Monday, July 23, 2012
Well friends, the time has come for me to move on. In case you hadn't noticed, I closed my etsy shop for an extended vacation about a month ago. This summer has been so busy and life is so full of other things that need to be made or sewn or knitted, that making things to sell didn't fit in anymore. I'm not sure when or if I will get back to Junie None Designs, but I haven't closed the shop officially yet. I can't quite bear to do that. I have had TONS of fun finishing up my scads of personal projects - so far I've finished a knitted cowl, basted a quilt, and figured out how to free-motion quilt on my ancient Bernina. All things I've been wanting to do but haven't had time to because of finishing up custom orders. Thank you all so very very much for buying my little hand made items - each sale and custom order was an absolute thrill for me.
I started this blog as a way to promote my shop and it kind of morphed into a chronicle of the crazy things we get up to here on the farm. And I've loved it - it has been a good exercise in finding the positive side of everything that happens, even the boring, gross, and downright terrible. And I'm not going to stop writing. I'm just moving. You can keep reading about my attempts at farming on my new blog, The General Farmer. I really REALLY hope you join me over there. It is weird starting a new blog - it feels like walking into a room full of strangers after spending years in a room of people who've known all your deepest secrets. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but you know what I mean. I'd love to hear some familiar voices over there. Thanks so much for reading all my silly stories and I'll see you at the farm!
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Here is my fourth Swoon block - finished a few weeks ago. It is really surprising me how fast time is passing by. This is my first "real" end-of-the-school-year experience, since Moses is finishing up Kindergarten. There is so much to do, and I mean that in a good way. Field trips, teacher gifts to make, lots of volunteering for fun things at school, and no more homework means all kinds of other fun stuff after school. And of course Father's Day to figure out. I love all these things, but it has left me with little time to sew. Tonight the hubs is out of town, so I am getting out my stack of Swoon fabrics and cutting like a mad woman as soon as I click the publish button on this post. I think this block is my favorite so far - I can't get over the gold and gray, it just looks so cool. I've decided I like the lighting of these photos; it reminds me that it took hours to make the block and I finished it just as the sun was deciding to go down. Tonight's block (if I finish it) will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm off to cut!
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
This year I seem to be making small steps towards being a successful gardener. The two things that have helped are really good gardening books, and really good gardening friends. This year I followed my friend Jessica's advice and planted peas in February, even though I thought she was crazy. Well, sure enough, those guys popped right up in spite of the cold and we now have more peas than I know what to do with. This being my first year growing peas successfully, I didn't do much planning. I basically put most seeds in the ground hoping they will germinate and not get eaten, but never look ahead to what I will do with the full-grown plants. Apparently, this is what a bed of peas is supposed to look like:
Mine looks like this:
Not too pretty - I'll save that for next year. I jammed some cheapo tomato cages amidst the rangy plants and kind of smoosh things back where they belong as they get too out of hand. Happily, the peas don't seem to care that they aren't pretty - they are producing like gangbusters!
One of my great gardening books is a book I picked up at the second hand book shop called Country Skills - the main reason I bought it is because of the chapter about how to "put up" your harvest - she tells how each one can be best preserved, and apparently for peas, the best way is to blanch them and freeze them. I would have never known to blanch my peas before freezing them - this preserves their sweetness better than just popping them in the freezer. Today the boys helped me do a batch - after picking and shelling, we dropped the peas in boiling water for 1 minute, then into ice water to cool them off. A few paper towels to dab off the water and into the freezer they went, to be cooked later.
A few other cool gardening facts about peas: Pea plants are "nitrogen fixers," meaning that they put nitrogen into the soil rather than leach it out as most vegetable plants do. Basically they fertilize the ground as they grow, preparing the soil for a healthy crop of something else next year. If you are lucky, you can also cut down your spent pea plants leaving 2 inches above the ground, and they will come back, offering you a second crop later in the season. I'm not sure I believe I can do this with my lackluster gardening record, but I'm going to try. Then after your second crop, rather than pulling the plants out of the ground by the roots, just cut them down at dirt level, leaving the roots to add more nitrogen to the soil. They will break down over the fall and winter and you will have a nice bed of healthy soil next spring. Pretty great!
