Archive for February 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

pie-in-a-jar, my new obsession

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Ever since seeing Not Martha’s tutorial on how to make a pie in a jar, I’ve been obsessed with them. I love the idea of a single serving of home made pie. Lucky for me I canned some yummy peach pie filling this last summer. I love this peach pie filling because it uses almond extract and no store bought pie filling can compare. Since I had all the ingredients already in my pantry I decided that it was time to make my little obsession a reality.

I used a pie crust mix and filled each jar with pie crust.

Next I added the pie filling and left a space at the top.

I then added a pie crust top. I simply rolled out the pie crust and used the jar ring as a cutter. Once the crust top was cut out in a perfect circle I used a small cookie cutter to cut out a little shape.

I then placed the crust on top and carefully pinched the pie crust top to the pie crust already in the jar. I baked it in my oven at 375 degrees until the pie crust was a golden brown. If you do this make sure you have a cookie sheet or something underneath. My little pies bubbled over a little bit.

These are adorable little pies and would make an excellent gift for a friend or neighbor. I think you can even freeze them and pull them out when you want a little pick me up. I wrapped up an extra pie in a jar that I had and gave it to my lovely cousin. She was so excited to get it.

Next, I tackle my obsession with cupcakes in a jar. Click here and here to check some of these cuties out!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

chalkboard place mat and tag tutorials

Stacy and her little guy made some of these cool chalkboard place mats for my boys back before we even started this blog, and they're still at hit at the dinner table! They love drawing pictures while I make dinner, and I love to leave little love notes for them that they'll see at breakfast.

Chalkboard Place Mat Tutorial

What you'll need:

*Oilcloth (ours was about 13" x 18", but you can cut it to whatever size suits you--find it at many fabric stores and online)
*Chalkboard cloth (can be found at many craft and fabric stores, and online)
*Bias Tape
*Spray Adhesive
*Sewing machine and thread

1. Cut your oilcloth and chalkboard cloth to the size you want. Spray the back of one piece with spray adhesive and adhere it to the back of the other piece, smoothing out any air bubbles. (Once you make a hole in these materials, they never go away, so don't use pins to baste them together.)

2. Fold bias tape over the edges and sew around edges to permanently attach the two pieces. Check out this tutorial from Angry Chicken if you want a really professional bias tape finish.

That's it! Before you try writing on your chalkboard, don't forget to use the side of a piece of chalk to cover the entire board with chalk. Erase it with a cloth and you're good to go!

Now here's a fun little twist on this project. Reusable chalk gift tags! Use them over and over--just erase the name and write a new one. These would be really great for family birthdays or Christmas gifts.

Reusable Chalkboard Gift Tags

You'll need:
*Small piece of oilcloth (ours was 2" x 3"--you can find this at many fabric stores and online)
*Small piece of chalkboard cloth (found at many craft and fabric stores)
*About 6" coordinating ribbon
*Sewing machine and thread

1. Cut the oilcloth and chalkboard fabric the same size. Use pinking shears for a more finished look.

2. Put the two pieces together with wrong sides together. Insert ribbon between pieces.

3. Stitch around edges. Done!

We've got more chalkboard projects coming up soon--stay tuned for part 2!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

make your own laundry soap

We're not just about cutesy crafts around here--we love making practical things, too. Making your own laundry soap is economical and earth-friendly (recycle your old laundry soap containers or milk jugs). And it's pretty darn easy!

We tried a couple different recipes and came up with our own version of liquid laundry soap. It works out to be about $2.50 (or less) for 5 gallons of detergent. Pretty sweet, eh?

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

What you'll need:

*Box of Borax Natural Laundry Boost (this can be found in the laundry soap aisle)
*Box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (baking soda will NOT work as a substitute)
*1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, a stain removing laundry soap (ANY bar of soap like Ivory, Dove, et. will work, but we like the extra stain-fighting in this one)
*Scented oil of your choice (optional)
*Five gallon bucket
*Empty laundry detergent bottles or milk jugs

Instructions for 5-gallons of liquid detergent:

1. Grate your bar of soap with a cheese grater. Careful, the Fels-Naptha soap really looks like cheddar cheese--kids will want to eat it!

2. Put the grated soap in a sauce pan with 6 cups water. Heat soap and water until the soap melts.

3. Add 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup Borax and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.

4. Pour 1 gallon hot water into your 5-gallon bucket. Add your soap mixture and stir well. Add about 3 1/2 more gallons of hot water to the bucket and stir again. Add your scented oil now if you choose to. We used about 2 tsp. honeysuckle essential oil. Just add enough until it smells good to you.

