Freezer paper & felt shirts

I’ve been making freezer paper stenciled shirts for a few years now and it’s very addicting! If you don’t know what that is, here is a tutorial. I like to do a few things differently than what is explained in that tutorial.  For example, I like using sponge brushes to apply the paint, my favorite fabric paint is jaquard and I’m too impatient to let it dry overnight before ripping off the freezer paper, so I just use a hair dryer on it for about 2 minutes!
Anyway, I tried combining freezer paper stencils with felt for some Christmas gifts. The one pictured above is a stenciled owl with a brown felt branch and bow. I just hand stitched the felt on.
I stenciled the dog in this one and did pink felt for the collar and bow and again hand stitched.

I think they made for some pretty cute little girls shirts!  You should try it!! (at least the freezer paper part, it’s so easy!)


felt barrettes

First of all, sorry for the long delay in posting! The holidays have been crazy, apparently. I have a lot of things up my sleeve to post, so stay tuned! I will try not to be absent for so long again!
Once again, I’ve been trying to come up with clever way to use all of my felt scraps. Lula needed a hair accessory to match her brown Christmas dress, so I made a simple flower, sewed a button on and hot glued it to a barrette! It turned out super cute and the only sewing, was just the button!
I also made a little leaf barrette for my niece, Maelie:
I did do some hand stitching on this one to add a little bit of detail. I might have to make another one for Lula!
Here is a view of the back:

Homemade bread using the bread machine

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to make all of our bread myself.  My mom gave me her old bread machine that she never used, and it is so easy and delicious! Lula loves eating peanut butter on fresh whole wheat bread and I know exactly what is in it…no high fructose corn syrup or other unhealthy ingredients. Plus, it’s only pennies a loaf to make, so it saves money!  My bread machine has a timer on it, so I can put the ingredients in at night and set it so that the bread is finished baking just as we are waking up.
You can find a bread machine for very little money. I found one for a friend at a thrift store for $5, in perfect condition. I also have seen them on craigslist for as little as $10. Look for a used one first before you resort to spending lots of money on a new one!
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a 100% whole wheat recipe that doesn’t come out way too dense. So, instead I usually do about 1 part white flour and 2 parts whole wheat flour. I also add a dough enhancer that helps the loaf be a little more light and fluffy.
Here is the recipe that works for me:
Whole Wheat (almost) Bread
2 tsp yeast
1 cup white bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbs dough enhancer (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs nonfat dry milk
1 Tbs oil
1/4 Cup honey
1 1/4 Cups warm water
Make sure you add the ingredients in the order recommended by your bread machine manufacturer.  Also, it’s important that all ingredients are room temperature.
 I would highly recommend buying a bread machine if you are wanting to save money while eating a little healthier. My other favorite thing to  make with the bread machine is pizza dough! I will be sharing that one later!


Search & Win

A few months ago, I found out about this great search engine called Swag Bucks . It’s pretty cool. You literally get “paid” in rewards to use this website instead of using Google. Basically, you use it just like you’d use Google and you will randomly be awarded “Swag Bucks”. Sometimes you will get one, sometimes you will get five. You can then redeem your swag bucks for a ton of different prizes. I just got a $25 giftcard to Totally free! Just for searching for stuff that I would normally do anyway!! The other cool thing is, if you refer people, you will earn their swag bucks in addition to yours!! So, if you want to get started, click on the link above. (I’m not gonna lie, it will help me earn more swag bucks if you do it.) :)

Book review: The Creative Family

A few months ago, I purchased The Creative Family by Amanda Soule. It’s a super cute book that is full of great creative ideas for kids. It has wonderful photography throughout which I love. There are many simple project ideas with detailed instructions for things you can make with your kids or for your kids to aide in their creativity.  There are also fun and practical ideas and suggestions on how to keep a spirit of creativity alive in your household.  I’m excited to try some of her ideas with Lula once she is a little older, like having a family “art night”.  Amanda has another book out called Handmade Home that I am excited to purchase next. You can check out her fun blog here!

Make your own covered bulletin board!

