Monday, June 27, 2011

Dry Erase Board Tutorial

Two things have recently happened. First, I was looking at buying a dry erase board for my husband's office for work (he works at home and requested one for brain-storming/flow-charting and other things). If you've looked at the store for a decent sized dry erase board (not a junky one that is so light it falls off the wall when you breathe), you may have noticed they get pricey fast - 24" x 14" = $54.99. Um, that's more than I was planning on spending, for something not that big.

Second, I've recently started writing notes to myself on my closet door mirror in my bedroom. Important things, that I need to see first thing in the morning before I even get out of bed. Dry erase markers work great on glass, and I think I actually prefer it to a dry erase board because there will never be ghosting if you leave something up too long.

These two things, floating around in my brain simultaneously, slammed into each other one day and I made something out of it! Using things I had mostly laying around, I created an awesome dry erase board, it's actually one of my most favorite things in my office right now! So here goes.

You need:
  • A good sized picture frame & glass to fit
  • Spraypaint (if you want to paint your frame)
  • Fabric of choice, a piece big enough to cover the area inside frame
  • Trace paper or vellum
  • Hot glue & glue gun
  • Glazier points
The frame I started with had no back, glass, or way to hold the back and glass in. It was an old frame, in a not so pretty color, from some art I reframed. I spray painted it with a primer and a plum color that coordinates with my fabric. I purchased a piece of glass at my favorite home improvement store. It was a little more than $4 for a 16"x20" piece, but if your frame already has glass you're set. I also cut a backer board out of some left over mat board I had from a previous framing project. After your frame, glass and backer are ready to go, lay out your fabric, with the backer board on top to use as a template, and cut a piece of fabric with a 1" to 2" border on every side.

Starting with the corners, fold the fabric over the backer board and glue corners down, diaganol from each other and pulling the fabric into place as you glue to avoid wrinkles.

After the corners are glued tight, follow with the four sides, again gluing opposite sides first and smoothing the fabric to make sure there are no wrinkles. Set the fabric board aside.

Next, lay out the trace paper or vellum, and use the glass as a template to cut it down to size. Layer the glass in the frame first, with the trace paper or vellum on top next, with the backer board last. If your frame already has clips to hold everything in place, you're set!

Mine didn't, :( - so I used glazier points to hold everything together. Hang it all up on the wall, and write away!

This is what a glazier point looks like. They're usually used to hold the glass into old single pane windows.

If you want the full boldness of your fabric, or if your fabric is more neutral, you can skip the vellum/trace paper. I needed something to mute my patterned fabric so I could see what was written on my dry erase board.

This isn't a good photo - it is night, and I have very poor lighting in here, but here's my board hung on the wall!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


With Father's Day coming up in a few weeks, I've been busy scouring the internet for ideas of what we can do for the best daddy I know- my hubs- Derek. He seriously is such an amazing father to our 3 beasties and I love that we can honor him on this day. Having a 6 year, 4 year, and 3 month old, I'm trying to incorporate them all in this years gift. I really try and have them make something meaningful for dad rather then go out and buy him something expensive and say it's from the kids. Who are we kidding? I got a bike for mother's day (yee-haw!) but the girls stole my heart with their hand-made cards and a sweet silhouette drawing of Olivia. Here are some things I'm hoping to get made for the big day (along with the regular cards):

#1 Dad Trophy - kinda cheesy but super sweet

Dad photo - LOVE this! Might switch it up a bit but I love the idea!


The Super T's were a huge success and I've been officially renamed "Martha" by my friends. Here are some pics of the finished products. I need to get some pics of the shirts in action...

Monday, May 9, 2011


My middle beastie is turning 4 in a few days (sniff) and for her birthday we're going to Monkey Joe's with a few of her besties. It's a HUGE room with a bunch of inflatables that the kiddos can run and bounce around in. They leave sweaty and staticy and hopefully exhausted! We actually won the party while we were at another party a few months back so that was a major score. Because B2s party is relatively inexpensive (being free and all) I thought I'd have fun with the favors. I always try and avoid giving favors that will make parents curse me out and I like to be practical. For B1s 5th birthday party, she wanted a Pinkalicious party so everything was PINK and girly. She was having several of her little girlfriends over so this was the favor. The girls LOVED them! Anyway- back to B2s favors. I figured she's 4, full of energy, and loves to dress up so why not something they can wear that's fun and sort of dress-upy. Enter the Super-T. It's essentially a t-shirt ($2.99 at The Hob Lob) that I'll applique something on (not quite sure yet...and the party is in 2 days!!) and then for the fun part- I'm going to make capes out of shimmery material (no fray bathing-suit type material- I scored 2 yards- enough to make 8 capes- for about $8 at The Hob Lob with my 40% off coupon...) and I'm going to attach the capes to the shirts using snaps. I got this handy dandy contraption that is supposed to attach the snaps easily to the shirts and capes which I'm pretty excited about using. We'll see how well it works...
Stay tuned- I'll post pics!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cataloging Heaven

