Saturday, December 20, 2008

Great Kid's Christmas Book

I love my local library! We go every other week to the pre-schooler story time, and to check out new books! This past time I found a really great book created by the awesome author/illustrator duo who does the Bear books: Bear Snores On, Bear's New Friend, etc. Well, they did the cutest Christmas book called Mortimer's Christmas Manger, about a mouse who is looking for a house, and finds his people's Nativity set. He wants to move into the manger, which leaves this little baby statue without a home. Mortimer overhears his people telling the Christmas story (which they do a much better job of than most Christian books out there!) and decides that the baby Jesus needs the home more than him. So he puts the baby Jesus statue back in the manger and prays, asking God for a new home. The ending is super cute, and my son just loves it! I won't spoil the surprise, but this is a great book for pre-schoolers, to talk to them about some good Christian Christmas traditions, and enjoy some beautiful illustrations.



Sorry I haven't posted in a month! My computer's hardrive is full, so I can't download my pictures, or do hardly any work without causing crashes! It has been so difficult, though I have been filling my time with lots of sewing! 


I am doing almost all handmade Christmas gifts this year! I have invented a few new sewing creations but I can't tell you what they are yet, because I haven't given them out, and I don't want to ruin the surprise! I'll post some photos later! 

Also, earlier this week I folded 25 gift boxes out of cute Christmas scrapbooking paper to put my homemade chocolate goodies in for my husband to give to his friends at work. 

The whole family also had a blast painting some pottery for the grandmas! We did it at this wonderful studio where you pick out your bisque pottery, paint it, then leave it for them to glaze and fire in the kiln. We don't get to pick them up for a couple more days, but I am so excited with anticipation of how wonderful they will turn out!

Oh, my husband just graduated from grad school with his master's (in computer science!) so Hurray! We have kinda been putting the computer's needs on hold so that he could study, do his homework, work on his papers and his projects and take his final. But that is all done with, so hopefully my poor computer will get some luvin' now! Which will hopefully lead to a plethora of blog posts, and uploading pictures of items to put in my etsy store!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Etsy Shop is finally up!

I suppose I've always known I'd eventually get around to opening one. I've always loved the idea, but the question was, what would I sell?



Well, so many people have commented that I should sell my nursing covers, that making those to put on Etsy was almost a given. But I have recently discovered another crafting passion! Knit baby hats! The discovery came when I had a hard time finding a hat for my 1 year old daughter who has a small head. Newborn hats were too small, but toddler hats were way too big! Upon questioning other mom friends, I found that many agreed it was hard to find anything outstandingly cute for that hard-to-fit 6-18 month age. Once they saw the hats I was making for my little girl, they were hooked! (knitting pun, haha!)

I have some other ideas in the works for additional items to my shop, but you'll have to check it out later to see! In the mean time, my etsymini is in the sidebar, so please check out my items, and add my shop to your favorites!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prima Princessa

Have you heard about this wonderful DVD?  My daughter is only 1, so I am not yet running in the "princess craze" circles yet, but when I saw this 40 minuet movie, I immediately could appreciate the educational value, as well as the quality and thoughtfulness of the production.  

They combine a good use of repetition and variety to keep kids entertained, yet reinforce some choice ballet movements (jete', pirouette, etc.) for energetic ballet beginners.  

A good part of the movie is excerpts from the Paris Opera Ballet's performance of Swan Lake, with the fairy narrating the story of what is going on.  It's nice way to introduce professional ballet because the dancing is beautiful and mesmerizing, and they are learning the classical story that goes along with Swan Lake.

During the breaks between the 4 acts of Swan Lake, they interject some "ballet play time" where the little ballerinas watching the Swan Lake performance get up and dance to the music.  Mixed in with this, they use young-ish students of the School of American Ballet to model the ballet concepts, and mix in some animals and toys to reinforce the vocabulary and action.   

My 3 year old son watched it with me, and afterwards I asked him if he liked it and what his favorite part was.  He said that he did like it, but instead of identifying the prince as his favorite, as I expected, instead he said that he like watching the little girls (who have fun pirouetting and and so forth between the acts).  I thought that was interesting, since he didn't get up and dance with them, (he's not much of a dancer type) but I could certainly see that for most little girls, watching this movie would be a perfect "tutu time" to put on their tutus and dance along with the little girls and the music.

Another really cool thing about this movie is that it was created by two stay at home moms, Mary Kate Mellow and Stephanie Troeller, out of their passion to provide an educational and cultural experience for their own budding ballerinas.  What awesome motivation, and what a great achievement!  I love it when moms are amazing!

What's even more amazing is that they are doing a giveaway on their blog TutuZone that includes an incredible prize!  You get the Swan Lake DVD, a white swan princess dress up set, a cute stuffed swan (dancing partner?).  This giveaway ends December 5th, and all you need to do to win is go to their blog post at TutuZone and leave a comment that includes a way for them to contact you if you win. (It's so annoying when someone wins your giveaway, and you have no way to tell them!) It's also polite to say "thanks for the giveaway" and "you guys are awesome" type stuff in your comment too. *wink* But mainly don't forget to leave your e-mail address!  Okay, go comment! (Well, you can comment here too.  A nice, "thanks for the great tip, Thrifty" is always appreciated!)

There are a lot of people registered to win, so if you know a little girl that just HAS to have this video, you can click above to buy it from amazon.  Yeah, I would give you mine, but my niece has dibs until my daughter is big enough for it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Clean are your Kid's Toys?

Well, school has gotten under way, and already germs are starting to get passed around!  It's a scary time as everyone is tempted to reach for their hand sanitizer, yet also contemplates the repercussions of doing so.  (read my posting here)


While you can't control how germs are handled at your kid's school, you can decide how to attack them at home.  One front you may want to consider battling germs on is those residing on (and in!) your children's toys.  Here is a great article on how to sanitize toys.

I, personally, like to use a solution of:

2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1/4 tsp Tea Tree Oil

Mix it together in a clean spray bottle and spritz on hard surfaces, toys, light switches and door knobs!  It's easy, smells nice, and it's healthy for your kids and pets!  (Who says living green has to be hard eh?)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To sanitize or not to sanitize?

Everyone was scarred when all the stories of kids being made sick by hand sanitizer was circulated.  Many of us locked ours up, or at least hid it in the medicine cabinate or with our cleaning supplies.  The health concerns are certainly justified, especially if you, like me, have a little one who loves sticking things in her mouth.


But while the safety concerns of hand sanitizer are serious, the stuff can also do some serious good, as has been proven by many studies. (Like this one, and this one)  It can't be denied that there is good evidence that it is a proven defence against rotovirus.  

There are some new, organic hand sanitizers on the market.  They aren't perfect, but are a nice middle ground between highly toxic/poisonous and germ covered little hands.

