Monday, December 29, 2008


Don't all pirates wear pink?  And pearls?  And chomp on organic candy canes?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a glimpse of our handmade holiday

While we did have a few "plastic" gifts this Christmas, I was proud that a large portion of the gifts under our tree were handmade.  Some were made by me, and some came from other fine Etsy sellers.  (You can see their shops for better photos than what I have here.)  I really wanted to show these before Christmas, but that would have spoiled the surprise, wouldn't it?

Chad's favorite gift was this coptic bound plaid journal from Highland Books:

Lizi and Lydia got dolls made by the "Mae" pattern from Bit of Whimsy:

Some of Lydia's made-by-mom dress up playthings (her favorite is the kitty cat ears and paws):

Precious prints from rkdsign88 (she is such a wonderful seller too - sent me more extras than what I actually bought!):

Pendants for the girls from Rough Edges, sorry about the glare! (I'll let you guess which girl is the math fanatic):

Cute amigurumi mouse and bunny from The Enchanted Pumpkin:

And does to-be-handmade count?  My sweetie gave these to me:

And there were other gifts I made that got out the door to friends and family before I photographed them; I hope they go on to be well loved!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Last stitches knit and sewn... check.
Gifts wrapped... check.
Stockings stuffed... check.
Pantry and fridge stocked... check.
Holiday greeting?

Wishing all my blog friends a
Christmas and New Year!


what do i knit now?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good intentions...

Lydia is really getting into playing "dress-up" lately, but doesn't have a lot of "dress-up" clothes.  So that was one thing I wanted her to have for Christmas - play clothes for all the things she likes to pretend to be.  One of those things is a lion, so I wanted to make a little lion's mane headband sort of thing, complete with ears.  I pulled out the closest colors of yarn I had, figured out how to do a crochet loop stitch, and went to work.  Here is the result.

So, what do you see in this photo?  Cute dress-up accessory?  Or 70's bath mat of doom?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple Christmas stocking

I made some easy Christmas stockings as gift bags for my little preschool class on Wednesday nights. I thought they turned out so cute, I'd show how to make them.

Supplies: I used 9"x12" pieces of felt, a little ribbon, decorations, tailors chalk, and scribbled a stocking pattern. You may trace another stocking if you like.

I wanted small stockings, so I made my pattern to fit 4 on a piece of felt. You can make yours any size or shape that will fit on your felt. Trace around your stocking pattern, leaving a little space between stockings. I put the tops of my stockings on the edge of the felt, so I wouldn't have to worry about getting them straight. Don't cut them out yet.

Pin two pieces of felt together, matching edges, with your traced stockings on top. This is so that you have 2 layers, making a front and a back. Don't cut them out yet.

Stitch on the lines you traced, leaving that bit of space between stockings because you will need to cut there. Obviously, start at the top of a stocking on one side, then stitch all the way around to the top on the other side. This could be done by hand, if you do not have access to a sewing machine.

Now, you may cut them out. Cut about 1/8" away from your stitching, a little less if need be.

Now for the fun part - decorating! We just used simple felt shapes, which we fused with fusible web. They could also be glued with fabric glue. Or you could use something else altogether -other fabrics, paint, glitter - use your imagination!

Stitch a little loop of ribbon at the top for hanging.

Fill with goodies!
(If it's candy, make it all natural, please! For me? :) )

Something new

I wanted you to meet a new little family in my Etsy shop - Mama and Baby Whale!  I've been trying to get them listed for ages, but I've been too busy on Christmas knitting and sewing.  Better late than never, eh?  I hope the CPSIA doesn't make them extinct.
I also wanted to show you this ensemble.  Lydia dressed herself this morning.  Notice the pirate hat, the Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, and the upside-down skort (not sure how she managed that).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Unsolicited testimonial

Check out this post by my friend Maya at Springtree Road!  I love her blog - she takes the most beautiful photographs!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now what do we do?

We all know about the lead content and other problems with toys recently.  Something obviously should be done about it.  I've recently become aware of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed by Congress to deal with this problem.  But is this really the best solution?

