Eli’s First Haircut

Eli has been looking more and more shaggy as of late.

I wasn’t sure how we were going to get his hair cut as he is always on the move and he is very wary of people he doesn’t know. He completely freaks out when he has to have his head circumference measured during his well child check ups, so I thought having a stranger go after his head with a pair of scissors might be more than he could take. This past week I snuck up on him from behind while he was otherwise distracted and manage to cut off the curls forming at the back of his neck. Not very straight or even but at least they wouldn’t be causing the tangles when his hair is washed any longer. The front however… not so easy to sneak up on him when it’s the bangs that need trimming.

Today I saw that the Supercuts was empty when we had finished our grocery shopping. On a whim, since there would be no waiting involved, I decided to give it a go and see how he’d do.

It went pretty well! He looked like he was about to cry the whole time and whimpered a bit, but no actual crying. I held him on my lap all the while and held his hands so he wouldn’t try to grab the scissors. I wish I had a picture of the experience but with no camera and hands otherwise occupied it wasn’t to be. He squirmed a fair amount as one would expect, so the bangs are rather uneven, but they look so much better than they did hanging in his eyes.

Next up? We really need to attempt the first visit to the dentist.

Wish us luck!

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Handmade Rabbit Ornament

My husband and I went to the county courthouse to apply for our marriage certificate it on a rainy day in late Spring. After completing our errand we were walking around the town talking even though it was sprinkling and getting dark. Ahead of us on the sidewalk and in the yard were a few brown wild rabbits. Amazingly they didn’t run off as we walked up to them. One even stood up on his haunches and sniffed my hand. It was a thrilling moment for animal lovers such as ourselves. We joked about what sort of symbolism this might have regarding our upcoming marriage. At the time, and all the way up to my pregnancy, we had planned on adopting so fertility issues weren’t something we were seriously considering.

I made this ornament for my husband the Christmas just before Eli was born (when I was 7 months pregnant.)  I actually had already made another ornament for him that year, but this one came to me in a dream on the night before we were to exchange gifts. Luckily it was very quick to make.

It is just two layers of felt. There are one ear and hind foot on each layer, and one layer also has the front paw. I blanket stitched them together and around the single layers, and then embroidered the mouth, arm and haunch details. Then I sewed on the glass bead eyes and cotton puff tail. I embroidered his name (erased for the photo) and the year. Finally, I strung together glass beads to make the hanger.

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Greeting Card Ornament

I saw a tutorial at The Space Between Blog where Karah made Christmas tree ornaments from her wedding cards. I have been saving the birthday cards Eli received for his first birthday this past year and thought this would be a great way to use them. I think I will do this every year. It will be fun to pull them out and remember as the years go by.

First I took out the cards and traced a circle around the part I wanted to cut out.

I was bummed not to ba able to use this handmade card from his cousins, but 3D wouldn’t work here.

Then I cut out the circles which I then folded in half.

The resulting half circles were then glued together to form the two halves of the ornament.

Before gluing the 2 halves together I glued in the ends of the ribbon hanger.

Here it is hanging on our tree.

I like how Karah’s ornaments look with the glitter on the edges of the circles. I will probably end up doing that too, but I have to buy the glitter first!

This project is a quicky. I think it took me about 20 minutes start to finish.

Baby Sleep Sack from Quilt

This was one of the first quilts I attempted to make. It contains a mixture of new cloth (some bought in thrift stores) and cloth from worn out clothing. I had been making it for a young cousin, but it contained so many flaws that in the end I could not bring myself to give it. I stopped working on it just shy of finished  and packed it away in a box where it has sat forgotten for the last  seven or eight years. I pulled it out over Thanksgiving and decided I should either bind it or get rid of it. The flaws that bothered me before bother me even more now, but I hate to waste something potentially useful so I decided to make a baby sleep sack.

Here are directions if you would like to make a sleep sack of your own. If you find any of the instructions unclear, feel free to contact me for clarification.

Get a sleep sack  and fold it in half. Trace onto freezer paper. You could use a shirt and freehand draw the sack part but I wasn’t sure how large to make the sack part. Add seam allowance to the shoulder the side edge and the bottom. I added 1/4″ out of habit. I would suggest at least 1/2″ due to the thickness of the quilt. This is the back piece. The edge going down the center will be placed on the fold when cutting the quilt fabric.

Now for the front pieces. Use a new piece of freezer paper. Trace the shoulder and arm hole. Make a mark where the front neckline falls. Remove the sleep sack from the paper and draw a slightly curved line from that mark up to the shoulder.  Put this paper on top of the back pattern piece and trace the sack line. Add a seam allowance to the center line this time.

Place your back pattern piece on the fold of  the quilt you are repurposing. Iron it down so it won’t slide while you cut. Pin it to keep the folded layers together. Cut it out. Repeat for the front piece, but this time place it a little bit off the edge of the fold and cut all the way around. You will now have 3 pieces.

