Saturday, April 23, 2011

#191 Make a Simple Skirt from a Sheet

This is my daughter's tie-dye skirt I mentioned in the Pennant Post. Creating this skirt is so simple. The measurements I provide here will work for a sz. 6 skirt.

* Cut a rectangle of fabric that is 17"x34" and cut 13.5" piece of 1" elastic

* Stitch the two short sides together (right sides in if your fabric has a right side)

* Fold over half inch on the wrong side & iron along top of skirt
* Fold over once more, but this time 1.5". Stitch around the bottom of this fold, leaving a 1" opening to insert and string through the elastic.

* String through elastic using a safety pin as a guide. Also, be sure to pin the other end so that you don't pull the elastic all the way through.

* Sew the ends of the elastic together to create an elastic loop inside the skirt.

* Stitch the opening you had left.

* Move the fabric so that the cinching looks even all around waist.

* Fold over the bottom hem 1/2" and iron.

* Fold over the bottom hem another 1/2" so that the raw edge is inside and iron.

* Stitch the hem. I chose to use a dark red color & a zig-zag stitch to add some texture & color to the skirt.
* Then to "tie-dye" it, draw on the fabric with permanent marker. Be sure to put cardboard underneath it because the marker will bleed through the fabric. Put rubbing alcohol over the marker to make it spread and create a tie-dye effect.

This is her finished product and it has been washed since creating it and the marker does not bleed any more after the rubbing alcohol has dried.

My daughter loves to wear dresses & skirts and she loved this project. She requested that I make her a dress that she can color too. So, that will be my next project in using up a queen size flat sheet.

So far, I have made a Snowman Dress, 4 pennants, and a skirt out of 1 queen size flat sheet. I have 2 dresses cut out already and still a lot more fabric. I plan to cut out another couple skirts (if I have enough) so we can do some other dying with them.

Earth "Day" at Lowe's

My son is checking out the free tree we received at Lowe's today. We will plant our small spruce trees in pots for a couple years to grow them a little larger (& save them from the lawn mower.)

My daughter with her finished birdhouse from the Lowe's Build & Grow Clinic. She had a great time making this and is looking forward to putting it upside to provide another home for birds.

While we were there we also picked up some more compost and soil to add to our new raised bed and get the strawberries plants planted that we bought from Lowe's earlier this week.

Strawberry Almond Bread

I like to share a couple of recipes during Earth Week, so here is a yummy bread. We need to wait another month and a half (maybe two with this chilly spring we have been having) to have strawberries in season in Minnesota, but in other parts of the country they are already in season.
Strawberry Almond Bread
1 C sliced strawberries
1 1/2 C whole wheat flour (I like to use white whole wheat)
1 C raw sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C vegetable oil
3/4 C sour cream
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss strawberries lightly in some of the sugar.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt & baking soda. Blend.
Add oil, sour cream, extract, eggs to dry mixture and blend.
Fold in strawberries & almonds.
Pour into 9x5 bread pan.
Bake for 1 hour.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Planting 2011

Happy Earth Day Everyone! This morning we hosted our 4th Annual Earth Day Planting Playgroup. We invited four families to join us on this chilly, drizzly day and plant seeds to be grown indoors for the next 4-6 weeks. Each family was given a labeled egg carton for vegetables and also one for flowers. It was some good, dirty fun and the kids also got some exercise playing on some outdoor toys (not going to let a little drizzle deter them.)

Afterwards, we came back indoors to warm up, some indoor play, and do have a potluck lunch that was completely vegetarian.

I also gave the moms some Ecover Dishwasher Tablets & coupons that I got from a sampling programs to pass out. Next up for the day is getting in a run outside.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#190 Revive Old Pillows

The pillows I recovered and the ones toward the center. They are light tan and hunter green in color.
In this picture you can see the cream colored cashmere pillows I have had for about a decade that now have various holes on the back side, how they got there I don't know. I'm just going to blame the cats. The front side was a nice cable knit cashmere, but there were a couple of tiny holes in the front, but with kids when do the pillows ever stay facing the right way so company doesn't see the holes on the back side.

This was a simple enough project with minimal sewing skills needed. My daughter & I picked out fabric from JoAnn's that was in their home interior section (thicker & more heavy duty fabric in this section) that was in their discounted pile of bolts. A yard of this fabric was $6 and was almost exactly what I needed, there is minimal scraps leftover.

