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Re-Useable Snackbags – Tutorial and Giveaway!

 
 
I’m back! And I have been oh-so-busy with ever so many different things. And before we launch into all of that, let’s have a tutorial and a give away, shall we? 

 One of the project I recently finished was a set of re-useable snack bags. I get really frustrated with the amount of trash generated by my family. One of the components is ziploc baggies (also I have to remember to buy them at the store….and I never do…and then I don’t have snack baggies…). I looked around at lots of tutorials and came up with my own process. Here we go. 

These are super easy if you have a serger. If you don’t you can still do it, but it’s going to involve zig-zagging and turning and stuff. 

I made mine all different with scraps. What I did buy was rip-stop nylon to line the inside. This gives them a little water resistance (they aren’t at all waterproof, so don’t use them for soup or yogurt). Let’s make a guess. Get about a yard of nylon and a yard of cotton. I think. 

Okay. Let’s get going.

For each bag….

Out of both the cotton and the nylon, cut rectangles the width you want your bag, plus seam (let’s say 6 1/2″), and twice as long as you want your bag to be plus 2 inches (let’s say 8+8+2=18″). I eyeballed this on most of my bags, and I made a variety of sizes, so these measurements are just ideas. 

 
Serge the two rectangles together on one of the short sides of the rectangle – wrong sides together!
 
That serged edge is the front opening of your baggie. Line the fabric up and fold it in half, less those two inches we added. Like so. See how this already looks like a bag?
 
Starting at the bottom of the baggie, serge up both sides. Make sure you are catching the nylon in the seam. 
 
I can be a really picky seamstress, so my big challenge here was to just not worry about how exact my seams were and that everything was spot perfect. These aren’t works of art. They are lunch baggies. 
 
Finally, serge across the last side of your rectangle. This makes the top of your flap. Now you have a basic baggie and all you need is a closure. 
 
 

Finish the rest of your serging and make a whole set of these things. You will need a standard sewing machine next. All you need to do is add velcro to the openings. I used a zig-zag on the sticky side of the velcro because that was just easier.

Shazam!! A snack baggie! 

Like I said earlier, I made a whole bunch of these, in many sizes. I’m really looking forward to taking them on a test run when our family goes hiking this weekend. 
 
Another side benefit was using up some of my larger scraps – especially ones that have some kind of sentimental value. See that blue and white stripe one? That was from a maternity dress I made for myself more than 8 years ago, pregnant with my first baby. And now it’s a snack bag. Stuff like that makes me happy. 
But wait! There is more. I mentioned a giveaway, did I not? 
 
I made a lot of these. More than my family really needs. And I know that we are all out there doing our back-to-(home)school preparations. Many of those preparations will involve making lunches for people. 

 So I have a set of 4 snack baggies for one lucky winner! 

I’m doing this giveaway on my Facebook Page. It’s really easy. Click over to my page, like my page (if you don’t already), and leave a comment on the giveaway post telling me what you would like to use these bags for – hiking and trail mix, sack lunches and sandwiches…extra peanuts for a ball game? 

I’ll pick a random winner from the comments next Friday (August 15th). 

That’s it! Fun and easy, right? 

I’ll Be Back

It's that time of year. Between the festivals we work at, family in town, and enjoying lots of outdoor time, I'm just not near my devices.

My family is packing up the camping stuff this week – including our wings, faery horns, Luke Skywalker costume… We are headed out to The Oregon Country Fair. We've been out there already for a couple of weekends already, working on set up and having a wonderful time.

So I will return to the Internet in a couple of weeks. I'll be dusty and covered in glitter and bug spray. And I will be supremely happy.

Baby-Bug loves the big water truck.

Button Down Dress

I love turning old clothing into new clothing and one of my all-time favorites is turing an old adult button-down shirt into an a-line sundress for a preschool-sized person. It takes less than an hour from start to finish and…just cute galore.

All you need is a button down shirt (the larger the size the more you have to work with) and about a yard of single fold bias tape. We used one of Papa-Bug’s old shirts that didn’t make the cut in a recent purging of the closet.


