Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hip-Hip-Hooray!

Yesterday our amazing Aunt Pat underwent a hip replacement surgery (and the hospital underwent an invasion by the Homemade Mamas and Homemade Nana!). Everything went great but we want to take the rest of the week off to be with our family and help our aunt recover. Probably we'll just end up driving her crazy with our silliness, but isn't that what family is for?
Pretty sure she's going to kill us for posting this....

We will see you all on Monday with a fun Valentine's project! And don't forget that our Instagram February Photo Challenge starts on Friday February 1st! You can follow Rebecca at rocky127 and Maggie at mkretch13 - join us by using the tag #hmmphotoaday on your photos! Can't wait to see all your creative pictures!


 
 
 
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Insta-mamas!

For the past few months I have been a little obsessed with instagram. I drive my kids crazy making them stop so I can take a picture! I feel like it helps me appreciate the simple joys and beauty in everyday life. The other thing I love about instagram is that you can see what other people from all over the world are sharing. I follow people from all over America, Denmark, Japan and the Middle East! Amazing!

Maggie and I want to invite you all to follow us on instagram. We thought it would be a fun way for you to get to know us better and for us to get to know you too. It would also be a great way for you to share your homemade projects with fellow readers by adding #homemademamas to projects you have made.

To follow Rebecca - rocky127
To follow Maggie - mkretch13

We also thought it might be fun to create our own February photo challenge! So many of the photo challenges that we have seen seem to be geared for teenagers. We tried to make one that we hope will appeal to a more general audience. With Valentine's day coming up, we gave the challenge a "love" theme. If you would like to join us, add the hashtag #hmmphotoaday to your photos.



Can't wait to see you all on instagram! Let us know if you would like us to follow you back!




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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Clean Your Microfiber Couch




Keith and I have had our couch and arm chair for over eight years. To be honest, we bought these because we liked the way they looked. We didn't realize how durable microfiber is. Most spills wipe off very easily. Rocky, our little dog once got ahold of a bottle of red food coloring and got it all over the couch. Amazingly, that wiped off too! However, after eight years of kids and dogs eating, playing, jumping and sleeping on it, the couch is starting to look a little worn and dirty. The covers of the cushions do come off, but I have always been a little nervous about washing them in the washing machine.

This one cushion is Rocky's favorite place to sleep! It's also the dirtiest spot on the couch!





I ws so excited when I stumbled onto Chris and Robin's Nest. They shared this great method for cleaning your microfiber furniture. Instead of using water to clean your couch, you use alcohol. Water can make watermarks, but the alcohol evaporates so fast that it doesn't.

You will need:

* 99% Isopropyl Alcohol - I used 2 - 16 oz bottles
* a clean, dry, spray bottle
* new scrub sponges - one half a scouring pad and the other side a sponge. I bought a 3 pack because I had a large area to clean.
* a clean, dry, soft scrub brush - the bristles shouldn't be any harder than a toothbrush. A clean shoe brush might work well too.
* a toothbrush (optional) for areas like the binding
* paper towels or white rags for really dirty spots

*** VERY IMPORTANT - TEST THIS METHOD IN AN INCONSPICUOUS AREA OF YOUR FURNITURE FIRST!!!! SOME FABRIC MAY BLEED ***

*** YOU MAY NOT WANT TO TRY THIS IF YOUR FURNITURE HAS A CLEANING WARRANTEE ***

Make sure you do this in a well ventilated area.

First pour the alcohol into your spray bottle. My sprayer actually fit on the alcohol bottle. They spray a small area of the couch. A 2ft x 2ft area should be the biggest area at a time. The alcohol will evaporate too fast if you spray a larger area. So spray and then wipe with the sponge side. After you wipe way the dirt, rub the area with a circular motion with the scrubby side. This will help refluff the fabric. Pay careful attention to the binding.


Look how much dirt came off!!!


Let the couch completely dry! I think my couch was completely dry within an hour. The fabric may feel a little stiff still. This is where the scrub brush and toothbrush come in. Rub the fabric with the dry brush in a circular motion. The toothbrush may be helpful to refluff the binding.


Now for my results:

This was Rocky's favorite spot...so gross!!!


This was Rocky's favorite spot after washing!!! I am sooo amazed! For this area I did use several paper towel after spraying. It was too dirty for just the sponges. I kept spraying and wiping until I got off the dirt.


This was one of the seat cushions. As you can see there were several watermarks on it.


After, the watermarks look better, but they are not completely gone. But, it is definitely a huge improvement!


The arms were also really dirty from everyones hands toughing them. The microfiber was slick and shiny. Yuck!


Ta-da! It now looks like new!


No sooner had I put the couch back together, when Rocky was right back in his favorite spot! Oh well, at least I know how to clean the couch now! Ha ha!






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Monday, January 21, 2013

Painted Valentine Garland


When the Christmas decorations came down (some of us more recently than others...) the only way we could appease our children (who I'm pretty sure would like us to leave the tree up all year round) was to remind them that we had to make room for Valentine's Day decorations. So this weekend we started getting ready for Valentine's Day by making this fun Painted Valentine Garland! It was so simple but turned out so cute!!


What You Need:
  • Paper
  • Paint (we used watercolors)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (or ribbon, yarn, string etc...)
  • A small artist or two

First, have your little helpers paint all over their paper.

Jack even used his spray paint technique!
The boys worked very hard on their art!

