Friday, February 28

Easy Checkbook Cover Tutorial

When I made my favorite tote I had a decent size piece of that pretty spotted fabric left over. Right around that time my junky plastic checkbook cover (you know, the one that came when I first opened a checking account ?? years ago) cracked. So what better time to whip up a new and MUCH prettier cover?

Here's all you need to make one:
  • 7 x 13" piece of printed duck for the outer fabric
  • 7 x 13" piece of quilting cotton for the lining
  • 7 x 13" piece of medium or heavy weight iron on interfacing
  • thread
Start by pre-washing and drying the fabrics (if you're using scraps they should be washed already). If you need to wash them do it before you cut out the 7 x 13" pieces because they edges will fray a bit and it will probably shrink a bit. Got it? Okay, now go ahead and cut out the pieces. Apply the interfacing to the back side of the outer fabric. Lay the lining on top of the outer fabric with right sides together. Pin in place.

Sew around the edges with a 1/4" seam allowance, leave a couple inches open on one side for turning. Clip the corners.

Flip it right-side out and push the corners out nice and square. Tuck in the fabric at the opening and pin it closed. Press it flat. Top stitch across both short ends with a 1/8" seam allowance.

Fold the short ends in 2 3/4" and pin in place. Stitch along the sides (the top & bottom edges in the pic below) with a 1/8" seam allowance to form the pockets.

Then stitch a 1/4" seam along the bottom of each pocket (this is just for pretty, if you like the look without you can skip it).

And you're done!

This was such an easy way to add some fun to my purse. And it was practically free since I pulled it off with scraps! :)

Have you made any pretty things for your purse?

Wednesday, February 26

A Taste of Spring

We were walking past the flower section in Kroger one day and Husband spotted a few bouquets clearanced for $2 each... and told me to pick a couple. Of course Big Brother wanted to help so I picked out some pretty white flowers and he picked out some purple ones. They just happened to go perfectly together, and they were the two biggest bunches! Big enough that I was able to spread them all around the house. I put some by the kitchen sink.

And some on the dining table.

And some on the entry table.

And even a few in the bathroom.

And that's how Husband won some major points for just $4. It was a breath of fresh air in a long and dreary winter! And they lasted almost three weeks with fresh water. But let me tell you, those whimsy wild-flower like bunches have me itching for warm spring days! I'm ready to get these little boys in the grass and my hands in the dirt. What are you guys looking forward to most in the spring?

Monday, February 24

Tablecloth Babywearing {a $5.50 tutorial}

You guys know I love the benefits of babywearing. It meets baby's needs to be close and keeps my hands free to chase Big Brother. You also know that I'm cheap, and am generally against throwing buckets of money at things I can make for myself for a fraction of the cost. Babywearing is no exception! Of course if you're making baby carriers yourself, it's important to trust your sewing skills and make sure you use quality materials and techniques (all babywearing tips and tutorials on my blog are to be used at your own risk. Do you own research. If you have any doubts, just don't do it!). Thanks to a few babywearing DIY pros, I recently found out that some of the best fabrics to make a baby carrier with are tablecloths!

Of course it depends on the table cloth, you want something that's made of cotton or linen and strong enough to hold your baby, but they generally have a great balance of being tough enough for the job but still breaking in nice and soft and floppy which makes them comfy and easier to tie. You can use them to make wraps, slings, or even mei tais! Target is a great place to start because almost all of their tablecloths fit the bill! Plus they come in pretty colors and go on sale pretty often. I really lucked out on black Friday and found one of their thanksgiving prints on clearance for just $5.50! The one I picked was 60 x 120", which is the longest they have and what you need if you want a short wrap. You can get by with 96" long if you want a ring sling with a shorter tail. 

To make a wrap start by prewashing and drying your tablecloth. They typically shrink about 10% and you want to get that taken care of before you start sewing. Next fold the table cloth in half lengthwise. Cut down the fold to split it in half (you'll have two pieces roughly 120 x 30"). Guess what? You're getting TWO baby carriers out of this $5.50 table cloth!!

Friday, February 21

Wooden Animal Treehouse {free plans}

One of the main reasons we love DIY is that it's a great way to save a few dollars on the things we need and want. And gifts for our little guys are no exception! I feel like toys can be a little trickier because (unless you're making clothes or stuffed animals) they can be more complicated or harder to make. And that's exactly how I felt when I first discovered the Anamalz treehouses (see them here and here). Last year I found Anamalz wooden animal toys on a half-off site for a great price and bought a few for Big Brother's birthday. We liked them so much that when I found a deal on them again we decided to get him a few more for Christmas. This time I found them in a co-op group and the buy included the treehouse. That's when I fell in love with it. Then I found out that even with a 50% discount, the treehouse was $70. SEVENTY DOLLARS. Did I mention they are around $140 regular price? Sorry, folks, that's nowhere near our budget! So I decided to take a swing at toy making and see just how hard it would be to make a little wooden treehouse of our own. And it turns out... it's really not! And if you have scrap wood laying around you can make it almost for free!

