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11 DIY Projects Accomplished in 2011

At the beginning of 2011, I set a goal to try 12 Do-It-Yourself Experiments–one per month. I ended up trying all 12, most which turned out fairly successfully.

Here are links/photos of the 11 that were fairly successful:

Homemade Chai Tea

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Appliqued Flower Tee

Homemade Hummus

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Homemade Soap

Homemade Apple Butter

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (my full report on how this recipe is working for me will be coming in a few weeks)

Homemade Marshmallows (more on this recipe coming in January!)

On Thursday, I’ll be sharing my list of 12 Do-It-Yourself Experiments I have planned for 2012.

Did you try any new do-it-yourself projects in 2011? I’d love to hear about them!

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  • Sandra L says:

    No rag quilt, Crystal ? 😉 only kidding – you did a great job meeting your goals!!

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, that was the one that completely flopped. I cut it all out and it got all jammed in the sewing machine. Do you need a special needle for it or something? I finally gave up after many, many tries and jam after jam in the sewing machine.

      • Jessica says:

        Which kind of rag quilt?

      • If you used jersey knit, you would need a different type of needle (ball point) and it can stretch. But if you made it from cotton (not jersey), then it sounds like you had a tension problem with your machine.

        • Crystal says:

          Ack! I’m guessing it’s probably my machine’s tension. 🙁

          • Anna says:

            The good news about a tension problem is that a friend who sews may be able to just be able to take a look at the machine and figure out how to adjust the settings for you. Every machine is different, so somebody would probably have to look at it in person.

            If that doesn’t work you could try to find a repair man in your area that will do a thorough cleaning and tune up on your sewing machine. This can cost a little bit, but if you have a quality machine it will still be far cheaper than a new one. I’ve had to have my good Kenmore machine adjusted a couple of times. I had it tuned up right before trying to sew my wedding dress and a million (not quite:) things for our wedding. It was well worth the money. I saved many, many times what I paid with all of the things I sewed for the wedding and there was much less stress involved. So if your trying any expensive projects, or ones that have strong emotional ties to, I’d really recommend getting it looked at.

            I love seeing your DIY projects and look forward to next year’s!

          • Is it happening on everything that you sew? Then you know it’s a tension problem.

            Anna’s suggestion is a good one. There is a man here in town who will come to your house and look at your machine and make any repairs for $25. I had the tension adjusted on my previous machine a couple of times when I could no longer fix it on my own.

  • Awesome!! I love Chai Tea, so I will have to try that one out. Thanks!

  • Lara says:

    Because of your post about the bread… I started making them for us at home… and I also made them for our neighbors as christmas gifts. (I added a small container of honey butter, and a card) Turned out great!!!!! And everyone has been raving about tte bread. (I made 8 batches, in pairs, and cooked & delivered the bread over 4 nights.. the house smelled amazing!)

  • Ginny says:

    Anxiously waiting for your report on the artisan bread. I had a hard time getting the hang of it at first, but now I *always* have dough in the refrigerator. We love making pizza from the dough!

    • Kelly says:

      I just made artisan bread last night. It was AMAZING!!!. I have never made bread so I cut the recipe in half as it makes 4 loaves; I was afraid it would flop. In the future, I will make the whole recipe. My kids raved about how good it was.

  • Liz says:

    This has been one of my favorite series that you’ve done. I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews of each experiment and have tried quite a few of them myself. I’m looking forward to reading your plans for 2012!

  • bren says:

    Love your projects!! thanks for sharing.

  • Sandra L. says:

    I’ve only made the square rag quilts, not the strips, so perhaps it works differently. If I remember correctly, I used a “heavy duty” needle marked for use with denim….but that was several years ago, so I can’t swear by that!

  • I made 4 pairs of slippers for Christmas, and I had never made slippers before. I loved them! They were lots of fun and I’ll make them again. I also made the polyester flowers to put on them–the kind you make by heating the edges– (another new project for me) and those were loads of fun. I’ll be making more of those in the future, too. I learned how to cover headbands, make some glass necklaces, how to sew on leather and vinyl (and those were all for Christmas; while you were reading books I was reading tutorials!)

    And I’ve tried lots and lots of new recipes.

    I’ve also tried a few image transfer methods that didn’t work at all; I want to try another one next year, but after two flops, I’m very leery. But i still want to try!

