Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carnival #109

This week the Make it from Scratch carnival can be found at Christ's Bridge. Thank you to Rani for hosting. We all appreciate the time and effort put in to assembling the carnival for all of us! Some of my favorites this week: 

I make a Double Ginger Cookie at Christmas, but the addition of the orange sounds wonderful. I think I will be doing some ginger cookie experiments. I'm sure my family will be very disappointed to be the taste testers! 

Although I'm not sure I would want this particular coffee table for my living room, I love the ingenuity and resourcefulness that produced this table. I love projects like these!

Another fantastic and practical project from RecycleCindy. 

Another carnival of interest this week, The Homesteading Carnival

Don't forget to join us for Firsts on the First tomorrow. Share any project that you have tried for the first time. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Awards, Firsts and Carnivals

Thank you to Jennifer from Frugal Front Porch for awarding Make it from Scratch with the Sisterhood Award. This award recognizes great attitude or gratitude. Jennifer your recognition is greatly appreciated.

April 1st is this Wednesday, and you know what that means. No, not a bunch of practical jokes, but Firsts on the First. This is your opportunity to try something new, and share with us how it went. I hope you will join in on Wednesday!

This past Tuesday I neglected to mention other carnivals for the week. I would not want to miss mentioning some other great carnivals that happened last  week!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Little Spring Break

Since the kids and I are off for Spring Break this week, I thought I'd take a break from my craft post today. I'll be back to my regular posts next Saturday after I've had some time to play and clean. With all of our wonderful new contributors, I'm sure you're plenty busy cooking and crafting already!

Have a great Spring Break everyone! Thanks for reading!


Friday, March 27, 2009

Milk Crate Storage

Anyone with a child or a hobby will know that one can never have enough storage. As we prepare to add two new children to our home in the next few weeks, my handy-man uncle built us a mega shelving-unit / storage system that is just phenomenal. I've been looking at all those cute little baskets, storage bins and canvas buckets to put toys in, but at an average of $10 a piece, it can get expensive when you need, ohhhhhh, about 87 of them.

We have a bunch of these old milk crates in our basement. They've been great for storing books and CDs and what-have-you over the years, but don't quite do the job for toys - the small ones tend to fall through the holes - so I decided to cover some of ours.

For this project, you'll be making 2 simple bags for your crate. One for the inside, one for the outside. No tutorial here because it's pretty easy to do. Measure each side your crate, as well as the bottom. Cut the pieces out and sew. Slide the outside on first. Pull the edges over and tack them down so that the bag doesn't fall off.

Then slide the liner in. Here I have hemmed the top, then let it roll out and over the sides. It would be nice to tie a pretty coordinating ribbon around the top. I didn't seem to have a matching piece that was long enough, so I've used some yarn here instead.

Voila - an easy-peasy solution to your storage problems!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cooking with Milk Substitutes

When you ask, "Honey can you stop at the store for a gallon of milk?" does your honey come home with only a gallon of milk? Or maybe you are the one that runs out for "just a gallon of milk," and returns home with several bags of groceries. Making extra trips to the store can be costly. They cost you time. They cost you gas, and for most of us they cost us more in groceries than we actually intended. 

When you have run out of an ingredient, there usually are many substitutes that can replace the item. If milk is the item you've run a bit shy of, don't worry, and don't run to the store. You can still cook your dinner with out milk. 

For many dishes, milk can simply be replaced with water or broth without changing the taste much. Use water in baked items like biscuits. Use broth in cooked items like mashed potatoes. In fact, using the water the potatoes were boiled in, along with some butter when mashing, makes delicious mashed potatoes. 

Do you have dry milk or evaporated milk in the cupboards? Though these items may not taste quite like fresh milk alone, when you use them in cooking or baking, the taste is identical . They are easy substitutes when milk is called for. Reconstitute dry milk according to the package instructions and use like fresh milk.  Undiluted evaporated milk is a substitute for cream. Dilute it with an equal amount of water for a milk substitute. 

When I began this post, I fully intended to tell you that using dry or evaporated milk regularly in cooking could save you money. In fact, I do regularly cook with both these items with the thought that dry milk and evaporated milk are cheaper than fresh milk. Then I did the math. 