Pinterest. It's so wonderful, my explanation just won't do it justice.

Basically, Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board community.  Anything you see online (images) can be "Pinned" to one of your boards.  There are no limits to boards either. Trying to keep track of flowers I want to plant outside? There's a board for that. Gathering ideas for the kitchen remodel? There's a board for that. Want a new hair style and need visual inspiration? There's a board for that too.

First reason I love Pinterest: because it takes my visual organization to a whole new level.  In the past, my way for keeping track of ideas is:

1. Find cool idea on website or blog
2. Copy link for cool idea into email
3. Note in email specifically what I liked about cool idea so I'll remember next week
4. Send email to myself
5. 'Label' email under "Favorite Websites" label so I can find it later, since I have 2330 emails, some of which are probably expired free offers from Vistaprint.

While I had to make it work for me, this method is only so useful.  It 100% depends on my ability to recall something in my memory that I saw, and using the correct search to find it in my email. This often doesn't work. Sometimes I'll forget I even found something, until I stumble across it in my email 18 months after the fact. Sometimes I'll go looking, but when I typed my email to myself, I forgot to include an intelligent subject line or notes within the email for the search feature to find. That makes me REALLY mad.

Now I have Pinterest, I've entered a new world of serene, enjoyable organization. Here's how that looks:
1. Find cool idea on blog or website, or even something that inspires me
2. Click "Pin It" button on my favorites bar
3. Choose board I want image pinned to
4. Write my random thoughts or specific ideas for the pin
5. Click "Pin It"

Now this wonderful - craft idea, knitting pattern, gift idea, cake to bake, recipe to cook - is forever memorialized on my "Board."

Second reason I love Pinterest: The community. Now I'm not social media obsessed. Yes, I check my facebook once a day or every other day, but I don't comment on everything, read everything, or spend at least four hours a day on it.  Facebook usage for me is to do a 2 minute scroll through the news feed to make sure there isn't any Wonderful/Horrible news that I'm missing.

So when I say I love Pinterest for the community, it's for different reasons. I don't expect to develop a relationship with these people, but it's almost like having creative, like-minded people around me again. In college (as an interior designer & in art classes), I was surrounded by super creative, inspired and inspiring people. My days and classmates oozed creativity.

This is not the case anymore. Now, I spend time with my husband. He has many, many, many wonderful qualities, but I don't think I could say he oozed creativity. Actually, he would probably be offended if I told him he oozed creativity. He has an office job, very technical, nothing creative, and he likes it like that.

But people on Pinterest, they ooze creativity. So I now have a little (or big) creative community. I've seen some great things on Pinterest that other people have pinned to their boards. As much as I like it for pulling my own ideas and inspiration off the web, I could spend hours browsing other people's pins in the DIY section. Who needs facebook when you can watch Pinterest?

So, try it. It's wonderful. My Pinterest Boards

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fun Baby Book Idea

I got this great idea from one of my favorite sites- I wanted to make a fun baby book for Eli marking his first year (Derek and I are really trying to do this for each year for all of our children- we're a few years behind with the girls!) Anyway- on YHL, they take a picture of their daughter, Clara, every on a piece of fun material dressed only in a onesie. Then, John (the dad), uses photoshop to put the week on the onesie so it looks like it was silkscreened on there. Check it out his handiwork here. I loved the idea but didn't think I'd be able to do it weekly (having 3 kiddos and all) so I opted to do it monthly. A few weeks ago, Kaitlin and I set up our first photoshoot with the boy while our boys were off doing manly stuff (they may of actually been at the store buying stuff for supper...can't really remember...but they came back with beer so that makes it manly, right??) Anyway- check out some of the great shots we got that day. Eli was being super cute (as always) so it was easy! The plan is to do a iPhoto book and have 16 shots on the left page from that month then the monthly picture taking up the entire right page. I'm really excited about it!

