Thursday, October 30, 2014

DIY Can Stilts


Warm, sunny days are becoming limited around here, so we decided to make the most of the good weather and make these stilts. This is a fun activity that I remember doing as a child, and my kids didn't really even know what stilts were, so I though this would be fun to do with them.

I used #10 food storage cans that were going to be recycled anyway, but you could use any sturdy metal can (like a large soup can).  Just use your judgement on if it is strong enough/ big enough for your child.


My 4 year old loved being my helper and the look on his face when he tried the stilts for the first time was priceless.

Here's how to make your own tin can stilts:

1. Gather your materials. You'll need two metal cans that are the same size, some twine or strong cord, scissors to cut the cord, a thicker- sized nail, and a hammer.


2. Using the nail and hammer, make two holes- one each on opposite sides of the can, just under the rim of the sealed end of the can.


3. Cut a length of cord or twine and poke each of the ends through the holes you just made.  The length you should cut the twine depends on the height of your child.  When they are standing on the stilts, the twine should come high enough that they can grip it easily but have no slack in the string (slack makes it easier to fall off or trip).


4. Tie the ends of the twine together inside the can for a hidden knot- or, if you want easier adjusting, string it though the opposite way, with the knot at the top where the handhold is.


5. Repeat steps for the other can.

Photo credit goes to my 4 year old!

Test it- you know, quality control!  Remember that the strings need to be pulled very tight as you walk in order to keep the cans next to your feet to avoid tripping or falling. It may take a little practice!


My first grader wanted to get in on the fun when he got home from school and both boys spent about an hour tromping in and out of the garage and down the sidewalk.


Yay for homemade (recycled) toys!  Do you remember making stilts like this as you were growing up?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

DIY Ring Pillow

Here is a quick photo tutorial of the ring pillow I made for my sister Cara's DIY wedding.  Cara's colors were light pink, eggplant, and champagne/gold. I had one afternoon to make a pair of these pillows, since we were driving to the wedding the next day. Luckily, I am a fabric hoarder and I didn't have to waste any time running to buy fabric since I had a variety of fabrics in exactly the colors I needed. :)


This pillow ended up being about 8 inches square.


I used two 9" squares of cream colored sateen fabric, one 9" square of cream colored lace, a 9x4" strip of eggplant colored linen, and a 5x20" strip of light pink chiffon. Obviously, use any variety of fabrics and colors that you like- this would look great in all white or cream too.


1) I basted along each long edge of the chiffon and 2) gathered it on both sides.


3) The lace is layered over one of the plain cream pieces. 4) The gathered chiffon goes across the bottom and is pinned in place. 5) The chiffon is basted in place. 6) The long raw edges of the eggplant accent strip are folded towards the middle and ironed.


7) The accent strip is pinned on top of the gathered chiffon, covering up the raw edge on the top. 8) It is then sewn in place with a straight stitch.


9) Right sides of the cream pillow fabric are pinned together and 10) sewn, leaving a small opening to turn the pillow right side out. Clipping the corners will give a nice pointy finished corner.


11) The pillow is turned right side out, stuffed, and the opening sewed shut.


12) It is a good idea to add a ribbon (which can be sewed on by hand) to secure the rings during the ceremony


Then just get yourself some adorable ring bearers and you're good to go!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cara's DIY Wedding


I was looking through my pictures and realized that I totally forgot to post about my sister Cara's outdoor/ indoor wedding that happened in October.  Which is sad, because it was a completely beautiful, totally DIY wedding.  So I'm going to remedy the situation, and post some of the awesomeness now.

First, my husband BJ and I took engagement photos:


My sisters Marissa and Anna and I threw Cara's bridal shower, and a friend was kind enough to host it for us.


Here's the shower invite that I designed using Inkscape (a free Illustrator-like program).


Here's a somewhat better view of the refreshment table.  We had a tea and hot chocolate bar as well.


Here are the favors for the guests- a packet with an herbal tea bag and a honey stick.  The tags were designed by me- again in Inkscape.


Cara and I spent hours making bridesmaid jewelry using beads and findings she bought online and at Hobby Lobby. Each piece was totally unique, but had a unifying theme. There was a necklace, bracelet, and earring set for each of the 11 bridesmaids.


The house and yard was transformed for the wedding and reception by the tireless help of many friends and family members.  Tables and chairs were covered with fabric from the stashes of my mom's friends and sisters.


My cute and talented mother did all of the flowers- bouquets, boutonnieres, table arrangements, indoor/ outdoor, etc.