Fresh Milk  $2.00 a gallon, or .06/cup
Enough Dry Milk to make 8 quarts of milk $5.99, or $0.19 per cup.
Evaporated Milk $0.69 for 12 ounces mixed with an equal amount of water makes 3 cups or $0.23 per cup.

The numbers were surprising to me. When I first started my frugal journey, dry milk was often touted as a frugal alternative in articles about cutting your grocery bill. When did dry milk get so expensive? Phillip Brewer provides an explanation in Nonfat dry milk- no longer a frugal alternative

Fresh milk is the cheapest form of milk, much to my surprise. I will still argue that using dry milk and evaporated milk as substitutes, when you run out of fresh milk, will save you money as opposed to making that trip to the store, just for a gallon of milk. Making that trip will cost you time, gas, and mostly likely you will buy something else while you are there. Make do with what you have on hand, and save yourself a trip to the store. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

painted pots

Over the years we have collected many plant pots, buckets (all 87 of them), old mop buckets etc, always putting them to good use. With finally sorting out our garden and getting in more plants, herbs and fruit trees, we decided to paint the old pots and give them a new life. Another thing we are trying to do this year, is buying second hand plastic pots and buying terracotta ones as well.

So of we went to the start of the car boots last Sunday, oh how I love car boots, you just never know what you will find. One disappointment was, there were no plants for sale. Bit early I suppose. But what we did find is these two planters, know in the shops they are about £6 pound each, but we got these for a pound each. SUCH A BARGAIN. I just love getting things cheap and if they are seconds that can be reused, all the better. With these two as with our others they did need some tender love in care. Holes put into the bottom and a dust off. Then come my favourite part, painting.

(don't forget the chair, relaxation, so important)

(I also use B&Q range and what other ones I find cheap)

I have really enjoyed doing this, have been going a bit mad all over the garden. Well you can't say my garden isn't colourful LOL.

This paint I used here works really well and comes in the most amazing colours, their ranges are great. They have chocolate browns, deep purple to a light one, pinks and metallic, the most yummy deep red and even to gold and silver, and all water based so no harsh cleaning products. Just a quick wash under the tap and your brushes are clean. Hmm think I am going on a bit here, I do get excited when I find something new!

The end result is two new pots that look amazing and as if you just brought them. They are unique and in style with what you want and don't cost you a fortune to buy.

(this one is done in lilac B&Q)

and last but not least, a good cuppa tea, well he did supervise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Carnival #108

Spring is here. The sun is shining, and Funny about Money has a wonderful Make it from Scratch carnival for us all today. Here are my picks for the week. 

We are attempting to grow potatoes in tires again this year. This articles has some great information and links about using tires. Be sure to check out the comments for even more ideas. 

I love me some curry, and I love me some chickpeas. This recipe for curried chickpeas looks fabulous and includes do it yourself curry instead of commercially made spice mix. YUM!

Mary strikes again. She has some wonderful recipes! My husband may actually enjoy eggplant prepared like this! 

Thanks to our hostess, all who participated, and all who enjoy the Make it from Scratch carnival. Enjoy this beautiful day and carnival #108. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

At It Again With The Modeling Compound

Yes, we've been at it again with the air-dry modeling compound. We've been even busier than our usual busy times the last two weeks, so this will be a quick and easy craft for everyone to make. It is a mock-vase that I use on the counter for pennies. When this jar gets full, it gets emptied into my larger change jar and rolled.

Using the air-dry modeling compound found with the art and school supplies, make a small base for your jar. The base should be a flat piece in a circle or whatever shape you want your jar to be. Then, roll a large piece of the compound into a veeeerrrry long 'snake' piece. Attach one end of the snake to the base (you may want to use a dab of water to help seal them together) and wind the snake around and around till the jar is the desired shape and height. Allow your jar to dry at least 24 hours, then paint or color with markers.

Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at
Heather LessiterIts All for the Best
The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tea Towel Travel Wallet

One of my favorite crafty bloggers, Jill of Homemade by Jill, inspired me (again) recently by turning an adorable set of tea towels into a diaper bag. Although I am not in need of a diaper bag myself, I simply couldn't resist picking up the very same tea towels when I was at Target last week. Here are the towels - I also picked up the brown and green set with pears on them with a Fall bag in mind.

Really - could you resist these? Maybe I'm just yearning for Spring a little too much. At any rate, I was actually working on the tutorial for this tote bag for you...

