Posts Tagged "handmade"

A Little Early, A Little Late – An Unveiling

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 in Eliza Brownhome, Simple Living | 10 comments

A Little Early, A Little Late – An Unveiling

When we made the decision to move back into our bus with our family of five, we knew of some specific shortcomings of the bus as a permanent living situation on a farm without other amenities: Laundry facilities – we do at least a load a day, and we cloth diaper the baby toddler. A real bathroom – a flushable or composting toilet (rather than chemical toilet) and either a bath or shower. With little kids, a bath is really a priority. Space for sleeping and for some of the kids things – we did manage to sleep the five of us in the bus for five months but the sleeping arrangements were far from ideal and not something we would want to do long term. We were also very short on space for storing clothes for five people. We put all seasonal clothes in Rubbermaid bins under the bed, and tried to downsize the amount of clothes each person had, but less clothes also means you have to do laundry more often (which brings us back to point number 1). The kids also have some bigger, nice quality toys like a dollhouse, castle and play kitchen that we didn’t want to leave in storage indefinitely. A Dining Table – we prioritize meals together, and while we could (and should) build a bigger table in the bus, the table in the bus is not the ideal place to eat meals with young kids on a regular basis. Because the place where we eat is the same space where they play, colour, read, watch movies, lounge, and goof around, it is very difficult to discourage that kind of up and down, wiggly behaviour at meal times. Spills were every meal occurrences and our seat covers have taken a huge beating. Imagine eating every single meal on your couch. We decided to build an additional space to house: a bathroom/laundry room some hangout space & a dining area a loft bedroom for the kids We were originally going to build a little conventional style two room shed/cabin, but Aaron has had an interest in timber framing and natural building for many years and we thought this would be a good chance to explore and learn about building in those styles. Aaron had a book with complete plans for a small timber frame garden shed and we decided to give that a try. We took the initial plans for a 12’x16′ shed and stretched to 12’x24′. We added 2′ to the height to give a little extra headroom to the 12’x12′ loft. We also added a 4′ bay window on one side (between two bents 12′ apart) and a 6′ porch on one end to accommodate our chest freezer, coat & boot storage, and to create an entry way for the bus. The bathroom/laundry room is 12’x8′ tucked under the loft. **A word about materials: all of the windows, the bathroom door, the wood stove, the bathtub, the mirror, the washer and dryer (and our furniture though that’s not pictured) have been obtained through Craigslist or free from friends. The front door was bought from a used window and door retailer – it was a factory second, never even hung. The lights and bathroom vanity were all purchased new. All of the wood except for the 2×4 framing for the drywall was milled by a local sawyer from trees from on site at the farm.** The resulting space (especially coupled with the space our bus provides) is by no means tiny. We feel very comfortable with this much space for our family of five. It is, in fact, very spacious. What we love about the design of this house is that, in the future, by removing the bus and adding kitchen facilities (either in what is now the porch, or in one corner of the main room), this house could easily be a wonderful small house for a couple – for us after the kids grow up or if we wanted to rent it out. We could also potentially add a kitchen...

