Handtrux Backhoe

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:18 am on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I like this unique beach toy, the Handtrux Backhoe. Great for the sandbox too. $16

How To Childproof A Box Fan

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:17 am on Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Disclaimer: This method of childproofing isn’t going to stop a determined child from sticking a finger in the fan. It’s just meant as an easy way to add an extra barrier in front of the blade. You should still use common sense and keep the fan away from a child.

We found an easy, cheap way to childproof our box fan. All it took was a mosquito screen that you can buy for $5 from any hardware store.

To childproof, we took off the front of the fan, put a layer of screen in front of the blade, and replaced the front.

It works great. The air still goes through the screen, but it adds a layer of protection against Savvy Jr. putting his finger on the blade.

How To Childproof A Box Fan

You Will Need:

    Box Fan
    Mosquito Netting
    Glue gun (optional)


1. Unscrew and remove the top of the fan.

2. Stretch the screen over the fan.

3. Put the front back on the fan.

4. Screw the fan top back in.

The screws will go right through the screen. When you get all in place but the last two or three, have someone else stretch the screen tight. Finish up the screwing.

5. Cut the excess screen away. We found a sharp knife works best. Just cut close to the fan as possible.

Ta-da! Childproof(-ish) fan.

If you want to make this hack permanent, add a bead of hot glue around the edge of the screen before replacing the top of the fan. The glue will help hold the screen in place.

Sure beats buying a whole new fan.

How To Make A Pisco Sour

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:11 am on Friday, June 13, 2014

If you’re looking for a cocktail for Father’s Day this year, but are tired of whiskey-based cocktails (this does happen occasionally), DIY Cocktails and I suggest the Pisco Sour.

Pisco is a grape brandy produced in Chile and Peru. The Pisco Sour has been around in some form since at least the 19th century. It’s the Peruvian national cocktail.

To make a Pisco Sour, combine pisco with lemon juice and simple syrup, shake with raw egg whites*, and add a splash of club soda and a dash of bitters.

The end result is a drink halfway between a margarita and an old fashioned: perfect for a summer’s day, but still manly as all get-out.

Pisco Sour


    1 1/2 ounce pisco
    3/4 ounce lemon juice
    1 ounce simple syrup
    2 ounces club soda
    2 egg whites
    1-2 dash bitters


Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.

In a cocktail shaker, combine pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites. Add ice.

Shake for a long time, at least a solid minute. You want to agitate the eggs enough to form a foam.

Pour the cocktail into a glass. Add the club syrup and top with bitters. Enjoy!

Happy Father’s Day.

* Ah yes, the raw egg whites. As we’ve talked about before, when shaken properly, egg whites magically turn into foam that’s perfect for cocktails. If you’re concerned about this, you can buy pasteurized egg whites at the grocery store. Or just don’t make this cocktail. (This Blood Orange Old Fashioned is also quite tasty.)

Shakespeare Cookie Cutter

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:31 am on Thursday, June 12, 2014

Shakespeare Cookie Cutter!

Here he is fully frosted.

I want one of these.


How To Turn An Adult Tee-Shirt Into A Toddler Shirt

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:10 am on Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There was this tee-shirt that I never wear. I didn’t like how it fit, but I liked the cute graphic on the front. So I decided to cut it down into a shirt for Savvy Jr.

All it would take, I thought, was to resize the shirt and stitch up the sides. I could even re-use the adult neck and the shoulder seams. Easy peasy.

And it was. Easy, that is.

Here’s How To Turn An Adult Tee-Shirt Into A Toddler Shirt

You Will Need:

Matching thread
Kid’s tee-shirt (for the pattern)
A paper bag
A pen
Sewing chalk
A ruler
A sewing machine (or needle and thread, if you’re industrious)
An iron


1. Pick A Kid’s Tee-Shirt To Use As A Template.

I needed one of Savvy Jr.’s shirts to use guide for how much to cut the adult tee-shirt down.

I picked this orange shirt with the shark on it because it’s still big on him. I wanted something he could grow into.

2. Make A Pattern From The Old Kid’s Tee-Shirt

I used a paper bag to make a pattern. First I tucked the kid’s shirts arms under, like so:

Then I traced the tee-shirt on a bag with sewing chalk. Using a ruler to measure, I added 1/2 inch seam allowance around the outside of the shirt.

I also traced both of the sleeves, right and left, and made two more patterns for each one. Again, I added 1/2 inch seam allowance on all but the top, which would be placed on the fold.

In the end, I had three pieces of pattern: A Body, the Right Sleeve, and the Left Sleeve.

3. Cut Out The New Shirt.

Cutting along the seam, remove the sleeves from the adult shirt and set aside.

Carefully pin the Body piece of the pattern to the shirt, like so:

Cut out, making sure that you leave the top shoulder seams and neck intact.

Next, take one of the sleeves and fold in half. Pin the new sleeve to it, like so:

You’ll notice I reused the hemming on the original sleeves by lining the pattern up so that the bottom of the sleeve was the same as on the original shirt. No need to do something that’s already done.

Cut out the sleeve. Repeat with the other sleeve.

Now you have three pieces of the shirt: the Body, the Right Sleeve, and the Left Sleeve. All you gotta do now is sew it up!

