Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mama Cloth Update

A few months ago I did a post on mama cloth and Diva Cups. I had just purchased the cup and a couple of the pads and made some pads.

Well, I wanted to give more thorough info after using them for a few months.

Diva Cup

A Diva Cup is a silicone "cup" that is used as a tampon alternative. Instead of absorbing fluids, it catches them. This eliminates the toxic shock syndrome risk. It is used each month, washed and stored for the next month.

I absolutely LOVE this! If inserted correctly it does not leak (only had one time that I didn't put it in right and knew pretty quickly that it wasn't right). You can leave it in for up to 12 hours, but I've found that the first day or two of my cycle I need to empty it because it was full. After that, I only bother with it once in the morning and once before bed.

One of my favorite features is that I can pee without it being affected. One of the things I hated about tampons was that I couldn't go pee without having to change it, which meant that I either tried to "schedule" going or would waste a tampon by going when it wasn't full. Swimming doesn't affect it either.

I love that I only have to empty it a couple of times a day, which makes bathroom trips much quicker. And I love that I'm not buying supplies every month or that I'm not running out. And, it's WAY more comfortable than a tampon. I can't even feel the cup and sometimes I forget all about it.

Emptying the cup
Yes, it can be a bit messy. There are a few ways in which to pull the cup out, but I prefer the squat. After it's out, I dump it in the toilet and then wash it out in the sink (just a rinse) then reinsert it and wash my hands. In the mornings I take it out in the shower because it's so easy to empty, rinse and reinsert. When my cycle is over I wash it in some mild soap (you can buy special soap for it if you want) and let it air dry, then store it in it's little bag till next time.

Mama Cloth

I have 3 store bought cloth and 5 homemade cloth. My favorite is actually my homemade ones. For me since I use the diva cup I don't really need much more than liners as backup or for the end of my cycle when the flow is really light.

The store bought ones are thicker, like a regular pad and have wings with snaps. I'm not a big fan of the thicker feel (either in disposable or cloth) but these are so comfy compared to the disposable. The snap is nice but I noticed that they tend to slide up and down my panties. So really for me these aren't getting used very much. (although I hope to use them postpartum in the future)

I found some tutorials online for making your own cloth. But I ended up just using some disposable thong liners that I used/liked and made a template with it. Mine do not look beautiful or even symmetrical but since I'm the only one looking at them I'm ok with that. Because I made mine I didn't have the tools to install a snap. My local cloth diaper shop (where I bought the other cloth) will install a button for $.50 and I intended on getting them, but after forgetting to take them up there I realized that I prefer using my safety pin.

It sounds very homemade to use a safety pin to hold it but I really like it best. Since the cloths don't have adhesive on the back like disposables they want to slide. But with a safety pin I can pin each wing together and grab my panties to keep it from moving. So far I've had no issue with the pin opening.

After my cycle is over I just run a mini load in my washer with my homemade detergent to wash the cloth, then either throw them in the dryer, hang them on the line, or let them air dry. They can be washed with diapers too (we're done with that now), and you might be able to wash them with your towels but I haven't done that so do it at your own risk.
I did buy a wet bag to store all my supplies in. There is a dry pocket that everything is stored in and then a wet pocket that I put used cloth in until I am done and wash them. You can make them as well using shower curtain liner (I haven't done this just heard about it). Or go super simple and use a washable bag, plastic bag, some kind of container or whatever you have.

So that's my experience with a much more natural option to feminine products. They are "greener" (no trash), cheaper (especially if you make or have a friend make your cloth) and way more comfy!

 I'd love to hear if anyone has had an experience with any of these items and what you thought. Or are you interested but aren't ready to take the plunge? If you want more info on making some of your own, or anything else about this leave me a comment and I'll get back to you.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Cord Cover Solution

For a long time I've been wanting to cover the cords connecting the TV to the componets in the master bedroom. The TV is hung on the wall and so the black cords stuck out against the light colored walls. At first I thought I'd just ignore them but that doesn't work for me so well. After talking to David about some options he came up with this one.
First a before of the ugly wires.

