A Morning Indoors


Hal is at ReWild’s Nature Immersion program on Fridays.  It’s the highlight of his week.  He gets to run around outside all day, learn primitive skills, and engage in loads of imaginative play with his friends.  He comes home tired, filthy, and very, very happy.

It’s not just a benefit for him:  In a house with lots of kids, sending just one kid off for the day has lots of perks.  It not only provides him with adventure apart from his siblings, but it also reduces the conflict, mess, noise, etc in the house by a significant portion.  And considering that resolving sibling conflict normally comprises the bulk of my “parenting” lately, Friday is a day I’ve been looking forward to, as well.  I get so much accomplished on Fridays, all while having a quiet, peaceful morning.


I got a loaf of sesame-spelt bread baked early this morning.  It has 2 cups of unbleached flour, and 1 cup of spelt, so it takes longer to rise, but it gets some loft eventually.  It is much less dense than an all-spelt bread, with the nutty flavor of the spelt still coming through.



While the bread was rising, I worked on a pair of top-down mix-n-match socks I started ages ago.  I’m down to the toe on the last sock, and then I can block them!  (Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along. These are 100% wool yarn my sister-in-law gave me some time ago.  They’re leftovers from another project she did, so I’m not sure of the brand.)


While I’m knitting this morning, George has been alternating between working on a puzzle and playing with items on the nature shelf.  He loves to look at the agates and limpet shells we collected at the beach last month, and added some hazelnuts from the backyard.


It seems that everywhere you look in the kitchen, there are medlars strewn about.  The kids and I keep bringing them in as they fall from the tree.  They need to sit on the counter for a few weeks to soften and be edible.  I can’t wait to eat them:  they taste intensely of autumn to me.  (See my new video about growing and eating medlars here.)

This weekend is packed with derby.  I’m officiating four bouts, in three days, as well as a few scrimmages.  But next weekend I’m taking the weekend off to work on fall garden clean-up and transition some of the front yard garden from annuals to perennials.  The plan is to add two new pawpaw trees, another pomegranate, and a “Nikita’s Gift” persimmon amongst the shrubs and herbaceous perennials I established the last two years.  Finding derby-life balance is hard for me, especially as autumn in the garden is still a busy time, but I’m looking forward to a crazy derby weekend starting today and a permaculture weekend next weekend.

October handwork



It has been a long time since I’ve joined The Yarn Along, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy knitting.  The children slept in this morning, and I made some progress on fingerless mitts (the WIP ones are for Bea’s upcoming 11th birthday.  I will needle-felt designs on them when I’m finished.


The Yarn Along is about what we’re knitting and reading.  I’m not currently reading any novels (because lately I’m up typing book chapters late at night while the kids are in bed, instead of reading), but a whole bag full of books we ordered just came in at the library.  George is fascinated with camping and bison, so we have several books about both right now.


When Hal finished his Explode The Code lesson, the boys worked on polishing play kitchen utensils with our homemade beeswax-orange oil wood polish while I read to them.


Just like his mama, sometimes it is hard for Hal to sit still and focus on one activity unless his hands are occupied with a task.  He does not know how to knit yet, and simple handwork projects like this one appeal to him.

I hope you have a restful and regenerative weekend.



Parkrose Market


I have had much time to blog the last several days, I’m working on stocking our Etsy store (Parkrose Market) with salves and balms and knitted things.  Trying to juggle all of my obligations at the moment is proving challenging, and I’m dropping a few balls here and there.  But, I’m still making progress and being anything less than busy doesn’t come naturally to me.

I grow all of the herbs here (with the exception of myrrh), dry them in our solar dehydrator, and then infuse them into organic unrefined coconut oil and organic olive oil.  We use only local beeswax from natural beekeepers (learn more about natural beekeeping here).  Right now, I’m making four kinds:


Soothe Salve has calendula and plantain, which have been used for ages as first-aid for skin conditions, rashes, bug bites.


Besides being great for medicinal purposes, calendula is a long-blooming, repeat-blooming bee-loving plant.  Even now, in late October, it is a steady source of food for our honeybees.  It also self-sows readily.


We’re a roller derby family, and in the derby world, arnica is the favorite herb for the endless succession of bruises that come with the sport.  Vervain (also called Juno’s Tears) is purported to help with inflammation.  Together, the two herbs make for good care for bumps and bruises.

(Note, if you decide to grow Arnica montana in your garden – it is toxic and absolutely should not be ingested.  And while it is a great bee-plant with lovely yellow flowers, it has a habit of spreading, so don’t put it in unless you can keep it controlled.)


