Tag Archives: Crafts

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

1 Jan
Just some of the appetizers and treats served at our Christmas party.

Just some of the appetizers and treats served at our Christmas party.

Christmas has come and gone can you believe it?  I hope you all had a blessed Christmas celebrating our Savior’s birth!  I have been crafting and sewing like crazy this past month.  🙂  I am so thankful that I was able to sew more Christmas presents this year than any year yet!  I had a great time blessing my family in this way.

I made my sister a checkbook cover using this tutorial.  I used scrap material leftover from other projects so this project was practically free!  I couldn’t get the ruffle part of the tutorial to work out for me so I appliqued a K on it instead.  I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I might just have to make one for myself.  🙂

Katelyn's checkbook cover.

Katelyn’s checkbook cover.

I made the hubby a homemade vanilla milkshake instead of him heading to Sonic.

My handsome man modeling Bekah's new hat.

My handsome man modeling Bekah’s new hat.

I made my sister Bekah a fun fleece hat using this tutorial.  I used scrap fleece fabric I had on hand.

We ate soup for three meals last week.  I made Sneaky Potato Soup (with broccoli instead of cauliflower) and Crock Pot Tortilla Soup.

The eyeglass cases literally took minutes to make!

The eyeglass cases literally took minutes to make!

I made my mom and sister eyeglass cases out of a Vera Bradley purse (the zipper was broken beyond repair).  It literally took minutes!

I made a nightgown for my cousin Katie for Christmas.  I also made a matching one for her American Girl Doll and a sleep mask, sleeping bag, and pillow.  I hope she enjoys playing with it as much as I enjoyed making it.  I can’t believe how many creative sewing and DIY ideas there are out there for American Girl dolls.  🙂

Our Christmas open house was so much fun!

Our Christmas open house was so much fun!

We had a Christmas open house at our home that was lots of fun.  Besides the shrimp that we purchased everything else was homemade.  As shown in the picture above we served vegetables with Red Pepper Hummus (both from Aldi).  I also made a cheese tray using fancy cheeses and crackers from Aldi.  (Aldi continues to be such a blessing to my family!) We also served: deviled eggs,  popcorn balls, yum-yums, Pecan Tarts, Peppermint Kisses, Chips & Dip, Potato Chips, cupcakes, m&ms, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, fudge, and nuts.  For drinks I served: homemade hot chocolate (kept warm in a Crockpot), water, and punch (my late Poppie’s recipe).  We ended up with lots of leftover cookies which I froze and took to my parent’s house for Christmas.  (They still tasted great!)

I made Elijah a fleece no-sew blanket with fabric I purchased on Black Friday.  He loves it!

About half of the Christmas presents were purchased or made before the month of December.  I hid the majority of them on the tallest shelf of my closet.  Anytime I would find something at a great deal that I thought a family member would love I picked it up and added it to my stash.  By purchasing presents at stellar prices I am able to minimalize our Christmas expenses while maximizing our giving.  🙂

I sewed a Christmas sleeper for my son Elijah.  This wasn’t an incredible savings but such a fun memory!  I made my first sleeper for Eli-pictures coming soon!

How did you save money this past week? 

Frugal Things I Did the Last Two Weeks

21 Dec
My frugal Christmas decor.

My frugal Christmas decor.

I don’t know about you but December tests my frugality more than any other month of the year!  I think it’s all of the sentimentality attached to the Christmas coupled with a big desire to give to others.  😉  We had a bout of sickness a couple of weeks ago that derailed us for a few days but we are all doing well now. 

We put up Christmas decorations that we already had and avoided purchasing any new items!  🙂  I wanted to jazz up the top of the piano so I wrapped extra Christmas lights we already had around garland.  I love the result!  The Advent Christmas tree was a gift from family and the Nativity was a wedding gift.

So far the majority of our Christmas gift giving have been homemade.  My goal was to make 50% of our gifts.  I made a handprints wreath for Brandon’s parents, a Baby Bath Robe for my niece Zuzu, and a clutch for my sister-in-law Renee (pictured below).

The clutch I made for my sister-in-law.

The clutch I made for my sister-in-law.

I visited a friend and she gave me all sorts of things they were giving away!  A box of jars, a huge rug, and a printer in excellent condition.  We didn’t need the printer but I knew that my parents could use it so I passed it on to them.  The rug had some stains on it so I cleaned them with carpet cleaner.  I also borrowed my mom’s carpet cleaner and cleaned the entire rug.  Our entire basement is finished but has tile flooring so this rug will be perfect down there!

