Monday, December 31, 2012

After Holiday Reflections of Traveling With Children

Is it ever NOT busy?  Add children and traveling to the mix, and then it is a whole new kind of busy.  I am looking forward to slowing down a bit after the holidays and getting back to our rhythm. How did you deal with all the changes and transitions that came with that territory? Gosh, how are you transitioning back to home life?

When it came to traveling with the kiddo, I found it helpful if to be a little prepared. If he is content, this mama can take a moment and breathe. I've gathered some mighty helpful pins you will find on my "Traveling With Children" Pinterest board.

I also want to underscore it REALLY helps when children are approaching a new situation; to walk them through it and talk about some of the things you will be doing.  Since we were flying, we knew there was going to be a lot of loud noises and things that would scare him if he didn't know what to expect.  YouTube was a great resource to search out examples of planes and people taking off in planes.  We talked about how it was going to be very loud, possibly bumpy at times and this was to be expected.  Books are also a great way to open kids up to a new experience. Lil Guy loved his book, Airport by Byron Barton.  Reading it gave us the opportunity to talk about what we would be seeing on our adventure to see family.  It does not talk about going through security, but you could "play" at what that will be like.  Have everyone take turns playing different parts.  Then you can point to the picture of a family walking through a metal detector.

For some compact entertainment, card games are great to take along when traveling with children.  My toddler loves cards, even if he doesn't know how to "play" the game.  When preparing for a trip to visit my sweet's family, I found Big Trucks and Diggers Matching Game to help with the entertainment.  The game is a little old for Lil Guy but I know he would enjoy lining the cards up and make-up his own way to play with them.  Plus, if you have multiple children that are into machines, it will entertain children ages 3 to 7.   For older children, Crazy Mates would be nice to have when you find out your flight has been delayed for a couple of hours and you need something to help with the airport fever the kids are developing. For children 5 and up. 

What else was in my travel entertainment arsenal?  I thought a stitching block might come in handy.  Best part is.. the wooden "needle" is attached.  It is like this toy was meant to travel.  A great first lacing and threading toy for ages 3 to 6. Kept my wee one's hands busy while building fine motor skills and dexterity. For older children 6 and up, a knitting tower might be something you would want to pack along with a bit of yarn.  Make long ropes of yarn and see what sort of quiet fun can ensue.

I  also picked out stickers of some of Orlen's favorite things.  You can't ever go wrong with stickers.  If you have a book of some sort to put stickers in, even better.  I found Little Airport Sticker Activity Book that was small enough to stash in my purse and came in handy during our layover while grabbing a bite to eat. Would even work with older children, as you get to make your own scenes with the stickers.  I have also found that band-aids and tape will keep smaller one's entertained for a nice bit of time.

One of my all time FAVORITES for when you will be traveling by car when it's dark.. GLOW STICKS.  Seriously, tube of sticks that you can snap together are the perfect thing to give the kiddos to buy you that extra hour before you reach your destination.  Glow in the dark stickers could be fun too. 

I hope you can utilize this life-inspired post and it helps inspire your own traveling arsenal for future adventures.  I would love to hear what you can't live without when hitting the road.  Or better yet, FOOD?!?   That is one of the best things to keep kids and adults happy.  What are some of your favorite on-the-go eats? 

Next post will be all about what I have been doing while I disappeared from the ol' bloggy blog, pictures galore and some reflection fo'shore.  Let us ring in the New Year riding the wave of a consciousness shift and work towards a healthier society and sustainable future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Love Me Some Sprouting and How I Do It

In my quest for stronger and healthier teeth; which by the way is a whole other, very long story.. I have begun sprouting beans & legumes and some grains that we eat.  There is this thing called phytic acid that exists in food and it can keep your body from absorbing all the potential goodness in those nuts, beans, legumes and grains.  By soaking and sprouting you are neutralizing the phytic acid giving your body the nutrients it needs to run properly; not to mention bringing all sorts of good stuff to the surface that wasn't there before, like vitamin C and enzymes.  Once sprouted, we COOK the bean, legume or grain.  ** UPDATE: Raw kidney beans are toxic, so do NOT eat raw soaked or sprouted kidney beans **

I want to take a moment and let you know about a well-researched book called, "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon.  If you are at all interested in food and health, this book is full of information. I have found great fermentation recipes, sprouting information and how to properly make a good stock. Gut health is so important and this book is helping me get there.  She also discusses the benefits of sprouting.

Eventually I am going to figure out the grain thing; which could be it's own post.  I just haven't had the will power to cut all non-sprouted grains yet.  Life without bread?  Seriously? Although.. there is this sprouted wheat berry and apricot flatbread that could quench my cravings. You can find the recipe in, "Flatbreads & Flavors" by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  It is perfect with a smudge of goat cheese with tea in the morning.  Mmm.. thinking about it makes me want to get a batch of wheat berries sprouting.  Okay, back to sprouting.


You Will Need:

* BEAN, LEGUME or GRAIN to sprout

I wanted to share the sprouting setup that is working great for us.  Ikea's FINTROP dish drainer is what I found and for $11.99 I am pretty happy with it.  It is a manageable size, so doesn't take up as much counter space.  I mean, who wants one more thing to move around on the already cluttered surface?  Hah!  You can sit four half gallon jars straight up OR the three jars if you prefer to tilt them.  There is this nifty groove in the middle that makes this very easy to do.  The metal tray removes easily enough, so you don't have to have standing water in the tray once sprouts are finished dripping excess water.  All-in-all perfect for the amount of sprouting we do.

