A Spring Wreath

It is hard to believe I made a spring wreath yesterday when we are supposed to get 10 inches of snow tonight, but I am ready for spring. Ready for the warm weather to stay. Ready for the sun to be out until 8pm and my dog walks can last longer than 30 minutes. Believe me, I need spring.

That is where this DIY wreath comes into play. Our Christmas lights were taken down last week (we are THOSE people who keep them up for months after the holidays), and I felt like my life needed some color again. I picked up 20 fake flower bouquets from Dollar Tree along with the wire holder and made a wreath with really no game plan on what I was doing.

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If you decide to do this at home, cut off as much of the stem as you can without the flower losing it’s pedals before you even figure out the layout on the wire. I made the mistake of putting half of it together and then realized the long stems were 1) going to be extremely difficult to cut and 2) messing with the layout because they kept overlapping each other. Thankfully, hot glue is easy to pull off depending on the material.

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Simply arrange the flowers however you desire and put hot glue wherever you feel it would need to be held to the wire. Use your creativity, especially when picking out your flowers.

After a few burnt fingertips, the wreath was finished! The whole process between cutting the stems, arranging them, gluing them, and finally rearranging them once glued, took about an hour. I feel I have made better wreaths in the past, but I still wanted to share this relatively simple and beautiful (not to mention affordable!) spring craft idea with you. The whole project cost me about $20, depending on how many flowers you choose to buy.

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Enjoy!!

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DIY Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Tablets

When it comes to household chores, I’ve become a pro at multitasking and getting 3+ things done at one time. Hopefully that skill will carry over into parenthood in the future 😉 Anyway, it’s not uncommon for laundry to be in the washer, dishes in the dishwasher, and animals eating dinner all while I am vacuuming up the dirt that comes with having five pets. Completing these household chores not only takes time, but also money. You know the phrase time is money? Story. Of. My. Life.

I got hooked onto making my own laundry detergent when I was in graduate school and started learning about the horrible toxins in (most) conventional laundry detergents; see this article from Mother Earth Living for more information. My mom and I made our first batch and I have doing it ever since. True, it does take some time (I can usually make one batch in about a half hour or so), but that one batch will last 4-6 months depending how many loads we need to do that week. Not only do I know exactly what is being put on my clothes that I wear daily, but it’s also a lot more cost effective to make your own detergent. Although I cannot give exact figures because it’s hard for me to say how many uses I get out of one batch, I can assure you it’s more than 64 than is what I’d get in a standard bottle. Plus, you buy the ingredients and then you’re set for at least two or three more batches. I just bought washing soda for the first time in a year! Below is the recipe I swear by, and it does the job just fine. We do, however, add OxoBrite to white loads for extra cleaning power. (Credit to Wellness Mama for this fantastic recipe).

  • 1 bar of grated bar soap (I use Kirk’s Coconut Castile soap)
  • 1 cup of washing soda (can be found on Amazon or at Walmart)
  • 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda)
  • 15-20 drops essential oil of your choice (OPTIONAL)

First, I grate the bar of soap, which is definitely the most time consuming part of the process. Be careful to not cut your fingers while grating…I’ve done it and can clearly state the pain is worse than a paper cut, and those are brutal. Mix the washing soda and borax (or additional washing soda) in with the bar soap (if you’re prone to dry skin or have sensitive skin in general, I’d recommend wearing gloves for this process) and then add the essential oils if you choose to use them. Mix again and then add to a glass jar or container of your choice. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load. I have used this detergent 100’s of times in our washer (that unfortunately is not HE) and it works well in both cold and hot water. It works great for my mom in her HE washer as well. This works great on my husband’s colored dress shirts, but I can’t vouch for its performance on yellow rings around the collar of a white button-down since neither of us ever wear them.

If making your own detergent isn’t for you but you still want some more natural options, this guide by the Environmental Working Group is a great starting point.

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In addition to my own laundry detergent, I tried making dishwasher tablets for the first time. To put it bluntly, I was SO impressed. I used a recipe found on One Good Thing by Jillee and will definitely make it again.

  • 2 cups Washing soda or Baking soda (cuts grease; I used washing soda)
  • 2 cups Borax (natural cleaner and disinfectant)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Epsom salt (reduces the effects of hard water; I used Epsom Salt)
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar (added cleaning power, liquid to help bind the ingredients)
  • 15-20 drops of Lemon essential oil (added cleaning power, antibacterial properties, smells good!)

Making these were so simple. All the ingredients are mixed in a bowl and then stuffed pack into cheap ice cube trays from Walmart. Let them sit in the sun for 24 hours until they get hard and then put them in a container of your choice. I add a splash of distilled white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher simply for extra cleaning power in our crazy hard water, and my dishes have been spotless.

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If you choose to make your own detergent or dishwasher tablets, I hope you have the same success I do. I will never go back to store-bought detergent if I don’t have to!

 

DIY Snowman Wreath

Shortly after Matt and I moved to West Virginia, I was invited to a fall wreath making party. Needless to say, my first homemade wreath could have been better, but it was so much fun to make. I was hooked. Since that wreath, I have made some for Christmas presents, as well as one for every season to hang on our front door. There is a Sterilite tub in the basement just for my wreaths! It’s a therapeutic activity for me, which is good since I am horrible at relaxing. Being on the go ALL THE TIME gets to a person, you know?

Anyway, I was getting my car worked on a few days ago in the same area as Hobby Lobby and, well, I couldn’t NOT go in and browse. Their Christmas decor and holiday items were calling my name and before I knew it, I was in full swing of buying material for an idea running around in my head. Now, I am not artistic in any way, shape, or form. Want proof? Play Pictionary Down the Lane with me…it’s remarkable my stick figures pass as people. However, I enjoy hands-on projects and crafting is one of them. I took the idea in my head and started working as soon as I got home. I didn’t think to share this wreath here until it was halfway done, so I’ll do the best I can to describe what we did; Matt helped tremendously by creating the facial features and making the hat. He’s the artistic one for sure!

To start, I bought this wreath for $4.99. I’m sure there are other ones that would look cool too, but I loved the effect this one added to the overall project. I bought two pieces of felt, black and red, and white acrylic paint to cover the plywood discs as the body of the snowman. I bought the ribbon to wrap around it at Walmart since the idea to use it came from Matt later on. I already had a hot glue gun, so I was good to go there.

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This is mine, but any hot glue gun will work.

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I started by painting the discs and letting them dry. I only used a couple coats, but you can gauge it based on how white you want them to be. Once they were done, I glued the discs together and chose where I wanted to place the snowman; for me, that was the left. I cut out some buttons from the black felt and looped a strip of the red felt for his scarf. Matt drew the carrot on scrapbook paper and cut out the hat. He’s quite a dashing snowman!

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I then wrapped the ribbon around the opposite side to give the winter effect. It’s not perfect, but I’m still overall satisfied with how it turned out. It may be my favorite wreath yet! The sticks are from the yard and glued on behind the middle disc for his arms. I put them on after I wrapped the ribbon because otherwise, they’d get in the way. The whole project took a little over an hour, not including the dry time for the paint. If you try this project or any other Christmas craft, I’d love to see it!!

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