Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tutorial - Sleep Sac To Sleep Suit!

Now that my son is standing he no longer wants to sleep in a sleep sac.  During the summer that was fine, but it's starting to get chilly and he needs something to keep him warm and toasty at night.  Looking at his sleep sac I decided to just add some ankle holes to it so he can move all over his crib and stand without getting All Twisted Up.  Here's what I did.

To start you'll need a sleep sac.  Pictured is a fleece one in size 18-24 months.  But, this would work for any size.  Ribbing fabric or any stretchy fabric for the ankles.  And, basic sewing supplies.

Step 1:  Take baby and place him inside the sleep sac.  Mark with a pen where crotch is and let baby roll away and get back to playing.  (no photo of this as he was way to wiggle to photograph and mark at the same time!)  My pins are on the inside back of the sleeper.

Step 2:  Place another pin 3" BELOW where the crotch pen mark is.  You can go further down if want to.  I wanted there to be plenty of room to grow and be loose enough for any jamies underneath.  Then lay the front of the sleeper on top and mark your zipper where your lower pin is.  This is where you will sew closed the zipper.
Steps 3 & 4:  Now you are going to sew together the zipper where you marked it with the pin.  Make sure your zipper is all the way open before you sew it down. In image 4 you can see that I've tacked it down good.  You don't want your zipper pull to come off when you unzip it.

 Step 5:  Now your going to mark where to cut to make the new legs.  I made a rounded top and slightly angled it down the sides.  It's 3" from the zipper on the top and 3.5" from the zipper on the bottom.  I just eyeballed the rounded-ness.

Step 6:  Cut out on your line.  Then cut the very bottom so that it's now open.  Then turn the sac inside out and sew along your legs as shown below.
Step 7 & 8:  Cut out two 6.5" X 6" squares of cotton ribbing.  You could use any stretchy fabric.  Just make sure it's supper stretchy.  Add.5" to the width if it's not super stretchy.  Fold your fabric in half and sew.  Then Turn it half way up so you have a cuff.  Do this to both pieces.

Step 9:  Sew your ankle ribbing into the leg openings to finish.  This was tough to stretch all the way around.  But, it did to and it fits great!

Step 10:  Turn it right side out and admire your handy work.

I also tried this with another sleep sac.  This one had minky on the outside and a layer of jersey on the inside.  It worked great with this one too.

He now has room to move around and still stay warm!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Yummy Puree

I went to the grocery store wanting to get a few cans of Pumpkin puree to use in some recipes.  I usually have a few cans in my pantry, but last year pumpkin was hard to find and pricey, so I didn't have any.  My jaw dropped when I saw the price.  The bigger can was over $3.00!  And, the little one was close to $3.00.  There was no way I was paying that.  It's soooo not in my grocery budget.  I went home thinking maybe I could can some myself.  And, sure shooting... you can!  But, I would need a pressure canner which I still don't have.  But, I can freeze it like I do my butternut squash.  In the end I got just under 4lbs of fresh pureed pumpkin.  I immediately made some yummy pumpkin bread with it.  It was amazing!
Down at the grocer store yesterday I saw some sweet pumpkin / pie pumpkins for $1.00 each.  I bought 2 and brought them home to cook em up.  What fun we had!  I wanted to use the whole pumpkin, so I decided to try making some toasted pumpkin seeds too.  I sliced up the pumpkins and took out all the seeds.  Roasted them in the oven at 400' for about 40 minutes.  As they were cooking and cooling I asked Rachel to help with the seeds.  She had so much fun getting them cleaned and ready.  After cleaned and dried they went into a 400' oven.  I cooked them a bit to long so some of them were very brown. (I was distracted by the canning of asparagus) Hubby loved those, but next time I'll watch closer.  I sprinkled them with some kosher salt and we all loved them.  Even the kids.  They were eating them by the handful.  You can bet I'll be using seeds from all my squashes from now on.

Oh, The Canning Love!

