Charging Station

Our electronics and their chargers have been scattered all over the house for a long time, which is uncharacteristic of my usual tidiness. I was looking into buying a charging station, when I realized that a charging station is less a product, and more a state of mind. So I:

1. Located an unused power strip from around the house.
2. Cleared nearly everything off the top of the small shelf next to the computer.
3. Taped the cord in place so it was in the middle of the shelf.
4. Gathered the electronics (rechargeable batteries, the camera battery, the MP3 players, the kindles, and the cell phone), and gathered all of their chargers from around the house.
5. Placed everything around the plug.

Unexpected things to Compost!

I found this AWESOME list on pintrest!! I had no idea we could compost so many things around the house, so I copied and pasted the list into a new Word Doc, deleted the things that don’t apply to us, made the font a little larger, and put it in two columns to get it on one sheet of paper. I’ve since posted it on the side of the fridge as a reminder and resource of what we are able to compost.

Download the PDF of the one I made: Compost Fridge List
or make your own from the original list here: smallfootprintfamily.com

2014 Garden – Day 5: Vermiculture

I happened to see worm farm PVC tubes on some website that I was browsing, and it stayed in the back of mind for a while before I really researched how to do it. Turns out, it’s simple!

I bought a couple three inch wide PVC pipes, they were precut to two foot long.
We drilled lots of holes in the bottom half of the pipes, then buried them about a foot in the ground.
I bought $1 plates from goodwill to put on top of them, and done! The little bird statue is from the dollar store.
We’ve already started tossing in the smaller compost scraps for the worms, and I like the ease of knowing that we are feeding garden worms without having to maintain a worm farm bin.

This is an great visual video of how this type of composting works around plants:

Travel Games

The girls and I are going on a flight today, all the way to Arizona! And since we are only using carryons, space for travel toys is limited. We are each taking one pad of paper and pen though, so I quickly googled some ideas for paper and pencil travel games! Here is what I found that I’ll try on the plane:

Hangman
Two or more players. One player thinks of a word and writes a line for each letter, then draws a gallows. Not a bad idea to give some adult help on this step. The other players try to guess the letters in the word. Each incorrect letter means the first player draws a body part on the gallows. The object is to guess the word before you get “hung” – which is a full body picture on the gallows.

Boxes
Draw rows of dots. Take turns drawing a line between two dots. The object is to make a box with your lines and the most boxes wins. Players write their initials in the boxes they draw.

Morse Code Writing
Print out the code and have your kids make secret messages in Morse Code.

Story Add-On
Get a piece of paper. The first person writes down a beginning to a story – it can be one sentence – then folds the paper to cover what he wrote. The second person continues the story without looking and adds a detail or action. That person folds the paper over her part. And so forth, until someone ends the story. Open, read, and laugh!

Monster Add-On
Fold a plain piece of paper into four horizontal sections. The first person draws the monster head, folds over the paper so it is covered. The second person draws the neck, shoulders, and arms then folds over. The third person draws the body then folds it over. The fourth person finishes with the legs and feet. Open and check out your masterpiece!

These were found at: Imagination Soup

Eating an Alphabet
Let your half-starved brood describe how hungry they are in this game, best played about half an hour before you make a pit stop for food. This version of the “I’m Packing for a Picnic” game begins when you announce “I’m so hungry I could eat an aviator” (“alligator,” or “apple”). The next player adds on with a B word. She might say, “I’m so hungry I could eat an aviator and a bunny rabbit” (“belly button,” or “bologna slice”). See if you can keep it up until your family is eating zoos, zippers, or zigzags.

I Spy
Someone says, “I spy with my little eye something green.” Whoever guesses the item correctly goes next. You could limit the items to what’s in the area. Or you could get tricky and play I Spied, selecting items that you’ve already passed.

