DIY

Basement Renovation

We have started a major project! I thought I would take you along for the ride. This project is going to take some time so I will post when I have updates. We are doing a basement renovation. The plan is to take a wall down between our family room and our extra room to form a playroom/family room combo.

We started this project a few weeks ago by taking down the wall between the two rooms. Right after things started picking up with the Covid-19 virus in Minnesota, we started to social distance ourselves. Both my husband and I are in the health care field. I am able to work at home but he still goes into work. While we are doing what we can during this time, it has made it rather hard to take the next steps in the basement renovation, which is getting supplies. We do not want to be going out in public unless it’s absolutely necessary, so we are on hold until we can go out again.

However, lets jump into the progress we have made so far!

 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.

Tools List

Below are a list of the tools I used for the first stage of this project.

Taking down the walls

The first task in this basement renovation is taking down the wall between the two rooms. In the past the extra room down here was used as a guest room, but it tended to just collect all of our clutter. The room does not have an egress window so it can’t be an official bedroom. While having a guest space is nice, it is only used once per year. So we decided that using the room as a play room would be a much better use. We do plan on putting in a Murphy bed, so stay tuned for that project.

Taking the walls down was pretty easy. The walls are a cardboard-like material. I found it best to try to loosen the nails on the studs and peal back the boards. The wall materials are not easy to nail into, they are bowing, and they have very obvious seams (over which the previous owners just put a piece of trim up). Needless to say, the look isn’t great. We have decided to replace all of these walls with drywall.

The first thing I did was take down the cardboard on each side of the walls.

basement renovation starting walls.
basement renovation taking down walls

Layers of the cardboard walls.

Assessing the wall

When I started this project, I had a feeling that this wall was not load bearing. I reached this conclusion a number of ways. The first is that these walls are not original to the house, so probably not carrying a structural load. The second is that there is a railroad tie running the length our our house and being used as the central beam. In our laundry room there is a steal post holding up the rail road tie, so I hoped there was a similar one in this wall. The third was that this wall was very poorly constructed and would move when I pressed on it. A solid wall shouldn’t do that.

I did proceed with caution and assessed at each step. If you are unsure about a wall or if it is structural, ask a contractor or engineer for help.

basement renovation

The tops of the studs are notched and nailed in with one nail. They are definitely not supporting the weight of the house so they are safe to take down. I also found a steel post within the wall, which is holding up the rail road tie. I will obviously be leaving this in place.

And the wall is done. Don’t you love that orange? We don’t and will be painting that wall.

Fixing the floor

After I removed the wall, there was a gap left in the carpet tiles and some holes left by the bolts. I used some extra caulk that I had to fill the holes. Then I removed the tiles around the gap. My father in law just happened to find a box of carpet tiles that look exactly like ours at a garage sale a couple years ago. I have held on to them all this time and now they are coming in handy. They are just a peal and stick so I pulled up the old ones and put down the new ones.

basement renovation flooring

Once we were done taking down the walls, we removed the cardboard from the rest of the walls, but left the studs up.

Beam insulation

So one of the projects we have been putting off and finally decided to take action on was our basement walls. There is a crack running horizontally on two of the walls. This is a big job and we got the professionals in to help. We talked to two different companies who both said our walls are in grade 2 wall failure and needed beams to help support them. Below is one of the beams and we had 11 in total installed. While this was a huge expense and one that surprised us, we decided to move ahead with the project. If we left it, it would be a bigger, more costly project later on. We also wanted to get this done before we started fixing up the basement.

You can see the gap in the picture below between the beam and the wall. There should not be a gap…hence the need for a beam to hold the wall up.

basement renovation steel beams

Once we are able to get supplies we will move forward with putting up drywall and finish the basement renovation. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Any thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments below!

While your here checkout our bathroom reno on a budget!

Homemade recycled paper

I have been pondering what to do with all of our shredded paper for a while now because it’s starting to build up. I am looking more and more like a hoarder! With limited recycling options in town, I wanted to get creative. So I decided to make my own homemade recycled paper! I made paper a long time ago for a girl scout project, so I thought it would be pretty easy to make again.

I first intended to make this as a project to do with my Little One. However, it ended up being too delicate of a project for a one year old. My first try ended up with lots of little finger prints that dented the paper. After this first attempt I realized it would be a perfect activity for older children.

