Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kids' Cooking Idea: Indian Chipatis (flatbreads)

For our budding chef/ scientist, we play lots of kitchen games. We like to drop everything in water and see if it sinks or floats before eating it. We like to see if it tastes different dipped in water. And we like to cut things apart. This time, we have found an activity that puts something together.

My son is now 2 years and almost 2 months old. He loves to help in the kitchen and garden, and takes a strong interest in whatever my husband or I am doing. Making chipatis, or Indian flatbreads, is really fun with him, and he likes to eat them, too.

We got the recipe from my favorite Indian cookbook, called 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. It is 2 cups of flour (1 1/2 c. whole wheat and 1/2 c. rice flour is what we use) mixed with a teaspoon of salt, then water is added and mixed until it feels like dough. You then let it rest for a bit (10 minutes or so is fine). Then the fun begins.

We set the little guy up facing the stove but away from the heat on a barstool. He insisted on a napkin to keep his lap clean (I am not kidding~ see 2nd photo). Then we brush the counter with flour, and split the dough into 8-10 small balls and give him one at a time. He uses his small rolling pin from his play kitchen from Ikea but I am sure he could manage an adult tool. I showed him how to make one, then he was good to go rolling it and flipping it and making it thinner.

Then the adult takes it and puts it in a hot skillet for a minute on each side, then, if you have gas, put it on an open flame for about 5 seconds, or until it puffs up then sinks again. If you have an electric range, flip it back to the 1st side and take a wet dish towel and press on the edges of the chipati until it puffs up then down again. Serve as soon as they are all done cooking.

He really likes eating these, and cooking them, too. They go great with a curry, or any other tortilla use. Have fun!
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The 2-Year Old Prep Chef

He takes so much pride in his work, and works really hard at it. He asks questions and for help when he needs it, and takes direction and innovates. It is actually quite amazing to watch and support his transition.

My husband and I also call it "cheap labor." In addition, the knife and cutting board entertain him for 15 minutes to an hour in the kitchen. He also rips some veggies apart with his hands (mostly lettuce, kale, chard, cauliflower, and broccoli).

Depending on what is being cut, he also likes to eat it (see avocado, bottom photo). That is a small "price" to pay!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: Farm City

What a great book!  It is always fun to run into a nonfiction book that:

  1. reads like fiction
  2. is set in a place where you have spent a lot of time
  3. is about a topic that you have a lot of interest in
  4. keeps you on the edge of your seat
  5. teaches you something
Farm City by Novella Carpenter did all of these!  From start to finish, I didn't want to put the book down.  I loved all of the specifics in the book, and felt like I learned something about Urban Farming, which is my new favorite subject (sorry, sewing for babies and toddlers and the slow food movement).  

She breaks the book into sections based on her animal husbandry habits, and writes in a funny but forthright manner that keeps the reader wanting more.  She is modest but detailed.  My husband and I both laughed out loud when she described dumpster diving for fish guts for her new piglets in Oakland's Chinatown district.

I strongly recommend this book, even if you aren't interested in the subject manner.  It is lively and fun, and totally worth the time to read it.

She has a blog, too...
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Monday, September 20, 2010

One Snuggie: 6 Projects and Counting

I was given a Leopard Snuggie and thought the fabric was way too cool to let it sit around on the couch.  I mean, this thing was huge!  I kept thinking of all the possibilities every time I looked at it.

My first project was a dress.  This is the Little Comet Tails Spin-Around Dress in a 2T.  I love Little Comet Tails' patterns.  They are really easy-to use and very straightforward.  This was my first go at this dress, and it was easy except for the top.  I got confused about how to stitch it so that it would turn as one piece with the arm holes intact.  I ended up pinning them under and not turning and topstitching them (just topstitching them closed).  The accent material and lining for his was an old sheet.   I haven't tried to make the dress again yet. 
My next project was a vest.  This was the Kwik Sew 2911 vest that I have made a zillion of and I love.  I modify it to remove the pockets and use FOE (fold over elastic) on the armholes and bottom instead of lycra as they specify.  Since this vest, I have stopped making them with collars and almost always add a hood, which is in the pattern.  This vest got a lot of attention, according to the mom I gave it to.

The next two projects were split-crotch pants and a t-shirt applique.
I just re-discovered the Snuggie to make the inside of a newborn Little Comet Tails Little Starter Cloth Diaper all-in-one for a friend.  I used red PUL on the outside, sherpa scraps on the inside (as the soaker), and the Snuggie on the inside.  The Snuggie will wick moisture away and allow the newborn poop to just roll off.  I used Lastin on the inside and my snap press for the snaps.

I just finished yet another Snuggie project: another pair of split-crotch pants in a larger size.  I made these out of the arms so they were already hemmed for me.

That Snuggie was a gift that keeps on giving! And I still have more of it left!!

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A new crop of split-crotch pants (aka pajama bottoms)

We have been daytime EC Grads since the little guy was 10 months old. That means that he was out in underwear everywhere we went starting at that time. We starting doing EC with him when his circumcision scar healed.

