Saturday, December 29, 2012

Confession #38: A homemade Christmas is a wonderful thing

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We don't put a huge important in presents when it comes to Christmas because the true reason for the season is Jesus's birth, not Santa, food, presents, etc.
That said, I made a few things to help cut our costs (because presents still are a part of Christmas), make Liana's Christmas more personal, and because, well, lets face it: I am addicted to crafting stuff.

Our stockings
First off: Homemade stockings made from recycled sweaters. I posted these in an earlier post. They worked well and they actually held all the goodies inside.

L is for Ladybug, M is for Mail
ABC quiet book ready for exploring

Secondly, I have been working with a Quiet Book Exchange group the last 6 months to make an ABC quiet book. And finally it was  all done for Christmas (well still missing a few pages). I simple explanation is that we all picked 5 letters to make and would make enough of those letters to mail out to all the moms in the group. So all I did was make my letter pages, mail them out, and wait for the other letter pages to come in the mail. Still waiting on a few, but I know they are coming.

Please ignore the backward J.

Thirdly, I made Liana magnetic letters for our fridge or front door (which is a metal door). They are made out of felt, lined with cardboard and magnets. Super strong magnets they they hold the whole letter.

Ours looked like this but this
 one is from Martha Stewart Living

Fourthly (is that a word?), We made an advent calender for Liana to count down the days until Christmas. Inside each sock was a toy (usually a plastic bug or finger puppet) and a scripture. Here's some ideas for different homemade adevent calenders: Advent

Christmas Crackers
Fifthly, Homemade Christmas Crackers. A fun way to bring other cultures traditions into our home. Ours were filled with candies, small toys, and crowns made of gold tissue paper.

Lastly, homemade breakfast. From homemade whip cream on homemade Belgium waffles to potatoes, scrambled eggs, and sausage. Yum!

After opening presents and eating a wonderful breakfast, we read books, took a nap (Liana woke us up at 3:24 am!), drove up to the snow, drank hot cocoa, ate popcorn and made a ginger bread house. We also spent some time skyping our loved ones back in Washington.  it was a wonderful family Christmas.

Shoes were not worn in our home during Christmas. We did however, put some on to go play in the snow.

Liana playing with her new ABC book

Liana enjoying her Christmas Day in the snow.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Confession #37: Meals in a Jar: Another Form of Nesting

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71 jars! So proud
I recently lead our creative day for mops which included 2 different types of meals in a jar. I had never done meals in a jar before so I was going in blind when I search on Pinterest. But I soon found that there are a LOT of recipes out there. And it's not just limited to soup, like I originally thought. I ended up selecting a lentil soup recipe and a pumpkin cranberry recipe. I did most of my shopping for this at Costco, since I was buying enough for 25 quart jars of each. But all of these ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store too. For the most part I prefer buying in bulk. I bake so much that buying 25 lbs of sugar, flour and oatmeal all at once isn't too crazy. And in the long run it saves us allot of money. The meals for mops ended up costing under $2 for each quart. Not too shabby.
I think that everyone seemed to enjoy the meals in a jar day at MOPS and since there was a small crowd of women who came that day, most moms got to come home with 2 soup jars and 2 bread jars. Bonus!

Here are the recipes that I used for mops:

Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup
1/4 cup beef bullion granules
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/2 cup dried split peas
1/4 cup barley
1 cup dried lentils
1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
1/2 cup long grain white rice
1 cup uncooked pasta

Layer in quart jar and include the following instructions on the jar:

In large kettle, brown 1 lb. ground beef (optional). Remove pasta and reserve. Add rest to kettle with 12 cups water. Let come to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Add pasta and simmer 15 minutes more.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread for one quart jar
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts/chocolate chips (optional)

layer in jar and include the following on jar:

1 jar pumpkin cranberry bread mix
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce)
2 eggs
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (or use spray) two 7 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/4 inch loaf pans (or 4 small loaf pans).
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, oil and eggs, stirring until well blended; set aside.
Place contents of jar into a medium bowl; mix until well blended and brown sugar is no longer clumped. Add flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until well blended. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes (30 to 35 minutes for the small pans), or until inserted wooden pick comes out clean and tops of loaves spring back when pressed

I ended up coming home that afternoon, and while my daughter took a 4 hour nap, I continued making more meals in a jar. I actually continued making them for the next 2 days. Until all the empty jars I had were filled. Turns out I had 2 quarts, 64 pints, 4 half pints, and 1 quarter pint jars. Totally 71 jars filled with all sorts of goodness.

