1.31.2012

My Sewing Table

A couple of months ago I was out "thrifting" - one of my all time favorite things! I was in search for a desk-type item, but that was about all I knew. Oh, yeah, and there was that whole "budget factor" - I knew it had to be cheap! I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this old sewing table:


It was originally marked for $80.00, but I came on a 50% off day. Still, I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend $40.00, so I bargained and got it down to $35.00! Woo Hoo! =) 


I didn't have to do a thing, except give it a wipe down with a damp cloth, and it looks great! My favorite part is the extra storage I now have for some of my crafting items! 


I love the basket weave detail on the front! I think I might even keep the original pulls. (For now at least!)

Remember to keep your eyes open to the potential around you!
*ATH*

1.25.2012

Handmade Pasta Necklace! (For Grown Ups!)

Recently, I have fallen in love with all-things chevron striped, whether it be wall art, clothing, jewelry, rugs... the list could go on and on. So, this evening, as I was doing some last minute grocery shopping, I came across the pasta isle and the idea of a "chevron inspired" necklace hit me! See? You can be inspired by anything, wherever you are, as long as your eyes are open! 






Materials Needed:
- Penne Rigate Pasta
- Paint (Colors of your choosing) 
- String (I used butcher string - it comes in handy for SO MUCH!)
- Hot Glue Gun


Colors Used: Yellow Gold, Black (Chalkboard was the only black I had, but it worked!), & Geranium.


I experimented a lot with this, so I did not take step-by-step pictures. Sorry! You can do this however you'd like - there are no rules! First, I painted the pasta and set it aside to dry. Next, I chose to braid the string to give it some extra thickness. After threading the black pasta noodles onto the longest strand, I then threaded  the gold pasta onto a shorter strand, and the coral pasta onto an even shorter strand. To join all strands, I simply decided the spacing of each layer and then tied a single string around all three strands and cut off the extra. (*This is where you can see the knot half way up the necklace.) Lastly, I hot glued the two noodles together at the tip, so that they would keep their "V" shape. 



I think, for a necklace made of pasta, it turned out really cute! I just might have to make a few more in different colors! Let me know if you give this one a try! 
*ATH*

1.24.2012

Inspirational "Homemade" Art

Recently, my walls have been in need of some new art and I have been in need of some inspiration. The problem? My wallet is also in need. So, because of my small budget, I had to get crafty! The cheapest and easiest solution I could come up with was to make and print my own art! 


Steps:
1. I found a couple of quotes online that I wanted to use. (I do not take credit for coming up with them.)
2. I opened a Word Document, picked my desired size, color and font, and then typed in each quote. 
3. For the "Today is..." picture, I chose to leave the background white. For the "Work hard..." picture, I googled "Chevron Stripe" images and simply copied the image into the document, making it the background. 
4. I printed!
5. I framed! 





Just as easy as that, I have some new and practically free art! This year I am trying to remember that happiness is a choice! Each time I look at these frames, I am reminded of that. =) 

*ATH*


A Change for the Better: 3

Toothpaste & Toothbrushes


One evening, as I was brushing my teeth, I decided to take a look at the ingredients that I have been putting in my mouth every day - two times a day. Most of them I couldn't pronounce or understand why they even needed to be in my toothpaste. The biggest red flag, though, was the "poison warning" listed on the tube. This got me thinking - even if we aren't swallowing our toothpaste, why are we taking the risk of putting something potentially dangerous in our mouths? Or even worse, in our kid's mouths? Surely some of it is absorbed and swallowed.

Fluoride: 
- Used in poisons such as rat and cockroach poisons.
- Has never been approved by the FDA.
- 4 ounces of most toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.

Triclosan:
- Used in pesticides.
- Classified as a dangerous chemical by the EPA.
- Is a hormone disrupter and accumulates in the body with each use. 


There are many other toothpaste ingredients with similar harmful effects. So what is the solution? I found this natural toothpaste by Nature's Gate. Its ingredients are listed below.


My husband and I have been using this toothpaste for about a month now and have been really happy with its results. It seems to clean the teeth and freshen breath just as well as the "bad stuff." The best part??? There is NO WARNING needed. All ingredients are natural and safe - even if swallowed. 

If this information was enough to get you thinking about your tooth brushing routine, I would encourage you to try switching to a natural brand. I sure am glad that I did! =) 

P.S. We also switched our toothbrushes to the (shown above) Preserve recycled toothbrushes. They are made of recycled plastic in the U.S.A. and are BPA free!

Happy and healthy tooth brushing to you!
*ATH*


1.19.2012

Old Collar Made New

I have to admit... I have a weakness for "fashionable" doggie items. Martha Stewart has come out with some especially adorable dog-wear items, a few of which I have purchased in the past. My bulldog, Olive, could wear a different collar every day of the week if she wanted - or I guess if I wanted. =) However, there are a few that have began to look not so pretty. This red collar was in perfect condition, just old, faded, and a little dirty. BUT never fear! I knew how to fix that!

I made a trip to Michaels and bought this paint - good for fabrics and many other surfaces!
The pink coral is "Geranium" and the gold, "Yellow Gold."

