Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reusable Snack Bag

I wanted to make snack bags to go along with my sandwich wrap.  Like the sandwich wrap there were a ton of patterns for snack bags.  I finally decided on this design.  I really like it because it has a box type bottom which allows for more room.  I decided to line my bags with cereal bags like I did the sandwich wrap.  This makes the snack bag water proof.  So I can put in things like grapes, carrots, strawberries, and other things and keep the moisture on the inside.  If you only plan to put dry things in your snack bags you don't have to line them.  Look at my post on Reusable Sandwich Wrap to find out all the different types of things you can use to line your bags. 

I found this design Here .  Like the sandwich wrap it is very easy and quick to make. 

I cut out two rectangles 14 inches x 7 1/2 inches out of cotton print fabric. Cut out paper backed iron on adhesive into a 7 1/2 in x 13 in rectangle.  This is the type you would use for applique.  The first bag I made I cut it out the same size as the fabric.  After making it I decided it would turn better if you did not have the cereal bag above the Velcro.  The second one I made I cut the adhesive in a 13 in x 7 1/2 in rectangle.  Leaving about 1/2 in on each end.  You will adhere this on the right side of your liner fabric. 

Next, pull off the paper back and adhere the cereal bag to the fabric.  I did this by placing the cereal bag onto the fabric.  I used the paper from the adhesive as a protector.  Lay it on top of the cereal bag and iron. 

Now fold each rectangle in half lengthwise.  Cut out a 1/2 square off of the bottom corners along the fold. 

Cut a strip of Velcro 7 inches long.  Sew each side of Velcro about 1/2 inch from the top.  The first bag I made I did it about 1 inch down.  I prefer it a little closer without the cereal bag at the top. Sew the Velcro on leaving a 1/4 of fabric on each side.

Now sew your seams.  Fold bag in half right sides together and sew the seams on each side using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Now you make your box bottom by bringing the seam to the corner.  Trim to make it even and sew a seam leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I go back and forth on this seam several times to ensure it stays put!

Sew the seams on the outside fabric in the same way. 

Turn the outside fabric right side out.  Put it inside the liner fabric.  Line up the seams and sew around the top using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Leave a section 2-3 inches long open so you can turn the bag.

Turn the bag right side out.  Then top stitch around the edge stitching close to the edge. Your snack bag is now done!!  It truly is water proof.  My kids used it once and I rinsed it out.  I filled it up with water and sat it in the sink.  The outside never got wet.  You could drink out of it!!  You really can't store  liquid in it because it would seep out of the Velcro, but it will keep wet things in there without getting other things wet and sticky.

After making the first bag  my kids started fighting over it.  So I had to quickly make another one.  As you can see the bags are slightly different.  The first one I cut a 15 in x 7 in rectangle.  The second one I cut a 14 in x 7 1/2 in rectangle.  I prefer that size better.  The black bag is the second one which I gave the directions and dimensions for. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reusable Sandwich Wrap

Now that the weather is getting warmer (ok who am I kidding it never really got cold this year) we are starting  to do more things outside.  Even though I home school my kids we still need things to carry lunches in.  We go on picnics all the time in the spring, summer, and fall.  Whenever it is warm enough to be outside we will go bird watching, hiking, biking, or just plain picnicing.  My kids are always hungry even if it is not meal time.  I am getting tired of having to buy the Ziploc baggies all the time.  They are such a waste and does not help the environment. 

My boys do have plastic sandwich containers that I bought at a Tupperware fundraiser when my oldest was in preschool.  But my husband and I don't have one.  Plus my boys tend to eat more than one sandwich. 

So I began a search for patterns for a reusable sandwich bag.  Oh my goodness!  There are so many patterns out there.  All different styles and shapes.   So I had to choose one that fit my needs.  I did try and make one that had the flip top closure.  I hated it.  By the time I got it flipped and closed I would have smashed the sandwich that was in it.  Most other ones just had two pieces of material sewed together on three sides and Velcro at the top.  Not bad for sewing but I can't imagine trying to get a sandwich in it.  So I finally decided on making a sandwich wrap instead of a bag.  This is how we used to wrap sandwiches before the Ziploc bag came out.  Remember back when we used to wrap our sandwiches in a square of waxed paper.  My mom used to wrap sandwiches in wax paper when I was younger.  The flip fold bags began to come out as I got older and eventually by the time I graduated high school the Ziploc bag came out.  It was a lot more expensive and I remember we still bought the flip fold bags.  At the time these plastic bags were a great invention.  But now we are becoming more conscious of our environment and are starting to learn that easier is not always better. And that our quest for  convenience is destroying our environment and taking money out of our pocket!

