Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

2008 was my start on becoming more self sufficient.  Less dependent on the industrial food system, and the mall, is where I started.  I feel good about our progress.  I had my first vegetable garden this year.  We were quite successful and learned a lot.  I LOVE tomatoes fresh from the garden.  Fresh green beans taste nothing like frozen, canned, or even beans from the market.  Carrots left to be hit by a good frost (or frozen into the ground, even) are the sweetest, most delicious I’ve ever encountered.  You need to be very diligent with the squash seedlings, for it you don’t have them properly labeled you will not know what is what until they grow fruit…is that a Zucchini plant, a Pumpkin or a Butternut?  Tomatoes really need substantial supports, little bamboo sticks are not enough, even thought they are cute.  Root veggies need softer soil, with a little sand in there so they go deep and don’t just grow fat, and potato tires do not work well with hay and a rainy spring, nor do they work well with freshly fertilized soil.


We learned more, but that was a good recap.  We also started raising a flock of chickens.  I never knew how fun those little critters are to have around.  They are very amusing, low maintenance and quite friendly.  We are up to 8-9 eggs a day, enough for our family and my parents, right from the back yard.  This year we built a coop and a makeshift run that needs to be taken to the next level in the Spring.


I started my journey of putting up food.  Canning and freezing specifically.  I did a lot of borrowing of supplies, having never done this before.  I stuck to tomatoes and peaches for the most part.  I’ve had some very yummy meals made with those jars of tomatoes.  What a treat to have canned peaches with our oatmeal from time to time.  Enjoying blueberry pancakes and an occasional bowl of blueberry rice pudding with frozen berries we collected for free from the plants near our house.  I meant to pull out a bag of frozen homemade cider for Christmas, and forgot, but that’s okay, we have all winter to enjoy the 3-4 gallons we have in there.


Lots of crafting took place in 2008.  I think the items I’m most fond of are the Sweater Vest completed on the last day of the year, which is drying so has yet to be photographed.

The Lady February Sweater for me:


The Advent Journey ornaments:


Mini’s Quilt:


Making the pattern and tutorial for the reversible wrap around baby/toddler dress:


Using my craft to help others is something I tried my hand at this year, with coordinating the Knitting to Keep Warm event at my Local Yarn Store.  This is something I’d liked to do more of next year, both with coordinating events for others to get involved with, and doing things on my own to donate to those who need them.

I’ve taken cooking and baking more seriously this year.  Our life circumstances never had us eating home cooked meals, cooked by me at least.  We worked in a group home where we had a cook.  We ate out a lot.  Then we moved to the country and had a baby.  Well, 2008 was the year to learn how to cook at home.  It’s gone pretty well, and I’m looking forward to diving deeper in 2009.

We entered the year of 2 with our daughter.  She has been a lot of fun, lots of talking, puzzle making, reading and coloring.  She helps daddy make breakfast, and is a fabulous chicken farmer.  She is creative and needs little stimulation from us or her toys, to play happily, but enjoys time with her parents and likes to help with the sewing machine.


Looking back on 2008 I am pleased to say I enjoyed this year.  It has been a year of reevaluation, change and new adventures, all of which, while challenging, have definitely enriched our lives.  Thank you for being here, reading, commenting and taking the journey of 2008 with us!

2009 is ahead.  I have no idea what it will bring, but I know the direction I’m starting in and intend to be flexible on how that path is followed.  My plans include:

Having a garden again this year.  It’s being expanded to the piece of land that lies at the other end of my property.  We’ve tilled, and will be planting a large tomato crop.  We did buy a lot of tomatoes this year, and we don’t want to have to do that, so we know we need to plant more.  Lots of Roma and sauce style for sure.  Dad and Mini will be looking for the Sun Globe sweetness of those beautiful orange cherry tomatoes, and of course some nice big cutting tomatoes for sandwiches and salads.  The seed catalogs have arrived so January will be spent pouring over those and deciding what to buy again this year, and what to try for the first time.


