Denim Pillow- Netta’s Niche

Oh how I love making things out of old jeans.  There’s so much fabric in one adult pair.
And so my obsession continues.  (Click here to see my other projects, and here.)

denim pillow
Last night I made a pillow cover for a coverless pillow
form that was awaiting some love. The two legs of the jeans
made the actual pillow, and a back pocket makes a nice
“hiding” spot in the front.  This pillow will be a little gift to my
son’s 1st grade teacher.  Perhaps she’ll find use for it in her
“reading spot” or where ever. Since she can pop off the cover
to wash it, hopefully it will be a helpful addition to her
classroom for a long time.

(I have two other denim projects in the works, but not complete…
Yet! )


ReMix, A Clothing Exchange

Every year our church hosts a clothing exchange. It started out as an idea in Erika’s head, to bless the community with much-needed clothing, but it’s turned into a much-anticipated event for everyone involved. Sometimes it’s in the Spring and sometime near the Fall.  There’s so many ways to have a clothing swap, but since a friend recently asked me how we do it, I thought I’d share our plan with you!
– Canvas the area & businesses with flyers to invite the ladies (also small local newspapers)
– Use FB, twitter, church website, personal texts to invite ladies from church & area friends
– We ask ladies ministries from suburban churches if they’d like to clean out their closets
              & donate to us (we’re an inner city ministry)
– It’s a ladies/teen girls only event, but we collect clothes for men, and children, too
– Clothing must be clean & in nice condition
– Basic accessories are allowed, too: belts, bags, shoes, scarves, etc
– Connect with a woman’s shelter & make arrangements with them for the day after the
– Begin collecting clothing a few weeks in advance
– Clothes may be brought in at the time of the event, too
– Clothes are sorted & placed on tables & with large/easy-to-read signs
– The ladies who help sort the clothes are allowed to snatch up a few good finds for their
              families before it’s all open to the “public”
– As ladies arrive we give them a number (usually a marker on their hand… kinda ghetto)
– Ladies gather in our coffee house room at first, so cookies, coffee & punch are served
              (this gives us opportunity to meet the ladies from the community)
– After about 15 minutes, we divide the ladies into groups based on their number. Usually
               8-10 at a time has worked for us, but it depends on how many ladies are present
               and how big the “clothing” room is
– Group 1 is allowed to enter the clothing room for X amount of time and select X amount of
                things in a 15 minutes time window (we socialize with the other woman waiting)
– After each group has had a chance to select “X” amount of items, then we open it up for
                all the groups to go back in… free for all!
– One year we got tons of clothes donated from a retails chain & had so many items that we
                didn’t need to divide ladies into groups, it was just come-and-go  for 2 hrs.
– Lots of grocery & shopping bags are needed
– Fragrant candles placed around the room & fabric softener sheets tucked into piles of
                clothing can keep it from smelling like a Salvation Army
– Ladies from our church will be “personal shoppers” for the ladies in the community as
                another opportunity to connect with them. We’ll say, “Oh, you’re needing little
               boys clothes. What size?  I can help you look.”
– When the event is over, the rest of us usually dig through it to grab out anything else we
               want (my girls usually grab things they can rip apart and make into something else…
               Thanks to our friend, Jennifer, who taught them to sew!)
– All the remaining clothes are boxed & bagged up & donated to a woman’s shelter the
                next morning
This event/outreach also blesses everyone involved! AND… it’s happening again THIS FRIDAY!  Wanna join us?
Click here for details or leave me a message!
If you do something similar, please tell us about it!
Happy exchanging!

Frugal or Free Fun for the Fam

It’s SUMMER!!!!! Yippee!!
At the beginning of the summer I asked the kids what they wanted to be sure to do before it’s cold again.
Their ideas are on here, plus other things that we’ve done in years past & will probably do again.
It doesn’t take money to have fun!. Here’a list of some of the things we do for fun… and they cost little to no money!

*BACKYARD WATER PARK– Besides the hose on the slide, we use zip ties to hold a fat pool noodle to the top of the swing set and then poked holes in it and slid the hose inside it. The  kids would swing and it would “rain” on them!  They thought it was great!

*SQUIRT GUN or even squirt BOTTLE wars. It only takes two people to make this fun!

We make an afternoon of it! Park down the street & walk in the pretty city, play in the water, take silly pictures, eat the  snacks we’ve packed then sit in the sunshine with the beach towels before we walk back to the car.

*SLIP & SLIDE -use an old shower curtain liner, a squirt of liquid dish soap & a hose. A hill isn’t even required.