Materials

Making paper is a pretty simple process and you can use simple tools you already have around your home. The toughest part is getting a screen. Your local hardware store would have some, or even take a look around your garage, maybe there is a spare screen you forgot about. I got mine from my father-in-law, who has a window and screen repair business. I did learn that using a metal screen is better then using a plastic-based screen.

Making a Deckle

The screen is needed to make the deckle. I’ll link a couple of videos on how to make one and where to purchase one. I made one by using a screen and an old photo frame from the dollar store. First I popped the glass out and the metal pieces that hold the backing on. I did this with a pair of pliers. Next I used a hot glue gun to glue the edge of the screen to the edge of the frame. Once it dried I used duct tape over the raw edge of the screen and over the sides of the picture frame. It’s not my prettiest work but it will do.

Supplies

The supplies you will need are…

There are many tutorials out there on how to make paper. I watched this video before I started. However, I wanted to try a couple different methods. The first is that I wanted to keep this as eco-friendly as possible, and that means not using paper towel. Instead I used old bath towels and flour sack cloth…lots and lots of them. I used a big bath towel on the counter top and flour sack cloth towel to lay the paper on.

Many of the tutorials out there make use of a second screen. I found an easy way around this that involves flipping it onto the towel.

homemade recycled paper

Making the Paper

Making homemade recycled paper is really simple. Place a hand full of shredded paper into the blender. You can also add colored paper and newspaper to change the color of the paper. I just stuck to my shredded paper simply because I have a lot of it! Next, add water to the blender. You need quite a bit, but don’t over fill the blender. Blend until it gets to a consistency you like. It took 20-40 seconds for me. See my before and after pictures below.

homemade recycled paper
homemade recycled paper

Creating the Paper

This next part is really fun. I used my sink and filled it with a couple of inches of water and put the deckle in the water. Then I poured the paper mixture on to the deckle. Spread out the mixture on the deckle, using your fingers to spread the mixture over the deckle in an even layer. Next, raise the deckle out of the water and shake it to even out the layer and let the excess water drip off.

homemade recycled paper

Drying the Paper

Flip the deckle over on top of a bath towel and flour sack towel. With the deckle still down, use a sponge to wick away some of the water and squeeze it back into the sink. Continue until you are no longer getting water out of the paper. Carefully take the deckle off the paper and place it to the side.

Next, fold the other half of the flour sack towel over the paper and press it with an iron. Keeping the towel folded, flip the towel over and press the other side of the paper. Flip again and gently fold back the flour sack towel. Use a cutting board or some other large flat service and place it on top of the paper. Flip it over and then gently pull back the flour sack towel. Finally transfer the paper onto a dry towel and leave it to dry. See the photos below for reference.

homemade recycling paper
Iron homemade recycled paper
finished homemade recycled paper

That’s it, your homemade paper is officially done! I plan on using the paper for cards/notes and as coloring paper for Little One. What do you think? Will you turn your own shredded paper into homemade recycled paper? Let me know of any tips or tricks you may have in the comments below!

Feel like more DIYing? Check out my homemade beeswax wraps.

DIY Play Tent

Last winter I made this DIY play gym to engage my little one and keep him active. However, like all baby items, he quickly outgrew this play gym. Me being me, I wanted to purpose it into something that Little One can use now that he is walking and running around. I figured he needs areas in our home that are just for him. He loves creating little spaces for himself with pillows and blankets so I decided to turn the play gym into a play tent!

You can check out my post here on my DIY play gym for instructions on how to make its wooden structure. Hindsight being 20/20, I would now go back and make the legs longer to make the structure taller and wider. However, not wanting to basically remake the play gym I decided to work with what I have.

There are four elements to making this DIY play tent: the back, the two triangle sides, the front (which has an opening), and the floor. I will do my best to describe the process of making the tent, but I do not have exact measurements as I drafted the tent on the gym and pinned accordingly. Let’s get started!

If you are newer to sewing check out my 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.

Materials

Process

When I started to make the tent, I didn’t really know how to go about it because the two legs are slightly offset from each other, making it uneven. To solve this I laid out my fabric on the floor. I placed my play gym on the floor on top of the fabric. Next, I turned the gym over at the top edge to get an estimate of how much fabric I would need. I cut the fabric, leaving very large seam allowances so I could have room to draft the tent.

My next step was to cut out the triangle pieces for the sides. I placed the sides of the play gym on my laid out fabric and cut a large triangle, leaving large seam allowances.

Then I placed the fabric inside out over the play gym and used my pins to place the pieces together. I was able to move the fabric around and repin to get a nice tight fit (see the picture below). I left a gap at the top for the tops of the legs to peek through. I will finish those seams later.