I wanted something to hide the cords and would blend into the wall as much as possible and it still needed to be easily accessable should something need to well accessed. David came up with the idea to use a PVC plumbing pipe, cut it in half lengthwise and screw it to the wall.

So we picked one up for a few dollars at Lowe's and then took it to my dad to have him cut it for us. Then it sat in the garage for a few months. I needed some paint and just kept putting it off. Finally I picked up a sample size of my wall color and decided it was time to get it done!
The pipe had writing on it so I just sanded it till the ink came off. I didn't want it bleeding through or have to put a million coats of paint on it to make it disappear.
Then painted it with a foam brush. Which took about 2 minutes and since it's a hundred and fifty degrees here it dried super fast.
After it had about 2 coats on it, it was David's turn.
He started by drilling a hole in the wall for a molly.
Then he drilled a hole in the pipe to corespond with the hole in the wall. I'm not sure how he figured this, but I think he just loosely measured it with his hand.

Then he fit it over the cords, tucking everyone in and screwing the pipe to the wall.
This is before I touched up the screw with some paint.

Here are the afters. Yes you still see it but it's no where near as noticable as black cords. This looks so much neater (which I'm always a fan of!) and from across the room it blends in pretty well. I love it!!!

I'm also currently working on a few things in the bedroom. Let's just say that after living with the "after" for a few months I'm not happy with it. As I finish them I'll share. But for now, I'm happy with not seeing cords!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recovering Grandma's chairs

So I told you about wanting to recover the dinning room chairs from the set I received from my grandma. It took me about a week to get them finished! It felt like forever!

First off I had to remove the plastic covers and then I chose to remove the first layer of fabric too (there was actually 2 layers of fabric, when my g-ma recovered them last time she just added the new one over the old. I think this helped with extra padding and less work).

This sounds like an easy thing to do but it wasn't. The fabric was stapled onto the wood (chair bottoms) and then she added the plastic and stapled the snot out of the plastic. But the worst part was that the staples were embedded into the plastic/fabric. There was no way I could get under the staples to yank them out.

So, I got some pliers and used them to grab onto the loose plastic/fabric and yank, which caused the staples to pull out. Oh and I had to sit on the floor and brace the seat (removed from the chair) with both of my feet and yank. It was hard work. After the 3rd chair my darling husband decided to try to find a better way, which after a few failed ideas turned into him helping by doing all the plastic/fabric removal for the other 3 chairs. I was very grateful!

After cleaning up all the loose staples and hammering some back in I stapled the new fabric onto the seats. And yes I stapled the snot out of it too! I am my g-ma's granddaughter!

I'd measured and cut the fabric a couple of weeks ago so this made the actual recovering part much faster and easier. Here's the fabric again.
In real life the fabric is a bit bolder.

And here's the finished chairs.

I also want to refinish/paint the table and chairs and thought I knew what I wanted to do, but sometimes you have to wait and see how part 1 looks before you commit to part 2. After seeing the fabric on the chairs my original plans went out the window. Right now I'm thinking I want to refinish the table to a much darker stain and paint the chairs (there is no way on earth I want to strip and stain those chairs) but I don't know what color exactly yet.

So since I'm not sure what I want to do, I'm waiting. And frankly right now I just don't want to take on a project that big. I will in the future when it starts to bug the snot out of me (apparently I have a lot of snot...) But for now I'm happy that at least the fabric is up to date, lighter and fresher, and that our legs don't stick to the chairs anymore.

AND about how well they stand up to kiddos. I bought outdoor fabric so I felt better about not reinstalling the plastic. Well the day after I finished the last chair our friends the "K's" came over and their 4yr old and Trey had chocolate ice cream at the table. The next morning I found their drips on the seats. I took a wet rag and started scrubbing and everything came up easily! I was so excited! It's the little things!

Ok one last before and after.


And a view of the chairs with my new rug

So much better!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

How does my Garden Grow?

Well.... my gardens are growing pretty well, however the one in the front doesn't look so pretty. This is only our 2nd year at trying to grow stuff and in the front garden it's the first so this year has definitely been a learning year.

