December 26, 2012

Our DIY Play Kitchen


I have been sooooo excited to share this with you all!

My husband and I made a play kitchen for our 18 month old twins for Christmas and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  It is sleek and pretty and a little bit cutesy all at the same time and it even kinda goes with my decor.   I want to play with it.  Okay, I have played with it.


My husband built it mostly out of 1x12 inch pine boards. The legs are cut from a scrap piece of 1x1 that we had and the stove burners are circles of plywood, painted with a glossy black paint.


The hinges, knobs, and handle for the oven were all things we had laying around in our basement, so they cost us nothing.  We asked on facebook if any of our friends had a spare kitchen faucet we could have and somebody did, so that was free too!

For the oven door, we bought an 8x10 piece of Plexiglas from Lowe's for 2 dollars.  My husband chiseled out a groove for it on the inside of the oven door and glued it in to place with clear silicone.



The curtain is hung from some picture hanging wire and small screw-in eye hooks.


Behind the curtain is a place to store all of their play kitchen items, mostly extra kitchen things I had on hand as well as a few thrift store finds.



The whole project cost us about 41 dollars.  It would've cost less except that I couldn't resist these cute little heart shaped hooks.



And I think the twins love it almost as much as I do!


Oh, and remember the cute little crochet cupcakes I mentioned last week?  After reading that post, my awesome sister-in-law made some! Isn't she sweet?



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December 19, 2012

12 Random Things: An Update of Sorts


I'm still savouring quiet days at home with our new sweet baby girl.  (well...as quiet as things get with six kids!) But I also miss this blog and am planning to begin blogging somewhat regularly again after Christmas.  In the meantime I thought I'd share an update in the form of twelve random facts, thoughts, and links.

1.  We're building a play kitchen for my 18 month old twins for Christmas.  It's coming along nicely and I'm taking a lot of in-progress pictures so I can blog about it after the holidays.   If I have enough time before Christmas day I am going to crochet some of these adorable little cupcakes to go along with it.  Who am I kidding, I'm not going to have time....

2. The other day a friend confessed on facebook that she had added a tablespoon of candy cane ice cream to her homemade cafe mocha and I pretty much drooled all over my laptop.  I haven't tried it yet, but mark my words, I will.  Oh my goodness I have the most brilliant friends ever.

3. For the first time in 7 years I wish we owned a television because I have heard so many good things about the show Duck Dynasty, I sorta-kinda-almost wish I could watch it.

4.  I need a nap. Or a Molly Maid.  But mostly a nap.

5. A friend hosted a gingerbread house party last weekend and our family took home the prize for best decorated house.  In all fairness, we were allowed to vote for our own gingerbread house and we came equipped with more little voters than any other family there so our win may not be quite as legitimate as I'd like to believe, but I'll take what I can get.

6. Hubby and I made a nativity block set for the kids using these instructions.   I am so happy with the way they turned out!



7. For the first time ever today I tried the old boil-some-orange-peels-and-cinnamon-sticks-on-the-stove trick to make my house smell festive and it worked so well that I can't believe I've never done this before.  The only draw back is that my house smells so scrumptious, hubby is going to come home and think I've baked some fabulous treat when in fact I have not.

8. Christmas cookies.   I've eaten a lot of them.   We've really fallen for this molasses cookie recipe, although we don't melt the butter and we make them in the stand mixer instead of a pot.  They are so good that we  made a batch to give away and accidentally ate them.

9. Watch this video without smiling a big happy goofy grin, I dare you.

10. The other day, at a social event, a friend offered to hold my baby so I could go pee.  Thank you kind soul.

11. I am loving our handmade Christmas.  Except for a couple trips into a craft store and a hardware store for handmade gift supplies, I have done absolutely no Christmas shopping, and it feels awesome.  We drive past the mall and laugh (um...lovingly....) at all the people looking for a parking spot.

12. We are so completely smitten with our new baby girl.  You'd think that by our sixth kid the whole "Wow, come look at her itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy toes!" would start to get old.  It doesn't.




Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Merry Christmas!

December 5, 2012

She's Here!


Our baby girl was born last Friday afternoon. She is healthy, and sweet, and has completely captured our hearts. I wish a photo could possibly capture how perfect and kissable she is.


She weighed 7 lbs 3 oz.  We had a natural midwife-assisted delivery in hospital and got to come home later that day.


The dishes aren't done, the laundry can wait, and I'm a week behind on emails.  But these days are so fleeting and precious, so we are taking the time to savour them.



