THE HAPPY HOMESTER IS MOVING!!!

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Actually, you’ll barely even notice, unless you are a fellow WordPress.com user.  If you don’t want to miss a beat, you’ll need to go to (Dum dum duh DAH!!!) thehappyhomester.com and enter your email address in the subscriber bar.  Otherwise, you’ll only see updates to my blog in WordPress Reader, and that’s okay, too, if it’s how you roll…  If you do NOT have a wordpress.com account, your subscription will transfer automatically and you can use your saved energy to do a happy moving dance with me, instead!  Hooray!

Hand Sanitizer Cozy–Makes a great teacher gift!

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Here is a super quick but thoughtful gift you can make your kids’ teachers this year!  Practical, inexpensive, and adorable… Dust off your sewing machine, because you have no choice–you’re totally going to do this with me!

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Materials:

  • Pump Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
  • One 8 3/4″ x 6 1/4″ piece of fabric  (Wash and dry your fabric before you cut it, to make sure this project is machine washable.)
  • Straight Pins
  • Sewing gauge or ruler
  • Sewing Machine/Thread
  • Iron and Ironing board
  • Embellishments of your choice!

You’ll be able to  churn out several of these pretty quickly after the first one.  I based this tutorial on an 8 oz. bottle of Purell.

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Step 1: With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER (in other words, you should be looking at the pretty side of the fabric as you sew) sew the 6 1/4″ ends of your fabric together leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.  That doesn’t leave you a ton of space, so go carefully, and pin it beforehand if you think it will help.  We’re about to make French seams!!!

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Step 2:  Press that seam to one side.  Turn the piece inside out, and press the seam into a crease.

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Step 3:  Using a 3/8″ seam allowance, stitch the side again with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.  (You should be looking at the wrong side of the fabric now.)

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Step 4: Press the seam flat, and turn your work right side out again.  Before you begin the next step CENTER that seam.  You want it to be in the center of the back of your bottle.  It wouldn’t hurt to press your work flat this way so you remember.

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Step 5:  With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER stitch the bottom with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press, turn inside out, then stitch again with a 3/8″ seam allowance.  You’re getting the hang of it now!  Have you noticed yet that 3/8″ is probably just the edge of your presser foot? ;-)

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Step 6:  Go back to your ironing board, and press that bottom seam flat.  Now, keeping your work inside out, turn it bottoms up, and sort of karate chop the center so you have two “ears”.  See?

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Step 7:  Bring these ears together and press them flat.

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Step 8:  Measuring 5/8″ from the tips of ears, stitch a line on each one.  You’ll want to press the ears so that they point upward, toward the bottle’s spout.

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Step 9:  You’re almost done!  We just have to hem the top!  Fold down 1/2″ and press.  Fold down 1/2″ again and press.  Stitch with 3/8″ seam allowance.

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Step 10:  Add embellishments!!!  This might just be a bow around the neck of the bottle, or bows/ buttons/embroidery/lace on the cozy itself!  Get creative!  Now do a happy dance!!!  You have an adorable gift for your kids’ teachers, or just for cuteness around your home!

I’m thinking I’ll tuck in one of these quick tissue holders to coordinate and voila!  Winter illnesses will be no match for my kids teachers!

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Apx. cost of this project:
Hand Sanitizer: $1-3
Fabric: Free-$1
Thread/notions: Free-$1 depending on your embellisments!
Total: $1-$5
Mine cost: $3 because I paid full price for my hand sanitizer.  Dag nabit!

Time for this project: 12 minutes 6 seconds  (Full Disclosure: This was my personal best stopwatch time after a few practices.  Betcha’ can’t beat it!)

Send me a link to your photos because you’re totally doing this project!

-Mac-

Three Ways I’m Sewing and Saving this Christmas

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November starts the rush at my house.  Sometimes I get all my handmade gifts done by Thanksgiving (a worthy goal), but other times I’ll be setting up my sewing machine well into December.  As I sit down to make a list of the handmade elements I want to tackle this season, I thought I’d share some of my plans.

1.  I’m keeping my sewing “in house” this year.  Every so often, I like to give our extended family (and myself) a break from my amazing (or occasionally not so amazing) handmade gifts.  And some years, it’s ALL handmade.  I might still make a few stocking stuffers, but nothing too elaborate this time around.  Instead, this season’s sewing will be mostly for our own kiddos.  That means the pressure for perfectionism goes way down, and I have a little more freedom to experiment and try new shortcuts–because being a home sewist shouldn’t feel like a part time job.

2.  I’m reducing the Christmas wrapping for this year (and years to come) by stitching reusable Christmas gift bags!  (This will give you the gist.)  I never get the gift wrapping done before Christmas Eve, so it’ll be wonderful to have a nice stash of festive drawstring bags to tuck gifts in neatly!  Less mess, better for the environment, better for my stress levels, and better for our wallets considering how much of my fabric stash was handed down to me or purchased in the form of thrift store sheets!  (99 cents!)  I’m also pretty confident that with a good process in place, I can make a gift bag almost as fast as I can wrap a gift.

