Tag Archives: DIY

Quick Kitty Bedroom

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Here lately I haven’t been able to put a bag down without Sophie trying to climb in it.  She’s really been in need of a quiet little space of her own, but I haven’t had the extra finances to purchase one of those cute ones at the store.

Then just the other day I watched a life hack video about making a cat “tent” with wire coat hangers and an old t-shirt but it looked too flimsy for Sophie to use.  She tends to be a very antsy, nervous cat, more so the older she has gotten.  She’s now 11.

So today I took an old t-shirt that was ready to go to that “great laundry basket in the sky” (a.k.a. rag pile) and put it over the box, gathered the back up and fastened it with a safety-pin.

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Then I inverted the sleeves to get them out-of-the-way.  I was going to also safety-pin them but they tucked in nicely and it wasn’t necessary.

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I put one of my beach towels in the bottom so she has something to curl up with and I can swap it out with another one so I can wash them periodically.  The neck of the t-shirt gives her ample room to climb in and out, but allows the box to retain the warmth that she needs as an older cat, especially in the wintertime.

2 minutes, a re-purposed t-shirt, a cardboard box and a happy cat!  Your turn!  Share your quick crafts!

{{hugs}}}

Maggie

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All Natural Wasp Remover

As most of you who follow me know, I have COPD which is why I’m so passionate about non-chemical ways to do things. Fumes are not my friend.  My sister was a severe asthmatic from birth so we’ve always been mindful about toxins and fumes.

Then today in my email I found a link for a DIY Wasp Remover and I followed it to a YouTube video and I’ve got to say… GENIOUS!

As soon as I go grocery shopping again I will get a big brown paper bag (another great reason to go to Aldi) so I can put this on the front porch where we’ve been getting wasps!

It’s frugal, it’s non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about kids and pets being around chemicals; and you don’t have to worry about getting stung while trying to spray a can of poison!  And no worries about asthma attacks or COPD exacerbation either!

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

This easy craft will look adorable sitting on your sink or as a gift!

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A cup or pint sized mason jar with the lid and a disposable bottle of liquid hand soap is all you need for this project that literally only takes minutes to complete.

 

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I started the center hole with a nail, then used an old fashioned can/bottle opener (sometimes called a church key) to start turning in the center, then went to the pliers.  Make sure to keep it even and try to put the pump in from time to time so you can see where you need to adjust the hole and how it fits.  You don’t want the hole too big either.

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Once the hole was completed, I hammered down the edges.  They are very sharp so be careful!  A little hot glue on the underside of the pump before you slide it in place and you’re done!

I prefer the bottles of foaming handwash.  You use less soap that way, which is great when you have kids and frugal too.  I buy the bottles of “smell nice” soaps at Bed, Bath & Beyond when they go on sale for $1 a bottle.

Just fill the jar about 1/5th of the way with liquid soap and fill the rest with water.  Mix well and that’s it, the pump does the rest.  That $1 bottle will literally last me over a year.

 

Vanilla Mint Honey Scrub

by Erin of Mountain Rose Herbs

This body scrub is so easy to make and smells amazing. It leaves your skin feeling refreshed but not too minty as the soft vanilla bean aroma lightly perfumes your skin. Honey is a luxurious ingredient that helps moisturize, nourish, and protect the skin with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and humectant properties. In fact, I love to use honey alone as a face mask several times a month. If you’re collecting recipes for this year’s herbal handmade holiday gifts, this one will be perfect for the vanilla lovers out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine sea salt or fine organic sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic sweet almond oil
  • 1/4 cup raw organic honey
  • 1 organic vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 10 drops organic peppermint essential oil
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Directions

  • Mix the salt or sugar with the oil, scraped vanilla bean pulp, and honey.
  • Add essential oil and stir. If too oily, add more salt or sugar until you reach the desired grainy paste consistency.
  • Scoop into a jar with the split vanilla bean on the bottom for a decorative touch and screw the lid on tight.
  • Use a tablespoon of scrub at a time and rub the paste in your palms until loosened.
  • Gently massage into wet skin and rinse after 2-5 minutes. Your skin will feel exfoliated and moisturized!

Get everything you need here at Mountain Rose Herbs!