Now that I have finally settled on a design I need to choose some fabric.  That was a feat in itself.  Some people used PUL (a polyurethane laminate), some used oil cloth, some used iron on vinyl, some used vinyl  table cloth material, some used plastic gallon size freezer bags, some used recycled chip bags, some suggested cereal bags.  So many choices.  After reading a lot of the comments on PUL, Oil cloth and vinyl I decided not to use these.  From what I looked up these are not really safe for food use.  For me the gallon size freezer bag was obviously food safe but I thought that it would not stand up for a long time of repeated use.  The chip bags that there are talking about are the ones that have that foil type lining.  This seems great but I  don't buy chips that often.   I do however buy a couple of boxes of cereal each week for my husband.  He eats it for lunch at work.  Yes I know he is weird!!  So I decided to use the cereal bags.  They are like a heavy duty wax paper.  This is just a matter of personal preference.  If you decide to make this wrap research for yourself and use what you feel comfortable with.

For the fabric backing.  The side that won't be touching your food.  I decided to use a cotton print. By the time you use your iron on adhesive and the cereal bag it is plenty thick.  This way it has some structure to it but yet is pliable enough to fold up neatly.

Now that I have chosen a fabric and a liner I needed to figure out a way to attach the two.  I decided to use the double sided adhesive you would use for applique.  To make sure it worked I first tried a small piece and tested it.

 I found the design here .  It basically is an 18 inch square.  I cut out an 18 inch square from a cotton print. 

Next I cut out a 17 1/2 inch square from a paper backed iron on adhesive.  What you use for applique.  I ironed this onto the wrong side of the fabric square.

I peeled off the paper backing then I took my cereal bag that I washed and let dry.  I layed it out flat on the adhesive.  My cereal bag was a little short so I pieced it.  A family size box of cereal will probably give you a large enough cereal bag to use.  I ironed it on by first laying the bag onto the adhesive and then I layed the paper from the iron on adhesive on top to protect the iron.  That way the cereal bag stays in place and the paper keeps the cereal bag from melting to the iron. 

Next hem the edges.  I used a 1/2 inch hem.  Fold in 1/4 inch and then again another 1/4 inch.  Top stitch. 

Then I cut a 3 inch piece of Velcro.  I sewed these into place on the right side of the fabric.  Sew the Velcro opposite of each other in the middle. 

The reusable sandwich wrap is finished.  Now you can wrap your sandwich in it and go on a picnic.  Or to school or work.  But a picnic is more fun!!  Here is how you wrap your sandwich.  First place your sandwich in the middle of the wrap on the cereal bag lined side. Yes this is just two pieces of bread.  I didn't have any sandwich fixings but you get the point.

Then you fold over the 2 sides without the Velcro.

Next you fold over one side with the Velcro.

Fold over the other end to line up the Velcro.  Then meet the Velcro together to finish off wrapping up your sandwich. 

As you can see this wrap is big enough to wrap up a nice large sandwich.  Especially one made with homemade bread and filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato etc..  These are very easy to wash.  Just rinse with water or wash in your sink and let hang to dry. They are very easy and quick to make too.  I think I had about 15 minutes total in making one!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Resurrecetion Eggs

This is a post I did last Easter season. I posted it last year on Good Friday.  But I wanted to post it again to show how you can make your own Resurrection Eggs to use through out the lent season.

 Now that lent has started we got our Resurrection Eggs back out and began to put them up.  This a great way to help your kids realize what Easter is truly about.  We do color eggs and my kids get baskets with candy and things. I let my kids enjoy Easter but I really  am focusing on why we celebrate Easter.  These Resurrection Eggs helps my kids realize that we celebrate the empty cross.  That Christ gave his life and then rose again so that we could one day live with him in heaven. 

