Little Family on the Big Lake

Small Bathroom Makeover Part 4

Yay! Our small bathroom makeover is DONE! This makeover took a lot longer than I had originally anticipated. I am going to blame part of that on the baby and the other part on me just losing motivation. But I got my mojo back and the makeover is done! I am so excited about how this turned out. The bathroom transformed from a room that was a major bummer to a space that I actually enjoy being in. So sit tight for small bathroom makeover part 4!

The last step of this makeover was the finishing touches. You can see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 to see how this bathroom transformed.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

The Budget

I had a goal of staying on a budget of $300. Lets see how we did below:

Grand Total of $228.5 – yay, under budget!

Door Updates

Both our closet door and bathroom door were in need of updating. The closet door was a louvered one and way past its prime. We exchanged it with this one from Menards. My hubby painted it the same color as the walls and changed out the plastic door knob that it comes with to a sleek sliver one. We have exchanged all the closet doors in our house to be the same as this one over the past couple of years. This was the last one that needed to be replaced and it feels good now that it is done.

Next we took down our bathroom door. Once it was outside on the saw horses we took off the hardware and sanded it down. It then got a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. This door was in really good shape but it was just starting to look really grungy. The hardware had been painted over main times and were mismatched. This simple update of the door really made a world of difference.

Shelving

So you might have seen the wooden shelves that I made for the bathroom in my part 3 post. I really liked these shelves and they turned out great. But then I went to install them in the bathroom and they looked out of place in there. I think they were too dark and looked bulky, too. I like the shelves and will definitely use them in a different room of the house, but just not the bathroom.

Sometimes that happens, though – something just doesn’t work in a space. I put a lot of work into these but I was okay with moving on to a shelving unit. Then I spent the next couple of weeks trying to find something else. I looked at my favorite stores and Pinterest for inspiration. I kept coming back to a rope shelving unit, but I wasn’t sure. Ultimately, one day I just decided to go for it and make the shelving unit and if I didn’t like it I would scrap the project.

Well it turned out great and better then I expected! You can read the full tutorial here on how I made this awesome (if I do say so myself) rope shelving unit. I was so surprised on how easy this actually was to make. In fact, it was way easier than the other shelves I made.

I have decorated it with some odds and ends that I had in the bathroom already and a couple of new plants. Having plants in the bathroom was an important goal for me. Beyond looking great they help add oxygen to the house and absorb moisture, which is important in a bathroom.

Finishing Touches

A soap dish I got from an art fair in town over the summer.
Textiles

This is a small bathroom so I didn’t need to go overboard with the accessories for it. I did update the bath mat, opting for a 100% cotton one from Target. I also re-installed these amazing hooks for hanging towels. These hooks came from a little boutique and they have moved around from bathroom to bathroom with me. They have now been with me through 3 different apartments and a house. They are iron and very sturdy. I have had them for years and they have really held up.

I got the above soap dish from an art fair during the summer. It was reasonably priced and looks so cute. Sometimes it is worth holding back on just running to the closest store and instead taking your time to find a gem like this one.

I also upgraded to some new cotton towels. I found these great bath sheet towels from Target. They are so soft and are 100% cotton!

Lighting

We had an old fashioned light that was true to the era of the home, but it looked strangely industrial. I didn’t want to replace the the whole light fixture because the base was still functional. Instead I replaced the globe to this classic white one. You can find the same one on Amazon here.

Window Treatments

There is one window in this bathroom and it used to have blinds on it. I would always have it closed for privacy, but I missed the light that came through the window. When demoing the bathroom I removed the blinds and patched the holes in the molding. I ended up selling the blinds on a Facebook market place.

Using a tension rod that I had on hand, I got some curtain rod clip rings and cloth napkins to create these cute little curtains. I love these because they are 100% cotton and easy to clean. They also let all the morning light in.

Counter Top

As an experiment I covered my dated, yellow-streaked, laminate counter tops in contact paper. I was hoping to get something like this. However, I remembered that I had leftover white contact paper from another project so I just used that. This was definitely an experiment and I am mixed with the results. It made a very big change to my bathroom. However, this contact paper is on the thinner side so the pattern of the counter top shows through a little bit. It was also hard to get a nice cut around the sink. Maybe with some practice I could get better at it. The good thing is that it is really easy to clean. This isn’t going to last forever but it will look better until I am able to replace the counter top for something else.

This bathroom makeover took a lot longer than I had originally anticipated. It has been finished for a while but I just haven’t been able to get it together to take photos. I am planning on doing a bigger remodel further down the road, but for now this update has freshened up the bathroom and made it a room where I don’t mind spending time.

Small Bathroom Makeover

January 2020 Bullet Journal Set Up

I am so excited to get started with the January 2020 bullet journal set up. It is a new year , new month, and a new journal! This year I decided to follow Shayda Campbell tutorials on YouTube. I highly suggest you go check out her January 2020 bullet journal set up video. She sets up each month with that month’s flower; January is the month of carnations. I have taken inspiration from Shayda but have changed and added spreads to suit my needs. That is the great thing about bullet journals – they are so versatile!