Here's what the courtyard/front garden looked like up till this spring.

Here's what it looked like when we got everything planted.

We planted 7 tomato plants, onions and garlic.
Here's what it looks like today.

Welcome to the jungle. We were late in getting the cages around the plants so when we did finally get them all we could do was use them on a few select branches and not the whole plants. Well a couple of plants we were able to get caged. Hey, we're newbies at this and now we know to cage those things as soon as we plant them!

The tomato plants here in OK haven't been doing so great. I talked to my local farmer and she said because it got so hot so early here this year the tomatoes aren't producing. And some of my plants look like they are dying off on the bottom but have green leaves on the top. She said that there is a fungus in the dirt and that it won't kill the plant.

Just in the last couple of weeks we've been getting some tomatoes. Most of my plants are cherry tomato types so they've been gradually producing. I haven't seen any larger size yet. Of course with this jungle it's easy to overlook some.

We were late in getting the garlic and onions in the ground so they haven't grown very big. But we're going to try the garlic this fall/winter and onions again next year.

I was wanting to grow some carrots but I didn't have a good place so I'm saving those for fall too.

The back garden looks much better. Go here to read about making it. Here's a before of it before we planted.

Here's what it looks like today.

Back there we planted 2 tomato plants, 3 pepper plants 7 okra and cilantro and basil. However, when I planted the herbs I used some of the beautiful compost soil to plant them. After a couple of months we noticed that some plants were coming up in the pots that didn't match. We left them planted to see what they were. They were tomato plants! Apparently when I harvested my compost soil I got some tomato seeds and since they were getting sun and water daily just like the cilantro or basil we got at least 4 new tomato plants!

3 of them we transplanted to the garden, they are small but we'll see how they do. The 4th one, had grown it's roots into the ground out of the pot and so we couldn't move it, it was also the biggest.

One of our pepper plants didn't make it when I caught one of the dogs pulling bricks down to get his nose under the chicken wire and trampling the plant to get into the garden. I saw this from the bedroom window and I ran outside to chase him out of the garden with my kitchen broom. He was SO grounded! Don't worry he wasn't permanently harmed....

So we were down to 2 pepper plants, which I can't remember the variety and the labels are gone. But they have been producing like crazy! David LOVES it! When he wants to make salsa he just goes out to pick a pepper!

The okra looks great too! I've never grown it or seen it grown so this one was totally new for me. They've started producing too.

All in all we're very happy with having the gardens. There are some changes we'll make for next year. Like building a proper garden in the back. The spare bricks aren't cutting it and we need to make it more dog proof. We'd like to build another one in the back as well but we'll see. We'll be planting some things a lot earlier and I'm hoping to get enough compost soil to add to the courtyard garden when we plant next year.

I'm still hoping that the tomatoes will flourish by fall so we can hopefully can some. But we'll see how it goes!

How are you're gardens doing? If you're in OK are you getting tomatoes or strawberries?

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinning room curtains

Ok, these took me longer than I expected them to take me! They weren't hard to do, very straightforward sewing but since these were curtains and long ones there was just a lot of fabric to deal with. And it helps when you pay attention to what you are doing!

Anyway, here's the fabric I used.
I mentioned that the striped fabric wasn't wide enough to make each curtain panel. I needed 55"+ and the fabric was only 43". So I found this coordinating fabric.

This is the length of the 5 yards I ordered. The living room had the most floor space so I could measure and cut.

The tan fabric I only bought 2 1/2 yards (half of 5yds) and I cut it down the length of it. I sewed the tan pieced onto the stripped running lengthwise. Sewed hems on all 4 sides of each panel. That's lots of ironing of the hems down and then sewing them down. I wanted the tan to be on the outer sides of the panels so when they were open you didn't notice them very much. I wanted the striped fabric to be seen the most.

After doing all but the last bottom hem (you sew a little hem and then a bigger finished hem) I threw them in the wash. I wanted them to be clean smelling and shrunk. Then more ironing of the whole curtain panels I hung them up and measured where I wanted them to fall.  Then back to the ironing board and sewing machine and finally finished! Like I said not hard but time consuming!

