A couple of months ago I developed a new obsession: Pinterest.
Ohmygoodness did I fall in love! Pinterest is all about pretty pictures and short descriptions – in other words it’s an ADOS girl’s dream. ADOS = Attention Deficit… Oh Shiny!
It wasn’t long before I had a nice Pin collection started – nothing as grandiose as some Pinners’ collections, but a respectable number of Pins that I’m regularly adding to. And, unlike the motley collection of pages ripped from magazines and stuffed into random places for later filing and retrieval but eventually tossed into the recycling bin without another glance, I’m actually using my Pins.
Maybe that doesn’t float your boat, but I think it’s pretty exciting.
The most recent Pin I tried was Fun with Adhesive: Aluminum Duct Tape Plant Markers from Aunt Peaches blog. Warning, Aunt Peaches used a four-letter word you may not want your kiddos reading over your shoulder.
When I first saw the Pin I thought the plant markers were cute, but not necessary for me because last year I discovered Grow Veg, an online garden planner that helps you plan your garden. Grow Veg has ton of helpful features, like how much space each plant needs, when to plant, which plants you can plant near each other and which to separate, etc. It also keeps track of what you plant from year to year so you can practice crop rotation.
After I planted my garden I realized that once again I was wrong – I really did need plant markers! I kept forgetting what I planted where, and although I can recognize plants once they’re several inches tall, I’m never sure when they’re seedlings. Sure, I could look it up in Grow Veg but it’s a pain to load it up every time I work in the garden.
A couple of weeks ago when Teacher and I were running errands we picked up some aluminum duct tape and plastic knives so I could try my hand at making plant markers. I really wanted pretty colored knives like Aunt Peach has, but the store we went to only had full place settings in fun colors and I didn’t want a bunch of extra plastic forks and spoons we didn’t need.
Making the plant markers was just as easy as Aunt Peach described – so easy that I had my plant markers done before I thought to take step-by-step photos. Besides, I don’t think it’s cool to make a tutorial based on another person’s tutorial unless I trial-and-error my way to some important tips I think you need to know, or I change the original tutorial substantially… Neither of which is the case here.
To make my aluminum duct tape plant markers I cut the duct tape into about 6″ lengths then cut each piece the long way so I had a long, skinny piece of tape. I folded the tape around the knife handle and pressed the sticky sides together. I learned that you need to line up the tape at the end – not the fold – if your knife handle tapers.
To give the plant marker an embossed look I wrote the plant’s name BACKWARDS on the back side of the tape. Aunt Peach said to use a dull ball point pen to write on the tape, but I didn’t have a dull one so I used a regular one. It worked out just fine.
You can practice writing backwards so your letters look pretty, but I just winged it like because I wanted my lettering to be a bit wonky. I figured I’d never get them all pretty and perfect so I may as well make them wonky on purpose.
My only disappointment is that my plant markers aren’t as sheltered as Aunt Peach’s, so the tape bends when it’s windy out. I’m still trying to figure out how to fix that, but haven’t figured it out yet. Let me know if you have any suggestions – I’ve got extra plastic knives and tons of aluminum duct tape, and am game to try your ideas!
Are you a gardener? How do you mark your plants?
Please welcome guest author Jenna back to My Happy Crazy Life. Today she is sharing some tips for looking great while spending less this summer. Like all of Jenna’s posts, the only benefit I receive besides the great tips is time saved.
With summer right around the corner, thousands of shoppers are already flying through retail stores in hopes of buying all the latest fashion trends and designs. Although summer is generally a time to kick back, relax, and wear less, it seems that these days people are spending more on summer clothing and accessories than they are on the other more clothing-necessary seasons. Maybe that’s just me though, who knows? In any case, shopping for summer doesn’t have to be an expensive, time-consuming affair. Here are a few tips that should help you and your family save some money, and time, while still looking good in the coming summer months.