...but it still needs a little tweaking before it's tutorial-ready.

Instead, I'm bringing you a tutorial for a little travel wallet. Pretty much everything I'm working on these days revolves around the kids and/or our upcoming trip to Ethiopia. I need a little wallet to take with me, but I hate those flesh-colored travel wallets that you wear as a belt because they always slip and slide and hang down in your...um...business. So I decided to make one that hangs around your neck instead and can slide down inside your shirt or jacket if need be.

I think this would also be a great little wallet to take along on walks or bike rides or any other time you need a little bag for ID/credit card/cash but don't want to bother with lugging around a purse or big backpack.

So here we go... You'll need some fabric scraps and about a yard of ribbon.

Step 1: Cut out the front and back of your bag and two pockets. You'll need 2 pieces cut to 5" wide by 7" tall, and 2 pieces cut to 5"x5" square. My small pocket pieces in the photo are not 5" tall because I used the hemmed edge of the tea towel, so there was no need to allow extra room for hemming.

Step 2: Pin the ends of your ribbon to the wrong side of one of the pieces of the inner bag fabric. Position it so that it's long enough to get over your head and hang at a comfortable level. Sew from the bottom of the ribbon up to about 1.5 inches from the top of the fabric. You want to leave the top 1.5 inches of ribbon UNattached.

Step 3: Lay the two big pieces next to each other, right side up. Put the smaller pocket pieces on top, also right side up. Flip one pile over onto the other so that right sides are now facing each other like this:

Then pin and sew the sides (from the ribbon down) and bottom.

Step 4: Sew the remaining 1.5 inches on the sides that we left open. Do not sew the ribbon to it. Leave the ribbon pulled down for now.

Step 5: Turn the top down, then down again, iron and hem to create your finished edge. You can probably tell from the photo that I didn't leave enough room, so I ended up using fray check on the raw edge and only folding it over once before hemming.

Step 6: Clip the corners, turn right side out, and iron.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Homemade Scouring Powder

Some time ago I came across a recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent. It is very simple: 

1 C Borax
1 C Baking Soda
1/2 C salt

At first this worked very well for me, but over a few weeks, a nasty film buildup appeared on my dishes. Now apparently not everyone has this problem using this homemade cleaner in the dishwasher. Maybe it is my water? 

With some trial and error, I discovered this cleaner is great to stretch my normal detergent.  I mix the two half and half. It also will do in a pinch if I run out of detergent, but I also found that this concoction makes an excellent scouring powder. 

Take a little of the mixture, put it on a damp sponge or rag, and scrub away! It does an excellent job on the kitchen sink, and other places that need a good scrubbing. 

The cleaner is simple to make, doesn't use harsh chemicals, and is very economical. It did not work well for me as dishwasher detergent, but it does an excellent job as a homemade scouring powder. 

Photo credit: Big_Law

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Greenhouse

Hello and welcome to Fiona's weekly 'Make it from Scratch' posting. I come from up the road at 'a pot, a thought and a smidgen of dirt', where I got an amazing email from the lovely lady of here asking me to do a weekly post. I almost fell off my chair, I can tell you. I adore my garden with a passion, I just started pottery and well, anything new from jewellery to writing I have a go. So, when I got the email, it was a thrill!!!!! did I mention I am a nutty kiwi (New Zealander) now living in the UK?

So a little about me and mine. I live with Mom aka Margaret, two cats, Sootie and Pebbles, and saving the best till last, Garak, our soon to be ten year old springer/lab. Nothing in this house is ever done with out those three getting their noses in and their approval. So they will be popping up here and there. I am a student at Open University studying creative writing this year, as well as trying to get our garden sorted so we can totally live upon it, sorting this house out for decorating and trying to make a living out the things I love to do. So that is a little about me and now for my first 'Make it from Scratch' post!!!!

ps. one thing about me, if there is a cheaper way to do something, I will find it!!!

The Greenhouse

As you can see from the picture above, that is my dream glass house, the fact that it is bigger than my house and well into the thousands, I thought I would go for a cheaper version. With one of our favourite (cheap) garden shops, Wilkinsons, we brought this kit set one for £39.99. WHAT A BARGAIN!

