Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Old Comforter- New Pillow

Ok, I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself for this one even though it seems so simple. I have and old down comforter which is about 10 years old. The stitching came out and feathers would fly everywhere if you even touched it. We just bought a new one, but I didn't know what to do with the old one. It seemed a shame to throw it away, I don't know why but it did. So I folded the thing up and noticed it would fit into a pillow case. So I pulled out a pillow protector (the kind with a zipper so the pillow won't fall out), and shoved the comforter inside. Then I put it into a pillowcase and voila! We now have a new down pillow that would have cost $40 had we bought it new at the store, it's very comfortable too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Viva Pinata!

Here's a fun thing I did with the kiddos. But, personally, I think it is NOT a kid friendly project! Faith had a horse themed birthday party a couple weeks ago, so we were thinking up all the possible horsey things we could do. Pinatas are not that expensive, but when you are throwing a big party every penny saved helps. Plus I had never done paper mache before and wanted to give it a try.

I don't have pictures of the whole process of making it, there was paste goop all over the place and I didn't want to get my camera messy!


cardboard or posterboard, you can use paper towel rolls for the legs


masking tape

wire hanger

newspaper- (I had a giant roll of paper from our local newspaper that my mom had given me, so I didn't need to buy any.)

paste- 6 cups water to 3 cups white flour

poster paints

crepe paper

How to:

1. Build the shape you want out of the cardboard, balloons, and tape. Cut the newspaper into 3" wide strips x 10" (whatever is easy for you to work with).

2. Using wire cutters, cut the hanger and bend into a doubled up U shape. Bend the ends out into 90 degree angles in opposite directions from each other. Tape the ends to the form. (If this doesn't make sense, use your imagination!) Our horsey was too fat and heavy for a wire hanger, so we had to wrap rope around it's belly, (see pic.).

3. Mix up your paste, (you don't want it too goopy), and dip the strips of paper one at a time into the paste. Hold the paper over the paste bowl with your left hand, place the top of the strip between the index and middle fingers of your right hand, and run your fingers down the strip wiping off all the excess paste. This is important! If you don't get the excess paste off the paper, the cardboard on your form will get soggy and fall apart. We learned this from experience!

4. Lay the wet strips on your form, overlapping each other and smoothing out all the bubbles and folds. Put about 3-5 layers on your form depending on how hard you want it to be. Add more layers if the pinata is for older, more violent kids.

5. Let dry for 24-48 hours. Cut open slit at top for the candy and pop the balloon. Paint with poster paints and let dry for another day. Tape or glue on crepe paper for hair.

6. Fill with yummy goodness (NOT with chocolate on a hot August day!) And have the kids beat the crap out of it. Take pictures first though, it won't last very long.

7. The kids can use the mangled portions for cute party hats afterwards!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hankerchief Curtains

I had a dilema. The window in my kitchen gets full morning sunlight that I really don't want to hinder from shining into the kitchen. So blinds or heavy curtains were out of the question. But the window needed something...

What I did have was a bunch of old handkerchiefs from grandmothers passed on. So I got me some wire, a couple of nails, and a handful of clothes pins. And Voila! A very pretty window dressing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Laundry Detergent

I thought I'd post this too since it saves us a TON of money. About a year ago I searched online for a good homemade laundry detergent recipe. I can't remember exactly where I found this (or else I'd give them credit for it), but it works great!

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of laundry bar soap (I use Lirio.)
1/2 cup washing soda (Not baking. It is a big yellow box, Arm & Hammer brand.)
1/2 cup borax powder (20 Mule Team is what I use, I don't know of any other brand.)

A 2 gal. container to store the mixture in. I had a 2 ga. Coleman ice chest with a lid and handle in my storage shed that wasn't in use which works great.

1. Grate up the bar soap and add to 6 cups water in a sauce pan. Heat and stir till the soap melts. 2. Add washing soda and borax and stir till dissolved, remove from heat.
3. Pour 4 cups hot water into your 2 gal. container, add soap mixture, stir.
4. Add 1 gal. + 6 cups water, stir.

It's as easy as that! Takes about 15 minutes, and is worth the effort. If you let the soap sit for 24 hours it will gel, but you can use it right away too if you're in a pinch, like I usually am!
I use about 1/2 to 1 cup a load depending on the dirtiness of the clothes.

