V-day is coming

molded crayon heartsred crayon hearts in moldmolded crayon heartsI’ve been reading about making old crayons new and the cute valentines you can make with them. I finally picked up a heart shaped candy mold at JoAnn’s and knew I was close to actually melting crayons.  I followed the molded crayon tutorial at Homemade by Jill.  I’m super excited about how easy and fast this craft was.  I have a few notes to add.

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut through the length of the crayon wrapper.
    A commenter on the above post suggested this.  Do it! Do not wait until you’ve ripped the quick from under your nail trying to scrape the paper away from all the crayons.
  2. Keep the wax hot.
    I wasn’t pouring fast enough to fill the whole candy sheet before the wax started cooling.  Half way through I put my wax back in the water to heat it up again.  If you don’t keep the wax hot your crayons won’t be smooth and pretty.
  3. It’s Hot!
    Use a good hot pad or glove.
  4. Don’t worry about filling the molds completely to the top.
  5. If you go from light colors to dark, you really only need one, maybe 2 cans.
  6. When pouring, use your stirrer as a guide; like in chem lab.
  7. Let the crayons cool a bit, until they are not shiny, before you stick them in the freezer to speed cool them.  I did this so I wouldn’t slosh hot crayon wax everywhere.

molded crayon heartsWith the small heart mold I was using, the crayons were done fast.  After I stuck them in the freezer, it was less than 5 minutes.  By the time I was done unwrapping a few more crayons and melting them, I pulled the tray out of the freezer and the crayons fell out of the mold.  Then I was ready for the next batch.  My four year old didn’t loose interest until the 3rd batch.  He had fun breaking the crayons and was excited to tell his dad what he’d been up to. They make me so happy to look at.

My plan is to make square cards with an earth outline on one side and the words “you color my world.”  On the other some “happy valentine’s day from your friend.”  Or maybe I’ll incorporate Secret Agent Josephine’s B&W valentines. Combine that with tying them in tulle and I hope everyone will understand that they are born again crayons and not candy.

Water for Christmas

This morning when I got up, I took a quick, for me,  15 minute shower in clean drinkable water.  The USGS estimates that showers use 2.5 gallons of water a minute.  What a blessing it is to live where I can luxuriate* every morning in 40 gallons of clean drinkable water.

Water has been on my mind.  Joy’s Hope reminds me.  Whatever reminds me, and my facebook friends remind me.  I’ve been thinking a lot about water.

Water for Christmas.

Living Water International.

charity: water.

I cannot imagine having to walk more than a mile to collect 5 gallons of dirty water for my family to use for the whole day.  I cannot imagine.

Cannot fathom.



I have water, physical and living water. Thank you God.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit with Operation Christmas Child

shoebox goodnessI’m excited I got my shoebox packed for Operation Christmas Child.  I usually pack a shoebox, but this year I’ve been planning my shoebox for a long time.  I wanted to pack a shoebox full of embroidery floss for a 10-14 year old girl to make friendship bracelets.  I’ve been cleaning out my pack ratted away stuff and I used the shoebox from my wedding shoes.  I can’t even remember what used to be in there, but now it’s wrapped pretty and full of goodness for my girl.  It’s an extra special box.  All year long I’ve been collecting goods to donate to my church when they have their packing night.  I’ve got two paper boxes full of school supplies, clothing items, games, and toys I find on super sale through out the year.   I used a %40 off coupon to score my large package of embroidery floss.

Last weekend I started packing my box. I wanted to include some instructions on how to make various friendship bracelets.  I found several good instructions on the web; including a loom based friendship bracelet.  I really wanted to find how to make a box braid bracelet.  When I was young I had some friends who were whizzes at making them.  I had never figured it out before.  I was determined to figure it out and send my girl a bracelet that I had made.

finger loom box braid friendship braceletErin was able to clear up my confusion and set me straight on making my box braid bracelet.  The one photo that was missing from her tutorial was in the video she linked too, but I can’t really put an online video in my shoebox so I set about taking the critical shot.   It was an entertaining process and I used my gorilla pod to it’s full potential.  It’s not very exciting and you should have seen the look my husband gave me when I showed him.