I finally got brave enough to try my hand at canning.  And now I'm addicted!  I look at all my fruit and veggies in a new light.  I wonder....  " How can I can that?"  I don't have much canned yet.  But, as the apples come into season here, I'll be canning more and more.
In the above photo I have applesauce, salsa, and pickled dilly beans.  Blow are some pickled asparagus I made yesterday.  (I'll post that pic in a few minutes) My favorite thing to do is pickle.  I want to pickle everything! 

Canning is one of those dying arts.  I know it's coming back a bit due to the economic issues all of us are facing now.  It just seems silly to me now that I've started canning that this was ever something that lost popularity.  When did preserving food for your family become an unimportant thing?   I guess canning goes hand in hand with long term food storage.  Something that almost everyone I know does not do.  Most of the families I know have only a few days worth of food in their pantries.  I'm hoping to spread the long term food storage love by handing out some home canned goods during the holidays.

As my supply of canned goodies grows I'll post more pics.  Soon to come (hopefully) will be canned meats, beans, and other pressure canner needed goods.  We haven't bought one yet, but I think we will be very soon.

Turning One!

Oh my little man.  How fast you've grown.  I can't believe we've had you for a whole year.  You've changed so much since the day you were born.  So tiny and fragile.  You've filled our lives with such joy and happiness.  You've completed our family in a way that even I can't describe.

The day you were born you had barely any hair.  Invisible eyebrows, and one eye that wanted to stay closed more than the other.  You were always hungry and wanted to be held always.  So soft and tiny.  Sweet and cuddly.  Your sweet wrinkly baby skin and smell had the whole household kissing and hugging you.

Health wise you were having troubles.  You were a snacker which was causing sleeping troubles. Our pediatrician was encouraging as much nursing as you could takeso she wanted us to tickle your feet and play with your tummy to try and get you to eat more at once. But, by day 15 you were in the hospital because you were projectile vomiting.  Thankfully it turned out to be nothing that they could find.  Daddy and I both decided that a to full tummy was causing the vomiting because once we stopped trying to get you to eat more at once, you stopped vomiting.

As the months ticked by you grew and changed so much.  By month three you were so much more aware of all around you.  You recognized your sisters and dad when they came into the room.  You started making noises and smiling.  You loved to look at toys and lay on the floor watching your sisters try and play with your.  Still not sleeping at all well, but other than that you were such a happy and content little man.

At 6 months you were rolling over and smiling at everything. You learned to sit up by about 7 months. Laughing and co-oing.  You always wanted to be right at the action, so you were sitting in your highchair a lot so you could see everything.  It was one of your favorite spots to sit.  I put one of those cart covers on it and hooked on toys.  You could play and be comfy.  Still not sleeping well, but you were starting on some very basic solids which made you very happy.

9 months and growing fast.  By now you were rolling to get to new places and getting up on all fours.  No crawling yet. But, you could go up the stairs...And, you loved it!  Slithering/Crawing happened around 10 months.  You would slither like a snake.  We called it your slither... or your amy man crawl.  You were very very efficient at it.  I think that is why it took you so long to actually crawl.  You got efficient at crawling by closer to 11 months.  You loved table foods.  Baby food did nothing for you.  You want to do it yourself or have us give you chunks of things.  No teeth yet so this was tricky.  I switched you to formula (my milk gave out) and you began sleeping a bit better.  Instead of being up with you 8 times a night, your were now only up 3!  You sleep on your belly with your bum in the air.  Soooo cute!  And, you sleep everynight with your bunny.  Grandma Vicki gave you this bunny for Easter and you won't let him go.  Oh... you love balls.  You would push them, watch them roll, and slither after them.  Below is daddy's favorite picture.  He calls this one "Dr. Evil"

