Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hello all!  It's Christmas Eve, so I've got a full day of family time planned, but I just wanted to let you know that I added some pictures to my Cinnamon Roll post!  I'm so excited to sink my teeth into these sugary delights, they are one of my favorite traditions. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pinwheel Hairbows

I am not a very girly girl, never have been, but when I found out I was having a girl, I have to admit that I was excited about the things I could make for her.  Pinafores, simple dresses, and yes, even hair bows.  I went through a period last spring where I just worked on how to get these things right, and now I think I’ve gotten a couple styles down.  My favorite so far is the pinwheel.  It’s pretty simple, and you only need a couple things to make it.  I don’t remember which tutorial I actually used, there are a lot out there.

I guess I should also note that I now sell these, which makes them cheaper to make since I only make them in a limited color range and I buy the supplies in bulk.  But the prices I note are the prices you'd find at Joann.  In case you're interested in making a bunch, I get my supplies at Hip Girl Boutique

Supplies ready to go!
You will need

Thread (leftover, free)

Scissors (gifted, free)

Lighter (ancient, free)

Hair clip ($3.49 per 2 clips, $3.49/2 clips = $1.75)

18 inches of 7/8” wide ribbon ($3.49 per 18ft, $3.49/216in = $.02 x 18in = $.29)

4 inches of 3/8” wide ribbon ($1.99 per 18ft, $1.99/216in = $.01 x 4in = $.04)

Hot glue gun ($4.29)
First wrap...
...then pinch accordion style...
...and adjust it while it's loosely tied.

Wrap the main color around your hand so you have three layers on top and two on bottom.  Accordion fold all the layers together as they lay in the middle of your bundle and pinch it together.  Make sure that the ends of the accordion fold are both facing to the back.  Wrap around this pinched spot with your thread a couple times, but don’t knot it yet.  At this point you can adjust your bow so that all the loops are even and it looks the way you want it to.  
Cut the ribbon edges and heat seal them.
Now it's ready to attach to the clip.

Once you are satisfied, pull your thread very tightly and knot it.  Clip the ends of the thread off.  Now take the tails of ribbon, fold them in half length-wise, and cut at a diagonal to get a double tailed effect (or just cut a straight diagonal across if you’d rather).  Take your lighter and quickly pass it over the new ribbon tails to prevent fraying.  Be careful!  You don’t want to overheat the ribbon or it’ll go all wonky!  

My loose knot for the center of the bow.
Now take your accent color ribbon and tie a loose knot in the middle.  Put a small dab of glue in the center of your pinwheel and affix the knot in top.  But a small dab of glue on the back of the pinwheel and affix an OPEN hair clip.  Quickly pull one of the accent color tails across the inside of the hairclip and allow the clip to close.  Cut and heat seal the Piece you just glued down.  Put a small dab of glue on the accent ribbon inside the clip and pull the other side of the ribbon across it.  Clip and heat seal that side. Since Elizabeth doesn’t have much in the hair department, I clip this thing to a headband for now.  Why tiger stripes?  Well, my kids attend a lot of sporting events, so this is an easy way to show our Tiger pride.  Go Tigers!  Don’t have a little girl?  You could also attach a pin back.  

Elizabeth with her headband.
Same bow on my grownup head for size reference.

 Try It

The supplies for the bow itself cost $2.08.  I had to buy a glue gun for this project.  If you think you'll make more than a couple bows than I definitely suggest taking to the web to buy clips.  Before shipping it takes the cost of clips down to $.10 a piece.

Buy It

Pinwheel hairbows range in cost, but usually go for around $4 - $6.


Try It if you've got the patience for hot glue.  I guess there's the possibility of spending a lot on ribbon that you only use once, but you could also make them for gifts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dish Soap

My Seventh Generation dish soap is about to run out, so it’s the perfect time to try making some.  It’s not a very exciting project, but just like the laundry soap (which we’re still using!) it’s one of those basic products that I need every day.  That makes it worth the try.

