Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sea Life Crayons

Recently, Boy Genius and Skinny had a birthday party. Being of limited funds, I wanted to make something for their goody bags. I thought recycling some crayons would be neat. This is really easy to make and my boys had a lot of fun doing it.
First, if you have any broken and old crayons, now is the time to use them. Strip them of their paper wrappers. Having some boys who like to take the wrappers off crayons is extremely helpful. Break them in to little pieces and place them into like color piles into the container you will melt the crayons into. I'm using an Aluminum muffin pan. Now we need to melt these crayons. Being of a frugal mind and living in the High Desert, I'm using a solar oven, ie my van, lol. You can place these in the oven at 200 degrees F. Just check in 20 minutes, don't bake for too long.
When the crayons are melted, the fun begins. Take a candy mold, melt and pour soap mold, silicone ice cube trays or anything you want to use as a mold that can handle a temperature of about 150 F. You can mix colors anyway you choose to. The crayons I melted in my van was a little cooler than the oven. I had to let the oven crayons cool off a little between mixing cause they were like water.

Set aside until cool and solid. These popped out of the mold real easy. My boys were so excited to try them out.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old Fashioned Teething Aid

Rockbiter has been teething off and on since he was 3 months old. I thought I would share with you a quick little trick I've used to get us through.

It is a simple teething toy. It looks like a big wrapped candy. It is a very simple thing to make and is so very washable. Take a baby washcloth. Starting at a corner, roll up the cloth so you have a tube. Tye in a knot. Dip the ends in cool water and give to baby. For myself, I figure Rockbiter is just going to slobber on the thing so why not just dip the whole thing in cool water.

That's it, just a little old fashioned teething aid. I like them cause they are real easy and cheap.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cute Idea -- Colorful Burp Cloths

This is not a new idea, but I thought I would give my spin on it. I have a lot of Gerber Prefold Diapers. These are not a good idea to actually use as diapers cause they don't hold it all in. Some may have heard this elsewhere and been wondering why. After all if you are going to cloth diaper, at least they are in the retail stores. The reason why is that although Gerber does have the nice cotton birdseye on the outside, the padded part of the diaper is not birdseye as well but polyester batting. But they are great for mopping up spills, polishing lint free and loads of other things as well.

So I have these plain white diapers destined to be used as burp cloths while Rockbiter is still a baby. Being strapped for cash much of this year and last year, I'm frankly tired of the squeeze. Nothing much I can do about it for now. This is when the best ideas usually come about. It's Spring! Plain ol' white isn't gonna due. I would love something bright and cheery. I also what something that can wipe up the baby's face without scratching. Something that can be washed time and time again. And most of all, something dead easy since my time is taken up with 4 active boys.

I saw a blog where that mother used ribbon to liven up her burp clothes. I have ribbon, but kept putting off the project. Yesterday it came to me. I have a box of fleece strips that were leftover from a V.B.S. craft. I kept it thinking, I'll use that craft again someday, but it would be really cool to find another use for them. What do you do with little strips of fleece? Since they were so wonderfully bright, colorful and soft, they are perfect for this little project.

In the end, I don't know how much time I took making these, but it wasn't long. I sewed them really quick while Rockbiter was taking a nap. The fleece strips were all different widths, but mercifully mostly the same length. If you wanted to do this, you'll most likely start will a big piece of fleece and make nice and straight strips the size and width you want. I don't mind the irregular widths, it looks pleasing to me. This is an easy sew, just straight seams. I used a straight stitch, but a zig zag would work as well.

I put a couple of strips of fleece in the middle outlining the padded area on some. I sewed a couple on the outside edges on others. That is a good idea cause sometimes these seams come apart. On a couple of cloths, I sewed on some fleece loops. These you need to take some time and sew them on good. I went over these several times. Then I sewed a fleece strip over the loops. I think Rockbiter will like this one.

This was very easy. I didn't measure at all or use pins. I cut off the extra fleece cause I like an even look. Fleece is great cause you don't need to hem it so it won't unravel. Sew and go. :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Love Your Lips--Young's Lip Balm

I've been meaning to create a lip balm for my sister. The last time we visited she was complaining about extremely dry lips. Making lip balm can be pretty simple, but I never can choose between the oils cause they all have such good properties I want to add to my balm. So my lip balms usually have 5 or more oils/fats. Here is my recipe:

Beeswax-->45 grams
Lanolin-->20 grams
Shea Butter-->20 grams
Palm Oil-->17 grams
Cocoa Butter, White deodorized-->34 grams
Castor Oil-->45 grams
Avocado Oil-->31 grams
Vitamin E-->8 grams
Sweet Almond Oil-->7 grams
Black Cherry Flavor Oil-->4 grams
Allantoin -->1 gram

I use grams to be more precise when measuring such small amounts. My scale lets me switch between ounces and grams. Weighing also gives me better precision than volume measuring so I can consistently get the same results.

