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New Uses for Old Sheets

What do you do when your sheets wear out? Just throw them in the trash? No way!! There are a multitude of things you can do with a set of old sheets and a multitude of blog posts about the subject. Cut them into rags, make rag rugs, etc etc. I have a few different ideas from what I’ve seen on those and thought I’d throw them out there!

FIrstly I decided to make us all matching outfits out of our old sheets, because they were our first sheets when we got married and I love them so. I made myself a circle skirt, which is super easy to do, and there are plenty of tutorials online for those. I made a tie for Hubbins, with a pattern I found from the Purl Bee. It is a bit short, and if I did it again I would make it longer. And I made a tiny skirt for Lil O. I happened to discover a SUPER easy way to make the baby skirt.  What part of a sheet already has elastic??  The FITTED sheet! Just cut a chunk out the size and length you want, hem and stitch the one seam. Piece of cake. I made a couple in some different sizes for her as she grows. I also could have made myself a skirt I think, if the middle of the fitted sheet wasn’t so faded!

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Here’s our beautiful matching outfits!
You could also whip up some Almost Free Baby Headbands with a bit of the sheet, and I’ll be doing that too!

Another thing you could do with an old sheet is use it as wrapping paper! I had a big bulky thing to wrap up and a hunk of my old sheet worked perfectly as a wrapping.

Another thing you can do with a set of white or cream sheets is… tie dye!  I happened to get a set for free from some garage sale leftovers, and they are lovely in tie dye. I didn’t even notice that the fitted sheet wasn’t the same as the flat and pillowcases, it has a subtle floral print, but that looks really nice with the dye. A perfect way to update some boring sheets and make something new!

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sweet tie dye
Well that’s it for today. Just a short post to offer some suggestions on how you can save the planet and some cash by repurposing those old sheets!!

And I think we need to end with a little Sherlock again..

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It Ain’t Easy Being Green (or IS it??)

Well last month was Earth Month, and I would have liked to do this post then, but alas, I have a young baby, and the best laid plans of mice and men, you know. So, it’s May, but of course there’s no WRONG time to care about the earth! I’m sure you’re all familiar with some basic go-green tips, like take shorter showers, unplug or at least turn off unused electronics, and bring reusable bags to the store. If you’re ready to crank it up a notch, here’s a few more things to try! (plus one to skip!)

Eat less meat

GASP!!! How dare I?!? We ‘Muricans eat a LOT of meat. And even i you don’t want to look into how animals are treated before we eat them, one thing everyone should look into is the environmental impacts of the meat industry. Between water and grain consumption, the amount of land deforested daily and used just to feed animals, and pollution from methane and manure, raising meat really does  a number on the environment.

While I’m not advocating veganism or even vegetarianism (although if you can do it, more power to you!) there is most likely room in everyone’s diet to eat just a LITTLE less meat. Meatless Monday is a pretty popular trend, and there are plenty of carnivore-friendly veg-based recipes you can find online or at the library. I have a very meat-eaty husband, so this has been one of my current projects. I’ll do a post soon (ha! Soon-ish? Someday?) on some of our favorite non-meat dishes. Another idea if you can’t TOTALLY ditch meat in your meals is to use it as a garnish rather than the main dish. So instead of a big hunk of meat with a small side of veg, make a super delish VEG dish, and just sprinkle a taste of meat on top.

Get it local

I’m talking about food. Do you have a farmers market nearby? A farm that does a CSA? Or maybe you can grow a little of your own? The closer you live to where your food is produced, the less environmental impact you have. Even most grocery stores (where I live anyway) label the farm where some produce comes from, allowing you to pick more local options. (A lot of people define “local” as within about 150-200 miles) You can also try to find local cheese, flour, etc. You can easily look up where most companies are located. Eating from local sources means your food will be in season too, and that means fresher, better tasting stuff. You can also sometimes find locally sourced honey, milk, eggs, and even meat!

Use less disposables/plastic

I’ve started reading a lot about plastic use, and how it’s everywhere, and the impact of all that trash. Once I did, I was shocked by how much plastic is just EVERYWHERE. Everything is plastic! There are a lot of zero-waste and no-plastic blogs you can read, and some of the ideas were doable for me, and some were definitely not. I don’t think we can fully escape plastic, but there are things we all can do to cut back our use. For instance, make some reusable dishcloths! Here’s my pattern for some you can knit. They really cut down on paper towel use.

