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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reusable Lunch

LUNCH... it happens, everyday!
I love making my family's lunch every morning
Because, I know I'm sending them off for the day with an Eco Friendly, fun and healthy lunch.

This is a fun sewing project to spruce up your lunch boxes... with environmental benefits. 

 
 DID YOU KNOW... It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. YIKES!

DID YOU KNOW... You may also like to know that with a reusable lunch you could 
SAVE $250.00 per school year per person! WOW!


 A “no-waste lunch” is a meal that does not end up in the trash.
You can buy food items in bulk, then put them in reusable containers to carry to school or work.
 
Packing your food in reusable is typically less expensive and creates less waste than buying food that comes in disposable containers.

I started making sandwich wraps by using Betz White's sandwich wrap template and tutorial with a few modifications.  

I decided not to use oilcloth, vinyl or any treated fabrics. I try to use organic, unbleached and non dyed fabrics for the lining of wraps and snack bags.  

I thought if I was going to go this far to help the environment and pack a healthy lunch that I would go all the way.

A sandwich all wrapped up and ready for a lunch box. YUMMY!
It took a few tries before the modifications to Betz White's template and tutorial worked. 
I hope by the weekend to have my finished tutorial for the sandwich wraps up for everyone....
This will be my first tutorial and I'm nervous!

Sandwich wraps waiting to hold a sandwich.
I have reworked a number of great tutorials from Dana over at MADE and Anna from Noodlehead and came up with our reusable snack bags and my favorite... the Sweetie Bag.


We use our snack bags for all most any snack and it works great. 
The girls love having them full of yummy goldfish, pretzels, apples, carrots, grapes, etc.

Medium Snack Bag
At the end of the day and the lunch boxes are returned with their reusable wraps, snack bags and stainless steel canteens... I'm a  HAPPY and PROUD mom and wife.  
Velcro Snack Bag and Sweetie Bag
My favorite little bag has to be the SWEETIE. This is where I put my love... in the form of a sticker, a note and most importantly a sweet little something.
The girls know they shouldn't open the little sweetie bag until they finish their sandwiches.
But I hope they do it first to let out all the love stuffed in that little bag. 
My Favorite - The Sweetie Bag
No lunch would be complete without a cloth napkin.

  
 To clean each bag, wrap and napkin I turn them inside out and shake them free of any crumbs and throw them in the wash. 

***I feel very safe washing our lunch sets in our detergents.
I've been making homemade laundry detergent for three years. K-Bear was extremely sensitive to all soaps...so I tried many different formulas until I found one that worked.
You can find some great Homemade Laundry Soap Detergents at Tip Nut.
giveawaysA Crafty Soiree

Monday, February 14, 2011

56 Valentines

Monday is around the corner and it brings the sounds of kids eating breakfasts fast, backpacks zipping and car doors slamming . 
This week has a special Monday... handfuls of sweet valentines, class parties and yummy goodies...
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY  

We have finished valentines that I'm excited to share.

A colorful valentine for my husband's class.

My husband is a elementary school teacher and wanted to give his class a little something.

I'm a youth soccer coach and have practice on Valentine's Day with my under 10 girls team.

K-Bear has a class of 11 and Boo has a class of 17.

A total of  56 valentines were made this weekend!


First, this colorful valentine was a perfect fit for my husband's class.
I found this great craft at the long thread and you can also find another great tutorial  here.

The girls enjoyed peeling the wrappers, breaking and watching the crayons melt. 
I made the valentine message and the girls cut and glued them to each note card. 


Keeping the melted crayon on the note card is where I encountered a challenge...the crayons do not lay flat and I had limited time and supplies!
I hot glued the front of the note card with clear cellophane paper and the problem was solved. I glued three sides and left one open to slide the melted crayon heart inside and glued the last side closed.

Valentines for the boys on Boo's and K-Bear's class.
 I knew what the girls wanted to give their girl classmates but the boys were tricky.
The girls were getting a sweet little hair clip and I didn't want the boys to feel left out. 

Boo originally found a valentine owl at Family Fun last weekend. But next to the girls cupcakes they needed  little makeover. 

And this is what we came up with...  


Using the template from Family Fun, silly eyes and scrap booking paper we made this cute pencil giving owl.
I just love the way they turned out and how much the girls were able to participate in making them.
I did do the work of the detail cutting but they had to assemble each one and sign them on the back.