I made two Deco-Mesh wreaths.  One for my parents and one for my Momolene.  (I had already made one to give my other Grandma.)

The Deco-Mesh wreath I made for my parents.

The Deco-Mesh wreath I made for my parents.

There was a mistake with Elijah’s Christmas pictures and I was given the slightly out of focus pictures in addition to the correct pictures.  I am using the out of focus pictures for Christmas ornaments.

I had Elijah paint plain brown paper bags with red and green paint (we had on hand) to make cute wrapping paper.  It was also a fun project for him.

I made homemade hot chocolate for our young adult Christmas party at church.  They drank every drop!

We watched movies from the library instead of getting a Redbox.

I received some nice samples in the mail: shampoo, lotion, men’s body wash, etc.

I received another book to review in the mail.

Elijah made a birthday card for his Poppy Steve.  We gave him a gift subscription to Golf Digest.

I took some items to our local consignment store that Elijah no longer needs.  I received almost $20 from items that had already sold.

I washed a dry clean only blazer of Eli’s in the Washing Machine on the Handwash cycle.  I hung it to dry and it worked great.  ( I’ll admit it was a risk but I had picked up the blazer at a thrift store dirt cheap.)   Usually I wash our dry clean only items (except for suits) with Dryel but I haven’t been able to find it in the store lately.

What frugal activities have you been able to accomplish lately despite the Holidays? 

Crafting with my Cricut: Christmas Time!

30 Nov

The Christmas tree is up and the stockings are hung by the window with care (no fireplace here).  I don’t know about you but the weeks before Christmas put me in the biggest mood for sewing and crafting.  😉  Anybody else feel that way?

Usually I turn to sewing when I am feeling creative.  Earlier this week I decided to turn to my Cricut instead.  Last Christmas I was surprised (& I mean surprised) with a Cricut.  It’s a type of die-cutting machine that can do crazy cool stuff.  Honestly I’m still not very good at using the Cricut but I was so pleased with how this craft turned out I thought I would share.  🙂  I really wanted to create something to remind my family of the Joy of Christmas.  It’s so easy during the hustle & bustle of December to lose sight of the real meaning-Jesus!

So thankful that Christ endured the cross for the JOY set before him. What a great reason to celebrate!

 

First I took a piece of finished wood (purchased at JoAnns) and painted it with two coats of acrylic paint.  I used Martha Stewart’s acrylic satin paint for multi-surfaces.

I used the Winter Wonderland cartridge and white vinyl.  I cut out the “Joy” phrase at 3.5″ and the snowflake at 2.5″.  Then I removed the sticky side from the vinyl and attached it to the wood.  Then I painted the plaque with Poly Acrylic sealer and let dry.  I thought about attaching ribbon but decided that since it is so small I will probably just place it on a windowsill.

A simple way to add some Christmas cheer to our window.

 

Elijah had a wonderful time helping me with this craft but I also wanted to do something special just for him.  I had some leftover vinyl so I cut out a snowman and a couple of snowflakes.  He loved them!

 

What type of Christmas crafts do you have planned?

Elijah’s Dinosaur Costume: McCall’s 6185 or MP249 Review

4 Nov

Eli love love loved his costume!

 

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to sew Elijah a dinosaur costume.  I definitely WASN’T thinking about the 80 steps involved!  I ended up skipping a few but there were 70 steps to this project no joke!  This was my first attempt at sewing a costume and I think I probably should have settled for a superhero cape and mask like my friend Erin made.

Eli had an absolute blast dressing up and having fun at our church’s Trunk or Treat.

 

I won’t lie.  This project was LONG.  Just cutting out all of the pieces took 2 1/2 hours!  I should have known then this project would take forever.  😉  I seriously considered giving up and scrapping this project but I persevered.  Elijah was giddy with excitement over the prospect of his costume.  He would sit and watch me sew for what seemed like forever.  Periodically he would come into the sewing room and ask if he could try it on.  😉  It did take all of my free time for 3 days straight but I finished it.  The face below made it all worth it!

The face that made all of the long sewing hours worth it!

I sewed view B in a size 3.  The measurements on the envelope are not helpful at all.  My son is 37″ tall and this costume was really big on him.  (He wears size 3t ready-made clothing.) As far as the actual sewing goes I did make a few slight changes.  I did not line the hood.  I don’t know why in the world you would want to line it.  This saved nearly 10 steps.  Hooray! 🙂

The seam allowance varies from 3/8 to 5/8 so be careful to sew accordingly.  I had a really hard time adding elastic in step 22 to the wrists so I omitted it for the time being.  The hands seemed to stay on well despite this.  I do wish that the tail was removable as it is pretty heavy. (I don’t know if I would make this for a young toddler as it may be difficult to walk in.)  I also followed the applique instructions to a T but the eyes and nose kept coming off so I ended up hot gluing them to the costume.

