Pinterest Favorites

We’re off to the beach for a week of family fun! I thought I’d put up some links to my favorite blog posts and sites that I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Enjoy!

We’re major animal lovers in our house. We have 2 rescue cats, 2 adopted dogs, and a toddler to prove that! Just kidding. No, really though, Buddy makes more of a mess than the 6 week old kitten. It’s kind of a zoo at our house. Anyway, this cruelty free brands list is extremely helpful if this is something important to you. Our home isn’t completely cruelty free (I don’t think), but if I’m debating between a brand that is and one that isn’t, I’m definitely going with the brand that is.

I love all things home and real estate related, and New World Home is a producer of cute, sustainable housing. We would love to have a green home one day.

When I was little my mom used to grow an avocado tree from the seed of one we had eaten. It was such much fun to watch as a child!

I’m not a sewer, but I will definitely be paying a friend to make these cute burp cloths for the next bambino.

I love these wooden pull along toys by FriendlyToys. They are just too cute.

Here is some basic info on torticollis. I had never heard of it until Buddy was diagnosed. You can read about the beginning of our journey here.

Of course a healthy mom and baby is the most important aspect of any birth, but a woman’s wishes for her birth are important too. This is an excellent post on this topic.

I’m going to shamelessly plug myself here because I LOVE this lemonade. It’s so easy and so yummy in the summer.

Using an old hose as a doormat is such a cute and thrifty idea. I’m hoping to make one for our back patio.

I love this necklace made from a recycled glass bottle. I hope the hubby sees this post.

That’s it. Some of my favorites from around the web.

*I was not paid or perked to highlight any of these posts/websites. I just enjoy them!

Felt Dryer Balls

dryer ball core

I knew before Buddy was born that I wanted to wash his clothes in something that didn’t have quite as many chemicals as traditional laundry detergent. I started using All Free and Clear to prep his clothes before his arrival and continued to use that his first year. I then made the decision to switch to homemade laundry detergent using this powder detergent recipe. I didn’t use dryer sheets because of the chemicals, but his clothes came out with a lot of static in the winter. I searched for chemical free alternatives and all the felt dryer balls I found were very expensive. I finally found this tutorial on how to make them yourself. I did make some changes to the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to use as much yarn. You will need 100% wool yarn, crochet needle, pantyhose, and wool sweater. Make sure your yarn isn’t treated in any way or it will not felt.  I purchased the yarn at Michaels using a 40% off coupon. I bought a grey sweater and red sweater at Goodwill for $1.50 and $3 each.

First, you will need to cut your sweater into strips. You can do any size, but mine were about an inch wide and 6 inches long. You will wrap these around each other to make the core of the ball. I used 3 strips, but you can use more if you want to make a larger dryer ball. Mine will be a little bigger than a tennis ball when finished.

dryer ball core

Then take your yarn, wrap around and tie a knot to hold the strips together so you can begin to wrap.

core with yarn tiedIt will not be in the shape of a ball, but that’s ok. Once you begin wrapping it around it will begin to shape up. I usually just go in a clock wise motion around the strips of sweater so it will squish into the ball shape. Once I had a decent covering with the yarn it was about the size of a golf ball.

core with yarnJust continue to wrap the yarn until it is completely covered and to your desired size. I make mine a little larger than a tennis ball. They will be a bit smaller after washing. Then, you will take the crochet needle with yarn threaded through and pass through the ball. Don’t go right through the center. It will not go through the sweaters. Just go far enough in that it will hold the end of the yarn through the washing process.

dryer ball with needleCut off the remaining yarn.

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

I promise this is a little bigger than a tennis ball. I have really small hands!

Now you will put them in the panty hose. You will tie a knot in between each ball. Otherwise, you will have a felted mess. I didn’t use dental floss or thread because it kept slipping whenever I tried that. You could do this and reuse the panty hose for more dryer balls, but I thought the 33 cents for knee highs was worth saving myself the frustration. I just cut them out. You will wash the dryer balls on the hottest setting. I tried them with and without a regular load of laundry. They felted much, much better when they were in with some other things. I think the agitation helps.

dryer ball in hoseI was able to fit 5 or 6 into each knee high at this size. After washing, put them in your dryer on the hottest setting as well. You now have pretty, felted dryer balls!

felted dryer ball

I was able to make 6 or so balls of this size using the sweater core. My sweater was 100% wool, although I’m not sure this is necessary since it will be covered by the yarn. I just figured it wouldn’t hurt and didn’t want to chance it. I also made a set for darks using a dark brown yarn. You will get some pilling and lint on them, but you can use a sweater stone to remove most of it. Dryer balls are a great way to keep static away without chemicals. They also seem to cut back on dryer time for many people, but I didn’t notice this with our dryer.

