Wednesday, April 30, 2008

World's CUTEST Shoes:

-Completely unrelated-
I'm on the no shampoo bandwagon, and so far I like it pretty well. I've been using baking soda to wash, and very diluted apple cider vinegar to rinse, folowed by plain water (then a little essential oil rubbed in after it's dry just for pretty scent). It takes a bit longer, but works fine. I have very thick, coarse, long, wavy hair which I blowdry straight. I know, blowdrying sucks up a lot of energy, but it's seriously the only way I can seem to live with it, and I only do it every 3 days -which saves the water of having to wash it every day to re-set the waves. It's really difficult hair -each strand goes in a different direction. I've also stopped coloring it with anything other than occasional light brown henna. I used to go drop a cool $120 at the Aveda natural, cruelty-free salon in Lake Placid twice a year, but now that I'm no longer involved in architecture ($$) my neighbor trims my hair for me which suits me just fine. Actually, I kinda can't believe I used to care enough to spend that much. Maybe it's different when you have to go to an office every day and the expectations are more...I dunno. So anyway, it's definitely different. I don't get the easy detangling of my lovely old natural conditioner, but it's also not as bad as I thought it would be. My hair feels heavier at first after drying, and has more oil left in it, but I used to spend half the day sticking down little frizzies around my hairline and along my part. Now that doesn't seem to be as much of a problem. I've only done it twice, but I'll let you guys know how it is in a few weeks. My hair is more lusterous, and my husband mentioned it without me telling him anything about it, so that tells me lots.

I hope this trend continues across blogland. I'd love to hear what you all are doing in your own lives to reduce packaging and other forms of consumption. I am also still somewhat acne proned these days, although it is much better than it used to be. I cancelled my subscription to Proactive Solution many months ago in favor of a concoction of my own making which consists of olive oil, table salt, and tea tree oil. You mix it in a small wide jar until it forms sort of a dry paste, and then add 12 drops of tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties. It's a nice invigorating scrub which avoids the dryness and itching/redness I would sometimes have with Proactive. My skin is softer, and happier, and acne is really minimal. If you have really REALLY oily skin I don't know how well this would work for you, but it doesn't leave mine feeling greasy at all. I think preparations that strip too much end up causing a rebound reaction anyway. So now I'm free of little plastic bottles with no recycling stamps to be found anywhere on them (duh, Proactive people), and $90/year, and packaging waste from the shipping box it came in. Plus, that stuff is probably tested on animals. Anyone else have a favorite homemade substitution for anything?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Birthday Baby:

We had a lovely party. The weather was gorgeous, most of our friends were able to make it, and we had a house full of relatives as well. -And of course a birthday dress:

...and a pregnant best friend (mine AND hers are the same person):

...and a dolly wagon from aunts and uncles and cousins:

...and a teeny-tiny bike from Daddy:

...and blocks and a drum from Mommy: (she thought the block box made for an excellent way to get up on to the coffee table).

(I love that she's old enough to just join a group of kids with no prompting:)

...and then there were the pink and white cupcakes from Aunt Francesca and cousin Vincent:

It was all very nice, and I felt so proud. Then yesterday was her actual birthday, and everyone had gone home, the house was quiet, it was raining and chilly, and we came down with a cold. Then our ancient, bitchy dog bit her on the cheek which really wasn't fair because: A) she was just lightly patting her and trying to be sweet. -and B) you shouldn't get bitten by the dog on your birthday. -and C) it really hurt her feelings. But it wasn't too bad, and she harbors no grudges apparently.
I had time alone to reflect all day, and I just couldn't stop beaming at my girl. She is such a miracle to me. One minute all she can do is squirm and squeak, and the next she's throwing pieces of kitty-cat puzzle into my bath water, along with my flip-flops, because she actually has a real sense of humor now. -Or she's shaking her head from side to side while screaming: "Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh!!!!!", because she's a person capable of telling me "No". -Or she understands that Daddy is in the cell phone, so she yells "DA-DA!!!" whenever she sees one.
In some ways it seems like a million years since I was pregnant and gave birth to Rayona, because we've been through so much since then. In other ways it went by pretty quickly. I really enjoy this age. One is great.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baby Bloomers: go under her birthday dress. I managed to screw up every aspect of this pattern in some way, but it wasn't exactly my fault. There was a snowball-effect that began with the fact that I didn't have any bias tape to make casings for the leg elastic. Meaning that I had to sew the elastic directly to the leg openings, and meaning that the legs were gathered while I sewed everything from that point on. This was not the pattern writer's intent, obviously, because it made everything else waaaay harder than it needed to be, but I had to do it in that order. Then I had a ruffle hem on the wrong side I noticed. Damn. -well I did have to do most of the work on these after Ray had gone to bed which is at 10:00 these days, causing exhaustion-related mistakes. -And YES, I know how ridiculous that is for a one-year-old, but that's a whole other issue. Then there is the fact that she is REALLY tiny, and I had to alter the height of the front in relation to the back, because they were too poofy, and oh -it was just a mess, but they're finished, and they're cute. I just hope no other sewing types ever get a close look at them. -The things I worry about.

Anyway, she went on the swings at the playground for the first time yesterday, and totally loved it. Her birthday party is Saturday, and somehow I have managed to invite everyone I know, practically. So I'm freaking out a little bit, because I am broke as a joke. I made the party pot-luck, and asked everyone to bring a healthy snack, and since we don't use disposable anything when we can help it I always borrow plates and forks. I may have to get some plastic cups, though, and that bums me out in a big way. All I have is a few glasses and jelly jars (yes, we drink out of jars. What's the difference?), and no one else has volunteered any non-breakable cup assistance. I don't even know where I'm going to put 35 people. Whatever, I guess I'm just really proud of my girl, and we hang-out with a lot of people -none of whom I could imagine not inviting. It's a good thing, totally. I will also have six relatives staying at my house -did I mention that? Again, totally a good thing, but also a first, so we'll see how gracefully I handle that in addition to a big party. Yes, we will. See how gracefully...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Check it OUT!!!:

We have walking!!

Also another thrift store dolly makeover:

I really should have taken a before photo of this one. She had enormous arms and shoulders, and a "Holly Hobbie"/prairie girl outfit. I fixed the arms somewhat, altered the dress, and made her some blue jeans. Yay $2.oo. Ray likes her.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The "Make Do" Dress:

Rayona's birthday dress is now a reality. I didn't think I would have time to make it before her party, but my wonderful husband kept her out of my hair for all of Sunday, and I was able to make it happen. It took me EIGHT HOURS. I don't sew well, and had no pattern, so what do you want, right?

The original dress on which this is based (see earlier post) was called a "Make Do" dress by the woman who sold it to me due to it's depression-era status as well as a large, beautifully mended hole on the front. So I copied it as best I could, and here we have the baby version:

I am really rather proud of this, although I don't think I did any of it the way I was supposed to. This was "BREAK the rules sewing". However, the end result -although very much imperfect - is pleasing none the less. I had a Hell of a time getting the collar to press flat. Even though I had worked out a lot of potential pattern issues in my head, and on paper, there were unforseeable "bunchynesses" that I suppose were inevitable for a novice like me. The good thing about this experience is thatI got many curse-words out of my system, and now feel as though working from a pattern will be like a vacation. I learned a lot.

Initially I had snaps, but wasn't happy with how they made the garment look like something off the rack from Carter's, so I decided to learn how to use my buttonhole foot. Not too bad after a few tries:

I think for the sake of it's heirloom/sentimental potential it deserves exactly these tiny vintage buttons. My placket skills need work, but that's ok. I have made my first baby dress, and that's something considering how scared of my sewing machine I was just a short time ago. I hope she keeps this, and one day when she's older remembers how much her Mama loved her.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Just because:

I happened to be watching this, and this song makes me think of summer, and being younger...and lots of other things I haven't thought about in a little while.

