30 June 2008

Monday Fun Find #5

I've never actually met the maker of this Monday Fun Find, but I've slept in her bed. What? (For the story, read on.)

Custom Hand Stamped Necklace

PamelaSusan, a jewelry maker extraordinaire, makes these unique necklaces from sterling silver discs and a fabulous oval ball sterling silver chain. She hand-stamps the name of your choice (most often the names of your children, or the children of your gift recipient). If you have more than one child, she offers additional hand-stamped discs for $6/each.

Pamela is not only a jewelry maker, but a busy mother of two girls, and a generous hostess. She is a friend of one of my dear friends, and offered her house to us last April when we came down to Medford to run in the Pear Blossom 10 mile race, even though she and her family were out of town. She has a beautiful house filled with handmade pottery and we were grateful for her hospitality.

Happy Monday!

26 June 2008

Mystery Vines

To prepare the soil for our garden this year we rented a roto-tiller and tilled in the compost that had been metabolizing all winter long under a black sheet.

The compost mostly ended up in the back section of the garden and three weeks after the tilling took place, it began to sprout. At first glance I thought it was just a pile of weeds, but as they grew a bit bigger, I realized some of them looked very much like plants I had seen before. There are several small sprouts that, when pulled, smell exactly like tomato plants (do you know that smell?). I left a few of them in, just to see if they really do end up growing big enough to produce fruit.
The other sprouts look like they could be pumpkins, squash, or melons, as these vines all look similar when they start out as baby plants. I left about 3 of those sprouts in the ground and cannot wait to see what they will produce. I'll keep y'all posted (ha, ha, blog joke--posted. get it?)

Just add this to the list of amazing things that happen in a compost pile.

Oh, and here is my lettuce--this is definitely the easiest thing I've ever found to grow. Just buy a pack of seeds, throw them in the ground and they will grow. I mean, you do have to water them, but that isn't difficult. The best part of growing leaf lettuce is that if you leave the stem in the ground and just cut off the leaf , it grows back in a few days. So one row of lettuce can last you literally a month or more.

If you've never had fresh-cut lettuce in a salad, it doesn't even compare to the store bought stuff. But I guess that can be said about all homegrown produce.

23 June 2008

Monday Fun Find #4

This Monday Fun Find would make a unique gift for a child.

Personalized Crayon Set

MyKangaroo has a fun shop full of great kid items. This crayon set will come in the name you request up to nine letters, and is a great deal for under $9 including shipping. Her shop also includes other crayon sets in all shapes--trains, flowers, stars and rockets, and more.

Happy Monday!

21 June 2008

The Winged Weeder

Have you heard of this tool yet? If you have any weeds in your life that need pulling, read on.

My dad bought one of these nifty tools for me last year when he was visiting and saw my weed infested flower beds and garden. It was perfect timing, as I was just starting to feel completely overwhelmed by the weeds and about to just give up on any sort of hope for a green thumb. Spending hours on my hands and knees just didn't seem worth it and I knew that the weeds would always come back.

Enter the Winged Weeder.

It has a long handle to allow for weed removal without bending over.

It really pulls out the whole weed, including the roots (which is more than I can say for my weak hands).

It is lightweight, Made in the USA, and invented by a farmer in Idaho.

If your excuse for not growing a garden was that you didn't want to fight the weeds, now you have no excuse. Go for it! Plant something edible and reap the rewards.

19 June 2008

Reduce what you use: Picnic lunches with no plastic baggies

Summer is here. Picnic season is upon us.

I don't know about you, but during the summer months, we end up eating a lot of lunches and dinners on blankets at parks. I love to eat on the go, but I hate all the waste that comes with packing a picnic.

Here's a fun solution:

  • For the kids, these awesome partitioned containers that I found at Wal-Mart for 97 cents (in the kids section, by the sippy cups).
  • (All food seems to be more appealing when it is served in these individual sections. Seriously, they love it every time.)
  • For me and the hubby, any kind of plastic container that will hold food that isn't a ziploc baggie. Packing this way does make more work later (since you have to take home and wash all the containers), but it is cheaper in the long run and better for the environment.
Even if you just do this at one picnic this summer, think of all the baggies that won't end up in the trash. Now, I'm not anti-plastic baggie. Sometimes they are a wonderful option. I'm just suggesting we consider reducing the amount we use.

17 June 2008

Gotta sew, gotta sew, gotta sew, gotta sew right now

With Jeff gone in Washington D.C. for 6 days, I find myself in charge of parenting two boys alone. It's a daunting task. Finding myself in this situation reminded me of this great post by Ilene, who often faces this daunting task. Even though I do stay home all day with my two boys, it's slightly overwhelming to think that for six whole days my relief pitcher will never be giving me a break in the 7th inning (a.k.a. 5:00 pm-- the bewitching hour for all stay-at-home moms).

We'll survive. In fact, we'll do more than survive. We'll have a lot of fun--by day we'll take advantage of the spring weather that has FINALLY arrived in Oregon and
visit parks, ride bikes and eat kid-friendly, no-cooking-required food for every meal.