Comfrey’s other name is Knit-Bone.  It is an age-old treatment for broken bones, sprains, etc – typically used as a poultice, but also in salves.  There is some dispute as to whether drinking quantities of comfrey tea can cause liver problems, so I only use it topically.  I do use comfrey salve twice a day, every day, since I broke my ankle last summer.

Comfrey is one of the best herbaceous perennial plants for the permaculture garden, orchard, or farm.  I’ve written a lot about it, and we stock sterile Russian Bocking comfrey plants for sale here.  Shoot us an email if you’re interested in growing comfrey in your garden.


At the request of several folks, I’m also making a general all-purpose balm as we head into winter, specifically geared for supporting and protecting skin.  As a farmer who doesn’t wear gloves as much as she should, this has been a big help to my dry hands.

I’ll be back later in the week with more, and will let y’all know when our Parkrose Market Etsy store is ready to open up.

Red Squirrel


Ruth finished her little needle-felted squirrel.

IMG_0555What it looked like a few days ago: natural wool for the core.


Over the top went a white front and orange body,

IMG_0646and finally peaked ears, and eyes.

She’s very happy with it, and George liked it so much, he has requested she make him chipmunk for Christmas.



Little Tomte, Wooly Squirrel


Astrid Lindgren’s The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox are two of our most-cherished winter-time books.  I adored them as a child, and am very glad my kids love them, too.

A few years ago, Ruth made a needle-felted fox and little Tomten, and the boys still look forward to playing with them while I read the stories.  IMG_0548

The Tomten cares for the creatures of the forest and keeps watch over the animals of the farm.  He is a gentle, quiet little gnome and these simple stories of his unseen interactions on the farm resonate with young children.

My children have enjoyed their little Tomten and Fox playset so much, we have begun a tradition of felting little Tomte as Christmas gifts for friends with young children.


I set out everything to begin making a few, when Ruth decided to put the materials to better use:  crafting another friend for her own Tomten:


IMG_0557She wants to make it clear that he isn’t completed yet, but her little squirrel is beginning to take shape.  He still needs color and detail, but when finished, he will make a nice little addition to the Tomten play set.  Perhaps we can make a few more forest friends to join him, but for now, it is back to crafting a few more Tomten men.

Joining the KCCO today.  Back tomorrow with some knitting and books.



Needle-Felting Kit


The girls wanted to share about a recent birthday gift they made for a friend: a simple needle-felting kit.

My kids – like many kids – really enjoy playing and crafting with bit of wool and yarn.  Ruth, in particular, has enjoyed needle felting ornaments and little animals for her siblings for quite a long time.  Ruth wanted to make a gift for her friend -who is also quite artistic – and Ruth thought she might enjoy making little wooly creations, too.


First, we found a basket at the thrift store that met with everyone’s approval.  Then, the girls cut a block of foam from our stash of dense craft foam.  We added a needle-felting needle (Needle-felting safety rule #1:  Always store the needles in their block of foam!)

IMG_0521A visit to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store provided the necessary collection of bright wool for decorating, while I included some balls of white and natural grey/brown spinning fiber to be used as the base over which the bright colored wool will be felted.

Very proud of my girls and their creative gift ideas.  I’m looking forward to seeing what they have made for each other and their brothers for Christmas.

If you have Handmade Holiday projects to share, please post a link in the comments – I would love to read about what you are working on!



Healing Salve Recipe


‘Tis the Season to make Christmas gifts, and Bea and I started yesterday morning, making another, larger batch of comfrey-rosemary salve.  (Joining the KCCO today.)

Comfrey, also known as knit-bone, is touted as having strong healing properties.   I have used it daily on my broken ankle once the stitches healed (don’t use the salve on open wounds), but it is also commonly used on bruises and other injuries.  It is a soothing salve to rub onto bumps, bruises, sore muscles, etc – all of which are common place in a house with 3 roller derby girls and very active, energetic kids.


Bea and I made this batch early in the morning before the other kids woke up.  At ten years-old, she can work with the hot wax and oil safely (with a little supervision, of course).

We have a $0.25 pot from the thrift store that is used only for beeswax-based projects.  Most of the jars were also from the thrift store, as well as some baby food jars given to me by a friend.


I grow loads of Russian Bocking Comfrey in my garden because it is a dynamic accumulator and sequesters all sorts of minerals in its leaves – thereby making it a great fertilizer in the garden, as well as excellent duck forage.  It has deep tap roots (up to 12 feet deep!), which help break up our dense clay soil, and its delicate purple flowers are a favorite of bees – blooming for a long stretch.

I had picked the comfrey and rosemary a few months ago and dried them, but you can also order the dried herbs online if you don’t have a source in your yard.

