Ice Cream Buckets

My family doesn't eat a lot of ice cream, but over time we have collected quite a few ice cream buckets. These buckets are very handy because they have a handle, a lid, and are made of plastic so they are strong.

Here are some of the current uses of the buckets around our house:

1) Drum set for toddler
2) Container to hold legos (much more convenient than the zippered bag they came in)
3) Tool caddy
4) Containter to freeze fish (I have heard that freezing fish in water makes it stay fresh longer)
5) Carry veggies from garden to the house

What do you use ice cream buckets for?


Grocery bags

My family just returned from visiting my brother and his family in Utah. Any time we travel for any length of time we always take plastic grocery bags with us for our dirty clothes. On this particular trip, as we were packing to come home, I had the idea of sorting our dirty laundry and placing each "load" in its own grocery bag so laundry would be a breeze. Wow, I am thankful for that revelation!

There are so many other uses for plastic grocery bags as well as paper grocery bags, just take a look at the side of the bag and you will probably find a list of ideas. Here are a few ways that we reuse grocery bags:

1) Lunch bags
2) Trash can liners
3) Wrapping packages to be mailed (paper bags)

You can also recycle your grocery bags at recycling centers or right inside the front doors of Walmart.

I know there are many more uses for grocery bags, but I am sleep-deprived (and pregnant) so I can't think of any others to list at this time.

Please feel free to leave comments regarding how you reuse grocery bags.


Baking Soda + Vinegar = Just About Everything {Part 3}

The last part of this segment doesn't actually have any baking soda or vinegar, but they are still useful and homemade. 

Health Care

cough syrup - We used this a lot this winter!  It works just as well if not better than most of the natural cough syrups that we tried.

toothbrush sanitizer - five drops of grapefruit seed extract in a cup of water.  We do this to extend the life of our brushes.  If I threw away our toothbrushes every time someone had the sniffles we would go bankrupt. {ok, not really}  But this disinfects the toothbrush daily to keep those germs at bay.

vapor rub - small amount of coconut or olive oil and and several drops of eucalyptus oil - mix and apply to chest.

vapor steam - add a couple drops of eucalyptus oil to the water in your steam vaporizer.  

diaper rash cream - No special mix here, just plain coconut oil.  It is the only thing that can be used with cloth diapers and it works really well.  

Hand sanitizer - {Crunchy Betty} - I haven't made this one, but it is on my list.  It would be nice to keep in the diaper bag to use after those emergency changes.

I'm sure there are many more things that could be added to this list, but these are the ones that we use most frequently.  


Baking Soda + Vinegar = Just About Everything {Part 2}

Spring is the perfect time of year to get things clean.  And though it is nearly summer I haven't finished my spring cleaning.  Below are some of my favorite cleansers to get the job done.  I do have others, but these are the ones that I find myself reaching for most often.


All purpose cleaning spray - There are tons of different recipes for all purpose cleaners.  Here are two:
1. Equal parts vinegar and water and go!
2. 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 1 part water, 3 T. liquid castille soap, a couple drops essential oil for fragrance.

soft scrub - 1c. baking soda, 6 T liquid castille soap, a couple drops of lavender essential oil, and enough vinegar to achieve soft scrub consistency.

carpet freshener - put baking soda in an old parmesan cheese container add a few drops of essential oils.  Sprinkle onto carpet and vacuum it up!  One thing I like to use are home fragrance drops from Bath and Works - they aren't pure essential oil, but they smell oh so good.

laundry detergent - {A Bird in the Hand} I don't what more to say than I already have.  I have kids, they get dirty, this gets their clothes clean.

disinfectant wipes - {Live Renewed} I haven't tried these.  I never used disinfectant wipes to begin with, but it seems like they would be really handy to have around.

Furniture Spray - 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 T. vinegar, dash of lemon juice. {I'm not sure if you need to, but I keep this in my fridge}

Hand soap - This one is super simple, but you have to have the right container.  It is just 4 parts water and 1 part liquid castille soap.  The trick is that you have to put it into a foaming soap dispenser.  I just save soap dispensers and asked my mom to save hers as well.  Voila!  Foaming hand soap!