Thursday nights here is taco night.  This Thursday I wanted to sprout some black beans.  It just takes a little planning to be able to utilize the benefits of sprouting food.  I started the sprouting process for beans four days ahead.  Black beans seem to take a little longer to sprout than other beans, so I wanted to allow plenty of time.  In any jar, you can typically fill it with dry bean, legume or grain up to 1/3 the size of jar.  That is why I use half gallon size, I can easily sprout 2 cups of beans. Once sprouted, will keep in the fridge for a bit.

Add your beans to the jar and fill it up with filtered water.  Typically, I do this before I go to bed.  When I wake-up, I turn the jar over  and drain the water out with the appropriate sprout lid screwed on, rinse and then drain again.  Set it on the dish drainer and that's that.  Rinse & drain  2 to 3 times a day.  You basically don't want the seeds to be too wet or too dry.  I have been washing the black beans 4 times a day.  They seem to dry out a bit quicker.

Once the intended seed has sprouted, I will cook it.  Sprouted lentils are a great addition to a soup.  Maybe try spouted garbanzos for hummus?  You can sprout buckwheat groats and then roast them at the lowest temperature your oven will go or better yet, in a dehydrator.  We love buckwheat (Kasha) and sweet potato with an egg on top for breakfast, slathered with fermented hot sauce. Whatever you sprout, it is certain to be tasty. One thing to know when cooking your sprouted goodness, it won't take quite as long to cook or need as much liquid.  I just cook less and add a little bit less liquid.

Now what are you waiting on? Go get your sprout on!   Until the next...

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Simplify the Holidays, Musing and Crafting

Took a little hiatus from blogging.  Busy, busy bee I have been.  So busy, I haven't had time to sit down and share my thoughts.  Sometimes I feel like I am in the circus with all this juggling around I have to do.  Alas, I have a moment and I thought I would share.

This holiday season I decided to take the Simplify the Holidays Pledge. It is that time of year where we all feel the pressure to spend.  We want our friends and family to feel loved and often think the best way of going about that is emptying the bank account and/or going into debt.  Another downside can be the trash cans overflowing with more waste to add to the landfills.  It's time to put more meaning into the holiday season, support the local economy and adopt more regenerative traditions.




I am very excited to be making Lil Guy's gifts this year.  I have to say, I am a little intimidated and *crossing my fingers* that all will get made in time.  If you haven't checked out " Growing Up Sew Liberated: Handmade Clothes & Projects for Your Creative Child", DO!  You will find so many useful patterns in this book, it can be hard to decide on the first project.  For Christmas I will be making the Lil Amigo Doll, Lil Amigo shirt and overall, and Reversible Hooded Play Cape for my wee one.  Once finished, pictures and thoughts to come.

What I love right now?  KNITTING!!!  You will find tons of crafty classes at the Dry Goods Shop and I recommend any of the knitting classes where Miss Ryan-Ashely is teaching.  Check out her blog Fray Knot.  It has been a superb way of gaining some knitting skills and getting some helpful tips.  Knitting is like my new Facebook.  No idle hands for me. 

Fun stuff coming up?  Later this week I will be hosting a dye gathering and will be sure to be taking photos to share with you. 
Oh the joys of dying!  We will have a pot of simmering natural onion skin dye and will be trying out some of Dharma Trading Co. fabric dyes.  Weather permitting we will even have a fire to gather around after all the crafting fun has subsided.  'Tis the season for hot whiskey cocktails, fire and friends. 

On My Sewing Table:

Fleece Animal Hat for my eldest.
*  Little Amigo, 16" Cloth Doll pattern from, "Growing Up Sew Liberated"; using materials from The Child of Mine.  I have a 12" ball of felted wool so far.  Can it be finished in a few weeks?
* Little Amigo doll clothing from "Growing Up Sew Liberated"; using Nursery Versery, piggies fabric for the shirt and some scrap denim for the overalls.
*  Reversible Hooded Play Cape from, "Growing Up Sew Liberated"; using a silk/hemp blend fabric. Sturdy enough to with stand the force known as Lil Guy.  Will be dying fabric at the dye gathering.

I have a busy week ahead of me.  Catch ya when I can.  Stay craftastik folks!

Don't forget to subscribe if you like what you read.  On the right hand side you will find more options to do so.  Thanks.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Outside Play Everyday & What to Wear: Part Two

Shoes & Accessories & Babywearing in the Great Outdoors


I'm a bit late getting this post out into the interwebs this week.  Battles with a server and computer issues will do that.  Alas, here is the information promised.




Seriously, I have to exercise extreme control and tap into my sense of practicality when it comes to shoes for Lil Guy. For outside shoes it comes down to a hiking shoe, rain boot and snow boot.  When shopping for shoes, I keep my eye out at second-hand stores.  Kids grow out of shoes so fast, the wear and tear can be fairly minimal.  I'm also a member of Zulily and I was able to get two pairs of Keen shoes basically for the price of one.  Score!  If you know your kids size in a particular brand, you can be more certain of the fit. 

For an outside shoe, you need something nice and rugged that can withstand a little mud and water. When kids are tromping around and exploring their outside world, that means getting down and dirty.  How could you not resist standing or sticking your hand in mud; being enveloped by all that sensation?!?  Keens are a perfect fit for our son's wide foot and the Gypsum is a great all-around hiker shoe for toddlers.  We are on pair number two and probably will stay with Keen as his monster feet continue to grow. 