Once you have the ingredients gathered, the salve takes only about 15 minutes to make.  Here’s our recipe:


Comfrey-Rosemary Salve

3/4 cup organic olive oil 

4 Tbsp dried comfrey leaves

3 sprigs dried rosemary (you can substitute 2 Tbsp dried lavender if you prefer)

1 Tbsp vitamin E oil

3/4 cup organic coconut oil

6 Tbsp chopped beeswax

10 drops tangerine or 4 drops patchouli oil (if using dried lavender, substitute with lavender oil)


– Infuse the dried herbs in the olive oil.  This can be done two ways:  either place the herbs and oil in a double boiler and heat gently over water (do not boil the oil over direct heat) for 30-45 minutes, or place dried herbs in the oil, cover and store in a dark place for 3-4 weeks.  (Note: Do NOT use fresh herbs – the water in them will cause your oil/finish salve to mold.  Herbs must be thoroughly dried.)

-Strain the dried herbs from the finished olive oil and discard them in the compost.

-Place the chopped beeswax, infused olive oil, coconut oil, and vitamin E oil in a pan.  Heat on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are completely melted.

– Immediately remove from the heat, and stir in the tangerine oil.

– Pour into jars, and let cool with the lids off.  Once thoroughly solidified, the salve will keep in a dark place at room temperature for 6 months or more. (Our kitchen was very cold when we made the salve, and it cooled very rapidly, resulting in cracks on the surface of the salve.  Next time, I will wrap towels around the jars or perhaps cover them with a pot so they cool more slowly.)

Back tomorrow for the Yarn Along!

Mending and Muscari


One of my favorite wool sweaters finally wore a hole in the elbow.  It was from the thrift store and had quite a bit of wear when I found it, but I liked the blue-grey color, and I’m always a sucker for wool.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize there was a hole in the elbow until we were on our way out the door, and my eldest pointed it out to me.  With no time to darn it, I sent her back into the house for a block of foam, some roving and a needle-felting needle – I’d have to mend it while we were out and about.  Once we reached our destination, a few minutes of work and it was repaired, with a turqouise swirl and some polka dots for decoration.


A week later, and the patch has held up quite well.  Ruth and I spent some time together planting Muscari bulbs under the Bavay’s Green Gage Plum, and I was glad to have my workhorse of a wool sweater on.


Muscari are one of my favorite spring flowers, and the milder weather this week has allowed us to plant many more bulbs.  These delicate little blossoms do more than provide beauty for the gardener – all spring bulbs help suppress the growth of grass.  Grass fights its own battle, attempting to inhibit the growth of the fruit trees that shade it out, so planting bulbs naturally aids the fruit trees which they encircle.  IMG_0369[1]

While we were kneeling in the mulch to plant, Bumblebee, our Welsh Harlequin, came over to Ruth, begging for attention.  All the poultry know that Ruth will always drop what she’s doing to give scritches. IMG_0366[1]

In the winter, the poultry are loose in the yard, eating slugs, slug eggs, weed seeds, adding fertility to all the garden beds.  The trick has been how to keep them out of the beds already planted with garlic and mulched with straw (chickens relish scratching all the straw out of the beds and into the path).  They inevitably get under or over any temporary fencing we put up.  The solution has been to stake the fencing flat – so try as she might, Cookie can’t destroy the garlic bed with her scratching while we have our backs turned – but she can peck and find any seeds leftover in the straw.  (In the spring, when the birds return to their run in the orchard, the fencing comes up just as the garlic is germinating.)

Joining the KCCO today.  Back to tomorrow for the Yarn Along if I have time in the midst of Thanksgiving preparations and the girls’ derby scrimmage.

Play Kits to go

Joining Nicole’s KCCO this week with a project I finished before the holidays, but am just now getting around to photographing.

The toy baskets were getting out of control.  One of the children would be rummaging through, looking for all the pieces of a playset, and end up dumping over the whole basket in frustration just to find a missing piece.

Christmas was coming, and I knew something had to change before the chaos in the living room got worse.

My solution:  just before Thanksgiving, I retrieved a  little coat rack from basement storage.  A dear family friend had made me when I was a very small child, and it used to hold my dress-ups.  I screwed in the rack at child-height next to the play kitchen.

Then, during George’s nap one afternoon, I made some drawstring bags of different thrifted prints and of varying sizes.  Into each bag went a playset (wooden tools, Playmobils, finger puppets, flower fairies, cars…you get the picture.)  The most frequently-used sets went up on the rack, and some others were tucked into my purse and into the car for “emergency” situations (church, doctor’s office, waiting in line at the post office…).

So far, the system is working well.  The kids can find the toys they want to play with, and when they are finished, it is easy to scoop the pieces back into the bags.

Back tomorrow for the Yarn Along.