Pinning DIY play tent

Stitching

Using the pins as guides, I stitched up the side seams, right sides together. I then flipped the tent right side out and placed it back on the play gym. You can see in the photo below that there is some extra fabric at the top. I trimmed the fabric back to leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Next, I folded the fabric over and created a hem by turning the fabric 1/4 inch then turning it 1/4 inch again, then stitching along the edge of the folded fabric. This will create a nice finished edge.

DIY play tent

Tent Flaps

To create the tent flaps I found the center front of the tent. Then I cut a straight line from the bottom of the tent up towards the top about two-thirds of the way. I didn’t use an exact measurement; instead I just left enough space for Little One to get into the tent. Next I wanted to finish the edges of where I just cut so the fabric wouldn’t unravel.

To do this I cut a piece of fabric 3 inches wide and double the length of the flap that I just cut. Then I pressed the strip in half, as pictured below.

Creating edging for DIY play tent

I pinned the strip along of the edge of the tent flap. Stitch along the edge leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I then finished the edge with the serger. Then press it flat with the iron.

Pin edging on DIY play tent
Finished edge on DIY play tent

I also finished the inside seams with the serger, but you could use a small zigzag stitch instead.

Bottom Piece

The final part of making this tent is creating the bottom. I thought a lot about how to finish up the bottom of the tent. At first I thought I would make some straps that would tie around the legs. However, in the end I decided that making a pad/floor for the entire bottom of the tent would be best. I also added batting to make it a bit softer. We do have hardwood floors so this step made the tent more cozy.

To make the bottom I cut two pieces of fabric roughly 27×24 inches. I also cut batting to the same measurements. I had scraps of batting that I layered, though it definitely would have been easier to use a solid piece of batting. Instead, I wanted to use what I had on hand.

Lay out the pieces of batting on one of the pieces of the bottom fabric, as pictured below. Do a basting stitch around the four edges. This will help keep the batting in place when attaching it to the tent.

Adding batting to DIY play tent

Stitching the Bottom Piece

This next part can be a bit tricky. It’s best to work one side at a time. Hold the bottom piece with the batting closest to you and with the batting facing out. Place the side of the tent right side facing you, and finally place the other piece of the bottom with the right side facing you. This will create a bit of a sandwich effect like in the picture below. Stitch along the side leaving 1/4 inch seam allowance. Stop stitching 1/4 inch from the edge to allow for the turn. When you’re done with one side move on to the next, following the same technique. The front is different so save that side for last.

Sandwiching play tent sides and bottom together.

For the front, pin from each of the corners for about 5 inches to the tent flap and stitch in the same method as above. This should leave a gap in the center of the floor piece. Now it’s time to flip the tent right side out using this large gap. Place it on the play gym and adjust as needed This is the time to make any alterations because once you close up the gap they will not be able to be made. Once everything is as it should be, pin and stitch up the gap using a stop stitch. There should be some extra pieces of the tent flap hems that are not included in the tent bottom. You can do a little hem on these two pieces just like the hem for the top pieces where the legs peek through.

Final Thoughts

The final step is to enjoy and play! I finished this DIY play tent during one of Little One’s nap times and had it set out for him when he came downstairs. He immediately ran to it and climbed inside and has been playing with it frequently ever since! This was a bit for me to figure out how to make it but now that I have the process down it was fairly easy. Also, one of the nice things with this DIY play tent is that it can fold flat for easy storage.

What do you think of this play tent? Let me know in the comments below.

Winter Bird Seed Ornaments

DIY winter bird seed ornaments

Every Christmas, we have developed a family tradition of decorating our trees with winter bird seed ornaments. This year we had every intention of going out to do this at Christmas but we had a bit of a cold snap and pushed it off. So this weekend we finally had the time to go out and decorate!

We had such a fun time hanging the ornaments in the trees for the birds. We hung them on our birch tree outside the window of our dining room. This way we can watch the birds when eating our meals. We found that the next day a group of chickadees found the ornaments and were delighted in pecking at them to gain the bird seed.

This is an easy DIY and such a fun tradition. I will say this DIY is best in cold climates. We have tried other recipes that involved using gelatin or shortening but I found it difficult to get the ornaments to be solid and they would crumble. So I have found that this has been the best method for me.

