Tuesday, March 29, 2011

eco-friendly dishwasher powder... and a sherbet recipe

We made some dishwasher powder in the weekend and seeing all the dishes come out sparkling clean from the dishwasher had me and Amelie very excited that it worked! I used this recipe from the Bin Inn website as I already had all the ingredients except for the citric acid which I got from the supermarket. I've used the powder three times now and it has worked really well each time. 

Eco-friendly Dishwasher Powder
1 Cup Washing Soda (from supermarket)
1 Cup Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Salt
1/4 Cup Citric Acid
Mix together (powderise in a food processor). Use 1 tablespoon per load. Way cheaper than the brought stuff, less than 5 cents a load. HINT - use white vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser.
Who would have thought that watching a food processor mix powder could be so riveting...!
I got given some lovely 'Benefit' bath salts years ago and just couldn't get rid of the cute little scoop that came with it....I knew it would come in handy one day!

Using the citric acid reminded me of a fun activity I used to do for science when I was teaching- making fizzy sherbet- so we made some for a treat. Here's the recipe I used..
Sherbet Recipe
4 tablespoons sifted icing sugar (sifted) 
2 teaspoons raro juice mix (powdered cordial) in your chosen flavour
3 teaspoons of citric acid
1 and a half teaspoons baking soda 

Mix ingredients together in a food processor or use a whiz stick. We just used a fork when I was teaching to mix the ingredients but make sure you don't end up with clumps of citric acid or worse still, clumps of baking soda. Obviously not the healthiest treat for children but they do love the fizz!
Next up I'm going to try Wendyl Nissen's laundry detergent but I need to find some borax first. It looks like Trademe is the cheapest place to buy borax but does anyone know of other places to find it?  Would love to hear if you have been making any eco-friendly cleaners lately too or have plans to make some.
Thanks for visiting and have a great day :)
Megan x

Friday, March 25, 2011

my creative space: a busy book

I should start this post with a warning....this is a crafty project that is very addictive and can end up consuming quite a lot of your thoughts and time!
I've been wanting to make a fabric 'busy book' (they're also called 'quiet books') for ages now and decided to get going and make one for Stella's birthday. She is, like a lot of 2 year olds, obsessed with clips so I thought she'd love a book with lots of different fasteners like zips, buttons and clips to play with.  But once I got started I realised I had no chance of getting it finished in time for her birthday so I've decided to just work on it whenever I get a chance and give it to both girls when it's finished.
I've made three pages so far (with a few more nearly finished) so I thought I'd share them today and share the rest as I finish more. I got heaps of ideas from this blog http://quietbook.blogspot.com which has links to lots of other busy books. And these quiet books were also very inspiring http://thethornocks.blogspot.com/2008/12/quiet-encyclopedia.html and http://homemadebyjill.blogspot.com/2009/06/finished-quiet-book.html

One of the good things about this project is that if you're a bit of a crafter you can find heaps of things to use from your craft supplies and fabric stash and other things around the house so you don't need to buy much to make it. These books are also great for developing fine motor skills, and your imagination is the limit as to what other things you can teach using the book, eg: colours, shapes, counting, alphabet etc. A lot of the crafters that made the books I've seen on blogs were inspired by their own mum's fabric books so it's pretty neat to think that maybe it'll be a book that future grandkids might play with too!

So here's the first page I made... I found this alphabet ribbon among my ribbon stash so I stitched it on and added a little duck bead on some thread so the girls could practice spelling their names and recognising letters.  Next I threaded some beads on a ribbon for some counting practice,  and the little lion slides along the spotty ribbon just for fun! I made the lion from the book "Felties" about a year ago and have had it on my noticeboard just waiting for a project like this!
Next I made Stella's 'clip page'- just need her to learn how to undo the clips now as well!
I saw the idea for this 'puzzle block' page somewhere in blogland but when my hard drive crashed I lost all my links and I can't for the life of me find where I originally saw it. If you think you know where the idea came from please let me know and I'll link back to it. This was a pretty quick page to make as it's all made from felt. I just cut out a whole lot of the same size squares and then played around cutting them into a few different shapes. The part that took the longest was probably stitching on the little flower buttons! My nearly 4 year old played with this page for nearly half an hour when I finished it so it's definitely a winner!
I made a zip pocket on another page to keep all the pieces in.
If you know of any links to some great busy/quiet books you've seen or have made yourself I'd love to see them.