Christmas Preparations

We’re finally getting the sewing cleared away and readying the dining nook for Christmas dinner. (That big bag of oats will shortly become granola for Christmas gifts. )

And putting out some last-minute decorations…

and making our traditional holiday persimmon bundt cake while the boys play with dinosaurs at my feet…

and putting out the last few pieces of the children’s new Nativity on my grandma’s marble-top washstand. (As much as I’d love to have a Nativity set like this one or this one, I am really enjoying this budget-friendly set – the children can play with it as much as they wish – and they do!  They check each morning to see if a new piece been placed out, and if one of the kids seems to have disappeared, I know he or she will be in the guest bedroom quietly playing at the Nativity.)

and running ribbons through the last batch of drawstring gift bags, so we can start wrapping up presents!

So many other projects and preparations before Christmas Eve!   I am trying to balance the pressure to complete everything with the need to slow down, connect with the kids, read to them, play with them, and enjoy time as a family.   Doing our best to keep the time sacred in the midst of so much activity.

Wishing you comfort and peace at this time of year.

The Tomten and the Fox

Needle felting is one of those crafts we feel drawn toward more in the winter months.  Both of the girls really enjoy making Christmas ornaments and decorations.  Harold is learning to use the needle tool safely, and often prefers playing with the tufts of roving and his older sisters’ finished projects.

Astrid Lindgren’s Tomten books are among my favorite winter stories from childhood.  Harold requests we read them (along with Jan Brett’s Hedgie’s Surprise) at least once every day since I added them to the book basket.

So, in honor of the the children’s fascination with the little red-hatted caretakers of the farm, we made a little needle-felted Tomten for them to play with while I read the stories aloud.

Without any assistance, Ruth also made the fox from the story.  She posed him all snuggled up, his belly fully of porridge (not hens!).

Linking up with Nicole for KCCO today.  I’ll be back tomorrow for the Yarn Along, and some thoughts on winter agriculture later in the week.

Yarn Along – Rhythm of the Home

I have a piece in the new issue of Rhythm of the Home .  It just came out today!   Hope you get a chance to read and try out the recipe – it is a family favorite.

The entire issue is packed with beautiful, thoughtful and instructive articles from such talented women.  From felted sweater garlands to meditations on homeschooling in the winter months to Waldorf doll shoe instructions..Rhythm of the Home always puts out a great edition!

Obviously, for the reading portion of Ginny’s Yarn Along, this morning I’m reading through the new issue of Rhythm of the Home.  For the “yarny” portion, and for Nicole’s KCCO, I’m starting a pair of socks (yarn on the right), out of Brown sheep sock yarn seconds I purchased several years ago (still de-stashing!).

Also in the works is wrapping up some spindle spinning.  The fiber is Brown Sheep mill end bits and pieces, 85% wool, 15% mohair.  I am doing my best to spin worsted weight singles, but I find it very difficult, since I have been spinning for a number of years, and my hands want to spin fingering weight.  I am hoping to turn the yarn into a little knitted panda toy for George, although, part of me is tempted to make another vest

We have company coming this morning, and then the kids and I are in full Christmas-crafting mode today.  We’re hoping to finish up our lessons before lunch, so we can play with some needle felting (making ornaments!) before Girl Scouts this afternoon.

Blessings on your day!

Yarn Along

 Anyone else starting to feel the Christmas-knitting pressure?

Finished a simple scarf (white mohair stash yarn I bought in college), and about to cast on some socks.  The yarn is a heathered grey 100% undyed Jacob sheep yarn handspun by a friend, from her own sheep.  I have knitted many projects with this yarn – it is  beautifully spun and well-balanced, and garments made from it have a fantastic drape. The socks will get some red patterning (100% wool thrifted sock yarn), as of yet to be determined, on the cuff.

We are re-reading The Hobbit aloud as a family in preparation for the movie.  It has been a year and half since we’ve read it, and we need to brush up before the film is released.  We’re also planning to have a movie marathon over Thanksgiving weekend and watch all three Lord of Rings. (I’m hoping to accomplish a significant portion of my Christmas gift-making during this time.)

Looking forward to visiting the other knitters in Ginny’s Yarn Along  during some down-time this afternoon. (I’ve promised the big kids they can take out modeling beeswax while we continue listening to The Dark is Rising sequence on book CD during George’s nap.  Hopefully that guarantees a peaceful afternoon.)

Tactile Play Part I


Grandma Jan and Cousin Ruby got the children Perler Beads last week.  I have fond memories of making Perler Bead crafts with friends as a child, and was pleased to see how much the children enjoyed them, too.


Hal spent the first few minutes just running his fingers through the beads in the pie tin.  As a 3 year-old, he really enjoys the process of tactile play more than completing a project.  When he settled down and started to work with the form, applying each bead one by one, fine-tuning his hand-eye coordination and fine-pincher grip.