CleanWell Alcohol-free hand sanitizer that is non-toxic and readily biodegradable.
Benedetta  Made with non-GMO (genetically modified organism) alcohol and Jojoba oil.
EO Uses non-drying biodynamic grape alcohol and organic essential oils.

Always remember that good old soap and water is really the best thing for fighting germs and keeping everyone healthy!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Perfect Pico

I am not a great gardener.  My husband teases me about my black thumb and my ability to kill a plant by not watering it for one day. (an exaggeration!)  Yet somehow my little veggie garden is doing rather well, at least in the tomato and jalapeno sections.  I had bought some huge sweet onions locally, and had some nice fresh cilantro on hand, so when I was desiring some fresh pico de gallo  (and a way to use up all those tomatoes and jalapenos) I invented this recipe!



Perfect Pico

2 cups fine chopped vine ripe (best home grown) tomatos
5 medium jalapenos, seeded and chopped super fine
1 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup lime juce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt to taste

Stir it all up and let it mingle for a couple hours in the fridge, for best flavor, or just attack it with the chips right away!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

At Last! Behold the T-shirt Baby Sling!

After I received a request for a baby sling pattern, I started thinking about all the baby slings I've ever made (only 3 really) and decided that I wanted to shake things up a little and offer my wonderful readers something new. To my knowledge, there has not been a t-shirt sling tutorial published before, but if so, I apologize.

I designed this tutorial to be the ultimate in simplicity, and frugality, with a little recycling thrown in. (you gotta love new uses for old t-shirts, right?!) So here we go!

You will need 2 t-shirts with little writing on them, unless you'd like the writing to be on the sling, which is up to you. I advise 2 XL t-shirts, unless you feel you need bigger. If you're a slim little thing a Large may do just fine. In this demo I use a larges, but that's because I couldn't put my hands on 2 XLs of the same color at the moment inspiration took hold of me. (sorry!) You will want to hold the t-shirt across your chest like this, from your shoulder to your hip bone. If it doesn't make it all the way across with a smidge of slack, go with bigger shirts.

Lay the two shirts down, and cut them across under the armpits. If the lettering on the shirts goes below the armpits you will probably want to just cut up as high as you can, without getting the lettering. You will have 2 tubes of t-shirt, hopefully about 15 inches from the cut to the hem. If it's going to be less than 12 inches, that's not enough, the pocket for your baby is not going to be deep enough! Pick a different shirt!

Now, we will re-shape them a little. You will want to line up the hems (bottoms of the t-shirts) because they will become the top opening of your sling. You will want to start cutting about 6-8 inches from the hems and make a nice curve down to the bottom making use of the full width down there. (the thin part will go over your shoulder and the fat part will be where your baby's bottom goes)

Once you are happy with the shape, turn ONE of the tubes inside out and stick it around the other tube, so that the right sides are together on the inside of the tubes. I prepared a loop for keys/pacifiers and stuck it in between the layers. Pin around the open tubes to keep the curves matching and help with any stretching.


(The loop is about to be slipped between the layers and pinned)

Once everything is pinned to your satisfaction, run a wide zigzag stitch all the way around the curved edge of the tubes to connect them together. (You are sewing through 2 layers, not 4! Sew around in a big circle, connecting the two tubes along the edges you cut.) Make sure it is nice and strong and sturdy, you don't want it ripping open and your baby falling out! You will now have one wide tube that is thinner on one side of the circle, and pretty nice and fat on the other side. Fold the tube along the seam you've just sewn and now you are ready to test it out!

One last thing, I like a nice pocket too, so I cut a little more material from one of the discarded t-shirts and added it close to the loop. I have it opening toward the shoulder, instead of the hem, because I think it holds things better at that angle. I also ran the zigzag around the hem edges to give it a little contrast stitching. That, and any other decoration options are limited only by your imagination, so go crazy if you want! Your little bundle of luvin' can only appreciate it more for the added personal touches!

Hope you enjoy! Please comment! Link your pics!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ideas for squeezing in some EXERCISE!

I enjoy exercising!  I love it, in fact.  I would rather be out walking, listening to a good informative podcast than sitting on the couch watching TV.  However, after a long day and the kids are finally asleep, that's exactly what I often find myself doing.  (My snugly, attention-starved husband also contributes to this behavior!)  So I am on a quest to find time and ways to do my exercising during the day, while my kids are (gasp!) awake.  


I was recently reading on the List Mama Blog and found that she's made a little motivational/idea list for just such a purpose as mine.  See if she's thought of anything you haven't yet!

  • Make weekly exercise goals for yourself. This will give you some guidance and motivation.  (Does putting it on my Google Calendar count?)
  • Wake up an hour earlier. For many people, the morning is the most productive time of the day. Capitalize on that by getting an early walk or jog in before the kids wake up.  (Groans and knods)
  • Find a buddy. Use it as a ladies evening out. Meet on a trail or in the mall and start walking. (I have had success using this method!)
  • Wear comfy clothes to the bus stop and then when the kids have just pulled away, get your jog or walk in before you have time to come up with any excuses.
  • Take a break during lunch to sneak in a walk or an exercise class. (My MIL is great at this!)
  • Exercise before you pick up your kids from daycare or school.  (This can't apply to me because I don't believe in either of those things, plus my kids are too young)
  • Wait until the children are in bed to climb on your elliptical machine or do a Tae Bo video.  (I wish I could do this more regularly!)
  • Play tag or soccer or run races with your children. (That counts?!?!) 
  • Take a family yoga class.  ($$$)
  • Put on some music and everyone DANCE!

  • Have any good ideas of your own for squeezing in more excercise?

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    The JUNK arrives in Hawaii today!

    You may have heard about the two guys who are sailing a raft made up completely of post-consumer waste (JUNK!) from Long Beach to Hawaii. They have kept a detailed blog about their voyage, what they've found while at sea, and information about what is happening to our sea water because of plastic trash being washed out to sea.

    Here is an intro about their journey.



    Here's an example of videos they take while on their journey, floating toward Hawaii.



    All that photodegrading plastic in the oceans has a big impact on sea creatures, fish, mamals and birds. Here's a video that's pretty gross, and brutally honest.




    So what do we do? Well, in responce to this knowledge, I am examining the areas we produce the most trash in our household, and am aiming to start with reducing in the largest area first: plastic baggies, and plastic water bottles.

    So what are you doing to cut down on plastics?

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Power your own Cell Phone

    A Faraday-style battery charger is currently in the works by a company called M2E Power. The idea is that you can be charging your cell phone, GPS device, or other small personal device while you walk around during the day. (Brilliant!) The technology is based on Michael Faraday's Principle of electric current generation from electromagnatism, where either a magnet is passed repeatedly across a coil of wire, or the wire is made to vibrate next to a magnet. There is a nice wiki article if you are interested in the speceifics.
    This is not a new idea, by any means, yet as we evolve into a more mobile society, and are increasingly concerned with renewable energy sources, we can see the value in honing this technology into widely usable applications.