Chickens!  We have decided, with the help of our local heirloom chicken farmers to expand our poultry focus.  We will be raising some chickens for meat purposes, along with maintaining and probably adding to our egg layers.  We enjoy eating chicken, and while we are fortunate to be able to buy chicken from local raisers, we feel the cost and experience of raising our own will make sense.  We are also going to be trying our hand at a half dozen turkeys, Narragansett breed, the old New England Turkey, to be shared with my parents, and a couple ducks.  Duck eggs are great for baking, very rich and delicious to eat on their own, and we think it would be fun to have a couple ducks wandering about, eating slugs out of our garden.  We are looking at the beautiful Blue Cayuga.

Lots of crafting!  I look forward to incorporating mini into more of my crafting now that she is able to follow directions and understand what we are doing.  She bakes and has become a fabulous egg shell puller (Husband cracks she pulls them apart), and is quite proficient with a whisk.

Clothing is a big focus in my crafting.  I don’t tend to get into a lot of crafts for crafts sake, but rather am looking for crafts that are fun to make and fun to use later.  Kitchen items like potholders, and an occasional pin cushion are about as “frivolous” as I tend to get.  Though I won’t say never.    I have plans for some exciting sewing projects, both to create from patterns and to create from scratch.  I love to see my family members enjoying comfortable clothes I’ve made.  I also enjoy being able to put on an outfit in the morning knowing that most, or all, of it was made by me.  It’s just a fun feeling.

Knitting has become my favorite crafting endeavor so there will be lots more of that.  Especially baby knitting!

The most exciting plan of 2009 is that we will be welcoming our second baby girl into this world.  I am 6 1/2 months into a very smooth sailing pregnancy, due in March!  Mini is excited to be a big sister and kisses her good night and talks to her through my belly every night.  We have not had to do a lot to prepare this time, so it seems it’s flown by.  We have most everything we need, as we kept all of mini’s clothes (all the garments I sewed and knit will have a new life) and toys, car seat, co-sleeping crib, breast pump and the like.  But the baby does need her own hand knits, so the purchases I made yesterday are, in large part, for her.

I want to focus this year on contentment.  I have found myself content far more of the time, than ever before in my life.  It’s a feeling I enjoy and one I want to foster all the more.  I’m going to be sharing my journey in that area, as well.  Contentment seems to be a mindset, one where even though there is more to have or experience, what you have is enough and you are satisfied. I want to enjoy what I have, personally, relationally and materially, rather than worrying about what else I could have.

I hope 2009 provides pleasures and contentment for my family and yours.


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You may remember the little embroidered girl that I finished a few months ago.  It was a pattern from Wee Wonderfuls. I have been wanting to use it to decorate a book bag for my little reader to carry her books to and from her daily library trips.  Hubby brings Mini to the library nearly every day it’s open.  She loves going and I’m all for encouraging her enthusiasm for books.

I finally sat down to make, what is in my mind, a reality.

Mini loves it!  If you’d like to make one for your little one, I made up a tutorial!

Library Bag Tutorial

You of course don’t need to add an embroidered embellishment. You could also draw or paint one if you wanted, or omit that part all together.

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Mom and I went over to Butternut for some more “serious picking”, thus leaving Mini with dad. I got just shy of 30 pounds! These are more ripe than the last time and I’m hoping they will be easier to skin and remove the pit. We are planning on canning, and I definitely want to try my hand at some peach jam. I love peaches!!

The chickens have nesting boxes! Before I left on the family getaway last week, we noticed the two oldest hens, “nesting” in the dirt and grass outside. I don’t know anything about what chickens do to show they are ready to lay eggs, but that seemed to me to be a reasonable sign that it might be soon. In a panic I begged dad to make the nesting boxes while I was gone. He came through (finishing them a couple days after we got back). I was a bit sad I didn’t get to help, but I was doing work stuff when we got back from the trip, so he finished them up without me. The important thing is they have a place to lay eggs, should they choose to, and are ready for such activities! I can’t wait. Getting fresh local eggs is getting a bit more difficult lately with schedules and such, as the place I’m getting them doesn’t have regular store hours. Besides, right from the coop sounds mighty exciting to us!

