Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Burp Cloth Project

So my poor E has been using thin junky washcloths and pink burp cloths for the most part to catch his spit ups!  I never got around to buying new ones! So I'm experimenting with making up some new ones (which MAY end up in the Monkeyshiners "Shop").
Obviously, I was experimenting with rounded corners vs. square.  I bought some terry and pretty moda fabric, but am not completely pleased yet.
For one thing, they seem HUGE to me... so I'm going to play with the size a bit.  I'm also not really pleased with the terry; it will be very functional, and I will definitely use up the rest without any problems, but (especially for sale) it seems to look a bit sloppy to me.  I'm thinking of chenille or (yummy!) sherpa or cotton velour...
Feel free to comment on your favorite burp cloth sizes and materials!  For baby E, absorbancy is KEY since he's still making quite a mess sometimes. But I would LOVE something super soft and yummy to touch.  And he deserves something pretty (but boyish!) too!

This is another way you can save money if you sew at all... a yard of terry cost me 5.99 at my local quilter's shop and the Moda fabric was 6.99 (though I added a bit more of the other print to embellish- Wouldn't be necessary though, and probably will not happen on the rest); With this super-huge size I tried first, I was going to get 9 burp cloths, so as they shrink that number goes up! I'm pretty sure they'll end up being cheaper than a pack of burp cloths anywhere.  And its definitely not a difficult project:  Sew straight lines, turn and top stitch (in straight lines!)

Stay tuned for more in my burp cloth saga (when I finally decide on my next fabric choice...)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Checkbook Cover

This was so quick, I don't know why it took me so long to get around to it!

I'm loving that I can put in a pencil and a pen (or just a fatter size pen) since I often make silly math mistakes and end up having to change my amounts.  But obviously you can't write a check in pencil so it's handy to have both! 
It's a teensy bit too long, so next time I'll be changing my measurements a bit, but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. 
I may be adding these to my Monkeyshiners "shop" so keep an eye out.  I've been asked to do some purses, so these would go along well, and perhaps some wallets also...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yummy Cheesy Texas Bake and my fave Cornbread recipe

I just tried this recipe the other night from Camille's CasaCheesy Texas Bake. Yummy!  I loved it!  Cheesy, a bit spicy, mmm. Thought, to be honest, my hubby was not so thrilled.  He thought there was too much cornbread and not enough other stuff!  So perhaps next time (after I've used up the freezer meal!) I'll try doubling the inside ingredients.

Click here for the recipe and instructions complete with photos! 

As I hinted above, this is another great recipe where you can make one and freeze one for later!  I love having already made up things in the freezer!  All I have to do is remember to pull it out to thaw and Bake!

I did change a few things: I threw in a can of corn instead of the 1 cup frozen, and made my own cornbread recipe for the top. 
 This is the one I love, Elizabeth Yoder's Corn Bread from the Tasteful Treasures Cookbook (Allensville Bicentennial).

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup soft margarine
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
Sift flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in margarine, egg and milk til flour is moistened. Then beat 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Pour into a greased 8 or 9 inch square pan. bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Yields: 9-12 servings

A few notes:  I never sift; I rarely feel like getting out my electric mixer, so i just mix it good by hand for 30 seconds or so - and it still turns out great, everytime! 

I made 2 batches of this, one for each dish of the Cheesy Texas Bake.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wallet for Cash Envelope System

I’m just a little bit proud of this…in a good way.

I have been wanting a new wallet to make using the envelope system for cash easier to use. I currently just grab extra envelopes at the bank, and label them and stuff them in my wallet. I don’t think they’ll last very long though, and if I have to “sneak” a little from another envelope, I have to shuffle through and peek into a bunch to see what I have. With this wallet, I can see quickly what I’ve got!

It has a plastic dividers in it, a coin pocket, credit card slots, and an extra pocket in the back.

It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears though (not literally, thank goodness!). I goofed up a few times... lets's just say next time I’ll be making a paper pattern first!

This time I used a cheapo coupon organizer from the dollar store (I LOVE the dollar store!) for the dividers. It even has handy little stickers with it to label the tabs!

So despite all my mess-ups, I’d say it was a successful project! I have 2 other ideas in mind, so I think I’ll be making a few more!

If anyone is interested in making your own, and wants to know how I did it, leave a note and I’ll do a description. I didn’t take pictures during the process (thank goodness, how embarrassing would that have been…) but I can explain how to make your own. It is fairly simple with directions (and the right measurements!)!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beach bag v.3 Definitely faster!

This one literally took me about 10 minutes. And I think its my favorite!

Obviously it is much smaller; I did this one with L in mind so its more childsize but still has room for her to help out by carrying her swimsuit or other small toys. It could easily be made larger by using the full hand towel (unfolded) and at another on top if you still want pockets.