This photo doesn't do them justice, these are just the only flower photos I could find.

Here's one of the bridal bouquet.

Photo credit to Giffy Pix.

My mom also made the cake pedestals by gluing together glass plates and vases, filling the vases with dried flowers, and tying ribbon around them.


My aunt, sister Marissa and I did Cara's makeup, hair, and nails respectively.


My mom made this lovely wedding gift with words of advice, featuring a hand- crocheted doily (My grandmother made one for each grandchild before she passed away, and my mom saved them to give at each wedding).


My mom and my aunts took a basically strapless wedding gown bought for under $200 and using their brilliant sewing wizardry, transformed it into Cara's dream wedding dress- a much more modest, and classy looking frock.  I wish I had a more close-up detailed photo of the dress, but you can get an idea by the picture below.


My dad is a bishop- a lay clergyman in our church, so he was able to be the one to marry Cara and Jeff.  My sons were ring bearers.


These 2 photos courtesy of Giffy Pix
I made the ring pillows my sons are holding in the above pictures (tutorial to come).

Marissa was the fantastic artist behind this lovely cake and multitude of cupcakes. (Check out her baking accessories shop on Etsy!)



I also made marriage advice cards for guests at the reception to fill out and compiled them into a book for the newlyweds to enjoy down the road.


It was a bit crazy to arrive just a day or two before the wedding and everybody work like mad to throw it together (after a several months of distance planning), but I think it turned out fabulously!  And the newlyweds are still doing great!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Beat Nausea... Naturally!

About a year ago, when I was starting to try to get pregnant, I began making a mental list of ways I could treat common maladies (mainly just the annoying ones that I'd normally take ibuprofen or an antacid for) without using medications that would be potentially harmful to an unborn baby. My husband and I also started thinking about emergency preparedness and wondering if we would be able to treat these issues if we didn't have access to our regular medicines.  Eventually, I transferred my mental list and research to a trusty notebook which is growing as I add more and more lists of "natural" treatments.

I am going to start sharing some of those lists as a mini- series called "...Naturally!" So here is the first installment, focusing on the nausea of pregnancy, but the tips could be useful for other tummy situations too.

I have to laugh about this picture... what kind of picture are you supposed to use when you're
talking about nausea anyway?  I figured a stick figure drawing would be my safest bet. :)

For many of us, nausea is much more debilitating than pain, exhaustion, or just about any other malady.  So the first several months of pregnancy can be really difficult if you don't have any tricks up your sleeves.  Here is my list of things that I have researched and tried (most of them anyway) with success.  Keep in mind that I am not talking about Hyperemesis Gravidarum here (the severe continual vomiting that affects some women during pregnancy), I'm talking about regular-ish morning sickness (or all day sickness as the case may be).  So if you are looking for more natural ways of combating the urge to lose your lunch, try some of these. {My disclaimer is that I am not a physician, and so this shouldn't be considered medical advice.  Do your own research, and consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your health.}

  • Bland crackers first thing in the morning
  • Eat fermented foods
  • Apple cider vinegar (Read more about the reasoning for these first two items here)
  • Peppermint tea- Peppermint is a digestive aid. Drinking this at night (sweetened with Stevia) has helped me a lot this pregnancy.
  • Peppermint, ginger essential oils- you can just sniff these, or you can rub these oils onto your belly (dilute the peppermint in a carrier oil first to avoid skin irritation- also, some people say it's fine to use peppermint during a normal, healthy pregnancy, and some advise caution- so do your own research.)
  • Ginger Ale (anything with real ginger in it, really- not just ginger flavoring)
  • Diet Coke, coke syrup- this nausea remedy has been around a long time, and you can get coke syrup at many pharmacies. Also keep in mind that while caffeine helps some with various types of nausea, it can make it worse for others, especially if the nausea is due to indigestion, so you might need to experiment a little.
  • Slow deep breathing (4 counts in, 6 counts out)
  • Cold air- I don't know why this works, but opening a window and breathing in cold air can be very very helpful in that moment where you start feeling hot before vomiting and may prevent you from throwing up altogether.
  • Positioning- lying on left side and a modified child's pose (on knees, head down, bottom up)
  • Accupressure/ Sea bands (see this wiki for more info)
  • Eat raw carrots- This is less for pregnancy nausea than an upset tummy that may be the result of food poisoning, but still good to know... see this post by my friend Lani: http://birthfaith.org/nutrition/gods-medicine-chest-carrots
  • Magnesium- I started doing magnesium soaks before I got pregnant, and continued them after I found out I was expecting, and it seemed that my nausea was less severe the 24 hours after doing the soak. Then, I came across this post from Mommypotamus about replenishing the body's stores of Magnesium before pregnancy to reduce the chance of experiencing nausea. That confirmed to me that magnesium levels can play a role in morning sickness.
  • Unisom and Vitamin B6- ask your doctor or a pharmacist about taking this combination of pills at night to help with nausea the following day. It isn't a cure-all for every woman, but I have been assured by several different prenatal care providers that it is safe, and it has helped in each of my pregnancies so far. With this pregnancy, it wasn't as effective at the beginning, but I kept taking it and adjusted the dose a bit, and after several weeks, I could tell a major difference from taking it.
For all my sisters out there dealing with morning sickness... I feel ya!  Hopefully some of the things on this list will help.  

