Tuesday, July 22, 2014

No-Sew Fleece Prayer Knot Blanket

A wonderful thing about fleece is that, in most cases, no edges need to be hemmed. Fleece is great for no-sewers who still want to make handmade gifts like blankets.

One of the most popular ways to "finish" a fleece blanket is to make slits around the edges and then tie each resulting strip into a knot. But to make these blankets extra-special, say a separate short prayer for the recipient during the tying of each knot.

It's a simple gift that will clothe someone in prayer. What a meaningful, personal birthday or Christmas gift this would make, as well as for births and baptisms, and even charitable donations such as to the homeless or soldiers. This is also a something children can help with (well, theoretically - mine didn't work out so well). It's a wonderful way to get kids to practice praying for others with a hands-on project.

We are awaiting the births of two very important baby girls in our lives: one is our niece, and the other is our goddaughter. 

I found cute baby girl fleece in the 50% off remnants bin at Jo-Ann Fabrics, enough for two baby blankets, and planned to make these blankets together with my 4 year-old son. Although in the adorable photo below it appears that my son is tying a knot, he, in fact, is not. He tried, and perhaps the strips were too short for his beginning fingers, but he wasn't able to do it, then declared it "boring" and didn't want to keep trying. So I ended up making them alone, and that's okay, too!

The prayers I said were for different parts of the baby's life. For example: 
Toddler years
Preschool years
Elementary School
Middle School
High School
Relationships with parents
Relationships with siblings
Relationships with extended family
Relationships with friends
Relationships with children/grandchildren

I also took prayers from the 31 Biblical Virtues to pray for your children on keepingitpersonal.com.
(I actually have a printout of the color poster on the linked page which I keep next to my calendar, and each day I can pray the matching number prayer to the day of the month.)

Stay prayerful, my friends.

Monday, July 21, 2014

DIY Kids' Place Mats or Art Mats, Inspired by Dot Paint!

A few years ago I needed a mat for my son to play with play-doh, paints and other messy things I don't want directly on the kitchen table. So I took about half of a large poster board and covered both sides of it with plain white contact paper leftover from shelf-papering. Contact paper: the lazy-man's laminator.

Last week my kids were playing with dot paint, and they were sharing that now dingy place mat. (Hello cuteness!)

I realized that my baby is now...a TODDLER! And although it's perfectly fine and wonderful for them to share, I had an idea, inspired by dot paint, for new place mats for the kids. It turns out that I had on-hand two stencils that had come in two packages of small-sized poster board. I also had a large black poster board (I had bought a couple when we needed one to make a solar-system model. You never know when another one will come in handy!)

I cut the large poster board in half, then also cut a bit off the short ends because it was still too long. I took some colored paper and wrote each of my kids' names on it, then had the kids dot paint the stencils before punching out the pieces for the letters and numbers. I helped with my daughter's, and you can see in the third picture where my son was so over changing colors after three colors, and so went with purple for what was left. That's my practical boy. He's the one that, when "coloring", makes a single mark on an area, signifying that the entire section is that color.

Next, my son and I punched out the painted letters & numbers of the stencils and glued them to the poster board.

Then comes the part where I re-ignite my love/hate relationship with contact paper: time to cover each side of the poster board completely with a sheet of it (transparent version this time), get out the bubbles and wrinkles, and trim the edges.
I hate you, contact paper!

I don't hate you, contact paper.

I love you, contact paper!

I know, the letters are out of line and the "S" is wonky, and part of the "$"came apart.
I don't want to talk about it.

Back view - for the stuff that won't wipe clean (like dot paint!)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Save Money in Ten Seconds or Less: Paper Towels

In honor of a new year, I've decided to start a new category on my blog. (Remember this blog? The one I barely write in anymore? Yeah, that's the one.) The category is called Save Money in Ten Seconds or Less. The idea is to share some of the small, simple ways I save money around the house, especially by minimizing spending money to replace disposable household items.

Don't get me wrong, we are not living on a self-sufficient organic farm, weaving our own cloth and wiping our arses with orange peels, but small savings add up to big savings over time, and foster a habit of being mindful stewards of our money rather than wasting without thought.

So without further ado, I now present to you the first installment of Save Money in Ten Seconds or Less...


Each time I use a paper towel, it costs money because it has to be replaced. I haven't done the math on how much a single paper towel costs, but I do know this: if I use a dish cloth instead, that roll of paper towels (yes, we do use them - especially for cleaning up a dead bug or something) will last longer. And the longer they last, the longer I go before having to replace them. The longer I can go before buying more, the fewer I buy altogether.

