Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Farm Treasures: Refinished Apple Crates

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Behind this barn door is such a glorious mess.

Hidden in that mess there are some pretty worn out apple crates from when the farm really harvested from the orchard.

After some hard work, a good scrub, lots of sanding, a little planing and getting Ryan to cut new bottoms from some old wooden siding, we were set. Everybody pitched in.

Now we have the nicest toy storage that I’ve ever seen.

They stack so nicely and even make good forts so I’m banning all plastic tubs from view.

6 sturdy crates of duplo is surely enough for one house.

Oh My Mess! to DIY Pantry P0rn

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Way back in January,  I was inspired to clean up my pantry.  Friends at Well Preserved and Folks Gotta Eat were writing these great posts about overhauling their pantries and finding 10 bags of quinoa, 4 bags of icing sugar and secret stashes of pudding mix.  Well I dove right in, found my share of ridiculous things, like instant chocolate mousse from our trip to Italy 4 years ago and four types of dried basil, and then promptly felt very very pregnant and couldn’t even open the pantry let alone edit and post photos of it.

The great thing that came out of this project is we finally finished organizing the spices and they still look great.

This is such an easy peasy project you can finish in one afternoon. You’ll need a can of chalkboard spray paint and a white pencil crayon (I like the Staedtler Omnichrome ones) and a new box of lids.

2 coats of spray paint and you’re good to go!

The pencil crayon lasts longer than chalk and isn’t messy.  It wipes off if you want it to with a damp cloth.

Ahhh, and doesn’t the calendula look nice?  I think I’ll go brew a pot to celebrate getting this post out of my drafts folder.

DIY Felted Wool Balls for Busy Toddlers

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Let me start by saying that my family has a slight wool addiction.  We all have thick wool blankets, there’s a pile of wool coats in the porch, we suggest wool CSA’s from Stoddart farms as Christmas gifts, Rebecca has an outstanding assortment of hand knitted hats and wore wool diaper covers in her babyhood.  My mother is actually a famous rug hooker, having even won the Stanley cup of rug hooking. No really.

So when I feel crafty it tends to involve mounds of roving. Last christmas I made these great felt balls for the gazillion babies in my life.  I shared a photo of them in my christmas gift round up and promised a tutorial and then, well, life happened.

Another holiday season is fast approaching and we were recently invited to participate in a “Toddler Busy Bag Swap” by our overly ambitious friend Alanna.  She was inspired by this great post over on The Rigneys and has roped 9 toddler wrangling mamas into making 9 copies of an activity to swap with each other.

It’s going to be fun! Glittery dough, little bags to fill, matching games and puzzles are all in the works.  I have felted a million or so little indoor friendly balls to sort and toss all winter. As overwhelming as this time of year is, this was actually pretty painless.

First you’ll need some balls or a form or some sort to start with.  You can start with yarn left overs or we used tennis balls last year and little cat jingle balls this year.  8 in a pack from the dollar store.

Next ask your rug hooking mother or your knitting and crocheting friends for their scraps of wool.  We’re going to make a base layer of wool to stick the roving to.  Wrap you ball with the yarn tightly. Watch out for kittens.

Ready for the first round of felting? Take all your little balls and toss them in an old pair of panty hose or tights.  You want to stretch them tight and tie them into place with more of that scrap yarn. 

Toss them in the wash on hot.  Soak them first if you have an HE machine, the more water the better. You can toss them in with a load of laundry at this point. Don’t bother with the dryer, it makes them all lopsided.

After the wash, the felting will have started.  Carefully cut all the little separating threads and have your toddler pull all the felted balls out of the tights. You should now have sturdy little felted yarn balls.


Now the real fun begins!


You’ll need Roving.  Piles of fluffy unspun wool.  I buy mine on etsy where there are lots of shops selling directly from their own sheep farms along with fibre artists dyeing beautiful colourways.

 Pull and stretch it out with your hands.


Then start wrapping and stretching it around your felted yarn balls.  I like to build up thinner layers and mix the colours a bit.  I do a layer and then put it back into the tied off stockings in the wash.  One layer a night for a few nights with the day’s laundry. I do the last polishing round in the washer without anything else as certain things can cause pilling and I’ve never figured out what so I do the last round alone just to be safe.

Before you know it you have a wonderful pile of simple fun for the little people in your life.


This year we’re keeping them simple for good matching and colour sorting fun. 

Last year we had a really good time doing appliqués with bits of old sweaters.  We sewed them on and them felted them one last time.  They’re holding up really well.  We play with these constantly.