I think this would be a super cute craft for the fall. You could make a few from different colors and put them in a wood bowl on the coffee table, or in a glass vase on the mantle. They are so easy, earth friendly, and cute!

Playing with Food

playing with fruit

One day I was thawing out some frozen blueberries for Buddy and noticed how pretty the paper towel looked after the juice had soaked in. I thought it would be fun to take several fruits and let Buddy play with them on some cardstock and see what kind of print he could come up with. I used strawberries, blueberries,cherries, and an orange, but the possibilities are endless.

playing with fruitI just sat them on the paper to give him the idea of what to do, and he took it from there. Of course, he had to take a few bites every now and then.

playing with food

He kind of used it as a stamp. You could probably cut some of the softer fruits into shapes if you think they’ll also use them like a stamp.

final food printYou can see that the orange didn’t do much. Maybe a dark grapefruit would work better? It was a fun, easy activity and Buddy enjoyed eating his “paint”.

Initial Scallop Art

supplies

This scallop art isn’t necessarily tot related, but it’s going in Buddy’s big boy room so I thought I’d share. I’ve been trying to find cheap artwork to make for a gallery wall over the dresser, and I found this on a blog and thought it could look like waves. Since his room will be nautical I though it would be cute to do it in shades of blue. The instructions on the above mentioned blog are very detailed, but I kind of winged it and it was very simple, although not perfect. You just need a few basic supplies. I used color cardstock from the craft store, Mod Podge, a foam brush, and the backing and frame that I found at Goodwill.

suppliesI used 1 1/2 inch circle puncher. It was a nice size for the overall project. You could measure some lines to help guide you, but I just eye balled it. I did mess up the bottom part. I should have put the circles halfway down at the bottom of the page. Oops. I used a little white acrylic paint to fill in that part since the backing was off-white.

scallops in processYou can see some of the Mod Podge got on a few pieces. It wasn’t noticeable on the white and light blue, but you could see it a bit on the navy.

completed scallop artI was pretty happy with how it turned out, but thought it was a little plain so I added Buddy’s first initial to it.

art with initialIt’s not perfect by any means, but the flaws aren’t too obvious. The initial also helps to distract from the little bit of Mod Podge that dried on some of the navy circles. It only took me about an hour and cost about $5. You could easily do it with an older child or let a young one punch out the circles.

DIY Watercolor Paints

I used frozen blueberries since that's what we had and it's much cheaper than fresh.

Little ones seem to love to paint, but many paints on the market aren’t safe for kids that want to put everything in their mouth. I  remembered seeing some websites around Easter using food to make dyes for eggs. I thought I would try something similar to come up with some watercolor paint that Buddy could use to paint. I used red onion skins, lemon zest, and blueberries. I didn’t have all these at the same time so I made them as I could, poured it into ice cube trays, and then froze them until we had (what I thought) three colors. I don’t have measurements, but I think the color intensity will be better if you have more food than water. I will show you pictures of the blueberries. Simply put blueberries in boiling water!

I used frozen blueberries since that's what we had and it's much cheaper than fresh.

I used frozen blueberries since that’s what we had and it’s much cheaper than fresh.

Once the water was boiling I used a fork to mash the blueberries against the side. This helped to release the juice and darken the water. I let it boil for about 10 minutes. For the red onion skins, I boiled until they started to become transluscent. The lemon zest didn’t get too dark. I just boiled until it was a faint yellow. I strained the water to try and get the blueberry bits out, and let it sit until cooled. It made a beautiful dark purple color.

blueberry paintOnce we were ready to paint a couple of weeks later, I put a cube of blueberry water in a ramekin and microwaved it.

diy watercolor paint

The bottom one is the red onion skin. The color is identical to the blueberry paint.