The girls, being 7 and almost 9, focused on the design element, and did the ironing themselves.  And we all helped clean Perler beads up from every corner of the living room floor afterward.  🙂

For more on tactile play for the preschool child, please come back and check out tomorrow’s post here on sensory play, and also this thoughtful post by Not Just Cute.

Forest Quilts


A friend from the coast and my next-door neighbor are both expecting, and we wanted to make them both something special.  The girls and I shopped the remnant section at Fabric Depot, as well as the fabric shelves at our local thrift store, and put together two forest-themed baby quilts.


This one is a Rain Forest theme for the next-door neighbor.  We used thrifted flannel sheets (triple layered) for the batting and a thrifted cotton sheet for the backing fabric (thrifted sheets = my favorite frugal quilt backing).


This was the first time in years I’ve made a separate bias binding instead of doing a self-binding backing.  What a pain it was!!  I forgot how long it takes to make, and iron and while the effect was nice, I won’t use it on my next few quilts…


The next quilt is for a friend who is an amateur mycologist – it’s a Forest Floor quilt, complete with mushroom and tree-ring prints.


The quilt is just a simple four-patch with some mustard-colored Egyptian-print thrifted fabric for the back and binding.  Bea helped me lay out the pattern and cut some of the blocks, Ruth helped sew about half of the 4-patch blocks, and sewed the borders on.

Now, to find a time to drag 4 kiddos to stand in line at the Post Office so we can send it out….

I have come to realize that there is absolutely no way for me to maintain a clean house, work on learning projects with the kids, get the yard/poultry chores done, cook meals, care for an infant, and accomplish any serious crafting.  It’s just not possible to keep up with it all, no matter how it may appear from the limited perspective of crafty-homeschool-mom blogs.  For the moment, the unfolded laundry is piling up, the living room is home to dust bunnies and crumbs galore and the toy basket looks like it exploded all over the front rooms, but that’s okay, because we had a great time working together to bless our friends in a small way.


And, now to have a “cleaning and catch-up day” before we start all over with a new quilt for another friend expecting an addition to her family…

A good, quiet morning


…reading a few chapters in Ann Voskamp’s book before the children were up…

…enjoying granola in the breakfast nook after morning chores, watching chickens, ducks mucking happily around the yard  (Cran-Walnut Granola recipe at the bottom)


…quilting for a neighbor’s baby, due in 2 weeks, while the children had breakfast.

A welcome reprieve before tackling the general chaos of the day.

Larksong’s Cranberry Walnut Granola

Preheat oven to 325F, and get out two large jellyroll pans.

In a large bowl, combine:

6 cups old fashioned oats

2 cups unsweetened, unsulfured coconut

1 cup wheat germ

1 heaping cup sesame seeds

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1-2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

pinch of sea salt

In a saucepan, on med-heat, combine 1  cup of honey, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 3 tbsp dark brown sugar, 1 cup veg oil (I use 1/4 cup hazelnut oil, 3/4 cup veg oil), and heat until warm and honey is thin.  Stir vigorously, and then pour over dry ingredients.

Toss all until combined, then spread over two sheets and bake 20 min.

Remove from oven, stir, scraping around the edges especially, since they will brown first.

Return to oven, and bake approx 20-25 min more, scraping and stirring granola every 5-7 min to prevent scorching in parts.

When granola is dark, toasty, and fragrant, remove from oven and immediately stir in 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries.  While granola is still hot, transfer to a glass or other nonstick bowl, or granola will stick to sheets as it cools.  When totally cooled, break up with a fork and put in sealed jars to keep crisp.  Will keep 1 month, but ours is eaten up in less than a week.

(Cost comparison: similar granola at New Seasons Market – $8.99/lb.   Estimated cost of homemade – about $2.50/lb (all items purchased in bulk to cut costs considerably, except walnuts, which were gleaned from a friend’s tree.)

Beads and wire, and a little mania


Little Hen and I have been very busy the past two days working on Christmas gifts.  It may have, um, gotten a little out of hand.



After a little mishap in which a certain little boy decided it would be hilarious to fling beads all over the living room while I was in the basement switching the laundry over, we have been beading until our fingers blistered (no joke!).


If you’re a female relative, you just might be getting some earrings for Christmas.   We also made some pendants and beaded bookmarks for those without pierced ears.  (Shh.  Forget I said that.)   🙂

So, the first wave of intense Christmas present-making is done!  And now to work on some edible treats (We’re thinking of tackling hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows tomorrow.)

“It’s a Girl Thing” Kits



The kits are finished!!