All I did was simply sew along three sides with the wrong sides facing out and then turned it right side out, folded in the fourth side and pinned it and stitched that down in a coordinating color of thread (which I was lucky enough to have some.)

Six Dollars! That's it! For 2 new pillows. And nothing is going in the landfill because I kept the cashmere cases on them so that it provided a smoother look.

But if sewing is not something you are interested in doing, check out buying pillow cases from a store to give your pillows a new look (or in my case get rid of the used-up look). Stop yourself from throwing away a perfectly good pillow when it just needs some updating.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#189 How to Make Paper Balls

Things to note:
* To make the amount of paper balls I made I used 5 egg cartons.
* The balls are quite heavy when they are saturated, but dry to be very light.
* We dried them on freezer paper.
* The smaller ones were dry within 2 days and larger ones too a week.

** That last phase should have said "to seal acrylic paint"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Free Admission to Botanical Gardens on 5/6

Better Homes & Gardens and the American Public Gardens Association and your local gardens have teamed up to offer you free admission to a Botanical Garden near you on Friday, May 6th.

Sign up here to get (up to 10) free admissions. There is a drop down to see which gardens across the US and Canada are participating. If you live in MN, the Landscape Arboretum is on the list and for my friends in WI there are botanical gardens in Madison, New Berlin, Green Bay listed.

#188 How to Remove Stickers from Window/Wall/Floor

We've had a couple of incidences where my daughter thought it was a good idea to put stickers on the window and on the tile floor. She used the foam stickers and boy, they sure do stick good. I really should be embarrassed to say that she did this almost a year ago and I am just now getting them off.

As you can see, I tried to remove them as much as possible by scraping and pulling and I even used a natural spray (not a homemade kind) to help, but I was left with this mess.

So, as I was thinking about what new type of cleaning project or technique I wanted to try for Earth Week, I thought I would try out a new technique for window cleaning (which will come later this week) and went in search for which was the grimest window to try it out on and saw the stickers and thought I should look for a natural way to remove those without having to resort to Goo Gone.

It was simple enough to do, but because of the foam sticker part I had to do it in a couple steps. I think a paper sticker would be removed much more quickly.

All you do is spray down the area with vinegar. I chose to use my kitchen sink spray that I have lemon essential oil in because that was already made up and I didn't have another spray bottle available to use. My kitchen sink spray is straight vinegar and lemon essential oil (this helps cut the grease) and I use it straight because it helps more efficiently with hard water spots & build-up. But you don't need the essential oil to do this project, just straight vinegar will do the trick.

So, I first saturated the stickers & surrounding area and let it soak for about 8 minutes, then I scraped off the layer of foam pretty easily with a plastic cover I cut in half. I think it would be a more efficient & quicker process if I had used a razor blade. Then I saturated the sticker residue and left that sit for about 8 minutes (Why 8? Because I was getting impatient and wanted to try it out.)
Then I took my plastic lid halves and scraped off the rest of the residue and NO MORE STICKERS! So, I am very pleased with that result and that I did not have to resort to using any type of chemical product.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Earth Week/Month Freebies

-April 17th – Free Target Reusable Bag With Purchase

-April 22nd – The Disney Store: Free Reusable Tote (need to bring in 5 plastic bags to recycle)
-April 22nd – Free Coffee or Tea (when you use a reusable cup) at Starbucks

Free Admission to National Parks, April 16-24

For National Parks Week (also Earth Week), you can get free admission to any National Parks from April 14-24. So, it's actually 9 days of free admission.

They are also offering free admission days on 3 other occasions this year. If you are heading to a National Park, be sure to check out what specific special offers that may be available at the park of your choice.

Free Coffee @ Starbucks on Earth Day, April 22

Starbucks is also offering free coffee on Earth Day if you bring in a reusable mug. Check out the bottom right of this webpage to see where they announce the free coffee. Does anyone know if they offer a daily discount if you use a reusable mug?

Off to a Running Start for Earth Week

We are off to a running start for Earth Week, literally. Our area nature center always does their Maple Syrup Fun Run the Sunday that Earth Week kicks off. Last year my daughter and I ran about half of the 1-mile walk and we decided to do it again. I would say that this year she ran about 3/4 of it.

