Decorating Glass Ornaments: My Pinterest Fail…

Sigh.. I received this 12 pack of super cool clear glass bulbs to review about 2 weeks ago and now that Lil’ Man is back to school, I sat down yesterday to get crafty.

After surfing Pinterest and Google for ideas, I reached into my craft box and pulled out Sun Catcher Paint. My paln was to paint the glass ornaments with sun catcher paint so they’d look like stained glass. Cool, right? I would like to think that I am a creative person. I mean, I did create costumes for a living for 10 years. Well, these little glass ornaments failed me.

Ok, it wasn’t the ornaments. It was the medium. Sun catcher paint works on sun catchers because they have little wells or cavities for the paint to sit in and dry, the glass bulbs.. do not.

The ornaments themselves are pretty sturdy for being glass. The silver bale is easily removed and reinserted.

So here is my tale of woeScreen Shot 2016-08-26 at 8.19.54 PM in a photo collage….

I still have 10 left, so here is my Pinterest Board with a few ideas I’ll be trying this weekend!

 

Thanks to Tomsoson for the chance to try out these little ornaments for free in exchange for my opinions. I received no financial compensation.

 

How to organize the dreaded toy mess!

One of the things I pride myself on is how we are able to quasi-control the toy mess in our home. It’s a lot of work, but we have a pretty good system, and it might work for you too.

Stage 1: Contain the mess! First of all, a few years ago, hubs bought a bunch of 20 quart Steralite containers with snap on lids at an auction for a song. So, we separated all of the toys by type and put them in boxes with a lid.

IMG_5483Obviously the Legos and Thomas the Tank Engine toys go into larger boxes because, well, we have tons  more then will fit in the 20 quart containers. We also re-use random plastic containers, like these plastic jugs that hard pretzels come in, the large bottles that Nesquik powder comes in, and dishwasher tab boxes.

Stage 2: Label! We label everything. All of the original totes have Kidecals labels, but the newer /larger containers have different labels. I try to do labels that have drawings of the toys too, so it’s easier for non-readers to know what’s in the box without opening them.

I used the terminology that Lil’ Man uses for his toys. The box marked “Guy Men” has action figures and little toys (like his Sesame Street “guys”), and “Mean Animals” (Plastic/Vinyl animals of various sizes).

IMG_5486_2Some of the toys that don’t get a lot of play (or annoy me), are stored in the closet. I rotate the less frequently played toys through, so that all of the toys get loved.

IMG_5485_2Stage 3: Limit Access! Another thing that helps is that we have a three toys at a time rule. Lil’ Man can have three types of toys out at a time. Right now, it’s guy men, mean animals, and cars.

 

 

DIY Fairy Jar (No Glow Sticks needed!)

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 12.51.22 PMEveryone has seen the Fairy jars on Pinterest that glow in the dark. In fact, you may seen them on Pinterest fail lists too, because, well, the directions don’t work.

Not familiar? Ok, it goes like this: Take a Mason Jar (because after all 90% of crafts/stuff on pinterest involve a Mason Jar), open 2-3 glow sticks, dump them into the mason jar, screw the lid on and shake. OOOH, it’s supposed to look like a magical Fairy Jar. What it really looks like it a fairy vomited into a jar. And glow sticks glowiness only lasts one night (or so).

So here is the deal on how to make a legit, serious, awesomely cool fairy jar in less than 10 minutes, no glow sticks or scissors needed.

You need two things:

A jar with a screw on lid. I used an Anchor Hocking jar that my mom gave me (she got it here). You could also use a wide mouth quart Mason Jar.

A string of these cool LED battery operated lights on a copper wire. You get two for $7.99, so really, you could make two if you had another jar.

Here are the totally simple directions:

  1. Wash and dry the jar.
  2. Loosely coil the string of lights around your hand, put hand into jar. let go of the lights.
  3. Leave the end of the string with the switch dangle over the lip of the jar.
  4. Screw on lid (the wire is so thin, you’ll be able to screw on the lid with the wire coming up over the top of the jar).
  5. Turn lights on.

That’s it. REALLY! The batteries last a while, especially if you aren’t leaving the lights on 24/7. If you wanted to get a little fancier, you could spray paint the inside of the jar, allow it to dry, then continue with steps 2-5. I am doing that with my second string of lights. Watch my Instagram feed for photos of that when it’s done later today.

