Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Drink your fruits and veggies!

This year's Christmas gift money from my parents, inlaws and Rocky went to buy a Vitamix 5200!

I have wanted to be able to make my own smoothies for some time. I love teh smoothie! I have a nice blender jar that we bought to go on my Bosch Kitchen Machine, but when I tried to make smoothies, they had texture, and I'm not talking about the kind of texture you want to have. Little bits of spinach and kale in my berry smoothie was unappealing and nearly made me gag.

I believe that I'm going to love this blender and it's going to become one of my favorite kitchen appliances. It's so powerful! It has a variety of uses and replaces several single use kitchen tools. It also has an amazing cookbook chock full of recipes to make all kinds of whole foods from scratch.

One of the realizations I have been coming to since the summer is that I have gotten lazy in the kitchen. I have been using too many processed foods. I allowed busy to equate to the wrong type of shortcuts. It's unhealthy for all of us, and who knows the consequences both short and long term.

I want to be more contentious about what we eat. I want my children to have a healthy amount of veggies in their diet, and not just thebrooked variety. I have to start with what I allow to come into the house and what I am prepared to fix. I don't think this will turn into me becoming fanatical or anything, but I want to be deliberate. I see the Vitamix as an enabling tool to help. :)

Today's smoothie was organic carrots, frozen whole organic strawberries including the greens, frozen peaches, fresh apples, a small piece of ginger root, and once I had poured off mine, banana for the kids portion. It was what I had on hand and a hit, though the kids wouldn't have been interested in raw carrots otherwise.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Fiber time

Fiber time by mom2rays
Fiber time, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.

The kids have been exposed to my fiberantics since they were born. In the early days Charmie's and then later Mardie's play room was also my craft room at both of our homes. As I tried to make things for them and our home, I would craft around the kids. They have seen me sew, embroider, quilt, crochet, knit, spin, weave, card fiber, and more. Yet I really wasn't engaging them in the process. Fiber was my stress relief. It was my escape. It was just for ME.

I think I was afraid. Afraid of them hurting themselves on sharp tools. Afraid of them damaging expensive tools or materials. Afraid of them making my efforts take longer or setting me back. Afraid of failing to teach them well. I was afraid of sharing. In general I was consumed with fear.

Fear isn't a good thing. It's a paralyzing thing. It's a thief. It takes something that should be good and lessens or destroys it.

Starting with Mardie a few weeks ago, the kids have been interested in learning fiber arts. Actually, it goes back farther than that, but a few weeks ago I started to listen, and not be so afraid.

I mean, I'm right there, I'm not going to intentionally let them get hurt. I'm teaching them all kinds of other things, why not teach them my passion. And the tools and materials are just that, tools and materials. If they are broken or damaged, they can be replaced. I can't replace teachable moments passed by. I can't replace projects that were never started or made because of my fear of giving them a chance.

I got a loom to share with Mardie. It's smaller than the loom I got this summer. I wanted something easy and fun and Mardie size. He has been weaving a scarf for Charmie's Christmas present and he's really enjoying it. He's doing a wonderful job too!

Charmie expressed interest in learning to crochet. We had tried two years ago and had not gotten far or had pleasant results. But this time, he really seemed to more easily grasp the process. I was also a more relaxed teacher. His first chain isn't perfect. It has areas of tension issues, twists, etc. But he stuck with it and it's impressively long.

Zuri begged to be taught to knit once she saw her brothers. From seeing how she tries when she sits on my lap, she's not ready to be turned loose with needles, but I remembered I had a spool knitter and she picked it up with little explanation.

WHO
ARE
THESE
CHILDREN???

Sitting all in a row.
Quietly working.
Asking to bring their work along to share with friends.
Making brash statements about how fun this is, how they want to do it every day, how it's more fun than video games???

All I know is that I'm no longer afraid. I'm ready to get out ALL of the tools and ALL of the yarn! I'm so happy to be able to share this with them. I hope that it lasts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Week 3 Day 1 classroom reodo

I decided to try something new in our school. Rocky had the idea to move the couch by the door, of course his suggestion was for one day when my craft goodies were no longer in the room.

I decided to try it anyway.

Lots of measurements, mental puzzle solving, pushing, pulling, heaving, hoeing, two meals and a snack, and 15 hours of Pandora later here's the result.

I have some piles downstairs "staged" for donation and resale. The throw away pile is already gone. I just have to empty the vacuum.

I like this layout because the kids are no longer facing the wall, I turned their desk 1/4 turn and now they can all look into the classroom :) I hope this won't be too distracting to them.
Also I spread out my three desks a bit more and I'm not as cramped in my sewing/working area.

