July 31, 2023

Check out Your Local Library/ Kool Aid Dye

Yesterday was only my second time away from Soren for more than an hour and surprisingly, I don't pine for him like I thought I would (it was only 3 hours). As you may know, I am a certified art teacher and fiber artist, and before I had SoJo, I taught art classes in a variety of places, including a local art museum (my primary job). One place I occasionally teach art workshops (on a volunteer basis) is at our town library. Two evenings ago on NPR, there was a brief piece on libraries and how people are flocking to them again, mostly due to the economy being in the toilet. I've been frequenting my local libraries for years, but I can see why people are returning because libraries are a great source of free stuff like books (obviously), DVDs, and internet access.

The children's programming at local libraries is usually great too, and most often, FREE! Our branch has baby lap-sits, which are stories and songs for babies and kids, and I am going to start taking SoJo next week so I can meet some other townie moms.

The program that I taught yesterday was related to their summer theme: Bugs. I led a workshop on dyeing silk scarves and we talked a little about silk worms. Here's an interesting fact: Silk moths can no longer fly because they've been bred to make silk for so long that they've lost the ability. Anyway, we got about 35 kids at the program, which was a lot more than I usually have, so I can see that parents are looking to find free alternatives to summer entertainment.

So why am I posting this? No reason really, except to encourage you to visit your library. I know most of you probably already do, so consider supporting it as well by volunteering or donating used books for book sales.
Also, here's some info on dyeing yarn or small pieces of fabric with unsweetened Kool Aid. It's not what I did with the library kids, since we used commercial dyes, which are more reliable, but Kool Aid dyeing is cheap and fun to do with your own little ones! It's also nice for dyeing plain white onesies, which are usually made of 100% cotton.

Kool Aid Dye Recipe
One package of unsweetened Kool-Aid
3/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of vinegar
yarn/fabric that is made from a natural fiber like wool or cotton

Soak the yarn/fabric in hot water for a half an hour
Mix the Kool-Aid solution
Squeeze excess water from yarn/fabric
Place yarn/fabric on long sheet of plastic wrap
Pour dye over the yarn/fabric and carefully wrap it up in the plastic
Place bundle in a microwave container
Cook on high for 3 minutes, checking it once (you can move it around so the dye is evenly distributed
Take it out of the microwave. CAREFUL...IT WILL BE VERY HOT!!
Rinse with a little dish soap once the item is cool enough to touch. When the water runs clear, you can allow it to air dry.

July 30, 2023

What's on Your Nightstand?

I love this idea that Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Books has come up with...a What's on your Nightstand "tag" (is that what you call it? Or meme? Forgive me, I'm pretty new to blogging). I love finding out what people are truly reading rather than following the NY Times list or hoity-toity reviews by professionals.

So here's what I currently have on my nightstand.
1. Lady of the Roses: A Novel of the War of the Roses by Sandra Worth
I love historical novels, and especially those set in the royal court of England in Medieval and Renaissance times (my husband groans...I seem to always have one of these books around). I'm about halfway through this and it's pretty good. I didn't know too much about the war of the roses, York vs. Lancaster. I always wondered who and what the nearby towns of York and Lancaster in Pennsylvania were named after. It's an easy read and romantic, if that's your thing.

2. It's a Boy! Women Writers on Raising Sons by Andrea Buchanan
If you have read even one post on this blog, you'll know I just had a son in March (my first), and he is the center of my world. I saw this book on Amazon when I found out I was having a boy, and was a tad bummed because like many women, I was hoping for a girl (I have 4 brothers, no sisters, so I thought I'd escape from Matchbox cars and competitive farting for a while). In my attempt to imagine how it would be to be a mom to a boy, I found this book. I read one essay a night out of this and it's really fantastic! I love the funny stories and the very touching ones too. There is also a companion book, It's a Girl for those of you who have daughters.

I'd love to know what you're reading, so drop me a comment or head on over to 5 Minutes for Books! To see some more of my faves, look for the Good Reads widget on my sidebar.

Wordless Wednesday

First solid food...he was more interested in eating the bib!

July 27, 2023

We're Back...Still Pale and Tanless!

Hey everybody! We had a great trip to the beach with the baby and his grandparents, uncles, great aunts/uncles and second cousins. SoJo was so amazing...he really handled all of the new faces and places really well and slept during both car rides, save for a few screams every couple of hours.

