I think Pinterest was created for two groups of people: people who love to decorate and people who would love to figure out how to decorate. I have never had the decorating knack. I was not naturally inclined and never really saw someone who was passionate about decorating. Disclaimer: That doesn’t necessarily mean there were no decorators around; it just means, if they were, I never really noticed.
I say all that to say that since getting married, I’ve had more of a desire to figure it out. So, in the last couple of years I’ve begun taking baby steps. Baby steps for me and for our home.
I’ve been taking baby steps in the living room. And, my latest attempt to liven up our space is by adding some color to our couches.
BEFORE: Here’s what they have looked like for a few years.
I first experimented with pillow covers made by using hem tape. And, when I did, I realized I had just tapped into a whole world of potential. I got so excited that I shopped around and bought a sewing machine. These pillow covers can be made either way. Here’s what I did.
Measure The Pillow
Mine are 19″. In order to account for a 1/2″ hem all the way around, I added an inch to that number when cutting the fabric.
Cut the Fabric
I cut three pieces of fabric. The first was 20″ by 20.” Then, I cut two smaller panels for the back of the pillow (the goal is that they would over lap in the back. So, the directions I found said that I should cut two pieces 4″ inches shorter. However, since my pillows are fairly flat, I adjusted the numbers so that I could get the most use out of my fabric. I cut one that was 20″ by 14″ and another at 20″ by 12″.
Here’s what that looked like.
Then, I lay the two smaller ones face down on the big piece, just like a pillow cover turned inside out.
Then, I pinned it all up…and got so excited that I was so close to the finished product
Then, I sewed a seam about half an inch around! Then, I just turned the whole thing inside out and stuffed my pillows in!
The goal was to turn them around and sew a half inch seam in the front for a little character. However, I didn’t get very far, as I realized that I’ll need a different needle for my sewing machine. Yes, I’m a total newbie at this!
I’m now on a mission to find a print fabric to accent these. There are a couple I love. However, they cost approximately an arm and a leg to purchase. So, I’m waiting for the right fabric at the right price. Meanwhile, we are taking baby steps in the right direction around here
What DIY home decorating project have you done lately?
We love lasagna in our family. And we definitely don’t believe in buying it pre-made. We are a homemade lasagna family. It’s also a staple for having friends over and taking to friends who’ve had babies because it freezes beautifully. HOWEVER, ricotta cheese being a main ingredient was getting pretty expensive. Most of the time it runs $6-$20 depending on what brand you get. I eventually started substituting sour cream, which is actually awesome, but I missed my ricotta.
So I decided to try and learn to make it. And guess what? It’s crazy simple and CHEAP!
What You Need
4 cups of whole milk
one cup of buttermilk
1/3 cup of heavy cream
What To Do
1. Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan and boil on medium high heat.
2. After about 10 minutes the liquid and solid will start to separate. This is how you know you are doing it right. Take off burner.
3. Having placed your cheese cloth in a strainer, use a slotted spoon to pull the solid out of the liquid from your sauce pan. Place the solid pieces in your cheese cloth.
4. Depending on how try you want it let it strain for 5-10 minutes.
5. Use in recipes or store in your refrigerator.
Have you ever made fresh ricotta? Is it worth the effort?
My baby girl turned 4 years old last week! Four! Boy, time really does fly. If you have a child at about the same age (or remember what your children were like at that age), then you know that their imaginations are blossoming at this time. So, every couple of weeks, my daughter would choose a character (based on a book we’ve read or a show or movie we’ve seen) and declare that she IS that character. The list is extensive: Angelina Ballerina, Lightning McQueen, Rory the Racing Car, Cinderella, Snow White…you get the picture. I say that to say that I thought we had already decided months ago that I would make her an Angelina Ballerina birthday cake. I was wrong.
When the time came to actually make her cake, she was no longer in her Angelina phase. She was now Cinderella. I got a little nervous about that because it seemed much more complicated to make a princess cake than it did to make an Angelina cake. On top of that, when we looked at examples online, she like the doll cakes, and not any of the flat cakes. The best compromise I could get was that our princess cake could be pink, rather than Cinderella blue.
The reason I needed it to be pink and not blue is because I don’t use artificial food coloring. And, I couldn’t think of the right food or combinations to make blue. But, I knew we had strawberries and they would easily make pink frosting.
So, I did it.
First I bought a Wilton cake pan to make the dress/skirt part of the cake. I had a Hobby Lobby coupon. So, I paid about $13 for it.
Then, I baked the cake. I actually didn’t fill the cake pan all the way because I wanted to layer it. So, I baked some of the cake in the Wilton bowl/pan and then two other small layers. Incidentally, I made a chocolate paleo cake, made with coconut flour, cocoa, coconut oil, eggs (lots) and honey. Delicious and healthy!
Next, I made the pink frosting. I cooked a few frozen strawberries in a little bit of water and thought that using the liquid could be enough. Instead I ended up pureeing the strawberries and mixing them into the butter and powdered sugar mix I had prepared as frosting.
