Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2013

DIY Father's Day Tie Banner

This year we have been making lots of paper garlands (does that sound a little girly for Father's Day?) or banners or buntings or whatever you want to call them. They are a fast, easy, cheap, and cute way to decorate for almost any holiday and it is easy to involve even really little kids.

We made this cute tie banner yesterday. My husband had a long day trip and I thought is would be a good way to welcome him home and decorate early for Father's Day. The process is really similar to the Valentine's Day Garland we made in February and the boys always have fun trying to "sew" the pieces together. There are pictures of the process in that post.

Homemade Father's Day Tie Banner (Garland, Bunting, etc.)

  • Any decorative or plain paper you want to use (We used the rest of this recycled gift bag, the bottom of the bag had a little bit of plaid on it, and we drew designs on the brown inside so we would have a variety of different patterns)
  • Yarn or string
  • Tape and/or plastic straws for "sewing" (optional, but makes it a lot easier)
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil
  • Markers (optional)
  • Other embellishments like stickers or die cut letters if desired
  • Glue stick (optional)
  1. Draw or trace tie patterns onto paper and cut out or let a child who can be trusted with scissors cut them out. I also cut 1 inch circles that we glued on with a glue stick and then drew the letters for the words we wanted. But you could either just write We Love Daddy, Happy Father's Day, or another message right on the ties or use alphabet stickers or die cut letters as well.
  2. If desired write and/or draw on the ties.
  3. If desired put on stickers or other extra embellishments.
  4. Punch a hole on each side of the top of the tie.
  5. String ties onto yarn or string to make a garland. (I threaded the yarn through part of a small plastic straw that I cut at an angle for a "needle." This made "sewing" the ties together much easier. You can also tape around the end to just make it a little stiffer, like the end of a shoelace.)
  6. Tie the ends off and hang up the banner to enjoy. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Post-it or Sticky Notebook Holder

I wanted to make a little gift to give a few friends here, so I made these quick Sticky Notebook Holders. I think they turned out quite cute, and everyone I gave them to seemed to like them. These little notebooks are an easy, quick, and frugal gift. Here is a quick look at how I made them.

Homemade Post-it or Sticky Notebook Holder

  • Post-it or other sticky note pad(s)
  • Cardstock, scrapbook paper, gift bag, or other decorative paper
  • Button(s)
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick (optional)
  1. First I cut out long rectangles out of the gift bag I was using for my decorative paper. I cut the rectangles slightly wider than the sticky notes and almost three times as long (about 4 inches by 9 inches). The exact dimensions of your rectangle will of course depend on what size sticky note pads you are using.
  2. Fold the rectangle to fit sticky note pad. I tried to make folds to wrap around each side and then back around the front again halfway (at approximately 3.5 inches, then 0.25 inch further, then 3.5 inches, then 0.25 inch, leaving about 1.75 inches). Again your dimensions will depend on the size of your note pads.
  3. Then I sewed a button onto the front cover. I sewed it onto the piece that went all of the way across the front and then tucked the half under it like a tab.
  4. Lastly I stuck the sticky notepads into the cover. I used a glue stick to make sure they stayed.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

DIY Fresh Sugarcane (or Sugar Cane) Syrup

Alright, so here is quite a unique post and recipe (process?) that I am sure is not for everybody or to do everyday, but it was fun to try a couple of times. I also could find hardly any info online on how to make fresh sugar cane syrup with regular kitchen equipment, and while their may be a reason for this, maybe this post will be helpful to someone.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the food here in southern China, is that you can buy fresh items at the market that are practically unheard of in the states. I have seen sugar cane at a few Mexican supermarkets around New Years though, so if you have high quality ethnic markets nearby you may be able to find some sugar cane at certain times of the year. Anyway, sugar cane is very easy to get lots of seasonally in the spring here. Around spring festival time.

Getting unusual ingredients inspires us to try new, and sometimes crazy things. Most people here just chew on the sugar cane to taste the sugar and then spit out the fibrous pulp. We've done that too. But the regular sugar takes longer to dissolve and tastes more manufactured than in the states. So we wanted to see if we could make a simple syrup to sweeten drinks, pour on pancakes, and possibly even bake with.

Thus begins our little culinary adventure......

Homemade Sugar Cane Syrup Recipe (Using only regular kitchen equipment: knives, cutting board, blender, strainer, cheese cloth or tea towel, bowls, spoons, and pots)

  • Fresh Sugar Cane
  • Water

    1. The first step in the process (after finding the sugar cane) is cutting it into short lengths and removing the tough outer layer with a very sharp knife. When you buy it here, you can usually ask to have it removed and the friendly salesman will hack away like crazy with a giant clever and several pounds worth will be cleaned in minutes. This is totally the way to go. We had the outer layer removed from the first batch we bought by a professional, and then later we were actually given some free leftover sugar cane that still needed the outer layer removed. Our knife actually broke while trying to remove the outer layer ourselves, so the free batch might have actually cost us more in the long run. Anyway, long story short, remove the outer layer very carefully with a very sharp and very sturdy knife.

    2. Next cut the sugar cane into little pieces that your blender will be able to handle blending very small. (Side note: my blender isn't very powerful but it didn't have any problems. However, I already mentioned that we broke a kitchen knife the second time we did this, so use caution and good judgment and you may want to even try a small test batch to see if it seems like it is taxing you blender too much).