If you have a surface that you don’t want to get dirty or will stain easy, make sure you put some paper down. The blueberry will definitely stain. I just put some tissue paper over Buddy’s high chair tray. You can see that the red onion skin paint is the same color as the blueberry, but when you put it on the paper it will be brown, then turn to yellow as it dries. Kind of neat.  It ended up being the same color as the lemon paint. The blueberry paint made a really pretty slate blue color.

buddy with diy watercolor paintThe colors are pretty faint here, but darken up as it dries. The paper did tear in the middle, but he didn’t care. After a few minutes he wanted me to paint with him and here are the final results.

final diy watercolor pictures

Buddy’s masterpiece is on the left.

The yellow is a bit more lime in real life. The colors were really pretty together. They did fade a bit over the next few days, but still look good. I would like to try this with strawberries or cherries in the future. I wonder if pomegranate would make a pretty color, although that would be expensive to try. Buddy really enjoyed this activity and actually painted longer than he does with finger paints. We will definitely do this one again in the future.

DIY Kids beach bag

beach bag with cuts

We are headed to the beach in a few weeks and I thought Buddy might want his own beach bag to carry his toys. He’s loved putting things in bags since he could walk. I was going to use a small canvas bag and decorate it. I found the bag and paint pen, but couldn’t find any appliques I liked that weren’t girly. I found a few cute, nautical themed ones online but they would have been at least $10 when you added in shipping and handling. I didn’t want to pay that much, and if I was I would order a cute one from Etsy. Then I remembered this tutorial on a DIY produce bag and thought I would make that. I never made the produce bag, but I used the idea to turn sentimental t-shirts into small bags to use on trips. They are great for putting smaller items in without taking up much room. This project could be completely free if you already have a shirt on hand. I didn’t have a summer-ish t-shirt of Buddy’s that I wanted to sacrifice so I bought one from Goodwill for $2. It is a 3T. I wanted something big enough to carry a few toys, but small enough that he could easily carry it.

First you will need to cut off the arms and neck. Do not leave the seams on these parts. For the initial cut on the neck I cut right below the collar so I would have a thick enough strap left. I went back and cut the neck a bit deeper so the opening would be large enough.

beach bag with cutsObviously, these are not the cleanest cuts. I’m okay with this, but if you want it to look cleaner make sure you are using super sharp scissors.  Next, I sewed the areas where the seams meet at the shoulders and arm pits to reinforce them and keep them from unraveling. I don’t know how to use a sewing machine so I hand-stitched everything. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of the types of stitches. You could easily sew the raw edges of the straps with a machine, or even by hand, but I didn’t care to do this since it will be used by a little boy at the beach. I’m okay with it being imperfect since it will probably only last this trip.

Place a few stitches where the seams meet

Place a few stitches where the seams meet

Next, I turned the shirt inside out and sewed up the bottom. I have no idea what kind of stitch this is. A cross-stitch maybe? It seemed like it would be strong enough to hold a little weight and withstand the washing machine.

beach bag bottom

Once I finished sewing I put the bag in the wash pile to make sure it would hold up. It worked. I didn’t have any unraveling.

All done! The edges of the straps curled up a bit, but that was all.

All done! The edges of the straps curled up a bit, but that was all.

I put a few toys in to make sure it would hold it and it was fine. I could fit a small bucket and some shovels in. I also put in a reusable produce bag I found at the Dollar Spot at Target. We’ll use it to collect seashells.

finished beach bag with toys

That’s it! An easy, cheap (or free) beach bag for your toddler!

 

You can find more awesome projects like this over here:

http://domesticsuperhero.com/category/diy/

 

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Oars before stripping

Buddy’s big boy room is a work in progress. I’m trying to use a lot of what we have or get most of it at the thrift store. I picked up a couple of small oars at my local Goodwill for $8 each. The ones used for this tutorial are bigger, and given to me by my uncle. They are a stained and have a layer of polyurethane. I had them sitting around for a bit because I knew I wanted  paint and stain part of the oar which meant I would have to strip off the polyurethane and stain. I hate doing that. I have yet to find a paint stripper that works and I just don’t have the patience for it. I used a regular paint stripper. I have used Citristrip before, and while I enjoy the low odor and fact that it doesn’t burn a hole in my skin, I just haven’t had much luck with it working well. It seems to work well for a lot of other people though. Please excuse the bad pictures. Most of this was done on cloudy days, in the garage, or at night.