An added benefit of this reorg that I wasn't counting on is that I found a lot of wasted storage.

I didn't spend anything to buy new storage solutions, but I re-purposed some poorly utilized bins, drawers, totes, etc. and now things fit better. I also followed a major rule of decluttering and organizing a space and consolidated like things and pulled out things we don't use, or no longer work.

I think the room feels more open now . Instead of coming in and having to wade through my sewing area and desk you are come to a relaxing couch/reading area. Then as you progress into the room it has more things. It also widens though so the additional items are balanced out so that's not what hits you when you come in the door.

I now have more motivation to keep my area tidy, there's no way to hide a mess.

I hope that this reorg provides a better working space for us all.

Optimally this would just be our school and the craftiness would be in a dedicated craft room. I think in lieu of that option, this one works well.

If you would like to see photos of our school from other angles, check out my flickr photostream.

Monday, August 06, 2012

My Baby is Clean



We have had a busy summer with over 25 days of traveling through 7 states while camping in JayJay.  At the end of our journeys, the final day of Higher Ground, Zuri got baptized.  She's been asking for a little while to do it, and the time was right!  Praise God, for he is worthy of all praise!
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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Time for a bit of a change

Spring 2006 Maruca O Jackie by mom2rays
Spring 2006 Maruca O Jackie, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.

I've been carrying and loving Tom BIhn Little Swift's in Hemp and Cork as my purse like object for a year and a half, and I haven't fallen out of love. I did yearn for a bit of a change. I wanted something fun, cute, and feminine. TB didn't have anything in their lineup that matched my criteria so I went on a search with relatively high standards and specific requirements.

I found Maruca Design a small company based in Boulder CO. All bag components from the zippers to the fabrics are made in the USA. The fabrics are even custom milled for MD twice a year in the USA. The bags are produced by hand until the fabric is gone and the following run is with different fabrics corresponding to either the spring/summer or fall/winter release. Yet they have enough features and design elements to feel couture vs. craft fair.

I found this one on eBay. It's from the spring 2006 catalog and was used. The fabrics are Ping and Bloomer's Purple. The pattern is O'Jackie which currently is redesigned.

About the only things I don't like about this bag are the black lining, absence of closures on the external pockets and the fact that it's not machine washable.

The rest of the things that I have feelings on are positive. Overall size and configuration makes both stuffing with daily needs and finding them easy. The straps are comfortable and appropriate length and width. The fabric, zipper, lining and finishing are done well and while not industrial, will last. The colors are pleasant and fun.

I will definitely keep an eye on Maruca Design for future releases of prints and patterns. Eventually I think a true minimalist bag is on my horizon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Elna Grasshopper, my little green machine

Elna Grasshopper by mom2rays
Elna Grasshopper, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.
Rocky found an Elna #1 at Value Village for me. We were lucky that he found it the day before the 1/2 price sale and that the case looks innocuous. The kids and I got up early and were there when the doors opened. Little greenie was clearly being overlooked by everyone else, but I wasn't taking any chances. The herd has thinned quite a bit since I started collecting, but when he found this one, I couldn't pass it by!

Happy 9th Birthday Captain C!

Captain C by mom2rays
Captain C, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.
For Charmie's Birthday we spent the weekend at Lake Hartwell, SC. We all had a blast with our new family toy, more deets on our recreational blog! I think this is a birthday he will remember!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Exercises in weaving

  by mom2rays
, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.

I decided for my next weavings to work with scraps of organic cotton, and cotton/linen blends to make some towels. I love how they came out. The boys chose from the selected yarns and told me which ones in what order. These towels are SO SOFT!!! I must make more. I'm really enjoying weaving!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A woven scarf for Janet

Finished scarf for Janet by mom2rays
Finished scarf for Janet, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.

Before the move to Seattle, Janet gave me an Ashford 16" Rigid Heddle Loom. I warped it right away and a project languished on it until two nights ago when I cut it off. It started out as a table runner or stole and when I saw its ugliness off the loom it became a kitchen towel.
I bought the Rigid Heddle Weaving class at Craftsy.com and with some renewed confidence and insight to trouble shoot, I warped for a scarf. This for some reason came out WAY better than the first project did. As soon as its done drying I'm going to ship it off to Janet. I hope she likes wearing it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

my baby can ride!


my baby can ride! a video by mom2rays on Flickr.

