Thursday, December 31, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Cookie Mix Jars

So I've been saving containers like tupperware's and jars all year in an effort to be less wasteful. As you can see in my "green tupperware" post the plastic containers have had immediate use for me.
However, I've been having a hard time finding a use for the glass jars, like the ones left over from pasta sauce. I love to buy Classico pasta sauce in bulk at Costco because it's so good and it's cheaper than buying other brands individually. I use it in a lot of recipes from the obvious pasta to pizza sauce to homemade tasting tomatoe soup. (if I'm out of the regular stuff.)

Anyway, they've been accumulating in my cupboard all year and I know Jake was starting to feel annoyed with me because as far as he's concerned we should just throw stuff away from the get-go. But the jars are so nice I feel really bad throwing them away . . . much worse than if I throw away the plastic containers from my sour cream.

So yeah, anyway, I had an epiphany this November when looking at all these jars I realized that I could use them for Christmas gifts which would be putting them to good use as well as getting them out of my cupboard. :)

So I went online and looked at recipes for making a cookie mix in a jar. Most of them expect you to have regular mason jars with a ring separate from the lid, but I actually only had one of those from a jar of homemade apple sauce some neighbors gave to Jake when he helped them move. So I decided that since the Care Bear Ornaments were mostly for my sister-in-law, that I should give something that my brother Eric could enjoy . . . I figured cookies are a good gift, especially one's he can make himself when he feels like it. I decided to give them my mason jar with the typical fabric and ribbon decoration.

The Classico jars have one piece screw on lids so I decided to just paint those ones instead of cover them with cloth. I could have given a painted one to Eric and Ginny, but since Ginny is an artist too, I figured it would be better not to give her something that she might think was poorly executed. (Just in case.) So yeah, here's the cloth covered one I made for them.
Yep, I used leftoever material from the Strawberry Shortcake costume.

And here are more detailed shots of my painted lids. I gave these to some of my neighbor friends.
If anyone is interested in doing some of these, I used these directions from this website to make mine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Taggie Blanket

Knowing that I was going to have a baby before or at least close to Christmas this year, I thought that it would be fair to plan on giving gifts to and from my new baby, despite the fact that she is completely oblivious at this point. But a newborn baby doesn't need much more than food, diapers and a place to sleep so one of the only things I could really think of to give her was a taggie blanket. My mother in law had made one for Lilly when she was a baby. I had actually been planning to make one myself back then but after she did it, there didn't seem to be much need. Now however, I figured it was a good time to try making one myself to give to my new baby.
I wasn't sure about doing it in Christmas colors at first, but since I had left over material from Lilly's Strawberry shortcake costume and tons of red and green ribbons collected over the past few years, it just seemed to make sense. Especially because my red material is satin-like and the green is flannel, which are the types of fabrics taggies are usually made of. So yeah, it just made sense to use those things if I didn't want to have to go buy anything new for such a little project.
So here it is! I think it turned out pretty well.
I'm thinking since I have such a collection of ribbon I may want to put these on Etsy too and let people commission me to make them as well.

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Care Bear Ornaments

So for my side of the family this year we drew names as usual but decided to have the option of either a $5 price limit or that the gifts had to be homemade. My husband and I went in as a couple and we drew my brother Eric and his wife Ginny. Not the easiest task in the world thinking of a gift for these two. On the one hand they are very vocal about what they like so it's not like one wonders if they have any likes or interests like with some people in my family, . . . But at the same time they are very particular about the things they like. Things have to be a certain way, so this makes them not necessarily very easy to please.

One thing that my sister-in-law really does like though are Care Bears and My Little Ponies. She actually does pony customs for people and is very talented at painting and re-hairing old ponies to look like new or to have fun and original themes.

You can see some of her ponies here. Some of my personal favorites are the Chinese Zodiac ones, like this dragon. and also her famous Ebay pony.

