Tag Archives: DIY

Adoption Fundraiser: Upcycled T-Shirt Scarves

Introducing: Upcycled T-Shirt Scarves! These have been so much fun to make, and I am so excited to share them with you!

They’re infinity scarves, perfect dressed up or dressed down. I have two sizes available – the regular and the mini. Regular scarves hang about 24 inches worn long and are easily doubled for a shorter and fuller look. Mini scarves hang about 10 inches and work as a necklace for children or adults. For adults, spice the minis up by adding a pendant or pin!

I have several more in the works and may be able to accommodate special requests for color combinations. To purchase or to seek a special request, leave a comment on this post or send an email to forgoodblog@hotmail.com.

#1 – Deep Purple with coordinating beading
$12.00 shipped – SOLD

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#2 – Yellow and Navy
$10.00 shipped

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#3 – Yellow and Navy with coordinating beading
$12.00 shipped

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#4 – Simple White
$10.00 shipped – SOLD

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#5 – Simple Red with White binding
$10.00 shipped – SOLD

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#6 – Simple Red Mini (perfect as an adult or child necklace scarf)
$8.00 shipped – SOLD

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Girls’ Night Fun

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A while back, a friend at church approached me about a fun opportunity to fundraise for our adoption process costs, and I was excited to get involved! There was a girls’ night in the works, and various vendors could set up a table featuring their wares. I had never been involved in any kind of craft fair before, but I looked forward to give it a go!

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A sweet friend of mine helped me brainstorm everything from what I would sell to how to display the items. She also kept me company during the event (so did Bumblebee)!

I sold homemade fudge in three flavors: pumpkin, peanut butter, and, of course, chocolate! To go with the fudge, I also sold homemade hot cocoa mix. YUM! The girls’ night was also my first chance to show off our brand new adoption t-shirts!

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The final item we featured was so very exciting to me. The friend who was my saving grace for this event is also an excellent wood burner… and I think she’s won me over to the hobby! Oh so fun! Her stepfather generously donated some of their aspen wood trimmings to the cause, and my friend and I created one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments!

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It was a fun and special evening, and I’m so thankful for all of the support we received! I’m so grateful for our wonderful church community and the many ways in which they’ve blessed us in the short year we’ve been around!

(I had to include this photo of my little babushka… She was too sweet all wrapped up in this pretty little scarf and hat another woman was selling!)

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Rainbow Cake

As promised, here’s a quick post about Poppy’s third birthday cake.

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I baked two chocolate bundt cakes, using my dad’s favorite chocolate cake recipe (see below). After they cooled, I positioned them side-by-side on a 13×19 cake board. Looking down on the cakes, I trimmed chunks of cake out of the left sides of both of them, opening them up to look like the number three. To make the middle part smooth, I trimmed them flat and in half, parallel to the bottom/top of the cake board so that the middle part was the same thickness as the top and bottom of the three.

Using my favorite chocolate frosting recipe (see also below), I quickly and imperfectly frosted the cake. Because you will be covering every inch of it, there’s no need to smooth it out very much. The biggest thing you want to focus on is coating the cake with a thick enough layer of frosting that the M&M’s will stick well, keeping in mind that a bundt cake has dips and points that affect the thickness.

Once you’ve frosted the cake, begin placing the M&M’s right away. This part will go smoother and more easily if you work quickly before the frosting dries. Therefore you’ll want to have your M&M’s organized beforehand. I imagined that simply dumping the candies into a big bowl would make placing them on the cake easy enough; but my husband thought sorting the colors ahead of time would be easier. After trying it both ways because he sorted some but not all that I needed, I personally prefer his approach.

Decide on the angle that you want your rainbow stripes covering the cake. I used my decorating spatula on its side to create a line in the frosting to follow for my first row, ensuring a straight line. Also, I placed the M&M’s blank-side-up.

Be sure to have plenty of candies on hand. I had four medium bags and quickly ran out of the green colored chocolates. That was a pain.

Pay close attention to the inside of the three. You make find that, because of the angles, it’s easier to make a single colored line branch into two lines to keep the appearance of straight lines.

If the frosting begins to dry, like mine did, rendering it difficult to adhere the chocolates, you can rough the frosting up again with your finger or spatula, or you can apply some frosting to each candy before placing it, just as if you were gluing it on. I preferred just to roughen the frosting up, but I got interrupted enough while finishing the cake that I eventually needed to “glue” each candy individually.