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Project Energize Progress

Posted on Apr 11, 2012 in Eliza Brownhome, Featured, Simple Living | 0 comments

Project Energize Progress

Here we are: already the second week of April. I had intended to do monthly updates on our progress on our new farm plan, and on our word of the year, energize…but the weeks have slipped away in a sleep deprived fog as Silas continues to be an incredibly crappy sleeper. Yeah, I know he’s a baby, but this is crappy sleep even for a baby. Really. Jumping straight in then, since this will have to be a big update: January Progress – Getting Organized: I joined pinterest as a place to start saving inspiration for our Farm Plan. You can follow me there at abluebirdmama. My boards that are relevant to our Farm Plan are: Cabinspiration, Farm Plan, and Shelter: Handmade & Tiny Homes. I started my planned computer clean up by migrating most of my bookmarks to pinterest. Unfortunately, the purge is stalled there because the rest (sorting docs, downloads, emails) is too boring compared to playing on pinterest. I have our household binder 90% complete. Unfortunately, I only use it 15% of the time. We got a new (to us) van and we vowed 1) to keep up with the maintenance and 2) to keep it clean. February Progress – She’s Crafty: We finally completed and signed our Lease with the farmers where we are moving! This was a big deal for all of us. The process of writing the lease was lengthy and filled with yummy dinner meetings, and screaming-baby-filled-conference calls. It was a good beginning exercise in getting to know each other and learning to be vocal about needs, wants, hopes, expectations, and boundaries. Signing those pages was also very scary – no going back now!! I had a few nights of panic. Might as well lay there awake panicking while you wait for the baby to wake up again right? We celebrated our last baby’s first birthday. I got crafty. I made a birthday banner. I made a birthday crown. I also stayed up until the wee hours of the morning making wee mice in wee tins for the wee ones’ Valentine’s Day gifts. I made a cloth tote to keep stuff organized in the van. It holds snacks, spare diapers, a few baby toys, books. In the summer, it will also hold a spare towel, bug dope and sun screen. You can also follow Things to Make & Do on pinterest. March Progress – First Things First: We cleared and leveled the (formerly forested) lot where our bus (Eliza Brownhome) and cabin (the Annex, the Panic Room, or the Pannex, whichever you prefer) will be sitting. We sent trees from the lot to the mill to be milled into the beams that will become our cabin. We dug a trench from the barn to our site to begin running our electrical, phone and water services to our site. By we, I mean Aaron. He did a lot of organizing, tree work,  and got to drive a bobcat. I put in extra hours at the midwifery clinic. I neglected to do any work at all on the kids’ baby books which was my assigned project for the month of March. I celebrated my birthday by: 1) going for “breakfast” with a friend and accidentally staying for 3 hours of catching up on adult conversation that was totally free of kid-interruptions and included a delicious eggs benny AND dessert, and 2) getting my hair cut for the first time in 1 year and highlights for the first time in 7 years. That’s the part where some self-care energized me so that I would be able to energize our projects. Except I also got the worst flu I’ve had in years and took my first real sick day since my oldest child was born. He came from school and found me in bed. Ordered me to get up and when I wouldn’t, he cried and asked, “who is going to take care of me?’ Hmm. Good question. So much more to do before June 1. Stay tuned to my PEP (Project Energize Progress) talks to...

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Summer By Numbers

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 in Featured, Food, Parenting, Simple Living | 0 comments

Summer By Numbers

We’ve been counting a lot around our house lately. Here are some examples: Number of pounds of pickling cukes picked by Aaron and Rain while I jiggled and bounced Silas in the Ergo: 29 Number of pounds of pickling cukes bought from local farm stand: 10 Number of quart jars of homemade dill pickles made at 11pm after children were sleeping: 31 Number of times per night that Silas wakes to nurse: 8-12 Number of cute noises Silas makes per hour: 568* Number of annoying noises Silas makes per hour: 6 Number of decibels of annoying noises Silas makes: 100* Number of decibels of planes flying over our new house near the Air Force base: 130* Number of decibels of Rain’s constant singing & clapping: 75 Number of pints of strawberry jam canned while children watch movies: 13 Number of pounds of blueberries picked by 3 adults, 6 children & 1 sleeping baby: 16.5 Number of pounds of blueberries remaining after 2 weeks of pies, smoothies, snacking: 0 Number of coats of orange, yellow, red & purple paint (respectively) it took to paint our 1976 Dodge camper while the children slept and watched movies: 5, 2, 4, 3 Number of days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 5 Number of sunny days on annual camping trip to Klein Lake (Sunshine Coast): 1.5 Number of teeth Silas has now: 6 * These numbers may or may not be slightly exaggerated. There you have it folks. That’s the way the final days of our summer are shaking down, in numbers. How did your summer add...