You also will need a dress to use as a size guideline. An a-line dress will work the best, but as long as you can get a general idea of width and length, any dress will work.

Iron and lay the shirt out flat. Place the dress on top, everything face up. Cut around one half of the dress – just the armhole, side and back.

Take the pattern dress away and carefully fold the shirt in half. Use the cut half as your pattern on the other side to keep your sides as symetrical as poissible. Cut around the second armhole and side and across the bottom.

Using scraps from the sides or sleeves of the shirt, cut two strips approximately 3″ wide and 15″ long. That’s all the cutting…and the trickiest part of this dress. You’re halfway done.

Fold and sew the two strips in half, clip the corners, turn, and press. These are going to be the back ties at the waist.

If your dress model is available, pop the cut dress on them to mark placement for the ties.

If your model isn’t around, the ties will get pinned on between 2″-4″ below the armhole. Use your eyes and guage it. This might be another good time to look at your guidline dress and think about where the child’s waist will be. Pin the ties to each side


Sew down the side seams, matching front to back. I always start at the armhole and go down. It’s far easier to adjust a hem that is a little off than it is to adjust an armhole that has gone funky.

It’s almost done. All you have to do is a hem and bias tape around the armholes. I had planned on using the green bias tape in the first picture, but it came up a little short. So I used a different piece I had. It was a little wide and I trimmed it down after sewing it to the armholes…

…but before I pinned the finished edge in place.

If you aren’t familiar with setting bias tape as an armhole, there is a good video you can watch here. Once you’ve got the armholes faced, you are almost done.

I didn’t get a picture of the last step because Sister-Bug was SOOOO excited for her new dress that I just pressed a half inch hem and called it good. And I am sure that you can figure out how to hem this dress. Just make sure that your front hems at the button placket match.

That’s it. One seriously cute sundress, up-cycled, and super hip.

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Side note: Making these out of oxford style button downs means your kiddo can wear it with a tie. And it’s a nice “boy-ly” dress for a little boy who likes the comfort of dresses but maybe isn’t too into the frills of lots of sundresses. And no one can say it isn’t boy’s clothes…since you made it out of Dad’s old shirt…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radio Silence

Where did I go? No where really. A series of Internet debacles have kept my writing on paper or in my head.

First there was the password change, and now I can’t use the blogging app I usually use on my iPad. Grr.

Then there was the cable internet just…stopping…one day. We called. “It’s a known problem and we are working to fix it…” Days go by. The Internet comes back on in two minute increments — just enough to go see that there are notifications but not long enough to do anything about them. Grrrrrrrr.

We called again. “There is noise on your line…some one will come out…it will cost you…” So we switched to a DSL service provider and that took a bunch of time. GRRRRR.

In the middle of all that mess we had screen-off week. We are wrapping up the school year. I’ve been clearing out my mending and old projects basket. We’ve been outside at parks and in the yard and garden. I’ve been doing some personal writing. It’s been good. But it has left the blog quiet. Far too quiet. My mission for the weekend is to get all my tech issues fixed, or at least understood. And then I can start writing again.

I know you understand.

Teaching Princesses

I’ve written about princesses before. I care a lot about the messages I send my kids and that they receive. I care a lot about supporting their interests. Before my three little individuals showed up to challenge everything I once believed about parenting, I had some pretty opinionated opinions about things like parenting. How quickly those were all stripped from me.

One of my ideals had to do with princesses and helping any daughter I had avoid the princess trap – I would never allow those misshapen Disney harlots into our house! But of course, never say never. As luck would have it, my darling son introduced us to the Disney princess phenomenon and his small sister took up that pantheon of goddesses with Enthusiasm. So it goes.

Kids bring their own agenda to the table and it is our job to help them learn about the world through their interests. Hopefully I can use their interests to teach them good lessons about being good people.

Princesses are not inherently evil. What we teach our girls, or let them passively absorb, about Princesses is pretty sinister. But we can choose what we want to direct our kids’ attention to when we interact with the Princess story. We do not need to be stuck in the “classic” messages in this image.

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Images like this, that perpetuate the idea that Princesses are somehow inherantly damaging to our daughters make me angry. Because it seems like everyone has missed the lessons that are available. So let’s break it down, one at a time.

