Friday, December 31, 2010

We reclaimed our living room....

and I slept 11 hours last night! Okay, so being 9 1/2 months pregnant, I probably should not have undertaken our tasks yesterday. But, oh my, it does feel good.

Living in a small house, it's easy for your world to be overtaken by stuff for toddlers and little kids. Now adding in another baby in less than a month, we were really starting to look like a daycare instead of a home. So...we took our junk room off the living room (which was really an old front entrance room (5x5) that had been closed off) and turned it into a toy room. Everything in that room finally found a home, we sorted through all of the toys. Which resulted in 2 garbage bags and 1 box of toys being sent to Goodwill and another garbage bag of toys that were either broke or missing most/all of the parts.

The kids absolutely love it. Instead of their toys and stuff being spread out, it's all separated into bins or stacked into a shelf. They can easily find everything. Connor still is a little hesitant about picking up one bin and putting it away before getting out another but time and patience...

Emily had to bring treats for her Christmas party at school and these are the two treats she made (I really should learn how to use my new camera because my outside pictures are fabulous...inside...not so much). We made Reindeer Pops using this tutorial and Melted Snowman Cookies using this tutorial.

OH. MY. YUMMINESS. The reindeer pops may be an everyday treat at our house until the baby is born. I could easily eat, well, okay, I can eat more than one, let's leave it at that.

My only goal for today is to do some more laundry and finish the dishes. Both of which are everyday events around our house but lately doing the dishes is difficult because I have to stand a foot back from the sink!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A simple kind of quilt...

I feel as if our house has imploded. I would like to think that we only have the grandparents to blame, however, we ourselves seem to have went a little overboard. It's hard because the kids are at "that" age where there is so much joy is the magic of Santa Claus. We did have a lovely Christmas with family and the candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve was truly beautiful and moving.

We have some organizational cleaning to do this week. The biggest project being cleaning out the "junk closet" in the living room and turning it into a toy/storage room. It's actually an old front entrance that we closed off and turned into a closet so it's a nice little 5x5 foot room.

I have two Christmas presents for the kids that I did not get finished before Christmas. They each were supposed to get a "kind of" quilt from mommy and daddy, however, I just ran out of time. Con was more than happy to get his Thomas the train blankkie this morning. I am calling it a "kind of" quilt because a quilt would cringe if they saw it!  :) My kids love textures so there is minky on the back side and a cotton woven on the front and I used satin quilt binding. Which I machined stitched on! I thought about doing yarn ties but settled for sewing a big X across it to keep it from bunching up. You gotta love a happy 2 year old!

Now I'm off to try to find the kitchen table and later to find some free patterns for Barbie Doll clothes because Daddy told Em, "Ask mom to make some." Thanks...a bunch...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I know we've been busy...

I'm just not sure what we've been doing! We did get about 20 inches of snow on Saturday. That was amazing! We haven't had snow like that in probably 20 years (and that just made me old since 20 years ago I was a freshman in high school).

Since we couldn't go anywhere, we started on some christmas presents...cause you know we really should have started them 3-4 weeks ago. We're giving away goodie bags full of yuumminess including homemade lip balm, sugar scrubs, and bath salts wrapped up in pretty little brown paper bags tied with raffia and an ornament. Saturday we did get the ornaments done and we made ornaments from paint sticks. I used this tutorial. My 4 year old daughter had a blast with helping me Modge Podge all of the ornaments. Dad even got into the fun and finished them up by tying on the wires. They really do look a lot cuter in real life than they do in the pictures. We used a brown spray paint that had gold glitter in it. We were able to use our ink jet printer with no smearing as long as I used the photo setting. (I'm really not sure why even picture I've taken today won't come out, I think the sun shining and the snow is throwing everything off).

Emily also helped me make her and her little brother some Christmas pillows.

You really can't get much simplier. Two pieces of fabric 11x17. We left an opening and Emily filled them full of polyfill from an old pillow we had laying around. The kids have no taken their regular pillows off their beds and will only sleep on their "Santa Pillows." You gotta love when the simple things in life make kids so happy!

Emily and I also made Chocolate Orange Lip Balm this morning and oh me oh my does the kitchen smell heavenly! So very easy. I tried taking a picture but between my flash, the bright snow sunshine and the clear tubes, it was not turning out. But here's the ingredients below.

