March 28, 2023

Easter Goodies from Stubby Pencil Studio {Giveaway}

I'm sure if you're a regular reader here, you'll know that I used to be an art teacher, and therefore have a fondness for art supplies, both kid and adult oriented ones.  I also like to think of myself as ecologically-minded, so when there's a craft or art material that involves recycling or uses natural ingredients, I'm all for it.
Stubby Pencil Studio is an online store I discovered a few years back which offers quite a variety of eco-friendly art supplies and craft materials. The products are not only safe for the environment but for people as well, using ingredients like soy and beeswax (not petroleum), as well as 100% recycled paper sketchbooks (not virgin trees), and pencils made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers (not vibrant forests).
Kate, owner of Stubby Pencil writes:  "I started this arts and crafts supply store to bring the safest, highest quality art materials to other families. You see, when my twins were toddlers, I wanted them to enjoy arts and crafts, but I didn’t want them exposed to chemicals. I tried to buy toxic-free, quality art supplies and I really had to search. Once I found products I was confident enough to give my own kids, I realized other moms would want these safe products for their kids, too."
Not only are their products ethically made, but they're cute and colorful too.  Wouldn't these make great Easter basket stuffers? 
My boys especially like the crayon rocks, but I definitely need to pick up some Smencils for them too.  Browsing their website is like being a kid in an eye candy store.
Who knew that such things as eco-highlighters existed?
This finger puppet robot is pretty cool too (there's a mermaid available too!)
Mary's Softdough is always a hit, and it's made with natural ingredients
And if you're thoughts are set on Easter, this kit is really adorable
My 6 year old loves to paint wooden objects, so I know he'd love this.

One very lucky reader is going to win this adorable suitcase filled with art supplies, all ready to give as a springtime or Easter gift!
Please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, and best of luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 21, 2023

A Delectable Shepherd's Pie

I'm sharing my recipe for shepherd's pie over at a local-to-me blog today.
Not only is it tasty, but it moves my previous post down on the page so you don't have to look at the nasty kombucha SCOBY again (my husband thanked me; kombucha gives him the creeps).

Have a great weekend!

March 18, 2023

The Great Kombucha Experiment

It's time for a new science experiment in the house.  I've done the no-shampoo thing (still doing it with good results), attempted sauerkraut last week, and now I'm trying to make another weird fermented food--kombucha.
If you've never had it, it's essentially like a naturally-carbonated, fruity/vinegary fermented tea soda.  It's really hard to describe, but I like it.  It's a great source of probiotics, among other healthy things, but it's such a unique and enjoyable drink (and expensive when purchased in health food stores) that I wanted to learn to make my own.

In its gestating form, it's kind of disgusting, as you can see in the photo above (you don't actually drink the slimy stuff; the liquid is strained).  You need a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) mother, which you can buy from here or get from someone you know who makes their own kombucha (mine is from a teacher at my yoga studio).  Here's what I got:
It's like raw chicken meets placenta.
The SCOBY was packed with some of the starter liquid from its original kombucha batch, and the watery blob smelled a lot like vinegar.  It really didn't bother me too much, looking at it, oddly enough.

I followed the recipe shared by the yoga teacher, which she got from Kombucha Kamp (she got her SCOBY from there).  I found a similar recipe and instructions from this website (it's a less-spammy looking one).

Here's what I used:
SCOBY :: Wide mouth Gallon jar :: 5 organic green tea bags :: 1 cup organic sugar :: tightly woven cloth and rubber band to cover the top of the jar

The process of making the tea was easy.  I boiled 4 cups of filtered water, then steeped my tea bags in it for 10 minutes.
Then I removed the tea bags and stirred in 1 cup of organic sugar until it dissolved.
In went 8 cups (64 oz.) of filtered water to the tea, which brought down the water temp so I didn't kill the SCOBY.
Next, I poured in all the contents of the bag, including the liquid.
Yes, that looks disgusting, like a fetal pig floating in formaldehyde.  Did I burn your eyeballs?  If not, here are some more shots
It apparently doesn't matter where the SCOBY floats, bottom or top. 
I gave it a stir, then capped it with the woven fabric and tightened it with a rubber band.
Then I stuck it in my pantry where it's dark.  That spot still gets some airflow due to opening and closing the door throughout the day.
I'm hoping that when I taste it in a week (yes, I'm going to taste it!) it will be sweet and bubbly.  The next step is to strain it, add fruit juice and bottle it.  I'll post about that part of the experiment then.

What do you think? Does this give you the heeby-jeebys?  Have you ever tasted kombucha?  Would you?

March 13, 2024

Sandpaper Printed Shamrock T-Shirt

Hey all! Today I'm over at my friend Sheena's blog Sophistishe sharing an easy sandpaper printing craft for St. Patrick's Day.
Hope you enjoy it and make it with your kids (or for yourself!).

March 12, 2024


Things are looking up around here.  There's something to be said about a tropical 60 degree day after weeks and weeks of arctic air to lift one's spirits.
It's nice to break out the chalk, even if we are still in coats and the snow still decorates our yard.  It's only going to get warmer from this point on, right?

