Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Early Morning

Recently I made a list (and am still compiling) of goals...ummm...40 to be exact- that I want to see happen this next year.  Because, yes, I will be turning that number in a matter of months.  At first it was a bit scary to be looking at 40, but I am actually very excited, and have reason to believe that this will be an incredible year filled with amazing things that God has for me.  But back to the list. One of the goals on my list was to start early morning walks again.  It's taken a bit of time to stabilize after our sweet little baby arrived, and although I have missed my morning walks, let's be real- I'm tired!  But lately, after her 4:45am feeding, the birds have been singing particularly loud and sweet, beckoning me to come out.  Yesterday, my comfy pillow and warm covers sang louder- but today-ha!  TODAY, I dragged myself away from the magnetic pillow pull, and snuck out into the fresh, bird-song filled air.
I was definitely rewarded.

Have a beauty-filled day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My First Crush, And A Retro Date Night

 I have been wanting to find an orange crushed velvet swivel rocker for a very long time. I found one a loooong time ago at a thrift store, before I was married.  It was sitting there with a ray of sunlight illuminating its velvety grooves, calling my name.  For $35(which, for a college student working a part-time job, living off tortillas from Trader Joe's,was a huge sum!)it was mine. I proceeded to shove it in the back seat of my Ford Escort and brought it home. Home being the "room" I was renting out, which was behind, but connected in an odd fashion to,  a house that was being rented by a bunch of friends. The "room" that my husband later had to tell me was actually half a garage converted into a rental(and I was completely oblivious to this)...but that is a totally different story. Back to my chair. That chair was my favorite! It moved with me when I got married, feeling right at home with the beaded hippie curtains, incense, and Pearl Jam playing in the background. It cuddled our firstborn as I took monthly pictures to show his growth, next to his Pooh bear- the same bear that started out way bigger than him, then gradually evened out, and now is small in his teenage arms. My orange chair made the journey with us as we moved from southern to northern California, and cuddled our second baby in the same sweet way it had done with our first. There is a limit, though, to all faithful vintage friends. Years of trusty, retro styley service finally took it's toll, and my favorite velvety seat cracked it's metal coil base with a loud thud. It was a very sad day.

Flash forward to the happy birth of our newest little bee,  a saggy couch, and not a swivel rocky chair in sight.  I was determined to find a chair like my old friend- even in a different color, if necessary. I also wanted to replace our comfy but not firm couches with retro stylings. I started online searches. I enlisted the help of thrifting buddies- which almost worked in finding a chair, except for the funky wood frame. The few chairs I did find were over ten times what I paid for my old one, and although I am no longer living (entirely) on Trader Joe's tortillas, I refuse to pay that much.  Then lightning struck- in the form of a Craigslist ad for a vintage couch and retro rocking chair... for THIRTY bucks! Was it too good to be true? The pictures showed a floral couch, and- an orange swivel rocking chair! I set up a time to see them, then asked Mr. Beetree if he was up for a date night adventure. He was game, even if he was a bit skeptical. 

We arrived at the location a bit late, so it was getting dark. But as we pulled into the parking spot in front of the apartment, our headlights lit up the couch (that he had just put out on the patio for us), and my heart skipped!  It was way cooler than the pictures.

And there, sitting next to it, was THE chair. The pieces had been given to them by grandparents, helping them with first apartment furniture. The guy was so sweet- he ended up giving them both to us for $20 (it turns out neither of us had change like we thought)! The chair fit easily enough in the back of our van, but the couch is a monster, and needed a truly unique solution to get it home and make it ours...

Oh, yes we did!
We capped off our little adventure at a new-to-us coffee house, with warm beverages, a sweet treat, and spontaneous was wonderful!

 Our new couch and chair made it home safely, are fitting in fabulously, and are already making new memories with us.

