Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Brief Status Update

Hello friends, casual readers, and passersby.

I just wanted to leave a quick update here, as it's been several months and I see that some folks are still dropping in. Without fully intending to do so, I have put this blog on the back burner (on my stove that is about 24,000 burners deep). Somewhere in the holiday rush...amid launching the Etsy shop I dreamed of for years and hand-making all of my sons' holiday gifts, I got out of the habit of posting. I hate to blog about blogging and I especially hate to blog about how I haven't been blogging, but I do feel I owe it to my loyal readers to offer some form of explanation for my absence.

That said, I am hoping to keep Handmade Life going, though perhaps at a slower pace than before, skimming just the cream of our homeschooling, homemaking, and homesteading endeavors to share, instead of trying to publish each project.

I am also going through some big professional shifts in my work from home life, moving into areas I'm more passionate about than my current work and focusing more on writing. I'm incubating the possibility of starting a side project blog that features more of my writing and interests outside of the (wonderful) realm of hard-core housewifing. Don't get me wrong, I love and deeply value that work and would do it full time, but unfortunately no one is paying me to be awesome at it and with the standard of living these days based on a two income household...blah blah blah, I have to pay the bills, so my professional life is getting a bit more attention and overshadowing my blogging life.

So stay tuned for periodic domestic updates, and news of any new directions and new blogs. And if you're feeling really nice, wish me a little luck as I set of on my new career ventures.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homeschool Update: Kindergarten Continues

I remember being in kindergarten, back when it was really just a half day for everyone. My best memory is of playing with some beans at my desk.

Yep. Not some cool art project, or a field trip, just the simple pleasure of dried lima beans and a wooden desk.

Now I'm helping my kiddo create some kindergarten memories of his own, without the least so far.

Immersion in nature is one of the biggest priorities of our homeschooling methods. Just like last year for preschool, we do a lot of talking about the seasons, where we are with our wheel of the year. We use our waldorf style nature table. We go on nature walks and sit on the porch watching and listening to the woods behind our house when we need shelter from the rentless fall rain showers of Western Washington.

We also do a lot of art projects.

I'll admit that this keeps getting edged out since this year it's officially kindergarten and all the reading and writing stuff feels even more important than it did last year.

So there's letter writing and number making. We're still plugging along with our Bob Books and working off of a literature based math activity book to reinforce Chobie's number sense and early math concepts, like making and recognizing patterns.

So it continues. I wish that I had some deep insights to share, or kindergarten life hacks to magically make your kid two years ahead of her peers and simultaneously reorganize and galmorize your learning space. Instead I'll leave you with this list of links to projects and resources that we've used recently...

 These free printables from In Lieu of Preschool to go along with our Bob Books. We've been using these for the past week and they are awesome. It's fun to change it up from just reading and re-reading the books over and over. We used this dough recipe from Buggy and Buddy with the word mats in the printable packet.

We've been practicing our sign language with these printables. I've had this clip art pinned for a while that could also be helpful for making sign language learning tools.

How are your learning at home adventures going? 

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Let the Handmade Cat Parade Begin!

Welcome to the Handmade & Eco-Friendly Giveaway Hop, hosted by Happy Mothering, Easy Green Mom and Brittleby’s Corner through the Green Moms Network! To help raise awareness about the importance of giving eco-friendly and handmade gifts, we’re offering giveaways to help you get started (or continue) with your holiday planning. We hope you’ll discover some brands that would make wonderful gifts during the holiday season. After entering my giveaway, be sure to hop around and enter all of the other giveaways listed on the linky at the bottom of this post for your chance to win more handmade and eco-friendly giveaways!

After months of preparation, my new Etsy shop Handmade Cat Parade is opening its (virtual) doors!!!

In honor of our grand opening, I am doing a giveaway of one of the Cat Softie Dolls from my shop. I've joined up with the Handmade and Ecofriendly Holidays Giveaway Hop to promote ecologically and socially conscious gift-giving this holiday season.

This is Leo, not quite a lion, he is an upcycled little fellow that spent his previous incarnation as a t-shirt. Now he's as a cat softie doll instead...

Like all the other friendly little cat softies at Handmade Cat Parade he's made from eco-friendly and recycled materials.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

After you've entered here, don't forget to continue on with the giveaway hop, featuring this gorgeous grand prize:

Be sure to enter the grand prize giveaway! One winner will receive a $300 handmade, eco-friendly dress from Janelle Funari New York . A second winner will receive an eBody Cloth Set from e-cloth and a $50 gift card and a Berglund Cotton Women’s Scarf - a $154 value!

