Category Archives: Making Do

Made in the U.S.A. – ornament hooks

2012-12-20 08 (copy).18.50

We needed ornament hooks in December. It was so disappointing when I went to Wal-Mart and all of the ones there were made in… you guessed it: China.

So I thought I’d check out the paper clips and Bingo! Made in the U.S.A.

It just took a little bending and now I have good, strong, American made ornament hooks.

When I packed away the tree decorations this month, I put the hooks in the same can with them.

Next Christmas, I’ll know where they are.

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Filed under Christmas, Made in the U.S.A., Making Do, Thrift, Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart

Upcycled Tablet Case

“Goodwill kid’s shirt + bubble wrap + retired flexy plastic cutting board + duct tape, and a little sewing machine action…viola, custom case/sleeve for my tablet.”

Lance, my husband’s nephew, posted his project on Facebook, and with his permission, I share it with you.

Clever fellow.

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Filed under Crafts - Textile, Making Do, Thrift, Using What You Have

Contentment at Home

Natasha Burns has a lovely post about her home and her attitude about it. It’s called “loving what I have rather than wishing it was more.”

And over at Domestic Felicity, Anna has written a thoughtful post titled “No Cost Home Improvement.”

They both reminded me of a story by Amy Dacyczyn in one of her Tightwad Gazette books. I’ve looked through them and can’t find it, so I’ll have to keep looking, then post it. She told about going to the home of an older person – their furnishings weren’t expensive or even nice, but the home was spotlessly clean and welcoming.

Just what I needed to hear.

As I about to go to sleep a few nights ago, I sensed the Lord nudging me about the stashes of clutter everywhere. It’s a lifelong problem that I have to deal with and I simply hadn’t been dealing with it for awhile.

So yesterday, I tackled 3 problem areas and cleaned them up. The difference was amazing and so fulfilling. On days that I’m home, I hope to clean out at least one more area per day. On bad fibromyalgia days, I might be able to do only one, but one is progress and it’s one more step toward a clean house and organization.

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Filed under Cozy, Home, Internet links, Making Do

Costume Jewelry Repair

Somewhere along the line I acquire this brooch, which looks to me as if it’s from the 1950s. It’s a pretty little piece but was missing one of the stylized hearts and a green rhinestone. Probably a replacement could’ve been easily found for the rhinestone, but the heart was a bit tricky. They’re probably mother-of-pearl, or at least supposed to look like they are.

Even though I wore it a few times like it was, I began thinking about possible solutions for the missing pieces.

And I remembered Stickles.

Here it is after one coat of gold for the heart shape, and green on the rhinestone part.

On close inspection it wouldn’t fool anyone, but then, I hope not too many people will have their faces right up close to my lapel.

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Filed under Femininity, Jewelry, Making Do, Thrift, Using What You Have

New Curtains

This morning I’ve renewed my efforts to do something different for our kitchen windows. For several years the kitchen theme has been a red/white/green cheerful, kind of a 40’s look. Red rick-rack and all that.

But then, as women do, I started thinking about something different. Although not something so different that would require wall painting, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – the kitchen could certainly do with a new coat of paint, but I just can’t face packing up everything and all the rest of it that goes with a painting project.

So, I’m going to be contented (for now) with new curtains, potholders, and a few other things.

Our dining table was the one that my parents bought in 1965 from a discount furniture place in Tulsa. Can you imagine yourself 46 years from now still using a table from a discount place?

I guess they don’t even make discount furniture like they used to.

Anyway, the table (which you may have seen in some of my photos under some of my projects) has a brown, woodgrain formica top with a house and trees painted in 2 opposite corners. The accent paint color is kind of an aqua.

Then our son’s girlfriend gave me a cat and fish wind chime for Christmas, which is Very nice and she really shouldn’t have spent that much money. But it is nice and I really like it. The colors are the same as in the table. So the blue/green/aqua colors of the mid-60s are what I’m going with for the new look.

To fit in with my “Using What You Have” thoughts for this year, the curtain fabric is some that my sister gave me.

Now, Don’t have a cow: it’s fleece.

I know, I know. Fleece just isn’t curtain fabric. But it is in my house.

Our kitchen windows are on the south with no shade, which is nice in January, but not in Texas in August. And the window shades just weren’t very effective, besides which, they’re shot.

