Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Snow!!! (Ahem)

I've been gone for a while.  I know.  I didn't intend to be gone this long.  But there was Thanksgiving.  And a long weekend off work for my hubby.  We've had a great time these last few days, and tomorrow is going to be tough.  But we will survive.

What have we been doing you may ask?  Well.  Since we both come from very large families (7 kids in my family, 11 in hubby's) we had lots and lots of Thanksgiving fun with family.  Lots of people.  Lots of food.  Lots of good times.  There has been loads of craziness.  And some quiet times.  There has been lots of crocheting.  Lots of music.  A little dancing.  Insane amounts of cooking and eating, of course.  We spent some time catching up on some very neglected chores.  And we visited an old fashioned Christmas display and craft show at our lovely local Mill Creek Park.

And...  we had our first snow!!  Well, it was a dusting really.  The merest covering of snow possible on the ground.  But enough for Boy to be bundled and out playing in it before I was even out of bed (hubby got up with the kids that day).  All three of them were out before long.  Together, they defied all laws of snow and built this...

Have you ever seen such a cute and tiny snowman?!?!?!

As you can see, this one measures between 2 and 3 inches.  It has been carefully placed on a thin plate of ice to ensure that it lasts as long as snowmanly possible.  Now, if only I had enough time to crochet a wee hat and scarf, we'd be all set. 

Which reminds me.  I've found the best way to crochet now-a-days.  Don't laugh.  I know it's not cool at all.  But it's sooooooo helpful when you just can't seem to find enough  light to see by.

That's me there, crocheting by the light of my hubby's head lamp.  I love the way it lights up just where I need it.  I may have to sneak that into my project bag when he's not looking.  Or perhaps I'll just find one in my stocking on Christmas morning.  (A truly subtle hint there...)

I have lots and lots of things in mind for the near future.  A ridiculous amount of projects lined up - craft, crochet, and sewn.  I'm hoping to be able to get them all done and documented so I can post them here.  Don't hold your breath, though.  I'm not the best at record keeping.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting Myself Organized

I really need to get myself organized.  Christmas is fast fast approaching, and I have not really begun to make all the gifts I intend to make.  So, I'm going to work on a big, long list and maybe I'll get around to the point where I'm checking it twice.  Probably not, though.

Here's a rough list of the things I want to do for Christmas:
make cookies (a big big thing in my husbands family, and subsequently, mine)
sew drawstring backpacks
sew car organizers
crochet hat/scarf sets for each of my kids
make some homemade skin care products
finish my gift for hubby's family gift exchange

That's the start of my list.  There's still time.  I keep telling myself...

How are you holiday preparations coming along?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Wow!!!  Two posts in the same day!!  What am I thinking?!?!  Well, I'll tell you what...  Munch is turning 11 tomorrow.  And she's having a sleepover party on Friday night.  Saturday, we are having our families over for dinner.  Both me and my hubby come from large large families (there are 7 kids in my family, and 11 in his), so small family gatherings come out roughly around 40 people.  I'm supposed to be cleaning the house.  And preparing food.  And I am.  Slowly.  But I get bored easily with wiping dust from surfaces that only get cleaned 3 times per year (like the top of the hutch and the TV cabinet...).  I was also thinking of my yogurt, and getting hungry again for lunch.  But yogurt for lunch would really be too much.  Don't ya think?  ...  As I was thinking of yogurt, I was reminded how much I love a good muesli. 

Typically, I prefer muesli to granola.  I like the fact that it has no added oils or sweeteners.  I like the non crunch and the way it softens into the yogurt.  So, today, I think I'll mix up a batch for breakfast tomorrow.

Here's my recipe.  It's so versatile.  You can substitute whatever nuts, seeds, or fruits you prefer.  And you can play with the ratios.  I like my muesli to be about half oats and half (or slightly more than half) other goodies.


4 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ

Put everything into a gallon glass jar and shake till it's all mixed up.  Simple, tasty, nutritious.  Of course, you can switch up the ingredients how you see fit.  It can be just the way you like it.