Want to try this for yourself? Here are the recipes I used:

Cajun Dirty Rice
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Cinnamon Pancake Mix
Cocoa Mix
Cumin Lentil Soup
Curry Powder
Focaccia Bread Mix
Four Spice Sugar (I used Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Allspice)
Lemon Poppy seed Cake Mix
Minestrone Soup
Mulling Spice
Pancake Mix
Pumpkin Chocolate Bread (I exchanged the cranberries for chocolate chips)
Pumpkin Nut Bread (I exchanged the cranberries for walnuts)
Seasoned Bean Soup
Sun-dried Tomato and Penne Soup
Texas Corn Bread Mix
Trail Mix Cookie Mix

Directions are tape directly onto the jars.
I had to change the amounts for some of them to make them fit into a pint jar (most recipes are made for quart jars). But I have found that we don't like to eat the same soup 5 days in a row, so pint jars are much better for our family. If you have a bigger family, than stick with quarts.

I also should note that I covered each jar with plastic wrap before putting the lid and ring on them. This is good because I used old lids from my canning jars. And I don't want my tomato sauce smell to leak onto the chocolate chip banana bread. The plastic wrap will work as a barrier to prevent the smells from leaking.

Add some ribbon and pretty paper for the recipe and
 you have yourself a wonderful homemade gift.
I am hoping that this helps make our transition from 3 to 4 a little easier. Hoping to get some freezer meals done in the near future (just need to make room in the freezer first). Less than two months and I could be holding that wonderful baby boy. I am so excited. But there's still plenty of nesting to be done.
Hope this inspires you to make some meals in a jar for your own home or as gifts.

Warning: no shoes were worn in the making of these meals.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Confession #36: Have an hour? Then you can make these cute pajamas

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The cute rumps
I have always been intimidated by sewing clothes. I feel like I can sew pretty much anything but when it comes to actually making sure it fits on a human being, well that scares the stuffing out of me. But I decided it's about time I actually tried. So I started with the most forgiving, easiest fabric I could think of: fleece. Liana and I went to our local Joann's and I had her pick out three patterns of her choice. Of course they all had animals on them: Turtles, whales and dinosaurs. I also picked up matching solid colors: pink, orange and green. All of which were 50% off. Score! Now, you can totally do this project green by checking out your local thrift stores or using fleece from an old blanket. But I wanted something fast and super cute. So I actually bought new fabric. I know, it felt so weird for me.
Ignore the nose picker! Just look at the cute pj's
The first pair of pants took me forever. But after the third pair I was getting pretty good at it. I timed the third pair: 28 minutes. Not bad, not bad at all.
This is the pattern I used (roughly): From An Igloo
You can imagine how excited I felt the next day when Liana tried them on and they actually fit!
And since you can't have cute pj pants without a cute matching top, I went searching for the perfect top pattern. Of which I never found. But I did use this pattern as a reference: Small Dream Factory
The main reason this pattern didn't work for me, is that it was way too small. It was for a 1-1 1/2 year old and my daughter is two. She is a skinny two, but a two nonetheless. The result: a slightly tight pj top (see whale shirt on the left). And that's after I altered it to make it bigger for her.
Hoping this one holds up so her brother can use it
 So I ended up taking one of her sweatshirts out of her closet and using it to make my pattern. This worked perfectly. See photo to the right! The third shirt I made only took 35 minutes to complete.

Little turtles
And there you have it, a two piece pajama set in a little over an hour. Liana loves them and I love how soft and toasty she it when we snuggle. I did this without shoes, but I have to confess, it's cold, I wore socks.