My sister pointed out that fleece is too bulky to make the rod pocket, and I don’t want to do tabs, because that would let light in around the tops and I’d have to buy new curtain rods (or come up with something else), so….

I’m hand printing/stenciling cats and coffee cups in green and turquoise on a piece of old sheeting to add to the tops for rod pockets. One thing I’ve learned with using acrylic paint for fabric painting: it helps to thin it a little bit with water, but not too much. I had too much water in the mix and then had to add more paint. But with it thinned a little it helps it to look more like fabric dye than gloppy paint. I tend to buy only basic colors, so I had green, but not the turquoise. For it, I mixed the green with some dark blue, then a little white to lighten it. Amazingly enough (thank you, Lord!), it is exactly the color of the fleece.

Yesterday I tried sewing a patchwork top on, but it just didn’t look right.

We’ll see how the hand printed fabric turns out.

So far, so good.

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Filed under Crafts - Cheap, Free, Home, Kitchens, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have

Household Greenery, Using What You Have

For years I’ve seen the hint in magazines and books about growing herbs and things on the kitchen windowsill, but they usually instruct one to purchase all kinds of things, like an already growing plant (have you seen the price of the potted herbs at the grocery store?). And all the special starting pots and fertilizer, etc. Not my way of doing things, so for years I didn’t even try it.

Houseplants don’t fare well in my care, so I quit buying them years ago. However, I still like them and decided to try and see what I could do with … well, with nothing fancy.

So I got to thinking about what I could do with what I already had; for instance that sack of old seed packets in the closet. (Even when I buy good quality seeds, my good intentions don’t always get me very far – like into the garden plot. But I’m too cheap to throw them away, because one never knows. Maybe they’ll grow even if they’re old. Well, they did!)

Obviously nothing was purchased for this little experiment. An empty tuna can, green beans can, a few old book pages, and some white glue. And thankfully, some leftover, good quality potting soil. Oh, yes, and lettuce seeds that were at least 5 years old.

While I honestly don’t recommend searching for outdated seeds, why not use them if they’re just sitting around?

Very pleased I was with the results!

Except that the can with the plant in it looked a little naked so I covered it with book page paper also.

Be sure to hammer a few nail holes into the taller can so it can drain.

What I learned from this step was to not cover the whole can down to the bottom with the paper. This puts it into the water line and it wicks up and stains the paper.

Voila! Edible houseplants! For free!

Update: For outdoor ideas of a similar nature, go to this post on Make Mine Beautiful. Polly is a professional and shares tons of ideas.

This post is linked to:

Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

Frugal Friday@ Life as Mom

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Filed under Book Page Projects, Free, Gardening, Home, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have

Vintage Kitchen Altered Book Ephemera, Part II

(Click on images to enlarge, then click again on the magnifying glass.)

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Filed under 1943, Advertisements, Ephemera, Food, Hints, Making Do, Menus, Recipes, Thrift, Thrift, Vintage Advertisements, Vintage Magazines, World War II

Vintage Kitchen Altered Book Ephemera

These pictures are from the October 1, 1943 issue of The Family Circle magazine. Some magazines haven’t changed all that much over the years. Family Circle has changed a lot. In ’43, it contained only 20 pages, included current events and a movie review, a short story and was printed in black and white on paper which was not slick. The cost is not printed on the cover, but I’m guessing that it was about .05. (Click on the image for an enlarged view, then click again on the magnifying glass. It will then be readable.)


The Sweetheart Toilet Soap ad is particularly nice for me, because that’s the brand of soap my mother bought for our bathroom (besides the Lava that was for my dad. Boy, I only used that soap once!). Sweetheart was pink and pretty and had a lovely fragrance.


I’ll be scanning in lots of vintage ads, recipes and illustrations and will share some of them here. I’m working on an altered book. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in an altered book round robin, and my sister (Fran) suggested we invite Abby and Cathy to join us in one with the theme of “Vintage Kitchens”. We will each choose a more specific theme for our own books then write a few rules for the others to follow when they work on ours.

Fran has chosen the 1950s, with emphasis on the colors of turquoise and pink.

For mine, I’ve chosen a 1940’s look with red and white, and accents of green and yellow.