As you can see there is some remnants of snow leftover from the snowstorm that came through on Friday night. That snow made it the 4th snowiest winter on record in Minnesota. It was a chilly & windy morning. It was 35/36 degrees when we ran this morning and the wind made it quite brisk.

After the run, our entire family went to the pancake brunch at the nature center where they serve pancakes with maple syrup made at the nature center, sausages & a variety of beverages.

Se sure to check-in often this week, as I post about everything we do/create/clean/plant during Earth Week. As well, as keep up on all the deals being offered for Earth Week. Today you can go to Target to get a free re-usable bag.

FREE Coffee @ Caribou on Earth Day, 4/22

The picture tells it all; bring in your reusable drinkware to Caribou on Earth Day (Friday, April 22) and get a free coffee of the day. ALSO, notice the top of the picture - you get 50-cents off any drink, any time, with any reusable drinkware. Kudos to Caribou for promoting reusable drinkware all year long!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

FREE Tree at Lowes on Saturday, 4/23, PLUS Build & Grow

Lowes will be giving away one million trees during Earth Week on Saturday, April 23rd. So, stop in to your area store and pick one up to plant.

Also, that same day, Lowes is hosting a Build & Grow Clinic for kids. That day they will be building a birdhouse. Sign your kids up here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

#187 Make DYO Pennants out of a Bed Sheet

Remember that bed sheet I made the snowman dress out of for my daughter? I have cut some more pieces out of the fabric to make some pennants/flags, a skirt (which I'll blog about later), and some more dresses (another later blog post, but much later since those are still pieces and haven't been stitched yet.)

These Decorate Your Own (DYO) pennants are really simple to make. Since I am not planning on washing these and they are just play things, I did not hem all the sides. And you could do this as a no sew project if you use heat & bond to adhere the sleeve or some fabric glue would work too.

I chose to sew the sleeve. First I cut out a pennant triangle in the size I wanted. Then I folded over the edge where the sleeve will be stitched. I stitched across the top, which would ensure that the pennant would be held on to a pole and then stitched down the length of the side, creating the sleeve. Finally I trimmed the excess from the bottom of the sleeve.

You could leave your flag as it is with just the fabric, but we chose to try out a new fun "tie-dye" technique using permanent markers and rubbing alcohol. This was a fun way to get the kids involved in creating their own designs on their flags and letting them use two items with supervision they usually never get to touch.

First draw your designs and pictures on your flag with permanent marker. Next using any eye dropper folled with rubbing alcohol, saturate the markered designs and sit back and watch as the ink spread and separates. It's fun to see how some other colors come out of the original color as it spread. It's also neat to see how the colors mix together when they spread together.

Don't worry, as the rubbing alcohol dries it will no longer have a wet circle like it does in the above picture. If you look at the ones to the left, you can see their colors have already spread and they are dry.

We did this activity as part of a playdate we had today and it was a lot of fun!

And then - HAVE A PARADE! or hang it up as decoration or use it as your official club/fort flag or whatever other hundreds of ideas your kids can come up with. They have great imaginations!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Natural Cleaning

Check my article Natural Cleaning with a Few Inexpensive Products on Northern Cheapskate.

I reference several blogs posts I have made on here in the past, but all brought together in a concise new post.

Be sure to check-in here often this month, as it's Earth Month and I am trying to give you more ideas for crafts, cleaning, gardening, activities, deals & recipes. During Earth Week, which starts on Sunday, I will have daily posts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Free Reusable Tote @ Target (4/17)

To Kick off Earth Week on Sunday, Target is offering 1 free reusable tote per customer with any purchase. They are giving out 1 million of these just as they did last year. These went quickly at stores in larger metro areas, but if you live in small locations (like us) they won't disappear quite as quickly. Last year I went to Target in our area in the evening on the day they were giving them away and they still had them left.

Also, remember that Target will give you 5-cents off your total for every reusable bag that you bring & use at Target. And last year when they gave me my free bag, they also gave me 5-cents off.

Sign Up for Recyclebank & Earn Free Rewards!

Have you heard of Recyclebank? If not, you will want to know all about it and sign up so that you can win free coupons & discounts.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that gives you points for recycling, you can accumulate quickly. If not, do not despair because you earn points by purchasing Kashi products, taking pledges, learning about how to Green Your Home, taking a quiz, referring a friend, recycling electronics and more things that come up.