I do allow my kids to hunt eggs and believe in the Easter Bunny as well as Santa, the tooth fairy and such.  This is a matter of personal preference.  I was told once by a psychiatrist that a study had been done and kids who were not allowed to believe in fairy tale type things as a kid had a higher tendency to turn away from their faith when they were older.  So I let my kids believe in these.  We don't really push it and if they ask we do tell them the truth.  But we also focus on the real meaning of the Christian Holidays that we celebrate.  Here is the original post.

Have you ever seen the carton of Resurrection Eggs in the store?  It is a carton of a dozen plastic eggs.  In each egg is a Bible verse with a trinket to go along with it.  Through the 12 eggs the story of Easter is told.  The kids open up 2 eggs every Sunday after lent starts ending on Easter morning.  I always wanted to get some of them but they were always around $9-$10.  Me being frugal could never justify spending that much money on something I could make myself.  Instead of doing plastic eggs I did large eggs out of paper.  I used my computer and found pictures of what I wanted inside of the eggs.  Then I printed them out colored the eggs and laminated them.  On the backside of each egg I printed the Bible verse.  So my kids have read the verses and then we hung them up each week on the kitchen cupboards.  With the plastic eggs you would open them up and just leave the carton somewhere.  My eggs are hung up and we have a constant reminder of all that Jesus went through in order to save us from our sins. 
Here are the eggs we have hung.  Notice that two are missing. 
 We will be hanging those up on Easter morning.

Here are the last two eggs that are waiting to be hung up

This is the backside of the eggs.  They are all labeled 1-12 with the Bible verses. 

Today is Good Friday.  I used to never know why they called it Good Friday when Jesus was killed on that day.  But when you realize what Jesus went through, all that he did, so that we might live eternally with him, it is truly Good.  I urge everyone to start an Easter tradition with your kids or grand kids.  You can purchase eggs or make you own.  I have even seen where you can take real eggs.  Break off one end and clean them out.  Then you put in your verse with the trinket.  Then you take mod podge and put colored paper all over the egg including the whole you made. Then the kids have to actually break open each egg to get out the verse and trinket!!! 
 Easter is an exciting holiday.  It is more wonderful to me this year since my kids finally truly understand the meaning.  My kids got baptized in January along with their father.  They got to participate in their first full three fold communion.  The communion with the foot washing, love feast, and bread and cup.  They are telling me why Jesus died.  They are telling me what happened.  It is so exciting when you see your kids understand this loving act of Jesus.  
We still color hard boiled eggs, have Easter egg hunts, and do Easter baskets.  Those are traditions that the kids love.  But through the help of our Resurrection Eggs and a great church that really teaches our kids, this year the kids know and understand what Easter and Good Friday is all about!!

I  am linking to  Homestead Barn Hop  


Friday, February 24, 2012

Going Green

Going green for me has not been an overnight process.  It started many years ago and I continually add things into my lifestyle that are "Green".  I first started to recycle.  It was mainly plastics at first.  I did this when I had a lot of plastics to get rid of.  At that time you had to take them to a recycle drop off or the recycling center.  A couple of years ago our town started curbside recycling.  Just like they have a certain day that they pick up your trash, you have an assigned day that they pick up your recycling.  This has made it so much easier to recycle.  At the time that I first started recycling our town only recycled #1 & #2 plastics.  So that is all I recycled.  Just recently I taught a lesson on recycling to our cub scout group and in the process looked up our local recycling center.  I was shocked to find out all the things they took for recycling.  I was especially shocked to find out that they now take plastics from #1 - #7.  That goes to show that you should look up frequently what your local recycling center accepts and does not accept.

A little over a year ago I started making my own laundry detergent.  This was out of need for something that had no dyes or perfumes and to save money.

Then this year I decided to start making my own natural cleaners.  This takes some time, because I have to research and decide on what fits me best. 

I have been making things out of old pairs of jeans for years.  Now I am starting to look into making more things to reduce our use of plastic bags and things.  I am currently working on a bunch of "Green" sewing projects.  As I finish those I will post about them.

