Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lick It & Stick It!

We found this project from Tree Hugging Family awhile ago, and thought it would be something the kids would really enjoy! It's a great way to let their creativity run wild...on a budget! Plus it combines all their favorite things: arts & crafts, stickers, and licking things! It hold lots of flexibility, so your kids can really make it their own.

You need:

  • 1 package (1/4 oz) unflavored gelatin
  • 1 Tbsp cold water
  • 3 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp extract (we used vanilla)

Creating the stickers:

  1. Put cold water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin in, and let it sit for a couple minutes.
  2. Add boiling water. Mix until powder dissolves.
  3. Add sugar and extract. Mix.
  4. Grab a paint brush and brush the mixture onto sheets or scraps of recycled paper. Since kids will be licking this stuff be sure that you use paper that is still clean — at least on one side.
  5. Let the paper dry for about an hour (later if your paper has dried and curled up just set something heavy on it for a bit). To speed up the process, we used a blow dryer on them.

At this point if you covered full sheets with the gelatin mixture you’ll want to cut out shapes or strips — really cut whatever shapes you’d like your stickers to be. Use stencils for ideas or you can also keep the stickers abstract if using small bits of scrap paper.

Have your kids gather up all their art supplies and go to town. They can decorate the non-painted side with glitter, fabric, paint, markers, glitter glue, buttons, google eyes, and more — whatever catches their fancy.

After kids decorate their stickers they can lick them and they’ll stick to holiday or birthday cards, gift wrap, brown bags, and more. Even to themselves!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Homemade Deodorant

Yes you read right, and we know what you're thinking. Homemade deodorant?!?! We saw this recipe on passionatehomemaking.com and thought we have to try this! To our surprise it works great! It is all natural and is super easy to make! Several of us tried it and were all quite pleased with this product. It lasted all day even during exercise.

What you need:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch or arrowroot powder
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil

The coconut oil is available at stores like Whole Foods Market. It is solid at 76 degrees and lower. You may find it easier to work with if you warm it for 10 seconds in the microwave. Now simply mix the three ingredients together. You can store it in a small container with a lid and apply it with you fingers, or you can put it into an old deodorant container. If you are going to do this wait until it is firm, but still a little soft and then spoon it into the bottle. You may want to store the deodorant bottle in the refrigerator if it is warmer than 76 degrees.

Now you might be wondering what you are going to do with the rest of your coconut oil. It is an amazing product. You can use it for cooking. It is supposed to be healthier for you than even olive oil. It is also great for your skin and hair. You can rub it through your hair about an hour before you wash it, or put a very tiny amount in your hair after you shampoo for a leave in conditioner.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sidewalk Chalk Paint


The preschool our four-year-olds attend is over for the year, so while we wait for summer camp to start up we are trying to come up with new ways to amuse them...and ourselves! During a play date, the two of them ended up putting some sidewalk chalk in the water table. Wet chalk takes on a very strange consistency, which makes it pretty fun to color with. Watching the two of them play, we came up with the idea of turning the old, wet chalk into sidewalk paint!

We took the wet chalk and ground it up using a mortar and pestle until it formed a paste. Then we added water until it made a slightly thick paint consistency. We did this with all the colors, putting the finished "paint" in paper cups. Then we handed the boys some paint brushes and let them get creative! The original idea was to let them paint the sidewalk in front of the house, but soon they were painting the flower pots, rocks, their shoes, and even themselves! It was fun for them as well as us, and because it's made from chalk, the clean-up was super-easy!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Sit...Stay...Eat!

In all our craftiness, let's not forget the furry members of our family! This recipe for cheesy dog biscuits makes a ton and is a great project to do with the kids. These treats are based on ones we found on Allrecipes. Because they contain no preservatives, they won't keep forever like store brands. We recommend keeping them in a ziplock bag in the freezer or fridge. But as you can see from the picture of our "test dog" Dory (who is trying to sneak a snack), you may run out faster than you think!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules (beef would be tasty, too!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, margarine, and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Grease cookie sheets.
  2. Thoroughly stir in cornmeal, sugar, bouillon, milk, Cheddar cheese, and egg. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a stiff dough has formed.
  3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, mixing in additional flour as necessary until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll or pat out dough to 1/2" thickness. Cut with cookie cutter, and place 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Cool before serving. Store in a loosely covered container, although fridge or freezer work better.
**We should also mention that not only do our dogs like these treats, but our kids, who insisted on trying them, do as well!**
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

OK, this recipe really comes under the heading of semi-homemade, but this is such a great kid friendly recipe that we had to share it. Like most moms, we are always looking for ways to sneak more veggies into our kids diet and this is a great trick. You use a box cake mix and replace the eggs, water and oil with a can of pumpkin puree which cuts out fat and calories. Your family will love them.
What you need:
1 box of cake mix - we like spice cake, but any flavor will work
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
Mix cake mix and pumkin together with mixer on low or spoon.
**DO NOT ADD OIL, EGGS OR WATER!!**
Now follow the box for time and temperature. You can make these into muffins, cake, cupcakes or mini muffins. Enjoy!
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bubbles!

