Monday, December 20, 2010

It's that time of year... for colds!

Yes, the cold bug has hit our house, so I thought I would share a few of our favorite herbal tea mixes, which have been getting a lot of play around here in the last few days. These would also make great gifts, presented with a tea strainer or holiday tea towel.  Of course, I'm no doctor, but these blends have helped soothe throats and chests and nerves around these parts. I don't have a good local source, so I purchase all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, and The Bulk Herb Store.

 Cold and Flu Tea
Mix 1 part elder flowers (good for colds, flu and fever) with one part marshmallow root (cough expectorant and the kids like the flavor). Steep for 3 - 5 minutes and sweeten with honey (also good for coughs). These are both soft herbs, so don't let them steep too long or they'll get a bitter taste.

Cough Tea (especially good for calming dry, barking and asthma coughs)
Mix two parts red clover to a scant one part licorice root. Peel and slice a small piece of fresh ginger, and add to tea cup or small pot. Add a teaspoon of the herbs and steep for 3 - 5 minutes (if making this for kids, check after 3 minutes. The ginger and licorice can become too strong if steeped for a long time). Strain into a new cup and add a teaspoon of honey.
Note: licorice should not be used continuously for a long period of time, and never for people with high blood pressure

Relaxation Tea (for those care givers!)
In a mason jar combine two parts peppermint, two parts chamomile, one parts lemon balm, ginkgo, St. John's wort, and licorice. Add dried orange peels (I save orange peels in a jar in the fridge and then dry them in my dehydrator to add to teas).  Steep for five minutes and sweeten to taste.

Wishing you and your family good health this season!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunday waffles on a Tuesday

Well, it is the season to indulge, isn't it? I made a double batch of my favorite GF waffles on Sunday, and froze the extras. For a school day treat, I simply toasted a few waffles, and while they were warming, heated a thinly sliced green apple in the microwave for 2 minutes. A little butter, cinnamon sugar and whipped cream (also left-over) equals a very happy morning!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for Fall

Fall splendor, Northern California style, is carelessly flaunting itself all over the backyard. A cold front is moving in that is threatening to dust our local mountain with snow, but for now, the rain has made it's presence known. We had a lovely spot of sun in the morning, so I dashed out for a few shots.

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of friends, family, and the splendor of nature.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Duvet Refashion

Max loves geography. He has many maps, including a laminated one that came with a wipe-off pen. Unfortunately, Max used his map on his bed and ended up with black ink marks in various places on his white duvet cover. I could not get them off for love or money. Fast forward to a great sale at Joann's where I stocked up on many yards fleece for sweat pants. The yellow bolt had extra fabric, so I bought it thinking I'd make a matching hoodie. After cutting out the pans, I had almost enough to cover Max's bed, instead. An extra strip of blue from his other pants and blam, I had a "new" duvet for about $8.  Here's what I did:

First, I cut the duvet apart at the seams. To make this a super easy transformation, I kept the side with the button holes to use as the back, and removed the buttons to recycle for the new cover.
I needed a little more length, so I added a contrasting stripe. Simply lay the second material on the first, right sides together, and stitch a seam. Since I used fleece, I didn't have to finish the edges, another big time saver. If you wanted to add an applique to the front, now would be the time to do it.

Spreading it all out on the floor, I pinned the old back to the new front, right sides together. Then I stitched  all around, leaving the top open. ( I stitched in about 8 inches on either side of the top, so there would be square corners on each end after turning.) Turn right side out.
I folded over the top of the fleece, even with the top of the backing. I added the buttons that I had removed from the original duvet.

Thirty minutes later, a new duvet! I think these robot sheets might be the perfect companion. Maybe I should let Santa know!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homeschool Corner - Making Molecules

What to do with all of that leftover Halloween candy? How about a science lesson? We've been studying chemistry this year, and have learned about atoms and molecules. I gathered all of the Gobstoppers, Jawbreakers, and hard round candies from the Halloween stash, and a box of glue dots.

We looked at some models of molecules in the Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science, and then they got creative. Most candies could be held together with a single small glue dot.
All science, no cavities.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Snack Bag Art and this and that

Yes, this is the extent of my illustration time each day - drawing on snack bags. I guess that explains why it  has been so quiet around here lately! I plan on refashioning Max's duvet cover this weekend, so I hope to have a tutorial up for Made By You Monday. I also have 4 pairs of fleece pants, 5 pajama pants and a nightgown cut and waiting for the machine to come out of the closet! I wish the forecast had rain instead of 75 degree weather this weekend - it makes for much better sewing conditions!