These were found at: Spoonful.com

Also we have a great game we play in our family, it’s a portable Scattergories, here is how to play:

T-shirt Shopping Bags

As I mentioned yesterday, I saw an ‘free ad’ on craigslist for old unusable t-shirts and sweaters, the sweaters I’m turning into heavy braided rugs, and the worst stained shirts will end up with the same fate… …but some of the tshirts I’m repurposing as shopping bags.

I’m not sure where I saw this idea, but it stuck with me, and it’s quite simple. Follow the cutting example in the photo below, then sew up the bottom of the shirt, and done!

A Huge Braided Rug

I saw an ‘free ad’ on craigslist for old unusable t-shirts and sweaters, and immediately thought Braided Rugs!! With a large cold kitchen floor, and chilly concrete garage floor in front of the washing machine, I got started right away.

Step One:
I googled how to make fabric yarn from shirts, there are all kinds of tutorials out there, the one that helped me most was at the blog My Wild Acres.

Step Two:
I braided the sweaters that I’d cut into ‘yarn’. It was easiest when my hubby would hold the braid tight to keep my tension, while we watched movies. I did find that I could hold it with my foot also.

Step Three:
There are MANY tutorials on this part as well. Unfortunately they are all for t-shirt braided rugs and I didn’t anticipate how hard on my machine sweater fabric would be. Two shattered needles later, I gave up, and my project stalled. Until I discovered heavy duty needles! YAY!

Custom Water Glasses, Take 2!

I’m trying to get our family to drink more water! And after the last time I tried to create actual custom water glasses, and failed, I decided that instead of making a certain glass designated for water, I’d make something to mark any glass/cup.

Quick Glass Marking Band
ch 28, join to form loop
slip st in back loop of each ch
weave in ends

Now each member of the family can get a glass down, mark it with their band, place it on the glass tray next to the sink, and use it all day – this way not every cup in the house is dirty and strewn about the house! We are loving it so far!

Workout Exercise Game

Over a year and half ago I severely injured my ankle, I was in a wheelchair for the first week, then crutches, and finally a walking cast for a couple months. It was a stupid thing really, I slipped when I was finally coaxed onto the dance floor during my first (AND LAST!) time ‘clubbing’ with some coworkers who persuaded me to go with them. If there is anyone in the world who doesn’t belong at a nightclub, it’s me… like a cat in water, I’m just happier elsewhere.

Well, anyway. About that time, I’d purchased some sessions with a personal trainer, and was starting to learn how to complete a proper workout at home. I had all the basics down, finished my last session with him, set up my mini ‘home gym’ with a balance ball, yoga mat, and stop watch – then damaged my ankle. Even now, a year and half later it is still stiff in the morning, and a quite achy after walking too long. But since it’s healing, if slowly, I feel ready to attempt a workout routine again! I pulled out the workout cards, basically notes from my time with the personal trainer, that I’ve set up as a sort of card game. I have a stack of cards, on the front are the categories: Legs, Core, Back & Chest, Shoulders & Arms, and on the back are my notes. I choose a card from each group, then an extra leg card, to do a work out like this:
-A “Plank”
-The Leg exercise card
-The Core exercise card
-The Back & Chest exercise card
-The Leg exercise card
-The Shoulders & Arms exercise card
REPEAT exact exercises from all above cards, then
-A “Plank”
This should take about 20 minutes total.
At the end, set aside the cards, so the next workout will be with different cards.
At the beginning of each week, shuffle the cards and start again.

As I learn more, or see other exercises that I like, I have a stack of blank cards to fill in and add to my exercise game! You can download the cards I use here:
Workout Cards – Filled in, not ready to print, but you can flip through them for inspiration.
Workout Cards – Blank, print double sided on cardstock

Who needs a gym, when you have imagination!

Other tips that I learned from the personal trainer:
1. You want a varied workout, if you always do the same thing it will not be as effective.
2. Do weights and toning every other day, with cardio on the days in-between.
3. Try to hit most of your muscles in each workout, which is why my notes are separated into the four groups.