*DISH PAN POOL FOR TODDLERS – back in the early 1980’s (hey, no comments!)  I worked at  daycare center. The toddlers loved it when filled dish pans with water and put them out on the sunny deck. Then gave them little cups & toys. Happiness!

*HOMEMADE ICE CREAM…. in a BAG!!!  ice cream in a bag

*HOMEMADE SLURPEE   I used this recipe but substituted generic Sprite instead of Club Soda
*THEME DAYS – Basically anything becomes special when you build on a theme. For example,declare that it’s  “Bubble Day.”  Eat pancakes made with club soda, make homemade bubbles and giant things to blow them through. Drink pop!  (horror of horrors!  NO!  Your child won’t be permentantly damaged if they drink pop occasionally.)  Have bubble blowing contests with bubble gum… And pour lots of bubble bath in the kiddie pool or bathtub!  See, normal things are now totally special.

So many parks have free things to offer in the summer. If you’re in The D check out these sites.
Campus Martius Park, free movie nights (thanks for this info, Nicole)
New Center Park, Jazz concerts and movie nights

Detroit Institute of Art is free to Detroit residents on Fridays. Guess when we go?  🙂
Henry Ford Museum Free Days
       Ann Arbor Museum Group Free Day (haven’t tried this one)
Adventure Pass through the library system Adventure Pass
Museums Days sponsored by Bank of America

*Neighborhood Art Show – There’s so many options. Ask your kids for ideas!

*MAKE A  picnic BLANKET and use it!
(I haven’t done this, but it’s on my “to-do-someday” list.)


*LATE NIGHT SNACKS OUTSIDE – a regular snack is special if you get to stay up late and eat it outside. The whole neighbor is different when it’s dark  (especially when you’re in Detroit! ha!)


 *MAKE THINGS out of Denim jeans that the kid won’t fit into by the fall. Click the link- not everything requires sewing
*LATE NIGHT SNACKS OUTSIDE – a regular snack is special if you get to stay up late and eat it outside. The whole neighbor is different when it’s dark  (especially when you’re in Detroit! ha!)

*SCAVENGER HUNT in weird places… like in the grocery store or anywhere that it normally sorta boring.  I’ve make up random scavenger hunts for the Free museums so that no one could say that it was “boring!” They had a great time & asked to do it again.

*LOCAL LAKES & BEACHES– ’nuff said!  🙂

*FREE KIDS BOWLING all summer at various bowling centers across the country

*SAVE FOR THE BIG REWARD – We live in Michigan where we get money for cans, so we’re collecting them saving “pop can return money for a museum membership that we really want to visit. Also, loose change and random money found in pockets, etc, is put into the little yellow container. Hopefully by the fall we’ll have enough for the membership & can enjoy it during the colder months.


What do you enjoy in the summer that costs little or no money?




Earth Day, Shmerth Day 2012

Being resourceful & finding new uses for things is a normal way of life for us. I grew up that way & those skills were sharpened as the size of our family grew. Every year I share another practical way to be smart with what you have… and this year is no different.

This project wasn’t planned as an “Earth Day Project.”  This is the way it came to be…

The bridal shower of our sweet friend was just a week away.
Trips to the fabric store for “gift-making supplies” continued to be thwarted by various events.
I was running out of time!

A venture into the “less-than-organized” basement.
Items found:

-A dress never worn
– Decoration fabric from last year’s July 4th party
-Old jean scraps from denim projects,  donated by several friends (including the groom-to-be!)
-Fabric from projects of Christmas past
-Pillow fabric (that was never used for pillows… or anything else)
-Ikea curtain panel that had been dyed green (that once hung in the house where several bridesmaids now live!)

Add to this strange collection of materials the bin of “this & thats” from my Mom… and the outcome is an

Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter


We don’t wait until Earth Day to do something smart with what we already have…

We don’t recycle just cuz it’s the politically correct thing to do…

Earth Day, Shmerth Day!  We just live this way.





(Special thanks to the apron model, my youngest daughter.)



We all wear jeans… and they wear out. Here’s more ideas for reusing that denim.






Menu Plan Monday, Oct. 17th, 2011

This week I’m trying to make simple meals that are still homemade & use the foods already in our freezer and pantry. Here’s the plan for this week…





Lunch- Do-Overs

Dinner-Lasagna, Salad



Lunch- Deli Meat Sandwiches, cucumbers

Dinner- Chicken Broccoli Rice Skillet Dinner



Lunch- Grilled Cheese on Homemade Tomato Bread

Dinner- Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings



Lunch- Homemade Rice-a-Roni

Dinner- Chili over mashed potatoes



Lunch- Homemade Veggie Soup, crackers

Dinner- Chicken Fingers, carrots sticks



Lunch-Apple Waffles, Turkey bacon

Dinner-  Oven “Fried” Chicken, Veggie Rice Pilaf



Lunch- Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches, tomato slices

Dinner- Homemade W. Wheat Veggie Pizza

A New Tree

Some people are celebrating “Earth Day” and that’s cool.