- DIY T-Shirts
This is one of the biggest trends that young women have fallen into lately: the do-it-yourself approach to t-shirt designs. By cutting patterns and designs in the sleeves and backs of old, regular t-shirts, you can now find yourself with a whole new summer wardrobe without spending a dollar. This is also a good opportunity for some family bonding as you can work on these trendy new shirts together. Go ahead mom, teach her a thing or two about fashion, and how to wield a pair of scissors.
- Cheap Accessories
Buying knock-off accessories online can help you get normally expensive designer articles for much less. This is a particularly smart way to get sunglasses at a low price, which would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg. Ultimately, they do the same exact thing, and with designer knock-offs as good as they are these days, they look just as fashionable, if not more fashionable at times. Shoes and other clothing accessories are also good things to shop for online at discount rates.
- Consignment Shops
With one particularly big summer blockbuster movie coming up in The Great Gatsby, fashion is likely to see a huge resurgence of old trends. Flapper dresses, suits, and panama and cloche hats are likely to make a return in a big way – with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan all starring, you can count on it. This is where grandma might be quite fashionably helpful, too. Consignment shops and thrift stores are bound to be popular venues this summer in lieu of this impending release. Hit them first before everyone can get all the good stuff. With online options for shopping as prevalent as actual physical stores these days, there’s really no shortage of ways to save on fashionable clothing and accessories.
Make sure you and your family are happy and comfortably dressed for the upcoming warmth, without breaking the bank, or perhaps your gas tank.
Thanks for the tips Jenna! I’ve got one more: Get a bunch of friends together for a clothing swap! Not only will everyone have a chance to score some new clothes, you can get rid of things that no longer fit or that you don’t love anymore. It’s a win-win situation all around!
What are YOUR low-cost summer fashion tips?
Photo by D Sharon Pruitt
Please welcome guest author Jenna back to My Happy Crazy Life. This is not a paid post; the only benefit I received besides Jenna’s tips was time saved from having someone else write the post.
Last month, I shared a few ideas on how to go green this spring and I wanted to follow up by sharing my thoughts on something very un-green that I feel passionate about – junk mail. I hate junk mail. It clogs up my mailbox, it kills trees, and I hate having to shred all the unsolicited credit card offers I get in the mail. I understand that it keeps the post office in business but that’s not a good enough reason for me!
So I started researching ways to cut down on my junk mail and the best option appears to be OptOutPrescreen.com, set up as a result of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. By registering for that site, you can opt out of unsolicited credit card and insurance offers for five years or forever (I chose forever!). This stops companies you don’t know from mailing you offers.
To stop companies you have an existing relationship with, you need to call Customer Service and ask to talk to their marketing department. Once you reach someone in marketing, ask them to take you off their marketing list.
Next, go to Catalog Choice and start removing yourself from all the mailers you currently receive. This includes catalogs, coupon packs (like ValPak), phone books, and circulars. You have to pick each one individually so you only remove the ones you don’t want (who uses a phone book anymore?).
In addition to preserving a few extra trees and your own sanity, cutting down on junk mail can help you prevent identity theft. A thief can’t steal a credit card offer from your mail box if you don’t get them in the first place. If you can keep your identity, you can work towards keeping up a good credit score (what is a good credit score?) so your financial house is in order.
So, cut down on junk mail, preserve your financial house, and save a few trees!
Thanks for the great ideas Jenna, I’m not a fan of junk mail either. Here are some ideas for junk mail you end up with despite the ideas above. (Be sure to watch out for toxic adhesives and inks!)
- Tear off your name an address, then recycle the rest.
- Use junk mail to start your grill or campfire.
- Add junk mail to your compost.
- Shred and use as packing material or pet bedding.
- Let your child play “Post Office” with the envelopes.
- Use papers with blank backs for scratch paper.
What about you? How do you reuse junk mail?
Photo Credit: Mail Box by jasleen_kaur on Flickr
Several years ago Teacher and I decided we wanted to find more natural ways of cleaning than the chemical-based products we’d been using. At the time there weren’t very many “green” alternatives available and the ones we could find were really expensive, so we decided to try regular old white vinegar.