Financial Excel Spreadsheet

With the start of a new year, it always feels good to make a new tab on my budget excel sheet. It’s a fresh new year, with no mistakes in it! I thought I’d share my budgeting process in case it gives you any ideas for your own! You can download the excel sheet here:
Finances Worksheet

It’s fairy self-explanatory, I type in the amounts of each payment through the month, and type in the paychecks that we received, and it calculates how much money is left in the ‘rollover’ field along the bottom. I left my info in there for this month, with the whole projected month, just for an example. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help!

New Year’s Resolution

For the most part, I don’t usually make an official New Year’s Resolution. We’ve done it as a family before, but as for a personal one, I just don’t get around to it. This year, I really really really want to pledge to wash and take my produce and bulk bin cloth bags to use less plastic. I do an mediocre job of it now, and I MUST do better!

On a related note, I use wide-mouth pint and quart jars to store all my bulk bin plunders, it keeps everything tidy and airtight even better than the unfriendly plastic bags!

Happy New Year!

Veggie Sandwiches

One thing that I was still using plastic for was to store greens in the fridge. I could not figure out another way to keep them from going limp and icky. Then I saw this image of lettuce in a jar and… oh DUH! I’ve been keeping EVERYTHING in mason jars all year! Leftovers, bulk bin basics, homemade juice – so why not veggies and greens?

This revelation was timely in that it coincided with my hubby’s decision to start taking veggie sandwiches to work with him. He can precut the lettuce, bell peppers and cucumbers. So in the morning he packs his Greentainer with:
-Iceberg or romaine lettuce
-Pickles
-Olives
-Cucumbers
-Green bell peppers
-Banana peppers
-Salt & Black pepper
-Mustard
Next he places the insert into the top of the container, and smooshs in two slices of whole wheat bread. He fills a smaller Greentainer with potato chips, and tosses both containers and two apples into a reusable cloth bag in his backpack. A healthy lunch for a robust man on the go!

Teacher Gifts, Bags & Bons Bons

Not having much experience yet with teacher gifts, I hope I sent a good gift. I embroidered this tree on a reusable bag, one that I made with a size large enough to hold a binder and papers, and that I hope would be helpful to a teacher. Then I attached a small bag of bon bons that are a family specialty, because it’s the holidays and that means chocolate!

Peanut Butter Bons Bons
Makes one tray full

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 oz of chocolate

Mix all ingredients except of chocolate.
Form into small balls.
Melt chocolate and dip.
Let dry and enjoy.

Old Frames for Dry Erase Notes

I saw this awesome idea at the blog Break for Mommy, a dry erase board that instead of being boring white, could be customized with scrapbooking paper in a frame! How right up my alley!! I’ve been wanting to get a board, or cork board, or chalkboard, or something for the entry way for reminders, notes, and weather. Most especially for the weather, so that I know if I need to take rain gear. We got the matching frames from goodwill, with their only redeeming factors that that they had Goodwill’s “color of the week” sticker, making them half off! As soon as we got them home, we repainted them, and I set to work making the 11×17 inch inserts to print out. I think they turned out perfect for our needs, if you like the inserts you can download them here: Entry Way “Dry Erase” Board

For the frame I asked what kind of paint to use at a tool store and they said to use acrylic. I bought a small bottle at Joann’s, along with a sponge brush, which worked for both large frames…. Before and after:

Also, we used this great tip for hanging the frames: Painters Tape to Hang a Frame

Pillow Covers

Dilemma: Our couch pillows are very old, splitting at the seams, and kinda gross. Having been washed and mended, they still are becoming an eyesore.

Consumer Outlook: Buy new pillows. Trash the old pillows.
Crafty Sewer’s Outlook: Make new pillows. Trash the old pillows.
Reduce Reuse Recycle Outlook: Make new covers for the old pillows.

I bought this fuzzy fabric half off on Black Friday, and covered the old pillows, easy peasy!

HAPPY THANKGIVING!

Quick idea… if your rolling pin is broken like mine, use a mason jar!