Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Faux-smocking and re-purposed clothing.

I got a book called Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross and have been wanting to dig in to a project or two (if you get this book, check out Heather's corrections to see if the project you're doing is there). I decided to start with a little girl's sundress, faux-smocked with elastic thread. It sounded scary but was so, so easy.

For Hannah's dress I used some fabric that she'd picked out awhile back and really wanted a dress out of. For Ainsley's dress, I was going to use fabric I had on hand, but there was this -

One of my skirts. She was wearing it constantly, it had even made its way into her dress-up box. She kept hiking it up under her armpits like it was a dress and tripping over it.

It is my first project made from re-purposed clothing and I am so proud of it. It turned out darling.

For Hannah's dress, I made the straps out of the dress fabric. On Ainsley's dress I used coordinating bias tape.

These are very easy dresses to make (once you have the process down, one would take an hour, tops), they are cool for the girls to wear, and they'll grow with them for awhile. Ainsley's is also twirly - always a plus.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Well Good Morning! - Today's Flowers.

I never intended for this to become a flower blog, but I've found myself utterly enchanted by the flowers popping up in my daughter's butterfly garden. When you walk outside to milk in the morning and find yourself greeted by these lovelies worshipping the sun ... well, it just makes your day a bit brighter. These are Today's Flowers.

Back to regular posting - fewer flowers - tomorrow. Or maybe this fall.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A skirt a week keeps little girls happy.

Not really one every week, but two new skirts in the last month - simple, fast ones to round out their wardrobes.

Two weeks ago I made these skirts from the Lazy Days pattern offered for free by Oliver + S.

Very simple, very fast pattern, and that's always good when you have girls waiting.

I really liked the idea behind the enclosed hem. Instead of using ribbon, I made bias tape from coordinating fabric.
When I was a kid, my mom made a lot of our clothes - all of the girls 'Sunday clothes' - because it was cheaper. That's not the case anymore. I have several different reasons for making some clothes for my girls and frugality only comes into it if I come across a really, really, really good deal on fabric (with these skirts, each cost me $3 including the cost of the elastic). The main reason I enjoy making clothes for my girls is individuality. Their handmade clothes are truly one of a kind. Also, the girls get to have a hand in creating their clothes. I tell them which fabrics in my stash would work for a project and they decide which to use.

If you're looking for a really fast, simple skirt to make, this is a good one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shopping bag winner.

Heart Rockin' Mama! You've been chosen!

Email me at unprocessedfamily at gmail dot com with your preferred fabric choices and address and I'll get them to you!

Thank you everybody for your fantastic suggestions on food for camping and traveling. I got so many good ideas from you. Fantastic invention, the internets.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look who's beating the odds.

I couldn't believe it when I saw him hopping around in the same place we saw him at the beginning of the week. Birds mature so fast - he's already a teenager.

I can't believe that with five barn cats around, this little bird's managing to keep safe. He hopped up on a little branch to talk to Hannah, but hopped down and held really still in the grass when he noticed me, so he's not drawing attention to himself.

I have to admit, this made my day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reusable shopping bags and a giveaway!

I decided awhile back to make my own shopping bags. I know you can get them for 99 cents at any store, but those have the store's name emblazoned across them. Apart from feeling goofy for using a Wal-Mart back at your local grocery store - or worse, at a local farmer's market - I have a personal policy about not paying a company to advertise for them. This makes not wearing name brand clothes a really easy choice.

Like I said, I'd decided 'awhile back' to make some bags, but hadn't done anything about it. Then I signed up for a shopping bag swap in a forum I'm on and I was on the hook to make at least one bag. In for a penny, in for a pound. I made nearly forty bags.

The pattern I used was Simplicity's 2806 (the green bag in the upper left hand corner). I wanted to use Green Pepper's Market Tote pattern (F882), but my pattern was missing the instructions - very strange.

I altered the pattern quite a bit. I didn't put pockets or keychain holders on any of the bags. Also, it called for a lining, so I cut out as many bags as I could out of the muslin I was going to use for the lining. While I was cutting it out, the constant handling of the fabric made me realize that the muslin could handle the wear and tear just fine as it was, and the fabric that I was going to make the outsides out of was even stronger - so why line it? It's just a shopping bag, after all. So then I cut twice as many bags out of the duck cloth type (lighter than duck fabric, but the same look) as I'd planned.

See, I have this problem with this type of fabric. I adore it, I buy it and collect it and hoard it when it goes on clearance, but I'm not always so picky about the pattern on the cloth. I've ended up with a few real doozies. Hot pink doozies that even my pink princess girl doesn't want. This was a perfect opportunity to put all of this fabric to work.