As you can see it is all kit set, but it is so easy to set up, if I can do it anyone can. Inside you get a piece of paper with all the info on it, everything is labelled with letters, ie, A,B,C,D etc. This is a must, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THAT EVERYTHING IS THERE BEFORE YOU START. I can't stress how important this is, I know it is so exciting and you want to get started straight up, but the amount of times I haven't done this and you can guarantee that something is missing. Some places now if something is missing will just send the piece, but some still insist that you take back the whole thing. Strong words have come when having to undo it all.

So now it is all there and with coffee/tea at the ready (lots of tea), its time to get started. Basically, all you need is a patch of ground, some weed cover and 20mm gravel. Unlike myself (rolls eyes at self), make sure you get enough, we used eight standard bags of gravel to cover 120 by 190cm. Silly me, thought only four bags would do it.

(take one dog, to chase cat away who being a pain)

The reason we used 20mm gravel instead of of 10mm,

First, the 20mm doesn't sink into the ground, I was told that with the 10mm it tends to sink.

Second, for comfort, wanted it where we could walk around in bare feet and not end up with sore feet. Also good for the animals, they can have a sniff around, lay down and basically make a nuisance of themselves.

After Pebbles (our little girl cat) has done her inspection, all the pebbles are laid out level ready for the greenhouse to be assembled. Putting the frame up for the glasshouse is really easy, just follow the instructions. They are very basic, A goes into B, C connects with D, start from the bottom up and take your time, remember this is fun, so have a ball with it. I personally loved it, Mom made the drinks while we chatted and the animals had a ball inspecting everything while running around the garden.

It took me about an hour to put everything together, this is with the animals been involved as well and taking my time. Once this is done (and after another cuppa) all you have to do is put the cover on. Open the cover right up and slip it over the top, gentle pull it down over the bends extra, please, be careful here (unlike me who on last year's smaller one, pulled really hard and ripped it!), they are made to fit a tight fit, so take this part slowly.

After this, I think Pebbles was feeling she wasn't getting enough attention, so in her style she decided to climb up onto our roof!!! so the next half hour was spent on how to get the cat of the roof without breaking her leg. In the end she came down on her own, looking rather pleased with herself. Never minding my heart beating to the drums of Africa.

Now the moment comes, you are almost done! Woohoooo. With this one I got, it came with four metal pin pegs that go through the bottom metal poles, then four plastic ones that go into the ground with ropes attached to the greenhouse. Later on when I have time, I will buy the proper ones to hold it in place.

This is a really basic greenhouse, is cheap but of good quality and I love walking out there every morning to open up the door. Once I start doing my seeds it will look amazing. During the summer we are going to be growing exotic vegetables and fruits from Turkey, Mexico etc inside, will let you know how that turns out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Carnival #107

Today the carnival is at Feels Like Home. A big thank you to Tara for a well organized carnival. Oh! There are just some fabulous entries this week. I know I say that a lot, but you just keep submitting some great ideas! The carnival always leaves me feeling inspired to try new things. Here are some entries that are just my style.

Canning: Where to Start
If you are gardening this year and want to put away some of that summer goodness for the winter, this is a post to check.

Fresh Fruit Tart
This looks wonderful!

Pecan Tassies
Nutty goodness!

Be sure to go and see the entire carnival!

Other items of interest this week:
Homestead Carnival
All Things Eco
All Foods Natural

Monday, March 16, 2009


I would like to take just a moment to thank Heather and Kellie for the absolutely fabulous job they do here at Make it from Scratch. (And at their own blogs too. Check them out if you haven't already.) Make it from Scratch would not be the same with out them! Thank you ladies! 

I have some exciting news. There are two more contributors lined up to add to the mix here at Make it from Scratch. Fiona is the creator of many beautiful things. She will be posting on Wednesdays, starting this week with an introduction. Angie gives new meaning to cooking from scratch. She is extremely knowledgeable about the health benefits of cooking from scratch, and will start sharing with us in the next few weeks. I'm so excited for both of them to join us here! 

In other news, Blogrolling is finally back online. Many of you were waiting to be added to the blogroll. I think I have everyone added. If you think you should be on the blogroll, could you take a moment to check the list? Everyone who is on the blogroll is also on the feed list in the sidebar. (It will not show the entire list though.) If you see any problems with the blogroll, please email me at makeitfromscratch at yahoo.com. 

