Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Living A More Earth Friendly Lifestyle


Hey everyone! I'm Christa and I blog over at Sugarfoot Speaks. When Alison told me about this idea to share some tricks of the trade we've learned, I thought it was awesome! Who doesn't want encouragement in the areas where we're trying new things?! So many times it seems like there are all these rules to follow and the "right" way to do things can be overwhelming. I'm kind of a "read the directions as a last resort" kind of girl, so in some ways it's easy for me to wing my newest endeavors. Other times I am very rigid and want to know all the best ways to achieve the best results and I get all uptight. Not fun. When Alison asked me to share about "earth friendly" ways of living I blushed, got all nervous and self-conscious, then gave myself a 5 second pep talk and agreed! This is something I feel pretty passionate about and love learning new things on this subject. I'm not super extreme, but I've found that altering a few things at a time makes it more doable and less overwhelming. Guess that should be number one on my list, eh? Here we go, then!

Five things I wish I knew when I started trying to live more earth friendly, green, eco-friendly, conscious, whatever you want to call it. :)

Source
1. Go slow. Do one thing at a time. It's too expensive to just chuck everything and start from scratch. Every little bit helps so just start with one small thing and go from there. You don't have to be the green queen from day one. Yes, that was really a bit corny, I know. We started with cloth napkins, which I just blogged about actually. And in this vein, go easy on yourself. Do you hear me all you overachievers?! Try something, see if you like it, tweak it, try again. Find what works best with your family. This doesn't have to be all or nothing.

2. Vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap are your best friends. They can do so much! You can clean your house and your body with them, all without worrying about harming your family or the earth. They really do clean just as well as store bought cleaners without all kind of nasty chemicals in them. They also clean your body and hair just as well as or better than store bought stuff. Plus, they are so cheap! Also, if you're worried about the strong smell of vinegar sticking around, it doesn't. It disappears pretty quickly AND it takes stinky odors with it.

3. If you don't have time or money to build or buy a compost area or bin just start a pile. We wanted something more established in the back yard, but just couldn't do it for awhile so we just started a compost pile. We picked a back corner of our yarn and just started putting our fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, grass clippings, etc. into that area. My husband would go back and turn it over every so often and in the end we had compost, which we used when we planted our teeny garden. Since that first pile, he has built us a box like thing that we keep in the same spot, but the compost is more contained. If you live in an apartment or somewhere without a good place to just start a pile, there are ways to have compost, if you're interested.

4. You don't have to be Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray to make your own cleaning supplies and beauty products. Just get a basic recipe and go for it. There are tons of websites and blogs with recipes on them. Oh, and don't let me forget Pinterest. I'm going to include a couple of my favorites below. A lot of recipes do call for essential oils and some are expensive, but they last forever. It's worth getting them. At the same time, a lot of recipes can be made without them. Don't let that stop you from trying with what you have on hand.

5. The sun is one of the best ways to get stains out. Seriously. Especially food based stains and newborn poop. Pen and marker stains, not so much. Growing up, my mom was always armed with a Stain Stick or some other kind of stain fighting chemical. It worked on keeping our clothes clean, but as someone who wants to stay away from chemicals when I can, that's not the best option for me. When I started using cloth diapers I read over and over again about sunning your diapers to get the stains out. I was amazed the first time I did it. Within an hour all the newborn poop stains were gone. Miraculous! I also tried it with the baby clothes and got the same results. Some of these clothes were ones that had sat in storage bins in the attic from my first baby. The multiple washings had not successfully removed the blowout and food stains, but the sun did. I even sunned them on my couch and the stains were gone. It also kills bacteria. The sun is another bff in the eco world. Immediate cold water on a stain also helps, but I'm sure you already knew that.

I hope that you have found these helpful! I've devoted my Thursday posts to a series on green living so stop by and learn more if you're curious. You can also email me if you have any questions or would like some resources. Here's a couple recipes you can get started with.

All purpose cleaner:

You will need: Distilled white vinegar, water, tea tree oil (optional), grapefruit seed extract (optional), spray bottle

Fill half the spray bottle with vinegar.

Add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil (can do more if you are so inclined, but it's strong smelling. mold killer)

Add 20-40 drops of  grapefruit seed extract (a great anti-fungal and anti-bacterial)

Fill the rest of the way with water. Shake and use!

You can always add a few drops of other essential oils like peppermint or lemon or both to give this a fresher fragrance. The drops vary based on the side of your spray bottle, mine is a 24oz bottle, although I fill it past the line. I use this for everything; counters, table top, bathtub, toilet, sink, on my carpets and couch when a little someone has an accident, windows, mirrors, etc. It works really well.

Here's a deodorant recipe that I LOVE. It obviously doesn't stop you from sweating, but my sweat doesn't smell! This blogger also offers a pdf file you can purchase with quite a few fun recipes.

Here's another site that I have found numerous beauty product recipes. I love Crunchy Betty!