    Right now M2E Power is also working to develop recharging D and AA batteries for military use (for equipment like night goggles) which would be a tremendous help to soldiers who often have to carry a huge amount of batteries for their missions, and pack them out again so they don't leave evidence of their location. Having just a few batteries that are recharging while they are moving to a new location would be an excellent solution to the problem of all that extra weight. Plus, if the US military switched to Faraday rechargable batteries, think of how many fewer batteries would be expended each year!
    Batteries that are recharged using kinetic motion are an excellent example of how old technologies can be honed into use for the small, more energy efficient devices that we use today. Faraday's Principle didn't have much practical use back then, but by combining technologies, and melding them together, they become incredibly powerful. Folks, lets face it, combined technologies is the furture of sustainable energy!

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Lable Cloud

    Yea! I'm so excited about my new lable cloud! It's that big bunch of words in the right sidebar. Those are all keywords that I've tagged my various posts with. I converted my keywords into a "cloud" so that you can see what I've written about most frequently (the bigger words) and hopefully help you find past posts a little easier. They are all the rage these days!

    To set it up, I used a great page by phydeaux3 that included code and instructions on how to implement the cloud for blogger. It was nice and clear, and took me less than 10 min. If you are looking to add a lable cloud to your blogger blog, check it out here!

    Thanks phydeux3!

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    MomAgenda Givaway!

    I am so thrilled to have gotten my hands on these! I got two brand new MomAgenda Desktop planners for August 2008-December 2009! One of them is for me, of course, and I'll give you the inside scoop on all the details. The OTHER one, however, is for one lucky reader to win! To find out how, read on....

    I first heard about MomAgenda through CoolMomPicks, though the company has also been featured in Real Simple and on The Today Show. Their focus is creating chic, yet practical organizational tools, mostly for moms, though they also have an option that works for anyone. (the MyAgenda)

    What really impresses me about the MomAgenda is how much utility is packed into the thing. It's eye-catching exterior is highly durable and waterproof. It's not a spiral, or 3 ring type, so the pages turn easy and you don't have to worry about them ripping or falling out. It comes with two built in ribbon bookmarks to help you find the page you're looking for pronto.

    The MomAgenda Desktop edition is organized into month at a glance (with holidays!), followed by weekly layouts. At the top of the weekly pages, right below the dates, it gives a large section for your activities, with a little space to the far left side to write your most important to-dos. It is in a Monday-Sunday layout, which I like because I often plan the week on Monday and hate it when Sunday church activities sneak up on me (potlucks!). Having it laid out that way does kinda mess with my mind a little bit though, because it goes across, like a calendar week, instead of down the page like in Amy Knapp's Family Organizer.

    But the real advantage to the MomAgenda is that, under your schedule, it gives you places to write in each one of your kids' schedules. This is the way to go if you have to worry about after school practices, games and lessons! It has space allotted for up to 4 people's schedules besides your own. I use one for my husband so that I can remember which days he'll be out of town on business, and when his next doctor's appointment is.

    Along the bottom of the weekly pages there is space given for you to plan your menu for the week. I love this feature because I can look at what I've got going on during the week and decide what nights need to be a quick dinner, or something more relaxed.

    I do wish that there was more space on the layout for goals or to-do lists (like Franklin Covey or Amy Knapp's) as I really need those visual reminders. Sometimes I wish I could get a planner that was just a weekly layout of to do lists, along with grocery list and menu plan, oh and some way for recording the money I've spent! (I found this one with the to-do lists part at least)

    A couple more features I should mention... the MomAgenda has a great example page on how to use the weekly layouts. It also has a REMOVABLE address book and birthday record, with a few pages for medical records, and website passwords thrown in. This awesome little bonus will easily slip out and get transferred next year's MomAgenda, eliminating the need to re-copy all that info, yet keeps it handy and organized, tucked inside your planner.




    Okay, then it starts to make up for the lack of to-do lists with some terrific sections in the back for organizing your important (where the heck did I put that?!?) lists! It's got a birthday organizer, a place to write down what books and movies you'd like to read and see, spots for your nutrition and exercise plans, shopping, dining, gift records. It even has some pages for you to list your entertaining resources, like your favorite caterer and where to get those invitations you spotted for your daughter's next birthday. Then there's a great section to organize your party planning and guest lists, vacation ideas and details, followed by a nice big blank section for you to record whatever else your heart desires!

    Yes, the MomAgenda has a good amount of space to write in, but it has slyly avoided being too bulky to carry around easily. It is not as slim as most spiral bounds are, but the quality and durability make it feel more likely to survive being thrown into your large purse or diaper bag. I love the waterproof cover, and the colors are so cheery and appealing!


    (I fearlessly poured water on mine!)

    So do you think you'd like to get one for yourself??? All you need to do is post a comment to this blog post, giving me your e-mail address (so I can contact you if you've won). You can spell it out like thrifty(dot)domestica(at)gmail.com or something like that, if your worried about it being harvested. AND please share your best tip for organizing your papers, lists, or appointments! I will select one person randomly on July 30th and notify them by e-mail that they have won! Oh, and if you have a blog or website, feel free to post a link of that too! I love to read my readers!

    PS. To check out more MomAgenda products, be sure to visit www.momagenda.com

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Picaboo photo books!

    Picaboo is having a sale for new customers! 50% off your first photo book! I made my first photo books for Mother's Day, and they turned out so awesome. They make great gifts, or maybe you're looking for an easy way to show off that awesome vacation you had this summer. In any case, Picaboo is a great company to work with, they are such good quality, and now you can get your first book half off!


    Picaboo

    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    T-shirt shopping cart/highchair cover!

    The other day, I was at the fabric store looking at patterns for shopping cart and highchair covers. I was rather frustrated and the largeness and bulky-ness, and was thinking how I wished that instead of making a "fitted" one, I could make something stretchy that would accomodate any size. I had picked up a remnant of knit t-shirt-like fabric (to make babylegs tights for my daughter) and I began playing with the idea of making a cart cover out of a similar fabric. Then the thought struck me! What is a cart cover really? A tube with a hole in the end for your kid's legs that would stretch over the cart (or highchair) to cover the unsanitary parts! Kinda like a t-shirt with no arm holes, ya know???

    I had recently cleaned out my husband's t-shirt drawer, and had a stack that was to be donated, so I selected one of the nearly new ones with a good amount of stretch to it. I cut off the sleaves and sewed up the holes, adding loops of ribon for toy attachments. I considered cutting slits in the back for the belt to go through, but decided against it, as the belts are often the most disgusting part, and the t-shirt was not so bulky as to limit the belt being fastened around it with my daughter inside. So that's it! Check it out!