Snow White

The prince doesn’t protect Snow White. He saves her, but he’s actually not there when she needs protection. She runs into the woods and learns to support herself by trading her skills (housekeeping – a seriously valuable skill set that everyone should have) with those who can benefit from them. She is cheerful in the face of adversity and makes the best of a horrible situation. That’s pretty cool.

Jasmine

When she finally realizes that her mariageability is her only asset and that the law governing her is unfair, she runs away. She rejects the premise that she is only a bride. She adventures and fights with Aladdin and at the end of the movie, her courage gets an archaic law changed.

Belle

The only person absolutely obsessing over Belle being the most beautiful is the villain Gaston. And he falls from a turret. Of course Belle is beautiful. It’s the title of the story. But she’s also brave – rescuing her father at her own peril. She’s compassionate – caring for Beast when he is injured. She’s a rebel and doesn’t care about other’s narrow judgements – reading and learning when women are clearly not encouraged to do so. These things are all a part of what is inside Belle’s heart. Just as Belle learns to look deeper than the Beast’s appearance, everyone in the story can look past Belle’s appearance and see what a clever, brave, and loving person she is. Everyone except Gaston, of course.

Cinderella

Like Snow White, Cinderella faces up to an awful life with dignity and courtesy and kindness. She finds joy where she can. She takes good care of those around her. Sure, she goes to the ball and the Prince falls in love with her. I know it is totally far-fetched. But so often good things happen to people who look for the good in all situations – if only because they can frame their situation positively. It takes a strong person to stay positive the way Cinderella does.

Ariele

She always wants to go to explore the land. The whole first part of the movie is about her fascination with this other place and her burning desire to visit it. Prince Eric is her catalyst (and a pretty appropriate one for a teenage girl). She gives up her home, her family, and her voice to follow her dream. That is so brave. That is so strong. She wants this adventure so badly that she makes great personal sacrifices to achieve it.

Sleeping Beauty

She’s been my Everest on this one. Mostly because she’s asleep for most of the movie (NOT dead – sorry people, but sleeping and dead are really different things). She’s never in a bad situation that she is aware of. She sleeps through the scary bits. She’s kind of a blank. BUT, while the Prince rescues her with the kiss, he’s not the real hero. The real hero are three middle-aged fairies. It’s the three good fairies who protect her in the woods. They help the prince all along his quest and provide him with the weapons and tools he needs to succeed. Not only that, but as Maleficent chases them across castle, the three fairies turn Maelficent’s weapons (boulders, arrows, etc.) to flowers and bubbles. They do everything they can to save their darling girl and support the Prince on his quest and they never resort to violence. Three middle aged ladies. Awesome.

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So that’s what I teach my Princess-loving daughter about her heroines. These girls are brave, determined, compassionate, resourceful, and oh-so-strong.

The creators of Princess Magic are listening to our desire for awesome characters for our girls to adore. Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Elsa, and Anna are all kick-ass young women who take their adventures and destinies into their own hands. Obviously the tide is turning.

There is still a tremendous amount of work to do with body images (and eye size – what is up with the gigantic creepy eyes?). But we can turn the tide and stop teaching our girls that the lessons learned from Princesses are bad. We as adults are just as guilty of perpetuating the negative Princess story as Disney when all we see or show to our daughters is what is on the surface. When we judge these girls only by their beauty (she’s a Disney Princess…she must be brainless/only interested in marriage/every other negative stereotype) we fail our daughters. We teach them exactly what we fear Princesses are teaching them. That the surface appearance is what matters. We can dig deeper. We can actively give them another story as they play and learn. As we watch these movies with them we can applaud the heroic actions of these girls and play that their dolls are scaling mountains or whacking each other with frying pans.

Princesses are powerful, as I have written about here. As parents we need to choose if we want to perpetuate the story of the helpless princess or tell the other story that is below the glittery surface. I’m not going to judge a book by it’s cover, nor a princess by her ball-gown. My kids deserve to have their heroes and heroines supported and understood and celebrated.

