Wednesday, April 6, 2011

the satisfaction of DIY

The last 6 or 7 months of my life have been a lot about learning to do things myself. I have really wanted to save money and make cuts in order to pay off Lee's student loans faster and save for the future.

My DIY (oh as in Do It Yourself) adventures so far have included learning how to (or just doing):

Cloth diaper
Make baby food
Make baby bows
Make laundry detergent
Setting up our clothes line to hang dry clothes outside

Cloth diapering has been a crazy great success! I am not always loving the whole 'solids' element of diapers now, but it is totally survivable.

Sewing definitely still needs some work. I am having issues with the bottom thread getting really bunched up. I have changed the tension and the length, put in a new needle, and I have cleaned the machine. But maybe I need to get some oil? I changed out all of the thread and put a new bobbin in, too. It worked for about 6 inches and then it bunched up again. Any advice?? I am so frustrated, because I am right in the middle of a cute project and really want to finish it. I keep googling for tips, but not have been helpful so far. I was going to pick up machine oil at walmart and they didn't have any. bah. I guess I'll have to grab some sometime when I'm in Fresno or Visalia. grr.

Making baby food has been something super self-satisfying. I know exactly what is in her food and I feel good making a big, affordable batch and freezing it accordingly. I have the best book and I totally recommend it:
This book is jam packed with helpful tid-bits. It guides you through what is appropriate for your baby to eat at each month and it gives great instructions on how to make it. It also includes a great section on produce: when they are in season, how to pick out a good piece of produce, how to prepare it, how old a baby has to be to eat it cooked or raw, how long it can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator, and recipes.
There is also a section on Super Baby Pooridge. This is kind of like rice cereal, but you are using whole grains such as organic brown rice, millet, pearl barley, et cetera. These things (especially millet) are super super good for you.
I am going to try to give her enough super pooridge that she will still be eating it as she gets older. I mix it with fruit and sometimes her veggies to give it a little bit more flavor. I think she likes it.
The whole process is pretty simple. I won't explain it all on here unless anyone is interested (but really I would still recommend the book). I grind the grains until they are a powder. I boil water. I add the powder to the water and stir continuously. TA DA! Super baby pooridge. I can store the powder in the fridge for a month, and cooked pooridge only lasts 3 or 4 days in the fridge, but I can freeze the pooridge, too. For veggies, I cook as instructed and puree it using my handy dandy Magic Bullet, which I also use to grind the grains. Then I put the purreed veggies into ice cube trays and freeze them. Once they are frozen I pop the cubes out into zip lock bags, label them, and toss them back in the freezer. This takes up less space then the trays and frees up my trays to make other things.

Making baby bows is not difficult and yet it is. Maybe because I am a perfectionist it seems it can take a little extra time to get that bow looking just right! But I have some good how-tos and in my free time (haha-free time?) I take a wack at some bows. I wish I had more time to work on this, but until the masters is done, there just isn't a lot of that time flowing around. It would be simpler if you didn't have to get all 'set-up' to craft. If making bows were kind of like blogging, and I could just take a seat during nap time and churn a couple out, then I would! Instead, I'll blog about it. :)

Making laundry detergent is incredibly easy. I just did it for the first time a couple weeks ago. Really I will be saving tons of money AND the detergent I make is safe on my diapers, too. So that is a huge PLUS! I literally make 10 gallons worth of detergent for approximately $2 or $3. No, I am not kidding you. Here is a link to the recipe, just scroll down until you find the instructions for liquid or powder detergent (whichever you prefer):

Yes it is from the Duggar Family website as in the 19 and counting show. The family with 19 children. Hey, that lady can save some money!

The clothes line is something I am particularly excited about. I bought 50 feet of the coated wire I needed for $5.25. But before I could string it up on the posts that were already in my back yard, I had to hack away the bush and part of the orange tree that had grown over the posts. I didn't have the best tools at my disposal, so I had to use a hand saw. Boy was that some work!!
This is some of the debris I had to saw off
And this was the finished product!
Trimming the orange tree was totally okay, because it gets trimmed back every summer anyways, and is huge! So no worries friends, I did not hurt the tree or cut it back too much. Just had to trim back enough to expose the post again.
I am excited about this for a few reasons. 1) It is good for the environment. Because I cloth diaper, I use more water than I would if I used disposable. This is unfortunate. Too make up for it, I am going to use less energy by line drying instead of using the dryer. Thus, cloth diapering allows me to decrease waste and energy used. 2) I can save some money each month by lowering our utility bill when I don't use the dryer. yahoo; and 3) I love being outside. Lydia enjoys sitting on a blanket and watching me while I have a few moments of what feels sort of therapeutic to me as I hang clothes or diapers on the line.

So. There you have it. Those have been my DIY projects. I have not perfected them, but I am enjoying them.

Uh oh. I hear the little one telling me she is done with nap time. Until next time!


  1. Sara! I love what you're doing! I love the cloth diapers, I love the sewing, I love the homemade baby food, everything! You are definitely saving money with all of that. I also have the supplies to make my own detergent but haven't gotten around to actually putting them together yet. Soon. And...I'm super jealous of your giant orange tree in your back yard. I've been eating blood oranges recently that are quite tasty, and wish they grew in Kansas.

  2. Super Baby Food is a wonderful book! i made all of Jake's baby food with the help of this book! gab didn't eat baby food so he was the first one i got to make it for and it was wonderful freezing his food and pulling it out for each meal. i used regular ice cube trays as i saw in your pics you are as well, but since then i have found these really cool trays that looks like it will be really easy to get the cubes out of. i always had trouble with regular ice cube trays because they aren't flexible. i will email you the link. have fun with all of your projects!

  3. There is something sooooo satisfying about line drying cloth diapers!