Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Featured Inspiration, Kids Activity Ideas, minimalism, painting, Ponderings about life, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder

Is Boredom why Your Kids are Squabbling this Summer?

How’s your summer going, parents?  Staying sane and happy? It’s been a bit over a week since we got back from vacation, and I am still trying to get the laundry under control…But at least it’s off the couch today! When a mom’s got work to do, there’s nothing so irksome as squabbling kiddos, eh?!

As I try to be productive and get the house back in order, I’ve noticed that to minimize interruptions due to my kids’ arguments, I’ve got to nip their boredom in the bud! I’ll clarify that I believe there is a positive state similar to boredom, which is space for the mind to wander, get lost in imagination, and enjoy not having to do anything at all.  Having opportunity for that can be a very good thing because it leaves space for contentment without busyness.

The problem comes when you get restless and brooding boredom, that tension between pent-up energy and no appealing outlet for it, that often leads to inappropriate expressions.  So, your kids are home from school with you and you want to harness that energy constructively, without resorting to mesmerizing them with screens all day, right? What can you do to banish boredom?

My best boredom-busting tip and survival secret as a mom has been planning OUTSIDE TIME! Maybe it’s that the sensory diet is so rich–ambient noises of birds, the feel of the breeze, the colors and smells of flowers, etc., that seems to soothe tempestuous little people.  In fact, when my kids are in an emotional storm, I often give them an option to head out back to calm down…and it has yet to stop working.

Here’s a list of 4 easy ways you can beat boredom and add some outdoor magic to your summer days:

1.  Paint outside like a master (this is especially ideal for mommas who cringe at the idea of the mess that craft/paint projects can bring with them).  Have the kiddos wear old clothes and head outside with some finger paints and put up some big blank art pages (or recycle by using some newspaper or cardboard) on your fence or shed. (Make sure it’s washable of course.) 

 

 
2.  Picnic on your porch or in your backyard. Simple smoothies, watermelon or popsicle/ other snacks count, too. We do this frequently and my kids suggest it themselves often.  I love my covered patio swing because even when I’m worn out, my kids and I can go enjoy some shade and sit together as I rest with a cup of tea in my hands! They usually finish their snack up and scamper off to play nearby while I recharge.

3.  Schedule some Park time We keep revisiting a peaceful sandy spot near a river. It has a swing which appeals to my daughter, and my son loves digging in the sand or catching minnows with his über fun telescopic net!  You could combine #1 and park time for even more cool-mom points! It’s pretty easy to throw together sandwiches and carrot sticks plus yogurt tubes for al fresco fare. 

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4.  People, learn about your local historic landmarks! It’s fun!! My family loves history and actually going to historic spots really makes the books about long-past time periods come alive.  (BTW, no need for a gym membership in 1735.  Those buckets are HEAVY!)

 

Yesterday we found a free event called the Lavender Festival at Hancock’s Resolution, a farm established in 1733 that even included beekeeping education with a working apiary.  (Did you know a queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs if needed, and that the workers determine the sex of new bees by what they feed the queen?!)

 


But, if it’s a rainy day, remember you have indoor options too!  You got this! Go forth and carpe diem!

*I’ve used affiliate links for your convenience should you be interested in obtaining something I mentioned.  Commissions as an Amazon Affiliate member help me out as I provide free content for your enjoyment!  Thanks for stopping by!

Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

Amy’s Favorite GF, Egg-Free Waffles Recipe

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This recipe was inspired by an Allrecipes Pumpkin Waffle recipe; however I have an intolerance to egg and found the original recipe’s batter way too dry, so I customized it to my diet and tastes.  I like to make a double batch of this and use 3/4 of the waffles to prep some of my sons’ school lunches, using the waffles as a bread replacement since GF loaf bread is so expensive! (Otherwise he gets leftovers from the week, which he doesn’t mind.)  Have you ever noticed the frozen PBJs in the freezer aisle of the grocery store? Well, that’s what I make, except I can’t have peanuts either, and the school is a nut-free zone, so we use sunbutter instead.  (Sunflower seeds, btw, are hormone friendly…heard of seed cycling?)  I mix it all up in a blender to make it easier for pouring into my Belgian Waffle Maker.  I bet this recipe would work for pizelles if you have a pizzelle press and add a dash of anise extract to the batter and leave out the baking powder.  Speaking of baking powder, I can’t have corn, and corn starch is usually in baking powder.  So I made my own replacement to refill my old baking powder container using 2 TBSP baking soda plus 1/4 cup cream of tartar (while cream of tartar usually comes in tiny spice containers, I bought mine in a big bulk container because it’s handy for cleaning powder as well). Anyhow, on to the best GF, egg-free waffle recipe ever!

