Oh Baby!

One thing you will learn as a mother is that babies require a lot of STUFF. And that stuff can be very, very expensive!

On a military budget we can’t afford to buy all the newest and greatest things for our little guys, but that doesn’t mean we have to go without! A little time, creativity, and some searching can lead to a variety of different solutions to everyday problems at a much lower cost.

Yesterday I shared with you some tips and ideas on how to homeschool your toddlers or preschoolers on a budget. Today I want to share with you a few crafts that I have done to help make life with babies easier while still being affordable.

1. The Pea Pod Hip Carrier

I love babywearing! It provides such wonderful snuggle opportunities. But my moby only worked well for the first few months, and I have never been a huge fan of my bjorn. I would love to get an Ergo but we just can’t afford the $100 (although it is on my list for the next child…hint hint ;) ) for something so unnecessary.

I spent hours searching for another option to carry my older babies. I liked the idea of the mei tei, but wasn’t sure about the tying. Then I discovered the Pea Pod Hip Carrier. Perfect for carrying an older baby or toddler, and it has buckles!

Pea Pod carrier

I love this carrier! I’ll admit that T does get heavy in it now that he is 13 months old. And the back isn’t quite as high as I would like. But he still fits in it. And I can still carry him for a decent amount of time. It was absolutely perfect when he was 8-12 months and would have worked even at a younger age. As long as your little one is has good head control, and can be safely carried on your hip, this carrier will work.

The one problem that I did find was that when he fell asleep I had to hold his head. There was no where for his head to go other than back. But this was a minor detail.

If you are looking for a transitional carrier, and you can sew, this is perfect!

I saved money making this by using repurposed fabrics for the body fabric, minkee remnants as the soft inner part, and leftovers from a quilt for the decorative outer part. The only thing I had to buy were the buckles and the interfacing. The buckles were tricky to find, and I recommend ordering them online.

In total it ended up costing me around $15 and some sewing time. That’s a great discount over the $100 or more that most carriers on the market cost!

Note: If you are more well endowed then some (I was wearing a size 16 when I made this), I would recommend making the straps a bit longer around the waist. In her picture there is a lot of strap left over after she tightens it. On me I found that there was very little. Keep this in mind when cutting your fabric and adjust accordingly.

2. Baby Car Seat Cover

I’ve made two of these wonderful covers so far. I just wish I had made one sooner!

monkey car seat cover

The first one I made for T. I wanted to be able to cover him up when we were out and about and he was sleeping. I also wanted him to be nice and warm. Since we live in a place where it is chilly or rainy many days of the year I went ahead and made it with fleece on the backside in order to keep him dry and snuggly warm.

This was one of the simplest projects that I have made, and it has come in handy many times. It only takes an hour or so, and would be perfect for someone who doesn’t have too much sewing experience because it is fairly simple.

The whole project cost me nothing because I had all the materials on hand. The fleece was upcycled from something given to me, the velcro was leftover from another project, and the monkey material I bought with a coupon for another project (that never got done). If you count the monkey material as a purchased item then the total project was probably under $10.

car seat canopy

The second one I made for a friend. She provided me with all the materials, and I stitched it up for her. Since she lives in Arizona I suggested that she go with a flannel backing instead of the fleece.

One of the things that I love about the design of this project is that it works well on the strollers. I have used it on the double stroller many times as a blanket for the two boys. It has also worked by using the velcro tabs on an umbrella stroller. Plus, it works as a cuddly blanket for the car or when out and about. My boys used to fight over who got to use it!

3. Baby Ties

Easter was coming and I had NO clue what to do with my little guys. I didn’t want to spend too much money but I really wanted them to look nice for church. We also have a few upcoming events that will require us to dress more formally than usual. I wanted to save money by getting just one outfit that would work for all of the events.

The idea of ties on my little guys was very charming. I had seen photos of other babies all decked out in their ties and thought that it would be a simple option. So I scoured through my scraps and got to work. These were completely free because they were both made from left over scraps, most of which were given to me from my mom’s quilting scraps!

I did add some scrap interfacing. When I make them again I probably won’t include the interfacing and will probably make them a bit longer.

Boys with their ties

They did not want to take pictures. But aren’t they adorable?

boys in their ties 2

What projects have you done lately? How do you find ways to cut costs in your life? Have you found any good ways to cut costs through your crafting?


{Tutorial}: Spot Mopping

This is such a simple concept, and to be honest, most of you probably already do this. But for those of you who have little ones and feel overwhelmed with the amount of mopping required to keep up with their messes, here is a tip for you!

First, pick up a spray bottle at the dollar store (or at your favorite discount store).