 It's not quite the same as my old crush, but it is a good replacement. The kids love it, and it is comfy. It definitely was a fun adventure to have, and they both are worth the effort it took to get them home!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pretty Eggs

This year we decided to dye Easter Eggs with things found in our pantry. This was because we wanted to be natural, to avoid the dangers of dye...and because I had failed to plan ahead and buy a kit! ;) I have dyed eggs with brown onion skins before (very fun!), but this time we ventured into other items, such as: red cabbage, turmeric, chili powder and cayenne pepper, and green tea.  This is what was supposed to happen:
Red Cabbage: Blue
Turmeric: Yellow
Chili/Cayenne: Red
Green Tea: Green

It was fun to see what worked (and what didn't), and what colors we thought would come out vs. what colors we really got.  We added a few tablespoons of vinegar to set the colors of some of the batches (and some I forgot to put it in).  Some eggs were wrapped with rubber bands, some were put into tights (this worked with mixed results), and some we wrapped in cabbage leaves.  The cabbage batch was the biggest wild card. This is what we ended up with- a basket of beautiful, speckled, solid, splotchy eggs. 
The green tea batch came out speckled brown (no vinegar added), Chili and Cayenne did come out red, Turmeric (my favorite) came out a pretty yellow, and the red first, it didn't color the eggs at all- they were still white.  I hadn't added vinegar in the water.  It was midnight, I was I decided to throw a bunch of Turmeric in with the cabbage, and let them sit.  The color came out a greenish blue (yellow plus blue...) and very pretty!  I love the beautiful, muted colors, and the fact that even the cracked eggs can safely be consumed without worry.  The kids did miss the whole dunk the egg process, so I have a whole year to figure out how to do this again and let them dunk around the table.

I also made another kind of natural egg, which I posted for Easter:

I have had a lot of people ask how I did it, so I thought I'd do a short DIY feature.  I know, this would have been very helpful LAST week! Ha!!  But, I am all about getting you ready ahead of time for next year.  And, you can probably find the eggs on super-sale right now! (AND, I didn't do this project until Friday night and into Saturday....). This technique really could be used for many different here we go:

You will need:

Mod Podge
Paper Mache Eggs
Crochet Thread (thinner than yarn)
Paint Brush

Decide what design/pattern you want to end up with, and paint a small bit of Mod Podge on your egg.  Only paint what you will be working on, as the glue will either dry before you get to the rest of the egg, or will get really sticky with multiple layers.

For circles. start with a quarter-sized spot of MP. In the center of that, lay your thread down and start circling the thread around itself. You have the option of winding tight, which produces nice, thick color, OR you can wrap loosely, which will produce a more organic, handmade feel. 

Wrapped tightly
Any shape design works with these, there are just some shapes that are a little more challenging to wrap uniformly.  Some designs needed me to work with cutting small bits of thread and gluing in place- a little more challenging than wrapping with a continuous length of thread. I will also say that it is much easier to wrap starting from inside the shape and getting larger, than starting with the outside shape and wrapping in.  Play with it and be creative...most of the time it turns out differently than you planned, but still beautiful.

This was a super-fun project to do, and there are so many variations with the eggs.  You could use tissue paper to decoupage, or use your dyed, cracked egg shell to do a mosaic!  Hope you had a wonderful Easter!!

***Side note about the yellow Butterprint Pyrex bowl...This is what happens when I'm up at three in the morning nursing a baby, scanning Pyrex patterns on ebay.  I was being goofy, and placed a bid on this bowl, completely sure I would get outbid. I didn't. This is the first piece I've gotten off ebay- I really only buy thrifts.  It IS unusual- I don't ever see this color Butterprint at the the thrifts, so I am happy I ended up with it.  Now to find the other three bowls... :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter to You!

Matthew 28:5 Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said.  "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here!  He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.  Come, see where his body was lying.

John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Hope you all have a wonderful day soaking in His love for you!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Bees Knees: Cloth Diapers

 Yes, this really is an ode to cloth diapers.  I just may have lost my marbles!

