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12 Do-It-Yourself Projects I Plan to Attempt in 2011

I think it’s good to constantly be learning and trying new things. It encourages creativity and it allows you to explore new areas and attempt new skills.

One of the things I’m going to challenge myself to do in 2011 is to try one new do-it-yourself experiment each month. (Stay tuned on Monday for my full list of personal goals for 2011 plus my new blogging schedule/plan.)

Instead of just having a broad goal like that, I’ve made it more realistic by choosing 12 specific do-it-yourself projects I want to attempt. All of the projects I’ve chosen are things I’ve never done before — some I’ve wanted to try for years. Others (like the sewing projects!) are things I’ve added to my list in order to help me step outside of my comfort zone.

I’ll be blogging about each experiment on the third Friday of every month so you can follow along with my successes and get a good laugh out of the flops. 🙂

Here’s my list:

January: Make From-Scratch Chai Tea

February: Make Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

March: Make Homemade Hamburger Buns (Anyone have a fabulous recipe to pass along?)

April: Make Homemade Laundry Soap (I did attempt this one time before, but it was with a pre-made mix someone gave me. So I’m going to try again — this time completely from scratch!)

May: Make Appliqued Flower Tee

June: Make Homemade Hummus

July: Make Freezer Jam

August: Make Homemade Soap

September: Sew a Rag Quilt

October: Make Homemade Apple Butter

November: Make Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

December: Make Homemade Marshmallows

Do you have any goals to try new things in 2011?

photo by Methyl Lives; CodeFin

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  • Hi Crystal, here is a recipe for homemade hamburger buns from It Starts with Me.

    I have not tried it yet though.

  • Rachel says:

    I really want to start cooking from scratch. So I am thinking trying one item a month. Can anyone suggest simple items? I got a waffle maker for Christmas so I am attempting waffles. What else should a new cook try?

    • Joanna says:

      @Rachel, If you have a slow cooker, that’s always a safe, easy, yet homemade tasting way to cook. I made this chicken and dumplings recipe in my slow cooker, and my whole family told me they tasted just like my Granny’s did. Huge compliment! good luck!!

      • Celena says:

        @Joanna, Homemade granola bars! They are so yummy, and so much healthier than store bought. Just search Our favorite is the Playgroup Granola Bar recipe. Granola is also always a big hit, and super easy. 🙂 An easy way to get started is to start searching AllRecipes for quick meals, I think they have a 30 minute meal section. Lots of the recipes are super easy and have great directions. You’ll get the hang of it before you know it!

    • Megan Camp says:

      I started a simple food blog last year where I share recipes that I’ve tried and liked. Most of them can be made from very simple ingredients and take 30 minutes or less. I try to comment about where I got the recipe and why I like it. Some of my favorite are: whole wheat chicken pot pie, Delicious chicken and rice casserole, Chicken Main dish, Coconut chicken curry. There are so many good ones, it’s hard to choose!

  • angie says:

    I use a recipe I found on It’s unlce Fred’s favorite rolls. These are great plus they use no eggs or sugar. I use the honey and my hubby and kids eat these up.

  • angie says:

    I forgot to tell you that I put all ingredients in my bread machine on the dough settine!

  • Gretchen says:

    Those are wonderful goals. I also wanted to thank you for passing along so many DIY and money saving tips. Your blog is very encouraging as well. I have two great hamburger bun recipes – a regular one and a whole wheat one:

  • Joanna says:

    I have been making homemade laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent for about 1.5 years now, and I wouldn’t go back for anything. It’s a lot less expensive than buying it in the store, and you’re using much more eco-friendly products. I can’t wait to see how all of you’re projects turn out this year! You’ve even made me want to make a list. 😉

  • Susan E. says:

    Love the list! I’m going to do my own list today and as it turns out, bread is going on mine too. However, I wasn’t too sure I could do it as the only recipe I found was in Martha Stewart Living from last month and it looked INCREDIBLY difficult and time consuming. So I am thankful for your post and link to the much easier recipe. After I get Christmas put away, I plan on giving it a whirl. I’m also going to try to make bagels too. As I’ve told my husband, I’d like to be able to make something that people beg for me to make for them.