Zuri received a Strider running bike for her second birthday. She received a Specialized pedal bike without training wheels for her fourth birthday. Unfortunately she hasn't been on it much. Today was her fourth time on the bike. And she rode it! I'm so proud of her. She has to gain confidence and coordinate turning and stopping, but she can ride! I think having Sippy, her first baby along for the ride helped her to focus. She was very concerned about crashing and hurting Sippy in the process.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Studio and Schoolroom redo


I showed you how it looked while we were in the process of the redo of our studio and school room so here's how it looks now that it's cleaned up. On the right side of the room we've placed all of the desks, the kids have some shelves to keep their desks isolated for ease of concentration and focus. As before, when we need to work together the center table is available.  My studio is on the left.  It now extends further down the room and is more functional.  

From the door studio and schoolroom by mom2rays

At the far end of the room we have our whiteboards and under the window the clickclack. It's great for reading time, there is storage underneath for board games and it folds into a double bed for guests.

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The center table how holds the kids sewing machine (on loan from my mom) and our globe.

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As I mentioned above there are bookcases/shelves between the desks to aid in the kids focusing.  On the shelves between Zuri and Mardie's desks we keep the daily use supplies like pencils, markers and colored pencils on top. Below are many of our classroom non math manipulatives and puzzles. Between Charmie and Mardie's desks I keep our greatly reduced workboxes. For this space, and where we are in our work, this simplifies things. I also keep the boys text books here. It's much simpler than keeping them with the other classroom materials. There's a lot less hunting and frustration this way.

School side of the room

To the right of Charmie's desk is a shelving unit that is an extension of my studio. My spinning wheels, some fiber, some yarn, some works in progress and related fiber tools are housed here in baskets.

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The left side of the room (right side in this photo as viewed from Zuri's desk) has my studio. My sewing table setup hasn't changed. This was the best placement and allows for me to be able to work and keep an eye out on the kids simultaneously. Rocky and I share the desk.  As before, we work facing each other.  When I'm good and don't collect things on my desk it's plenty of space for both of us.

My studio and the classroom table

I cleaned out  the credenza that came with the desk and now store some of my office supplies and teacher's materials in it.  We were able to find IKEA office chairs in the "as is" room for well under 1/2 price!  Nothing is wrong with them, they were just no longer in the box.  They are very comfortable and well built.  They do not match.  We weren't trying to match them.  Rocky and I are built differently so it makes sense that we would be most comfortable in differently shaped chairs.  My chair is a wool version of the leather one we bought for the living room desk.  IKEA doesn't make it anymore sadly, but it's the most comfortable office chair I've ever used. Rocky's is green and black.

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In the middle of the studio wall is my cutting/pinning/ironing table.  I've had to have one side folded down since we moved it up here.  This new configuration of the room allows me to have it all of the way open.  I have had ironing/pinning mats for a long time for this table, but the size didn't fit and they overlapped.  I finally cut and sewed them together to make one large fitted mat, vs. two ill fitting ones. Under it I have storage drawers that hold our math manipulatives, our school craft supplies, my mailing supplies and scale, as well as my cutting instruments. I'm going to be adding one more set of drawers in a few weeks and our science materials should then fit here as well.

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Beyond the cutting table is a short bookcase of school resource books and a second with unused school supplies. I try to get supplies when they are affordable which isn't exactly when I need them.  I have to store them somewhere. Having them in one place allows me to keep an inventory of what we have and also itemize what we need for future sales.

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The closet also got a redo.  It was full of videos/ DVD and VHS (yes we still have a VHS player), Wii games, board games (now under the clickclack), and over flow toys that we had temporarily taken out of rotation.  There was little useful organization, though Rocky had made multiple attempts.  It was a clusterscrew because it wasn't kid friendly and when opened almost always vomited its contents all over the walkway into the room.  I hated it because it was never tidy.  The solution; after we removed the items to more kid friendly storage areas was to move the remaining plastic drawers with fabric and yarn into it.  These drawers were previously on the landing at the top of the stairs and an eyesore.

Fabric and yarn overflow closet

I know it's A LOT to have it all in one room, optimally this would be in two separate and large rooms.  This is the modest space we do have and it all works. I feel so blessed to have this space to be used for a studio and school.  The space is very conducive to us working together. Everybody has their own space if needed yet we can come together for games or projects that require our combined efforts.  After some time, the room is becoming what I envisioned it being when we bought this home.

the storm before the calm

the storm before the calm by mom2rays
the storm before the calm, a photo by mom2rays on Flickr.
This past weekend Rocky and I needed to redo the school. We had to put the click clack (the black sleeper couch) back into this room. The chairs we had up here needed to be integrated elsewhere into our home. They ended up in the living room. Many things were taken out and shipped off to charity. And the space got a lot worse before it got better. You see we had gotten our school room where we thought it needed to be here.  But as I learn, I realize that no thing that I design or use is constant.  It's always changing, always in need of improvement. Always needing to be modified because I change and my needs change.  That's what has happened in this room.