“Dishes Are…” Signs

I don’t know what it’s like in your house, but in my house we can never remember if we’ve already run the dishwasher.  I take a peak inside and things look pretty clean, so I grab a fork only to realize the dishwasher has definitely not been run.

Here’s my solution…

I made these signs using a few fonts in InDesign and some free vector images I found online.  I printed the signs on card stock and then applied them to magnetic sheets (found at basically any craft store).  So now when I turn the dishwasher on, I’ll stick on the appropriate sign the the guess work is gone!

If any one is interested, I’ve uploaded the PDF for your use, free of charge.  Happy Dishwashing!


Testing Magic Eraser to Remove Tarnish

I’ve been a big fan of Magic Eraser for a few years.  These things really are magic.  I don’t understand how they work.  It’s just a white sponge without foaming chemicals, and somehow it removes scuffs, marks, stains, etc. from walls, clothes, ovens, etc.  Magic!

I was randomly clicking through half the internet the other day  and somehow landed on a page listing 100 uses for Magic Erasers.  Of course, I have no idea how I got to that page, and I can’t find it again.  Anyway, most of the uses were not that unique or revolutionary, but one stood out: use Magic Eraser to remove tarnish from silverware.  Wha???

I inherited silverware from my grandmother-in-law, which is truly lovely.  But, some of the pieces were pretty tarnished, and try as I might, I couldn’t remove it.  So I thought I had nothing to loose if I tried the Magic Eraser.

The Question: Will Magic Eraser remove tarnish?

The Test: Wet the Magic Eraser and wipe/scrub silverware.

Conclusions:  I’m totally impressed.  I really didn’t think this would work considering all the chemicals I’d already tried.  The Magic Eraser is even more magical to me now.  It takes a little bit of time and continued scrubbing to get the tarnish off, and your Magic Eraser is basically going to be ruined and smell like metal (and not in a good way), but it totally works.  I kind of understand how it works on walls and other similar surfaces, but I have no idea how it works on silverware! Here’s a before picture:

Pretty tarnished, huh?

And here’s the after:


There’s still just a bit of tarnish left, but I’ll use the Magic Eraser a few more times and I’m pretty sure I’ll get it completely removed.


A Pillow Sweater

Sweater Pillow

When my husband and I moved across the country nearly two years ago, we liquidated…a lot…including all of our throw pillow.  One of my husband’s favorite weekend activities is to nap on the couch, which is understandably difficult without a pillow.

I made this pillow out of an old sweater.  I actually really loved this sweater in it’s heyday and wore it pretty frequently.  So frequently, in fact, it finally got a bit stretched and misshapen and there was a small stain right on the front.

I decided to make this sweater in to a pillow for my husband’s weekend naps.  First, I deconstructed the sweater.  I measured the largest part of the main body (below the armholes) and marked out rectangles on the front and back of the sweater with pins.  I didn’t want the knit of unravel when I cut the pillow, so I quickly sewed the outline of the rectangle on the sewing machine before cutting.  I sewed up 3 full sides and most of the fourth side with the two right sides facing.  Then, I turned it right side out and stuffed with polyfill.

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DIY: Self Tanner

Self tanner

Chicago is teasing us with summer-like temperatures, and the urge to bronze is great.  I’ve tanned (both outdoors and indoors) and used self-tanner in the past, but am no longer willing to bake myself or use chemicals I cannot pronounce.  So, I went on a search for home-made tanners:

Natural e-How recipe
Less-than-natural e-How recipe
Examiner recipe
e-How options

The popular bases for home-made tanners were cocoa powder and black tea – obvious once you think about it.  I digested as much information as I cared to at this point and formulated a game plan.  I liked the idea of using tea over cocoa powder because the cocoa sounded sticky and maybe a little messy.  Though, I’m sure you end up smelling delicious.  I tried a version using black tea:

Oil-based tanner: (pictured)
black tea
baby/body oil
essential oil, optional (I ended up not adding any)

Directions: steep black tea in about 1 cup water until you’ve extracted ample color (approx. 30 mins); add slowly to body oil; add drops of essential oil of your choice to your fragrance level preference.

I slowly added the black tea and emulsified with a small whisk, periodically testing the oil on my leg to get the desired color.  The tanner in the picture to the right looks really extreme, but it doesn’t actually apply nearly as dark.  The solution settles and separates, but a quick shake before application does the trick.  As a side note, you can see the tomato plants I bought at the farmer’s market in the background!