5. Pour the liquid mixture into your empty bottles (you might want to try a funnel). Or, leave it in the 5-gallon bucket--it will just be a little more difficult to use. Let the mixture sit for about 24 hours. It will thicken almost to a gel.

6. Shake your bottle well before each use. Use 1/2 cup of detergent for large loads.

The Arm & Hammer Washing Soda was about $3 to $4, and the Borax about the same price. The Fels-Naptha bar ran us about $1.25. You will get about four 5-gallon buckets of laundry detergent from one box of each. With tax, we figure that works out to be about $2.50 for 5 gallons. Sweet! That could cover about 160 loads of wash! You can't get a better deal than that.

So you've just saved a ton on laundry detergent. How about an easy way to save on dryer sheets? Good Mama has an easy tutorial to make felted wool dryer balls that will take care of static cling in the dryer. Check out the ones we made. They were easy and fun--a great project for older kids to help out with! Now go tackle that mountain of laundry that's been waiting while you were making one of our "cutesy" crafts!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

japanese time machine

Whenever I am in Jackson, Wyoming or Sedona, Arizona, I love to stop in and watch the old time photographers. You know the ones. They dress you up in vintage western wear and take your picture. Then a million dollars later you have a beautiful sepia toned picture of you and your loved ones that looks just like it was taken 100 years ago. Well, this past year I discovered a Japanese Time Machine that gives you the same results, but for free. No need to fly yourself to a popular tourist attraction. Take note all you scrappers and altered art artists out there. The Bakamatsu Koshashin Generator allows you to use your current digital photos and turn them into pictures that look 100 to 150 years old. (Don't forget to click on "English" in the top right corner if you can't read Japanese!)

I had to see for myself how the pictures turn out. I altered a picture of me and my kiddos in Seattle taken this last fall. Mandy’s son thought we were in ancient China when he saw the picture. Imagine what you can do with this. Get your little ones all dressed up in their cowboy costumes and take pictures. Run them through the Bakamatsu Koshashin Generator and voila! Your own vintage picture. Does your hubby have a car that he just loves and adores? Send a picture of his car through the generator. You can do so much with this site. If you do make some beautiful art with this, we would love to see it!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

YCMT giveaway winner

Thanks to all of you who entered our giveaway. It is such a great site and we were glad they offered our readers a fabulous giveaway. Without further ado, the winner is...

LORI of wife in training blog

Congratulations on winning this awesome $50 bundle! Please email us at with your information so we can put you in touch with Courtney who will send you all the details on your prize.

For all the readers who didn't win, remember to click here to sign up for the newsletter where you'll receive a bunch of product instructions, plus an online video and digital scrapbooking frames for signing up.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

embellished hand sanitizer

Two of the birdies are off having fun with family this week, so since I'm flying solo, I think it's a perfect time for a super-duper-simple craft idea. And I have just the thing. We found this idea over at Just a Girl. Hand sanitizer is a great way to slow the spread of germs. This embellished hand sanitizer is a quick and easy project perfect for the cold and flu season. It would make a great teacher or office-mate gift!

We peeled the labels off of hand-pump hand sanitizer and let the kids replace them with pretty stickers. Rub-ons used in papercrafting would work great, too. Then we added a stamped tag with a coordinating ribbon and voila, pretty enough for any desk or bathroom! This is a great, inexpensive way to coordinate your bathroom soap pump with your decor as well.

Let's all stay healthy so we can keep crafting!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

restyled sweater projects

It's still sweater-weather, but I'm getting itchy for spring cleaning already. If you've got a sweater or two in your closet that are on their way out, check out how I breathed new life into an old sweater. I just followed two great tutorials and got two new, restyled items!

This is the sweater bag. Check out the super-simple tutorial from Perched on a Whim. I embellished the bag with a posie from this Fig Tree & Co. pattern. There are lots of sweater-bag patterns out there. Check out this one, this one, and this one for a few different takes on this fun project.

After cutting off the arms, I used this tutorial from Scarlette and Cinnamon to make a pair of baby socks. How sweet are these?
We love finding ways to reuse items we already own. But if you don't have any sweaters you're willing to part with, check out your local thrift store for some cheap finds. You can make a bag that totally fits your style!

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Monday, February 16, 2009

You Can Make This Giveaway

Have you heard of this great site It was created by a mom who wanted to provide downloadable instructions on how to make just about anything from children's boutique clothing and jewelry, to handbags, home decor and more. What makes the site unique is that these instructions are written by everyday moms who have an expertise in an area. They are written in a way that makes you feel you have a friend sitting right next to you, telling you what to do next. They all have detailed instructions and step-by-step full-color photos so even the most "craft-challenged" person can make these items for their homes and families.