The short and sweet version of how I did it:

Folded the hand towel in half and sewed up the middle to make the pocket.
Sewed it onto the bottom corner of my towel.
Sewed on the ribbon strap (though in hindsight, I should have done this to the hand towel first thing-it would have been much easier).

Seriously Simple.

The towel is folded up into the "bag". I fold my towel in half, and then half again.
Then fold in thirds (I think) so all the towel is behind the pocket fabric.

i put my hand in the pocket, grab a corner and the folded up towel with it, and turn it inside out. Repeat with the other corner and smooth everything out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Beach bag v.2

Without further ado….

You can't really see it here, but I used my buttons to close up the sides (rather than gathering with the ribbon), and sewn on the straps permanently, which also uses much less ribbon. I made some loops out of 3/8 inch ribbon to close up the sides with my buttons.

It makes a HUGE bag!  (fold your beach towel in half and that's how big this is almost!)
I think it will work great for L's floaty, sand toys, other beach towels and other things that are going to come right out anyway.  And it still has the handy pockets to throw your keys, phone, book, etc in.
As I worked on this, it did feel like a lot of work… handsewing all the buttons and adding loops…But the buttons make a cute accent, no? and did I say it's HUGE?!
Stay tuned for version 3… In my head, it seems it will be simpler and quicker to do…

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beach bag and Towel in one!!

I loved this idea from Girl Loves Glam! Who needs an extra beach bag when you can have a beach bag and towel in one? Or, better yet, it gives you TWO beach bags for all that stuff that comes along with taking 2 adults, a toddler and a baby swimming! I love that the pockets and all are absorbent towel materials since you use a hand towel and wash cloth! Her bag is so cute with the great print, and ruffles; I of course got lazy and this is mine:

It was also super cheap; my beach towel cost $4.50 (though, of course, now you can get them for 2 for $5 at you-know-where) and the ribbon cost me $1.50 (on sale). I also added buttons for $1.76. My hand towel was an old hand-me-down from my Great-Grandma (like half of the other things in our house!) and my wash cloth is from a set that I bought cheap for burp cloths! I figured if I liked it a lot when its all said and done, I can always upgrade and have 2, right?!

All that said, if you were paying attention, I said “loved” above! It wasn’t quite what I was looking for. If you want a bag to just throw in your suit, a book, sunglasses, keys, phone etc- this is great and Glam Girl’s tutorial is probably the easiest way to go. I took sand toys in ours and it worked as well. However, I was hoping for something more “tote” like with a little more space. So coming soon will be version 2 of the Girl Loves Glam beach towel and tote in one! (There may even be a version 3 since I have 2 ideas in mind…)

I made a few modifications from the Glam Girl’s tutorial (which you can find here). As I said, I skipped the ruffles to be frugal (though they do make the bag super-cute); I also planned to add large buttons on the ends of the ribbon so I didn’t lose them in the casing when the towel was opened completely. I couldn’t find on her tutorial if she does something to avoid that problem… maybe I didn’t read close enough-I’m a skimmer sometimes.

Also, here are a few clarifications and tips:

Since I didn’t add the ruffles, I just measured 8 inches up from the bottom for my washcloth on the front. I pretty much eyeballed the hand towel, but I think you could do the same 8 inches.

You may want to consider more quality materials… yes, mine was cheap, but I’m afraid it may last that way too…my washcloth is pretty thin….

When you are buying your ribbon: I’d suggest a stronger grosgrain ribbon, though mine is the shiny satin kind; I don’t know how long it will hold up…I planned on a little more ribbon than the length of my towel, so there is enough for it to lay flat when using it as a beach towel. I think I ended up using about 4 ½ yards each side; since it was a 9 yard roll, I just cut it in half. That’s where the buttons come in; I wanted something to catch them so they don’t go back into the casing and get lost forever! Sew a button on one end of your ribbon, thread the other through (the tutorial suggests a safety pin, I actually clipped on a binder clip and then pushed it through with my chopstick), and then sew the other button on the other end. (So you’ll need four buttons.) Before you cut, you may want to make sure it is long enough for the shoulder straps to hang as you’d like. If you tie your straps in a slip knot, it’s very easy to untie and use as a towel again.


As I said, it’s a great idea for someone who just wants to take a few things but not bother with an additional beach bag. Stay tuned if you are like me and want a little more…

Summer Fun in the Pool

We LOVE to swim... especially on these ridiculously hot days we've been having.  And we've been blessed with generous neighbors who have a pool! But since I'm home alone with my 2 1/2 year old L and baby E, we weren't taking advantage of it too much, until we found the best floaty ever!!!  L can float all around the pool by herself!  She can lean forward to practice swimming or float more on her back (or straight for that matter!)