Many, many thanks to the nine ladies and three girls who helped sew, and the ladies who purchased fabric and undies for this project!

Together, we have blessed and changed the lives of eleven young ladies in Ethiopia in a simple, but substantial way.  Thank you!

Sewing Service – “It’s a Girl Thing”


I’ve been given permission to put up a section of a recent post from Andrea’s blog, Babe of My Heart:

Every month, I have to deal with what most girls deal with…a monthly cycle. Sorry if that’s too personal to say–but it should come as no surprise to you. I take for granted that every month I stock up on the things I need…and I can get them in any size, weight and style I would like. And not only that–I complain about my cramps. I complain that I am a bit inconvenienced and I remind my husband that he is lucky to be a boy and he doesn’t have to endure such hardship each month.

SO…let me ask you this—what do you think the women and young girls of Korah do during this time? What will it be like for the hundreds of girls who are (praise GOD!) being sponsored to leave Korah this Fall and go to a boarding school? What will they do as they try to sit in class during this time? What do the woman and girls we support in Zambia do?


Well, let me tell you what they do. They squat. They wait for their week to end. On their heavy days, some roll up newspapers and make their own tampons. Many get infections. The infections make their parents and husbands think they have STDs and they endure being left or abused. Some use a single piece of old clothing–and when it’s soiled–they rinse it and use it again…although it’s still wet—it’s some what clean.

Did you know that in Africa the dropout rate for for young girls in school is 40% when they have no sanitary supplies? BUT when they are provided them–it rises to just 8%?

What can we do about it?


Andrea, and also  Sarah at Titus Home, have put out a call, and given us a practical way to help these girls – they are encouraging ladies around the country to have sewing parties and make washable feminine products to be sent to these girls and young women in Ethiopia and Zambia.

So, if you’d like to take up the challenge, and spend a few hours in service to these young women (and make a concrete difference in their lives!), I’d like to invite you to join me

on September 25 · 9:00am – 12:00pm

at Central Bible Church

8815 NE Glisan St

Portland, OR
for a morning of sewing, to put together as many washable feminine kits as we can, to be sent to these young women October 1.

WHAT TO BRING: your sewing machines, sergers, cutting mats, scissors, rotary cutters, thread, old towels or flannel sheets (for batting). Any spare velcro, snap closures you might have.

WHAT IS PROVIDED: patterns, ALL FABRIC, a few extra sewing machines and sergers. Coffee, snacks and CHILDCARE.


Last night, I made a sample kit today using the pattern supplied by The Red Tent Project.  The kit consists of 5-6 envelopes, each with snap closures, and half with leakproof PUL, for heavy days (see above).  It also includes 4 thick, “maxi” pads (see below), which unfold for easier drying on the line,  and 8 regular pads (see 2nd picture in this post),  which can be doubled up if needed.

If you are interested in making kits, but are unable to attend on the 25th, please e-mail me at, and I will send you the pattern and instruction details, as well as shipping addresses.  Or, if you prefer, select a pattern you like from the internet.  They are requesting that you use bright or dark print fabric, and prefer foldable inserts, since thicker pads and AIO designs do not dry well on the line.


To round out the kits, we are sewing a drawstring bag for all of the pieces, and attempting to collect 2-3 pair of new undies to include, as well.  If you might like to contribute to the project by donating funds for new undies, please contact me at the above e-mail address.  Thanks!


Twirly Skirts, revisited


A few more twirly skirts for the girls (yes, I’m addicted to sewing these!)

This one, which is a bit shorter (hits just below the knee on Little Hen) is a mix of thrift store fabric and 1/2 yd of clearance fabric, and thrifted ribbon (at the bottom).  Total cost = $2.10!


This is my favorite – so bright and cheerful – it’s 1 yd of Kaffe Fassat‘s red cabbage print (on clearance for $3/yd!), some thrifted pink cotton and remnants of orange and yellow batik-print fabric from another project.  Total cost, estimated at $4.

This one will be a birthday gift for Firecracker – it’s everything she could possibly want in a skirt – fairy print, sequin-bedecked tulle, and yellow and pink color scheme.  It was a bit of a splurge – $12 for 3 yds of clearance fabric (one of each color), but I only used 1/2 yd of the fairy print, and about 1/3 yd of the tulle and pink print, so there is a lot of fabric left.


The tulle is added to the front of the skirt for two purposes – 1)it’s extra ruffly and pretty that way and 2)it prevents the itchy edge from being against the skin, since it’s not on the inside of the skirt.

Okay, I promise – that’s all for sewing updates for a while!  I’m off to clean all of the fabric mess out of the living room, and the next post will be a recipe!  Check back soon!