Disclosure: This contest will run through November 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm PST (11:59 pm EST). The winner will be chosen the following day and announced on Lydia's Handmade Life. No purchase necessary. US entries only. Must be 18 years or older to win. The sponsors provided me with free samples of these products to review, and I was under no obligation to review them if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to this blog and not to Facebook. Please note that Happy Mothering, Easy Green Mom, Brittleby's Corner, the Green Moms Network and the Handmade & Eco-Friendly Holidays event bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Skeleton Softies: Pinned It...Did It!

I found these adorable skeleton softies on Pinterest a while back. When we were on my Halloween board seeking some decoration and crafting fun inspiration, Chobie picked these out as a must have.

The original link from the pin is just the picture, but the top is watermarked with this Brazilian blog Tutitati, which is totally worth the visit because it's full of all kinds of other cuteness, even if you need to brush up on your Portuguese. There is also a Tutitati shop where these skeleton dolls and other adorableness is available for purchase.

So, since I consider all pins on Pinterest an invitation to DIY (I'm actually like that at any craft fair, vendor's booth or even retail store...) I made my own version. Since this one is not actually a tutorial, I won't do the whole thing where I review the project and whatnot.

I added a little hat to one of the skeletons and gave them both hearts.

These were actually the only Halloween decorations that I got done this year, so they're the centerpiece of my decor, along with the fake spider webs that Chobie is obsessed with.

What have you been making this year? What kind of Halloween decor did you come up with?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Ultimate Phonics Chart

Chobie's reading journey continues: he's half way through his first set of Bob Books . Hooray!

But his biggest road block is still letter recognition and consistently remembering the sounds that each letter makes.

So I've recently devised the ultimate phonics and letter recognition chart.

Part of the confusion with letter recognition is that they don't always look like same. "A" for instance looks totally different in serif or sans serif fonts.

And "G" becomes an unrecognizable creature.

Since printed materials vary with font types, this is really confusing for new readers. So I used both types of fonts in my chart.

The capital letters are also in bold, because Chobie learned them first, it makes them easier to recognize.

At the end I added the digraphs and vowel teams at the bottom too, so that he can practice those.

Now every morning when we do our morning circle, we go over the phonics chart for practice. I hand lettered the chart above on a piece of poster board. It's not the prettiest, but it gets the job done. If you would like to use the chart without the trouble of creating one from scratch, I've made one for you.

You can get a PDF version here. 

What have you been learning lately? 

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Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Make Dandelion Vinegar

Dandelion vinegar is my favorite digestive tonic. Both the apple cider vinegar and the dandelion lend their magic to support digestion, blood sugar balance, and liver support. Plus, if you love pickles and ferments like me, the flavor is yummy too.

Better yet, it's really easy to make.

First, dig and clean your dandelions. Fall is the perfect time to dig dandelions, since it's the time when the plants are actively growing and a lot of the plant's energy is in its roots, where all of the potent liver-supporting bitters dwell.

Chop them up into tiny pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more surface area is exposed, and the more easily the medicinal constituents from the dandelion get into the vinegar.

Put all of your chopped dandelion into a mason jar. When the jar is full of dandelion pour raw apple cider vinegar over the top.

Screw the lid on and shake.

Now you'll need to store the jar in a dark place for about a month. Take it out periodically (up to once a day, at least three times a week) and shake it up.

After a month passes, strain out the dandelion pieces and bottle your vinegar. It should keep as long as regular apple cider vinegar. According to the Braggs (makers of the raw apple cider vinegar I use) site this is officially 3 to 5 years but according to research it will keep indefinitely when kept out of the sunlight.

I like to take a tablespoon right before meals. It has a really strong flavor, so if you aren't feeling that hard-core about it, you can just mix the tablespoon into 4-8 oz. of water and drink up.


Do you have any digestive tonics that you enjoy? Have you made any medicine lately? I'd love to hear about it!

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Spooky Handprint Trees

All week, Chobie has been waking up in the morning and asking to make more Halloween decorations. He has been chopping up every piece of construction paper he can get his hands on to turn them into various haunted entities, most recently a haunted ship.

As part of the homemade Halloween decoration extravaganza, we made the spooky tree paintings.

This project is easy to do and even worked for my two-year-old, Bee.

Step one:
Mix paint with water to make a wash. I used red and yellow.

Step two: 
Brush the wash across a piece of paper to cover the whole sheet of paper, or at least as much as your toddler can handle before he is putting more paint on the table than his paper.

Step three:
Allow plenty of drying time. I let ours dry over night, since it was a kid project and the paint is so watery it took that long for the paper to dry.

Step four: 
Trace hands on black paper, then cut out.

Step five: 
Glue hand to the painted paper.


Chobie's (middle) is acutally my favorite. I helped him cut out his hand, but I followed his kind of shaky, uneven line and it really makes it look like a knotted old tree.

What have you been creating lately?

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