Monday, October 31, 2011

A Handmade Christmas {Week 5}

 Hello! Welcome to week 5 of a Handmade Christmas!
Have you started working on gifts yet? If you are I would really love to see or hear about your ideas!

Here are some of the gifts that we have completed recently:
Mara recently finished this cute cross stitch picture. She was given the kit as a gift and now is planning on giving the completed picture away as a gift. She totally enjoyed the process of working on it and now is busily doing another one.
The gift that I completed most recently is a pair of mittens for Mara. I was able to get the pair pretty much finished up while enjoying a few homeschool workshops on Saturday. I made the mittens using some leftover yarn from a ski hat that Mara had made for herself. I tried to creatively use the yarn so I would have enough and I just barely made it! It is always fun to be able to make something from scraps though.

When I make mittens I don't really follow a pattern, instead I have a guideline and then I make it to fit whomever I am making it for. Here are my basic guides:
  • Cast on stitches in a multiple of 4. For these mittens (to go on a thin hand) I cast on 24 (divided between 3 needles), for a larger adult hand I would use 28 or 32.
  • On those stitches I knit 2, pearl 2 around and around until I get the cuff as long as I want it.
  • Then I switch to plain knitting (and on these mittens I also added in 2 stitches) and go for an inch or so until I get to the place I need to make the thumb.
  • To make the thumb I put 4 stitches on a stitch holder. I then cast on 4 stitches to replace those and continue to knit the rest of the mitten.
  • When it is nearly long enough I start reducing stitches until I am down to just 3 stitches and then I pull the string through and knot it up.
  • Next I put the 4 stitches I had saved for the thumb onto a needle and then pick up 8 more stitches (4 stitches on each of 3 needles) and tie yarn on and knit around until your thumb is long enough and then reduce stitches and finish it off like the top.
  • Finish off all the yarn ends.
  • Make a second one so you have two!
I like to use double yarn as it makes it much thicker and warmer. Wool is always good too. To make stripes you just change your yarn whenever you want to change colors. If you have any questions feel free to ask!

So what have you been making? I am really looking forward to seeing what you link up! I so enjoy getting ideas from all of you.

I can't wait to see what you make!

-Please link up (by leaving a comment with your link in it and then I will add the link to the post by myself) a handmade idea that would work for a Christmas gift, decoration or for eating. :-)

-Please make sure it is family friendly.

- Please link back to this blog. I would love it if you also would display my graphic either in your post or on your sidebar so that others can learn about and join this carnival too.

I am not using the linky this week as it hasn't been working very well for me anyway but I would really love to see what you are making. Please leave the link in the comments and then I will put it in the post for everyone to see!

Please visit.....
  • Zimm's Zoo where she tells about making cute fancy gloves for little girls and slider headbands.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The World was not Worthy of Them

This fall the kids and I have been working on memorizing Hebrews chapter 11. That chapter is such a great reminder of the importance of faith and just how what is really important is not what happens now but rather what happens for all eternity.

  There is one section that makes me rather choke up with emotion nearly every time we go over it. I think part of the reason it has been affecting me so deeply is because of our daily reading from The Voice of the Martyrs. There have been people since nearly the world began who endured suffering for Christ's sake (That was something we found very interesting in Hebrews 11:26- Moses endured disgrace for Christ's sake even though in human terms he lived before Him) and there are many people still doing it today. We are very blessed in the country we live in to be able to worship freely and without persecution but reading about the experiences of others and memorizing God's word on the issue is very strengthening to our faith and to our resolve to live for God no matter what!

Here is God's Word:
Hebrews 11:32-40
 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets,  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—  the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

May you be blessed as well as you think about the examples we have to look up to!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A hodge podge of happenings

I have not been posting very often this week- I dont' know why that sometimes happens, I just get busy doing other things I guess.

  Anyway in my goal of getting organized before the new year this week I was working on going through clothes here at our house as well as trying to keep my newly cleaned inbox, clean. I haven't been perfectly successful but it is still much better than before.

  As far as working on clothes, first we did laundry on Sunday and Monday (Monday is my normal day for laundry but I also had a meeting, cleaning, homeschooling and piano lessons that day so I decided to get a head start) to get everything ready for sorting.

