Monday, July 27, 2009

Pacifier Clips

I know you’ve seen these clips and thought, “That’s pretty simple. I could do that.” Guess what? You can! This is a very easy project, and sooooo useful. Aside from the obvious function of keeping the pacifier off of the ground, the clip makes it WAY easier to find in the middle of the night. You can clip the paci to the handle of a diaper bag, to a car seat, a bouncy chair, a swing, or anywhere you want a pacifier to stay. The rounded edges of the suspender clip and the plastic teeth grip fabric firmly without damaging it, and it’s pretty easy to open with one hand.

In the photos that follow, I’m making two clips at one time, although only one is shown. I did both from start to finish in about 10 minutes, making this project not only easy, but fast, too. I like to make two or three coordinating clips, and give them with a package of pacifiers as a new baby gift.


Metal suspender clips
1” grosgrain ribbon (12” lengths)
3/4" Velcro fastener tape or pearl snap fasteners
Sewing machine and thread
Fray Check
Stitch Witchery
Claw hammer, mouse pad and spool (for snap fasteners)

1. Cut 12” lengths of grosgrain ribbon. Snip a tiny bit off of each corner, and finish the raw edges with Fray Check. You could also use pinking shears on the edges.

2. Turn one end of the ribbon under 3/8” twice, and press. Fold under 5/8” on the opposite end and iron.

4. Snip off a little 1/2" piece of Stitch Witchery and put it inside the fold. Iron to secure.

5. Slip the suspender clip in to the pressed 3/8” end, and use coordinating thread to sew across it twice. Snip the threads close, and secure with a dot of Fray Check on the reverse side.

6. At this point, you can attach a pearl snap fastener with the receiving side of the snap in the middle of the fold you just made, and the decorative side of the snap about 1-1/2” below it. Follow the directions on the package. I like to use a mouse pad underneath my work to protect both the table and the snap.

Or, you can cut squares of Velcro tape and sew them down in the same places, covering the raw edge that you folded and ironed earlier. It’s important to use Velcro that doesn’t have a sticky coating on the back, because it will gunk up your sewing machine needle and thread.

7. Attach a pacifier and admire your handiwork.

These can be spot cleaned, hand washed, thrown in the dishwasher, or put in the washing machine. Air dry. Enjoy not bending down 279 times per day to pick a pacifier up off the floor.

How to do it...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to Make a Personalized Mother's Necklace

I made this oxidized sterling necklace for my Mom stamped with the initials of each of her grandchildren. You can use the same principles to personalize jewelry using names or words as well. This project does require some basic jewelry-making experience, but with the right tools and supplies, I think anyone could create something like this.

Materials needed:

3/8" round sterling silver disks
1 1/2" 24 gauge sterling headpins
18 gauge sterling wire
18" sterling snake chain
Sterling jump rings
Small freshwater pearl beads
Jeweler's tool (like rounded needle-nose pliers)
Wire snips
Metal stamping kit
Heavy claw-tooth hammer
Chasing hammer
Metal block
Dremmel drill fitted with a very tiny bit
1 egg
Ziplock bag
Double-sided tape

1. Stamp the disks
I bought the little silver disks precut, since I don't have the tools to cut them myself. I then had my father-in-law, who is a dentist, bore small holes in each one. I am pretty sure this could be done with a Dremmel drill fitted with a very tiny bit, however. You can also buy metal pendants precut with a hole.

Use the metal stamping kit, hammer and metal block to stamp an initial on each disk. Center the stamp, hold it straight, and give one or two nice hard whacks with a heavy claw-tooth hammer. I like to use double sided tape on my block to hold the disks still while stamping, since they are so small. I made nine, since my mom currently has nine grandchildren.

2. Wire the pearls

I used small freshwater pearl beads and 1-1/2" 24 ga. sterling headpins. Thread the pearl onto the pin. Grasp the wire with the jewler's tool about 1/8" above the top of the pearl. Bend it away from yourself at a 90 deg. angle.

Grasp the wire about 1/4" from the bend and twist it back toward yourself, creating a round loop. Continue to wrap the wire back around itself to finish. I made nine of these, one for each grandchild.

