Thursday, October 31, 2013

Recipe: Vanilla Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

We are big fans of vanilla ice cream (homemade with raw cream).  But sometimes, the kids want it right away the the ice cream maker inside hasn't been in the freezer long enough... so...

Step 1: whip raw cream (see proportions in original recipe)
Step 2: add vanilla and honey, if using

Step 3: portion into whatever containers you are freezing it in (we use 1 cup like these) - start with one little dollop for initial mixing
Step 4: add egg yolk into each container and mix

Step 5: add more whipped cream and mix

Step 6: add tiny pinch of salt and mix

Step 7: freeze then enjoy!
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin Soup

1 small pumpkin, seeded, peeled, and cut into 2" cubes
1 large or 2-3 medium zucchinis, sliced
1 lb. ground beef
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 qt. bone broth/ stock
2 t. cumin
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. turmeric
pinch cayenne
2 T coconut oil or lard

Brown onion in oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic.  Add zucchini and pumpkin, and saute until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Add meat and saute until browned.  Add greens, broth, and spices, and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes to an hour, or until pumpkin is at desired softness and flavors have combined.
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Final Pumpkin Harvest

We keep talking and talking  about our pumpkin growing and today we have made an end to it.

We harvested them all.

Look at what was left!

Yes, we took all the vines out of the yard and even harvested the green ones, and the little ones...

How fun.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Sewing for Boys Ladybug Pants (Little Heartbreaker Pants)

These are the Little Heartbreaker Pants from Sewing for Boys (seen before as dress pants, here as white pants with star pockets and here as truck shorts and here is about the buttonhole elastic I made myself).  As you can see, I really like this pattern.  

This rendition is ladybug quilter's cotton from JoAnn Fabrics.  They are both size 4-- one hemmed a lot and the other with 3" extra on the bottom to essentially make a size 4T and a size 6.  This is because all of the sizing in the book seems to be big (wide, mostly), and after making a pattern a few times for the same kids, it is nice to know how to adjust the pattern to make the clothing fit better!
The other change I made this time is taking out the front pleat to make them more narrow.  I folded the pattern in at the pleat and cut it there.  I wanted to make sure the waistbands would still be right, but that they wouldn't be so baggy.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pattern Review: Zip-Top Tote Bag from Warehouse Fabrics Blog

This free zip top tote pattern is from the Warehouse Fabrics blog.

I used a quilter's cotton for the outside, a metallic thin fabric for the lining, and old sheet for the inside of the zippered interior pocket, and buckram for the interfacing.

I didn't do the cargo pocket she recommended for the outside, and did a patch pocket with a seam in the middle and a flap over it with two snaps instead.

On the inside, I did an interior zipper pocket on one side and a patch pocket with a seam for a pen pocket on the other side.

I like the bag overall.  It is a nice size and weight, and I like how I did the pockets.  The strap is a little long for me- it could be a full 6" shorter and still be ok.

The directions were decent and the pattern pieces fit together.  I struggled with getting the buckram through the turning hole because it is so stiff, and how to use the interfacing was unclear in the directions.

I also attached the lining to the zipper differently than she explained. I did this because I made the error of topstitching the zipper down when I attached it to the exterior pieces.  Then my zipper tape wasn't available when she told me to attach it to the lining.  Oops.  Instead I tucked my buckram in under the lining, flipped my lining over the edge, and did a second topstitching layer enclosing these pieces.  It worked fine.

I also missed the part in the directions to leave a hole for turning and had to rip myself one. I don't like how bags look with a turning hole in the lining; I much prefer to close them with the topstitching at the top opening.

When attaching the sides before turning it, the zipper sides didn't quite line up. I think the top edges where the zipper lines up look a bit sloppy and would look nicer had I made a continuous seam up the side rather than skipping the zipper itself when I was doing this long seam (this will make sense when you actually do it).

All in all, it's a nice pattern. There are a few jumps to other instruction sets, which is annoying, but it make a fine bag.  Next time, I will do shorter straps and hide the ends of the zipper into the side seams better.
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dear Nicolle: Washing Cloth Diapers

Hi Nicolle,

My name is Mina and I enjoy reading all your articles.  I was really inspired by your article on cloth diapering and recently made the switch when my son was 11 months old and I really enjoy it!  We'll be having kid #2 at some point and I'm looking forward to CDing from the newborn stage.