As for what to do with your peas, my all-time favorite pea recipe can be found here, courtesy of my friend and blogger/vegan cook extraordinaire Kristy. It is sweet and smokey and a sure-fire way to get your kids to eat kale, because they will definitely eat the soup. If all my new-found knowledge about peas wasn't enough to get you to plant your own next year, one bite of this soup will. Happy gardening!
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Here are pictures of my second and third Swoon blocks - taken in the evening light, which is why they look kind of funny. After making these I decided enough with the brown and green and bought more golden/orange fabrics. I'm hoping for a mostly yellow and gray color palette, but I'll toss in these green and brown ones to break things up a bit. I'm still using mostly Flea Market Fancy fabrics, but I can't resist adding in some other things as well.
I actually finished up a fourth Swoon last night but haven't had time to take pictures yet. We are having some bizarre rainy weather here now that it is June - my poor garden! I managed to germinate some okra seeds this year and was excited to watch them grow in our "hot dry weather," which is apparently all they need to do well. Who would have thought it would become cold and wet now that those little tropical plants are thriving in the back yard. Huh. Anyways, I'm plugging away at this quilt and very determined to actually finish it before the summer ends. Happy Tuesday!
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Yesterday we got a call from my sister-in-law's dad saying he had found an abandoned turkey nest with two chicks in it. My dad and brother hurried over there and found not two, but SIX tiny baby turkeys huddled down in a hole in the middle of Bill's field. Since we recently graduated our fresh batch of chicks from their brooder to the coops, we had the perfect set-up to bring the little chicks home! They are really young - you can tell by the fact that each one still has a tiny egg tooth on the tip of its beak (those usually fall off a week or so after they hatch). And they are definitely wild. Whereas our baby chickens have been handled since the day they hatched and are pretty used to being around people, these guys have probably never even seen humans before. Whenever we go to the brooder to peek in at them, they immediately freak out and run around cheeping and crashing into each other, then all go to a separate corner and jam their heads down like little ostriches putting their heads in the proverbial sand. It reminds me of playing hide-and-seek with really young kids who think that if they just close their eyes you won't be able to find them. Here they are in their corner:
And since I already had sawdust on my camera, I figured I should take you on a mini tour of the other chickens that fill my life. This is one of Crazy White Hen's chicks - we successfully moved them from the barn attic to their own private space where they can enjoy fresh air and sunshine. She is a good mama and actually pretty trusting of the kids and me even though she is still pretty wild. She lets us get really close to her babies as long as we don't try to touch them. They are curious little guys - this one was playing peek-a-boo with me from the other side of his feeder.
And then there are our adolescent hens - these are the ones we mail-ordered a few months ago. They have passed through their ugly phase and are now little versions of the hens they will grow up to be. This year I put my foot down and insisted on naming some of them myself (I finally got tired of my animals being named after male basketball players and Lego Ninjas). This is Fiona - she's my favorite (don't tell the others). Annie and Buffy proved too difficult to photograph.
Here's Flapjack (I obviously lost the name battle on that one). I actually can't believe I just wrote an entire blog post about chickens - I used to hate chickens and thought it was just plain weird to get attached to them. But here I am - now who's the weirdo?
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Well I just couldn't help myself. Yesterday I sewed up my first Swoon block and I am so excited about how it turned out! This thing is big - 24 inches square, and I completely lost track of how many hours it took me to cut everything out and sew the block together. But this is one of those blocks that never got boring - every little step was fun. This looked so pretty on my sewing cabinet I thought about leaving it there, but then remembered the little people running around with dirty hands and quickly whisked it away to safety.