One thing that I started thinking about in the bathroom was the shower curtain liner. It gets nasty, moldy, and while I would try to wash it, it never got TOTALLY clean again, and eventually I’d just toss it and get a new one. What a big giant chunk of plastic waste! So I decided I wanted to try a cloth one, like they have a hotels, but I didn’t really want to spend much money. I happened to be at Goodwill, and it occurred to me that there might be shower curtain liners there. (Actually, I was looking for fabric, and saw shower curtains, and said OH YEAH!) I found one in a lovely shade of green that matched my bathroom perfectly. And it has magnets to hold it in place. And it was less than two bucks.  I must say, I’m very happy with it. It’s quieter and warmer somehow than the plastic one, and it seems to work just fine. No leaks!

Reuse and repurpose (and be patient)

This goes along with the last one, in a way. When looking for replacements for things, or thinking about buying new things, think about how you can reuse an OLD thing, or find it used. Like, for example, getting a shower curtain liner at Goodwill. Also, I washed and saved the old plastic one, and I’m going to get Hubbins to rig me up some kind of frame with a cover for growing lettuce in the winter.

Another example I have is with sheets. We had ONE set of sheets for the first two years of our marriage, and it got pretty used up. We were gifted a new set, and then I decided I wanted to tie dye a set (another post for that!) I didn’t want to pay full price for sheets just to dye them, so I didn’t know what to do. Then a friend asked us to do a garage sale for them, and get rid of or keep the extra stuff. Guess what didn’t sell? A white sheet set! Seven dollars for dye, and we have a custom tie-dyed sheet set! And with the old sheets? Another post for that as well, as there are a lot of things you can do with some old sheets!

Being patient is not one of my strong suits, but I’m finding a lot of joy in not buying new stuff all the time and finding really cheap deals (and keeping stuff out of landfills!)

And one to skip…

When looking into using less plastic I found tutorials for making your own beeswax covered cloth to use instead of plastic wrap. It seemed easy enough, and I had beeswax, and I had fabric. Well. It isn’t that easy. And I didn’t like how it turned out. So. Skip this one. Instead, buy some nice reusable fabric snack pouches like these. I had some plastic ones but I’d like to get fabric. And I also want to invest in some nice glass food storage like these.

That’s it! Easy things to go a little greener in your everyday life. What do you do to be green?

My posts may contain some affiliate links, this just means if you buy a product I recommend in a link, I get a small portion of the selling price, with no increase in price for you! I only recommend products  I actually use and believe in. Thanks for your support!

Building your Cloth Diaper Stash for CHEAP!

There are a LOT of options for cloth diapering, and some of them can set you back a pretty penny. Of course. even the most expensive type of cloth is cheaper than years of disposables, but sometimes you don’t have the cash up front to spend. So what are you to do? Here are some easy ways to get a decent sized cloth stash for very little cash! This is how I did it, and although I didn’t keep track of every penny spent, I think I’ve spent a total of less than $150 for all my cloth diapers so far. Ready to save money?? First..

Register for them!!

This is an easily overlooked way to get diapers and accessories. Amazon has a great selection of cloth diapers of all varieties, wet bags, liners, wipes, and more. Just make sure you do your research before you pick which ones you want, since obviously you can’t touch or see them in person. We received several of the items we registered for, and we also got a few cash presents and gift cards, so…

Use cash presents and gift cards!

So pretty obvious, use cash presents or gift cards to buy your diapers. Or…

Exhange unnecessary items

If you happen to have any groovy baby stores in your town like we do, you can also exchange any items you received as gifts there that aren’t needed for cloth diaper merch. This is a pretty case-specific tip, because of course if you don’t have a baby store in town, and/or you don’t get any gifts you don’t need from there.. but still. I got three of my diaper covers that way and didn’t spend a dime on them. Other options may have cost a little but…