Be sure to follow the ROYGBIV pattern, and it will surely look amazing when you finish!

Third birthday cake

Chocolate Cake

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. cooking oil
2 eggs
1 c. boiling water
2 tsp. vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk, oil, and eggs, and beat well. Add vanilla and boiling water, and beat well. Bake at 375 degrees until tested done.

The bundt cakes needed to bake in the lower third of my oven to avoid burning on top before the inside was finished. I checked the cakes after about 35 minutes.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter, and stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Add vanilla.

Gratitude

My mama taught me to write thank you notes when I was young, and I grew up with the practice following each Christmas and every birthday. Even now, I still love to write and express gratitude in this way. And, I’d love to encourage my girls to do the same.

Last year, I decided to take a photo of Poppy with a sign that read, “Thank You!”

Noelle's 2nd Birthday thank you

Poppy’s 2nd Birthday thank you

She was too young to be too involved in the thank you note writing process after her birthday, so I thought this would help personalize her notes a bit more.

I loved the result, and I think they were well-received. I decided to do the same thing this year.

Thank you!

Thank you!

There are a few key things I love about these:

  • The aforementioned personal touch
  • The low expense
  • The fact that there’s no need for special envelopes
  • Sending loved ones a photo – I love receiving such “fun mail!”
  • And the fact that I’m not simply sending another piece of paper into other’s homes. They can (and many did, I noticed) hang the photo on their fridge. They can also add it to an album, or simply toss it.

I know many don’t care to send or expect to receive written thank you notes anymore. If that’s you, no worries! I’d love to hear your ideas on expressing gratitude to those around you.

Here are a few outtakes:

A runner-up pose...

A runner-up pose…

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“Mommy, I want you.”

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This post aka “I’m 3 and can only follow direction for a short amount of time!”

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Another runner-up

Cloth Diapering

Cloth diapering is definitely gaining in popularity. There is so much good information online about getting started with cloth diapers, choosing the style for your kiddo, care of cloth diapers, and more!

I’m by no means an expert on cloth diapers, but now that we’ve been using (and washing!) them for more than two years, I thought I would share how it works for us.

Why yes I did take a photo of our stash after we purchased it! This was taken March 24, 2011, so Noelle was nearly two months old.

Why yes I did take a photo of our stash after we purchased it! This was taken March 24, 2011, so Poppy was nearly two months old.

*****

The Motivation

Our motivation for cloth diapering was about 99% frugality. Everyone makes his or own decisions and concessions about cost and where to cut corners. For us, this was an easy choice. I know plenty of other parents who cut corners or save money in other ways, but cloth diapering was really something we could get behind.

The other possible 1% motivation was that cloth seemed more gentle for our sweet girl. We liked that by cloth diapering we got to avoid the chemicals that are often found in disposable diapers (sposies). Again, this was just a personal preference. My skin is pretty sensitive, and we’ve found that Poppy’s skin is very similar to mine. So, our foresight here regarding Poppy panned out.

We bought one diaper from a boutique to try before buying our stash. This is Noelle, still too little for the diaper at 4 weeks old.

We bought one diaper from a boutique to try before buying our stash. This is Poppy, still too little for the diaper at 4 weeks old.

The Diapers

We decided early on that we liked bumGenius diapers, and we adored the idea of the one-size diaper. When we ordered our stash, we didn’t follow ANY of the rules you’ll see elsewhere about buying a few different kinds or styles of diapers and experimenting with what works best. We simply tried to think logically about our purchasing decision and committed. Consider that foolish, stubborn (absolutely ;), or just plain lucky, but it worked well enough for us!

Actually, when we ordered our stash, we actually thought we were buying all-in-one (AIO) diapers, which are essentially the closest cloth style to sposies that you can get. AIO diapers require no stuffing and are usually secured with snaps or velcro.

What we actually ordered were bumGenius 4.0 one-size pocket diapers with snaps (our preference over velcro). And, it was a happy mistake because we grew to appreciate having the pocket that we could stuff with different liners to accommodate our growing girl! Our diapers came with a newborn (small) insert and a larger insert. At different points in Poppy’s time in these diapers, we used the inserts in different proportions. After she turned a year old, we started looking into buying new, more absorbent inserts to use, too.

This is Noelle in the same diaper - she is just a few days over 8 weeks here, and it fits much better!

