One Special Girl Quilts for a Cause

This little girl is a dear friend of mine.  I had the pleasure of first meeting her when she was 2 and have watched her mature into a bright, diligent and thoughtful 7 year old.  She is raising money to send to Smile Train. $10 buys a quilt square made completely by her (with her mom hovering). If she sells 25 squares, she will be able to help one child get cleft palate surgery and she will send them the quilt, too. I am impressed by her dedication and generosity.  What a great example she is setting on how using one's talents can give back so kindheartedly.  Anyone interested - shoot me a message and I'll send you our address.


It happened much, much sooner than I expected.  A cancellation led to the 6pm announcement that the excavation for our new garage would be in 12 hours. Which meant the shed needed to be cleaned out and flowers needed to be moved immediately. I am a planner.  I didn't plan this. I wasn't ready.  Not yet.  But the trucks came.  The digging commenced.  The mantra I chanted to myself for the day was "It's okay.  It will be okay.  Don't worry."  However, my constant chiming of self calming thoughts did little to ease my escalating nerves.

In contrast, as each truck arrived, my little one became more intrigued, interested and excited.  He embraced this change with pleasure.  What a valuable lesson my little one is teaching me.  Instead of worrying about the end product, enjoy the adventure. 

Wicker Sunroom Set Salvaged

I was in grad school.  It was 6:15 am.  I was out on my daily 3 mile run.  On mile #2, I spotted this wicker set.  The sign read "free".  Those four little marvelous letters make my heart go pitter pat.  I stopped.  Inspected.  And found the price tag.  $249 for the set, Pier One Imports.  Sure it was a little dirty, but there was an attraction.  I had to have it. I hid the free sign and ran home as fast as my legs would carry me.  I got my car and had 2/3 pieces moved into my apartment by 7am.  And my brother was on his way with his bigger vehicle to help me get the one piece that didn't fit in my car.  Of course many of people would think I was crazy, but my brother is fully used to my impulsive ideas and instead of questioning me, he promptly veered into the kitchen for dessert for breakfast.

Not the best of all pictures, but this picture makes me happy because all three of our cats and our dog are all together.  The one next to me is our dear 17 year old cat, Dusty, who we said goodbye to last year.  We miss him dearly.
I cleaned up the piece and it had great bones!  I purchased foam cushions and cut them to fit the seats.  I covered them with plaid fabric.  I then covered pillows from around my apt (and one from a thrift shop) to match. I even made a homemade ruffle for 3 of the pillows by basting and pulling threads.  I then made a placemat to match with the scraps. 

And would you believe I have this whole set for around $30?  Score.

Oh, and I also found the rod iron lamp on the side of the road.  Just a light bulb and a lamp shade and it's perfect.  Not bad for free.  As my dad says, "free" is his favorite four letter word that begins with /f/.  I'd have to agree.

Patio Set and Fire Pit

This weather has me thinking summer!  I wanted to a couple of my creations for outdoors. 

First there was the patio set.  I wanted one for out back.  Couldn't decide what commercial project I was interested in purchasing.  Then one day, I was looking at this old table we were thinking of donating.  The top was scratched up laminate and the bottom was pea green rod iron.  Rod iron. Hmm. Got me thinking.  We junked the top. I spray painted the bottom black.  I found a marvelous piece of marble just hanging at a an antique shop.  It went perfectly!!!  I then bought the metal chairs at Target during the end of year clearance.  It looks like a set.  And I big puffy heart it!

Onto the fireplace.  These were stabilization blocks from an above ground pool.  Shaped in a circle, it's an instant firepit. 

Why share these ideas?  Because if you look around your house, your yard or neighbor's yards, you may just find something that would be perfectly re-purposed for your yard.  Hey, it worked for me.

Quilt #1

I've been quilting since I was 15.  My first ever quilt was for my best friend's mom.  She had saved scraps for years (most from clothes she had made for herself), hoping to make a quilt.  I asked her if I could take her scraps and make one for her.  I had wanted to learn how to quilt anyway.  She said okay.  And the rest is history.  I have made 121 quilts to date.  All are crib size to king size and are original.  No two are duplicates.  This doesn't count the smaller projects I have done with my own scraps.  I keep a photo book of each quilt I have ever made and I aim to share one quilt a week with you.  Hop on aboard my quilting journey...and maybe make one yourself!