12 months.  One year old!!  I still can't believe it.  Your cruzing around the furniture, climbing everything, and crawling so very fast. You love to be chased and climb the stairs.  You babble all the time, and love to look outside.  Playing outside is your favorite.   You love to explore and touch everything.  Not much goes into yorur mouth (thank goodness), but you do love to wipe things across your mouth.  Your sticking your fingers into any hole in your head.  Your mouth, nose, and ears.  Your fingers are always in your ears.  It seems like it's just a good resting place for your fingers.  Very cute!  Your loving fruits, veggies, and dairy.  Especially yogurt and cheese.  Your sleeping better.  Up maybe once to feed.  And your taking nice 2 hr naps during the afternoons.  Your such a sweet and loving little man.  You love to sit and cuddle and watch movies.  Your favorite right now is Cars.  You can't seem to get enough of that one.  Your favorite toys are your wood stacked toy.  (the kind with the rings that go on the pole thingy) You also love this car ram that you put a car on and it goes back and forth down the ramps.  Your favorite stuffed animal is still your bunny.  It's getting very loved.
Every day you grow and change and I just love watching you learn.  We love you more than you know!!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kids & Earning Money

We've never given our kids allowances.  Now that they are getting older though they are starting to need more spending cash for various things.  Things that neither Hubby or I deam our responsibility to pay for.  So, in an effort to teach our children about money (and hopefully give them a better chance of being responsible as adults) we are doing something a little different.  The kids will earn money on chores that they do.  I made a list of all kinds of chores that they could do around the house. Each one was then given an amount and how often they can do that chore.  For example... emptying the dishwasher.  That's something that happens everyday.  Where as vaccuming the stairs happens once a week.  I printed out this chart and put it into a page protector and put it on the fridge.  One for each girl.  It's nice because the page protector works great with dry erase markers.  The kids will be paid at the end of each week.  At which time they will put a minimun of 10% in their savings account.  Their savings will be in the cloth envelopes below.  They will keep track of all money coming and going from these envelopes.  Our goal is for the savings accounts not to be touched unless they are saving for something that they really really want.  Any other money that they get from birthdays, holidays, etc will be handled the same way. 

We have always been very careful with what we allow them to spend their money on.  We have never let them buy something random at will.  They need to think about it for a few days and if they are still really wanting it then we will usually let them get it.  With this new plan however, spending money will be allowed to be spent on whatever they want.  This will be hard for us because neither hubby or like to see money spent on junky toys that will be broken and forgotten in a day.  But, we feel that they need to learn more about responsible spending.  So, an example of free spending... Lets say that Ali spends her $5.00 on candy in the student store and then decides later that she would have rather spent that money on earrings.  She has just learned that perhaps not all her money should have been spent on candy.  Her earrings would have lasted her a very long time were as the candy was gone quickly.  Maybe next time she'll really think about what she wants before spending it all.   Maybe only $1.50 on candy and the rest saved for those earrings.
We are hoping this will work out.  So far the kids have been more excited to do chores!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My September Garden

We are half way through September and we've been having July/August weather.  It's no wonder that my veggies are confused.  I've been told by a few "seasoned" gardeners that my veggies are fine for the weather that we are having.  I don't know if they are being nice or serious.  To me, the garden isn't producing like I thought it would.  I've decided to make a gardening journal so I can remember things from this year next year.  I do have to say though, that the veggies and herbs are awesome!  No comparison to grocery store veggies.  Next year.... I want a much much larger garden.
The tomatoes are doing the best of everything.  They grew quite large in size.  The fruit is smaller than what the tags said they should be.  The cherry tomatoes are about 1/2 the size of the ones in the grocery stores.  But, they do taste better!  The Early Girl tomatoes should be 4-5 oz each and they are mostly 2 oz each.  But, again... they are tasty!
I've been able to harvest 3 cucumbers.  The plant itself seams to be doing quite badly.  It's got very yellow and brown leaves.
The bell peppers are still going.  I've only harvested 2 so far, but there are quite a few on the bush still growing.  I'm hoping to have bell peppers for at least another month.
The zucchini squash are just sad.  I think I need to plant only one plant per pot next year.  Just sad....
The green beans have been sad too.  They never got larger than 10" tall and only produced 5 beans.  No picture of these because they are really boring!

Overall I'm happy with my results this year.  Considering how black my thumb is.  I've gotten a great sense of accomplishment out of growing things I can feed my family.  I still hate weeding and cutting the grass.  Give me a yard with just some grass and raised gardening beds and I'd be a happy gardener!