  • Michelle says:

    Hamburger Buns??? Try this recipe — its a winner.
    anything Annie Eats makes are super!

  • s. m. says:

    I have a REALLY easy photo tutorial for making laundry soap on my blog:

    It’s really simple!!

  • Love your list!!

    I just made burger buns the other night!! (Thanks @Robbie for linking my blogpost!!) The buns were so soft and SO Yummy… and best of all plastic-free!!!! AND…so you know… I am usually a failure at making bread… but it was so simple! (my husband said best he’s ever had 🙂 )

    Making marshmallows and homemade hummus are the easiest things in the world to make….:D

    Oh…. and crazy as this may sound… I stopped using laundry detergent last February!!

    But not everyone is comfortable with that 😉 Here’s the recipe that my friend uses:

    Oh… and for me… this year I’m going to keep striving to be plastic-free. First up is to learn how to make corn tortillas!!!

    Happy New Year!! 🙂

  • What a great idea to have one DIY project a month. I don’t have projects as my goal for this year, but certianly love doing them. They’re just not important enough for me to officially make time for them. But maybe if I just scheduled in one a month, it would be more feasible.

    My major goal for this year is to get organized so that I can reduce stress, be a joyful mother, and care for the needs of my family. I’m actually making it a year long journey and will be blogging my way through it. Anyone is welcome to join the journey. There will be printable worksheets and weekly challenges.

  • What a great series! I especially look forward to the chai recipe.

    We make hamburger buns with this recipe. I think they’re fantastic.

  • Hi Crystal! I have had the same wish to make homemade marshmellows! It’s marked and ready for me to try this summer. My friend did a great post about making homemade grahm crackers! Kira @ Kissing the Joy

    Her kids gobble them up the minute she bakes them. Here’s to a healthy s’more!

  • Here’s my hamburger bun recipe if you’d like to try it: 🙂

    Great with freshly ground flour!

  • Jessica says:

    Homemade hamburger and hotdog rolls are the best! This is the one that my husband loves. We make them all the time for burgers, sliders, and I like the cinnamon roll variation too.

  • Millicent says:

    oh girl…don’t wait until December to make the marshmallows!!!! I made them after you posted the link and I’m hooked!! They are SOOO good! yesterday I added chocolate to a batch and YUM!!

  • Ramona says:

    I actually came up with my own hummus recipe that leaves out the tahini and oil. Those 2 ingredients add ALOT of calories and fat to a recipe. (I’m a dietitian and am always looking at that aspect of a recipe). Tahini is expensive too, even though it may last awhile, I haven’t found it really makes a huge difference in taste.
    I take a 15 ounce can of garbanzo beans, mash it with a wooden, well, masher. I leave chunks of beans so it’s not completely smooth. I don’t put the beans into a food processor as I like my hummus a little chunky.
    I add about 1 to 2 tbsp low fat mayonnaise, lemon juice to taste-usually up to 2 tsp, and 2 cloves minced garlic. Adjust it to your taste adding a little bit more of this or that, etc.
    Will taste better on day 2 once the ingredients blend well. This works for me. You can always double this for your family. People who try this like it. Thanks.

  • Kalyn says:

    Something new I am doing this year is running a 5k. I’m really excited about it!

  • Emily says:

    I love your list! Some of those are on my to-do-someday-list, too. I love the idea of trying one new project a month, I’m off to make my own “real” list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Patty Cerney says:

    I love the recipe for the buns from the waffleizer. I don’t waffle them, I just follow the bun directions. YUM!

  • Rae says:

    Thanks for sharing your list. It gives me some ideas. I’m actually suprised you have tried the homemade marshmallows yet lol. I have wanted to do it for a couple years now but as soon as you linked to the awesome video tutorial, I finally tried it. Sooooo glad I had a stand mixer though I don’t think I have the arm muscle to have been able to mix for that long haha 🙂

    Thanks for the comments above too, I’m going to have to check into this 5 minutes a day bread that you all are raving about

  • Rachel says:

    I like that your to-do goals are in the simpler range. As in, you want to make the strip quilt, not tackle a queen sized appliqued quilt . . .

