Saturday, September 24, 2011

Looking for a new Hobby? How about making a sand vase?

New hobbies can sometimes take away what is most precious, time away from your kids.  This project can combine a new found interest with time spent with your kids.  Several things that you have to take into consideration when you look at projects to do with your kids are the age group and the number of kids versus the difficulty of the project. Another is whether the materials for the project can be attained at a reasonable price. Making a sand vase is a project that is cheap, easy to do, and something that can give creative freedom to you and your kids.

Materials you will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Plastic cup
  • Paint brush
  • Colored sand
  • Glue
  • Bottle or Jar
  • Paper or pie plate
  • Spoon
The newspaper is used to cover your table so that you can catch any stray sand, and trust me when I tell you this...THERE WILL BE STRAY SAND.  It seems to be the case regardless of how careful you are.  Use the plastic cup to hold your glue and dilute it with some water so that it will spread on the jar more evenly.  Spread sand on evenly over glued areas.  You can do this all in one color or you can also make a design first with the glue, cover with sand and then fill in the rest of the space with glue then add more sand for a more creative and detailed look.  The plates are used to put underneath your vase as you add the sand, this way you can reuse any sand that does not end up on the vase.  Once your vase is covered with sand you will need to let it dry for 30 minutes.  You can also use hot glue toadd ribbons or other decorative objects to your vase.  Get creative and enjoy the time that you are spending with your kids on this project.  Take a look at the video below.  It gives a step by step tutorial on making the sand vase.  If you have any questions or comments please be sure to share them in the comments below.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home Canning Tips (Making Hot Pepper Jelly)

After I decided to make some Hot Pepper Jelly last week, I realized that there is probably a number of you that have not had any experience doing your own home canning either. So I decided to highlight both so that you could get a good look on how to do your own home canning as well.
Hot Pepper Jelly is great to make as a gift for the Holidays, especially with the colors you can get from it.  You can change this recipe up as well to get different colors by changing the colors of bell peppers that you use.  Between red, green, orange and yellow, you can imagine the different color combinations that you could make.  I usually use the 8 oz jars for processing jelly because it allows you to send more to different people as gifts.  Hot Pepper Jelly is great when served on a block of cream cheese and with crackers as an appetizer for a party or group event.  Fair warning though, people will be looking for more, so make sure you have plenty on hand.

                                                      Recipe: This recipe makes roughly eight 8 oz jars of Jelly
2 1/2 cups of Red Bell Peppers (Roughly 3 large Peppers)
1 1/4 cups of Green Bell Peppers (Roughly 1-2 Peppers)
1/4 cup of  Jalapeno Peppers (Roughly 2 Peppers)

All three of these need to be finely chopped, I use a food processor to make this process quicker.

You will also need:
1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
5 cups of white granulated sugar
2 packages of powdered pectin

After your peppers are finely chopped you will need to add them to a stew pot along with your 1 cup of vinegar and bring to a rolling boil over a medium - high heat.

Once you have your mixture boiling you will then need to add your pectin
and stir it in until it is dissolved, which should take a minute or two.  I use the Sure Jell because it is what I am most familiar with.  Once it has been dissolved you will want to add your sugar.  Your sugar should be added all at one time though, so make sure you have all 5 cups already measured out in another bowl somewhere to make this process easier.  Once you have added the sugar you will want to make sure that you continually stir so that it does not scorch on the bottom of the pot.  Stir the mixture until all the sugar is dissolved and it starts to come to a rolling boil.  At this point you will need to check to make sure that your mixture is gelling, and if it is then take off fire, and start filling your jars.  Process your jars in a hot water bath and then let it set up for 24 hours and then enjoy! Please comment below to leave other home canning tips that you may have that we can all use, or variations of this recipe or your own recipe.

For a more in depth look at the actual canning process along with this recipe, take a look at these instructional videos.  I go into detail about how to prepare your jars, processing in a water bath canner and give tips to make sure your jars seal and your jelly sets up.  Enjoy, Comment, and share with others!

Monday, September 12, 2011

What are you looking for when trying to find a new hobby?

Finding a new hobby, seems easy enough, right? Some of you may be wondering why this would even be a concern for someone, but for me, and I think maybe for some others, a hobby is very much needed. First off, I will start off with a little personal history. Two things: I am quite the night owl and I am a family counselor. So this would leave me with quite a bit of time to think about some very stressful things at work. One of the things I looked forward to was some down time to be able to relax and not think about all of these very pressing things, and so I really got into playing video games. The problem with video games is there is no real product from your labor and you can only play them for so long before they become, not fun anymore. Thus my attempt in finding a new hobby.

