DIY Minecraft Creeper Shirt

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This year my husband is coaching our older sons little league team. Their team’s name is the Creepers.

As I have previously established, I am cheap. As such I was sure I could make all of us team shirts for cheaper than the cost of one we could purchase online for $15.

Google helped me find two sites where others had gone before me. This tutorial on instructables and this Minecraft party from Frugal Family Times.

First I made a trip to JoAnn where t-shirts were on sale for $2.50 each. I got two adult shirts for my hubby and I but they didn’t have any youth sizes in green. I grabbed a small bottle of black fabric paint for under $2 too. Then I went across the street to Goodwill where I found a “close enough” green shirt for $2 for little brother. I also grabbed a box of freezer paper at the Grocery store for $4. (The box of 18″x75 sq. yards will be useful for lots of projects.). $13 total for all the supplies.

Next I washed the shirts. Then I printed the Creeper face onto the uncoated side of the freezer paper which I had cut to 8″ by 11″. For the smallest shirt I just sized the face down to 80% before I printed it.

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Using an Exacto knife and ruler on my cutting matt I cut the Creeper faces out.

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I put a piece of cardboard inside each shirt, then positioned the cut out faces and ironed. I made sure the steam was off and used the lowest setting for the fabric.

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Once the freezer paper was in place it was time to paint. Using a sponge brush I had on hand I dabbed and brushed the paint on making sure to get all the corners and edges.

The type of paint I bought said to wait four hours between coats. And it definitely needed two coats.

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After coat number two and four more hours it was ready to iron to set the paint. The paint bottle said to hold an iron on steam setting 1/2″ over the paint and steam until textured but not to over steam. Not sure what over steaming would do but I hope I didn’t.  As you can see in this photo it kind of got wavy.

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Next I carefully peeled the freezer paper off the shirts and took the cardboard out.

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After another 72 hours the shirts could be washed inside out. Once washed they looked really good. The paint is pretty thick and the waviness from ironing was gone.

Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day everyone!

Today please reflect and consider your personal impact on this planet of ours. Learn something new and commit to changing. We all need to think about and lessen our impact. We need to stop being selfish, lazy consumers. Even though we may not directly see the damage we are doing to the planet and to other people it is there and it is significant.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Buy less stuff. Think about why you are buying it, do you really need it, how long will you have it and what will happen with it when you are done using it. Decrease plastic use. Buy in bulk. Stop using plastic bags. Use your local library. Shop locally. Go to your local farmers market. Join a CSA. Buy organic and avoid GMO’s. Buy made in the U.S.A.. Eat at home and/or bring your lunch. Use less chemicals. Use less water.

Resources:
My Plastic Free Life
Life Without Plastic
Bag It film (Netflix has it available for streaming)
Glass Darhma
Find a CSA
GMO Info.
5Gyres
Environmental Working Group
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Water Crisis

Before you throw it away, think. Can I reuse this? Can someone else use this? Could I have avoided creating this trash. How? Can this be composted? Can this be recycled? Can I buy what I need second-hand.

Resources:
Green Garbage Project
Composting How-to
Freecycle
Habitat For Humanity ReStore
Craigslist
Thrift Stores

Recycle as much as you can through your local recycling program. Find alternative ways of recycling or up-cycling.

Resources:
“25 Things You Can Recycle That You Might Not Know About” by One Good Thing by Jillee
TerraCycle

Spring is Here

Spring break!!!! I have been so happy to have the kids home from school for spring break. I really miss having them here all the time like they were when we were homeschooling. I know that the time to rest while they are in school is what is necessary for right now, but I am glad when they have a break. They enjoy it too and spend lots of time playing well together alternated with bickering as siblings do.

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And I am glad they went back to school today. I am wiped out and need to just rest in the quiet on this rainy spring day.

I am hoping the fact that I have been feeling a bit better holds up now that the kids are back to school. I have been pushing it a bit since the weather has been beautiful and there are things to be done outside. Just hoping I don’t crash too hard.

Daffodil bud.

Daffodil bud.

I am so happy Spring seems to finally be winning out over the cold. My seedlings are getting big and I am getting antsy to get my garden going. The yard is finally a little solid and not so muddy. The kids are enjoying playing outside. I am excited to be entering the best few months of the year.

Weary

Usually winter is a very hard time for me with ME/CFS. It is typically the time of year that I feel the worst. This year though was not as bad, despite the horrible weather. I think it was because the kids are in school for the first time and I was able to rest. And the rest of the world kind of hibernated along with me this year. Less pressure, less to do. Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like crap most of the time, but I was more able to get by and the emotional toll of being unable to do things wasn’t as bad.

Typically spring and summer are when I start to feel better. The past few summers have been hard though which has been disappointing. And this spring is proving to be very difficult. I have been feeling dreadful for several weeks now and have been unable to do very much at all.

The rest of the world is moving though. Spring is here and the activities have started with a whrilwind. My family is busy, busy, busy. And I just can’t.