    I guess I tend to ‘aim for the stars’ and then get discouraged before I even try it!! 🙂

    I just made hummus in my vita-mix the other day, and we love it! It’s so easy to just dump, blend, and eat! I enjoyed reading the comments on the recipe you linked to, there’s a lot of neat suggestions there! I just used the recipe in my vita-mix cookbook.

    I’m looking forward to seeing your results each month, and maybe I’ll try some new things too! Thanks for stirring me up a bit! 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I’m trying to learn to be more realistic the older I get! Still working on that! But I tried to pick projects which could be completed in three hours or less — otherwise, I knew I was setting myself up for failure!

  • Gina says:

    I like these potato rolls for hamburgers or pulled pork:

    I use the bread machine to do the kneading.

  • kim says:

    I very rarely make homemade bread from scratch, (bread machine!) but a very wise woman gave me this recipe and told me I could make it–I did and I could! 🙂 I make hamburger buns with it or as a loaf of bread.
    Oatmeal Bread
    1 c quick oats
    1/2 c whole wheat flour
    1/2 c brown sugar
    1 TBL salt
    2 TBS margarine/butter
    Pour 2 c. boiling water over ingred. Stir.
    Dissolve 1 pkg. dry yeast in 1/2 cup warm water
    When batter is cooled to lukewarm, add yeast mixture.
    *Stir in 5 cup flour (white)
    Knead 5-10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubles. Punch down and let rise again. Shape into bun shape or into loaves. Place on grease sheet or loaf pan. Bake at 350* for 20-25 min for buns, 30-40 min for loaf.
    *I sometime will mix wheat and white flour.

  • Melissa says:

    The laundry soap ‘recipe’ I use is:

    1 Cup grated soap (I use Zote)
    1/2 cup borax
    1/2 cup washing soda.

    I (actually hubby does) grate the soap using an old fashioned hand grater, mix with the borax and washing soda. Generally, hubby grates 1-3 bars and puts them in air tight containers.
    I use it in my front loading HE washer without problems. I live in NE Ohio and never have trouble with it in the summer humidity.
    I made a HUGE batch (3 bars worth) for the animal shelter I volunteer at. It gets out stains and those wonderful animal smells even after sitting for a day or two in the laundry room when we get behind on laundry.
    I’ve done the liquid and found the dry is just easier to mix and use.

  • Our favorite hamburger bun recipe is here: – it really does make for fabulous burgers!

    I am still working on my list of things to do this year, but it includes running 15 miles in June, making a different ethnic meal every Thursday and learning how to mountain bike.

    Have fun with your challenges!! 🙂

  • April Krause says:

    Hummus is so easy!!! I actually like it better homemade then from the store.

  • Sarah says:

    Not to add to info overload but I just wanted to share one of my favorite baking sites for free recipes. They have several recipes for buns and artisan bread. BTW, I don’t work for them — just a happy customer!
    Their Baking Banter blog has been a huge help to me. Best wishes in your projects!
    Hamburger Buns
    No-Knead Bread:

  • Fun series… I might have to come up with my own 12 monthly ideas too.

    I love the Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day. I got if for Christmas last year and I have to agree with everyone urging you not to wait until November. The bread goes great with my strawberry freezer jam that I make every late May/early June during our strawberry season. I go to the u-pick patch and make the No-Cook freezer jam. I make enough for a year. The key to the no-cook is not over-processing in your food processor. I saw someone suggested above to use a masher and that is a good idea.

  • Jennifer Galbraith says:

    I just made my first batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent, using the recipe of the Duggar Family site. I’m a mom of 4, living in Southern California, so everyone thought I was crazy making it here.. it is simply not done, but after using it, I will never buy laundry detergent again. It cleans my clothes GREAT and they come out smelling better than before. Perhaps they can absorb the fabric softner scent better (which I have begun using 1/2 strength). So good luck.. I love it.

  • Theresa says:

    It’s on my list to make hummus from scratch too! YUM

  • jjoiner says:

    didn’t read every comment but here is another hamburger bun recipe…i haven’t tried it though:

  • Robyn O. says:

    Here is a link with pictures for hamburger buns from I make bread from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book every week for my family and have had great results using the doughs for buns, pizza, sweet bread treats, etc. I’d definitely move that up to January and knock 2 of your goals out at once. It’s so easy and tasty. You’ll never go back! I use white whole wheat flour(Wheat Montana Prairie Gold) because my family likes the taste and texture. Good Luck!