This is Poppy in the same diaper – she is just a few days over 8 weeks here, and it fits much better!

The Maintenance Routine

Can I just say that using cloth diapers on a breastfed baby worked wonderfully? They cleaned very easily and any “staining” was easily sunned out.

We have basically followed the same routine throughout: rinse on cold, wash on hot with cloth diaper safe detergent (see below), and rinse again on cold. We line dried the diapers as much as possible to sun them bright white, but machine drying them worked great, too.

We have washed every other day for the most part, and we store our diapers in a regular trash can with a lid.

The Detergent

When we first purchased our stash, we ordered the bumGenius detergent. We were happy with it, but we had also heard good things about Country Save detergent. Our local grocery store carried Country Save, and it was inexpensive, so we switched. When our store stopped carrying it, I believe we bought another round of the bumGenius detergent before settling on Tide original powder. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Tide, but it’s worked well for us. We just be sure to buy the very original/basic formula. Any brighteners, scents, etc, are bad for diapers (and sometimes the babies!)

Because of the mixed reviews, when I found myself in a baby boutique last summer, I decided to try the Rockin’ Green detergent they had. Ultimately, I had to stop using that detergent and return to Tide, though. The Rockin’ Green gave Poppy’s diapers a pungent ammonia smell that didn’t wash out. So, we’re still using the Tide original.

The Diaper Cream

We have always used Triple Paste or California Baby diaper creams as needed and have not had any issues with either of those two creams affecting Poppy’s diapers. We intentionally do not use Desitin or A&D and some of the other “common” creams because they are not safe with cloth diapers.

For the record, too, we have needed to use very little diaper cream while having Poppy in cloth. Overwhelmingly, we just use diaper cream for overnight when she is in a sposie for several hours (in which case, obviously, you could use whatever cream you wanted).

Noelle sporting a cute belly button and a green diaper at 13 weeks. You have to admit this diaper is cuter than a sposie! :)

Poppy sporting a cute belly button and a green diaper at 13 weeks. You have to admit this diaper is cuter than a sposie! 🙂

The Wipes

We used sposies for Poppy until she was about 8 weeks old or so. Until that point, it seemed she was too small for the cloth diapers. If we ever diaper another newborn, I’ll be checking into the smaller, newborn styles; but, for our first time, we were happy with the way it worked for us. When we made the switch to cloth diapers, it was an easy switch to use cloth wipes, too. Again, it proved to be one less thing to buy, and I liked that the cloth wipes were more gentle for her sensitive skin.

There are many cloth wipe recipes out there, whether you’re using cloth or just homemade wipes. We settled on regular water, and we couldn’t be happier.

I bought white flannel, cut them into roughly 6×8″ squares, and hemmed the edges. I hemmed them to make sure they’d hold up, but you wouldn’t have to if you didn’t mind dealing with the fraying and/or needing to replace them.

The Fit

Poppy was a tiny 6 lbs 1 oz when she was born – 15th percentile; but she quickly gained to 90th percentile and stayed there the rest of her first year. Our big baby had an even bigger bottom with the cloth diapers she wore! I know different styles fit differently, but it didn’t bother us too much that her diapers were somewhat bulky sometimes. Mostly, the only thing it affects are her jeans; and she doesn’t wear jeans too often anyway.

The Nights

There are many, many wonderful nighttime cloth diapering options out there. We just never bit the bullet and dove in to find the right fit for us. I am pretty sure we started using sposies overnight as a way to cloth diaper and still use up the sposies that had been gifted to us. We have never strayed from that plan!

It’s proven true for us that sposies are more absorbent, so we liked not having to change Poppy overnight or waking up to wet sheets. Yes, it means we do still spend money on diapers, but using them at the rate of 1/day instead of 6-8/day makes a big difference!

Growing Girl

The Days Away From Home

For day trips or quick overnight trips, the only difference between using cloth or disposables is basically the amount of space that the cloth diapers take up verses the sposies. And, since we used cloth wipes, we sometimes brought a bottle of water if we knew water would otherwise be difficult to come by. We bought a size medium Planet Wise wet bag (a waterproof bag) to store the dirty diapers in, and we washed it basically every time that we washed the diapers. For what it’s worth, it’s showing the wear, but after two years of near daily use, I am satisfied with how it’s held up!