We soon discovered that vinegar does almost everything! Not only does it clean, it can kill weeds, lighten cakes, and much, much more. You can use any kind of vinegar for cleaning, but cider vinegar may stain porous materials so be careful with it. Since white vinegar is generally the cheapest we buy it by the gallon and use it for everything.
Here are some of the ways vinegar can be used around your home. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by some of them – I sure was!
1. Soak legumes in cider vinegar overnight to make them more digestible and reduce gas.
2. Use 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 teaspoon baking soda as an emergency egg substitute, or to produce an amazingly light cake.
3. Add 1 tablespoon to scrambled eggs to add extra flavor and zest.
4. Before whipping egg whits, wipe your mixing bowl with vinegar to remove any cooking oil residue.
5. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar for every 3-4 egg whites for extra-fluffy meringue.
6. Mix one part vinegar with one part water to clean windows, mirrors, toilets, vanities, walls, showers, tubs; pretty much everything!
7. For no-wax floors add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to each gallon of water.
8. To clean pet accidents from carpets, blot wetness with clean towels then wet the area with a vinegar/water solution. Let stand several minutes before blotting with more clean towels.
9. Help prevent mildew by spraying shower walls and curtain with vinegar.
10. Freshen fabrics by lightly misting with a vinegar/water solution.
11. Use vinegar in place of fabric softener; it will soften fabrics and remove body odor from clothing.
12. For persistent body odor, spray armpit area with vinegar before washing.
13. To remove detergent residue from the washing machine, run an empty cycle on hot with 1 cup of vinegar in place of detergent.
14. When washing cloth diapers, add vinegar to the final rinse to help rinse away the last of the detergent, to soften diapers, and to neutralize urine odors.
15. Soak new fabrics in vinegar to keep colors from bleeding.
16. Replace your dishwasher rinse aid with vinegar to remove spots and save money.
17. Soak cloudy glasses in vinegar for 5 minutes to remove hard water deposits.
18. Run an empty dishwasher cycle with a quart of vinegar in place of detergent once a month to remove deposits and help keep the drain clear.
19. Disinfect cutting boards, cupboards, and other hard surfaces with a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. (from Preservion – Health Research, Consultation, Education.)
20. Get rid of fruit flies by mixing apple cider vinegar with a little water and a drop of dish soap.
Bath and Body
21. Rinse your hair with 1/2 cup vinegar in one quart water to add shine and softness.
22. Add a cup of vinegar to your bath to soften your skin and rinse away soap residue.
23. Soak fingertips in a mixture of 1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons vinegar to help nail polish last longer.
24. Use a 50/50 vinegar and water solution in place of toner.
25. Soak feet in 5 parts water and 1 part vinegar for 30 minutes to soften and deodorize.
26. Use full-strength vinegar to kill weeds and grass in unwanted areas.
27. Instead of tomato juice, use vinegar to neutralize skunk spray stink.
28. Soak clay flowerpots in vinegar/water solution to remove those scaly stains.
29. Clean your car windows and chrome with vinegar and water for an extra shiny finish.
30. Raise the acidity of your soil by adding vinegar when watering azaleas, gardenias or rhododendrons.
How do YOU use vinegar in your home?
PS – For many more ways to use vinegar, check out:
Please welcome guest author Jenna, an occasional blogger who loves to spend time with her friends and family. Her blogging interests vary from the Green Movement to parenting. This is not a paid post; the only benefit I received (besides Jennifer’s tips) was time saved from having someone else write the post.
Ways to Go Green This Spring
Spring is just around the corner, and for many it means out with the old and in with the new. We love to clean our homes and get rid of old junk when the warmer weather arrives, however, the preparation for spring can often be a time of great waste. To keep your spring preparations a little more green this year, consider giving some of the following a try:
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
We are basically addicted to cleaning products, and require a different one for nearly every surface of our home. Whether it be toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, or all-purpose cleaner, there is a good chance that under your sink is well stocked with a variety of them. While these cleaners generally do a great job, they are full of chemicals that generally aren’t safe for us or our environment.