Twirly Skirts


The girls have finally gotten their long-asked-for twirly skirts!  I used 7 Layer Studio’s tutorial and Going Sew Crazy’s as well, and sort of mushed them together, used whatever measurements of scrap fabric I had on hand.  Thankfully, twirly skirts are pretty forgivable and they turned out great!


Little Hen’s skirt used some thrift store fabric, including the blue-bird ruffle on the bottom,  an old pale blue polka-dotted crib sheet for the waist panel and strip above the ruffle.   The elastic was also from the thrift store, but the butterfly print fabric was on clearance at the fabric store, so total cost = $3.25.



Firecracker’s skirt is entirely from thrifted fabric – the gorgeous daisy fabric is from a vintage 100% cotton fitted sheet (which also provided to elastic for the waist panel).  After making the skirt, there is a LOT of fabric left, so at $2.25, it was a steal!  The rosebud ruffle fabric was also at the thrift store for a quarter, so based on yardage used, I estimate the skirt cost about $1.25 to make.

I admit, making twirly skirts can be super addictive.  I’ve got fabric cut up for 4 more (for presents for the girls, using some seriously fun fabric, including a fairy print with pink sequin tulle for the ruffle for Firecracker’s next birthday), and, if I can find enough yardage at the thrift store, I’d love to make a few for myself.

Blessings on the rest of your week!  I know I’ll be spending mine sewing up the rest of the skirts and getting some serious garden work done.

Under the Sea


The children went to a Storybook Costume Ball with their cousins last night.   We had a two-day scramble to throw together some costumes, but we pulled it off just in time!    Here’s a little bit on what we made:


Little Hen wanted to be Amphitrite, the Queen of the Ocean, wife of Poseiden, in Greek Mythology.

Her costume:

$0.50 -A blue velvet skirt from the thrift store (with about 12 holes in it that we had to mend)

$0.00 – a tank top from her closet with a seahorse on it and a “seaweed” looking scarf from my closet

$0.50 – 1/4 yd of ocean print fabric, from which we made part of her crown and cut out sea creatures to tack to her “ocean” skirt

$0.00 – more ocean creatures to sew onto skirt, which she drew out of cardstock and decorated with glitter glue.

$0.00 – scraps of leftover fabric from her brother’s costume to make her crown

$0.00 -some body glitter leftover from Halloween


Total cost $1.00!!!


She helped me cut the pieces and sew her crown out of scraps from her brother’s costume – the middle of the crown(to make it stand up) is 3-layers of very ugly flannel that came in a big bag of thrift store scraps.  We whipped it up in about 15 minutes (you can’t see the sea creatures she cut out and sewed to the sides and back from this shot…)


Firecracker wanted to be a mermaid.  With no pattern, limited time and $, here’s what we came up with:  She didn’t want a tail-shaped skirt, because they are difficult to walk/run/play in since they are awfully narrow at the bottom.    We decided to sew her a skirt with blue fabric, which would be the sea she’s swimming in, and then make a two-piece apron “tail” that she could take on and off if she wanted.

IMG_7983We lucked out at the thrift store and found an adult size 4 skirt with blue fabric (yes, it’s butterflies, but Firecracker said it looked “oceany” to her!), so I didn’t have to make a skirt from scratch – I simply cut it up and resewed it in her size, with an elastic waistband.  Voila!  Sea skirt!

$3 – blue skirt, cut down and resewn to fit a 5 year-old

$0.10 -thrift store elastic

$2.00 – 1/2 yd of clearance fabric at Fabric Depot (turquoise with swirls, Firecracker thought it looked like scales)

$0.00 – 1 yd very ugly flannel from a previously thrifted bag of fabric, for the double layer batting in the tail – to give it rigidity.

$0.00 – random snippets of green fabric for tail decoration plus a scarf from the dress up box for the tail, piece of blue tulle for her hair from dress up box

$0.00 – white leotard and blue bikini top from dress up bin

$0.10 – turquoise bias tape from the thrift store (for the apron-tail ties)


Total cost – $5.20 (plus, some turquoise fabric leftover for doll quilts, etc, and it includes a perfectly good skirt for her and Little Hen to wear anytime)


Since his big sister and cousin both wanted to be mermaids, guess what Tum Tum wanted to be?  MERBOY!!


His daddy even made him a trident from coardboard and foam and duct tape (which was a bit of a dangerous idea, but he loved it!) (Please ignore the mountains of fabric in the background, as long as the sewing machine has to be out, I’m going to sew, sew, sew!  Wish I had a sewing room!)

$0.00 – Blue knit pants from Tum Tum’s closet plus blue leather moccasins

$0.50 – 1/4 yd ocean print fabric for his sash (mermen don’t wear shirts!)