  Tuesday was Aaron's birthday and since we were focusing on that and doing other things I didn't get much done on that day. Wednesday was the day I really went to work. We pulled out all the clothes from all the kids' dressers as well as the ones in boxes in their closets. We went through them all, getting rid of things that were to small or not liked (We ended up with a bunch of boxes of these!), putting those that needed mending in a pile, putting those that needed to be treated with oxygen bleach in another pile and separating some to be made into rags or rag rugs.

  I am always amazed when I go through our clothes at how very blessed we are. We do so very, very little clothes shopping- and we don't spend much money on them but we always have an abundance! God is so very good!

  On Thursday I besides homeschooling and household duties in the morning I worked on listing a bunch of clothes and other things on the barter site and then answered all the questions that came up there. I was amazed at how quickly Megan's old clothes were snatched up. I still have to meet people but I have arranged to get things like peanut butter, butter, nuts, soap, a hula hoop (for rug making) and tennis shoes for Aaron and Mara in exchange. I am pretty happy about that!

some of the stuff I bartered.
 On Thursday afternoon we went out to my parents for a while as my older sister and family had come up to visit. We were back out there again today for the whole day. Fun times with family! I feel so blessed that both of us homeschool and are able to have a flexible schedule.

  Today while out there visiting I brought along some things to work on. First I cut out patches for about a dozen pairs of jeans (I haven't mended in a while!) and pinned them on. Hopefully I can sew them soon. Then Anna (my sister) and I cut out a dozen pairs of mittens which I will sew up later. I am making them for a fundraiser. Then a bunch of us (My sisters, sister in law, my mom, my daughters, nieces and I had fun making some of the flowers that I told you about on earlier this week.
Here is some of what we made. I wish I would have taken pictures of some of the others that were made. They were pretty cute! This picture doesn't allow you to see the neat detail on the dark ones- sorry!

   Tomorrow (actually today now- I guess it is getting late!) I am going to do something I think will be fun- I am going to a Homeschool Mom's day. It is in a small town nearby and there is a Homeschool Mom and Speaker coming who will present 3 interesting sounding seminars, we will have lunch and have opportunities to spend visiting. I am planning on bringing my knitting along to keep my hands busy and am really looking forward to this fun day of spending time with other homeschooling moms.

  If I have any extra time tomorrow I would love to accomplish a bit more on my project of organizing our clothes. On my list of things I would still like to do are:
  • Go through winter gear (coats, snow pants, boots, ice skates, mittens, hats and scarves). Get rid of things that don't fit or we don't use.
  • Go through shoes and polish and care for the ones that we keep.
  • Go through my clothes - I go through these more continually than the kids but the drawers could still use arranging and I think there might be some things I should just get rid of.
  • Mend!
If has been a fun week of going through things and trying to get things fixed up around here. I hope your week has gone well too! Do you have any tips for keeping clothes organized?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Handmade Christmas {Week 4 and a giveaway!}

 Welcome to week 4 of A Handmade Christmas! I had fun creating this week and I am hoping that you may have been creating too! If you have please tell me about it in the comments or link it up below!

 My creating this week involved the mess of things above- some scraps of wool, beads, buttons, glue and other odds and ends. Resulting in some fairly quick prettiness! I had fun and then the girls came and joined me and had fun too.

  I was making little wool flower pins (or barrettes). These have become pretty popular, I see them stuck on purses and bags, clipped in the hair, attached to a hat and then also in the normal spot where a pin is supposed to go- the a lapel or shirt. They can look rustic or elegant and they are a lot of fun to make! Not long ago we had been out shopping and Mara and I admired some that we had seen at a store in town, we thought they were pretty but found their $12 price tag to be a little steep and I wondered to myself if they actually sold. The clerk wandered by and I didn't tell him that I thought they were expensive but just admired them and he said they sell like hot cakes! I guess others don't think $12 is too much.

  There are many different types you can make and since I have been keeping a little idea gallery going in my brain from all the different ideas I have seen online I just enjoyed being creative and using a bit of all the ideas I have seen.

To make a pretty and simple rose without any sewing needed (I used hot glue though you could use needle and thread if you wanted.) you simply cut a circle (5-5 inches in diameter) and then cut it in a spiral. This does not need to be perfect. I also cut out a leaf shape.

 Then started with the outside edge of the circle strip, roll it up (the outside of the circle becomes the middle of the rose), gluing as you go along.
 Then you take the little piece from the middle of the circle and glue it over the raw edges on the bottom.
 For this pin I decided to use an old Home Depot pin and so I then glued the flower and the leaf to that pin. Sometimes it comes in very handy to be a hoarder! :-)

After it was all glued together I decided to glue a few little "pearls" to the middle of the rose just for an extra special touch.

