Friday, March 27, 2009

DIY Baby Sling

1st Disclaimer: This isn't my idea. But it's a great one for a baby gift in hard economic times nonetheless, that is if you've got the crafty DIY gene like I inherited from mom!

The link above is to the initial pattern I found online for a baby sling from KarmaBaby, but I'm here to make that process a little more easy on you. I had to enlist SuperMom for translation, so I'll take the liberty in assuming you won't quite understand KarmaBaby's pattern either... Let's get crackin'!

You'll need:
  • two yards of fabric of a slightly stretchy/giving cotton blend (she suggests 90% cotton/10% lycra, but my all-cotton worked fine).
  • sewing machine and thread, this pattern's so easy a hand-held sewer will work, but don't translate that to "sew this by hand", that won't be quick or easy. Handhelds are just that, a small version of a sewing machine you hold in your hand.
  • measuring tape
  • sharp scissors

2nd Disclaimer: My images are with white paper first, so you can see the text/measurements written on it. Accordingly, the dimensions aren't actually to-size, but they are labeled so.

First, size your babymamma (or guessing) and use this guide for length:
Small (mamma body) frames: 28" length
Medium frames: 30"
Large frames: 32"
XL frames: 34-36"
** We won't use this until Step 6 so hang on to that size for now. Below it will be marked with these asterisks. **

Your original fabric dimensions, as purchased, should be two yards (72") by 44", the standard width dimensions of a fabric bolt. Fold down the width-side and cut in half to 72" x 22". Set one piece aside, in case you err or need to make a second.

Fold again on the width so that your 22" side now becomes 11", total dimensions are 72"x11". (That's what confused me first on her pattern.)

And then fold in half lengthwise so you're looking at 36" by 11". (also not clear on her pattern.)

Fold location is very important here because you're about to cut one rounded end through two layers, so it's evenly rounded on both ends when you open it up. You'll be sewing the rounded ends together, which is why they need to be even.

** Before you cut this end, use your sizing length. The long end or starting point of what will be a rounded arc should be the size length you measured above. The short end of the rounded arc should be exactly 3" shorter than in length.

To clarify, say your babymamma has a medium sized frame. Measure 28" on the side of the fabric that is the center fold, closest to you.

Then on the top side, furthest from you, measure 25" (3" shorter than 28). This short side should actually be close to the same length as the babymamma's shoulder-to-hip measurement if you're making it for someone you can measure.

Once you've measured, begin cutting the long end in a rounded arc, and double check- you should be starting from the center fold. IE: image left. (You can click on the images to make them larger.)

Then open it up and it should look like this (but longer, as mentioned dimensions of my sheet of paper are not to size). If it doesn't look like this, you'll need to go grab that booboo extra piece! :)

From here, fold the piece in half in the middle so the two rounded ends are matched up, with the colored or outside part of the fabric facing out. (You'll be reinforcing this hem, so this is important.) Sew a 1/4" hem along the rounded edge and backstitch the ends for reinforcement.

Once sewn, turn inside out and sew along the same edge (now we switch to actual fabric images) to reinforce this rounded end where the baby's bottom will fit snugly into and need extra protection!

Then open up again and you'll have a big loop of fabric, with two ends still to hem. I press with an iron to make tidy hems, but pinning works too.

Now you've got a big squarish piece of fabric, all ends sewn up nicely. Add a pocket if you like (I did), or anything else like a loop for keys or toys for baby.

When you put the baby sling over your head and one arm, it will bunch a little bit at the shoulder, which you can straighten out or leave a little crumpled, up to you. The rounded end will be out in front of you, and you tuck the baby into that!

Here's KarmaBaby's image as completed; since I don't have a baby to put in mine! (I'm tempted to make one for my magnet lover kitty we have though!) Their kid pictured is a lot larger than I'd make this sling for, but you can see that it's useable right up into the kid-size.

I would like to give plenty of "props" to KarmaBaby for putting this pattern online; as despite the inexpensive materials, these baby slings aren't usually less than $50 each at retail. Thanks for helping us get through the recession KarmaBaby!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Budget Idea: Save on Gas

Seeing this Segway today made me think about all the things we've done to save on gas; not just during this past year, we've been trying to lessen our dependence on oil for years. It's hard, but possible. Let me share our top ideas along with this awesome video to get your idea wheels turning...

.... this guy's brilliant, complete with his briefcase, likely traveling downtown to home after work on the mountain, judging from his direction. Segways are so much fun - IF used for transportation instead of an excuse not to walk.

Gas might be only $1.80/g right now, but you can bet we'll see another spike again this summer.
So on to the ideas- simple, green, or downright crazy, take your pick!

1. When I first got my Toyota Tacoma, I was a little guilty about the gas mileage. Though published (as usual) at a 18-22 city-hwy m/g rating, the Tacoma actually only got 15-18 when I started tracking my "Mountain Girl". After several months (6-10) of data gathering, I found that the rumors were true; if I waited till she was empty to fill her up, those last few gallons sunk my mileage considerably- as low as 10-12m/g on that last gallon. Ouch. But if I used 1/2 a tank and filled it, then I could get 16-18 even in the city, and definitely 18-19 on the highway. So start by putting a small notebook in your car and keep a journal with date, gallons filled, miles since last fillup, and equating the two into your m/g to see where your vehicle stands for a few months. Then start filling it up at 1/2 a tank and see how those #s go up!