Rather than using white I used unbleached muslin - I like the natural look of it and think it complements the grays and browns of the Flea Market Fancy fabrics really well. If you look really closely you can see that I had to do a little bit of weird piecing to make that golden fabric work. I had just enough fabric, but had to sew little scraps together in the end to get my last few squares cut out. I call it pioneer piecing. :) Now it's on to the next block and my favorite part: figuring out what fabrics to put together!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I just got some Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt in the mail (from Fabric Shoppe - LOVE them!) and as I was dropping each lovely fat quarter in the washing machine, I kept thinking "Swoon." What is a Swoon, you ask? This is a Swoon:
1. swoon, 2. swoon, 3. Swoon-four blocks completed, 4. Swoon Quilt, 5. swoon block, 6. Swoon Block, 7. Swoon in flight, 8. Swoon, 9. may block
I love how this block is both old-fashioned and modern at the same time. There was a "Swoon Along" going on at some point but I have totally missed that train. I'm ok with that, though. I kept trying to tell myself that I already have enough unfinished quilts lying around waiting to be basted and finished up (um, make that 4) and another stack of uncut fabrics along with my dream of the quilt it will become, but I just couldn't help myself. I bought the pattern (only $8 and it is a pdf so you get it right away!) and am already thinking about color and fabric combinations. *sigh* I'm cursed with the it's-more-fun-to-design-and-plan-a-quilt-than-it-is-to-finish-it disease. I think the reason I'm excited about this is that the last few quilts I've made have all been in the same color family. Lots of maroon, pink, blue, turquoise, and grey. There will be plenty of grey in this quilt too (I can't help myself!) but I'm loving the fresh change that the green and orange bring in. Plus, now that I've finished the do. Good Stitches quilt, there is all this empty space in my sewing cupboard just begging to be filled up again with a new project. Hm, maybe my husband will read this and understand. I know you do. :)
Monday, May 21, 2012
These are my blocks for the do. Good Stitches quilting bee - they will make up our May quilt. Such a simple idea and a clever way to use up little fabric scraps. I think the finished quilt is going to be lovely, don't you? I keep meaning to get outside with my (borrowed) camera to take pictures of the garden. For the first time in 11 years of gardening I have a really productive garden. Nothing about gardening has come naturally to me - I now have a library of organic gardening books which I consult before planting every vegetable. Seems there is more to gardening than sticking seeds in the ground and hoping the varmints don't get them. I've been mixing up fish emulsion and stirring in bone meal, turning the rotting vegetables into the compost pile and all kinds of other stinky organic things, and it is paying off. Hooray!
Spring has also brought us a wealth of new chickens. A few months ago I picked up a box of 39 day old chicks at the post office, which were divided between us, my dad, and my urban-farmer friend Jessica. Then we noticed that 4 of our hens had gone missing. After last year's baby chick surprise, we figured they were off sitting on secret nests of eggs, and so far we have been right about two of them. Crazy Red Hen laid a clutch of eggs in an old box in the garage and hatched out one baby chick. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that if you are going to hatch out a baby, don't do it in a box in the garage. Her sister, Crazy White Hen laid a clutch of eggs in the attic of the barn. We only discovered her there because Brett thought a rat was scrabbling around up there and barged in on her ready to attack. Fortunately the intrusion wasn't enough to convince her to leave her nest, and she has hatched out two super tiny little blonde chicks. So far so good on those little guys, but I'm not sure how she is planning on getting them down from there, or how she was planning on feeding them. As it is, I have to make sure she is supplied with food and water since they are not on the ground to find these things themselves. *sigh* Needless to say, my chicken chores have vastly increased. After I make the usual check of the old flock (food, water, gather eggs, make sure no eggs have been eaten, socialize a bit), then tend to Egg Eater Hen (she is quarantined since when she is with the other hens she eats their eggs), I check in on our mail-order chicks to feed and water them, play with them to ensure they grow up gentle and friendly, and make my way to the garage to make sure Crazy Red Hen hasn't done anything, well, crazy, and try to cheer her up with a handful of scratch. Then I scale a precarious stack of scrap wood and tools into the barn attic, heave up the floor board under which Crazy White Hen is nesting (and I do this at great personal risk, since she is ready to attack me at any minute, being unaware that I am the only thing keeping her and her babies alive) to give them food and water that I have hauled up with me. Yes, all of this is done with a 6 and 3 year old in tow, asking questions all the while. I love having baby chicks but sure wish we had some functional mothers taking care of them. I have more and more appreciation for those homesteading women - taking care of a farm is hard work!