In the end, I gave some bags to my sister-in-law (She didn't pick any of the pink leopard print.) ...

and kept the rest for shopping and as just-plain-useful bags.

I finished these clear back in May, so they came in very handy during our move,

and we use them constantly when we go to the library, travel, or camp.

Still, I have a lot. I have a lot that have never even been used. So I want to give five away to one of my readers. Canadian readers - don't be shy, if you win I'll send 'em your way. If you want a chance to win, comment with your favorite travel or camping food - I need the ideas. Have your entry in by this Thursday evening at 7 pm MST. I will have my pink-head assistant draw a name out of a hat that my red-head assistant is holding while my tow-head assistant giggles and chews on the dog's ear. Fair enough?

If you win, I'll contact you and you can tell me your top five pattern choices. You can even pick the muslin ones (just remember, that stuff's the devil to iron if you ever have to wash the bag). They aren't professionally made and have no fancy embroidery or applique (though I'd looove to learn to do that - have you seen Sugar Creek's stuff? oh my.) but they're well made and purty (depending, of course, on whether or not your definition of purty includes fluorescent orange geometric shapes on a hot pink background). What more could you ask?

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'The Pose' and yet more flower pictures.

Can you identify these flowers?

These tall pink flowers were in the wildflower mix.

These are from my husband's grandpa's house. I love them. When you stand above them and look straight down on them, they look like bright little suns. Very vibrant color.

I've found that we have a disproportionately large number of orange flowers in our garden, percentage wise - at least four different types.

Hannah's pear tomatoes are ripening up nicely. She's keeping a vigilant eye out for Colorado Potato Beetle larvae.

As for the rest of our day ...

I'm a member of the Growing Naturally webring and we really earned our membership there today. (As if the butterfly garden weren't enough. Or as if 'earning' the membership is even necessary.)

This morning, my girls heard the now common sound of me calling out "Come look! Now!" and they came ... well, they came. Running enthusiastically does get old.

This is what I'd seen while taking the garbage out - three little baby birds lined up on a branch in the pine tree, waiting to take a flying lesson.

Their parents were flying and hovering around them. First one bird, then another, jumped off the branch, flew a few feet and then swerved and landed back in the tree. The third baby was having nothing to do with it. Her parents encouraged her. They entreated her. They even tried to bribe her. One of them brought her a big bug to eat. When she opened her mouth to eat it, the parent flew to a nearby branch and made a funny peeping noise. She looked at the bug, looked at the branch, and then started staring at the sky. So the parent came back, let her have a nibble, grabbed it back and flew to the nearest branch. The baby looked at her, looked at the bug, looked at the branch, and then turned and hopped back to the nest. And that was that.

But about 'The Pose'. Have you seen this pose? The grab-a-magnifying-glass-and-a-camera pose?

Just look at what she'd found.

It was very big. And very green. With yellow dots that looked very much like eyes along its sides. We brought it inside, along with the plant it was found on, and stuck it in our old fish tank. Since she couldn't touch it as much as she wanted to, Ainsley resorted to studying it from an inch away with a magnifying glass.

It is a very pretty caterpillar. (The eyes, which are lower down its sides than the yellow dots on its back, aren't visible in this picture.

Do you know what type of caterpillar this is? We checked here and here but couldn't match it up to anything. I was secretly hoping that it was from the swallowtail butterfly we saw earlier this summer.

After the caterpillar excitement, you can imagine my surprise when I saw The Pose again. Twice in one afternoon.
A baby House Sparrow, fallen from its nest and rescued from the dog - not hurt by either experience. Very young, but old enough to know that peeping was stupid and staying verrry still was smart.

We looked at it, didn't touch it, and left it alone. The parents were circling the area agitatedly and when we left, they came down and fed it. I hope it survives, though it's obviously not likely. But one can hope.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Branding cattle.

Right before we left to go help brand cattle and haul hay, we stuck the kids in the truck and went to load up the cattle. My husband had two of his cows here, each with a calf on her, and we were taking them back to his parent's place to get bred with his other cattle.

My husband had pushed the cows into an alley and asked me to go push them up the alley while he opened the gate to the trailer. Problem is, one of the cows took an exceptional dislike to me before I even opened the gate to the alley. She's a high-headed cow at the best of times, but that evening she decided that the open gate at the end of the alley was too far away and she needed to get away from me NOW. Hence, the need to walk straight through a barbed wire fence and out into the neighboring corn fields. *sigh*

Thirty minutes later, the girls and their babies were in the horse trailer ready to go. This was only possible if I pushed them from about one hundred feet away and stood stock still if her nose went up in the air. When she was about ready to go through a gate, I had to crouch clear down on the ground to get out of her eyesight and even then she was snorting in my general direction.