A big thank you today as well as to Wendyl Nissen for featuring my blog, along with this lovely one, in her email newsletter this week. I think I've read every newsletter she's written since she started out on her 'Green Goddess' journey so it was very exciting to see my name in her latest one. You can read it here, and if you're wanting to get a weekly dose of  Wendyl's "It's okay to be a Nana" inspiration, sign up to her newsletter on her home page here.

And musn't forget... the winner of the eco-friendly cleaning goodies from last week's challenge is Leonie
Congratulations Leonie, hope you enjoy your treats, and thank you so much everyone for your comments and tips- I can't wait to get into making some more products now. And wasn't it neat to see that your comments made Wendyl's day!

For more creative spaces this week, visit Kootoyoo here

Thanks for visiting,
Megan x

Friday, March 18, 2011

Organised Home Project 6: Eco-friendly Cleaning

Hello all, I hope you've had a good week. This week's challenge is more of a cleaning one than an organising one but it's definitely one that makes the house feel really good! After reading 'A Home Companion' by Wendyl Nissen I've been thinking a lot about having a more eco-friendly and healthy home so I got stuck in this week to making some home-made cleaners. I really enjoyed making them - it was like being a kid again mixing up potions and making 'perfume'! - and it's going to save a lot of money by buying less cleaning products.

Because it's an organised home challenge, here are some 'before' and 'after' pics...
and After!
For the recipe's I used this liftout written by Wendyl (it came in an issue from the NZ Women's Weekly last year) as well as Wendyl's 'A Home Companion' book and a few other online recipe's.
To make the cleaners I made this week you'll need a few 'ingredients'.
-baking soda
-essential oils- lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, orange and tea tree oils
-eco-friendly baby bath wash (I used Eco Store's)
-eco-friendly dishwashing liquid (I used Eco Store's again here too)

First I made some lemon dusters- I really enjoyed making these and maybe I'll even dust more now that I have a cute jar of them to use!

Then I made some spray cleaner- so far I've used it for the bench and the high chair, as well as cleaning the oven top (which it worked a treat on) and also my craft desk which had glue stick bits and other grubbiness on it and it looked good as new after using the spray.
Next I made some anti-bacterial spray which smells divine (my hubby used to complain about the smell of the Dettol germ spray as it is pretty strong!)
Then I made up some more baby wipes spray. I use this with flannels by just spraying the flannels with the spray.  I still use baby wipes as well but I'm going to try to use the flannels and spray a lot more. 
I also use Honeychild cloth nappies (which I mix with using disposables) so for when they get a bit stinky I made up a spray of just a cup of water and 10 drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus oils  It's a good spray for cleaning the toilet too. 

Next up I'd like to make some dishwasher powder and some laundry detergent but I'm going to need a few more ingredients for those ones.

Because I love having a crafty project for each of these 'challenges' I thought I would have a go at making some crochet dishcloths. I have seen them on heaps of blogs but have never used them, in fact I'd never heard of them until I started reading blogs! My sister was even asking me if I was going to crochet around a sponge as she had obviously never heard of them either!! Thanks for the ideas and comments on my blog post yesterday about them - I went to the knitting shop and bought some cotton yarn and made a cloth using single crochet stitches last night. If you want to have a go there are heaps of patterns and ideas here and also here.
After reading Angela's 'Eight household habits' I put up a hook in our kitchen for the cloth- much nicer than draped all over the tap getting smelly- thanks for the tip Angela :)