This legislation looks pretty good at first glance.  The gigantic toy manufacturers should have no problem meeting the standards, and our children will be safer for it.  But the act requires testing by an independent third party, and most small toy manufacturers will not be able to afford that.  Even toys made of obviously safe components, for example, of wood and finished with food-grade beeswax, would have to be tested for lead!  Toymakers in Europe have been held to a very strict standard of lead content for a long time, and now I read that some are pulling out of the US market because it is not cost effective to pay to have their (very safe) toys tested to prove their safety.

With the threat of lead in toys, many families turned to smaller toymaking companies for their safer materials and uniqueness.  Personally, I like toys that are not plastic and not emblazoned with a character from a TV show or movie; I think it helps a child develop imagination.  But that option may be a thing of the past come February 10, 2009. 

And this is not limited to toys.  Anything marketed toward children, whether clothes, accessories, or whatever, will have to be tested.  My mind goes wild thinking about the possibilities.  How much will the cost of necessities like clothing that we have to buy for our children rise as manufacturers cover the costs of this testing?  What about sellers of vintage toys?  And my favorite places, consignment shops and thrift stores?  Will they have to test every older toy and piece of clothing before it can be sold?  What about Grandma making toys to sell at the church bazaar?

I sell toys on Etsy.  I don't have a huge investment in them, and if things go south I can always make something else to sell.  Or just stop selling and make oodles of toys and clothes for my own little ones.  But my heart goes out to those family businesses who will lose everything over this.  Do you think they will get a bailout?  Not likely.

If you'd like to read more about it, check out the Handmade Toy Alliance.  And if you are so inclined, please contact your congressman and respectfully suggest that he fix this.

Another note - My friend Maya found this link, and I didn't want it to stay hidden in the comments.  It lists some easy things you can do to help.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Opinion, please?

Wow, I just kinda dropped off the planet for a while there, didn't I? Sorry! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!

The last few days I've been tinkering around with the eyes on my owls. I hesitate to do this, because they are one of my best sellers as is. But some people think they look angry or scary. So with guidance from my artsy, anime-loving daughter, I've been experimenting with round eyes. That is the style I see in items for sale most often, so I suppose the 'great horned owl' is not quite as trendy as his rounder-eyed cousins at the moment.

Here's what we've come up with; an example of the old style on the left, the new on the right. I welcome your comments and suggestions! Do you like the old style better, the new style better, or do you think I need to keep working on it? I'm thinking the round eyes might need to be just a tad lower and the white part just a smidge larger. Thanks in advance for your input!

Shameless plug: Both of these guys are for sale in my Etsy shop, if you need a stocking stuffer!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

At last

I'm back to the land of the living, pretty much. Thank you for your prayers and happy thoughts! This was a bad, bad cold. Avoid it if you can.

I wanted to show you these mittens. Years ago, I used this pattern to make Lizi a pair of mittens. With cold weather coming on, I wanted to make a pair for Lydia. I let her choose the yarn, and she picked Peaches 'n Cream in Salmon Royale. The pattern is from the book Knit Something Special by Polly Pyne. It is long out of print, I'm sure, but it has several good patterns and would be worth picking up if you can find a reasonably priced used copy.

I like this pattern because of the unique way it is made. The entire project can be completed on two needles. The shaping and all the stitches are very simple (and therefore quick). Simple enough for a sick, medicated mama, even. The first photo shows a finished mitten, along with a mitten lying flat before sewing. I've also shown what was left of the skein of yarn, to show that one is plenty for the medium size at least.

Lydia loves her new mittens. Could hardly wait for me to finish the second one; she wore just one mitten around while I worked. I really wanted a photo of them on her little hands to show you, but the child hates, loathes and in every other way despises posing for photographs. This is her attempt to not let me see the mittens on her hands:
Pretty effective.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

view from the couch

love my trees...

love this yarn...

hate being sick.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


that's all.