I also just cut out some flower shapes (I designed them using a compass, Mara's recent use of it in her math reminded me of it's usefulness) and sewed three of them together with a wooden button in the middle.
 This one I decided to make into a barrette so my next step was to glue and then also sew it on (I am hoping it stays!).

To make another multi layer wool flower but with a different look, I just cut out circles (not worrying about whether they were perfect or not) and then I snipped their edges to give them a raggedy look. I sewed them tightly together with a button in the middle, added a leaf on the underneath and attached it to a pin.
We decided to make Megan something special while she was down helping me. We covered a plastic hoop that comes in the middle of my florist tape with ribbon and then put a one layer wool flower with leaves and beads in the middle. She is quite happy with her new bracelet.

And then I strayed from my wool usage and pulled out some scraps of brocade. I also pulled out an old campaign button- I have quite a few of those and was looking for something to do with them!

 The flower below was made by a strip of cloth, an old button, a bit of ribbon and a little bling in the middle.  You make a knot at the end of the cloth, glue it in the middle of the button and then while twisting the fabric you glue and wind the fabric around from the middle to the outside. I followed a video tutorial which I found at Wonder How To.

 Fabric flowers are each so unique and fun when you made them out of odds and ends of scraps.

Here was what I made in an hour or so:
I am going to give one of these flower pins (or the barrette), pictured above, away to one of you! Just leave a comment telling me which one you would like. You may have additional entries (leave a comment for each one) if you link up a Handmade Christmas post and/or if you follow my blog using google friend connect.

 More flower making fun:
I can't wait to see what you make!

-Please link up a handmade idea that would work for a Christmas gift, decoration or for eating. :-)
-Please make sure it is family friendly.
- Please link back to this blog. I would love it if you also would display my graphic either in your post or on your sidebar so that others can learn about and join this carnival too.
 If the linky tool doesn't work (there have been issues in the past) just leave me a comment with the link to your post in it and then I will put it up in the post myself. Thanks!
And it doesn't seem to be working..... Anyway, check out this post which is full of ideas:
~Kristin @ Gypsy Junk


 I had mentioned a while back that I was trying my hand at making vinegar. When I did someone commented and asked if I could share more information on that. Well I still don't know if I am a successful vinegar maker or not as the vinegar making process takes months but I thought I could at least share a little more about what I am doing and also share some links that I have found.

 I believe it was the book "Preserving with Honey" that really made me think that I might actually be able to make vinegar. The book (if I am remembering the right title- it was from the library and I no longer have it) made vinegar making sound pretty simple. Then I read in Carla Emery's book "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" about it as well. Reading there also made the process sound pretty simple but then Carla said that she had never actually been able to successfully make it. So... maybe it will work, maybe it won't. I don't know yet.

 Here is what I did so far:
  • I took some crab apples and apple cores and covered them with water and heated them on the stove.
  • I then strained out the juice and placed it in a glass bottle. I used dark ones if possible but then I also used clear ones when I ran out of the other.
  • Then I covered them with some cotton fabric to allow the air in but to keep the bugs out (and I will add that the fruit flies are quite attracted to this process!).
  • I then put them in a cool and fairly dark place (a shelf in my pantry) where they will get to sit for the next 4-6 months.
During that time the are supposed to turn to wine and then on into vinegar. I will say that they are getting a nice (?) winey smell going in there. It was a pretty simple process- now just to see if it really works!

Here is some more information that I have found on vinegar:
Have you ever made vinegar? I would love to hear about your experience!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Some of the beauty I have been enjoying.
Baptism has long been an argued over subject. I am not quite sure why. As with any spiritual subject I think our best solution for finding an answer is to go straight to the Bible and see what it has to say on the subject. So I am not going to talk about what I think today but I will share some verses from the Bible that I do think are important:

Mark 16:16 NIV “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 2:37-39 NIV  “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 22:16 NASB “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

Romans 6:3-5 NASB 3 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.”