Don't want to take the time to make these yourself? Let me do it for you. I will be making these to order for $25 a set or $15 each piece. There are dozens of patterns to choose from!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

These are a Few of My Favorite Things: Upcycling Sweaters

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I wanted to make my family some new stockings for Christmas so I did a little goggling and checked on Pinterest and found ones made out of old sweaters. I loved that idea, and it inspired me to make more recycled sweater items. Here's the list

Our families stockings
1. Old Sweaters, New Stockings by Imperfect Home
Seriously one of the most simple patterns to follow. All you need is a few sweaters and a sewing machine. It took me about 15 minutes to make three. Still looking for one more sweater for our new addition.

photo by Create and Delegate
2. Leg warmers by Create and Delegate
Kids love these and you will love that they are simple and keep their legs nice and toasty.

Liana's slippers
3. Sweater Slipper pattern 1 by Collecting the Moments
I made Liana a pair of these, the only thing missing is a printable tutorial.

4. Sweater Slipper pattern 2 by Michael Miller Fabrics
This booties pattern has a printable pattern and is nice cause you can make it with any kind of fabric. I used my sweater scraps and it worked great. Also made it months ago with normal fabric and it was nice too.

An assortment of Liana slippers
5. Sweater Slippers pattern 3 by Leafy Tree Top Spot
A really cute design plus printable pattern. I like this one cause the pattern fits size 7/8 instead of just infant feet. She used fleece but I thought it worked great with felted wool sweaters.

6. Infant Hats by Corina Nielson
Her hats are so cute and once I get more sweaters, I will be making more of these.

Liana's winter mittens

7. Hat and Mitten set by One Pearl Button
Made mine out of an old cashmere sweater that I didn't ever wear anymore. Its so soft.

photo by Cut Out and Keep
8. Sweater Boots by Cut Out and Keep
So cute. Haven't tried these yet, but want to

Photo by Thrifty Mama
9. Boot "Socks" by Thrifty Mama
Simple and so stylish

Sweater bookends

10. Owl book ends by me (but check out Green Eyed for instructions)
I love my owl bookends. I free handed them so I found Green Eyed's pattern for you to get an idea of it. I added a bag of sand in each owl to weigh it down.

Elephant taggy
11. Recycled Elephant by me
Like most things I do, I free handed this. Just pick your fabric (for me, a red sweater and some corresponding fabric). You'll also need different colored ribbons. i made myself a template on paper and traced it onto the fabric. Be creative!

Taggy Toy

12. Taggy Blanket by me
I used a broken set of plastic keys (the ring broke), ribbon, and a few squares of an old felted wool sweater. Again, the skies the limit!

Happy Barefoot Sweater Crafting!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Confession #35: In order to be in my family you must love puppets

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She kinda gets the idea of it
let the show begin!
Some of my fondest memories growing up involved the puppet show my parents made for my sister and I. It was huge, took over our living room. Since we hardly have any space left in our home, I had to make my daughters puppet stage, much, much smaller. I took the box that one of my daughters birthday presents came in and transformed it into the stage. Not as sturdy as wood, but much easier to make. It took me only an hour or so (plus drying time) from start to finish.
Finally my puppets I made years ago
have a place to call home
First I folded in the top flaps. Then folded in the two sides of the bottom flaps. I used colored duck tape to secure the bottom flap and cut the top flap to make a decorative design. I taped the cut pieces to the back of the top flap to secure it in place.
Showing off her puppets
Next I painted the whole thing (pink, cause that's what I had). I punched two holes on either side to thread a dowel through. Sewed two curtains (Liana picked the fabric from my fabric stash). Grabbed her basket of puppets and let her creativity begin.
Done! And you know, puppet shows are much funner barefoot!

A show by Liana!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Confession #34: Baby blankets can be super easy

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I wanted to make something special for this new baby growing inside me, and since I made Liana SOOOO many toys, I decided on a baby blanket.
I picked out this fabric before we knew what the sex was, but I find it even more fitting now that we are having a boy. Yep that's right, Liana is super excited for her little brother.
So I decided on a simple blanket that I could get done in one evening. I took two different corresponding fabric (1 yard each) and added trim. This trim I stole off the old cover to the bumper I turned giant snake (click here for a closer look on the snake) and a little bit of orange yarn.

I pined the trim onto the blue fabric and sewed it on. Using four of the ties (originally used to tie the bumper to the crib) on each corner. Then I sewed the blue fabric and animal patterned fabric together (right sides in). leaving a little space to turn it right side out. I hand sewed the hole shut. Added 5 tassels of yarn throughout the blanket to hold the two pieces of fabric together. And, done. Simple, easy and cute. Only took me 2 hours. From the time I cut the fabric to the time I took the last photo. Not to bad for a homemade item.
Now all we need is a cute certain barefooted boy to come play on it.