I don’t know if I would say this was a fun project-it was really long and awkward to sew at times with that big old tail!  The result was very nice.  Eli has really enjoyed wearing it around the house and has perfected a very loud ROAR!!!

 

Fun with Toddlers: Cloud Dough

25 Sep

Eli was so excited to try Mom’s newest crazy activity.

 

Have you ever been to a children’s museum and played with that funky stuff called cloud dough?  It’s not clay, or playdough, or sand it is somewhere in between.  It’s Cloud dough. I found THIS great recipe on pintrest to make your own.  That’s exactly what Eli and I did last week.  So very much fun!

He looks like he’s going to shoot me with baby oil.

A great activity to do on a chilly afternoon.

Simply combine 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil. Knead about 3 minutes.

I didn’t have a full cup of baby oil (only about 1/3 cup) so I adjusted the recipe to use 3 cups of flour.  We are planning on making this again soon after our next town (errand) day.  I had the baby oil leftover from when Eli got sticker goo stuck to his face.  I let him wear a sticker to the sprinkler park this summer.  Unfortunately when a sticker gets wet it this goo sticks to your face.  Baby oil was the only thing we found to take it off.  😉

Having lots of fun.

 

I let Eli play with a few toys and a “repurposed” parmesan cheese container. I showed him how to open the lid add some cloud dough and pour it out again.

 

What a great sensory activity.

 

What’s really fun about the cloud dough is that it can be shaped and poured.

 

 

Warning: This does make quite a mess.

A face like this makes the mess so worth it! 🙂

 

Such a fun actitivy to do together. I found myself enjoying the cloud dough almost as much as Eli.

k

 

Simplicity 2629 Review: Sew a Baby Slip

21 Sep

Such a sweet gift for a sweet little niece of mine.

For my niece Zuzu’s first birthday I knew I wanted to make something special.  I debated for a long time over what exactly to make for her.  There are SO many adorable patterns and tutorials for making things for little girls it was almost overwhelming!  When I came across Simplicity 2629 I knew right away this pattern was perfect.  It is a vintage pattern from 1948 that was re-released recently.  Pretty cool I think.  Zuzu’s mom Renee enjoys vintage things also so I thought this might be a good fit.  I’ve always wanted to sew a true vintage pattern but have always been too scared that a pattern I might pick up at the thrift store that has been cut wouldn’t include all of the pieces.

The pattern is actually a layette pattern and includes lots of sweet baby items.  I finally settled on sewing little Zuzu a slip.  I wasn’t sure if she had one or not but it seemed like such a fun little thing to make to keep her just a little bit warmer throughout the winter.  (I think she could almost sleep in the slip during the summer if the house were really warm also.)  I made a size Large for Zuzu and sewed View F but ended up not attaching the ruffle since it already seemed plenty long enough to me.

Any pattern for embroidery could easily be substituted here.

This was my first time ever combining sewing with any sort of needlework or embroidery.  I absolutely LOVE the result!  I was able to take a bunch of inexpensive materials (plain white broadcloth, 2 white buttons (I had), thread, and a bit of lace and make something so sweet.  I found that the embroidery did take quite a while but I just love how it turned out.  This pattern is included in the envelope but you could really substitute any outline.

Do note if you make this pattern that the seam allowance is 3/8″ instead of the usual 5/8″.  I was kind of surprised that the slip buttoned at the top of the shoulders.  I guess it has to button somehow since the pattern is not intended for knit fabric.  I had thought originally about not adding the lace but am so glad that I did.  🙂  It was difficult to find the 3/8″ lace so I ended up using 1/2″ lace that my mom had in her stash.

The finished product.

Overall this pattern was adorable and so much fun to work with.  I can’t see myself sewing another slip anytime soon but one day I might make the dress that is included in the pattern as a baby gift in the future.

August Reads

18 Sep

I read a nice variety of books this past month.

The past couple of weeks have been busy, busy, busy around our home which is why it has taken me so long to post these.  🙂 

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Preschool Years by Elizabeth Hainstock.  I wouldn’t say that I have fully nailed down my philosophy of learning for the preschool years yet but I would say that if I had to pick one model I would probably choose the Montessori method.  For children birth-age 4 I think it is where our family lands.  This book was easy to read and included dozens of Montessori type learning activities to do with your child.  Most include items you already have around your home or can be made inexpensively.  We have already completed some of the activities and look forward to doing more of them in the next two years.  I enjoyed this book so much that I plan on purchasing it within the next month.

Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic.  I purchased this book on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and I am so glad that I did!  It was so encouraging to me as a mom of a very rambunctious, strong-willed 2 1/2-year-old.  🙂

Letting God Plan Your Family by Samuel Owen.  This was probably the most personally challenging book I read this past month.  It DOES NOT say using birth control to limit the size of your family is always wrong but it does question the motives behind it and what the Bible has to say about children.  I wouldn’t agree with absolutely everything the author has to say but overall this book was excellent.  I mean it’s really good!  I would highly encourage any young couple to read it.  I’m sad to see that it is currently out of print but I would make the effort to search for a used copy.  Totally worth the effort.

Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With Almost No Money by Dolly Freed.  This is probably one of the strangest books I have read all year.  The story documents how Freed and her father lived on just a couple thousand dollars a year.  I would never personally feel comfortable with the way in which she lived but the book is absolutely fascinating.  I picked it up because I thought it might have some neat ideas for saving money.  I don’t know that I really picked up that many money-saving hints but it was so intriguing.  The author went on to attend college and work for NASA as an engineer even though she stopped attending school in 7th grade.  Amazing!

Crafty Mama: Make 49 Fabulous, Fool Proof (Baby & Toddler) Projects by Abby Pecoriello.  Although I may end up making one of the projects (hair barrettes) this book was disappointing.  The concept is nice enough but the actual projects I just found lame.  Glad this one was just from the library.

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry Morgan.  I have been looking for a book like this one for years.  This book covers all of the major religions and gives a brief explanation of each.  I’m ashamed to admit that even though I have a seminary degree I know very little about many of the world’s religion.  I do enjoy praying for missionaries and have used Operation World as a prayer guide.  It is great to have a better understanding of what a particular religion believes so that I can pray better for the missionaries who are working to spread the Gospel among those in that religion.  This book is also a great conversation starter.  I carried this book with me to a few doctor/dentist appointments the past month and had some really interesting conversations as a result. Note: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own.

Whispers in the Wind by Lauraine Snelling.  This is the second book in the Wild West Wind series but I didn’t find myself lost at all.  I did find the pace of the book to be rather slow.  Usually I read most fiction books voraciously but I found myself taking over 2 weeks to finish this one.  It was one of those books that I kept thinking surely this will get better I just need to keep reading.  I read all the way to the end and it didn’t get any better at all.  There was hardly any resolution in this book.  I’m guessing that is so you purchase the third book in the series.  I for one will not be purchasing or reading the next book.  I have no desire to read anymore books in this series.  Note: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.  The review did not have to be favorable.  All opinions are my own.

A Husband’s Labor of Love

3 Sep

My sweet thoughtful husband the artist.

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through a Ballard Design catalog and saw a beautiful floral print.  At a price of $200 I knew that print was not going to make its way into our kitchen.  So I did what any other wife would do with a talented husband.  I asked him to paint something for me instead.

Hard at work. Notice the canning jars on the table? I was canning pickles while Brandon painted. Sweet memory.

I am so glad that I did!  Not only did it turn out beautiful but it was so fun to watch Brandon paint.  I loved watching him paint each stroke and the expressions on his face.

The painting is on display in our kitchen.  I could not be prouder of my hubby.  Every time I look at the painting it brings a smile to my face in a way that a $500 painting never could.  What a precious labor of love from my husband.  One I will always cherish!  🙂

The finished painting. The photo really doesn’t give it justice.

Sew a Pair of Baby Shoes: Simplicity 2278 Review

10 Aug

My first pair of baby shoes!

This past week I made something that I never dreamed normal people (like me) could sew.  Baby shoes!  Sure sometimes you see those crazy talented sewing ladies on their blog whipping up a cute pair of ballet slippers from an old purse.  I’m just not one of those people who looks at an old leather purse and magically makes a pair of baby shoes.  I can however read a pattern pretty well if it is well written.  Simplicity 2278 was a dream to sew.  I made ViewA in a size medium.  It’s a good thing Elijah was a little boy and not a little girl or I think I would have stayed up late sewing him shoes instead of studying.  😉

I had some leftover fabric (small scraps really) from sewing a Simplicity 2295 tote bag and just used the leftover fabric.  I cut the pieces out without worrying too much about grain lines.  This seemed to work well.  I cut a size medium but really don’t know what size these would correspond to in regular shoe sizes.

So sweet. I added a simple plain 3/8″ button I had on hand. The button is just for decoration as the shoes velcro closed.

