging.

Winterize your Skin Care Frugally

 

It’s finally cold here in San Diego (it’s 55 degrees and I am wearing a sweater as I type this)! So besides peppermint mochas and sweaters, it’s time to look forward to some changes to our skin care routines.

Recently I was excited to add two new products in my #selfcareSunday routine. Each Sunday night after the kids are in bed (and Mr. is watching the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery), I give myself a DIY facial and do a few other fun self care rituals (like a mani/pedi, or a body mask and body scrub). I play some music on my phone and spend about an hour just focusing on me.

IMG_0245.jpgThe first new product was Anavita Renewing Foaming Facial Cleanser. It smells GREAT. It has orange essential oil, as well as a slew of other botanicals (Aloe Vera, Chamomile, and Olive Leaf). It’s 99.8% natural and contains 70% organic products! It foams up providing a healthy lather and left my skin feeling clean and hydrated. The best part is you only need 1 pump to clean your entire face and neck, so a 6 ounce bottle will last a few months!

IMG_0244.jpgIMG_0248.jpgAfter my face was nice and clean, I was onto my next step, was the Alana Mitchell Quick Comeback Masque. It was hard to photograph, but the little container has two parts, the bottom looks like a tiny cotton ball, and the top is liquid. You depress the top of the package until the liquid releases into the bottom. The liquid mixes with the fluff to dissolve the fluff and make a cool masque that helps with plumping, tightening, and firming lines and wrinkles. You can either remove the masque with warm water or you can do what I did, which was to peel it off.

IMG_0249.jpgAhh, the satisfying sense of completion when it’s time to peel a masque off, amirite? My face felt so much better, it’s hard to describe, other than nourished and healthy.

Not to be done in just two steps, it was time to move onto the moisturizing mask for my neck and chest. The skin on your neck and chest ages a lot faster than our faces, since most of use neglect to moisturize and cleanse those delicate areas like we do with our faces.  I like to use Valentia Ultra Plumping Hydration mask.  It contains silk protein amino acids, hyaluronic acid (which is a humectant), as well as other botanically to protect and moisturize. To remove, I used a warm, wet microfiber towel.

IMG_0256.jpgAfter all the masques and such, it’s time for a few spritzes of Insta natural Vitamin C Toner followed by Insta Natural Vitamin C Serum.

I really recommend indulging in your own #selfcareSunday or whatever day of the week works best for you. A little time to yourself to focus on you and your needs is just what every person needs. Maybe it’s not a DIY facial, maybe it’s playing a video game, cooking a favorite meal, getting a massage, going for a walk, or hitting the gym. Doing something you enjoy every week that helps you recharge is an awesome way to reduce stress.

Thanks to the awesome peeps over at Tomoson, Anavita, and Alana Mitchell Skin Care for the cleaner and masque. I feel a kindred spirit with Alana Mitchell. As a mom of a child with autism, life can be hard, especially in the first year of diagnosis with all of the changes like doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments, IEP meetings, and changes in life to help support your child and give them all they need to succeed. I really relish and embrace each Sunday night when I can focus on helping heal and restore my spirit. I throughly enjoyed her masque and I can’t wait to try her other products!

 

Good, Clean (House) Fun with Oh Goodness!

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 9.09.01 PM.pngDoes anyone really like to clean? I like when my house is clean, but I do not look forward to actually cleaning my house.

I don’t enjoy spraying who knows what surfactants, artificial fragrances (or worse, “natural” flavoring or scents like castoreum..eww), or harsh chemicals (the thought of bleach makes my eyes water). And yet, I’m not one who wants to spend hours mixing up my own house cleaning products.

IMG_0242.jpgSo when Annie from Oh Goodness contacted me to tell me about her awesome products, I was down to try their awesome DIY cleaning kits.

She sent me their Glowing Collection, which contains the reusable glass containers, ingredients and directions to make:

You Shine Dishwashing Powder (35-40 loads)

You Sparkle All Purpose Spray (16 ounces)

You’re Brilliant Scrub (8 ounces)

The one thing I like is that I know all of these ingredients. I use them all in other ways around the house. It’s all non-toxic (but that doesn’t mean you should eat it- DON’T EAT IT), it’s easy to make, and it actually cleans! I’m sure you’ve read online and seen all over Pinterest how you can clean your kitchen with peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, etc. Those are all great, but I’ve never had results with those ingredients like I have with my Oh Goodness kit.

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mix, mix, mix, mix and here are my finished products!

15 minutes after opening the box, reading the directions, (stopping to make a snack for the kids) and mixing, I was in business. I cook 90% of our meals, so my kitchen is always in need of some kind of cleaning.

I started with the kitchen sink. I have no before picture, but let’s just say it was.. icky.

A liberal scoop of You’re Brilliant Soft Scrub, and a quick scrub of the sink with a sponge and ta da:IMG_0236Can you hear the Angels singing? I can! I even scrubbed the black flange into the garbage disposal that keeps the whirling chunks of food from flying out of the garbage disposal.

The You Sparkle All Purpose Spray got my counters clean like whoah, and the entire house fills with the bright scent of lemons every time I run the dishwasher (which is seriously two times a day)..

I love that the containers are recyclable and reusable. The littler bottles the coconut soap and essential oil came in got a good scrubbing and the kids use them in their toy kitchen.

Oh Goodness wants to share their cleaning glory with two of my readers! Entering is easy.  Click here, or use the Rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll choose two winners on 11/20/17- Remember, you can’t win if you don’t enter!