Election day activity

I just wanted to share a little thing we've done every presidential election day with Lizi, and now with Lydia. After we go out and vote, we come home and print out a map of the US. Then, as the election results come in, we color in the states appropriately. I think it helps teach geography and time zones (but usually digresses into a discussion of our electoral system and how outdated it is). If you'd like to try it, you may find a printable map here.

And please go out and vote. Tomorrow I would like to be able to say "The people have spoken"; not "The media has spoken and the people mindlessly repeated in unison".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finally - a new project!

Or one I can show you, at least. The "recently completed projects" photos on the right have not been updated in a while, you may have noticed. That's because almost everything I've been working on lately has either been for the Etsy shop, or for a Christmas present. If you want to see my Etsy stuff, you can just go to my shop; and if I show what I'm working on for Christmas, well, that wouldn't be much of a surprise, would it?

But here's a fun new thing. Through a series of events that I will not take time to relate, we have an extra cell phone. My aunt doesn't have a cell, and could really use one. So she gets our extra. Since this is her first cell phone, I thought she needed a spiffy new cell phone pouch.

This one is the Swift Cell Phone Carrier from the book One-Skein Wonders, a great collection of patterns edited by Judith Durant. I added the stripes and the little leaf on the front. The yarn is the same as Lydia's hat, just because I'm totally stuck on that color combination. I wish it would show up in photographs as delightful as it is in person.

Hope she likes it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I normally don't serve sweets for breakfast. But this morning, I wanted a coffee cake. I didn't have a recipe for a coffee cake without hunting, so we experimented and came up with this. And boy howdy, was it good! I already have requests for it on Christmas morning. Here's the recipe, if you'd like to try it:

Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a dish or pan - this fit nicely into my pie dish. (Does that make it a coffee pie?)

1 c. flour (all purpose)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. oil

Mix the dry stuff together, then add the egg, milk and oil.

Streusel Topping

4 Tbsp. flour (all purpose)
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 Tbsp nuts, if you like

Plop this all over the top. I also had a little cream cheese, so I dotted the top with that also. Bake till it's nice and brown and bubbly, probably 18-20 minutes.

And see my new potholders? Our bank recently changed hands, and they had a big open house and gave away lots of freebies. I just love these - they remind me of the days when businesses gave away things that were truly useful. I can just barely remember feed sacks being made of pretty fabric, meant to be reused. I do remember dish cloths sewn into the end of flour sacks. I remember jelly jars pretty enough to use for glasses when the jelly was gone. Cool toys in cereal, juice glasses in all kinds of stuff, and Green Stamps when you checked out. Would that we still lived in the days when packaging was meant to be (and good enough to be) reused, not expected to be hauled off and recycled.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here are a few more links about frugal living - hopefully they will be helpful!

Judith's Cookbook for the Desperately Poor - my friend at Springtree Road found it! Yay! If the link doesn't work right away, try again later. Sometimes it's finicky with me.

Skillet Meals Master Recipe - Great for using up what you have.

Miserly Moms - The name says it all. Recipes and all other kinds of ideas.

Keep the comments coming! If you have a good resource to contribute, I'll post it here!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sad state of affairs

The economy. Regardless of how we got here or how we're going to get out, here we are. I know people left and right who are being laid off or at least cut back on their jobs. I drive around and see every manner of vehicle for sale on the side of the road. (Except motorcycles - people are driving those, because they don't use as much gas!) It seems to have affected everyone, in one way or another.

Things have changed a little for my family, mostly just that we try not to drive as much. Our belts have been about as tight as they can be for years - first from getting out of debt, then from building this house, and now from finishing the basement. And besides that, I am opposed to letting go of a dime if I don't have to.

So I thought I would take an opportunity to share a couple of internet resources that have helped us. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a start:
The Dollar Stretcher - Every piece of information about frugal living that exists, I think.
Hillbilly Housewife - Good low-cost recipes. Not all of them are as all-natural as we need, but they are definitely cheap. And besides that, many of the big recipe websites have low-cost recipes as well.
Dave Ramsey - If excessive debt is your problem, Dave is your guy.

There was a website 'back in the day' that I would love to include, but I can't find it. I believe the name was "Judith's Cookbook for the Desperately Poor." If anyone finds it, please let me know.

