Why I Choose to Use Cloth Diapers

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Handmade Presents: Bath Salts

This was, hands down, the EASIEST handmade present I made this past Christmas.  To do it all you need are some basic ingredients:
Sea salts--I found a big jug of this at Hobby Lobby
Epsom Salts--this was in the pharmacy section of Walmart
Essential Oils--also found at Hobby Lobby, but also at amazon.com

In addition to these, specific recipes often call for other things such as baking soda, powdered milk, or pulverized oatmeal. 

Of course, you can add your own ingredients as well.  There really are no limits to these things so feel free to be creative!

I found this website and used and/or tweaked the recipes here for my Christmas present bath salts. 

The result was this:

...and I had presents for all my aunts and female cousins.  SO simple!

I ended up with four types of salts:
Oatmeal Lavender
Stuffy Nose
Vanilla milk bath
Peppermint orange

They seemed to be a hit.  I mean, there's nothing more relaxing than a nice, long soak in your tub with soothing aromas pervading your nostrils. 

The best thing was that when I made these, I was sick so my nose was cleared up for a good few hours thanks to breathing in all the lovely essential oils like eucalyptus, tea trea, and peppermint. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Handmade Presents: Hairdressing Cape

This was a fun present to make--mostly because it came out so well!

I used:
2 yards of cotton quilting fabric
2 yards of PUL (the waterproof material used in cloth diapers)
2 packages of biased tape
A borrowed hairdressing cape.

My sister, C, is a new hairdresser--and a good one at that! I thought, what could be more special than her own, personalized hairdressing cape? So, I borrowed my friend's cape, taped it instead of pinning it to my fabric (because it was plastic and I didn't want to make holes in it) and cut out the pattern for my sister's cape.

It was pretty easy because a hair dressing cape is really just a rectangle (2 yards worth) of fabric with rounded edges.Then, cut a slit down 1 1/2 - 2 feet in on the one end, and cut a hole for the head.

You want to cut the cape from both the cotton fabric and the PUL and then lay them on top of each other.  I chose to leave the shiny side of the PUL facing out in the back, but you can face it the other way too if you want.  Next, pin the two pieces together and add your bias tape!

Add some bits of velcro (or snaps) to the neck so it can be attached, and you're done! 
My husband loves getting haircuts from C so he was the first one to wear the lovely cape.  Handsome, huh?  Sorry, he's all mine!

My sister loved her hairdressing cape so I'm happy! It's not a cape that can be used for coloring, though, because it will stain.  You could always get some clear plastic instead of PUL and layer that over top of the print if you wanted preserve the print and use the cape for dye jobs too. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Handmade Presents: The Frog

For one of my nephews, I got the brilliant idea to knit a tropical tree frog since he has a jungle theme for his room.  But I don't like patterns so I decided I'd figure one out myself.  I started and ripped out all my stitches at least three times before settling on a shape I liked and once I did get him started, I really disliked making him, but I stuck to it anyway!

I got inspiration for the shape from this picture in one of Bunny's books:

He came out a lot bigger than I meant him too.  When I don't use a pattern for knitting toys, that always seems to happen.

Bunny really loved pointing out his arms.  I think that was when we discovered she knew how to say that body part!

The best part was that my nephew--only four months older than Bunny--seemed to like him.  But I don't think I'll be making a stuffed present like that (with a deadline anyway) for a long time!

If I had a pattern to share with you, I would do so, but I don't.  I just knit in the round and increased stitches appropriately to get the pear shape I wanted.  Then I picked up stitches in the body for the arms and legs increased and decreased where necessary to get the arm shape.  Don't even ask me about the toes because I did each foot a little differently until I figured out the best way! Yikes! This was the project that made me REALLY regret handmade Christmas presents this year!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Handmade Christmas Presents: For my Sister M

For one of my sisters and her fiance (I have five sisters and one brother), I made the following embroidery: 
Unfortunately, in the months that I worked on it, this is the only picture I took, and the picture doesn't do it justice. M and her fiance have this ongoing joke about poop.  They have a book in their bathroom called, "What's your Poo Telling You" and recently, they added a children's book about poop to their toilet repertoire, so I wanted to make her something having to do with poop.  This says, "If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown flush it down."  She liked it.  It looks messy from this picture, but actually that's because of the font I chose to use.  If I had it to do all over again, I would have chosen much smaller letters.  I was going to add a toilet and sink to the side--I'd drawn them all out on graph paper and everything--but I ran out of time.  I was even sewing this on the long car ride to see my family.  I didn't frame it and wrap it til I got to my parents house!  If you're interested in the font I used, here's a link to the website where I found it. 

Even though M and her fiance's present was the one I worked on the longest (and the hardest) once it was nearly completed I felt deflated at the finished product.  It just didn't seem like enough.  So, when I read  this lovely blogger's tutorial about how to make angry birds, I decided to make some because I know that M really likes that game.   One critique I have is that I found it difficult to turn and top-stitch the tufts of hair and the tails because the fleece was too thick and the hole in the pattern was too small.  I just skipped that step and simply cut out a piece of fleece in the right shape and used that instead. 
Of course, Bunny thought the birds were for her.  "Birda, birda!" she said over and over and then started throwing them at me.  Since I hadn't been able to be the Mommy I wanted to be to her all day due to my extended periods of crafting, I indulged her in playing with them for awhile.  She even left some drool on some of them.  I knew her Auntie wouldn't mind. When this picture was taken, I'd only finished this bird.  The others were sitting on a window sill that Bunny can just barely reach with sharp pins holding their beaks to their heads.  When she started grabbing those, I had to draw the line and boy was she unhappy with that decision!

