Shake, Shake, Shake…

If you grew up in the age of disco, that simple phrase ends in only one way. Long before Meghan Trainor was singing about bass and treble, KC & the Sunshine Band wanted you to shake your bootie.

While this post has nothing to do with booties, it’s all about shaking and changing the world bit by bit. Have I lost you? OK, let’s slow things down.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Toxic Home Transformation . They offered five or six speakers each day and talked about ways to detoxify your home.  While I couldn’t listen to all of them, I did manage a few interviews each day. The experts talked about getting rid of wifi, toxic cleaning supplies, chlorine, chemicals in your personal care items, scented candles. The topics ranged widely and were quite overwhelming.

One of the moderators suggested picking a few simple things and trying them out. So I’ve been opening the french doors in our bedroom to get a little fresh air each morning. Apparently, all that insulation is great for your fuel bill, but it can trap toxins and off-gassing inside. I like a daily dose of fresh air.

I ordered a sampler kit from Annemarie Skin Care to check out some natural alternatives. It smells heavenly and feels great on my skin, but I’ll have to try it a few more days before coming to any conclusion.

And now for the shaking bit, I joined the My Green Fills Family by ordering the Clean Conscience pack. I receive laundry soap, laundry rinse, and a stain remover in the mail every two months. With just me and the MR at home, this seemed a perfect fit.

I choose what I want, how often, and if it’s scented with essential oils or not. I’ve tried many natural  detergents and been unimpressed with the results, but I thought I’d give this a try.

One thing My Green Fills has over the others is its unique distribution method. My first order came with a container for each of my purchases and a small packet of product. I added water to each container up to the fill line, put in the packet, and–you guessed it–shook.  A little shaking and we were ready to roll.

It’s only been a week, but so far I’m liking how my wash is turning out. I gave up dryer sheet years ago, so the scented version was a little overwhelming for me. I also failed to notice that the cap had markings on the inside to show how much to use. The first few loads, I’d used too much and the scent was quite strong. Now I seem to have figured things out, but I’ve changed my next order to the unscented versions. And you know the really cool thing about the next order? It’s going to be a small envelope with a few small packets. I’ll get to shake, shake, shake and it’ll be good. No more plastic bottles.

I’m doing my part to make the world a little greener and using a little less plastic.

You can check out My Green Fills here and learn all about their commitment to a natural, healthy clean and a better world.

How are you changing the world?

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It’s Just What You Do

The other day, I was chit-chatting with Sweet Miss. She’d been at a baby shower and was surprised that the only handmade present was the blanket I’d made for her friends. Then we went on to discuss whether it simply that fewer people are making things these days, or whether her expectations are skewed by having me as her mother.

When I hear someone is expecting, I start planning a blanket, or a sweater, or maybe a special hat for the baby. You present this precious new life a gift made with love–it’s just what you do.

In the last year, our friends have had a lot of good news in the baby department. I’ve made a hat, sweater and blanket for a new mom on her own, a hat and sweater for friends who adopted, a balnket for Sweet Miss’ friends, a hat and sweater for a sweet baby I get to hold at MOPS, and I’ve just finished a blanket for the MR’s cousin’s daughter’s baby boy who’s expected soon. All these babies have been keeping me busy, but this last project has been something special.

When me and the MR were first married, we celebrated his grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with all his family down in California. His cousin’s daughter was seven and immediately adopted us. At the party, she told everyone we were her parents.So of course I knew I had to make something special for her when we found out she was expecting.

Her nickname is Desert Barbie, and her family likes playing at their property in the desert, so when I saw the Sleep Tight Teddy Bear Blanket on Ravelry, I knew I had a winner. This baby will be camping and enjoying the outdoors while still in diapers. The blanket features a row of teddy bears sleeping in faux sleeping bags; it looked simple enough.

The first hiccup was the stitch pattern that delineates each bear’s sleeping bag. It requires you to flip the blanket back-and-forth, back-and-forth over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is simple, beautiful, and quite effective, but flipping a big blanket multiple times in a row gets tiresome.