Next, mix up your favorite floor cleaner (or all-purpose cleaner) according to the directions in your spray bottle (or make up extra next time you mop the floor and put some in the spray bottle before you do the mopping). Here’s my favorite cleaner:

I love that it is made with almost entirely natural ingredients, isn’t super expensive, doesn’t smell horrible, and cleans everything perfectly! I make up a spray bottle and use it for just about everything!*

Now you are ready to do spot mopping after each meal or anytime your little one’s make a mess!

spot mopping

Make sure that you sweep up any little pieces that you won’t be able to mop up. My youngest had added cheerios to our mess and I swept those up first. Then just spray the hard to clean areas, use your mop as you normally would, rinse, and you are done! No need to haul out the bucket or clean the entire floor or to bend over to scrub with a rag.

Super simple! I love this technique, as I hate having to mop the whole floor over and over again. I have a Swiffer with the wet pads but I feel like it is such a waste to use them up on such a small area. This technique avoids all of that, gets me a clean floor, and when I use my mop, avoids me being bent over on the floor scrubbing like Cinderella. And since I am using a cleaner that I know is safe for my kids I don’t worry about them picking up random things off of it and putting it in their mouths (which they ALWAYS do whether I want them to or not!). Bonus, less mopping time means more playing time with my kids!

Hope this tip helps to make your busy days just a tiny bit easier and frees up a few more of those precious moments in your life.


*This is simply my opinion and I am not being reimbursed for this post.

Oh how I love Pinterest! #1

I am obsessed! Yes, completely and totally obsessed! If you need an invite to join pinterest, by far the most addicting site online right now, then leave me a comment with your email address. I will be happy to send you one!

But enough about my love for the site. Tonight I wanted to share with you some of the many posts that have been floating around pinterest and how they have worked out for me.

Cleaning and Body Products

DIY Scented Plugins: I have to admit that this has not been the most effective for me. I tried making my own cinnamon scented “oil” using cinnamon sticks. The “oil” smelled great when it was still in the pot, and even when it was sitting on the counter, but it didn’t have much of a smell in the plug-in. I didn’t want to spend the money on using essential oils because I know that I would go through them too quickly for the cost. And I was worried that any of the other fragrance oils wouldn’t be any better than the stuff that is in the bulb to begin with. The other issue that I discovered was that the stem from the plugin did not come out as easily and cleanly as the original blog indicated. Perhaps I have used my particular plugin too long and that is the problem, I don’t know. But I do know that the wick was far too worn out to really be all that helpful. And there was still a lot of the original oil still in the wick that mixed, unpleasantly, with the homemade oil. My verdict is that it is worth it to just buy the stuff at the store, or forego it all together.

Simple, Homemade Air Freshener: I made something similar to this to use in my diaper pail. It smells amazing! And it has held its scent pretty well. I tried to make them into little patties in my muffin tin, using cupcake liners. This was not a huge success. The little cakes stuck too much to the cupcake liners and I had troubles with it drying the way that it was supposed to. However, the concept, mixing baking soda and essential oil together, makes for a very powerful, and wonderful air freshener. I prefer this greatly to the one above.

Lavender Water: This is my new favorite. It only takes a few drops of lavender oil, and water in a spray bottle. So simple! I use it when I iron my fabrics before sewing or cutting them. I love how it smells and it makes ironing a much more pleasant experience. One of these days I am going to take the bottle upstairs and spray it on my pillowcases!

Homemade OxyClean: Here is another one that didn’t work too well for me. The first time I made it, it was okay. But it was really hard to get out. Maybe I did something wrong? The second time I made it I had to throw it out because it bubbled really badly and started eating the bottom of the plastic container I had put it in. Make sure that if you try this you keep the proportions exact. They are the same basic ingredients in store-bought OxyClean so it should be successful but any misstep could easily be an issue since you are working with chemicals (as my bio-environmental husband points out to me).

Foaming Hand Soap: I don’t know for sure where I originally saw this, and for some reason it isn’t pinned onto my board, but I wanted to share it anyway. I started by going to the store and picking up some foaming hand soap bottles. They were on sale at the time, which was quite a bonus! We used the soap up in the bottom bathroom quickly. The two upstairs still have the original soap in them but when they will be subject to (semi-)homemade foaming soap. I have been using Dr. Bonner’s. I am in love with the stuff! I use it in my diaper wipe solution. And now I am using it as my hand soap. I simply pour a small amount into my pump and fill the rest with water. Viola! I now have a new bottle of hand soap! Dr. Bonner’s is such a strong soap that I don’t worry about the water making it too watery. And I do, periodically, wash the top of my bottle to ensure that I am not spreading any germs that might be growing on the pump. I highly recommend this method of hand soap (and the investment in Dr. Bonner’s as it really goes a long way).