And best of all, mommy has 2 arms to hold baby E who is currently doing some aquatic therapy for his ACC (agenesis of the corpus collosum-more on that in another post). His therapist is excited to see how this helps him and so are we!  It's very simple movement things, and makes you wonder sometimes how its going to help him at all, but he loves the water (when its not too cold!) and it's so relaxing to do the exercises with him! He's even taken a nap or two in the water and definitely sleeps great once he gets out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yummy and EASY Pizza Crust Recipe

I have tried so many pizza recipes.... but this one is definitely my favorite and the easiest to work with!  It definitely made nicer dough than the store bought packets I've tried (or any of the home made recipes for that matter!) So give it a try (even if you're a bought pizza or pizza dough mix kind of cook!)

It's from Oopsey Daisy, a great blog with lots of fun crafty ideas (and good recipes too!)

Click here for Oopsey Daisy's Best Ever Pizza Crust recipe (the one that even her hubby approves of!)!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fantabulous Grilled Cheesy Potatoes

I Love love love this grilled potatoes recipe so I thought I'd share! It's sooooooo yummy. If you are on a diet though, you might want to look the other way...

Grilled Cheesy Potatoes (from
3 cups cubed red potatoes
5 tbsp water, divided
3/4 to 1 cup shredded cheddar or other cheese
1 large onion, finely chopped, or 2 heaped tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter

Place potatoes and 3 tbsp water in a bowl; cover and microwave on high for 3-4 minutes or til almost tender; drain.
In a large bowl, combine cheese and onion. Stir in the potatoes. Transfer to a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil (about 18 inches square).
combine the Worcestershire, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and remaining 2 tbsp water. Sprinkle over potatoes. Dot with butter.
Fold foil around the potato mixture and seal tightly. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or til potatoes are tender and cheese is melted.


Changing pad

I’ve never been a fan of carrying a changing pad. As if I need one more thing in my bag! But I thought I’d try one out and see if I could incorporate it somehow into my diaper clutch (you can check those out on my facebook page!). For this one, I just used things I had around the house, some flannel fabric and a hand towel. I cut my flannel the same size as the hand towel, sewed around, clipped the corners and turned and topstitched. Here it is:
It's folded in half to show both sides.

When I fold it in half longways, and then fold it in about 4 inch increments it’s the perfect size to fit with the diaper clutch.

I sewed up an extender tab quickly and put on some snaps so I could fill my clutch with diapers and still get the strap around the changing pad. It does make the clutch a little bulky, but still gives the convenience to “grab and go” to change your little one’s bum. I’m considering adding these to the Monkeyshiners line-up, though I’d like it to be a bit trimmer and flatter; perhaps new terry and pretty quilter’s cotton instead of flannel. But this will work for now; we’ll see if I get into carrying it with me! If you like this idea, leave a comment here, or write a note on my facebook wall! A little interest gives me a lot of motivation!

Make your own Playdough!

My first official blog kids activity is here! When my daughter asked to play with her playdough this morning, we realized that it was a bit old and yicky. So, project for today (during the hottest week of the year): stand over a hot stove and make playdough! See how much I love her?!

Below is the recipe I love; I think its from some Weis store flyer, though I can’t be sure- that little scrap of paper is LOOOONG gone. As I said, you do have to cook this recipe, but I really think it makes great playdough. It lasts for a long time, is nice and soft, and in my opinion is just as good, if not better than, the stuff you buy. And, bonus!!!, its much cheaper since all you need is flour, oil, cream of tarter, salt, food coloring and water.

I love making playdough with kids as they can learn so much in the process! They learn math as you measure and count ingredients, and science as you stir them together and see what happens as it heats up! I try to let L do as much as possible, though you have to be careful with the hot stove. Also, she thinks that flour is a snack, so sticks her fingers in it all the time. Try to be willing to let your kids make a mess- the fun is in the exploration! But do encourage them to clean up when they are done- of course a 7 year old will be able to do a better job at that than a 2 year old, so keep that in mind.

My absolute favorite part: adding the colors! Kids can see how mixing two colors together make new colors. If you buy the brand name food coloring, they have a handy chart on the back to make a number of fun colors- not that you need a refresher or anything… LOL. Or just experiment and let your kids figure it out as they go!

Here’s the recipe I love:

1 cup flour

1 cup water

¼ cup salt

2 tbsp cream of tarter*

1 tbsp vegetable oil

food coloring

Mix all ingredients** in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat*** stirring constantly until a ball forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead.

This makes a little more than what will fill 3 regular playdough containers.

Some points to note:

*You can find cream of tarter with the spices in the baking aisle of any grocery store. It’s usually in a teeny tiny container, so I prefer to go to one of the many country stores around here that sell bulk items, and they usually have a much larger container for a better price!