You will want a rain boot for rainy days and puddle jumping.  Again, we went with Keen and their Coronado boot.  When the boot got a lil snug, we just took the foot bed out and it gave him a little more room to grow.  Plenty of width and I liked the treaded sole.  The lining is nice because it can wicks some of the moisture that builds up in a rubber boot.  It's now time for a new boot though and I'm not sure what we are going to try out this time?  Thinking about the Blog Glosh.  I  like that it is a lighter boot with pull on handles and the rugged sole. What are your favorite pair of rain boots?

To be honest, I don't have a lot of experience with snow boots.  It didn't really snow that much last winter and it can be a bit on the warmer side in the Asheville area.  Year before that is another story, but our wee one didn't need boots.  Alas, I was lucky to score a pair of MOON BOOTS at Target for ten bucks last year and think they will fit him through winter!  If you know me at all, you know how crazy I am about moon boots.  Dream moon boots for Lil Guy would be kid's Crocband Gust Boot in black.  If it were colder here and we had more snow, I would invest in a serious winter boot like the Sorel Children's Flurry TP boot.  Order a size tad larger, room enough for a wool lining  I would make for extra added coziness for the feet.  Boot like that would keep your feet dry and toasty, that's for certain.


Hats, Mittens, Gloves & Snap Cowls

Oh the hat.  There are so many different styles of hats and I could fill a book with examples. When it comes down to choosing a hat, just remember that wicking synthetics and wool are your best friend.  In this case cotton is rotten.   For cold and wet weather,  you want a hat with waterproof properties, or a waterproof hood to keep your hat dry.  This Elodie Details Classic Wool Cap is a great all-in-one.  PU-laminate lines are sandwiched between wool making it wind and water resistant.  Since our two year old has the head size of a five year old, we will be finding a new winter cap.  Big fan of hats with flaps that come around your chin.  Guarantees those lil ears are covered and protected from the elements.  For a handmade twist check out Worthy Goods' Toddler Country Hat made with tweed and a wool fleece lining. 

Snap Cowl
When it comes to the wee ones, I prefer mittens as they are easier to get on.  The Elodie Details Classic Wool Mittens match nicely with the Classic Wool cap.  Larger sizes feature a zipper that runs all the way up the thumb for ease of putting on.  A velcro strap insures the mitten stays on.   This year we went with an Outdoor Research Adrenaline Mitts for toddlers.  It is an insulated toddler mitt with a zipper for easy on/off for cold weather play.  What I like about this mitten is that it allows for movement and a firm grip.  If my toddler cannot pick things up easy enough, he is going to tear those suckers off.  These are not a waterproof mitten but have a repellency.  Polarn O. Pyret's mittens with cuffs look great and would be a good option for cold and snowy winter landscapes. I like the cuff as it tucks nicely under the jacket sleeves insuring that snow doesn't get down in your wee one's mittens. As far as gloves go, don't have much experience with those and until then I can only comment on mittens.  Important thing is to make sure your child's hands stay dry and warm!

Sometimes it is nice to have a little more protection from the cold winds and a scarf of sorts can come in handy.  Ever try and keep a scarf on a toddler?  Never had such luck with mine, so that why I came up with snap cowls.  You can quickly and easily snap the fleece scarf around your child's neck for added warmth.  Pull it up or turn it around to cover more of the face for extra protection. Again, for really cold weather I would use a polyester fleece to cover my babe's face.  Organic cotton fleece for colder day of running around with mama or papa on errands and you are just needing a lil warmth and not worried about needing to wick moisture.

Babywearing in the Great Outdoors


Babywearing allowed me to get out of the house and get active.  No matter the weather, I was prepared and that gave me freedom.  There are so many different options out there that will help to keep you and your baby warm  and dry when hiking around.  You will find DIY tutorials, PDF patterns and babywearing coats on my Outside Play Everyday Pinterest board. 

We went with Suse's Kindercoat Deluxe in a large enough size for both of us to fit into it.  I didn't really care if it was a little bulky as long as the little guy and me were cozy.  Best feature about the Kindercoat is it does it all; front, back and hip babywearing in the rain, cold, sunshine or snow.  The midlayer is fleece and can be worn on its own.. leaving you with a waterproof shell to be used as a raincoat in warmer weather.  Combined together you and the babe will stay roasty toasty.  Coat tested exploring 12 inches of fresh snow on the ground and going on multiple winter hikes.

If you have an Ergo you might like their winter weather cover.  Definitely a little more friendly to one's pocket book.  Adds a nice buffer to the elements and keeps them extra cozy.  I would definitely dress them up in weather appropriate outerwear that will keep them appropriately warm under the fleece. 

So ya, that's my two cents on bundling your kiddos up for outdoor excursions.  Next week is Thanksgiving and I have yet to do a gratitude themed craft.  Any ideas?  Perhaps I will think of something crafty and share with you.  Until the next...

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Outside Play Everday and What to Wear, Part One Layers

Here at our house, we try and get Lil Guy outside everyday.  Yes folks, I said EVERYDAY, regardless of weather.  I love this article,  "10 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside", which gives reasons to spend more time outside. The raw materials that children find in a natural environment nourishes the whole person; intellect, personality, emotions, physical body health and spirit.  Also, have you ever noticed how well your child sleeps after playing outside for a good chunk of time?  That alone has me on the outside play bandwagon; that and my own memories of being a kid and my daily adventures outside.  I get to play too!