Purveyors of fine herbal products

Jelly 101: How To Get Started

Not only is this a great way to preserve the fruits of you labor from your garden but it’s a great way to save.  Purchase “clearance produce” at farmers markets, roadside stands and cash & carry markets at a mark down when the fruit is prime for jelly making!  Stock your pantry and give some as gifts!

Burpee Gardening

Perhaps the very easiest thing to can is homemade jam.  It’s not very expensive, it’s simple, and once you’ve made one kind of jam, others just cooperatively fall into place for you.  It’s a great way to get started canning.

The instructions for basic jams are all pretty much the same – you only need to make minor modifications for different fruits.  So, because we’re all creative people, I’m laying out the basic how-to, giving you a chart with special instructions fruit by fruit, and you can take it from there.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of fresh or frozen fruit
  • 1 packet of pectin + ¼ of a package (I like to use the no-sugar-needed, but then still add sugar – just less!)
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 2 tbsp- 1/4 cup of lemon juice

Directions

1.      Prep your fruit by washing it and cutting it up if necessary.

2.     Smush your fruit.  You can do this with a potato masher, food processor, blender or food mill.  For some fruits I like to puree them and have a smoother jam and for others I like chunkier jam – it’s up to personal preference.

3.     In a small bowl, use a fork to mix ¼ cup of the sugar with one packet of pectin.

4.     In a saucepan, stir the fruit, lemon juice and pectin together well.

5.     Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

6.    Once it is boiling, stir in the sugar and return to a boil for one minute.

 

7.     This is important:

Jam Making Rule of Law: 

Always test your jam!!!!  

How?  You do this by keeping a spoon in the freezer – to test, drip a bit of the hot jam into the spoon to allow it to quick cool – the consistency it reaches is the consistency your finished product will be.  At this point, I nearly always end up adding another 1/4 – 1/2 package of pectin – I use the cheaper pectin to “top it up” – return to a simmer for a couple of minutes and test again.   Omitting this step may result in a very tasty ice cream topping or waffle syrup, but not jam!

 

8.  Ladle the jam carefully into your awaiting (sanitized) jars, wipe the rim and cap your jars with snap lids and rings.

9.  Process in a water bath canner, according to the ingredients chart and making adjustments for your altitude.

Jam Making Chart

FRUIT
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS
PROCESSING TIME
Apricot
Peel, slice in half to pit
5 minutes
Blackberry
optional step: mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
Blueberry
optional step: puree
7 minutes
Cherry
Pit with a cherry pitter, chop before cooking
10 minutes
Grape
Mill to remove seeds
10 minutes
Huckleberry
Check for stems
10 minutes
Peach
Peel, slice in half to remove pits
10 minutes
Plum
Slice in half to remove pits
5 minutes
Raspberry
Crush with a potato masher
10 minutes
Strawberry
Remove cores, mash with a potato masher
10 minutes

If you are using more than one fruit in your jam, follow the instructions for the fruit that takes the longest to process.  For example, if you are making a blackberry and plum jam, process for 10 minutes instead of 5 minutes.

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About the author:
Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio.
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca
 
 

Giving Thanks Every Day

I just found a fabulous frugal craft on Snail Pace Transformations.   (Btw, I LOVE your name!)  It is a gratitude journal, a place to log a sentence or two of what you were thankful for every day.  This is number one on my Christmas list this year, very inexpensive and yet very personal.

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I admit that I am one of those people that sometimes have to work at staying positive.  Sometimes it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the tide instead of just enjoying the beauty of the beach so I look for little things to keep me on the path I choose.  I saw this craft and I jumped.  Whether its a gift for friends and family or just for yourself, its a great way to just a a minute a day to give thanks for what you have.

calendar
It all starts with dollar store calendars, the kind that show one week at a time. Like this…

I love the thought of making this part of my bedtime ritual, just a sentence or two of what I was thankful for today. Instead of going to bed dealing with the stresses of the day, fall asleep relishing and reviewing what you had to be thankful for.  Positivity breeds positivity.  And imagine making this a bedtime ritual with your child, even if a young one is not yet ready to write, it makes for a great dialog as you tuck them in and how it can shape them for the future.

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Then you can cover the outside with contact paper, your favorite pattern of duct tape or personal art.

Not only does it help in the training of a positive mind, but can you imagine being able to look back and read these a year, 5 years or 10 years down the line?  To bring back all those wonderful memories and feelings of days gone by.   Imagine your kids stumbling upon one of these once you’re gone and getting to remember all the best of you, with you.