$ 2.50 – 1/2 yd of blue “waves” fabric Firecracker found at Fabric Depot on clearance for the tail.  (Yay, kiddo! )

$0.10 – thrifted seam binding for the ties

$0.00 – 1 yd very ugly previously-thrifted flannel for the double-layer batting to add stiffness to the tail(s).

$0.00 – scraps from making Firecracker’s tail(s) used to make his fin and decoration on the front.


Total cost – $3.10!!




We had a great time!!  Thanks for inviting us, Aunt Kristi and Cousin Ruby!!

Summer Sewing


The past week, we’ve been tackling some simple sewing projects (and I mean simple, and even then my seams are wonky).

Most other times of the year, sewing feels more like an obligation, but it’s really relaxing after dinner in the summer – especially after grubbing around in the dirt in the garden much of the day, it’s nice to sit down with pretty, clean stacks of cotton prints and play, you know?


Last week, on the way to the library, we made an impulsive stop at The Fabric Depot (my first visit, ever), where I happened to find bolts and bolts of fabric 70% off, and therefore spent way more than I had intended – because it was such a good deal!!  All of the super cute prints were $3-4/yd, and the plan is to use much of the 10 yds (yikes!) to make several of these and these for the girls (they’ve suddenly gotten too tall for all of their skirts!).


With the remnants and also some of my thrift-store fabric stash, the girls and I cranked out a few dollie quilts (especially Firecracker, who likes to sit in my lap and help guide the fabric), and also


made 8 more library/grocery tote bags for birthday and hostess gifts.  (We cut out fabric for another 8, but are a little burned out, and will probably wait a few weeks to piece them together.)   The one above is my favorite.  It’s made from some vintage thrifted fabric for the body, an old 100% cotton sheet (that I tea-dyed) for the handles and lining fabric, and a little piece of that uber-expensive batik-print fabric for the pocket (I sprung for a fat-quarter, since it was so pretty).


I also made some little kid-sized totes (like the one on the right).  Tum Tum LOVES his sombrero tote and carries all his little toys in it (very handy at the restaurants, church, meetings, etc), so I made a few for my nephew and some friends’ kids.  (Fabric Depot had some very cute Eric Carle fabric, as well as a fishy/octopus print that worked really well for these).  The girls each have one, as well, and keep colored pencils, stickers, notecards and cardstock in theirs – which keeps them occupied at boring meetings, as well.


(Little Hen got bored with cutting fabric, and started creating her own fabric art bouquet out of the trimmings and straight pins.)

After a week of non-stop sewing, we’re going to take a little break and hopefully get the front of the house painted and some other summer household projects finished.  What summer crafting have you been up to?

A budding artist

Look who decided to help himself to the craft supply box while I was attempting to make dinner (and the girls were having a tickle war).



It’s hard to believe that Tum Tum will be TWO next month…he’s outgrowing so much of his sweet baby-ness.  I loved watching him drawing intently and singing to himself all the while – he’s growing into such a big boy so very fast…bittersweet, really.

Last-minute handmade gifts


The weather here has been  bitterly, bitterly cold (we are eagerly anticipating our annual Christmas trip to Florida next weekend!!).  The past few days, we’ve built a big fort out of chairs and blankets in the living room.  We’ve been spending our mornings snuggled under it, reading Christmas stories (like this collection of short stories, and this, and this).

While Tum Tum naps in the afternoon, the girls and I have been finishing some last-minute Christmas gift sewing.   The children’s’ Great Aunt gave us some lovely blue toile, and I picked up some other fabric at the thrift store (including a sturdy pale-blue canvas with ferns).  We set out to make a few more farmer’s market totes/library totes for family and friends.


Firecracker held and worked the pedal, and Little Hen and I guided it through the machine.  Little Hen trimmed the threads and helped cut fabric.  In two afternoons, we were able to churn out five large totes, and one child-sized one.


All of the totes are lined with contrast fabric and have reinforced, deep-set handles.   A few have lined pockets, since I had a bit of fabric leftover.



The child-sized tote was cut from 3/4 yd late 1940’s/early 50’s (?) sombrero fabric we found at the thrift store – the colors were so vibrant!  And for 75 cents, how could I pass it up, even with a few age spots?  I had originally planned to give it to one of my nieces, full of craft supplies (colored pencils, watercolors, brushes, etc), but Tum Tum adopted it this morning, putting Nativity figures in it and carrying them around the living room, so we’ll see if it actually leaves the house…

No time to make handmade gifts for Christmas?  Consider buying handmade – here are some beautiful totes  on Etsy – a burlap coffee bag tote, a floral bag,  a tie-dyed tote, and this bright oilcloth bag.

Now to clean up the clouds of fabric and thread snippets all over our living room!