We have been working on nighttime since he was 3 months old. That was when he stopped pooping at night and started pooping on cue almost 100% during the day. Many babies and toddlers don't go potty at all during the night, but our little guy almost always goes pee one to three times. He is now 25 months old and we "catch" most of these pees, but some still go onto his sleeping mat (aka piddle pad or waterproof pad) and we trade it out for a dry one in the middle of the night.

To make nighttime pottying easier, his pajamas are fleece or wool split-crotch pants. The split-crotch makes it easier for us to take him to the bathroom, since he is often asleep at the time and we don't wake him by pulling up and down his pants (since there is no up and down with an open crotch). The fleece or wool makes it easier in case of a miss, since they don't absorb the pee. This means he doesn't feel wet and we don't need to change his pants in the middle of the night.

He has just grown out of a size, so here are the new ones I just made.

The top ones are made of new fleece. The two with patterns are from the remnant bin at JoAnn's, and the green one is Malden Mills windproof fleece from a co-op (but I think Wazoodle sells it). I am curious if the windproof fleece makes a difference as far as wicking goes. Many moms swear by it for their diaper covers, and I am wondering if it will be better than regular fleece in this application as well.

The middle one is a repurposed Snuggie. The bottom black one is the arms of an old fleece jacket. The green one is a repurposed sweater vest from Goodwill I had bought to make a diaper cover out of and never needed. It is wool and acrylic, an didn't felt down like I had hoped it would. I am excited to have used the armholes, which are nicely hemmed, as the crotch lining.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Burp Cloth: An Easy Tutorial

You can never have too many burp cloths when a baby is young. Plus, these are an item that is rarely handed down because they get so much use and get so grody. Lastly, they are really easy to make. What a great project if you have a baby (or, in my case, friends making babies).

The one pictured here is 1/4 of a yard of cute baby flannel. I took a yard of the fabric and cut it into quarters. This is one piece. The back side is sherpa. You could also use flannel on both sides, or terry, or any other absorbent material (like an old t-shirt).

After you cut your fabric to size (16" by 8" would be a nice size if you don't have a yard of something to cut up), place the pieces right sides together and pin. Then stitch the two sides together, taking care to start in the middle of a side instead of at a corner. Leave a 2" hole for turning.

Turn. Push the corners out to make them as sharp as possible, either using a turning tool or a pencil or closed scissors. Pin the turning hole closed.

Topstitch around the entire outside edge, starting at the turning hole. Make sure the front and back meet evenly at the edge as you go past.

You are done! Go wipe up some spit-up! ...or wrap it up for a new baby gift...
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Natural Kitchen: Your Guide to the Sustainable Food Revolution

My camp friend wrote this book, and I just learned about it through her sister on Facebook.

After reading her sister's post, I went to and looked it up and browsed through a little bit online.  It looks like a really great summary of all of the things we should all be doing like composting, growing veggies in the backyard, and packing a lunch in re-usable containers.

I am so excited for her, and this book looks like it could help us all out just a bit. Pin It

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pattern Review: Nursing Pads from Kayla's Cloth Kits

I made a gift set yesterday for a new mom and thought I should include something for Mama along with all the cute baby items. Re-usable cloth nursing pads were invaluable to me for the first months or so. I think I had three or four sets or more that I rotated, and my favorites were non-stick on the inside and thin enough at the edges that you couldn't see them from the outside (through your shirt).

I found two patterns online for these. One was from Pampered Cheeks and the other was from Kayla's Cloth Kits. The Pampered Cheeks pattern gave good advice, like to use bamboo or hemp material so they wouldn't hold the smell of milk and stink. But it required more pieces per pad. It did end up with a contoured rather than flat pad, which seems useful~ although all the ones I used were flat and worked fine. The advantage of her pattern was that it could be made from scraps. I looked for some scraps and didn't have any useful ones. So I opted for Kayla's pattern, which was basic circles. Both patterns had rough edges (i.e. zig-zagged or serged rather than turned and topstitched). I suppose that is better so there is less bulk through the shirt.

To make these, I used white PUL on the outside, one layer of Zorb inside, and a layer of white suedecloth inside. PUL is waterproof and I thought the white would be most neutral. Zorb is great for being thin and absorbant. Suedecloth is a feel-dry layer for next to the skin, which means it will quickly wick any moisture away and leave mom feeling dry. I hope it is non-stick.

Kayla's pattern was easy to cut. Her layout instructions were very clear. She had the outer circle as slightly larger than the other circles, and sadi that it would roll in slightly when stitched with the other layers. I was surprised and pleased to find this to be the case. On my first pad, I had the inner and middle layers identical. When stitching it, the middle layer peeked out a little, since my cutting wasn't all that precise (i.e. the identical layers weren't exactly the same all around). On the subsequent pads, I cut the middle layer to be all hidden by the inner layer. This worked, and the layer was hidden on all the other pads. I don't have a serger, so I used a wide and mid-length zig-zag.

I'd recommend this pattern. I am happy with how they turned out, and hope my friend is, too.
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