Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sensory box for babies

Are you familiar with remnants at your local fabric store? I bet your store has them just like our Jo Ann Fabrics. Remnants are little pieces of fabric left over when the bolt is nearly empty. They're less than a yard. They come in little bundles and, at our store at least, they're half off the price of the fabric. If the fabric is on sale, they're half off the sale price. I am drawn to this bin because the prices are so cheap. I bought 3/4 of a yard of felt for 75 cents! However, it bothers me slightly to buy all these little pieces without a use for them.

On pinterest (of course!) I saw this idea for a sensory box for babies. Developmentally speaking, babies are ALL about senses but many sensory activities are a bit too advanced for "mouthers" like mine (sand, rice, oobleck, etc.) Well this sensory box is all fabric so it's perfect for my little 1-year-old

Here's the box:

It's a wipes tub! I bought a fancy one just for this and put the wipes into my boring white one but if you have one lying around, decorate it with contact paper instead of buying one. I didn't have any spares. 

Inside the box is a long chain of fabrics. I sewed them together. Yep, this one requires you to sew. I know that in the past if I'd read that I'd likely walk away right now. Forget it, sewing is a pain. No! Wait! Stay with me here... it's not that bad!

Actually, this is a great project for novice sewers or if you just bought a new machine and you want to try out all the features. Just sew together lots of strips of fabric! That's it! When you're dealing with tulle and silky materials you need to use a zig-zag stitch to make sure the fabric stays. When you're dealing with cotton you have a choice if you'd prefer a zig-zag or straight stitch and when you're working with really thick fabric you need to use a straight stitch, preferably one with a bit of space between each stitch, so your machine doesn't get bogged down.

I hemmed the rectangles inside out, leaving a little space, flipped them then sewed on top to close the hole. Then I sewed them end-to-end. Here are the fabrics I chose (pardon the poor photography, it's dark and I'm too lazy to move to a well-lit room)

This is a gold linen material with a bit of black tulle sewn on the center:

 Next is cotton black and white polka dots. I chose this pattern because experts say that high contrast black-and-white is more visually appealing to babies.

Attached is hot pink felt (my super cheap find of the day in the remnant bins)

 This picture really doesn't show you how cool this next fabric is, unfortunately. The gold fabric is silky polyester that feels very soft. The white-ish one is a thicker tulle material with tiny rhinestones and silver beads attached. I tried, using my teeth and fingers, to remove the beads and they wouldn't budge. Also, they are smaller than the head of a pin so even if they were to come off they're not a choking hazard because they'd be swallowed without a problem. This material reminds me of a high school prom dress. The beads feel bumpy. Addison was playing with the remnant while we shopped and she kept running her hand up it to feel the texture.

Here is a piece of the same felt but this time I added pompom yarn. This yarn has pompoms attached! I pinned the yarn on the felt then sewed 4 straight lines down the fabric, hitting the yarn vertically.

 I sewed about 8 layers of pink tulle together for a light layer. The tulle was only about 89 cents, by the way. I got 5 colors!

Last, I found this red printed material that is canvas, I think it's intended for outdoor furniture. It's really thick and coarse feeling.

After all the fabrics are sewn together in a long strip, kind of like the handkerchiefs a magician pulls from his sleeve, you just accordion-fold them and stuff them into the empty wipes tub. I pulled one end out a little bit to catch my baby's attention. The fabrics come out of the wipe dispenser easily.

The whole project only cost me about 8 dollars, but you could do it with scraps you have at home and it would be very inexpensive or free if you have a variety of material in your sewing stuff. It was so easy too! Dust off you sewing machine (or get it out of the box if you're new!) and craft today!

Pictures to come of miss Addi playing with her new toy, I finished it after she was in bed

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Organization for our kitchen

Our trash area in the kitchen recently had to expand. Why? Because of my UNpaper towels. I needed a place to stash them after they're used before they make it to the wash. So I got creative and bought a bicycle basket for this purpose. It's flat on one side and it's handles can be used to attach it to the wall (if you're handier than I am) Here's the basket attached to the wall:

I used nails and forced them through the wicker. It's not 100% attached. Jason was like "oh what is this basket?" and he grabbed it and it came off but I stuck it back on and scolded him. We'll see if it stays or if I have to have help attaching it legitimately.

The weird writing next to it says "washables". Let me explain... First of all, people are always throwing garbage toward the can. Sometimes they make a shot that is "all net", as in, it lands right in the can. Most of the time they use the backboard to score; the backboard is the wall. The wall was always streaked with food and questionable muck. I cleaned it so much that the paint was starting to come off. So I needed to do something.

What I decided to do was cover the wall with clear contact paper. I can wipe it off easily and it will come off of the wall without ruining the paint. Then I decided to label all the parts of our garbage area... for fun! I used my collection of magazine letters to create little labels. I taped them to the wall then covered it all with contact paper. Here's how it looks:

The categories are: washables (UNpaper towels, bibs, washcloths, and someday cloth tissues- stay tuned), recycle, garbage, and deposit $
You can't even see the contact paper but it's there! I think this is a great system for our garbage enter. Soon I will have to make a change though because I will be composting this summer to make a home for earthworms for bail. Jade's a big fisherkid :)

Chalkboard paint!

