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Cozy Jar Wraparound (A Knitting Pattern)

I re-discovered knitting this year AND I finally learned how to crochet. I made more than a dozen hats for various people to give as Holiday presents. I frogged a sweater I made ages ago that I never really liked and I am going to cast a new sweater on soon…To celebrate the New Year I think. First I’ll knit one more hat for a friend who just started chemo and wants a Wolf hat.

It’s just the right thing for me right now. Meditative, productive, calming, and portable. I’ve made up 2 patterns in the last month. I’d never made up a knitting pattern before! Nothing tricky, but we have to start somewhere, right?

So I offer to you, as a late Holiday gift, one of the patterns I made up. It’s just a simple cozy for a drinking jar. These took me less than an hour to knit (both together!) and I love the way they look. photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Cozy Jar Wraparound

Very basic cozy for a wide-mouth pint canning jar. Knitted with Lion Homespun yarn in the pictures, but anything that will get about 3 stitches to an inch on size 10 needles will work.

The holder has 2 rows of K1/P1 ribbing on top and bottom and 3 columns of seed stitch up each side. The main part is knitted in Stockinette and there are 2 buttonholes on one side.

Cast on 36.

Row 1: K1 P1 all the way across.

Row 2: P1 K1 P1 (P1 K1* to last 3 st.) K1 P1 K1

Row 3: K1 P1 K1 (Knit (30) to last 3 st. P1 K1 P1

Row 4: P1 K1 P1 (Purl (30) to last 3 st.) K1 P1 K1

Row 5: K1 P1 K1, Bind off 3 st., purl to last 3 st. (27), P1 K1 P1

Row 6: P1 K1 P1, Cast on 3 st., knit to last 3 st. (27), K1 P1 K1

Row 7-10: Repeat rows 3 & 4 twice.

Rows 11-12: Repeat rows 5 & 6.

Row 13: Repeat row 1.

Row 14: Repeat row 2

Bind off. Sew 2 1” buttons on the button side and weave in your ends.

photo 4

I graphed it out so that I could make sure I typed out each row correctly. Xs are knits around the edge.

photo 5

That’s it. Simple, but I am pleased with building my skills and expanding my hobby. What new skills have you learned in the last year? What are some of your favorite hobbies?


DIY Flag Ornaments

I love the way our ornament collection grows, full of memory. The wobbly salt dough ornaments from various childhoods, the bugs we painted with glitter one year (Brother-Bug has a millipede ornament), first ornaments of the kids, the angel ornament that adorned the top my our first mutual tree some 11 years ago – so small a tree (table top rosemary) that this angel ornament was almost too big. My childhood ornaments, Papa-Bug's childhood ornaments. It's precious.

This year I ended up with extra glass globes – empty and waiting. They came in a six pack and I only needed two. So I started looking around online. I found this lovely silhouette idea…

Nativity Silhouette Ornaments

But I wanted something to save This Year.

As you know, we are studying global cultures (and really enjoying it). So flags, I thought. Something fun and special just for us. Something to remind us of this year of travel from home and study of things abroad.

I found flag pictures online, tweaked them in Photoshop a bit, and printed them on vellum. Then following the tutorial I stuck them to acetate and put them in the globes. Of course we added glitter. We almost always add glitter, especially at Christmastime. Glitter and/or sprinkles.

These look really good from all angles, and especially lovely in front of the tree lights. Because of the fragile ornaments, I did most of the actual work. But the kids picked their own flags and were right there in the way while we made these. All four ornaments took only about 20 minutes total.


Sister-Bug chose Brazil. We studied Brazil in September and October and she loves all things Brazillian right now.

Brother-Bug chose Thailand. He wanted Japan, but the Japanese flag would have looked kind of like just a red dot…so he went for Thailand. We haven't had a Thai unit yet, but my mom and her sweetie have travelled in Thailand a lot, so we love it for that.

I picked Hungary for Toddler-Bug. He was asleep (because I wouldn't do a glass ornament project with an active and wakeful toddler). Papa-Bug has roots in Hungary and it seemed like fun. It was really hard to choose – so many good flags out there.

Finally, for Papa-Bug and me, I went with South Africa. Because Nelson Mandela. And wanting the best global representation I could get in four flags.

So that's our ornament of the year. They are glowing and beautiful on the tree. Another memory preserved to cherish.

And now I must be off. Brother-Bug is performing in our local Nutcracker tonight. I have to get my Little Angel (for that is what he is onstage) fed and rested and ready to go. It's going to be a big night.

Happy Tree Trimming.










Today we made catapults, using the instructions I found at Irresistable Ideas for Play Based Learning. It took about 10 minutes total to make these. I'm writing this an hour later and they are still deeply involved with their catapults projects.

I pre-glued the bottle caps with heavy-duty glue. All they had to do was hot glue the clothespin and the craft stick. Brother-Bug was able to do his own. I did Toddler-Bug's and helped Sister-Bug with hers. Them we got out the pom-poms.

Even the toddler figured out how to do his own catapult and had So Much Fun being like the big kids.

Sister-Bug played with marking where each pom-pom fell with a piece of masking tape. Brother-Bug worked on getting his pom-poms in a bin – which was way harder than he initially imagined it would be.

He also figured out that the action of the catapult and pom-pom was like Angry Birds. Once he figured that out, it became even more fun.

So right there we have math, science, and motor skills for all ages. And they're still having fun.


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? 

Button Down Dress

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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.