  • I had been wanting to ask about the dishwasher detergent & laundry detergent. Now that you have been using it for a few months, what is your review of it? Will you keep making your own? And, do you find that it works as well or at least good enough to compare with the premade store bought variety? Those two items are on my to try list in 2012, but I’ve heard so many mixed reviews.

    • I’ve personally been using these recipes ( for many years and ADORE them! Each that I’ve come across is just a tad different – but I was a Tide only girl (due to 5 kids AND skin sensitivities) and I ONLY use my homemade now! Another thing I like to make homemade is fabric softener – SO MUCH cheaper!!

    • Crystal says:

      So far, I’ve not *loved* those recipes. The laundry soap just didn’t seem to take stains out like Tide does. I think that Jessica’s idea of adding Oxi-Clean to it could definitely make a difference, though. I’m thinking I’ll try a few other recipes and see how they turn out.

      • Michelle says:

        Crystal, I’ve been using the Duggar family recipe for the last year and love it! It’s on their website. It’s a gel, not a powder, and it makes 5 gallons at a time. It cost me $8 the first time I made it, and will only have to spend $1 to make several more batches. It has a light lemon scent and works for front loaders too. Try it!

        • Diane says:

          I have looked at their recipe and I confess the Fels Naptha soap worries me because I am highly allergic to dyes and most perfumes. Does your family have sensitive skin or do you think this is worth trying for sensitive skin? How much does it cost per load (how much does your batch make?)

      • Thanks! I’ll have to look at Jessica’s recipe as well as the Duggar’s. Hopefully I can find one that works well! I love the idea of making my own, but have been leary of doing it. With a little boy running around we have our fair share of stains and I need something that will get them out!

        • Karen says:

          I used homemade detergent to wash poopy cloth diapers, and it worked great. They came out clean. It really does work. 🙂

          • Michelle says:


            I would love to have your recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I am very interested to see if any of the ingredients are different than what I am currently using. Thanks so much!!!

      • Shannon says:

        I started using this recipe this summer with 4 cups Tide Free and Clear added with the other powders. I’ve had good success.

    • Grace says:

      We have hard water, and can only use liquid in our washing machine and dishwasher. (especially the washing machine-powders leave bleach-like marks).
      We’ve found plain, cheap vinegar works in the dishwasher! We get it at the grocery store for 1.98/gallon, and use about 1 1/3 c. per load. It works great! We wanted to avoid the harsh chemicals, but the eco-friendly liquids didn’t work well enough, but the vinegar does the job!

      For the washing machine, I use a variety of store-bought liquid detergents.

  • Beth says:


    Are any of these things you’re planning to continue on a regular basis?

    • Crystal says:

      I’ll definitely make the Apple Butter, Artisan Bread, Homemade Chai, Freezer Jam, and Homemade Soap again. I’ll also likely make Homemade Marshmallows next year for Christmas presents. I’d like to try another few recipes for Homemade Laundry Detergent, Homemade Hummus, and Homemade Dishwashing Detergent since I didn’t *love* any of those recipes.

  • Jessica says:

    Learn to knit
    Make a yo-yo quilt
    Improve my garden’s output

  • That is a great list! I just got the Artisan Bread book for Christmas, will be making my first loaf in January, can’t wait to try it out. I also plan on making my first batch of homemade soap this year. I recently saw a recipe for shampoo bars I want to try. It is supposed to leave your hair soft and shiny!
    Not sure what else we’ll be trying, I’ll have to sit down and make a list 🙂

  • Diana says:

    I really liked making marshmallows too! We made a peppermint flavored batch (really good in hot cocoa), and a gingerbread flavored batch…so yummy!!

  • Sharon Thoms says:

    It’s so much easier to say your going to do something, than it is to actually do it. You have proven that you do what you say and that only makes it easier for you for next time. Well done, you make a great role model.

  • amy says:

    I tried the Artisan bread recipe when you posted back in January of last year. I’m a bread snob and was excited to find a different way to bake my own “Good” bread.
    Since then, I stumbled on this no knead recipe that I love. It’s so nice not to have to store anything in the fridge. I just double the recipe to get two loaves, mix it at night before bed and the next morning shape it while getting the kids ready for the day. By lunch time we have fresh bread and I just leave it out on the counter until we need it. The second loaf is usually for the next day or two. I don’t bag it, because it changes the texture, but I do pop it back in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, when we’re ready to eat it. This helps get the yummy crust back.
    I’m amazed that my dutch oven gets the crust so crisp. I was forever spilling water all over my oven doing the Ain5 recipe. The dutch oven traps steam that helps the crust harden.
    I’ve also tried this with whole wheat flour with success. I imagine you could play with this recipe quite a bit with different flours and add-ins like wheat germ, bran, berries, or olives.