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Filed under 1940s, 1943, Advertisements, Altered Books, Cooking, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Food, Making Do, Recipes, Thrift, Vintage Magazines, World War II

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream


When I was growing up, homemade ice cream was a simple fact at summertime celebrations. We simply always had it. After a trip to Owasso to the automated ice house – where one put in a coin (a quarter? surely more than a dime?) and down the shaft and out the door shot a huge solid block of ice – my mother would stir up a batch of mix for the ice cream freezer.

I suppose there were electric machines available then, but I’d never seen any and we certainly didn’t have one. Ours was the old-fashioned hand crank type. The women were always in the house where it was cool-er (no a/c), and the men would gather outside by the water hydrant (I don’t know why that was the designated spot, but it just was) to chop up the block of ice with an ice pick and take turns at turning the crank. Just who the men were besides Daddy and my older brother is lost in the mists of my memory. Probably uncles and maybe cousins and certainly my brother’s friends. What I can remember is the good-natured buzz of conversation and how that was the place I was drawn to.

Inevitably, I would beg for a turn at the crank and Daddy would try to talk me out of it, telling me that I wouldn’t like it because it was hard to turn. But I would insist that I could do it and he would let me try. About 2 rounds, maybe 3. It was really stiff and more than my skinny little arms could handle. Then I’d drift back and forth between the women and the men, asking if it was ready yet. It took forever. About 30 – 45 minutes.

Joe and I bought our first freezer during our second year of marriage. It was kind of a big deal because we didn’t have a lot of spending money and $15.00 was a lot back when minimum wage was $1.65 an hour. That one is long gone and we’re about to wear out our 4th one. Nothing fancy for us; we’re not the kind of people who have new-fangled gadgets like the kind that doesn’t take ice or ice cream salt (although I am curious). Not even a White Mountain (on sale: $248.00). We buy cheap ones at Wal-Mart and our current one was an end of season close-out that cost $9.00.

For some reason, we’ve made more this summer than ever before in any one season. We do like our snacks and summer in the south is just too hot to keep the oven long enough to bake 4 trays of cookies (always one tray at a time) or a pie or even a cake. Our summertime desserts are usually No Bake Cookies, Rice Krispie Treats or homemade ice cream.

Homemade Vanilla w/ syrup and pecans
(The photograph above also has Sweet and Spicy Pecans from Ravelin Bakery in Denton, Texas. Sandra posted a similar recipe on her blog.)

Last week was the first time we’ve ever made vanilla. I don’t care for vanilla unless it is topped with strawberries or peaches or chocolate syrup or an accompaniment to cake, so we’ve always made a flavor. Our usual choices are banana nut, strawberry or peach. If we don’t have any fresh fruit, then we make chocolate. Once, years ago, we made blackberry. It was a lovely shade of purple, but please learn from my mistakes and strain out the seeds first. Sheesh.

The reason for making plain vanilla? It was a special request from our 5 year old grandson. So we added an extra egg, more vanilla extract and increased the heavy cream to make it a little more special.

We use the same basic recipe, with a few variations which I’ll list at the bottom.

*This recipe uses raw eggs. There are lots of recipes available for a cooked custard ice cream, which I’ve never tried myself.

BASIC HOMEMADE ICE CREAM – makes 1 gallon
In a blender, mix:
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
dash salt
1 cup of milk
2 cups heavy cream
fruit – about 3 bananas and a dash of nutmeg or 2 cups of strawberries or 5 peaches, peeled and pitted

Blend until smooth. Pour into ice cream freezer container. Add another cup of chopped fresh fruit cut into 1/2″ pieces. For Banana add 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts.

Fill container with whole milk up to the fill line.

Place container into bucket and lock on the motor. Add alternate layers of ice and rock salt and plug it in and let the motor turn until it stops (check on it every few minutes and add more ice and salt as needed) which will be anywhere from half an hour to an hour.

Important: Before taking off the lid, brush off all the ice and salt and pull the container up out of the water/ice mixture. I didn’t do this one time and salt got into the ice cream and it was inedible. Now I even slowly pour about a cup of water over the lid before removing it to make sure that no salt will invade the mixture.

It will probably be very soft right after the motor stops. My dad always let it set to “cure” but I usually can’t wait, so we have a serving right away. Joe has put the Tupperware box in the freezer ahead of time so that the ice cream doesn’t melt even a little bit in a room temperature container.

