Spring Stripe Shorts

Although spring has barely sprung in our neck of the woods, I'm feeling like summer. So I've been sewing up light shorts for my daughter and experimenting with sweet cotton bloomers for beneath her summer skirts. The bloomers are still in the prototype stage, but here are some shorts that were simple to put together and in size 3, took less than a fat quarter's worth of fabric.

I didn't bother finding a pattern, just laid a pair of shorts that fits her on the fold of the fabric and cut around it with a generous .5" seam allowance.
There are some really great tutorials on how to construct pants and shorts out there... I learned how to do it online, at other mama's blogs! So I'm not making this into a tute,  if you Google "kids pants tutorial" you will be amazed at how much information is out there, and later on you will be amazed how completely easy this is once you do it a time or two.

 Stripes just don't photograph well, do they?

But apparently they are good for playing on the patio...

and climbing "trees" (shhh, don't tell her they're just shrubbery!)

 My thirty seconds of cooperation by my lovely model is over - bye!

More Imke Love

I haven't blogged all the times I've made this pattern, but suffice it to say, It Rocks!! I use it for my son and my daughter, using the boy/girl options the pattern gives so that they each can get the "look" they want. Here's my latest Imke - incredibly easy in fleece, because if you don't want to hem you can skip it. Yes, that's the latest Mini Boden catalog on my table there - not because I'm a customer, but because I'm a copycat! It is a great place to see what's trendy for the season and a lot of the styles are very basic. So it isn't that hard to rip off get inspired to make a few things of your own with that Mini Boden flavor. Right now I'm eyeballing that swim cover-up on the front there -  it's a simple tunic length hoodie made from toweling material. I could do that!! Anyhow, back to Imke:

This would be a good choice for a beginner to try sewing a shirt, because having a hood instead of a collar makes it easier to finish the neckline. Collars take practice! Either way, I seriously recommend using a basting stitch to attach the hood or collar because you may need to adjust it. If you don't baste, you could find yourself spending lots of time with your seam ripper! Not that I would know anything about that.

So there she is - I just love the sweet flared sleeves and bodice. And I love how easy it is even more!

A Menu Mailer Giveaway!

One of my favorite traditional food blogs, Cooking Traditional Foods, is having a giveaway - a full year of their incredible traditional foods menu mailer. The bonus is that the menu is Gluten Free and Casein Free too, and on top of that (as if that weren't enough!) it comes with prep schedules and shopping lists for each day's tasks so you can keep on top of them and not fall off the plan due to lack of preparation. Plus, the winner will receive access to the Recipe Archive which contains over 500 recipes!!

Their menu mailer, whether you win it or subscribe to it (which I have done in the past and highly recommend!) will definitely help you gain confidence and make progress with integrating more traditional foods into your life.

Menu Mailer Giveaway Here!

Recipe Cost Calculator

With grocery costs soaring, it's more important than ever to keep a tight rein on the grocery budget. But do you know how much your favorite recipes cost you? With this spreadsheet, you will. I am changing my monthly menu plans to include three or more meals per week that are even more frugal. This will help me know for sure that I'm knocking dollars off the weekly budget with my new plan.

The spreadsheet is made in Excel and is fairly basic - I have no idea how to use Excel, but I was able to easily input a few ingredients and try calculating a simple recipe in just a few minutes. I found it online while I was browsing through blogs for recipes. The author is asking one dollar for the spreadsheet, and emails it to you after receiving your payment. I felt comfortable risking a dollar on it, so I decided to give it a try. I don't have any relationship to the author other than as a customer so I can only say that it seems like a pretty good deal to me so far! Here is a link to the blog page where you can get your own copy -

Recipe Cost Spreadsheet

Traveling Bone Broth

This season a lot of us are spending time on the road or in airports - for some of us, living on diner and airline food for even a day isn't an option. I personally do best when I consume bone broth every day, but I was a bit stumped as to how I was going to do that while away from home, traveling by air, and staying in accommodations without a refrigerator, for four days. I think I've figured it out.

Look at this beautiful photo:

It's not the photography that makes me feel all warm and tingly, it's the fact that what you see inside that jar is pure bone broth - about 18 cups worth, give or take a few.