I have a whole new stack of books from the library, Amazon and Bookswim on the table. Here are a few new reads and other links I've been enjoying lately:
Hold On to Your Kids, a fascinating look at our peer centered culture. I think every parent should read this one.
Love Soup - I love Anna Thomas' cookbooks, and this one is perfect for the season!
Felt Wee Folk - even Matt thumbed through this adorable how-to book. They would make great Christmas presents!
Wax Leaves - on the schedule for today. A great excuse to use my wax pot.
Herbal How-To Videos - I just placed big orders from Mountain Rose Herbs and The Bulk Herb store to gear up for winter. I think I will need to clear out at least one more shelf in the pantry! These videos from Shoshanna, the owner of the Bulk Herb Store are informative and entertaining.
This post from SouleMama, which inspired a reading nook in Madeline's room
These leaves from Made, which are also on the sewing list for this weekend

Much has been created for our homeschooling around here, but my art table feels lonely and abandoned. Please, share what you've been working on, or discoveries you've made, or what you're reading! I'd love to see!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Decor

Holy batcave, Batman! Bats have invaded the family room! I completely stole this great idea from Dana at Made and the pattern is from Country Living (never thought you'd see that link on my blog, did ya?) They really are a show stopper. I love big bang decorations!

I am decorating on the cheap this year, so my Halloween doormat came from an extra utility rug and a can of spray paint.
I taped on some large scrapbooking chipboard letter frames as a stencil. I also taped on paper to mask the mat, leaving a frame around the outside.
Next step, paint away with spray paint.
As you may have noticed, there was some bleed through. Next time I will be more careful with the taping. But, it's free, and hopefully people will think it's dirt (it is a doormat, after all).
The sewing machine was in overdrive yesterday, as I churned out 7 pillows. One more to go and I'll post some peeks here. Now, if I were just as productive with my sketchbook...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crunchy Granola Mom

Yes, now I am officially a crunchy granola mom, and it's a mighty tasty thing to be.  We have been making this quick but oh so good granola at least three times a week lately. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it's so easy the kids can pitch in (or even make it, depending on their age). The amounts listed here are just guidelines. I don't actually measure anything when I make it, so feel free to improvise! This can be either a gluten-free or regular granola, depending on the oats you use (please note that some Celiacs cannot tolerate gluten free oats. Fortunately, we can). If you are using regular oats, it's a very frugal granola. Even if you have to buy the pricey gluten free oats, it's still cheaper than GF granola. has a good price on gluten free oats, by the way.

Family Favorite Granola

2 cups oats
1/4 cup pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries (you could also use raisins)
1/8 cup flaxseed meal (you could use whole flaxseeds, but I always have the ground flaxseeds on hand)
1/4 - 1/3 cup mixture of brown rice syrup and honey (or you could use all honey)
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Mix everything together in a bowl. You want it to stick together but not appear wet or really moist. Spread on a silpat lined cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let it cool. As it cools, it will stick together. Break up the cooled clumps and store in airtight jars. I really can't tell you the shelf life, because it never lasts more than two days around here.

This is really one of those recipes where you can use whatever is in the pantry. We came up with this particular combination because nobody here is allergic to pecans or cranberries, and it happens to taste great! Try it mixed with yogurt Saturday morning or over ice cream. Or do as my family does, and eat it off the cookie sheet on the counter!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vacation Planner

Back to the land of the connected! My six year old modem has been on its last leg for at least a year, and while I was hoping it would hold out until Christmas, it decided to take the big digital nap on Sunday, thus delaying this promised post. My apologies.

The vacation planner. While I have never been a spontaneous traveler (one very cold night sleeping in the car because all hotel rooms were booked cured me of that), by reason of necessity, I have become a skilled trip planner. You see, traveling with children who have sensory processing problems, Celiac disease, food allergies, and asthma (not to mention my own food restrictions) is no easy feat. I began planning our recent trip to Disneyland four months ago. I started by creating a travel planner. Last year I used a composition book, but it was larger than my needs required. This year, I made my own from  Cosmo Cricket scrapbook paper and my Bind It All machine (you can also have it comb bound at copy shops). I laminated the cover with my Xyron, so I could toss it in a purse or bag and not worry about it.
I also left the cover unadorned, saved for a single sticker, knowing the abuse it would face. As you can see from the bent coils, it endured a few blows.