I wanted my son to pack a box too.  Being 4 he was convinced he needed a shoebox.  I asked him if he’d like to trade his room for a shoebox.  He didn’t think that was a good idea but he still wasn’t ready to give away all those brand new toys to someone else.  He finally filled a box after watching me pack mine.  Hopefully he understands that some other little boy is going to love getting his shoebox full of cool cars.

Now that I have some boxes packed I’m lingering over the videos on the Samaritan’s Purse site.  I even reread Meg’s post on Whatever about her box packing to get in the spirit.  Shoe boxes full of goodness, spreading the gospel, doing God’s work.  It makes me smile and fills my heart with happy thoughts.  I can’t wait to pack more boxes at my church on Wednesday night.

This year in addition to paying for our boxes online so I can follow them, I’m going to write a letter to my girl.  It will be the first time I’ve actually written to my shoebox kid.  I pray when my box reaches my girl she loves it and it opens her heart to being saved by God’s grace.

blackout curtains

Nearly a year ago when it started getting nice out it was getting harder and harder to get our son to sleep.  We went on a search for kid’s blackout curtains.  We found some at Target, but they were not exactly what we were looking for.  I shopped JoAnn’s for fabric and didn’t find anything I liked until near the end of the summer.  I purchased the fabric and then found the perfect tutorial for making blackout tab top curtains!  The fabric has set in my closet in a bag since then; until today.  I’m washing the fabric, measuring the windows, and reading the instructions over and over again so I can finally get the curtains ready for this summer.

I purchased the fabric before I had a pattern, measured the windows, or knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I bought plenty of the cute leaf pattern for the curtains, but I only bought 2 yards of the cute contrasting owls.  I thought the owls would be too much as curtains.  My son loved the owls as soon as he saw them.  He was much more interested in them than the leaves.  I can’t blame him, they really are cute.  I figured JoAnn would be all sold out since nearly a year has past since I first purchased the fabric.  I called the store before I drove out there.  They still had the owl fabric, enough for me to make curtains and have some to play with!

scissors cutting fabricI was intimidated by the many long straight cuts I’d have to make to piece together the panels.  I found a technique that worked great for me.  We have laminate flooring so I cleared and cleaned a large area to work on.  I folded the fabric where I would need to cut.  I carefully measured the length of the fold and pinned it in place.  Then I pulled my scissors through keeping everything as even as possible.  It worked great!

I still need to finish the panel for the other window.  All the pieces are cut and the right color thread is in the machine.  I keep hoping I’ll get an energy boost before baby sister gets here.

Comfortable Pants

My little man has the scrawniest waist.  He’s three, 40 inches tall, and his waist is only 18 inches.  Finding pants that fit him is hard.  I snagged two shirts my husband was going to get rid of to turn into some soft pants for him.  I thought I could make a pattern from an existing pair of pants, but I had trouble with that.

Pattern on shirt fabricI used Butterick pattern B5510 Large and modified the pattern for pant D.  I cut out the large size, leaving extra length to the bottom of the pattern paper.  Then I took in the width, 1.5″ at the waist and 1.25″ at the cuff.  I was able to fit the pattern in the body of the shirt and use the existing hem for the cuffs; yea for less sewing!  Since I didn’t need to hem the pants, I lined up the bottom of the XL length on the pattern with the shirt hem.  Then I mostly followed the pattern directions.  I left out the elastic around the cuffs and the stripes down the side.

My son was excited to try on his new soft pants.  I am excited to move several pair of 24 month pants out of rotation; they were much too short!

Shutterfly House Party

Shutterfly Auto Color Correct Off

Turn off Shutterfly's Automatic Color Correct

Last November I was selected to host a Shutterfly House Party.  I love Shutterfly so it was exciting to share that love with my friends.  It turns out most of my friends love Shutterfly too!  It was fun to spend an afternoon with my friends at the “LAN Party for housewives” and make Shutterfly photo books.  It was great to hear about how each person had used Shutterfly and I learned how to keep Shutterfly from auto correcting photos.   Shutterfly automatically correcting the color in my prints was one of my main complaints and I learned how to get around it!