*What is one cleaning product that you just can't live without {this doesn't have to be homemade}.  What is your least favorite cleaning project? {My favorit cleaning product is the soft scrub above, and my least favorite cleaning project is putting away clean clothes - Does that count?}


Baking Soda + Vinegar = Just About Everything {Part 1}

It is no secret that I have a unusual penchant for making things from scratch and using what I already have on hand.  I enjoy finding new things that I can make at home without having to make frequent trips to the store.  I keep an ongoing list of these recipes, and since most of them use a lot of the same ingredients I almost always have what I need on hand.  I broke them up into categories so they would be easily accessible if anyone wants to give them a whirl.  I will post one category each day for the next three days.  First up:  Personal Care!
Personal care 
{Almost} Everything you need to make any of the recipes below - I forgot the Stevia.
deodorant {Little House in the Suburbs}- this is the first deodorant that I tried and it is still my favorite.  I have made fancier ones, but they don't seem to work quite as well.

shampoo {Reformation Acres} - Using baking soda to wash your hair. Yes, I am doing this.  There is a six week adjustment period for your hair, and I am smack dab in the middle of it as I type this.  But even with the adjustment period I am pretty pleased with the results.  I thought my hair was going to 'freak out', but it has just been a tiny bit frizzier than normal.  That could also be attributed to the weather.  My hair is very sensitive to weather change.

conditioner {Reformation Acres} - I don't make my "conditioner" quite as fancy as Quinn does.  I just use Apple Cider Vinegar with a couple drops of eucalyptus essential oil for that fresh, wake you up scent.  {The smell of both the vinegar and eucalyptus disappears as your hair dries.

hairspray {Reformation Acres} - I haven't tried this one yet, but I am hoping to soon.

leave in conditioner - coconut oil.  Caution:  I little bit goes a very loooong way.  I used way to much the first time.  Now I just rub my fingers over the oil and use only that amount that sticks to my fingers.

basic toothpaste - 1 part coconut oil, 1 part baking soda, stevia or xylitol and essential oils to taste.  I have used cinnamon, peppermint, sweet orange, and even vanilla extract.
No, I haven't been using horseradish to brush my teeth, but it probably wouldn't surprise you either.

lotion {Home Joys}- I used this lotion all winter long and it works quite well.  A couple of my kids have eczema and it is gentle enough for them to use as well.

lip balm {Crunch Betty} - I haven't made any of these, but I want to.  Crunch Betty also has tons of other recipes I can't wait to try.

Do you have any personal care recipes that you use?  Do they work?  What is your main reason for not using commercial products?  {Mine is cost and healthier ingredients}


T-Shirts a Crafter's Best Friend!

T-Shirts are some of my favorite things.  Nothing beat the softness of a freshly laundered t-shirt, especially if it is one your have had for years.  I like to wear them, of course, but when they have too many holes or stains and the life has been loved right out of them, there is usually just enough left to repurpose into something new.  Here is a list of some of my favorite ideas for reusing t-shirts from around the web.  I have not had a chance to make most of these, but I would like to.  I will star the ones I have actually attempted.  I would put my own pictures on here, but sadly my camera cord has gone M.I.A.  Enjoy!

T-Shirt Bracelet

T-Shirt Necklace

T-Shirt Tote Bag

T-Shirt Pillow

T-Shirt Rug {This one technically isn't made from t-shirts, but I have a friend who made one just like this from t-shirts.}  Here is a tutorial for t-shirt yarn.
Rag Rug - Edge

T-Shirt Dryer Pillow or Sachet

T-Shirt Boy's Undies

T-Shirt Diapers* {When I first started making diapers I used this pattern.  I love making diapers from old t-shirts they have lots of stretch and wash really well}

T-Shirt Bib {These look like nice full coverage bibs.  Of course your could use your favorite bib pattern}

T-Shirt Backpack
Backpack Shirt

T-Shirt Girl's Dress* {I made this dress for my girls.  I made it a little longer, but it's a great comfy play dress}

T-Shirt Jacket

T-Shirt Quilt*  {I made one of these during our early years of marriage out of a bunch of my husbands "sentimental" t-shirts.  He had several from a camp that he used to work at and it has been a fun way to tell the kids about some of things he enjoyed before become a "real" adult.}

T-Shirt Simple Skirt* {This is a very easy sewing project/tutorial created by our own Sarah K.  It's a great project to have little ones help out with.  We have made several of these over the past year or so!}

I hope everyone's creative juices are flowing now.  If you end up making one of these or any other project from a T-Shirt I would love to see it!