And for full disclosure, my favorite princesses are Belle & Tiana. Who are yours? (I know you have them…)

 

Reason Three: Play Happens

Here, in the long and drawn out, slowly revealed, reasons we home school is reason number three. I keep these percolating in the back of my mind as each busy day evolves. It just takes a while, with three homeschooled kids, other posts I want to write, a ballet recital coming up… to actually put words into form. 

“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”

(O. Fred Donaldson)

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Reason Three: Play Happens (and I like to watch it happen)

It was school time. Such as it is in our house; time to gather for our morning circle and discuss what we hoped to do with our day. It wasn’t a very busy day, no errands until the late afternoon and everyone’s teeth were brushed. I was about to call the kids to the table when I realized I didn’t want to interrupt school time.

What?

They had set up an elaborately organized “book store” on and around our piano. There was even a jewelry section for Sister-Bug to buy or sell her jewelry. They were recommending books to each other and selling back and forth. I scrapped our circle time and handed them a stack of play money.

In the time we would have had “school”, they taught each other more math than I ever would have in a day. Brother-Bug carefully helped his Sister figure out which number was which. They were adding and making change and having a ball. I have no worksheet to point at what they learned. I won’t be testing them on this. It was just fun.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)

Homeschooling allows us to see the rich possibilities in each moment because we aren’t bound by test requirements or the schedules and needs of 30 kids. Our play enriches our days and allows us to watch our kids develop skills that we can then expand in more in-depth (and possibly structured) ways.

Lately Toddler-Bug has been doing his best to be involved, so now they are all learning how to include a range of ages and talents in their games. Kids learn almost everything they really need to know – like working with that range of ages – while they play. The process everything. The explore concepts of all kinds and we may or may not know what they are working on.

We have been studying “real life superheroes” recently. People like Nelson Mandela or Clara Lemlich (I included a link there because you probably aren’t familiar with the indomitable Ms. Lemlich) who have used super powers like determination, compassion, and courage to change the world. Sister-Bug has been delighted by Clara Lemlich. She likes playing “factory bosses” with Papa-Bug. He plays the cruel factory boss opressing the workers at a garment factory. Sister-Bug is Clara and runs around screaming “STRIKE” and walking out until Papa-Bug caves and gives her better working conditions. In a unique twist, the two older kids raced into the living room mid-game. There was StarWars shooting sound effects coming from Brother-Bug. Sister-Bug jumps on the couch and declares: “You can’t get me with your Podracer! I am Clara Lemlich and I AM UN-CRUSHABLE!!!” It was…perfect. And totally weird. I can’t make this stuff up and I am so glad that I get to be the audience for their creativity.

Perhaps most importantly, childhood is such a fleeting moment of our lives. In the all-to-near future they will have jobs and college commitments and bills to pay and other responsibilities that structure their days. It happens. Right now, they have much of the time they need just to be. To play. To live fully in that world of amazing imagination where anything is possible. Our homeschooling honors that.

Want more reasons?

Reason One – A Hot Cup of Tea

Reason Two – School Scheduled Around Life

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P.S. If you want a great picture book about Clara Lemlich, check out Brave Girl by Michelle Markel.

Random Reads: Just Imagine

 

I spend a lot of time roaming the children’s section at the library. I come home with piles of picture books to try out. I did this even before I had kids to read to. Random Reads is a weekly feature of something I found at the library and loved.
I won’t give you too much of a description of synopsis, and no spoilers! Age recommendations are only approximate. Every book I put in Random Reads is one that I have read and highly recommend. Enjoy!

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The Sound of Colors, by Jimmy Liao, has wonderfully imaginative drawings. My kids loved the pictures and found it to be a little text-heavy. The storyline is slow to unfold, poetry like, and feels like the pictures look. This book could be great for anyone as a simple seek-and-find book, using only the lavish pictures. The words and pictures are probably best for 6-7 years olds.

Brother-Bug gave it 3 stars.
Sister-Bug gave it 5 stars.
Toddler bug was nursing and trying to stand on his head at the same time. He liked the page with the elephants.

 

If you get a chance to read this one let me know: What did you think?

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