Here's a great tub and tile scrubber recipe.

Thanks so much Alison for having me and my long winded self today! I hope you all are having a wonderful Tuesday!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

5 Things I Wish I Knew When...

The other evening while sitting at my sewing machine, sewing with a fabric that used to give me a fit, I thought...I wish I had known how to do this when I first started sewing. Of course, we learn by our mistakes. We have to do research and ask questions, read books and articles, and just give things a shot and see if it's right or wrong. I don't by any means think I know everything there is to know about sewing. SO far from it. But, I have learned a few tricks over the last year and half, and I thought I would pass those along for those of you who are just starting out. A few things that I wish I had known sooner.

While drafting this post, I thought how fun it would be to turn this into a series. Immediately my mind starting going to friends of mine who have offered me great advice and given me some tips along the way. I made a list, contacted a few ladies for input, and the "5 Things" series was born. Every week will be a new post with tips and tricks, little pieces of advice for a variety of things. Just 5 easy steps to making that area of your life a little easier. Some of the posts will be written by me, and some will be written by some wonderful ladies I know who have expertise in areas that I don't. I hope you enjoy it! If there is a topic that you would be interested in reading or sharing on, please contact me. I would love to hear your ideas! So, without further ado, the first post in the "5 Things" series:


5 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Sewing: 


1.  You don't have to use a zipper foot to sew a zipper on. The first time I sewed a zippered pouch, it took nine attempts to get the zipper right. NINE. When using the zipper foot there is a lot of room for error (in my opinion, anyway). It's far too easy to get too close to the zipper teeth, or for your stitch line to be uneven. It is perfectly acceptable to use your standard sewing foot when sewing on a zipper. I do it all the time. So do a lot of other ladies I know. In fact, Gussy has a great zippered pouch tutorial in which she teaches how to sew a zipper on with a standard foot.
*Please keep in mind that I am referring to sewing zippers on things like purses and pouches. I have never sewn a zipper on a piece of clothing. The rules might change for that.*

2.  When sewing burlap, use the zig zag stitch on the smallest stitch length. The fibers of burlap tend to pull apart. A lot. Perhaps this is common sense, even to those of you who aren't experienced at a sewing machine, but it took me a few attempts to figure out what worked best. Now, when sewing with burlap, I use the zig zag stitch and set my stitch length at a 1. This gives you a very tight stitch that helps to keep the burlap from fraying. I also stitch over it twice for added durability.

3.  A cutting mat & rotary cutter will make your life so much easier. Invest in them. Again, probably common sense, but for the longest time I didn't have one. The first time I used mine it was like a whole new world had opened up for me. Cutting mats come in a variety of sizes, and the size you need will depend entirely on the projects you take one. My cutting mat is 24 x 36, and I have an Olfa 45mm rotary cutter. The mats are a little pricey, but I purchased both items at Joanne's using 40% off coupons.

4.  For me, sewing with knits was extremely difficult. It usually made me want to throw my machine out the window. I had all but given up when I found this post on Prudent Baby. I'm not even going to attempt to sum it up for you, because it's lengthy. But if you want to sew with knits, read it, study it, follow it. It will be your best friend.

5.  Start simple and don't put your work out there until you know what you are doing. A pillowcase or a simple zippered pouch are good things to start with, and practice, practice, practice...and then practice some more. I used to take scrap pieces of fabric and practice hems and even just sewing a straight line. If your goal is start a shop, make sure that you are at a place where you are able to produce quality products. I love to buy handmade, but it's so disappointing to receive a product that is poor quality. Take the time to perfect your skill. You won't be sorry :)

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simplicity

Do you ever long for a more "simplistic" lifestyle? I know life was more difficult a long time ago, and I know people worked a lot harder, but there is something so inviting about living a lifestyle of years gone by. Tending a garden, raising animals, collecting eggs, making my own clothes, cooking meals for a large family. I'm sure it seems much more romantic than it really is. I'm sure that lifestyle is actually a lot of hard work and early mornings. So what is it that's so appealing to me?! What is is that draws me to that era? Maybe it's the lack of technology, the way people used to be so "neighborly", the thought of sitting by a fire at night reading a good book or sewing by hand.
I picked up this book a few weeks ago while browsing Barnes & Noble, and it only fueled my desire for this type of lifestyle.


Now I want chickens, and a garden. I want to learn how to can food. I want to let my Mom buy a goat and keep it on our land like she has been wanting to do since we moved here. I want to finally finish that quilt I started a year ago. I want to desire less stuff, and focus more on the little things. I want to eat out less and cook more. I want to teach my children to love the simple things in life.

* Last night, while this post was sitting in drafts, my husband said to me, "so, does this book actually teach you how to take care of chickens, or do I need to do some research" :) I love that man for pursuing these crazy dreams with me.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Twine/Ribbon Holder DIY

After growing tired of digging around an old box looking for my twine, I decided to make a pretty little something to hang it on. It not only makes it more easily accessible, but also makes for a lovely addition to my sewing room.