Go for the cheapest type you can manage

We opted for one-size covers and prefolds/liners for our diapers, because this is by far the cheapest option. I have originally planned on getting the Flip Diaper system, because I read some good reviews. I did get two Flip covers, and I love them, however I ended up also finding some other brands that work great. Rumparooz has a lot of ADORABLE prints, and I found that their one-size covers fit Lil O best when she was tiny. Fortunately I had the most of this brand. Flip were the next biggest. I also have one by Blueberry Coveralls (It has veggies on it! So cute! This brand has a lot of cutey covers too!) and it was HUGE compared to the others, and didn’t really start fitting her at the smallest size until 2.5 months. I have one other cheaper cover by Imagine diapers. It is not my favorite, the fit is still weird on her, and I usually just have it in the diaper bag as an emergency cover. When using covers and liners, you only need enough covers to last you a couple days (this will vary depending on how often you feel like switching it out, I use one cover all day unless she poos or leaks out and soaks it), depending on how often you do laundry (max three days recommended for cloth) six is a good minimum number. I have nine, and since we’ve been doing disposables at night still, this is a great amount. If you use pocket or all in one diapers you need a lot more, which ups the cost significantly. As far as liners go, the cheapest are plain ol’ prefolds (just fold in thirds!), but I really love these hemp liners because they are super absorbent, and they don’t require any folding, making them husband approved.  You again need to do a little math, but 24 is a good minimum start point for liners. I think we have 24 or 26 or something like, and it’s plenty for now. I was recently given a pocket diaper, and I’m considering getting a few of those for nighttime, since I do plan to start using cloth at night, and that way I can stuff it nice and full without the layers shifting. I can get them for free by using…

Swagbucks and Ibotta

This is my last cheap diaper tip. If you haven’t heard of Swagbucks, it’s a website/app family that rewards you for doing simple things like surveys, searches, and other activities. You won’t make a living on it, but I was able to get quite a few Amazon gift cards that I used for diaper covers, liners, and wet bags.  This is my referral link, and if you sign up we both get a bonus! Ibotta is a cash back app that gives you money back on items you shop for. You also get a bonus for signing up, and for any friends you refer that sign up. Again, the cash can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, and I think I got all of my hemp liners for free between these two apps. Here’s a link to sign up for Ibotta!

So that’s it! How to get a nice sized cloth stash on the cheap. Have any other cheap diaper tips? Let me know! Of course the most important tip is SELF CONTROL because man those things are cute beyond belief! I could easily buy a bunch more because little fluffy diaper buns are so adorable!!

My posts may contain some affiliate links, this just means if you buy a product I recommend in a link, I get a small portion of the selling price, with no increase in price for you! I only recommend products  I actually use and believe in. Thanks for your support!

I’m Back!! With some Cloth Diaper HACKS!

Hello hello! It’s been quite a long time since I sat down to write a post. Having my baby turned into a much bigger event than anticipated, with five days in the hospital, a very long labor, and unexpected surgery. Then the recovery period was quite difficult for many reasons, and wow who would have thought such a tiny little human could require SO much of my time?? But at any rate I’m back today with some cloth diaper tricks and tidbits I’ve picked up in the last two months.

I should say the past MONTH, as we didn’t start cloth until Lil O was about a month old. So I guess my first hack is..

Start with disposables!

My little babe was quite the pooper in the hospital. I know some people go for cloth straightaway, but she had like 8 poops her first day. I was in no shape to try to be cleaning all that off of cloth. Plus having had surgery, starting with sposies for the first few weeks made life so much easier recovery wise.

Use disposables at night!

This one might change soon, once little miss gets a little bigger. She’s a good sleeper, and so she was staying in the wetter wet of cloth for a long time. This added to the rash I’ll talk about in the next hack. Also, you have to really pack out a cloth diaper for nighttime and it made her look ridiculous! Such tiny little legs in such a massive diaper. Also she likes to poop in the morning a lot. So using disposable for sleeping helped her A:be more comfortable for a longer period B:look less silly/probably be more comfortable without a huge massive dipe all night and C: make morning poop clean up so much easier for me. As she gets bigger I’ll probably switch back to cloth at night, but it also makes cloth laundry easier so.. I kinda like the combo. Plus you only need like one pack a month so it doesn’ t break the bank.

Use a BARRIER CREAM!!

This was something I didn’t discover until after we started cloth. Lil O got a rash almost immediately upon switching to cloth. The extra moisture from the cloth just irritated her tender baby bits. It took awhile to get rid of the rash, but once I did, barrier cream has made all the difference. It keeps the wet off her really well. I found two different recipes. The first one I made calls for one cup of coconut oil, one ounce of beeswax, and ten drops each lavender and tea tree essential oils. (The oils are optional) Just melt the oil and wax in a double boiler, let cool a little, stir in your oils, pour into your container of choice and let cool. This is quite a firm cream, and so I poured some into an empty deodorant container to make it a rub on. It works great! (you can find empty deodorant containers here) Very portable, and keeps everything looking good. The other recipe is just equal parts lanolin, coconut oil, and shea butter. I tried putting it into some empty lip gloss tubes, (like these) but the lanolin is pretty goopy and it didn’t harden up as I had hoped. This cream does work really well, so I recommend it as a jarred cream.