Anyway, so one idea I had was to go to a second hand store and find her some ponies which she would basically use as supplies for customs. But I wasn't sure if she'd really like that, or if she's even really doing those anymore.

Then I somehow formed an idea based around the fact that I still had tons of little plastic Care Bears left over from my daughters two year birthday party this year. I ended up buying a bag of 100 of them when I was planning party favors because it was cheaper per care bear to buy them in bulk.

Anyway, so then I began to think about what I could do with these Care Bears to constitute a homemade gift. Someone else had suggested making ornaments earlier so I guess that were I first got the idea, and when I first thought about making the Care Bears into ornaments there seemed to be only one way of doing it. I figured I'd buy some of those clear glass or plastic balls and put the Care Bears inside with some glittery or fluffy stuff. But the glass ones didn't come with big enough openings and even plastic ones would have cost much more than $5, especially since I wanted to use one of each color of care bear so I needed to make at least 8 ornaments and the plastic ornaments I looked at all cost at least a dollar a pop.

So yeah, I was leaving a store all discouraged and rambling on to Jake about how I didn't know what to do about the Care Bear ornaments when it suddenly hit me. I could make little swings for them that look like clouds with a rainbow as the rope part and that would also be what hangs on the tree. Genius! Genius! Genius!!! I seriously have no idea how I came up with it, so it must have been inspired. :}

Anyway, I figured right off that I'd use some clay I had left over from another project but then it turned out that making the clay look like clouds and also have a flat top for the care bear to sit on and have holes in the sides for the ribbon to go through . . . yeah it was bit harder than I had imagined.

So I went to the craft store thinking I might need some kind of mold to make it work, but while I was there, wandering through every aisle, inspiration finally hit again and I realized that putting beads in the clay would add the desired lumps as well as providing built in holes. Genius! Genius! Genius!!!

Okay so I know it sounds conceited to keep saying that, but I'm seriously amazed that I even came up with all this, and yet it just makes so much sense.

Anyways, enough with the boring details here are some pictures.
I couldn't find any rainbow ribbon that was thin enough that I liked so I ended up buying some white organza ribbon and hand coloring it with crayola fabric markers and then setting the color with the iron. I think they turned out pretty well because rainbows are made of light so they are technically transparent anyway, right?
I like how they turned out all shimmery and stuff.
Here are my clouds just after I painted and glittered them.
So yeah, apparently my sister-in-law really liked the ornaments. (According to my parents who delivered them for me.)
They were great fun to make and if I have the energy I may be making some more one of these days, especially if someone specially requests it. I'm thinking of posting them on Etsy to see if anyone will commission me to make some for their tree next year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Making Box Cake Taste Gourmet

I get to make my brother Eric's B-day cake today, I'm way excited. He wants a chocolate cake with orange frosting. I have a chocolate cake mix, and cream cheese frosting on hand, and I also have pure orange extract, so I can easily fulfill this request without too much effort . . . But of course, being who I am, I would rather make it as delicious as possible, and so I will of course be putting a bit more effort in, and while reading recipes for inspiration, I stumbled across this great little article about how to make a box cake taste like it was made from scratch, by adding some extra ingredients to the mix.

They suggest any or all of the following:

1 cup sour cream

1 box instant pudding

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Handful of chocolate kisses

I, for one, think that the sour cream will add a lot to a chocolate orange cake, so I'll definitely will be doing that this time around. I'm way excited! While I would normally have thought of the other ideas I would never have thought of sour cream on my own and I am lucky enough to have just barley purchased some.

The mix says it has pudding in it, so I probably won't worry about adding any of that, though I might add a touch more chocolate either with bakers cocoa or in the form of chocolate chips.

Anyway, I'd better get to baking. If it looks as good as I'm thinking it will taste I might be posting some pictures up here soon.

Happy Baking!