  • elizabeth reisner says:

    you will love that five minute bread. It will also make good hamburger buns, and pizza crust. I also love making jam. Super easy. What I didn’t care for was the homemade dishwash soap. All of it is worth a shot, but I had to comment on that bread and jam 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    Another bun recipe for you: I haven’t made this one, but it’s a variation of her basic Grandmother Bread, which is very good.

  • If you lived nearby, I would LOVE to invite you to my next soapmaking class, such as the one we had here:

    It would be wonderful to meet you and learn this fun craft together. It took me several months of research before finally diving into actually making soap, but once I started, I think I might be hooked. 😉 Best wishes on all the new skills you attempt this year!

  • Megan Camp says:

    I made dishwasher detergent this year. One tip I learned was to make it but leave the acid/lemon ingredient out and add it separately. As soon as I added that ingredient, it made it start to clump in my bag. Before adding the lemon ingredient, it was pourable/shakeable. Also, for the acid/lemon ingredient, use about 1 tsp of Lemi Shine (carried at Walmart, Target and other grocery chains). It does a GREAT job at making your dishes super shiny and will keep your dishwasher running better.

    You’ll love the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. Try to Naan recipe. It’s GREAT for camping.

    Looks like you have some fun ideas. I love making/eating homemade strawberry freezer jam and it’s so simple! I’ll look forward to reading about your experiences.

  • melanie keck says:

    thanks to moneysavingmom I was able to put together cocoa (that I got for nearly free) and homemade marshmallows for neighbor gifts this year. The marshmallows were really quite easy to make. I did find that a pizza wheel worked really nice for cutting I was having trouble with the knife. It was nice to be able to put together nice gifts that fit within our tight christmas budget. I was also able to get enough amazon giftcards from swagbucks and such to be able to grab some of the great toy finds that the searched out and posted. Making for a delightful christmas without any money stress!

  • I’ve done several of the things on your list recently! How cool!
    I’ll share my links w/ you –
    First, my recipe for hamburger (or hotdog) buns here:
    Second, my tutorial on making snowflake marshmallows (of course you can do any shape you want!
    And, last, my FABULOUS recipe for hummus – very authentic and great with my flafel recipe (from a fellow Israeli friend) AND

  • Diana says:

    Most of my favorite recipes come from Here’s a link for their recipe for whole-wheat burger buns.

    They turned out great when I tried them. Enjoy! (And sorry if somebody already posted this one and I didn’t see it.)

  • Melody says:

    You inspired me. Here’s to enjoyable goals for a new year.

    However, I’d vote for the all out jam instead of freezer jam. It’s easy, looks pretty, and doesn’t take up freezer space.

  • Kristen says:

    I really want tto try the artisan bread, but don’t you have to have a pizza stone?

  • Jamie says:

    Haven’t tried this yet, but Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day has one that I hope to try out soon. The rest of the recipes that I’ve tried from that book have been great – and SOOO easy! I agree that you should start before November on that one.

    Oh and if you haven’t found an overnight crockpot oatmeal yet that works, I found one that I tried last night and it worked well for me.
    1 cup irish oats (I usually get mine in bulk from the health co-op)
    1 cup dried fruit
    1/2 cup apple peeled & chopped
    1/2 cup chopped dates
    3- 4 cups water (depending on how “toothsome” you like your oats – I did 3)
    1/2 cup milk or cream or half and half
    cook on low for 8-9 hours

    BTW, thanks so much for your time management series – I may actually get my life in order again.
    based on Alton Brown’s version from foodnetwork

  • Jessica says:

    HELP!! After reading about the artisan bread & going to the site & finding the recipe & watching videos- I went to the store to get the one ingredient I’m missing- YEAST! However, I didn’t know there were different kinds and the online recipes just say ‘yeast’- can someone please point me in the right direction!? There were little containers and envelopes and some said quick or active- I was completely lost. Thanks in advance!

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