"Whether the weather be cold or
Whether the weather be hot
We'll weather together, whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not!"

If you're playing outside as much as we do, you need to be able to dress for the weather.  As the temperature starts to drop and the possibility of snow beckons, the layering begins!  I am kinda a dork for outdoor gear.. actually a serious dork.  So much a dork, that this is going to be a two-part post.  Talking about layers today and part two post will be about shoes, accessories and babywearing in the great outdoors in any weather.  Be sure to check out my Outside Play Everyday and What to Wear Pinterest board for more great gear.

It always starts with a base layer.  A person once told me, "cotton is rotten, man" and indeed he is correct when it comes to weathering the elements of mother nature, especially in colder weather.  This is where synthetics or wool become your best friend.  You want something that wicks the moisture away from your body so you can stay dry.  Sweat is our personal air conditioner and you don't want that effect happening when you are in the cold.

Base Layer 


Under Woollies
Last two winter seasons we used Patagonia Baby Capilene® set for Lil Guy's base layer. At $50.00 dollars you might think that is a bit expensive?  This set will cost you less than a nice Merino wool set and definitely easier to wash.  I also like to buy things a bit big and hope that I will get more use out of it next season.  When they outgrow them, you can always get some of your money back through consignment or listing for sell online. 

This season I decided to purchase 100% Merino wool jersey from Nature's Fabrics and make my own under woolie set.  This is by far the most economical way.  I bought a couple of yards of natural fabric and dyed it in a big ol' pot on the stove.  Cost was approximately $30.00 for a nice Merino set of under woolies.  THAT is a great deal AND they are one-of-a-kind.

Now don't forget your socks!  Keep your wee one's feet and little toes all cozy wrapped up in the warmth of Smartwool through fall and winter.  I've also recently discovered Darn Tough Vermont socks for myself and love them. I  haven't bought a pair for Lil Guy, but foresee that happening in the future. Luckily he has a BIG foot for a two year old and will fit into their kids small size.  Doesn't look like they have socks for babies or toddlers. 

Mid Layer 


So now we come to mid layers.  You usually see a lot of fleece in this catagory; fleece jackets and wool sweaters. You want something that is going to add a nice layer of warmth.  Polarn O. Pyret is one of my favorite places to get quality children's clothing that are made to be played in.  Their windfleece jacket is a  great mid layer because not only will it keep them warm, it is windproof and water resistant. Works great as an all around jacket during the fall weather when it isn't cold enough for all layers. Has nifty thumb holes in the arm cuffs, so hands stay warmer, gloves stay on and tucked underneath. You can also snap these jackets into their shell, which I don't have any experience with.  Maybe next year.  He is getting ready to outgrow his PO.P fleece and plan on making him his next jacket using some sort of Polartec® fleece; which is an option for all you craftastik folks out there who like to sew.

Usually for bottoms I put a pair of jeans or cords on him and if it is cold enough outside, he will have his woolies underneath.  PO.P's carpenter pants are rugged and made for children to move in; Lil Guy's most used pant.  FYI: Subscribing to the PO.P t mailing list is a great way to be notified of any sales they have going on.  You can save a lot of money this way and  even buy larger sizes for future use.  That's what I do anyways.  

Outer Layer

I always think of the outer layer as the skin, it's going to add a little more warmth, should be waterproof and windproof.  You are going to use this if it is REALLY cold outside or WET.  This is your first defense against the elements and you want it to keep you warm and dry.  You will find a lot of winter coats will have shells that will usually connect with the mid layer. Some outer shells work great as rain coats, just not as easy to stash in away for on the go kind of moments.  

For REALLY cold days outside and snowy days, we have a coverall for Lil Guy and it is both mid and out layer.  I find with children that are still in diapers, this is okay.  Next year, I will definitely be looking for separate pieces.  When it comes to children's outerwear, you cannot beat Didriksons.  I was lucky enough to find an extremely good deal on a kids coverall last year that will fit him again this year!  Heck, it might fit him next year too?  The large fit wasn't a big deal because the cuffs on the arms and legs have tabs that pull and velcro to make the cuff fit closely around limbs keeping it from sliding off.  The stirrups that loop around boot to keep the pants legs in place and water out.  On the sleeves it has inner cuffs with thumb holes so your glove or mitten cuff stays unexposed, tucked in nicely. I could go on and on about this coverall, really I could.  Check out the system guide for yourself here.  Now, only I wish they had a store in the USA.  Luckily, there is always P.OP and other unexplored options.  I live in the mountains and you never know what you will find at second-hand shops.  OR maybe I will get lucky again?

Mole Hill Rainsuit
If you live in a rainy area, you might want to explore rain gear.  Great for muddy walks, wet playgrounds and jumping in puddles of water. We sure get our fair share around here and is probably the most used outdoor gear throughout the year.  For when Lil Guy was just crawling and learning to walk, we loved the Mole Hill rainsuit.  Again, if they are in diapers I am going with a one piece. We got a lot of use out of that suit.

Once he outgrew that, I found an awesome fireman bib overall from PO.P, that they no longer seem to carry.  Lucky for me, I snagged couple on sale and bought one the next size up!  They are kelly green with reflective tape on the legs for low light visibility.  Adjustable straps that snap together and elasticized straps keep the pants over the boots.  A nice sized large pocket adorns the front of the bib.  A great place for wee one's to stash rocks and twigs, or carry a snack.

