Mushroom Foraging

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:47 am on Monday, January 16, 2012

I’ve mentioned mushroom foraging once or twice on here. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now. So on Sunday, I finally went.

Mushroom foraging simply means going out into the woods and picking mushrooms. In my local woods, you can find morel, chanterelle, porcini, button, and oyster mushrooms as well as many edible varieties you can’t normally buy.

However, since wild mushrooms can be poisonous, it’s important to go with someone who knows what they’re doing. I would not recommend mushroom foraging unless you have an expert with you. In my case, I went with my local mycology club.

The way it worked was, a friend and I went into the forest and picked mushrooms for an hour and a half. Since she and I had never been on a foray before, we picked every mushroom we saw under the theory that at the very least, we would learn what it was. Considering how dry it has been this winter–mushrooms usually flourish after rain–we gathered a pretty big haul.

Then we went back to the table and had the experts look at the mushrooms we had collected. It turned out that only two were edible, the Pig’s Ear and the Hedgehog Mushroom. Otherwise, we had collected mushrooms that, while not exactly poison, were not good for eating. Here are some pictures:

Russula amoenolens were all over the woods. This one is spicy. The mushroom expert had us hold it to our tongue (but not eat) and it burned about as hot as a habanero pepper.

This little Smurf house is called a waxcap. Not edible, but pretty.

I didn’t catch the name of this mushroom. I was hoping it was a chanterelle mushroom, but alas, it was not edible. If you know what it is, I would love to know it.

So while we didn’t come away with much to eat, I had fun and learned a lot about mushrooms. I see going mushroom foraging again in the near future. In fact, I even bought a book on the subject.

Mycological associations are a safe way to be introduced to the world of mushrooms. If you’re interested in going foraging, try looking up the club in your area. They may have regular mushroom forays you can tag along with.

ETA: Check out the follow-up post The Hedgehog Mushroom.

Turn Art Into Secret Storage Box

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:33 am on Thursday, January 12, 2012

Here’s a good post from Design Sponge: Turn a painting into secret storage by attaching a box to the back:

I like that this project is easy to do and a great way to turn questionable art into something useful.

Plus I love any concept of secret storage.

This would work great in a library, don’t you think?

10 Fast DIY Christmas Gifts

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:59 am on Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ahhh 10 days until Christmas. This month is going by so fast.

Although I have most of my Christmas shopping done, I still have to pick up a gift or two. But maybe I should make my Christmas presents instead. When you think about it, 10 days is a lot of time to make something, especially since the Internet is full of great projects to get you started.

Here are 10 DIY Christmas gifts you can make in less than a day, many of which I have featured on Savvy Housekeeping before:

1. Herb-infused Olive Oil from Kitchen Crush. These olive oils are great in salads but can cost up to $70 a bottle. Luckily they are easy to make–just combine nice-quality olive oil and fresh herbs in a pretty bottle and you’re done.


[Image courtesy Revivied Vintage]

2. Vintage Chalkboard Frames from Up In The Clouds. With some chalkboard paint, you can turn an ornate vintage frame into an awesome chalkboard. Perfect for the kitchen.

3. My post on turning a bar of soap into liquid hand soap can also make a great Christmas present. Julie explained how she did it in the comments:

I am so excited about this Ive decided to make it my Christmas craft and send it to all my girlfriends! I found nice glass pump dispensers online for 2.75$ each (Montessoriservices.com) then I had cute little Christmas labels made for .58 cents each (myownlabels.com) and I bought a cranberry scented hand soap at Marshals for 4.99$. I think its a fun festive and easy to make gift that all my girlfriends will enjoy and get use out of! Plus with ingredients and pumps labels and all I’m spending just about 4$ per gift! Cant complain about that!

Great idea!

4. Continuing on the soap idea, these homemade bath bombs are impressive looking. I haven’t made them, but they don’t look hard. You combine the ingredients and mold in round Christmas tree ornaments.

5. These Hearty Seed Bombs from Mademoiselle Chaos are really cute. Each heart is filled with flower seeds that can be thrown into ground. In spring, they will bloom and beautify the neighborhood.

6. Decanter Bottle Labels from Gave That.com are a great gift for a liquor aficionado. All it takes are miniature picture frames from the scrapbooking section of the craft store, chains, and some nice handwriting.

7. I like these Christmas Cake Plates because they use some common items you find in any thrift store–plates and candlestick holders–and combine them together into something people would actually want. And all it takes is a bit of glue.

8. Making a Toy Spaceship Out Of Junk is one of the more creative examples of recycling I’ve seen lately and would definitely be a one-of-a-kind gift for the kid on your list.

9. If you have glass cutting tools, making drinking glasses from a wine bottles (or soda or beer bottles) is a great present. I personally would love to receive something like this.

10. Finally, check out these Vintage Tin Candles from Design Sponge. There are lots of lovely vintage tins out there that can be turned into a candle to surprise someone this Christmas season.

3 DIY Christmas Ornaments

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:30 am on Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Making your own Christmas ornaments is fun and frugal and look great on the tree. Here are three DIY Christmas ornaments:

This Half-eaten Gingerbread Man from Elsie Marley looks easy to sew and is pretty funny.

