DIY Reusable Frozen Foods Bag from plastic bags

I read an article this morning that reminded me I’ve been meaning to get some reusable grocery bags made.

After watching an episode of Vet Adventures when Luke cuts open a cow and pulls out about 35 lbs of plastic bags, the kiddoes and I decided we really wanted to change our habits!

I went ahead and started getting some supplies together but haven’t found a tote pattern I really like yet. So, in the meantime as I was researching I found this post about fusing together plastic bags to make a new “fabric” that can be sewn together.

What a cool idea! I had to try it.

So I just jumped in and did it. I folded out 8 bags, and used my rotary tool to quickly cut off the bottoms and tops. Then I individually slit the middles to make each one a long rectangle.

I laid them all flat together and put parchment paper under and on top. I grabbed my iron, set it to the highest heat setting under the steam ones and then gave it a go. I kept the iron moving and checked as I went to see if it was fusing. It was!

Now, it was also shrinking, so I may have my temp set too high, but I wasn’t worried about how it would look. It was kinda shriveled and melty in places, but the layers were fusing.

Once I finished the top, I flipped it over and repeated the efforts on the bottom. And then I had a long single piece of “fabric” to work with. As I looked at it, I folded it in half and it kind of resembled a mailing envelope. And that’s where I got my idea:

I was going to use it to make a removable sleeve for my frozen groceries!

I just fused the sides and then trimmed off the edges. Then I sewed a quick seam up each edge and around the top to reinforce it.

For the cover, I cut some cotton from an old sheet I use for projects like this, and then I did the same thing: Cut it on the fold, then sewed a seam up each side. At the top, I flipped the edge down a little to make a small cuff and then sewed a seam to hold it. Turned it inside out and put the plastic sleeve inside:

frozenbag-inner-1

Perfect fit!

Now, for the closure, I poked a little hole in the top cuff and used my yarn needle to pull through a piece of cotton yarn. I tied it in a knot and put one in the end. Then I added a little button on the front of the cover so I could just wind the yarn around it to close it.

 

frozenbag-outer-1

This one looks pretty plain, I agree. But you could easily make it fancier by using this tutorial for printing on fabric. I did a test piece using this same old sheet using a graphic the hubs is fond of:

fabricprintingwithfreezerpaper-1

And it turned out to be really easy. (The hardest part was finding the freezer paper. I think I found it at walmart for about $7~.) The colors weren’t super saturated, but I can easily see that if I planned ahead, I could print “FROZEN” or “ICE CREAM” in a novelty font, or a cute graphic on the fabric before I sewed it up. (Another great idea is to use a novel print fabric.)

Next up, I will tackle actually making the grocery totes!

Would love to see what you come up with too-

Love,

Momma

Help your child relax after a minor boo boo

I burned my finger this morning trying to get a pastry out of the toaster.

I’m pretty sure it’s blistered, and it hurt like the dickens!

Here’s how I fix these kinds of boo-boos in my house, and they work just as good for the little’uns as the big’uns.

As soon as I realized I did it, I got that finger under running water in the sink. Maybe 2 seconds after. I took another couple seconds to realize the faucet wasn’t shifted all the way to the cold side, so then I did that with my other hand.

The water wasn’t getting cold enough to stop the burning sensation, so I filled a glass with cold water with my right hand, keeping my left hand with the burned finger still under the water.

Then I put my finger into the glass and carried it to the fridge where I grabbed some ice and put that into the glass. Then I got sweet relief! For the next 30 minutes, I just sat down and kept my burned finger in the glass, and whenever I needed to, I swirled it to up the cooling sensation. Note, I didn’t “ice” my finger, as that is too much cold. I used the ice to create cold pockets of water in the glass that I could swirl my finger in.

This works great for the wee ones who can’t stand having their burned finger held in the stream, which is more painful. Next, I took a few minutes to do something I like –pinterest! Great distraction to take my focus off the pain while I was sitting for my 30 minutes. For a child, this might be a good time to put on a favorite cartoon and snuggle with momma, or read a favorite book together. Just keep that sore finger in the cool water.

As the pain subsided, I took a few minutes to think about what actually happened and the thoughts that went through my mind as I was getting the pastry and right up to the point of getting burned. I kept swirling my finger in the cold water in the glass, and then I took a nice deep breath and held it for a second, then really slowly let it exhale.