We have a discount outdoor store here and I found a packable XS Red Ledge's youth Thunderlight Jacket.  It is HUGE on Lil Guy, it is more like a dress.  It's quite comical actually.  Luckily for elasticized wrist bands, you can just bunch it up and it doesn't slip over the hands. Also, doesn't ever hurt to have more coverage when you are dealing with mud and water.  The hood curves to his head nicely and has a bill the juts out to keep the rain from dripping down his face.  When it comes to rain coats, its nice to make sure you have enough room to add a mid layer for colder days.  

A lot of what you go with will depend on your location and your particular needs.  Investing in good outdoor gear and getting to play outside with your kiddo is priceless.  It's those moments you will cherish in your heart for an eternity.  Help your child foster a relationship with nature, it's never too early or late to start.

Check back later this week for Part Two of this post; shoes, accessories and babywearing in the great outdoors.  Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE; which you will find options to do on the right hand side.  Everyone have a craftastik week!

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Patches and General What's Up

A Trip to Hickory Nut Gap Farm

Our Quest for Pumpkins

"The gilding of the Indian summer mellowed the pastures far and wide. 
   The russet woods stood ripe to be stripped, but were yet full of leaf. 
   The purple of heath-bloom, faded but not withered, tinged the hills...
   Fieldhead gardens bore the seal of gentle decay; ... its time of
  flowers and even of fruit was over."
  - Charlotte Brontë  

We had a successful adventure to the pumpkin patch. Our visit to Hickory Nut Gap Farm left us wanting to make it a yearly tradition.  The farm is nestled in the mountains in Fairview, North Carolina, a pleasant drive fifteen minutes outside Asheville.  Admissions is $5 for kids (two & under free) and $7 for adults.  No admission if you are just visiting the farm store.  If you live in the area, you might want to consider a season pass.  The farm is very kid friendly. 

We saw a variety of farm creatures including horses, pigs, baby chicks, goats, turkeys, and bees.  My little one was very enamored with the farm animals.  As we visited with the animals, we could read various facts about them.  As we were saying hi to the pigs, one feasted on a pumpkin with no knowledge of its own intelligence (4th smartest according to the sign).

Further up the path from the pigs and horses, Little Guy wanted to check out the baby chicks.  He kept saying he wanted to go into the coop.  We have chickens here at home and he didn't quite understand why he had to stay out.  He got the coop door open pretty quickly, but luckily no chicks escaped.  He was easily distracted when he noticed new things up the path.

There was a HUGE tire swing sitting by a creek.  Across from the tire swing there was a GIGANTIC barn with tons of fun activities for kids.  We played on the swing for a bit and then moseyed on over to the barn to check out some more animals; calves, goats and turkeys, oh my!  Once the wee one was finished playing with the animals he discovered the mountain of hay.  Climbing to the top, you found a rope you could hold onto and  swing, letting you fly into a pile of soft hay.  My favorite activity in the barn was the TRIKES!  It was like being on my big wheels when I was a kid.  They have a couple for adults and I think five or six for the kiddos.  Lil Guy was scooting around even if his legs weren't quite long enough to pedal.  Next year we will be racing each other for sure.

We continued up the hill to the pumpkin patch.  We brought our wagon and I have to say I was thankful for it.  It would not be easy to lug around  a few pumpkins, wrangle a toddler and keep moving in a forward-like direction.  The beauty of Hickory Nut Gap Farm envelopes you as you meander around the paths, searching out the perfect pumpkin.  It felt magical being wrapped up in all the autumn colors with the mountains as a backdrop.  I was worried there wouldn't be pumpkins left, but it turns out that wasn't a problem at all; it was harder to pick the perfect one from the dozens in the patch.  Hah!  Eventually all three of us decided on our pumpkins.  As we navigated the wagon of pumpkins and our toddler town the hill, I envisioned pumpkin carving and seeds roasting.

With all the merriment that was had, we still didn't visit the maze or explore the nature path.  They also have an u-pick orchard in progress.  Once berry season hits, I would like to visit their u-pick berry section on the farm that they have.  Looks like a fun farm destination throughout the year. 


What's going on this week?

With the cooler weather approaching, we are going to finish setting up the cold frame on one of our raised beds.  Lettuces, arugula, spinach, sugar snap peas, 1 leek, beets, 2 carrots and broccoli slowly growing. Maybe more carrots will pop up?  Animals scratched up the carrot seeds. Also need to get three potato towers set up and nestled in before the chill falls upon us.  Excited about the prospect of spring potatoes.  Not as much sewing planned this week, bedding down for the coming winter.  I will however be working on costume's for Zac & me.  Stay tuned for fun Halloween pictures.

With all this talk about cold weather and a Small Measure (blog I find inspirational) post, it made me realize I need to dig out all of the cold weather layers.  Luckily last year, I bought everything on the big size and looks like it will fit the wee one this year with a lil' room to grow.  Yay!  I love it when things work out like that.  Next post will be about toddler outdoor gear and what I love.  Lemme tell ya, I am kind of a big dork about that kind of stuff.  Under woolies just happen to fall into that category, so pictures of the one's I made from the Merino wool jersey I dyed for the wee one to be included.  Stay craftastik!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autumn Leaf Craft

Living in the mountains of Western North Carolina, this is one of my favorite times of the year.   The mountains are afire with crimson and gold.  Now that we are all feeling better,  I am making it my mission to enjoy the outdoors and the fall beauty that surrounds us.  A hike is in order and a visit to the pumpkin patch, FINALLY!  I sure hope there are some pumpkins left.