5 minutes prep time, plus cook time.  Makes 4 huge Belgian waffles (or 8 thin waffles, depending on your waffle iron.)

Amy’s Favorite GF, Egg-Free Waffles Recipe

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Directions

 

  1. Start by measuring psyllium husk and flaxseed into a blender (or bowl…I just like to make things easier for myself) and adding the warm water to create the flax eggs.
  2. Pour in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, pumpkin puree, and give a pulse with the lid on before adding the cold almond milk. 
  3. Preheat your waffle iron.
  4. Add gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to the blender (if you want to play it safe, you could mix these in a different bowl before adding, but I’ve never had an issue with distasteful baking powder or salt clumps) and blend until the batter looks like cake batter with no dry spots left.
  5. Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 cup batter (depending on what your waffle iron normally holds) onto the preheated iron and spread to the edges. Close iron and cook until iron stops steaming or the light comes on, plus another minute or so.  Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Swat impatient hands away until everybody can sit down and eat together.  Try not to let them see you swiping some secretly.
Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Gluten Free, healthy diet, recipe, saving money

My Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Blend Recipe

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time paying $8 for a GF cup-for-cup flour blend.  In fact, I’ve never bought even a bag of that stuff, on principle.  Doesn’t seem right to capitalize that much on others’ health-related need for GF flours.  But enough of my rant–let me tell you what I do instead!  I went online to Vitacost (which frequently has sales going– the GF flours of several varieties were anywhere from 15-47% off, last I checked, which was yesterday) and during a buy-one-get-one sale I bought 4 boxes each of sweet sorghum flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. The sale happens regularly, and I’ve restocked twice this way.

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Then, I mix them in this ratio:

1 1/2 cup sorghum flour

1 1/2 cup potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Buuuut I don’t like to measure.  So instead I just dump these amounts into a container and shake it up.  Easy peasy.

2 lb bag sorghum flour

2 lb bag potato starch

2/3 of 2lb bag tapioca flour

Keep reading!  In regular wheat flour, gluten acts as a binder that allows baked goods to stretch, and the GF mix needs a binder too…so for each cup of the mix, I add 1 tsp of psyllium husk to whatever liquid is in whatever recipe I use.

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In my research for digestion-friendly replacement for xantham gum (which is a product of the bacterial fermentation of the sugars in either corn, soy, wheat or dairy) or guar gum (which is derived from the guar bean–not bacteria–but can still cause digestion issues), I settled on psyllium husk.

P.S.  You can use that leftover tapioca to thicken your GF soups and gravies!  Use 1-2 TBSP with your butter, ghee, or coconut oil (I would use the latter) to make a slurry, then slowly add your broth or other liquid.

 

Posted in DIY, Gluten Free, recipe, saving money, Uncategorized

Recipe for DIY Corn-Free Baking Powder

If you have intolerances or food allergies, you know it can get tiring trying to read all the ingredients and look for “safe” consumable goods!  When I started my hormone recovery journey, I went gluten-free and soy-free.  That was a lot of effort, and I guess I was well-prepared for eliminating an even longer list.  When I had some IGG blood testing to find out what else my body couldn’t handle, though, I was in disbelief.  Actually, I laughed when the lady read me the results because the first thing she said was chocolate.  Are you kidding me? *Sigh.* My morning treat had been frothy hot chocolate (cacao, maple syrup or honey, and milk).

Then there was dairy. (Oh cheese, how I miss you.) And yeast. (Well…I guess no GF pizza for me at MOD anymore…but what’s pizza without cheese anyhow?).  Coffee (well, I’d already ditched that a few years ago, though occasionally I would swipe a sample at Trader Joe’s).  Eggs (I’d been having one each morning with salad.  Ugh).  Peanuts. Tomatoes. Some other stuff I probably have forgotten and need to look up.  And corn.  Which is in a rather lot of gluten-free things–have you noticed? So my already limited fare got even more narrow of a selection.  (On the bright side, my symptoms of chronic tiredness and achiness in the morning have improved! So I guess it’s all worth it.)