Our treehouse has lots of features like canopy at the top. Big Brother calls it the tent.

The perfect size for our little Anamalz bear (co-ops can be hit and miss to find them - you can buy the animals on Amazon but I can't find anywhere selling the treehouse right now).

He's also nice and cozy in the archway at the base of the tree.

There are two leafy green layers and a vine in case you have any monkeys in the jungle!

It stands just about two feet tall with lots of levels, including a little bird nest.

But enough chit chat! Ready to make your own treehouse?

Here's what you need to make one (but remember we were working from scraps here so feel free to improvise however you need to!):

Wednesday, February 19

Chocolate Popcorn & Nut Treat Bags {and a traveling Christmas party}

Every year my dad's family does a traveling Christmas party. We make a day of it and everyone who lives in that area (which is most of the family!) takes a turn having everyone at their house for a small meal and games with prizes. It is so. much. fun. Last year there were a LOT of participants so it took us almost 12 hours to make it through!

I don't live close enough to host myself, but this was my sisters first year in her own house so I got to help her out a bit. Yay! To give you an idea of how the stops go, this is what we did at her house: she had the chips & dips course and added in a yummy homemade hot cocoa bar. The cocoa bar included homemade cocoa mix, homemade whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate chips, crushed peppermint, and probably more things I'm forgetting. :) She also made fruit salsa, cinnamon chips, guacamole, and added in a several kinds of store-bought chips and popcorn too.

For games she found trivia questions online that she read out and everyone guessed the answers... most right answers got to pick a wrapped prize (anything from reindeer antlers to dish towels to candy bars). We also did a "make a Christmas tree game" where we divided everyone into four teams and gave each team wrapping paper, green streamers, and tape and they had two minutes to make one teammate look like a Christmas tree. Two people sat out to judge and picked the best Christmas tree from the bunch. I now present you with bad phone pictures of the contestants:

And the winner... courtesy of the boy-cousins....

That was definitely my favorite part! After the games we wrapped things up with party favors. Sister screen printed custom dish towels that said "Traveling Christmas 2013" and I made some little snack bags. We used cute little paper bags like these:

And filled them with chocolate dipped pecans (melt dark chocolate chips and dip the pecans in)...

And white chocolate popcorn. Yum yum! To make the popcorn I stove popped it (in coconut oil) salted it, and added some melted white chocolate chips and mixed like crazy. I used a bag of white chocolate chips for about 40 cups of popped popcorn.

The traveling Christmas party is such a fun tradition and I think everyone should do it! If you need a few ideas to get you started, some of the courses we did this year were donuts, biscuits and gravy, chips and dip, sandwiches, soup, appetizers, and desserts. And games the games can be anything from word scrambles, to trivia, to win-lose-or-draw, to making snowmen out of toilet paper, to charades. And there are some really creative family games that pop up from time to time. Once my aunt hung up pictures of my grandma in the outfits she wore to each family wedding (which is quite a few!) and we had to guess which outfits she wore when. Another time my aunt with the last stop swiped an ornament from everyone's tree as we went and at the end had everyone guess which tree they had come from. Just have fun and be creative!

Has anyone else done parties like this?

Monday, February 17

Fleece Blanket Tutorial

You may have noticed it's still winter. At our house winter means a raging battle over our most beloved fleecy blanket. It's so cozy warm and big enough to not just cover your feet, but wrap around under them creating a pocket of warmth. We call it "the burrito effect." I made it a few years ago and, yes, it was technically a gift for Husband. But let's not get hung up on the details. All you need to know is it's a race to the couch to see who gets it (unless I'm pregnant. then I win by default.). But a few weeks ago Joann Fabric's fleece went on sale 50% and... wait for it... the sale overlapped a 25% entire purchase coupon by two days. You better believe I was there during that overlap. And so Fleecy #2 was born.

Our first blanket is plain solid colors but they have some seriously fun prints and with the super sale/coupon combo I decided to spring for something a little more special that the boys would love. And went with my favorite green on the back. It's super easy to make, and I prefer to the cut and tie method because I think it's faster and it gives a nice tidy edge when you're done. If you want to make one all you need is:
  • 2.5 yards printed no-pil fleece
  • 2.5 yards solid no-pil fleece
  • matching thread

Start by pre-washing and drying your fabric. Even though fleece won't shrink, you'll want to make sure there aren't any nasty dyes or chemicals hanging on from the factory before you snuggle up with it. Cut off the selvage edges so it looks nice and tidy. Stack the pieces with right sides together and line up  the edges as much as you can and trim any edges you need to get the pieces to match up perfectly - my green ended up being several inches wider and one end was cut crooked so I trimmed it down to match the printed piece. It helps to lay it out on the floor so you can make sure it's flat and lined up right. Pin around the edges. Sew around the edges with a 5/8" seam allowance, leaving an 8 - 10" opening for turning.

