Archive for the 'craftiness' Category

mason jar lids – revisited

About a month ago, I posted about my mason jar lids. At the time, it was a wonderful addition to my mason jar cups.

Fast forward a few weeks… frustrated with rust accumulating on the underside of my mason jar rings, I needed to find another solution. At first, I thought that I could, perhaps, just spray them with rustoleum and they would be water tight. Yes, there were flaws in my logic, and admittedly, if I’d thought this one through completely, I would have realized that spraying the insides of my rings with paint was not the smartest solution, but I digress. That clearly wasn’t the ultimate solution.

Another option out there is the cuppow lids. I love the concept and idea, but I am not paying $12 (cost + shipping) for a single lid. Not when there are other options available, at least.

Besides, I think I’ve found the new hotness in mason jar lids… ready for this?

INTRODUCING…. (drumroll, please)…

The new mason jar lid!!

new and improved!

Want on board with the latest and greatest trend? Here’s how you can make one yourself…

1. Go to your local grocery/walmart and pick up some plastic canning lids (the ones for storage, not for canning/processing).

2. Follow one of the two methods laid out below to put holes in your lids.

Because this was (once again) a matter of trial and error, I’ll tell you what not to do first.

Method #1 (the less awesome way to do this):

drill meets lid

1. Pull out your drill. Use a board or something you don’t care about to do this on top of. Figure out where you want your hole to be on the lid. Steady the lid with one hand, the drill with the other. Be VERY careful to keep your fingers away from the moving parts.

While drilling, the lid will try to spin due to the torque of the drill bit. Once you get all the way through, the lid will get a little stuck on the bit and you’ll have to ease it out. Just go slowly and be careful. This method, as I’ve stated previously, is not the best method for adding holes to your lids.

goal accomplished, holes drilled

2. Goal accomplished, but the holes were rather messy, and the danger level of this project was about 9.5 (out of 10). Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but I wouldn’t do it again this way. I was seriously concerned about bodily harm. Maybe I would have felt more comfortable if I had a vice grip to hold the lid in place, rather than my hand.

drilled lid

3. Ready for drinking, but this is one ugly hole. I tried to pull off the extra shavings the drill left behind, but that just ripped a larger chunk in the top. Not pretty.

Method #2 (this is the one I’d suggest trying):

lid meets soldering iron

1. Heat up your soldering iron. You want it to be good and hot before coming in to contact with your lid. Also, do this project on something you don’t care about that’s NOT flammable. We have a (tiny) black mark on our counter from where the soldering iron may have come in to brief contact with it. Oops.

If you don’t have a soldering iron, go to radio shack and buy one. They’re not that expensive. I found this one in my husband’s electrical repair kit in our garage. (shhhhh! don’t tell him I’m using his soldering iron for this… oh, wait… the jig might be up already.)

2. Once heated, push your soldering iron through your lid. I wanted my holes to be about the circumference of the base of the iron, so I pushed it all the way through. Be VERY careful while doing this. Do NOT come in to contact with your skin. Soldering irons are darn hot.

There will be a bit of melted plastic still on the iron when you pull it out. I keep a piece of cardboard handy nearby to scrape off any excess, rather than letting it burn off. Just don’t let it come in to contact for too long – cardboard will burn!!

Oh yeah, one other thing of note… melting plastic is a hazardous thing. Not good for your lungs, brain, eyes, whatever else you want to throw in there. Be like Bill, and DO NOT inhale. Or just don’t use this method at all. Please don’t do it just because I said I did. I’m not cool enough to have that kind of influence.

Here’s a tip… to get a perfect, clean hole, melt your hole from the bottom side of the lid. The extra “stuff” will be on the inside and not visible. See the picture above? The top lid was done from the bottom side, and the bottom lid was done from the top side.

perfection! hole was started on the inside of the lid.

Check out that amazingly perfect hole!!

3. This lid is ready for some action. Screw it on, stick a straw in it and suck. (Man, that sounds dirty. I swear it’s not meant to.)

Using the same scale as before, the danger level of this method still ranks around 8 (out of 10), but the fact that there are no moving parts gives me some relief. I have a healthy respect for power tools. Just be smart with the soldering iron and don’t let your husband know what you’re using his tools for. :)

And what of my old mason jar lids? All is not lost. A quick trim and they fit perfectly in my magic bullet cups. Ahh, the circle is complete. I love it when things work out so well.

the birdy lives to see another day!

how to: make lotion

Yup, I made my own lotion. I’ve done it before, but never followed any legit recipe or anything. Just blended together a variety of oils, aloe vera gel, vitamin e oil, etc until I got a consistency I liked. This time? I followed for real recipes. And it turned out pretty darn good!