To create your own bone broth powder, start with strained and defatted broth prepared according to the Nourishing Traditions recipe or which ever method works best for you. Season the pot of broth as you like. When you have the broth flavored the way you prefer, strain it through a rather fine strainer to get all the bits of herbs, etc. out. (If you aren't as picky as me, you could certainly skip this step but there's just something so gorgeous about a bowl of clear broth...)

Keep the broth at a lively simmer until all the water is nearly gone - when it becomes thick and starts to make splattery sounds, watch it closely. I like to let it brown slightly, it adds a nice rich flavor. When it has reduced as far as it can without burning, pour it out onto parchment paper (cut to fit your dehydrator and laid out on the trays). Make sure you have prepared the paper ahead of time, because the thickened broth will start to harden on the sides of the pan and become difficult to scrape out if you allow it to cool too much.

Spread the broth out as thinly as you can on the parchment, areas that are too thick will remain leathery. Dehydrate it at 150 at least overnight - you can't overdo it with this, the drier the better.

When the broth is completely dry and brittle, it is done. Allow it to cool, then break it into pieces and pulverize it to a powder in a blender. I'm guessing a food processor would work just fine, and if you are off the grid or have kids who need to burn off some energy, you can use a slap-chop type chopper - I tried my Pampered Chef chopper and it didn't quite get it to a fine powder, but much better than breaking it up by hand.

To use the broth powder, add it to boiling hot water and stir til dissolved. The larger your chunks, the longer it will take. How much powder per cup of water? That's up to you, I suggest starting with a quarter teaspoon and adding another quarter as needed til you get the strength you want. Once you know how much per cup you like, label the container with the measurement for future reference.

So now your broth won't freak out the TSA or the airport police or add a hundred pounds to your cooler. It's now portable, lightweight, and requires no refrigeration, how cool is that!

coming up in my next post - a raw milk treat to bring on your trip, that you can carry in your purse or pocket.

Strawberry Yogurt Taffy

My kids love this recipe because to them, it's candy. To me, it's the joy of giving them a treat, minus the tense pause when mom reads the label and gives the thumbs up or thumbs down. It's also the only way I know to take raw milk with me on an airplane! Being able to bring decent food for my family when we travel is really important to me, so this recipe is a go-to for any trip.

This recipe is the healthiest with fresh milk that you culture yourself - but if you can't get raw milk, any whole milk organic yogurt can be substituted. I'm not going to go through the process of making raw milk yogurt in this post, it's pretty simple - a jar, some starter yogurt and a source of warmth are all you need, no fancy yogurt-maker required. There are a lot of ways to do it, if you need help feel free to ask - I can always put up a post on making yogurt with raw milk later.

For the yogurt taffy, mix your plain raw yogurt with a jam or fruit sauce of your choice - we used an organic strawberry this time but the kids also like peach. Use a little less than you would if you were going to eat it out of the bowl, the dehydration concentrates the sweetness.

Spread the mixture out on parchment paper cut to fit your dehydrator. Keep it thick enough that there are no thin areas where the paper shows through.

I set my dehydrator at about 120F for this batch of thick yogurt, but for thinner yogurt, 95F has worked fine. If it's important to you that the milk remain raw, use thinner (undrained) yogurt and keep the temp low. When it is all "leathery" and will peel smoothly off the paper, it is done. I like to roll the paper & yogurt up together and cut with scissors into segments. Then the kids get to peel strips off just like the commercial fruit roll-ups.

These yogurt taffy "roll-ups" were a great travel snack during our trip to the midwest to visit family. They survived well in both the carry-on and the big suitcase we entrusted to the airline, I made enough for the whole trip and a few even made it home. They are excellent for including in my second grader's lunchbox too! I got four sandwich-baggies full of roll-ups from two quarts of yogurt. In such a concentrated state, the yogurt is more filling than typical candy and I have never had my kids ask for more than two. If you make this let me know how it turned out, and I'd be happy to help if you have any questions about the process.

A Little Progress... and a Sharpie trick

Have you ever had the feeling you are on a treadmill, that just getting one tiny thing accomplished takes way too much effort? Sewing was like that yesterday and I barely made any progress on the Imke hoodie. Today went better though - I completed the bodice & sleeves, put on ribbon embellishment and a decorative patch and hemmed the sleeves & bodice. Now all that's left is to decide if I will line the hood or not, and get it attached.

