Monday, July 30, 2012

Completed Projects

Completed Project 1:
Earlier this week, I posted that I had been feeling tired and haven't been getting much done.  This has been mostly true.  But I did finish one project this week, a recycled sweater bunny doll.

The pattern is pretty basic:

All the pieces are sewing right sides together and then turned inside out, leaving the neck unsewn and the bottom of the head and the tops of the ears unsewn to allow for turning right side out.  After stuffing the head, I sewed the face and ears on.  The body is attached around the neck to the opening left from stuffing the head.  The only stuffing in the body is packed down in little lumps in the hands and feet. 

The inspiration for this project came from a similar toy that Chobe has and affectionately refers to as "squished kitty." Chobe seems pretty impressed with squished bunny too, but he is hesitant to play with it too much.  He keeps asking if it's for the baby, so I tell him it is and that he can play with it, but he doesn't really seem to want to.  Maybe because I've made so many pairs of shoes that were too small for him for the baby, so he thinks he'll be equally disappointed? tee hee hee.  Squished bunny did make it into bed with us the other night though, so he's not too concerned.

Completed Project 2:

Crocheted balls. These were super easy, yet so satisfying to make.

These little balls are single crocheted in a round pattern.

Starting with six sc into the first loop, then the second row is two scs into each stitch for a total of 12, the third is sc one, two sc to increase stitches to 18, row four: sc 2, 2 sc into the next stitch for a total of 24 sts.  Add three rounds of 24 sts, 1 sc into each sc.  Then decrease sc 2, sc 2 tog, next round: sc 1, sc 2 tog, next round: sc 2 tog.  Stuff the ball before completely closed and then stitch closed.  Weave in ends.

These were super satisfying to make because they're so quick.  I feel like I'm really getting something done when I start whipping these out.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Expanding the Selection of Handmade Goods...Getting Practicall

I've been thinking a lot lately about trying to expand the selection of home made goods around here into the realm of more household cleaning products and body care products.

In the past I've made some salves and I've dried a bunch of herbs to use for tea and infusions for baths or foot soaks and whatnot, but I honestly don't use them that much.  I would like to but it's not really a habit.  I'm hoping that if I start another fresh round of body care products it will inspire me to take care of myself and my family more in ways that will help us enjoy the benefits of herbs.  Right now I mostly make teas, but I would like to stop buying soaps and cleaning products and make them instead.

I've been thinking about going shampoo free completely.  I currently wash my hair infrequently as it is, with very gentle shampoo and conditioner (according to the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Safety Database <------This is so awesome if you've never seen it before!).  But it would be nice to just use some herbal rinses, vinegar and some oil like coconut or jojoba oil for my hair.  I already use jojoba oil for skin moisturizing.  I do like fancy lotions and maybe some day I will get around to making some.  So I'm going to be doing some more research into herbs for hair.  My preliminary findings have been bleak, without much detailed information about the phytochemicals active in the herbs and what different things they may do for hair.  I would really like some good information to get me started, but I guess it's gonna be trial and error on this one.  Perhaps I'll be reporting back on the results as soon as the experiment gets underway.

In the home cleaning products department I like to try to keep it pretty simple as it is.  I already use baking soda to scrub sinks and the tub, and vinegar for disinfectant as needed.  I have an all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and laundry detergent that I would like to replace with more homemade natural alternatives (mostly hoping I can find things that are as effective but less expensive and less mysterious than the purchased "green" products I currently use).  I also use an enzyme cleaner that I do not image I will be able to replace with a home recipe.

So I found this website with some good homemade natural cleaning products.  I'm going to try the all purpose and glass cleaner from this site.  I don't actually use things like furniture I won't use all of these recipes.

I've been thinking about making homemade soap for a few years now, but I'm pretty intimidated by the prospect of using lye.  I got this link for making handmade soap in a crockpot from a friend's blog that seems far less intimidating than the other methods I've heard of...

Those are the major projects I want to do.  I would also like to put together some blends of herbs for doing bath infusions, and foot soaks.  I'm planning to make a batch of healing salve before the birth, as well as some straight calendula salve.  And if I have time and continue to feel inspired I'll make some sea salt body scrubs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Painting the Beetles

Just wanting to share a little activity that Chobe and I did based on one of his books, Mother Earth and Her Children by Sybil von Offers.