November 12, 2012

75 Ideas for a Simpler, Greener, More Intentional Christmas


1. Give handmade gifts.
2. Switch to LED Christmas lights
3. Or better yet, forgo Christmas lights altogether.
4. Spend less so that you can give more.
5. Avoid the mall if you can.
6. Give gifts of time and skills instead of stuff;  teach a friend how to knit, snap another family's Christmas card photo for them, shovel your neighbour's driveway.
7. Carpool your Christmas errands with a good friend. Not only will it save gas, it will be tons of fun!
8. Order your Christmas turkey from a local farm.
9. Give your kids a family activity each day of advent instead of chocolate.
10. Have a live potted Christmas tree and plant it in the yard when the holidays are over.
11. Decorate an outdoor tree with edible decorations for the birds.
12. Find creative ways to wrap presents without wrapping paper.
13. Avoid disposable dishes at your holiday parties.
14. Go caroling.
15. Volunteer.
16. Pack an Operation Christmas Child box.
17. Sponsor a child through Compassion International.
18. Take a casserole to a family that is suffering a loss.
19. If you are buying gifts, consider companies that work to improve conditions for women around the world, like 31 Bits.
20. Decorate with nature.


21. Avoid television commercials and magazines, they'll make you want things you don't need.
22. Email your Christmas cards. It will save money and paper. Plus, people who really do want a paper copy to post on their fridge can print it!
23. Give thrifted and upcycled gifts.
24. Instead of exchanging gifts with your spouse, consider carving out some quiet time together doing something you both enjoy.  You'll save money, avoid the extra clutter, and probably enjoy it far more than whatever you could have bought each other.
25. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas Special in your pajamas.
26. Enjoy some Homemade Hot Chocolate.
27. Invite your neighbours over for charades.
28. Bake with your Kids
29. Assemble gingerbread houses
30. Find somebody who doesn't have family near by and invite them to join your family celebration.
31. Walk, instead of drive, around the neighbourhood to view the Christmas Decorations.
32. Make an alternative gift registry for your family, encouraging family and friends who want to give you gifts to choose handmade items, gifts of time, or charitable donations in your name.
33. Visit a Pioneer Village.
34. Buy a cow or a goat or a well for the developing world.
35. Have a budget. Stick to it.
36. Freeze your credit cards.  Like, actually freeze them in a block of ice so that you would have to wait for them to defrost before you could use them.
37. Visit an old age home. Let your kids make handmade cards for all the residents.
38. Play in the snow.


39. Make a rink in your yard and invite the neighbours to use it whenever they please.
40. Do without a Christmas staple, such as a tree or turkey, so that you can give one instead to a family who is struggling.
41. Do something nice for your pastor - I bet he's exhausted.
42. Be vigilant about recycling any cards or gift wrap you receive. 
43. Call your grand mother.
44. Buy local.
45. Don't read the flyers that come with your weekly newspaper.  They are designed to make you buy things you wouldn't otherwise buy.
46. Rally your friends together to collect a load of food for your local foodbank.
47. Have smaller Christmas stockings (and therefore fewer stocking stuffers!)
48. Knit a lovely pair of mittens and hand deliver them to a homeless person.
49. Put on socks and a sweater and turn your thermostat down a couple degrees.
50. Avoid trends and theme decorations.  Trends turn to trash very quickly. Instead, decorate with what you love.
51. Remember your reusable shopping bags when heading to the store.
52. Instead of buying a new Christmas CD, make a play list using your favourite songs from the CD's you have.  It will feel like a new compilation but won't cost a dime!
53. Help young children to make meaningful homemade gifts for their siblings.  Teach them young that Christmas doesn't come from a store.
54. Smile more. I promise it will make everyone's Christmas brighter.
55. How about a 100 dollar holiday?
56. Don't buy gifts out of obligation; doing so is more about your feelings than it is about the recipient, and meaningless obligatory gifts are likely to end up clutter in the back of the recipients closet. 
57. Check out these printable gift exemption vouchers.
58. Purge half of your Christmas decorations.  Clean up will be so much easier! Maybe you can give the excess to a women's shelter or some other charity that could use some extra cheery holiday decorations.
59. Instead of buying fancy Christmas dresses or outfits for your kids,consider choosing a more versatile outfit that can be mixed and matched for many occasions throughout the year.
60. For hostess gifts, bring a local wine, cheese or whatever delicacies your community produces.
61. In lieu of material gifts, ask grandparents to teach your kids a skill they have, such as knitting, bread baking, wood working, or bicycle repair.
62. Put up some Buy Nothing Christmas posters at your local shopping center.
63. Borrow, instead of buying, any serving or cooking items you may need to host your big family dinner from somebody who isn't hosting one this year.
64. You can save some stress on Christmas day by roasting your meat the day before and serving it Christmas Day sliced, warmed up in a crockpot full of gravy. 
65. Spend Christmas morning doing an act of service in your community.  A family we love does this every year and this year they are letting us tag along with their tradition!
66. Anonymously pay another family's electric bill.  Someone did this for us one year and it was a huge blessing.
67. Sew a pillowcase for the Million Pillowcase Challenge.
68. Go downtown with some friends on a very cold night in December and hand out hot chocolate to anybody stuck out in the cold. 
69. Gather the family beside the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and pray by candle light together for those who are suffering and in need.
70. If you have young kids, sing Christmas carols while you do the dishes together.
71. Commit to 25 days of random acts of Christmas kindness like this blogger and her family did!
72. Avoid buying plastic stuff.
73. Make Christmas pizzas as a family. 