I was wondering if you could share with me info about your washing routine.  I have an HE Front Loader and I've been experimenting with various cycles/techniques and I'm not sure I found a method I love just yet because the occasional microfiber insert may have a faint lingering odor after the wash.

What cycles have worked for you?  Do you use a disinfectant in every load?  What detergent do you like?  I'm using Charlie's Soap and I'm still on the fence about it since I sometimes have smell issues and it's "greeness" is a little controversial. 

If you can share any suggestions/tips that have worked for you, I'd really appreciate it.  If you have other CD recommendations/tips not  necessarily related to washing, I'm totally open to those too!

Thanks so much!



Dear Mina,

Thanks for the note. I am happy to hear that you have been using cloth diapers and liking it!  As far as washing, here is what I recommended in the original article:

All of these covers and diapers can be washed with your regular laundry.  Detergent charts are useful to make sure your choice of detergent is good for your diapers, but most kinds are (here are more tips).  Fabric softener is not recommended on absorbent pieces, since it makes them less absorbent.  As mentioned earlier, if you choose fleece or wool covers, you will occasionally need to lanolize (or fabric softener-ize) your covers.  Stripping Diapers is an occasional task as well, and is basically an extra wash cycle when (and if) your diapers ever start to smell bad or seem to be less absorbent.

But let's get more specific. I also have an HE Front Loader.  I used two methods.  One was for the beginning, when we had more poopy diapers (remember, we did EC/ Diaper Free Baby so didn't have as many poopy diapers as most), and the other method was later, when poop was mostly in the potty.

At first, we kept a wet bucket.  We would shake off the solids into the toilet, and later we got a diaper sprayer which helped get all the solids into the toilet with zero actual touching of them on our part (As an aside, both kids are in underwear now and we still use the sprayer for cleaning the toilet-- it's a great addition to the bathroom).  For a wet bucket, we kept a small garbage can filled partially with water away from kid hands.  In our old house, we had a laundry room sink and kept it inside there.  We don't have one here and could have put one atop the dryer.  If we had a stink problem, I used a splash of bleach in there.  Knowing what I do now, I would have used Borax instead.  When it was time to do laundry, I would pour the water into the sink and wash the diapers with the whites/ towels on hot with our regular detergent (we use Trader Joe's).  If there were a lot of diapers, I would do an extra load, but this was very rarely.  I also do laundry twice a week or more.

As there became fewer poopy diapers, I started just throwing the wet diapers into the whites/ towels laundry basket (we have two laundry baskets- one for whites/ towels and one for colors- so we don't have to separate later).  They would dry there (or not, depending on how many days they would wait and the weather), then get washed on hot.  I throw some Borax (or bleach) in with the whites on occasion- and prefer Borax.  The powdered Borax goes right onto the clothes- you use about a quarter cup.  If you are ok with bleach, it goes into the top tray in one of the slots.

As for Charlie's Soap, it's green-ness is indeed controversial.  I have also read that it has been known to cause diaper rash in babies that can sometimes be severe, so I have always steered clear of it.

In general, I think all you need to do is wash the "pee" diapers with normal laundry and "poop" on a hot cycle - with NO SOLIDS in the machine.  And with smell issue, stripping diapers (running them through the wash on hot with vinegar once per month poured into the top slot where fabric softener goes) is how to get rid of it.

Best of luck with the new baby and keep on cloth diapering!


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Friday, October 25, 2013

Xtracycle 2 kid seat rearranging again

This is our latest iteration of how to seat the kids on the Xtracycle (they are now 5 and 2, and weigh about 47 and 37 pounds).

The wooden seat we made is still in the front position, but it is now where the younger child sits (it was the older child's seat before).  We decided to switch their positions so that the older child would feel the bumps more, and the younger child would have a smoother ride.

We added the hooptie back on.

The older child will use a seat belt strap still, and the padding we made for the milk crate seat is now in the rear position.  The holes in it are what we are looping the seat belt through.