He is such a water baby (as I suppose most babies are). He loved being in the pool and splashing water. He got it on his face a lot and didn't mind at all. We even dunked him once, as the swim instructors at the pool I swam at all through my pregnancy recommended it. She said that babies will naturally hold their breath and that it gets them used to going under water. SoJo didn't like it, but he didn't scream either. Hence we only did it once.

He was a little confused by the ocean, as you can tell by the look on his face in the photo. He didn't dislike it, but was just quiet. I think he wanted that sand in his mouth.

This week was also another big moment for the little one; he rolled over from his back to his tummy for the first time. I can't believe how much he's grown up! I am amazed at how great he did during this whole trip. He slept well, as we had a huge walk-in closet attached to our bedroom in the condo and the pack and play fit right in there. So it could be completely dark with the door closed, which is a lot different than his room at home. I left the door cracked in the closet though, for air flow and so that it wasn't really dark during naps and he wouldn't get into the habit of sleeping all day.

And I am pleased to say we are as white as ever. In my 20s, I decided that I was tired of trying to get a tan (after a few mild sunburns) so I don't stay out in the sun for long, and even then I have on tons of sunscreen and a hat. I think Soren will be like me, as we look like we have the same hair and coloring. I used Badger sunscreen, which smells wonderfully like lavender and does not have chemicals in it.
The main protector is zinc oxide which reflects the sun. I didn't want to put things on his skin that had ingredients I couldn't pronounce, so this was great. We weren't in the direct sun for more that 20 minutes each day, so I don't know how well Badger Balm worked long term, but I'd recommend it. I love that all of their products contain at least 70% organic ingredients.

Now it's back to the routine and not having a ton of people around to hold Soren while I'm making lunch, swimming, or just in the shower! I miss the beach already...

Note: Thanks for the comments on my swimsuit! I've had it for a few years and I bought it at Boscovs, a local department store. If I remember correctly, it's a Jantzen. I love that it holds the girls in, and quite honestly, it fit better last year before I was nursing! There's also a matching bottom and skirt, but in the photo I have on a different bottom (actually it's from my maternity swimsuit!).

July 18, 2023

Kindly Pardon the Interruption

As a few previous posts mentioned, we will be away on our vacation for the next week, so forgive me if I don't get to posting anything. Husband will have his computer and satellite card for the internet (work-related...he's in I.T.) so I may get a chance to be on the computer. But hey, who wants to be typing when there is a beach just steps from the door!

Enjoy the week, and send some good vibes our way for the 10 hour drive!

July 15, 2023

Countdown to Sand and Sun

In between baby naps, I am here trying to pack and get everything together for our vacation on Friday. Why is it that men can just grab a duffel bag, stuff some boxers and t-shirts in it, and leave. Oh, I know! It's because their wives pack everything else that they need.

Actually, I don't mind, as I am excited to be going to the beach. It's the unpacking I hate. I am cleaning the house really well before I go because at least coming home to a clean house makes it bearable to unpack and get back to the humdrum routine.

After SoJo's baby shower, I saved a lot of those snap-able, heavy plastic bags that onesies and sheets come in, lord knows what I was going to use them for then. I just couldn't think about them clogging landfills. Finally I've figured out something to use them for...packing. I am sorting the baby stuff into short sleeved onesies, pjs, etc. and sticking them in separate bags. Then they can go into the suitcase. I think it'll be easier to find things that way (not that I am packing tons of stuff mind you). They'll probably make good bags if we have any damp clothes on our return home.
I am also bringing some clothespins to use for hanging up our towels off the balcony rail (clipping them under the railing so they don't fly away) and for other things. And I am bringing my Reisenthel market bag to corrall SoJo's toys and other stuff. I love that it's collapsable. Thanks to Candace at My Greening for the tip and the market basket!

July 12, 2023

I Miss Bravo TV...And Introducing the Smoker's Bib

Before I became pregnant with lil' Darlin,' my husband and I had decided that if we were to have kids, one of us would stay home full time with them. Well since it would have been nearly impossible to live on my measly salary as a Museum Educator/art center teacher/Buddhist high school art teacher/occasional writer for an art teacher magazine AND a writer for the Craft in America PBS series teachers' guides, we decided I'd be the one to stay home and raise our child. I actually think I needed to stay home just to get a break from keeping all those part time jobs under control...never knew if I was coming or going. And because he's an IT guy, he definitely has more job security.