For weekend trips, we had to think ahead. Thankfully, most of our weekend trips were to visit my parents, and they had no issue with us washing diapers as needed. And, with 17-22 diapers and a couple of sposies for overnight, we could often make it through a weekend without needing to wash anyway. Yet, if washing were not possible, then we’d either leave the cloth at home or just supplement with sposies. No big deal. We have a large size Planet Wise wet bag that we use for weekends away (or longer!)

The Toddler

Diapering a toddler has been a bit different than diapering an infant. On the “pros” side, the one-size has sure proven itself. It still amazes me that Poppy wears the same diapers that she did when she was so super tiny!

Our only real struggle with cloth has been the annoying leaks. We struggled with leaks more as Poppy got older, and we ultimately had to buy more absorbent liners to use in her diapers. We also try to check her diaper frequently to keep it from getting super saturated (not a bad thing, in my opinion, as it surely keeps her skin healthier!) Recently, we’ve also switched to using sposies during her nap time, too. Again, not really a big deal in the big scheme of things, but leaks are annoying! I’m sure we could have dealt with the problem more effectively, but I guess we found what worked for us!

Baby Noey wearing her fancy panties :)

Baby Poppy wearing her fancy panties 🙂

The Savings

Honestly, I haven’t calculated our savings by using cloth diapers for two years. It would be really cool to do so sometime, though. I’m sure I’d be pleased with what I found. What I do know, however, is that by the time we spent the $270 on our cloth diaper stash when Poppy was still quite young, we calculated that we had already spent roughly the same on disposables.

I know that’s not a fair way to continue to calculate our savings. Those early days, we went through so many diapers ensuring that our newborn’s bottom stayed clean. Still, it was a real eye-opener for us and helped incentivize us to stay the course with the cloth.

*****

Do you use cloth diapers? What works best for you? If you don’t use them, have you ever considered trying them?

I Spy

My family is looking forward to a quickly approaching vacation, and I’m trying to think of 1001 things  to help make our 14+ hour travel time go as smoothly as possible for Poppy and her cousin (and therefore every other person on the plane [insert nervous chuckle]). Thankfully, I feel like I’m ahead of the game, if only by a smidgen, and have a bit of time to plan out some fun and inexpensive ways to keep us all entertained or at least distracted.

Poppy adores this First Words picture book, so when I saw a DIY I Spy bottle on Pinterest, I thought it was an excellent toy to make for her.

A similar toy at Target is listed for $18.99, and I can confidently say I made Poppy’s I Spy bottle for at least half that price. The cool thing about this kind of project is that you really can make it as inexpensive or pricey as you want. If you have everything on hand, you can put it together for no additional cost in no time flat.

I intended to purchase a taller and thinner water bottle to use for my I Spy bottle, but Target didn’t have quite the right thing. I needed the bottle to be completely see-though (obviously), and most of their water bottles were different colors or had a different kind of lid than I was looking for. Thankfully, Chris suggested looking in the exercise equipment aisle, and he was right. On clearance for $4.99, I found this Thermos brand food jar. It was exactly what I needed.

I bought a bag of white rice and used roughly one pound. I also splurged a bit and bought some fun and chunky buttons at Hobby Lobby, just in case I couldn’t come up with too much around the house. Turns out, I would have been fine with using solely what I could find in craft storage, but it was fun to choose a few things that I thought would be especially fun.

Treasures

The larger, “chunkier” treasures you see are the ones I purchased from Hobby Lobby.

In addition to those chunky buttons, I used a few other buttons, a few sequins, a birthday candle, beads from a broken bracelet, and, well, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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Round two of found treasures.

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The last of the treasures I found around the house

 

I was essentially finished with my little project when I decided to consult my inspiration photo again. That’s when I realized there was actually a good tutorial with the photo. That blogger recommends taking a photo of all the little treasures you use so that your kiddo can use the photo as a guide. I decided that because Poppy is only (almost) 2, I wasn’t going to worry about the photo guide. Either I will be interacting with her while playing with this new toy (“Poppy, can you find the birthday candle?”) or she will likely be happy simply shaking and looking by herself.

Completed

Ta-Da! A fun and simple project you can complete in less than 30 minutes.