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I made this soup tonight, courtesy of Martha Stewart. It was delicious, but best of all, every ingredient was harvested from home. The peas and lemons came from the garden, the stock was home-made, the eggs from our chickens. It feels so great to live off the land! We paired the soup with open-faced trout sandwiches; the trout was caught by my father-in-law a few days ago. A fresh, delicious spring dinner and a nice way to wrap up a sunny weekend.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Can I blame my blog neglect on the fact that I've lost my camera? Hm. I'm sure you've been just as busy as me - it seems like spring brings a huge burst of activity every year. I've been working on lots of custom orders (the photo above is of a plush mini blanket I made - I had forgotten how fun those are to make!) and finishing up my first quilt for do. Good Stitches:
I posted the photo of the pieced front of this quilt months ago and have been feeling guilty every since for not finishing it. I'm sure I broke some sort of quilting bee rules by taking so long to finish it. I do love how it turned out - and it is huge! Last night we gave it a test run (before washing it of course) and Brett, both kids and I all fit under it comfortably. I'm excited to send it off to the charity we support. Here's the back:
I was determined to use only fabric I had on hand, which is why it looks kind of disorganized. But I'm happy about how it turned out. I'm already excited about my next turn to head up our quilting efforts - I'm in charge of the June quilt. And I promise I won't take so long to finish it this time!!! I have all kinds of sewing ideas rattling around in my head and the itch to start something new. This usually results in me buying lots of fabric and stashing it away in my sewing cabinet for when I have time. I got a shipment of Kona solids today - time to stop shopping and start sewing!
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
1.) What is the opposite of a donkey?
2.) What if our face was on the back of our head?
3.) What if we Swiffered the back yard?
Ah, the mind of a 3 year old...
(Answers: 1.) a Wonkey; 2.) we couldn't see where we were peeing; 3.) the chickens would be happy)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Diet, Desserts, and Dogs, an awesome blog full of recipes for people dealing with various food allergies. I couldn't find the recipe again when I went back to look for it, but it is super easy. Just soak 2 cups of raw almonds in a pot full of water overnight. In the morning when they are nice and plump, drain and rinse them, then put in a food processor with a fresh 1 3/4 cups of water. Blend the heck out of it, then, working in small batches, wrap up blobs of your almond mixture in cheesecloth and squeeze out the "milk." This almond milk is much thicker, richer and sweeter than any almond milk you can buy at the store. In fact, it is more like cream. I think I will water this batch down just a tad to make it last longer and make it a bit less rich.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Well, I finally got my act together enough to photograph the organic sandwich and snack bags I made about a month ago. These cuties have been sitting in a safe place waiting patiently for their photo shoot. Isn't the lamb print the most adorable thing ever??? These are from the Modern Whimsy line designed by Laurie Wisbirn for Robert Kauffman's organic line. So now, in addition to being lined in completely food-safe 100% cotton unbleached muslin, you can get your fabric snack and sandwich bags in an even earth-friendlier option. So far I've listed the pouches in the vine and lamb prints, but have all of these fabrics for you to choose from: I'm still offering the snack and sandwich bags in the Half Moon Modern prints, but am starting to have a hard time tracking down more fabric (thanks so much for all the orders!). If you like what you see, please vote for my reusable snack and sandwich bags in the Handmade Olympics - voting ends on the 27th. Thanks!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
There's nothing quite like pushing promising zucchini seeds into the garden dirt on a warm spring afternoon and then feeling those tell-tale droplets on your face and arms that tell you your three year old is urinating on you from the tree fort.