Gather your ingredients, tools and equipment. You will also need: a double boiler (I use a small saucepan and a small stainless steel bowl), a scale, a spoon to stir, a pipette, lip tubes or pots and various small bowls.In a small bowl, measure the beeswax, palm oil and cocoa butter and set on the double boiler to melt gently. Some might use their microwave, but I like to gently melt my oils. Cocoa butter can cause crystals in your lip balm which isn't too pleasing. Stir occasionally. When you see a few small pieces floating around, take off the heat. Add the lanolin and shea butter. Shea Butter can also cause crystalization, so it needs to be treated gently. Stir and put back on the double boiler until mostly melted. Add the castor, avocado and sweet almond oil, stir. The cooler liquids will cause the some of the melted oils to slightly solidify, just keep stirring a little. Add the Vitamin E (I used Vitamin E Acetate) and yes, stir again. Take off heat. Most of these oils don't do well when overheated. Heat only long enough to return to a liquid state.

In a condiment bowl, weigh out your allantoin and flavor oil. Mix well. Add to oils, stirring well. You will notice the allantoin will cause the oils to be cloudy, don't worry, this won't matter when the balm is solid. At this point, you may notice a ring of balm around the edges of the bowl is solid. As long as the middle of the bowl is still liquid, this is good. Too hot and the flavor will burn off and the allantoin will fry.Time to fill your lip tubes or pots. I've chosen tubes. Since I've yet to purchase a lip balm filler tray, I use a plastic pipette. Fill to the top, I've filled 10 tubes and put the rest in a half pint canning jar for later. After the tubes have cooled down, you will see a "dimple". Leave as is or take some more lip balm and fill in the dimple. Let cool down completely, cap and label. Simple, yes?
All the ingredients can be found at Majestic Mountain Sage as well as the lip tubes and pipettes and a whole lot of other really neat things.
If you wanted to try your own recipe, I used this formula:
20% Beeswax
25% oils that are solid at room temperature (like coconut and lanolin)
15% oils that are brittle at room temperature (like cocoa butter)
40% oils that are liquid at room temperature (like castor, olive and sweet almond oil)
All oils/fats should be cosmetic or food grade.

Lip balms are simple gifts to make. I keep jars of lip balm ready to be melted and poured into containers for on the spot gifts. Try making your own and find out just how addicting lip balms can be. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Project

I know that I am doing things backwards, after all Mother's Day has come and gone. It really doesn't take much to throw my schedule off whack and of course I had a dozy. My son, Kael, is doing much better. Hopefully someone else can learn from our mistakes.

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day. To be honest, we don't do too much around the Harvey Household. It was a lovely lazy day after Morning Worship. I had fun.

The week before Mother's Day, my Children's Church started a Mother's Day project. I had the kiddos make Bath Bombs or Bath Fizzies to give to their mother's. That day was rainy. You don't make good bath bombs on a humid day, usually. Since it was cold, I cranked up the heater to help dry out the air, big mistake. Sometimes I forget living in the desert that I might have to adjust a recipe that others have used successfully. Of course, I did fiddle around with the recipe with my own additions and substitutions.

My children were the only kiddos there that day, so basically, my family made the fizzies to give away. Lol, oh well. The boys had fun measuring and mixing. I did end up having to take over and molding the fizzies. The mix was incredibly dry, most likely due to the addition of the rose clay. The clay was more for the color than anything. I don't have any colorants.
Mother's Day I had the kiddos decorate some small bags to package the fizzies and they made cards with the ingredients listed. We had a small showing of kiddos, so I had some leftover, which I gave to the ladies who stayed for the Mother's Day Tea the men put together.

Here is the Recipe:

Rosy Bath Bombs

2 cups Baking Soda
1/4 cup Epsom Salt
1 cup Citric Acid
1 tbsp E-Wax
2 tbsps Sweet Almond Oil (I ended up using 3 tbsps)
2 ml of Rose FO
1 ml of Chinatown
1/4 cup dried Rose Petals
1 tbsp Rose Kaolin Clay

I'm not going to go into the instructions, you can find some all over the web. I had to also spritz the mixture liberally with water. Can't tell ya how much I used, but I did it until it was crumbly enough to mold. Which was WAY more than most of the directions I've seen. I'm guessing cause I'm in a dry climate and I used the clay.

I used a silicon mold I found at Goodwill. It was a Pampered Chef item. I loved the detailed rose but I have to say, I probably won't be using it again for bath bombs. The silicon gave too much for an adequate pack. I wanted a nice solid fizzy that would take a long time to fizz. I will be using it for soap though.

All in all, it turned out quite well. I used mine last night and I loved it. I'll probably tweak the recipe a bit more, but it is a good one as is with a little work. The kids had fun and I sure hope the Mothers' liked them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One of THOSE days

Mondays. Mondays for me are usually my day off. We relax a bit, not push so much to get stuff done. Monday is my weekend really. Today was going pretty well. I'm trying something a little differently with my boys schoolwork and it was going great. Boy Genius was finished quite fast today. The new schedule is working good with him. Boy Genius and Skinny were both finished with schooling and so had some free time which they wanted to spent outside.