Fleece liners!

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here are my fleece liners in progress
In addition to barrier cream. fleece liners keep baby dry too. There are tons of tutorials on making them onine, but basically how I made mine was my mother-in-law bought me a cheap fleece blanket from Walmart for like two bucks, and I cut 60 something rectangles out of it. That’s it. They go in between diaper and baby, and the fleece repels moisture so it keeps babe dry. Another great benefit of fleece liners is if baby does have a rash, you can use regular diaper rash cream without ruining your diapers. You can wash them right with your regular diaper laundry too. Also, if baby poops and you don’t want to clean it off, just toss the fleece! Since my primary reason for doing cloth was expense rather than environmental (don’t get me wrong, the environment is VERY important to me, but saving money was number one) I don’t feel bad tossing out a little rectangle of fleece that’s covered in poo. It keeps most the poo off my liners, making rinsing and laundry easier (and less gross!). You certainly could rinse and reuse them. I also use disposable wipes for the poo because rinsing cloth wipes was hard and icky. Which brings me to..

Make your own cloth wipes!

Easy. Cut up your husband’s old T-shirts that are destined for the trash. They don’t have to be uniform or pretty, they’re booty wipers! You can also buy them (I have these ones  I received for a gift and they are really nice) or make them out of flannel but the t-shirt ones work great. The nice thing about cloth wipes is that you can just toss them in the laundry instead of picking out the trash. I either use just a dry wipe to clean her off, plain water, or this recipe from one of my fave books Little House in the Suburbs:

Wipe Solution Concentrate

Mix 1/4 C liquid  castille soap, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon lavender essential oil, and a teaspoon each tea tree oil and calendula extract. Mix one tablespoon of the concentrate with two cups water. Shake well, and before each use. Spray on your cloth wipes! Or make premoistened wipes by dumping the mixture over a container of dry wipes.

 

So those are my cloth diaper hacks! The only one left, which I will talk about next time, i how to get your cloth diaper stash for cheap! Laters!

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My posts may contain some affiliate links, this just means if you buy a product I recommend in a link, I get a small portion of the selling price, with no increase in price for you! I only recommend products  I actually use and believe in. Thanks for your support!

Delicious and Easy Banana Bread

I have been super busy trying to wrap up all of my many to-do lists before Little O arrives sometime this month, and one of the things I’ve been working on today is prepping some food to have on hand in the freezer! I have a very tiny freezer. So unfortunately I can’t prep a bunch of meals, but I did want to have a few things on hand, including some things for snacks or breakfasts. One of the things I made is this banana bread.

I found this recipe in the newspaper almost a decade ago, and I still use it today. It’s easy, fast, and doubles and freezes great. Make sure you use thin disposable aluminum pans for baking, this keeps the bread moist through a long bake. They can be washed and reused too!

What you need:

  • Two mashed ripe bananas (about a cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix banana and water, then add brown sugar, then oil, then eggs. Beat or whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, then fold into banana mixture until just combined. Scrape into 3 greased mini disposable pans or 1 9-inch pan. (Doubling the recipe gave me two 9-inch plus one mini loaf) Bake until firm and golden brown, 50 minutes for the mini loaves and 70 for the large. You don’t want to overcook it, the middle might still seem a bit gooey when it comes out but it is in fact done! Let stand a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

That’s it! Super easy and delicious. Of course as I typed this up I realized that I forgot the eggs. So. Unsure how this batch will taste. I did something weird with the bread I made as well (I think I killed the yeast) so the moral of the story is maybe 9 month pregnant me shouldn’t try to bake multiple things at once, especially given my knack for screwing up in the kitchen. Oh well.

If you want to hear about some of my other kitchen mishaps, check out this post!

Five Crops to grow WITHOUT a Yard or Garden!

When you live in the city and are trying to be more self-sufficient, one obstacle might be growing your own food, especially if you live somewhere with no yard. But today I’m going to share with you five things you can grow without any yard, and for a few of them, without any outdoor space at all!