We’re headed to the swap this weekend and I hope they are as big of a hit with the other toddlers as they are around here.

How to: Recycled Wool Felt Christmas Wreath

Sunday, December 12th, 2010
Our new wreath gets quite a bit of attention.  But I have a secret, it wasn’t hard to make and it’s really just an old jacket and took one long baby nap to make.
Here’s how to do it:
First you need some felt.  This is wreath was formerly an old wool jacket that I felted in the washing machine.  Wool scarves and sweaters will also work well.  Really felt them by washing in hot and cold and drying a few times.   They should shrink and firm up.  If you don’t use wool you could totally use another fabric, just try and find something thick and be mindful of how much it will fray.

Next cut out all the seams so you have some nice flat pieces of fabric.
Then you’ll want to cut your fabric.  Experiment with a piece of paper first if you want to know what shape will turn into what sort of flower.  I mainly used squareish spirals but C and L shapes worked really well especially for smaller ones.  You’ll want a variety of sizes.
Now we make the flowers.  Start winding up your felt by wrapping it around your thumb while pinching it.  How tight or loose, how fat or skinny, how long, these will all effect the final shape so enjoy yourself.
To finish them off, take a big needle and thick thread, yarn or floss and make a few big tight stitches.  This will not show so it’s a great time to use up your odds and ends and leftovers from past projects.  Leave the tails long as you’ll need then to tie the flowers to the form.

Now you need to attach they to the wreath form.  I used a reclaimed floral one, but there are many options, I suggest using one from a hideous old wreath.

Paying attention to the composition start tying on your flowers.  You’ll want to do this as tightly as possible.
Once everything is tied on you’ll notice that there is still quite a bit of movement so grab that needle and thread and stitch each bud to its neighbour.  Do this from the back and pull your thread tight.  If you have the time and energy you can use the needle to pull the thread’s loose ends back into the flowers. Otherwise just cut them off short.
And that’s it!  A 100% reclaimed, recycled wreath that is weather proof and will last for years.

How to: Cloth Baby Wipes

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
I tend to be asked lots of questions and quite often these questions are ones that I get asked again and again.  I really enjoy being able to share what I’ve already figured out so one of the things I’m hoping to use this blog for is as a platform to give some good clear answers and to have a place to keep these answers for the next person who asks.

We use cloth diapers for Rebecca and although we get asked about the diapers all the time we also frequently field questions about wipes.  We do buy disposables from time to time but 99% of the time we use cloth wipes.

We prefer cloth wipes for a quite a few reasons.  For an investment of about 5 minutes every week or two, we have a cost effective and greener choice than disposables.  Disposable baby wipes are actually made of a plastic product that is not biodegradable, will do a number on your plumbing if you flush them and unlike diapers are generally not accepted into city organics disposal (like Toronto’s green bin).  We also like that we don’t have to do any sorting while changing a diaper, all the dirty laundry goes into the same wet bag and then it all goes into the wash together.  Last but not least, even the unscented-sensitive wipes can cause reactions in an allergic baby or caregiver and as our midwife said, “wipes are an invitation to diaper rash and yeast”.

Here is the break down:

We use the little cheap face clothes and have about 4 or 5 dozen.  We don’t need anywhere near this many these days but we certainly did for the first few months.

If you don’t already have one (they multiply in your house even if you don’t use them), ask a friend who uses disposables to save you a container.


Start by folding your cloths neatly in half, and then simply roll them up.  They should look just like when you first got them.


Then stack in rows in the wipe container, we do 3 rows of 7.  We normally have one box upstairs and one box downstairs and I make them up at the same time.


Once your box is full, its time to add the liquid.   This is not an exact science.  Combine ¼ cup white vinegar and ¾ cups warm tap water. Sometimes I add a drop or two of tea tree oil.  Franny decided to help out.


Pour it over the top of the rolled cloths.  Close the lid and give a little shake and you’re done.


The liquid will even out an
d make each cloth just damp.  We use them at room temperature but here are some great instructions on how to use them in a wipes warmer from
the feminist breeder. 

They will look like this:


We just wash them with the diapers and keep them in a little stack until there are enough clean ones to start again.  We use them for everything, just like the disposable ones, diaper changes, washing hands and faces, dusting, wiping off sticky keyboards and telephones, and they’re also really great if you are treating the dreaded thrush.

They will last up to two weeks with out any issues.

A ziplock bag is great to take some out with you but even better is a tiny wet bag.  We just received a free itzy ritzy reusable snack bag from renewing our subscription to mothering magazine that is absolutely perfect for this.