Chocolate Orange Lip Balm
4 tbsp. Cocoa Butter
10 chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate but I think dark chocolate would taste even better)
1/2 tsp. Vitamin E oil
1/2 tsp. orange extract (I think vanilla would also be good!)

Melt the cocoa butter using a double boiler and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips, Vitamin E oil and extract. I used a syringe to place into lip balm tubes (placed in the freezer first). There was still some leakage in the tubes. I think if we continue to make this, I'd change to a pot container but for now since we have a ton of tubes, this works just fine!

We still have a ton of stuff to make but I think next we'll finish up the lip balms and then move onto the bath salts and scrubs.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A neckwarmer/cowl for kids...

Winter seems to again have decided to make an appearance in Wisconsin. This morning it is cold and gray. My daughter has decided that when she grows up, she is going to be an artist. She loves anything creative but at 3 (going on 16), it sometimes hard to find ways that she can help create when she wants to help me sew. Last week, when I put on my cowl to take her down the driveway to the bus stop, she said she wanted one. So off to the fabric store we went and picked up some fleece. This was probably one of the easiest things I've made. Two rectangles turned and topstitched (24" x 6") and then I added snaps in the color of her choice.

This is her measuring out the fabric and that was probably the longest part of the whole process. All these years I've been sewing and I never realized that along with a tape measure, the length in tractor tires was also important!  :)

And our finished product. There are two rows of snaps so it can be adjusted. Because fleece has stretch, we could have easily made it to just slip on and off over her head but sometimes it's nice to have things that come apart for those days when you haul a sleeping toddler into the house and have to undress them.


Friday, November 12, 2010

A family picture

Last weekend, we were all in a family wedding. Yes, this extremely pregnant momma was actually willing to A) stuff her belly into a strapless, fitted bridesmaid gown, and B) be immortalized forever wearing a strapless, fitted bridesmaid gown.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Vintage" Homemade Cabbage Patch Kids

I call them vintage because these were made for me by my momma for Christmas 1983 or 1984 and I probably would have been about 7 years old. That year for Christmas my mom made all of the girls in her family these cabbage patch kids. I got two. The one with brown hair was her first one and we called her E.T. (Elizabeth Theresa) because she looked like E.T. She wears a cast on her right arm because the dog chewed off a couple of her fingers. Afterwards, she turned their heads around and their faces weren't so wrinkled looking. These dolls went everywhere with me and I still love them today. And as far as I know, all of my mom's nieces still have their doll that my mom made for them.

This last weekend, my daughter and I visited Grandma and she sent these home with her and she loves them as much as I do. She proudly told her dad that "Grandma made these for mummy when she was a baby. See, mummy even wore this pink dress that Grandma made." Mom also said she thinks she still has the pattern and will find it because Em now wants a Boy Baby.

I only hope I can do as good of a job on them as my mom did! Although I do need for figure out how to wash their faces.  :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homemade cleaning products and tackling the laundry room mess

Like in my last post when I said that sometimes I feel like I'm falling behind and can't keep up and blamed it on my almost 2 year old, it also has to do with my pregnancy and that it's just fall. I think our bodies tend to slow down in the fall, almost like bears going into hibernation. Well, whatever it is, the housework has seemed to be slacking in the past couple of weeks. However, this morning I looked upon everything with a new resolve...okay, maybe just realized that gumption wasn't going to happen and I needed to create my own!

As part of our family's strive to be green and cheap frugal and spend wisely, one of the easiest ways I've found to do that is with making my own cleaning products. And it makes me feel better not having to chase the kids out of whatever room I'm cleaning because I don't want them to inhale the cleaner. That just doesn't make sense in my mind..."Sorry kids, mommy's cleaning to make a healthy environment for you but don't breathe the cleaner cuz it's dangerous."  Huh!?!

Anyways, some of my favorite homemade cleaning recipes are here. I know that many of them are listed in 2 million other places around the web but hey, the wonder of the internet!

Homemade SoftScrub
    2 cups baking soda
    1/2 cup liquid dish soap (Dawn works the best because it really tackles grease)
    Optionally you can add 5 drops of essential oil is you prefer

    This makes a nice creamy paste and 2 cups gives me enough to clean the tub and shower, bathroom sink and countertop, along with the stovetop, microwave, and countertops in the kitchen.