Liana calls it "my broders blanket."

Confession #33: Liana's play kitchen is (almost) complete

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Liana's kitchen after hours of sanding
I have seen tons of entertainment turned play kitchens through Pinterest and have been really wanting to make one for my daughter. Months have gone by and still had yet to find that "perfect" piece of furniture to turn into my daughters kitchen. That was until I went to my friends fundraiser yard sale. I found the perfect little TV stand. Most people would just look at it and move on, but I saw potential. I only wished I had taken a photo of it before I started working on it.
The back of the kitchen, freshly painted
It was black to start, I didn't want a black kitchen so I sanded it down, took hours, and used a spray paint can of primer on it. Then we (well, my friends husband) cut a hole at the top with a jigsaw for the sink to go in. After a little more sanding, it was ready to be painted. I went with green because that's what I found for free from a friend! (This project is on the cheap after all).

Liana's fridge

Fridge filled with tons of
 felt food goodies
That same day I found the perfect cabinet to be the fridge. All I had to do to it is take a large piece of wood off the top (later used for the kitchens back splash) and paint the whole thing. Pretty simple.

Her "almost finished" kitchen
Back to the kitchen: After painting, I Gorilla glued black Cd's onto the top for burners, placed the sink in the hole, and screwed on the burner knobs. I have yet to find a facet that I like (which is why this kitchen is "almost done"). I nailed on the black splash and gave it some trim. I also added a few hooks at the top to hold pot holders and measuring cups, etc.
 I took an old frame, painted it pink, took some chalk board paint and glued the frame around it to make Liana her own "menu board."

My latest felt food creations:
 fruit medley, lettuce, and a banana
I last thing I added was a tension rob with a curtain I sewed out of some clearance material I picked up a while ago. It's not a perfect match, but it works.
I placed the fridge and kitchen in her room. Added a table and chair set and her dolls high chair. 2 months later...Done (minus the facet)
I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Confession #32: Wall decals are worth making

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Since most of our family is so far away, I wanted to make Liana a family tree with photos of everyone on it, so that she can see her family everyday. I have seen many lovely wall decals that would work but they are pretty pricey. So I looked into making my own. I already had double strong Heat n Bond so all I needed to do it cut out the pieces. I started with a tree truck with branches.
Once it was all ironed onto the wall, I added the leaves. I cut everything out free hand but I did use some blogs as inspirations: Brittany's Budget Crafts and Curbly.
At this point I wanted to add some animals so I cut out a few owls and ironed them onto the tree. If you don't want a family tree, and just a cute tree, you could stop at this point and leave it.
 I actually like the look of it allot without the photos. But that would defeat the whole purpose of this project. So I cut out everyones photo and glued them onto each leaf. 
Here is the finished result. What do you think? Liana loves it. She likes me to name everyone over and over again. I hope that by the next time we go up with Washington or over to Hawaii she will know everyones name.
Close up on the owl and leaves
Close up on the photos. Notice one empty leaf....that's for Liana's new sibling due in Feb.
This project was rather easy. The only problem I faced was during the ironing process. Since you need to iron each item on with a towel over it, I felt like I could have benefited from a having a third hand. But I did successfully do this shoe free, as usual. I got everything cut out and ready for the wall while my daughter napped and was able to iron everything on while she played with blocks on the floor. Not bad.
Easy to follow steps:
1. Pick your fabric and trace or free hand your pattern onto the back of the Heat n Bond.
2. Iron the fabric onto the Heat n Bond. Fabric right side up. Follow instructions of the Heat n Bond.
3. Cut out pattern.
4. Peel off paper from back of Heat n Bond.
5. Place finished fabric on wall (one piece at a time), place a towel over the fabric, and iron it onto the wall. 5 second count.
6. Make sure it stuck but don't peel it or it will come right off.
7. Repeat until all your pieces are on the wall
8. Glue on photos as desired. But make sure to only glue onto the fabric and not your walls.
9. Use a fabric pen if you would like to write the names of your family members by their photos.
10. Step back and enjoy your handy work.