January Spread

This is my January cover page featuring the carnation and a quote. I also include a quote “Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” I thought it was fitting for the start of a new year. Next is my monthly calendar. I love having this spread nice and big so I can add in all my events and important dates. I, of course, reference my future log when filling out this spread.

bullet journal set up monthly calendar
expense tracker

These next two spreads are some of my monthly trackers. The first one is my expense tracker where I record my expenses for the year. Once the month is complete I will record in the my expense tracking section in the beginning of my bullet journal. In past months I just had an open page where I would list every purchase. However, this month I decided to do something a little different – I sectioned the spread off into the categories I like to track.

My next spread is my habit tracker and my brain dump page. The habit tracker is great for keeping track of whatever you need. I plan on keeping track of when I floss (I am trying to remember to do it every day and the tracker is a good motivator) and also simple things like when I water my plants. The brain dump is just that – a place where I can write down whatever is on my brain. Sometimes it helps to just get it down on paper.

bullet journal set up habit tracker

Weekly Spread

The final spread I have is my weekly lay out. I have decided to give this version a try this year. In past years I gave each day a lot of space and wrote a to do list on each day. So this month I am going to try having a smaller section to record events for each day with a larger section for a running to do list for the week. I also include a section for a shopping list and a tracker for my posting.

Bullet journal Weekly Spread

So what do you think of this bullet journal set up for January 2020? Let me know in the comments below and check out my post on my bullet journal set up.

Getting Organized in 2020

Getting organized in 2020 seems to be a topic on everyone’s minds for the new year. The question is – how is one to get organized? One of the most useful tools for organizing my life is the bullet journal. A bullet journal is a a cross between a journal and planner. It allows for the flexibility to create spreads (pages) that can help you reach your goals.

This will be the third year that I have done a bullet journal. I have had much success with keeping track of my life, like keeping track of important dates, important information, keeping lists, and tracking my goals. The best thing about a bullet journal is that it is completely customizable to fit the needs of each person.

Inspiration

This year I spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to organize myself and how to best utilize my bullet journal for this blog, too. In the past I took to Pinterest to find ideas for spreads. However, this year I am mixing things up.

One of my favorite Youtubers is Shayda Campbell. She, for example, is doing a year of flowers. Each month is inspired by the flower of that month. I decided to take inspiration from Shayda and also do a month of flowers following her drawings. This year I will be mixing it up, though, to create spreads that help me organize my life. I will be using the flower drawings to bring continuity to my bullet journal. I do like the feeling of opening nice pages – it motivates me to get things done! Check out Shayda’s page, where she has great tutorials on how to draw each of these flowers.

One of my other favorite Youtubers is Amanda Rach Lee. I drew some inspiration from some of her spreads for my own, as well. She’s definitely worth checking out.

2020 Bullet Journal Set up

Bullet journals can be a great place for you artistic types to have a place to doddle and make creative spreads. Bullet journals can also be quite minimal (you could have the essentials without taking time for sketching). While I like to do some drawing on my spreads, I hope those of you who want to use a more minimalistic style can still use the layouts to help you reach your goals.

I also have a section of spreads that are specific to blogging. That is the great thing about bullet journaling – you can customize it to whatever you are focused on!

Beginning Set Up

So with out further ado, here is the set up for my 2020 bullet journal…

Bullet Journal

This is the cover page. I followed Shayda’s tutorial for this one. I loved how simple it was and how it set up a nature-centric feel for the journal.

2020 Cover page

This is my cover for introducing the new year. Again, I was pretty faithful to Shayda’s design. She does a dutch door for this page, which is awesome. However, I wanted to do something different for the page after so I didn’t make a dutch door.

I also like to include a yearly calendar in the front of the bullet journal. Next to it I included a quote that hopefully will help me keep perspective this year.

Future Log
Future Log

These last two pictures are of my future log. This is one of the most used spreads in my bullet journal. I am constantly flipping to it to write down important dates and refer to it when creating my monthly layouts. I got a little over-excited and wrote down all my events, so those white boxes are just covering those up for me.

This next spread is a grid spacing sheet. I got this idea from Amanda Rach Lee. It helps when making spreads so you don’t have to count out the spaces. Next to it I included a Harry Potter quote (you have to take a look at my Harry Potter nursery to know we are obsessed). I intend to make the last page in my bullet journal “Mischief Managed.”

Yearly Tracking/Note Pages

This spread is for my budget and expense tracker. In each monthly spread I include an expense tracker and then take those results and log them in this general tracker. It is nice knowing where the money is going each month!

This is a budget tracker strictly for the blog and also a growth tracker where I can record my monthly results on Pinterest and other tracking systems. I also included a tracker to document the posts I have published, which is below. The last of my blogging spreads is a blog post ideas page and a Pinterest boards tracker.

Bullet journal published post
Bullet journal blog ideas spread
Bullet journal pinterest spread
Bullet Journal home spread

The last page is my home projects page and my home cleaners page. You can get the recipes to all my Eco Friendly home cleaners here. I left a page blank after this one for a spread to plan our family vacation this year. I am not ready to start planning yet, but I wanted to leave some space before I started my January monthly spread.

Final Thoughts

What do you think of the bullet journal? Is it something that you could use to help organize yourself? Let me know in the comments below.

Stay tuned for my January spread set up. Is this something that you would like to see more of? Let me know in the comments!