Tip 1: If it's been awhile since the microwave has been cleaned, place a microwave safe bowl full of water in microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes. The steam will loosen any crude in there, making it easier to clean.

Tip 2: For hard water stains in the tub, I found this solution works best using one of those green scratchy pads, however, if you're worried about scratching your porcelin, I'd use elbow grease.

All-Purpose Cleaner
2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
20-30 drops of essential oil (Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial)

I use this for everything. I keep it in a spray bottle behind the kitchen sink and use it for cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, hardwood floors, etc.

Wood Cleaner/Polish
Another cleaner I use on our wood floors is plain old water with a little dishsoap. I come from the Granny cleaning system where floors are cleaned on hands and knees. I sweep the floors first and then scrub them good with an old towel. If I'm really lazy, I soak down a bath towel and "scrub" the floors by walking around with the towel (kids love doing this!) Throughout the week, I use an old swiffer mop with a reuseable cleaning pad I made from old towels.

Every so often, I'll polish wood furniture and the hardwood floors with using the following recipe.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vinegar
20-30 drops lemon essential oil

My other disorganzed chaos is the laundry room. Because our house is old, our basement is rock wall with a dirt floor so it can't be used for storage, etc. We do have a nice sized attic but there are just thing that are easier kept in the laundry room for easy access. However, this often means the laundry room becomes the holding area for everything including my treadmill, the vacuum, carpet scrubber, and intermediate storage for outgrown clothing and the charity box. One of the things that helps me is having a storage bin next to the dryer for outgrown clothes. That way when I know something is outgrown, it gets put into the storage box as soon as it comes out of the dryer. When the bin is full, it gets labeled and put upstairs in the attic.

I also keep a charity box in the laundry room and anything I don't want to keep goes into the charity box and when we do our grocery shopping (usually every other week), the box gets loaded up into the truck and dropped off. Sometimes the box isn't full but I've found that if it stays in the house too long, someone goes into the box and finds something they've decided they can't live without.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I figured it out...

There are several blogs I read and forums I watch about mothering, staying at home with small children, raising children, yadda yadda on top of the sewing and craft blogs and farming/sustainable living blogs I love to read. When I read these blogs or forums, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder, "now really why can't I get that much done throughout the day."

I figured it out....
They don't have this boy distracting them by thinking the best way to play the piano is with your butt...

This little boy woke me up this morning when I heard loud banging from the piano only to come downstairs to find this little boy sitting on the piano, taking money out of his daddy's key/wallet/junk dish to put into his piggy bank....

I spend half of my day chasing this little boy off of the back of the couch, out of window sills, off counters and tables, standing on the toilet or sink or catch him dragging his step stool all over the house because he thinks as long as he can reach it, it's fair game.

Time management for mother's with little daredevils is not blocking your time so that you can get an hour to do a certain task. It's finding tasks that you can complete or partially complete in 5 minutes. I know this because this typically the amount of time I have before I have to answer the phone, the door, get juice, let the dog in or out, chase a child, kiss a booboo, break up a fight, find a toy, pick play dough out of someone's ears, nose, or mouth, find a snack, wipe up juice or food that mysteriously appeared down the back of the couch, mashed into the carpet, or smeared on the dog or cat.
But really...I love this little dude and wouldn't trade him for the world...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Going for a walk...

Considering it is October 11 and absolutely gorgeous (it has to be at least 80 degrees out), we went on another little hike and this time I actually remembered to bring the camera!

Em racing to catch up with Daddy.

Daddy's beehives.

Emily's picture of Mommy (my hair usually doesn't look
like this but I haven't showered yet today!)

Con hamming it up for the camera.

Found treasures.

Almost harvest time.

Daddy and Con.

Such beautiful colors found everywhere.

The old apple tree.

Sweet Pea.

The toad the kids wanted to bring home.

One of the 3 stooges.

Look what we found the other day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Findings

I love fall. I love all of the things that come with fall - the cool crisp air, the smells, the cool nights and flowers and trees and pumpkins. I love when the big sunflowers start bowing their heads from heaviness. I love the brightness of the pumpkins and gourds and how the trees slowly start changing from vibrant green to deep, rich colors. Some of my favorite pictures from the other day from around the farm.