Happy Boy!

He's Here!

Ok- so it's been awhile...a long while...but my boy finally made his debut February 5th at 12:47am! He share's his first name with Derek's grandfather and a middle name and birthday with his Boppa Martin- Elias Daniel- our sweet Eli. The girls are so in love with him and are always loving on him and wanting to hold and snuggle him. So far, he's been a really good baby- really only cries when he's hungry or during his nightly fussy time (between 8 and 9 pm) but he's quite the snuggler and has cheeks that would rival those of a chipmunk storing food for winter. Labor was fast (it started around 6:00pm Feb 4th) and delivery was faster (5 contractions and all 9 lbs 4 ozs of him was out!) We're so excited to finally have him here and have loved getting to know our little man. Here are some pics from his first couple of weeks here.

Right after he was born

The girls meeting their brother for the first time

Our first picture as a family of 5 (!)

Sweet boy

Sweet big sister

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Downy Addiction

Since I covered laundry detergent and the incredible savings in homemade the other day, I thought I would do a follow-up with the fabric softener.  Saving $0.15 1/2 per laundry load is great, but for me, it sucks all of the joy out of the savings if I have to go add expensive Downy fabric softener to get my laundry right.  Enter, homemade fabric softener!  I don't have the same cost breakdown for my fabric softener as I did with my laundry detergent, but I'll do some estimations to try and get close.  My recipe is:

30 oz of distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
30-50 drops essential oil (I'm using lavender right now, but would like to try lemon in the future)
Not an exact science.  I don't measure at all.  The container I use to store my concoction is a recycled 32 oz distilled white vinegar bottle.  I now refill it from my gallon jug of white vinegar, almost to the top, add a squeeze of my vegetable glycerin, and count out drops of essential oil.  I do this standing in my laundry room while shoveling clothes into the washing machine, it's that easy.  Now, lets do the cost breakdown, again, these prices are at my stores:

1 gallon Distilled White Vinegar - $2.57 ($0.02/oz)
16 fl oz Vegetable Glycerin - $8.99 ($0.093/teaspoon)
.5 fl oz Lavender Essential Oil - $5.50 ($0.018/drop)

Glycerin Image from here            Lavender Image from here

This is where it gets tricky.  I use 30-50 drops of essential oil for every 32 oz of vinegar.  A quick google search says that a 1/2 fl oz = 15 mL = 300 drops.  I have no idea.  I've had my lavender essential oil for a while, and didn't buy it for fabric softener, but just happened to have it.  It's also an optional ingredient.  So based on my internet research, I came to the conclusion that the Lavender Essential Oil is almost $0.02 per drop.

Also - if you have ever looked at essential oils, you know that depending on what you buy, the price can be drastically different.  Comparison, from Mountain Rose Herbs website: 1/2 oz of Rose Essential Oil is $115.00 or 1/2 oz of Lemon Essential Oil is $5.75.  Please note, I will not be scenting my clothes with Rose Essential Oil.

So back to the math, assuming we're using a reasonable essential oil like Lavender or Lemon (there are many others, and Mountain Rose is a good resource if you don't live near a health foods store to browse selection).

30 fl oz White Distilled Vinegar = $0.60
2 teaspoons Vegetable Glycerin = $0.19
50 drops Lavender or Lemon Essential oil = $0.90
TOTAL = $1.69 for 30 fluid ounces or $0.056 per ounce
My store-bought alternative is Mountain Spring Downy Ultra, which sells at Walmart for $9.97 and you get 120 loads out of 103 ounces, or $0.0967 per ounce.  Since I have a front loading HE washing machine, my detergent, softener and other laundry agents all go in that pull out drawer on the front, and there are pre-measured lines for the fabric softener.  I use the exact same amount of homemade as I do of Downy, which I estimate to be about .85 fl oz.  The .85 oz is the measurement that gets 120 loads of laundry out of 103 ounces of softener.  That comes to $0.0476 per load for homemade and $0.0822 per load for Downy.

So, homemade is about half the price of Downy.  Now, a couple notes:  The Essential Oils and Vegetable Glycerin are optional, not necessary.  When I was first deciding on my recipe, several sites said that the Vegetable Glycerin can help with static and softness.  I purchased mine at the health foods store, and it's recommended use is as a moisturizer for rough skin like heels, elbows, knees.  The way I see it is, if it's safe to rub on your skin, it has to be safe to use in your laundry.  The essential oil is just for scent, and not much of it remains, just a very faint hint.