That’s what triggered my relaxation and started to help the pain really go down! Just going back into the moments before and then doing the deep breathing and slow exhale helped me release the stuck, “Oh I’m hurt!” feelings.

With kids, you can practice having them do it by making the S sound, pretending to be Sammy the Ssssssnake, or Susie the Ssssssssssnake. Put the teeth together and really slowing the exhale helps to calm the body and kick in the relaxation system, (the parasympathetic nervous system) instead of staying stuck in the active, fight/flight/freeze response to getting burned (the sympathetic nervous system).

Once the slowed exhale has helped calm things down, and the helpful distraction takes the mind off the burn, the stinging starts to go away pretty fast, until you take the finger out of the cool water. But once it starts up, you can do the slow breathing again and it will fade out.

The last thing I did, was to get over my fear of using my finger. Guess how I did that?

I got on my keyboard and started typing up this post. 🙂  Yes, it hurt to use that finger for about 30 seconds, but then I got into what I was doing and forgot all about it. And that is what I have the kiddoes do too. We get the legos, or the barbies, the cars or whatever they really love to play with that requires finger dexterity.

The goal is to get them over the hump of not wanting to use that finger normally. It takes a few seconds, but once they get into the enjoyment of playing, especially when momma takes a greater than usual interest, it quickly appears that they can use the finger as if it never happened.

Now that I’ve explained how I handle the basics for minor injuries in my home, I need to say that if you or your child experiences a burn, you will want to seek qualified first aid. My story is provided for your information and education only, and I do not intend it to be used as medical advice, nor it is my intention to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition. Please, if you need medical attention, seek out the services of a qualified professional.

I also encourage you to become proficient in first aid yourself. Check with your local fire department to see who offers courses in your area.

I share my story in the hopes of helping share ideas to comfort and bring peace and relaxation to a person in need so they can feel better faster.

Love,

Momma

PS. My finger completely stopped hurting before I started typing, started again, and then stopped before I published this post!

Daydream Hack #2: Clean the house

image credit: wikimedia.org

Once you have gotten good at feeling motivated to get out of bed, then you are ready to do a new daydream hack. This time, we’ll use visualization to get motivated to clean the house.

This visualization is for when you’ve gotten up and you can’t see to get moving. You’re in front of the tv and you know the housework is there, it needs to be done and it’s your job to do it, but you just can’t get going on it.

First, notice what time it is when you start.

While you’re sitting down and relaxed, close your eyes and picture the chore you are least excited about. For me, that’s usually doing the dishes, so I’ll pick that one.

Imagine the dishes going into the water in the sink. See the gunk and goo rinsing off. They are shiny and wet now, sparkling clean. I have a dishwasher, so I picture my hands getting all wet and feeling the water running over them as I reach into the sink and grab the dishes and then move them over into the dishwasher.

I hear the clink and clack of the dishes as I put them in; the tinny sound of utensils as I drop them into the basket. I focus on the sound of the water splashing on the sink and going down the drain.

Once all the dishes are loaded, I open the dish detergent and notice the smell of lemons and cleaner. It’s a sharp smell and reminds me of clean. I put the soap into the machine and close the door. I feel the pressure of the door again my hands until the sound of a click lets me know it’s really shut. Then I grab the dial and turn it, feeling the resistance in my fingers, listening for the sound of the water going in.

Then I imagine the sound of the machine for a second, swooshing water around and then silence. Now it’s time to empty it because it’s done. I open it up and the heat rushes out. I feel the steam against my face for a second and then I easily grab out the dishes and start putting them away. I see them all lined up and shiny clean in their spaces. My whole kitchen feels like it’s so much bigger and cleaner already just by doing my dishes.

Now, just keep going with the details until you feel motivated enough to go and start the chore you imagined. Once you’re ready to start, notice the time. How many minutes did that take? Repeat this same visualization daily for this same chore, noticing how many minutes it takes to generate your motivation each time.

How many days does it take until you don’t need to do it anymore because it’s automatic? Once you get there, you can do this one again for the next chore that needs a boost. Pretty soon, if you keep going, you will find that you actually build momentum as you go and the other household chores are easier to do and you naturally build a routine that lets you get it all done quickly and regularly.

Love,

Momma

Hack your daydream ability to get going in the morning

Here are a couple daydream hacks to help you get going first thing in the morning when all you want to do is sleep.

#1 The Get out of bed daydream

This one is for those morning when you wake up but you just don’t want to get up.