1996 Quilt #1 Lap Size

Zig-Zag Ball Drop

So I wanted one of these.  Many of you know my obsession with not buying new plastic toys that just end up in the landfill, never decomposing.  Anyway, a wooden one cost $50.00.  Fifty bucks for a toy?!  I'm way too cheap for that.
So off I go to make my own.  And I must say, I'm pretty proud of this!

First of all, I must say that I am not a woodworker.  I am just a brave experimenter.  I made it with scraps from the woodworking shop my neighbor works in.  I just found 3 pieces that were similar in size and screwed them together for the rows.  Then I clamped the rows to one side, trying it out to make sure it worked before I screwed it in on one side and then the other side.  I cut and sanded 2 1/2 inch pieces to use as stoppers at the end of the rows that needed it.  I added the bottom to make a secure base (it was tipsy without the base). The hardest part was figuring where everything needed to be placed for it to work before screwing it down.  Anyway, that's sort of a vague description.  If you'd like to make one yourself, let me know and I can take dimensions. 

Well, I gave it to my little one for Easter.   He watched me do it at first, trying to figure it out.

Then he lit up while he watched it and then turned back to me to squeal in delight everytime it came down!  I was laughing right along with him, it was so fun! Plus it made for a gazillion photo ops.

 He was trying so hard to do it himself.  He'd get the ball in the right place, but couldn't figure out how to release the ball.  But then he'd look back at me and remember to be excited.  More photo ops.  Sorry, went a little crazy.

The neat part of this toy is it will be something that will grow with him.  Right now, he can use the big wooden balls we have.  As he gets older, he can use the small wooden balls we have or the cute wooden Plantoys cars pictured. 
 Cost:  I needed screws, so $2.00.  Much better than $50.00.

Laundry Tricks Part II

Yesterday's post, I reviewed how to make your own laundry soap.  Not only am I no longer buying laundry soap, but I am also no longer buying fabric softener or dryer sheets.
 In lieu of fabric softener, I fill up a downy ball with vinegar.  Vinegar makes the clothes soft.  Contrary to my initial fear, once the clothes are clean, they don't smell like vinegar.  Plus vinegar is natural, not a synthetic toxin.  Better for us and the environment.
In lieu of fabric softeners for the dryer, I use wool dryer balls.  My friend Jess made these for me out of an old sweater.  You can buy them from her at Reuse Zone.  The balls bounce around in the dryer, making sure the clothes don't get too wrinkled.  In the process, they have decreased drying time by 10 minutes.  I love that they're reusable, so there's no waste and it's very cost efficient.  A drop of lavender oil on the balls makes our clothes smell yummy!

Homemade Laundry Soap

Okay, so I know fully that some of you will deem me crazy with this post.  Really?  Homemade laundry soap? Why the hassle?  Does it really work?

I've been wanting to try to make laundry detergent for a long time.  But then I think...I always buy laundry detergent with a coupon, so it's not really that expensive. And I always think, if I go through an extensive labor in the kitchen, then I'd like to be able to eat it.

Just randomly today, as I was shopping for laundry detergent, I decided I would give making it a go.  I also picked up some commercial detergent in case my idea backfired.  In typical Jackie fashion, I don't just give a recipe a try.  Instead, I devise my own through researching.  I perused the internet, looking for examples of ideas.  I consulted 10 different recipes and then hid them all and devised my own, using ivory soap (which creates a bit of nostalgia for me, as my grandparents used ivory soap for guests at their Blue Top Motel). 