One goal that I know many people are working on this year is being more Eco friendly. Check out these other post that might help you reach those goals.

Little One Birth Story

When things don'e go as planned a emergency c-section birth story

I remember when I was pregnant, I would read birth story after birth story to help me prepare for what was to come. Everyone’s story is so different and beautiful. I thought I would share my own unique story and experience.

To anyone who is family or friends who don’t want to know the coming details about labor, I suggest you turn back now. For those of you who are reading birth stories to prepare for your own. I will try to ride the fine line between sugar coating and sharing.

Pregnancy

I was extremely pleased to find myself having a relatively easy pregnancy. I had some nausea but not much morning sickness in the first trimester. In the beginning of the second trimester, I found myself spending days wondering if I was still pregnant because I couldn’t feel kicks yet and was feeling so much better. The third trimester brought on the usual aches and pains but altogether went okay.

I have read and heard about expectant moms being sick all the way through. However, I wanted to put out to the universe that some pregnancies are not too bad. I did experience many changes (as you do with pregnancy) but it was all manageable.

Little One Coming

I went into labor three days before my due date and we started on Little One’s birth story. I was brushing my teeth, getting ready to go to work at 7:30 in the morning. Having just used the facilities, I felt my water break and there was a moment where I thought maybe I didn’t do a good enough job. That was not the case, my water broke! I then spent the next 30 minutes on the toilet with water coming in small gushes. Every time I though it was done, a little bit more would come.

During this time I yelled for my husband. He was fast asleep but woke with a start. He said that there was something in the tone of my voice when I said “honey” that he knew it was time. My husband worked on gathering our bags and getting the car ready to go. I asked him to lay a towel on the seat, due to us having a 45 minute drive to the hospital.

I first called the hospital and told them what was going on. It had been my plan to labor for a while at home. With my water breaking it changed those plans. Due to the risk of infection my doctor wanted to come to the hospital right away. At this point I did not feel any contractions.

I also called my work and my mom to tell them it was time. After loading up with pads we headed to the hospital!

Baby Hand

At the Hospital

Being that I went into labor during business hours, we parked in the parking ramp and walked to the labor and delivery floor. If I had when into labor after hours I would have had to enter through the emergency room. We got all signed in and were shown to a room.

I had a very helpful nurse who just happened to go to school with my husband (small world!). She got me all set with the monitors, checked little one’s heart rate, and gave me wrist bands (maybe six of them all together, but I’m assuming they were all necessary).

The doctor came in to check me over. Only one centimeter…I had a long way to go! For those of you not in the know, you need to reach 10 centimeters before pushing. I was given a medication to help the contractions along. At that point I still wasn’t feeling them too bad. I spent the next several hours contracting. I used the exercise ball and the bath to ease some of the contractions. Also, I depended on my husband for support and back rubs. I know some people don’t like being touched at all, but for me it felt good.

At some point in the afternoon, they checked on me again. Only two centimeters this time. The doctor increased the medication and boy, did the contractions start coming then. I also then made use of the laughing gas (nitrous oxide). When I first started using the laughing gas it was very helpful. A couple of hours in, though, I found that it wasn’t working well and I forgot to do the correct breathing. However, at that point I had been in labor for hours and hours and couldn’t really think straight.

Bring on the Epidural

Around 1 in the morning I finally had enough. I had rolling contractions for hours and was in a good amount of pain. I was also exhausted. At this point I also had been in labor for 18 hours, so I asked for an epidural. Unfortunately the nurses told me that I had to take in a whole bag of IV fluid before I could get the epidural. But the anesthesiologist came eventually and I did get the epidural. It was magnificent! I wished I would have gotten it hours earlier. The pain dissipated almost immediately and I was able to lay down and rest a bit.

During that time the nurse checked things over again, checked the baby’s heart rate, and inserted the catheter. I was barely aware that she was doing all of this. I do recall her turning me from side to side, trying to get a better read on baby’s heart rate. It was a bit sporadic. My husband also took this opportunity to lay down and rest a bit.

Emergency C-Section

While I was being turned from side to side, the nurse also got the doctor because Little One;s heart rate was dipping. He needed to come now! The doctor checked me again – only 2 centimeters (if you have been adding this up we are at over 20 hours of labor and only reached 2 centimeters). So off to surgery we went. My husband later told me he literally woke up to the word C-section.

At 4 something in the morning my room became really busy with doctors and extra nurses getting things ready to go. I don’t remember a whole lot, but I remember being scared, scared for my baby, and just hoping it would be alright. I was also scared about surgery however I remember being shaky as they wheeled my bed down the hall and into an elevator. They then brought me into an operating room and got things ready. The anesthesiologist checked my epidural and gave me something to help with my nausea…it didn’t work. They put a curtain up at about shoulder level on me and got my husband outfitted in disposable medical gear. They gave him a chair and he was able to sit next to me throughout the ordeal.

The team was amazing and got Little One out very quickly at 4:39 am. The doctor did tell us that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. This could be the reason that I was not dilating at all. I remember they were holding him over the curtain so I could see and they took him and my husband over to their station to check Little One over. It took them a bit longer to close things back up. I remember being really cold and shaking.

