A Blanket for Eli

I’m so excited to share this baby blanket FINALLY. Phew.imageimage

After finishing a knitted blanket for the baby of friends I decided to knit one for my own little babe. I started it this past the spring figuring I had plenty of time to complete the project before my delivery. Well, that was a sweet thought… it took a lot longer than I expected and I wasn’t sure I’d ever complete it!

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The pattern I chose is deceptively simple. I say that because though I had never knitted from a pattern before once I learned the knitting shorthand the process was a snap. But the real challenge was keeping track of all the changing stitches! Each row was so different from the last that in the beginning I had a lot of trouble finding my way. For the first third of the blanket I probably ended up taking out as many stitches as I put in!!

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I knit at home and on the go, making progress, then taking out row after row and starting over again. It was a great meditation on letting things be just as they are. And a wonderful way to pass the time imagining the little person who would take up space beneath the stitches.

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And here he is. This little bundle all wrapped up in so much love. The finished product came out a lot smaller than I expected. But perhaps that is because I didn’t finish it until a couple months after Eli was born and he’d already grown so much in that short time. All that matters is that this heirloom is complete. I love it, and I think he does too. Ok, knitting needles, what’s next??

 

Homemade Laundry Detergent (with recipe!)


DiY Laundry Detergent ingredients

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making our own laundry detergent for a while so when Simeon texted me the other day saying we were all out, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without giving it a shot.

Why DIY?

We’ve been using eco-friendly, natural detergent products of various kinds for years and years, so why would I want to try DIY-ing my own? A few reasons: First, despite the “natural” quality of many commercial offerings, there are lots of added ingredients that are ultimately unnecessary for the purpose of cleaning clothes. I like that this project has just three main ingredients, with an optional fourth.

As we effort to make more frugal choices while we prepare to pay down our school debts and save for a family, I loved that making my own laundry soap would save us a lot of dollars in the store. Natural detergents aren’t cheap and usually we end up using a ton over a short period of time because Simeon’s chef coats and other kitchen gear need be washed more frequently than our regular loads.

I’ve already made my own natural deodorant (I’ll write a post on it soon!) with great results so I was hopeful that this homemade detergent would live up to my relatively high (and hopeful) expectations. I followed this recipe from one of my favorite blogs and gave it a few tweaks using what we had on hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
  • 1 bar soap
  • 30 drops essential oils. I used rosemary since I found that in our cupboard first, though I’m sure lavender would have been a lovely choice too. Maybe I’ll try that one next time.

I followed the instructions from Natalie’s blog post and it was the simplest thing ever. Basically, chop up the bar of soap into small pieces and blend them until the soap forms small beads. Add the borax and mix, then add the washing soda and mix. Finally, add the essential oils (optional) and mix. That’s it. We have about a million bell jars so I transferred the detergent to a large jar for safe keeping and then immediately put my new detergent to work on the waiting loads of laundry. All you need is one tablespoon of this fine concoction per load. This jar is going to last us a long time!

So, how did it work?

Great! I’m really happy with end result — especially that there was no heavy “clean” smell afterward, which I often get when using commercial products. In case you’re curious, I could hardly smell the rosemary after it came out of the dryer. Not sure if I needed more drops or if my oil is too old to be potent enough.

This was a fun and easy project to tackle and I’m looking forward to creating more homemade, natural cleaning products to add to our arsenal.

DIY Laundry Detergent

Thumbs up for DIY detergent. Think you’ll give it a try?

DIY Mini Envelopes

mini envelope titleAny DIY that uses up materials you already have and that can be used in any number of useful projects is a winner in my book. All this takes is tracing paper, scissors, a ruler, and a pencil! Since sharing my Save the date project I thought I’d share my process for making the mini envelopes I used to hold our info cards. There are more exact ways to create your own envelopes (for instance using a template like this) but if you’re willing to try it free hand in exchange for saving some dollars, follow along!

mini envelope1Step 1: I measured my tracing paper about 8×8 inches and cut out the squares. This was to hold 3×4 cards so if you want to make the envelopes larger, just double the length of the longest end of your card.

mini envelope2Step 2: You’ll need a piece of cardstock to create a fold and to crease the flaps on either side.

