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Friday, September 12, 2014

Inexpensive Closet Organization for Kids Room


I am on a mission. I am on a mission to overhaul all of my closets. Since moving last October I have been a crazy, disorganized mess and I'm so tired of it! We currently do not have the money to do the real makeovers I dream of: demoing the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms etc. I have to content myself with doing what I can with what I have. Now, don't get me wrong, I love our home, it is everything we prayed for, for just about a year and it has been a huge blessing on our lives. But, so far all of our budget for the house has had to go to major and important repairs, this sadly leaves my grand pinterest inspired ideas for our house to the wayside and I am left with near a penny to invest into my lovely perfect vision for our house. But, that is all cosmetic and the Bible states that "this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." 1 John 2:17 (NLT)



So, while pinteresting one day I found this great tutorial on how to make sturdy cardboard boxes. I tried one out and used it for my TV cabinet, it is holding up well under quite a few DVD's, so I was impressed and wanted to make some for my daughter's cubbies in her closet. We put a closet organizer system in a while back and those have been working wonderfully, but as you can see from the before and after picture her closet really got out of hand. Also, those cubbies just weren't being used to their full potential. So, I got to work cutting and gluing and with only spending $4 on the cute yellow material to cover the front of the boxes, I didn't spend any money. I already had the blue bins, boxes and bag. The one thing that I wanted to do was label everything, but her toys change quickly so I didn't want to make anything too permanent.
As you can see the organization is extremely simple I didn't do anything fancy, but these are a few of the guidelines that I used to complete the task:

Closet Organization Tips for Kids Rooms

1.) Use the space to its full potential
2.) Put items that you don't want your child to have without supervision up high where they cannot reach them
3.) Organize like items together, example: electronics, dress up, jewelry etc.
4.) Put items that you want the child to be able to access on their own within their reach
5.) Find a variety of boxes and bags of different sizes to contain the toys in an orderly fashion, label if appropriate

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I will be writing about similar closet overhauls on my blog every Friday, please come check them out!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

An Introduction to Knitting #2



Welcome back to your Introduction to Knitting! It’s Gracie here, ready to bring you some more knitting basics, inspiration, and patterns.
In the last blog post we covered casting on, the knit stitch and casting off. I also explained how the knit stitch, repetitively done, gives you the garter stitch.  While you can make lots of interesting projects with just the garter stitch, it isn't everything there is to knitting.  There are lots of types of stitches in knitting, but the second most important stitch, and a must know, is the Purl stitch. 
To learn the purl stitch you can watch this video. The quality is not very high, but you should at least get the idea of what purling looks like. 
This wiki demonstration does a pretty decent job at showing you the purl stitch.  Although, they don’t hold the working yarn properly, it will be all right for beginners. There is an additional video towards the end of the page, as well as some good notes and tips.
Knit Simple Magazine offers a diagram on the purl stitch.  It is good to look at as it shows you how to purl in both English and Continental style. 

Once you have started purling, your work will change the Garter Stitch into the Stockinet stitch. It is the most versatile and most used form of fabric in knitting.  By knitting on one side and purling on the other you get the Stockinet stitch. This creates a “front” and back” to your knitting. The knit side typically being the front, and the purl side the back.  The knit stitch is defined by tiny heart shaped (or v-shaped) rows on the work. 


 The purl stitch is defined by its bumps that run horizontal to the work.


Take a look around at different forms of textiles in your home, your t-shirt, your pillows, your dish clothes, etc.  If you look close enough you should be able to determine if it is knitted.  Most cotton t-shirts have teeny tiny knit stitches on the right side of your shirt, and teeny tiny purl stitches on the inside.  They were made with a giant machine, but it is still knitting!

Now that you know what the purl stitch is, practice and practice it until you can rock out the stockinet stitch like nobodies business. Your next goal is to set up a profile on Ravelry.com.  It is an amazing (and free) community of knitters, crocheters, as well as weavers.  There are loads of patterns to search through, and many of them are free.  You can post your own projects, as well as sort through others for some almighty inspiration.  It is a lovely place to learn more about these crafts.  You can check out my own Ravelry page for some free patterns.

Now I know that patterns for beginners is usually a lot of scarves.  But until you feel truly comfortable with knitting, scarves and other flat knitted objects like blankets will be what you get. Your skill will grow though, and soon you will be making much more than just scarves! 

Here are a few patterns that I picked out for you:

This scarf and bow are knit in garter stitch, but it was too adorable to pass up:

Knit Picks online yarn store has a bundle of free dishcloth patterns.  It is a great way to use up scrap yarn, and learn new knit stitches. (They also offer a lot of lovely free patterns):

This scarf is another great way to stretch your knitting skills.  It will teach you many different knit stitches, and you won't have to use it to wipe down your counters:

Here is a lovely cowl that is knit in the round (a circle), but it will bode no problem to those of you who already have a pair of circular needles. It is a really fantastic start to knitting in the round: 

A cute and easy key hole scarf:


Thank you and come again!