As a parent, you try to equip your children for the dangers in the world around them. You warn them about the black widow spiders lurking in the dark places. Rattlesnakes in the crevices. What to do if a stranger grabs them. Many many things to tell. And obviously sometimes you don't get to everything.

I didn't think to tell of such to my boys. When I make my soap, I try to do it when they are not around or asleep in their beds. Still, I let them know about lye can burn their skin. I use natural cleaning products in my home. If they were to swallow my cleaning supplies, they would get a stomach ache and a nasty taste in their mouths, but safe. I forgot about the world outside my home.

You see, the boys found a can of oven cleaner somewhere in the field. Whether it fell out of the trash truck (our road is quite rough) or blew in with that fierce hurricane velocity wind the other day, who knows. The can was faded, so had been out in the sun awhile, but was not rusty. My sons have great imaginations, so I'm not sure what was being played at the time of the incident. They used a long four pronged garden tool used to break up the soil for my garden. The can punctured and burst. The can hit Boy Genius in the stomach and the contents sprayed his face.

I was getting ready to nurse Rockbiter. I was about to go and check on the boys outside. Skinny had come inside to watch a dvd. Roosiers was playing with Rockbiter. Then Boy Genius came in and sank behind the couch. His face was a swollen. It looked like he got beat up. I was a little concerned. Our neighbors have boys that my boys play with occasionally. Somehow or another they end up threatening to beat up my littler boys. Boy Genius denied he was beat up. What happened? He said a thing hit him in the stomach. What sort of thing? The thing out there.

If you have boys, you know this type of conversation. It can be the very devil getting any useful information out of him. So I said, "Show me". I don't know if he was embarrassed or afraid to get into trouble, but he ended up showing me. He said it hit him in the stomach, but I thought perhaps it might have hit him in the face at first. Once I found the "thing" was a can of oven cleaner, bbq version, I rushed him into the shower. I could see a hole in the can and the tiller nearby. I can imagine what happened.

Boy Genius' face was beginning to discolor. I put him and his little brother Skinny into the shower. I told him to wash off. I called his papa and told him to come home NOW. I poured a vinegar solution over my poor boy's head. I called poison control and then I told my husband to take Boy Genius to the hospital. Then I waited. I do not like waiting.

After calling friends and family to activate prayer trees, I sat and prayed. His eyes didn't look red, but I couldn't be sure. I did break down for a little bit. My neighbor came over as I was going to take a walk. I needed fresh air. We walked down the drive and talked. She comforted me, and took my mind off Boy Genius. Roosiers and Skinny ran around us like the little hyper boys they are. Rockbiter was in our sling throwing smiles and flirting. The sun was bright and I had no idea how bad off my son was.

Mae and I parted and I went in to bake and do something. Didn't get around to that, just took care of the boys and updated FB. Finally my firstborn came home. I was so happy. He is such a little trouper. He hadn't been whimpering in pain when he left and Papa said he didn't complain while at the hospital. He must have inherited his Papa's high tolerance for pain. Boy Genius said, "Mom, I didn't even flinch when they poked me with the needle. I'm not afraid of needles anymore."

A piece of his left ear was brownish black and his bottom lip looked torn up, but he was game to get on with life. He was hungry so I fed him chocolate pudding and tiny pieces of chicken nugget. He said, "Mom, I think I'll won't touch another can" So I think he learned his lesson. Apparently, he got his little brother Skinny to spray him with the garden hose and stayed outside a bit to dry. What a smart little fella!

In the end, God is very good. God spared my boy from any further harm that might have happened. Boy Genius learned his lesson about cans under pressure and their contents. But now I am wondering what is next. Cause the one constant is that boys (and girls) are little walking Murphy's Law magnets.

Thank you, Lord, for all you have done to take care of our family.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Laminated Bookmarks

I love to make bookmarks. I don't use them a lot, but I love to make them. These ones were spur of the moment kind thing. You see, I was laminating pieces to a Calendar bullentin board. I have 4 boys, I want these things to last homeschooling through the last one. It was like playing Tetris getting as many pieces onto a 9 x12 pocket of plastic laminate and still have a good seal around the pieces. The last few pockets had vast empty spots no matter how I tried. I didn't have anything else to laminate and I didn't want to waste all that space. What to do?

I had scrap pieces of ribbon that I had lying around after another craft or two. Yes, I save a lot of different things. I thought, "Hey, these would make a neat laminated bookmark!" So that is what I did, I put a few pieces of ribbon on the pockets and laminated them. I like them and my boys use them. They would make a quick gift as well to a reader.

A few different ideas: scrapbook paper, dried flowers, a pretty scrap of fabric. Really you could use this idea with any sort of flat object that can stand a little heat. It is fast and fun.