    Saturday, July 5, 2008

    Blueberry Heaven

    This is a brilliantly simple recipe and another way to use the irrepressible versatility of butter cake mix

    As you can see, I was unable to take a picture before part of the dessert was consumed. This is because it is just to die for hot out of the oven! The warm blueberries have burst forth their tart juices to mix with a sweet chewy yellowcake better-than-cobbler topping. Vanilla ice cream optional.

    Preheat your oven to 325 F. In a 9x13 baking pan/dish dump 4 cups of fresh (or frozen, if you must) blueberries. The berries should cover the bottom of the pan, with a few extra. Then sprinkle one entire box of yellow cake mix over the berries. Melt one cup of butter (or margarine if you want to be all diet conscious) and pour the melted butter over the cake mix and blueberries. You could also cut up the butter into chunks and sprinkle it over, but I think pouring it is a little lazier. That's it! Pop the pan in the oven for an hour. Pull it out and fend off your husband's fork!

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    Breakfast Cookies

    I tried these chunky cookie/muffin tops as a quick breakfast on the go to grab during VBS week! It is derived from the cookie recipe on the Jiffy Oatmeal Muffins box. I wanted something healthy and super easy, so this is what I came up with!



    • 1 box Jiffy Oatmeal Muffins mix
    • 2 Tbs brown sugar
    • 3 Tbs old fashioned oats (or quick oats)
    • 3 Tbs margarine
    • 3 Tbs peanut butter (I used crunchy and it gave the muffins a little extra nuttiness)
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 Cup coconut
    • 1/2 Cup Craisins (or raisins)

    Preheat oven to 350. Combine everything except the coconut and craisins. Mix it up until it forms a thick dough. Then add the last two ingredients and mix well. Drop by large, 2 inch balls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 min.

    You can find more quick and easy recipes for Jiffy mixes at JiffyMix.com and they'll send you a FREE recipe book if you'll just tell them where to send it!

    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Tips for an Easy and Fun Picknic

    Everybody loves to spend some extra time outdoors while the weather is warm. One way my family loves to do this is to pack a quick picnic and head to the park or the pool. I have worked out a system for doing this through trial and error. The trial part being that for about a year (before my daughter was born) every day my son and I would pack a picnic lunch and take it to my husband at work. We would head to a nearby park and enjoy some extra family time during his lunch break. (I really need to start doing this again, though it's really hard to coordinate the two kids naps right now)

    There were several tricks I learned that made this possible.

    1. Always have a zip-topped bag of napkins, plastic forks and spoons, and paper plates stashed right by your cooler. If you use condiments like ketchup, save extra packets from fast food places and keep some of those in the bag too. That way you can just toss that bag in the cooler and don't have to remember to pack each thing you'll need.

    2. A word about coolers... smaller is better! We have a large lunchbox-sized one that works well and takes up minimal room in the car. I've also had my eye on a large soft-sided freezer bag from Sams Club that folds up nice, and has the added utility of toting freezer items home from the wholesale and big box stores. (I drive 35 min to both of those) Having a smaller cooler to tote makes getting everything in and out of the car much easier, and also allows your kids to participate in more of the work. It's also a good idea to have some of those re-usable ice packs ready to go in the freezer. That way the food in your cooler doesn't get wet as the ice melts.

    3. Ah the food! Many things I've discovered make packing the food easier. If you can, buy single servings, and if not, break things down into single servings. Things like yogurt cups, and apple sauce cups travel very well, and the disposable nature helps the packing up process. Try to avoid easily crushed items like chips and bread. Go for nuts, pretzels and boxed crackers, if possible. Consider cheese, beef stick and crackers, instead of the typical sandwich. Kids will have fun putting the mini-sandwich crackers together, and they won't get smooshed or soggy on the way. Cold chicken, tuna salad, and the like are also great choices. (Greek Turkey Salad is great on crackers!) If you're packing a lettus salad assemble it together before you go, but keep the salad dressing on the side until you're ready to eat. (save those fast food packets!) Another great veggie option is carrots or celery dipped in peanut butter! Fruit is always great to take on a picnic. Grapes, apples, bananas, and plums travel well if packed at the top of the cooler. And they make a cool and refreshing finish to the outdoor meal!


    Other items you may need:
    1. Sunblock
    2. Insect Spray
    3. A Ball or Frisbee to throw
    4. Sun-hats
    5. First-Aid kit, including something for bee stings
    6. A Picknick Blanket
    7. A Camera!

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    Free Vitamin Samples


    I always love to find out about free samples! I got a tip from a reader, Lisa, that Nature Made is giving away 14 day supplies of some of their most popular vitamins! Click this link then choose the type of vitamin you'd like a sampl of from the tabs along the top. It does only allow you to choose one sample to receive, but they don't charge any shipping, and you don't have to get any newsletters if you don't want to. (It's so nice that they give you that option not to!) I must say that I was rather impressed at how well-intentioned the Nature Made vitamin company comes across, offering a good free sample, and then not being too pushy. I think I'll remember that the next time I'm in the vitamin isle. ;)

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Sew your own Picknic Blanket

    I always feel bad using a quilt as a picnic blanket. It gets dirty and grassy, and they are a pain to wash. I also don't have one that is quite small enough, and big and bulky just hasn't been cutting it.

    So I decided to make my own! In addition to smaller, I wanted a waterproof bottom layer, so that if I inadvertently set it down someplace wet, I won't be regretting it the whole afternoon. So I hunted down a cheep rectangular vinyl table cloth from Dollar General in a cute aqua color. I then got 4 different fabrics that complimented the aqua. (1 yard each)

    I cut the fabrics into 12 inch quilt blocks and arranged them in a random cute pattern, then sewed them in strips, then into the quilt top. I had a spare piece of cotton batting that I trimmed down to the size of the tablecloth.

    I made a sandwhich of the quilt top (wrong side up), the batting, then the tablecloth. I smoothed it all out, and pinned around the edge, then trimmed the quilt top to match the other two layers. I then used some of the extra fabric to make a double-bias binding to go around the edge and hold it all together.

    Finally I tacked through the 3 layers at each of the quilt square corners to tie everything together all nice and secure. It folds up pretty small, and works great!

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    Teaching Credentials for Homeschoolers

    I will do my best not to make this a long rant, but you really can not get more personal with me that this.

    Many of you have heard about the California state appeals court ruling that parents who wish to homeschool their children must have teaching credentials. This decision is currently being appealed, but the court's decision is already having side effects. It has raised a huge question about what should the standards of education be. And does the current public school system in America hold up to the standards it would like to place on those outside their own system?

