Thursday, April 29, 2010

Milk Jug Curtain

That's right, a curtain made of milk jugs! We are so excited to share this
final project in our series of earth friendly projects. We were inspired by a method that we learned from Susan Wasinger's book Eco Craft. In her book she makes a beautiful pendent light using milk jugs. We applied her technique to this project. By sanding pieces of milk jugs they look just like rice paper. The picture doesn't do this curtain justice. No one ever guesses what we made this curtain out of.

We started by collecting a whole lot of milk jugs! We ended up using seven jugs for a 3'x4' window. Make sure they are washed well!
We decided on a design that we liked - alternating small and large rectangles. Then we made two patterns and traced them on the smooth parts of the milk jugs. You don't want the textured parts, like on the handle and the bottom. You can trace your patterns around the corners. They flatten out well once they are cut.
We cut the pieces out using scissors. Then we sanded each piece with medium grit sand paper in a circular motion until they were textured and no longer shiny.
Next we laid the curtain out. We made holes in each piece using a nail that we heated with a candle. A tiny hole punch would work well.
We connected each piece with two silver jump rings.
Then we used some key chain rings (we had a whole bag of them for some reason) to hang our curtain.
Then it was ready to hang.

We're still trying to decide what to do with the leftover pieces of the milk jugs. This is our favorite idea so far!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Tin Can Tea Lights

When we made our recycled wind chime out of the lids and bottoms of tin cans, we were left with the bodies of the cans. We could have just tossed them in the recycling bin, but where's the fun in that? We turned to an idea given to us by our crafty friend Jill, who told us about making tea light covers out of them instead!

What you need:
  • tin cans
  • permanent marker
  • petroleum jelly (optional)
  • hammer
  • nail
First we washed out our cans.

Then using our marker, we marked out designs using dots. Be as creative as you'd like!

Next, we filled the cans with water until they were almost full. Since the cans we were using had no bottoms, we put a thick layer of petroleum jelly on a small plate, then put the cans on top. This created a seal so the water didn't leak out (if the cans you use have bottoms, you can obviously skip that part). Then we put our cans in the freezer.

Once the water in the cans was frozen, we took the cans out and began to hammer out our dotted designs. The ice inside the cans acts as resistance, so the can won't crumble and dent when you hammer it.

When we finished hammering out our designs, we ran the cans under warm water to melt the ice, then gave the cans a coat of bright paint! Cute right?

But we think they look even better when they have a tea light inside them and are lit up!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recycled Wind Chimes

Happy Earth Day! To continue with our pledge to only make recycled, reusable, and eco-friendly crafts this month, we wanted to share our recycled wind chime!

Maggie's husband has been after us to make a wind chime for awhile now, but so many of the recycled ones looked a little too recycled. We were looking for something that was not only recycled but looked and sounded pretty, too. And as usual, we found inspiration in food. Having made a vat of pasta sauce, Maggie had a large collection of cans left over. We decided that their tops and bottoms would make the perfect wind chimes!

What you need:
  • the top and bottom from 1 large can
  • the tops and bottoms from 6 small cans
  • permanent marker
  • hammer
  • nail
  • monofilament
  • glue gun
First, wash and dry your tops and bottoms. Then hammer a single hole near the tops of each small circle.

Next, make 12 evenly spaced marks near the outer edge of one of the large circles, leaving a little space between them and the edge. These will be where you hang each of your finished chimes. Make four more marks on the big lid (in the space between the 12 marks and the edge) , one on the top, bottom, and each side. These will be used to hang your wind chime. On the second lid, make the same four marks you just made on the first circle. They must line up with the four marks on the first large circle! This second large circle will be used to cover the holes and knots that you'll have on the first circle (this will make more sense later, we promise). Once all your marks are made, hammer holes into all of them.

At this point , you can paint your circles any color you want. We chose white!

Now it's time to assemble your wind chime. Using your monofilament, tie a knot onto one of the small circles, and then attach it with another knot to the large circle with the 12 holes. Continue this until all your circles are attached. We made each circle hang a little lower than the one before it, creating a spiral.

Now fire up your glue gun! Add some hot glue to the top of the large circle and place your second large circle (the one with only 4 holes on it), being careful to line them up. Then thread more monofilament those four sets of holes to create a hanger for your wind chimes.

Now just hang up your chimes and enjoy the sweet sound of recycling!
Happy Earth Day! And stay tuned to see what we did with the other parts of the tin cans!
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Monday, April 19, 2010

City Composting - part 1

Our city does a fantastic job recycling most of our trash. We usually have mostly food scraps in our can. To create even less waste we wanted to try composting our fruit and veggie scraps. Because we live in a city and don't have much room for large compost piles, we needed a small bin. We also wanted to make sure we could keep animals out of the container. There are a lot of great composing containers that we could buy, but didn't want to spend a lot of money buying something that we thought we could make ourselves. So last summer Rebecca decided to make a compost bin out of a plastic tub.. She envisioned lots of beautiful compost for her garden. Let's just say it did not turn out well. Apparently not having enough ventilation can create a very stinky and slimy situation. So we are going to try this again this summer.

After bravely opening last summers bin, we washed it out (so gross!!!). Then we drilled a lot more holes all around the bin.

We used a 1/4 inch drill bit. We kept the holes near the top of the bin.

Then we added the goodies: grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, fruit and veggie scraps and dirt from old flower pots. (NO MEAT!)

To keep animals out of the bin we keep a few bricks on top.

We have been shaking the bin every few days and adding water when it seems dry.