1 Peter 3:21NASB “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

Galatians 3:27 “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”


May you be blessed as you study His word!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Very easy leggings upcycled from knit shirts

My Meggie girl loves to wear skirts. I don't mind as she looks cute and feminine and I like making skirts too. However, when our weather starts to get cold (which it has been- though today is beautiful!) her legs can get cold so easily just wearing skirts. She doesn't always seem to notice a coldness but it bothers me. :-)

 Tights are nice to wear with skirts but they get wrecked fairly easily (the thin ones get ruined really easily) and we don't get them as hand-me-downs usually so they are something we have to go out and buy. I don't mind doing that some but for everyday wear it is nice to find a cheaper alternative. Thankfully leggings are pretty trendy right now AND they are easy to make! I found some ideas on line for re purposing knit long sleeve shirts for that purpose and we tried it this week and found it to be quite easy.

 First we cut the sleeves off of an old shirt. These would work for the legs. Then using another old t-shirt I got the area needed for her bottom.

 We sewed them all together, added elastic to the waist and elastic lace to the ankle area and they were done. They look rather funny just plain but sticking out under a skirt they look rather cute- I think anyway. 
 They would look even cuter if we had a skirt that they matched- I guess we weren't thinking that far. Maybe I shall have to make one or maybe I will just enjoy the eclectic look. At least her legs are staying warm!
 I would have made them all out of one fabric except the problem was that I had already used part of that skirt for an upcycling project. Earlier this year I used it to make a cute onesie dress. I didn't really matter though as the top part of the leggings aren't supposed to show anyway. I have seen this shirt to legging idea a couple of places on line but most recently I saw it at Make it and Love it and she does a great job of showing you how to do it if you want to try it too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A more organized life and home

This week my friend Jackie over at Blessings Overflowing started a series called "Countdown to A New Year- 11 weeks to a more organized life and home." Jackie invited everybody to join her in this goal of getting organized before the new year. That idea definitely appealed to me as I am feeling the need for some more organization in my life and I love having a goal to shoot for.

 Jackie is posting at the beginning of every week telling us what she is working on for the week and then she has been updating on her facebook page with the goal of encouraging others and staying accountable. This week she is working on doing 15 minutes of Bible reading every day. I think this is a wonderful goal! More scripture reading has been a huge goal of mine this year as well and I am feeling very blessed because we have been able to up our amount of reading this year and it does seem to have become a habit. Yeah! Since this is a habit for us already, I am seeking to keep it going but this week I decided to choose something else to work at getting organized in my life.

This week I am working at cleaning out and organizing my e-mail inbox. This is often a cluttered area of my life and one that needed work. I have made a lot of progress and hope to get it all cleaned out by the end of the week and then I will try to keep it that way!

Here are some other things I hope to work on before 2012:
  • Getting our clothes all sorted, organized and weeded through. Right now it feels a bit out of control in the kids rooms.
  • Food organization- more menu planning and freezing ahead.
  • Picture organization both on the computer and in albums.
  • Birthday card and present organization.
  • Homesteading journal.
  • Homeschooling record keeping/ organization.
  • Redoing the kids chore lists and responsibilities.
  • Craft supplies organization.
Those are some of the areas that I have thought of that I know need working on. Lord willing I will be able to make some progress! I will try to share anything that might be interesting as I go along!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Handmade Christmas Carnival {Week 3}

 We have been having some fun times with creative pursuits lately. Harvesting has slowed down dramatically and we have a little more time to work on projects. That is pretty nice since we are wanting to make gifts and things. I hope you are finding some time for project making as well! I can't wait to hear about or see your ideas!

  I tend to do a lot of sewing when I make gifts,since for me that is a fairly fast and easy way to make a nice gift, However I know not everyone sews and also it is fun to have a little variety so my project today has nothing to do with needle and thread.

  Carving has been something we have really been having fun with this fall. We are a very long way from experts but improvement is being made. Jonathan has now made several gifts and I have not so subtly hinted to the boys that I would be very open to receiving wooden spoons (hand carved!) or a pestle for Christmas or my birthday (which is also in December).

 Here are a few of the things that have been made around our house so far:
A wooden knife that Jonathan made for Aaron's upcoming birthday.
The boy's arsenal of knives! Their Uncle Luke made the one in the middle,
it is quite treasured and it has been the inspiration for many more knives.
Jonathan made the ones on top and Aaron the ones (including a little spoon)
on bottom.
My project- A Spoon. It is so far from perfect but I am enjoying using something that I made myself.
It does really work too!
  If you would like to try out carving you might find someone around you that can give you some tips or you might check out the library for some books to show you how. Our library had a large collection of books on carving- though the majority of them where showing how to make intricate and beautiful birds.