Here's the finished curtains.

I love them! They make the room feel so much lighter, not heavy and they let in more light when I close them at night (no peeping toms at our house!). The clip rings are great too, this is the first time I've used these and they move really well. I'm very pleased with them and how they fit into the room!

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Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm LOVING my clothes line

So a few weeks ago I'd been reading about using a clothes line (a few blog posts) and I decided that we should get one.

Now I'm no newbie to clothes lines. My parents have had one in all the houses we've lived in. They'd use them mostly for towels, sheets, big blankets, comforters and rugs. Occasionally clothes just depending on what it was and how things were outside. Of course this happened in warm weather.

I didn't like it growing up. I didn't like my towels or sheets smelling like outside and I didn't want rough towels. So I wasn't a big fan. David and I haven't lived anywhere for longer than 2 years (until this house going on 5!) so it never crossed my mind. I'd thought about one after Trey was born because people said if you could dry your cloth diapers on a line they freshened up really well and it worked great on stains. But I didn't have one.

I also had started feeling the need for one so I could air out my dry clean only down comforter and other things I couldn't get in the washer. When I wanted to wash out rugs I had to hang them over the fence.

Like I said above one of my concerns was the rough towels. After talking to my Mom she said they aren't always rough just when there isn't much wind. And the blog post mentioned that if that's a concern for you then just toss them in the dryer on a air fluff cycle for a few and that will go away.

My other concern was the smell. They suggested throwing them in the dryer on a fluff cycle and using a dryer sheet to help them smell better. So with my 2 concerns taken care of I was ready to do it.

We have about 12 feet on one side of our back yard from the house to the fence that runs the depth of our house. We thought that would be the perfect spot to set up because it isn't used for anything. David attached hardware to the brick and then to the wood fence posts and then we ran coated line between them. We ended up doing 4 lines.

I have LOVED hanging almost everything outside on the line. Everything dries so fast and I actually like the smell now! It smells so fresh and clean! My towels were becoming a problem, because if I used fabric softener they wouldn't absorb water and if I didn't they started to smell. Now they smell great and they absorb! And it's been windy enough lately that no rough clothes either.

I've also been hanging out our clothes. Although I've heard that you have to be careful with colored items because the sun will fade the colors, which is why it's so great for whites!
There is something so comforting about hanging clothes on a clothes line, very domestic too! I've really enjoyed doing it! And well there is the fact that it's cheaper than fabric softener and the sun does so great at whitening whites. And I haven't run my dryer but a couple of time in the last few weeks, I'm hoping that shows on our electric bill.

I've just been using my homemade laundry soap and nothing else, so simple! Love it!

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Friday, July 8, 2011

My Boy is 3

David is on vacation this week so we took Trey to the zoo yesterday for his birthday. The rest of the day we spent together hanging out as a family and reminiscing. It was a little hard for me this year, I'm not really sure why. But, I'm so proud of him and enjoy him so much!
Happy Birthday Trey, we love you so much!

If you want to read his birth stories here's my version and here's David's version.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Skirts-WIWW #8

With some of my birthday money I bought some fabric with intentions of making some skirts. Last week I spent some time doing just that!

Just like with this skirt a month ago I used my own pattern to make it. I took a skirt that I already had and used it as a template to make a paper pattern (out of a paper bag). So I used that again for these 2 skirts. The white skirt fabric was a bit see through so I used a similar fabric to make a liner skirt to keep people from seeing too much! :)
They are by no means perfect but I love how they turned out and they are for me and I'm pretty proud of myself!

Ok here they are.
Love this fabric!
And the second one.
And the 2 layers.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dinning Room Before

I'm in the process of reworking my dinning room and kitchen. Well, all that's really changed in the kitchen is new towels and a new rug. The kitchen has gone as far as I can take it without doing major work. But the dinning room needed a change. The red curtains and rug were making the small room feel dark and heavy and lately I want everything to be light and airy and bright. And the red and brown was looking old and too formal for what I really want.