First, notice how much you don’t want to get up. Is it because your body is tired and you actually need more sleep? Or is it more that you aren’t looking forward to your day? Maybe even dreading it?

Next, notice what time is it? Hold onto that. Now, without falling back asleep, picture yourself getting out of bed, putting your feet on the floor, and walking to the bathroom. Turn on the light in your mind and grab your toothbrush. Splash some water on it. Put your toothpaste on the brush, and then put it in your mouth. Imagine the taste as your brush your teeth a bit.

Look in the mirror. See your face. Wow! You look cute! So bedhead cute! Spit out the toothpaste and rinse. Splash a little water on that cute face, feeling the wetness as it wakes up your face. Grab the towel, and feel the fibers against your skin.

Picture yourself getting in the shower. The water feels perfect. Let it run over your head a second as you put shampoo in your hand. Smell that clean, fresh smell that you love. Feel your hair in your hands as you wash and rinse your hair. Get your soap on and then rinse it off. Feel how your clean skin is awake now.

See yourself hopping out of the shower, grabbing a towel and getting dry fast. Wrap up your hair and grab some lotion. Smell that wonderful fragrance as you smooth it all over your soft skin. Now you smell just lovely! Is it cool on your warm skin or warm on your cool skin? Whichever feels best, imagine that.

Do you love the silence in the morning or have music? Put it on, whichever. Now listen to it for a second in your mind. Enjoy that. Now imagine picking out your clothes: pull it on, slide it up, fasten it, straighten, smooth it out.

Picture your shoes, boots, flipflops or slippers…whichever you want to put on. See them on your feet, fastened. Listen again to the sounds of your morning. Smell the lotion on your skin. Taste the flavor in your mouth. See yourself dressed and put together. Feel your damp hair in your hands as you dry it the rest of the way, ready to be styled how you like.

Keep going with the details until you actually get motivated and get out of bed. Notice what time it is…… How many minutes did that take?  Repeat daily and see how many minutes it takes each time. How many times does it take before it becomes automatic?

3 days? 5? 7? Once it is, you are ready for daydream #2, Clean the house.

This is one of my personal favorites, so I’d love to hear how this visualization works out for you.

Love,

Momma

DIY Clean-rinsing hand soap

I’m a fan of homemade soap, and I’ve done research and actually made my own liquid soap using several different recipes over the past year.

Even though I enjoyed the process, and the results were great, I found on several occasions when I was running out and it was really time to grind out make another batch, I just didn’t have the initiative.

My time was more valuable to me, so I ended up just buying something and calling it good. And honestly, that’s ok. Time is valuable, and sometimes it’s just worth it to buy a commercial bottle and have a few extra hours to yourself!

Along with having more time, I also really enjoy some of the commercially available scents that I have not been able to replicate through my own diy efforts.

Last year, I was buying this really wonderful-smelling liquid hand soap at Bath & Body Works, and like so many of their products, once I fell in love with it, they discontinued it. Boo.

I happened to get 3 or 4 bottles on a super sale, and I was slowly using them, trying to make them last as long as I could, because yes… I was addicted to the smell!

I got to a point where I was adding water and then more  water and so on, trying to eek out the last bit. As the soap thinned out, I actually loved it even more because it rinsed a little easier than the heavy gel consistency it was when I first bought it.

When there was nothing left to pump, I didn’t want to throw the bottles out because they still smelled amazing, and I also didn’t want to just go buy another kind. I just wasn’t willing to keep going through the cycle of finding something I loved, only to be crushed when I couldn’t find it.

And to be honest, I like to recycle or re-use commercial packaging if I can.

Then, one day I remembered a post about making liquid soap at home. That gave me an idea. And that idea led me to finding my all-time favorite hand soap! Here are just a few reasons why this is my new go-to for hand cleaning:

  1. cost savings
  2. re-use commercial packaging
  3. water conservation
  4. effective cleaning
  5. diy satisfaction

1. Cost Savings

Feeling defeated but still needing hand soap, I went ahead and bought some Ivory soap bars. I like Ivory for cleaning my hands: The ph is a bit alkaline, so it does a good job. And since the cost of the bars was like $0.16 each versus about $4.99 for the BBW hand soap, I was pleased about saving money.

But… The messy bar on the sink is not my favorite thing. And lathering up a slippery bar. And running water the whole time. And the bar getting itty bitty and breaking into pieces. All these were negatives for me.