Start small. Start with one. Once during the day, instead of using a paper towel, reach for a dish cloth instead. If you need it for cleaning up a mess or spill, then simply rinse it out, let it hang dry on the oven handle or something, and either use it again for cleaning or toss it into the laundry.

I keep a plastic basket on top of my dryer, which happens to be near my kitchen. When I feel that a dish cloth is no longer clean enough to use again, I drop it in the basket. Then I toss whatever is in the basket into the washing machine the next time I do a load. If I already have one (or two) dish cloths out for wiping counters and need a clean one for washing veggies, then I grab a clean one the same way I would grab a clean paper towel. Typically I go through several during an average day.

They make great gifts, if you want to bulk your stash a bit. But even if you only use a few, you are saving at least that many paper towels from having to be replaced, i.e. purchased with hard-earned money.

Dish cloths can be used for anything a paper towel can (and is arguably more effective in most cases), including but not limited to:
- wiping vegetables
- general kitchen cleaning
- cleaning spills/messes
- as napkins (see my future post about cloth napkins)
- drying hands
- drying dishes

Plus, they're much prettier in the kitchen than a roll of paper towels.

*Note: I'm using the term "dish cloth" interchangeably with the term "dish towel".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peter Pan and Tinkerbell for Halloween!

Even though I'm finally getting around to posting this mid-September,  I actually finished making Halloween costumes for the kids in AUGUST! Who does that? Why, me, apparently! Once I had decided what to make, I was too excited to wait!

This year the kids are going to be Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. HOW STINKIN' CUTE IS THAT!?

I also have to tell you about my new favorite sewing blog, Make It And Love It. Most of what I did for these costumes came from her tutorials/inspiration, and this post is loaded with links to tutorials on her blog. Her children are DE.LI.CIOUS. and she has tons of great ideas for children's clothes as well as stuff for adults.

I followed the Make It And Love It tutorials for the Peter Pan costume almost to a T. The main adjustment I made was to make the shirt a bit larger than her measurements. Her bambino was younger than mine when he wore his.

I didn't use her complete tutorial for the Tinkerbell costume, though, mainly because I have an infant and hers was for a preschool age child. I certainly did use her tutorial (and others) for inspiration though.  For my little Tinkerbell, I used one of my daughter's dresses as a pattern for a strapless dress body, and I used shiny green stretchy fabric. I used the Make It And Love It tutorials for the sleeves, but instead of gathering the sleeves the usual way, I put elastic thread in my bobbin and did two rows of shirring along the edge I wanted elasticized (shirring tutorial here).

And, of course, I made a tulle tutu skirt. What Tinkerbell doesn't need a tutu skirt? I put mine on the outside of the dress though. Just because.

For the wand I used the dress material to make a star and tube stuffed with polyfill. Then I added a few one inch wide strands of tulle just under the star (though you can't see it in the photo) to match the tutu skirt.

The wings I ended up buying. What can I say, I had a great coupon and didn't want to make them. And that's okay.

In case it is cold in late October (in Houston one never knows), she has a pair of tights she can wear, but I did go ahead and make a diaper cover in the same material as the dress (here's another MIALI tutorial for that). Instead of elastic casing, I used the same two-row shirring technique on the waist and leg openings as I did on the sleeves.
Look at that adorable tiny tooshie!

I can't wait for Halloween season! My son loves to wear his costume - I think he would wear it all the time if I let him!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How to Turn a Cute Onesie Into an Even Cuter Dress/Shirt

Maybe I'm the only one, but unless it is summer and my baby is 3 months or younger, onesies are not my favorite thing ever. In fact, they mostly annoy me. (Although for some reason I'm a total sucker for a baby/toddler in a romper!) Several people gave me some cute onesies as gifts, though, and I converted them so I can still get lots of use and enjoyment out of them. Here's how I did it.

First, I cut off the bottom section of the onesie (and of course hoarded saved the snap part for some other not-yet-existent project I may or may not ever need it for):

At this point, you could simply hem the shirt - or not, and just let it roll naturally where it was cut - and leave it at that. But to add some length back, I attached wide lace to the bottom:

Sew or serge with right sides together. When I had circled around the shirt and was back where I started sewing on the lace, I overlapped the end over the beginning about an inch before cutting it. I may hand sew the lace together there. Maybe. That sounds like a lot of work, lol!