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Make a Laptop

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 in Parenting | 2 comments

Make a Laptop

I’m not much of a kids crafter kind of person. My son usually likes to just do whatever he wants with the materials and takes over completely if there is any kind of agenda. For the most part we just let him do what he wants with the art materials which is usually to cut great wads of paper into tiny pieces, spread them around, declare the craft finished and refuse to put anything in the recycling. We find tiny squares of paper spread through the house for weeks afterwards and there is usually a sizable stash stored in Rain’s nightstand because they are too precious for him to part with. (My family is laughing hysterically right now about how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree or some other dumb thing about how I used to do that, but whatever. I don’t let him have the tape anyways so I don’t even know what they’re talking about.) I got the idea to make a laptop with him out of an egg carton. Of course, a power struggle ensued about how it was to be done. I won because I’m bigger but that meant that I made the craft and Rain mostly watched so now we have no In-Process pictures for the tutorial. The laptop turned out pretty darn cool. I’ll tell you how it’s done and I won’t even be there to boss you around if you want to do it your way. But really, you can’t make a laptop out of a bunch of cut-up pieces of paper so it would be best if you listened to me. Just sayin. You’ll Need: 1 Egg Carton (empty) Scissors Glue Tape Paper 1 Piece of cardstock or thin cardboard I had just received a labeller as a gift from my husband for doing the books and marketing all year for our business. I have a secret stationary/office suply habit so the labeller was like giving me crack. Pretty sweet of him. The laptop would be the first labeller project. Rain also adores the labeller because of all the tiny buttons and portability. It’s like a kid sized computer. Heck, it’s like a laptop. That’s where the power struggle started. He likes to do everything himself. He drops things a lot. I don’t like broken electronics. If broken electronics were a publicly traded commodity, we’d be one of the top shareholders. Enough is enough. You’ll need a labeller or you could just use your computer/printer combo. Or I guess you could write letters with your hand and a pen but that seems kind of old-fashioned now doesn’t it? I mean if you could use a labeller or your own hand, what would you choose? First step, open the egg carton and using your scissors or an exacto (if you’re doing this craft while the kids are in bed, which let’s face it, is a better time to do crafts), cut off the 4-5 points that protrude up towards the lid. Cut them so that they are level with the edges. Next, cut the cardstock into a long rectangle the same size as the lower portion of the egg carton. Fit it in place to check if you have the surface flat enough. Some of the edges may need to be trimmed again. Glue in place. Now the fun part!! Copying the pattern on the keyboard, print off large bold letters and numbers. You can even do the arrows and other keys if you are so inclined. I was planning to do all the SHIFT, CTRL, ALT etc keys but started to get stingy when I saw how much label tape we were going through. I did start to relax though and let Rain press the keys, the print button and use the tape cutter. The labeller was great because we could just cut them and stick them on. If you are printing them on paper, you’ll need to use glue. I hope you don’t get carpel tunnel from not having a labeller for this craft. Especially if you are...

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Paperless Christmas

Posted on Dec 31, 2009 in Simple Living | 3 comments

Paperless Christmas

This is the second year in a row that we opted not to buy any paper wrapping for Christmas. Last year we started using cloth for all of our wrapping. We store it in a bin and plan to re-use it every year. We do run into some issues with gifts given outside the family because I have a hard time giving away the cloth and not getting it back. This is primarily an issue of finances at the moment because we don’t have the funds to replace it. Plus, I would like to know that the recipients would use it again and not toss it or else it defeats the purpose. For now, we’ve been using up the last scraps of paper and gift bags from other years on friends. But we are finally out so next year will truly be 100% paperless for us. Ribbon We save ribbon whenever we get gifts and toss it in the bin so we have quite a stash now. I’ve noticed that many people use cloth ribbon even on paper wrapped gifts and I never ever let it go to waste. I also picked up a few rolls of ribbon on sale at the dollar store after Christmas last year. The rolls were deceptively sparse (very big cardboard tube inside) but there was still a perfect size piece for 1 wrap job. Cloth I went to the fabric store early in December last year and bought fat quarters from the quilting section. There were lots of Christmas prints to choose from and the cloth was already cut into usable pieces. This was a little pricey but I’m sure you could find good deals if you were to visit the quilting section now as they would be selling off the Christmas stock. My husband saw some Christmas dish towels at a dollar store on sale a few days before Christmas last year and picked those up. They work perfect and it’s nice to have some pieces that are bigger than the fat quarters. They are a little stiff but they do work well with the ribbon. Next year I plan to pick up some fabric by the yard for bigger items and also to sew into draw string bags of various sizes. Even my mother-in-law has gotten in the spirit. Last year she bought each of the kids a new beach towel and used that to wrap their gifts. This year, they each got a new blanket as wrapping and we got a new table cloth around our gift. There are lots of ways to be creative and get rid of paper wrapping. Technique You can tie the cloth in various ways according to Furoshiki. Here is a good how-to page with pictures showing techniques for various sizes and types of objects. It’s fun and doesn’t require any ribbon. You’ll need soft cloth though that is pliable and easy to manipulate. The fat quarters work well for this as they were thin cotton. Otherwise, wrap as you normally would and use ribbon to tie in place. You might need another person to hold the cloth for you while you get it tied but that doesn’t happen too often. It’s also pretty easy to adjust the fabric and tuck in stray bits once the ribbon is tied. The biggest issue I ran into this year was not having pieces small enough for stocking items. I think the drawstring bags would work well for this or we could choose not to wrap stocking items. Overall, paperless Christmas was another big success this year! I love the look, it’s easier for the kids to unwrap gifts, there is less garbage to clean up and dispose of and it’s a lot more fun and creative than buying paper from the...

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