2. Re-use Commercial Packaging

As I was cleaning out under my sink, I found one of my empty-but-still-amazing-smelling hand soap dispensers that I had saved, unable to toss that delicious smell into the trash bin.

I took one, filled it up with as hot of water as I could get out of the tap, then I dropped in the broken pieces of Ivory bar soap that were piled up on the sink and in the shower, probably about half a bar altogether.

And then I walked away.

A few hours later when I needed to wash my hands, I came back into the bathroom and remembered that I had left it sitting there. I shook it up a bit and then pumped some into my dry hands.

3. Water Conservation

The pump worked great, even though it was made for a much thicker liquid. The soap  was watery, but for me that was a PLUS. It means that I could start washing my hands right away without running the water. Two pumps gave me enough soapy liquid to puddle in my cupped palms and then I just did my 20 seconds of rubbing and scrubbing to make sure my hands were good and clean. Then I turned on the water and WOW!

I only had to use a trickle of water to get them clean! This is really important to me both because of the cost of water, and because I always try to conserve water.

4. Effective Cleaning

My hands rinsed clean immediately! No rinsing and rinsing to get the slippery feeling off. The soap just slicked off, and my hands felt squeaky clean with zero residue. After I finished rinsing my hands, the water beaded and dried off quickly and easily, so even the hand towel I use was less wet.

Usually when I wash my hands, it’s a matter of wanting to clean off bacteria, versus actual visible dirt. So I did kind of wonder if the soap was as powerful as the bar after I put it into water.

My hubs works with hydraulic fluid and other black, grease-heavy products and we share a sink and a hand towel. He’s also been using the hand soap and guess what? I’m not seeing streaks of black on the towel, so I know it’s working for cleaning even really dirty hands.

5. DIY Satisfaction

I saved the best for last: My super clean hands didn’t smell like Ivory soap when I was done; they smelled exactly like the super-awesome smelling hand soap that had been in the dispenser!

Finally I had found a way to replicate the experience of washing my hands with the scent I loved, but without the heavy, slippery feeling that required tons of water to rinse off.

So, here are my top 5 reasons why this is my favorite hand soap:

  1. I re-used a container I purchased commercially
  2. I get to diy and save money (bar soap $0.08 a bottle vs $4.99)
  3. I get to save water
  4. I get squeaky clean hands that feel good
  5. I get to keep using a scent I love that’s not available

So, going forward I plan to keep using my dispenser to hold dissolved Ivory bar soap as my bathroom hand cleaner. If my hands ever get dried out, which could happen over time, I plan to use a drop of olive oil to restore them. That’s what I do whenever I have to use harsh cleaners around the house, in the yard, or on the vehicles.

As I have continued using the hand soap, I thought that this method would be a great way to use up any bar soap. If you have a bar soap that you love the scent of, try putting it into a clean dispenser full of really hot water, and leaving it to dissolve over time. Just don’t cap it until it’s cooled off!

I hope my idea gives you an idea too!

Love,

Momma

 

Diamond Crochet Chart, row by row

I’ve been working on a diamond crochet pattern using this chart:

begin_chain
The chart shows a complete pattern with the sides 

And it was confusing because I wanted to make a bigger project and the repeat just wasn’t obvious to me. So I took it row by row, stitch by stitch. I wrote it all down and then I made a screencast, just in case you’d like to do the same thing:

How to Read Diamond Crochet Chart

Each row is a separate video of me explaining how to count off the stitches and where to make the repeats.

I will post an image of my project on this page as an update after it’s done and after Christmas. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!

Hope this inspires you to make something awesome, and I’d love to see it if you do.

Love,

Momma

Make your own pad in 5 easy steps

I have been working on some super cute, comfy, snuggly cloth pads using some ideas from different patterns, especially this one from NaturalSuburbia.com.

Here’s the final result:

image of the complete pad and wrapper
The contour+base pocket pad with snaps and the snuggly, comfy, plush heart wrapper and extra insert.

I took a ton of photos as I went through the trial and error process, and I’m posting them below as a tutorial with comments to help you see what I did, and my thought process.

To make these, I used a Brother Project Runway sewing machine that I got for Mother’s Day from Joann Fabrics. I ordered it online and used a coupon for free shipping during a sale on machines, so I got it for something like 65% off. There’s a Black Friday doorbuster on the website right now.)

I used several decorative stitches, but you can make this set even if you don’t have a sewing machine.