Here are some links that you might find useful if you are interested in carving:
That is what we have been doing- now how about you? I would love to have you share either by commenting or linking up a post you have written.

I can't wait to see what you make!

-Please link up a handmade idea that would work for a Christmas gift, decoration or for eating. :-)
-Please make sure it is family friendly.
- Please link back to this blog. I would love it if you also would display my graphic either in your post or on your sidebar so that others can learn about and join this carnival too.
You might enjoy seeing the ideas from the other weeks:

We are having some issues with the Linky working very well. I am not sure what is going on. Anyway- go ahead and try linking up using it but if it doesn't seem to work just leave a comment with a link to your post and I will try to add all the links to this post manually. Thanks!

Here are the links:
Zimm's Zoo (Pretty pens, hair bows, ruffled onsies and build-a-fort kits)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ketchup, Spaghetti Sauce and creative activities

 Hello! How is your week starting out? Ours is going pretty well!

Last week we did some final canning. I think it is probably the last but it always hard to tell for sure.

In my canning I tried something I had never done before- Ketchup. It was one of those things that I didn't feel a great need to do as I figured it would be time consuming and ketchup is so inexpensive to buy. But since we had lots of tomatoes and since I have been doing more reading of labels lately (and trying to stay away from things that don't sound healthy) I decided to go ahead and give it a try.

 The method that I used (and I found the basis of my recipe here, though I had to alter the spices, I didn't peel my tomatoes, I used honey instead of sugar and I added some beet puree- thanks to Mara's suggestion- to make it nice and red since I had used some yellow tomatoes) went pretty smoothly and ended up seeming pretty like normal ketchup to me. Jonathan loved it and asked me if he could eat it by the bowlful - I declined. Ken's verdict was that it needs a little improvement- he thought it tasted a little to tomatoey.
 I don't know if I will make ketchup every year but it was fun to try this time!

 After I had made the ketchup using up all the ripe tomatoes we had at our house my Mom called wondering if I would want any more tomatoes- theirs were ripening fast (in their garage where they put all the green ones when we got frost) and she was tired of working with them (and had already done a bunch). I said "sure".

I decided to make Spaghetti sauce with these tomatoes. I have tried spaghetti sauce in the past but didn't like all the cooking down that you have to do to make it thick and we also don't care for runny spaghetti sauce. In my making of ketchup I had come up with a new method that eliminated a bunch of that boiling down and so I decided to apply it to spaghetti sauce too.

My method was this:
 After washing the tomatoes I would then cut them in half (or quarters) and then take them in my hand and give them a squeeze over a bowl. The majority of juice and seeds would then come out.
 Next I would cut them into small chunks and put those in a pan. When I got the pan pretty full I then pureed them using my handheld blender. That makes it so the skins aren't even noticeable. I am not sure why I have such an aversion to peeling things (especially apples and tomatoes) but I guess it seems like a waster of time and valuable food.
Since I had squished out much of the juice into the other bowl, the stuff in the pan was already somewhat thick. I then added the other stuff (like garlic, onion, green peppers, salt and herbs) to it and then I did bring it to a boil and then lowered the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for around an hour before putting it in jars and water bathing them.

 I found this a much quicker method of making fairly thick sauce and it didn't waste so much electricity either. I think I will do this again!

 With the extra juice that I had squished out into the bowl I took that and strained the seeds out, added salt and herbs, heated it up and canned it for drinking. I thought it made quite a tasty tomato juice. So much nicer to be able to use it rather than just make it go up in the air as steam.
The spaghetti sauce
Now that the canning is done we have been having fun turning to other creative pursuits. I am enjoying the changing of the seasons.
 Whittling has been a common activity around here. Come visit here again tomorrow as I will be talking about using things you carve as Christmas presents.

 We have also been enjoying sewing and I often find Mara sitting with cross stitch in hand. I so enjoy seeing my kids use their time in a useful and productive way.

  Today knitting was the main project of the day. My sister Keren was over and was wanting help in learning how to follow a knitting pattern and wanting to try doing a cable stitch. I had fun helping her and then soon found I had a whole line-up of students!

Aaron giving it a shot.

Megan preferred to "do it her own way".

Mara made some good progress.
Everybody but Jonathan joined in, he thought he would stick with carving.

Those are some of the fun things we have been enjoying on our homestead lately. How is life at your place going?

Don't miss out on my current giveaway of natural dish washing detergent.


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