2. I read in one of my crystal books that if I taped quartz points- preferably double terminated, meaning pointed at both ends - to the gas line I could save about 2 miles per gallon. One company sells them as "orgone energy boosters." So I put this wacky idea to the test shortly after I got the Tacoma, and have been doing it ever since. I taped three small crystals onto the cool pipes of the gas line and took data for six months. Sure enough, I was getting more like 16 where I used to get 14 m/g. Similarly on the highway, I was actually getting more like 20.

When I took my truck into the shop for an oil change, Mikey didn't laugh as I expected him to. He said he'd heard of that before, and seen it on one other car in the valley. Apparently the crystals inate peizoelectric energy helps increase the flow of gasoline through the lines. It could also be the way gas is created that makes this work... but hey, if it works, it works. You should cleanse these crystals in filtered water about once a year.

3. An obvious yet perhaps the hardest one: use the alternative options to driving yourself such as the bus (free in Steamboat, so a no brainer), your bike/walk (also easy in the 'Boat with a 7 mile path that stretches the length of town), metro or train, or carpool.

Even if it's just one day a week or just on Earth Day, make a point to leave your car at home when it's possible and reduce your cost of gas.

4. Go Biodeisel. If you drive a deisel truck, this is the time of year to start thinking about biodeisel. Many areas are seeing this option increasingly- even Steamboat has a company that provides it now in the summer months. Winter's aren't so easy up here, as the biodeisel freezes at a much lower temperature and needs to be cut with regular deisel.

Don't try this on your own without some great mentoring, but poke around your area to see if someone is offering biodeisel as an option and get in for the details. Talk about the ultimate reduction of dependence on foreign oil.

5. Here are some other easy tips to increase gas mileage from increasing the proper functioning mechanics of your vehicle.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sore Throat Lozenges

I've had an acute, yet persistent cough for a week, and even though Ricola lozenges taste good and help slightly, they never help as much as Halls, and those don't fit into my natural lifestyle.

After doing a little research & concocting, I came up with a splendid, absurdly inexpensive substitute. Don't suppress your cough, encourage speedy and healthy lung expecting, healing, and recovery with your own homemade honey lozenges.

There are many herbs for soothing the throat such as slippery elm, mullein, horehound & licorice. I went with what was in the house and it worked great too.

Step 1: Herbal Decoction & Water Base
First boil down about 2 cups of filtered or distilled water with 1 Tbs thyme (not powdered), 1 Tbs rosemary, and stick of cinnamon. Measure about that amount or more for whatever herbs you use, better if grown and dried yourself. Simmer on low for 15-20 minutes with lid, occasionally stirring. Strain.

Step 2: Lozenge syrup
Combine 1 cup decoction with 1/2 cup natural syrup and 2 drops each of eucalyptus, lemon, and peppermint in a glass saucepot.
Simmer for another 45-60 minutes, stirring often and testing for rigidity until the syrup is quite dark & hardens once cool, almost immediately.

Step 3: Making Drops
Drop about 1/4 tsp of syrup onto lightly greased metal or ceramic sheet that drops will chip off easily from once cool. The wax on wax-paper melts and sticks to the lozenges, and a plain plate didn't work well either, but was easily solved by placing the plate/paper and lozenges in freezer for about an hour. Once cooled, wrap the lozenges in plastic individually and seal in a jar or tupperware. Freezing them adds a nice cooling touch. They will keep for 3-6 months.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Budget Squeeze: Part 2 of Make Your Own Face Products

If you haven't been following along, please refer to our previous post for Part 1 of Make Your Own Face Products for making a facial toner.

Today we're going to make the facial scrub to go along with it! This is another product we made on "Girls Night," and I've been using this for a year and absolutely love it so much that it became last year's Mothers Day present as well as a few Christmas Presents and I even gave some to a friend to try out. I haven't heard a bad report yet! My face always feels super clean but not stripped like products with sulfates can make you feel! This also comes from Healing Herbs, mentioned in the last post. Unlike the toner, this can be made and used instantly, so get to it!

1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups cosmetic clay
1/4 cup almonds
1/8 cup dried herbs (see previous post, any facial helping herbs will do)

Grind the oatmeal and almonds into a very fine powder and mix with cosmetic clay. Grind herbs if needed as well, I usually grind separately in a smaller coffee grinder to make sure they're super fine. If they aren't, they can scuff your face. Whisk together for best mixing.

Place mixture in an airtight container. I use tupperware for the large batch and have a small plastic container that I refill for the bathroom sink and shower areas. This will keep for up to one year, so if it looks like too much, give some away!

To use, place about 2 TBS in your hand and add water to make a thin paste, then scrub on face (and upper body!) gently. Rinse, and follow with your toner!

  • I label this as well so if I give any away I can make sure to include ingredient list and date.
  • If you're allergic to almonds you can use poppy seeds.
  • Use WHITE cosmetic clay for scrubs, and GREEN cosmetic clay for masks. You can get at any health food store, but I found it cheapest in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Add a scent to it by dropping in a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender, geranium, rose, and bergamot are my faves). Just two drops per 1/4 cup will do.
  • I bring this on the road by putting it in Intuition Razor refill containers that I've recycled!