As the weather is getting nicer and nicer, our desire to get out of the house and play becomes greater and greater! And what could be better than to spend a warm, lovely day blowing bubbles?

If your kids are like ours, the containers of bubble solution tend to get spilled with in the first ten minutes of blowing. It can be frustrating (not to mention pricey) to constantly buy new containers of bubble solution. So we've found a great recipe for homemade bubble solution that allows you to easily make as little or as much as you'd like!

1 part Dawn
10 parts water
.25 parts light Karo syrup (optional)

We usually make a ton and keep it in an old water bottle. That way we can refill those store-bought containers when they spill. And by re-using containers that the store-bought bubble solutions come in, you are doing something fun with your kids, but also our planet!
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Laundry Soap

This is the recipe that really got us interested in making homemade products. It has been figured that using this soap costs you about 1 cent per load, versus the average 30 cents per load when using a commercial brand. And if you are a mom like us, you do a LOT of laundry and every little bit of savings helps.

What you need:

1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha or 1 bar of Ivory soap, grated

½ cup washing soda (found in the laundry aisle in most stores - Arm & Hammer makes it)

½ cup borax powder (also in the laundry aisle - look for "20 Mule Team" brand)

~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~

Put the grated soap in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel (it's a little like magic!). You use ½ cup per load.

We found that for easy storage and use, pour your finished laundry soap in two 1-gallon containers (we've used Gaterade and vinegar bottles - a great way to recycle!).

This soap does not foam, so don't be surprised when you first use it. Also, it really has no scent so if you'd like a stronger-smelling laundry soap just add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil.

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Homemade Weed Killer

We have been looking for ways to rid our gardens of weeds that would be safe for our kids, pets and the environment. These ideas come from www.thisgardenisillegal.com. We have tried the boiling water and vinegar, both worked great!


Boiling Water - Yep, that’s right. Plain old H2O can be used as an extremely effective weed killer. As a matter of fact, boiling water is more effective than many of your store bought weed killers in wiping out unwanted vegetation. Easy-peasy to do. Put a kettle of tap water on the stove and heat till boiling, then pour on the weeds you wish to kill.You are effectively cooking the plant in the ground. Boiling water is a great way to clear out vegetation on a wholesale basis, like driveways and sidewalks. But be warned, boiling water is not selective. It will cook and instantly kill any plant that it comes in contact with and this includes underground roots of nearby plants.
Bleach - Not only is bleach a spot remover, it is a weed remover as well. Place some bleach in a spray bottle and spray on the weed you wish to remove. The bleach chemicals will evaporate or dissipate in about two days (or less but better safe than sorry), making the area safe for planting. Again, bleach will kill anything but if you do get some on a plant you want to keep, just wash the plant off.
Vinegar - Vinegar is a great organic homemade weed killer. Either white or cider vinegar will work. The acetic acid in the vinegar works to kill the leaves on the plant but not the root. Vinegar will kill back (kill the leaves but not the root) any plant but works best on young plants because they do not have enough energy stored in the roots to regrow their leaves. If vinegar is applied to more established weeds enough times, the plant will eventually deplete its stored energy reserves and die.
Salt - It was once a known war tactic to salt the fields of enemies. Salting the earth was also used as punishment for severe crimes in several countries throughout history. The reason is because salt will kill plants and will make the ground unsuitable for future plant growth. On a small scale, you can drop a small pinch of table salt at the base of the undesirable plants. It will kill the plant but will dilute down to harmless in the next few rainfalls. On a larger scale, you can cover your gravel driveway or your ex’s yard with a good amount of salt and nothing will grow there for months. (FYI, it is illegal to salt another person’s property. It’s called vandalism.)
Rubbing Alcohol - Rubbing alcohol is used around the house because it draws water out and helps to evaporate it quickly. Guess what? If you put it on a plant, it will do the same thing. You will be basically sucking the life blood out of the weed. Makes you want to run right out and try it, huh? But again, rubbing alcohol is non-selective. It will kill any vegetation it comes contact with.
Corn Meal - Corn meal doesn’t really kill weeds, it just stops the weed seeds from ever developing. Corn Gluten is a pre-emergent, which is a fancy way of saying that is it is a seed birth-control. Corn meal scattered around an area will keep any seed in that area from growing into a plant. This means a weed seed or a desirable seed. This method is a good option for areas that you plan on planting grown plants in.
Newspaper - If murdering your weeds with chemicals is not your style, you can always smother them. Laying down a layer of newspaper at least 4 sheets thick (the more the better) will go a long way towards killing the weeds underneath. The weeds that are already there will die from lack of sun and the weed seeds will not be able to sprout because they are not getting any sun to start with.
As an added bonus, many of these 7 homemade weed killers can be combined to produce super results. For example, the boiling water can be mixed with the salt or the vinegar (or both) for a super weed killer. Use common sense when combining chemicals and make sure that there are no adverse reactions.
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