3. Prepare a decorative loop.

Using the 18 ga. wire, make a large circle, about an inch in diameter. Loop the ends of the circle around, wrapping and cutting one end with the wire snips. Use the other end to form a smaller loop like the one at the top of each pearl. This will be where the pendant hangs from the chain, so make sure this loop is big enough for one end of the necklace to go through. Use the chasing hammer and metal block to flatten out the edges of the loop. This also hardens the piece.

Add other decorative touches as desired: I wrapped one piece of wire around itself in a circle, so that looked like a cable, or a piece of two-ply rope. I made a loop at the top, and hammered it flat as well. I attached this decorative element to the large loop using a jump ring.

4. Put the pieces all together.

The jump rings I bought were made like very small key rings. This is more secure than an open jump ring for hanging the disk pieces. I threaded one jump ring into the hole on a disk, threaded a pearl on behind it, and then threaded the whole thing onto my large pendant circle. I repeated this process 8 more times, making sure the initials showed on the front. Hang the pendant from the necklace.

5. Oxidize the silver.

If you want to leave the metal shiny, then you're done. Woo hoo!!

I like to oxidize my pieces to get the shiny finish off. Hard boil an egg. While it's still hot, put it in a ziplock bag, and mash it up (shell and all). Place the necklace inside, and leave it for about 30-40 minutes. Make sure the necklace is completely covered by the egg. Turn it from time to time to get an even coat. When the metal is the color you like, take it out and rinse it.

There are other ways to oxidize sterling silver, but this is by far the least messy and least expensive. You will have better results if you use a freshly-cooked egg. I have tried it with a hard-boiled egg reheated in the microwave, and the results are just not the same.

Some other ideas:

Sterling silver disks: etsy
Sterling wire, chains & freshwater pearls: eBay
Jewelery tools, sterling headpins, jump rings: Hobby Lobby
Remaining tools (hammer, stamping set): my garage

How to do it...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to Make All-Natural Baby Food

I thought I would be such a healthy mom: all natural and organic foods, no sugar, make all my own baby food, and breastfeed exclusively for at least six months. I haven't exactly lived up to those high ideals, but I have learned some quick tips for preparing easy, healthy, natural baby foods.

1. Organic Oatmeal Cereal

Use a blender to grind about a cup of organic oats at a time until you get an even, sandy consistency. Store in an air-tight container. To prepare the cereal, add to warm milk, soy milk, applesauce, juice, vegetable and fruit purees... anything you want to thicken a bit. Add a little less cereal than you think you will need, because it thickens up as it sits.

2. Organic Fruit and Vegetable Purees

If you’re eating or preparing cooked organic vegetables or fruit for the rest of the family, the easiest thing to do is to use a baby food mill. As long as the veggies or fruit are pretty well cooked, you can grind a serving at a time, and baby’s food will be ready in less than 2 minutes.

If you want to prepare a larger amount of baby food, puree the cooked veggies or fruit in a blender with just a little water. The baby food can be frozen in ice cube trays for nice little serving-sized portions. After the cubes are frozen, pop them into freezer bags, and thaw one serving at a time. You can get creative with combinations of fruits and vegetables as well: prunes and bananas, strawberries and mango, peas and carrots, corn and squash.

3. Finger Foods
Once your baby is old enough to pick up finger foods, you can serve little bits of soft cheese, soft fruits like banana and mango cut into small pieces, little pieces of whole grain breads, and if you don’t mind the mess, scrambled egg. Be sure to supervise little ones feeding themselves.

4. Happy Combinations

My son likes to eat cottage cheese and fruit, ricotta cheese and applesauce, oatmeal and applesauce, scrambled eggs with shredded cheese, applesauce and shredded cheese, and just about any combination involving yogurt.

5. Shortcuts for Really Busy Moms
These are some of our favorite shortcuts to healthy eating: Earth’s Best Foods makes yummy organic baby food products. My son’s favorite is the whole grain graham crackers. Yo Baby yogurts are organic, made with whole milk, and include DHA for brain development. Some other staples we like to have around are prepared organic applesauce, cottage cheese, and boxed cereals like Cascadian Farm Purely O’s.

How to do it...