I am so weary of this stupid sickness. Of having to lay and do nothing all day, day after day. Of trying to recover from life. Normal things that take so much out of me. Of trying to figure out if I have the strength to shower today. Of needing. Of having to leave everything for my overworked hubby to do. It is very frustrating feeling like a waste of a body. Not feeling like I have much value because I have nothing to offer. Now if someone needed a couch tester, someone who could see how a couch holds up under constant use for years, then I am your woman. That isn’t a paying gig though. (I am happy to say our couch is pretty good.)

And there really is no comfort in knowing I am not alone. Nor is there any in knowing that there are others with this illness who are worse off. Because no one knows how they ended up worse off or how to keep from getting there. And the remission rate is so low. There really is, statistically speaking, very little hope that I will ever recover from this. But that is all I have to hold on to. That sliver of hope. That is all I’ve been given and I have to hold on to it because the alternative is just despair. Spending my days on the couch in despair is a horrible existance. And I must admit that some days I do. The hope feels too little and remote. But I am trying to hold tight to that hope.

Elimination Diet and Going GF

I have a lovely friend who is a nutritionist. Over a year ago she suggested I try an elimination diet. So I bought the book she suggested and looked over it. I decided there was definitely merit to doing an elimination diet. And here I am a year plus later and I still haven’t done it.

About six months ago my doctor suggested I try going gluten free. (As if that is just something you try.) My body doesn’t seem to be absorbing vitamins the way it should. And in bodies that have issues with gluten the intestines are damaged and have issues with absorbtion.

So I pulled out the book again and procrastinated. Then I put some real work into figuring out the plan and what it would take to actually do it. Then I procrastinated some more.

The problem I am having is, well actually problems. Part of me is just so exhausted that planning this kind of change is overwhelming. Not to mention implementing it. I also spend lots of time throwing an internal hissy fit saying “but I don’t wanna have to give up yet another thing because of my illness.” And “but I love bread and baked goods and . . .” Then I read through the recipes and think, “oh yes, a mush made of cooked brown rice and seaweed sounds delicious.”

So here I sit. Knowing that food and good nutrition are one of the major keys to wellness. Feeling too physically, mentally and emotionally sick to make major changes. Going gluten free is not for the weak. I am weak. Having a special diet is not cheap. I am cheap (and on a very tight budget).

Does anyone want to come and be my personal chef? Your will be paid in gratitude and dog licks. You will gain knowledge in elimination diets and chronic illness. Just what everyone has always dreamed of right?

Tapping Our Maples: Making Syrup

Well the sap really hasn’t been flowing that well for us. But I gathered what had collected in the buckets and ended up with about four gallons of sap. Well I hoped it was sap and not water that had made it’s way into the buckets somehow. You can read about how we tapped our maple trees here.

Despite some warnings online about boiling inside I decided to boil the sap down on the stove inside anyway. We just don’t have a set-up outside conducive to boiling out there at this point. (It did get humid in the house but not too bad. Kind of like a humid summer day, without the heat.)

First I dumped the sap through a bit of cheese cloth and sieve into my pot.

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Here’s what it looked like to start.

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After an hour it finally started to boil.  After two hours some had evaporated.

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After four hours we were getting there.

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Once it boiled down a bunch more I poured it through cheese cloth again into my stock pot to make it easier to get to to stir and check.

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After about seven hours we were getting close to syrup and I needed to keep a close eye on things.

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After eight hours we had syrup! At least I was pretty sure. It was dripping more slowly off of my stirring spoon.

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I put a metal spoon and let it cool for a second and swiped my finger across the back and it was sticky and seemed like the consistency of syrup so I called it done.

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I poured it through cheesecloth again into a jar I had handy. It passed the initial family taste test. Now the kids want pancakes for dinner tonight.

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Recovering, Easing Back into Life

Whenever I have a few horrible days/weeks/months, I get behind on all of the things I need to be doing. Now those things have been pared down to a minimum thanks to my awesome family who takes up my slack every day. But inevitably what happens when I am super sick is the little I need to do piles up. And when I finally start feeling a little better I want to rush and tackle it all at once to try to catch up. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

So I have to force myself to ease back info life. If I don’t, I end up pushing too hard and end up back at feeling super horrible. Figuring out what “too much” is though is incredibly hard. I try to listen to my body’s cues and stop the moment before I feel my body is going to say “I am going to pay for this later.” But this illness is unpredictable and what I can handle one day I can not another. That and if I am in the middle of somethign, it is very hard to stop and not just push through even though I know I will pay for it big time later.

Another thing I really struggle with is doing something I want to do versus doing something I feel I should be doing or needs to be done. I feel like I have so little energy to use/give that doing something I would enjoy or prefer to do is a selfish use of that energy. For example I would much prefer to do a sewing project over the laundry or balancing the checkbook. But those need to be done. If I use up the little energy I have doing a project I want to do and I don’t get the other stuff done I feel like I am failing my family even more than when I can’t accomplish anything at all.

So today I am trying to pace myself and stop when I need to. Hopefully I don’t fail as miserably as I usually do.