Making Yogurt

Sweetpea and I made yogurt for the first time on Monday.  It was not difficult, and we had a good time.  We made the yogurt basically following the directions from SouleMama's how we make yogurt, and by this highly informative site called MakeYourOwnYogurt

We started with an organic whole milk from an Ohio dairy that is not homogenized and only minimally pasteurized.  I don't have a double boiler as MakeYourOwnYogurt recommends, so I just used a regular saucepan.  I used a candy thermometer to get the right temp, cooled the milk using a water bath, added some organic plain yogurt I bought from the store (I used 1/4 cup per quart like SouleMama suggests), and put it into jars.  To keep the yogurt warm overnight, I placed it in the oven with the oven light (not the pilot light, mind you, just the light that lights the oven when you open the door).  Actually, we put it right in front of the light bulb so it would soak up as much heat as possible.  That kept the yogurt right around 95 degrees, which is not technically warm enough.  But when I took it out in the morning, it smelled soooooooooooooo yogurt-like and yummy.  I put it in the fridge for a day to firm up.

We ate it this morning - nearly half of the 2 quarts I made!!!!!  It tastes wonderful.  And the texture was perfect.  We'll definitely be adding this to our list of weekly food items.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Lip Balm

Munch is turning 11 on Thursday.  And, she's having a sleepover.  For party favors, we decided to make natural lip balm for each girl.

The recipe and ingredients are very simple.  We used the recipe in The Herbal Body Book by Stephanie Tourles.

We mixed up 4 batches of this recipe in about 30 minutes and had about 6 oz. of lip balm for our efforts.  The recipe in the book allows for many different options.  Here's our version:

1 batch:
2 tsp. grated beeswax
7 tsp. sweet almond oil
1 tsp. honey
3 drops orange oil
2 drops lavender oil

Melt beeswax and oil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in honey until well blended.  Continue to stir until nearly cool.  Add essential oils and put into containers.  

This is a wonderful book containing many natural skin care products.  I highly recommend checking it out.  She has a list of common ingredients and what they are good for.  I love the way the lip balm turned out.  I definitely will be mixing up more for Christmas gifts and for our own usage.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Harvest Storage System for Colder Storage

Since we finally got around to storing our potatoes and apples, I thought I would take this opportunity to show you all our cold storage system.  We keep our potatoes and apples out in the garage.  Our garage is unheated, so we've located our storage bin in a corner that has 2 inside walls.  For the other 2 walls of the bin, we stacked a few straw bales for good insulation.

Here's what it looks like:

Inside, we put in a little piece of plywood as a divider to separate our stacks of crates.  Not completely necessary, but since we are storing apples with potatoes, we thought every little bit of separation would be helpful.  (Since apples give off a gas that helps other veggies to ripen faster - something you definitely do NOT want in a winter storage system...)

As for our bins, we took some old grape crates and fitted them up to make them rodent proof.  Well, Nick fitted them up.  I just said 'thank you thank you thank you!'

First, he wrapped the whole crate in 1/4" hardware cloth (not really cloth at all, but a metal mesh) and stapled it in place.  Then he attached some scrap wood to the top and and front flap of the bin.  This allows an air gap between the crates when the are stacked on on top of the other.

To the edges of the piece of wood on the front flap, he added some hooks that will clip into eyes that he screwed into the front of the crate.

It looks like this from the back:

And, behold!!  A rodent proof storage bin that will hold about 1/2 bushel.


And put into the garage bin.

Apples in the back, potatoes and garden seeds in the front.

And topped off with some found insulated cardboard, foam board, and cardboard pieces.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Hat for Sweetpea

I made a hat to go with the scarf I made for Sweetpea.  These are Christmas presents, so shhhhhh......  !!!! 

The pattern is The Blues by Valerie Whitten.  You can find it here on Ravelry.  I did change the pattern a little bit.  I used a DK weight yarn instead of worsted, so I added another row to the bottom and a scalloped edge to match the scarf I made her. 

I think it turned out super cute.  One kids hat and scarf set done and ready for giving, 2 more to go.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Pillows and Counting

Yay!!!!  I've finished the first 2 (out of 4) pillows for this week's Pillow Week Challenge.  Presenting...  my Green Pillows!!

Both are 18 inch square.  The fabric is 100% cotton (which I prewashed and dried so I could wash them without worry) by Debbie Mumm for JoAnn Fabrics. 

Both have zippered closures so they can be tossed around and used as I know my family will use them.

I'm very excited with how they turned out!  I can't wait to curl up with them tonight and watch Return of the Jedi with Munch.