Gracie

Friday, September 5, 2014

Making a Kitchen Compost Bin


I wish I had before pictures of what used to be our compost bin. Sitting on top of our counter we had a 2 gallon square clear container with a red lid always filled to the top with rotting kitchen scraps. My husband brought the container home from work and it definitely served its purpose, but seeing that rotting food on our counter top all day was not doing it for me. So, I decided it needed a makeover. 

I had something else a little different than this in my mind, but when I found a pack of three bowls for $3 at Walmart I figured the largest would do the trick and the others would be useful as extra tupperware. 

These steps in making your own kitchen compost bin are just suggestions from what I've found to work for us. We have been composting our kitchen scrapes for a few years now and have gone through several different containers, so I'm sure that this one will not last either. But, I feel that I'm on a good track now after following these tips:

Tips for Making Your Own Kitchen Compost Bin 

1.) Use a container with color that will hide the contents
2.) Use a container with a lid that is fairly easy to open
3.) Use a container that is large enough to fill a days worth of scraps
4.) Line container with newspaper
5.) Sprinkle baking soda on top of the newspaper for added odor control
6.) Try to empty container once a day

That last tip is the one we struggle with, because I absolutely hate taking out the compost and my husband doesn't always have the time. I probably need to just suck it up and start emptying it myself!


Just to have fun with it and because I wanted a reminder I used a Cricut to put vinyl letters on the lid. The smaller writing I did in a permanent marker and did a list of what to avoid tossing in the compost, you can read about the reasons at Organic Authority.


Over all I'm happy with my new kitchen compost bin, how about you? Do you think you would give this a try? Do you compost at all? Would you be willing try? I would love to hear what you think!



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Turkey Meatballs




I hope you all had a really nice Labor Day weekend! We were crazy busy, but it was all good. I got to help my husband with a catering job, thinking it would be a good way to get extra time together since he is back to his hectic work schedule. It was real fun, I got a good taste of what it is he does at work (he is a chef/manager at a local college). I got to be in the kitchen with the other employees chopping up veggies and fruit's while listening to and sharing in their conversations. There is definitely a hum and buzz in the kitchen, a sort of flow, I guess at least when everyone kind of knows what their supposed to do! Then I went with my husband to drop off the food at the catering site and help with the setup and display. I was shocked at how much I didn't know about my husband! He was amazing at setting up the tables and displaying the food, it looked incredible! Sadly, I did not get pictures, but next time I will and I'll show them to you! I had so much fun that I told him I want to help him more (plus I got paid! That doesn't hurt!)

Now, on to my recipe!

Well, this is actually my husband's recipe. Even though he is super busy at work, he made the time to write this one up for me since I had already had the pictures done. I'm hoping to get him more involved with my little blog and help me do a recipe post twice a month, but we shall see.


This recipe is fairly simple and oh so delicious! I hope you enjoy it!

Turkey Meatballs


1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup carrot, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp dry parsley
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a sauce pan heat vegetable oil on medium heat and sweat (cook) celery, carrot and onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 tsp salt, garlic and dry herbs cook for 2 more minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat. In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix by hand till just combined (don't over-mix). Ball (2 Tbsp) meatballs on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 12-18 minutes or until meatballs reach an internal temp of 165 degrees. Remove and enjoy.



We would love hear if you tried these and what you thought!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Going Papertowel-less


I'm kind of going for a kitchen theme here, have you noticed? Magnetic Grocery List Clip Board, Recipe Binder and I have one more in the work's, you can look forward to seeing a post about kitchen composting!

With this one in particular, Going Paper Towel-less, I feel kind off the band wagon. I really just never thought about it too hard, but the other day it dawned on me that I use ALOT of paper towels. Also, we have really been trying to stay within a strict budget and I've been working to think of creative ways to save a little money, that's when I came up with this idea. Also, I realized that I totally had enough old towels to keep us good for probably years to come.

The reason I feel a little off on this is because the day I came up with the idea we had our friends over and I excitedly told her my plan and she said "oh, we've been doing that forever!" I thought "why didn't you tell me!" but, I'm sure I wouldn't have cared anyways, because you don't normally do something just because someone tells you, you have to decide it for yourself.

 That's what I did, I decided for myself that I was going to do this and you know what? It works! I had a stack of old white towels in the basement, which of I took one and cut it into about 14 12x15 square inch towels. I finished them with a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine.

