Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scenes from Fancy Dinner

We've decided to start a new tradition in this house.  Every Sunday, we're attempting to get out the china and crystal, sit at the dining room table (that is usually covered with books and markers and maps and counting cubes) and have what has been officially dubbed, "Fancy Dinner".  

Our first Fancy Dinner was a HUGE success!  Never one to miss a chance to look her best, Addie was my number one supporter.  When she entered the dining room, she asked me where I got all these dishes and glasses.  I pointed to the china cabinet and she let out an audible gasp.  Aidan and Matt were on board, too; and, Annalise even refrained from her usually meatball throwing.

We made a big pot of homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs for the evening.  We had planned to make homemade pasta, too; but, I was starting to fizzle out.  The thoughts of hand-washing china AND cleaning up a flour-covered kitchen were just too much!

After dinner, because I watch far too many period dramas on PBS, we retired to our "drawing room" where  everyone took turns entertaining with their talents.  Aidan recited a poem he composed about Addie called, "Mister, Mister, Where's Your Sister?".  Addie regaled us with some of her ballet moves and  Matt gave us a dramatic interpretation of his beloved, "In the middle of the night, two dead boys got up to fight..."; which, if you have ever met him, you have already heard.

What will next week's fancy dinner hold?  Only time will tell.  We're looking forward to sharing this time with friends, too.  So dress for dinner, load up your harpsichord and head on over!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bringing the Garage Indoors: Youngstown Style

Aidan started his life in a little fish-themed nursery that I loved.  When he was not quite two, he was all about balls: "ace balls", "aah -mmm balls" and "ah -er balls".  So, when he moved into his big-boy room before Adelaide was born, we went with a sports theme.

But now, and for all time I imagine, he is my "machine guy".  So, when we moved to a new home this year, it gave us the opportunity to make a bedroom that was right up his alley. (The alley behind an auto parts store or construction site, to be exact.)

The total cost of this room redo was twenty-one bucks.  The only actual items I purchased were these two signs at the Canfield Fair and an old broken level at Habitat Re-Store.

Every single other item already belonged to Aidan or was rummaged from the basement or garage of my parent's house, which was also my grandparent's house for many years.  Grandma and Papa were more than happy to have us clear out some "treasures" from their house! We've decided to call this look, "Old School Youngstown Garage". 


I'm really happy that he's surrounded by things that belonged to people who love him, even if those people were gone long before he was born.  He has my Grandpa's helmet from East Ohio Gas and many of his old tools.  Some antique books and bottles that belonged to my dad and his parents and  grandparents are there as well.  My mom's fishing pole when she was a little girl is in the mix with some fishing gear that belonged to her grandfather.  I still have a box in the garage with a few more items to display.  What I love most about this "look" is that we can always keep adding as we find new treasures!  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

New Snack Bag Designs and a WINNER!


Cathy W said:  "You are so creative Lindsay!!! Love your fabrics!! Here's hoping I'm a winner :)"  Congratulations Cathy!  You are the winner of the snack bag of your choice!

Thank you so much for all of the great comments, interest and snack bag love! Everything pictured is currently available for purchase.  Please let me know if you find something you like.  I can do some special orders; but, many of the bags pictured are the last of their kind, so don't delay!  To order, email me at or message me below and be sure to include a return email address.

Small snack bags are approximately 6"X 5" and are $5.00.  They are great for fruit, chips and treats.

Medium bags are sandwich sized at approximately 6"X 6" for $6.00.  They are nice for kid-sized sandwiches.

The large bags are great for over-sized sandwiches or packing treats family style.  They measure approximately by 6"X 7" and are $7.00.

Just a reminder that these reusable bags are lined with food-safe rip stop nylon, easy to wash at the kitchen sink and quick drying! If you need more information, don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Flying Ace

You might be surprised to learn that imaginary play doesn't come easily in this house.  It's not that we lack creativity or inspiration, it's that no one is satisfied until the imagined idea has been fully realized (including all working parts and full functionality).

Take our latest project, a DIY airplane.  It all began Saturday morning at 8 AM when Aidan found a thin piece of wood with a whole in the middle. "This would make a great propeller!" quickly progressed to repeated requests to clear out a work space, drag out the saw and start whittling this stick down to a perfectly designed aero-dynamic working propeller.  He even sketched out the exact cuts that would be needed to craft this masterpiece.  Now, I know what you're thinking, "Small children shouldn't use saws."  And you are correct (with all the time he's spent learning to solder, we just haven't gotten around to wood-working).  So, Aidan's Saturday morning project was quickly becoming Matt's Saturday all-day project.