Now I know vinegar sounds like a smelly thing to dump on your clothes, but it washes completely clean!  I CANNOT smell it on my laundry when it comes out of the wash or dryer, and neither can my husband - who just shook his head when he found out I was putting vinegar in the washing machine.

Vinegar as a Pre-treatment

Vinegar also works to break down any build up on clothes, and it's also a natural bleaching agent to help brighten whites.  My favorite black t-shirts frequently get deodorant build-up under the arms, and I've found to cut it, I just put the shirt in a bucket, and scrub some straight vinegar into the build-up as a pre-treatment, and then throw them in the wash with my homemade detergent and softener.  I never knew how to combat the deodorant buildup before, and since I started using vinegar a lot more, it hasn't been a problem.

Another testament to the vinegar would be from my washing machine if it could talk.  With the front loader, I used to have this yucky build-up on the bottom of the door, resembling soap scum (it probably was).  It was gross, and I had trouble scrubbing it off.  Since I switched to vinegar, there's no more gunk on the door!

If you are still hesitant about using vinegar in your wash, I encourage you to go to the Queen of Homemaking herself - Martha Stewart.  I recently downloaded this laundry chart, printed it on cardstock and hung it in my laundry room.  On the back, I printed this companion chart.  Those are the downloadable PDF's, and here's the article that links to both of them.

Finally, my confession:  I still have Downy on hand and use it sometimes.  I really don't need my socks to smell like Mountain Spring, but have a major weakness for climbing into bed on Clean Sheet Night (yes, it's an event in my house) and snuggling into Mountain Spring.  As much as I want to save the money, there's nothing like that smell.  Mostly, I pick and choose when I want to indulge in the Downy.  If my husband has been having a bad week, I'll wash his favorite old t-shirt with the Downy knowing he'll be able to start his Saturday morning fresh with that smell he remembers from his childhood.  Sheets on the guest bed, always Downy, on my bed, sometimes Downy.  Using this method definitely stretches it, just like using Tide only sometimes and mostly using my homemade.

I know the homemade isn't for everyone, but I've loved getting to save money on these necessary consumables.  I never would have guessed that I had so much to say about what happens in my 30 square foot laundry room, but it's a busy place. Now that I have spewed everything that's been going on in my laundry room in the last seven months, I hope you can use something here.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here's the Deal...

A great deal.  Since July, I've been making my own laundry detergent, and love it.  It was painful to buy two large bottles of Tide BJ's Warehouse every couple months, and when some girls at my church started making it, I decided to give it a try.  My husband was 100% against it when I pitched the idea, since he does SO much laundry (NOT! He's had to turn the washing machine on maybe 1 time in the past 2 years).  So I started with 1 gallon, and told him I just wanted to "try it out." As clothes moved through the laundry room, he could find no complaint, so cooking up detergent became part of my to-do list, and I'm no longer dependent on my Tide habit.  Here's my recipe:

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Oxi Clean
In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water.  Grate soap on cheese grater into small shavings, and add to water.  Stir until shavings dissolve.  Add Washing Soda, Borax & Oxi Clean to hot soapy water, and stir to dissolve.

Pour soap mixture into 2 gallon bucket with 8 cups of HOT water and stir.  Top bucket with COLD water totalling 2 gallons of the soap, hot water, and cold water.  Let mixture setup overnight.  To use, stir mixture to incorporate gel clumps and liquid, and use 1/2 cup per wash load.

Now here's where the deal comes in.  I've been doing this since July, and just finally today did the cost breakdown.  I knew I had savings in doing this, but I had no idea I was actually saving this much!  Here's the math, if you want to see it, if not, scroll down.

These prices are roughly what I paid, at my stores.