We have the towels rolled up in a small basket right by the sink where the roll of paper towels used to sit. Having them accessible like this makes it much easier to use them. I still use paper towels for making my most coveted items, Baby Wipes and Antibacterial Wipes

If you are not already paper towel free in your kitchen I hope that I have gotten you interested. If you are interested in the idea read more about it on these blogs:

The Year of Less - how to give up paper towels
Wellness Mama - helpful tips on the process
Groovy Green Livin - facts on what paper towels do to our environment

I encourage you to do your own research on this and then decide if you think you could go paper towel free as well. I'd love to hear your thoughts and know if you are already paper towel free!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Introduction to Knitting


Knitting is an incredibly versatile art.  It can be used to create a number of useful objects, such as clothing and household goods.  But the best thing about it is the joy and pleasure it brings to people all around the world. The concept of knitting is very simple, all you do is loop yarn through other loops of yarn.  This simple task can be a great challenge at first, but it is worth conquering. I would have loved to conduct a more hands on teaching experience, but I lack the means to do so. No worries though, I have found some wonderful resources and linked you to them all through out this post. So wether you are alone, or you grabbed a friend to help you learn, I hope you have fun and enjoy this introduction to knitting.



1. Yarn will become your life.

Fibers are so important to knitting. There is a wide variety of them to choose from for a knitting project. If you get hooked on knitting, there is no doubt that you will also get hooked on wool, and alpaca, and cashmere, and linen, and all the glories that yarn has to offer.  You should stay away from cheap acrylic yarn. When you are first starting out you want something that will feel good in your hands and keep you looking forward to working with it. Wool is great for someone just learning. 100% is the best, but if you can only find a wool blend that is ok.  Be sure that it is something you like, in a color you love, and that it feels soft, not itchy.

2. Needles are yarns best friend.

I highly suggest wooden needles for beginners.  They are sturdy, they look and feel great, and they are the least slippery of all needles. If wooden needles are out of your price range, plastic is your next bet. Really try to stay away from metal needles as a beginner, they are very slippery, and you will spend a lot of time flustered over dropped stitches, and holes in your work. Straight or circular needles will work just fine for someone starting out. (Both types are pictured below).



3. A quick note on matching up yarn and needles.

I want to mention how yarn has different weights, or in others words different “sizes”, and a yarn weight needs to be matched to a proper needle size. Vogue Knitting has this great chart that shows you how to pair yarn and needles.



4. Slip Knots and Casting On.

Once you have your supplies (and I hope a nice relaxing cup of tea is a part of those supplies, because you will need it) you will want to learn how to do a slip knot. Vogue also has a decent diagram explaining a slip knot
Now to cast on! There are lots of ways to cast on to your needles.  All of them are important and great to learn. But for a beginner starting with the Long Tailed Cast On will be a good start. It is the most popular and easiest to way to learn. The Purl Bee has a beautiful how-to for it.

5. Knitting that first stitch

Now that you have mastered casting on (it is a very important part of knitting so I hope you really did master it), it is time to move to the actual knitting! Knit Stitch meet New Knitter, New Knitter meet Knit Stitch. If you were frustrated and ready to break your needles from just learning how to cast on, take a breath and a sip of tea.
This video will guide you through everything I just talked about. The teacher is cute and quirky, but she keeps it very simple. She will show you how to knit both English and Continental, which are the two most common styles of knitting. You can find out more about them here. I suggest trying out both, and whatever you find more comfortable stick with it.

The time stamps in the video for when she goes over each subject:

Slip Knot: 1:11-1:50

Cast On: 1:50-3:40

Knit Stitch: 3:40-10:05

As you continue to work row after row of the knit stitch, you will get the stretchy, ribbed material she has at the end of the video.  This is called the garter stitch.  It is the most basic knit stitch.

6. Finishing your beautiful work.

Just like casting on, binding off (or casting off) has many variations, and each one is important. It is used to secure your work when you wish to be finished. The video mentioned above will teach you the easiest and most used binding off method.

The time stamp in the video for when she goes over:

Binding Off: 11:25-12:39

Last but not least, learn to weave in your ends (or tails).  No one likes scraggly little threads of yarn hanging off their work.  Learn to do it the best way you can.  The Purl Bee has a lovely tutorial for truly securing your work.



Okay, now you are knitting. Keep practicing, it gets easier.  It really does.  You will figure out your tension (how tightly you hold your yarn, and how tight the stiches you create are).  You will find the most comfortable way to hold your needles. It all comes together with time.
If you feel confident enough to try out something other then a scarf, you can check out these patterns. All of them are worked flat and in the garter stitch. 





Let me know if you have any questions below and thank you for reading!

-Gracie


Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe Binder




This post is certainly a ripe off of someone else's idea, but its such a good idea and worked out so well for me that not posting about it just wasn't an option.

I got the idea and instructions over at Clean Mama. She has a great tutorial on how to make this binder along with some great in depth pictures of the process. I just love mine, it looks so pretty, and it so well organized. I took all of her tips and they worked so well. I love my Target binder and I used packaging tape to make the tabs just like she describes, it worked surprisingly well. 

The only thing I did not do was buy her printables for the categories. You can find her printables here. I decided to just use PicMonkey for designing my own dividers and that worked out just fine. Their not as cute as her's, but I didn't have a lot of categories to begin with.



I didn't take any before pictures, but let me assure you that my binder was in need of some serious love. Are your recipes in need of an over haul also? Would you give this a try?


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