Music in your mail

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Already 4 years! A project which is already going on for 4 years and who is still not coming to an end. What am I talking about? Well in March-April 2009 my friend Marit from the Netherlands came to visit me in Germany and after a few drinks and hours of musical conversation we decided to send each other every month a cd of a band or artist, the other might not know.

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Nowadays we always give USB sticks to friends which are full of music but usually we never really get through them because of the huge amount of music at once. So it had to be only one cd per month and about one artist only so that we have time to discover this artist during the month.

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Since I moved to the U.S. I have been terrible because I never sat down to make new cds for Marit… until now!

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The fun thing about creating those cds is also to design the covers. We are even considering making our own photos if we are inspired.

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I love this project until now! There is nothing nicer than getting a packet in your mailbox between all the bills and ads and then putting on a cd and discovering new sounds. Thanks to Marit I discovered for example a lovely Dutch artist called Pien Feith. She is definitely not known enough if you ask me!

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So let’s get old school and send cds to your friends! It is fun and the great thing… you might get something back in return!

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Nathalie

Vinyl Glass Jars

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One of these days I received an email from Pick Your Plum with a vinyl offer. I’ve seen on Pinterest many people making crafts with it, so I thought “Why not?”. I placed my order, but I still had no idea what to do with it.

The vinyl sheets arrived last week and I couldn’t wait to try them out. I browsed Pinterest again, but couldn’t find a craft that I love. I didn’t know I would need some tools to make cool projects with this material.

I don’t remember where I saw some empty glass jars covered with vinyl. I didn’t find the blog, but I decided to improvise. It was a little bit tricky, since I don’t have a cutting machine. It didn’t turn out perfect, but it is still cute and gives a nice touch to old glass jars.

I have many empty glass jars; I don’t like to throw them out. I painted some with spray paint months ago and decided to use them to do this craft. I just used vinyl sheets, scissor, and empty glass jars.

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I won’t make a step-by-step tutorial because this craft doesn’t have any rules to follow. You just need to use your creativity to make the designs. My drawing skills are not great, so my little mustache was a little bit strange. 😛

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I also made zig-zag patterns, just random things.

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I wasn’t able to make pics while I was fixing the patterns on the jars, but I can tell you: It’s very easy. I thought it would be really tricky, that once I put it on, there was no turning back. But I was pleasantly surprised when I realized vinyl is very easy to handle. You can take it off and put it back on the jar to adjust it.

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I liked the results, and I finally found a way to decorate my many empty jars!

I will use the big jar to put coins and one dollar bills. I’ll use the other ones to put my lipsticks and mascaras. It is a fun way to keep your small objects organized.

Just use your creativity and make cool designs! I hope I’ll buy a cutting machine soon, a small one. And of course, I’ll show the results here. 🙂

Gabriela

Little hand-made creature

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With a few friends we decided to meet up once in a while to do some sewing. I am still a bloody novice when it comes to sewing. My problem is that I still always want to make to complicated projects to start with. I’d better follow my friends Susi & Jess who decided to make that day simple pillows. Anyway I ended up creating a little outer space. It was simple enough to practice simple straight lines and have the occasional turns.

What you’ll need:
– Some fabric for the body and a plain colour for the face
– Some little eyes to stick on (much quicker to realise but not recommended for small infants. If it is meant for a baby, I would suggest to sew some eyes on the little man)
– A button or anything else to make the little creature more attractive!

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1. Decided on how your little man should look like, draw it on paper and cut the pattern out. Make sure to add a generous border everywhere for the seam.

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Little Albert was very busy with his beloved ropelittle creature 4

2. Then draw the pattern on the fabric you chose working with. Use two pieces of fabric. One for the front and one for the back of the little creature. Then cut it out.little creature 5

3. Next part: Pin the two pieces of fabric together, making sure that on both sides it shows the ‘inside’ of the creature (we will turn it onto the right side once we finish sewing. Now sew along the needles making sure to keep a part open to turn it  around. I suggest to keep the opening along one leg since it the easiest from there to access all areas of the fabric.

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You always need a few treats during creative sessions!