In fact, if you'd like to try out some products for free, you can sign up for their FREE newsletter. After sign-up, you'll receive a link to your email inbox asking you to confirm subscription. Simply click on that link, and you'll receive all of these product instructions pictured above, plus an online video and digital scrapbooking frames. Click here to sign up.

The Little Birdies love this site. What can be more exciting than a mom who has started a site, and moms who provide the instructions to make a beautiful, handmade craft? On top of that, is offering our readers an unbelievable giveaway. Would you like to win a $50 bundle of even more DIY instructions? Check out and come back and post something you'd like to learn how to make. You can learn how to make a Child/Adult Apron Set, Women's Reversible Wrap Skirt, The "She Loves Me, She Loves Me KNOT" Handbag, The Reversible Patchwork Bucket Hat, Easy-Fit Pants, and Boys Ties. Remember, even if you've
never sewn before, this site believes that you REALLY CAN make these things!

Be sure to leave us a comment with what you want to make by 12:00am PST Friday, February 20th and we will draw a winner on Saturday. Good Luck!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

card contest winner!

We're so excited about the winning card from our Valentine's card swap contest! Thanks to everyone who voted! We received almost 600 votes, and the Love Birds card won by a landslide--39% of the votes. And it's not hard to see why! We love the color combination and the cute shape. It looks like our winner is a big fan of Stampin' Up! And we especially love that it features little birdies.

Our winner will receive this great scallop rotary paper cutting tool by Martha Stewart Crafts. Create a darling scalloped edge anywhere!

Here's the thing. Our card winner didn't include her information on the back of the card, so we don't know who made this cute thing! I'm sorry--I thought everyone in the top ten had, but I missed this one. So please, fess up! E-mail us if you sent this card to our card swap, and include your name and address so we can send you your prize!


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Friday, February 13, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread

When I was young my mom made Amish Friendship bread all the time. She was always trying out new variations of the recipe by switching out the pudding flavors and adding in nuts, coconut or chocolate chips. Now that I have a family of my own, I make it myself sometimes and it always disappears from the kitchen very quickly. Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought it would be a great time to share this recipe with you. It is such a great gift to give to friends....a loaf of this homemade sweet bread along with a starter so they can make their own. With this recipe you keep a starter going as long as you want and at the end of the cycle you have extra starters to give away. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving!

If you are starting the bread yourself combine 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup sugar in a zip-top bag and squeeze it together until mixed in. This is day 1. Continue with the rest of normal instructions.
Note: Do not refrigerate the starter. Keep it at room temperature.

Amish Friendship Bread

Day 1: Receive starter from a friend.
Day 2-5: Mush closed bag twice a day.
Day 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Mush bag.
Day 7-9: Mush bag and release air twice a day.
Day 10: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. This is the day you make your bread.

First measure three 1 cup starters and put them in three separate bags. Save one for yourself and give the other two to friends.

Pour remaining batter into a large bowl and add the following ingredients:
1 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large box instant vanilla pudding

Mix ingredients well. In a bowl, mix together 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar. Grease two loaf pans. Pour batter into loaf pans, and sprinkle top with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake at 35o degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. This does really well in the freezer.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

memories card giveaway winner

We have a winner for our 2-Minute Memories Card giveaway! Congratulations to. . .
Heather Cosby of!

Heather said she loves her valentine because:
He does all the chores I hate: unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, washing the floor. . .

Sounds pretty sweet to me! Send us a quick e-mail with your address, Heather, and we'll get it in the mail to you. Thanks to everyone who entered. We loved reading all the sweet reasons you love your valentines!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

vote for your favorite valentine's card!

We keep talking about our awesome Valentine's Day card swap, and now we're ready to show you what all our crafty participants created. Check out our Flickr pool to see most of the cards that were sent in (if they were received after the original deadline we may not have been able to get a photo--sorry!). Aren't they gorgeous?

When you're done being completely inspired, come back to our site and vote for your favorite of our top ten favorites (below) on the poll at the top of the page--the winner will get a fun paper-crafting tool from us! It was sooooo hard for us to choose the top ten, especially since we each have a little different taste. There were so many beautiful cards that we knew hours of work had gone into. But hopefully this group is a good representation of the Three Birdies. Pick your favorite, and yes, it's okay to vote for your own card! Vote by Valentine's Day, February 14 at 11:59pm PST.

Here are the top 10 in no particular order. Click on the card to enlarge the picture. Note the number beside the card and vote above!











Don't forget to vote at the top of your screen! Thank you again to all those who participated and made this swap a hit. Good luck, Top Ten!

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