I love my staple gun. It’s the greatest tool ever! I have recovered countless chairs and now these bulletin boards. The one above is an old one that I had in college that was getting pretty dingy. I had some Amy Butler red and white fabric and bought some aqua ribbon to re-cover it! Literally all you  need is a staple gun!
here is a view of the back. It’s not pretty, but it works! I just stretched the fabric right over the old fabric and stapled it on. Then I did the same thing with the ribbon.

Here is another one in our office. This was an old cork board that was falling apart, so I just did the same thing. Stretched fabric over and stapled.

I LOVE this fabric. My friend Donna brought it back from Africa for me. I wanted to do something with it where I could see it regularly and enjoy it, so this was the perfect project!

I used some of the same ribbon for this one also. I think it turned out super cute!!

My favorite natural cleaning product: Dr. Bronner’s soap!

I have recently discovered Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap and it’s endless uses! I love that it is all natural, so it’s completely safe to use for many different purposes. I have been using it in some various homemade cleaners around the house. You can check out my all purpose cleaner here.  I have also mixed it with baking soda to make a natural abrasive cleaner-it worked great on my stainless steel sink!  The other fabulous thing about Dr. Bronner’s, is that it’s safe enough to use not only for household cleaners, but for personal hygeine items as well! I use it my cloth wipe solution for Lula. I am sure I will be sharing tha recipe later.  I know it can also be used as a mild facial wash.  Some peopl even brush their teeth with it! I don’t love it THAT much…I think I will just stick to my Crest toothpaste for now.

Now, now on where to buy this product: It is sold at Whole foods and some other chain grocery stores, I know my local Hy-Vee has it there. However, I have found it to be MUCH cheaper to buy it online. In fact, I saw a 16 oz bottle at Hy-Vee for about $8, but I found a 32 oz bottle for sale on Amazon for the nearly same price! So, you can potentially pay 1/2 the price if you do a little online research, which makes it very affordable!

I will also point out that Dr. Bronner’s comes in a bar form as well. I use that for my powdered laundry detergent. However, since I have just bought a huge bottle of liquid at a cheap price, I’m currently looking into a liquid laundry detergent recipe and will share that once it is perfected.

Homemade Hummus and Pita Chips

Lately I’ve been making a lot of fresh homemade hummus. We absolutely love hummus at our house. We eat it with fresh veggies, on bread and with homemade pita chips! We used to buy hummus at the store but quickly realized how expensive it is. I couldn’t believe how cheap and easy it is to make! I have experimented with many different recipes and have developed my own concoction that works for me!
Homemade Hummus
1/4 cup water
1 cup drained canned chickpeas
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs lemon juice
5 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup peanut butter ( you can also use tahini, but it’s harder to find and more expensive)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (only if you like a little kick!)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth! Add more water or olive oil if the consistency is too thick.  If you refrigerate for an hour or so, it will thicken a bit!
Homemade Pita Chips
3-4 whole wheat tortillas OR pita bread
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
Cut tortillas or pita bread into triangles or rectangles.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt over pita pieces and toss until well covered. Bake on a cookie sheet at 425 for about 5-8 minutes (flip pieces over 1/2 way through). Keep an eye on it because they easily burn!
**Hummus is a great protein enriched food for toddlers. Lula rarely eats meat or eggs (because she refuses it), but she loves hummus spread on whole wheat bread.  I can take some comfort knowing that she is getting  protein from something!
Enjoy a healthy snack!!

Scrap Doll Quilt

Lula is getting a new baby doll for Christmas along with my old doll cradle that my dad made which I will be re-painting. Every baby doll needs her own quilt, so I decided to make some with some scraps! I found this great little quilt tutorial on sew mama sew.  I haven’t made a quilt in a very long time, and this was so easy, anyone could do it!! My mom was nice enough to let me use some of her fun scraps since I don’t have a lot. I think it turned out super cute!

I basically just randomly cut scraps into squares and rectangles

Then, I just pinned them on top of the layers of the quilt. (See the sew mama sew link for a better tutorial!)

detail of the back