For those of you who have a special remedy for dealing with nausea of some kind- whether of pregnancy, vertigo, or some other type, will you share what has worked for you? We all love more ideas on how to combat this particular malady!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Maternity Shirt DIY Inspiration

For me, being pregnant has a way of warping time, leaving me somewhat disoriented as each day seems to last forever... but then somehow I find myself 6.5 months pregnant and thinking, "Wait, I still have so much to do before this baby makes his entrance!" Yep, that's pretty much where I'm at right now, coming up for air as I get some of my energy back and nausea under control.

So, I'm looking at my pile of projects, and maternity clothes are close to the top of my list of things to work on, because my belly has popped out and I have already grown out of some of my maternity shirts. (What?! Aren't maternity shirts supposed to fit the whole time you're pregnant?) So while I work on a few sewing projects for me, I thought I would share my inspiration with you, and then when I finish, I can share the results of my dabbling.

This men's shirt to maternity shirt refashion at Cotton and Curls

This lace tunic top at A Beautiful Mess

Also check out my tutorial I posted last pregnancy on how to refashion a long, stretchy skirt into a maternity shirt:

I hope to post more pregnancy- related projects, including some natural remedy type stuff for dealing with aches and pains without using medicines that are a no-no in pregnancy- so stay tuned!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Learn How to Gift Wrap Like a Pro in 3 Simple Steps! (Guest Post)

I am so excited for this guest post today, by my amazingly talented mother-in-law!  She has been known for her love of wrapping gorgeous gifts, and she has it down to a science.  Back in April, Rochelle and I asked her if she would be kind enough to write a blog post about how she wraps her gifts, and she happily agreed to do so.  Thanks Mom! 


Who doesn’t delight in a beautifully wrapped gift?  Beautiful package trimmings enhance the enjoyment of the gift and communicate to the recipients that they are important to you!

But how do you turn out those beautiful packages that are only seen on TV?  With a few tips and pointers, you too can wrap your gifts beautifully.

Apply this one basic wardrobe principle to your gift wrapping:  Start with the basics, then accessorize.  Any women’s wardrobe advisor will tell you that you need a few basics, which always include these essential items:  black pants, black skirt, white button down shirt, black pumps, a good pair of dark jeans.  With these basics, you can accessorize with scarves, jewelry, sweaters, shoes, handbags, hair accessories, etc. in prints, colors and metallics to jazz up your basics, add variety, and make your wardrobe seem much more extensive than it actually is! 

This principle, applied to gift wrap, will turn you into a pro! 

Step 1:  Choose a color scheme; then pick a basic wrap color.  My favorite is the kraft brown.



 Step 2:  Accessorize with other rolls in complementary colors, in prints, stripes and geometrics.  Designs should vary in size – small, medium and large.



Step 3:  Choose coordinating ribbons and package decorations.


Kraft brown is my favorite because it is so versatile!  I’ve used it for Christmas (with red and white; with red, gold and leopard; with green and gold; with blue and gold; with gold and red), 




birthdays (with any color for children; with red, yellow and green for adult women; with black and gold/leopard for men; with pink for girls), 



anniversaries (with gold), 
baby gifts (with pink or pink and green, or pink, gold and leopard for little girls; with brown and blue for boys, and even with red, yellow and blue for a shower gift for a baby whose gender I didn’t know).


Other Occasions (Like Weddings and Graduations): 




I love these 3 simple rules to make your gift wrapping beautiful and coordinated!  I applied these rules to my wrapping this year, and love how my color-coordinated gifts look under my tree! Super simple, with an awesome impact! 
And, just for fun, here's my tree with my presents (please excuse the poor photo quality, and...all the pine needles):




And some close-ups of my favorite presents: 








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