Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crochet Fail & Recycle

Here lately I have been on a streak of, not quite craft fails, but more like missed targets. I am in the middle of an ideas swarm, but the second I reach for supplies, the ideas collide and leave me dazed and not quite in control of my hands. At least, I think that is it.

But you can usually salvage the cra(p)ft for some future endeavor, when you are able focus your crafty Zen, young Grasshopper.

What started out as a laptop cover and got tossed aside because there were too many ends to weave in and I was not happy with the color scheme (you should see the new one - it's not much better). Ripping it apart would have left me with a bunch of little strands that I could use as scrap or I could leave it alone and wait. I am glad I waited because once I seamed the side together it made the perfect cozy for the kids toothbrushes. I am debating embellishing the side with a monster face, but I kind of twitch at the concept. Then I try to think of the things I would have thought were cool as a kid and I think I might go ahead with it. They are only young once and when they grow up, your toothbrush cozy can too. Until next time. ~ OP

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dry Shampoo

Did you try the No Shampoo Alternative I posted about? What do you think? I am still using it and LOVE it. I want to tag on a couple of things that might be helpful. A) I have really short hair so the amount I use will probably last a little longer than for those with a crop longer than a couple of inches. 2) It takes some practice since the mix is thinner and runs everywhere. Take your time and enjoy the scalp massage. D) I now have to wash my hair daily. Or do I?

I used to keep a can of dry shampoo lying around for the days in between a scrub, but hated the waste that came with it. It also tended to leave a powdery residue in my hair for the first hour or so. My first solution was to mix baby powder we still had lying around with some baking soda and throwing that in my hair. It was a mess, but I got decent to similar results as the can of dry shampoo. Well that's cool, because at least I get the same thing without the cost and waste. However, what happens when the baby powder runs out?

Well, I read the ingredients and decided I could make my own without any added chemicals to the powder and no extra bottle in the recycle bin. You will need:

  • An old spice jar with sprinkle cap
  • Baking soda
  • Corn starch
  • Lavender or other essential oil, debatable
I didn't use any real science or measurements and mixed the dry stuff, in the jar, roughly 1:1. If you have essential oil, add in about 10 drops. Cap it up and shake the mess out of it. Make a pretty label for it if you have kids, husband, or anything that might get into something it shouldn't. Use in between regular hair washings.

  • Shake gently and go slow. Use your clean fingers or a comb to distribute evenly.
  • I have light colored hair so the powder is not noticeable for the most part. It is usually absorbed in an hour. For those with dark hair, maybe put it on the night before or in plenty of time before you have to go to work. You could also try spritzing it with water to speed things up (I have not tested this).
  • I only use this on the parts of my hair that really need it to save time, money and eliminate the little cloud emanating from my head if I sneeze.
Let me know what you use at home or if you have any tips for a squeaky clean, green alternative. Later ~ OP

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

She Talks To The Moon

She might be 500 years old or just turning 5, but she is offspring of the Cosmos, of this I am sure. I wish this darling Old Sol the happiest of birthdays today and many more to come. ~ Love, Mommy

Friday, May 25, 2012

Notes From the Week - May 25, 2012

-Birthday party for Boober this weekend. She will be 5 if you can believe it. Making these decorations. Scratch that...Michael's does not have what I need.
-Totoro up there is replacing the Gabba gang for her birthday since I mistakenly deleted the pattern and am still waiting to hear from the seller. I hope she likes it.
-Marshmallow Poppers - Dude!! Game on. 
-Happy birthday to Tenacious E!!
-Poem/Excerpt - This is a good summation of my spiritual inclinations, but only a summation.
-Weaving in ends trick - Major crochet duh here. I abhor missing the obvious.
-We all make a difference - Little things we can change to help reduce waste.
-Eeep!! - I think I know which plant markers I want to make.
-Girly Fun - Smells and polish. 
-Children's Books - I love De La Noco's suggestion to put these on your coffee table in lieu of the standard 15 pound tome.
-Landlord Survey - He also offers an exhausting, although necessary, list of questions to ask your future landlord.