I like this story a lot, and so does he.  It has simple illustrations based off of photographs of a quilt that tell a story.  It is translated from German though, so it reads a bit awkwardly at times.

One of his favorite lines from the story is, "Brushes and colors are set to go, to paint the beetles see how they glow."  He runs around quoting it all the time.  He went through a phase this spring always talking about "paint the beetles!" 
So I picked up some vaguely round beetle shaped rocks from the creek bed and drew a few beetles on paper so that he could paint the beetles.

He really liked painting the rocks.

But his interest was kind of waning by the time it came to paint the ones on paper.   So he asked me to paint them.  I got him to paint on one a little, but he insisted that I paint the other beetles.  This was pretty quick and easy to put together, and makes the story a bit less abstract...even if painting beetles isn't the most practical real life activity.  It's fun for pretending.  I think it's important to include both real life skills and do imaginative activities too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Third Trimester

I feel like I just did a pregnancy update, but from the way that things have been going, if I want to do any blogging at all, then it's gotta be about being pregnant because that's about all that's going on...or at least all that's going on that's interesting and isn't just some half-baked idea or cool project strewn about the house in pieces. 

But mostly I'm just feeling like taking care of the daily necessities is enough, or really more accurately taking care of most of or even half of the daily necessities is enough.  I really just want to hang around and nap.  Maybe read, take a bath, do more yoga, go for peaceful walks...but all of those things are very hard to do with the kind of peaceful dreamy vibe I've been feeling with a toddler running about!  Chobe really keeps me awake and going, it's just at a much much slower pace.  So things are running at half speed.

I'm feeling slow and dreamy, and I think that the real nesting is finally starting to kick in.  I liked having my nesting instinct going with my first pregnancy.  It would come in waves of cleaning frenzies or trips to thrift stores and the free store to come back with armloads of baby items.  But now that I work at home and housewife full time it's like I'm always nesting.  What I'm feeling now is kind of a shift in the energy of making toys and cute little clothes that may be useful, but that I don't absolutely need to feeling the urge to seriously take care of the practical side of having a new baby in the house.  I need to go through and organize the baby clothes, start gathering birth and postpartum supplies, finish unpacking the last few boxes, and gather up a few more necessities...and I'm so excited to do it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


This morning, Ami had saved this egg for me:

It's the first egg that we know for sure came from this year's batch of laying hens.  It's blue, meaning it came from an auracana, and since we don't have any in our 2nd and 3rd year flocks that means our little tiny fluffy babies from this March have really grown up!

And as an extra magical bonus:

It was a double yolker!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I just finished these boots, from this pattern last week.

The buttons are hand felted, by yours truly as my very first felting project.  This wool came from our sheep, specifically from Marzipan.
Marzipan the sheep
thanks Marzipan...I hope you love your new home

And here's another couple pairs of slippers I made.  These are for Chobe...

Every time that I finished a baby shoe from the stardust shoes pattern he was asking if he could put it on, and I kept having to tell him that they were too small for him.  So he was stoked when I finished these.

and the new baby...

Since I wasn't able to find a good pattern online for them I had to make an original pattern, which wasn't so hard after making all of the little shoes from stardust shoes, so it is somewhat loosely based on that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More handmade baby goodness...

This is a little travel changing pad that I made.  I used this pattern and this one for reference, but kind of did my own thing.  The materials were thrifted: a water-proof shower curtain type thing I found in the fabrics section, two different bed sheets (which are also being used for several other projects including my upcoming book bag to diaper bag renovation project and the fabulous fancy all purpose baby towels that my sister created (pictured below)), and a fleece blanket (also being employed to make nursing leak pads and something I have used in the past to make reusuable postpaturm/menstrual pads...and let me just say I HIGHLY prefer cloth pads over disposable even if you're just considering the comfort factor alone, they actually breathe and feel a lot more like slighlty bulkier (well I guess that does depend on how thick you make them) cotton panties).

The pad looks like this (all kind of folded over):

Very simple construction:

Cut out about a 16x24" rectangle of each of the waterproof inside layer, the fleece cushy layer, and each side of the outside cover (these could be the same fabric, I used two different fabrics).