*Disclaimer: I am saw this idea somewhere. Most certainly it was Pinterest, but I can't seem to find it now. I am not attempting to pass this idea off as my own. This is just how I made mine.

Okay, now that that's taken care of, let's move along to the tutorial :)


I found this frame at Wal-mart for $3. I took out the glass, tore off the back cardboard piece and spray painted the frame. I bought the dowel rods at Hobby Lobby, and also spray painted those. On the back side of the frame, I hot glued one side of each dowel rod to one edge of the frame. I used a lot of hot glue. A LOT. I know it doesn't look pretty, but it gets the job done, and no one will see that side anyway.


I didn't attach the other side of the dowel rods. You will need these to be unattached so you can slide your ribbon or twine on. I did use a piece of packing tape to hold it in place once the twine was on.


Cut two pieces of fabric (mine were 21" long and about 5" wide each). Fold each edge in to the middle, and iron. Then, fold in half and iron again.


I stitched each piece along the edge to hold it in place. If you don't want to sew yours, you could always cut thinner pieces and leave the edges raw.


Get out that glue gun again and attach one end of each piece of fabric to the top edge of the back of your frame.



Then, simply tie a bow at the top, slide on your ribbon or twine, and hang from a nail!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Swag Swap Week

we.are.HERE

the long awaited swag swap week is going on right now :)

Cliff Notes: All shops participating in the swap get to trade their swag with swag in other shops too!

Not participating in the swap? No Worries! Our shop owners have graciously offered you fine folks COUPON CODES so you too can go all "click, add to cart" crazy on these awesome handmade shops!

Are you participating in swag swap week? Make sure to re-read all the rules and contact your swapper via email! Please make sure your swapper is actually participating in swag swap week by referring to this list :)

Now what are you waiting for? Browse our shops, go swapping, use their coupon codes, and check back later in the week at YellowHeartArt.blogspot.com for group giveaways from some participating shops happening this Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday AND Friday!



COUPON CODE: homegirl is giving 15% off ALL items in her shop with the code "CELEBRATE", works worldwide too! Go on our friends in Europe and Canada, get shopping!

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 [shop] [blog] [twitter]

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[shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: enter SWAPLOVE at checkout for 15% off!

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[shop]  [twitter] [facebook]


COUPON CODE: enter SWAGER at checkout for 20% off!

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 [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: score yourselves 20% off EVERYTHING in the shop with SWAG20 at check out

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 [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAG20 to get 20% off all these hair lovelies! GO GO GO!

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  [shop] [blog] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAGSWAP20 to nab yourself 20% off! (WOOT!)

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 [shop] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: If you enter SWAGSWAP12 at checkout you get 15% off on ANYTHING in the shop! ((US & Canada only please)) ((good till end of swap Jan 21st, 2012))

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 [shop] [blog]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAG10 at checkout for 10% off! ((US only please)) 


 [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAPWEEK for 30% off (WOWZAS!)

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 [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAPWEEK and get 10% off anything your heart desires <3

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  [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAGSWAP at checkout for 10% off ANYTHING! (holla)

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  [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAGSWAP10 and get 10% off any and all items in the shop!

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  [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

PROMOTION: Free Shipping on all prints until December 20th. No coupon code necessary- all print shipping is already discounted. Free shipping available on U.S. print orders only with discounted shipping rates internationally.
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[shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter "SWAGSHOP" at check out for FREE domestic shipping!

  [shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAGWEEK for 20% off anything in the shop! (she also has items for big people too! Fun iPad sleeves and purses)

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***IMPORTANT NOTICE*** Kristina had to put her shop in vacation mode during this week, please visit her "sold" section to see what items she has. She will be available for contact. She apologizes for any inconveniences!
[shop] [blog] [twitter]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAG15 for 15% off these ADORABLE purses! (I should know I own 4)

[shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter "SAVE10" at checkout for 10% off anything you want!

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[shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter "SWAPIT" for 15% off these hand stamped lovelies

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[shop] [blog] [twitter]

COUPON CODE: Enter "SWAPWEEKLOVE" for 20% off ANYTHING in her shop! (aww yeah!)

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[shop] [blog] [twitter] [facebook]

COUPON CODE: Enter SWAGSWAP20 for 20% off these lovely rosies!

[blog] [twitter] [facebook]

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[blog] [twitter] [facebook] [shop]

Swag Swap Week is going on from January 16th 2012 - January 21st 2012. Coupon codes will expire once the week is over.


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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New year, new calendar

I love that a new calendar signifies a new beginning. A fresh start. A new year, month, day. New challenges. New opportunities. New adventures. 
I've been looking for the perfect one for 2012. Here are a few of my favorites. Which one would you choose? 

Source: Gingiber 


Source: deka-animals

Source: Gingiber


Source: bomobob


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