Looking forward to the long weekend - full of plans, of course. And heat, as the standard goes around the Lou. ~ OP

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Succubus and Succulents

Cthulu and Sponge Bobbi

I am the succubus in this tale, slowly (and sometimes rather speedily) draining the life out of my succulent plants. Normally, I am growing moss on my thumbs, they are so green! But gimme a plant that doesn't need me and I'll kill it.

I really have no idea what I am doing wrong. I have managed to keep an aloe plant and Cthulu up there alive for several years. I have read about the proper care of desert plants. I wait until their loose soil/sand/rock bed is dry before I water again. So where is the disconnect?

I read they needs lots of bright light. I took them outside the past couple of days to give them some sun and I know for certain the aloe hated it, but my uncle has those plants outside at his house all summer. Sponge Bobbi seemed fine, but today she looks a little more wrinkled. It makes me nervous.

Succulents are terrific plants, however, I am just not sure they belong in my care. So I have some questions for you based on your experience...

1)  How much and what kind of sun/light do most of these guys need? Some growers mentioned using a grow light to supplement in the winter.
2)  How long do you go between waterings? Wait until the soil is dry? Leave it dry for a few days?
3)  What kind of soil do you use? All rocks? A mix?
4)  Do you ever take yours outside? If so, do you need to harden them off for a bit?

If you have any other tips let me know. I would like to get more of these guys once I learn how to make them thrive. ~ OP

PS - I promise to share some crafty stuff soon and a pattern for May.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Healthy Mommies are Happy Mommies

At the finish line and Boober cheering me on

I can officially run 3 miles. All at once without stopping. That is something I never thought I would do. Running did not interest me until after I had already decided I was not a runner. After I started reading other blogs regularly, I began to notice that many bloggers are also joggers. What's up with that anyway? They described their beginning adventures in jogging and exercise and I thought, "Well I can do that."

I have always liked exercise and the feeling that comes after a good workout. I have not always been good at keeping up with routine fitness, but I knew I could conquer that too. I always felt those people who maintained their weight and kept up with exercise were masters of time management and had superior drive. They don't always...ask them. I don't either, but I know there is not much in the world that I can't do without a little effort so I tried running. Again. For real this time.

What did I change? My attitude adjusted first (see above). Also, I am moderately competitive and don't want other blogger/joggers showing me up. If they can run - so can I. I realized, too, there are certain things you need to do to become proficient at running like get a decent amount of sleep, drink fluids, and pay attention to your technique. Now that I know how to run, I don't dread it. Instead of feeling wasted at the end of a jog, I feel strong and ready for action.

The benefits. For me, my mantra is "Keep it moving." It doesn't matter if I don't run everyday or do 50 push-ups. It matters that my body moves often (throwing punches, squats, extra trips to the basement for laundry, etc). When I do, my family notices a happier mommy. I notice her too. The kids and husband are also getting excited about moving around more. Bud wants to run a 5k with me. Boober keeps up with my jumping jacks and stretches. This in turn keeps me more motivated and able to outlast them at the park. No huffing and puffing out of this Mom. Not to mention, my body is starting to take on a leaner silhouette. I am pretty cool with that. ~ OP

Monday, May 21, 2012

Market Fresh


I haven't been to the Farmer's Market in several years because I used to work every Saturday morning. It always made me sad that I couldn't try all the yummy produce and support the local farmers. Now, the game has changed and I plan to spend as many Saturday mornings at the market as possible! I might even ride my bike there.

Kale and Radish

One of my favorite things about open-air markets is the community and people you run in to. Everyone is pleasant and I usually meet someone new when I go, as well as old friends. It's a great atmosphere to wake up to.

Asian Orzo
This was the first time I have seen the pasta stand there. I didn't know what to do with my taste buds. I could barely decide which noodle should come home with me. I plan to try a new one each week!