Or turn an old Scrabble game into these Scrabble Christmas Ornament from My Sweet Savannah. (Sorry for the music on this site. Scroll down to turn it off.)

Finally, to make this Hot Air Balloon Ornament by The Cheese Thief, attach a tiny basket to a regular glass Christmas ball. Clever!

Sew Your Own Camera Accessories

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:51 am on Thursday, December 8, 2011

When I discovered how much the local camera shop was charging for camera bags, I promptly made my own. I would put a picture of it up here, but it’s just a simple drawstring bag made out of quilted material–nothing fancy.

But the point is, making your own camera accessories is easy, cheap, and a great way to infuse personality into something that tends to get carried around quite a lot.

Plus they can make great Christmas gifts for the camera geek in your life.

Here are three camera accessories you can make yourself:

Wood & Faulk shows you how to make this wool camera wrap. While I’m not sure how well this would work for a big camera, it looks like it would be a perfect for a smaller one. And it even has a nifty leather strap for a touch of manliness.

Or you can pretty up your camera strap with this Strap Cover from Little Big Girl Studio. Comfortable to wear, attractive, and there’s even a pocket for the lens cap.

Finally, this one is my favorite: a camera purse/bag insert from Vanilla & Lace. This pattern allows you to convert a regular bag into a camera case by adding a foam insert. It looks great and costs under $20 to make. A similar bag in the store would cost between $100-$300.

3 DIY Advent Calendars

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

When I was a kid, the Advent calendar was the most exciting thing ever. The best was the year where my mom put a chocolate behind each day. Since I was already counting down to Christmas (what kid isn’t?), it was very exciting to get those chocolates, let me tell you.

If you want to start your own Advent calendar tradition, here are three examples you can make yourself:

Country Living has the great idea of making an Advent calendar out of matchboxes. With some hot glue and Christmas paper to decorate, each box becomes a drawer that can hold a treat.

Or you can make these pyramid Advent boxes like these from Julie Ree. She used to have her template up for sale on Etsy, but it doesn’t look like it’s available anymore. However you can get free, similar templates here or here. Fold the boxes, decorate, attach ribbons, and hang your own Advent calendar in the house.

In a similar vein, here’s printable Christmas stocking Advent calendar. Each one is made out of red paper, trimmed with white fake fur, and contains one awesome piece of candy, of course.

Retro Space Age Stockings

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:00 am on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Check out these awesome Retro Space Age Stockings by Tried & True. There is a free pattern, so you can make them yourself too.

My favorite is the robot. [Craft]

$5 Pizza Oven

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:00 am on Friday, November 11, 2011

I usually make my own pizza instead of getting it delivered. It not only saves about $20 a pizza, Mr. Savvy and I have gotten so good at making pizza that we generally like our homemade versions better than the ones offered at most of our local restaurants. (Plus we like to experiment with unusual pizza toppings.)

To make our own pizza, we invested in a $13 pizza stone–essential for making good crust–and a $10 pizza peel, which you need to get the pizza in and out of the oven. These two items have paid for themselves many times over in the $20-per-pizza savings, but Instructables has a way to save even more with its $5 Brick Oven. The concept is simple–get two unglazed ceramic quarry tiles and use them in your oven to reflect heat and make better crust.

This isn’t a new idea. I remember when Mr. Savvy and I were first learning to make our own pizza, Alton Brown on the TV show Good Eats suggested a similar concept. We looked around for some tiles but couldn’t find ones that were big enough or that we knew wouldn’t break from the heat, so we bought a pizza stone instead.

However, I still think the ceramic tiles would work. You just have to make sure you get a tile that is unglazed and can handle 500 degree temperatures before trying it. Also, remember to get it nice and hot. The instructions say to preheat for 45 minutes. And–bonus!–you can use it in making bread too.

Dog AT-AT Costume

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:29 am on Monday, October 31, 2011

This Star Wars’ AT-AT costume for a dog looks great. Katie Mello, who works as a stop-motion character fabricator at LAIKA/house, made this for her greyhound named Bones. Read more about it here. [Craft]

Happy Halloween!

3 DIY Shoes

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:44 am on Monday, October 17, 2011

Lately it seems that people are interested in making their own shoes–or at least upgrading a pair that already exists to look more fashionable. Not only are these fun projects, given the cost of shoes these days, they could save you a bit of money too.

Here are three examples of DIY shoes, with more to come in the future:

Corinne’s Craft Closet on Craft took a pair of shoes and “bedazzled” them with iron-on crystals. What a great way to make a pair of cheap shoes look a whole lot cooler. There’s a video too:

Similarly, LizTough took a $20 pair of Payless shoes and added a knit panel, which made them look just like a $99 pair she was coveting. In fact, I think I like hers more.

Finally, Paleotool made these high-tops all himself. Even the laces were made from brain-tanned elk hide that he processed himself. Pretty impressive, really.

Have you ever improved or upgraded your own shoes? I’d love to hear about it.

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