All in all, I made three different kinds of birds. Two red, two blue (I know, I know, I should have made three) and one of the candy corn birds. I hope my sister and her fiance liked them.  I certainly did.  Eventually, when my craft fast is finished (It will make an entire week since I've touched a craft in a few minutes) and I feel like I'm ready to reenter the world of sewing, knitting, etc., Bunny will get her own set and my sister will probably get a third blue bird while I'm at it. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Handmade Christmas Presents: Fleece Hats for all ages

At some point in the Christmas rush I decided fleece hats would be nice gifts for some of the guys in my family.  Yes, I know guys get hats all the time, but Christmas came upon me too quickly for me to think of something more creative.  I couldn't believe it when I snagged all the fabric I used for these hats for less than one yard of it costs at regular price.  I got just under a yard of five colors! My trick?  The remnant bin which happened to be marked down a remarkable 75% as opposed to the 50% discount it normally has. 

I looked all over for hat patterns that I liked for the adults, but found none, so I made my own.  I took one of my husband's hats and cut around it, leaving about two inches of seam allowance (mostly because fleece isn't as stretchy as knit caps).  Then I cut two of these shapes for each color, sewed the each color to itself, then sewed around the bottom with the pieces inside out, then turned and top-stitched the edges.  I'm sorry, I did not take pictures of the process.  Maybe that's a tutorial I can do in the future.  Eventually, I decided the hats needed a dart down the middle, to make them fit better, so I added that as well. 

They are all reversible.  I'm pretty proud of that.  Using two layers of fleece not only makes them thicker and hides your seams, but also makes them SUPER warm!

For the children's hat, I used a pattern because the hat was for a five year old and I just don't know how big that is.  If it were for someone Bunny's size, I would have been able to make my own pattern.  I found this adorable pattern for a child's hat with the option of adding dino scales down the middle.  Since I was making it for my nephew, I thought that would be perfect.  (You can download the pattern yourself if you click on my link and then on hers).  Then, I decided to make his dinosaur a googly-eyed monster with vicious teeth and a sloppy tongue.  (I really love to applique, if you haven't figured it out already!)

This is the result of that hat:

The best part is that the hat is reversible so I used Steeler colors on the inside since his parents are huge Steeler's fans (I'm not so it pained me to do so)

I think the hats went over better than I thought they would (seeing as they're just hats and all ;-P) because of the love put into them.  That's the best thing about handmade gifts, when you give them people know that you spent all that time invested in them and so something average, like a hat, becomes special.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Handmade Christmas Presents: Bunny's Gift

Since this was a picture we took just a few weeks before Christmas:
...the fact that we had already gotten Bunny a toy fridge to open on Christmas Day was a very good thing!

Well, I'm not sure that this first present can exactly count as handmade--at least in the sense of it being called handmade by me. This is a refrigerator we bought from an Amish guy who makes the most awesome toys and toy furniture.  We asked for it unfinished for two reasons: we wanted a cheaper price, and we wanted to personalize it.

Then, we painted it to match the Amish toy stove/sink we bought for Bunny for her birthday--stainless steel thanks to a can of metallic spray paint.

The inside, of course, we painted white.  That was my husband's job in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

My job during those same early hours was to do this:

...to paint the front of the refrigerator.  I knew I wanted to paint something meaningful on the front but it took me awhile to figure out what.  I painted the vowels because literacy and learning letters is very important in our family.  I painted the sheep "coloring page" with "The Lord is my Shepherd" written beneath it to match Bunny's bedroom theme of the Parable of the Lost sheep.  I painted a scripture on a piece of notebook paper that will hopefully be something that embeds itself in her mind, reminding her to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart."  And finally, because I'm a Spanish teacher, I couldn't help but add the little "Hola" magnet.  Overall, I'm very pleased with the entire effect. 

The refrigerator coupled with the knitted fruits I gave her a couple months back for her birthday, some plastic foods that one of her grandmothers gave her, and the Melissa and Doug Fridge food set that we gave her this Christmas (from my  Diapers.com referral money) makes Bunny quite a wonderful play Fridge.  And then, when we went up north to visit my parents, my mom gave her the Melissa and Doug cutting food set.

And my brilliant little Bunny, at only 15 1/2 months old, speaks marvelously.  I know you won't believe me but she already says parts of the alphabet and her numbers 1-10 (specifically nine... TEN, which she'll recite proudly to herself at the funniest moments!).  Honestly, there isn't much that she doesn't say at this point which is remarkably early according to her doctor. She uses verbs in the command sense when she wants something, "Eat" for instance, means she's hungry, and she is wonderful with nouns and identifying words.  Adjectives and descriptors haven't made their way into her vocabulary yet.    Anyway, the play fridge has been a great way for her to learn and practice new vocabulary.  She loves pulling out her bananas, "Nana" and she can say "pear" now as well. Fruits she doesn't know the name for she calls apples.  She learned "pepper" and "onion" thanks to the lovely food she has, and she already knew "milk" and "juice" but she proudly names them and the cheese for us as well as she pulls them out of her fridge.  So, all in all, this gift which is only partly handmade has been not only a wonderful center for imagination, but for learning as well.

Stay tuned for more handmade presents to come.  When at all possible, I will link to the web addresses from which I gleaned the ideas, or if there is no pattern or address I'll find similar patterns for you to use yourself or give instructions.