Valentines for the girls in Boo's and K-Bear's class.
THE BARRETES GIVING CUPCAKES are my  favorites! 
After making heart pins for the teachers on Friday I was addicted to making more little heart somethings.
I warned you in my last post that you could get addicted and I wasn't kidding. 

I'm so excited because I made my own template for the cupcakes.

Boo with my help made the valentine message and the girls got to work assembling and signing each one.


The little heart barrette was the perfect cherry on top of these cute little cupcakes!

I love Valentine's Day and can't wait to pick the girls up from school and for my husband to walk in the door for a warm family dinner and a sweet homemade treat.

I wish everyone a day of love and filled with loved ones. 

 monogram

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heart Pins

I've been so busy sewing... filling orders for reusable lunch sets!
I also had to finish very belated birthday presents and valentine goodies.
Purl Bee inspired  http://www.purlbee.com/valentine-heart-pins/
At the last minute I decided to make these sweet, and totally easy Valentine Heart pins. I thought these pins were the perfect and simple way to send our favorite teachers home for the weekend.

Using pinking shears I cut two hearts out of my favorite felt. 
With embroidery thread, heart shaped buttons and smaller heart shaped felt pieces, I embellish each pin before sewing them together.



I used a running stitch or a zig-zag stitch in the dips of the pinked edges to close the two hearts together.
Before completely closing the hearts I used a small amount of fill to give them a pillow effect.


I finished each heart by attaching a small safety pin to the back.
These are so EASY and FUN to make!
BE CAREFUL!
You won't want to stop once you start!

Since this was a last minute idea I didn't have a way for the girls to hand them to their teachers, so
I quickly trimmed some thick scrap booking paper to fit into the printer and made these sweet little note cards. 
After attaching the pins to their note cards I ran out the door for delivery.



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Midnight Sewing

This weekend didn't go as planned... it was better! 
I spent most of the weekend doing Valentine's Day projects and sewing into the wee hours of the morning.
I had to get in a couple of long runs this weekend as well. 
I only have 17 days left until my first Half Marathon - YIKES! 
http://www.tampabayrun.com/

Even though I didn't sew all day Saturday like I planned, I did finish a couple of 
CATCH ALL BAGS based on Anna's Scrappy Make-Up Pouch tutorial at Noodlehead.



Noodlehead

and I also finished VALENTINE HEART BARRETTES inspired by The Purl Bee http://www.purlbee.com/valentine-heart-barrettes/  

First project finished.... great little valentines for K-Bear's class!

K-Bear modeling her favorite heart barrette.
 I love the mix of colors and the added heart buttons. They will make great valentines for the girls in K-Bear's class!
But what are we going to do for the boys?

I will have to keep you posted on what Boo decides for her class. She has a a lot of great ideas and wants to make them herself. 

Family Fun Magazine was a hit this weekend with endless ideas for keeping my house messy and my little ones busy. They also have a great website http://familyfun.go.com/.
It's defiantly worth checking out.
CATCH ALL BAGS were next on the list to finish.
I made these two padded bags for the girls new Leapsters that their grandmother gave them for Christmas. 
K-Bear's Padded Leapster Bag
Boo's Padded Leapster Bag

Leapsters inside ready to travel.
I used Anna's tutorial from Noodlehead as a guide to create these bags.
I added a thick fleece lining as protective padding and a couple of pockets for extra game storage.
 We also have a lot of little toys from Christmas floating around that also need a home.
To solve this problem I made two more bags this weekend. 

This time I didn't use a fleece for the lining and I added several pocket inside for storage.
I also kept the exterior fabric matching their first bags while adding some cute fabric details.
I love making things that are cute and functional. 
I hope everyone had a great weekend even if it didn't go as you planned.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Black Pepper and Squirrels

Happy Friday... I'm sewing tomorrow!
Just like everyone else I struggle to find time for myself to create and sew.
So I took matters into my own hands and declared Saturday as...
You need to check out Dana over at MADE... her blog is amazing!!!