Putting it all together was the most fun. It may not look as fancy as the one on the box. But, everybody thought it was beautiful and yummy!
What kind of cakes have you made for your children’s birthdays?
Part of my Thrifty Divas routine is to look at things I buy and see if there is a homemade alternative. I am not sure I’ve found anything I can’t make at home. Maybe besides gas I have found another new amazing product that is expensive at the store, but pennies at home! It’s homemade Febreze and it really works! And with only a few ingredients, you can’t go wrong!
What You Need
1/4 Cup of fabric softener
4 tablespoons Baking Soda
Spray bottle-you can use your empty Febreze bottle too!
What To Do
1. Mix fabric softener and baking soda in your spray bottle.
2. Fill with hot tap water and shake. The hot water helps the baking soda dissolve.
3. Enjoy by spraying everywhere!
This really works just like Febreze!
Is winter over yet? Our house just can’t seem to get well from things like the common cold. So now, we are on a mission to boost our immune systems, but we’d really like to save some money by not investing in a ton of over the counter remedies. Instead we are trying these more natural and more thrifty options.
1. Garlic! This is my favorite immune booster and it really does work. I cook with a lot of it and when we are sick, I boost that amount. If you don’t like the smell, you can buy garlic capsules, but it’s definitely cheaper to cook with it.
2. Yogurt. The probiotics are great for the health of your gut. A healthy gut will help you fight off infection and just overall make you feel better. Try THIS crockpot recipe and save even more money than making it yourself.
3. Eat less processed and sugary foods. Sugar suppresses your immune system. Eating less will definitely help your immune system.
4. Sleep. Whoever thought of this obviously doesn’t have small children, but sleep really does help. It’s in those hours of sleep your body is able to repair itself.
5. Gargle with salt water. Japanese scientists say doing this simple thing twice a day can reduce your chances of a viral infection by almost 35%. And of course if you have a sore throat it really does help with the pain.
What are you doing to stay healthy?
My little ballerina-princess-baby girl just turned 4 years old yesterday. She loves dancing and loves her tutus. The only problem is the that her favorite tutu is too small for her. I had to hide it in order for her to stop wearing it. The whole thing made me decide to make her a tutu for her 4th birthday.
Thanks to the internet, it was very easy to find out how to do it. So, I got right to it. First, I went to Hobby Lobby and let the birthday girl pick her colors. Thankfully, they had tulle in rolls that were 50% off. So, I got one roll of each color and a roll of headband elastic (thanks to the Hobby Lobby employee for the tip), which was also half off.
Once I had everything, the first thing I did was measure the elastic and sew it together into the waistband. I encourage you to make it slightly smaller than you normally would because it will stretch a little bit.
Then, cut your strips. The great thing about the rolls is that I only had to worry about length because they width was perfect. I measured from my daughter’s waist to her knees to figure out how long I needed to cut the strips. I measured 11 inches. So, I cut the strips at 22 inches (doubled).
Once the strips in both colors were cut, it was time to tie them onto the waistband. As you can see in the picture below, I just tied them pretty close together on the waistband, alternating with the two colors I had.
Just keep doing that until you get the waistband covered! And, ta-da! I did it! And, she loves it!
What DIY project have you taken on recently?
I don’t know why it does, but it bothers me to throw away orange peels. They smell so amazing. I just knew there had to be uses for it, so I researched, tried it and here’s what I’ve been doing.
1. Deodorizer for your garbage disposal. Those things can get stinky and now you can even buy little scent beads to help. However, throwing a little orange peel down will help just as much. Lemons help as well.
2. Skin care. Orange peels have powerful ingredients for your skin. Check out this awesome tutorial for making your own body scrub from orange peels.
3. Room freshener. Simmer your peels in water and it will freshen your room.
4. Infused oil. If you like the flavor of orange you can infuse olive oil with the peels. Just throw some of the zest in there and let it soak for a while.
5. Garbage can deodorizer. Throw some peels in the bottom of your trash can and it will help with any strong odors.
6. Fire! Did you know that oranges are pretty flammable? Next time you go camping, use it to help start a campfire.
What do you do with orange peels?
Although coffee creamer isn’t the most expensive item on your list, it’s still cheaper to make. And if you’ve checked the ingredients list, it’s much HEALTHIER to make. The store bought kind is full of icky chemicals you could easily spare yourself from!
All of these recipes have the same base. You can use it like it is or you can add flavoring to it to make your favorite flavors.
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
14 ounces whole milk
Mix together and store in the fridge. It’s good for about 10 days in the fridge.
Use your base and add 2 teaspons of vanilla bean paste.
Mix your base and 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of instant coffee.
Mix your base and 1-2 teaspoons of hazelnut extract.
Mix base, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Dulce de Leche
Base mixed with 2 teaspoons of homemade or store bought caramel sauce.
What’s your favorite flavor of coffee creamer? I bet we could get you a recipe for it!