The first section is for pre-trip planning and packing. It included a calendar, pre-travel to-do's such as mail holds, plans for pets and chores.
Next were packing lists for each family member. The lists are from List Planit, an online organizing site which offers a bazillion lists for all manner of topics, from work to home. I bought a download membership last year and it was worth every penny.
I also left lined paper in the back for food lists (we bring an extra suitcase just for food, so we always have something safe to eat), items to pack in the car, and to-do's for the days before we leave.
The next section is labeled car, and it has maps and written directions. I have a GPS on my phone, but I like to carry a back-up just in case reception is bad.
For the itinerary section, I printed the events listings from the Disney site as well as including a detailed list for each day. I make at least one meal reservation per day, and those are made far in advance and recorded here. I also like to look ahead to parade times and special events and tentatively schedule them as well, knowing that we may ditch those plans when we are actually in the park.

The last section holds hotel reservations and tickets. I included two pockets in this planner, made by simply folding tabbed scrapbooking paper and gluing it, to hold tickets and print-outs made after the book was bound.
As I mentioned before, this book gets tossed in my purse, not the luggage. All the information needed for any aspect of the trip is in one place. I also try to jot down notes in it while we are traveling or soon after we get home, about what places were safe to eat at, who had the best service, if sweaters we needed at night, what hidden gems were found, and any other useful bits for future trips. I used the notes from last year's planner to make this one, in fact.

So there you have it - travel for the anal retentive. Of course not everything goes as planned (like a foot injury that put my six year old in a stroller all week - thank goodness he's small!), but it definitely runs more smoothly!

Friday, October 8, 2010

We're back!

We're back from a fabulous, but exhausting vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth. I'll be back on Monday with a vacation planner idea and lots of Halloween stuff in store. Have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recycling T-shirts

Oh, the t-shirt. We have lots of t-shirts hanging around here, many  of them with stains, or too small, or out of fashion. Max's Disneyland shirt fell into the too small category, but never fear, we can rebuild it. All you need is a little fusible web, a clearance t-shirt, and a little machine stitching and Bam! a new t-shirt.
Sometimes my screen prints don't come out exactly right. I had a shirt where the placement was off, so a few snips and the shirt becomes a patch.
The backs of the old t-shirts become blanks for screen printing, or material for sewing projects, or even rags. The possibilities are endless!

Sadly, I have no drawings to share this week. It seems the only thing I've used a pencil for lately has been to write math problems. I'm going to take a little week or so blogging break to focus on my kids for a bit, but I do have more in store to share with you! See you in a week!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tomatoes Gone Wild

The tomato plant has taken over.
There used to be a path here.
Even the zucchini can't compete.  And still, no tomatoes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wardrobe Refashion

Clothes, clothes, clothes! It's been all about fashion around here lately, thanks to wardrobe refashioning and the Yudu. I have a sizable pile of clothes that have been hanging around for at least a year, waiting to be altered. AT the top of the stack were two blouses that I have never even worn. Both were not only too unstructured, but with oversized collars and full short sleeves, my shoulders looked more massive than any NFL linebacker's. What possessed me to buy them, when the proportions were so bad? I know that they were both under $10, but even so, $20 so they could sit in my closet for a year? Alas, my computer decided to dump the last two year's worth of pictures, and I had not backed up after the before shots were loaded, so you will have to imagine those purple monstrosities. The fix, however, was quite easy.

I simply removed the sleeves. The deep purple one looks great on. The floral collar shirt still has a bit of a maternity look on, but an empire waistline tie didn't help, so I'm leaving it as is, for now. I think I'll keep my eye open for a little second hand cardigan  and sew the collar onto it. I think it would look smashing on a sweater.

I also decided to face my phobia and dye some clothes. You see, I've had a bottle of Ritz for more than a year, but I could not shake the neurotic idea that my washer would hide bits of navy dye that would seep out and leave little blotches on all of my clothes for years to come. Yes, I know that sounds loony, but it's the truth. Being in possession of a great pair of cigarette pants that were an unfortunate baby poo color (I swear it said khaki online) and a sweater that was chartreuse instead of green (another online purchase), I threw cation to the wind and salt in my washer and had a go. Do you know what? The washer cleaned up just fine, my clothes are now a decidedly better gray blue, and the stained orchid  tee shirt I also tossed in is a fabulous deep purple. Again, I lost the before pictures,so you'll just have to imagine the hideous colors.

Yes, I'll definitely be dying more clothes now.

The Yudu got a little love yesterday as well. The first design is just for Madeline and her cousin. Marie and Minnie are her favorite stuffed animals, and her cousin is her best friend. They got matching shirts, of course.

The second shirt is also for family, inspired of course by that famous mouse and Bad Robot.

Whew! That's it for now! Wednesday I'll post some more LSNED pages, and hopefully some from the Sketchbook Project, if I can get my mojo flowing!