So if you're inspired to make some of your own cleaners now I've made up a little giveaway prize to help you get started...
...a ball of cotton yarn to make your own dishcloths, a tea tree oil soap,  tea towel, spray bottle and some cute sticker labels.
To be in to win...
 * leave a comment telling us about some organising you have been up to lately (leave your URL if you've posted about it) 
or *leave a comment telling us some thing(s) you'd like to do this year to make your home a bit 'greener" 
 or * tell us some of your eco-friendly cleaning tips

You can leave a comment on my mousehouse facebook page under the link to this post if you're a non blogger :)

I'll draw the winner next Friday the 25th March. I still have heaps of ideas and projects for my 'Organised Home' challenge but as I am nearing my due date I'm just going to start posting them whenever I can rather then every Friday as I think some weeks I'm going to be a little bit busy soon!
Thanks for reading along and joining in the challenge so far, have a great weekend :)

To see more of my 'organised home' projects, click here
Megan x

Edit: have just come across Sarah and Cat's "Gift of Love" appeal for mums and children in Christchurch- they are asking for knitted/crochet dishcloths among other things- check out their appeal here http://sarah-redgingham.blogspot.com/2011/03/gift-of-love-appeal-update.html

Thursday, March 17, 2011

my creative space: handprint embroidery

I came across this idea on this lovely blog last year and have been wanting to make our own family one for ages. I've made it as a little art work for the baby's room so when he/she is born I can add their little handprint too!
It was pretty quick to do- I drew around each of our hands on card and then cut out each outline, then I traced around each hand on the fabric using a water/fade marker pen and stitched each handprint using backstitch.
If I was doing this again though I would just trace and stitch one hand at a time- I got a bit confused with all the lines and ended up having to unpick a bit!

It only took a couple of evenings in front of the TV to stitch the handprints and the girls, especially Amelie, thought it was pretty neat when finished. Kids love drawing and seeing their handprints don't they!
And now some questions for you crafty people- I have seen lots of blogs with crochet or knitted dishcloths/wash cloths and would love to have a go at making some for the kitchen (have never used them before). Are they just like using a kitchen sponge- so you use them for wiping the bench, high chair etc?  Does anyone have any links to their own dishcloths on their blogs or know of any links to nice and easy crochet dishcloth patterns? I've searched a few but I thought I would ask here too :)

Thanks heaps, and for more creative space today visit Kootoyoo here
Megan x

Thursday, March 10, 2011

my creative space: a patchwork chair

I've had this chair that I bought off Trade Me sitting in our garage since we moved into our house three years ago.
We used to live in a 1930's bungalow which I decorated in a bit of a shabby chic/Cath Kidston style so this chair looked great in our hallway with some fabric from Kate Fitzpatrick. But it didn't really suit the house we live in now, plus there wasn't really anywhere to put it, so it's been out in the garage gathering dust.
But after seeing this chair on the gorgeous blog Lucy and I (thanks for telling me about this blog Saskia if you are reading this!) I decided to have a go at a very small patchwork furniture project with the chair.
I also saw this yellow chair last year on Abby's blog and it just stuck in my head as a great little project.

First off I sanded it and painted it Resene "Sargent Pepper". (I love this colour- I think it's quite similar to Pantone's Colour of 2011
Pantone Color of the Year 2011: Honeysuckle

I'm not very good at measuring before I make stuff (a bit like pinning which I have to force myself to do when I'm sewing too!) so for the seat I just cut out a square from some card for a template, worked out roughly how many I would need to cover the chair seat, then cut out a whole lot of squares from my chosen fabrics, then cut some of the squares in half to make some rectangles. Then I just played around and stitched rows of them together and crossed my fingers it would fit over the seat! I used a staple gun to attach the fabric to the seat -nice and quick!
I've put it in Amelie's room next to her bed- a good place for her to put her books and all the other random stuff she likes to take to bed most nights!
To see what's been happening in other creative spaces this week, visit Kirsty's at Kootoyoo here
Thanks for visiting :)
Megan x

