Category Archives: Save my Wallet, Save the Earth

A Happy Mother’s Day…

I hope all the moms out there had a great Mother’s Day; I sure did.  After working in the working world for a week, and trying hard to get that new routine nailed down, I got to spend Sunday relaxing.  I even had time over the weekend to do a blog project with Son.

We began with some coloring pages Son brought home from school, and since he had done such a nice job, and they were flowers, I thought they would make great Mother’s Day gifts for his grandmothers.  I asked Son to cut out his pictures, and then I broke out my cutting tools, and a cutting mat.  The only problem I had, was that I didn’t have any nice paper to mount his pictures onto.  So I recycled…

That’s right, I used some old shopping bags from Ann Taylor Loft.  The paper the bag was made of, was thick, and textured.  The only issue was the word LOFT written across it.  So I worked everything so that the drawings covered the logo.  I used a glue stick to glue the pictures to the paper, and then cut the paper to fit into an 8×10 frame.

Lastly, I asked Son what he loved about each grandmother, wrote it on the paper, and had him write his name, and the last word of each paragraph.

First, the one he did for my mother…

And the one for my Mother In Law…

Obviously, the way to a man’s heart truly is through his belly, even when he’s just a four year old boy.

I hope the grandmothers like the gifts.  They still haven’t received them…

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Whitening Those Whites…

I get to drive around a racetrack in a few weeks.  The event is a driver’s education weekend, where you drive your own car around a roadrace track with, or without an instructor, depending on your skill level.  Since I have only done this once, five years ago, I will have an instructor, but I like it that way.  This will also be Son’s first time at a race track, and I’ve been pretty busy getting things ready.  Of course, I will post those details as I finish them, but today is about the little things.  Specifically, size 6.

I’m talking about my shoes.  When driving around a racetrack, you want shoes that have thin soles, so you can feel the car through the pedal, and also to easily distinguish the pedals.  Real racers have special driving shoes that are thin-soled and fire-proof.  I am not a real racer, and so I don’t have anything that fancy.  I do, however, have a pair of thin-soled shoes that I use instead.  They are a pair of Geox that husband bought me on our honeymoon because I kept tripping on the Roman cobblestones in my pretty espadrille wedges.  At the time, the shoes didn’t go with anything I brought, but I love them now.  The only problem, was that I bought them white, and now, well, now they weren’t exactly sparkling.  Not to worry, I had a plan.

In the past, I’ve shown you how I freshen shoes, and how to polish boots, but I haven’t shown you what to do with sneakers, and if you’ve been waiting for that bit of information, then today is your lucky day.  First, I’ll show you my shoes…

Remember, that’s five years worth of grime and scuffs on those toes.  The first step is to clean the shoes with a rag and soap; I used Mean Green …

See how much whiter they are already?  But no amount of soap is going get rid of those scratches and scuffs.  For that, you will need this…

That’s a bottle of leather whitener.  Basically, it’s white paint/polish for leather.  Just follow the instructions on the bottle, and apply it evenly to the shoes; I didn’t even bother to remove the laces…

For my shoes, it took a few coats, but in the end, the difference is astonishing…

I’m really glad I was able to revive my shoes.  They’re broken in nicely, and as much as I like shoe shopping, I have yet to see Geox for sale in the U.S. so they are irreplaceable.  All it cost me was around three bucks for the whitener, and about 20 minutes.  Now I can really shine at the track, and I’m sure I’ll be faster.

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From Bags to Bedding…

Once a week, I volunteer at the local high school library.  Typically, I sort through books, and help with students, but for the last two weeks, I have been helping with a completely different mission.  The head librarian has enlisted her library aides, and myself, to work on a recycling project, turning old, plastic, shopping bags into ropes that are then crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless population.  Observe…

First, we take the bags, and lay them out nice and flat, and cut off the bottoms and the handles…

Then, you cut the bags in half,

and then cut those halves in half…

So the short version, is that you cut the bag into fourths.

Then, you begin linking the loops together – I had a student demonstrate.

Slip one loop into another…

Then, holding both ends of the same loop, pass your right hand through the end of your left…

And pull gently, until tight…

After a while, you will have a long chain…

which I rolled into giant yarn-balls…

The one thing you will want to remember, is to try to keep similar bag sizes, and thinnesses together.  (I realize that “thinnesses isn’t a word.)  You could also get fancy, and keep your bags sorted by colour as well, so that when you crochet, you can have stripes, or other designs.  Since I don’t crochet, I can’t show you a final product on my own.  I just made the “yarn,” but I did find a video that explains what we’re doing, and may be a bit more understandable than the still images I shared.