Giving thanks isn’t just for one Thursday in November.  Spread the word.

{{hugs}}

Maggie

Online Sewing Class

Update:  I just found this great video that I just had to share.  It ties in with this project so beautifully and really gets your wheels of creativity going.

Let me know what ideas you have!

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… What about Repair?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  It’s a great mantra.  We keep hearing this, but some days it seems like an uphill battle doesn’t it?  

I must say, I’m a visual person and for that reason I absolutely love Pinterest.  I love the ideas.  I find myself saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” a lot as I scroll through pictures.  It really does help to get the creative juices flowing.  I don’t always see the second purpose until I have a need and see where I could use something “else” that would work.

 Tools

Then there’s the missing “R”, which is “Repair”. 

Why isn’t repair in the mantra?  I suppose it could be included under the header of reuse, but to me reuse implies use something more than once.

Most products aren’t designed by manufacturers to be repaired.  If it can be repaired then you have to find parts which can be located in the same aisle with the Holy Grail, the no-calorie ice cream and the self cleaning children.  It seems like the only way to find parts is if you have another matching item that you can pull parts off of.  How many people have a pair of items and when one breaks you hold on to the other one “just in case”.  Yep, that’s the beginning of a hording episode and yes I’ve been there.  I was raised by a licensed packrat.

Then in comes the nagging question of how to repair it.  I know I’m not the only one either.  Back in the day we had repair shops on every corner… for TV’s, sewing machines, appliances, shoes, upholstery… you name it.  You didn’t need to know how to repair it because of the shop on the corner.  Now you’re lucky to find a computer repair shop that will actually fix a pc instead of just reformatting the hard drive and starting over (because they don’t know how to fix it and neither do you).  So you’re left at their mercy if you don’t want to just buy a new computer unless you’re lucky enough to have that one friend that’s good with computers…(or cars, don’t get me started on that one).

I just read a great story about a couple who started a repair shop in their own neighborhood to deal with this very issue.  I think it’s amazing.  Check out the story – http://www.onearth.org/articles/2013/09/why-do-we-throw-our-stuff-away-instead-of-fixing-it.  I would love to see a repair shop like this in most urban areas.  Get a couple of handy people together, a few tools and a store front and you’re good to go!

However, until that happens, if you’re a marginally handy person like me you need a bit of help.

…but I don’t know how to fix it.

As my homeschooling mentor told me, you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to know how to look them up.  So here are a few things to get you started.

First, there’s Google.  Who doesn’t love Google?  Type in a model number, a product or even a question and it will have answers for you.  Now, it may not have the answers you’re looking for, so be prepared to search a few different ways.  Just by changing a word or two you can greatly change the outcome of your search.  Most manufacturers are online now, allowing you to find product manuals, parts, places to buy parts or even message boards of people having the same problem you are who reached out for help from other people.  Even consider starting your search with phrases like “what’s wrong with my” or “how do I fix a” to get you going in the right direction.

Second, there’s YouTube.com.  YouTube is more than just music and funny videos of cats.  Use the same search phrases and you’ll be amazed on what you’ll find.  There are people on there that are dying to show you the skills and information they have.  Thanks to YouTube I was able to learn how to do a factory reset on my husband’s smart phone which saved us $400 on a new phone.

Another resource is eBay.  Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who sell broken stuff on eBay.  Sounds crazy maybe, but if you need parts for something you have, it’s a great resource.  Just typing in the words “for parts only” into the search area will net you just under 25,000 results.  Now imagine getting specific!

One of my favorites is Freecycle.org.  I’ve been a fan of Freecycle for many years.  I’ve gotten and given a lot of stuff through there.  I’ve gotten everything from Lego blocks to cell phones to furniture and have given away things I didn’t need any more… everything from fish tanks, to a stove and a couple of cars.  The free-to-join group of members are people who would rather give things away to people who can use them rather than putting them in landfills or scrap yards.  If you’re a people watcher by nature, you may enjoy just watching the lists of things offered and asked for.

AppliancePartsPros.com, Inc.
Appliance Parts Pros are a great company for finding appliance parts online at a great price, they’ll even walk you through repairs. They’re your pro to go!

The better you get at repairs, the more options that are available to you like DIY projects, thrift store and garage sale buys… not to mention frugal bonuses like decorating and home improvements!