To reduce the impact of your cleaning products, make your own. Most can be made using simple household ingredients, such as white vinegar and baking soda, and can be given wonderful smells by adding natural oils.
We love stuff. We have stuff everywhere and generally once a year, we all have it with our additional stuff, and spend an entire week or weekend purging our homes of things we don’t need. Instead of throwing out everything you don’t want this year, try to stick to the reduce, reuse, recycle principals when de-cluttering your life.
If you don’t need it, find someone else who could benefit from it or even try to sell it. Last year, I was able to sell my collection of old vinyls I hadn’t touched in years and was able to purchase one of the new stylish men’s wedding bands for my husband who had lost his months before.
If you have older furniture, simply spruce it up with a new coat of paint or a new finish instead of throwing it out or buying new – there are plenty of great sites that offer how-tos. And if there are items that you don’t want to keep and can’t pawn off on someone else, be sure to recycle it instead of simply throwing it away.
If you’ve got a large family, there is a good chance that you have quite a few food scraps left over at the end of each meal. Instead of dumping those food scraps in the trash, consider building a composting bin. They are general easy to build, or you can buy an easy-to-use one, and use the results for your flower beds or personal garden.
Grow Your Own
To complement your composting efforts, be sure to use that compost to grow your own produce. While most plants won’t start producing until mid to late summer, getting your seedlings ready now is a great way to get a jumpstart on your own garden. You’ll wind up with plenty of fresh produce, and should have enough left over to can or freeze for the winter months.
Once the winter weather has departed, there is nothing more enjoyable than the warm and sunny days that spring affords. Be sure to take advantage of those days this year by staying as green as possible.
Thanks for those great tips Jennifer! I’ve got another tip: Dry your clothes outside on the clothesline instead of using the dryer. It saves energy, and they smell soooo good!
What about you? What tips do you have for going green this spring?
Image credit: Green Lake by miyukiutada.
It’s no secret that Teacher and I try to make “green” choices whenever we can, and the holidays are no exception. Here are some quick and easy my two favorite words besides “chocolate” and “coffee” to greenify your holiday season:
- Think layers. Your furnace probably uses some sort of fossil fuel to keep you warm. Help conserve resources and reduce global warming by turning the temperature down a degree or two and dressing in layers to keep warm. Wearing shoes or slippers, cuddling under a comforter, and snuggling with your Honey can also help you keep warm. Snuggling is a stress reducer – who couldn’t use less stress during the holidays?
- Waste not, want not. Leftovers take up refrigerator space, energy to keep them cool, and landfill space when they’re tossed out instead of eaten. When planning holiday meals, calculate quantities carefully to eliminate leftovers, freeze leftovers for later use, or plan meals that will use up the leftovers before they go bad. We’ve learned that almost anything can be made into pizza – even cranberry sauce makes a great dessert pizza!
- Go for seconds, and thirds, and… Reuse items until they’re used up. Save this year’s Christmas cards to use as gift tags next year. Reuse mailing boxes and envelopes by removing the stamps and taping new address information over the old. Save tissue paper and bows to reuse again next year. You get the idea…
- Choose cloth over paper and plastic. Tis the season to be shopping, but don’t get so distracted by decking the hall and being jolly that you forget your reusable shopping bags! Stash a few in your car or purse so you’ll be ready for eco-friendly shopping at the drop of a santa hat.
- BYOB here, there, and everywhere. Staying hydrated is important during the winter, but don’t waste your money and the Earth’s resources on bottled water. Most bottled water is just filtered tap water from somewhere else, so save money by using tap water from your own house! Invest in a water pitcher with a filter and a couple of reusable water bottles, and you’ll be good to go.
- Embrace the dark. Instead of trying to fight off the dark with lots of light, embrace the extra hours of darkness. Turn off the lights in rooms you’re not using and use fewer lights in rooms you are using. Plan to get work done during the daylight hours so you can dim the lights and relax when darkness falls.
