Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cleaning Your Pillows in a Top Loader

Who ever thinks about cleaning your pillows? But let's think about the abuse pillows get. You sleep on them every night. This means spit, sweat, oils from hair and face, and any face products you apply can seep in there. Plus, you fluff, kids battle, and they just get thrown around a lot. They deserve to be fluffed and cleaned every now and then!

This may be TMI about my family's the before: YUCK!
Front loading washing machines are more ideal for this project but I don't have one of those so I just made do. They keep the pillow's shape better. First, I looked at the pillows' tags. They have washing instructions on them!
Then I shoved them, I mean I placed them in my machine standing upright. I think it would've been better to have them horizontal instead of vertical but I guess I can just call this part wayward.  I filled up the washer and then added detergent (I just used regular liquid laundry soap, a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also be a great detergent). I followed the care instructions on the tags I found (one pillow's tag had been ripped off). The first symbol (left to right) means warm wash. The next means non-chlorine bleach when necessary. The third means tumble dry, normal, low heat. And the last symbol means do not iron (as if you'd iron a pillow). I have a key on my washing machine that tells me what the symbols mean. This can also easily be looked up online.

After the pillows were washed, They were a little misshapen so I beat them. No, really, I beat them over my knee until the insides looked a little more normal. Then into the dryer they went. I also threw in some tennis balls with socks over them for fluffing. The tennis balls help break up the fibers that might be unwilling to separate inside the pillow. This traps moisture and makes the pillow misshapen. I dried them for about 2 hours to make sure there was no left over moisture. Then they were ready for a pillow case.

And here's the after: SO much better!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Simple Watercolor Painting for Beginners

I've been interested in watercolor for a few years. This year I finally got into it and feel comfortable in the very beginning stages. I wanted to make a handmade gifts for my nephew and nieces and thought a watercolor painting of an LDS temple would be something special. This method also worked for paintings I did of a bird, book, and sweater.

Prerequiste: know how to mix watercolor paints and how to apply the paint (basically, dab your brush before each time you touch the paper). 

First step, find color pages of the temple online. It seems like this would be easy, but I had some criteria: it needed to be simple and I wanted to have several temples, including a small temple design. That was the hardest to find. See our LDS Pinterest board for the coloring sheets I used

The next step was to trace the temple on a piece of white paper using a pencil. I used a straight edge (ok a board book) to keep my lines straight, which made it take longer but it made it look better. I traced the temple from my laptop screen, like a lightbox. If you wanted, you could just print out the coloring page and skip this step. 

Next, color all over the back of the tracing with a pencil. I shared this picture on Instagram and some of you guessed what I was doing! The pencil coloring will be used as a transfer method.

Take your watercolor paper and tape it to the back of the tracing (so the coloring is touching the paper) to keep it steady. Trace the picture again. As you trace, the coloring will transfer lightly to the watercolor paper. Make sure both papers are secure so it transfers well. 

After the drawing is transferred, paint it! Yep, you just paint in the lines. With watercolor you want to do several coats, called washes, to increase in depth of color. With temples, I wanted them to be gray but not dark gray so this didn't take long. I did more washes with the bird painting to get vibrant colors. Allow the paper to dry in between washes. 

A brown paper grocery bag is a great backdrop for a first timer. It can also be used as watercolor paper. I use it to dab my brush before each stroke (very important!)

Once you're satisfied with the colors and the painting is dry, trace the pencil in fine-tipped marker or pen. You can't erased what you've painted over, and I think a pen outline gives it a nice, finished look. 

Finally, sign your piece of art! The whole process can be finished in about an hour or two, depending on how many washes you do. It was really fun to make these paintings. After the temples were completed, I grew more confident and made some gift tags and painted a few books to represent Kindle books. They were a lot of fun.

A bird for my brother-in-law

This is a great project for a beginner!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Neighbor Gift: Cinnamon Popcorn and a Movie

This year I have neighbors! Ok, I've had neighbors in the past, but I've never felt super friendly with them. Now that we own our home, I figured we needed to get friendlier with the people around us. I decided to make cinnamon kettle corn and give this DVD

It's a short movie about the nativity of Christ. The perfect gift for Christmas, in my opinion. You can order your own here: Joy to the World DVD

Cinnamon Kettle Corn recipe adapted from Something Swanky
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat, covered.

Put in two kernels. When they pop, the oil is ready

Once hot, stir in the sugar, cinnamon and popcorn.  I use a spoon to help really coat the kernels.

Cover, and shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning.

Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, remove the pot from the heat and continue to shake for a few minutes until the popping has stopped. Pour into a large bowl, and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to break up large clumps.

This year I tried making kettle corn in my Stir Crazy popper. AND IT WORKS and doesn't ruin my Stir Crazy! It's so fast and easy. Never going back to stove top. 

Cinnamon Kettle Corn recipe for Stir Crazy:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
Put all ingredients in the Stir Crazy. Place the lid on top and turn it on. Once the popping has slowed to once every 2 to 3 seconds, turn off Stir Crazy and flip over (so the bowl lid is right side up) and take the heat element off**. Allow the popcorn to cool and enjoy.