Oars before stripping

Oars before stripping

If you are going to strip something, make sure you do it outside or in a well ventilated area. Wear gloves! I got some on my arm, and boy does it hurt. I didn’t really have this problem when I’ve used Citristrip in the past. Once you have the stripper on let it sit until it bubbles. Use a flat tool or scraper to scrape off the varnish or paint.

oars with stripper

Oars after having the stripper applied

I did have to sand the oars after this to get the remaining varnish that was left. I wasn’t able to get all of it off, but I knew I would paint and distress so it wouldn’t be that obvious. After sanding, I wiped the oars down, let them dry, then applied painters tape to the areas I wanted to be stained later.

Apply the tape to the areas you want stained later. If you don't want any natural wood showing, then skip this step.

Apply the tape to the areas you want stained later. If you don’t want any natural wood showing, then skip this step.

After that I spray painted the oars with white. I know this is not very eco-friendly, but it is the easiest and fastest way to get the oars painted. I painted the smaller paddles with acrylic paint and it took FOREVER to get the white thick enough. The spray paint is so much faster and easier to get this project done when you have a two year old. I use Krylon spray paint for nearly everything I spray. I have tried Rustoleum and don’t like the way it sprays. I think I get a wider range of coverage with Krylon and the consistency seems smoother. I did one thin coat of primer and 4 coats of flat white. I probably could have done 3, but I was in the garage (with the door up) and it was hard for me to see if it was covered completely. I let anything I’ve sprayed sit outside for 24 hours to off gas, and longer if I can. I think these were outside for 2 days and didn’t have any odor when I brought them inside for the next step.

tape

I put more tape on the oars so I could mark off where I wanted to use the acrylic paint. I overlapped with some of the other tape so I would have a thin white part between the color acrylic paint and the stained part. I painted the oars with navy, red, and yellow. I pulled the tape off when the paint was still damp. I did have some bleed through, and some of the white paint came off with the tape. I didn’t mind either of these since I would be distressing them, but if you want clean lines I would try a higher quality painter’s tape.

cross

Some of the white paint came off with the painter's tape.

Some of the white paint came off with the painter’s tape.

After they were painted I distressed the oars using sandpaper. I used a hammer to create dents on the smaller oars. I tried to distress in areas I though would naturally get beat up. I focused on the top at the handles and around the edges.

distress 1

distress 2

After distressing, I used a dark walnut stain to age the oars. I just did one coat. I used an old t-shirt to apply the stain and then immediately wiped it off. It left a light stain on the paint, but was dark enough to bring out the wood tones in the parts I left unpainted.

Side by side of oars before and after staining

Side by side of oars before and after staining

The stain can have a strong odor so I let them sit in the garage for a few days before bringing them in. I love how they turned out.

oars after

I love the variations in the wood that came out with the stain

I love the variations in the wood that came out with the stain

handle

This project took me about 3 hours total, spread out over a few days. I only spend about $5 on the acrylic paint since I had everything else. Otherwise, the cost would vary based on where you found your oars. If you can find them at a thrift store, this project shouldn’t be more than $25. Ebay seems to have some large wooden oars for about $35. This was a fun, easy project and would be cute for summer decor. I will do a room reveal when Buddy’s big boy nautical room is done.

Check out some other cool projects over at Thrift Decor Chick’s blog:

Thrifty Decor Chick

 

Fun New Ways to Use Buttons

Our friends at housekeeping.org have found several blog posts on how to reuse buttons you have laying around . Check it out and maybe you’ll find a fun craft to do with the kids!

18 Blogs with Creative Uses for Buttons

I especially like the DIY button monogram and recycled button artwork. The DIY monograms could be fun for older kids to make for their rooms. Have fun!

28 Blogs with creative earth-friendly Easter crafts for 2013

Found some pretty cool projects for you and your little ones to do for Easter. There are some creative ideas using materials you probably already have, will provide for a fun bonding experience, and best yet they are all earth friendly!

Get an early start on your Easter decorating and check out this article:

http://www.findababysitter.org/blog/28-blogs-featuring-recycled-easter-crafts-for-eco-friendly-moms/