Little One Birth Story
(Stock photo)

Recovery

When they finished me up, they moved me off the operating table and back onto my bed. They handed me Little One and wheeled me to the recovery room.

We were in the recovery room for about an hour, where we then started skin to skin contact. I don’t remember if they had me start trying to feed him at this time or if we waited until we were back in the room. In the room with us was my nurse who was with me throughout and another nurse who was doing paperwork. Again, I’m a little foggy here but I believe he took out my epidural and gave me some pain medications, as well. My nurse also gave me heated blankets at this time. As I said before I was shaking and cold in the operating room so the blankets were awesome!

They wheeled me up to my room and got me all settled in. We spent the next three days in the hospital, learning about our new Little One and how to nurse. It wasn’t going well until a nurse said that he might be tongue tied. Sure enough, he was. A pediatrician came and did a short procedure to clip the tie. After a little recovery time Little One latched on like a champ.

Little One

The emergency c-section was a bit of an ordeal. As I mentioned a couple times throughout the post, some of the details are a bit fuzzy to me. It’s true what they say that the body has a way of making you forget. My husband and I are so overjoyed with his arrival and couldn’t be more in love with him.

So 21 hours from start to finish and ending in an emergency C-section. It definitely didn’t go as planned, but thanks to the amazing team at St. Luke’s Hospital we welcomed a beautiful little boy into our hearts and both of us are doing fine.

The recovery from a C-section is not the easiest process in the world, but I think I have rambled long enough. We will have to save that for another post.

So that’s the our Little One’s birth story! If you’re comfortable with it, share some of your experiences down below in the comments.

Hey before you go, we decided to cloth diaper our Little One, you can check out that post here.

DIY Dry Shampoo

DIY Dry Shampoo

Let me start with this – I love dry shampoo! I have fine hair that tends to get greasy very easily. It has been a goal of mine to take better care of my hair. My switch to all natural bar shampoo has helped immensely. Washing my hair less frequently is also helping it look and feel better. However, after one day of not washing my hair it is one giant grease ball…enter dry shampoo! I use this recipe 2-4 days a weeks as a part of my morning routine. This DIY dry shampoo is very easy to make and it uses ingredients you can find in your pantry.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart .

Supplies

Below are the supplies needed to make DIY dry shampoo. This is going to be a fairly short list because it is that simple!

  • Corn Starch (This one is vegan, gluten free and Non GMO) Some people use arrowroot powder instead of corn starch. I have never tried it but if you have some, give it a try and let me know how it goes!
  • Cocoa Powder Note this is for dark hair only. If you have blonde hair you can skip this ingredient.
  • Essential Oil You can choose any scent of essential oil you want (lavender is popular). If you don’t like having a scent you can go without essential oil.
  • Glass container. I personally use a candle jar that had been used up from Ikea that has a nice silver lid. You can use any glass container as long as it has a lid of some kind.
  • Make Up Brush The make up brush is used to apply the dry shampoo. I highly suggest having one dedicated to only the dry shampoo and not to mix it with your foundation brush.

Instructions

For dark hair, mix one part corn starch (1/8 or 1/4 cup) and 1 part cocoa powder (1/8 or 1/4 cup). Next, add a couple of drops of essential oil and mix. Put the dry shampoo mix into a glass container and it’s ready to use. Simple, right?

For light hair, take 1/4 cup of corn starch and add a couple drops of essential oil. Set it into a glass container.

How to use dry shampoo

To use DIY dry shampoo, take your blush brush (remember, only used for the dry shampoo) and gather a small amount on it. Shake off any excess because you don’t want to have it clumpy in your hair. Next, working in small sections use the brush to rub the dry shampoo onto your roots. Repeat as needed for all the greasy sections of your hair. Give your hair a brush and shake off any remaining dry shampoo.

That’s it for DIY dry shampoo! This is such an easy DIY that has a great result for your hair and a better impact on the environment than the aerosol cans. What do you think of this dry shampoo? Let me know in the comments below.

Next, check out my other zero waste switches at Little Family on the Big Lake.

Hogwarts Hooded Towel

Around Christmas time last year, my husband and I reached the firm conclusion that our Little One had outgrown his infant bath towels. It was time for an upgrade. There are many hooded towels out there. However, we wanted one that would fit with our Harry Potter nursery. So I headed over to Pinterest to see what I could find. I did find this great tutorial over at Rae Gun Ramblings. However I wanted something more Hogwarts themed and less Harry Potter specific. So I came up with my own pattern for a Hogwarts hooded towel!

If you are a new sewer, check out my beginners guide to sewing terminology.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart .

Supplies and Materials

This was a fairly simple project to make, but first I needed to gather my supplies.

I used the following supplies to make this Hogwarts hooded towel.

  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Cutting Mat
  • Ruler
  • Hand Needle

We chose to make our Hogwarts hooded towel just a Hogwarts towel instead of picking a house. Little One isn’t 11 yet…we will have to wait to see what house he is in (I know, we are dorks).

Supplies for Hogwarts hooded towel.

Assembly

The first step in making this Hogwarts hooded towel is making the scarf that goes along of the edge of the robe. I first decided to put this scarf on the robe to be like the striped house scarves that the students wear. However, being that we didn’t want it house specific, we chose this crest fabric instead.