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

  • Bird Seed I want to find a zero waste option to purchase bird seed so next year I am going to try a local feed bin.
  • Silicone Molds In the past I used muffin tin, but I purchased these off my town’s Shop and Swap this past year and found them so much easier to use. Having the center piece creates a nice wreath shape and makes it easy to string the raffia through.
  • Raffia Grass
  • Water

Process

Fill the molds with bird seed. Pour water into the mold until it reaches just about to the top. Place them in the freezer until frozen solid. I liked to place the molds on a sheet pan in the freezer due to the molds easily bending.

Once frozen, use the raffia to tie around the ornament and hang on the tree.

That’s it…really such an easy DIY project that brings enjoyment to all. This was a great project to do with my son. He so enjoyed putting all the bird seed into the molds. He also liked being outside with us as we put the winter bird seed ornaments in the tree.

Making winter bird seed ornaments

As the birds peck away, more of the bird seed will become accessible to them. Some of the ice will also fall away due to melting. We have also had other visitors enjoying the seed, including deer and rabbits!

Ornaments in the tree
Chickadee snaking

This is such a fun DIY and family Christmas tradition. What do you think of this project? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out this other easy DIY project-how to make bees wax wraps.

winter bird seed ornaments

DIY Play Gym

This DIY play gym was so fun to make for my Little One. It was the perfect activity to engage him and provide him with a fun activity. This play gym is easy to make and in addition, the activities can be changed out and replaced to keep things interesting, making it very customizable. While I liked the look of the light wood, it can easily be painted to match your nursery or other colors for fun.

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.

Gathering Supplies

To create this delightful play gym you need some wood and a couple of tools to create the basic structure. You will also need some items to hang on the gym. I will link some good options below but this is a great time to get really creative!

For the Gym
  • 4 – 1*2 pieces of pine at least 2’6″ in length.
  • 1 – 1″ dowel at least 2’6″ in length
  • Saw (either hand or electronic)
  • Drill with 1″ drill bit and a smaller bit (something like a 2/16″ but whatever is close will work)
  • Coconut oil
  • Sander and sand paper
For Activities

Assembly

DIY play gym

Once you gather your supplies it’s time to start assembly. Take two pieces of 1″*2″ pine. Then line them up together to create a triangle shape. Have the pieces cross about 3 inches from the top. Find the angle that works for the pieces to create the height you would like for the gym. Use a straight edge to mark across the bottom at the desired angle. Transfer this line to the other 3 pieces. Cut along this line. This will allow the play gym to set more evenly along the floor.

Next, using the 1″ drill bit drill a hole 3″ down from the top in the center on each of the 4 pieces. This is where the dowel will be placed. Now drill a hole using the smaller drill bit 1’3″ from the top. This is where the string will go. The string will help hold things together and prevent the play gym from widening more than it should. I used a ribbon for this but you could use cording or twine. This is why I didn’t have a specific drill bit to use. Use one that will work for the type of ribbon or cording you choose to use.

The next step is to cut the dowel down to length. I chose to cut my top to 2’6″. This seemed like a good length so Little One had plenty of space to play underneath.

Sand all the pieces with a medium grit sand paper and then a finer grit sand paper. Wipe the dowels clean. Next, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a glass bowl. Using a rag, rub in the coconut oil to each of the four legs, the dowel, and any wooden rings/pieces/beads.

Putting it together

DIY play gym

This next task is the fun part -creating the activities for your Little One to play with! Test out the length each of the activities will need to hang down so it is within your Little One’s reach. Thread the wooden rings along the dowel and attach the cording or ribbon to them. Assemble the various activities using the beads, shapes and any other bits and bobs you have gathered. I even used some fabric with some animals, cut out and stuffed. This is a great way to get creative! You can also change out these activities once Little One tires of them.

To assemble the play gym lay out all the pieces. Make sure all the activities are threaded along the dowel. Insert the dowel through two pieces of the legs, ensuring the legs are situated so the angled pieces will lay flat on the floor. Next, thread the ribbon through the holes, fixing the length so that the play gym sits even.

I have found that the dowel sits tight enough that I haven’t been concerned about it shifting around. However, if it is loose you can also place a small screw through the legs into the dowel to ensure that it is steady.

DIY play gym

DIY Play Gym

The play gym is all finished! What fun for your Little One and mine! This has been a lot of fun and as my Little One has grown, I have some plans to turn it into a new fun play toy…so sit tight for that tutorial!

Have you tried making this or another DIY play gym? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below. This play gym was a great addition to our nursery, which you can check out here.

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

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

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!

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!