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I can’t wait to share this with Henry when he gets home from school.

 

Thanks to Tomoson and #OakleafLEDLight for the opportunity to try these cool little lights for free. I was not financially compensated for this review, however I only review items that I think area good fit for my family. All opinions are my own!

DIY Powdered Laundry Detergent….

IMG_2769So I did it. I broke down after years and years of saying I’d never make my own laundry soap and I did it. If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of recipes that makes a 5 gallon bucket of thick white (or off-white) gloppy laundry detergent. With two curious kids under 5 years old, I didn’t think having that around my house would be a good idea. Plus, where the hell would I keep it? Our garage isn’t attached, and my washer and dryer are in a closet in the hallway. 5 gallons of water weighs 40-ish lbs, so 5 gallons of liquid laundry detergent would be about the same, maybe more. That’s a lot more than my poor, flimsy laundry closet shelf could handle!

However, after tons of research and testing out ingredients, I cobbled together a recipe for powdered Laundry detergent. Here are the ingredients I used and the reasoning behind each one:

IMG_26871 Large Bar Zote Soap, grated: My great Grandmother used this soap (as well as Fels-Naptha, but I couldn’t find it in my local store) to wash their laundry in the days before they had indoor plumbing in their farmhouse (BTW, that was the 1950’s). She had an old style washing machine like this, complete with ringer. Her laundry was always super clean, so I knew that starting with a good soap was key. (It makes roughly 4 cups of grated soap) If you don’t care for Zote or Fels Naptha, I’ve seen others use Dr. Bronner’s Castille bar soap.

 

IMG_26864 Cups Borax: This is a pretty controversial ingredient because Borax is toxic if ingested. News Flash: DON’T EAT LAUNDRY DETERGENT. You wouldn’t pop a Tide Pod in your mouth and start chewing, so home made detergent shouldn’t be any different.  Borax is great in your wash if you have gross little boys (or not so little boys).  Here is a pretty good article that talks about how Borax works. I use a little Borax in every load of laundry, with commercial detergent too!

4 Cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA- THIS IS AN IMPORTANT DISTINCTION!!): Washing Soda is also another ingredient that people get crazy over. It’s NOT baking soda. It is not to be ingested, it is slightly caustic (I wear gloves and a mask when I work with it). This page tells you about it and how it works. Basically it acts as a solvent to help removes stains, it also helps soap or detergent foam and clean better!

Directions are easy: Grate your soap. I used a hand grater, but you can also use a food processor (I don’t have one).

Mix all your ingredients together and store in clean, dry jars. I used Ball Mason Jars because it’s what I had on hand, but whatever you have will work. A friend re-uses her empty protein powder canisters.

All you need is 1-2 tablespoons per load (for the record I use 2 T. per load because our clothes get really dirty playing outside and exercising every day).

Using 4 cups of each ingredient will yield a little less than 12 cups of detergent (The grated soap settles down once everything is mixed together) which is approx 144 loads of laundry. I paid about $12.50 for all of the ingredients, and I still have leftover Borax and Washing Soda for my next batch.

This detergent will not get sudsy/bubbly, however, your clothes are getting clean. Our clothes have never been cleaner and honestly, it’s one of the few detergents I’ve used (and trust me, as a couponer, I’ve used pretty much every brand of laundry detergent there is!) where I don’t have to pre-treat every single stain and scrub.

Scent: Some recipes call for essential oils or even Downy Unstoppables to add scent. We personally don’t like over scented detergent, so the light lemony scent from Zote is more than enough for us. If you like you clothes to smell like something, you can add 10-20 drops of Essential Oil (lavender is popular), or 1/4 cup of Downy Unstoppables (I REALLLLY don’t recommend this since it has softeners in it too).

About Fabric Softener: We don’t use fabric softener like Snuggle or Downy Unstoppables because it just coats the fabric with a waxy residue and leaves a film on it. After years, towels can stop being absorbent, and clothes can feel sticky or turn another color. If you need fabric softener or something to keep the static down, I recommend a vinegar rinse in your washer (like you would with liquid Snuggle), or wool balls in your dryer.

 

 

When DIY meets frugality….