The last picture is one of my favorites. We picked some red flowers the other day and Em wanted to pick the swiss chard also. We stuck some of the swiss chard in with the flowers and it turned out really pretty. I forget that kids see things through entirely different eyes and see beauty where we forget to see it.

Now I'm off to create some halloween fun with this cute fabric.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Through the eyes of a child...

Emily lately loves taking pictures with the camera. I tried letting her use the old digital camera but without the memory card, she can only take about 10 pictures. So I've let her use our digital camera. When I was downloading pictures this morning (after finally getting new batteries for the camera!) these are some of the pictures that I found. I love looking through the camera and finding the pictures that she's taken. Well, except for when I find a random shot of my butt.
I love the imagination and creativity of my kids!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nesting a bit early...

I've never understood the term nesting. I nest throughout my pregnancy as well as when I'm not pregnant. I'm constantly tinkering, fixing, primping, touching up this or that. However, we have had an ongoing debate in our household about the bathroom. See, we've always planned on tearing down this house and building a bigger one. Right now we only have two bedrooms and the house in general in small and old. So, it's always hard to spend money on this house when we don't plan on keeping it.

However...being a woman, I think it's in my nature to make things pretty. Most of all the bathroom, because I C A N N O T stand an old bathroom. It makes it feel dingy and dirty. A couple months ago, we redid the tub surround but in doing so, it left an exposed wall. Last Thursday morning, I'm not quite sure what got into me, but the bathroom got torn apart. The window finally got framed in and drywalled, the bare wall got framed in and drywalled. Old wallpaper was torn down, new was put up. All the trim was painted a beautiful bright white. I put up new contact paper in the closet to cover the contact paper from 1954 (did they make contact paper in 1954??).

In reality, the bathroom make-over cost me very little money. We had 2x4s in the shed which I used for framing the window and wall and well as a piece of sheetrock. I used 1x4s for the new baseboard trim and we already had the new faucet. I had bought two boxes of peel and stick floor tiles at a garage sale for $5 and the white paint was from another project. I painted the vanity a dark blue and that paint was also from another project. However, it was too bright for what I wanted but the hardware store added some black to darker it for free when I bought a new paint brush. I would have spent $5 on the entire bathroom make-over but yesterday I decided that I was not in the mood to sand the walls so they were all even from where I pulled off the old wallpaper so I made a trip to Menard's and bought new wallpaper for $40.

I still have the put down the new floor and put up 2 more pieces of trim but I am truly in love with my new bathroom which cost me $60 (Wallpaper $40, contact paper $10, paintbrush $5, floor tiles $5).

I learned so many things with this project. How to use a drill and a jigsaw as well as how to measure properly and cut sheetrock. But the thing I learned most is that you can make something beautiful for so little by just using your imagination.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sweet Corn...

Last night at we had a sweet corn supper at church. One of my favorite things about rural country living is church suppers. You don't even have to belong to a particular church to come. Our church does 4-5 suppers a year and it is always free will offering. Last night's supper consisted of fresh sweet corn from a member's field, sloppy joes, potatoe salad, bread and butter pickles and lots and lots of rich goey yummy bars.

The guys had picked quite a bit a corn and at the end of the night there were still 2 coolers full and one got sent home with me. I'm freezing sweet corn. I have to admit it was a pretty special treat since my kids ate 6 helpings of sweet corn a piece last night!

Canning does give corn a creamier texture but I do like the simplicity of freezing. After blancing the corn for 4-6 minutes, soak in ice water for another 4-6 minutes and then cut off the cob and store in freezer bags. I love using a bunt pan for cutting the corn off the cob because it helps contain the mess. I always bag vegetables in two sizes of bags. I use quart size freezer bags that are perfect for a dinner meal, but I also make two gallon size portions that I store in the freezer in the kitchen. It makes it very easy to grab a handful to heat up for the kid's lunch or to toss into soaps or casseroles!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bubble Bottom Skirt

Em has been wanting to sew. She's asking for her own sewing machine already and I tell her maybe for Christmas. She did go through the patterns yesterday and the material box (es) and picked out Figgy's Bubble Bottom Skirt and some Amy Butler Love material. The results were beautiful and both of us love the skirt. Em especially loves how it swings.