This jacket was fairly new, but the sleeve had an unfortunate encounter with adhesive that couldn’t be remedied. Originally I was going to use the zipper, but I’ve never done a zipper before and feel a bit intimidated. I found this strip of snaps around the collar to use instead.

I cut it out,  put it alongside the middle edge of one of the front pieces and marked the point to which to sew the seam from the bottom up the front.

Sew the center seam to that point. Here is where I wished I had larger seam allowances. I wanted to sew the seam open on each side and continue sewing the fabric folded over all the way to the top. This wasn’t possible so I trapped the raw edge under a strand of ribbon on each side of the front of the sleep sack and stitched down both sides of the ribbon.

 

On the front side attach one side of the snap strip. One edge was already finished so I turned it over and sewed the cut edge down. I also folded down and sewed the raw edges of the top and bottom of the strip.

 

The black snap strip looks rather ugly on this pink and purple sleeper so I wanted to cover the top snap strip with matching fabric. I took some cloth from one of the side borders of the quilt.  Trim the top and the bottom of the snap strip so that they line up perfectly with the other side. Put the snap strip and fabric right sides together and stitch up one edge. Fold the fabric around the back side of the snap strip. Fold over the fabric on the top and bottom of the snap strip and pin. Sew all the way around all 4 edges of the snap strip using a zipper foot to ease by the snaps.

 

Fold over the remaining raw edge twice and press. Snap the snap strips together. Sew down the long edge of the snap strip flap to attach it to the front to the sleep sack.

Pin the front and back pieces of the sleep sack right sides together at the shoulders. The photo shows pins all the way around, but I ended up having to remove pins from the sides to be able to work on the shoulders.

After sewing the shoulders cover the seam on the inside with a strip of knit material. I sewed on a piece cut from an old sweatshirt then trimmed off the excess.

 

Now pin the sides and bottom and sew all the way around from the bottom of one arm hole to the bottom of the other. Use a walking foot as there are many layers of fabric and batting here. I found I needed to go slow, remove pins before the walking foot reached them, and tug the material gently to release any little tucks beginning to form.

Turn it right side out. Almost done!

Now cut a strip of knit material to bind the edges around the sleep sack’s arm and neck openings. A 1″ width strip cut from the bottom of a large t-shirt worked well for me. It was just long enough to bind all three openings with the one strip. I sewed it around the arm opening and then cut the excess instead of measuring lengths. Lay it alongside the edge of the sleep sack arm opening and stitch it down with 1/4″ seam allowance. Once you cut off the excess length fold in the end. Turn the sleep sack inside out. Fold the fabric in through the arm opening, fold the edge under and pin all the way around. Sew it down on the inside. Follow the same process for the neck opening.

   

Here is the finished binding.

While sewing up this sleep sack I found a couple small tears in the quilt. I cut out two heart shapes from the white t-shirt and sewed a patch with embroidery floss to cover each hole.

   

Finally, the finished sleep sack from a repurposed quilt!

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Corn Pudding Recipe

Corn Pudding has long been a Thanksgiving dish in my family. Whenever I have brought it to share at other Thanksgiving gathering I’ve always had at least one person request the recipe. With Eli having a dairy allergy I was feeling a bit sad that he won’t have this as part of his holiday tradition (unless he outgrows the allergy- fingers crossed!) as it has evaporated milk. But then I got to thinking, was it possible to find a substitute for the evaporated milk? After a little Googling I found my answer.

Frugalliving.about.com says that

“Evaporated milk is simply fresh milk that has had about 60% of its water content removed.”

So if I use his goat’s milk powder, but only reconstitute it with 40% of the water called for, shouldn’t that work? As my husband likes to say,  “Only one way to find out!”

The Original Corn Pudding Recipe
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cans creamed corn
1 T. vanilla
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1/4 c butter, melted

Mix the cornstarch into the milk, then combine all ingredients.  Pour
into a lightly greased casserole dish. Place the casserole dish in a
larger pan containing water. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour or until knife
inserted in the middle comes out clean.

I made a few other changes to the recipe this time around. I only had one can of cream style corn, so I slightly blended a can of whole kernel corn with a bit of cornstarch for the second can. I decreased the sugar to 1/2 cup (actually, it is still pretty sweet, I think it could be decreased even more) and decreased the amount of butter (or in our case Smart Balance) a bit. We really don’t use much canned food anymore since learning about the dangers of BPA. I’m wondering if next time I can make this with frozen corn, thawed and blended with a bit of cornstarch. Any thoughts?

Final verdict on the goat’s milk substitution? Not quite as good as the original but still worth making. Eli ate it but didn’t seem super enthused. He hasn’t been eating so well lately anyway though, so I’m not sure it was the best timing for an accurate taste test.