I know "Going Green" has been an on going process for me but it is something that takes time.  You need to research things and find out what will work best for your family.  So if you have been wanting to go green and don't know where to start, just start out small. Recycling is the easiest thing to start doing.  Make small changes and gradually add to your lifestyle.  It is so much easier to make a change when you do it gradually.  That way you can get used to one thing before you start another. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sunbutter Spread

Growing up near Amish country we had the privelage of tasting that wonderful thing called Amish Peanut Butter spread.  Oh how I love this.  I have made it before at home and just sat and ate it on everything.  My boys both have peanut allergies.  So I decided to try and make it with sunbutter.  It turned out wonderful and tastes great.  It tastes very similar to peanut butter.  Unfortunately it did not pass the test with my boys.  They have never liked any peanut substitute.  Does not matter what I try.  I guess if they grew up eating it maybe they would like it.  But a lot of these substitutes are rather new and my very picky eater won't try anything new. So I made this on the sly.  Did not tell them what was in it and had them try it.  Neither one liked it very well.  Oh well at least I tried.  I think it tastes great and so does my husband.  So I guess we will eat this batch of Amish Sunbutter Spread. 
If you have peanut allergies and do like sunbutter give this recipe a try.  I think it really helps the sunbutter be more spreadable.  It tends to be very dry.  If you don't have peanut allergies, make it with peanut butter.  And you will be in for a tasty treat.  It can be eaten on bread, rolls, crackers, ice cream, etc..

Amish Sunbutter Spread
3 1/2  ounces marshmallow creme
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup dark corn syrup or molasses (I used molasses)
1 cup sunbutter
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
dash of salt

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Store in a container with a lid.    Enjoy!!

I am linking to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways

Monday, February 20, 2012


Snowdrops  (scientific name Galanthus) are a member of the Amaryllis family.  We enjoy seeing these flowers pop up in early March.  They normally pop up before spring and often times are popping up through the snow.  This year they came up very early.  With our very mild winter these popped up through the ground in early February.  They will last quite a while with new ones continually popping up and blooming. 

Aren't they so pretty.  When the Snowdrops pop up we know that spring won't be that far away.  Even though these came up real early this year we are hoping that spring will not be that far away. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dehydrating Strawberries

The local grocery store had strawberries at a pretty good price. It wasn't a great deal but a deal for strawberries for this time of year.  So I bought 4 lbs of strawberries.  We ate 1 lb of them fresh.  I guess I shouldn't say we because my kids devoured most of them.  The other 3 lbs I decided to dehydrate. 

Dehydrating strawberries is very easy.  All you have to do is wash the strawberries.  Destem them and then slice into slices.  I lay them right onto the dehydrator trays.

The 3 lbs filled up all four trays of my dehydrator.  I set it on my fruit setting and let dehydrate for 4-8 hours.  Depending on how thick the slices.  Some of the strawberries were done at 4 hours.  I just began removing the strawberries as they were finished.  You want them to not to be crisp but not still soft and sticky.  I filled my mason jar with them and then put the lid on and let sit overnight to condition.  The conditioning process allows the moisture in the fruit to distribute evenly.  If some are too dry it will absorb moisture from some that are too wet.  The next morning I open the jar to check for moisture.  If there is too much moisture left in the strawberries it will condensate on the top of the lid.  If the lid is dry your strawberries are good to go.  Out of the 3 lbs of strawberries I got about 3 cups of dried strawberries. 

I had more in the jar but my kids found the jar on the counter and started to devour them.  I love the fact the the strawberries are still bright red and that they are even sweeter than fresh.  They are great to eat straight out of the jar.  If we have any left they are great in cereal too!! You can chop them up and using in baking as well. 

I am linking to Homestead Barn Hop

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raspberry Pie Bars

I wanted to make a red dessert for Valentines Day.  So I looked through my pantry to see what I had that was red.  I found  a few jars of Red Raspberry Pie filling that I canned during the summer.  Check my blog on Raspberry Pie Filling to find out how to can your own.

So I decided to make raspberry pie bars.  My youngest does not like pie but he loves these.  To make the pie bars I simply made a enough pie crust for double crust pie.  I rolled out a little over half of the pie dough the length of my  pan. See my blog on Mulberry Pie to find my recipe for pie crust.