    3. Pour water to cover the sugar cane pieces in the blender. Put the lid on and pulse to blend into pulp.

    4. Now rig up a straining apparatus. I took a big bowl that a colander could hang down into and rest on, and then I covered the colander with a cheese cloth. You could also use a clean tea towel or other clean cloth. 

    5. Pour the pulp into the colander and let the liquid drain into the bowl. Use a wooden spoon to really push on the pulp and squeeze all the liquid you can out of the pulp.
    6. Repeat the above steps as many times as necessary to process all of the sugar cane you have in batches your blender can handle. This may be the point when we started to question how much this syrup was really worth to us, but we persevered and chopped and blended quite a few batches of sugar cane.
    7. The next step is to put this liquid into a pot and slowly boil it down until you get the consistency you desire. You may have to scrape foam and impurities off from time to time to keep this from boiling over. I boiled ours down to about one third of the original volume and it seemed close to a 1:1 simple syrup (one cup of sugar to one cup of water), the same viscosity or "thickness"  as simple syrup, but not quite as sweet. I didn't want to keep watching the boiling pot at that point so I called it good and we used at that sweetness. You would have to boil it way, way, way down to get actual store bought sugar cane syrup consistency.

    8. After you are done boiling the syrup, you will need to strain the mixture again to remove more impurities. Then you can store the syrup in a bottle or jar in your refrigerator.

    We used this syrup in hot tea and coffee and over pancakes. It did have a bit of a "grassy" taste (imagine that a syrup made from a grass and water tasting grassy), but not bad and it does taste less manufactured to us than our regular white sugar here. The second time we repeated the process (except for breaking the knife), turned out the same and the syrup was equally good. It was quite good as a natural sweetener. Since we didn't get a huge amount of syrup, I didn't try baking with it. I don't know if we will actually try it again with just regular kitchen equipment, but it was a fun adventure slash science experiment.

Friday, May 10, 2013

DIY Mother's Day Picture and Hand Flower Bouquet

Since I live so far from my mom, I don't always get to do a lot for her for Mother's Day, but since she just came and visited we were able to make her a present as a family and give it to her a little early. I think she liked it a lot and the boys liked helping to make it, so I thought I would share in case any one else is still looking for a special mother's day gift to make. This project is pretty simple and would be quite easy for older kids. Little guys need some help and baby wasn't exactly helpful at all, but his tiny hands sure are cute once we actually got one traced. You probably want an adult helper for that job.

You could also do this project for a group of kids at a class and have each one just make a single "blossom" to give their mom using either a photo they brought or a Polaroid.

Homemade Mother's Day Picture and Paper Hand Flower Bouquet

  • Paper (construction paper, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, etc.)
  • Small photos printed and cut
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick or other adhesive
  • Tape, staples, string, or some other way to attach the flowers to their "stems"
  • Sticks or pipe cleaners
  • Hole punch (optional)
  • Container or vase (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
  1. Before you start the assembly process, gather all your supplies. Print off cute photos of you and your mom, you as a kid, your kids, your kids and grandma, you could even use pics of the grand-puppy and have pawprint flowers, etc. and cut to size. Hunt down sticks (honestly probably my boys favorite part of this whole project) or find/buy pipe cleaners.
  2. Trace a family members hand on pretty paper and cut it out.You might want to label at least some of the hands with the name and age of the owner so you can remember whose hands were so small later.
  3. Now you can glue a small picture in the center or if you want you can add a decorative shape out of contrasting paper that will help frame your picture first and then the picture. Repeat until you have all of the flowers you want for a bouquet.
  4. At this point I hole punched each flower to they could be tied together with ribbon later to be saved. This would make a cute little book to give just like this also.
  5. Then you need to attach the hand flower to its "stem." We used tape, but there are lots of other ways that could work equally well.
  6. Now you can either tie the stems together into a bouquet or put them in a container/vase. You could even fill the container with her favorite candy for a more elaborate gift. We had another gift to go along with this one so we didn't do candy this time.
  7. Give to that special mom you want to honor on Mother's Day.

If you let a 4 year old trace and cut entirely by himself
the hand might look this cute.

Bouquet tied together without stems

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DIY Oat Flour

This is so simple that this may be my shortest post ever. This isn't even really a recipe, but it uses basically the same process as making powdered sugar at home.

Homemade Oat Flour

  • Rolled oats or oatmeal

Place rolled oats or oatmeal in the blender and blend until finely ground. This homemade oat flour has worked well for me in pancakes, muffins, cake and bread. I haven't tried it yet in a recipe that uses 100% oat flour, but I don't generally make recipes that call for that. I love adding this whole grain flour into recipes for some variety now.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

DIY Fabric Heart Garland

I've been doing some more sewing lately. After doing some very functional sewing of diapers and mending I wanted a quick and easy project just for fun. This simple heart garland came together really fast and makes me smile.

Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Heart Garland

  • Assorted fabrics that won't fray easily (I used felted wool and fleece)
  • Sewing machine (although you could do this by hand with a needle, it would just take longer)
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  1. First I cut out a bunch of hearts free hand. The shapes and sizes vary slightly, but I kind of like it that way. I did make the same number of each fabric.
  2. Then I arranged them in the order I wanted to sew them in a big stack. I choose to make a repeating pattern since the shapes and sizes vary some.
  3. Then I sewed  them together using a straight stitch on the sewing machine. I started sewing point first and then just lined the next one up right behind. For them to feed into the machine smoothly, it seemed to work best to sew them point first and over lap them slightly with the next heart just under the one being sewn.
Once you have sewn all of the hearts together, you can hang it up and smile.


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