Monthly Archives: October 2009

Teaching Little Homemakers

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Did I post this picture already?

Please forgive me if I did. I have pregnant-brain right now, and I’m forgetting things left and right. At least I can blame it on pregnancy until our baby boy is born… then I can blame it on sleep-depravation. :0 What was I saying?….
Oh yes. Well, several months ago I taught Maggie how to fold wash cloths. And the picture above was taken around that time, as she is sitting in front of a pile she folded completely by herself. She now folds ALL of our washcloths (that is, if they actually get folded before we dig for them in the clean laundry basket and use them.) She will sit with me folding clothes and quickly fold 20 or so washcloths and rags. She loves being a big helper.
I also let them use a swiffer around the house – a lot of dirt gets picked up this way – and they each get a rag when I’m dusting.
Of course, the work is not done perfectly, but they are learning! Plus they are enjoying it, knowing they’re being a big help. They get to see what they’ve accomplished, and they feel good about it.
Currently, Jeff is teaching Maggie to clear the table after dinner, and she has taken it upon herself to “make” her bed and Lilly’s bed in the mornings. This consists of spreading a blanket across the bed, and choosing a stuffed animal or baby to lay on the pillow. She is really proud of her work when she’s done, and honestly, so am I!!
They also love to help me cook. One of their favorite things to do is play with bread dough and flour at the table, so every time I make bread or pizza dough, I pull off a big handful and divide it between them.
Lilly waiting for her dough.

I love these aprons Jeff’s Mom made for them.

Maggie showing me her “hot dogs” she made.

Impressive, huh?

Does all of this make more work for me? Certainly. But this is why I’m here. It’s why we make sacrifices so that I can stay home with my children. I get to teach them skills involved in keeping a home, the importance of family working together, the value of working hard at something. And I just get to be with them. I love my job.

MIY Monday: Two-Fer!

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It’s Monday again!
And today you get TWO MIY projects for one day. I hope you’re enjoying these Monday posts as much as I am. A few of you have told me you look forward to seeing what the new MIY Monday idea will be, and I’m thrilled about that. It keeps me thinking creatively. And if YOU have any ideas for a MIY Monday post, I’d be happy for you to share.
Now, on to the goodies. Here are two very quick things you can make yourself:
1. Toilet Bowl Cleaner
When my friend told me I could make my own Comet Toilet Bowl Cleaner, I thought, no way… why didn’t I think of that before? It is so simple and frugal. Here’s what you need:
Shortly after my friend told me how to make this, I found these glass jars at the 99 cent store. With the large holes in the lid, this is perfect to make a shaker for toilet bowl cleaner (or even carpet freshener.)

I bought one for each bathroom, and almost bought a few more, just b/c they’re so pretty and I bet I could think of a few different uses for these. I mean look at them. They almost make cleaning the bathroom fun… almost.
You need 2 parts Borax to 1 part Baking Soda. So for these containers I used 1 cup Borax to 1/2 cup Baking Soda. You may also add several drops of essential oil for a clean fragrance. I used tea tree oil because it smells fresh and clean, and also because it is a natural disinfectant. If you use an essential oil, be sure to mix it in the powder well using a fork or chopstick.
Now, on to the next project…
2. Bandana Dress

This is too cute NOT to make! I put this together for a little friend’s birthday this weekend using the easy step-by-step directions on this site.
She called it “The 15-Minute Dress” and really, if I hadn’t had two children trying to climb in my chair to use the sewing machine, one knock on the door (my friend bringing fresh eggs!) and two telephone calls – then I probably would have been able to do it in 15 minutes. I’m going to make a few of these for my own girls and let them wear tights and long-sleeve shirts underneath. They are roomy enough that they can wear them again as summer dresses.

I hope you have fun with these!
If you would like to participate in Make-It-Yourself-Monday, please do! Leave a comment telling us about something you’ve made recently. You may link to a post on your blog so we can marvel at your work. Happy Monday!

MIY Monday: Room Art

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Ah! I’m sorry I’m so un-fashionably late posting this. We got in late yesterday evening from being out of town, and it’s thrown me off all day today. But here we go… Make It Yourself Monday!
Late last week I put together this wall-hanging for my nephew’s first birthday. And believe, me, anyone can do this…