Cut a 2.5" wide by 12.5" strip of fabric to make the tie. 

Fold the tie strip in half with the right sides of the fabric together.  Sew along the long side with 1/4" seam allowance.  Turn inside out, tuck the ends in and stitch closed to make the tie.

Attach the tie about 6 1/4" centered on fabric below the short side on the large rectangle meant to be the back outside cover of the changing pad.  It should be sewn onto the right side of the fabric with the center of the tie strip sewn on.  I stitched it on with a small rectangle and then stitched diagonally across the rectangle to make sure it would hold up through many openings, closings, unrollings, rerollings and washings.

Now fold the top half of the tie down toward the long end of the fabric so it is out of the way for sewing all four layers of the changing pad together.  Lie this back outside layer down with the right side up.  Place the front cover rectangle on top with wrong side up (so right sides of front and back are facing each other), then layer the waterproof rectangle and the fleece on top (doesn't matter which sides are up or down since these will not be visible in the core of the pad).

Sew all rectangles together with 1/4" seam on three sides.  Turn right side out so that the cover fabrics show on the outside.  Tuck in and press the seams for the remaining side and sew closed, being careful not to sew the tie into the seam.

Top stitch around the remaining edges.

Roll and tie!  Tuck in your diaper bag and wait for your lovely creation to get peed on!  I know I can't wait to see mine all soggy and maybe even bright baby poop yellow if I'm lucky.

To compliment this little changing pad, my sister made me these towels:

Also pretty straight forward: two layers of fabric sewn together and top stitched.

Ok so we're down to just the diaper bag for things that really need to get finished.  The rest of the projects are fun little toys or cute little clothes that aren't essential.  Phew!  I'm also working on lots of little goodies for all my pregnant mama friends.  I know nine other women who are/have been pregnant this year (not including women that I have just met because we are both pregnant at the time, these are all people that have been in my life prior to our pregnancies).  It's a good time for babies!  I guess there are some pretty significant astrological events going on this year and this summer that all these little guys will be born under.  Gotta look more into that.  But now I'm just rambling...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Handmade Baby Goods IV: Cloth Ball

Introducing the homemade pumpkin ball. This design was inspired by a product I've seen elsewhere, but I've tweaked it a bit, especially to make the segments of the ball smaller so that it's easier for little hands to grab.

And a few snapshots from the making of:

 My paper pattern: 
 Turning the moon inside out with a knitting needle to get the end

This is pretty simple to make: 

  • The basic shape for the segments is a crescent moon, made larger for seam allowance and to still be adequately sized when stuffed.  I made ten segments out of five different colors of fabric, with two segments of each color.  I just used the leftover fabric from the cloth stacker that I made a few months ago.

  • Crescents are sewn together with right sides of the fabric facing together and a small opening left at the top to allow them to be turned right side out and be stuffed. 

  • Once stuffed, the hole is hand stitched together using the baseball stitch

  • Then the "moonses" (as Chobie called them as he stole them from my work area at the kitchen table and ran off with them to stuff his papas boots full) are sewn together at the ends.  I did this with handstitching the tops of two moons together to start with.  Then I sewed another one to one of the first two, then added another one to the third moon, then sewed the fifth onto the fourth, the sixth onto the fifth and so on, so that I was only attaching two moons  together at a time.  When tenth moon was sewn to the ninth, I also sewed it back together with the first.  This step is done for both the top and bottom ends. 

This could also be made with semi-circles, but I liked the idea of having a hollow center and individual segments that would be easy to grasp.  I think that some little guys around here are going to have lots of fun seeing what they can stick inside the ball and roll around.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Garden Update

This is the first time I've moved somewhere with a garden that is already established.  Not to say that it doesn't need some serious work, but the beds are there, the fence is there, the soil is already amended somewhat so it's not total clay.  I actually even was able to hang out with the previous resident here and learn from her all about what she's used in the garden (as far as amendments) and learn what she's grown where (I even mapped it all out) and what issues there have been.  Nothing major as far as pest invasions, the usual slug problems and a potato critter that's apparently spreading to our region from no potatoes this year which would have probably been the case anyway since we moved in so late in the season.

here's' the area I've worked into seed beds. 


