April 26, 2014

Spring Cleaning, Naturally

 We planted some seeds several weeks back, and the parsley, peppers, and kale are sprouting. My echinacea doesn't look like it's going to grow. I think we took the starters out too soon. Oh well, we're learning. 

I made this Easter gift, which I call "The Beachcomber's Skirt," for my 7 year old sister-in-law who lives minutes from California beaches. The large pockets are designed to be filled with shells and sand dollars. 

And, the other spring related news is that I have been experimenting with my own homemade surface cleaning spray. I've tried just vinegar and water or vinegar, water, and essential oils. Around Christmas time I used peppermint oil, but for spring I love grapefruit. But the trick, at least for me, is to mix in a little rubbing alcohol so it doesn't have such a strong vinegar smell. And the combination of white distilled vinegar and the rubbing alcohol makes a great disinfectant. 

In a spray bottle I mix about:
1 c. white distilled vinegar
3 c. water
1/4 c. rubbing alcohol
about 20 drops Grapefruit essential oil

And that's it. We buy the baking soda and vinegar at Costco, so it's pretty inexpensive, especially considering what I would pay for store-bought natural cleaners. The oil I purchased at Chuck's Produce, but you can find them at Whole Foods as well. I've smelled lots of different oil scents, and my favorites beside grapefruit are the lemon and lavender. 
When I clean sinks, the shower and the toilets, I first sprinkle in baking soda and then spray the surfaces before wiping it clean. I use the spray almost daily on the counter tops in the bathroom and kitchen to keep things clean. And I know its safe around food and babies. They usually come along and spray everything for me. Just make sure if you let the kids help they don't take a full bottle and jar of baking soda or your supplies might disappear. I'm just saying! 

Happy Easter!

April 5, 2014

Freezer Paper Stencils and Other Gift Ideas

 Making gifts is one of my all-time favorite hobbies.  So when a birthday, Christmas, or wedding or baby shower comes around, I get excited coming up with ideas to suit the occasion. I usually take it as an excuse to learn a new sewing trick or go look at pretty fabric. That way, I can justify my crafting obsession and make a personalized gift.

Here's a few things to consider when coming up with a gift idea.
First, is there something you know the recipient needs but wouldn't necessarily spend money on themselves?

Second, what hobbies or interests does the receiver have? Gardeners might appreciate some chalkboard seed markers or vintage bird-feeder. Readers who drive a lot might like an audio book from their favorite author. If you know someone who loves throwing parties, handmade bunting or napkins are fun. You could compile energizing tunes for someone who loves to bust out the music while exercising.  If your recipient loves organic products, you could make soy or beeswax candles with lavender or grapefruit essential oils, or natural soaps.

Offering acts of service are awesome, especially when the budget is tight. I know as a busy momma of four, I deeply appreciate all the help in the yard, scrubbed floors, and home cooked meals we've received.

Another thing to keep in mind when coming up with gift ideas are some of your favorite things you enjoy wearing or using. For example, my sister gave me a cute headband with a print she saw that "looked like Jessica." Scarves are another favorite I've received.

One last thing. You know how when you're talking on the phone or hanging out together, people mention what they are trying to find or things they want. Keep tabs. Last June, when she came out to visit, my friend mentioned how much she liked my blue mason jars, but she wished they came in green  for a kitchen soap dispenser. When I was putting together her birthday present, I found one and snatched it.

 I just finished her gift and it's ready to send off in the mail today (if I can manage to get to the post office before closing time.) Em, if you see this post, stop reading this until you've opened your package. She's a talented writer and exceptional cook, so this is what I came up with:

Two kitchen towels, a soap dispenser and two knit potholders. The potholders were simple, just something I've never made. Working with two strands of yarn in different colors on size 7 needles made them thicker. 

I also picked up some of my favorite kitchen towels and stenciled this vintage typewriter onto the white one. It's easy to do, it just takes a little time cutting the image out of freezer paper with an exacto knife. 
Once you've cut the image out, iron the freezer paper to your fabric using a lower heat setting, with the shiny side of the paper down. It will adhere to the fabric. Lay your materials on a newspaper in case any paint bleeds through. Then, using your sponge brush, dab the fabric paint directly onto the stencil cutout.  Once it's dry, peel off the freezer paper, turn the fabric right side down, and iron the fabric, preferably on an old rag or something you don't care about, to set the paint. 

 Happy Birthday Em!