It's really worked out great, as I love being home and taking care of the baby and house (on most days) and since my husband works up the street at the local university, he comes home for lunch and can take a few hours here or there if I have an appointment I don't want to take lil' Darlin' to. However, we've had to make some cutbacks to our spending to make up for the cut in our income. It's mostly been pretty easy, like not going out to eat, not buying new clothes, consolodating our car trips to save on gas, and cutting back on entertainment.

Since we aren't big movie buffs, I didn't miss the entertainment factor until now: this week we had to switch to basic cable. Our town's provider just raised the rates another $20 a month which is over $200 a year, so we had no choice but to scale back. I miss Bravo the most, as I love Project Runway and Kathy Griffin's shows. However, with the internet, you can find a lot of free shows online, and if you don't mind viewing them on a computer screen, you can save a little money on your cable bill if you'd like to downsize to basic cable. I should say that I haven't been watching much TV lately, because I don't want Soren to get used to it being on. I'd like for him to avoid TV until he's 3 or so, as I don't think much good can come out of infants watching it (sorry Teletubbies!).

So last night, husband and I were watching some of the Tonight Show clips. Our favorites have always been Headlines and some of the funny product segments. There was an absolutely hysterical product that had us rolling. It's called The Smoker's Bib, and it's meant to prevent people from getting burn holes in their clothes. We were tempted to get some for our neighbors who our house adjoins to. Days when it's really windy, our house reeks...I just hope they don't ever cause a fire with a lit cigarette in bed or something. I never see the man outside without a lit cig.

I suppose you could use this for haircuts too.

July 10, 2023

Traveling with SoJo...and Nightmares

Last night I had such trouble falling asleep. It's because we are going on vacation.

I know, I know, this should be relaxing and something to look forward too, but to be honest, I am dreading it. It's more of the traveling part, and the sleeping part (for Soren), and the break-up of his routine. As I've mentioned here before, he's a high-needs baby or hypertonic, as some may say. Which means he is intense, demanding, and quite draining. In a lot of ways, I love these qualities as it makes for a very entertaining and enthusiastic child, when he's in a good mood. However, when he is crabby, watch out! My husband and I laugh (when we're not crying) about the irony that we, the two most laid-back, calm people, were blessed with such a spirited baby. I guess our dull lives needed some shaking-up.

I should say that it's been 200% better this month than those first two, but I am still concerned about driving with him for 10 hours to the beach. He has a very specific sleep routine that we can't follow on the road (swaddling his hyperactive arms in a carseat just doesn't work for obvious safety reasons) and he hates the carseat for more than an hour or so. The one thing that seems to quiet him when he's wailing in the car is if my husband blasts really heavy metal, like Carcass or Six Feet Under (with names like those, you can imagine what they sound like). But for some reason it works, and despite my protests against this annoying music prior to Soren, I've grown to love it. Probably because I'd rather hear that than my baby cry!

When we decided to make arrangements for this trip, it was when I was pregnant. I based my decision on my cousin's baby, who had traveled from Georgia to PA at 3 months and who handled the trip beautifully. My biggest baby misconception: that babies will sleep anywhere and everywhere when they're tired. Big surprise!! I got the baby who will only sleep in his crib in the dark, or occassionally on mom or dad's chest.

Since we can't change our plans, we are just going to grit our teeth and make the drive (I can't imagine taking him on a plane!). We are thinking about leaving around 10pm so that he'll hopefully sleep through most of it. But then I worry that I'll mess up his sleep pattern, or that he'll still cry because he's extra tired. At least when we get there, we'll have a lot of babysitters who can give us a break, meaning we are meeting my family and some extended family there. That was another reason why we decided to go, as it would be a little more relaxing to have some helpers on vacation. We may even have a night out just for ourselves!

So next Friday, send us a little prayer or some good thoughts for our journey. If all else fails, we'll have to listen to Carcass, Cannibal Corpse, or Ministry the entire way (pray for me!).

P.S. That's him in the photo on his ride home from the hospital...the tears started shortly after!

July 9, 2023

Wordless Wednesday

July 8, 2023

Did You Say Cardboard?

Check out these cool items made with cardboard. Quite eco-friendly. Click on the Boldfaced words to link to their source. Some of them are for sale.

