Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Gift!

Out of all the Christmas gifts I made this year, this one was by far my favorite! (Although I should note that Seth actually did much of the work - I only did some of it.)
I had had the idea several months ago to find an old cabinet and turn it into a kitchen set for the kids, an idea that I thought was pretty original. After stumbling across someone's blog a while back, I discovered it wasn't such a unique idea after all, but that was probably actually a good thing, since I was able to find lots of good ideas on how to do it! We ended up making it out of a used nightstand, and I didn't find one that fit my requirements (solid wood, in good shape so I wouldn't have to paint it) until the Sunday before Christmas. We borrowed a lot of ideas from this homemade kitchen set.

This is the original nightstand, after we had taken off one of the drawer handles.

Seth's dad builds a lot of things, so we borrowed his tools, and he helped Seth with the structural stuff. Seth removed the drawers, took the back off, cut a hole in the top for the sink, and they added braces to hold up the plywood shelves they cut to fit.

We glued the shelves and sink (an 8x8 metal baking pan) in place.

We screwed in the faucet (a wooden letter J) and the knobs (drawer pulls), and glued on the burners (CDs with strips of wood). We had saved one the drawer fronts, which became the oven door, and we added a hook to one side. I had originally planned to add a little curtain to the bottom shelf, but we decided that we liked the look of just the baskets. We also added a cookie cooling rack for the oven rack.

The kids have been having lots of fun with this, although it's already had its share of mishaps (the oven door was broken off, and the top has gotten banged up). I was hoping it would be a little longer before it began to show signs of wear, but that's kids for you! =)
When all was said and done, it cost a bit more than I was hoping (probably around $50), but it was still much cheaper than buying a wooden kitchen set!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Although I enjoy making my own cards for Christmas, I decided I just wasn't going to have time this year. So I settled for photo cards, since people usually enjoy getting pictures! I had a hard time actually getting a nice picture of both of the kids, but we finally succeeded!

There were a few others that turned out cute, too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Busy Getting Ready for Christmas!

It's been looking a little like Santa's workshop around here with the projects that have been going on for the past several weeks. Thankfully, I have completed many of my gifts. I'd love to show them, but I don't want to spoil any surprises! However, I do have a few other non-present projects that I've completed that I can share!

Bootie slippers for Joanna, using this tutorial. They are absolutely adorable, but unfortunately, they ended up a little too small. I'm going to have to enlarge the pattern and try again.

Slippers for Benjamin, using this tutorial. I added a non-slip slipper sole.

I finished this little doll I made for Joanna. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I actually started this doll in March. It was her Easter gift. I had finished everything but the hair. That's what took me so long. The hair is made of tiny thread loops all over, which looks good in the end but was extremely time-consuming and tedious to do. I'm not planning on doing hair like that again! Thankfully Joanna didn't seem to mind the wait! =)

An advent calendar for the kids! I originally had wanted to make something that was a manger scene - like a stable that they added a felt person or animal to every day. Unfortunately, I'm not that creative - making felt animals and people is a little beyond my skill, so I settled for this design instead. It's a felt Christmas tree sewn to a muslin background. All over the Christmas tree are buttons that little felt ornaments will be hung from, one each day until Christmas. The presents under the tree are actually pockets that will hold the ornaments until they are used. I still have most of the ornaments to make, but I'm hoping to make a couple each day until they are done - hopefully before they are needed!

This is just to show how the ornaments will be hung - that's supposed to be Baby Jesus, which was the only thing from the manger scene that I thought would turn out somewhat decent! =)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nine Months!

Miss Joanna is nine months old today - how the time has flown! =) She brings so much joy and sunshine into our lives, and is such a blessing!

She is a busy little girl - she's been crawling for almost a couple of weeks now and she makes good use of her mobility! She's also been completely self-feeding with her solid foods for about a month now, which has been nice for me! She's also started clapping and pulling herself to a stand. She's done all of these things well before Benjamin did!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Amazing Bargain!

Most people know I love a good deal. But this goes beyond a good deal - this is absolutely amazing...I'm still kind of in shock about this. So take a look at what I got:

All this for....are you ready for it? $6.78!!!! Yep, that's right. 30 pounds of honey (about a year's supply for us), two boxes of Wheaties (Seth loves these, but we don't buy them very often because they're so expensive, and they never go on sale), Sesame oil (I'm hoping to try a lip balm recipe with this), and a bouquet of flowers.

So how did I do it? Well, a couple of months ago I signed up for the Amazon Mom program, mostly to get the free three-month membership to Amazon Prime, since I thought the free shipping on any order would come in handy during the holiday season. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email asking me to try out Amazon Fresh, their grocery delivery service. As an incentive, they gave me a coupon for $100 off an order of $100 or more! I have never seen a coupon that good! That was enough of an incentive for me! I had expected to pay around $10 - $15 for shipping, which would still have made it an excellent deal, but it was only $5.99 - even better! So my order totaled $100.79 - $100 coupon, + $5.99 shipping, which gave me a grand total of $6.78! And the flowers were a free gift for a first-time customer!

I had originally planned to buy honey and coconut oil (the most expensive things in my grocery budget), as well as the few smaller items, but they were out of the coconut oil that I wanted. I discovered that I could get a really good deal on the honey by buying 6 jugs, so I went with that, and with the other few things I wanted, the total worked out perfectly!

This was such a gift from God, and such a blessing to me!!!

Pumpkin Farm!

We joined Seth's family for a trip to the pumpkin farm a few weeks ago! As Benjamin has gotten older, it's more fun to take him places like this because he is so curious about everything!