Thrifty find:

-Went to the thrift store yesterday with my friend. It was truly pathetic how much effort was involved for us to finally make an opportunity to do this one simple thing after a whole week of talking about it. So we got to have our little "Mommy-outing", and I found a cute doll for Ray which was only $2, and therefore totally justfiable. Her original outfit had seen better days, so I made her this dress out of some fabric in my stash. The neckline almost killed me. I have a lot to learn about even simple garment sewing, and I wish I had someone to show me, but that's what the internet is for, I guess. Overall, I'm happy with the way it came out, and super happy about how cute the dolly now looks!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Looking Ahead:

Well, it looks like not only are we over ear infections and stomach flu (mostly), but today it was nearly sixty degrees. The eaves are dripping, the snowbanks are shrinking, and the sidwalks are clearing. The effect on everyone is magical. Around here you begin to see bare arms immediately. That first day of driving with the window open and no jacket is always so awesome. -Popped the baby right in her carseat, no snowsuit or nothin! YEAH!!

Ok, I'm feeling a bit better than I was, and went to work a little today. Got out of bed early and cleaned one of my smaller jobs. Then crashed big-time, but it's an improvement over the rest of the week when I could barely dress myself.

I even managed to go to the hardware store to get the new plug that my ancient toaster had been wanting for far too (dangerously) long.

-Fixed it myself even:

These happened to fall into my basket as well:

My tenant/best friend and I spent a few lovely moments sitting in the car after work daydreaming about where they should go. I have also bought a Wisteria plant to consume a rotten fence that runs the length of the driveway. I am really excited about the idea of that. I hope it works. this variety is supposed to be hardy to zone 3, even - so we should be ok.
Totally unrelated, I had a nice find at my in-laws' house over Easter when I came across this key rack. I had been wanting one to solve my necklace issues, and it wasn't being used for anything, so that was a happy coincidence for me:
Last of all I have been slowly working on a little project for Rayona. I bought this amazing little dres with which I am completely in love on eBay for $6.00. It was from an esate sale and dates to the 1930's. I have been looking for a simple vintage pattern to use for summer dresses for her for a long time, but haven't come up with exactly "the one". Then I found this and it really spoke to me. I have been studying its construction, and it's so simple that I think I can work out the pattern for myself in a tiny size for now, and then others later. We'll see. I want to make one out of this pretty calico fabric remnant I bought at JoAnn when we were in NJ last time. I hope to have it finished for her birthday party. Today I measured her (little by little as she would allow). Next I have to draw and cut the pattern on ironed grocery bag paper which is what I like to use (and all that I have right now). Wish me luck -A seamstress I am not, but I'm getting much better with my machine.

-Anyone know anything about controlling the spacing of text/photos in blogger? This looks SO crappy...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I have created yogurt:

Here is how I did it:

It was not too hard, though I think I worried about it too much as I always do, and eventually strained it through a cloth to thicken it a bit. Boy is it good. It's from cream-top milk, and is flavored with vanilla, and sweetened with sucanat. It tastes every bit as good as what I usually buy for Ray to eat with her breakfast. I would like a less expensive source for organic milk, though, as this did not save me any money. I initially wanted to try this as an alternative to buying yogurt in non-recyclable plastic containers. I still don't know why those containers have to be made out of type 5 plastic, but I'm sure there's a reason. Now if I could just find milk that comes in glass I'd be all set.

The process was a little weird for me, as I am not a milk drinker, and haven't had it (by itself) in years. I do eat yogurt and cheese (no rennet, though), and will have milk in coffee or as a hidden ingredient. The straining part was a little gross. All the whey that collected in my bowl should by all rights have been saved for baking or something due to it's nutritional value, but as I looked at it all I could think of was "foremilk". It was like the cow equivalent of those first few squirts that your baby gets. I'm not grossed-out by my own milk, or anything, but my daughter was a HUGE spitter-upper, and I still can't associate a lot of milky things with my own food. The sight and smell of ravioloi cheese is a major turn-off. Yucky. So, yeah, the whey went down the drain.

Next time I will try to figure out how to get the batch to thicken better. I did everything I could think of, but still had to strain, and only got half a quart in the end. Not cost effective. Any tips?