Here's what I did:

Jackie's Homemade Laundry Detergent

3 1/2 gallons water
1 bar of ivory soap
3/4 cup washing soda
3/4 cup borax

1) Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil.
2) Grate the soap.  I used my kitchen aid grader attachment.
3) Wisk in the soap in the boiling water.  Simmer until completely dissolved.
4) Add the washing soda and borax.  Wisk until dissolved.
5) Add it to 3 gallons of hot tap water (I had the 3 gallons of water waiting in a 5 gallon bucket).  Stir.
6) Divvy up the detergent into smaller canisters if desired.  Let set before use (it turns into a gel).

Use 1/2 cup of detergent for each load of laundry, 1/4 cup for HE washers.

This was very, very easy.  Took 35 minutes from start to completion, and I was doing other things around the house while making it. And like with most things, the more you do it, the quicker you get at making it.  And I think it works great!  And as an added bonus, all of the supplies come in paper packaging.  No extra plastic will need to be manufactured for our laundry needs from this point forward.  How cool is that?! does separate.  You can prevent much separating by mixing it with a burr mixer once set. You can also throw a few marbles in the container and mix it up by shaking or 1/4 cup of gel and then one 1/4 cup of liquid per load. I've also used it for spot treatment...dipping the area that got a spot on it in the liquid to pre treat it before washing. I hope you're as impressed as I am with the results.

Cost:  I spent $9.51 for all the supplies, and I can make 3 gallons of detergent 10 times with what I bought.  Since I am a nerd, I did the math.  That will equal 3840 loads of laundry, costing less than a quarter of a penny a load.  Compare that with low to high end commercially available products- Purex was $0.20 load; Tide was $0.30 load.  If you do one load of laundry a day for a year, making your own will save you a minimum of $70-$105. 

Needless to say, I will be returning the $8.00 commercial laundry detergent that I bought.

M & M Cookie Bars

 M & M Cookie Bars-another Jackie Original

1 1/3 Cup Bwn. Sugar
2/3 Cup Veg Oil
1/8 cup water
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
A few handfuls of M & Ms

Mix wet.  Add all dry, except M &Ms.  Sprinkle a few handfuls of M&Ms (more or less, depending on your preference).  Place in a greased 9x9 pan if you want them thick or 9x13 pan if you'd rather they be thinner.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes for the 9x9 pan or 25-30 minutes for the 9x 13 pan.

Cloth Wipes: Upcycled.

   I made these from receiving blankets. 
I made these cloth wipes from a pair of my husband's pajama pants that had a big hole in them.
All I did was cut two layers in 8ish inch squares, finish the edges (I used a serger), then zig zag at an angle to keep the two layers together.  Quick, easy and very soft.  Goes perfect with homemade wipe solution.

Wipe Solution

Making your own diaper wipe solution is easy!  All I do is fill my squirt bottle with water and add one squirt of bath soap and a couple drops of tea tree oil.  Tea tree oil is good antibacterial, is good for your skin and it smells yummy.  Shake it up and keep at room temperature.  You can either squirt a bare bottom (at room temperature my baby doesn't mind) or you can dampen a washcloth or a cloth wipe (see tomorrow's post for homemade cloth wipes). 

Cost:  Free!

Easter Basket

I decided to make an Easter Basket for my little one.  One that we can pull out and use each year.  And here it is.  Wish I could show you the whole thing at once, but here's each angle:

I made it using an box. I get tons of stuff from amazon and am trying to think of ways I can use the boxes instead of throwing them away. I  first appliqued the train on felt with scraps.  Then I used clothes pins to hold the felt to the cardboard in the shape of a cylinder.  I then hand sewed the felt to a piece of cardboard from the amazon box with embroider floss. I then hot glued two pieces of cut out cardboard in the shape of a circle.  I finished it off by hot gluing felt to cover the bottom piece.  I added a strap from a broken bag that I salvaged.

My little one was very interested in it.
Not sure who will be more excited for it to be filled for Easter, my baby or husband?  My husband is insisting we start the tradition of chocolate bunnies and cadbury eggs this year.  For who?  I think that answer is obvious.

Cost:  I spent $1 on the felt.

Ecoday at Laudholm Farm

A visit to the Laudholm Farm for Ecoday with friends.  Although it was cold, it was a fun event filled with vendors, kites, demonstrations, bands and our fave...animals.


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