This recipe makes a very scoop-able ice cream (after sitting in the deep freeze for a few hours) but the texture is going to be different than a commercial product. It’s not that it has ice crystals (it doesn’t) but it’s just not as slick and smooth. I like that about it and I really like the incredibly fresh and pungent flavor that the fruit gives it. All natural. No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.


CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM
Use the same basic recipe as above, but omit the fruit and add 1/2 cup powdered cocoa (not the drink mix) and 1 cup of chopped nuts. Joe likes to add chocolate chips in the blender; I don’t because no matter how long I blend it, it still has hard little bits of the choc. chips.

VARIATIONS
1 can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk can be substituted for the heavy cream then reduce sugar to 1 cup. When I’ve done this, it was because I was out of cream, but had the Eagle Brand and some Carnation canned milk, which I also used. The outcome will be different than with the cream, but it’s probably lower in cholesterol.

Once I didn’t have any whole milk or cream, and used 1 can of Carnation and reconstituted dry milk. This is probably much, much healthier than the cream & whole milk type, but is more like ice milk than ice cream.

It’s also a nice touch to put the serving bowls in the freezer ahead of time, especially if you’re going to be eating it outside.

As I said, after being in the deep freeze awhile, it makes nice scoops. Joe put the scoops into Braum’s (a nice Oklahoma company) ice cream cones for our grandsons, poured some sprinkles in a bowl and dipped them. They thought it was grand.

This post linked to:
Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom
Food on Friday @ annkroeker

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Filed under Childhood pastimes, Cooking, Family, Food, Making Do, Recipes

Sweet Talcum Powder

One of my favorite passages from Harper Lee’s book “To Kill a Mockingbird” is:


“Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”

Many ways of life have changed since I was a girl, and true to my aging, I don’t think hardly any of them are for the better. And being from the south, one of the things I miss on a daily basis is floral scented talcum powder. When I was a girl, a lovely scented powder could be bought at the dime store.


Powder was available in a variety of fragrances, even at Dime stores. Brands such as Cashmere Bouquet and Evening in Paris were sold for very little money, therefore ladies in any income bracket could afford it.

If you had an Avon Lady, she would bring it to your door. It came in boxes,

Or tins.

One of my favorites as a girl was Here’s My Heart.

If you needed a new powder box and puff, that was available, too.  There was a wide variety, everything from less than a dollar, to something very nice from a department store.

I miss powder.  Yes, I know.  I’ve read the stories about how it can cause ovarian cancer. Flirting with danger is never advisable, but it mystifies me how people can excuse driving after drinking – immediate death – and cringe and swoon over bath powder. Sifted cornstarch can make a passable substitute if one wants to avoid the danger.

We live out in a rural area. Wal-Mart just does not carry enough to choose from. They have Shower to Shower, generic Shower to Shower, baby powder and some in plastic containers with a thin puff. The drug stores don’t offer anything better. The discount perfume stores at the mall in the city carry some nice ones for about $12.00, but I just don’t want to spend $12.00 a month on powder.


The absolutely loveliest I’ve ever had was Pretty by Elizabeth Arden. My husband’s employer gave out Red Door gift cards for the spouses that was one of the things I bought. Apparently, Pretty is now running over $35.00, so I’ll just have to wait and hope for another gift card.

Well, here’s what I do: I buy the cheap baby powder from either Wal-Mart or the dollar store, pry off the plastic lid and add essential oil to it. The ones that I usually use are lavender, carnation, and jasmine – about 4 drops each. (Peppermint would be a fun one to use at Christmas time.) I let it sit for a couple of weeks, shaking it up every now and then. And then I pour it into my powder box.

It doesn’t fool me into thinking that I’m using Oscar de la Renta or Pretty, but it’s nicer and more feminine than Shower to Shower. And it costs a whole lot less than $37.50.

Now, if I just knew a good source for a nice fluffy puff….

This post linked to Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom where there are lots and lots of links to frugal postings.

*Update, November 16, 2011: The last time I added essential oils to a basic powder it took a little more than I remember. This is something that needs to be adjusted by each person to suit their own preferences as to more or less fragrance.

Also, Dollar Tree sells a lavender scented body powder made in the U.S.A. Considering that it sells for merely $1.00, it’s surprisingly quite nice.

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Filed under Books, Femininity, Fiction, Making Do, Shopping, Thrift, Using What You Have