In looking for a new hobby, I also would like to find something that is productive in some way, which is why I have started with both the sketchbook and also in making my own laundry detergent. I have also taken up canning, which I have taken some video of and will be uploading shortly. Here's the question...In my search of finding a new hobby, what are some of the projects that you all would like to see me try and document?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Making Homemade Laundry Detergent

In keeping with the spirit of trying new things that I have never tried before.  I wanted to try my hand at making my own laundry detergent.  First, you may be thinking, why would you want to do that?  Well, a few reasons came to mind, one, you can save a ton of money on detergent.  All the supplies I bought for about a years worth of laundry cost me around $15.00 approximately.  Secondly, I do not have to deal with any of the additives that are in other commercial detergents that cause my kids to break out every now and then.  This can be great for parents with new babies, etc.  You can control how much of what ingredient goes into the batch of detergent that you make.  The recipe I will be using is one that I found on the web and that I've tried and works great.  There are many more out there as well that you can try.  Something else that you may want to try also is plain vinegar as a fabric softener.  When I first heard this I was afraid my clothes would come out smelling like vinegar but it worked great.  I tried it on some towels first just to make sure.  Here's the ingredients:

-  Zote Laundry Soap (This was the hardest ingredient for me to find.  Many people say that they can find it in the laundry aisle in Wal-mart but I was not so fortunate.  Another place you might try is the Mexican food aisle at any grocery store.  Another place, and where I found mine, you can try an international store.  If you've exhausted all of these options you can always buy it online.  The white soap is regular and the pink is for delicates.  Also, you can substitute this soap for Kirk Castille soap or Fels Naptha soap).
-  20 Mule Team Borax (Found in the laundry aisle at Wal-mart, Target, etc).
-  Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Also, found in the laundry aisle.  Make sure that you get Washing Soda and not Baking Soda.  There is a difference.  Baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate and Washing Soda is Sodium Carbonate.  If you are having trouble finding it in the local store's laundry aisle, you can check your local pool supply store as well since it is used as a pool cleaner as well).
-  OxyClean (Should be in your laundry aisle.  Also, there is a generic brand that is half the cost of the name brand, around $3.00 versus $6.00).

Here are some places to find the soaps online if you are having trouble finding them at some of your local stores.  Research prices though, because it varies depending on where you get it.  The soap can be as little as a dollar and up to five dollars.  I was able to buy mine for $1.79 at the International Store here in town.

- 2 cups of finely grated laundry soap which equals to approximately 1 bar of Zote soap.

I grated mine using a food processor with a grater attachment.

- 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
- 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- 1/4 cup of OxyClean

After I grated the soap, I detached the grater and added the blade attachment.

I inserted the rest of the ingredients in with the soap.

I then covered the processor with a damp towel to keep from having powder get all over the place in the kitchen. 

  I then mixed the ingredients to a fine powder, using the pulse setting on the processor and then eventually using the low setting.

I then placed the detergent in storage bags.  I will eventually place them in a kitty litter bucket for storing once I finish making the amount I am going to make.  It took me approximately 15-20 minutes to make one batch
You can use 1 teaspoon for regular loads and 2 teaspoons for heavily soiled loads.

I have also made a video of me making the detergent.  Enjoy, and please leave your comments below and share with your friends and remember to either follow me on this blog or subscribe to my YouTube channel if you are interested in more creative ideas and hobbies.  Next week I will be explaining how to make Hot Pepper Jelly!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to Make a Homemade Personalized Sketch Book/Journal

Hey guys,

Wanted to share with you all about the sketch book I made.  It was rather easy but it did take a while to make so patience is definitely key along with the right materials.  I got this idea from Lauren Nash of TransientArt so please go take a look at her webpage and YouTube channel, she has a very intensive tutorial on how to make this book that is easy to follow. 

First, the material list:

- Drawing Paper (The paper I used was Canson drawing paper which you can find very cheap on Amazon in 100 sheet packs.  I like to order generic craft items in bulk and you can find some good deals online, including free shipping)
- Fabric (Any fabric will work, I was able to find some great fabric out of the bargain bin from my local fabric store)
- Chipboard (Don't even bother to look for this in a craft store because it is not there.  You can find it for cheap on Amazon as well and it has multiple uses including scrapbooking so you can use it for several projects.  If you don't want to use chipboard you can always go with a heavy duty cardboard or even a thin sheet of plywood)
- Ribbon (This is optional, depending on whether you want a bookmark or not)
- Glue (Fabric glue, craft glue, etc.  I used Krazy glue, cheap on Amazon)
- Thread (Several options here, you can use a bookbinder's thread but you will need to order it online, what I used was an embroidery thread and then I put some Gulf Wax on it to keep it from tearing the paper as I sewed.  Another alternative is using fishing line.
- Decorative Paper (You will want this for the inside cover of your book and it can be found in any scrapbooking section of any store)

As you can see the material list is not that intensive and you can also make several books with these materials if you wanted or the materials can easily be used for some of your other projects, so they're not completely specialized.  Take a look at my pictures below of the sketch book I made and take a look at the video from Lauren on how to complete your project. Enjoy!

 I used two different fabrics both of which I found in the bargain bin.

 This is the decorative paper I chose for my inside cover.

 You can see the thread from the handstiching here. 
Trust me, it sounds more complicated than it is.

Friday, August 26, 2011


So here's the idea...

If you're anything like me there are several things that have started this way, and some have even taken shape to some degree, but the finished product is...well...

I hope to share some ideas on this page that will not only highlight different hobbies, but also provide some great information and insight from a community in order to finish the job.  A different project will be highlighted each week along with a step by step process to help guide you through your own projects along with some ideas for materials.

Please feel free to comment and share and I hope you guys enjoy!