P.S. I did not create any of these tutorials, so please refer to the websites of the tutorial before selling any items from any of these tutorials!  Thanks!


10 Steps to Having a Very Bad, Awful, No Good, Rotten Day!

1.  Sleep In - Hit that snooze button just one more time.

2.  Spend 20 minutes in your closet stressing about what to wear.

3.  Realize you slept away your shower time and decide to be in a bad mood.

4.  Walk around with a cloud over your head.

5.  Refuse to be thankful for anything!

6.  Chastise your children for every little misstep throughout the day.

7.  Skip reading your bible and praying because you just don't have the time.

8.  Panic about your to-do list (this must be repeated regularly throughout the day).

9.  Blame everyone else for your problems.

10.  Then unload the miserable account of your day to your husband the second he walks through the door. (bad days can be catching!)

If a very bad, awful, no good, rotten day is not what you are in the market for tomorrow.  May I suggest the following.

1.  Rise early thanking the Lord for a brand new day!

2.  Lay your clothes out the night before and put on whatever you picked out (the second part is trickier).

3.  Take a warm shower and pray while you shampoo and condition.

4.  Smile (with your eyes too) at everyone you greet today.

5.  Be thankful for EVERYTHING (even the things that make you cringe)!

6.  Give grace to your children as the Lord to gives us, discipline out of love, and give lots of hugs.

7.  Make sure to spend the first part of your day absorbed in the Word.

8.  Ask the Lord what His to-do list is for you.  That doesn't mean you can't do your laundry, but He may have other plans for you today.

9.  Shower others with encouragement.

10.  Greet your husband with a smile, a kiss, and some words of affirmation.

It is so counter intuitive for us as humans to want to put anyone or anything before ourselves.  We want our needs met first!  But the greatest joy we will ever find is in worshiping the Lord and placing Him at the very top of our priority list.  Then all the things that we think that we need or want are lost in His awesome presence!  

Have a great Monday Everyone!!



Piggybacking ...

So, I really had no idea what on earth to post about that everyone else in the world isn't already doing. I make no amazing claims in life: I really don't think that I am creative with "things"! I feel like my creativity only comes out when I start thinking about food = )

BUT. Jonah and I have been talking a lot lately about recycling things within our house to make new things, new toys, etc. He is really fascinated by the idea. Which is why we had a plastic sack stuffed with empty toilet paper rolls. For awhile, we have been recycling them - literally - through the recycling service. And then I decided that there had to be other ways we could use them at home. So, I'm piggybacking on Sarah's post about oatmeal containers to share some "similar" thoughts ...

On Toilet Paper Rolls.

-Use them as present wrappers. Stuff the gift inside and wrap with either comics from the newspaper, colorful tissue paper, or wrapping papers. The boys love getting presents wrapped like this!

-Re-roll extra ribbon around them. Or short cords that you need to store away and don't want all tangled or bent.

-A current favorite with the boys: create them into binoculars. And this way, whether the binoculars get destroyed or lost, they are re-creatable and not something you paid $$ for!

-The newest idea: Make a dinosaur (or any other creature you like!). We have to give Jonah credit for this: he just suddenly began asking Daddy to help him "make a dinosaur out of my rolls in the bag". We've asked him several times where this idea came from, and he just insists it was "from myself!" Maybe it really was! They had a great time working on this together.

We're actually out now ... perhaps once another sack is filled, a brontosauras can join the t-rex = ) Either way, I'm not tossing those tubes into the trash any more!


Don't just toss those oatmeal containers!