While I generally read food labels for ingredients, as someone who is constantly baking, I actually had never noticed that BAKING POWDER contained corn! I would never have thought to check because I just sort of figured it was its own ingredient, like baking soda.

Thankfully, a friend mentioned her nephews have corn allergy and can’t even having baking powder in things.  Enlightened, I was on a hunt for corn-free baking powder.  Almost impossible to find and very expensive, I decided to make my own replacement to refill my old baking powder container using 2 TBSP baking soda plus 1/4 cup cream of tartar (while cream of tartar usually comes in tiny spice containers, I bought mine in a big bulk container because it’s handy for cleaning powder as well).  It works!  I do smash each teaspoon it in my palm before adding it to recipes because it can clump a bit.  (FYI, If you are not corn free and do not have cream of tartar, you can still make your own baking powder if you need some in a pinch with the same ratio of baking soda to corn starch.)

Posted in DIY, Quick Project, saving money, Uncategorized

Old Vanity = New Window Seat!

We are remodeling our master bathroom and while I enjoy doing things the frugal way, I didn’t have the energy to paint or refinish the old vanity.  But then I had a hard time just taking it to the Re-store or tossing it away.  So I told my dad what I was thinking of for our living room: a storage window bench.  Dad is a can-do guy and can build basically anything Mom and I envision.  He used a circular saw to cut off the base sides and kick-board as well as the top drawer area, making it bench height.  Then he sawed the back 5 inches off to make it a narrower length from front to back; then we reattached a back.  We had a sturdy scrap of plywood for the top, which we glued and screwed on, and to which I upholstered this heavyweight fabric over an old blanket and batting.  It’s a great stash for the kids’ books and toys in baskets I found at Aldi.  (But the kids just want to hide inside it.)IMG_2415IMG_2416

*Update: We have moved states since this project, and it held up well and is now used as a shoe storage location near our exit for a tidy solution to kids’ shoes.  I simply put a two-tier shoe shelf inside.  I also keep a little hand broom and dustpan inside in case they track sand inside for quick cleanup.

Posted in DIY, Edible Awesome, Quick Project

Creative Therapy!

Here’s the sink herb-garden planter now that the plants are growing!
The lily-pad looking plant is nasturtium, a spicy edible leaf and flowering plant (kind of tastes like hot raddishes and you can use the leaves and flowers in salads or sandwhiches.  Mine are REALLY spicy so I think I’ll pass. )  There’s kale, baby lettuce, and parsley.

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(Above it, if you’re wondering, are vertical-gardening shoe-organizer planters.)

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Mental Health, Ponderings about life, Quick Project

Postpartum resolution?

I’ve been thinking of writing this post for a while.  I’ve been hopeful but hesitant to say “I’m over it.”  The postpartum days of no energy.  No enthusiasm.  No respite from anxiety, frustration, irritation, random and intense anger at minor things, and feelings of isolation and panic.  But spring has sprung and with it, my excitement and zest for life.  As the freezing weather’s ice and snow melt into memory, I am feeling a renewed vitality.  Thank God that though suffering endures for a season, joy comes in the proverbial morning.

(BTW, Psalm 4 was a true comfort when things really stunk. Praying this scripture for myself was encouraging for many reasons.  It talks about God hearing our pleas and giving relief from our distress.  In verse 8 it says “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”  While dealing with insomnia and intense fear and worry over something possibly happening to the kids or hubby or myself, this prayer was awesome.  Verses 6-7 talk about God being the one who can show us good, and that he can fill hearts with great joy.  What hope that was for me!  My desire this year is to better understand and know that God-given joy.)

Does this mean I don’t have bad days?  Oh, those still come occasionally.  Usually after low sleep or an emotional bump in the road (like disagreeing with my hubby, discouraging attacks from “friends” emboldened by the distance social media provides, and others’ struggles I don’t know how to distance myself from).  But they are far less frequent and feel more survivable.  Sissy is 10 months old, has 6 teeth, has been crawling for a while and the other day even stood up wobbily.  (I think wobbily should be a word, even if spell check disagrees.)