It is a very simple pattern that went together quick. From cutting to sewing it took me under an hour. The directions are a little confusing (at least to me) but if you just follow basic instructions for attaching a skirt with a lining and a yoke, you'll fly right through. The only thing I'd do on the next one is make the elastic slightly longer (maybe just an inch) on the bottom and make the elastic around the waist slightly shorter.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cleaning Carpets without chemicals...

In my effort to declutter and simplifying the house, my car is always one item that is forever in need of decluttering and simplifying. I will admit that my car typically looks like a pigsty. I would do before and after pictures but I am too embarressed to be reminded of what it looks like. Earlier this week something started stinking...bad. Yesterday morning I pulled the car up to the house and started decluttering. I picked out all of the trash - yes, even the trash under the seats - took all of the shoes, toys, jackets, blankets, sippy cups and bottles into the house. I found what was stinking. One of the kids had dropped their sippy cups and the milk rotten and expanded in the cup causing it to come out and go all over the carpet.

So I vacuumed and then got out the carpet scrubber. The carpet is my very best friend since I hate having carpet. Luckily, we only have it in 2 rooms but it is in the 2 most unfortunate rooms - the living room and the kids bedroom. As much as I love the carpet scrubber, I hate the chemicals that are used to clean the carpet so instead I use vinegar. While it may stink while it is wet, it leaves the carpets feeling soft and smelling fresh. And most importantly, I don't have to worry about the kids being in the house while I'm cleaning carpets or while it is drying.

Oh yeah...and mom now has new rules for her car!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exercise is hard work...

Before I found out I was pregnant, I had finally found the strength inside me that I needed to put in the dedication and time to losing weight. Before I had Em, I ran 5-6 times a week 4-5 miles each time. I could pretty much eat anything I wanted...and being a lover of food, I did. However, being told for years I would never have children, I never took the time to learn about pregnancy and what I could do and what I couldn't do. So when I got pregnant and people told me I couldn't run, I stopped calories didn't change and 60 pounds later was at a place I did not want to be again. See, I was a chubby kid and teenager and struggled with weight my entire life and running gave me the self-confidence I needed to be happy with myself physically.

When I was pregnant with our second baby, I was already overweight and just continued the bad habits of no exercise and not eating entirely healthy.

With this baby, I had started walking before I knew I was pregnant and am resolved to keep it up throughout my pregnancy. I'm avoiding foods high in carbohydrates (potatoes, white rice, sweets) and have cut out almost all junk food with the occasional treat because really...what good is dieting if you don't treat yourself once in awhile!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise a person can do and the benefits of exercise in pregnancy are wonderful for me, the baby, and my pregnancy as well as my recovery after the baby is born.

The other plus is that the kids love to go for walks. If it's a day that Shane isn't home to keep the kids while I walk, Em wants to walk with me and Connor likes to be in the stroller. Those walks are more leisurely but still good. When it's just me or just Connor and me, I walk at a healthy pace. Today apparently, Connor thought exercise was hard work...

There is not a lot of crafting going on in our household. We've been spending a lot of time outside playing in the play yard, taking walks through the field collecting leaves, rocks and flowers, and in the garden watching how our garden grows (and taking samplings of the fresh fruit and vegetables that it is beginning to provide us with).

The other thing I've been busy doing is decluttering and simplifying the house. We know at some point (hopefully beginning in the spring), we will be building a new house on our property, but until then, we need to make more room in our little 2 bedroom house for the new baby. So I've been spending a lot of time cleaning and organizing and lots and lots of trips to Goodwill.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Life Sure Moves Fast...

I often think about writing an update and then life starts moving forward again. It's amazing how fast everything happens. The garden has been plants and is already showing us love from the produce it is providing us with.
Emily finished her first year of school and in a month and a half will start up again.
I finally had some time to sew and stock the etsy shop with some Ready To Ship trainers. Now if I could just get other stuff besides trainers stocked!!  :)

Some fun pictures of the things the kids have been doing this summer...

The kids have loved all the rain Em puts it..."Time to play in the Goo!"

The other exciting...and shocking... news in our family is that baby number 3 will be joining us in January 2011.  Shocking since we weren't really planning on having more but sometimes God knows differently than we do. We do feel truly blessed.