To carry their stuff, we put the kids' purse we made onto the piece of plumbing we already had on the back of the wooden seat.  We also moved the little plastic tray that had been on the side of the front seat onto the front of the hooptie and attached it with zip ties.  It was no longer on the side of the front wooden seat because the hooptie sides were in that spot.

The advantages of this arrangement are that the younger child will be more comfortable over bumps and won't tug on his brother's helmet from behind.  Possible disadvantages are that the younger child's legs are too short to reach into the bags and he can inadvertently (or so I'd like to think) kick me while we are riding.  The balance of the bike will take a little getting used to, since the heaviest weight will now be in the far back (and as we all know, weight is easiest to carry when it is closer to center and lower). It may not be that big of a difference, though, since I won't be carrying the weight of the Yepp seat around any more, and the weight of the empty seat is not insignificant.
Child Seating on our Xtracycle Edgerunner, a Brief History

For your review, this is what our first arrangement looked like (modified milk crate in back for younger child, older child in front using milk crate as back rest; hoopie all around):

Then it looked like this (milk crate in front for older child, Yepp seat in back for younger child; no hooptie):

Then it looked like this (wooden seat in front for older child, Yepp seat in back for younger child; no hooptie):

And now we are here (wooden seat in front for younger child- with addition of old dining room seat cushion- which we added a few weeks ago for the older child in that seat, padding from milk crate seat in back for older child; hoopie all around):

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ladybug Backpack - Toddler - with Chest Clip

I made my older son a toddler backpack, and he never liked it, and we got rid of it.

But then my little toddler son started asking for a ladybug backpack after we started talking about Halloween.  So I took out the old indietutes pattern and got cutting.  He chose the fabrics, of course.


I added a snap.

When he got it, he asked me why it didn't have a chest clip.

So I had to add one for him.

To do this, I marked where it should go, then hemmed fabric and stitched it to the straps.  I added snaps to these pieces.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Napping on the Bike (Xtracycle)

I thought our days of napping on the bike had ended, then had a brilliant idea.

A pillow.

Ahh.... magic.
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Decorating (Painting)

We are getting ready for Halloween!

We grew some of our own pumpkins this year, and have gotten others from our CSA farm and Trader Joe's.

It is still a bit early to carve pumpkins here, as it is still getting warn during the day and we don't want mold, so we did some painting today.


What? You're not supposed to paint the table??
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Fleece Pants

As winter is approaching, it is getting cooler out and time to make fleece pants to fit.  Fleece pants are nice for the cooler months and they still let the kids have freedom of movement (previous post here).

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Over the Hill Pickles


These got to go to the chickens because there was so much white sludge in my pickles that I didn't want to eat them.  Some were also soft.

What did I do wrong/ differently than before (previous NY Sour Pickles here)?

1. I used old brine from the fridge and poured it into the cucumbers instead of making new brine.
2. I used a large mason jar instead of my regular jar.
3. I used a lid not screwed on instead of a baggie filled with water touching the brine.

Which of these mistakes was the worst?  I think the lid.


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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 3: Bringing the Old Waterer Back

This is the third in our plumbing the chicken coop series.  First we set the plumbing line.  Then we did nipple waterers.  And the chickens didn't drink from them.

We tried taking the other water out.  We tried pushing on the nipples to show the chickens where the water was.  And we tried picking up the chickens and putting them at the water source.

None of it worked.

We will need to wait until our next batch of chicks, and show them how to use it when they are young, then the older chickens will watch them and use it then.

In the meantime, we brought the old waterer back.  We added a short line of hose to fill it up more easily, and this closer spigot will mean that we won't have to haul the full water jug around, which is a nice enough improvement.

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 1: The Line and Spigots

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 2: The Nipple Waterers and Bucket

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 3: Bringing the Old Waterer Back

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 4: DIY Chick Waterer

Plumbing the Chicken Coop Part 5: The Mister System

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Friday, October 18, 2013

DIY Kombucha

also see: Continuous Brew Kombucha  Pin It

Setting the Winter Garden

We just set the winter garden. On time this year (for once).  Hope it  grows!

In this box, we mixed some of the summer veggies that are still alive with some of the winter starts.

In these two boxes, we set a ton of winter starts... after mixing in new compost and turning the soil.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fabric Tamales

These are a square of fleece with a line of felt in the inside for the filling that you can see out the sides.
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