When you’re a large family on a not-too-large budget you tend to be

quite green… but it’s really just frugal & smart.

(To read my Earth Day post from last year click here. )


Today I’m celebrating a tree.


The cross that Jesus died on…

to take my place,

forgive my sin & to give me NEW LIFE!


Life that goes beyond situations

& even beyond death!





The  EGG makes a

lovely symbol of new life…

and this week my kids made

an Easter Egg tree.

We gave old things a new life.







It’s made from:

-old clothes & curtains, cut into strips

-twigs we gathered recently on a walk around the neighborhood

-spray paint from the storage in the corner of the basement

-ribbon scraps from other projects long ago

-glue from the school & craft supplies

-a blue bucket from Target, $2.50

(Is this a “Green Project” or what?)


















(This is blurry but I just

HAD to add it… for obvious






But really, we made this tree cuz I  wanted my children

to make something memorable & fun that now

decorates our home and will remind them JESUS gives NEW LIFE!























Do you have LIFE in JESUS?

What are you doing to celebrate THE TREE?


Here’s two ways you can join in the celebration…








Details here








Netta’s Niche – Denim Obsession

Denim… old jeans… pile up around our house.

Huge holes in the knees.

Ripped out back pockets. Broken zippers. etc…

But I just cannot get myself to throw them away.

It’s such good fabric.

So, I do things like this…


Made from my husband’s old jeans..

one of several little bags to hold toys:

a small set of tiny blocks …






or small potato head toys…-


A pillow for my friend’s

little boy…






We’ve even made picture frames

from old denim and cardboard





The duvet covers I made for

the boys a couple of years ago…

they’re denim on the top &  flannel

on the underneath side.

(The quilts inside are their older

sisters’ old comforters… more recycling)


The legs of jeans make nice

laundry bags, too.


It’s sturdy.

It’s cute.

It looks kinda pottery barn-ish… (except it’s FREE!) and

Since there are so many pairs of jeans that need a new purpose…

I wonder what else I can come up with.

Have you  made anything from old jeans?






Old & New- Walls, Dressers & Floor

Pictured above is how the room looked when we

bought the house. Ugh
But then…

 for our many friends who
helped out in various ways as we redid
this room:
– rip out old carpet & 4 million staples
– strip horrid wallpaper
– rip off strange tile that was under carpet
– sand furniture
– tape the room for painting
– lay NEW flooring! (Friends did 100% of this job)
– Drill holes for new drawer pulls

( I learned alot from these projects and
still have a fascination for power tools,
though my knowledge has only
grown slightly!)

THANK YOU, FRIENDS, for sharing
your time & giftings with us.
We LOVE this little room!

Big Family & Earth Day

Plus =

Recently my oldest daughter did some research for a class
regarding large families. Those opposed say that large families
leave “big carbon footprints” and that having a lot of children
is irresponsible & uses up too much of our resources. *
But, she also discovered in her studies:
Large families don’t buy, spend or throw-away nearly as much
as an “average-sized” family does. Large families find new uses
for things, save more and waste less!
She found this proven true right here at home!
We’re not huge recyclers (although we do recycle cans!),
but we fit the description of “large families” in the
above paragraph.
– Make MUCH of our own food products, so there’s much
less tin cans, cardboard, plastic & chemicals brought into our home.
– Clean with Baking Soda, Vinegar & other types of products
– Reuse clothes (hand-me-downs, Baby!)
– Reuse sheets, fabric, table clothes, pillows, curtains,
worn-out clothes, etc by making them into various
other products for our family’s use
-Use those horrid lightbulbs that save tons of money & energy
(but make everything look dark & gloomy after a few weeks!)
– Bring our own grocery bags to the store
– We’re now making an effort to recycle more items & take
advantage of monthly drop off sites in our area. (Detroit
doesn’t have curbside pick up for recycling. Bummer)
– and plenty of other things that I’m too rushed to think of now
Although I’m not a huge “Save-the-Earther”, I wanna care for the
resources that God has given to us…. and this frees me up to focus
more even more important things/people….
“Saving the People of the Earth!”…
well, JESUS does the SAVING! I just do the telling & discipling!
* Note: I didn’t take the time to link all the into to the sites
where we found it. Sorry. Pressed for time today.