 

Once the masterpieces are dry, draw and cut out heart shapes. A heart-shaped punch would make this so much faster, but not having one I had to resort to tracing around a cookie cutter! :)


I then asked Jack if we should use ribbon to make our garland. Having had so much fun making our paper Snowflake Garland a couple years ago, he insisted that we run our paper hearts through the sewing machine instead! Such a smart cookie!  This made making the garland so much faster! Just run the hearts through the sewing machine, leaving a bit of space between each one, if you want.

We decided to make most of our strands vertical and hang them from our dining room mirror. We then added a horizontal strand to the top (yeah...we had a LOT of hearts!).

I thought the kids would have fun when I came up with this project, but I'm so pleased with how beautiful it is, I am planning on saving it to use again next year! It's a great way to save and remember your kids' wonderful creativity!



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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Homemade Keifer!




Over winter break, our family was hit by a nasty stomach bug! After it passed I still felt like my body was still off. To help improve digestion I started drinking kefir. It is similar to yogurt and loaded with lots of active cultures and probiotics. I started feeling better almost right away! I wanted to keep drinking it, but it is kind of expensive - about $4 for a small bottle. I was shocked when I stumbled upon a blog that talked about how easy it was to make kefir at home! I looked at several other sites, and they all recomended checking out Cultures for Health. They sell all different kinds of cultures for cooking and health. They also have a lot of great information, videos and recipes for making and using kefir.

After learning how easy it it was to make, I decided to go ahead and order the keifer starter kit. (25$) It came with kefir grains and a fine mesh plastic strainer. (you never want to use metal when making kefir) The grains aren't grains, but actually live active cultures consisting of yeast and bacteria. You add them to fresh milk and within 24-48 hours you have kefir. You can use the grains indefinitely! The grains come in the mail dried. It takes a few days to rehydrate them (directions are provided) and then they are ready go.

I thought I would just show you the basic steps for making kefir, but I recommend reading all the info at culturesforhealth.com before you decide to make your own or buy a starter set.

So here is how you make keifer. You start with the batch of kefir that is finished, plastic strainer and another clean glass jar.


You pour the kefir through the plastic strainer into the empty glass jar.


The strainer will catch the kefir grains. It kind of looks like cottage cheese.


Then you take the grains out and then put them into a clean jar.


Then add about 2 cups of milk into the jar.


Next, cover the jar with a coffee filter or a tea towel and secure with a rubber band. Keep in a warm place in your home between 65 - 85 degrees.


In about 24 hours you have kefir. I will admit it was hard to drink the first time. I couldn't believe I was drinking milk that had been left out on the counter for a day! (never drink anything if it smells bad or weird) Now I love it. I'll drink it cold from the fridge, but the kiddos prefer to drink it in smoothes. It taste great and we all have happy tummies!



a few tips:

* never touch the kefir with metal

* don't sweeten with honey - the honey is antibacterial and will kill the live active cultures.

* you can put the grains in a glass of milk for a week or two if you are going out of town or want to take a break from making kefir. If you want to stop for a longer time, you can even dry or freeze your kefir grains.

* you can make kefir with any kind of milk - even soy, almond or coconut milk. You just don't want to use ultra pasteurized milk.





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Monday, January 14, 2013

Zipper Headband

While trolling Pinterest I came across this pin that led to someone selling a zipper headband on Etsy. I loved it, but as usual I figured I could make it myself! So after a quick trip to the fabric store and a couple minutes of sewing I had one of my very own! It really took longer to haul out the sewing machine than to actually make it!



What You Need:
  • 1 zipper (use any length you want - I used an 18" because I really wanted only the zipper part to show when I was wearing it)
  • Elastic in the same width as your zipper (mine was 1")
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (though you could hand stitch if you really wanted to)
First figure out how much elastic you need to complete the headband. You could do this by measuring, but true to my "quick and dirty" sewing style, I just wrapped the zipper around my head then guesstimated how much elastic I'd need. Whatever your method, simply cut a length of elastic that you need to make a comfortable-fitting headband.

Next line up your elastic on the back of one end of your zipper. Here's where I made my mistake: I simply sewed a few zig-zag stitches straight across. This worked out fine until...

...I went to sew the other end of the elastic to the other end of the zipper. Because the zipper's teeth went all the way to the bottom on that end I couldn't sew straight across. Instead I had to make down either side of the teeth. Had to planned this out a little better I would have done it the same way on both sides. Oh well! Live and learn!

Now pop it on and feel fabulous!

 
The fun part about this headband is that you can have it all zipped up, zip it halfway, or unzip it completely! How you wear it is up to you (personally, I'm a half-zip kind of girl). Just be sure you zip and unzip while you are NOT wearing it. If you try to adjust it while you are wearing it it will eat your hair!!


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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to Fix a Broken Lipstick






Grrrrr!!! Has this happened to you? So frustrating! I had been looking for this particular lipstick in stores for weeks. Couldn't find it, so I finally decided to order it online. After waiting two weeks for it to arrive I was so disappointed to discover that it had broken during shipping. The customer service folks were great and said they would send a new one right away! I love that they are sending a new one, but I didn't want to just throw this one away. I decided to try and see if I couldn't repair it myself.
I figured melting the ends together would work best so I got out a small tea light and matches to light the candle. I twisted the lipstick as far as it would go so that I could see the break more clearly. I also practiced fitting the pieces together so I would get them back together in the right place.



Next, I held the broken end of the lipstick near the flame. Just a little heat is all that was needed. The end started getting melty and shiny all over the bottom.






Carefully I stuck it back on the base, making sure it went in straight.




After letting it cool for about 20 - 30 minutes (just to be sure it was set) it was ready to use! I've used it many times to see how well it would hold up. So far so good! My lips and I are thrilled!









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