    Since George W has been in power, there has been a "No Child Left Behind" policy mandated towards all public schools. This policy was created under the assumption that all children are capable of learning basic literacy and math, and should be able to grasp basic history, and science facts. Each of the 50 states is able to interpret and tailor their own curriculum to meet the guidelines, allowing them to achieve the results in whatever way they choose. In most states, they have created massive standardized testing in order to do this. (Here in Texas we have the TAKS, for example)

    Now here's the problem, the schools can't do it! They have done everything in their power to look like they are, to continue receiving the government money. But there are some basic underlying factors that schools can not control. You already know what they are! They are all tied to socio-economic conditions. If you are white, you have a great chance of passing. If you are Hispanic, you are probably on the bubble. And if you are black, well good luck graduating. Oh, the test is not biased towards English speakers. ESL students usually still do better than blacks! And it's not biased towards kids with a greater grasp of "American Culture" because if you happen to be of Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Indian decent, you probably just blew the majority of white kids out of the water!

    What these standardized test results show us is that intelligence is only vaguely inherent, and instead has everything to do with our home. A child who is read to regularly in their pre-school years almost always does better in school. The same goes for children who are given music lessons. Do these activities in themselves make the kid smarter? No. But they are indicators of the importance placed upon learning by parents in the home.

    Not all parents are equal. Some parents instinctively know what will help their child, and what their child needs for intelligence to bloom. Others have the wherewithal to go find those things out, so their child is still ahead of the game. Other parents don't give a care, because hey, they made all "C"s and they turned out just fine, right? Other parents care so little that for whatever reason, they aren't even around. So which of these parents do you think will have a child on the "honor roll"?

    So let's call the honor roll the top 10% of students. I would say parents of those top 10% would probably be excellent homeschool parents. I would have no problem saying that the proof is in the pudding, pull your kid out whenever you feel like it! If a parent who cares enough about their child's education to push them to excel, while they are in school, chooses to pull them out, they will probably be great homeschool parents and insure that their child receives an even better education at home. But that rarely happens. Rarely rarely. I guess it's the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" mentality. Probably the darn kid is way too involved in sports, student politics, and the yearbook committee for the parents to think about pulling him out. Isn't that what they wanted all along? And yes, for smart, outgoing students, public school is an easy, breezy ball of fun.

    But what about those students under the 50% mark? Half the kids are down there, ya know? Half the kids sure don't make "A"s, hope for the best on their standardized test, and cross their fingers that they won't have to repeat any classes, or go to summer school. Now these are the kids that are ripe to get pulled out of a miserable, failed public school system! They can't keep up in their classwork (homework), often have social problems, probably miss out on athletics and other extracurriculars due to poor grades in one or more classes. What do they have to lose by being pulled out?

    Well, you must recognize that "No Child Left Behind" was created for these kids. The whole point in saying that no kid should graduate illiterate is to find the illiterate kids! Then get the kid the help they need. Not many schools do a great job at this, but if you're considering pulling your kid out, you should at least be willing to go and talk to some school counselors first. I'm not talking about trying to get your kid in special ed. It is very unlikely your kid needs special ed. What they need is help catching up, encouragement, and lots of hard work! (And not to be told they are smart)

    So that gets us back to, who is the best teacher for the child; a parent or a government employee? How do we know if a parent will be a good teacher? One quick way to check is to find out if the new would-be teacher has a college degree of any kind. There are exceptions to this, but think about it. A public school teacher has to have a degree for a reason, doesn't she? You wouldn't send your kid to be taught by an uneducated bumpkin would you? Well, if you are a bumpkin, thankfully the government has provided that other option.

    A teacher should be someone who loves to learn. To educate others you must first educate yourself. If you have not gone beyond the bare minimum, on to college, and adopted a life of continual learning, what makes you think your home is an environment that will encourage your child to do for himself? If we expect a public school to have a standard of learning, however poor, how can we not have higher expectations upon individuals who want something more for their child?

    Many homeschoolers would say it's no one's business but their own, how qualified they are to teach their own children. But that's just like a parent who complains about seat belt laws, saying that only they have the right to decide if their child wears one or not. Do you see what I'm saying? If the child really matters to you, you will already be fulfilling the law. You will appreciate the law because it puts into words what you have already known to be a good practice. The law is merely a reminder, a standard of what good parenting is.

    So they want homeschool parents to get a certificate... is that all?! Go to a few classes over the summer to brush up on your algebra? Remind yourself of a few Civil War dates? Learn how to plan your lesson plans in an organized, understandable way? Is that ALL? Why are homeschoolers afraid of this??? Any homeschool parent worth their salt wouldn't hesitate to get the affirmation that what they are doing with their child is good. They would jump at the chance to get new teaching ideas, and tips for staying organized.

    There are strange occurrences where results-challenged kids come from excellent homes. Those rare cases are how the modern homeschool movement was born. Educated parents shouldn't be happy when their kids educations are suffering. Leave that to the parents who don't care. If you don't care, then there is no reason for you to homeschool your kid. Homeschooling takes a ton of organization, time, and effort. It is a full time job, plus overtime. Especially if you are dealing with a kid who is behind.

    If you read those last three sentences with an attitude of, "Crap, I was hoping this wouldn't be too hard" you are not a good candidate. Let the bloated, broken establishment deal with your mess. Pay for a good tutor, is my advice. But if you read the sentences with the attitude of, "Yes! My child is worth it! I will do anything for him to succeed!" Well, I'll probably run into you at a curriculum con somewhere....

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Summer Arrives... In the Mail!

    I was so thrilled today to open my (large) mailbox and find my order from the best outdoors store ever -- REI!



    I got a khaki-colored North Face cap, and two organic cotton tanks, which are so soft, and nice and long! (don't you hate the ones that show your back when you bend?!) I now feel like I am ready to shoo my kids outside and get some sunshine! Park day anyone?

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    My best Mother's day idea yet!

    Each year I struggle to find something creative and personal to make my kids 3 grandmas. Usually I include a handmade card with a photo of my kids. But this year I decided to use Mother's Day as an excuse to make my first photo-books.

    Now I do love scrapbooking, but I hadn't done digital scrapbooking before. I guess I was afraid I'd become addicted to it (I love Photoshop!), and getting 12x12 pages printed is so expensive! Well, instead of doing actualy digital scrapbooking, I used Picaboo. It was very much like Smilebox, which I love, and use to send photo "postcards" (e-cards) and put together slideshows for my myspace page. I really liked Picaboo, though, because they allow you to choose whatever background you want, upload your own, or choose from tons that other people have uploaded already. They also have about a million photo layouts, including with and without text boxes. It was very simple, but gave me pretty much any option I wanted for how to make the layout look.

    When I had the books made, they weren't very expensive; less than it would have cost me to have individual photos printed and made them into scrapbooks, and I'm not even talking about buying the book to do the scrapbook in!