I had a flat canvas on-hand but you can use a regular canvas or even a piece of wood. I used acrylic paints and put a kaki color on the background first. I really like acrylic paints b/c they dry fast, and if I don’t like the way something turned out, I can paint over it easily.
I saw this basic design on ETSY in the form of vinyl stickers for a bedroom wall. So I used stencils to put Trey’s name in large letters. I free-handed the dumptruck on a piece of card stock, and then used a ruler to straighten out my lines, and a round paint cap to draw circles for the wheels. Then I used scissors and an X-acto knife to cut out the truck, making my own stencil.
But I’m sure you can find your own stencil without having to go through all the trouble (I thought it was fun, but I’m weird like that.) I free-handed the word “ROOM” in the back of the dump truck.
After the background was good and dry, I traced everything in pencil, rather than using the pencils and paints together – for me it’s much easier that way. Then when everything was dry I taped the ribbon on the back to make it easy to hang.
With this kind of craft, the possibilities are endless. I’d love to hear someone else’s ideas for a wall hanging for a kid’s room, or any room of the house.
If you would like to participate in Make-It-Yourself-Monday, please do! Leave a comment telling us about something you’ve made recently. You may link to a post on your blog so we can marvel at your work. Happy Monday!

MIY Monday: Home Decor

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I recently attended my friend Katie’s baby shower for her little boy we’re all waiting to meet. The shower was beautiful, and each table was adorned with these adorable wooden birdhouses that someone had painted. I loved the look of it, and i immediately thought I could do this to decorate in my own home. So I marched myself right down to Jo-Ann’s and bought these little unfinished birdhouses for $1 each. I think you can still find these at Walmart as well. I’m going back to Jo-Ann’s to get some larger ones to paint too, and add to my collection.

I’m keeping them inside, on my bar in the dining room, but the light wasn’t very good today, so I put them outside for the photo… on top of this old bar stool I just painted red yesterday. The freshly painted stool gave my patio a whole new look! I also painted some things for my project in the living room, but I’ll have to show you those later.
Would you like to participate in Make-It-Yourself Monday? Tell us about something you’ve made lately. Write about it on your blog and leave us a link in the comments. I’d love more MIY Home Decor ideas!
Happy Monday!

MIY Monday: Laundry Detergent

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Welcome back to Make-It-Yourself Monday!
Monday seems to come pretty quickly these days… it’s keeping me creative. Well, I’ve been making our own laundry detergent for months now, and today, I will share with you how you can do it too.
There are a number of various recipes to be found in books and online, but here’s the simple recipe I use:
Homemade Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
2- gallon size bucket (I use a 5 gallon size in case I want to double the recipe)

Here’s how it’s done:
Cut the bar of soap in 1/3 pieces. Sometimes the Fels Naptha can be found at stores like Whole Foods, but I ordered mine from for 99 cents a bar, which is the best price I have found. This is a sale price, but it’s very often on sale (I happen to know that it is right now, actually.) One more note about this soap: It is a heavy duty laundry soap, and works very well as a stain stick. I keep a 1/3 bar in a mesh bag next to my washer and I rub it right onto stains (wetting the fabric first) – it works great!

Grate the 1/3 piece of soap into a pot on the stove. (I used a regular cheese grater.)
Add 6 cups of water and heat on low/medium until the soap melts.
Add the 1/2 cup washing soda (note: NOT baking soda)…
… and 1/2 cup Borax…
…and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour 4 cups of HOT water into your empty bucket. Now add your soap mixture, and stir.
Add 1 gallon + 6 cups water and stir.
Let the soap sit for 24 hours to gel. Use 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load.
A few things to note about this detergent: the bar of soap has a strong, clean fragrance, which is much less noticeable once mixed with so much water. In fact, when we wash our clothes, they come out with no fragrance at all. So if you want your clothes to have a fragrance, you’ll have to add that with the fabric softener.
Also, you CAN use this as soon as you make it, before letting it sit – I always have. And the finished detergent will not be a solid gel. It will be more like egg noodle soup.
Edit: I forgot to mention this tip… when I’m done making the detergent, I just have a soapy pot to wash. So I usually take advantage of it by filling the pot part-way with hot water, dipping a rag in it, and using the rag to wash my stovetop and countertops. :)
This is an extremely frugal detergent, a great way to cut some spending. Let me know if you try it.
If you would like to participate in Make-It-Yourself-Monday, please do! Leave a comment telling us about something you’ve made recently. You may link to a post on your blog so we can marvel at your work. Happy Monday!

Last Days of Summer

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… at least I’m hoping these are the last days of summer. I’m positively wistful for crisp, cool weather, the fire pit, hot cocoa, and fuzzy sweaters. (Although I’m not sure how many sweaters are going to fit over this blossoming baby bump, … bummer.)

This morning the girls are playing with some new chalk a great friend of ours gave Lilly for her birthday. I love this stuff. The colors are lovely. This black table is a hand-me-down from another friend, and I was going to re-paint it at first, but then I realized it doubles as a chalkboard! It will likely rain later today, washing away their creations. No clean up for mom!
What are all of you doing with your last days of summer? Oh, and here’s a bonus pic for you…
Most days I can dress myself.