So speak up! How has the economy affected your family, and do you have any resources to share that might help someone else?

Friday, October 17, 2008

One more thing...

I've discovered an interesting equation during the basement finishing project:

so very tired, times (hammer plus board, divided by finger), equals OUCH.

I have never fainted at the sight of blood, but I very nearly did on Monday. I didn't even know a hammer could make a finger bleed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

random thoughts

Sorry I've been so busy of late. Between remodeling, traveling, sewing custom orders for the Etsy shop, and grading homeschool work, there hasn't been much time for blogging.

In case you were wondering, the October First Fridays went much better than the September one; I sold about three times as much. Then from Florence, the girls and I traveled with my mom and dad to North Carolina. We visited the Emerald Hollow Mine. We didn't find any emeralds, but we found some other "pretty rocks", as Lydia says, and it was good muddy fun. On the way back, we stopped at the Cherokee Indian reservation and took Newfound Gap Road over the Smoky Mountains. It was rainy, so the photos are not the best. But the whole trip was great fun and I'm glad we went.

I'll leave you with this: One of my favorite things this summer has been this jar on the back porch. When we walk to the mailbox or just poke around outside, we pick a few flowers to keep it stocked. I'm going to miss it this winter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Book giveaway

First, we're back from our trip, and it was so much fun! More about that later, I'm sure.

Check out this book giveaway on Springtree Road! I've not read the book before, but it looks adorable.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


*gasp!* Snow!

No, it's October. In Alabama. Moon craters?

Somebody spilled a bag of powdered sugar?

Oh. Sheet rock dust. Yay.

With dusty footprints leading upstairs. What fun.

Oh, that makes it better! Thank you, wonderful man with shop vac!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A month already?

Wow, has this month flown by. It's time for another First Fridays event this Friday night. So Friday morning, me and my girls and my critters and things will travel to Florence. (Chad will not be joining us this time - he's going to stay here and paint while little "helping hands" are away.)

I was really afraid I would not have much to bring this time, I just wasn't sure how many I had made and sold in the past month. But once I dumped them all out on the table, it doesn't look so bad. And even with the basement finishing going on, it would appear that we protected them from all the sawdust, liquid nails and sheet rock mud. Wish I could say the same for my floors.

If you'd like to see more information about basement refinishing, you can go to Chad's blog for his recent posts about it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"garden" chili

Finally getting around to this post. I just wanted to share one of the ways we have used our abundance of tomatoes and peppers this summer. I call it "garden" chili, because a lot of the ingredients come from our garden. Usually I use a seasoning mix, canned tomatoes and beans for chili, but one day I just decided to try it with our fresh tomatoes, peppers, onion, and canned beans and see how it turned out. We like it so much better, and it's easier on the heartburn too!

Here's how I usually make it, but of course adjust amounts to your taste:

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
A jalapeno or two if you have it, chopped very fine
Celery, chopped, to your taste

Brown this all together until meat is done; drain.

Now add:
6-8 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2-3 cans plain beans, not seasoned (for this batch, I used a can each of pinto, red and black)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer until it seems done to you, about 15 or 20 minutes. I like my tomatoes cooked until they are really... well, unrecognizable. And careful with the pepper - I usually add too much.

And of course, you have to melt a big ol' pile of cheese on top, right?


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost finished!

Lizi's only request so far for Christmas was for me to knit her a nice, thick, comfy pair of socks to wear in front of the fireplace. I let her choose the yarn, Lily Sugar 'n Cream Stripes. It is a cotton self-striping yarn, which has been neat to work with. There's not much controlling where the stripes fall from one sock to the other, but she likes it that way. The pattern began with the Arachne Sock Calculator, which is a very cool, free tool. It gives directions for a knee high sock, though, so I just started with the ankle and we like how it turned out.

And the best part is, they are almost done! I finished the first one Saturday, without even working too intensively on it. Most of the second was done while waiting for Lizi at karate class. I have to admit, I love yarns with different colors in them - it keeps me knitting to see what patterns or stripes emerge.