 I looked through my Green Clean book but the recipe was extremely vague.  It just said to combine vinegar and castile soap, without even giving amounts!  I don’t do well with vague.   Next I did a big internet search and I happened upon an interesting resource called FrugallySustainable.  It has a bunch of housecleaning recipes, including a detailed dish soap recipe.  


You will need

1 ½ cups hot water (free)

1 Tbsp shredded castile bar soap ($3.29 per 1.125 cups shredded, $3.29/18Tbsp = $.18)

1 Tbsp white vinegar ($2.89 per 128fl.oz, $2.89/128fl.oz = $.02 x .5fl.oz = $.01)

1 Tbsp washing soda ($3.49 per 55oz, $3.49/55oz = $.06 x .652oz = $.04)

1/8 tsp tea tree oil ($12.49 per 2 fl.oz, $12.49/2fl.oz = $6.25 x .02fl.oz = $.13)
Other than water this is all you need!
 Since I knew all my castile soap would be used in a shredded form, I decided to forgo the box grater and jump straight to the food processor to chop the soap the same way I do for laundry soap.  This yielded 1 1/8 cups of soap nubs.

Combine everything except the water in a heatproof bowl.  Pour water into the bowl and stir until all the soap and soda has melted.  Allow it to cool on the counter for 8 hours or overnight.

I used the hottest water my tap could make, but I don’t think that was hot enough; I couldn’t get the nubs to melt totally.  I stuck the whole thing in the microwave for a minute and stirred it for longer than I thought was needed until it all melted.  Next time I’ll boil the water.

After 10 hours it had a thick layer of jell on the top.  I had to break though that and whisk it all up so I could call it liquid.  It seems to work pretty well.  It made decent suds and left glass squeaky.  

Chunky soap jell
Final consistency
Try It

$.36 for 14fl.oz, or $.03/fl.oz

Buy It

$3.79 for 25fl.oz, or $.15/fl.oz


What?!  Eco friendly dish soap for 20% of the cost of 7th Gen.?  Yes please!  Try It, definitely worth the small trouble and the initial investment in the tea tree oil.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More Homemade Ornaments

Last year my sisters and I switched our annual gift from a night out to dinner together to an ornament exchange.  The night out was really hard to give up, but since we’re now scattered in Michigan; New York; Santiago, Chile; and Virginia, it’s just no longer feasible (if you are my sister reading this, this is a hint for you to move closer!!).  On the bright side, all of us enjoy crafting, and we all have pretty different styles, so it was exciting to see what each person came up with!

My favorites were Sara’s.  She wrapped toy animals in cotton yarn so just the head and legs were sticking out.  
Night out Christmas '08!  Good times, bad picture.
Mine is the felt heart (remember my Valentine’s post with the left over felt?  This is what it’s leftover from).  My sisters and I play a lot of cards-  A LOT of cards.  So I made each of us a suit.  

I think they came out pretty nicely, but I need to work on my embroidery skills.
Since I made them so long ago and didn’t take pictures, I can’t do a visual step by step, but I can break down the process.

You will need

1 sheet red felt ($.29)

I sheet black felt ($.29)

Red and black embroidery floss ($.99 each, $.99 x 2 = $1.98)

A small amount of stuffing (snagged from my mother's stash, free)

Tacky Glue (leftover from who knows what, free)

Search Google Images for a clip art of the shape of your ornament.  Print out and size it properly for both the main body and the overlaying color.  Cut out the shape and trace around it on your felt so you have two of the larger size and one of the smaller size.  Center the smaller shape onto one of the larger shapes and glue it on, leaving a little space around the edges.  Stitch around the smaller shape using a blanket stitch with two embroidery threads at a time.  (at this point, you can also embroider anything on the other large shape if you wish.  I wrote "2011".)

Now put the two big shapes together, right sides out.  Machine sew together leaving a gap big enough to stuff.  Stuff the shape to desired fullness.  Sew the remaining gap shut.  Blanket stitch around the larger shape.  Add a loop of embroidery floss to hang it by. 

I got my inspiration from a $2 Target ornament.  I went by this year and saw a lot of homemade-looking ornaments that I know I could make better.  It’s a good starting point if you feel overwhelmed. 