One thing lately that I’ve found renewed interest in is exercise.  There’s a 90-day fitness challenge Youtube series I’m  doing (sort of…no pressure) that’s designed for moms (so that means kids might be around while you’re working out, and workouts are short and sweet though still challenging).  I decided my munching had gotten out of control when I had to go back up a pants size.  I am less fit now than 3 months postpartum (I had a wedding to be in that had motivated me then)!  Some of the extra muffin-topping might have to do with either using food as a comfort when I’m frustrated with the kids (rather than blowing up) or with the fact that I’m not worrying as much.  Anyhow, the other day I asked Hubby if he’d come home for lunch two days a week so I could do a quick jog around the block without the kids as Sissy napped and my little fireman either ate lunch or watched a show.  So thankful Hubs agreed!  But also…so very sore as a result.

Another thing that has gotten me all excited about life again are all the creative opportunities out there.  The spring displays in the stores, especially bulbs and plants and gardening stuff (even though I don’t really garden at this point in my life), spark a lot of daydreaming as I grocery shop. 🙂  The sprouting bulbs and other flower shoots in my yard got me itching to get dirt under my nails.  While the kids played nearby, either blowing bubbles or discovering sticks to gnaw on (ok, so I didn’t have an eye on Sissy every single second), I got my little shovel down in the soggy soil and scooped up stray plants. Here are the results of my recent spring-spiration (hmmm…not sure if that word works…what do you think?  Spring+inspiration?) :
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I’m not entirely sure I will keep the wreath that way, but after my winter leaves and berries dried up and I took them off, I didn’t want to pitch the wreath I had covered in moss from my yard.

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I don’t remember what kind of little bulb this was last year, but I didn’t want it to get mowed over this year so I rescued it from the random spots in the yard. (As an aside, isn’t the play set my dad built the kids from scratch and discarded playground pieces like the slide and see-saw-type swing, plus water-barrel-turned-tunnel AWESOME?! Big bro is enjoying what he calls his “fireman ladder” a lot lately.)

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This last one I did today with an assortment of yardage (or so I call it), but it’s kind of sad looking.  I’m hoping it perks up but until then, I have make-shift plant stakes (see the brown-twiggy things?  That’s the leftover stems and stake for artificial flowers.  Organic-looking yet keeps my wilty bulbs propped up. 🙂  I feel smaht for coming up with that one!)

I like moss, so it is usually featured in the outdoor projects I do. 🙂

Lots of rain lately.  I kind of like rainy days, but mostly when they are separated by lovely warmish days we get to go outside during.  Soon, I’d like to turn a mint green sink my friend passed on to me into an herb garden planter.  Rather keen on that idea.  Just need a good chunk of time.  Maybe this weekend?!

Friends have been having babies and I’ve been doing nap-time sewing projects for gifts.  That’s always fun.  My favorite gifts are the ones that don’t take very long but the babies love, which are the taggy jingle or rattle toys (probably would also make a good cat toy if stuffed with catnip. haha)  Another quick project are these binkie clips.  Sissy’s not a binkie baby but Big bro sure was, and I found these quite necessary for outings, or boy would we be in for it!
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A friend took me to a fabric store in town I’d never been to.  Sensory overload!  Everything was way over my price range (I don’t want to pay more than $4/yard if I must buy fabric new), but I was very inspired.  I have some fabric projects in my think tank now, including a dress for the little miss.

I made vanilla again recently, too. Also bought some soap-making supplies.  Soap-making has always sounded like too much work, but I would truly enjoy learning how to do it now that I’m building my essential oil collection after learning to make chap-stick last year.  Got back into cloth-diapering (it’s day 2.  No promises) after feeling like I’m not so overwhelmed with everything.

I’m optimistic about what the future holds.  Even if there are potholes in the road ahead, it’s good to be excited about traveling down it again.

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Quick Project

DIY: Homemade (Cloth Diaper-safe!) Laundry Goods

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After using the following homemade detergent powder for about two years, I am confident in saying that this recipe works very well for us.  You will often see DIY recipes online that include soaps such as fels-naptha or ivory grated up into it, but those really aren’t necessary. In fact, in my research for cost-effective cloth-diaper-safe detergents, I found that soaps like these can actually cause build-up, so I left soap out altogether.  Your clothes still get clean, trust me!  It may not suds up while in your washer (which is a good thing for an HE washer like mine) but it’s doing the trick. 