What I really like most about this project is how it uses something that would otherwise be filling up our landfills, and polluting our oceans.  I don’t use plastic bags too often, but I know someone who has enough bags to outfit a shelter, Mom.  And if you’re one of those, at least now you have something more to do with them than packing them with dirty clothes….

 

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Dyeing For Easter…

It’s somewhat of a tradition to dye eggs for Easter.  We always did it when I was growing up, and this year, I decided it was finally time to share the fun with Son.  Since I’m a DIYer, I decided I’d come up with my own way of dyeing eggs, that, and I forgot to purchase a kit.

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is boil your eggs.  I don’t know how it happened, but I am a master egg-boiler.  Seriously.  I never have any grey on my yolks, and Son loves to eat the hard-boiled eggs plain.  So I must be awesome.

To get perfectly hard-boiled eggs, you need eggs, and a pot with a lid.  Begin by placing your eggs into your pot; I chose to do six this time.

Then fill the pot with enough water to just cover the eggs.  The more water, the longer it will take to boil.

Place the pot onto the stove, uncovered, and turn the heat on high.  Bring water to a boil, and allow it to stay there for ONE minute.

After one minute has passed, remove pot from heat, and cover.  Allow to stand for 10 – 12 minutes.

I like my eggs with a darker yellow center, so I only let mine sit for 10 minutes.  If you want them lighter yellow, but still without the grey, go for longer, but no more than 12 minutes.  Then simply drain off the water, and run cool water over your eggs.  This is where I would normally peel them, but since I wanted to dye these for Easter, I didn’t do any peeling.

To dye your own Easter Eggs, without the kit, you will need the following…

  • A bowl of hard-boiled eggs
  • Something to protect your surface
  • Vinegar
  • Food coloring
  • Enough containers for each color
  • Something to fish your eggs out with
  • Some white crayons
  • A happy, helpful kid

Fill your vessels with vinegar so that the eggs will be covered when submerged.  Then, drop food coloring into each until you have it as dark as you’d like.

Your dye vats should look like this when you’re through…

Of course, that is assuming you used Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green.

To dye your eggs, just dip them into the vinegar.

You can use the crayon to draw designs on your eggs, and the area will remain white when the egg is dyed.  The longer you let an egg sit in the dye, the brighter the color will be.  Allow the eggs to dry before hunting them.

Can you tell which ones I did?

So just in case you forgot that Easter is in TWO DAYS, and you have yet to buy your egg dyeing kit, or if you’re just too cheap to buy a kit, you now have the power to make your own.  And of course, you will also have perfectly boiled eggs for your future salads.   Yum.

Happy Easter!

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Filed under Cooking, DIY, Fun and Free Ideas, Parenting, Save my Wallet, Save the Earth

Eating the Yard, Part II…

Two days ago, I posted how overgrown my yard had become, and that I wasn’t going to let all my weed crop go to waste.  Instead, I harvested what was good, and made dinner.  (More on that here.)

Dandelion leaves weren’t the only things I plucked.  I grabbed a few wild onions while I was out there.

Of course, wild onions aren’t exactly sparkling clean when you pull them out of the dirt…

So I took them to the sink, washed off the dirt, and pulled off the brown and outer leaves, exposing the clean bulbs beneath.

Then, I chopped them finely, and added some to that dandelion salad, and then rubbed the rest onto some pork chops that I had covered with olive oil and chopped garlic.

See, once they’re clean, wild onions look just like the green scallions you buy at the store, but they’re free!

I was going to grill the chops outside, but we ran out if gas!  So instead, I cooked them in a pan on the stove.

Just the same, it turned out amazingly, and the only thing I paid for was the pig.

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Trash to Treasure…

Several weeks ago, we inherited an old computer monitor.  Husband and Son quickly gutted  the machine, looking at how it worked, and keeping what spare parts they thought they could use for other things.  Then, the shell sat in the kitchen for weeks.  The more I looked at it, the more I thought it looked like something other than a computer monitor shell.  So I finally took it, and got to work.

Of course, I started with a simple shell…

But when turned face down, I thought it looked like a fortress….

So I grabbed my xacto knife, and cut up some cardboard…

to make some cardboard floors.  And since there were two floors, I needed stairs.  I made some of those, too.

(forgive the photos, the flash broke.)

Son loved his knew toy, even with the make-shift floors…

But I knew the floors would never stand up to his boyish playing.  So I took them out, and using the cardboard as a template, I cut new floors from some scrap pressboard.

