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.