1. Greens

You can grow most types of lettuce greens in a pot, or even in a window box. The best kinds are probably ones that you don’t want to grow into a huge head of lettuce, so mescluns or other varieties that you plan on just picking individual leaves for work well. Romaines, butter lettuce, leafy lettuces, and even spinach can be harvested as tiny leaves, so in a warm window or on your patio you can grow fresh salad greens! Inside you could probably do this year round as well.

2. Herbs

Herbs grow really well in pots, especially if you harvest them a lot. Indoors or outdoors works well, in fact I once grew a window box full of basil in my bedroom. I could pick baby basil leaves for caprese whenever  I wanted!  (I don’t recommend bedrooms however, because every day when I opened my blinds the overwhelming rush of dirt and basil smell was not very appealing. But if that’s all you have, go for it!)  Warm windows allow for fresh herb growing most of the year as well!

3. Blueberries

Yes, you can even grow fruit without a yard! Blueberries are of course an outside plant, but there are several varieties that grow really well in pots. The kind I have is called “Sunshine” and even though it’s still a small bush I got several handfuls of berries off it this year. I also have a lemon plant in a pot, I didn’t add it in it’s own category because living in Washington I’m still not sure how well the poor thing will do. (It had one tiny lemon that a squirrel knocked off before it was ripe, and it’s been really cold so after winter I may have a better idea!)

4. Tomatoes

Tomatoes actually do really well in pots too. You just need a tomato cage to keep them in line. It probably also helps if you pay attention to them and clip some of the lower vines so you don’t end up with a crazy wandering mess of plant. No personal experience there at all. There are also ways to grow tomatoes hanging upside down, but I’ve never tried those ones.

5. Green Onions

Green and other bunching onion varieties are pretty low-maintenance, and grow well in a deep pot. Although I’ve never personally tried it, there are also a lot of tutorials on how to regrow green onions from just the root bit in some water, I always use up the white bits so I’ve never had roots to regrow, plus if you grow them from seed they last a really long time, even into the winter outside.

There you have it! Five crops you can grow without a yard or garden! That is certainly not a comprehensive list, there are many other small-space veggies you can look into. It’s a wonderful feeling to grow something yourself, and a great way to lessen your dependence on the grocery store. Enjoy your harvest!

DIY Pom Pom Wreath and Updates!

Hello hello! Today I’m talking about pom poms. If you knit or do other yarn crafting, you may find that you end up with bits of a skein left over that aren’t quite long enough to do anything with, but are just too long to throw away! As far as I’m concerned I hardly ever throw a scrap of yarn away, especially if it was expensive. There are many things to do with bits of yarn, you can put them in a suet feeder for birds to make nests out of, you can tie up a package wrapped in tissue paper (one of my favorite ways to wrap a gift!), tie up herbs to dry.. and so on. But one of my favorite things to do with extra yarn is to make pom poms!

Here’s how to do it:

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Step 1: using two fingers, wrap yarn around them. Lots of yarn means a bigger, fuller pom. You can use one color or mix and match. If you wrap one color at a time, you’ll get a stripey look to your pom, holding multiple strands at once makes it go faster and makes a more variegated pom.

Step 2: Once you have it as full as you like, cut yarn. Cut a piece a few inches long and slide it between your two fingers, around the back of the yarn, and back through your fingers. If you wrapped really tight this can be hard! Try to wrap your fingers loosely. Tie in a nice firm double knot.

Step 3: Slide the almost pom pom off your fingers. If needed, wrap the tied string around and tie again to make it nice and firm. Cut the loops of yarn.

Step 4: Trim all yarn ends to be uniform, and fluff your new pom pom! You can skip this step if you want a shaggy pom but I like mine to look neat and full. Make some more!

You can do a lot of things with poms, if you leave the tie yarn long you can embellish a gift, adorn a hat, or make a cat toy. But you can also make a bunch of poms and make a wreath! For this wreath you need about a trillion pom poms, a cheap foam wreath (mine is from the Dollar Store), some straight pins, and enough yarn to cover your wreath base.