Then I spread the raspberry pie filling over the crust.  Next I rolled out the remaining dough and cut it into strips and layed it on the filling in a lattice.  I cheated and did not weave the strips of crust.  I just layed them on top. 

Put in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is browned.  When they are cool mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 Tablespoons of milk.  Pour over crust and let sit until cool. 

Cut into squares and enjoy. 

These can be made with any type of pie filling.  If you are using purchased pie filling you will need to cans of it. I make these with my own apple pie filling, blueberry, and black raspberry pie filling too!

I am linking to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Water Bottles

Water bottles are great.  They can be reused and help keep all those plastic water bottles out of our landfills.  Everyone in my family has a water bottle. 

The reason I bought them was to save money.  I used to buy juice pouches or flavored water pouches for the boys all the time.  I also like the convenience of having a water bottle.  Our bottles holds almost 32 ounces of water.  It is nice to have because with home schooling we go on a lot of trips and hikes.  They also go to a home school gym class and I would rather have them drink out of their own water bottle than to drink from the water fountain.  In the summer we are constantly using them when we are outside gardening and doing activities.  I will bring a big jug of water along and they can refill their bottle as needed.  It also makes it easier to get your recommended daily amount of water. Depending on the size of your water bottle filling it up a couple of times will give you your daily needed amount. 

The one main down fall to water bottles is they are a magnet for mold and bacteria just like the humidifiers.  Especially if you have one that has a straw in it.  I make sure that I clean our water bottles every time we use them with soap and water.  If we are using them every day I then will clean them once a week in some bleach.  I pour a small amount of bleach in the water bottle and fill it with water.  If it has a straw I put the straw inside it to soak too.  I also will fill a bowl or the sink up with a solution of bleach water to soak the lids in.  This will remove any mold that is beginning to form and disinfect your water bottles.  After they have soaked in the bleach water I rinse them out well and rewash them in dish soap.  Keeping them clean helps keep my family healthy.  And does not take away from the benefits of having a water bottle.

Water bottles have become a huge trend.  You can find them in all shapes and sizes.  Insulated or not.  Some have filters in them.  They can be made of plastic or metal.  You can spend as little as $1 all the way up to $20 and sometimes more on them.  They are so many choices that there is no excuse not to have one.

So get out your water bottle and keep it filled.  Even though it is winter you still need to stay hydrated.  Those nasty colds and flu can quickly dehydrate you.  So remember use a water bottle, but KEEP IT CLEAN!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Angry Bird Cake Pops

My second attempt at cake pops turned out a little better.  I still used my donut recipe so they are more like a donut hole than cake.  They taste delicious though.  The football helmets I made tasted great and went over well.  For the angry birds I cut the donut recipe in half so it only made 21.  Much better than 44.  I only had 20 set of eyes so I only made up 20 cake  pops.  I also left the sticks the size they were.

The first thing I did was separate the donut holes out into what bird I was going to make.  Then before I melted the chocolate I got the accessories ready to go. I used M&M's for the pigs nose.  For the beaks and combs on the head I used starburst or jolly rancher fruit chews.  I softened them in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds.  Then I formed them.  The beaks I formed into a cone and snipped it with a pair of scissors to open the beak.  I bought candy eyes to use.

Next I melted the chocolate and began decorating the cake pops.  I did one color of bird at a time.  For the pigs I melted green and yellow candy coating.  I found out that once I dipped them I needed to let them set up slightly before adding the ears, nose, and eyes.  I held the cake pops in the freezer for 30 seconds to set up after I attached the accessories.  For the yellow birds I slivered off the sides to make it more triangular.  For the yellow and red birds I added the white on the bellies after the rest of it had set up.  I used black royal icing for the eye brows and black combs.    I did not get real detailed with them but they still turned out pretty cute.

I did not have enough sticks so I had to cut a couple in half.  I used the 3 pigs on the short sticks to decorate my son's birthday cake with. 

After the royal icing set up I put the cake pops in treat bags and tied them up with some yarn in a bow.  I put them in some Styrofoam in a basket.  My son said they looked better than the ones he saw on line.  Don't you just love it when you kids think that everything you do is the best. 
I guess I should eat this up while they still feel this way.  I am sure all that will change when they become teenagers!!

I am linking to  Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

I am linking to Homestead Barn Hop