4. Hem The Shirt.

Using an iron, fold the 1/2 inch seam allowance on the front and back of the shirt and pin. Sew up the seam. Press the seam with an iron.

5. Sew The Sleeves To The Shirt.

With right sides together, lay Right Sleeve on the right side of the shirt. Pin it so that the center of the sleeve is lined up with the shoulder seam, and the bottom of the arm pit lines up with what will become the bottom seam of the sleeve.

Sew, using 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Iron your seams flat.

If the seams pucker—and they very well may—rip out the section of the seam where the pucker is, stretch it taut, and pin. Sew again, being careful not to let the material pucker this time.

Repeat with the Left Sleeve.

6. Sew Up The Sides.

Almost done!

With right sides together, pin up the sides and bottom of the sleeves with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Sew up the seams. Press with an iron.

Ta-da! Finished shirt.

Here’s the tee-shirt on my son:

As you can tell, it’s pretty big on him. This shirt will be around for quite awhile.

Which is the point: that shirt is getting a lot more use now than it got languishing inside a dresser drawer.

Leaving the adult neck was a little lazy, I realize now. When I do this again, I will probably cut it down.

But still, not bad for an hour’s worth of sewing time.

A Note On Comments

Filed under: News — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:27 am on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Readers,

I enjoy hearing from you, and hope you will continue to contact me with your helpful thoughts and insight.

The problem is that SPAM has taken over my comment section and I just can’t keep up with it. So for the time being, I’m turning comments off on all new posts and will be turning comments off completely in the future.

However, you can still email me with your feedback. Please feel free to drop me a line at Savvy (at) Savvyhousekeeping (dot) com.

You can also comment on:




Thanks for understanding.

Life is too short for comment spam!

Sea Captain Embroidery Pattern

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:36 am on Monday, June 9, 2014

I love this Sea Captain Embroidery Pattern from cozyblue. It would look great in a little boy’s room–or on a pillow. $5.

Grow Your Own Hops

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:36 am on Monday, June 9, 2014

Three years ago, a friend gave us two Cascade hops plants. Since we make our own beer, I put them in the ground to see what they would do.

Two years later, they were doing this:

Hop plants are a sticky, fast-growing vine. They produce papery flowers in late August, then die down and go dormant until spring.

Hop flowers, of course, are a major ingredient in beer.

The first two years we had the hops plant, they didn’t do much, just produced a few flowers before dying back down to the ground for the winter.

But last year, the vines grew about 10 feet and were loaded with flowers. I harvested two buckets worth of flowers, which I then de-stemmed and cleaned.

Since we couldn’t make beer with them right away, we vacuum sealed them in bags and popped them in the freezer.

I can’t wait to see what kind of beer Mr. Savvy makes with them.

How To Make A Mustache Cake

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:33 am on Friday, June 6, 2014

I love this: How To Make A Mustache Cake.

Hey, Father’s Day is coming up!

How I Grow Lettuce

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:04 am on Thursday, June 5, 2014

For years, I had trouble growing lettuce. My California climate meant the lettuce tended to bolt–i.e. form flowers–before I had a chance to harvest it. Either that, or I just never got enough lettuce to justify the work of growing it.

However in the last few years, that all changed. I hit upon a system that allows me to eat lettuce deep into the summer. Here’s how I grow lettuce:

1. In early spring, I sow a mix of salad seeds in the ground.

I sprinkle the seeds liberally in a shallow trench, cover, and water thoroughly.

Currently, I’m using the Rocky Top Lettuce Mix Salad Blend. I like a mix of seeds because lettuce, like everything else in life, is enhanced by variety.

2. As the lettuce grows, I eat the lettuce I thin.

With daily watering, the lettuce quickly becomes big enough to thin. When it does, I begin to pull the small lettuce plants out, leaving the bigger ones in their place. I break off the dirty roots and collect the leaves. I usually end up with a salad’s worth of lettuce.

The lettuce remains very densely planted, but you know what? Lettuce seems to like being densely planted.

What you’re looking at here is a row of lettuce in my garden. As you can see, I plant the lettuce densely together so that they grow into each other. The plants are happy and shiny and delicious.

3. When the lettuce begins to form heads, I begin breaking off the outer leaves for the salad.

As I go along, there are fewer lettuce plants in the row, but they are bigger. Instead of pulling whole plants, I start pulling leaves from the outside of each plant, which are very tender because the plant is still young and in the ground. This stimulates the plant and makes it put energy into making more leaves into making flowers.

Every time I want a salad, I go out and collect a bowl full of lettuce.

4. To keep the lettuce from bolting, I cover it with a grate, like so.

Bolting means that the lettuce plant starts making flowers. For most lettuce, this makes the leaves taste bitter and nasty. To slow this process, I put a grate of wire over the plant. This lets light through but keeps the lettuce from getting too hot. (Alternately, you could just plant the lettuce in dappled sunlight.)

5. After a month or two, the strongest lettuce plants have formed heads, like you see in the grocery store.

That’s when I pluck the whole thing out and take it inside for dinner.

That’s my method. What’s your favorite kind of lettuce?

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