Thursday, March 21, 2013

DIY bird's nest

  I’m currently using this little nest as seasonal center piece (when I can find my table that is).  When Evening is a little bit older I plan on letting her have it as a toy to go with a little stuffed bird I’m making for her.  For now, though, I know she will spend her day chewing on the stick so we’ll keep it out of reach. 

  I used yarn to make this nest, which was something of an experiment.   I’m already excited to try making one out of  natural hemp or twine and incorporating all sorts of twigs and nature-walk finds, more like a real bird would.  

  To make a nest of your own, you will to gather these supplies: 

  •  yarn scraps (or one ball)
  •  yarn needle 
  • balloon
  • one cup of flour 
  • two cups of water 
  • forked stick
  •  2-3 blown-out eggs 
  • your preferred egg dying tools

  First, we will need to make a form for the nest.  To do this, I mixed one cup of flour with 2 cups of water to make a papier-maché type paste.  Then I soaked several feet of yarn in the paste.

  Then, I blew up a balloon, tied it off, and placed it, tie down, into a mug.  Then I took my soaking yarn and wrapped it all about the balloon, leaving lots of gaps and holes so I could weave yarn through them later.

making the nest form
  Then, I let the form dry completely (about a full day).  

  Once it was dry, I popped the balloon and removed any bits that were stuck inside.  

  Threading my yarn needle with a length of yarn, I started weaving it in and out through all the gaps in my form, and kept it up until the form was completely hidden in soft, soft yarn.  You could use one type of yarn only, or you could make a very colourful nest using up scraps from other projects, depending on the look that you think you would like best.

  Once my nest was finished, I attached it to the forked stick I collected from the yard by simply sewing the nest to it with my yarn and yarn needle.  

sew the nest to the fork in the stick
  Then, I filled with some eggs that I had blown out (I just can’t waste food, so we had a tasty omelet), and dyed.  I was hoping for some pretty robin-like eggs but they ended up a little greener than I’d hoped.  Still, green is exactly the colour I’m craving in spring so I like them.

  This will be such a fun project to make one day with Evening to teach her about birds and how they make their homes (we’ll just call that papier-maché mud…)!

  For now, though, it’s nice to have a cheerful reminder that it really is spring even though the snow doesn’t seem to want to let up outside…

  Update:  I’ve finished the little birdie to go with this nest.  Isn’t she fun?  She fits this nest so well I wanted to share her with you in case you’d like to make one yourself.  She is based on this free pattern posted at Lavender’s Blue.  

  I'm linking this project up with the linky parties at A Humble Creation and Sew Many Ways - check them out! 

Did you find this tutorial helpful or inspiring?  Please click here to vote for us!
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Friday, March 15, 2013

DIY hair gel

  As a recovering consumer, I’ve been struggling since ‘greening’ my hair.  

  No, I haven’t dyed it green, I’ve just ditched the chemicals, particularly sulfates.

   Living the ‘no-poo’ life was made for curly folks like myself, but I have really missed gel.   You know, the softly sculpted, pretty, lasting curls that gel can give you.   When you have a tiny person tugging on your hair with all the fascination of the first paleontologist uncovering a T-Rex, ‘pretty’ can feel like a luxury reserved to your pre-baby days, no matter how much you fight it.

   I looked for some home-made gel recipes, but was mostly just grossed out because the main ingredient was always bovine gelatin.  Bovine gelatin?  Really?  That’s not a cow’s serving of jello, that’s a cow’s bodily tissues.  On.Your.Hair.  You don’t have to be a vegetarian to find that kinda gross.

"steer" clear of my hair, mister

  Then I came across another recipe.  

¼ cup flax seeds
2 cups water
  Elegantly simple.  

  Bring flax seeds and water to a boil.   Reduce heat and simmer, while stirring constantly, for twenty minutes or until the mixture gels. 

   Strain gel into receptacle.   Store in fridge for up to one month.   

 I didn’t have any whole flax seeds on hand when I discovered this recipe in the middle of the night, but I had some ground flax seeds so I tried it out – and it worked fine, though it was probably harder to strain.   