A few things of note:

  • You might need to play with the toy to determine just the right amount of rice. After I thought I had the right amount, I decided to remove a few handfuls and was much happier with the way the “treasures” moved with the rice. If the bottle is too full, it will be harder to find the treasures.
  • You’ll almost definitely want to permanently secure the lid. The tutorial behind my inspiration photo recommended hot glue, so that’s what I intend to use.
  • Shaking rice in a plastic container develops a bit of static, apparently. The sides of my food jar hold on to any rice “dust” that I poured in. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me, and I’m not entirely sure how to avoid the dust if it bothers you (maybe better quality rice?); but I did want to mention it so it doesn’t catch you off guard.
I love all the random treasures for Noelle to find!

I love all the random treasures for Poppy to find!

I plan on wrapping this baby up for Poppy’s 2nd birthday, gauging her reaction, and then most likely putting it away for a while so she’ll be excited to see it again for our trip.

If you decide to make an I Spy bottle, I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments how it goes!

A “Tutu”rial

Little A's Fabric Tutu!

Little A’s Fabric Tutu!

As I shared in the last post, Little A is about all things girly. I really wanted to sew her a “pretty dress” (her words) for Christmas, but I’ve actually never sewn a dress before and waited until too close to Christmas to feel confident enough to risk not having it completed or screwing it up!

So, I decided to make a fabric tutu. I had seen pictures of fabric tutus on Pinterest early on in my pinning days, and I actually made one that Poppy wore in her 9 month photos. I knew it would take some time to complete but that it was pretty simple, so I went for it!

Noelle's nine month photos | renetate.com

Poppy’s nine month photos | renetate.com

For A’s tutu, I chose 5 coordinating fabrics that, to me at least, scream who she is! Her bedroom theme includes butterflies, so I thought it was perfectly fitting for her tutu to, also.

I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, so I had to estimate A’s waist size. She is a tall and skinny little thing, so I wanted to make the fabric strips longer than they were for Poppy’s. I have also found that the waist band should be sewn ever-so-slightly smaller than the waist size so that it fits nice and snug – not too tight, not too loose. I sewed the elastic to form the waistband thinking I was pretty close on the diameter. Turns out, after I had finished the tutu and tried it on Poppy for size, I was way off. Poppy’s waist is bigger than A’s AND Poppy wears cloth diapers, so anything that fits A should be relatively snug on Poppy. In actuality, I think Poppy’s diaper was the only thing keeping the tutu up!

If this happens to you, know that it’s a simple fix. I just slid the fabric out of the way and stitched up part of the band. I guess the plus side to my “mistake” is that perhaps she will be able to wear it ever longer – we can just rip that correction seam out when the time comes.

I was shooting for 45 strips of fabric based on my experience with Poppy’s skirt. And, since I had used 18 inch long strips for Poppy’s tutu, I thought closer to 24 inches would work well for A’s. Others have recommended that I simply not tie the strips of fabric in half but instead tie at one end so that I have more length. I really considered this for this second tutu, but I ultimately decided that I liked the fullness of the extra fabric in the skirt, and I also like the smooth waistband.

I cut each strip about 2 inches wide; but that’s the fun thing about this tutu – imperfections are barely noticed and even somewhat encouraged to help produce the whimsical feel. I cut my fabric with pinking shears, and I actually ended up only making the strips about 22 inches long due to my desire to maximize the fabric I had.

This next step is optional. It does add quite a bit of time to this tutu; and, frankly, I don’t know yet if it’s worth it. I choose to put a stitch in each fabric strip all the way around about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch from the edge. Again, don’t stress perfection. I sew as quickly as possible, so my stitches are hardly perfectly spaced or 100% straight. Other tutorials I’ve seen don’t have this added step as the fraying that will eventually happen is desired.

This optional step does take some time, but I am happy to do it.

This optional step does take some time, but I am happy to do it.

I also don’t mind the fraying, but I’d like to know that eventually the whole thing won’t just fray away. Hence, the stitch.

Once each fabric strip has been sewn, start tying! Do your best to tie each strip in the middle with the two tails hanging the same direction – what will be “down” once your little sweetie is wearing her tutu. I didn’t think too much about this with Poppy’s tutu, and I sometimes have to wrestle the fabric to get it repositioned to lie down.

Tutu in process.

Tutu in process.

With A’s tutu, I followed a loose pattern with the fabric, but you can tie those strips on however you’d like.

When you’re finished – show it off!

Helping Mommy model her cousin's tutu.

Helping Mommy model her cousin’s tutu.

Little girls in tutus... What could be sweeter?

Little girls in tutus… What could be sweeter?