~Julie :}

Here is a photo of the cake (post candles). Not the loveliest thing, but it did taste really moist from the sour cream. I didn't add any extra chocolate, I think maybe I should have, or perhaps some more orange extract. But yes, it was still good. I sprinkled it with mini chocolate chips after I frosted it with the orange cream cheese frosting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rose Petal Character Costume

Here are the final results of my Rose Petal Costume. I'm hoping to post some tutorials and "making of" photos soon.

Strawberry Shortcake Costume Pictures

Here are the final results of my daughter's Strawberry Shortcake Costume. I'll be posting my "making of" pictures soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Julie Surprise: Zinger Cake

Back in August a friend of ours was having a birthday, but she also was going through a hard time so we (my sister and my husband and I) sort of temporarily adopted her and therefore, we felt responsible for making sure she had a Happy Birthday, since it seemed that no one else was really going to trouble themselves about it.

She suspected this though and forbade me from baking her a cake. I found my way around that though. By paying attention to things that she said I became privy to the fact that she loves chocolate Zingers. Hence, my brilliant idea!I constructed rather than baked this Birthday cake for her.

I started out by making a cardboard circle for the base which I covered in foil. Then I figured out the circumference of the ring I needed to make a good sized cake base against/around which the Zingers could stand side by side without to any gaps. This took some trial and error and I practiced with the still individually wrapped Zingers before I got it right. Once it was right I covered that in foil as well and then began the balancing of the (now unwrapped) Zingers.
I created two rings of Zingers; an outside ring and an inside ring, and then secured them with a nice pink ribbon tied up into a bow.
To finish it off I made a simple chocolate glaze and drizzled that over the top to hide the edge of the foil ring.

Once we presented the cake to the Birthday girl I was able to inquire whether or not she liked coconut and upon receiving the answer in the affirmative; garnished the glaze with some shredded coconut before I put the candles on. (As you see above.)

It wasn't amazing in any gourmet type way (considering it tasted like Hostess Zingers) but creatively speaking, I was rather proud of it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Log Draft Buster by Naturally Meg

Here's a fun project that my cousin just finished. It's really cute and creative and even stuffed with used plastic grocery sacks! Anyway, thought it'd be a good one to share!
~Julie :}

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Harriet Skirt

I recently finished a skirt I've been working on.It was a fun and challenging project. My husband wanted me to send a pair of his dockers to the D.I. for one tiny blemish, and I said, "I have a better idea! Let's make them into something else!"

Hence the conception of the Harriet Skirt. I was going to call it the Reporter's Skirt because the big pockets in the front are a great size for hiding a little notebook/notepad and pen, but then I thought the name didn't flow too well, and probably most reporters wouldn't wear a skirt from recycled/upcycled materials (Well, not unless they were doing a story on being green. :} )
Anyway, then it came to me that a spy would be more likely to wear something that could conceal their writing materials, at least, a spy like Harriet the Spy. (Random Fact: A guy I knew once told me that I reminded him of Harriet the Spy. Funny huh?) Anyway, hence the birth of the name for the skirt.
I used every bit of the pants that I could. I didn't even completely unpick or cut the waist band or the belt loops. I just overlapped the waistband so it would be more conducive to womens sizes. Sadly, however it is a still little big for me, so I wasn't the best model. (What I wouldn't give for a dress dummy!)
The only parts of the skirt that weren't originally part of the dockers are a few buttons (two on the back flaps and one on the waist band) and, of course, most of the thread.
Let me know what your think? Do you know anyone who would wear this? I currently have it up in my etsy shop.

Monday, July 6, 2009

In Need of Comfort?

Come check out this great new blog! Share your own uplifting experiences and stories.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's Make a Deal

Okay ladies and gentleman, I'm about to do something that some of you may not like, but hopefully others of you will see as a great opportunity.

(No, it has nothing to do with Multilevel Marketing, or residual income. :} )

Okay, here is the most popular item that I have sold of my designs over the past 3 years or so.
And by most popular I mean I've sold more than one. And by more than one I mean I've sold two.

Obviously, I just need a lot more help in my marketing department. It's hard to find places to advertise that don't initially cost money in the first place, money which I simply do not have,
(hence, me trying to sell things to make money.)