- Lose the junk. As in junk mail. Catalogs multiply like rabbits around the holidays, but instead of recycling which uses energy the ones you don’t want, eliminate them by calling the company and asking to be taken off their mailing list. You save energy and make sure there’s room in the mailbox for things you really want – like that necklace and earring set at Etsy that you couldn’t resist.
So there you have it; a few easy ways to have an Earth-friendly holiday season.
What are your favorite tips? How do you greenify your holiday celebrations?
Last year I posted a tutorial showing how to make reusable sandwich and snack bags using cotton fabric and PUL (polyurethane laminate). Since I realize that not everyone has PUL readily available and it’s generally not considered food-safe, I decided to look for an alternative that would be easier for the average seamstress to get her hands on.
Enter ripstop nylon! I’d heard that ripstop nylon was somewhat waterproof, but to be honest, at first I didn’t believe it. Little Guy changed my mind when he filled one of his ripstop nylon sandwich bags with water – the only dripping came from the seams; not from the bottom where the nylon was folded.
My local Joanns offers a nice ripstop nylon in several colors, but if yours doesn’t you can purchase it from Joanns.com too.
Planting is my favorite part of gardening – I like it even more than harvesting the produce!
Every time I dig into the warm earth I’m taken back to my childhood when my grandma would give me a tray of annuals, trowel and half-full watering can, then point me to a section of her flower bed. I insisted on wearing a pair of her gardening gloves – no matter that they were too big for me – and remember how the scent of her lotion would mingle with the cotton of the gloves and the scent of the warm, rich earth. The sound of water being trickled into each hole like she taught me is still the same today as it was so many years ago, as is the hope and anticipation each little seedling represents.
During our traditional Mother’s Day trip to the greenhouse for annuals Teacher and I also picked up a couple of vegetable plants and seed packets for the garden. I don’t usually plant the garden until Memorial Day, but after all the work we did getting the soil ready I couldn’t wait to plant something new.
These little guys will hopefully grow into mighty tomato plants and produce lots of tomatoes for us.
Hopefully the marigolds will keep the rabbits out of my garden this year. I thought it was high enough they wouldn’t get in but I was dead wrong; last year they thought my garden was a fresh salad bar!
In addition to the marigolds I’ve got broccoli, cucumber, dill, another tomato, peppers, onions, and lots of seeds.
Here’s my garden plan. Yes, I know there are some plants outside of the garden; that’s because instead of planting a full square of those veggies I’m going to include some flowers as natural pest control.
I created my plan at GrowVeg.com. It’s a great site that lets you plan your garden the “drag and drop” way, and also has detailed information about tons of plants, built-in crop rotating guides, email reminders, and much more. So far I like the 30-day trial enough that I’m seriously thinking about subscribing.
I’ve got to take a moment to show you something else cool from GrowVeg.com: a plant list based on your garden plan. For each plant it tells you how many to buy, how many fit in a square foot, when to plant, and when to harvest. Cool, huh?
OK, back to the garden…
It’d been overcast all day, and as I started planting there was thunder in the distance. I wanted to get the plants and seeds in the ground before it rained so I wouldn’t have to water them and got done just as the first huge drops started falling.
I didn’t get a photo of the garden once I was done because I was thinking about dodging raindrops and getting inside before the heavens opened up. But I did get a photo of this…
Yikes, I’m glad I got inside before the storm hit! If I’d known hail was on the way I wouldn’t have planted anything. My poor, poor baby plants!
Stay tuned… I’m not done planting yet.
When gardening season was over I vowed to spend time over the winter researching square foot gardening aka “SFG” and planning my garden for this summer. Wanna bet how far I got?
You’re right: not very far.
Winter flew by and spring arrived without my giving a single thought to my garden, so when Teacher offered to help me get the garden ready for planting I scrambled to do some research and put together a plan.