I am looking forward to the egg stand being there and maybe taking home some bread next time. I would really like the kids to go and see what they think, but this week was a little slice of heaven just for me. ~ OP

Friday, May 18, 2012

Notes From the Week - May 18, 2012

-Boober is officially no longer a preschooler.
-I am running my first 5k tomorrow.
-I am loving having Friday's off with Hubble. I plan all this work to get done, but we end up kicking back and it is a great way to relax.
-Natural Ant Bait - Placed these on my porch because the ants are colonizing in the mortar. Thank you April and Faith of EarthDance for the link. So far, it is working.
-Exercise at the office - I used to do stuff like this all the time at work and I always felt better at the end of the day. My favorites are toilet crunches and throwing punches (abs and cardio, baby!)
- The "Rescue Pack" song on Go, Diego, Go is incredibly distracting. I can't focus when it plays, except on its penetrating calypso beat. I have no idea why my daughter likes that show.
-Dealing with Perfectionism - A little lengthy, but a good read.
-Natural History - a poem. I had trouble picking this week.
-Gluten Free - Looking forward to more from Jenn's blog. Practical and honest advice that can be applied to things other than gluten.
-Beneficial flowers for the garden - Might throw some of these seeds next to the garden.

Did you have a good week? Mooches ~ OP

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reclaimed Concrete

Quite literally, in fact. My brother, once upon a time resided with us, and used these jagged blocks as pavers for his vegetable garden. They have been making a nice home for bugs and probably snakes in a corner of the yard since he moved out...several years ago. I offered them back to him last weekend and thought "Maybe I could use them?" I know. I am a total "degifter", but they look pretty awesome lining the ends of my bed and it got me thinking about all the materials you can get for free with some creative searching. Plus, who wants to spend money on a fountain with a cherub in it that all your neighbors have? Or the geese you dress up? Oi vey, the geese...although, if I ever find a free one, I might have to upcycle it into a garden dragon .~ OP

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It Wasn't Ambition

No, indeed, I thought we purchased three varieties of tomato. It wasn't until we went to pop them in the ground that we realized there were four plants of each variety. This is in addition to the 36 tomato plants at Chateau LaBeaume.

I wonder if the Roma, Brandywine, Beefmaster, Big Beef, Rainbow Cherry, and San Marzano plants like each other or are they clique-y and prefer not to intermingle? Too bad, because there will be more than we know what to do with and chances are they will have to shack up together in the fridge whilst awaiting their demise. Perhaps they could form a brotherhood? ~ OP

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Persnickety Poppies

  • As of yesterday, when I snapped this photo, I still only had one very lonesome sprout. I can't get the damn things to germinate and I followed the instructions precisely. This is not my first go-round with Oriental Poppies either. I have tried them out several different seasons with different methods and they never establish.

  • As of today, I am thrilled to report several new sprout-lings reaching for the sun. I hear that once you get these poppies going they are unstoppable. I would love to have an entire field of poppies! Has anyone else ever tried to grow these? Any tips? Mooches ~ OP

Monday, May 14, 2012

Notes from the Week - Mother's Day Edition

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! I spent the day working in the yard amid the beautiful weather. Oddly, we had no family functions this year, but I am so grateful for the work we got done yesterday. I can't wait to show you. Last week's links and musings...sorry I missed you Friday.

-I made the necklace up top for a friend. I might also try this one.
-Lavender is cut and propagated. I hope it works and will keep you posted.
-Making these with the kids -  although we don't really use sugar in this way. Let's give them away!
-Harvested my first veggies of the season - choi, rabe, and kale - and they were delish!
-Simple happiness
-Time to buckle down and structure my day a little more so I can work AND play.
-I might submit an upcycle project to MAKE today. If I do, I will share with you.
-Eagle Poem 

My mind is finally catching on to the fact that it does not have to operate in the corporate realm for the time being. I wasn't very Zen last week, but hopefully most of the adjustment period is over. ~ OP

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Accumulation and Decluttering

Decluttering is at the top of my project list now that I am home full time. I have slowly been tackling little nooks laden with crap for a few months and our home is starting to breathe. It feels good to know we can live comfortably with so much less. It is also less embarrassing when friends pop in, although currently I think every surface in the house is under something (because I am cleaning it out!)

I love organization and detest jumbled piles of anything. I have read a lot of advice on clearing out physical clutter and have never considered myself a hoarder. I am, however, a procrastinator and despise waste, so I unknowingly became an accumulator. I still have a long way to go to usurp our wasteful possessions, but here are some general rules that help me get rid of the excess.