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Organised Home Project 5: A Civil Defence Kit

Well, I have finally got my civil defence kits done! Now that I'm into my last month of pregnancy (yay!) I've got to say my energy levels have dropped a lot and I am taking a lot longer to do things than I normally would!  We have had heaps on lately and I had a wedding in the weekend to video and make DVD's for- all finished today thank goodness!
Anyway, I've had civil defence stuff all over the baby's room for the last few weeks so I finally got it all together today into a big plastic bin for the garage, and three backpacks in case of a quick evacuation- type scenario.  It's really hard to think of what you would really need and to imagine having to actually use it but it makes me feel good to know that I've at least got some of the basics organised and bought a few things that we might need one day.
Payless Plastics was having a sale last week so I went in and bought a large bin, a 20 litre water container, a bucket and some rubbish bags. I used this list to refer to for things to get..
I also went through our camping stuff and put our little gas BBQ and some spare canisters in there, a radio, a small tarpaulin, some cans of food (need to get more), toilet paper, a couple of water bottles and some snacks. 
I also got three backpacks and packed one for each of the girls and one for me and my hubby.
I put in a woollen jersey for each of us, a change of clothes for the girls, nappies etc for Stella, water bottles and snacks, a couple of blankets and those silk liner sleeping bag type things that we used back when we were backpacking, and a first aid kit and some toiletries. I also put in a few family photo's and photocopies of our insurance policies and birth certificates. 
I sorted out all our medicines and first- aid stuff in the weekend and made three kits up- one for our family car, one for the house and one for our civil defence kit. I've decided to enrol in a first aid course later in the year as I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to first aid and would really like to have some skills and be confident that I could help my own family and others too.
Well, another project down, just hope I don't have to actually use this one!
For more ideas, Meeks from Juggling Motherhood has written a really thorough list of ways to get your family prepared for a disaster- check it out here.
There is so much amazing fundraising happening for Christchurch at the moment- it's really heartwarming to see kiwi's and people from all over the world contributing to the Red Cross and other charities supporting the victims of the earthquake. My pillowcase and toilet bag sets are on Trade me now- you can check them out here along with so many other cool handmade things up for auction with all proceeds going to the Salvation Army and Women's Refuge.
The winner of the nappy wallet from 'the nursery/getting ready for baby challenge' is Notchka- thank you everyone for your comments and tips.
I'm not going to do a challenge this Friday but will be doing one next week- will let you know early next week.
Thanks for visiting, if you have any more civil defence ideas/tips we'd love to read them :)
Megan x

Thursday, March 3, 2011

my creative space: Little Red Riding Hood

I saw this lovely old book at my mother in law's in the weekend- a gorgeous version of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story. Amelie loves reading it and dressing up as red riding hood- I bought her a basket from the Salvation Army store and she even made me dress up as the wolf with some brown fur fabric I bought last year to make baby blankets- funny what you get up to in a day sometimes!
I love this little cottage
Stella thinks that she's the little girl in the book and says "La La' very excitedly when she sees it :)
If you're wondering what this has to do with 'my creative space' I've had some Stitchbird little red riding hood fabric for ages now and as I had a couple of presents to make for two 4 year old girls last week I used some of it (along with some 'Katie Rose' fabric) to make two little satchel bags.
And keeping to my red riding hood theme I found this tutorial for a little doll that I'd like to make one day
And how sweet is this birthday card from Bee at Honeyjumble
Little Red greeting card
Have you seen this amazing RRH pop up book illustrated by Louise Rowe? I found it via this post at weheartbooks 

Here's a lovely version of the story from Oxbridge Baby on youtube too...
For more creative spaces, visit Kirsty's here
Megan x
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