This is where I came in.  "How about we get out a cardboard box and you can turn it into your own pretend airplane!"  Aidan actually agreed to this and set the above-mentioned stick aside.  Down in the basement we found a giant box that held the petticoat from my wedding.  We emptied that sucker out (New giant hoop skirt for the Adelaide will be coming soon!) and hauled it out into the yard while I explained how much fun he could have crafting HIS OWN make-believe airplane.  "Will it be safe to put an electric motor in a cardboard box?" he asked.  Clearly, I was not getting through.  "It's going to be pretend, so it doesn't need a real motor.  You can use markers, tape, extra junk lying around the garage...".  "Oh, I'll just use a gas-powered motor then," he replied.  Sigh...

We carried his bin of miscellaneous garage junk into the backyard and gathered up some markers, crayons and rolls of duct tape.  Adelaide put on her plastic hard hat and goggles.  She is clearly no stranger to "play" in the Hawkins house.  The kids jumped into this new activity with tons of enthusiasm and very little arguing.  I swept off my back deck and cleaned off the furniture while they scribbled with markers and stuck pieces of tape to the box.  Eventually, it was time for Adelaide's nap and I took her inside to get cleaned up and take care of some inside chores.  Matt took over airplane supervision.

This is what I found when I returned...

 You'll note the working wings and tail rudder with separate cock pit controls, spinning propeller, and my favorite, the in-cabin headphones for noise reduction.  This cardboard box airplane probably could make it over the pond if we could get it up onto the roof.  

And I think I am fighting a losing battle over here because, when it comes to imaginary play,  clearly no one is on my side.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Latest Obsession and a GIVEAWAY!

My newest crafting obsession is the ever-popular reusable snack bag!  They are the perfect project for me:  quick, useful and fun to make.  Lined with food-safe rip-stop nylon and velcro-topped, they are great for snacks, cosmetics, crayons and anything else gooey or crumbly!  I wash mine at the kitchen sink with a little dish soap and just flip them inside out to dry.  

I looked at several different versions in Lunch Bags!; but, none of them were quite what I was after.  It took me five experimental tries to come up with my final bag.  I'm really happy with the end result.  There are some other great projects in that book, though,  that I can't wait to give a try!

I had only intended to make a few for the kids.  Some friends really liked them and I ended up selling quite a few of them to friends here and abroad.  I'm making them in three useful sizes and TONS of different fabrics.  They are a great way for me to use up all the fun leftover fabric from old projects.  I'm even planning to get a table at an upcoming craft show in my hometown.  This week, the kids and I are headed to Ohio for some fun at the Fair and hardcore snack bag making!

To kick off my new business, I'm hosting my first GIVEAWAY.  The lucky winner, chosen at random, will receive one snack bag in the size and fabric of their choice.  (I'll email you a photo with everything available).  To enter, just leave a comment below.  Entries will be accepted until Saturday, September 1 at 11:59 PM.  Be sure an email address is included somewhere!  The winner will be chosen next week.  Good luck and happy snacking!!!

This Giveaway is Closed!  Thank You!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Sparkly Blue Bucket

There are literally hundreds of online tutorials about making your own laundry soap.  The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are EXACTLY THE SAME.  I have been wanting to try making my own batch for a while; but, the recipes are all soap-based and not very cloth-diaper friendly.  

A few weeks ago, I found this posting for a cloth-diaper safe laundry detergent and I decided to give it a try.  The recipe given made quite a large batch so I cut everything down by a third.  We all have pretty sensitive skin and I didn't want a giant vat of the stuff if we wouldn't be able to use it.

The recipe is really simple:  washing soda, borax and Oxi-Clean.  I used Oxi-Clean Free since we will use it for cloth diapers; but, I'm sure you could use regular if you're not washing diapers.  All the ingredients are dry, so there's no melting, cooking or soaking required.  I just poured everything in and mixed it up with a handy dandy plunger stick that Aidan "collected" from my parents house.  I spent less than $10 bucks on all of my "ingredients".  My only splurge was this super cute sparkly bucket from my beloved ACO.

(When I brought this bucket home, EVERYONE in this house wanted it.  But it's mine.  All mine.)

Even cutting the recipe down considerably, I still ended up with a lot of detergent.  We've actually been using this detergent for about two weeks now and I still have a ton in my bucket.  You only need a small amount per load.  I use 2 Tablespoons for a regular full load and 1 Tablespoon for diapers or partial loads.  The detergent works really well and I am so happy with it that I doubt I'll ever buy bottled detergent again!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Born Identity

Annalise has finally decided that she can no longer be contained.  This is rather surprising considering she lived the first year of her life snuggled in a pink carrier that she seemed to have no plans of vacating ever.