Happy Fall, everyone!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Today's lunch menu

basket of tomatoes from the garden on the counter
+ baby asking for tomato soup=
I mean, what self-respecting mother would say no to a child wanting a bowl of vegetables?

I've never been much of a tomato eater, so I was hesitant to grow so many this year. But we have put them all to use, and in some cases wished we had more. One of our discoveries this summer was this recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family, which I highly recommend. The tomatoes, pepper, oregano and basil are from the garden (and sometimes the carrots). It also needs some onion and 2 cups of white sauce. And of course grilled cheese sandwiches on the side. It is surprisingly easy to make; you don't even have to chop the vegetables perfectly, because you're going to puree them when they're done anyway. Yum.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

before the rain

Between what's left of Ike and our first cold front of the fall, it should be raining here in a little while. So before the rain, I went for a walk and snapped some photos to share.I love to look at mushrooms, almost as much as I love moss. These are tiny, and there are probably a hundred of them in one clump. Honestly, I didn't even notice the snail when I took the photo.
I love this land, this little piece of the Earth we call our home. Even though it's only 3 hours south of where we grew up, I am constantly finding wildflowers I've never seen before.
I don't even mind our current lack of grass, because it gives more space for them to grow.
MMMmmwwwaaaa ha ha ha... Apparently whatever is munching on my tomato leaves is playing a prank on me.
This oregano started out about April as a seedling. Now it has overshadowed the other herbs. It's almost 3 feet across; I had no idea it would get so big. The bumblebees love it.
I think this is called a surprise lily. It came with us from our old house. And our cat, Bilbo - I believe he thinks I'm taking the picture of him.
And here's the greatest discovery of my week. When we moved here, I thought we had wild grape vines growing all over the place. But a couple of days ago, I discovered they are muscadines! I wanted to get some started here anyway, so imagine my delight that they are already here! Some of these vines are as big around as my arm down near the ground. Unfortunately, I have to figure out how to get to them - the lowest ones I can find are still out of my reach, and most are about 20-30 feet up in the trees. I think I'll take some of the baby ones that are just starting out and trellis them. What fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hi, I'm Kim...

...and I'm a blogaholic. (Your line is "Hi, Kim")

Thank you for all the kind comments and Emails - they all meant so much to me. And please forgive my indecision. I've enjoyed my low-tech vacation, and hopefully the urge to check stats several times a day is out of my system. But I find I really miss having at least half of an adult conversation, in a day where there's usually... well, not much adult conversation. I probably will not be posting as often, and there might be some changes here and there. But I will enjoy your visits again!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tried out the blogging thing...

Over the past few days, I've come to realize that I have a tough decision to make. Homeschool has started back up again; the Etsy shop is picking up; I start First Fridays once-a-month craft shows in less than two weeks; plus all the usual cooking and cleaning and teaching and whatnot. And more and more, my friends, it looks like this blog has to go.

This is not a decision I have made lightly. I have enjoyed blogging, and in some ways I think it has filled a void in my life. But it has taken more time than I realized, and it is also easy to become addicted to blogging and checking your stats and trying to come up with something clever to say all the time. So it is with both a heavy heart and a sigh of relief that I say goodbye.

Thank you for reading; as I have said before, your visits make my day all the time and I will miss that. The blog will be up for a few more days in case you need to make note of any links or information contained here. After that, it will be deleted.

Thanks again,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Retirement gift

We have been at New Life for nine years now. On and off (mostly on) during that time, I have served in the nursery at least once a month, sometimes weekly. Recently we decided it was time for me to take another break. So at the last nursery meeting, our most excellent nursery coordinator Sylvia presented me with this:I think it takes a true friend to know that I prefer a bouquet of yarn over flowers any day! That's 6 skeins of Lily Sugar 'n Cream in 3 different colors. And then she topped it off with THIS:

A very extravagant Hobby Lobby gift card! WOO HOO!

Just wanted to show it off before it's disassembled. Maybe I should have retired a long time ago! (not really). Thank you, nursery people!