I’m pretty stoked about my ornaments this year, but I guess you’ll have to wait till next Christmas to see them!  I’ll remember to document them this time…

Try It
$2.56 for 4 ornaments, or $.64 each.

Buy It 
Inspiration ornament from Target was $2.

Try It if it's your style.  Homemade ornaments in my opinion make the tree.  My husband tells me I have an unusual taste for what belongs on a tree, but I'd rather look at a tree of memories and love from friends and family than one that looks thought out any day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Okay- I’m not making crayons from scratch.  But here’s the deal:  More often than not when my family goes out to eat, we are given three or four crayons to keep my kid quiet (it doesn’t work).  I am 97% sure if I didn’t take them, they’d go in the trash.  Since there are only but so many yellow, blue, red, and green crayons one boy needs in his craft box, I’m making them gift-worthy.

Pile of restaurant crayons

Last Valentine’s Day Spencer got a card from his buddy at school which included a molded crayon, and I’ve been stuck on the idea ever since!

You will need

An ice cube mold or mini muffin tin ($2)

Crayons (free)

The smaller you chop them the more swirly they'll look.

This is about 10 minutes in.  They took a long time, probably because they are mostly cheap crayons.
Giving the crayon men a little swirl.
Unwrap and chop crayons.  Place crayon bits in mold.  Bake at 170 degrees until crayons have full melted- for me this took a solid half hour. If you want, use a chop stick to gently swirl the colors together.  Cool completely and remove from molds.

And that’s it! I think they are pretty cool.
My men!  The muscly one lost a hand, but I can just put the pieces back in the mold in the oven.
Try It

$2 for as many crayons as you have the patience to unwrap.

Buy It

I saw a set at Target for $4.99.


If you have a kid in your life, Try It!  It's an easy project, and you could make them single color, or group colors together (red/pink, blue/green, etc).  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby Food

Well believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve tried my hand at making baby food.  I know, I know, how is that possible!? I have legit-ish reasons… With kid #1, I bought Gerber Organics baby food for the most part, and saved all the containers intending on making my own and freezing it.  I still have all those mirco-tupperwares, but I never used them for that purpose, and Spencer would have no part in purees after 7 months.

With kid #2 I bought Earth’s Best organic baby food.  That’s right- I wanted those containers again!  These are tiny glass jars that happen to make wonderful spice containers.  I bring them to the store to buy cheap bulk spices.  I figured I could spend $1 a piece on real spice jars, or I could spend $.69 a piece on a baby food jar and feed my kid in the process.  Now I have 10 or so, so it’s time Try It.

First off, if you like my Facebook page than you know that I made Elizabeth some applesauce the other day.  She loves that stuff!  Just blend it very smoothly, you’re set.  Today I made some sweet potato for her.  Also a big hit!

You will need

1 organic sweet potato ($1.49 per lb, $1.49/16oz = $.09 x 12oz = $1.12)


Some small containers or an ice cube tray


Preheat the oven to 375. Poke a sweet potato all over and place it on the oven rack.  Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until very tender.  Allow to cool completely.  Peel the skin off the sweet potato, and cut into chunks.  Put the chunks in the food processor or blender until smooth, adding water until it reaches the desired consistency.  
A single potato was a little difficult in this processor, it wanted a larger batch.

Sleepy baby with a sweet potato beard.

If it'll be a while before you use it, stick the jars in the freezer (just don't fill them to the brim), or fill an ice cube tray and just take them out a cube at a time.

Try It

 $1.12 for 2 ½ jars of puree, or $.45/jar.

Buy It

$.69 for 2.5oz jar.


Try It.  This took very little effort, and even if the savings seem small, they really add up!  That’s a 35% savings per jar.

Two notes: 1- I am fully aware that babies don't NEED baby food, but my kids lap it up, so I use it in the beginning.  2- While I was writing this I remembered a post my friend Em wrote a while back, so I went back and re-read it. It's a helpful post, go check it out (and then go check out her sewing because it's amazing!).