Wrap the wreath base in yarn of any color. This step is not vital, but makes the back of the wreath look better, and I don’t like touching styrofoam! Next, using your straight pins, attach the pom poms to the wreath however you like! You’ll need multiple pins per pom to get them to really stick (lol puns). Make sure to cover the inside and outside of the wreath to make it look really full. You’ll probably need more pom poms than you think to get it nice and full. I wrapped my wreath with a piece of ribbon before attaching the poms. That’s it! Easy to make, just takes a little time to make all your pom poms. A lot of time actually, but the results are worth it!

If you like the look but don’t like to craft, I have a couple of these for sale in my Etsy shop! Check it out here: etsy.com/shop/knitoriousLILA

And now for some long overdue updates!

First, the cheese. In my post Homemade Pizza and the Mozzarella Meltdown I was supposed to tell you how the cheese tasted! Well, it was okay, but it went rancid within a couple days and I had to throw it out. What a waste…. I’m not going near cheese making for a loooong while.

In my post DIY reusable Swiffer covers I mentioned that they were really linty after cutting. I’m happy to report that after a once-through the washing machine, the linty-ness is gone! Yay!

I do believe that’s all the updates for now. Have a super week, see you next time!

Quick and Easy Potato Leek Soup

Have you ever had a leek? They are a member of the allium family, same as onions, garlic, and shallots, but have a unique flavor all their own. One reason I love leeks is that they are easy to grow, and they last a long, long time, meaning I can probably pick fresh leeks all winter. You may notice that my tiny leeks up there don’t look like the massive stalks you might have seen in the grocery store. That’s because I’m really terrible at A: over planting seeds, and B: thinning out plants. So my leeks end up small and bunchy like green onions, but they’re still delicious.

This is another non-recipe recipe. Start with cleaning your leeks. As many as you like. Usually two big ones would be sufficient, but if you have baby leeks like me, a good large bunch. Usually just use the white part, maybe a little of the green if it’s tender. To clean leeks, cut them in rings and soak them in water for a few minutes. Leeks grow in layers and get dirt trapped between them, and soaking helps clean it out. After I soak mine a few minutes I rinse them in a colander to make sure they’re nice and clean.

Add some butter, a tablespoon or two, to a large pot. (Bonus! This is a one-pot meal!) When it melts, add your leeks. While they soften, I cut up an onion, and sometimes garlic, because we love alliums in this house! Add to the pot after a few minutes and continue to saute. If you don’t want onions or garlic, feel free to leave them out. Another option is bacon. If you like add about a half pack (or more if you want!) of bacon. I cut mine using kitchen shears so it cooks quickly.

While all of this is happening, wash and peel your potatoes. Actually, I usually do this step while the leeks soak. Any kind will do, I usually have russet on hand so that’s what I use. I put in about 5 or 6 potatoes (my pot is five gallons). This recipe is so easy to make bigger or smaller, just by adjusting portions, so depending on how many you’re feeding and if you want leftovers, you can decide how much to make. Once the bacon is about cooked (we like soft bacon so just a  couple minutes) add your cubed potatoes to the pot and cook for a couple more minutes. The total cook time for all the alliums, bacon, and potatoes should only be about ten minutes. Then add a 32 oz box of your preferred stock. I use vegetable. If you’re feeling healthy add some chopped up kale or some spinach. Bring to a boil, and then simmer about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

At this point you can either be done, or what I do is use an immersion blender and smooth everything out. Be careful and do this off the heat. It isn’t required, but it does help all the flavors really meld together. Don’t blend it into nothing though, leave it kinda chunky. Return to the heat, add about a cup of milk or heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste. You can top with some cheese if you like, mozzarella is good. That’s it! A perfect recipe for fall and winter. I plan to make a big batch and freeze it (without the milk) for after baby comes. This is one of my favorite soups and it makes enough for usually two dinners and a lunch for the two of us. Bon appetite!

Easy Crock Pot Beans

Hello! A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for delicious home baked bread, and mentioned that it goes great with some beans! This is how I make my beans, it’s not so much a recipe as a formula that you can tweak to your liking! Pretty much like all of my favorite recipes, there isn’t too much thinking or measuring to do.

Start with dried beans of course, any variety will do but I usually use pinto. You can also use a mix of beans. Put a few cups into a big pot and soak overnight. Or don’t. Honestly! If you’ve always been a bean soaker it might be surprising to learn that you don’t HAVE to soak them! If I want to make a pot of beans and forgot to soak them, I just boil them a little longer and it’s always worked out fine. Similarly, you can either discard the soak water or just boil them in it. I usually just boil them in in, because I’m lazy.