3.  I’m sewing pieces for my winter wardrobe.  We always have a lot of events during the holidays, and my closet is in such a state, that if I want to stay out of the stores, I’ll need to sew a few basic wardrobe pieces for myself.  Nothing fancy.  Mostly some hemming and a couple winter skirts.  The kids are becoming a little more self sufficient, and I’m feeling like I might just be starting to wake up from my frumpy mom phase.  I might even think about looking cute again!  (I know!  Right?!  I thought it’d NEVER get easier!)

So, what are your plans?  Do you have a timeline in mind?  Got a sewing buddy to keep you motivated? Good luck!

-Mac-

P.S.  Just in case you were wondering how my other son’s Halloween costume turned out, here’s the pic.  They were both SO proud of their super hero garb.  They didn’t seem to notice a single imperfection. :-)

 

When should you throw away your sewing project?

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Halloween’s in two days, and I almost abandoned ship on this one.  The helmet.  The eye holes in the helmet.  I tried cutting them a few different ways.  Tried stitching around them (that just made it worse).  Then I was almost out of the blue fabric, so I had to awkwardly piece together the top of the thing.  It’s just not my best work.

I started thinking of what his pre-K teachers would think at his Halloween party when they pulled out this awkward costume I sped through, attempting to upcycle what are, admittedly, kind of ragged old t-shirts.  I thought about how my son might feel when he sees another Captain America looking like this.  And the project was taking too long.  Way longer than I’d imagined it’d take.

But then my son came home from preschool.  And he was so excited.  I finished the project, for better or for worse.  And Captain America is wearing blue jeans, too.  Because he does that sometimes, right?

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But then I look at these pictures and feel the nostalgia that raggedy homemade costumes tend to muster up.  I think about the conversations we’ll have over old photo albums when my kids are teenagers or young adults about how I really might have been a little Pinterest crazy when they were little.  Or maybe they’ll look back and think I was totally awesome at making stuff.  Either way, I’m glad I didn’t throw away that helmet.

-Mac-

The Green Team

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What is this kid drinking?!

 

Green smoothies.  This is one of those things that seems to be pretty trendy in blog land.  My parents have been touting their benefits all year, but everyone else I know thinks I’m crazy.  Jumping on this bandwagon was not my idea per se.  It was that ^^^^^ kid’s idea.

I had just finished listening to a podcast interview with a woman who talked about her life as a busy mom on a tight budget.  She was kind of depressed, gained a lot of weight in a very short time, and it felt nothing was going according to plan.  So, she decided to do one thing for herself:  drink a green smoothie every morning.  She did nothing else, at first, but it turns out that simple step was the catalyst for all kinds of healthy changes in her life.

Hm… I thought, Maybe I could do that.  What she was describing was not very expensive or a huge commitment, so I started browsing her beautiful website to get some recipe ideas.  Right about that time, my youngest sat on my lap.

 

“FUNNY MILKSHAKE!!!!!!!!!!  FUNNY MILKSHAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

It’s  this screaming thing he does when he really really wants something.  (I hesitate to even share this, but it sounds remarkably similar to this slightly less well behaved child you might be familiar with.)

I tried to scroll away from the picture, but he kept totally freaking out, trying to scroll back up to the picture of the “funny milkshake”!

So, that’s what did it.

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We’re converts now.

Okay, so the first question is always, “What’s in it?”  So far, pineapple, strawberry, almond milk, bananas, peaches, and, oh yeah, a tightly packed cup of raw spinach.  I had you until the spinach, right?

Well, the good news is, you don’t really taste the spinach.  At least I don’t.  I’m assuming my kiddo doesn’t.  I’m excited to try some new recipes.  I can’t report on any major health updates, since we’ve been at this less than a week.  I do like that this is a fairly affordable, fairly simple thing I can do to get a little more nutrition in my diet, but the fact that my son thinks this is a treat?  This is the healthiest thing he’s probably ever eaten!  I HAVE to keep doing this!

The second question is, “He REALLY likes it?”  YES!  The first smoothie I made him, (in the first picture here) was in the way of something, so I just scooted it to the side for a second.  His response was to give me the dirtiest look ever and tell me “NO!  That’s MINE!”  That might seem like ugly attitude, but when he overcomes his language delays to communicate so clearly… I take it very seriously!

The third question: “Do you guys ALL drink it?”  No.  Amazingly, I got my five year old to try it the first day, telling him it was a funny green halloween milkshake.  He didn’t care for it.  (But can you believe he fell for that?!  Pssht! Five year olds.) My husband, on the other hand, said he didn’t like the first batch, but wants to try again after looking at all the recipes that started this whole thing.

Fortunately, the fact that this treat is something just my youngest and I share makes it all the more appealing to him.  We’re Team Green–a smoothie drinking machine!