Ben & I both struggle with severely dry hands in the winter time. Dry to the point of cracked and bleeding knuckles (eewwww…). Dry enough that it hurts to bend my fingers. Two weeks in Hawaii cleared it right up for me (speaking of, I know I still owe you posts for our last few days on vacation… they’re coming, I promise). It only took a few weeks back home in winter weather for the dry skin to return.

Tired of it, I set out to make two types of lotion – lotion bars and regular lotion.

The lotion bars turned out great… here’s an “after” shot:

lotion bar

The regular lotion set up a bit more solid than I expected:

SOLID lotion... this may as well be a lotion bar recipe as well. (sorry about the suuuuper blurry photo here... my camera decided to focus on the cabinets in the background. *sigh*)

I had a fix for the hard stuff… I’ll explain more below.

A few weeks ago, I placed an order for bulk lotion supplies from Bulk Apothecary. They took about a week to get here, then I sat on them for about a week more. Finally, two nights ago, I’d had enough of the dry, cracking skin and pulled out the supplies. Here’s what I ordered:

Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Beeswax, Grapefruit Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil and Vanilla Essential Oil

I started with the lotion bars first. I used the “Easy Lotion Bars” recipe from Teach Soap. I used shea butter, yellow beeswax and grapeseed oil for the base. I waited and added the essential oil at the very end, which didn’t turn out so great… it really needs to be added while the mixture is still HOT so it can blend with everything else. I poured three plain lotion bars for Ben, and three scented bars for me.

My scale was essential for this project. Then, I subsequently dropped and broke it after completing my lotions. :( It was time to upgrade to digital anyway.

Using a double boiler method, I melted the oil and beeswax in separate containers, per the instructions.

ahhhh!! i'm melllting, meeelllting...

Dropped some essential oil in to my silicone molds (these things have seen a lot of action recently).

I combined the melted beeswax with the hot oils, the poured the mixture in to molds. It started setting up surprisingly fast. It must have been cold in our house.

And after they cooled completely (about an hour)…

Here’s what the ones with essential oils looked like.

boooo! the essential oils collected at the bottom.

The plain ones were fine, though.

Recipe #2 – “Regular” Lotion

I used this recipe from the “a sonoma garden” blog. I used a combo of grapeseed and olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, vitamin e and some essential oils for my version. I call it “the kitchen sink”. It smells A.MAZ.ING. I followed the same basic instructions and ratios of butter/oil (1 1/2 cups) to beeswax (1/2 cup), but the fact that shea and cocoa butter are hard at room temperature contributed to the fact that this set up much thicker than expected. More oil fixed that easily!

a one jar recipe. i like it already!

woohoo! melted!
(love the trivet? my cousin makes them... contact me @ suzyness.com@gmail.com if you want one!)

setting up... a little thick.

I noticed the lotion was a bit thick at this point and added more grapeseed oil. Then, I scooped some out in to a container more suitable for “solid” lotion (on the right), and added a little more oil to the jar… then, a lot more. All in all, I think I added nearly a cup of additional oil. We really wanted a squirt-able consistency – one that we could put in our hand pump and get out easily. It finally got to that point.

still setting up - I added vitamin E and essential oils at this point

As the lotion was cooling, I added liquid vitamin E (to both containers) and some vanilla essential oil (to the container on the right). I used a small whisk to blend it in, which worked very well (a fork would have also worked).

The verdict? Both versions turned out pretty awesome and seem to be helping my dry skin. Yay! I sent Ben off with his lotion bar in a baggie, and I have one on my nightstand. This project was easy and fun – it made me wish I’d tried it sooner!

mason jar lids

Want to hear about something cool? Who doesn’t, right? I’ve discovered an awesome new way to drink from mason jars… with plastic lid inserts. Even better? It’s a cheap DIY project that is quick and easy.

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Remember this picture from my coffee post? It has one of my new lids on it.

Here’s another lid demonstration (please ignore the messiness on the counter… this was after making green monster smoothies). I call this the “junior” lid…

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Again, I found the idea on Pinterest. I <3 that website so much. It’s fantastic. It was a combination of two ideas I found, really. This one, that used plastic paper lids, and this one, that drilled holes directly in to the standard metal mason jar lids. Both were great ideas, but I didn’t have the materials for either. What I did have were some cheap Ikea place mats, scissors and a hole punch. And so, it begins.