She is not a fan of diaper changes, clothing changes, nail trimmings, face wipes or any other activities that require restraint.  Matt has started calling her "Jason Bourne" because of the deadly krav maga moves that she employs any time we get near her changing table.  When we try to buckle her into her car seat, she reaches up and hangs onto the grab handle in the roof as a last ditch effort for freedom.  I expect it's only a matter of time before I find a tattered diaper bag full of fake passports and foreign currency hidden amongst her board books and stacking cups.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Skirting: The Issue

This spring I took several garment sewing classes at my favorite local sewing shop, All Stitched Up.  I just learned last week that they are going out of business.  I'm so sad about losing such a great local resource and I will miss the friends I've made there.  On a brighter note... I plan to hit that liquidation sale hard! 

I really enjoyed the series of classes.  Before them,  I had really only been making clothes for the kids.  These classes focused on making clothing for myself.  We started with a simple pajama bottom and worked our way up through nightshirts, knit tops and blouses.  The classes gave me a lot of information and also the courage to start making more items for myself!

I wanted to make myself some fun summer skirts.  I used a very simple pattern (Simplicity # 2368) and had great results and a pretty good fit.  The skirts go together so quickly that I have now gotten myself into the habit of buying all sorts of fabric to make more.  My pile keeps growing.  I suppose I should stop typing and start sewing!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why We Do What We Do

(You know you were wondering.)

Two months ago, I decided to paint the patio furniture that needed to be painted last summer.  Last month, I bought the paint.  Yesterday, I took the paint out of the garage.  And, today, I actually took the plunge and painted the furniture.  Aidan and Adelaide are never ones to miss out on a good painting project.  They were a little disappointed, though.  Addie wanted to use "dark sparkly pink" paint and Aidan wanted to paint clock parts all over the chairs.  In spite of these setbacks, the project went much better than what one would expect with the assistance of a five and three year old.

We did have a little trouble when the phrase, "You can paint IN your pig toes." was interpreted as, "You can paint your pig toes."  Other than that, things went smoothly.  Until the end. When another adult member of this household left a Sam's Club-sized bottle of dish detergent next to a giant inflatable pool and a running garden hose.  To quote Adelaide, "Mom, do you want to come see?  Now, don't get mad...".

I didn't get mad. (Well, at least not until they decided to build their own washing machine and things got WAY out of hand; but, that's another story, which may possibly be titled, "Why I've Put My Children Up for Adoption and Moved to a Desert Island").  I did, however, start to think about why we homeschool.  Most of my friends know that while we chose to homeschool Aidan for the past two years, it's not a decision that we made lightly.  We are not ardent defenders of homeschooling.  I love the public and private schools in our neighborhood and I believe our children would thrive there.  Matt and I have spent much of the past spring trying to decide what's best for our kids this fall and in the future.  

I'll admit to a daydream here and there about what my days could possibly be like if the kids were at school during the day.  I think I might have a little more time to accomplish some tasks.  I could probably plan for, shop for and perform a household chore all in the same week. Maybe.

But, I would dearly miss all the days like this one, with endless time to spend together, making messes, doing weird activities and having all sorts of crazy fun.  That's why we do what we do.  And, I'm not inclined to change any of it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

For Cuts and Butts

Those of you who remember my ketchup-making post, know that I am a big fan of do-it-herself projects, especially those that require inordinate outlays of time, money and sanity. I recently purchased a book that's been on my wish-list for quite a while, Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. When my book arrived, I read it cover to cover before I decided what to try making. I'm interested in herbalism; but, also slightly worried that I might accidentally kill us all, so I approach with caution.

I decided to try a recipe for baby salve for my first experiment. I had read a post about this on one of my favorite blogs and thought it sounded like a good introduction to herbalism for my family, much better than, oh, I don't know, a catnip enema.

The salve called for calendula, comfrey leaf, comfrey root and St. John's wort in very small amounts (1/2 ounce each). I had hoped to find these in the bulk section at the grocery store; but, no such luck. There are some great online sources for organic dried bulk herbs. They are relatively inexpensive; but, I wasn't able to purchase anything in very small amounts. It may not be common knowledge; but, eight ounces of comfrey leaf is ALOT of comfrey leaf. By the time I ordered all of my herbs, beeswax, metal tins and organic olive oil, this small project was getting a little pricey. In my defense, I have enough herbs to make about 75 gallons of baby salve.

With all my supplies finally in order, Aidan and I got down to work. First, we added our herbs to a clean, dry glass jar and covered them with olive oil. Next, we covered them tightly and set them in a warm sunny spot for two weeks to make a "solar infusion". There was an alternate stove-top method that took about two hours; but, I say, why do something in two hours when you can take two weeks?

After two weeks, we brought our "potion" inside and warmed it in a pan of water. Next, we strained the herbs out of the oil with cheesecloth, put the oil back in the pan of water and added our grated beeswax. When the beeswax melted, we mixed it around and poured it into our little collection of tins.

We've been using the salve for a diaper ointment for Annalise and also as a general first aide salve for little cuts and scrapes. Matt, who was the most skeptical of all, has been using it regularly on his cracked winter fingers and thinks it is really working! Now we're trying to decide what to make next...