So you have your soaked or unsoaked beans, in their water or in new water. Boil! If they soaked overnight they only need to boil a minute or two, if they didn’t soak, I boil them longer, maybe 5 or 6 minutes. While the beans come to a boil, I cook up the fixins’. I fry up an onion or two, a jalapeno or two (or whatever pepper you have on hand), some garlic, and a half pack or so of bacon. These quantities are variable, so cook up what you like to taste. We love onions and garlic in this house so I pack most dishes full of them. If you like spicy beans add more peppers, or less peppers or maybe a sweet variety if you like less heat. Don’t want bacon? Leave it out! Once the beans are boiled and the fixins’ are fried, I pour it all into a crock pot. Note: If you want soupier beans pour all the boil water in, but if you like your beans thicker, don’t add all of the water in. Some will evaporate so it’s a little bit of trial and error.

Then I add some cumin, some smoked paprika, a dash of cayenne (sometimes), and some salt and pepper. I don’t put much salt because  I prefer to salt my beans once they’re cooked. You could add whatever other spices you like, these are just my favorite. Set the crock pot to low, and cook! I stir mine every hour or so because the top layer gets dry. Cook for about 4-5 hours or so, until the bean skins split when you blow on them. You can leave them on warm too if you don’t want to eat them until later. They’re very forgiving. Serve over rice, or with fresh bread, with some cheese on top. Delish!  And depending on how many you make, you have dinner and lunch for several days. Dry beans are cheap, so this is a very budget friendly, hearty dinner. Enjoy!

Another of my favorite cheap and easy multi-meal recipes is for potato leek soup. Come back for that next time!

Almost Free Baby Headbands

So having a little girl, of course I want to deck her out in millions of cute bows and flowers. But buying individual headbands can be expensive! I found some make-your-own kits, that come with elastics, flowers, and trims, and make anywhere from 10-25 headbands. However they are 1) all the same color scheme and 2) a lot of money still. So I headed off to Pinterest for some ideas and wow! I found an amazing solution!!

I can’t take credit for the original idea. I found two great tutorials on the basics, found here, and  here. What you do is take an old pair of tights  or nylons (well that’s what I did, they have you go buy a pair, but I’m going for almost free!) and cut up the legs into 1-2 inch strips. Then you gently pull each strip to stretch it and roll it back onto itself.  That looks something like this:

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As you can see, one pair of tights makes a LOT of headband bases! They are soft, leave no dents, and stretch big enough to comfortably fit even my giant head. Now comes the fun part. Embellishment! I scrounged around in my craft supplies and found odds and ends of ribbons, fabrics, buttons, and fake flowers that I had lying around. If you don’t have any of these things on hand, that’s where spending some money might come it, but if you’re like me and hate to throw away even a tiny scrap of a cute fabric or trim, you’ll find plenty. It doesn’t take much to make a baby bow. I even repurposed a tulle pom pom from a friends wedding! You can either hot glue (easy and fast) or sew the embellishments on the bases. I chose to sew most of them because I was also sewing some fabric flowers, which are so easy to make. Here’s how!

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Cut about eight circles out of cotton fabric. If using a thin, transparent fabric like the one above on the bottom right, cut out more to make it full. ( I used 12 circles) They can be any size, and don’t need to be perfect. Fold each circle in half twice as shown by the middle green piece. If you don’t like to sew, you can hot glue these too! If you want you can have a felt base, which works best for hot glue, but I didn’t use for the sewn ones. Arrange your folded circles in a… um.. circle shape. I do four for the first layer, three for the second, and usually scrunch the eighth one to make a fancy center, but do what’s in your heart! I find sewing them makes them fluffier. Find a cute button that matches and sew or glue it in the center, and sew or glue to your headband base! Done!

As you can see from the opening picture, I made a lot of headbands. A lot. That’s not even all of them. I did spend about $8 on some fancier elastics to make some different colored bases, but that’s it. Everything else  I found in my craft buckets. And don’t overlook old clothing, the thin flower above was an old shirt I got tired of but still loved the pattern, and I used fabrics from old skirts as well! You could even just sew a button on one! I’m not done either, now I’m making bows! 😀 The sky is the limit, and poor baby O will have so many headbands she’ll probably vow never to wear one again as soon as she’s old enough.