The table and chairs I received from my grandmother 2 years ago. I needed a new table set and I liked hers, so when it was time I got it. It needed some refinishing and the fabric on the chairs needed something new but I was happy with it as is so I left it till I was ready. The chairs have a piece of plastic over the fabric to keep the fabric in good shape. Hey, my grandma came from a different time! At first I wanted to rip it right off the chairs but she stapled those suckers on really well! So they stayed.

You can see the plastic reflecting back.

Then I started to like them! When you have a toddler or any small children eating at a table with fabric covered chairs you like having a sheet of plastic covering things you can't wipe down! So my plan was to change the fabric and keep the plastic.

After searching for fabric I finally found one in a green and whitish pattern that I really liked and it was outdoor fabric. When I realized that the fabric was outdoor I realized that I wouldn't have to reuse the plastic! The outdoor fabric is super durable and easy to wipe off (the pattern helps to hide things too). And I ended up ordering too much fabric so I have extra in case something happens that can't be fixed and looks too hideous! Ok just a bit too dramatic!

Here's the fabric I ordered from Joann's for the chairs.

Now curtains. I'd been looking for a while all over the not expensive world for new curtains and just wasn't finding anything I was looking for. I wanted a pattern but nothing too crazy or bold. Pattern is big enough for me so it had to be something I really liked/loved and not something too trendy because I didn't want to hate it in 6 months. I also wanted them to be blues/greens/white/tan kind of colors. Cool summery colors. But like I said I couldn't find anything fitting that bill. So I started looking at fabric thinking I could just make some.

Here's a pic of the red curtains. Sorry, it's kind of a dark pic.

I found some at Joann's online and kept looking at it to make sure I really wanted it to come home. The only problem with this fabric is that width wise there wasn't enough to make one panel. So I knew I'd have to find something else to put with it. But I waited until it came in to take it to Hancocks to find a coordinating fabric to put with it.

Here's the curtain fabrics.

The stripes go up and down not left to right.

Now I just finished making the curtains and I'll share about those later and I'm in the process of recovering the chairs (not a quick process) which I'll share later as well. But I have plans to paint the table and chairs. This for me is a big decision because I have a sort of personal rule about painting wood. Usually if it's solid wood and in good condition I will strip and re stain the wood. Particle wood or cheap ugly wood I paint. But in this case the only sane way to strip the stain off of the chairs is by dipping them and that is more money than I want to put into this right now. However that may be something I do in the distant future.

I also don't want them to match and the wood just isn't working for me right now. I am taking this as I go and nothing is set in stone. I'm going to see how the chairs look with the new fabric and take it from there. So, I'll let you know how that all works out. I'm hoping to have this project finished by August but we'll see!

Wow, I've got a LOT to do!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Chalkboard Project

So if you remember how a few weeks ago I found a frame at Goodwill and got it all painted up so I could turn it into a chalkboard for my kitchen-dinning room.

                                   Ok, here's the before of the ugly but totally redeemable frame.

                                                 And here it is after my spray paint work.

After begging asking my dad for some scrap wood to use as the back/chalkboard part he was kind enough to cut it to size for me.

I priced chalkboard paint at Lowes and found they only had one option that was a quart for $13. I decided to see what Home Depot had. I'm SO glad I did that! They had the quart that Lowes had for $10, and they had it in a spray can for $4.67 and had quarts in different colors to choose from! A much better selection AND price! After talking to the HD paint lady she suggested that since I was using bare wood to get a grey primer and at about $2. And I decided to try the spray chalkboard paint.

I sprayed 2 coats of primer to make sure it was covered well. Then I sprayed 3 coats of the chalkboard paint. I wanted to make sure it was covered really well and that it was definitely a chalkboard. The directions on the can say after the final coat to take a piece of chalk and rub it all over the board then wipe it off and BAM! you have a usable chalkboard.

I was very pleased with the paint and it was super easy!
I LOVE the way this turned out! I have it in the Kitchen-Dinning room to write our menu for the week as well as things I need at the grocery store. It's convenient and it looks great and fills a formerly blank area.
I love it!!!

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