Soaps are nice for their scents if you like that, but if you have a baby like mine or family member with sensitive skin, you want an unscented option anyway. I may like figuring out how to do things, but I won’t lie; I’m lazy sometimes too and don’t mind skipping the bar-soap grating step!  See those two boxes pictured on my washer?  That’s all that’s in it! (Did you know both Borax and Washing Soda are ingredients in Bum Genius’s official cloth diaper detergent?  That’s how I knew they were cloth-diaper safe before I tested them myself.)  Just measure out a 50/50 ratio of Borax and Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!!!).  I store mine in an ice cream tub with a TBSP scoop.  For my HE washer dirty diaper laundry I use 2 TBSP in the detergent dispenser (hot wash, presoak, heavy duty, extra rinse).  They’ve always come out clean and odorless.  I use this detergent on my regular laundry too, works great with hot or cold, but a normal load only requires 1 TBSP of the powder mix; the bigger the load, the more heaping the scoopful.  Easy peasy.  

Some have questioned the safety of borax but I did research beforehand and have no qualms about using it.  Borax is only harmful when ingested into your body in large quantities or inhaled in large quantities (so don’t go huffing it in while you mix the stuff together; if you’re worried wear a cleaning mask).  You will not be ingesting this, and it will be washed out of your clothes in your washer.  But to each his own; if it’s not your thing, there are other natural options like soap nuts.

So the cost breakdown since I don’t use a bar of soap is less than 5 cents per scoop. I like the sound of that, don’t you?!  You can use this to make a paste to spot-treat, but I still have some spray ‘n wash from my couponing spree 3 years ago…refill lasts forever.  Follow the box instructions for either the washing soda or borax to get an idea of how versatile this stuff is!

ON TO THE DRYER!
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Another side-effect of cloth-diaper research before we had our baby was that I found out dryer sheets can cause buildup not only on clothing (especially harmful for diapers you want to be absorbent) but on your dryer itself.  So if I was going to cloth-diaper, I decided I’d better give up drier sheets altogether.  (BTW, I never knew before nor paid attention to the labels on sports-wear that you’re not supposed to use dryer sheets/fabric softeners on those either.)  Oh yeah, and dryer sheets are expensive, even if you have a coupon.  (I’d read about and tried the frugal DIY “drier sheets” using sponges dipped in Downy fabric softener, etc, but again…the cost was no longer the only issue here).

Then I read about dryer balls made out of wool.  Try to buy them and you could be out up to $8 or more per dryer ball.  *cough* Whaaa?!!!  Yeah.  I was not gonna pay that, so I found out how to make them myself.  Some people buy skeins of wool yarn but that’s expensive, too, or you could just go sheer a sheep if you have one, or maybe you have wool lying around in a pile at your house.  I happened to have a Norwegian 100% sheepswool sweater that I paid $1 for intending to swipe the fasteners from it.  It really was a pretty thing overall, but waaaay too shapeless and bulky for me.  So I sacrificed it and made about 10 drier balls out of it.  You only need 3 or so soft-ball sized drier balls to make a difference, but I find 6 is about right for fluffing up and reducing drying time (thus energy cost) when I do a heavy load of diapers.  My former drying time before using drier balls was about 1 hr. and now it’s only 40 min. or so.  We really don’t get static even in the winter (mind you, I hang things like sporty yoga pants so they last longer and fleecy stuff to dry, and those are usually static culprits if you do dry them).  If you like fluffy-bunny-soft towels, you may not like drier balls rather than drier sheets and softeners, but remember those are only soft because they are putting chemicals on the towels and your body.

So the how-to…

1.  Grab your 100% wool sweater or blanket to upcycle into drier balls, and cut it (assuming it’s at least a size medium) into at least 6 even pieces about that you could wrap around a softball with extra overlapping.    Or simply chop the arms likewise like you’re stuffing a sausage, and use the remaining parts  of the sweater (which you can put drops of essential oils like lavender in if you want) to stuff into the pieces in softball sized and shaped wads that you then sew closed by hand, with the raw edges tucked inside.  Don’t worry too much about tight stitches or beauty…the next steps will ensure the dryer balls will not unravel.  

2.  Hopefully you were able to get them to look fairly uniform, but if not, no worries.  Stick them in the leg of an old pair of pantyhose (or you can get those 33cent “eggs” with knee-high stockings in them from Walmart) and tie a knot in between each ball. This will ensure a tight smooth exterior when you felt them next. (This simply means shrinking them so they will no longer unravel even if they were cut)

3. Throw the panty-hose “strand” in your washer on hot with some detergent, then send them through the dryer on the hottest setting to further shrink and dry them.  You can do this a few times until you feel they are firm enough and unlikely to unravel.  