Once that was finished, I felt like doing something different so I made a pair of mittens from a tutorial I found at Five Green Acres. I used leftover pieces of an old sweatshirt and skipped the lining, what I was really after was to check the sizing. I made it in the Child Med size and it was a bit too long and wide in the finger area so I trimmed it down a bit. My boy-child was not here to try them on so I guessed, if they don't fit I am sure there's someone to give them to. The exciting part wasn't the mittens, though. I had a page of iron on transfer paper on which I'd printed out the image for the hoodie. I thought there must be some way to use the rest of the sheet, which having been cut, could no longer be printed on. So I tried making some simple stripes on the mittens by using a Sharpie marker directly on the transfer sheet, then ironing it on. Maybe I'm the last to know, but it works! I'm now in the market for a full set of Sharpie markers with all those great colors, and surfing the web for more image transferring tricks.

Sewing Imke - Girly Version

After sewing several hoodies from the Lil Blue Boo pattern, I'm finally working on one from Farbenmix out of the book I have (Sewing Clothes Kids Love) as a gift for a niece. I just love the bright knits and fun embellishments they show in the book - but my selection of knits locally was rather limited. I came up with a loose collection of stripes, dots and cherries for this one. It seems like planning and carrying out the embellishments takes as much time as sewing the entire garment! But what a fun way to spend your time.

No School Day

After waking up at the usual early weekday hour and getting into the morning routine, we realized Ooops! No school today! Fortunately it's a gorgeous day outside, clear amber sunshine and crisp blue sky. So what do the kids want to do? They want to play... School.

So we had Art Time

a nature walk...
taking a look at what's edible on the cattails this season...

pondering mushrooms...
and wondering at these blackberries, way too late in the year to ever ripen

portrait with a gorgeous old oak...

a little tree climbing...

And every school has to have recess (this school allows rollerblades)

A skinned knee or two didn't stop the frolicking...

The weather is finally cool enough for my daughter to consent to wearing the hat I made her - I used this great tutorial from Cheri at I Am Momma - Hear Me Roar. Sure, she called'em Boy Hats but they translate perfectly into girly cuteness too!

Once we'd worked up an appetite with all the exercise, we were ready to tuck in to some grub - luckily this school makes their chilimac with grassfed beef and sprouted beans, so we could be like the cool kids and have Hot Lunch today!

So what was the point of this whole post, all these (probably really slow to load) pictures... well some days it's so hard to get up the motivation to just Do Things... it would be so much easier to plant the kids in front of another episode of Max & Ruby ... I know! So I'm hoping this little story of our day might help the next time you feel out of steam and out of ideas. I'll probably have to read it over myself, cuz those Totally Fed Up And Frazzled With Cabin Fever winter days are coming up (winter break, anyone?).

Coffee Cozy Crazy

I have few coffee drinkers on my Christmas list, so I'm busy making several sets of these. After perusing the various tutorials Google suggested, and trying a prototype, I decided to go with the tutorial offered by Erin at House on Hill Road. Here's one of the results - pretty cute, I think. Almost makes me wish I still drank coffee!

Dortje Completed

I like how they turned out, but let's just say next time I make them I don't think I'll be doing the pieced leg option. Placing ruffles into curved seams is apparently not my forte. I am excited that I learned to make the slash pockets, it was so easy, and the faux fly was new to me too. Two changes I'll have to make next time are to place the back pockets higher and add two inches to the length; the fit in the waist was perfect but the pant legs were a bit high-water on my daughter so I added that extra piece in pink fabric at the bottom. I used a flannel plaid in green, pink and white for the waistband and I think it will be more comfortable to wear, it's super soft.

At first she nearly refused to wear them because they weren't completely pink... but I think once she had them on, she was pretty happy. And that makes me happy too. :)

Sweet Little Knee Patches

Two blown out knees on a pair of otherwise perfectly usable jeans - unacceptable!! Here I took a few scraps of cotton fabric, and sewed the shapes to each other in layers. After attaching each square to the previous one by going around the perimeter, I ran the sewing machine back and forth randomly over the whole patch in pink thread, then applied fusible web to the back. I ironed the patches onto the knees and then with embroidery floss, ran a row of rustic stitches around each patch. Sorry about the photo, I guess the light in the barn wasn't so great!