Step 3: Create a crease for the bottom fold and then place a thin line of glue on the side flaps where the bottom flap will overlap. Carefully secure the bottom flap and use a pencil or other instrument to flatten and smooth out the glued portions.

mini envelope3Step 4: After the glue dries fold and crease the top flap. Secure with a piece of washi tape or leave open. That’s all it takes! Easy right?

Save the dates

savethedatesThere are so many beautiful wedding paper products on offer these days. And scrolling through the options can be dizzying. While searching for the perfect cards I realized that I was getting too hung up on finding the perfect style. I wanted the design to really showcase Simeon and my personalities which led to a deep internal investigation into whether we are more stripes than dots, more gold foil than letter-pressed, or more watercolor than bold type kind of people… I never did come up with an answer to those questions. But, when I finally lifted my head from the computer and thought through what I really wanted, I realized how much I wanted to make something rather than buy it.

I’m a big believer that working towards a goal is one of the keys to happiness and I wanted to make memories along the way to the wedding, not just on the big day. Newly determined, I set out to find my materials.

As a Project Life-er I have an excess of scrapbook cards that I haven’t yet used. This became a perfect way to use up my stash more quickly and make use of something I already owned without spending a dime.

photo 1I thought the cards for the Midnight edition of the scrapbook pack would be perfect due to their beautiful design, neutral color scheme, and minimalist aesthetic. Plus a bunch of them have hearts. Hearts!

Meanwhile, I had been dreaming of making a customized stamp after seeing this pin and realized the scrapbook cards would make the perfect pairing. I was also inspired by the colorful and fun surprise of Ann-Marie Morris’ save the dates and knew I wanted to try something similar.

Everything was moving along swiftly until I went online to order glassine envelopes like those Ann-Marie had used. I couldn’t find any that would perfectly fit a 3×4 card. The options available were either too large or too small and I wasn’t willing to give up on my vision. I remedied the situation by repurposing a stack of tracing paper I had on hand to make something up myself.

photo 1I dashed out an envelope template from scratch two episodes of Breaking Bad later I had all the squares cut and folded. #crisisaverted

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Simeon was a great assistant gluing all the envelopes while I stuffed them with the cards and a bit of colorful confetti.

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While wandering around Michel’s one evening trying to find the perfect kraft cardstock to use for the backing I came upon packs of blank, folded 4×6 kraft cards and matching envelopes. Immediately, I saw the potential. I cut the cards in half, and after throwing in a pinch of confetti, taped the vellum envelopes down with strips of gold washi tape.

IMG_3846The last step was to stamp and address all the envelopes! Below you can see the process. I started with a banner stamp from Whitney Rae Paper for the addressee and a custom stamp with our return address for the back. I added a monogram stamp I designed (which matched our invitations!) and finished with a couple strips of washi tape. And I’m thankful for the companionship of Breaking Bad Season 2 while I addressed these. Funny story, while I was watching one particular episode I was so caught up in the drama that my writing hand started shaking from my nervousness and I had to stop! Simeon thought I was crazy, appropriately so. 😉

IMG_3895The goal was to create a lovingly crafted piece of mail that would inspire our guests and create anticipation for our big day. I LOVE how these turned out and from the feedback from our friends and family I think we met our goal. If you have any questions about the process or materials let me know!

Easy photo display

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It’s  tradition in my family to save the fortune cookie fortunes from Chinese restaurants. After dinner or take-out we stuff those little paper scraps into wallets or stash them for safekeeping until we can get them to the Fortune Jar. At my parents

house the jar is jammed with fortunes from the past couple decades. It’s fun to watch the pile grow and reading through the fortunes is really the best part. Some of them are funny, some are poignant, but all remind me of dinners spent together as a family.

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When Simeon and I moved in together I wanted to start the tradition in our home too. I found a jar from Goodwill with a charming cork top that worked perfectly. Our fortunes went on display  on a side table in the living room (obviously from the picture you can there aren’t any great Chinese restaurants in our area!).