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…
















Ergo Re-Do

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My Ergo is essential. And wearing out. It's about seven years old now and has carried all three kids. I know we have another two years or so when we will need to pop Toddler-Bug up on our backs to finish a hike, a long grocery store trip, or other adventure. But I don't want to buy a new Ergo because they are expensive. And really, it is only the lining on mine that is the problem. It has started to tear out all along the bottom.

Before I decided to re-line my Ergo, I went over every load bearing seam, checking for weakness. The issues were only cosmetic, so I went ahead and did the new lining. If you have an old baby carrier, it is a good idea to periodically check the seams and weight bearing areas.

Since it was in good structural shape, I went ahead. I cut a square that was about 16″x16″. The only sewing machine work I did was right here. I sewed two 1/2 inch wide, 3″ deep darts along the bottom, each about 3 1/2″ out from the middle (I aligned them with the two deep quilted line on the waistband.


Starting at the bottom/waistband, I pinned the lining along the bottom. I didn't pin the whole thing in place at once, just the bottom. Using purl cotton and a sharp tapestry needle I whipped stiches the bottom edge in place.


Next I went up one side, pinning small sections and working the fabric around the straps and corners. I had to do some creative folding to make it all fit, but with the single piece of lining, the fabric has enough give that it isn't an issue.


Going around the shoulder straps and the hood was definitely the most challenging, but pinning it in 1-2 inch bits and being patient with getting it good enough worked just fine in the end. I didn't even swear (much).


The other tricky spot was around the side strap, but I managed. And just that whip stitch across the bottom, up one side, across the top, and down the other side and shaman! My ergo is revitalized and ready for more adventures.

The other thing I did was I used some scraps to cover the bite area on the shoulder straps. Those edges were getting pretty worn out. I just cut squares to the right size and whipped them on in the same way.

I love my “new” Ergo. It is already in heavy use. The zebra print is way more fun than the plain blue that once was. And ToddlerBug loves it – zebra enthusiast that he is. So here we come hiking and berry picking and beach combing, summer! My Ergo, my toddler, and I are ready to go!



Recipe: Fire Honegar

*Honegar is the word used for a medicine that is a mix of Honey and Vinegar.
It is the middle of cold and flu season. It is cold out. We need a little something to spice life up. So here is the recipe for my favorite cold and flu (and hangover!) remedy. Some call it Fire Cider, or Dragon Cider, or Dragon's Breath. I learned this recipe from my teacher Gina McGarry back when I was in her wonderful school of herbalism and healing and I have been making it yearly ever since.
It's not hard, but it does take time, and is much easier with a food processor. You will need:
Apple cider vinegar (1 quart or so), raw honey (1 quart or so). Strong onions. Garlic. Horseradish. Ginger. Very spicy peppers – these are a Thai pepper of some kind I found at my farmers market.
What we are going for is “equal spice parts”. The peppers are much hotter than the onion so we need more onion than pepper. Does that make sense? I have never once in my life – in the 12 years I have been making this – actually measured the ingredients. I just wing it and it seems to work.
The first step is to wash and prep every thing. Peel the onions, top the peppers, separate the garlic cloves… I always use my food processor to mince everything up, so I cut everything into large chunks. I don't peel the garlic cloves or the ginger.
Very important note: wear gloves. The oils from the peppers and the fumes from the horseradish will get everywhere. If you have kids you can transfer those oils on to them or you can wipe your eyes and YOW. Wear gloves. See my gloves in he picture?
Mince your ingredients in the food processor, one at a time. You want them to be very finely chopped. You can do this by hand if you don't have a food processor. I have often hand chopped my ingredients and it works well. It just takes a very long time. Add each ingredient to a large bowl and mix them together.
Another very important note: the fumes released while your food processor chops the horseradish could be used as a chemical weapon. Do the horseradish last. Drape a towel over the food processor while you are chopping and then let it sit for 5 minutes to rest those fumes. Have babies and little ones in a different room. DO NOT open the food processor and look in to see if it looks right. It hurts. A lot.
Fill a clean jar about half way with the chopped mix. Fill some jars with vinegar and some with honey. It ray to make about half and half. Use a chopstick to stir and release air bubbles. Top off with vinegar or honey and tightly lid. Shake thoroughly and dance around for about 5 minutes.
In the picture below, the honey is in the middle.

Now we get into the alchemy. I know plenty of people who don't do the next part. I know people who have scoffed at me for the next part, so feel free to skip it and tell me I am full of hippy-woo-woo.

We bury our fire cider & honey for a moon cycle. I wrap each jar in a plastic bag, we dig a shallow hole, and let the jars rest in the dark, under cover of dirt, for a month. This is how I learned to make this medicine and, honestly, it is my favorite part. It feels special and sacred and magical. I swear it makes my medicine more potent.

When I dig the cider, I strain the chopped mix through a piece of clean muslin. This is another time to wear gloves! I combine the honey and the vinegar usually, but that is personal preference. You can also keep one bottle of honey and one of vinegar. It is so very tasty combined – sweet, acidic, and ever so hot. I also combine and save the remaining chopped mix. It makes a wonderful spicy relish for people who like a little heat in their food. Try it in a tuna sandwich.

The liquid gets stored in dark bottles. The relish is stored in the he fridge in small jars. It doesn't last long around here. It is our go-to in all adult cases of cold and flu. You can imagine how it moves congestion with all that spicy goodness!

That's all. It's not hard or expensive and the health benefits are immense.