And here's what the rest of the garden looks like. also what the above area looked like before I got in there.


Our garden space also includes a pretty substantial green house.  It needs to have the plastic replaced, which we have salvaged from the hoop house at our former residence.  We recently discovered (after planting several beds) that the water line to the garden needs to be reconnected, which isn't a major project, but isn't quite a quick fix either.  So for now we've been hauling buckets of water to the garden (from the spigot about 600 feet away) then pouring it into a watering can and hand watering.

I made a little side bar list about what I've planted so far and hopefully I'll remember to update it when I plant new things.  But here's the current list as of today:

  • three different varieties of kale (my family's favorite vegetable)
  • red beets and golden beets
  • carrots
  • cabbages
  • loose leaf and head lettuce
  • fennel
  • dill
  • purslane

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let the Herbal Harvest Begin

...or continue really, since I guess I've already technically harvested nettle and some dandelion this year.  I really does feel like a beginning though since I haven't harvested anything in months. 

I gathered some comfrey, which is prolific on the four acres of this place that are not forested.  Ami was scything our grass (much too tall for a mower when we moved in...not like we have a lawn mower anyway) and all of the various lovely wild plants that make up the front yard/lawn area, so I took advantage and hung some in the pantry to dry.  This will be excellent for making healing salve in general and for postpartum sitz bath brews.  Now I just need to get some calendula going in the garden so it will be ready for harvest and processing before this little baby swims out!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Handmade vs. Purchased Goods III: Taggie Toy

I think I mentioned having made this in an earlier post, but here's the final product:

After committing to the project I started to question what the point of this kind of toy is.  I understand that it has visual interest, but for a baby, so does the whole world and I would argue that looking at scenes from the real world (especially outside and daily home life scenes) would have more visual appeal.  It also has various textures and baby can manipulate it, but so do the thousands of other cloth objects that I have around the house.  I guess it was made with love.  The point here would be that as far as being a high priority, awesome worth-the-time-to-make baby project, this one ended up ranking pretty low.

The creation of this little number is pretty obvious.  Sew strips of fabric around the edges of another piece of fabric.  I used a square piece of fleece about 12" by 12" and then stitched a circle in gathering stitch in the middle and pulled tight for the central knobbin.  

I had considered making the center have a face, but that seemed a little creepy for my taste.  Maybe that would be more appropriate for someone with more advanced embroidery skills...

Anyhoo, as discussed before I think I really decided to make this when I was caught up in the fury of inspiration at looking at availble baby products on Esty and Amazon thinkin 'oh, I could make that, I could make that too!' and I didn't really question how much I liked the project until I had committed to it.

This is the photo I have saved on my computer which I believe is from someone's Esty site.  When I started saving inspiring photos I just put them in a folder in my documents (I don't think pintrest had caught on yet and I still don't have a pinterest but this is making me realize that maybe I should if I'm gonna reference other people's stuff on my blog), so I don't have a source for this one, but if you really want it try searching for baby toys on Etsy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Backyard

I've been doing lots of posts about the logistical aspects of getting moved and settled, the the projects that are getting done and not getting done, so I wanted share something about where we're getting settled in to. So here's some photos of me and Chobe on our little romp down to the creek (on the property).

Chobe headed down the trail from the house to the little creek.

 Redwood Sorrel.  Looks kind of like clover in the pic above but if you look closely at the growing plant its easy to tell that it is very distinct from clover.  Each set of leaves has it's own stem and roots.  This is one of my favorite wild edible greens, but it's high in oxalate, so I have to keep myself from eating too much.  Like other sorrels, it's deliciously tangy.  It's abundant in the woods here.

The pics below are supposed to be of the water, but it's kind of hard to make out under the forest.  It's there though.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making the Little Shoesies

Here's another little update from the crazy month of June.  I made some baby shoes from thrifted fabric/upcycled fabric and some free store finds.  I used this pattern from Star Dust shoes.  Although I think it's kind of just out there.  I was orginally going to make something like this based on a pattern from some commercially made baby shoes I had which has some very minor differences.

I used some thrifted vinyl type upholstry fabric for the outside layer of the soles of the shoes so that baby will have some traction learning to walk.  I also made them bigger than the size of the pattern from stardust shoes.