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Step 1 – I traced around the standard mason jar lid with a sharpie. Then, I took out scissors and started cutting.

step 1 - trace and cut

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Step 2 – After tracking down my hole punch, we were in business. I picked a spot and punched a hole through. I wanted it far enough away from the edge that if C tipped her cup toward her, liquid wouldn’t come gushing out. I would have preferred the center, but my hole punch wasn’t large enough to accommodate that.

step 2 - punch a hole

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Step 3 – I inserted my new lid in to the standard metal ring that comes with mason jars, filled up the jar with a beverage, and put a straw in the hole. That’s it! I really don’t think it could be simpler.

step 3 - insert lid in to metal ring, screw on mason jar, add a straw and sip away!

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This was a fun project. It’s a great way to get away from using plastic all the time for C’s drinks, and she loves the birds on her cups! I’d love to find some other place mat designs to try out.

Look what I made! Toddler “Handle”

Here’s one of the many creations I’ve been working on recently. I haven’t been great about taking pictures as I go, so I may end up just posting the finished product for most projects.

 

One of the many things I’ve found and loved at Make It and Love It is the “Toddler Bag Handle” – basically a handle that you attach to your purse/stroller/shopping cart/etc for your toddler to hang on to while your hands are occupied elsewhere. This gives them some freedom, but keeps them close enough that they can’t get in to (too much) trouble.

 

So, I made my own version… with one change (of course!). I made this longer than I think I need and added some 1” elastic down the middle, so there’s a few inches of play in the handle to give a little more independence to C (and to keep my bag on my shoulder in case she gives a good tug!). I also skipped the top stitching step, only because I completely missed the step while running back and forth from sewing machine to computer during the project. I think the top stitching looks really nice, so I’ll be sure to add that in on the next one I make.

 

All in all, this was a fantastically easy project to make. Beginning to end (including ironing my material to get a clean cut) was under 30 minutes. I’m sure it would go quicker on my next attempt. I have some fabulous fabrics I’d love to give this a shot with.

 

Without further ado, here it is…

 

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The finished product

 

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Attached to my purse

 

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And stretched out a bit… there’s still more room to stretch, but it was difficult to demonstrate via camera all by myself.

 

We’ll be testing it out this afternoon and see how it goes!

Blogs

I’ve found so many great craft blogs recently… and my list of projects just keeps growing. I’ve been so inspired by the craftiness all around and the fantastic ideas that I simply *must* recreate some of these ideas. Of course, I can’t leave anything alone, and I have my own ideas of how to improve for my own purposes, so I’ve added some notes as well.

 

sewing projects:

reusable snack bag – I’m thinking of making a little flap on the front with velcro, rather than the velcro inside. Seems like it’d be easier for little fingers to get in/out of.

 

circle skirt – I’ve found a few variations of this skirt out there on the web, but I love how this website has laid out the instructions. I’d love to make a few of these for C and myself. No variations here… it’s already fully customizable!

 

ice cream social skirt – here’s another version of the circle skirt, coined the “ice cream social skirt” – same idea, but I love the stripes in this one! And, if you can’t find striped material, here’s a tutorial on how to make your own.

 

extender slip – have any dresses that are just a wee bit too short? Or an active toddler who likes to grab at your dress (outcome unknown)? This is the perfect solution, and cute to boot! I usually avoid mid-length (or shorter) dresses around C for fear that she will lift at the wrong moment (usually when my hands are full… it’s happened… fortunately it’s only happened at home). I see this as being a great fix for that potential embarrassing moment! Well, it may be only slightly less embarrassing to have your slip showing instead of your undies, but I’ll take the slip option any day of the week!

 

this apron is adorable. I love heirloom prints… I wish I wasn’t so frugal when buying material though… or that it wasn’t so darn expensive!

 

vinyl pouches – love these!

 

scrap quilt – I have a box of my favorite baby clothes that C wore her first year of life stashed away, with the intention of making a quilt for her someday. As quilting is somewhat intimidating to me, this method seems like a perfect way to get it done.

 

hanging jewelry holder – I just think this is a neat idea! I want to add some extra loops of vinyl with snaps as a place to hang necklaces or bulky items that hang better than putting them in a pouch. Perhaps the back side would be better with a row of snaps instead of extra pouches? Hmmm… I’ll have to map this one out first.