Keep your fingers crossed for us! We'll let you know how this season's compost bin works out.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cuff 'Em!

After sharing our record planter, we have become record-melting junkies. Not only have we made several more, but we have been looking for new things to create with this fun technique. Our latest creation: cuff bracelets! We have seen these before, and once again decided we could figure out a way to make them ourselves. Here's how we did it:

What you need:
  • 1 record (again we turned to Hawaiian music circa 1966)
  • a cookie sheet or pizza pan
  • scissors
  • a jar, can...anything round to form your bracelet around. Do not use your wrist, as the vinyl will be hot!
As with the planter, preheat your oven for about 200˚ F. Set your record on your pan and set it in the oven for about 5-8 minutes. Keep an eye on it, as ovens vary. When it is soft, take it out.

Once you take it out, you must move quickly as it hardens super-fast. With your scissors cut a strip of the record at the length and width you want your bracelet to be. You may have to put it back in the oven to re-soften it at this point.

After cutting it, wrap it around your can or jar (again, not your wrist). If any adjustments need to be made, you can always stick your cuff back in the oven for a couple minutes to soften it back up.

At this point you can leave your cuff as-is, or maybe give it a coat of acrylic paint. When it comes to decorations, be as creative as you like!
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Revamp Your Vinyl

We recently came across these on Etsy. These bowls made from melted vinyl records were so pretty! The price tag, however, was not as pretty. Since we just happened to have an abundance of albums on hand (and no record player to play them on), we figured we try our hand at it! Although not as elaborate as the ones for sale, we are thrilled with the results.

What you need:
  • a vinyl record (we chose one from a 5 album set of Hawaiian music from idea why we even had that...)
  • a 9" oven-safe bowl
  • cookie sheet
  • potholders (the bowl and record could get hot, although we found that ours were just fine)
  • paint (optional)
Preheat your oven to 200˚ F and open up a window - the melted records will give off some stinky fumes. Place your bowl upside down on your cookie sheet, and place your record on top of that.Put the cookie sheet, bowl, and record stack in the oven, and leave it there for about 8 - 10 minutes. Stick around and keep a close eye on it. Since ovens vary the heating time will vary (we found ours took a bit longer). Once your record begins to soften and conform to the bowl underneath it, check and see if the vinyl is soft enough to manipulate - you may want to use a potholder for this.If it is, take the tray out of the oven, remove the record from on top of the bowl, flip the bowl over, push the record inside the bowl (we had to push pretty hard), and adjust the "ruffles" however you like. Do this quickly as the vinyl cools pretty rapidly. If you need to, stick it back in the oven for a few minutes to soften it back up.Once it cools you can leave it as it is, but we decided to paint ours and give it a coat of polyurethane. We then decided that although it made a cute bowl, it would make an even cuter planter - it even has a ready-made drainage hole! Perfect for new little spring plants!
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recycled Notecards

We are so excited today, to let you know about our new web address. With the help of a clever husband we were able to change our address to (our old address will automatically redirect you).

Now for our note cards...

We made these pretty note card out our of our kids' art work. When are kids start creating there is quickly a giant stack of projects that we are never quite sure what to do with. You can only save and display so much. We hate to just throw them away- not good for the earth or our children's feelings. So we thought we would share the pictures and make them into note cards.

First we gathered some our favorite drawings and paintings.

And some note card envelopes (you can buy packages of them)

Next we folded and cut our cards so they were just a little smaller than our envelopes. The older kids signed the back of the cards (as any artist would do!) In just a few minutes we had a set of note cards. We bundled them together for a gift for grandma. We know she is going to love showing off her grand kids, art work.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Earth Day Resolutions

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, Homemade Mamas have decided make an Earth day Resolution. We are going to post only earth friendly projects this month. All of our projects will be made from recycled materials or be reusable.

Check out some of our past earth friendly projects and our homemade cleaning products which are better for the earth and your wallet!

We sat down with our kids and talked about what we were going to do for Earth Day. Then we discussed what new resolutions we could make as a family. They came up with some great ideas. One of their ideas was to not buy new things if we can make them out of something we already have. Here is a great example of that idea:

Earth Friendly, Money Savvy Piggy Banks:

Our local bank was selling these piggy banks with different sections in them. One was for spending, one for saving and one for donation. They were supposed to teach your kids to be money savvy. We loved this concept, but spending $15 on a plastic pig sure didn't seem money savvy, or earth friendly.

We found three different containers from our recycling bin. We covered them with paper and labeled and decorated them. The smaller peanut butter jar for spending, the juice jug for saving and the pickle jar for donations. We used superglue to seal the juice jug's lid closed. Then we cut a slit in the top of the jug to slip in our money. This way the kids won't be tempted to take money out of the save bank.

The banks work great and the kids are learning two great lessons-how to be earth friendly and money savvy.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Homemade Maple Syrup

Our friend Benita, who knows we are always on the lookout for unusual homemade projects, sent us this recipe from Full Bellies, Happy Kids. Homemade Maple Syrup! Who knew it could be done? Of course, it's not "real" maple syrup (we're not sending you out to go tap a tree or anything). But it is tasty and oh-so-simple!

1-3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 c water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. maple extract

Mix the white and brown sugar with the water, bring to a boil.

Cover and cook for about a minute.

Add the vanilla and maple, mix well and let cool.

There is no need to refrigerate this. Just find a cute bottle to put it in and you are ready to go! This recipe is perfect for when you run out of syrup unexpectedly. Enjoy!
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