My Current Diaper Stash And Review Of My Favorite Pattern

I've been asked for an updated review of my favorite diaper patterns.  It's actually pretty simple now.  LDD aka: LaDiDa's.  This was a pattern that I heard rave reviews about for months before I caved and bought the pattern.  I've bought many many cloth diaper patterns and have now sold all but 4.  I've kept Fattycakes because I love them as covers.  Je'Mapelle because it fits nice and has many many styles.  A new one that I've forgotten the name of and have yet to try and of course LDD's. 

Daytime Diapering:  My stash currently consists of 11 of my altered LDD's.  I've made them medium long by adding about 2.5" through the rise and I've added some width across the front by cutting it at a bit of an angle on the fold.  This allows for more room in his front where he needs more soaking area.  For a girl you probably wouldn't need this.  I've made a few with a fun print on the outside back and tabs. (meaning that the print goes about 1/3 down the back)  I've found that these wick if he soaks his diaper good.  It doesn't happen often, but it happens enough for me to make new diapers with the embellishment just on the tabs. 

For soakers, I think I've tried it all.  Flannel, sweatshirt fleece, terry cloth, hemp, bamboo, jersey cotton, and microfiber.  But, my absolute favorite is ZorbII diamond.  This stuff is insanely soft, easy to wash, and absorbs like crazy.  All his diapers have one internal soaker of this stuff and a two layer soaker that snaps in.  This is the perfect amount for him during the day.  Non of my diapers have a wicking layer, but I do have some microfleece rectangles cut out and on his changing table if I think he'll be in a diaper for longer than usual. 

Construction of my diapers is fairly basic.  I use PUL for the outsides and something soft and wicking against his skin.  I usually use minky or suedecloth.  I like the minky better, but it costs more.  I prefer non cased elastic on the legs as I find they leave less marks.  My diapers are currently half cased and half uncased.
Nighttime Diapering:  I've been using sposies for months at night.  I know, I know..... shamefull!!!  But, I have yet to find the perfect way to diaper him at night.  I've tried fitteds with covers, super absorbent layers in an AI2, and even 2 prefolds with a cover.  Now only did he have a massive cloth diaper bum that looks terribly uncomfortable, but I still had to change him in the night at least once or twice.  Now that he's older though I want to try again.  I'm thinking my basic diaper with maybe 4-5 layers of Zorb II.

Well... That's my stash.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garden Update - Late July

 The garden is growing well.  Though honestly, I wouldn't be able to tell you if it was truly thriving.  But, from what I can tell... things are starting to happen.

My herb table is looking lush and green.  We pluck something from it almost every night.  The pot in the center is mint, peppermint, and pineapple sage.  After I took this picture I decided to split them up into their own pots.  They are doing much better now.  I can't believe how big they got.  I need to learn to dry these herbs to use them in the winter.  Especially for tea.

As you can see my tomatoes are doing well.  I'm actually quite surprised.  On my big tomato plant I have about half a dozen 1" or so tomatoes growing.  I seem to find a few more itty bitties every day.  I can't wait until they get big and red!  My cherry tomato plant is also going strong.  There are a few dozen tomatoes started.  Ray is sooo excited about these.

My hanging cucumbers are starting to grow too.  There are many 1" cucumbers started.  I've never seen them grow before so this is exciting!!

I've harvested two 4-5" green bell peppers so far.  There are 3 more on bush and the red bell pepper plant is just starting.  Hubby says that the bell peppers that we've eaten so far were't to great.  Hmmmm.....

The zucchini has 5 started and lots more flowers.  2 are not going to make it, but the other 3 are looking good.  Some of the leaves are turning yellow.  I think I need to fertilize with something.  I will have to look that up.

The green beans, strawberries, and blueberries are very uninspiring.  Very small strawberries, only a few very small green beans so far and only a dozen or so blueberries that may ripen up.  Hopefully they will get better as the weeks go by.  No photo of these as they aren't that interesting right now.

All in all we are having lots of fun with our garden.  I am loving seeing things grow that we can eat.  Very satisfying.  Next year we will definitely be planting more variety.