Mini goes for a morning stroll, each day, with her Daddy and our dog Maggie.  This morning after dad dressed her in shorts and a tank top, she decided to accessorize.  The tutu was made by me, using a free tutorial I found online.  The supplies were 2 rolls of 6″ tulle ($5.00), 4 rolls of ribbon (50 cents each, $2.00 total, but completely optional), and a package of non-roll 1″ elastic (about $1.00).  After about an hour (maybe less, I didn’t time it real closely) of cutting and tying we had this adorable little fashion necessity.  She threw the little plaid bucket had on for good measure, her harness for safety and off she went.

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The Tutorial for this dress is still free and available, but it is now linked on my new blog.  You will find it on the sidebar under “Free Tutorials”

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The tutorial for the Wrap Around Skirt is still available, for free, but it has moved. You can find it on the sidebar of my new blog under Free Tutorials!

You can check out the other submissions here:

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I finished the Tie Skirt Tutorial for Toddlers and Children! I was almost done yesterday, but knew I’d be able to wrap it up today.  Now you can use dad’s old ties to make his sweet little girl a very cool skirt!  Or if dad doesn’t own any ties, or couldn’t part with any of them, you can always find them at thrift stores, or in lots on Ebay.

I also completed a knock off.  I have a dress/swimsuit cover up from Old Navy.  It was on a clearance rack from last summer, and I got it real cheap, have worn it to death and I love it!  I thought making one in a pretty color, instead of my good ole’ standby, Black, might be fun.  Inspired by the clothing and accessories group I’m in, I figured now was the time.  I copied the dress to create a pattern and then whipped it up.  I finally made a garment with knitted fabric!  That is new for me.  I have never been able to get it to cooperate, but after reading about working with knits and talking to a friend who works with them quite a lot, I determined the following is my problem.  I wasn’t using the right needle or machine setting.  Once I bought a needle designed for Medium Weight knits and set the tension more loosely, on my machine, it was a breeze!  That is great news, and opens a whole new world to me for future sewing!  I have a few more shirts I want to knock off (for personal use only, of course!).

So here is the original and new version of my Old Navy cover up!  Thank you Isabelle for modeling for me.

I am back to working on that macro challenge.  I have ebbed and flowed throughout, but I really want to keep with this and not throw in the towel, completely.  So here are some very cool buds on a tree at the gas station.  You really can find beauty just about anywhere!

Going to a Sustainability Fair in Portsmouth, NH tomorrow!  I hope it’s as nice tomorrow as it was today!  I’m loving Spring!  I was inspired by Soule Mama to pick up some books at the library today.  Her recommendations of Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy and Inch by Inch the Garden Song by David Mallett, are both great books.  I might buy the Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots book.  It’s chock full of great ideas.  Some would be great now, but many more would be even better next Spring, when the baby is a bit older.

See you tomorrow with some knitting updates!

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I have been working on Car Catch-alls for my Etsy store today, so I don’t have much to show. Though I did find a great online tutorial for making your own bias tape. The page is obviously made with quilters in mind and discusses the reason to use bias vs straight edge tape on your quilt, so if you are interested, read, if not scroll down to the instructions. Very similar to the process that Amy Karol uses in her book Bend the Rules Sewing, which I have really enjoyed.

The sweater I talked about yesterday was made from a pattern in the Debbie Bliss book, Special Knits: 22 Gorgeous Handknits for Babies and Toddlers using Princess Yarn from Classic Elite Yarns. I believe the color is Proud Peacock, but I’m not sure. I do love the yarn. It’s lovely to knit with and so comfy to wear. The baby really enjoyed her sweater now that I added the tie in the front. I simply made two I cords and sewed them to the front. I love I cords. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I am working on the instructions for the skirt. I have them written out, now I need to make a second while taking pictures to be sure I wrote it right and to have images to accompany the words for the visual among us.

Here is my “Model on the Run”. I did actually manage to take a picture of her looking more sweet baby model-like, but this one is far better.


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