  • Touch everything once - Deal with an item the first time you touch it. Don't set it down and come back to it. Put it away the first time you have it in your hands.
  • Find a permanent home - Ever heard everything in its place, and a place for everything? If something in your hands doesn't have a home, find one immediately or get rid of it. (see first bullet point)
  • Start small - Clean up little spaces first so it is not overwhelming trying to decide if you want to keep something and where you want to keep it. Eventually, you will have a whole room that only has things you really want in it.
  • Get on the internet - Sign up for your local charity's junk pick-up emails and they will notify you when they will be in your area. All you have to do is let them know you need a pickup and leave it on your porch. Ebay, Craigslist, and Freecycle are also good resources for unloading your unwanted things and maybe recouping some of the costs, but I typically bypass these because I just want it gone and don't want to have a meeting with someone for every item I post.
  • Don't bring it home - Now that our budget and needs are different, I scrutinize every purchase to make sure it is truly something we need and cannot make ourselves. This alleviates unnecessary fiscal and physical waste, not to mention the time it takes to buy it, bring it home, store it, maintain it and maybe eventually get rid of it again.
Make your home yours. If you love stuff and it doesn't bother you to see unused, material items all over the place, than by all means keep them. That's better than a landfill. For my home, I am trying to strike a balance between having pretty things that aren't very useful to keeping, maintaining, and repairing the possessions that will keep our hive humming efficiently. I do like "things", but I am learning to discern between what I actually need in my home and what I can just look at on the internet. ~ OP

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Easter Egg Upcycle

Every year after Easter, I go through our plastic eggs, removing broken or unmatched pieces. While they could easily go in the recycle bin, I remembered my daughter wearing them on her nose as a baby by holding the shell in her mouth. Not willing to carry an egg in my teeth all the time, I strung up the orphaned pieces to make costume noses.

You will need:

  • Smaller hole punch
  • Plastic Easter eggs
  • Scissors
  • 24-36 inches of yarn (or the elastic that ties new shoes together works great!)
  • Optional - craft paint and brushes

1) Use scissors to snip any plastic nubs or rough spots.

b) Punch two holes in half of an egg, equally spaced apart. If you need to widen the hole a little, punch another hole that overlaps the first one.

 3rd) You can use a needle if you want, but I just twisted the end tightly, added some saliva and threaded that puppy through. Tie at least two square knots, close to the ends, so it doesn't slip through the holes. Repeat for the other side.

IV) Snip your yarn circle in half. If you use the elastic, you won't need as much length and can keep it intact so it just stretches around your noodle (I prefer this).

Z) Add some painted noses and whiskers for extra fun or just wear it plain. You get bonus oxygen if your eggs have the little holes already in the bottom too. Enjoy! ~ OP

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No Shampoo Alternative

I recently went off the sauce in an effort to find a cheaper and greener alternative to haircare. That's right, I am shampoo free friends! And it works. Simple Mom lays it out for you on her site. I am just going to tell you how much I love it. Sooooo........let's make a list!

a) It's dirt cheap people. 1 Tbsp baking soda + 8 oz water + recycled container = I don't know really. I forgot how much the baking soda costs, but I know it wasn't more than $4 and there are a bajillion tablespoons inside. One bottle full lasts me about 10-12 days.

2) It's good for the earth so it is good for me. No guilt washing this down the drain.

iii) My hair feels great. I have fine, thin hair and oily skin so I have to wash daily, but shampoo always left it feeling stripped and thinner, thus more susceptible to an afternoon sheen. Conditioner doubled that effect while weighing it down. This mix, however, just cleans my scalp and roots and my hair feels like it has some heft to it. I can run my fingers through it and it feels like there is actually some hair up there.

G) Don't take my word for it - try it for yourself. Most likely you already have everything you need to make it. Or better yet, listen to Jenn. She is trying it too and her hair is super thick. She says "Used apple cider vinegar tonight with the baking soda and I am LOVING my hair. I know it's only been a few days, but I now fully believe thick, long hair does not prevent one from giving up shampoo."