**Don't leave the heat element on top while it cools, like I did. It melted the side of the bowl/lid a little. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DIY Maternity Maxi Dress

Sorry for my long absence! But I have a good excuse. Well, I think it's good. So back in August, I was  asked to be one of my college roommate's bridesmaids. Well well well, what a predicament. The other 7 or so bridesmaids and I did not have something in common that would make dress buying much, much more difficult because I would be 21 weeks pregnant at her wedding! Luckily, the bridesmaids got to choose their own dresses which meant I would make my own dress. I decided to go with a maxi dress thinking it would be both easy to make and accommodating to my growing baby belly. This was far more wayward than I thought but I learned from my mistakes!

What you'll need:
2-2 1/2 yds jersey knit (depending on your height)
Thin elastic
Matching thread

1. Measure from under your bust, over your shoulder to mid back (equal to where your under the bust measurement is on your back). Measure down lengthwise on the fabric. This is the length of A and B. Mine was 30 inches.

2. Hem one side of each A and B pieces. This will be the neckline. Overlap A and B 4 inches right side on top of right side. Pin and sew.

3. Next, sew C to A and B, D to the opposite side, wrong sides together.
4. Fold along mid line of A and B top panel. You may need to trim both sides depending on how loose and flowy you want it. Sew sides of dress (wrong sides together) from bottom to a couple inches above where C and D meet A and B.
5. Measure where you would like to put on the elastic. I measured under the bust to accommodate baby. Cut the elastic 2 inches less than your measurement. Overlap the ends of the elastic about 3/4". Sew forward and back a couple of times. You'll need to put 4 pins in your elastic 4 equally apart: one in the middle front, middle back, and sides. This is markers to match while sewing.
6. Pin your middle front marker of the elastic to the middle front (middle of where A and B overlap), the back marker to the middle back, and sides to where C and D meet on the sides. Your elastic should be smaller than the fabric, this is on purpose! (I added a few extra pins due to how wayward everything was turning out for me. But I pinned in the middle of where the fabric was between pins to the middle between markers and match to fabric. You must be very careful if you are adding extra pins!)
7. Now sew with a zig zag stitch on the elastic to the wrong side of the dress, stretching it to meet the length of the fabric between pins. This will create gathering in the dress.

8. Cut and hem skirt to desired length, hem sleeves at length you want.
9. Optional: I sewed a small piece of where A and B overlap (6 inches from edge of waistline) for added modesty.

And here's my wayward adventure:

I measured wrong both the fabric and elastic, twisted the elastic while sewing, had to unpick thread so many times, etc, etc, etc! .

And here's the finished look!
Note: these were taken at 29 weeks not 21!! Hello belly button!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

St. Nicholas Day: A Family Tradition

One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was St. Nicholas Day. Although we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometimes known as "Mormons" my mom instituted we celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. St. Nicholas Day is commonly celebrated in European countries. It is thought that Santa Claus bringing gifts is based off St. Nicholas Day. Read more here.

 We set our shoes out on the fireplace hearth on the 5th of December. In the morning they would be filled with a small surprise, like hair things, candy or a small toy. It was a simple tradition but one we looked forward to. As a teenager, I liked to set out my most daring shoe for St. Nicholas. When we went to college, St. Nicholas still found us, via US Mail! His handwriting was strangely similar to my mom's ;)

I plan on carrying on this tradition with my family as well. Just another magical way to make December memorable!

In my husband's basketball sneaker: The Beach Boys's Sounds of Summer.(affiliate link)

In my bootie : Welch's Fruit Snacks, (affiliate link) because I love fruit snacks

In my daughter's boot: We Belong Together by Joyce Wan. (affiliate link) I LOVED this book when we got it from the library and I'm so happy we own it now! It's got really cute illustrations and I think it's perfect for a parent-child relationship or for siblings.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wrapped and Done by December One RESULTS!

If you'll remember, it was my goal to be done with all my Christmas preparations by December first. This included my Christmas cards, gifts and decorations. Here's how I faired

Cards: Done! My sister-in-law took our pictures, I got that great Groupon and then addressed and sent them on Friday the 28th.

Decorations: Done! I like what I did this year, but miss most of my ornaments. A one year-old baby and breakable ornaments just don't mix. It's nice to have enough room for everything. Here's my nativity:

Gifts: All my gifts to my extended family and in-laws have been shipped! I left my husband and daughter's gift shopping until last week because I wanted to make people who lived far away a priority as to get their gifts shipped. This was good and bad. Good because that got done, bad because I didn't factor in that I'd be ordering gifts online and would need to allow for time to wrap those gifts. So I have 2 gifts coming that I haven't yet received which need to be wrapped. I still feel like I was successful because I won't be stressing about the gifts and I actually enjoy wrapping gifts.

So I think I did really well!! How did you you?
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