 

large tote – simply love this one. I don’t have any “ducky” material on hand, but I do have some craft interface that makes materials stiff, so perhaps I’ll give that a shot and see how it turns out. I think I’ll skip the flowers though… just not me.

 

kid projects:

paper towel butterflies – such a darling idea. I know C would absolutely love these. I was hoping that painting water colors on paper towels would work just as well (and be slightly easier to clean up).

 

alphabet rocks – I’ve actually already made this project with C, using nail polish instead of paint, and it turned out so darn cute! She loves rocks to begin with, and when combined with letters, they’re her new favorite thing! I just had to throw this one on here because it’s such a great idea.

 

food projects:

california mix – delicious mix of pickled cauliflower, bell peppers and carrots.

 

red velvet cake – still in search of the perfect recipe, I find myself being called to by this one. yum.

 

 

While you’re at it, check out some of the other posts on the fabulous blogs linked above. They’re my new favorites. :)

  1. http://www.makeit-loveit.com
  2. http://icandyhandmade.blogspot.com
  3. http://ihavetosay.typepad.com/randi/
  4. http://www.dana-made-it.com
  5. http://obsessivelystitching.blogspot.com
  6. http://smittenkitchen.com

Fleece Diaper Cover

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So here it is! This is my second attempt at making a fleece diaper cover (the first was far too big for C and is stashed away for future use). With the new prefold diapers we’re using, the fleece works longer, and although the moisture still wicks through after a good soaking, they’re great “laundry day” diapers (ie, the ones I put her in at home while all the others are being washed). Considering this was recycled from old material I had on hand (old fleece pjs) I’m pretty happy with it.

I’m hoping to modify the other cover to make it fit a smaller baby so C can wear that one, too. I love the pattern and don’t want to wait for her to grow in to it!

Craftiness

IMAG0019Gosh… I have so many things I want to post about (that never quite make it to the blog) that it makes it nearly impossible for me to come up with a single post topic when I sit down. All my ideas scatter in my brain like cockroaches when the light turns on.

 

I’ve been indulging in a bit of craftiness lately. I actually pulled out my sewing machine again (after it’s brief reappearance for the carseat headrest) and have put together a few more fun projects. A case for my new camera, a few fleece diaper covers and a few other little things here and there. It’s just inspired me to do more. Of course, it’s such an effort to pull out my card table, sewing machine and supplies every time I want to work on something. We don’t have a dedicated space for my craft stuff, so it’s stored in the garage when not in use. And that means that pulling it out and using it is an incredible amount of effort. Then, keeping C away from it the following day is another effort in of itself. Actually, she’s pretty darn good at keeping away from my sewing stuff, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to keep a watchful eye on her when she’s near it. It’s when I’m not looking that she does the worst damage!

 

Clearly, C is interested in sewing… here she is climbing up on me while I stich a quick project. She’s fascinated when the machine starts going!

 

After a run of chemical burns from our “natural” disposable diapers (the bleach, latex, fragrance, etc free varieties), we’ve recently switched back to cloth diapers. We tried cloth before – briefly when C was just a few weeks old (she was too tiny for the covers and everything leaked! I didn’t realize there was anything smaller than “small” at the time), then again when she was 6 months old (the breastmilk / solid food transition poo was more than we could handle). This time, we have a much better system for clean/dirties & covers that makes cloth diapering a bit easier. Traveling and diapering while out and about is still a bit challenging, but we’re getting things figured out. There were two recent turning points that are making my life tremendously easier:

 

1. Stripping diapers / covers – we have a few “All in One” and “Two in One” covers that are supposed to make life SO much easier. They are pocket style dipes that you can shove absorbent inserts in to and they work just like disposables. The All in Ones I’ve always had trouble with. I just added a few more “previously loved” ones to our collection and after soaking in oxyclean and putting them through a full wash/dry routine, I gave them a shot while we were out one day. BAD idea. NEVER test out new diapers while away from home. They leaked like no other diaper I’d dealt with before. They were completely useless… leaking after C’s first pee. I couldn’t figure it out. I’d thought the oxyclean would do enough to strip out previous detergents, but obviously not. So, when I got home, I hopped on to Baby Center’s cloth diaper bulletin board and sought out answers. The recommendation online was to soak them in hot with a few drops of original blue Dawn. After soaking the all in one covers with a “few drops” of dawn overnight, drying and testing them (a small drizzle of water on the absorbent side to see if the material repelled the water or absorbed it) and discovered it just wasn’t enough. They still repelled water. So, again with the soak, this time with a liberal squirt of dawn in a small bucket of hot water. Success! The covers finally seemed to do their job, absorbing liquid rather than repelling and were bum ready.