 "OCTOBER is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store:
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold." 
-Paul Laurence Dunbar

Supplies You Will Need to Gather For Your Autumn Mobile:

                                                   * Stick, desired length and thickness
                                                   * Latex Paint, color of choice
                                                   * Plastic cup (optional)
                                                   * Leaves
                                                   * Beeswax
                                                   * Old Pot or Coffee Can
                                                   * Wax Paper
                                                   * Drill and Bit
                                                   * Yarn or Strips of Jersey, at least 1' 6"
                                                   * Piece of Tape
                                                   * Thread, desired color
                                                   * Needle
                                                   * Glue, I used Elmer's

First, you will need the stick and latex paint.  I had just the right amount of paint in the can to dip stick into, that I didn't need to add paint to a plastic cup.  I dipped one end of the stick into paint until I hit the bottom of can, knowing this would make it equal on both sides.  You could also simply mark the spot you wish the paint to go to and just dip in.  Allow for paint to dry before dipping in the second end. Once dry,  go ahead and dip the opposite end of the stick into the paint. Allow to dry.

While the paint is drying, go ahead and melt wax in an old pot or coffee can at a low temperature.  Let me tell you, melted beeswax smells divine.  Smells so good, I wanted to eat it. Whatever you use to melt the wax in, don't ever plan on using it again for anything besides beeswax.  It's near impossible to get squeaky clean.  Once the wax is melted you can go ahead and dip leaves in the wax making sure to completely cover the leaf.  Bring the leaf out and allow for the wax to drip off and then gently lay the wax covered leaf on the wax paper.  It doesn't take long for the leaves to dry.  You now have beautifully preserved leaves. 

Once the paint is finished drying, you will need the drill and a bits large enough to drill a hole to pass the yarn or string through and one small enough to pass a needle and thread through. It helps if you lay out the leaves and figure out how you would like for them to hang before marking the places you will be drilling. Once you figure that out, mark the spots on the stick you will be drilling. Two larger holes to pass the strip of jersey through and five holes to pass needle and thread through. As you can see, the holes I drilled are not perfect. 

Once finished drilling holes, you are ready to start stringing your autumn mobile.  I just happened to have a scrap of Merino wool jersey that was perfect for what I wanted to use to hang the stick with.  A strip of t-shirt cut the right way would also be great to use.  Take the piece of tape and wrap around the end of yarn or strip of jersey.  It will look like the end of a shoelace.  Go ahead and thread through the two larger holes.  You will be tying off the ends in order to keep the string from passing back through.

Now you can go ahead and get your leaves ready to hang.  Cut five pieces of thread to desired length.  Tie each piece of thread onto the stem of a leaf.  You will be using the needle to thread the opposite end through a smaller hole.  Straighten out your leaves and make sure the thread is taut and where you want it.  You will take a little bit of glue and fill the top holes just enough to grab the thread.  Once dry, you can tie a nice big knot to make sure the thread will not pass through the dried glue. 

TAA DAA!  All finished.  Now all you need to do is find a window to hang your new mobile from and enjoy.

Currently on my sewing table:

 * A pair of monkey spat pants using pattern from here. Using a brown French Terry, soy/organic   cotton blend.
* Manly cowl scarves for my Etsy shop.
* Cozy hats from a pattern I am working on.
* Custom orders.

Last week was a productive week when it came to sewing.  I was able to get all of the under woolies made for Lil Guy and hope to have pictures to share soon!  This week will be about finishing custom orders and working on getting more stuff listed for my Etsy shop.  We shall see.  Stay craftastik folks!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meanderings on PDF Patterns & Woodland Fox Costume

Tis the season for hot toddies, oh yes it is. That is what I am doing as a I type these words.  Sipping on my toddy and soothing my throat.  I was really striving for a Monday post, and it just didn't happen folks.  It has been a crazy, crazy weekend of the never ending super cold.  We just keep on fighting through it with herbs and that is exactly what the doctor told us to keep doing today.  I mean, it's been over a week people?!?!  Still the pumpkin patch eludes us.

What I was able to do is finish Little Guy's foxy Halloween costume. Made this with a rusty red cotton flannel and ivory organic cotton fleece remnants. One down, two more to go!  The Woodland Animal Costume pattern I found at Running With Scissors is just lovely.  Oh how I love PDF patterns! If I want to make a different costume for him next year, or perhaps just a play costume in a different size.. I  can and probably will.  

I think that is why I prefer PDF patterns.  Sure.. it can kind of be a pain in the butt to cut out all the pieces and tape them together, AND  it is costly to use ink to print out the pattern and directions BUT seriously, you can buy ONE pattern in multiple sizes and just simply print out the pattern pieces each year when you need to size up.  No need to trace the pattern pieces onto Swedish tracing paper (which I love by the way for making my own patterns) and THEN cut out. Or buy a paper pattern and you STILL have to cut it out. Plus, there are a lot of cute PDF patterns out there.

Two Most Recent PDF Patterns Purchased

* Ben & Mia Pants with Pockets for Boy and Girl - 12 months to 6 years, from Lily Bird Studio.  I need to start scouting out thrift stores for size super large cords and other fun pants to repurpose using this pattern.  These look like a great all-around kind of pant.  Elastic waist will be nice during the potty training years. 