**If you want your playdough to be all the same color, add your food coloring with all the other ingredients. We wanted several colors, so we cooked the playdough, and then split it into small baggies. Add the food coloring and knead in the bag. You do have to be careful not to split the bag by letting out the air and kneading gently! I found that if you knead it briefly you can usually take it out of the bag and finish incorporating the coloring evenly by hand without staining your fingers. If you don’t care about having stained fingers, just separate, drip on some coloring and have at it!

***I usually end up using medium high heat- I get bored waiting around for it to do anything at medium. I haven’t burned any playdough yet… just keep stirring and keep an eye on it!

So there you go! Give your child the playdough, a table knife, cup, cookie cutters, even a fork, straining spoon etc; you don’t need those fancy playdough toys- things you have around your kitchen will work just fine! And have some fun! For young children, just learning to squeeze it into a ball, roll it with a rolling pin, make snakes etc is a great learning experience! I like to roll snakes and turn them into letters to sneak some abc’s in there! Or if you’re lucky enough to have some abc cookie cutters, those are fun too! Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Saving money with cloth wipes

I finally finished up a batch of cloth wipes last night! They are so simple to do, but these have been a work in progress!

I confess, I've gotten a little lazy about using them- my water bottles are always empty, etc...
My plan today is to whip up a cup of wipes solution to try out:
1 cup water, 1 tbsp baby wash and 1 tbsp baby oil.
I found this one here though I'm modifying the process. There are tons of other recipes online for it, with essential oils added for smell and to make it last longer, but I have all these ingredients here and am wanting to try something new!  So when I'm done wasting time online, I am going to mosey over and make one up and USE THEM today! :) 

Just a note:  Even if you don't cloth diaper, you can still save money with cloth wipes but using them for sticky fingers and other cleanups!  Even when you are out of the house- with wipes, all you'd need is a small ziplock bag to tuck them in when you've used them; then just throw them in with your whites or dishtowels at home.

They fit perfectly into any wipes container. These are 8x8-ish wipes folded in half. To use when out and about, I fill a little travel size (hairspray type) sprayer with water and stash it in my bag too.  And a wetbag (or small ziplock or grocery bag if all you are using is cloth wipes).

If you'd like to sew your own, look below.  There are so simple- if you can cut and sew straight lines you can do it!
If not, I would be happy to sew you up a set! Check out the cloth wipes Note on my facebook page.

To sew your own:
1. Cut your fabric: you can buy new flannel or terry (or anything 100% cotton), but I like to use up lightly used recieving blankets, tee-shirts, or towels.  I have a set that's one side flannel, and the other tee-shirt material.  I hear towels make great ones that clean really well, but haven't tried them yet personally.
I cut mine 8 inches by 8 inches (or 4 inches by 8 inches if you like the smaller size). Cut twice as many squares as you would like to have wipes (If you want 10 wipes, you need 20 squares).

2. Pin 2 squares (or rectangles) right sides together and sew around the outsides, leaving about 4 inches unsewn to turn them. Alternately, you can skip the pinning and keep them straight as you are sewing, if you prefer- for best results, I'd pin, but sometimes I get lazy...

3. Clip your corners off, without cutting into your sewing to reduce bulk at the corners.

4. Turn the right side out, pulling the fabric through the 4 inch hole you left. Use a chopstick or some similar item to push your corners out as square as you can. 

5. Pin the hole shut, following the rest of your seam. Topstitch around the edge of the wipe, sealing that hole closed and finishing off your wipe; i try to stay about 1/8 of an inch from the edge.

And that's it!  Sorry I don't have any pictures of the process; maybe i'll add them when I make up more! If you have any questions or I missed something, let me know! There are also good tutorials online.
This one has several different ways to sew them that might be easier, but alas, no pictures either. Very simple directions though.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Entryway Organization!

After finding little items floating all over the place in our entryway and getting stuck in different places, i decided to make an organizer!

I measured the size I wanted and planned out my pockets (though I did some switching when i sewed since they seemed a bit small on the one row!).   I made my own bias tape to top off the vinyl and go around the outside.  I sewed the bias tape to the top of my pockets first, then sewed them onto the main body fabric.  Then I sewed the strip along the bottom of the pockets to hide the raw edges, and finally sewed it around the outside and added the ties.

I'm pretty happy so far, though we'll see how it holds up when L realizes it's there... It's not my favorite fabric either- just some I had around the house, but I didn't have to buy anything! Free is always good... Now we'll see if I get around to doing another soon for the living room- I need to get those remote controls, and Playstation stuff rounded up!

As a side-note, you could very easily do this with a shoe organizer or similar item if you don't sew!  I'm just too cheap frugal to buy one!  And I like that this fits the items I want and I can see through the pockets!

oh, and btw, I'm so  excited for the chance to win a Silhouette digital cutting tool!  you can too- check it out at Little Birdie Secrets here!