Then came the color change from blue to white. I’d had a ton of Twize yarn from South West Trading Company, a variegated bamboo, on hand and thought it would make the perfect blanket for a baby boy. I wasn’t that worried about finding some 100% bamboo for the top and teddies; I guess I just didn’t think it through. I went shopping with Baby Girl, and we bought some acrylic at the craft store when bamboo was nowhere in sight–it would be fine. I was so wrong. I was going from drapey, marled bamboo to stark white, stiff acrylic. It looked awful.

With three-quarters of a blanket done–remember all that flipping?–I knew I needed some bamboo yarn. The due date is just around the corner. Well, while the Twize yarn is discontinued, I was able to find it for sale in a number of other people’s stashes on Ravelry. I really wanted a white as a backdrop for the sleeping bears, but Twize was all a brightly twisted jumble, maybe a solid would like strange? The pale gray had a pink tinge to it on the screen. So I went with the yellow/blue twist. It was a little bright, but it’d do.

The yarn arrived, and I forged on with the teddy bears. I made heads, and muzzles, and ears, and paws.  I took a look, and just said, huh? This doesn’t look anything like a teddy bear. It looked more like a sock monkey to me.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I just had to trust the process and keep going. I’m so glad I did.

 

I just needed to add a little embroidery and put all the pieces together.

And look what I ended up with? Sweet little teddy bears with lots of personality to match the rest of the family.

IMG_4458

It’s bright, it’s crazy, it’s fun. Perfect for them.

Here are a few of my other gifts and recipients just to bump the cuteness factor.

Do you have a go to gift you like to present to new babies? Any handmade specialties?

 

All About April

April showers have given way to May. You know what that means; it’s time for our monthly recap of the blog.

We had speakersSpring, and a generator. The speakers are great, spring is a little fickle, and we haven’t had the need to use the generator, but it’s ready and waiting.

A new laundry room rennovation is in the future. We’ve checked out wine fridges and matching column fridges and met with a contractor. Much more is in store, but we may have to wait a while on this one. In the meantime, be sure to check out the inspiration all around you.

And now for updates and other news. Me and the MR took a quick trip to Palm Springs, for dinners out, sunshine, shopping, hiking, swimming, and games. My garden still needs some work, but the MR has the wall around the generator looking great. We donated a few things to our local MOPS garage sale, but I think it’s time for some more spring cleaning.

And in other good news, we received an invitation from Sweet Miss and the Fella for their upcoming wedding. It’s getting real.

How was your April?

Eyes Wide Open

Me and the MR spent a weekend at the beach in early March. We were hoping for sun and sand, instead we found gray skies and rain.

Sure we were a little disappointed, but the ladies in the party took the opportunity to walk into town and shop for a party dress.

Even in the rain, there’s beauty and inspiration. Just look at this planter.

These vibrant tiles chase away the gloom. And what about this brick wall?

We were walking past this tiny park when I was stopped in my tracks by the beauty of the brickwork.

While I don’t have the skill to recreate this, I love the idea of turning the basics of life into art.

Perhaps it’s time to give the orchard fence an upgrade.

You may be wondering about that party dress. Grandma MeeMee has a new outfit for Sweet Miss’ wedding.

Sweet Miss, Baby Girl, and the MR are all kitted out. Now I just have to find a dress and we’ll be set.

Where are you finding inspiration?

March was Marvelous in 2018

Sometimes I look back at the month and say “wow” look at all those posts, so many things happened; but other times, I just say “hmm.” It’s not like we did nothing; I just didn’t manage to write about it.

So here’s just a little of what we did in March. Me and the MR flew to LA for a wedding and a rainy weekend at the beach, we spent time with family, and Baby Girl came home for spring break. We met people for lunch, and dinner, and movies, and wine tasting. Plus we went shopping and  bought new tires, and new brakes. The MR bought a suit for the big event this summer, Sweet Miss’ dress arrived (it’s beautiful), BG’s dress arrived (lovely, too), Cocoa chased deer and barked at a bear. I went to a wine and paint night with my buddy. We were busy.