Let us know if you try it and what results you get. I will keep you updated on mine since I just started, but I think I am fully sold. ~ OP

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where to Begin?

First day not on "the job". What to do? Where to start? The honey-do list is already a mile long and a wrench conveniently thrown right on top of the plans. Normally, I would bite off more than I can chew. Still a possibility - I get hungry. To avoid a full tummy, we are going to break our 3 big meals into several smaller ones. Little projects that fit into the open pockets of time that spring up unexpectedly. I will start with a meal plan and full pantry and keep an open mind and move flexibly through the day. I should probably also stock the liquor cabinet. At least while I adjust.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Notes From the Week

  • Ran 2.8 miles yesterday and 4 consecutive nights this week. Legs are begging for mercy less often now. Taking tonight off.
  • Temps are rising, so the run is sticky now. Kind of ick.
  • I have a new friend in the garden (see pic). What should we name him?
  •  Upcycle Inspiration - I need a Twister raincoat
  • The annuals are slowly making their way into the ground. The tomatoes look great. The watermelon needs a home. Bud's Zinnia seeds are up. That's an understatement...they are bursting to life. Still no word from the Poppies or Johnny Jump-Ups.
  • The best way to learn.
  • I am going to try THIS because I would love to have a lavender patch for cheap.
  • My favorite poem this week - Making a Bed
  • I think I may keep more of my plants with a little potting update. So cute.This is also fun.
Looking forward to a less busy weekend. It should help me get ready for my new home! YES!! Peace ~ OP

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slow to Churn

I have to finish these by the end of May. No exceptions, but my goodness, I may never buy another pattern again. Plex's body had to be ripped out and I will come up with my own dimensions for that part. It's the little things in this pattern that are not there or not where they make the most sense, causing a lot of re-work, which considering me how long I have been working on this, I really don't have time for. Oh well. Boober is getting pretty excited to see them all finished and I will be glad to move on. You probably will too. Now I need to go find Muno. ~OP

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Heart Patch

Here's a quick and easy way to patch up holes or just add some quirky love to your clothes, extending their life and leaving the cash you'd spend on a new piece in your pocket.

You will need:
Old T-shirt or upcycled fabric
Fusible webbing (all I had on hand was the tape version)

1) Find the sleeve or side of fabric that is already folded in half. Trace half of heart with the center of the heart on the fold. Make sure it is large enough to cover your tear.

B) Cut out and trim edges.

iii) Hopefully, you will have a full sheet of fusible webbing, instead of tape to make this easier. Either way, cut it out to completely cover the wrong side of your patch.

4) If your webbing does not have a backing, then place the webbing and patch over your hole and iron on. If it does, you can iron it to the heart first and then your garment.

C) Let it cool. If you want you can embellish with some chunky whip stitches to make it more patch like or let it ride. The chalk will wash off in the laundry.

It should be flexible enough to stretch with the fabric and protect those knees a little longer. ~ OP

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Counting Down

Saturday is my last day of employment. I am excited at the opportunities this will open up for me and my family. I am excited to do important work full-time. Some of you may know that I tried staying home full-time after my daughter was born. I was watching another infant for extra income and it was an emotional disaster. I had no idea how to make the most of my time at home. I had the new mommy blues at times, and was bored to tears (literally). We had no flexible plan for the inconsistencies of life and no financial framework. We were late on one house payment and I went back to work part-time. Then, there was no way around it.

But now, we are going to try it again. And we can do it. For one thing, I have adjusted my attitude (biggest step) and believe in our abilities to make the most of this change. Secondly, I have been practicing frugal and sustainable habits to stretch our dollars further. We save glass jars to store homemade yogurt and stock. I am learning about canning and preserving. We are working an organic garden this summer. I am making green cleaners and now I look for ways to make everything I use myself. I am still learning and practicing, but it has made this switch much more seamless. The last thing we did was a flexible budget. With this in place, I put in my two weeks and feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.

Saturday at noon will be bittersweet because I enjoy the people I work with, but nothing can replace the value I can now bring to my family everyday. ~ OP