But by night I will put the boys to bed early (they will be exhausted from all the fun), and have the whole evening to. . .SEW!! I can't wait. It really is exciting to think of all
the projects that have been in my head for months might actually come to fruition. Well, not all of them, but a few. I am always craving uninterrupted sewing time, and here it is! I won't complain about him being gone for one more minute (but I do miss you, honey).

Here are some of the things I plan to get done:

Attaching handles to canvas bags

Hemming tops of produce bags

Delving into my stacks of fabric to fashion new bags--
perhaps this cute little shoulder bag, which comes with a fun tutorial.

If you need me, I'll be sewing.

16 June 2008

Monday Fun Find #3

All Natural Vegan Laundry Soap

I have a personal love for this Monday Fun Find, because I bought it several months ago from LoteTree and it has made me enjoy folding laundry again. The reason? The scent is a mixture of lavender and patchouli and it just leaves the clothes with a hint of that scent. I have a secret love for patchouli (as my family will attest) and this one is earthy without being overpowering.

I originally bought this detergent to wash my cloth diapers, as traditional detergent doesn't treat diapers very well. I have since abandoned the bottle of Tide in my cupboard meant for other clothes and use this on everything.

If you're not a patchouli lover, they also have two other scents available--Needleleaf, which is an evergreen scent, or Citrus Bliss (which isn't listed in their shop right now, but perhaps would be available if you contacted them).

The price is right on this item, as it sells for a little more than $20 including shipping and lasts FOREVER. When you use the cute little wooden scoop they send with the soap, you can wash 100 loads of laundry. If you're doing the math, this figures out to be around 20 cents per wash.

Happy Monday!

11 June 2008

Reuse what you have: How to make your own foaming hand soap

The other day my friend, Megan, was over and she saw that the foaming soap dispenser in my bathroom was almost empty.

Side note: I love foaming soap. I like how it washes off your hands quicker and easier, and won't ever go back to the liquid soap. That's just my opinion.

So back to the story. Megan says to me, "you know the secret about foaming soap, right?" I was thinking, "yeah, that it's awesome?" But I shook my head. And she says, "You can make your own. It's cheap and so easy." (Am I the only one who didn't know about this?)

As long as you already have the foaming soap dispenser bottle, you can make your own! It is a great way to reduce and reuse. Here's how you do it.

1. Buy yourself one small bottle of liquid hand soap (the thick stuff)
2. Fill your foaming soap bottle 1/4 with the hand soap
3. Fill the rest of the way with water
4. Shake it up.

This really does work. I'll be able to fill up that foaming soap bottle 2 more times with that 99 cent bottle of liquid hand soap. Thanks for sharing the "secret", Megan.

09 June 2008

Monday Fun Find #2

Since Father's Day is around the corner, I thought I'd post this funny, awesome item as Monday Fun Find #2:

Floppy Disk Notepad

Joe, the mastermind behind GeekGear, claims that "sometimes it's cool to be a geek". He describes himself like this: "During the day I'm a network engineer, fixing and designing computer networks and making sure all these machines play nice with each other. By night I'm a craft making geek that is trying to come up with interesting ways to keep some of our discarded computer and electronic items out of the landfill.

I think it's an admirable idea and I appreciate his efforts and his creativity.

Happy Monday!

07 June 2008

Saturday Market

I can now officially add "sold items at craft fair" to my hand crafting resume. And not just any craft fair--the Eugene Saturday Market. In fact, it can't really even be called a craft fair--it is better called a community marketplace for strictly handmade items.

My friend approached me last week about possibly sharing a booth with her, and although it scared me to sit at a table all day long and have people walk by judging my items, I also wanted to see what it is like to sell in person and participate as a seller in an event I've attended only as a buyer.

As new sellers, we had to show up early this morning to sign in and wait for booth spaces to be assigned in order of seniority. Being the lowest on the totem pole, we were told not to get our hopes up for the first few weeks, but just to show up and we would get "points" that would help us move up in the pecking order.

I was actually quite unprepared for the day, as last night my sewing machine decided to freeze up for the first time in the 5 years that I've owned it, and I wasn't able to finish all the produce bags and canvas bags that I thought would be my top sellers. But since we were told not to expect a booth, I wasn't too worried.

Perhaps it was the rainy, cold day that kept many of the regular sellers away, but there ended up being lots of vacant spots, and we were the lucky recipients. So after getting over the shock of it all, we set up shop.

(It was cold and windy most of the day, hence the coats and bad hair)

(This was taken at the end of the day when items had been picked up and moved around, hence the haphazard look of the table)

All in all, it was a unique, fun experience and I really hope to have another chance to sell when I can really showcase the items I'd like and also when we can have some really beautiful June weather.

02 June 2008

Monday Fun Find

In the spirit of making Mondays fun days instead of what they usually are, I'm starting a new feature where I share my favorite handmade item of the week. I'll call it the Monday Fun Find.

Here is the first:
KeyChain Lip Balm Holder

Even though BeaG lives in Belgium, the total on this cute little lip balm holder (including international shipping) is less than $12. She makes several sizes of Lip Balm Holders in all colors to fit all sizes of lip balms, and each is an original design hand-crocheted by BeaG.

Happy Monday Everyone!