I did not use any Jiffy Grip like the pattern calls for.  I didn’t have any and I live far away from a fabric store.  The baby won’t be walking in these shoes so I don’t think it matters.  (They are not made for walking.)  Instead I just used regular fabric.  You could easily make the soles out of the same material as the rest of the shoe.  For a neat contrasting look I used a coordinating fabric instead for the bottom of the shoes.  I would recommend sewing step 10 (sewing the sole) with a seam allowance of  3/8 instead of 1/4.  It seems like the sole would fit in the shoe better this way.

I was amazed at how simple these shoes were to sew.  Really if you sew you must try to make a pair of these shoes for the next baby shower you attend.  I would recommend sewing either a size medium or large the first time around.  I haven’t sewn the small size but it just sounds difficult to make a teeny tiny shoe.  🙂

The most adorable scrap fabric busting ever!

The pattern also includes a pattern for an adult size shoe/house slipper which is kind of neat I guess.  I never thought about making myself a pair of slippers but I guess it could happen.  It would be really cute to sew a mom and baby matching slippers.  I would recommend using Jiffy Grip if you make the adult size slippers.  There are a total of 5 different baby shoes in this pattern.  I’m hoping to try to make the little boots View B for a friend’s baby sometime this fall.  They would look absolutely adorable in John Deere fabric.  This pattern contains shoes that a little boy could also wear.  I am sure that I will be making it often for baby gifts.

June Reads

16 Jul

This months reads. Half were great while the other half were a huge let down.

A wide variety of books read this past June.  Books on saving money, marriage, sewing, organic food, canning, and theology just to name a few.

June Reads:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen.  Although I found this book incredibly interesting I only made it through about half of it.  (It was an audiobook from the library and I had to return it before I was finished.)  The book is divided into 3 parts: industrialized food, alternative or “organic” food, and food people obtain on their own through gathering, gardening, or hunting.  Much of the book is spent tracing and discussing exactly where our food comes from.  I found this part incredibly interesting.

Shop, Save, and Share by Ellie Kay and 1/2 Price Living . I just recently stumbled upon Ellie Kay while browsing at my local library.  I read two of her books this past month.  They were both excellent and gave me lots of great ideas on continuing to save money in our household.  I would recommend 1/2 Price Living to anyone who desires to be a stay at home mom or work part-time but feels they cannot afford it.

Confronting Jezebel by Steve Sampson.  This subtitle reads discerning and defeating the spirit of control.  I think everyone struggles with control at times so I was excited to review this book.  The book was written about “Jezebel’s” who try to control everything.  I found the book lacking in Scripture and had some serious issues with how Sampson handles the Scriptures.  All that the book really did for me was make me more fearful about controlling people in my life something that is incredibly unhelpful.  It would have been great if the book had been Gospel centered and addressed to believers who struggle with acting controlling to others around them.  Perhaps it would have addressed various heart struggles involved and how to repent of this sinful behavior to live a life of godliness.  Overall a big disappointment.  I do not recommend this book.  (I did receive a review copy of this book in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.)

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll.  I found the first 1/2 of this book to be fairly solid and was completely blown away by the second half.  Having read a handful of books on marriage I did not find a whole lot in the beginning that was personally life changing.  The Driscoll’s did a nice job talking on the importance of friendship.  This challenged me to make spending time just as friends more of a priority.  The second half of the book was in fact disgusting.  Revolting might be a better word for it.  I have issue with the way they interpret Song of Solomon and their encouragement of various activities within the bedroom.  If you are looking for a solid Christian book on marriage there are a number of other books: Created to Be His Helpmeet, The Excellent Wife, and When Sinners Say I Do to name a few.  Don’t buy this book!

Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff.  Thankfully I was able to check this book out of the library before purchasing it.  The whole premise of the book was so appealing that I almost ordered it.  It was such a let down.  Most of the canning recipes are for odd, expensive, bizarre ingredients.  Some of the items I had never even heard of!  Almost everyone I know who cans does so to save money so this just seems stupid.  Throughout the book the author does not write as someone with expertise in the area of canning.  Frankly it appears that she knows just a little bit more than I do.  If you are looking for a good canning book just buy The Ball Blue Book like everyone else.  The instructions are great and the recipes are even better!
Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan.  This was one of my favorite books this month that I had the chance to browse through.  There are a number of delightful bags, children’s clothing (girls only), and attire for thin women.  I was a little too busy with my garden to make anything from this book yet but hopefully sometime this fall I will have a chance to make the Amelie Bag.  I would recommend this book and hope to add it to my library sometime in the future.