The flowers he and his brother picked for me almost made up for it.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Ooh - I am so excited! My reusable snack bags have been nominated in the Handmade Olympics for favorite eco-friendly handmade goody! Hip-hip-hooray! Do you know about the Handmade Olympics? I first saw the Handmade Olympics at Rikrak Studio last year - there are 6 categories and you get to vote for the winner of each one. Everything in the Olympics is hand-made and you are guaranteed lots of eye candy while you peruse and vote, as well as plenty of fun things to spend your money on. :) But the most important part is that you can vote for ME! Just click here and cast your vote. And while you're at it, go and vote in the other categories too. Such a fun way to get involved in the hand-made community and support some awesome artists. Voting closes April 30th - thanks!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Well hello, how was your Easter? Here is a picture of my boys headed out for our Easter Egg hunt. Pretty darn cute. What you can't see by looking at this picture is:
- The fact that it is almost 7 pm and the sun is starting to go down
- Our uncooked, uneaten fancy dinner sitting in the refrigerator
- The boys' beautiful white wicker Easter baskets lying abandoned in the dirt of our neighbor's driveway
- A new pile of gross laundry in the middle of the previously clean kitchen
- Taco Bell wrappers testifying to the not-so-fancy Easter dinner we ended up eating
- The stitches in Moses' forehead, the need for which precipitated all of my previous points
Easter egg hunts, it seems, can be dangerous. Moses was one of two children in the minor injury clinic of our town who had sustained an egg-hunt-related injury (the other little girl had a broken leg, poor thing). And while holding a bloody rag to my son's head while he vomited into an empty Kleenex box in the back of the car (all while delivering a pretty convincing argument for why my 3 year old is not old enough to receive a "fire pellet gun" in his Easter basket) is not how I envisioned spending this Easter, I am so SO grateful that he is OK and walked away with nothing more than a couple of liquid stitches (that's right, he didn't even have to endure a needle!). Turns out the vomiting was car sickness rather than a concussion symptom, and he perked right up once he learned he was to be glued back together rather than sewn.
After all that drama, yesterday felt like a day to sit around and do this spring break thing right. It was the perfect combination of sunny and breezy outside - just the right weather to eat some of those hard-earned jelly beans on a blanket in the pasture. Today it is drizzly, so we will head to the dollar store, where the youngest is hoping to find a "fire dagger" he can buy with the money he got in his Easter eggs (he seems to have put his dreams of a fire pellet gun on hold for now). I'm hoping they are all sold out. :)
Monday, March 26, 2012
Last night I finished my Scrap Attack quilt and I'm pleasantly surprised with the results. I'm glad I restricted myself to a color palette rather than using every scrap I had - I tried to stay with blues and pinks with gray and turquoise thrown in here and there. It's funny - I would never say that pink and purple are favorite colors of mine, but this is the second quilt I've made that has those as the main colors. I'm super excited to get this quilted and bound - I'm already having so much fun looking at the tiny scraps of different fabrics hiding throughout. The only part of the quilt that isn't made from scraps is the gray sashing - everything else was taken from my (still overflowing) scrap drawer. I've submitted this quilt front to Rachel's Festival of Scrappiness - and you absolutely MUST visit to see some of the amazing works of art people have made from fabric scraps. It is all very inspiring - thanks for a reason to use up so many of my scraps Rachel!
P.S. Do you see my purple Hyacinth at the bottom of the picture? I couldn't bear to crop her out - this is the first year I've planted bulbs and these are so beautiful and fragrant - they remind me of my childhood springs.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been diddling around with various sewing projects, with a mind to actually finishing one of the ones that's been hanging around for a while. Most recently I hit 60 hexagon flowers and decided that was enough. While figuring out how to lay them out I just couldn't resist doing it by color - my mind just seems to work that way. I've made quite a few quits that started out with the intention of being scrappy and showing that I am a free spirit. Every one has instead betrayed my type-a-ness by blending from light yellow to dark brown. This will be another one of those. :)
I've decided to intersperse these colorful flowers with neutral flowers in Kona White with centers made from Robert Kauffman's Quilters Linen in dark gray. It looks like linen but is cotton - nice and easy to work with. So I'm back to paper piecing hexagons which is so fun - I love that popping sound of the needle poking through the paper.