Several things would be nice to have to make this project faster, and some things are necessary. I note in the materials list below with an * what is nice to have, but not necessary. What you don’t need though, is a printer! (I hate printing)

Materials List

Flattened Cereal Box or other sturdy paper
Scissors (one for fabric and one for cutting paper)
Rotary blade and sewing mat*
Flannel fabric remnant
Cotton fabric 1/4 yard
Plush fabric remnant
Thread (matched color)
Sewing Machine (or needle for hand sewing)
Pins*
seam ripper*
Iron*
Poly-Resin Snaps/Plier/awl* (you can also use sew-on snaps or hook/eye.)

Photo Tutorial

Step 1: The Templates

Make the templates from the cereal box.

photo of flattened box
Flatten a cereal box so that the large sections are connected by folds

Here’s a slideshow of how to make the template for the pad pieces:

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Now you’ll make the template for the wrapper:

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Step 2: The Wrapper

Now you’ll use the wrapper template to cut out the patterned cotton fabric:

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If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can sew the edge by hand.

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OOPS! I put the snaps in wrong… What now?

If you make a mistake and put the snaps in wrong, you can fix it. I definitely did, not once but twice! After gouging myself trying to cut them off, I went in search of a fix, and the page on the Babyville site for removing snaps was blank, so I watched a couple videos that didn’t help me. (I wasn’t using KAM and I don’t have a soldering iron, but maybe you are/do?) I went back to Babyville and found an FAQ that said to clip them off, careful not to clip the fabric.

OK, I tried that and it did work. However, I recommend eye protection if you try this method. I learned to hold it inside my cupped hand and eventually got it apart.

image of clippers and remains of snap after clipping
To remove the snaps: Use clippers to carefully snip away the cap and post, without clipping fabric.

Step 3: The Contour

OK, now that the wrapper is done, let’s move on to the pad.

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And now we get fancy! If you don’t have a sewing machine, you can use this chart for decorative stitches or just use a quilting stitch.

I use a contrasting light pink thread in my demo so you can see the stitches, but you can use a shade of thread close to the same color as the flannel you choose and the stitches will blend in. This will matter because the thread will usually stain first.

My idea for stitches is to attract the flow inward and keep leaks from going beyond the edges. Plus, it looks pretty. 🙂

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The way I put this pad together was to create a base that snaps to the wrapper, and is covered by a layer so that the snap never comes into contact with the body.

Step 4: The Base

The base is the next part:

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Now to attach the snaps to the base:

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Now we’ll make the pocket:

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So you will make the center rectangle by stitching 3 sides using the contour piece only. Then you’ll put the contour and the base together and you’ll make the horizontal bottom part of the center rectangle by sewing through both the contour and the base. And you’ll sew just the sides of the contour to the base. This gives you the 3 sides that make the pocket.

Step 5: The Inserts

So now we will make the inserts:

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And now you can make a few more inserts and then you can make the pad more absorbent as needed without the whole thing being bulky.

Here’s a couple photos of the finished system:

Discussion

I chose to use the plush fabric as the center applique because I did several tests on different materials to see how fast they absorb liquid. The pink plush fabric basically didn’t absorb any liquid at all. So, I thought it’d be a good layer to repel fluid, and push back up to the absorbent flannel.

Some other fabrics that are good include PUL, which gives a leak-resistant backing. This could go on the bottom layer of the base, the wrapper, or even as the bottom of the inserts or contour. PUL is somewhat expensive, so I might see if I can just have it as my insert.

Other ideas include using a thick felt for the insert, or a wool. Lots of options for improvisation! And it’s easy to use something you already have, for low-cost, like a micro-fiber towel, cut into small pieces or folded into a small rectangle.

I did several tests and found that once washed, the one that the Dollar Tree sells was very absorbent, and after several washes, more so. It also dries very fast, making it a great insert because it can be washed and re-used quickly.

However, the white chamois is not at all absorbent — but would make a great plush applique for the wrapper. Also, I tested the orange “sham-wow” type of fabric, and it’s so-so on absorbing, but it doesn’t dry fast. I also tested the dark blue flocked chamois and a yellow puckered one. Fail and fail on both absorbent and fast-drying.

I’m happy and excited to try this system out and see how it performs. I hope it does make me feel more snuggly, cozy and “pampered” during that time. Like warm fuzzy pajamas that I get to wear all day, but no one else knows!

If you get inspired and make it, please let me know in the comments! Oh and do be careful:

Sewing isn’t supposed to be a blood sport, but it can be

Love,

Momma