We had to get a picture of Benjamin sitting here after seeing the sign!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've been making this laundry detergent now for a couple of months, and I love it! I love that it is completely natural and safe, and it is pretty inexpensive as well. I keep it in an empty half-gallon container (I half the recipe), and I keep a measuring cup attached with a rubber band for easy measuring. I had originally made a full gallon, using an empty milk carton, but I found that sometimes the salt and baking soda settles to the bottom, and shaking up a full gallon was a little more awkward. The half gallon container makes this easier, and since it's pretty quick and easy to make, I don't mind making it a little more often!

Day Trip!

We took a day trip to an old fort, which is now a public park. We enjoyed a pretty drive, a nice picnic lunch, and Benjamin loved exploring the fort. Fun day!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Benjamin and Joanna

I thought I'd share a few recent pictures of the kiddos...

Benjamin thought this end table would make a great place to read a book =)
An organ duet!
I was feeding Joanna when I had to go do something, so Benjamin thought he'd take over. He did pretty good until he shoved the spoon a little too far in!
Sleepyheads =)

Fabric Bowl Covers

Several months ago I decided not to buy any more aluminum foil or plastic wrap. I didn't use them very often anyway, since I try to use reusable containers, and I figured that would be one less thing to buy. Sometimes, though, it is nice to be able to leave leftovers in the bowl they're in, and not have to transfer them to another container.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I spotted a picture of some fabric bowl covers that someone had made, and I was really excited! That would be perfect for the times I just wanted to stick a bowl of something in the fridge.

They looked really simple, so I made a couple...

They were super easy and quick to make, and they are really handy! I've already used them a few times, and it is the perfect solution for me! Obviously, they aren't airtight, since they're made of fabric, but then, neither is foil or plastic wrap, really. When they're dirty, just toss them in the wash - no garbage!

I'm planning on making a couple more, so I'll take pictures and post a tutorial when I do.

Finished Projects!

I've been able to finish a number of little projects over the last month or so....

A little blanket for Joanna...
Birthday crowns for the kids, from The Creative Family by Amanda Soule.
A fabric gift bag...
A crayon roll for Benjamin's birthday....
Another skirt for Joanna - this will go in her stocking.
Joanna's stocking - I made this using the Knifty Knitter.
A little fleece jacket for Joanna - this was my first attempt at making an article of clothing by tracing a piece of clothing. It turned out really well! I made it simple on myself by just tracing two pieces and not separating the sleeves!

Thursday, September 30, 2010


I thought it was high time my blog had a new look! I also added a section on the sidebar for links to tutorials and recipes that I really like, which I will be adding to when I have time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A big girl!

We've started a little self-feeding with Joanna - with a fun new snack recommended to us from a friend. These are "Mum Mums", a baby rice cracker. Joanna absolutely loves them! Whenever I hold one out to her, she grabs it and shoves it in her mouth! I love that they immediately melt in her mouth. Cheerios were the first thing Benjamin fed himself, but these are easier for babies, because they can be held in a fist rather than with fingers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Early Christmas projects...

I would love to get started on making Christmas presents, but I need some good ideas first! So I decided to make Joanna a Christmas outfit, so that would at least be ready. I had this material in my stash, and it worked perfectly for a little skirt and a headband. I love how they turned out - my only concern is that they fit her now, so hopefully they'll still fit her in a few months!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A new use for olive oil...

If you're like me and reuse glass bottles and jars you get with food (like salad dressing bottles or pasta sauce jars) then you have probably dealt with the frustration of labels not coming off nicely or leaving sticky residue. When this happens, I usually use vinegar to get the residue off, which often, but not always, works. But I read somewhere about olive oil removing sticky stuff - so the last time I had a label not come off very well, I tried it. I sprayed some olive oil on the sticky spot and left it for a few minutes. When I wiped it with my washcloth, the residue wiped right off! Yay for olive oil!

My new favorite organizational tool!

Sometimes I feel like we're in a constant state of decluttering and trying to organize our things better. I used to keep my shoes in a box, but removed them when I discovered some of them had gotten moldy, so then they were just sitting in a pile on our closet floor. I thought about buying an over-the-door shoe holder, but then thought - I could make that! So I did.

It's been in the works for a couple of weeks now as I got up the motivation to do the two things I don't love about sewing - cutting out and ironing. But I finally finished it - and I am loving this! I used material I already had - I didn't quite have enough of the darker green, so I used a lighter green, too, which I think makes it a bit more interesting looking. The bottom row is bigger pockets which hold one each of larger shoes - like my tennis shoes, and the other rows are smaller pockets which each hold either one shoe or two flip flops. This perfectly holds all my shoes and certainly looks much nicer than the clear plastic one I had thought about buying.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I've been making...

Sandwich and snack bags, using this tutorial. I adjusted the measurements based on the sizes I wanted and fabric I had.
Blackberry pie and jam - from free fresh-picked blackberries! Yay for free stuff!

A new friend for Benjamin - he's really into snakes right now. I wouldn't have made the tongue out of felt, though, if I had know that he would carry the snake around by its tongue!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Real Food!

Joanna isn't too sure about her banana! We've just started eating real food, and although she always wants to try our food, she isn't too fond of hers!
I'm taking a little different route with her food than I did with Benjamin. I waited a big longer - until she was six months - and I'm trying to stay away from store baby food, especially the baby cereals. I never liked how fake the cereal seemed, and with the help of a couple of cookbooks, I have the info I need to make her easily-digestible cereal myself (which will be cheaper, anyway).
Like Benjamin, though, I will be trying to have her feed herself as soon as possible. I'm feeding her from a spoon for now, until she gets used to eating real food and has better control over her fingers, but for some reason I've never really enjoyed this stage. I loved it when Benjamin could eat food himself (and he was happier and ate better as well). Benjamin was mostly self-feeding somewhere between 9 and 12 months, and I'm hoping for the same (if not earlier) with Joanna.