Finger Puppet Play Pillows

theveganfarmer.com playpillow My kitchen has been closed the last week while we lay a new floor.  I am beyond excited about this.  While I’ve been away from my stove, I’ve been working on Christmas gifts.  Each year I make presents for all the kids in the family.  For the younger ones, I decided on finger puppet play pillows.  This was a labor of love as I totally underestimated how much time it would take to make each one.  Especially since I really only had free time while Emme napped.  Which wasn’t much this past week.  She’s fully embracing the holiday spirit.

What You’ll Need

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felt- various colors

pillow forms- found mine on Joann.com for less than $4 each

yarn- for the hair

string- to attach puppets to the pillow

thread and needle

scissors

permanent marker- for the faces

fabric glue

I rough sketched a finger puppet form, castle, crown, dragon (for the boys), dress for the princess, and shirt for the knight. You can find the pdf here- finger puppet. I traced each onto a piece of felt then cut them out.  You’ll need two each of the puppet form, dress, and shirt.  Once I sewed the puppet forms together, I turned them inside out.  The dress and shirt are a little bit bigger than the puppet to make it easier to sew on.  I just added a few stitches at the shoulders and under the arms. I originally tried gluing the yarn hair on but wasn’t very successful. So I stitched it on. For the crown, sew the ends together and attach to each puppet head with just a few stitches. I used a quick drying fabric glue to attach the castle to the pillow as well as the string to the puppet and pillow.  It survived the yank test after about 4 hours.

Each pillow took roughly an hour and cost approximately $5. I love that it cost so little to make something so fun. I also love that it’s not some commercially packaged present that everyone else will have. These pillows are super versatile and only need a little imagination and time to create.  Instead of princesses and dragons, you could make a barn and farm animal finger puppets.  Get crafty!

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Canning Homemade Applesauce

IMG_9647Let’s talk apples. One medium apple contains about 4 grams of soluble fiber, half the daily fruit quota, and a fair amount of vitamin C.   This makes for quite a satisfying sweet snack. All for only 100 calories!

Even though we’re not quite in apple season, our trees are bursting with ripe ones.  As in, oh, 60 pounds.  We spent a good chunk of this week harvesting, chopping, freezing, and canning apples.  One of our favorite forms of apple is applesauce.  Not only is it a tasty snack on its own, it’s awesome in baked goods.  Here is how I turned 30 pounds (16 pints) of apples into applesauce-

What You’ll Need

30 pounds of apples, chopped – adjust the amount  for  your lifestyle, of course

4-6 C sugar – this is totally optional. depending on how sweetened you’d like it

cinnamon – also optional

water

6 TBSP lemon juice

16 pint jars

Chop as many apples as you can stand.  Apparently 30 pounds is my limit. My partner in crime was more than happy to amuse me while I chopped.

IMG_9631  IMG_9643  Here’s the next apple, mom.  There are a bajiliion more in here.  Keep chopping.

Sterilize your jars and lids in simmering water.  Combine the apples and just enough water to keep them from sticking in a pan. Bring them to a medium boil, reduce to a light boil and stir occasionally, until they are tender.  Remove them from the heat and let cool a few minutes.  Transfer them in batches to a food processor and puree to desired smoothness. We made this batch smooth for ease.  We have reusable pouches we fill and the chunkier the sauce, the harder it is to squeeze out.  I also prefer smooth applesauce in my baking.

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Pour the sauce back into the pan.  Stir in the lemon juice and sugar.  Bring the sauce to a medium boil, stirring often.  Spoon the hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Put the lids on the jars and process in a boiling water canner for roughly 20 minutes.  Check the lids in a few hours.  There shouldn’t be any flexing.

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Allow to cool completely before storing. Enjoy!

Homemade Lavender Deodorant

My bathroom cabinet currently contains four half used natural deodorants.  I had high hopes for each one.  In the end, they all let me down.  I’ve been trying for years now to stop using conventional deodorants.  They are chock full of toxic chemicals (aluminum, parabens) that cause anything from Alzheimer’s to breast cancer.   I’m not comfortable with this.  So I scoured the interwebs for a natural, cheap homemade option.  I took that knowledge, mashed up a few ingredients I already had in my cabinet and voila! A natural, cheap, EFFECTIVE deodorant was born.

What You’ll Need-

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2 TBSP baking soda

6 TBSP arrowroot (or cornstarch)

2 TBSP coconut oil, melted

10 ish drops essential oil of choice- I used lavender for this batch.

In a bowl combine all ingredients.  Mash into an empty deodorant container or leave it in a small jar.  Let it set a day or so to firm up.  Apply to underarms, let it soak in and go about your business.

Coconut oil liquifies at 76 degrees so I’ll generally use this recipe until the heat of summer hits.  Once it does, I’ll make another batch and add a little beeswax to keep it firm.  You could leave out this step and store the deodorant in the fridge.

There are a few things to keep in mind when transitioning to a natural deodorant.  One, it won’t keep you from sweating.  Sweating is what helps your body rid itself of toxins.  Embrace it.  You won’t smell.  This was a tough one for me as I absolutely hate to sweat.  I think I’d hate to have cancer more, though. Two, your body will go through an adjustment period (usually a week or so) now that your glands are no longer being blocked.  I urge you to wait it out.  Your body will thank you.

Homemade Lavender Laundry Detergent

100_1210We generate a lot of laundry in our house.  A LOT.  Between having a toddler and tending large gardens, I’m basically washing a load a day.  The cost of laundry detergent and electricity to dry them can add up pretty quickly.  Especially if you’re buying unscented, specially for sensitive skin brands.  Being the extremely frugal and practical person I am, I went online and researched homemade options.  There are many recipes out there for homemade detergent.  I find this recipe to be the best at getting out food, garden and oil stains.

 

What You’ll Need-

1 1/2 bars of your favorite soap, grated

1 C Borax (20 Mule Team) *Most stores carry this.  I buy it at Walmart.

1 C Washing Soda *I also buy this at Walmart.  In a pinch, you can take a 1 1/3 C of baking soda and bake it at 425 degrees for about an hour to make washing soda.

1/2 C baking soda

4 C water

1 5 Gallon bucket

essential oil- optional  I like lavender.

Instructions:

1- Pour 4 cups of water in a pot.  Add the grated soap and melt over low heat. I do this with an old pot I no longer use for cooking.

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2- Grab your 5 gallon bucket and fill it halfway with warm water.  Stir in the Borax, washing soda, and baking soda until it’s dissolved.

100_1225 Frankie likes to supervise.

3- Add the melted soap and stir.

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4- Fill the rest of the bucket with warm water.

100_1249 Frankie also likes to sleep on the job.

5- Add essential oil by the drop until you’re satisfied with the scent.

I usually divide this into smaller bottles to make it easier to use.  Be sure to shake the smaller bottles, or stir if you’re leaving it in the bucket, before each use.  You can also skip step 4 and use less per load.  Skipping this step will make a more concentrated detergent.

I’ve estimated using my own detergent to cost 3 cents a load.   Commercial detergents cost roughly 21 cents a load.  That’s a pretty big savings.  Also, a 5 gallon bucket lasts nearly 6 months.  It’s one less thing on my shopping list.

Once you’ve washed your laundry and it’s now smelling super, hang it up outside to dry.  If you’ve not slept on line dried sheets, you’re missing out on an amazing experience.

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