Cut the fabric in a 4 inch strip (or wider depending of the thickness of the scarf you want). Depending on the length of your towel, you may have to cut two pieces and stitch them together, like I did in the photo below.

making scarf for Hogwarts hooded towel

Next, line up the fabric along the side, 3 1/2 inches in from the edge, right sides together, as pictured below. Stitch along the side closest to the edge of the towel. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end, leaving 1/2 inch open on the bottom and top for turning.

Sewing on scarf on Hogwarts hooded towel

Turn the scarf over and press down with an iron. Turn in the raw edges along the edge of the towel using the iron. Pin and stitch down around the entire scarf section. I did two layers of stitching – one at 1/4 inch seam allowance and another at 3/8 inch seam allowance.

Sewing Hood

To make the hood part of the Hogwarts hooded towel, take the towel and cut it in half so you have two near square pieces. You can cut some off the side you cut depending on how big you want the hood to be. I cut around two inches off.

cutting hood on Hogwarts hooded towel

Next, fold the towel in half and stitch along the edge, forming the hood as pictured below. I would suggest doing a tight zig zag or serge along this edge to keep it from fraying. Next, zig zag or serge along the non pointed end of the towel if that is a raw edge, as well.

Cutting hood on Hogwarts hooded towel

Attach the hood to the towel at its center front. Using pins to pin down, use a stitch along the edge.

Sewing the hood

The final step in this process is to attach the patch on to the robe. Follow the instructions provided with the patch you purchased. I do suggest even if the patch is an iron on, secure it with a couple stitches, as well. Towels tend to go through the wash a lot, so the extra stitching will help it stay secure.

That’s it, you now have a completed Hogwarts hooded towel! All in all it’s a relatively simple sewing project. Let me know what you think about this in the comments below!

Hogwarts Hooded Towel

Zero Waste Gift Ideas

So I have run into this time and time again – when I ask someone what they want for Christmas they reply with. “Nothing” or “I don’t need anything.” This can be so frustrating! So this list is for those situations. It is a list of zero waste gift ideas that includes items that they never knew they needed or wanted. These are items that make their home and lives greener.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart.

Beeswax wraps

The first item I am including on this list is beeswax wraps. They are perfect for wrapping food, covering bowls, and packing food in your lunch! These are a great switch from plastic wrap and zip baggies. The best part is that when they are used they can be composted. They can be purchases all over the place, but I did include an Amazon link below. If you are a DIY crafting soul, check out my post on how to make them yourself at home! Click here!

Glass Water Bottle

I would love to get another of this glass water bottle. I already have one and I love it! However, I am always leaving it in the car or the office when I need it. So having more than one would be really helpful. Something that I discovered when switching to glass is that the water tastes so much better. When I switch back to plastic now it tastes funny. It has a bamboo top and a silicone sleeve to cover the glass and to protect it from scratches and drops.

Shopping Bags

Many people now are making the switch to bringing reusable bags when going shopping. If they are anything like me they are using promotional bags that they get from wherever. Grocery shopping would so much more enjoyable with these fun shopping bags!

Bar soaps

There are so many bar soaps on the market. I will link to some on Amazon, but I would definitely check out your local shops, craft fairs, and farmers markets. There are so many local vendors out there and shopping local helps support your local economy.

Felted Soap

I put this felted soap in a different category because it has a different function. Felted soap is great as a replacement for a body wash. It lathers really nice in the shower and can eventuality be composted when the soap is gone.

Cloth Napkins

These cloth napkins are adorable! They would be great for both everyday use and for entertaining. Cloth napkins are a great alternative to using paper napkins or paper towels. Once dirty, they can be thrown in the wash with towels.

Make Up Remover Pads

These pads are great for those who like to put on make up. Instead of using disposable pads that will be used once and thrown away, these can be washed and reused.

Dryer Balls

These dryer balls are a great alternative to disposable dryers sheets. They are made of 100% wool and can be used over and over again. You could also pair this with some essential oil. Place a couple drops on the dryer balls then throw them in the dryer. This will make your clothes come out smelling fresh and clean.

Glass Containers

I love these glass containers. For a long time I was a Pyrex user. However, over time I found that the plastic lids would crack and warp. These containers have bamboo tops, which, along with being more sustainable, are less prone to cracking.

Zero Waste Starter Kit

When in doubt you could always try this zero waste starter kit. It has a reusable cup, straw, tooth brush, beeswax wraps, and shopping bag. All of this also comes in a lunch box!

I hope you have found this list helpful and that you are able to complete your Christmas shopping. These zero waste gift ideas can help any home become greener and more Eco friendly. Do have any other ideas for zero waste gift ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

Have you thought about making your home and life greener but have no idea where to start? Check out my post on getting started with an Eco friendly lifestyle.

7 Eco-Friendly DIY Toy Projects You Have to Try

Are you tired of hearing “Mom, I’m bored!” but don’t want to fall into the trap of indulgent parenting and buy a bunch of plastic toys that get thrown out in a few weeks? There is a surprising solution that you might not have thought about before. Making DIY toys at home is a great way to expand your little one’s creativity, and it also has the added benefit of being more environmentally conscious.