Over spring break, after seeing I was spending all my time cleaning dear ole Dad’s house, I asked him to take over securing the floors in place, and making some stronger steps.  He obliged, and after a while spent cutting up a blue plastic barrel, and stapling it together, he had completed my little project.

Here are the finished results…

While I’d love to add things like railing to the balconies, I know they’d never survive.  I also want this new fortress to be a toy, not a model, and so I don’t want it too perfect.  Some day, Son will tire of it, and out it will go.  We won’t save it in the attic like some of his other toys, and I’m ok with that.  I want to be ok with that.  But for now, he has a place for his Army Men, Ironman, and the rest of the Avengers to scheme in attempt to save the universe, and it didn’t cost me a thing.

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A Week of Work…

Last week was Spring Break, and Husband and I took Son for a weeklong stay at my Dad’s place.  Husband had big plans to work on our 1967 Chevy Truck, which he inherited when his father passed, and since I didn’t want to dive into that mess, I decided to finally accept my Dad’s pleas to clean and organize his house.  In addition to this, I took down two books, and a secret sewing project.  I figured I could clean and organize Dad’s kitchen, guest bath, playroom, begin to pack up my brother’s room so it can be the grandkids’ bedroom, since he’s finally skipping the nest, and electing to stay in his college town over the summer, and then relax with my books and stitching.  Plus, Husband and I scheduled a surprise zoo visit for Son.  Boy did I underestimate my time.

First, let me say that my father is single, and works two jobs.  He is typically only home between mid-night and 6 a.m., and then has Saturdays off.  That leaves just one day to get anything done, and the things he prefers to tackle are the outdoorsy sort of things, like planting a garden, digging up his septic system, or fixing a car.  Add to that the fact that my brother, up until very recently, lived at the house only on weekends, along with at least 2 of his closest male friends, and other party guests.  Dad’s house was more like a frat house than anything I would call home, but since it wasn’t the house I grew up in, I wasn’t really bothered by this.  That is until I had to live there for a week.

I started my clean sweep with the bathroom.  The guest bathroom is obviously used by all guests, and to occasionally wash the dog, but most of the guests were male, and drunk, and well, if their aim is poor sober, just imagine how it is when they’ve had a few too many.  And then there’s always what happens after they’ve had even more than too many.  Yep, the bathroom was gross.  It took me a while to muster up the courage to get my hands wet, but once I started there was no turning back.  I scrubbed the fixtures, the walls, the mirror, and the floor.  I washed the shower curtains — Dad has two, the rug, and the towels.  Luckily, washing the curtains was a simch since I discovered I could wash them in the washing machine.  Still, it took me most of the day to get it all done.

The next day, I began tackling the playroom.  Dad’s playroom isn’t really what you imagine when you think playroom.  It’s really a room with a TV, two computers on separate desks, although only one computer works, and various old board games and toys from days gone by.  It needed both a good scrubbing, and some serious organizing.  I figured it would take me a full day to get this room under control, but I was off by a few days.  Yes, it took me days!  Three days, to be exact!

I started by boxing up all the VHS tapes.  Some were movies that I wish I could play for Son, but we don’t have a working VCR, and others, well, I don’t think you can get anymore, like the original release of Star Wars.  So if you’re wondering why I didn’t pitch them, well, they weren’t mine, for one, and they are sort of sentimental.  Besides, they’re only taking up three boxes worth of space in the shop out back.  More importantly, though, boxing up the tapes meant freeing up five drawers of space in these dressers Dad has in the playroom.

Originally, the dressers flanked the TV in the background, but I had a better idea.  I though Dad could use a console table, since he doesn’t have, and doesn’t want, a coffee table.  The console would be a place for people to put drinks, and I figured with a bit of creativity, I could create more storage.

Sure, the dressers are just cheapy, particle board and paper things that I think Dad was given for free, but I knew I could work with them.  Besides, I didn’t really have a budget to shopping.  Instead, I set them where I wanted them, and then asked Dad to cut a top and shelves out of some furniture grade plywood he happened to have on hand.  After he measured, cut, and fitted all the parts, Dad attached the pieces to the dressers with a pneumatic stapler.

The dressers were now a console table, with added storage, and not just some throw-away furniture.

Now, I know the new console could use some paint, and a bit of dressing up, but my job was to clean and organize; I’ll leave the decorating up to the owner.  Really, I think with a coat of high gloss white, and new hardware, you’d never know it was pieced together from trash.  What do you think?  At the very least, I think it’s encouragement to keep your mind open.

I’ll be back tomorrow with another cleaning tip.  I know, it’s revitting blogging at its best.

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