It wasn’t I received a collection of Instagram prints in the mail from PostalPix that an even better idea hit. After displaying some of the photos in an installation grid on the wall I wanted to try a few new uses for them. I picked a favorite of me and Sim and added it to the jar. The 4×4 size print fits perfectly and it’s such a fun and funky frame!

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Easy photo display in seconds. I love when good ideas collide and the execution takes no time at all.

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DIY: Fun and Easy Yarn + Peg Board Cross Stitch

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This has to be the easiest decor DIY. Ever.

Looking for a way to spruce up a space with minor commitment but with major impact? Have I got the project for YOU.  Whimsical? Check. Colorful? Check. Giant wall space covered in a flash? Check. Plus, you can personalize it to your liking!

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All you need is a peg board and yarn. I got this piece of peg board at my neighborhood Lowes and used some mustard colored yarn I had from a previous project. Total cost: $7. The only price better than that is free my friends!

I followed this tutorial (seen on Design*Sponge) and in a few afternoons time I had this…

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You can see beneath the yarn where I penciled the lines where I wanted the stitches. This was an essential step. First I mapped out where I wanted the letters by counting the the number of holes across the board and made sure that my letters would line up evenly from each side. Then I made pencil marks everywhere the yarn would go. That way, as I made each stitch I could move quickly by matching up yarn to pencil line instead of needing to stand back to review the piece and adjust for each letter.

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I realize ‘Cute Pants’ might not mean anything to you. But it’s a long standing inside joke between me and Simeon and makes me smile every time I see it.  If you have a young child, you could write out their name and hang it in their room. Or perhaps an encouraging message to yourself if you’re trying to stick to a new habit.

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The best part is that the whole thing is temporary. I can change it up at any time (perfect for holiday greetings)! And if I get tired of the giant cross stich decor, I can cut off the yarn and use the peg board for another purpose. Maybe even how it was intended. Maybe not.

So, so easy and so fun. Think you might give it a try?

Let me know if you do!

DIY: Nail and String Letter Art

After filling the living room and central dining room area with our combined art collection I was at first puzzled with what to do with an empty wall? I didn’t want to make an investment to purchase another art piece because another canvas just seemed boring with the adjacent wall filled with frames. Instead, I took to Pinterest and my Home/Craft boards to see if I had previously pinned a project perfect for this space. And lo, I had! I loved this nail and string lettering and had immediately pinned it thinking it would be fun some day to do the same. It was the opposite of boring –  simple, fun, colorful. Perfect. Read on to see how to make your own version…

SUPPLIES: You will need a leveler, nails, tape measure, masking tape, sharpie, hammer (unpictured).

Step 1: Print out the letter outlines and tape to the wall. First I taped the multiple pages together to form a banner and then taped the banned to the wall. Double check that your letters are spaced evenly using the tape measure and that your letters straight using the leveler.

Step 2: Using the sharpie, mark a spot on the nail where it will be protruding from the wall. You want to be sure that all the nails are the same height. Though this step is tedious it will make the whole thing look more polished when you finish.

Step 2: Hammer in the nails at the end points. You will need more nails for circular letters like O or S in order to make the curve less jagged. Since all my letters were taped together I nailed everything before I took the paper down.

Step 4: Remove the paper and begin to string! Tip: remove the paper of one letter at a time. This prevent any confusion about which nails belong to which letter (especially helpful if your letters are close together). I wrapped orange string around each letter five times for thickness. I’ve seen some people wrap more but I was concerned I was going to run out of string (turns out I could have done more but 5 wraps was good enough). I finished each letter by tying a small knot in the bottom right corner of every letter for consistency. You can see the tail of the string in the letter E below…

Step 5: Wipe your brow and admire your work! Good job!

PS I used Helvetica in 610 font for the letters. Again, this DIY was inspired by this cute blog. Like the terrarium on the chair above? Check out my recent posts on making your own terrarium here.

xoxo,

Natanya