Tomorrow, Recyclebank will be unlocking another room in the "Green Your Home" Challenge. Currently there are 2 rooms unlocked and I earned 70 points just from those and another 40 points from taking the Aveeno pledges. Both these things are still available, plus more.

And because it's Earth Month, they have DISCOUNTED rewards all month. Some of these rewards are high value coupons.

My favorite discounted rewards are:
$1 off a Dagoba Organic Chocolate Bar (30pts)
$2 off any Naked Juice Product (30pts)
$1 off any bottle of Honest Tea (30pts)
$2 off Any Aveeno Product (30pts)
20% off at Uncommon Goods (10pts)

Some other pretty Awesome (regular) rewards are:
$10 off $50 in-store @ Macy's (100pts)
Free McCafe Latte @ McDonalds (100pts)
Free Fruit & Maple Oatmeal @ McDonalds (100pts)
Free Premium Salad w/ Happy Meal Purchase @ McDonalds (100pts)
2 Cans of Fancy Feast Cat Food Coupon (75pts)
Free Spring Water at Holiday Gas Station (30pts)
Free 20oz Coffee @ Holiday Gas Stations (50pts)
Free Bag of Wonderful Pistashios (200pts)
Free Happy Baby Product (200pts)
Free Tree Sapling & Aveeno Samples (200pts)
Free Magazine Subscriptions, a variety of options (115pts)
PLUS....several $10 gift card options at 2500 pts level

Some deals may vary by area.

So, why wait? SIGN UP NOW!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Free Coupon Uncle Matt's Organic Lemonade

This offer for a free coupon for Uncle Matt's Organic Lemonade was featured in the most recent issue of Kiwi Magazine that I received today.

You should get your coupon in 2-4 weeks. It doesn't say the value of the coupon, so I guess we get to be surprised.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

#186 Make a Fabric Rosette Headband

I had lots of leftover fabric from making my daughter's Easter dress because there were limited ways I could lay the pattern pieces so that that pattern created by the stitching on the fabric would line up properly. So, I am going to need to come up with some ideas of things to make to use up the excess fabric. One of these things is a rosette headband.

First thing I did was take a leftover whipped topping cover and cut around that circle to create a while fabric circle. Next I cut a spiral from the outside of the circle to the inside. Finally I twisted the fabric together starting from the outside of the spiral working to the center of the spiral. Then I hot glued the bottom to keep all the layers in place. Now you have a completed rosette.

To attach the rosette to the headband I first used hot glue to adhere the rosettes to a piece of matching felt. Then I cut around the base of the rosette, removing the excess felt. Finally, I applied hot glue to the location on the headband that I wanted the rosettes. And that's it! Super simple to make and makes and elegant statement.

If you liked the idea on how to make this pretty headband, be sure to check Northern Cheapskate later this month when I will guest blog about how to make a Boutique-style Flower Headband.

And if you were interested in seeing it, this is the dress that I made my daughter for Easter. I can't wait to see her in it with her matching headband.

#185 Make a Wooden Raised Garden Bed

I was planning on saving this project for Earth Week when I plan to do a new project or test out a natural cleaning method each day of the week, but my husband really wanted to thatch and I really wanted all those clipping starting out as a base layer in my new raised bed.

This project was super easy for me because all I had to do was help hold the wood in place while he hammered. But it's not a difficult project. I had seen a post on making a $10 raised 4'x4'x8" garden bed and thought that price sounded perfect. And even better price was FREE when my husband told me he could make me a 4'x4'x10" with untreated lumber that we had in our garage not being used.

We are planning on making two more of these and the price of the untreated lumber in 10" was increased to $15 per bed. So, in the end I will have 3 new raised beds that are taller for the same price as three of the 8" beds because we used what we had available.

The only supplies you really need is untreated lumber that you will cut in 4' lengths and galvanized nails (these won't rust.) Make sure you buy untreated lumber because you don't want anything that is in treated lumber to leech in to your plants & food. The article that inspired me to make these garden beds ourselves out of wood claims that her beds out of untreated lumber lasted 15 years.

After we finished assembling the pieces, he placed cardboard on the bottom to prevent grasses from growing through and eventually the cardboard will compost. The next layer we placed in here was brown grass and leaves that my husband thatched from the lawn. My preferred method of gardening is called Lasagna Gardening, so we will continue to add more layers including straw, peat, compost, etc.