    Now I did hit a glitch when I tried to send them to 3 different addresses. They are only set up to ship to one address per order. BUT, they did have an online chat support person that was able to guide me through what I needed to do, and make my coupon code work, and he even worked a deal for me to help with the shipping costs. So with the coupon code, and the shared shipping, I think I paid about $13 per book, which was the least-expensive one they offered.

    But I was so thrilled because all three of them called me, when they each got theirs, and said how cool it was and how much they loved it!

    Now I just have to come up with something as equally spiffy for Fathers Day! Hmmmm.....


    Picaboo

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Yam-Fries

    Yams (the cousin of sweet-potatos) are grown in abundance where I live. Also being in the South means that people will come up with a way to fry just about anything. (deep fried Twinkie, anyone?) And so the yam fry was born! I first tried these delicious babies at the annual Gilmore, TX Yamborie Fair, which of course was founded in celebration of the yam. Here is a little healthier version (baked) with a few flavor variations to help you get through that huge bag of yams you bought from your local farmer!

    Yam Fries

    1 large yam, cut half across the middle, then into about 3/8 by 3/8 inch fries.
    1/4 cup canola oil
    Salt to taste.

    Preheat oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Put the fries and oil into a big zip-top bag and get them good and coated. Spread the fries out on the pan and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 min, then stir/turn fries and bake about 10 more minutes, or until they are crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle. Remove them from oven and transfer them to a paper towel covered plate and enjoy!

    Sweet Variation
    Sprinkle hot fries just from the oven with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1Tbs cinnimon (about enough for 2 yams)

    Hot Variation
    Sprinkle hot fries just from the oven with some cajun seasoning and pepper.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Renee Loux

    You may already be familiar with Renee Loux. I don't watch television, so I haven't seen her interviews, but she is fast becoming known as a whole foods and green living guru. She's also written several books that look like they will be a treasure trove of tips and ideas for creating a healthier lifestyle for you and your family.






    Today on her website I found a wonderful table of household cleaners, what is wrong with them, and what can be used instead for a more healthy home solution. You can view it HERE.






    Great Givaways for Mom!



    There's some great Mother's day giveaways going on at 5 Minutes for Mom, including a Kodak ESP all-in-one printer, some snazzy flash drives, and a $75 gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse. Go getcha some free Mother's Day goodies!

    Mother's Day in my thoughts

    Mother's day is a pretty big deal to me. I have many wonderful women in my life that I owe deep thanks and appreciation toward. But it's also a time that I like to ponder for a little while just what my life is about, and what all of this diaper changing, floor mopping, and tiny sock folding really means in the big picture.

    I've made a big commitment to my small people to be there for them at all times and in all seasons. While I was pondering the meaning of that, I was thinking especially about my little boy who is two and a half. And just the amazing person he is. I can already see so many creative expressions, oppinions, fears, joys, desires, curiosity, and a sense of humor just boiling up in his little body. Like the seed of a great tree just beginning to sprout. I see those things in my baby girl too, but somehow the magic of two and a half, not really a toddler any more, but a little learner, explorer, helper, and questioner, makes the revealation of what a big person he will become somewhat more deeply real and tangible
    Love Song for a Son


    I love that my name
    Is the first thing on your lips
    In the morning
    ---------------------------
    I love that your laugh
    Is my favorite sound
    In the world
    --------------------------
    Your smile is like
    A rainbow through a storm
    And your kiss could melt
    Any heart of stone
    -------------------------
    Every day I try to tell you
    What you mean to me
    But somehow I can't seem to grasp
    This simple mystery
    -------------------------
    You are, and will always be
    My child
    My Child
    I love that you're my Child.
    -----------------------------
    I love that your eyes
    Are what they see
    Of me in you
    ---------------------------
    I love that your spark
    Is always Shining through
    ---------------------------
    You are, and will always be
    The special one God chose for me
    ----------------------------
    You are my child
    My child
    I love that you're my child

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Printing in Disappearing Ink


    I was a little confused when I first read this article, because I had just watched this cool video on how to make an invisible ink printing cartridge. (so cool!) But the buzz is really all about creative ways to save paper, not sending secret messages. Where invisible ink is still there, just invisible, this dissappering ink is actually a photo-sensitive chemical that fades with time, allowing you to reuse the same piece of paper over and over! Yes, it will require special paper and a special printer, but as the article happily points, there is an incredible amount of energy savings, because so much goes into the paper making process. The new method of actual printing is also very energy efficient!


    Xerox was quoted in the article saying that "44.5 percent of documents are printed for one-time use and 25 percent of all documents printed get recycled the same day." And Lyra Research estimates that "15.2 trillion pages get printed worldwide a year, a figure that will grow 30 percent over the next 10 years." I am just sitting her imagining the countless pieces of paper that I print, use for a day, then toss, and how having a reusable paper would drastically reduce that number. But think of it on the scale of a medium-sized business! It would not only lower costs, and waste, but the amount of energy and resources that would be consumed would also make a significant drop.


    I think for a person to have to make the decision, "Do I want to print this on reusable paper, or regular paper?" would also have a huge impact of how much we print in the first place. I know that it is often impulsive for me to push the print button, but if I had to stop and think about the paper type, I would also think more about if the item I am printing is really worth it in the first place. Or could I just e-mail it instead? Making reusable paper an option would not only save resources, but also make us more conscientious paper consumers.

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Green Day

    Well, it is Earth Day today! To celebrate, we walked to the grocery store this morning, and we paid with paper, not plastic. I did buy the only local produce they carried, East Texas Yams (which I will make home-made baby food out of) and also bought some hot sausage made by a local guy. I did forget the re-usable bags, unfortunately, and our small local grocer doesn't sell them himself yet. (*kicks self for forgetting re-usable bags on Earth Day*) I do re-use the horrible plastic grocery sacks as diaper pail/trash can liners, so at least I don't BUY plastic bags. But still... oh well!

    Speaking of plastic, I know everybody has been so upset about the plastic baby bottles and kids cups lately, with the BPA leeching. Why haven't I written about it before, you ask? Well, I try to be wary of scare stuff, and before today I really hadn't found any articles about it that weren't either scare, propaganda by plastic companies (or those they fund), or just too little real information to be useful. But today on cnet one of my favorite bloggers on Green Tech turned his diligent attention to a nice multi-page write up about the different types of plastics. He kinda came at it from a recycling viewpoint, but very kindly mentioned the toxic chemicals by name in each type of plastic, which is something that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. You'll see over the pictures they have the links to the rest of the pages in the article. I don't know why he only has them at the top, it frustrated me for a moment because I was like, "Is this first page the whole article???" But no, read all 9 pages, please, if you have any questions about what's up with toxic plastic, you'll be glad you did!