I also have big plans to crank out my Scrappy Quilt for Rachel's Quilt Along. It needs to be finished by next week and I have a few evenings to myself coming up - fingers crossed that this will actually happen. If it does I will have some pictures to show you some time soon.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Remember back in january when I posted a tutorial for the "blossom block?" Well, all the ladies in my sewing circle sent me their blocks and here is what they turned into - doesn't it look great! I'm still surprised by how wonderful all these different fabrics look together. This is just the quilt top - I still have to baste and quilt this monster (it is HUGE!) then add binding... I'm daydreaming of how to piece the back. Maybe a few floating blossoms? Anyways, I was so excited I had to share this picture before the quilt was finished.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I finished my first hand-quilted project: the sampler I showed a snippet of the other week. This is really little, less than 12 inches square, but was the perfect size for practicing on. I think the end result is pretty charming - it looked really cute under my vase of Valentine's Day flowers. I used embroidery floss to do the quilting because I have a ton of it on hand in every color imaginable. I checked out some pearl cottons the other day and can see how working with those would make the quilting MUCH easier. "Popping the knot through the first layer of fabric" looks like an easier feat with the pearls. I created quite a few snags and weird pulls with all my knot popping disasters. And then I machine-bound it in a hurry, which resulted in a less-than-perfect binding, another thing that drives me nuts. But again, imperfection is good practice for me - it goes against my nature in what is probably a good way.
Now this imperfect charming little quilt is on its way to some dear friends - a house full of girls who I know have tea parties and pink bedrooms and all those things this quilt deserves but I cannot give. Hope you like it!
Saturday, February 18, 2012
There is something so gratifying about a huge pot of chicken stock simmering on the stove. It makes me feel so industrious. This was my first time not using one of our own chickens to make stock - these guys were from Costco. My friend told me about the pack of two organic whole chickens for $25, and some quick math told me that would be a great deal if I used the carcasses to make broth. I cooked both birds at once and pulled ALL the meat off the bones - big job, but then we were set on meat for the whole week. And I ended up with 36 cups of broth in the freezer waiting to be made into soups or to cook quinoa in or whatever else I might think up to use broth for. I never use a recipe to make broth - just throw in whatever I have on hand. This time it was onions, celery, a few frozen chopped carrots left from the fall harvest, garlic, and a bunch of sage that was in the fridge. Easy peasy.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I'm taking Rachel's "Curves class" and finally finished my first project! (Consistent with my college career I put this off to the last minute...) If you get the chance to take a class from Rachel (I'm assuming she's going to have more) you definitely should! I'm having so much fun and learning tons of new skills, all from the convenience of my house after the kids go to bed! In this project I pieced clamshells, worked with linen, and sewed an invisible zipper closure, all for the first time. And I didn't have to use my seam ripper once! That is a testament to her teaching ability, because I pretty much always mess up my first few times when trying new sewing skills.
These are things I was definitely too intimidated to teach myself, so if it wasn't for this class I probably wouldn't have ever learned about placing a zipper. Actually, the tutorial for the zipper is available on her blog for free - it's great. I'm not sure if I would use this white linen again for a pillow since every little wrinkle in the pillow form shows through - I jammed a really big down pillow into a kind of small pillow cover because I couldn't stand to wait another day to see my finished result. The boys were super excited this morning when they woke up and saw that I had made a pillow for myself - what a couple of sweeties. I may not have any daughters, but I do have two sons who appreciate a hand-made pillow. :)
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
- Why don't roosters lay eggs?
- What if me and God went to Yogurt Land and He said "What flavor should I get?"
- If you only ate fabric for a long, long time, would you die?
- What should you do if a tornado blows the roof off of your basement?
- Is there Lightning McQueen Macaroni and Cheese in heaven?
- Why isn't dad's job to kill bad guys?
- Why can't we drive on the sidewalk when nobody is walking on it?
- What if we put chapstick on a vulture?
No, I didn't make any of those up. If you happen to have answers to any of these, I'd be grateful. :)
Friday, February 3, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I spent the entire afternoon shoveling dirt out of a huge planter box that has been infiltrated by gophers. The plan is to replace the 10-year-old wire mesh at the bottom of the box and hopefully get a few more productive years out of the bed. It was HARD, and boy am I proud of myself! But it doesn't make for a very pretty picture (neither the pile of dirt or ME), so I decided to share this with you instead.