We love oatmeal pancakes, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal & dried cherry muffins, granola, no-bakes, bake n take oatmeal cake...ok, this is turning into 101 reasons we love oatmeal, but I think you are getting the picture that we go through a lot of oatmeal around here, so there are always lot's of oatmeal containers around! Here are some ways you might use your surplus:

Fridge/Freezer storage for grains and baked goods.
I keep my freshly ground wheat and rice in them in the fridge so as to preserve the 'goodness' and keep them from going rancid. I don't have the lifestyle (or desire, I should say?) to mill on an as-needed basis, so it's what I do.

For the Kids

Building blocks

Robot pieces

"Tree Trunks"
one year I created a tree out of one for my 2YO(at the time) niece. I attatched a "branch" made out of a paper towel or TP tube, cut some doors and put some animal stickers on the inside for her to open up and see, and used green tissue paper for the leaves out the top. It wasn't meant to last, I was just using stuff I had on hand, but I thought she'd enjoy discovering it and tearing it apart. it was a fun project

Basically Anything:
kids' imaginations are so wonderful! I love having the containers around just to see how they will incorporate them into their play this time! Kids are usually more excited about the wrapping/paper/box/hangers/etc than the toys & clothes they contain.

("free!") toy storage
legos, little people, army men, playmobile, dinosaurs, etc., ad nauseum, 'nuf said!

I've found that wrapping them in wrapping paper (least durable), scrapbooking paper (more durable; coverage requires 2 sheets), or even fabric (most durable) takes them to a whole other level!

Gift Wrapping
I wish I had a photo of several of the gifts I've done this with- they look so striking!
Its unique shape and height lends handiness for all kinds of different presents, especially soft, or stackable, or foldable ones, while also making it stand out from the rest of the presents.

Table Tiers
I wrapped one with some fabric for a bridal shower that I was hosting several years back. I was looking for a way to create more space and add some visual interest to the table, and going up was the best way to do so!

I'm pretty sure I filled the container with something so as to add to its stability because I was a little nervous about it tipping as people took food, but we didn't have any problems whatsoever with that.

Plastic bag holders
for my fellow disposable diaper users out there- this is one of my favorite things! In order to combat the smell of diaper pervading the nursery and our home, we recycle the plastic bags we get at the stores (one reason I don't want them to be banned just yet!), putting the diapers in there and then out in the garage. For a while I was always carrying dirty diapers down to the laundry closet to grab a plastic bag. Duh! The idea struck me that it would be much simpler, and cleaner!, to just have plastic bags at my changing stations. So I grabbed my oatmeal containers (great for stuffing lots of bags into!) and made them pretty. If it's gotta be seen, it might as well look good!

How do you use your containers? I'm always looking for new ways to utilize this plentiful resource!


Kitchen Tip: DIY powdered sugar

Out of powdered sugar? You can make it yourself!
I picked up this little tidbit from my "More with Less" Cookbook, and have found it to come in handy in a pinch!

1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch

mix together in a food processor until fine and powdery

It took a while for mine to come out, but it worked just fine for the icing I needed it for, and saved me a mad dash to the store and back.

I've been thinking it would be nice to find something without the cornstarch or the bleached sugar. So, inspired by that recipe, I searched the internet some more ideas and found this further gem for making unprocessed powdered sugar out of sucanat from Heavenly Homemakers.
Such a great tip, if you don't require a pure white icing/frosting/powdering!



101 pillow ideas

Ok, so I don't have 101 ideas to share right now, but I'm hoping these ideas might inspire you, or get your creative pillow juices flowing, and from there we might get to 101!

If you enjoy quilting but only have scraps left, a pillow can be a fun, colorful way to use them up. I think it would also be a great beginners sewing and quilting project; not quite as daunting as a whole quilt. Or, if you are making a quilt and have an odd square left, like I did while making my first baby quilt, a pillow is a sensible way to make good use of that material! I always make my pillows slipcovers, both for laundering purposes and my own inability to commit combined with my not wanting to waste perfectly good pillow stuffing.

this one makes me laugh to think that I use to have time to play around with a needle like that. I am in no way a great or even quilter or seamstress or needlepointdextress; I just enjoy creating! It's fun to come up with ideas and then to watch them materialize, isn't it? Well, at least when they materialize the way you envisioned them. But even when they don't, that's what makes it your creation!

idea: Last Summer I picked up a pretty little throw pillow that had a lovely embroidered handkerchief as the main block with several squares of material quilted around it. I think that might be a fun sewing project I'd like to share with my nieces or daughters!