 

2. Indian/Chinese Prefolds – I’ve been using birdseye cotton flat and prefold diapers inside my covers this entire time with marginal success. I’ve had fantastic results layering the birdseye inside fuzzibunz covers, but horrible luck with all over covers. The reality was, fuzzibunz has an extra layer of fleece inside their diapers that helped absorb the extra pee that the insert couldn’t handle – the other covers were lacking this, so the extra pee just went out the side of the legs. While visiting one of Ben’s cousins (who cloth diapered all three of her kids), I inquired about her overnight solution and we started chatting about the cloth diapers I’d been using. She recommended trying her indian cotton prefolds instead of the birdseye and see how they worked for us. The difference was amazing!! Suddenly, no more leaks, no more hourly changes and all for less bulk! I was doubling up the birdseye for naps/sleeping. It added so much bulk and we were still dealing with leaks. I managed to find some used ones at a baby store in Portland and found some more from Craigslist for cheap cheap!

It makes cloth diapering so much more exciting when you don’t have to constantly worry about leaks. I wish I’d figured this stuff out sooner, but I guess it’s just one of those things that requires trial and error. The thing is, we HAD indian prefolds when C was an infant (a friend let us borrow them), but after having little luck getting the covers to fit, and dealing with her colicky temperament, we wanted to eliminate as many potential aggravators as possible. I wish we’d given cloth diapering more of a shot when she was an infant, but I’m glad we’ve figured out some solutions now. Now I’m determined to use the cloth diapers / covers long enough to recoop the money I’ve spent so far. Considering disposables cost us about $25 a month (Amazon’s Mom program is FANTASTIC!), it’ll take about 6 months of cloth diapering before we break even for cloth. If we’re able to use the same supplies for baby #2, even better!

 

So, this comes full circle with my sewing projects. I’m determined to use some of the materials I’ve salvaged over the years to make some more covers and diapering essentials. I’ve also found some diaper cover patterns online that I’m intrigued by. I hope to get a few more projects under my belt soon. Hopefully pictures will follow soon!

Carseat Headrest

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As promised, here are some pictures of the carseat headrest I put together. C does a fantastic job of modeling it. :)

Uninspired

The last few days have been rather uninspired food days for us. Breakfasts are always easy, but the rest of the meals are a bit trying. We come to lunch and dinner time and ask… “What to eat?” Do we stick to a strict low carb regime or do we cheat a little? Or a lot? I think the idea of “cheating” has made decisions more difficult for us, as it opens endless possibilities for us. Luckily it’s limited to a single day (usually Saturdays), then we go back to our boring, carb-less week. The thing is, it shouldn’t be boring. There are plenty of recipes to scour through and delicious meals to eat. I’ve found a whole collection of recipes that look fantastic to me, but none of them seem appealing. I need to get over this food slump. It doesn’t help that the weather has been crappy lately (rainy and grey), so bbqing isn’t always an option and the remaining choices seem hard and laborsome.

 

I’ve managed to pick up a few long outstanding projects and actually make progress on them. I pulled out my sewing machine on Friday night, and although our blinds still need to be hemmed, I managed to complete a gift bag (for the birthday party we attended on Saturday), a pillowcase dress for C and two head rests for C’s carseats. The headrests were a bit of a challenge, but were fun to put together. I had one in her seat that I purchased from Walmart over a year ago. It basically sits behind her and is an upside down U shaped pillow that cradles her head when she sleeps. It gave her a place to put her head when she fell asleep in the car (other than slumped over). It worked great, until a few months ago, when she started to outgrow it. As she did, she was more and more prone to slump over in the car, as her head needed to be perfectly centered to fit in the upside down U. So, I needed to expand on the current design and make something that would fit her now, but would also grow with her. I managed to put together a design that accomplishes just that – she can rest her head on either side of the pillow, but there is plenty of room at the top for her to grow. It moves up with the carseat harness each time we move it in the car, so the placement will get higher as needed. She will most likely out grow the width of this one before she outgrows the height. I’ll try to get a picture of her in it to show what I’m talking about. I’m pretty impressed with it overall. Plus, she loves the snazzy new design (blue background with white moons and stars). It takes a few more minutes to get her in the carseat now, as she wants to turn around and check out the pattern before she’s sitting on top of it. She loves it so much, I plan to make her a pillow out of the excess material. It’s awesome that she’s so easy to please at this age. If only it could be like this forever!



Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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