* Undies from Kitschy Coo that I plan on using bamboo interlock to make.  I need to dye the bamboo first.  These look super comfy and I am wondering if I can make a pair for me!  I'm also thinking of training pants.  Oh the possibilities with this pattern!


Currently on my sewing table:

* A pair of monkey spat pants using pattern from here. Using a brown French Terry, soy/organic cotton blend.
* A pair of spat pants made with Merino wool jersey that I dyed using a hot dye bath.
* Cross-over tee using same fabric above. Pattern from, "Growing Up Sew Liberated".
* Manly cowl scarves for my Etsy shop.
* Cozy hats from a pattern I am working on.
* Merino wool jersey,  light weight diaper cover.  We shall see how the first cover turns out.

So ya.  I am a crazy sewing fool!  Have a busy week ahead of us as we prepare for an road trip to Raleigh to visit with fam and a trip to the North Carolina State Fair.  This week will be about figuring out some fun stuff for Little Guy to do for a four hour car ride there and back.  Plus, where to stop and let off some steam?  AND when the heck can we get to a pumpkin patch?  I still have a couple autumn crafts on the back burner that I hope to share with you soon.

Hope everyone has a craftastik week!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Featuring: Worthy Goods & Her Organic Textiles

It has been another week of quarantine and missed autumn outings.  I did not get to fulfill my dream of visiting a pumpkin patch or do anything terribly crafty.  I did however collect some vivid colored fall leaves for a future special project.  Once this mama is feeling better I shall make something inspired by the season and share with you.  Perhaps Monday shall be fun day? What I WILL be sharing with you today is one of my favorite places to find quality organic textiles.

She has  a nice collection of yummy organic fabrics to choose from.  You know me, I'm all about sustainability and Earth happiness.  One of my favorites is a SUPER soft and thick cotton Sherpa domestically woven and is Global Organic Textile Standard certified.  The possibility of cozy accessories are endless using this fabric.

Don't feel like making something?  Not only does she sell fabrics she also makes some cozy looking hats for all, fashionable babywearing slings and more. You can check out her Worthy Goods etsy store here.  

After you are check out her fabric, hurry on over to her blog and enter into her, Surprise! Organic Fabric Giveaway Contest. 

Here's wishing for a healthy and craftastik weekend folks!  I'm always interested in seeing what other people are making out there and love it when they share.  You can find Miss Ladyfingers on Facebook or shoot me an email if you are so inclined.  Also, SUBSCRIBE to my blog. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fire Starters You Can Make Yourself

What did I do this weekend?  I took care of a little sickie and made fire starters.  I thought Little Guy was recovering from having a nasty fever and feeling crappy earlier in the week but nope.  He started getting this nasty cough and runny nose.  So suffice to say, lots of snuggling, booger wiping and exercising mama love last week.  I also was able to use up all the dryer lint I have been collecting over the past few weeks and make my fire starters.   

I made the fire starters from lint, paper egg cartons and wax.  I  used various remnant pieces from old candles I had been saving and a box of paraffin wax.  I'm not too keen on the paraffin but I had some, so why not use it up?  Plus, bees wax is expensive.  Will start saving all the leftover wax for next year and maybe I will have enough?  Lint was no problem.  I saved enough in a few weeks from two egg cartons.

You simply stuff the lint into the cups of the paper egg cartons.  What a brilliant way to give purpose to something that was useless and into went into the trash or recycling bins.  Cups stuffed, you are ready to pour hot wax onto the lint.  Once you see that the lint has absorbed the wax, you will know to stop pouring.  I would also recommend to do this on a papered surface as it can be a little messy.  All you need to do now is wait for the wax to harden.

The next day I tore mine apart easily and stored then in a glass jar. It was also a chilly Sunday morning and I just couldn't resist getting a fire going in our wood stove and trying out the new fire starters.  Let me tell you, they work great!  You only really need half of one too.  Will be nice when we are out of kindling and I can't go outside and collect sticks to get the fire going. Or when I don't have time to mess with getting a fire started in the morn.  These babies would also be PERFECT for camping trips.  Coupled with a good amount of kindling and one of these, I don't doubt they could get damp wood going.

So ya, that was my weekend.  Didn't get much sewing done this week :(  I am hoping next week is better because I have a lot of projects to catch up on and a couple of custom orders I have to get made.  Halloween is also around the corner.  What!  How the heck did that happen?  Need to make Lil Guy's fox costume.

I am dreaming of a pumpkin filled week. Stay tuned for visions of orange and all that is autumn this week.  Should have some fun stuff to share with you on Friday.  Have a craftastik week everyone!


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Friday, October 5, 2012

DIY Arts & Craft Table for Kids on a Budget

I love this arts and crafts table Ikea hack found on Martha Stewart's website here. When I saw this, I knew I had to make one myself.

You can find a comparable table at Pottery Barn for 239.00; Carolina Grow with You Table Craft Table.  My cost, approximately $52.00 including shipping and tax.  Granted, mine does not grow, nor does it have drawers.  I also imagine the craftsmanship and materials are probably of higher quality than the LACK Table.  Still though, I will go with the $52.00 and I bet you I can figure out a way to "grow with him"... just you wait.  Plus, it has a shelf space you can utilize the amazing lazy susan for art supplies.  On the Martha Stewart's "Decorating Kids' Spaces", I liked the idea of the caddies hanging from the wall from thin strips of wood but went with a bar screwed in to the wall with anchors to hang organizational cups for supplies.  I think the Lil Guy might rip the lattice off the wall.  Cool in theory, but I dunno if that would work around here.