For fabric softener I simply use white vinegar. I always miss the rinse cycle, so I use a Downey Ball. Just fill the ball with vinegar to the line, close it up, and toss it into the washer when you start the load. The clothes don't smell like vinegar when they come out, but they don't have that artificial perfumey-fresh smell either. They're simply clean. It cuts down the static too.

The added benefit of making your own detergent and softener is that it has no dyes or perfumes to irritate sensitive skin. I used to have to buy the expensive detergents because my husband and kids have exzema and broke out in rashes when I used regular detergents. That was expensive! I don't think I'll ever go back to store-bought detergents again.

Now if only I could get my 5 daughters to quit changing their clothes every 1/2 hour, then I wouldn't have so much laundry to do!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Water Fountain

Ok! Here we go!

My first project that I'd like to share is the drinking fountain I built. It actually used to be a water spigot on top of a vertical pvc pipe sticking a foot and a half out of the ground, but of course I had to mow over it, twice! After much flooding and tears (both times), we were able to cap off the ends of both pipes until we could figure out what the heck to do with the thing. We really needed the spigot there to water the chickens and weeds with, and I had always really wanted a water fountain for the kids to drink out of when playing out back. (This was really selfish on my part because they kept leaving my cups outside to be lost and broken.)
The idea came to me to cement the whole thing in so it would be Andi-with-a-lawn-mower proof. But I wanted it to be somewhat decorative too. So I finally decided to just moartar rocks over the top of the pvc pipe.

2 ft. pvc pipe- less than a dollar
misc. pvc fittings- a few cents each
pvc primer and cement- already had some in the garage from my little mishaps
water spigot-$5
fountain head- gift ($40. I never would have bought the thing myself, but when my dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday I told him, "a chain saw and fountain head!" After giving me a funny look he drove me to the store to get them.)
4 bags of moartar- $2 ea.
rocks- abundantly free in my yard

Time: All stinking and sweaty day long, but worth it!

WARNING!!! Always use gloves when working with moartar! I learned the hard way and rubbed some deep, painful sores into my fingers.

Before and after pictures:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Making Do...

Welcome! I'm Andi, a 30 year old house wife with 5 daughters whom I homeschool, and a husband who is the pastor of Sovereign Joy Christian Fellowship here in our town. Needless to say, like most folks, I have found that it behooves our family a great deal if I put some thought into how I run our home.

The Lord has seen fit to give us small means, therefore I believe that instead of pining for things that I don't have, I must strive to be a good steward of what I do have. Because of this, I am constantly seeking what things I can weed out of our lives, things that waste our time, energy, and money in their upkeep. Additionally, I am always looking for ways to cut back on our monthly spending. This has caused me to think more creatively when faced with a need.

I'm not talking about clipping coupons, and driving all over town to find the best deal on a jar of mayonaise. If you do this, more power to you! But I've tried that for a while, and it is extremely time and gas consuming, (not to mention I have to drag several small children around with me wherever I go!), and I've never been able to save more than $10 per trip to the store. Coupons are mainly for brand name items, I always buy store brand which is cheaper than brand name with a coupon. Also, the stores around here are not coupon friendly with double coupon days and such.

I'm also not talking about saving every plastic container, empty toilet paper roll, or twist tie that finds it's way into the house. I've tried that too, only to fill rooms with unused things that would be better suited for the recycle can. I do save some things that I use on a regular basis, like empty milk gallons that we fill with water and freeze for the rabbits so they don't perish in the heat of our 105 degree summers.

What I do is try to anticipate our family's needs and plan for them. Like our clothing issue. With 5 daughters, you can imagine that could quickly turn into a crisis! I've trained them from infants to be excited about hand-me-downs or thrift store clothing. That has gone a long way towards happiness here! I also go through their clothes when the seasons change (twice a year here, cold weather clothes, and hot weather clothes), and cull the stained and torn ones, then pack away the keepers for the next child to wear.

I also try to make gifts as opposed to buying them. I have to admit that I love needle arts! I enjoy embroidery, knitting, sewing and other such things. I am not terribly good at any one particular hobby because I tend to jump around from one thing to another, testing out what I can conceiveably do and what I can't. Some things work, and alas, many things don't! But at least I can say that I'm trying, and I do learn tremendously from my experiments.

So anyway, that is a long introduction to say that this blog really isn't about me, (thank Heavens!) it's just passing on what I learn from friends or experience, and hopefully with some encouragement to those who desperately need it!