74. Avoid the "Black Friday" chaos and observe Buy Nothing Day on November 23rd.
75. Don't exhaust yourself trying to do everything in a big list like this, just choose a few small simple changes that mean something to you and your family and take the time to enjoy the people you love this Christmas season!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

November 11, 2012

{Tutorial} Easy DIY Crib Sheets


This is my kind of sewing project; no measuring, no ironing, no mind numbing tedium.  The whole project can be completed in less than half an hour and for cheaper than a store bought crib sheet (if you scour your fabric store's clearance section for super cute fabrics on the cheap!  If you buy pricey fabric it won't be cheaper...but it will be cuter!)

You will need:
  • 2 yards of fabric, preferably a 45 inch wide fabric because then you don't need to cut it.  (Avoid stretchy fabric like jersey...it still works but I found it a little more....irritating.)
  • 2 to 3 yards of Fold Over Elastic.
  • thread
Fold over elastic is kinda like stretchy bias tape.  It gets folded over and stitched along the edges of the crib sheet, allowing it to fit tightly over the mattress without you having to hem the edges of the sheet.  I bought mine from Fabric.com


Lay your fabric out on the floor, nice side down.  Lay your crib mattress in the middle of the fabric.  There should be enough fabric around the edges to fold up over the sides of the mattress and then some.


Use a ruler to draw a square in each corner, approximately lined up with the edges of the mattress. Like this:


For each corner, line up the lines you just drew:


And sew along it:


Trim the extra little triangle off of your corners, like this:


If you have a serger, that would come in handy for this.  If (like me) you don't you can just sew a second straight stitch and a zig zag stitch along the edge.  We want these sheets to hold up to about a bazillion washes.

 

After you've done all four corners you just need to add your elastic.  Fold it over the edges of your crib sheet and stitch it all the way around, stretching it as you go.  I discovered that I use between 2 and 3 yards of elastic for each crib sheet, depending on how tightly I stretch it.


Ta da!  You have a crib sheet perfectly fitted to your crib mattress!


We've got the crib all set up in our bedroom for when our sweet new baby girl arrives!  Only 3 more weeks (give or take!) and she'll be in our arms.


Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  Please take a moment to "like" me on facebook or follow me on Twitter!

November 5, 2012

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck! (A.K.A. Why My Kids No Longer Have Rubber Duckies!)


I thought that we were safe from mold and mildew in our bath toys because I clean them regularly (errr...somewhat regularly) with vinegar, we squeeze them out after every use, and we store them in plastic mesh baskety thing that allows for plenty of air circulation.

But a few nights ago I was bathing one of the twins when the light caught the ducky at just the right angle and I could see that there was some dark spots inside the ducky.

So I cut it open.  And then I snapped a picture because I was fascinated and because I thought I'd share it with all of you, just in case you were wondering what bath water does to a poor rubber ducky. What's that?  You were wondering?  See, I knew it.


Ick.  Ewww.  Yuck!

My solution?  No more rubber duckies.   I could clean them with bleach or just keep replacing them, but neither of those options fits well within my desire to nurture a less wasteful and toxic home life.  So instead my kids will play with plastic cups and washcloths and empty shampoo bottles.

Another solution  I read about is that you can seal up the hole in the bottom of a new (and therefore, yet unmoldy) rubber ducky with a dab of hot glue.  It seems to me that would work, but also take all the fun out of being able to squirt water out of the bottom of the ducky!

Every time I see that picture I shudder a little.  Now excuse me while I try not to wonder how long my kids have been squirting moldy water at each other during bath time. Ick.

Ewwww.

Yuck.

October 29, 2012

{SavourTheSeason} Days 29, 30 & 31: Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie


This pie counts as three days of the 31 Days of Autumn.  Because it's that good, but also because I need a break. I am tired from baking and crafting and cooking and tending to sick babies and nesting like crazy because this little babe in my womb is due in only 5 weeks.  Where did the time go?


So please forgive me for cheating a little on my 31 days series.  And enjoy this Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe!

Start with your favourite pie crust.  I've shared my real butter pie crust recipe before in this post.


In a food processor or blender,mix together:


Add:
  •  1/2 cup milk combined with 1/2 cup heavy cream

Pour filling into pie crust.


Put pie on a cookie sheet and use tinfoil to cover your pie edges so that they don't burn.


Bake at 400 degrees for the first 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook another 30 minutes or until the filling has puffed up and is no longer wet to the touch but still jiggly, if that makes sense.

While pie is baking, make the pecan topping. In a food processor, crumble together:
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecan halves


Spread the pecan topping on the top of the pie and cook for 10 more minutes.


Remove pie from oven and cool completely, ideally overnight.  Don't get impatient on this.  All of my pumpkin pie failures have always been because I thought I could rush things and slice the pie while it is still warm.  Make your pumpkin pie a day ahead to let the flavour and texture develop as it cools completely!



[This is the final post in a series about celebrating autumn. Click here for more Autumn-y goodness!]
 
 
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