Cardboard Speakers

Chair, stool and rocker from Foldschool
(free patterns on their site)

Cardboard Bicycle (it actually works and cost only $30)

Corrugated Cardboard Lights

Cardboard house (blueprints found HERE)

Cardboard Rocket Playhouse from Natural Pod (an awesome natural store for kids)

Too bad we just bundled the cardboard for recycling this evening...

Going (and staying) Green

When I first began writing this blog in the ethers of my mind, I envisioned it as a little gallery of my projects, mostly handmade fiber arts stuff like knitting and sewing. In the beginning, I just couldn't make my lazy self get out the damned camera, so many of the things I created while pregnant are now dirty from use or were given away to friends. Enter baby. Not much making or doing going on now, so please don't be disappointed by this blog's subtitle.

I think my mind has had a change of heart, where I am now really into reading blogs and other sites that chat up the whole green movement. Don't get me wrong, this is not new to me. I was a vegetarian for the last 13 years (I say was because I felt I needed to eat a little bit of fish and chicken during the pregnancy and while I am nursing due to low energy/iron, but I plan to return and currently eat 90% of my meals as a veg), I recycle like a fiend, I try to conserve water and lots of other resources whenever I can. But with the news of becoming pregnant, I began to get serious about all this green stuff. And what a great time to do it, with all of the interest out in the world. I assume going green was on my mind both for the health and safety of my baby and to preserve his future on this earth, but also because it's become a lot easier to choose green options. I remember going into a Burger King while traveling on vacation and having this Abbot and Costello-esque discussion with the cashier trying to explain that I wanted a Whopper but please don't put meat on it.

But I digress...I wanted to make a list here of some of the things I've done over the past year to make life greener for me, my husband, my son, and the earth. Hopefully they will inspire you to do your part too. Oh, and one more thing--PLEASE don't try and "outgreen" each other. There's nothing more annoying and counterproductive than guilt-tripping others into feeling bad about throwing out that plastic bottle. Yes, it's bad, but ragging on them just makes them less likely to make green choices. Educate, but don't bully. Here's my list:

1. Compost (if you have a yard)
2. Grow your own herbs and veggies (we're a little low on the veggies but I am trying to add some each year)
3. Buy locally harvested foods. Go to Local Harvest to find a co-op or farm market in your area
4. Take reusable bags to the grocery store. This one by Envirosax is great as it rolls up small to fit in your purse

5. Recycle
6. Use reusable bottles, like the Sigg one I have rather than buying bottled water

7. Drive less (duh)
8. Use green cleaning products, like those from Seventh Generation, Ecover, Method, or Shaklee, or better yet make your own. My favorite is a mix of 3/4 water, 1/4 vinegar, and some drops of tea tree oil as a disinfectant.
9. Use green laundry detergent. My best tip is to use vinegar in place of fabric softener and baking soda to whiten your clothes. Those dryer balls work pretty well too
10. Line dry your clothes whenever possible
11. Cloth diapers (see earlier post on this). Even using a few cloth a day can save the earth and save you money
12. Use old t-shirts in place of paper towels (I admit this is a hard one)
13. This is a little gross, but around here we have a saying "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down." You can probably guess what this refers to, but it's a good way to save water. I picked this up from a former professor who remembered seeing these posters around NYC during a drought.
14. Opt for hardwood floors over carpeting, or if using carpets, find ones made from natural products like wool or cotton
15. BUY LESS STUFF!!! This to me is probably the most important tip, although it's definitely the hardest to adhere to, especially for me. But when you think about how many resources go into making and transporting goods, you realize that by just buying less, you'd be helping the earth.

That's it for now...whew, that wiped me out! Hope you get a little inspired.

July 2, 2023

Wordless Wednesday...My Students' Artwork

I know it's WORDLESS Wednesday, but I need to explain this photo. Before I went on maternity leave, I had my high school students try their hand at dyeing silk scarves. The whole trimester for art at the private Buddhist school where I taught was devoted to craft, so we dyed Shibori scarves, felted, created objects out of duct tape, and made books. I wish we could have done metal and wood work, but the facilities there aren't the best...not even a sink (don't ask how I managed to teach them dyeing techniques). I was organizing some of my folders on the computer and came across these images. I miss those kids! And I feel really bad that I didn't go to graduation, as they all wanted to meet the little guy. But the long traveling time (almost an hour) coupled with his crabbiness if he doesn't get a nap in his crib on time made me stay home.
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