  • 11 out of 12 is great, and your bread is so pretty.

    My baby just turned 1 this week and I feel myself coming out of the fog and feeling like I could start crafting again. Next year, I’d like to make:
    homemade cheese
    bean bag chairs for the kids
    curtains for our family room

  • Homemade marshmallows are the best!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Barbara says:

    I learned to crochet this year. Made my children some blankets and sleeping bags for their “babies”. I want to try making homemade yogurt this year.

  • amber says:

    Great job on your DIY projects. I also made homemade freezer jam this summer. I am looking forward to the homemade marshmellow recipe.

  • Tracy says:

    I have been making the Freezer Rice and Bean Burritos for my husband and I the last few weeks. They are a definite hit around here. You had a lot of good DIY projects that I was interested in for 2011 but I was high risk pregnant with twins. They sapped all of my energy. My boys are 17 weeks now and healthy. I hope I can do some of the projects with you for 2012. I really enjoy reading your personal growth articles. I visit your website several times a day. Thanks!

  • Becky Ward says:

    I am looking forward to your Artisan Bread review. I checked out the book last February, but never made the bread because I didn’t have a peel. Do you have one or did you find a way to make the bread without one?

  • Laundry Lady says:

    I tried homemade hamburger buns this year. The first time they were fantastic, the second time they didn’t rise properly. I’m hoping to try it again later, perhaps during warmer weather when it’s easier to get a good rise in a shorter period of time.

  • I know you have a love of pumpkin…have you tried pumpkin butter before? It’s SO good! I have a recipe we liked if you want one!

  • Nancy says:

    Last year I made plum butter for the first time. It is really good as a stir in for oatmeal. This year I am going to take pictures of all the old art work that I saved when my kids were little and then make photo books. I will probably give them to the kids next Christmas. My daughter will love it but the son not so much!

    Keep inspiring us!

  • BethB says:

    I sewed two “money bags” for Christmas stockings since I couldn’t find anything worth buying. One of those times when 1.5 hours of sewing on each one would have taken 5 minutes if I had a sewing machine. Or knew how to use one. 😉

    This year I stopped buying as many packaged foods as possible which meant making tons of things from scratch. I returned to baking bread, making yogurt, and homemade stock, and my own pizza. Started making kifer and salad dressings. Now I can’t stand the bottled kind! I even delved into cheese making with homemade ricotta. Never got around to trying mozarella or cottage cheese.

    I’m curious to read your article about the Artisan Bread. It’s not a bad method but it just doesn’t work for us. Not for regular sandwich and toast bread. I also have nutritional issues with the recipe as dough conditioners like gluten aren’t necessary. And it is possible to make light bread using all whole wheat flour. One of my biggest pet peeves is “whole wheat” recipes with white flour. Anyway. We can all discuss this more when you write about your experience. 🙂

  • Joy M says:

    I’ve done laundry soap, dishwasher soap, dryer sheets, and “wrinkle release” spray. So far only the laundry soap is a favorite. The washcloths soaked in Downy just didn’t do much for my laundry, and I couldn’t keep my family from mixing them with the other clean laundry. The dishwasher soap cleaned ok but it was really runny and I probably used more than I needed which wasn’t cost effective. I might try a dry recipe though. The “wrinkle release” spray just got my clothes wet and didn’t do much for my wrinkles. (no pun intended) I may experiment with that one though.

  • Shannon says:

    I tried many of your listed goals. The marshmallows, dish detergent, and the laundry detergent along with other recipes that you have on your website. I love the laundry detergent and always use it! I loved the marshmallows but how do you keep them? Mine go so sticky I had to toss them after a few days. They tasted so good I hated throwing them away.

  • jennifer says:

    i bought the 5 minute bread book a couple years ago and i LOVE it. just made a loaf this morning. i have only made the original, light wheat and the pizza dough. it’s so easy and delicious!

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