I painted two thin coats of the coral paint, then let it dry.

Next, I painted horizontal stripes approx. 1/2 inch apart, then filled in the spaces with diagonal lines, switching their direction. 

Ta! Da! I love how it turned out!

Olive likes it too!



If you have a pet that you love - and love to spoil - think of some ways that you can reuse something old that needs some TLC. I would love to hear your ideas! Good luck!

*ATH*




1.11.2012

Chalk Board Soap Dispenser

I have had this set of hand soap and lotion for a while now, and both have finally run out. I think they are too pretty to just throw away, or recycle, so I decided to keep and refill them! Although the stickers on the bottles were nice looking, I wanted to take all of the labels off. To do this, I ran each bottle under hot water until the stickers loosened up. After getting each bottle label-free, I took black chalkboard paint and hand painted an oval on one bottle and a rectangle on the other. Instead of filling one with hand soap and one with lotion, I decided to use this in my kitchen and make one for hand soap and the other for dish soap! I think they turned out cute!






Next time you are considering throwing something like this away, stop and consider the possibilities! 

*ATH*



1.05.2012

A Change for the Better: 2

Sponges & Dish Soap

My current kitchen does not have a dishwasher, so all of my dishes have to be washed by hand. I have always used a sponge to do this, but recently started to question if using a sponge was the best option. After doing a bit of research, I decided to go ahead and make the switch from disposable sponges to washable dish rags. 
Sponges rarely have the chance to fully dry out in between uses, which creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Although dish rags can have the same issue, it is much easier - and less expensive - to use a new rag every day or two vs. constantly using a new sponge. Also, disposable sponges = more trash in landfills. Some sponges also contain antibacterials (or pesticides) to help the sponge resist icky smells. These can react in harmful ways if they make contact with chemicals such as bleach, and are just not something that I want to be rubbing all over my dishes. This brings up the other half to this change - dish soap. 
I have used several different dish soaps, usually choosing them based on their scent or color. (Yes, I care about the color of my dish soap... I’m weird like that.) BUT, I never chose my dish soap based on the ingredients. It only took one short glance to see that my current dish soap was full of unpronounceable, unnatural, and potentially dangerous  ingredients, including artificial scents and colors. I have since made a trip to Trader Joe’s where I found "Next to Godliness Dish Soap." It is environmentally safe and biodegradable! 

Since I will no longer be using sponges, I needed to buy some dish rags. As I always say, I am on a strict budget, so I made a trip to Ross. I was SO EXCITED when I found that it IS possible to find environmentally responsible products even at a store like this! I found these organic cotton dish rags as a set of 4 for $3.99! Now that's a deal! 



Let me know how you feel on this topic. Happy and healthy dish-washing to you! =) 
*ATH*

1.03.2012

A Change for the Better: 1

Food Storage
I have wanted to make the change from plastic food storage containers to glass ones for a while now, but just never got around to doing it - until I read more about all of the reasons why one should! Plastic, although it seems durable and easy to care for, can do some real harm if not handled correctly. Never use scratched plastic, always wash by hand - not in the dishwasher, NEVER microwave (and keep in mind that when an item says “microwave safe” it means for the container - NOT YOU), do not store hot foods, acidic foods, or foods with a high fat or oil content in plastic - these encourage the leaching of chemicals. Does that sound easy and durable to you? SO, I was easily convinced that I should no longer be storing my food in plastic and immediately set out to buy some glass containers! Of course, being on a strict budget, I was pleasantly surprised to find this set of 9 glass containers and 9 snap lock lids for $29.99 at Costco! I did some research online and this was, by far, the best deal around!



Goodbye poisonous plastic, hello glass! 

Besides the fact that these glass containers are better for me and my food, they also do not stain, are easier to wash, and are... well... prettier too! Let me know if you have, or want, to make the switch from plastic to glass and your reasons why! 

*ATH*


1.02.2012

Homemade Christmas Gifts!

Christmas is over and it is a new year! My husband and I spent lots of time with family laughing, eating, and laughing some more! We stuck to our annual tradition of the cousins drawing names and making a gifts for each other, and I think this year was the best yet! Not to brag, but I'm pretty sure I come from one of the most creative and talented family's around! Here are some of the awesome gifts made this year!  


(Previously shown) I made this jewelry tree for my cousin Ashley.


I also made this recipe box for my sister-in-law Tori.

My cousin, Ashley, made this necklace for me!



My sister, Kellyn, made this kite for our cousin Samantha!

It turned out SO adorable!


AND it actually flew!


My brother, Connor, made these "secret compartment" books for my husband Josh.


I wonder what we will hide in them...?


No one will ever know!


My sister, Caisey, made this awesome scarf for our cousin Alissa!

My cousin, Alissa, made this clay lantern with glass pieces for my brother Connor.

My cousin, Bethany, made these adorable fingerless gloves for my sister Kellyn!

How cute are they?!


Last, but not least, my husband, Josh, made these book ends from an old tree stump!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and fantastic start to the new year! Until next time! =) 


*ATH*