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    Baby Gizmo Buying Guide

    I am an avid reader. Okay, so not as much as I used to be, now that I have two kids, but the time I spend away from books, I usually make up researching on the internet. That's why I was really excited to receive a copy of The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide. The book was written by two sisters who enjoy motherhood wholeheartedly. Their book, and website, grew out of their passion for their children (5 between the two of them), and to find the best, safest, and most useful products for those precious kiddos. That being said, they also appreciate the need for a budget and are quick to tell you how much things should cost, and what items are more important to spend the bucks on.

    Now the book is a little thicker than I would probably prefer. It is sorta written for those who are currently pregnant with their first child, i.e. they have a lot of time on their hands, and are especially concerned about doing it right the first time, if you know what I mean. As a mom of two, I knew pretty much 4/5th of the information in this book already, though their humor makes it a very enjoyable read, none the less.

    However, there were two very helpful sections in this book, that even I find myself astounded by the amount of research and effort that was put into these product categories. And we're talking about my favorite, "I'm so paranoid about these" categories! Yep, you guessed it, Carseats and Strollers. Everyone will admit that those are the biggest, hairiest purchases you make for a little person. You might not spend as much money on them as you do on your crib (though after reading this book, you may reconsider that!) but there are many more things to consider as far as safety and practicality than with the simple "Do I want a convertible crib or no?". And let me tell you that after reading it, though I am still happy with my current stroller choice, I am saving my pennies to buy BOTH my kids new carseats! (Yeah, so convicting... *nods*)

    Other nice and helpful things this book includes is the "Oh my gosh, I've been looking for this everywhere" chart on page 118 giving approximate weight and heights of kids through age 8, and the exhaustive glossary of baby gear terms at the back. Their "Secret Money Saving Rules" and "10 Things We Wish We Knew When We Were First Time Moms" sections are good reminders even to us old pros, as are their lists of questions to ask yourself about any product you are considering buying.

    However, they also have a list of "The Perfectly Packed Diaper Bag Items". You can completely throw that out, or throw your back out, if you choose to follow it, your choice! I, being a professional diaper bag packer, have previously posted on the 10 Diaper Bag Essentials. This list is designed to make sure you have everything you need, nothing you don't, and what to do with the other items you may, but probably won't need.

    But forgiving Baby Gizmo Gals' propensity to pack everything in sight to take with them wherever they go... the book is, as a whole, well thought out and practical. It would be a great gift for your sister who just found out she is pregnant for the first time. Or even if this is your second or third time around, and you compulsively need to know everything about baby gear, you would also find it very beneficial. This book is not really for people like me, who generally don't enjoy shopping, buy as little as possible, and are pretty laid back about the whole thing. But, if you identify with me, remember what I said about the carseats! Sometimes we need a good reminder how important safety really is!

    I have a few copies of The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide to give away for free, so if you'd like one, post a comment telling what your favorite baby item is, and be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you've won! I will be randomly selecting winners from all those who comment before May 1, 2008. One entry per person, please, but feel free to invite your friends to participate

    Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    It's Greek for Me!

    My sister-in-law is such a kindred spirit to me. She is incredibly frugal, and loves to cook. (She loves card-making too, whoop!) We were discussing our cooking ahead strategies, and I mentioned turkeys. A whole turkey is a lot of meat, and can frequently be found for about $1.40 per pound, but during the holidays they can be found for as little as 39cents! The meat is very low fat, has a million uses, and there are less bones per pound than other less expensive meats (leg quarters for example). You can use roasted turkey meat in any recipe that asks for cooked chicken, so all your chicken casseroles, pot pies, enchiladas, quesedillas, and even homemade pizzas can be made as turkey dishes. Plus, husbands get happy when you say you are cooking a turkey! All of this means that roasting a turkey is a great way to cook ahead, eat healthy, and save some $$$.

    So now that I've got my S.I.L roasting turkeys on a semi-weekly basis, we have been creating and sharing our turkey recipes with each other! Here is one of my inventions. It's best on a fresh homemade pita, but excellent on plain old bread as well!

    Greek Turkey Salad
    1 & 1/2 Cups cooked turkey chopped into small chunks
    1/2 Cup Cucumber, sliced and quartered
    2 Tablespoons minced onion
    1/4 Cup sliced black olives (kalamata is best!)
    1/4 Cup light Mayonnaise
    A drizzle of Olive Oil
    Greek Seasoning to taste
    Feta Cheese Crumbles (optional)

    Stir together everything but the Feta. Pile it on a sandwich or pita, then sprinkle the Feta on top and Opa! Greek Turkey Salad!

    Wednesday, April 2, 2008

    Nursing Aprons

    Here's a great DIY baby gift for moms who are planning to breastfeed. I absolutely could not live without mine, and have made them for several friends who also bf. You've probably seen these sold at boutiquey places, or found the largest manufacturer online http://www.bebeaulait.com/ . I, of course, didn't want to pay $35 plus shipping for one of these things, so after studying the pictures, I have put together a pattern for them here. Hopefully these instructions and pictures will enable you to make one for yourself! Please leave comments/feedback so I can clarify these instructions as needed!

    Materials Required:
    • 1.5 yards of an 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed and ironed (you do want to do this, I know it takes time!)
    • 1.5 inch D-rings (see picture)
    • Featherlight Boning (you'll need about 13 inches worth)
    • Iron and Ironing Board
    • Scissors, pins and thread
    • Sewing Machine
    • Yardstick or see-through ruler (like what quilters use)
    Step One:

    Lay out fabric and fold in half so that it measures 45 inches wide (along fold) and 25 inches from the fold, leaving 4 inches below the top layer. Once everything is nice and square, cut off the 4 inch strip. This will leave you with a doubled fabric that is 45 by 25. 45 inches is pretty wide. I like wide because I'm self-conscious about my sides showing! But if you hold it up to yourself and are like, "This is way too much!" now is the time to cut some off! If you are tall and slender, you may elect to cut the 4 inches off the 45 inch side, and make it 41 by 27 doubled over. Once you have it cut, and the corners are nice and lined up along the "top" iron a nice sharp crease along the "bottom".

    Step Two:
    Sew the 4 inch strip wrong sides together 3/8 from the edge and flip though to make the neck strap. I like to make a point at the end for easier threading. Make sure you iron everything nice when you are done. Then cut 33 inches from the pointed end to be the neck strap, and cut 8 more inches to fasten the D-rings. You'll have just a few inches left, which you can discard if you like.

    Step Three:
    Fold your fabric right-sides together so that it is 45 by 25. Now fold it again into quarters, and find the center. Measure 6 inches from the center on the top (open sides, not the fold) and mark the wrong side of the fabric. That mark will be the inside line of the straps. Unfold it from quarters to half. Now pin the straps hanging down between the layers on the inside at the top of the fabric, and again about 3 inches from the top. You will be sewing the layers together 1.5 inches from the top. Make sure your D-rings are threaded onto the attaching strap before you pin it.