Clip the corners.

Saturday, February 15

Printable Clipboard Calendar

So... yeah... we're already halfway through February. And I just took down last years calendar. Oops. I finally got tired of not having one so I made one up in photoshop and printed it out. It was super cheap and I didn't even have to leave the house! And guess what? I made a printable version for anyone else who's late to the party! Or anyone who wants a calendar with a nice, clean look.

And yes, I included January even though it's over. I always use last years calendar to transfer over important dates so I wanted to make sure I had a January page to mark them all down on.

I wanted to keep it simple but fun so I just used different pretty colors for the fonts each month.

Monday, February 10

Hedgehog Pillows

Throw pillows are one of my favorite ways to mix things up around the house. They're great for when a space starts to feel blah and you need a quick & affordable facelift. And at least for me... that happens a lot in the winter! Everything can feel a bit dreary and after being cooped up in the same four walls for a few weeks I start itching for a change. It's amazing what a lift a new color or pattern can give a room. And I think a set of hedgehog pillows like these ones I made for my sister-in-law just might fit the bill!

I've made owl pillows before (see the tutorial here) and used the same technique to whip up these little cuties. I love that these pillows have more fun and personality than the ordinary throw pillows I typically go with.

And I especially love that these are actually removable pillow cases! One of my favorite ways to save money with accent pillow is to keep using the same pillows and just replace the covers.

Saturday, February 8

Boyz Be Cute

Just popping in today with some more pics of the cutie patooties that are my boys. Enjoy!

We found Big Brother laying in the middle of the kitchen floor looking at his Bible.

The faces of Baby Brother. Note the dimple. Be still my heart.

Monday, February 3

Doing Cartwheels & a $1,000 Target GiftCard® Giveaway!

If you guys are like me, you're always on the hunt for ways to save money on the things you need. I've never been much of a couponer because it seems like such a time commitment and it's hard to find coupons for the things I buy, but I got to try out Target's new Cartwheel app and it was different.
It's like having 700 coupons built-in to your phone, ready to go for in-store shopping.

The app can be used on most mobile devices, or you can use a computer to print out your deals ahead of time (your bar code is always the same though, so as long as you set keep your deals updated in your account you can just print the barcode once and keep it in your purse). You can set up an account using your Target login, or if you use Facebook you can share the deals with friends and see what they are saving on as well.

And I loved that there were so many coupons for Up & Up products (their store label, which is generally cheaper to begin with). The thing I wasn't thrilled about was that you have a limited number of "spots" on your account, which is how many coupons your allowed to "have" at a time. When you set up your account you get 10 spots, which means out of the 700 coupons you can only pick 10 to use at a time. You can change your list at anytime, though, to use different coupons, and the coupons you have can be stacked with any other discounts and coupons in the store and can be used over and over again until it expires (for example I bought frozen corn this week. I could use the Cartwheel coupon on up to four bags at a time, and I could do that up to six times per day). The app is nice because you can update your list while you're shopping. You also earn "badges" while you shop and each badge adds another spot to your list. I actually earned two badges on my first trip (one for making my first purchase and one for saving over $10) so I can now hold 12 coupons on my list.

One of the really cool things about the app is that you can scan any bar code in the store to see if there is a deal on that item. It's great for if you don't have time to browse the coupons ahead of time. You can just scan they things you're planning to buy anyway and see if there is a coupon you can add to your list! You can also search by collections on the app, so if you're planning to buy baby things, for example, you can browse the baby category and see what deals there are.

For my trip I looked through the deals ahead of time to see what I should keep my eyes open for, and found out Giada De Laurentiis cookware was 40% off! Which mean this 10 piece set would have been just around $80!

I didn't need a whole set, but I have been looking for things to replace some of our nonstick pieces (I have a few cast iron & ceramic pans) and have been hunting for a stainless skillet to add to my collection. So this happy little guy made it home with us:

This was my total Cartwheel haul:
  • Giada Skillet (40% off)
  • garbage bags (10% off)
  • aluminum foil (5% off)
  • razors (10% off)
  • organic frozen corn (5% off)

It originally would have cost $73.95, but I saved $21.83 with the Cartwheel app so in the end it was under $53!

 Moose hat helpers.

And now it's time for you guys to have some fun (and maybe break in your own Cartwheel account!) with a Target shopping spree!!! One lucky person will win a $1,000 Target GiftCard® and all you have to do is leave a comment answering this question (rules below):

What is your favorite tip for saving money on the things you need to buy?
Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/30 - 2/28.

Be sure to visit the Target Cartwheel brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!