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent: This isn’t the one that I have pinned. The one that I pinned is for a powdered version. But someone commented on the pin about a liquid version. This is the same recipe the girl gave me, even though it isn’t from her blog or anything. I used Ivory Soap and it made a TON of laundry soap! I recommend cutting the recipe down some if you are going to make it. I literally have a 5 gallon pail mostly full of laundry detergent and a jug that is still fairly full of laundry detergent. I have been using an old laundry detergent measuring cup in order to measure out my soap. I also have to shake it up before I use it because it does clump together. But I have been very happy with it. We use it on all of our clothes, except my cloth diapers. I’ve had mixed reports on whether or not Borax is safe on cloth diapers, so for now at least. I have opted to stay away from it. There is very little scent to it, and no scent that remains on the clothes. If you miss the scent, add fabric softener to the load, or dryer sheets, or spray them with your lavender spray. I have been extremely happy with my laundry detergent!

Still to do: Deodorant, No ‘Poo, Lip Balm, Stain Removers,  Vegetable Wash, Dishwasher cleaner, Hand Sanitizer, Air Freshener Spray, Oven Cleaner, Dusting Spray, Dryer Sheets, as well as many other cleaning products…

And as a bonus…a find that is not specifically linked on my pinterest is the powers of white vinegar and water. It is an amazingly powerful cleaning agent. I add essential oils to it in order to help get over the horrid smell. I am constantly amazed by how clean it gets things and how inexpensive it really is.

And…I LOVE coconut oil. It works wonderfully as a base for a sugar scrub, it works as a (greasy) powerful lotion, and is amazing as a diaper cream. I also use it in my diaper spray. It has antibacterial properties, and it also works in the kitchen. It is solid unless above 76°F, but becomes nice and soft when rubbed between your fingers. You can find it at all kinds of stores (even Walmart) in the oil section or in the baking section (depending on the store) in a jar, not a bottle (since it is probably completely solid in the store).

Let me know if you try any of these things! I would love to know how and if they worked for you.

Linky Link! Christmas Edition #4

So you’ve decked the halls and bought or made your gifts. But have you thought about wrapping? Why hide your wonderful gift under a boring piece of wrapping paper with the tape showing when there are hundreds of wonderful ideas right at your fingertips? Here are a few of my favorite wrapping ideas.

1. Ever thought of using scraps of fabric to decorate your presents?

I love this idea for a canvas transferred to the decoration of a Christmas present.

Or for a similar idea that is actually intended for gifts check out this blog.

If you are worried it would be a waste of fabric, use it on a box that can be used for another gift or a different purpose after the holidays are over.

2. Brown packaging paper can be an inexpensive way to create a backdrop for your creative wrappings. Here are a couple of ideas that start with simple brown paper.

Originally intended for a wedding, these charming little boxes wrap up some delicious cookies. The idea is simple and charming. It could easily be done with a variety of gifts.

Decorate your packaging paper with some double-sided tape and confetti. This package was done up for a birthday present but could easily be transformed with some red and green glitter or confetti. This would be fun for the kids to do!

I love to make recycled bows! They are charming and so easy to make. Although I do mine a bit different from they are done in this tutorial, you can see how pretty plain old magazine pages can be with just a bit of time and effort. Turn those old magazines into a bow and “ribbon” to make your package uniquely beautiful.

This blogger uses Washi tape to decorate her brown packages. I imagine that any kind of decorative tape would work. And if you have a family member or friend who loves duck tape (like my brother) than duck tape would be an awesome alternative with all the fun colors and styles out these days.

Or the same concept with masking tape…

3. Try something unique this year. It isn’t necessary to stick with the traditional colors of green and red. Why not try something different? Here are some examples.

There’s a how-to for this one, which is created with crayon shavings.

4. Bows are such a desirable item during the Christmas season. Who doesn’t love a package tied up with a pretty bow? But it doesn’t have to come from the store. Above I showed you a link to a blog about making recycled bows from magazines (or any paper, really). Here are some more links.

Eddie Ross has a video tutorial on how to make this gorgeous bow.

Here is another cute package done with packaging paper. The bow itself is made out of paper as well. Unique, easy and cheap!

This blogger used yarn to make a cute little bow instead of the pompoms that are often seen.

Cupcake liners are currently used for everything these days. This blogger shares with us how to decorate a present with some of those pretty cupcake wrappers that are popping up in all the stores.

5. And finally, make your wrapping part of the present! Here are some great ways to incorporate your gift or a part of the gift into the wrapping itself.

Have a scarf, a towel, or a shirt that you want to give as part of the gift. Try the art of Japanese folding to wrap the fabric around the gift. Here are some examples.

A detailed how-to wrap a shirt around your gift is included in this blog.

Add a tie…

What about an oven mitt as a stocking?

And of course you can use plain paper and tie a gift onto the package.

Attach a cookie cutter…

…a toy…

…an ornament…


…a brooch or a barrette.

There are a ton of other fun ideas out there. Use fabric to whip up a pillowcase for the kids, or a Santa bag for each child. Or use wrapping paper and bubble wrap to make a padded envelope. Or make a fabric envelope that can be passed around the family. Be creative with the things that you have accessible. Think out of the box this year!

Merry Christmas!