Check out these great toy hacks that are easy to make yourself with environmentally friendly materials.

Recycled Cardboard Play Houses

This environmentally friendly option lets you turn all those old Amazon shipping boxes into a fun activity instead of tossing them in the trash. A cardboard playhouse is a great project because your child can have hours of fun building it and then continue to use it for weeks. Place it outside to get some fresh air or keep it indoors to let the house last longer.

To get started, all you need is a collection of cardboard boxes, some sturdy scissors, and tape. Decorating with water based paint can add a fun touch, but remember to use it sparingly because painted cardboard cannot be recycled later on. There are all sorts of neat ideas all over the internet, or you can come up with your own original design. 

Homemade Baby Blocks

Blocks are one of the most classic toy options for any baby or toddler, but they are often pricey and coated in layers of harmful paint and varnish. This project can involve a little woodworking, but it is not always necessary. For those new to DIY and carpentry, making these baby blocks can be as easy as getting precut wood cubes, sanding them down, and applying a finish. However, if you or your partner is interested in things like wood carving, you can customize with carved letters or other cute designs on the side!

The key to making these blocks baby safe and eco-friendly is all about the materials you select. Pick high quality wood that has not been pressure treated or otherwise soaked in chemicals. Use a food safe, penetrating oil like tung oil or linseed oil to provide a protective coat along the outside of the block. After letting the oil soak in and cure, you get adorable, glossy wooden blocks to build towers with your little one!

Repurposed Play Kitchen

Avoid buying unsustainable plastic toy kitchens by upcycling an old piece of furniture instead. You don’t have to be an experienced woodworker, all you need is a little paint and a few screwdrivers! This incredible idea comes from GiggleBerry Creations, and it shows just how much difference a few simple changes can be. Start out with an old TV unit that is just the right height for your little chef, and give it a fresh coat of paint.

With a few additions like a cheap sink faucet, painted on stovetop, and new doors, it transforms into a cute little stovetop, sink, oven, and fridge. You can get all the knobs, faucets, and handles needed to transform the kitchen from broken appliances if you want to be extra eco-friendly. Once you finish this DIY project, your child can pretend to bake, cook, and clean just like mom or dad! 

Snuggly Teddy Bears 

Skip polyester bears filled with ocean-damaging microbeads and make a stuffed animal yourself. Whether you’re a seasoned knitter or just looking for a new craft to pick up, a knitted bear can be an adorable toy for a child who wants something snuggly. This project is easy to customize with different materials, colors, and knitting patterns. 

Wool yarn is an environmentally sustainable material that is gathered without harming the animals, and it has the added benefit of being resistant to spills! For a green filling, consider using buckwheat hulls, kapok tree fiber, or unspun wool. Feel free to use this easy (and free!) pattern from Ravelry, or pick out your own to find one that suits your needs.

Paper Towel Marble Runs

All this neat DIY toy needs is some paper towel or toilet paper tubes. Once you cut them in half and tape them into a fun shape, they turn into a cool track to slide marbles and other materials along. As this fun video from Brick Building Kids shows, there are plenty of neat configurations for a marble run.

In addition to being a great way to recycle cardboard, it can also be a great learning activity! You can generate an early interest in physics and engineering throughout this entire project. We know it might seem like this toy is only going to keep your child occupied while they are building it, but you’d be surprised by how long it continues to entertain. With some toy cars, bouncy balls, or other materials, the marble run can turn into a busy racetrack that provides excitement for hours.

DIY Drum Kits

This is the perfect eco-friendly toy if you just finished painting the house and don’t mind having a bit of noise! To make the drums, you start by simply collecting wood, plastic, or metal gardening and paint buckets of different sizes. Then you and your child can clean them, let them dry, and decorate them with glitter and glue. If desired, you can even hang a few of the lids on a rope or stand to turn them into gongs and cymbals.

Arrange the drums on a flat surface, find a pair of sturdy sticks, and get ready to rock. Of course we know there are plenty of moms who might cringe at the idea of giving their kid anything noisy, but if you have a basement or big yard, this can be a fun project that helps get your child in touch with their musical side. 

Fabric Baby Books 

Say goodbye to torn covers and creased pages when you create a cute fabric book for your baby to play with. You can choose your material based on your preferred style of environmental consciousness. If your focus is using sustainable materials without chemicals or toxins, consider natural fabrics like unbleached linen or bamboo dyed with vegetable dyes. Moms who love reusing and recycling can cut up old shirts or sheets to make the baby books, which can also be a cute way to incorporate fabric from sentimental clothing. 

To make the baby book, start by choosing your design. This can be as simple as shapes and letters, or you can get fabric printed with cute pictures to cut out. Then you just need to cut your pieces to the right size and sew or glue them together. Check out this helpful guide from MySewBliss to get an idea of how to assemble the book as easily as possible.

These fun toy ideas can keep your kids entertained for hours, so you can get some much needed “Me Time.” Since they are eco-friendly, you don’t have to worry about exposing your loved ones to a bunch of chemicals or having the toys pile up in landfills later on. If you’ve tried any of these neat DIY ideas before, let us know how it went!