About 6 months ago, I scored 6 new pillows for less than $10 at Sears, using Sears Shop Your Way Rewards, coupons, and a BOGO sale.

When you get new pillows, you need new pillow covers. I headed over to our local AmVets Thrift Store when all of the linens were on sale and picked up 9 pillow covers for .25/each.  What I didn’t realize is that 3 of them were smaller than a standard pillow, and they didn’t fit. I set them aside, thinking I would find something else to do with them.

Fast forward to this morning. I am pulling the sheets, blankets and pillowcases off the bed, and I notice the pillow cases look gross. Like, we’ve had them since before we were married and they just don’t come clean anymore… That kind of gross. I’ve washed them with Oxyclean, borax, you name it, I’ve tried it to get them clean. Enough. I figure 8 years of rotation means they’ve served a good life.

I rifle through the linen closet to discover that about 90% of our pillow cases need to get pitched. Then, I discover the 3 small pillow covers, and I am struck with inspiration.

warposterSee, My motto for for remaining the frugal steward of our family is, “Use it up, wear it out, make do”. That means, basically: USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

I remembered that I also had a few yards of Eyelet lace in my sewing box. BUT, it’s offwhite. The pillow covers were white. But, wait… We have a box of awful tea in the cabinet. I mean it tastes like burnt rubber and camp fire smoke- blergh. But, it’s perfect for tea dying! Ever notice when you spill tea or coffee on your white clothes, it never comes all the way out? Imagine if you took light colored fabric and soaked it in boiling tea or coffee for about an hour and then washed it?  That’s tea dying.

I pull out the sewing machine and some supplies and set to work. I trim the zippers off the pillow covers, measure the lace, and sew it onto the open end of the pillow case. This serves a few purposes:

  1. Lengthens the pillow case about 31/2 inches. Now it will fit a standard pillow case
  2. Makes the pillow case look nice
  3. I am using up what we have in the house, and now I don’t have to go out and buy new pillow cases.

While I was in the closet with my fabric, I also found a piece of unbleached muslin that I cut into a pillow case. I had enough lace, so why not. If you’d like to make a pillow case, here is a pretty easy tutorial to follow.

I boiled my icky tea, wet the pillow cases, and tossed them into the stockpot. I covered the pot with a heavy plate to weight the fabric down so that it will take the dye evenly.

After about 30 minutes, I turned the stove off, and left the mixture until it cooled… Next, I rang out the pillow cases and tossed them into the washing machine to get out any extra tea (and the gross smell).  And now… Ta Da!  Three refurbished pillow cases and a brand new pillow case!

  • Total out of pocket: Zero Dollars
  • Time: about 2 hours (most of it was waiting for the dye pot to cool)

Now if you want to make your own pillow cases, the tutorial I linked to above is pretty easy to follow, and it’s a great way to use up scraps of cotton fabric that you may have hanging around the house.  Since pillow cases and fitted sheets tend to wear out first, you could also cut up orphaned flat sheets too.

 

 

DIY Frugal Facial!

file9131343110988As the new year begins a lot of women (and men too) resolve to take better care of themselves, both physically and spiritually.

Today we’re dealing with the physical self-care, and one way to start is with a good facial.  It’s important to put your best face forward, and taking care of your skin will help!

I’ve listed DIY formulations that I like as well as links to professional products that I’ve used recently. Products that I use and recommend tend to have a high concentration of natural/botanical ingredients. I’m a huge fan of using products that have a basis in nature! Facials are a fun thing to do as part of a Ladies/Moms night in!

For your Ladies/Moms night in, have every one can bring their favorite product to share, or a quick trip to the beauty supply and the grocery store can get you everything you’ll need for a soothing facial.

1: Cleanse  your skin using a gentle cleanser in order to remove surface oil, dirt and germs. If you have oily or combination skin, use a foaming gel cleanser; if you have dry skin, look for a creamier blend that won’t dry out your skin. I like Dermalogica UltraCalming Cleanser

2: Exfoliate. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells that clings to your  skin. You can either use a mechanical exfoliator (something that is rough/ scrubby like oatmeal), or a chemical exfoliator (something that dissolves the oil and dirt that holds the dead skin cells to your skin, like the acid in pineapple or dairy products).