4.  Cut off the stocking, then leave them in your dryer (or let your baby…or cat…play with them.  hmm, should’ve put a jingle bell inside some while I was making them!) You can disperse them evenly throughout your wet clothes when you dry each load, but I never have and they bounce about just fine.  They may be a little noisy bouncing inside the dryer but that’s normal and not a problem unless you think it is.  

Enjoy!

 

  

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Quick Project

Turning those DIY Ideas into Action!

I often get online to quickly find a way to do something I think should be possible but don’t have the complete knowledge of how on my own.  That’s kind of the point, in my opinion, of blogging posts that include recipes or photos of a process and finished product…this isn’t a bragging forum for me. (Granted, we all feel good when we set our minds out to do something and it works out and we just want to share our excitement.)  If someone wants to find a variety of sources in researching ideas, they may be interested in hearing from an average Jane like me who tried something out before they take the effort to do something for themselves.  How many of you have tried a pinterest pin that didn’t work out and were irked that so many kept-repinning because it looked cool but hadn’t tried it out?  

So here’s my two cents on the following DIY recipe: Image  

Dry Shampoo Recipe for brunettes and redheads: 
Maybe you’ve heard of people using baby powder or cornstarch or baking soda sprinkled in their hair and brushed out as a form of dry shampoo.  I have used the baby powder option for a few years when I don’t feel like washing my oily hair which usually looks greasy every morning. Ok, let me rephrase that…when I don’t have the option of washing my hair because the kid is in melt-down mode, lightning-fast to get into trouble while in the bathroom with me if I tried to shower, or I just really really really needed more sleep that morning (and still probably didn’t get enough). However, I just don’t like the clumping of white on my scalp I have to rub out with a washcloth or baby-powder scent that results.  So the idea of a dry shampoo that doesn’t cost a fortune and is readily available to me per my cabinet was quite appealing.  I saw a recipe online of cornstarch/arrowroot powder (plus a smidge of baking powder if desired) for blondes, then was glad to also have the suggestion of one for brunettes, which added cocoa powder.  (For a costume party once I tried adding cocoa powder to mousse for darkening my strawberry blonde hair…total fail with brown dust flaking off my head…I washed it and went natural again.  Anyhow, the goal here this time wasn’t to darken my hair temporarily, but to match the color of my hair when I need an extension in the time in-between washes).  

I didn’t actually see the recipe I wanted for making it work for redheads (could have possibly been out there but I just didn’t find it as I have limited online-time with a toddler vying for my constant attention; I am taking a break typing this during naptime).  I found one recipe that used paprika…which I think smells funny, but some who commented on the arrow-root cocoa-powder recipe blog post wondered if cinnamon powder (very finely ground) would work.  The author (since this recipe and concept weren’t  original nor limited to the person, I don’t feel I need to name names but just know I didn’t think this one up) also suggested using a little spice jar with the sprinkle tops to store and apply.  My son plays with old spice containers since he loves to mimic me cooking, so luckily I had one of the pumpkin pie-spice little shakers to swipe from his stash….Unfortunately, haven’t found the cap to seal it, which I recommend doing: sealing so it doesn’t absorb moisture, especially if you store yours in your bathroom cabinet like I do.  Of course I wanted to test out the cinnamon coloring idea for myself. So here’s what I did.

Dry Shampoo for Strawberry Blondes 
I really don’t follow recipes exactly and everyone has different shades of hair, so why give measurements?  I just did it this way for my recipe; add more or less of anything as you like to achieve the color you need:

 
Fill small spice bottle almost 1/2 full of arrowroot powder, then the other 1/4ths with cocoa powder and cinnamon powder, topping off the container with some baking soda if you want.  Some find the last ingredient irritating so you can leave it out.  There is a recipe floating on the web that uses mainly baking soda, but I find that way too gritty.  

Again, you can use cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder, but I liked the idea of arrowroot having soothing, antibacterial properties.  A frugal way to purchase arrowroot powder, since if you’ve noticed in the spice aisle of your grocery store it’s pretty pricey in the little spice bottle, is to buy arrowroot flour in larger amounts instead–it’s the same thing!! (check the gluten-free baking area of the store, or order online in bulk like I did—I just got a lb. for $6 since I planned to use it in homemade diaper cream and other body products).