One of Jeni's cousins shared with her the idea of using placemats to create pillows. I was almost giddy when I heard of this idea! I LOVE table linens; they are my clearance downfall. So to have a new way to utilize them was/is so exciting!

To make them:
1) rip out one of the short side hems.
2) stuff with the desired amount of stuffing
3) stitch up the side again

voila! so easy! so pretty!

This is just one of those projects that can't go wrong, and can make such a difference in a room! I have two of these yellow placemat pillows on my guest bed in the nursery and they are the perfect touch to tie everything together! I couldn't have found better "real" pillows.

Table Runner Bolster Pillow:
Like I said, I have a weakness for linens, especially on clearance or garage sales. I was able to repurpose one of the brown table runners I'd purchased as a bolster pillow for our bed, since we love to read in bed. It was the perfect length to stretch pretty much from end to end of our king size. I purchased two body pillows for their stuffing, and that worked perfectly!

This one is another favorite! I found this great little bag at Goodwill one day and kept it for years trying to figure out ways to use it. Then a couple years ago when I was redoing my living room and looking for new, euroflare throw pillows, I realized it would work perfectly on my couch. Some stuffing and folding and top stitching, and suddenly I had a new favorite pillow. Now I always check garage sales, estate sales, antique shops and second hand stores for more bags or table linens printed with maps or designs that can come keep this one company =)

How about you? What's your favorite resource for making pillows?


One Hundred and One

yikes! Not only is it my week to write, it's my month to pick a topic!

The first of a new month always creeps up on me and catches me unawares, especially when the new month starts on a Sunday! Sunday is that strange day: last day of the weekend and first day of the calendar week. My birthday is on the first day of a certain month, so I feel for the firsts because they are often forgotten about until they hit you in the face as you flip the calendar. I thought I saw this one coming, since I've been longing for its arrival to herald in a renewed grocery budget with which to restock the pantry and freezer. So there I was, smugly ready to turn the computer off and head to bed when it hit me: tomorrow is May first, May Day! My month to choose. My week to write. And we have a church conference all weekend long, so I better get this done so everyone else can get their wheels turning! This weekend has been crazy with errands, a funeral/life celebration, conference, and even baby showers that I will sadly have to miss. Don't you always find that May has 101 directions to pull you in? gardening, spring cleaning, school finishing, outdoor playing, yard working, graduation/baby/wedding showering... It is one busy month! 101 things to do...

Did you know that the Old English name for the month of May meant "month of 3 milkings" and that abundance is in part why there are May Day celebrations? Well, thanks to wikipedia, now you and I both can impress others with that gem. In more recent European history, May Day commemorates the socialist movement and uprisings, and is sometimes referred to as Labour Day. The town that I lived in in the Czech Republic had a square named "Prvni Maj", or May Day, and in the middle was a concrete platform on which a bronze statue of Lenin used to stand. He had since been pulled down and that platform was instead being used for skateboarding by rebellious teens dabbling in Western culture. 101 tidbits of pretty useless, but interesting, information...

Mainly I chose "101" because I like to use things in multiple different ways, and thought it would be fun to share some of those ideas, and even more fun to hear everyone else's ideas and add their tricks to my back-pocket. But today is the first. And although, as I said before, Sunday firsts especially sneak up on me, I especially love them because they remind me of what my priority for ordering my days needs to be: He comes first. His Name, which is above every name. His praise, glory, honor. His will. His Word. His commandments. His testimony. His people. His calling. As I think about the busyness that is May, with all its directions, distractions, obligations, and social occasions, I have been greatly challenged by the appropriate applicability of the following psalm:

Psalm 101 (NASV)

A Psalm of David.
1I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
2I will give heed to the blameless way
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
3I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
4A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
5Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
6My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
7He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
8Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.

101 things to praise Him for, 101 things I need Him for, 101 things to keep me on my knees...