Author’s bio:

My name is Ivana Davies and I’m an educator turned stay-at-home mom to a beautiful 7 year old girl and a playful 5 year old boy. Since I didn’t have a clue about raising kids, I had to learn it all in a hard way. I managed to find so much information online, and that inspired me to turn to blogging to share my experiences and struggles as a mom. Being a mom is not easy. In fact, in can sometimes be pretty isolating. My blog, Find Your Mom Tribe, is here to help you connect with other moms, as well as to share mom hacks, information, and tools to help you on this parenting journey. You can catch up with us on Facebook and Pinterest.

Note from Little Family

I want to take a moment to thank Ivana at Find Your Mom Tribe, for crafting this post. It’s chalk full of awesome activities for the Little’s in your life, so hopefully you find these ideas helpful! If you have some time I highly suggest you venture over to her site Find Your Mom Tribe. She has excellent posts on parenting, pregnancy and even recipes!

Adventure to Yoho National Park

Adventure to YoHo National Park

This year is for our family vacation we took an adventure to Yoho National Park. Yoho National Park is in British Columbia settled in the midst of the beautiful Canadian Rockies. Yoho is situated next to its more well known sister park Banff. North of Yoho is also Jasper National Park.

We often get asked why Yoho when we tell people about our travels. We first learned about Yoho through a spread in National Geographic magazine and fell in love the with speculator views. The more we learned about Yoho the more we wanted to go.

So stayed tune for details on our adventure to Yoho National Park.

If you are wanting to plan your own Yoho National Park adventure, I suggest you check out the parks web page here.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliated links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you use them, I might be rewarded credit or a commission of the sale. Please note that I only recommend what I personally use and love and I always have my readers best interest at heart 

Our Travels

For the first part of our journey, we flew into the Calgary, Alberta airport. That night we checked out Calgary a little, but spent most of our evening in our hotel room. We both weren’t feeling very well and Little One needed some play time. The next morning was a different story…our first stop was Nose Hill!

Nose Hill, Calgary

Nose Hill is an amazing park in Calgary. It is a grassy, hilly area with many wandering trails and beautiful views. We loved spending time here, and wished we had all day to explore, but we had more to see. We went to lunch and then headed to the grocery store. After that we hit the road for Yoho National Park! It was a couple hours drive from Calgary and absolutely beautiful! I loved watching the mountains grow on the horizon.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

On our way to Yoho we stopped at Lake Louise in Banff National Park. There is a lot to do and see in this area and I wish we had more time there. After turning off Highway 1, there is a visitor center and a a row of gift shops and eateries to enjoy. We are not into the souvenirs so much but we did get a book about the Rocky Mountains. We followed the road up the mountain to Lake Louise. I can imagine that this area is extremely busy in the summer, but they have ample parking lots and they also have a bus system that can transport people to the lake.

When we were there it was snowy and we couldn’t see the tops of the mountains, but it was still gorgeous. There were lots a people out and about but the traffic would thin out quite a bit once starting on the trails. We were planning on walking on the trails but Little One went from a nice nap in the car to a cold stroller in the snow. Needless to say he was not into it!

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is absolutely beautiful and is right on the edge of Lake Louise. I would love to stay there but it was out of our budget. Maybe someday.

After our excursion at Lake Louise we headed to Field in Yoho National Park!

Snowy day at Lake Louise
Snowy day at Lake Louise
Snowy day at Lake Louise
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Field, Yoho National Park

We stayed in Field in a cute rental, the Mount Van Horne Guest House. Field is a small town with a population of 200 people. Many of the homes have rental units for visitors. There is one restaurant, lodge, cafe and pottery studio for us to explore. Right as you enter town there is a gas station to the left and the visitor center to the right. We stopped at the visitor center multiple times to check in on trails and places to see, and the people there were a big help. We also purchased some bear spray…never had to use it but better safe than sorry!

Field, BC
Kicking Horse River

Takakkaw Falls

On the first day of our exploration of Yoho National Park we headed to Takakkaw Falls. Takakkaw Falls is a short drive east of Field down Yoho Valley Road. The drive there was absolutely beautiful and we stopped multiple times on the side of the road to take in views and some pictures. There is one switch back on the road and large vehicles, like campers, are not advised. We had a mid sized car and made it just fine. The morning we went out it had snowed overnight so all the evergreens were dusted with snow. It gave a magical quality to the forest.

Takakkaw Falls has a large parking lot, but I would imagine during peak season (June, July, August) that it would be very full, so it’s best to go early or later if you’re there during those months. For us in late September there were many open parking spots. Much of the trail is paved so it is easily accessible by strollers and wheel chairs. It is a fairly short hike, taking between 10-20 minutes. It took us much longer due to stopping for photos and standing in awe of the beauty around us.

Takakkaw Falls descends 830 feet down a cliff to the river. There are plenty of opportunities for rock hopping and exploring. For those adventurous souls there are many trail heads that can be accessed from the parking lot.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge can be found on Emerald Lake Road, not too far off the highway. I wish we were able to explore more but it was nearing the end of the day. There is something about a river that I just need to see what is around the next bend! It was so beautiful.