So, I thought, what the heck, instead of bombarding this blog with self promoting ads like I have my other one, why not see if this time, we can make a deal.

Let's trade. I invite you to post a blog entry, just one blog entry about one of my products, which can be found through one of my many banners on my other blog, mostly near the bottom of the page. You can feature one of my framed art pieces from imagekind, or a clothing item from one of my cafepress shops. Also, there's my Etsy shop where I have pillows and jewelry and other sewn items.

Anyway, once you've done this, please comment here and link me to your post and let me know what you would like me to feature here for you. Then I promise, for each comment I get I will post a blog entry, and I will also feature your item on Kaboodle, since I realize that only having 5 followers here might not be enough exposure, but I have 80 friends on Kaboodle that I can show your product to once I've featured it.

So there we have it! Lets make a deal and help each other out!


Have a great day!

~Julie :}

Alternative Ways to Deal with Sinus Infections

Sinus infections run in my family, and as such I've had a few in my time. I think it's probably the worst ailment I've experienced. Yes, possibly even worse than throwing up.

However, for those of you who know me, you might know how I feel about taking drugs. I personally hate taking drugs, both because of side effects and also I hate the idea that I'm dependent on pills to make me feel normal. Life shouldn't have to be like that.

Anyway, I got a pretty bad sinus infection this past winter and wondered if I should go to a doctor or not, because money was tight and I knew all they'd do was prescribe antibiotics anyway, which I'm not excited about for many reasons. Plus, it just seemed dumb to have to pay a doctor's fee to be told something I already knew,(Yes, you DO have a sinus infection!) and be prescribed a remedy I already knew existed, and then have to turn around and go pay for the stinking remedy!

Anyway, I finally got so desperate that I did some online research (yeah, yeah, I know, how reliable is that always going to be?) And I found this site
Now keep in mind, they are based in Britain and I'm not too fond of how they set up their site, since you have to go through all this redundant stuff before you can even find out what it is they're trying to sell to you, but this guy did make an amazing discovery and so I bought the essential oils that they sell.

The one problem with this method is it's almost impossible to find a facial steamer, which is what this product calls for in order to use it as directed. If you want to pay $60 or more to get one, I think you can find them online, but stores won't carry them due to the wishes of the cosmetic companies.

Anyway, the point is, I didn't even know I needed one until after the oils arrived at my house because it is only then, that they send you the link to their instructional videos. Anyway, I found a way to make it work. My humidifier has what is called a medicine cup. I put the recommended dosage of oils in there and then breathed in the fumes that way, and it really did help and eventually the sinus infection went away, despite the fact that I wasn't as diligent as I could have been. Anyway, I figure it would have worked even better if I'd had the facial steamer, since the oils would have been in direct contact with the hot water. At any rate, it was worth it, and the price of the oils plus shipping was still less than a doctors appointment alone, never mind a perscription's price.

Perhaps in the future when I have money to kill, I'll invest in a facial steamer to save for the next sinus infection.
One cool thing about the oils though, is that they weren't some funky thing you'd never heard of, just pure, high quality cinnamon, clove and thyme extracts. Sweet huh? Though they do try to make them seem exotic here, that is ultimately what they are.

Another great method I've heard of was discovered to me by my cousin, you can read about her netti pot here.
It seems like a great idea, and a bit less complicated than my essential oils method.

Also, as one last remedy that may be of some use to you, I give you Sinus Buster. A natural, cayenne pepper based nasal spray. Fun sounding huh? But it seems like it might work, not unlike the same way the essential oils would work.
Although, I'm not sure if cayenne is a natural antibacterial, like the cinnamon, cloves and thyme, which are supposedly the three strongest natural antibacterial substances in the world.

Anyway, there are a few things you can try if you're finding yourself thinking death would be better than the smell, the pain and the lack of sleep that may be resulting from your sinus infection.

Have a great day!

~Julie :}