If you'd like to be added to the blogroll (and the feed list,) it is very simple. See the directions at Join the Blogroll,  grab a button to put on your site, and let me know so I can add you to the lists. Easy!

Thank you for being a reader of Make it from Scratch! We appreciate you and your support! 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No Sew Purse in 5 Minutes

I have made several of these little "hobo-style" bags in different colors so I have one to go with everything. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much you can actually fit into this purse. They are fabulous for spring and summer to carry all of those essentials- cell phone, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm and your wallet or checkbook. I kid you not, you will fall in love with them!

I found these handkerchiefs at my local Pat Catan's for $1 each!!! They had every color under the sun and I may have to go back for more. I thought they would make cute gifts for my nieces. I think they would also make nice Easter baskets or Mother's Day gifts. A teller at our bank liked my red one so much that she borrowed it to make some for her Red Hat Society group!

Begin by pressing your handkerchief. Mine measures 22 X 22 and I measured in 8 inches from the corner. Tie a knot in each corner at about the 8 inch mark. Then, tie two of the ends together with a double knot. Repeat the double knot with the other two handles and you're done!!!

I suggest really working to tighten the knots so they don't work their way loose with all of your things inside. You can also make a bag like this out of a larger handkerchief (think of the cool vintage ones at thrift stores and garage sales) to carry your beach essentials this summer!

Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at
Heather LessiterIts All for the Best
The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Memory Match Game

This memory game was supposed to be a Christmas gift for my son, but we never quite got around to making it, so it's going to be for his birthday instead. We've found that he gets so many gifts from friends and family that we can usually forgo expensive store-bought gifts and make something for him instead.

Over the past 6 months I've seen so many variations of this memory game. From a wood version on Etsy for $48 to a homemade photo match on Homemade by Jill to a made-from-fabric-scraps cloth version (that I can't seem to find the link to), it seems that Memory is on everyones' minds!

I decided not to post a tutorial for this in order to encourage you to think outside the box and make your own version from materials you currently have on hand. Our materials happened to be wood left over from a home-improvement project and scrap book paper left over from my son's 1st Birthday photo album.

The wood we used was rather large, so this will definitely be a stay-at-home game, but the next one I'm planning will be cloth, and very portable.

The back sides obviously have all the same paper...

And the other sides have fun little animals and prints...

I used several coats of mod podge to stick the paper on and protect it, then a clear spray-enamel to seal it and make it water proof. (Yes, I've only made 5 so far, but there are 20 total.)

There are so many possibilities, so have fun making your own memory game. And please come back and post a link if you do make one. I'd love to see all of your creative ideas!

~*Kellie blogs regularly at Greenhab: The Browns Go Green*~

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to Dice an Onion

Taking it way back to the basics here today. This may seem a little simplistic, but I have a little trick to make the job easy and fast. 

Chopping or dicing an onion in the food processor works well, but I hate to drag out the food processor (not to mention wash it when I'm done) for one little onion. If I only need to chop an onion, I can do it almost as fast and easy by hand as I can in the food processor.  Here is my little trick. 

1. Place the onion on a cutting board or small plate, root side down.
2. Cut rows in the onion horizontally. Do not cut all the way to the bottom, but stop about half an inch from the bottom. If you want to finely dice the onion, keep the rows close together. For a chopped onion keep the rows farther apart. 

3. Now cut the onion the other way to create a crisscross pattern on it. Again, do not cut all the way through the onion. 

When you have cut both ways the onion will resemble a mini blooming onion. 

4. Turn the onion on its side and slice all the way through. The slices will come off as diced onion. 

To use the entire onion, hen you get to the bottom of the onion, simply make a couple slices and chop them up.

I do believe it took me twice as long to explain how to chop the onion as it does to actually do it! 

I can help you with the dicing, but not the crying. Some suggest chewing gum. It doesn't work for me. Some suggest cutting the onion underwater. Seems strange, and I am afraid it would be too slippery and I'd cut off a finger. I've also read that getting the onion cold before cutting helps reduce that pungent odor that brings tears to your eyes. This seems like the best suggestion to me, but the problem is I always forget to stick the onion in the refrigerator before hand to get it cold. 

Anyone else have a sure fire trick for cutting onions and not crying? 

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!