Natural Bridge is a formation of rocks over the river, and the river falls under the rocks creating a bridge. There is a man made bridge over the river that offers great views of the falls.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake has to be one of my favorite stops on our trip. To get to Emerald Lake, continue up Emerald Lake Road. At the end of it there is a parking lot. I suggest going either early or later, since it does get rather busy. Quick note – there is a trail head at the top of the parking that goes to Hamilton Falls, which I recommend doing. At the other end of the parking lot are outhouses and the information center. There is also a small gift shop that has canoe rentals. To the right you can cross a bridge to Emerald Lake Lodge. This area is pretty busy with everyone coming and going so head down the trail opposite the bridge amazing views and less crowds.

There is a 9.2 km trail around Emerald Lake. The first part of the trail is paved and easily accessible for everyone. This portion of the trail will take you to the avalanche path. Continue and there there is a wide gravel path that leads through the trees along the lake shore to about the halfway point of the lake. After crossing a foot bring the tail turns into a rugged foot path. Personally this part of the trail was my favorite. It has more ups and downs and you really earn your progress.. I had Little One in the back pack carrier and he fell asleep, so it wasn’t terribly rough.

Enjoying the view at Emerald Lake
Trail at Emerald Lake
Canoeing on Emerald Lake
Enjoying the view at Emerald Lake
Enjoying the view at Emerald Lake

Our Adventure to Yoho

Unfortunately our last day in Field arrived and we said goodbye to our rental that had treated us so well. We headed back to Calgary but stopped at Lake Louise again, hoping that the snow cleared up a bit…it didn’t. But it was beautiful to see again!

We stayed one more night in Calgary and flew home the next day. Yoho National Park was an amazing adventure for our family and I can’t wait to go back some day!

We had so much fun in Yoho and definitely want to go back soon! This trip was also a learning experience for us, traveling with a toddler. Check out my posts here on 6 tips on preparing travel with a baby and my 20 tips for frying with a toddler.

Have you been ever been to Yoho? Let me know of your adventure to Yoho National Park in the comments below!

Christmas Gift Bags

We are all about reducing waste whenever possible here at Little Family on the Big Lake. With the holiday season fast approaching, I have been thinking about Christmas morning. This year, Little One will be 18 months old, and we are so excited to be experiencing Christmas with him. I wonder what he is going to think of what Santa brought him and all the fun we will have…then I turn to the cleanup. Sure, watching Little One rip off wrapping paper may be fun, but I can’t help thinking about all the waste the wrapping paper has created. So this year, gone is the wrapping paper that only lasts a day. Introducing Christmas gift bags!

On average Americans go through 4 million pounds of wrapping paper each year. To put that into prospective, that is 5,787 football fields! Obviously, this is waste that can be greatly reduced. Gifts can easily be wrapped in alternative materials that could be recycled instead of wrapping paper that sits in a landfill. I have seen brown paper bags and newspaper be cute wrap ping options. But after a trip to Joann’s and seeing all the cute Christmas fabric I decided to go with Christmas bags. Brown paper bags or newspaper is still a good option for those larger packages, though.

There are of course some cloth fabrics bags available on line, you can find them here. However they are really easy to make!

Materials Needed

I got 100% cotton fabric from Joann’s’ and 100% recycled cotton yarn to be used as the draw string. These bags can be reused over and over again. We got a couple of prints that matched well and creates a cohesive look under the tree.

From one yard of fabric I got 8 bags that are around 15” * 10”. I did change sizes to bigger and smaller for different sized gifts.

Process

Step One

The first step in this process is to cut the bags to size. You will need two even pieces of fabric cut to your size of choice to make each bag. A fold in the fabric can be utilized as one of the sides, too. That way you would only need one piece of fabric.

Cutting Christmas bag fabric
Step Two

Next, finish the edges of the fabric to prevent unraveling. I choose to do this by using a serger, but a zig zag stich along the edge or a French seam could be utilized.

Finishing seams
Step Three

If using two pieces of fabric, stitch the two pieces of fabric together using right sides together along the long edge. If you are using one piece of fabric, start with this next step. Along the top edge fold the fabric down between ½” to 1 inch and press it with an iron. This will form a case for the yarn to go in to form the draw string. Stitch down the folded piece, back stitching at the start and end of the fabric.

Creating casing
Sewing casing
Step Four

Then line up the two pieces of fabric right sides together. Stitch along the edges of the fabric, avoiding the top of the bag and the casing that was created so the casing isn’t stitched closed. Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and the end.

Christmas bag
Step Five

Next using a safety pin, tie the end of a piece of yarn. Cut the yarn a couple inches longer then the bag opening. Thread the safety pin through the case opening and push it through until the other end takes the yarn with it. Line the end of the yarn up and tie it off around 1 inch from the end. I like to fray the ends up to the knot.

Inserting draw string
Finished cloth Christmas bag

Repeat the steps for all other bags that you would like to make. These bags are a simple design and there fore can be made relatively quickly. If you can spare 10 minutes this is a great project!

I hope you liked this Christmas gift bag! I loved matching the fabrics and creating a cohesive look for under my Christmas tree. For close family I plan on using the Christmas gift bags, because I can probably get them back. For those other gifts, like the secret Santa at work, I plan on utilizing brown paper!

Have you thought about implementing Christmas gift bags too? Let me know in the comments below.

Check out my other zero waste swap here!