After we got them loaded up and climbed in the truck, this is what we saw.

So we buckled her up and headed on our way.

My husband is still giving me a hard time about the cow taking me into such extreme dislike since I am usually the one sent in if an animal group needs to be calm while being worked. I've never had a group of sheep or cattle bolt while I work with them if nobody else is interfering, so this was a real surprise. As a precaution, and because somebody needed to watch the kids, I was told to stay away while they worked her through the chute the next day, so this is the only picture I got of the branding/vaccination/dehorning/castrating chores the next day.

I put pictures of my day up at my other blog. Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bits and pieces.

- Thank you for your help on the larvae. I'm so embarrassed that I didn't seek out pictures of the larvae of the Colorado Potato Beetles - especially since I'd seen the beetles running around. This morning we had a party that involved our potato patch, many hands, and a bucket of water. It was a very successful party - you've never partied until you've been to a larvae picking party with everyone singing Laurie Berkner songs.

- Two nights ago, there was a trailer there. Yesterday morning the trailer was gone and this was (is) what was left. I walked out on my porch and was stunned to see it just gone.

Three families lived there in that little trailer. I never got to know them because they were quite private. We waved to each other when they picked up mail, but living as they do, with no official papers, they were extremely cautious of forming relationships outside of their own culture. I don't know why they had to move so quickly - though I can guess. I hope they're able to find work wherever they're going. This is very common in the area we live in and it makes me very, very sad.

- We went to a local greenhouse to pick up one or two more flowers for the butterfly garden. They happened to be having a huge clearance sale on their plants - annuals *and* perennials - so we picked up a few more than one or two.

This morning we placed them in the garden where we wanted them and stood back to look at it. Then Hannah went in and picked up ones she didn't like the placement on and moved them around.Those large plants on the border are sunflowers - they are growing so fast.

She had help. Unwanted help, but help nonetheless.One of the plants we got was called catmint.I didn't think it would have the same effect as catnip, but it does.This would have been a good unschooly moment to talk about drugs and how they can affect your life, turning you into a creature who doesn't care that a dog's chewing on your tail because you're too busy rubbing your face in the drug of choice. But I didn't take the chance - we just giggled.

Tomorrow it's branding and haying for us. Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh, it was a big day today.

In the butterfly garden, we have our first flowers grown from seed.

They're tiny, but we grew those ourselves! So exciting for my budding (hee) little gardener. They're in our 'wildflower rainbow'.

Also, she got to ride in the tractor with Daddy while he mowed down some tall weeds in a neighboring field.

I checked on my potatoes today and found these -

Hundreds of these. Maybe only tens, but it sounds more daunting to say hundreds. Do you know what they are? They were trying to disguise their little larvae bodies as ladybugs (and were doing a fine job of it as far as my two year old was concerned), but I wasn't fooled.

I'm not very good at close-up pictures, but if you look closely you can see the little red monsters all over the plants. On the top, on the bottom, they were everywhere.

Fat off of my potato plants.

I looked online to try to figure out what they were, but most pages, like this one, focused mainly on the Colorado Potato Beetle, aphids, flea beetle, and wireworm, all of which this obviously is not. (Though I do know now what I've been throwing off of my tomatoes and they can go back to Colorado, thank you very much.)

If you know what this is, could you enlighten me please?

Little buggers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weeding the garden.

This is the garden this morning.

There are tomatoes in there somewhere.

This is the garden tonight.

You can see the pepper plants off to the left. Tomatoes and peppers. That's about what we have.

There's also one pumpkin hill, some corn and beans, and some sunflowers - none of which I expect to mature in time. What with the move in the middle of the planting season, it's been one of those years. My mantra this spring and summer has been "You do what you can. And then you breathe and go play with your kids."

Monday, July 13, 2009

How many flowers do you need?

If you're going to make clover necklaces for you, your little sister, your little brother, your pony, your sister's horse, and three kittens, how many flowers do you need?

At least two buckets worth.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At least somebody wants to help me with the garden.

I was beginning to wonder if I was on my own on this. But it appears he'll even help with the mechanic'n.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flower garden progress.

The flax (in the rear) and the zinnias and sweet peas (in the foreground) are shooting up.

And speaking of shooting up, these flowers (I cannot for the life of me remember what I planted there) were not even peeking out of the ground one day and the next day I took this picture. I can't wait to see what they are. Super plants with capes, I'm sure.

I wish the picture were better so that you could see how tall they were - some of them were over six inches.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It is hot.

The goat kids know just how to handle it.