And now here’s the blog in a blink. That Snowball Effect started off with just one job that turned into craziness. While we were out of town, the tree guys came and took down some huge cedars. Everything looked great till, we realized our propane tank was rapidly emptying. There was a break in the line, and we had to do without for a few days. With a little rearranging of the schedule, the new tank went in early, and all is well.

It’s in the Details is a cautionary tale about the need to think things through. Let’s just say, a well-lit mantel is a lovely thing–we just don’t have it. Maybe some day…

The Second Time Around had me planting kiwi vines in the garden. This is take two, and after the wind, hail, snow, and rain of the last few weeks, we may wind up with a third try. Knock on wood for me and my kiwis. The onion sets are looking great, and the orchard is continuing to break out in bloom.

Wishing for Sun showcased our lovely view and the new lounge chairs we’ve bought. It snowed on Easter. It may be a while before they get any use. It’s just one of those months.

And now because I’m glad to be winding up more than a few knit and crochet projects and Cocoa makes me laugh, here’s BG’s new socks and her lovely feet.

BGs socks

The MR is cutting back on his consulting, and we’ve got a bunch of projects on the fire, and I’m hoping to be a little more present in April. After four visits, our wifi is finally working, so I should be a little less frustrated when I do write to you.

Happy April!

It’s in the Details

A few weeks ago when I was putting together my monthly recap, I spent the afternoon out and about and didn’t get an updated picture I needed during daylight hours.

No worries—after all, it was the fireplace where the MR had touched up the paint to make my cluster of photos look even better. The heart of the home with three sets of lights, it would surely be well-lit. So I turned on all those switches and…

While the sconces flood the sides with light, the mantel and the place of pride above are left in shadows.

Granted, we’ve added some task lighting next to the seating area; and if it was still the sunken “conversation pit”, that area would be lit. But with all the care and effort people put in to decorating their mantel, wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually see it?

That’s why when me and the MR met with an interior designer this week about a possible master bathroom renovation, we talked lighting as well.

These little details can make or break the function of a room.

If you’re a guest at our home in the evening, you’re just going to have to trust me that the copper piece dances in the light and the sweet family pictures are pretty cute, too.

Any lighting dilemmas at your house? Don’t worry; I’ll keep you posted on any changes we make.

You can see the mantel in daylight here, and if you can’t remember the conversation pit or how the fireplace has changed check it out here.

In other news, it’s Baby Girl’s 21st Birthday. Love you Missy.

A Look Back at February ’18

It always makes me laugh. In that big push getting ready for a trip, I write all sorts of posts and have them preloaded for publishing on certain dates, and then I get home and write nothing. Maybe I’m just so happy to be home, I put the blog on the back burner.

So here’s a look back at February, where I posted lots of stories about home while I was exploring the world and then wrote a story about the world once I got home.

I displayed some photos of My People on the mantel. Photos of the MR and the girls make me smile and bring back good memories. Perhaps it was the close-up with the paint chip, but the MR was inspired to touch up the mantel, and it makes me quite happy. Sometimes 3M isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

We also talked about bargains. The fancy linen bedspread and shams that were on sale would have cost a pretty penny, the ones online were just the ticket, because A Bargain Isn’t Always a Bargain.

After I asked Won’t You Join Me? for the crochet-a-long, the designer of the Life of The Sky freeform purse commented on the my blog. I haven’t had people lining up to make bags of their own, but it’s on display in the shop where I work (Quintessential Knits) and has received a lot of positive attention. And with that big project completed, I’ve been able to devote time to half finished sweaters, and socks, and blankets, and hats. It’s been a productive month.

And while we still haven’t officially met the new neighbors (see They Might Be Our Kind of People),  Baby Girl did make me pose with this lovely cow on a recent visit to see the kids.

Now that we’ve been home for a few weeks, the memory of Costa Rica still makes me smile. A Little R&R is a good thing–Pura Vida. I know we’ll be back some day.

Hope you had a lovely month. Spring is almost here.