It's starting, this dance of ours going from outside to inside and back again.  I'm ready for it!

Speaking of inside, I've still been knitting, and finally finished the Color Affection shawl, which is so hard to photograph.
I've been puttering around the house, changing things around for spring.  It's what I do when I get antsy and bored.
I bought an unfinished pine wood shelf from Ikea and stained it with black/brown paint, then waxed it with finishing paste wax.  The brackets are from Ikea too (total cost was under $10).  I like displaying my baskets and thrift shop plates, as well as my embroidery.
There's something about circles that always appeals to my aesthetic.
So far the boys haven't pulled it down, or even messed with it.  It's bolted to the wall pretty securely though, a process which generated plenty of curse words from me (I was racing against the finish-this-by-the-end-of-naptime clock.

The boys were happy that I had pulled out the plastic Easter eggs.  Man, do I hate those things.
I'm continually stepping on them, but they both love them so much.  S even set up an egg hunt just for me, with smaller eggs stuffed inside the larger ones.
Even my winter wreath has become bunny-fied.
On the kitchen front, I'm finally trying my hand at sauerkraut, thanks to Erin's inspiration.
It's a bit too carrot-y (hence the orange color) I think I got the brine too salty, but so far it hasn't gotten moldy.  We'll see how it is in a few more days.  I'm hoping that this project gives me the confidence to try making kombucha.  That's next on my list of kitchen science experiments.

That's that for life around these parts.  I'm looking forward to warm, sunny days spent outdoors.  I hope you are too.

March 4, 2024

Winter: Killing Me Softly

This winter has done me in.  Cold, snow, a pulled tendon from sitting too much with my feet tucked under me on the couch (seriously!).  I generally like winter and its encouragement to look inward, as well as enjoying all those inside things like needle arts, reading, cooking, baking and catching up (or binging) on television shows on Netflix.
This is what the space beside my chair has looked like all winter.  And I'm sorry to say I'm tired of it.  I love it but I want a break from it, a respite outside in the sun.  I'm pretty sure that last year at this time I swear I was digging in dirt.  Yep, I was.  No snow in sight.

I've been taking Jude to a kids' gym, where he can run around, hang, jump, etc.  It's a great place, but I'm so relieved to nearly have filled up my punch card.  Pulling into that parking lot with literally a line of mini vans deflated any ounce of strength I had.  The place was packed, and while it is great seeing the kids have fun, I've just become weary of the constant buzz of children.  But I do it for my kids, as you probably do too.

I often wonder why parenting is so agitating to me; the noise, the constant interruptions, the mere energy of these boys is enough to put me on edge.  I found some answers in this article, about the highly sensitive parent, and it's like the sunlight parted the clouds above and heavenly beams shone down upon me (hyperbole much?).  I probably wasn't cut out for raising children, but I'm still glad that I did, most days.

I hope my next post (a month from now, most likely) will be more positive.  The past weeks, I've been quietly dying inside, restless, agitated, wanting to scream into the void.  It's been a long winter here in Pennsylvania, and I know that spring is sooooo close.  That's the hope I cling to, knowing everything changes and like the wind, so do our moods.

To end on a positive note: yesterday's post on the Wise Craft book has now turned into a giveaway, so go leave a comment on it if you'd like to win a copy.  Good luck!

March 3, 2024

Wise Craft {Giveaway}

In an act of serendipity, I was contacted to review a new book from a blog that I had only just stumbled upon the day before.  Have you ever visited Blair Stocker's blog, wise craft?  It's a remarkable site, filled with crafts, quilts, upcycling and repurposing, and general inspiration for creative types (or would-be creative types).  Actually, it's very much what I'd like to see my blog turn into, someday, when little hands and bodies aren't always in my face.  But I digress...

Blair Stocker's new book, out this month from Running Press, is called Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects into Stuff You Love, and it's full of inspiring projects to transform things you already have into beautiful and useful craft objects.
Arranged by season, the projects incorporate a variety of materials from paper, fabric, leather and found objects.  There are so many clever projects in this book, from Zombie Barbies (!!!)
to cross stitched pegboard Christmas trees
and even a reimagination of an old standby like a crocheted placemat.
This book is filled with so many creative and more importantly, DO-able projects.  Flipping through the book, I was already noting which projects I had the materials for in my stash, like these book pot holders/trivets.
At $20, this is a reasonably-priced paperback craft book, especially with 60 projects included.  For me, I love that the ideas in this book are a jumping point for coming up with ways to upcycle items from around my home or that I see in a thrift store. 

Wise Craft is And thanks to the author for including this cute little bunting made from fabrics used throughout the book.  It brightens up my living room!
This book trailer does a better job than me at showing you what's inside the book

(I'm so jealous of her studio space! )

You can learn more about Wise Craft via Blair's blog or by looking through the book on
One lucky reader will win a copy of Wise Craft.  Leave a comment on this post telling me something you've made this winter.  Get another entry by sharing the giveaway on Twitter and leave a separate comment. Contest ends March 12, 11:59pm EST. I'll contact the winner by email.  Good luck!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
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