For This Project You Will Need:
 * Gooseneck Barrel Brackets, one pair (with 2" clearance) for 11.00 plus shipping at Ann Wallace
*  Screws that came with kit.
*  Drill and bits
*  Pencil
Mala drawing paper roll for 4.99 at Ikea.
LACK Table for 19.99 at Ikea.
*  Yarn, something I had.

The tricky part was figuring out where to place my brackets.  It was just me, so having only two hands I did my best.  It was important to have the brackets spaced just right, so I could put the roll of paper on and have them be close enough to be able to have the roll stay on.

Like I said, placement of your brackets is important.  As you can see in the photo, I didn't quite get it right the first time. My mistake, your triumph.  Luckily, I could move the bracket over just enough and not expose the oops holes. It is important to place the brackets 5/16" from the edge.  The roll of paper seems to stay on okay if you don't have a crazy toddler trying to rip it off. You can place the brackets at desired height on the end of the table. I placed mine lower and rested the bottom of the bracket right on the edge.  That way I didn't have to worry about using a leveler.. hah! 

The last thing you need to do is tie a piece of yarn around the opposite end of where you installed the brackets.  This will allow you to tuck the end of the paper and keep it from moving around when your kiddo is getting his art on.  In the Martha Stewart post, the lady used a piece of lattice.  There wasn't a piece of thin wood to be found at our house.  String seems to work just fine, and you can easily change it out once it gets grubby from all the art gook!  No worries about having to get under a piece of wood.

Now you are ready to put the roll of paper on the brackets, pull out a piece of paper and draw!  The roll will slip off if you are not careful.  I unscrewed the ends of brackets once paper roll was on, to extend the length a bit and keep the roll on better.  Perhaps I will keep my eye out for a tension rod that will fit?

All-in-all, it is a great lil' table and I am very happy with the outcome.  Will have to check back next week and see what goodies I fill his cups with and what I will stack up on that lazy susan.  Little by little my studio is coming together.

Currently on my sewing table:
* A pair of monkey spat pants using pattern from here.
* Fox costume using this pattern.
* Manly cowl scarves for my Etsy shop.
* Working on a pattern for a cozy hat.

Ya.. it is the same from last week.  Sick babes for a few days this week and that makes it very hard to get anything done but love on my nugglet until he feels better.  We shall see how next week goes?  Hope everyone has a splendid weekend.  Stay craftastik!

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Studio Time and What is in Store

Presently I sew out of a shoebox.. err.. laundry room.  I make a lot of stuff for my family unit and make handcrafted goods to sell.  I have outgrown the laundry room and I need a dedicated space for craftiness.  Luckily we have the perfect space in our home that will be able to house Miss Ladyfingers' studio.  Painting has commenced and I recently got my Ikea on!

I have to say, we have our work cut out for us.  Looking at the photo, you can see just how cluttered up the space is.  I am working with a larger space that will include a guest bed, cutting table, sewing table, a craft table for Lil Guy, and nice rug for playing space.  I also imagine a cozy corner with instruments in reach. Will be utilizing shelving and baskets for storage and organization.  Look for a future post on white fabric that I will attempt to dye and sew enough curtains for five windows.  So ya, lots to do.

What I envision is a space for creative energy and yet somehow restful for the guests that will sleep there.  This also needs to be done on a budget. Hence, my journey to Ikea and the many DIY projects that will unfold.

Join me on my journey of studio transformation.  Friday's post will be about a fun Ikea hack for your wee one!

Currently on my sewing table:
* A pair of monkey spat pants using pattern from here.
* Fox costume using this pattern.
* Manly cowl scarves for my Etsy shop.
* Working on a pattern for a cozy hat.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Check-In Monday & DIY, Spruce Up a Pair of Boots

It's check-in time Monday.  My week was full of taking care of a grouchy toddler. Boy is it hard to get stuff done with a teething kiddo that feels like crap, top molars to boot. I feel for him.  My goal was to have a bunch of stuff stocked in my Etsy store tonight, but I don't see that happening.  I guess that comes with the territory of working from home and having kids.  I'm just going to go with the flow and do what I can when I can.

Happy Autumn! Seasonal fun stuff happening at our house; Lil Guy and I completed are fall banner and are working on a nature table.  We were able to get out this afternoon for a much needed hike.  It was good for us, we needed to check-out with nature. It was peaceful beautiful day, good for the soul.  We found treasures for the nature table too!

I also have an easy DIY project for you!   A fun way to add some color to a pair of boots or shoes.  I had a pair of cowboy boots that were kind of boring and needed some sprucing up. 

What you will need:

* Elmer's Painters Marker, color of your choosing.
* Pair of  cowboy boots, or footwear of your choosing.
* Your imagination.

A common feature on cowboy boots is their stitching.  I simply took the paint marker in turquoise and colored inside the lines of the the stitching.  It was incredibly easy and I really love the results.  It gives an old pair of boots new life.  I can see using this pen to add small pops of color on all sorts of footwear.  A toe cap of color would be fun, or maybe add some new pizazz to a pair of old man shoes, or perhaps you want the heel to standout?  The possibilities are endless. 

I wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about my studio-to-be post and will be working on that this week.  Making a trip to Ikea on Wednesday and should have a fun tutorial for my Friday post, so check back later this week.  Hope everyone has a meaningful week!