  1. After you upload your photos, select All.
  2. Under the Edit menu choose “Apply Effect.”
  3. On the right in that little box there is a tiny check box for “Don’t apply automatic corrections to picture.”  Check that box.
  4. Then, click the link above the check box that says “Apply this effect to selected pictures.”

Tada!  Now Shutterfly will leave your carefully edited photos alone.

WordPress Wonder

I figured if I’m going to have a blog, even if I don’t update it often, I should keep my WordPress up to date.  My previous version was so out of date I couldn’t use the “easy upgrade” button and I had to create a new database.  But the upgrade was still ridiculously easy.  After I exported my current WordPress files I deleted my old files, installed the latest version, and imported my XML. WordPress has an amazingly easy installation.  The WordPress documentation is incredible.  WordPress can handle the content for Posts & Pages.  It can run your whole site.  There is no reason for me to build websites from scratch anymore. I’m starting to feel like my skill set is obsolete, but knowledge of valid HTML and CSS comes in handy when you want to customize a WordPress installation.


finished paintI Am Momma – Hear Me Roar did a guest post on making a Captain America tee just in time to get me into the 4th of July spirit.  My hubby saw it and knew our little guy needed one.  I was excited to try it.  I’ve never done freezer paper stenciling.  This seemed like a  simple pattern to try it out.

Cutting out the stencil is much easier if you use a sharp X-acto knife!  I got it ironed down with a little fussing to get all the pieces aligned.  I didn’t want red paint to get around the star so I cut some rounded scotch tape to seal that part up. I Am Momma uses fabric paint, but since I have a plastic bin full of acrylics and some of that stuff that turns acrylic paint into fabric paint I used that.

Captain America shirt  done!After all the set up the painting went crazy fast.  I was so excited to peel off the first ring around the star and see it all taking shape so nicely.  I thought my blue would be too dark so I added some white, but I didn’t like that.  The blue was perfect just the way it was.   I let the paint dry to the touch before pulling the stencil off.  Yea!  It looks great, aside from the red paint I dripped on the shirt.  I can’t wait to heat set it and run it through the wash.

Coupon confidence

huggies, coppertone, veetI had a great shopping trip at Rite Aid that made me giddy.  I bought a pack of Huggies, a Bottle of Water Babies, and some Veet for $3.08; $1.61 was tax!  I know this isn’t quite a golden scissor moment, but this is the type of transaction that keeps me motivated to use coupons.

This year I started tracking our expenses using “My Savings & Shopping Tracker” from Fistful of Coupons {now Happy Money Saver}.  Those cents and dollars off add up quick.  If I’ve been short of those amazing shopping trips and need motivation I glance at my summary page and gain encouragement.  I’ve saved $800 this year!  I’m getting better at keeping costs down.  I make a real effort to only buy the great deals if we need them or if I have a plan for what to do with the item.

Meal planning is essential for keeping costs down.  I’m on a meal planning roller coaster.  I haven’t hit my groove yet.  Some weeks we do great and others are no hitters.   I found a great free meal planning website which I tell everyone about; MealsMatter.org.  I’ve made a few schedules, uploaded our favorite recipes, but I haven’t made a habit of using it consistently yet; it could make a big difference for us if I did.  One of my goals is to create a monthly meal plan.  I’d love to look at the calendar and see what’s for dinner!

Updated 5*15*2011: Fistful of Coupons is now Happy Money Saver.  Fixed broken links.

Craft paint + toddler = success

Painting with craft paintMy son has been noticing paint brushes; on TV, on signs, and outside the local art Gallery.  We had a couple yucky days this week.  After reading a post from Ashley Ann, I felt brave enough to take the plunge.  I covered the kitchen table with an old shower curtain and got my box of paints out.  I told him he could pick 3 colors.  To my delight he chose the primary colors.  He was a natural at dual wielding paint brushes.  He had so much fun.  He asked to paint again when he woke up from his nap; so we did.