Here’s where I’m linking up: (Please see my Linky List for active links.)

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Vinegar vs. Dead Rat

Soon after moving into this area my husband and I picked up some pamphlets at our local library about the region’s flora and fauna nuisances. We got  quite a chuckle out of the one titled Roof Rats: Unnerving and Unnecessary. For time to time we would speak of anything not quite to our liking as “unnerving and unnecessary.” But lo and behold, we found that when the colder weather sets in here in Southern California (believe me, I know the term “colder” is relative!) the roof rats began to invade our home. I don’t like using traps that poison or bring the critters to a violent end, but I also don’t want to share our living space with them. We tried a variety of strategies and finally have had great success for quite a few years now using Riddex. It’s that “as seen on TV” gizmo that you plug in and somehow it uses the electrical wires make your place less hospitable. (My experience ordering Riddex from the company was beyond annoying, being forced to listen to over 20 minutes of advertisements for other products before being able to place the order among other inconveniences, but the product has been worth it.)

rattus rattus, image via Wikipedia

We live in a 4 unit condo however, and it seems my neighbors do use poison. It also seems that rats in their death throes don’t find Riddex quite so deterring and will crawl into our space before expiring. The first time it happened was just a couple weeks before Eli was born. Here I was getting everything ready to receive our newborn when a most putrid odor began seeping into the central hallway. It took me a couple of days of odor ripening to realize what exactly it was as I searched frantically for the source. Once it funk was identified I called our handyman, and then an extermination company to try to get someone out who would crawl up under the eaves and remove the noxious fiend. Nobody would come, and it was explained to me that most likely it was somewhere within the walls and the only way to find it would be to start ripping holes in the walls until it was located. The exterminator went on to explain that the rat wasn’t even certain to be right in the area where I was smelling it. All we could do was  wait for the rat to decompose and dry up and the smell would eventually dissipate. While this was not what I wanted to hear. (Who wants to have to live with THAT, especially with a baby practically en route?!) Thankfully nature had taken its course and the smell was gone before Eli was born.

Fast forward 21 months… yes once again that unforgettable smell is seeping into our living space. This time it is mostly in Eli’s room. We use that room mostly just to store his clothes, change his diapers and for his nap. Lately I just hold my breath before dashing in to get clothing from his closet.

Then two days ago came the appalling realization that  the stench had begun to ooze out into our living area. I decided to just put a bowl of vinegar in the room as I considered what else I might do. I have used that as a means of odor removal for a long time, but for smaller odors in the bathroom and kitchen, usually in enclosed spaces, such as garbage pails, or a “new” used refrigerator that came smelling of rotten meat. I didn’t expect it to be all that effective in this case, where I’m not really even sure of the location of the source of the problem.

But wouldn’t you know it… it WORKED! I can now go into Eli’s room with out nausea or breath-holding. And how inexpensive! I love a frugal and green solution!

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Lovebirds Wreath

I had so much fun making this wreath for my Etsy shop. I can’t wait to share the process with you. All of my materials were things I had on hand other than the wreath form.

I was going to use an old bed sheet for the fabric, but I found a piece of muslin left over from a long ago project and I liked the off white semi-speckled color better. Tear your fabric into strips a couple of inches wide.

Attach the end of a strip of fabric to the wreath form with a glue gun. Wrap it around the form and tack down the end with another drop of glue. Attach the next strip and continue until the entire wreath is wrapped.

 

To make the nest take a few pages out of an old book and cut into thin strips. Scrunch up the strips to form a loose ball.

Cut a small circle of fabric to use as a base. Spread hot glue over it and press the paper ball onto the glue.

  

Find a couple of sticks that appeal to you. I glued one to form the branch for the nest to rest on and placed the other in the position that seemed best to me.

Glue the nest onto the wreath.

Now it is time to make the birds. I like to draw the pattern for each bird freehand so that they are a little bit different from each other. Here is what a simple bird pattern looks like. (Note, this notepaper is 4″ x 6″.)

I did see a bird pattern here from Spool Sewing that can be printed out. I didn’t print it out myself so I’m not certain about the size. You could reduce it on a photocopier if need be.

Sew your birds and stuff them. This fabric came from one of my favorite shirts that is no longer wearable. I used buttons for the eyes of one bird and beads from a broken hair clip for the other.

 

Glue the bird into the nest.

Glue the other bird wherever it looks best to you.

Now it’s time to add a bit more texture and decoration. I wound some twine around part of the wreath, and added a few beads attached with glue.

 

Attach some method of hanging to the back. I used a bit of leather cord knotted at the ends and glued.

Update: I found that gluing the branches and hanger wasn’t enough. I went back in and sewed them onto the muslin with invisible thread for added strength.

Thanks for reading!