 I’m here to say having tested it out several times the last few weeks to say I’m decently pleased with the result.  I would recommend applying over your sink BEFORE getting dressed for the day, brushing it through your hair, then flipping your head down, grabbing the ends of your hair, and shaking the excess out after it’s done its oil-absorbing wonders on your hair.
 
I have bangs so that part of my hair and the front sides get the greasiest, so that’s really only where I need to sprinkle the stuff, plus maybe at the nape of my neck.  Here’s the didn’t-wash my-hair-today, dry-shampoo result for my fine (and kinda thin) hair:
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No more stringy, greasy strands!

Aaand, here’s a pic showing my hair 3 days without a wash, just having used the dry shampoo. Pretty freeing stuff to a person who is used to showering every morning!
day3nopoodryshampoo

Posted in DIY, Quick Project, saving money

Sewing adventure: Frumpy to Fitted

Enough reminiscing for now! On to my present-day adventure..in the sewing room!  It used to be a jungle in there, lemme tell ya.  A recent organization project has made it more navigable, and consequently I more frequently venture in there, whereas before I would often close the door and try to forget the mayhem that lay behind it.    

This particular instance of creativity was conjured up when I wanted to pare down my hubby’s T-shirt collection (do YOU have an army of T-shirts, too?…I’m going to make heavy-duty t-shirt bags out of them, since I like the one I have already so much), and decided I must be fair.  You know the rule: if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.  But…I have a hard time getting rid of anything (working on that).  Still, I couldn’t justify keeping something that made me feel like an old lady when I wore it.  I just loved the colors and the feel, so I made myself a deal.  If I could refashion it into something I would wear, I could keep it.  Sweet Sassafras has a lovely tutorial on how to alter a wool sweater, but certainly it needn’t be wool for her method to work.  Not all my attempts at clothing alteration are successful, but a spur-of the moment project can be fun whether or not it works out, especially since I was going to get rid of the sweater anyhow.  So, I lost track of time at my sewing machine.  

Pardon the poor photo quality, please.  
Before: looks like I raided Granny’s closet.
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 Note the collar and the waistline.
What’s wrong with this picture?  The collar annoyed me because it came up too high and the shirts I liked to wear under it never worked right with it.  Trying to wear the top unbuttoned didn’t work well because the button flopped open oddly.  As for the waistline, perhaps it’s because I’m a new mom with a post-pregnancy body that the whole muffin-top affect makes me not want to wear sweaters that supply the wearer with one regardless if it’s actually under there or not.

What to do about it?  Attack it with the sewing machine and scissors, of course.  First, I guestimated (measuring isn’t usually my area of expertise) how much to tailor for a more fitted look. It would have been wise to try the sweater on inside-out (since that’s the way you sew the new seams) and pinch and pin the excess rather than wing it, since I have better things to do than seam-rip. Or better yet, use the sewing form I am lucky to have nabbed off craigslist for cheap (but it has an unfinished dress project on it I didn’t want to disturb).  Thankfully, I eyeballed it well enough that it fit the first time, with a few extra alterations (like slimming the sleeves further so I didn’t have granny-arm-flab going on.)

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I had used small stitches (which would have been awful to have to pull out again) so after cutting, the raw edges would not fray and rip out.
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I decided to be really committed and just cut the excess off, hoping I wasn’t overzealous with the new sizing.  No going back now!  I tried it on and breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn’t too tight.  Again, if you do this, you can take the precautions that I skipped because I like to live dangerously…or am just lazy sometimes.

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So the fit was much better, but the ribbing bothered me a lot at the waistline, so I cut it off, along with the neckline, which I made into a V-neck.  I didn’t like losing the length at the waist, but it looked ok anyhow.  With it cut off, I sewed in the sides again about another inch for a better fit, then decided to reattach the hem now that it wasn’t narrower at the hips than the middle.  There may be a better way to deal with the hem than how I did it, but it worked.  Then I used a satin ribbon as binding around the collar and though it wasn’t the most perfect outcome, I was satisfied.

After:

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I wore it the next day.  It was an enjoyable project and I think I’ll be doing more versions of it in the future.  I like the idea of using what you have, and if what you have doesn’t work for you anymore, changing it so it does!