Press the lace down with the iron and ...ta da! (Update: On this one I did end up top-stitching the lace onto the seam allowance because of the double-layered lace I used. The short top layer kept flipping up.)

Ooh la la! Or, as my son would say, "OH! (pause) La la la!"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Awesomest T-Shirt Skirt Ever!

We have a huge pile of my husband's old white t-shirts that have yellowed and stained too much to wear anymore, except for working in the yard or on the cars.  A person only needs so many cleaning rags. I have a skirt that I love, but it's really long and the excess material kind of gets in the way when I'm up and down picking up kids, giving baths, and other mom stuff.

A pile of old white t-shirts + skirt style I love = The Awesomest T-Shirt Skirt Ever!!
This is my superhero pose.

Start with several t-shirts. I used Men's size Medium. I usually wear size 0 or 2, if that helps. This also fits my wider postpartum hips and thighs though.

Cut the bottom part off under the arms:

If you have a baby, save the upper part and cut off the arms...voila! A bib!

Cut the hemmed edge off the bottom of the shirt - we are going for awesome raw edges for this style:

Save 2 of these as-is to use as a double sewn-in slip. Otherwise the skirt is see-through. Don't want that!

Using a few other shirts, cut this part into 1 8-inch wide panels and several 4 1/2-inch wide panels, depending on how long you want your skirt to be. Cut around stains!

Layer the panels top-over-bottom, with the 8-inch one at the top where the waist will be. Raw edges will show. That's what you want:

Sew the panels together. You will have raw edges on both the outside and inside, but the t-shirt material should only curl when washed, not fray:

3 inches from the top of the 8-inch panel, sew on the two slips. These should both be long enough to cover your skivvies.
This is a picture of the finished skirt INSIDE-OUT

To make the elastic waist, fold 1 1/2 inches of the top of the 8-inch panel to the inside to create the casing and sew. Leave an inch or so open to thread a 1-inch wide elastic through the casing. The length depends on the size of your waist. Once the elastic is in, sew the elastic closed and sew the opening closed.

In order to keep the elastic from twisting or turning, I sewed a vertical seam across the waist in four equidistant places.


I don't think I've ever been so excited about a blog post as I am about writing this one!

I Googled ways to clean stains out of carpet, and came across lots of ideas. One in particular that caught my attention was a technique using ammonia, hot water, a white towel, and an iron to get even old stains out of the carpet. I think it's floating around Pinterest as well.

I didn't have ammonia. But I ALWAYS have my trusty white vinegar on hand. I mixed about 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water (I experimented with both hot water and room-temperature water, and they both seem to work the same) in a spray bottle. Actually, this is exactly what I use for pretty much ALL cleaning. Then I got some white towels, including some old white t-shirts of my husbands, and my iron.

So again, that's:
Mix 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water
Clean white towels

I first went to the stains on the carpet that existed before we moved into this house 5 1/2 years ago. They were made by the previous owners, so I have no idea what caused them or when.

Mysterious Stain #1 BEFORE:

What came up on the towel after ironing:

Mysterious Stain #1 AFTER:

Mysterious Stain #2 BEFORE:

Mysterious Stain #2 AFTER:

Still not convinced? Let me tell you a story about poop.

It was early 2013, only a few weeks after Miss A was born. An incident occurred in my house, involving a sick 3 year-old and liquid poo running out of his pant legs. It unfolded like a horror movie. I had carried him to his bathroom before realizing anything had dripped at all. Once in his bathroom, I turned around and first saw the clumps of liquid poo on the carpet in his room. When I walked into the hallway. I teared up when I saw them, even larger, all the way down the entire length of the upstairs hallway. At this point the baby was screaming and Mister Man was crying, "I don't need a bath! I don't need a bath!". I walked a little farther down the hallway, and that's when I saw the rest of it. THE STAIRS. At this point, I screamed. Each and every stair (carpeted, mind you) had one or two drops of liquid poo on it. With all three of us crying at this point, I grabbed a towel and quickly wiped up the poo as best I could. Then I took care of the baby, and got Mister Man into the bathtub.

It was a special time.

And I've been so overwhelmed since then, that those residual stains haven't exactly had first priority. I've tried to work on a couple of stains with soap/water (didn't work), vinegar/water (didn't work), baking soda/vinegar (didn't work), Oxi-Clean/Hot water (didn't work), Carpet Cleaner (didn't work).


The only caveat is this: I let Mister Man help spray the stains, and he had so much fun that he keeps asking if we can "work on the poop stains". I really hope he doesn't poop on the carpet just so we have more poop stains to get out together.