It all started with one cloth diaper...the heart one on the bottom.  I had never used cloth diapers before, and when my sister and niece were using them a few years ago, I thought- no thanks! I don't need any more laundry, and definitely don't want to be messing with poop any more than I need to!  But for some reason, I was curious about it this time around.  During late night feedings, I would look up cloth diaper sites, and be overwhelmed at how many choices there are for cloth diapering your baby, and how complicated it all seemed. I was drawn to it for reasons I'm still not sure about.

There were several reasons floating around in my head for wanting to try cloth. Of course, there is the economic factor- over the course of your baby's diaper wearing years, there is a savings of thousands of dollars (really!), more if you use cloth wipes (or make your own disposable)  instead of buying them.  And then there is the cute factor- diapers now are nothing like your grandma's or mother's cloth diapers.  They come in an amazing array of cute patterns and vibrant colors.  Lastly for me, there was the thought that no chemicals, pesticides, perfumes, and who-knows what else would be next to that chubby little bottom.

I went back and forth about trying them out for at least a week.  And if I did use them, what kind would I use?! There really are that many choices- and not just the KIND of diaper, but also the material that you can use, the style of covers that you want (snap or Velcro closure). There are flats (like the kind granny used), prefolds (thicker flats) with covers, fitted diapers (also used with covers), all in ones (like a cloth disposable), one size diapers (fit birth through toddler, adjust by snaps)...and different kinds of "soaker" pads you can use to make the diaper even more absorbent.  It really is a world of its own, complete with its own lingo and abbreviations.  I was overwhelmed with choices!

I finally decided to find a few used diapers- ok, maybe I should pause at that statement!  It sounds disgusting, but selling your diapers after your baby is done with them is actually a huge business.  If you are a seller, you can make a lot of your money back if you take good care of your diapers, and if you are a buyer looking to try different kinds until you know what works for your baby and you, it's an economical, no commitment way to do it.  I found a local lady selling one cloth diaper (an all in one).  I still was skeptical about whether or not I wanted to commit to this whole process, but she was so helpful!! Her new baby was a few weeks younger than ours, and she had cloth diapered with her first.  She gave me a look at the different kinds of diapers she used, what she liked, and a company that she ordered from.  These tips were invaluable, and I ended up loving the company (Green Mountain Diapers). I ordered some prefolds, Snapppis (better than pins to close the diapers), and a wet bag (functions like a diaper pale- but super pretty and reusable-think wet swimsuits) from them. I actually scored a stash of covers from a garage sale, and my sister sent me a few different kinds to try,  so for the first 6 months or so I will have spent very little compared to the price for the mountains of disposables she would have gone through in that same amount of time.  I was surprised to hear my son saying he was glad we were using cloth diapers (he is a diaper changing champ- and doesn't even run from the poopie ones!).  He said he was happy to not be throwing away so many diapers, and he thought it was good for the baby.  Amazing- he thought of all this on his own, as I had not discussed my reasons with him! I am really glad that we are cloth diapering...check back with me in 3 months when we start eating solids!

Now, a word about seems that, like everything else with cloth diapering, the choices you have for cleaning them are many, and just like the diapers, you just have to try it, and find what works for you.  We have been making our own laundry soap- which, as it turns out, works really well for the diapers.  I'm already doing laundry all the time anyways, so the diapers haven't really made that much of a difference.  Homemade laundry soap is great if you or someone in your family has skin sensitivities.  It does save money, and it isn't hard to make...

Here's what we do:

1 bar of soap (we use Ivory, others use Fels Naptha)
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of A&H Washing Soda (DIFFERENT than baking soda!)

Grate the bar of soap into a large container, add the Borax and Soda.  Crush any big clumps of Borax with a spoon and stir together.  Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area!  That's it- stick a lid on it and your done.

We use 1/4 cup of the powder for an extra-large load.  You can play with the amounts, but you really don't need much to get a clean load of laundry.  I always run hot water first and quickly dissolve the soap in the machine, especially if I'm running a cold load.  You can also make a liquid out of this recipe, but I like the convenient storage of the powder form.

If you try the soap, let me know how you like it!