Depending on how this ends up working, I might try a cocoa powder tanner based:

Cream-based tanner:
cocoa powder
body lotion
essential oil, optional (since I suspect the cocoa will have a pretty strong scent, I recommend using an oil that is complementary, such as vanilla or almond)

Directions: add cocoa powder slowly to body lotion until desired color is achieved; add drops of essential oil

UPDATE: I tried to the cocoa-based tanner mixed with body lotion, and did not have success.  The lotion absorbs into the skin as normal, but the cocoa is left sitting on the skin surface and rubs off.  Not recommended.

DIY: Deodorant


Yes, I made my own deodorant.  I had been using deodorant made with “things that aren’t bad for you” and simply wasn’t impressed.  It’s winter, so it’s not that I need a lot of odor protection right now, but when I stumbled upon A Common Thread’s blog post about homemade deodorant, I was intrigued.


The ingredients

I followed the directions posted by A Common Thread and How About Orange with much success.  I tried mixing everything together with a folk, but ultimately had to get my hands involved to make the coconut oil melt and combine with the other ingredients.  This was a liquid-y mess but was effective nonetheless.

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
4 tbls coconut oil
10+ drops of essential oil

Deodorant mixture

The mixture

My only complaint, if it can really be a complaint, is that the deodorant smells like cookies despite a healthy addition of more grapefruit essential oil.  I suppose it’s the combination of coconut oil and backing powder, and in truth, I don’t mind smelling like freshly baked sugar cookies all day.

My contribution to the world of make-your-own deodorant?  Instead of storing your concoction in a tin or other container, create a mold in an old deodorant dispenser (bottom right).  I simply cleaned out my last dispenser and started filling it with the mixture with the spiral all the way extended.  The more I filled, the lower I moved the spiral.  Nearly the entire mixture fit – I only had a few spoonfuls left over, which I put in a container for later use.  I then let the mold sit overnight in the fridge to firm.

Final verdict: I’ll keep using this for now, and may tweak the recipe later on to avoid smelling like cookies, but am pleased with the results.

Trick Hemming Jeans

Anyone who knows me knows two things; first, Henry makes the best biscuits and gravy you will ever taste, and second, I’m short.  I frequent a certain outlet mall in Florence, KY from time to time and find great deals, but I usually have to sew on a button or two.  My last trip to the outlet landed me with an awesome pair of black skinny jeans from Banana Republic (only $10!).  The only “problem” with the jeans was that they were WAY too long, and the style of the jeans didn’t offer cuffing as an option.

After researching and youtubing, I decided to try to hem these jeans so that I could actually wear them.  The process I decided to use is called “trick hem,” but I also saw some references to it being called “euro hem.”  Nomenclature aside, I’ve detailed the process and added a few side notes along the way.


1.  First, try on the jeans you want to hem and cuff them to the length you prefer.  I used pins for the photo, but pinning is not necessary at this point.  I also cuffed my jeans a little longer so that I could wear them with heals.

Rip Seam

2.  Take off the jeans.  Measure the amount of fabric that you folded to form the cuff; this is the amount by which you will hem the jeans.  Record your measurement and then use a seam ripper to remove the stitches from the original hem seam.

IMPORTANT: measure from the crease of the cuff to the seam of the original hem, not the very bottom of the jean cuff.  Because you will be keeping the original hem, the hem seam is your baseline.

Measure Cuff

3.  Take the measurement that you took from the cuff and divide by 2.  For example, I wanted to remove 1.875 inches, so I measured ~.94 inches to form a new cuff.  Add an additional ~1/8 inch or so to allow for the seam (this will make sense later).  So, for my project, I measured 1 inch (~.94 inches + 1/8 inch for selvage).  Remember, measure from the bottom of the cuff to the original seam.

Measure Original Seam

4.  Once you have pinned the new cuff in place, measure ~1/8 inch down from the original seam.  This is your seam allowance.  Use a fabric pencil or marker to mark this measurement.

Sew Seam

5.  Sew around each leg at the 1/8 inch mark from the original seam.

IMPORTANT TIP:  Once you have finished sewing this seam, take the time to try to jeans back on just to make sure you measured correctly.  If you realize you made a mistake, you can always take the seam out and repeat steps 1 – 4.

Cut Away Extra Fabric

6.  Cut the extra fabric.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP:  Do not cut too close to the seam you just created.  You will need some selvage material to tuck in to the new hem.

Tuck Original Hem

7.  In the photo to the right, you can see how the seam you just created will tuck in under the original hem line (to the right of my thumb).

Sew Along Original Hem8.  I pinned the new cuff, but if you’re more talented you could probably skip the pins.  Sew along the original hem line that you removed in step 2.

A Trick Hem9.  Voila!  This photo to the right shows the new “tricky” hem.