  When the concoction starting gelling, I have to admit I got pretty excited about it: it actually worked!  I just made hair gel on my stove in the middle of the night and didn't even wake up Evening!  Best thing ever.  

  If you’re still a bit uncertain or in utter disbelief, here’s a video from youtube that will take you through the steps. 

  Now that I’ve been using this gel for a few days, I have to say I’m in love.  My hair feels so soft and silky, and the gel holds the curl just like any drug store gel.  I like that it doesn't have a smell and I LOVE that it has zero bovine bits (and so does Bessie).   

  Flax seed is also really good for hair.  Curly hair tends to be dry, especially in winter, and flax seed is an awesome moisturizer, so using this gel should actually make my hair healthier with use.  Score!

  If you’re really into herbs, you’ll probably be able to think of a few to add into your gel to make it even better, but it’s not necessary.  For kicks, I added some Vitamin E (for shine) that I had in the cupboard.  Rosemary is also really good for hair, so you could add some essential oil, or stir in the herb while you are waiting for the flax seed and water to gel.  Study up your herbs and concoct your own special blend!  I know my next batch is going to have a few more herbal ingredients!

  I found that the whole batch fit perfectly in a 250 ml wide mouth 'elegant' mason jar - and the wide mouth makes it perfect to dip my fingers into when I'm doing my hair. 

   I hope you love this gel as much I do!
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Saturday, March 9, 2013

the day I dyed her blue

  I’m always on the lookout for new activities that Evening can try.  Lately it seems like I’ve been seeing a lot about water play.  It looks like messy, delightful fun, so I’ve been collecting the ideas for outdoor summer play.  

  Then I came across another set of activities involving water play and learning colours.  There were yellow bathtubs, shaving cream paint, and it looked oh so wonderful.  

  I had to try it.  

  I turned the heat up just a little in the house and retrieved a shallow dish that I added a few drops of blue food colouring and water to.  I placed an old blanket and a towel on the floor, a few blue blocks into the water, a wooden spoon, and then I added a green cup because apparently I forgot all about the colour lesson. 

   I set it down and Evening immediately crawled over to investigate, with Crookshanks the cat hot on her tail.  To my complete amazement, this tiny dish of coloured water held her focus for 45 minutes straight.  As if that wasn’t shocking enough, it held Crookshanks’ for 30.   

  She took the blocks out of the water, one at a time, and then put them back in, over and over again.  She stirred it with the wooden spoon.  She tasted the blue water on the wooden spoon.  She attempted to feed it to Crookshanks with the wooden spoon, breaking out into giggles as he playfully batted it away.  

  I chuckled, because she was so quickly turning blue.  Her hands, her feet, and all around her mouth, blue.  

  When she was done playing, I peeled off her clothes to put her in the bath, smiling to see blue streaks  all over her.  Then I proceeded to wash all that blue off so we could go for our walk and run our errands.

  The blue did not wash off.  

  I scrubbed harder.  Evening protested harder.  

  Maybe if I just let her soak for a while…

  No luck.  She was blue.  Smurfin’ blue!

 Somehow these other blogs neglected to mention that this play would dye my darling girl…did I use too much food colouring?  Is there some latent smurf DNA in our family tree?  Was Crookshanks going to turn into Asriel?  

  I had no idea.   I did have some vague idea that Evening’s daddy probably wasn’t going to be very impressed with my awesome mothering skills when he got home in seven hours or so.  

  I decided to cancel the errands and stay home for the rest of the day.  Sometimes, when one is blue, staying home is best.  

  As for Evening, she did not notice.  She continued playing with her toys as though she didn’t match the sky, or have a mummy who just got yet another nomination for the Worst Mother on the Planet.  She also let me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be scrubbing her face anymore.

  I decided that I might as well adopt her nonchalant attitude, “Pfffft!  So what if I’m blue.  We all come in different colours and I just happen to be blue today.”
  As the day wore on the blue gradually wore off, and much to my delight, she was barely even tinged with blue when her daddy arrived home.  

  Just the same, I doubt very much we’ll be making blue water again anytime soon. 
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