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4. It still looks quite funny. The important part is now to use some stuffing to fill out the little man.once it is well filled, close the area along the leg. To close it, simply sew by hand.

I then cut out of a white piece of fabric little ears and a ‘face’. I glued them all with a glue especially made for fabric. Then I added the little eyes and a big fat black button.

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Get creative and awake lots of little creature to life!

Nathalie

Eco-friendly toilet bowl cleaner

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Since I began using green products to clean my home, I can’t stand the smell of harsh chemical products anymore. It’s just too strong.

When it comes to cleaning the toilet bowl, we all know that there are a lot of different products that promise a great and effortless cleaning. I’ve tried some of them in the past and everything smelled so good to me. It’s funny to remember that now. Nowadays, when I go to a recent cleaned bathroom (as in restaurants or places like that), the smell of the chemicals really bother me. I soon begin to sneeze and, sometimes, my eyes get irritated.

No wonder that in the U.S., one in three people suffer from allergies, asthma, sinusitis or bronchitis (source). Treatment for these conditions includes reducing synthetic chemicals in the home environment.

We also can’t forget that everything that we flush down the toilet goes somewhere; it doesn’t disappear. We’re poisoning our waterways by flushing, everyday, toxic chemicals. You might think that this environment issue is too big and complicated, and that governments and big business are the only responsible for the water pollution. But each of us can do a little bit of effort to preserve our precious waterways. Also, formaldehyde is a very common ingredient found in toilet cleaners. When it goes to our waterways, can cause mutations in animals (source).

The use of those things that you put on your toilet, to “keep it clean” every time you flush and that leave the water blue, is not so good either. It’s full of harsh chemicals and the smell is simply too strong.

Using this natural toilet bowl cleaner you can flush your cleaning product without feeling guilty. You’ll be helping the environment and protecting your family, too.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar

1. Pour a good quantity of baking soda in your toilet bowl.

2. Add the vinegar. This mixture will create some foam.

3. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes and scrub away with a brush.

P.S: Don’t worry, your toilet won’t smell like salad. The vinegar smell will disappear in seconds.

And voilà! You will have a very clean toilet bowl.

Many of us believe that we have to use strong chemicals to clean dirty items like toilet bowls. That’s simply not true.

If you miss the “nice” smell of store-bought cleaners, you can use some drops of essential oils. I usually use sweet orange, it’s very good!

Stay tuned to learn more green cleaning tips 🙂

Gabriela

Laminated Bookmarks

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I am constantly reading other blogs and visiting Pinterest, looking for new and interesting ideas. I can’t remember now where I saw a craft using a thermal laminator machine. I don’t know why I was then so obsessed to get one, I felt like I couldn’t live without this machine. So, yes, I placed an order on Amazon.

“What is this thing?”

Maybe I do know why it fascinated me so much. While I was at the University in Brazil, my internship was to teach Portuguese, English and Literature classes to Middle and High School kids. I had to prepare lots of fun activities, games and this kind of stuff every week, so the students would like my classes better than the one from the “official teacher”. It worked, because they loved me! I was the one who made exciting games, posters, boards – anything to catch their attention. At home, my room was a mess: adhesive tape everywhere, cardboard, crayons…

One of the things that I used most was adhesive tape. I liked to make card games, so to laminate the cardboard cards, I had to use lots of adhesive tape. I dreamed about having a laminating machine, it would have made my life so much easier.

So I think when I saw a craft being made with a thermal laminator, it woke up the teacher which was sleeping in me.

Now, let’s talk about the first thing I’ve done when my laminator arrived. Since I love to read, I decided to make some cute bookmarks. I have a collection of them (Barnes & Noble have some cute ones), but bookmarks are never too much, right?

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I had some old magazines (with thick paper) and some other cute papers. I just trimmed the images, put them between the “laminating sheet”, and let the machine do all the work:

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Then, I just trimmed the bookmarks and made a hole, using a hole puncher, on the top of them:

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And last but not least, I used some ribbons to make it more pretty:

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Cute, huh? And it makes a great personalized gift and party & wedding favors!