My Googling let me to My Square Foot Garden, and I fell in love at first sight. It’s got everything you need to know about SFG, plus growing-zone specific newsletters to let you know what to do when.
One of the first things we had to figure out was how to prepare the garden. If we were following strict SFG guidelines there wouldn’t be any “dirt” in the garden at all – instead we’d have equal parts peat moss, vermiculite and compost aka Mel’s Mix.
We already had dirt in the garden, but since it would be too much work to dig it all out and figure out where to put it we decided just to add peat moss, vermiculite, compost, and manure to the dirt.
Off to Menards!
Teacher did the math to figure out how much of everything we needed – it was a lot more than I expected, but I tend to underestimate. We also picked up some iron, fertilizer, and a new gardening fork for me! I know: it’s geeky that I’m excited about a new gardening fork.
Teacher decided to take some of the dirt out of one end of the garden to make sure there was room for all the stuff we were going to put in. We had to fill in some sunken areas around the egress window anyway, so this took care of two problems with one solution.
While Teacher was working on one end of the garden I dug up the plants that came up from last year and put them aside for replanting. The garlic fit perfectly in the boys’ wheelbarrow.
I ran out of containers for the strawberries and raspberries so I ended up putting some on one of the foam tiles from the patio.
Instead of trying to do the whole garden at once Teacher decided to add everything to one section at a time before moving to the next.
First he dumped the peat moss in. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but it was so windy that I was afraid the peat moss would fly away before we could get it mixed in.
Next the manure was dumped in. Manure from dairy cows, of course; what else would you expect in Wisconsin?
Then the compost.
We’d been hoping to use our own compost, but there were still big chunks of stuff in it. Teacher dug out a small shovelful without chunks to put in the garden so at least there was a little of our compost in there. He’s so sweet!
Finally Teacher dumped in the vermiculite and I prinkled fertilizer and iron over the entire area. Teacher moved to the next section; College Boy and I mixed the soil. I won’t say that it was easy work, but the gardening fork made it easier than using a shovel. I always used to rely on a cultivator, but if I’d known how well a gardening fork worked I’d have gotten one years ago!
The last section of the garden, finally! Next year we rent a tiller; turning the soil by hand is crazy.
By the time we’d gotten the whole garden turned we were tired and sore, but we weren’t done yet; the plants I’d dug out still needed to be replanted.
“Hello garlic! Are you happy to be back in the garden?”
“Hello little strawberries; please bear some fruit even though we dug you up and put you back.”
Finally all the plants were replanted and watered. It had only been three or four hours from the time we came home from Menards to the time the last plant was watered, but we were totally exhausted. It sounds easy to just “turn the soil” but trust me; it’s not.
We were so tired and hungry that we didn’t even clean up the yard.
Step Two: Planting. My favorite step!
Do you garden? Have you ever tried square foot gardening? What do you like to grow?
Want to see my new venture? I’ll give you a sneak peek – just because I like you best.
It’s a line of reusable products called Drumroll please…. ReUse ‘Ems.
So far it’s going s-l-o-w-l-y. I’ve got the domains: www.reuseems.com and www.reuse-ems.com, but don’t bother checking them out because there’s nothing there yet. I’ve also reserved “ReuseEms” at Etsy, but haven’t had time to set anything up there.
I’ve also got some reusable sandwich and snack bag sets waiting for me to take photos, and list them, but I haven’t had time yet. Story of my life – too much to do and not enough time. I’ll bet you’ve got some of that going on too.
I do have a logo already – and I think it’s rockin’!
Jeff from Snowfyre made it for me. Jeff is one of my favorite designers – not only does he do fantastic work, he’s incredibly affordable!
Here it is – what do you think?
Some of the samples Jeff made for me had a super-bright green with the pink. I liked the combo so much I’m toying with using those colors in the website. I haven’t decided what I want yet, which is part of the reason I still haven’t started building the site.
That, and the fact that there’s only 24 hours in a day – some of which I need to spend sleeping or I’ll be unbearable.
Trust me – you want me to sleep!