Two down.  Two to go.  I don't have any ideas about those 2 yet.  But, I'm sure I will.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did You Clean Your Room Yet?!?!

The sun is shining today.  And the temps are in the low 50s.  I am beginning to clean the house for Munch's birthday dinner in 2 weeks.  Each time we have a birthday dinner, I clean the house from top to bottom.  Week 1 - the upstairs.  Week 2 - the downstairs.  I'm on Week 1 and the upstairs this week.  And to kick it off, I decided to do my own room first. 

The cobwebs are gone.
The dust is nearly gone.
The window is open to let in all the fresh and lovely air from outside.
The bed linens will soon be freshly laundered and nicely smoothed out on my bed (one of my favorite things in the whole world).

In a couple hours, that space will be all clean and fresh.  Everything will be organized and in it's place.  A few things will be purged.  I am trying to find a place to squeeze the rocker Nick bought for me to nurse my babies in.  I no longer need it for nursing.  And it's just taking up too much space in the girls room.  I want to put it in front of the window so I can sit there and rock and crochet.  For peace.  For me. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pillow Week Kick-Off

I went to JoAnn's yesterday to choose some fabrics and pillow forms for the Pillow Challenge Week put out there by Erin at House on Hill Road.  I was super excited by what I found!!!

I found these 100% bamboo fiber filled pillow forms!!  I got 2 - 18"x18" and 2 - 12"x16".  That's one more than I was hoping for, but....

I found these fabrics by Debbie Mumm.  Look at how fun and fitting they are.

How could I resist a fabric that has organic and heirloom seed packets and potted herbs all over it!?!?!

Or this one with fun shopping bags on it?!!?  (Sorry, somehow these pictures got a bit washed out.  The actual fabric is a tad bit darker.  I was in too much of a hurry to take better pics.)

I'm definitely ready to start on something tomorrow.  And I have several other projects in mind for the remainder of the fabric.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scarf for Sweetpea

I have officially begun to make Christmas presents.  First up - a sweet and pretty little scarf for Sweetpea.

I used the One-Skein Crochet Scarf designed by Denise Cozzitorto and listed on the Jo-Ann Stores website.  Since I was making the scarf for a 3 year old, I scaled it down to about half the intended size.  I started off by chaining 103, and then followed the pattern.  It stitched up quite quickly.  It's a fairly narrow scarf - perfect for a little neck.  And it's pretty - perfect for a little girl.  I used an 80% cotton, 20% merino wool yarn in Cherry Moon by Brown Sheep Company.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pillows, Pillows Everywhere... We'll, They Should Be

We are out of pillows much in the same way people are out of sugar.  Pillows for my living room, that is.  I have been going through the pillows at an alarming rate.  With 3 young kids and 2 dogs, you can imagine how this happens.  For a couple of months now, I've been wanting to make new ones.  Now is my chance!!!  (and inspiration.)

Erin, over at House on Hill Road, has a pillow challenge week set for next week.  Imagine my excitement!  Now I have the push to make them.  And now I've put into writing for everyone out there to see.  So, I guess that means I'm making some pillows next week. 

I'm going to set my sights rather low, since I'm still not done with all the canning yet.  It was a long and glorious harvest this year.  My goal is to make 3 pillows for the couch.  Not anything super fancy.  Just comfy pillows with detachable and washable covers.  I'm going to try a hidden zipper, too. 

Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Boy and His (Neighbor's) Dog

These pictures aren't the best quality, but the story they relate is priceless. 

What happens when you put a boy and his neighbor's puppy together on a crisp fall day???



Monday, November 1, 2010


Our October has been a long and joyous one.  Our family really gets into Halloween, as you may have gathered from some previous posts.  This weekend, we did a wee bit of trick or treating. 

Munch is probably on her fifth costume here - a 50's girl.  This year she has been the princess Buttercup, a lion, a fairy, and Ginny Weasly.  I love how she pieces together her own costumes out of our dress-up stash.  Every once in a while, I make an integral piece of her costume.  Sweetpea is a woodland fairy, and has been fairly consistent with that one.  (Except for the time we forced her to be a Rodent Of Unusual Size.)

Boy was Fessik for a bit, then switched over to a pirate.

Love the rain boots...

Arrrr, maties!