Pinterest has been buzzing with chalkboard paint recipes so I had to jump on the bandwagon. I started with the door panels on the inside of the basement door. I want to use this space to keep track of my 8-year-olds toys that are stored in the basement as well as the dates when she brought each set up. This organizational method helps us make sure she's playing with all her toys (and if there's something that she no longer wants because she's outgrown it, I can move it to storage).

So chalkboard paint is made by mixing about 1 cup of paint (any paint, any color) with 2 tbsp of unsanded grout.

I found the grout at Home Depot, in a 5 lb box for 11 dollars.
It's going to take a LOT of paint to use up this box;
I'll probably have it for the rest of my life.
The paint mixture is chunky at first but as you stir it,
 it smooths out. Some little chunks are ok,
they will smooth out as you paint.

This is how it looks going on the door. I'm not sure if you can tell but there are tiny white spots in the paint which left as I painted over and over the same spots. It was basically like painting with regular paint, it's just a little thicker.

I used this blue paint because we bought a whole thing of it (you know, a can. What is that? A gallon?) and only used it on 1/2 the walls in our bedroom so there was a lot left over.

Here is the finished door:

I only needed one coat, but I can imagine that some colors would need multiple coats (like red, yellow maybe)

Then I put a nail in the door... well actually I tried to put a nail in the cellar-way under that railing you can see in the picture. While nailing (I am not good at this kind of thing) I  hit the wall instead of the nail and made a big hole in the drywall. Don't tell my husband, he hasn't seen that blunder yet. So then I put a nail in the door, instead. On the nail I hung this cute basket that I had lying around from a garage sale. I filled it with some chalk so that Jade can write on the bottom section of the door.

Don't worry, you can sit in the hall and write on the door- I'm not locking her in the basement or anything. Plus I didn't want to try this project anywhere else in the house in case it failed. It didn't! The chalkboard erases with a cloth and a little water and it writes nicely. White, yellow, and green show up the best on the blue paint.
 Here's a close-up:

I would recommend this project! It was easy. Next, I am making boards to hang in the basement above the cans where we sort deposit bottles. That way we can tally how many boards of how many cans and bottles we put in the bags. We'll know when we have 100 and we'll tie up the bag and get a new one. We use a redemption center that wants cans and bottles separated and counted (but they pay 6 1/2  cents and pick up from our house!) so this will stream-line the process. Yay chalkboard paint!

Friday, April 6, 2012

UNpaper towels

Ok, I am not a "green" person. I get it, we need to save the environment, yadda, yadda... I care but it's not my calling. What IS my calling is saving money. We're on a cheap, tiny budget. Couponing, to me, is more than clipping coupons and taking them to the store. It also encompasses finding frugal living solutions. UNpaper towels are my first major household change toward spending less money on products that we can do without.

I found an excellent tutorial on this blog.... Cotton Tail Babies ... She tells you all the details so I recommend reading that tutorial before getting started.

You'll need some fleece and some terry cloth, one for the cute side and the other for the absorbent side. If you have some old terry cloth towels or a robe that you can slice up, I'd recommend using that because this material was 9.99/yard at our local fabric store. Yikes!

1 yard of fabric yeilds 9 towels. This is what I made to start. I'll let you know if I feel like this is enough or not once we've really gotten used to using them for everything.

Here's my towel during the sewing process:
I don't like sewing, in particular. I am a lazy crafter. I don't like to pin, I didn't like that the tutorial said to sew the pieces together then sew on the outside again.. sounded like a lot of work. BUT! It wasn't so bad! The second set of sewing, on the top-side of the fabric is really necessary so they lay flat and look nice.

I purchased plastic snaps at the fabric store, in the cloth diaper section. Check out all the colors available!
They were super easy to attach and I found a color that matched my pattern perfectly! The metal snaps are easier to find (available at Walmart) but I wanted to be able to microwave these UNpaper towels if need be- like when covering a dish of beets, lest it explode all over my microwave. And they'll probably lay around all wet and soggy for a while until I wash them. Metal would rust under the care that I'll likely provide.

Here's my final product, I am so happy with the outcome!

I took an old paper towel roll, covered it with a scrap of my flannel using hot glue, then added 2 snaps to that roll. This provided the stability they needed to stand up well on the counter.

These would make an excellent gift or craft fair item!

The last thing I need to do is mount a basket on the wall above the garbage where soiled towels can be tossed.

Starting up a craft blog!

There was a time that I thought I was too busy to craft or cook, and I even gave up on couponing. Thanks to Pinterest, this dark, boring, time in my life is coming to a close. I LOVE pinterest (if you don't know what I am talking about, message me and I'll send you an invite, it's the greatest thing I've seen online in a long time) and I have been inspired to get back to the things I really enjoy doing.

It's easier to say I have no time. I have 2 kids and a husband, I'm a full-time graduate students, studying to be a teacher, I substitute teach (usually every day of the week) and I'm often asked to help my husband with his small business- I'm busy! But I'm no longer making excuses that keep me from doing things I enjoy!

Ready, set, craft!