Natural exfoliatants include: Ground oats and pineapple. Grind oatmeal in your food processor and add 3 T. oats to 2T. Plain natural yogurt (I like greek yogurt because it’s nice and thick!) Apply to the face and remove after 10 minutes with a warm towel. Or put ¼ cup pineapple and 3 T. plain yogurt into the food processor and pulse. Once combined apply to the face and remove after 10 minutes with a warm towel.

If you don’t want to muss with mixing up your own, I like Valentia’s Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub.

At this point, you may wish to apply a serum (I like this vitamin C serum, it’s got all kinds of botanicals and humectants in it to help moisturize your skin) or spritz the skin with a nourishing toner. I like this Vitamin C Toner. Remember to  use anything that stings, burns or causes discomfort. That means NO SEA BREEZE OR ALCOHOL BASED ASTRINGENTS!

3: Mask. If you have oily or combination skin, try a clay-based mask; for dry or mature skin, look for a hydrating mask (with a creamy or gel texture).  Peel off masks are better suited for oily or combination skin (They can be a little harsh for those with sensitive skin).  Most beauty supply stores or drug stores sell masks in small sachets (like these) if you do not already have a favorite mask. Apply mask to the skin, being careful to avoid the eye area (this can lead to sagging skin). Leave mask on for 10 to 20 minutes or as directed.   Do not allow clay masks to dry completely.  The active ingredients only work as long as the mask stays moist.  Sprtiz the mask with a spray bottle of water to keep it moist once or twice. Remove the mask with warm towels and follow with a light spritz of toner.

Most facials end with a special moisturizer or lotion applied to the face.  Look for a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher in order to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Don’t forget to apply moisturizer to your neck and décolleté. You can use SPF moisturizer in the evening too if your budget is too tight for two moisturizers. If you use a moisturizer that contains retinols (they are vitamin A derivatives), it’s imperative that you use an SPF during the day. Vitamin A can thin the skin and sensitize it, so you need extra protection from the suns rays.

If you wish to apply an eye cream, use only a pea sized amount and apply it with your ring fingers in a gentle patting motion.  Don’t drag your fingers across the gentle under-eye tissue.  It can damage the delicate skin in that area.

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My Recent At Home Facial!

Here is my photo collage of my recent Spa retreat. Ok, so I was in the spare washroom after the kids were sleeping and hubs was vegging out.None the less, it’s nice to take 30 minutes or so out of your day once a week and pamper yourself!

Cooking Tutorial: Spaghetti Squash!

We eat a lot of veggies. That was one of the huge lifestyle changes we made a few years ago that has helped us maintain healthier weights.

One healthy swap we made was to spaghetti squash instead of pasta.  A lot of healthy/food swap websites like Hungry Girl tout Spaghetti Squash as a good substitute for carb-y noodles.

Here is a quick tutorial on making spaghetti squash.

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  1. Select a squash that is firm and unblemished. Not sure what they look like? Here is the wikipedia article all about the vegetable with a few pictures.
  2. Chop the end with the stem off. You’ll need a good sharp knife. I love our Henckels Meat Cleaver.
  3. Chop the squash in half. I do it length-wise, so it takes less time to cook in the oven.
  4. Take a spoon and scoop out the stringy guts and seeds.  Discard them.
  5. In a large glass baking dish, place the squash halves cut side down.  Pour a 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the squash are fork tender (about the same feeling as a baked potato).
  7. Remove baking dish from oven and set the squash halves on a cutting board.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortable handle the vegetable.
  8. With a fork, “rake” the interior of the veggie.  The “meat” of the interior should flake off in long strings that resemble broken spaghetti.
  9. Once complete, discard the exterior of the squash.
  10. Toss the “spaghetti” with the sauce of your choice.

1 medium sized spaghetti squash serves 2-3 people, with a serving size of about 1 1/2 cups. It’s yummy with sauce (Spaghetti/red sauce, pesto, or even a cheesy sauce), or just a little butter and herbs. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your diet, or if you’re Gluten Intolerant, it’s cheaper (and tastier) than GF pasta.

Later today, I’ll be posting a recipe that uses spaghetti squash as a main ingredient! With winter veggies starting to make an appearance in grocery stores and farmers markets, you’ll start seeing more and more squash!