Tip: if you don’t have or don’t plan on buying a thermal laminator, you can do the technique that I used at my University time: lay the pic flat, pull out a strip of tape, and carefully lower down, trying to contact the middle first. Then smooth from the middle out to the edges, and repeat on the opposite side. Trim up the tape edges and that’s it! Also a cool laminating project.

P.S: You can use cardboard to make your bookmark thicker, if you’re using a paper that’s not thick enough.

Just be careful not to become a laminating freak (I’m trying!).

Gabriela

Personalised Recipe Present

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Last Thanksgiving our friend Geoff invited us to spend this special day/ weekend with his family. So off we were to Reno. I felt I needed to make a little present for his family for welcoming us so kindly on such a family gathering. Since I enjoy baking, I thought to make little bags with cookies so everybody could take some home. After the weekend, my friend Geoff texted me to ask me if I could send the cookie recipe to his grand ma’. I was really delighted! Then I thought that sending the recipe by email was just a little bit boring. Also this particular recipe (Speculacius) needs a mixture of several spices. Since I made a batch of this mix spice, I had the idea to send the recipe by postal mail and send a sample of the mix spice so that Geoff’s grand ma’ could start baking right away. Packing the spices in a plastic bag is a bit dull, therefore I made the whole present a bit more attractive by sewing a little bag for the spices. It is a very simple idea, this post should really just inspire you to send more by mail, and take time to make home-made presents.

What you’ll need if you want to send a recipe to someone special:

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The idea of the little bag spice came from my tote bag post.

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Simply iron the little piece of fabric.

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Just like in the tote bag tutorial, you fold the top…

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… and pin the two sides you will want to sew.

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Then proceed to the sewing process. Two lines of stitches on each side are better to make sure that the bag is well sealed.

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And here we go: A tiny little bag where you can hide the ugly plastic bag which contains the spice mixture.

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To make sure that it doesn’t fall out, pinch in a little button into the fabric.

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Now rap up the recipe to make it look pretty too as well and fit the spices bag.

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And here we go: a personalised recipe which becomes a real present! Tell me that it is as good as a simple email!

Hope you’ll get inspired again to lick a few stamps and send out little presents to your beloved ones!

Nathalie

Homemade green cleaning products – Part III

I already wrote about the benefits of making your own toxin-free cleaning products and showed how to make an easy multi-purpose citrus cleaner, a phthalates-free liquid dish soap and a dishwasher detergent.

Today is the third and last post of this series and I’ll share another easy recipe. I learned how to make a very easy and efficient homemade laundry powder, it requires just 3 ingredients! I took this recipe from the awesome blog Keeper of the Home. I highly recommend this blog if you want to learn more about green and healthy leaving, they have really nice and useful tips.

But some people might say, “Why would I even bother in making my own laundry detergent?”. Well, you should know that store-bought laundry powders contain a cocktail of potent cancer-causing chemicals, some of which the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list on the label, since they call it “trade secret”. Not only you have direct contact with these chemicals via clothing, but you also can breathe them into your lungs once they become airborne in the process of doing your laundry (source).
Also we can’t forget that this chemicals are going somewhere else after the laundry machine cycle is over. They’re contaminating waterways and harming the environment.

But don’t worry, making your own laundry detergent is pretty easy! You’ll need:

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  • 1 bar of soap (I used Castile soap, it’s made with natural ingredients and organic oils)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup Borax

1. With a grater, grate the entire bar of soap.

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2. Put the grated soap in a blender, add 1 cup of Borax and mix it very well, until the pieces are cut more finely. If you don’t have a blender you can use a food processor, making small batches.

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3. Now that the ingredients are well mixed, you’ll get a good mix of all the ingredients in each scoop. Put the mixture in a bowl and add a cup of washing soda. With a spoon, mix it all together and break up any large chunks.

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4. And that’s it! Now just store it in any container that you have in hands.

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You can use one or two tablespoons of this powder, depending on the load. You also can double, triple or quadruple this recipe to make a large batch and leave it for future occasions, since it won’t go bad.

I use it in my home and our clothes/towels/bed sheets come out very clean and smelling pretty good!

Hope you enjoyed these green cleaning tips! To learn more about this subject, visit the blogs that I recommended in the two first posts and in this one as well.

Gabriela