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Tell Me About Yourself Award

I was shocked this week to find that projects I linked up were featured on three other blogs! The Elfin Hat was featured at Artful Rising and at Creative Itch. The Handmade Christmas Ornaments were featured at The Grant Life.  Kelley (of The Grant Life) also awarded me the Tell Me About Yourself Award! Thank you so much!

Award Rules:

1. State 7 things about yourself.

2. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers.

So let’s see, 7 random things about me:

1. I am a Christian. My faith is very central to who I am.

2. I have a tendency to get obsessed by things. My current obsession is getting this blog established. I’m having to try to be disciplined at keeping my life in balance. Before baby I could get consumed by something, but it just doesn’t work that way anymore 🙂

3. I’m a pretty disorganized person. I will never win the Good Housekeeping Award!

4. I love to bake. especially for the holidays.

5. I’m head over heels in love with my husband and little boy.

6. I sometimes snort when I laugh.

7. My husband has told me I have had conversations with him WITH MY EYES OPEN while asleep. I’ll be speaking out of a dream so it is pretty nonsensical. I have no memory of it in the morning and I didn’t know I did this until I was married. I guess it’s pretty freaky.

Now for the fun part! Here (in no particular order) are the 15 blogs I choose to pass this award on to:

1. Grasping for Objectivity

2. Harvesting Kale

3. Inder Loves Folk Art

4. OrloSubito

5. ReMade Simple

6. think liz

7.a stitch in lime

8. Bare Maked

9. DIY kinda girl

10. Ode to Inspiration

11. The Whimsical Wife

12. Tmuffin

13. Mom On Time Out

14. diy home sweet home

15. Becoming Sarah

Elfin Hat for Newborn

Here is another Elfin Hat… this time in newborn size!

I made it from a discarded sweater. A larger hat from this same sweater can be seen here. The tassel is made of strips of thin knit fabric, each strand knotted at the end.

It would work great for that newborn photography session!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a tiny one to model it. (But if I did I’m sure there would be no new Elfin Hat at the moment!) Eli’s white bear was willing to lend a helpful noggin.

  

If interested you can find this hat in my Etsy shop, FolkHavenCreations.

Family Photos

I have always hated having my photo taken. Sitting in front of a camera I feel awkward and ill at ease. Over the years I’ve taken a few that would be worthy of contributing to the Awkward Family Photos website if I ever unearth them. (But do I really want those pictures of me floating around in cyberspace for the rest of time?) I have learned to just accept that at times pictures must be taken and if I really don’t like them I can choose not to look at them or share them much.

Now that we have a child there is more reason to get family photos taken with greater frequency. Last year we went to a department store studio. The pictures with me in them felt plenty cringe-worthy, so we chose one of just the photogenic Eli for the Christmas card.

Sears Photography, 2010

Sears Photography, 2010

This year my husband felt we should really use a family photo for the Christmas card, as it is no longer Eli’s first Christmas. So back we went to a department store studio. Eli has changed a lot since last year though. He is much more active, and quite wary of strangers. Not a good combination for a studio session. The stuffed bunny used by the photographer to elicit a smile brought forth tears and fright instead, and it all went downhill from there. We left without any photos to show for our efforts.

An acquaintance at church Mary Hurlbut,  is a photographer so I spoke with her about our dilemma. We made an appointment for a photo session with her using the church courtyard and alleyways in that neighborhood as a setting for the photos.

The first thing Mary did before we began was to say a simple prayer asking God to help her capture images of our family that will show us the way He sees us. What a wonderful thing to pray! I felt myself immediately relax.

We began with a few shots of me so I’d have a profile shot for this blog and for my Etsy shop.

Then we moved on to the family shots. Instead of trying to get Eli to sit nicely (which he NEVER does, even in the best of circumstances) for a carefully posed shot. She followed him around as he explored the things that caught his interest, instructing us how to jump into the frame and arrange ourselves around him.

Eli loves to play on the stairs.

Being tossed by Daddy!

Climbing on the fence.

Always on the go.

He is constantly on the move and she had her work cut out to keep up with him. Much of the time she was a bit out of breath! Instead of seeming annoyed that he can be a bit of a challenge to capture on film, she seemed to really enjoy him. What parent doesn’t like to see another person appreciating the little things about they so adore about their little one?

A hand full of stones.

Cell phones make him happy.

Hello!

The end result is a profile photo that does not feel like a necessary evil (I actually think they are some of the best photos ever taken of me), a fun photo for our Christmas card, and many other pictures that wonderfully capture our family at this stage in our son’s life. I would not hesitate to recommend Mary to anyone else in need of a photographer. She is a joy to work with, and she takes photographs that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Thanks, Mary!

Mary also has a blog where her most current post features some seriously breathtaking nature photography.

All photos in this post are by Mary Hurlbut Photography, unless otherwise attributed.

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