I ended up with a ton of extra hexagons while working on my hexagon quilt. These ones just didn't fit in for one reason or another, so the other day I decided to sew them together into... something. Of course it would have made more sense to work on one of the many other unfinished projects I have laying around, but whatever. I'm always most excited about the new project that pops into my head. I'm thinking of this as a sampler of sorts. It was really good practice for me in terms of sewing hexagons together, and I am planning on hand quilting it, which is what I'd like to ultimately do on my real hexagon quilt. This little thing is a much less intimidating piece to learn on.
This was my first time ever basting with clothespins - this is the bag I received from my Grandma a few years ago. I usually use straight pins and routinely jam them into my fingers while machine quilting whatever I'm working on. It's just part of my process. Somehow, though, that didn't sound as trivial when paired with hand-quilting. I'd like that experience to be as relaxing and pain-free as possible, so I braved the clothespins. I've always avoided them because it annoys me to have to close them. Basting is my least favorite part of quilting and I'd rather bleed all over my quilt than close up a few clothespins - it seems to take too long. This was easy, though, because my tiny quilt is only about 12" square. I'm thinking it would look cute under a vase of flowers or something. Of course there is no wall space to speak of on which to hang it, and maybe it is too crazy and weird for that anyways. I'll probably just tuck it away until I have a real sewing space to put it.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Yesterday the sun came out from behind the weird misty fog that has settled on our hill and I was able to take pictures of some new products for the shop - reusable snack and sandwich bags! I'm excited about these mainly because they are something I came up with for just us, so I know they work and are sturdy and super usable. I decided to switch to reusable snack bags because I was tired of buying things that were just getting thrown away. In Moses' lunch I was using 4 bags each day, and then at least one or two for snacks or a lunch for Titus. Seemed like a huge waste of money as well as an unnecessary generation of trash. So I spent a weekend afternoon designing these and am really happy with the result. I made the snack pouches nice and roomy and with a gusseted bottom which allows them to stand on their own and stay open really easily. They close with kid-friendly velcro, which has already been very helpful since Titus still hasn't figured out how to open or close a ziplock bag.
Oh, and I did a little research on the "waste free lunch" idea that has sprung up. On the official web site there is a really cool chart comparing the cost of a regular lunch to a waste-free lunch, which includes no packaging whatsoever. They say that the average person who switches to a waste-free lunch saves $246.60 per year per person. Holy cow! I'm hoping to get us to that point eventually, but I figure switching to reusable snack and sandwich bags will save us at least half that amount, not to mention the number of plastic baggies that won't be headed straight for the dump.
The sandwich bags also have a gusseted bottom because I didn't want all our sandwich bottoms to be smashed. I've purchased a few reusable sandwich bags from the store and have been disappointed with their size - I can only fit small-bread sandwiches in them. That's fine for my kids, but Brett and I can't fit our big-bread sandwiches in there (do you know what I mean? The loaves of bread that have rectangular slices instead of tiny square slices,) and we put enough produce on there that they are pretty fat. Our sandwiches never fit into the other reusable bags I had, so I made these a tad bigger, and the gusseted bottom eliminates squishing.
I spent quite a while figuring out the lining aspect of these bags. I initially wanted to line them with something waterproof, but after lots and lots of research I was unable to find a waterproof fabric that was bpa-free, pthalate-free, AND food grade. Even the products that seemed like they wouldn't leach toxins into the food weren't approved for food packaging, so I opted for a completely natural lining: unbleached cotton muslin. This is super minimally processed fabric - no dyes or bleaches or any other chemicals, so I felt it was the healthiest option for the part that will actually be touching our food. Admittedly it is not wipeable, but in my experience it is just as easy to toss a fabric snack bag into the washing machine as it is to turn it inside out and wipe it. Most days I'm putting dry snacks in our bags, so I just shake out the crumbs and use them again the next day. But they are thick enough to hold up well to apple slices, and after those I just wash them.
SO, there you have a lot of words about the snack and sandwich bags that are now available in my shop. I'm working up a batch in all organic fabrics and hoping to add more designs soon.