Fels Naptha - $1.79 per bar (5 1/2 oz) = $0.32/oz
Borax - $4.75 per box (76 oz) = $0.0625/oz
Washing Soda - $2.95 per box (55 oz) = $0.0536/oz
Oxi Clean - $8.99 per bucket (96 oz) = $0.936/oz

In the 2 gallons of the recipe the cost is:

Fels Naptha = $0.58/ 2 gallons
Borax = $0.25/ 2 gallons
Washing Soda = $0.42/ 2 gallons
Oxi Clean = $0.27/ 2 gallons

Also, for the quantities that are sold of the ingredients, you can make this many recipes of 2 gallons of detergent:

Washing Soda: 6.875 times - or 12 gallons
Borax: 19 times - or 38 gallons
Oxi-clean: 24 times - or 48 gallons
Fels-Naptha: 3 times - or 6 gallons

The total is $1.62 for 2 gallons (which is 256 fl. oz.), and you're supposed to use 1/2 cup per load (4 fl. ounces), so there are 64 loads in 2 gallons homemade, for $1.62, or $0.025 per load.  No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and that is not a typo - I wrote that my homemade laundry detergent costs me two and a half cents per load.

If I weren't making the homemade, my choice of detergent is Tide, and I have a front loading washing machine.  Tide is $17.97 for 150 fl. oz. of 2X Ultra High Efficiency, for 96 loads at Walmart, which is $0.18 per load. So roughly speaking, Tide is seven times more expensive than homemade laundry detergent.  That's like a bottle of water costing $7 instead of $1.  Craziness!

Ok, here are my personal experience tips.
1. I have two buckets, so when I start running low on detergent, I don't have to relocate what's left to use my bucket, I just use the clean one to make a new batch.

2. I didn't buy my buckets, I got them for FREE!  Go to one of the grocery stores with a bakery that makes cakes and decorates them in-house.  All of the bright pink, blue, green & yellow frosting comes in buckets, mine happen to be 2 gallon buckets.  When they finish the frosting, they don't recycle them or send them back to be repacked with weird hot pink frosting, they get thrown away.  I stopped by the bakery on one of my regular grocery trips, and they gave me two empty buckets that hadn't made it to the dumpster yet.  I had to clean them myself, but that didn't bother me.  If you have to clean your buckets, I recommend scraping them into the trash first to get all the dry frosting out, and then using hot, soapy water.  The frosting is pretty greasy, so if there's a lot left in the bucket, it's tough to de-grease once you add water.

3. Use a big enough pot.  I really need to get a new one to accommodate my detergent making.  Once you add the borax, washing soda and Oxi Clean in, it starts to suds and foam, and mine boils over almost every time.  At least it's just soap, so it makes me think everything is getting cleaned while I'm wiping it up!

The initial investment (using my prices, I don't know what the price difference will be where you are) is $18.48, assuming you don't have any of these ingredients already living in your laundry room.  You'll be able to make 6 gallons of detergent (or 192 loads of laundry) before you have to go buy another bar of Fels Naptha,and you'll still have all of the other ingredients left.  To do 192 loads of laundry with Tide, I would have to spend $35, and then that's it, you go buy another big bottle of Tide.

As far as a time investment goes, I don't think it's that involved to not be worth your time.  Now that I've made it a few times, I can whip up a batch in about 20 minutes.  I actually spend more time cleaning up after my pot boils over because I haven't bought a new one that's big enough, than I do making the detergent.  Yes, dumb, and writing it down makes me want to go buy a giant, cheap stock pot because I realize the silliness of how much cleaning up I do after I get soap all over the stovetop.

I grabbed my recipe off a site called Tipnut that you can see here.  I used Recipe #3 and doctored it up by adding Oxi Clean (not necessary, but I'm saving so much money I didn't feel guilty spending a couple more dollars on some extra cleaning power).  Tipnut has 10 recipes, different variations of liquid and powdered, so see what works best for you!  I chose liquid because I have a front loading HE washing machine and can't start my water before adding clothes to dissolve the powder - just a preference though.  As a follow-up to the recipes, Tipnut also has a great FAQ answer page here.

I still keep a bottle of Tide on hand just in case, but only resort to using it occasionally, like when I run out of homemade and don't have time to make more when I have to wash something I need to wear in an hour.

Next time, I'll talk about my fabric softener, and rehabilitation from Downy.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Handstamped Necklaces

I love these necklaces- they're not perfect and each one is unique. i love making them for people and seeing how each one is going to turn out. I recently made a new one for myself and went a little bigger and more organic on the charms. The charms I used were actually rejects- I had messed up on a previous order and just used my metal scissors to trim that part off and make a new shape. I love how it turned out and the sweet jingling sound it makes when I walk reminds me of my sweet beasties. Here are some that I've made and you can purchase at our shop (made with the names of your choosing, of course!)

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