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I’m such a fan of baby steps and small wins.  A green smoothie is pretty easy, but it is making me feel like I’ve done something for my health and my kiddo’s health before we even get dressed for school.  I’m pretty excited to see the impact that could make on my attitude about the day, if not the vitamins and nutrients themselves!

Do you do anything weird for your health?  Tell me all about it!

-Mac-

21 Days: Giving purpose to my paranoia.

So, this week I’m stocking up on Purell, and Clorox wipes, and Lysol.  No no!  Not because of Ebola!!!  No no.  Just cold and flu season.  And maybe enterovirus.  Because I’m rational.  Right?  I would never let my own irrational fears dictate my behaviors.  Right?  Right.  Just COLDS and FLUS… #maybeopposite

I know, I know.  You’re already sick of hearing/talking about it.  We’ve especially got Ebola fatigue in northeast Ohio after this week’s news.  I just got a call from my kids’ school, reassuring all parents that we are at no risk of Ebola, but to make sure and disclose all our children’s sick day symptoms — just in case.

With pretty much every news flash, yesterday, I HAD to find some hand sanitizer and use it.  I know.  My family is not really at risk.  I know.  But even though my beautiful, brilliant noggin has processed all that information, the pesky butterflies in my stomach tend to settle if I ceremoniously pump a bit of sanitizer gel.  My husband summed it up pretty well–it’s like the fear some people have of air travel.  You KNOW the stats that you’re way more likely to crash in a car, but if you DO happen to crash in a plane you’re pretty much toast.  Yeah.

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First of all, let me point out that I have the prettiest hand sanitizer in the world, thanks to my harvest themed nose blowing station in the picture.  (Note: Another one of my grapevine wreaths, and I hope to tell you more about this easy hand sanitizer cozy in the near future. #teachergifts)

But also, I just want to think about the response I actually do want to take to Ebola.  The message from our leaders has been “Don’t panic,” which is really reassuring when it’s followed by, “This hospital/CDC/humans weren’t cautious enough…”  But average Jill Shmills like you and me can’t do much beyond asking, “How can we help?”

I’m not an expert, but my understanding is that ebola would not have taken this hold were it not for profound poverty crippling efforts to contain it.  Yes, in America the perceived threat is much greater than the actual threat, but West Africa will suffer from this outbreak for generations as the ramifications to their familial, economic, and healthcare structures unfold.  Ramifications that do, in one way or another, tend to impact surrounding areas and the world at large.  Maybe I’m naive, but wouldn’t it make sense to rally around Ebola in the same way we rally around natural disasters and ice buckets?

So, while I’m no philanthropist, I’m giving myself a very small challenge for the next 21 days:  For every dollar I spend on my OCD comforts (e.g. hand sanitizer, bleach, anti-viral snake oil), to match with a dollar donated toward fighting Ebola in West Africa.

$10 on Purell –> $10 to World Vision’s Ebola efforts.  (Basically helping them distribute gloves, masks, and other hygiene items to clinics in affected areas.)

Of course Ebola, while it makes a sensational news story, maybe shouldn’t draw funds away from other charities we choose to support, so for me, this small challenge is just a short term adjustment we’ll hardly even notice in the grocery budget, but it will sooth my conscience to put something toward families that can’t just run to Walgreens for Lysol and hand soap.

Pretty simple, probably not all that significant, but these little baby steps are ways we slowly change the world, or at very least, our hearts.  Right?

-Mac-

P.S. Tell me in the comments if you decide to take this challenge, too!  Also feel free to link up other trustworthy charitable organizations that are on top of this!

P.P.S.  Here’s a great podcast on the history and science of Ebola.

My First Wreath Decorating Attempt

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As much as I love Pinterest, and DIY, and crafting, I have to admit, anything near to the realm of floral arrangement intimidates me.  It seems like no matter how beautiful the bouquet, as soon as I remove the tissue paper and put it in a vase, I totally ruin it.  Does anybody else have this problem?  I’ve been learning a little more here and there, but still.  Intimidating.

But, now that I have all these handmade grapevine wreaths from our garden, it was time to try working with foliage again.  I had a few harvesty “permanent florals” stowed away in my basement, so I just worked with them, as well as cutting up a few fabric scraps for a little variety.  The wreath above hangs in my kitchen, and the one below is the very first harvest wreath to grace my front door.

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Oh, look! There I am!

 

I obviously have a lot to learn, but I really like the earthy style.  I always feel a bit conflicted about using fake flowers in decorating, but I think it’s not too obvious here.  And also, just, come on.  My little scrap fabric bows!  I don’t have a lot of shabby-chic/rustic/country themed stuff going on in my home, but those little bows almost make me want to convert.  ;-)

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And now that I have these pretty harvest wreaths up, I feel like these guys are trying to get my attention.  What have you been doing to welcome fall into your home?

-Mac-