    The picture shows that I've folded down the top 1.5 inches, but I will actually be sewing where the fold is. I decided it's a little sturdier if I let the straps go all the way to the top of the fabric because then they are sewn in twice, as you will see in just a sec... After you sew the line along the 45 inches across the top, fold down that part and iron (so it will look like the picture, but your the tails of your straps will be longer!)

    Step Four:
    This is the tricky part! Now we will be putting the boning in place. Cut the boning so that it is about an inch longer than the distance between your straps. (hopefully about 13in) Scootch back the fabric from the end of the boning and cut off half an inch, and round the end so that the plastic corners of the strip of boning aren't sharp. Do the same on the other end. So the plastic part of the boning is 12 inches (or slightly less than the distance between your straps) but the fabric casing is about half an inch longer on both sides. You will be sewing through the fabric casing to attach the boning to the collar of the apron. Lift the ironed over edge and pin the boning so that it is under the top side of the fold, but not too tight to the fold. You need a smidge of lee-way so you can fold it over and it doesn't bunch. Pin it so that the casing ends overlap where the straps are on the inside. You will then sew both ends securely, along side each of the straps on the top side of the fold. (The straps are sandwiched inside the layers, on the other side of the fabric you are sewing)


    When it is done, it will look like this, though you will have longer strap ends sticking out the top of yours. Now turn the fabric right side out, and pin the fabric underneath the boning so that it is somewhat tight, and nice and flat. The boning can be stubborn sometimes, so try to work with it, not against it. You will not be able to sew right up under it anyway because of it's thickness.

    Step Five:
    We now just have to finish everything off. The fabric should be right side out, pins along the collar holding the boning tight inside. Now we'll close in the sides, so fold in (under) about an inch of fabric on each open side of the apron. Iron the folds to nice crisp creases so that when you sew the sides it will have a nice finished off look. You may need pins to accomplish this. Sew along each side as close as you can to the edge, making sure that the folded under/creased edges line up just right. (again, pins!)

    So, now we have it all enclosed, but we need to secure the boning permanently, and go around the other edges one last time for strength. Starting at the top left corner, give yourself a half an inch before beginning your seam that will go across the top, securing the boning in place. Sew about 3/4 inch from the edge all down the top, being careful when you get to the boning not to get in too tight to it because your pressure foot will avoid it giving you a nice jag in your seam right in the front of your apron! Continue the seam until half an inch from the end, turn the corner and proceed all the way around the apron, a half an inch from the sewn/creased edge. This will give it a nice finished look and keep everything from twisting/separating. There you have it! You are done! I like to store mine folded in half (bottom to top), then in thirds, and rolled so that the collar keeps its shape.








    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Write this down!

    I don't know about you, but it seems like I've been forgetting a lot of things lately. Well, actually it started about the time I got pregnant with my second baby... but this is not my attempt to blame her! No, instead I'm trying to make up for my common human shortcomings... by making more lists!

    I have always been somewhat of a listy person. "To dos" and schedules have been my friends since before college, but frankly as life gets busier my little notebooks get fuller faster. I find the best way to organize myself is to keep one of those little 5x7ish spiral-bounds handy at all times. I take notes as I listen to podcasts, I make lists of what calls I need to make, errands to run, people to write Thank Yous to... you name it, I write it!

    Now I do keep a separate list for groceries and my weekly menu. I have mentioned before that I shop once a week. So I made this file that I print on both sides of once piece of paper, then cut into 3rds so I have my shopping list on one side, and my weekly menu on the other. (I actually print a whole bunch at once and cut them all so I don't have to think about it later)

    Other things you should make sure to write down are:

    • Tangible, Quantitative Life Goals - Like going to Africa before I'm 40!
    • A Journal or Blog - Organizes your thoughts about life and helps you remember significant events!
    • Everything you Love about your Spouse - I don't think I have to tell you that having something like that written down is priceless!
    • Log your Progress - Losing weight, reading your Bible daily, cutting wasteful spending and anything else that you are trying to improve for the long haul -- having a log will encourage you to keep trying and rewards you when you do well!
    What things do you find necessary to keep a written record of?

    Monday, March 24, 2008

    The 10 Diaperbag Essentials

    I hate clutter, and I love not having a back ache. So, I have carefully researched and experimented in the scientific field of Diaper Bag Management. The rewards have been outstanding! Being equipped for nearly every instance, while not being overloaded with any unnecessary items is the ideal all moms of little ones strive for.

    One of the prime directives in this science is "Think Small". Choose the smallest sized diaper bag that will adequately fit your needs. Trim any unneeded items, and buy a small size in the items you do carry.

    The second directive is to think about where you are going and how long you will be out. (i.e. Take what you Need, Not what you Don't!) My average shopping/lunch trip is about 3 hours. I try to keep it to that because my kids still need naps. Your needs may be different, which in that case you may need to scale this list to fit your average outing.

    The third directive is to leave extra stuff that you might need, but probably won't, but shouldn't be caught without IN THE CAR. I have a medium sized box that I keep extra diapers, wipes, a change of clothes for each child, hats, sunblock, bug spray, a large towel, paper towels and antibacterial wipes in. I also pack an extra juice box or two, and some snacks for in the car. I don't carry these things in with me to the store, library, or wherever else I am going. That is my backup supply for IN THE CAR. I often allow my 2 year old to select one or two toys to take with him. Those don't stay in the car, that is the rule. I attach a different toys to my baby's carrier, so she also has variety, yet my car remains relatively free of toy castoffs.

    Now that you have my general scientific philosophy, here are the specifics of the 10 Essentials!

    1. 2 diapers per child
    2. small travel wipes (I like the new plastic bag ones from Huggies with more wipes, but no hard plastic. Yes, I still refill them, just less often!)
    3. Antibacterial Spray (there are these little pen-looking spray dispensers now... very tiny, very multipurpose... they work for hands, as well as shopping carts and restaurant tables)
    4. 1 juice cup per child (or bottle, if you're still in the bottle phase, and one of those to go formula packets)
    5. A baggie of cheerios, or other healthy emergency snack
    6. Tissues
    7. Infant Tylanol
    8. First Aid Kit in a Baggie (several alcohol wipes, bandaids, antibiotic cream)
    9. A Camera
    10. Mom's Essentials Bag (Keys, Cell Phone, Wallet, a Pen and whatever else you can't leave home without. I actually devote the small front pocket of my diaper bag to these things, but if you carry one of those un-divided tote types, try putting your things together in a small makeup bag or the like)

    There you have it! All of the above fits neatly into my "diaper bag". Yes, everything really fits into something this small! And it's hands free!