I started sewing a year ago and found MADE as I was desperately searching the blog world for sewing help. 
She has eye candy photos, brilliant ideas, unique recipes and fun holiday crafts.
Without her detailed tutorials, tips, emails and sewing patterns I would have returned my sewing machine a long time ago. If you're looking for a project this weekend, head over to MADE.
BUT....
First, I have a rodent to deal with.
A squirrel getting a drinking from our birdbath.
I was very upset to find half of our raised beds disturbed by pesky little rodents... SQUIRRELS! 
Squirrels spend most of the day eating, digging and gnawing their way through your garden, bird feeders and sometimes they can even get in your house. 
So out came... the black pepper.
Black pepper ready be to sprinkled in the raised beds.
I don't use any chemicals on our yard. I'm scared of using them incorrectly and personally I like the challenge of finding creative ways to control pests and grow great food without chemicals. 
 
SO FAR NO MORE SQUIRRELS DIGGING!

I'll have to re-pepper in a couple of days or add a little cayenne, Hot and Spicy Spray.
I think that will do it and our seeds will be able to grow safely.
If that doesn't work I could just let our dog out to chase the squirrels away.
I'll keep you posted.

Before I started digging up the yard I read a lot books, asked questions and did my research. 
I discovered many other great techniques for growing and tending to our garden with ease - while being kind to the earth in Ellen Sandbeck's books.
Ellen Sandbeck has been my author of choice for humor and great organic gardening and cleaning tips. 
Check out her books at your local library or at Amazon. 
Her books are witty and whimsical and I recommend them to anyone looking for a easy and fun organic gardening book. 



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Berry Delicious Muffins

Right now, 60% of the US is digging themselves out from one of the strongest winter storms in decades. When you're trapped inside your house because the snow has barricaded you in... turn your oven to 375 degrees and bake something yummy.
  

I was born and raised in the northeast and I feel a little guilty about writing this post.
So, to those with shovels in hand I offer you these words... Hang in there, and remember that yummy things will be growing soon and showing up at your local market.

Every Wednesday I try to visit our local Farmers Market.


I have my favorite vendors and characters that I enjoy visiting.  The barefooted lettuce farmer and the local University's organic hydroponic veggies stand are two of my favorites.

I'm always on a mission when I arrive to grab my seasonal goodies.

Fresh strawberries from the market.
It's the beginning of strawberry season here in Florida and I couldn't wait another week for these red delicious jewels.

I  also grabbed a bag of navel oranges. 
I was able to get home and slice the bag to bring to Boo's class for snack.


Every year around this time the strawberries look irreversible and I end up coming home with too many.
My house prefers fresh fruit rather than cooked.
But what do you do if you have more than you need?

MUFFINS and PRESERVES
And this is how the Berry Delicious Muffin recipe came to life.

Berry Delicious Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 quick oats
1/4 wheat germ
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Mix flour, quick oats, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, beat together oil, eggs sugars and vanilla.
Add dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Stir in strawberries and pecans.

Bake at 375 degrees
20 - 25 minutes for large muffins
10 - 12 minutes for mini muffins

Stay warm today! Make soup. Eat muffins.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Growing Strong

 We did it!  
We finished planting our garden!
We even had some time to create some fun garden labels.
We'll add our green bell peppers and tomatoes later.
  For my small gardening operation, I like to approach it with a combination of rule-following and rule-bending. I won’t win any awards for doing things by the book. But I will have fun…and put food in my family’s mouths in the process. And I’ll teach my kids that not everything we consume has to be purchased in a store.

I will attempt to show you through the weeks how things are growing.  

No garden is complete without sunflowers

If you're interested in joining me on this garden adventure... start planning now!

You don’t need a huge yard.

You need a spot that receives at least good morning sun, preferably more.

You need a shovel or two.

And a garden hose.

A few other basic supplies are helpful. We’ll talk about those, too.

And we’ll do this together.

Fun Garden Labels 
I used some Thrift Store forks and laminated cardstock to create labels for each raised bed. 



Boo is holding two forks, the bottom fork has been flattened.

First, we had to flatten the forks.

 We took a fork and placed it on a heavy piece of cardboard with the bump facing up.

With a hammer we tapped the bump out until the fork was flat.



Next, I created a fun and earthy, black and white, garden label. I decided to make the labels black and white so the girls could personalize them.

I also added the date the vegetables were planted.

After the labels were colored I laminated, cut and placed them in the forks.

 


 
Great for dressing up homemade gifts.
 
Here's a tip for growing and gifting a mint plant.

Mint is great for cooking, teas and mojitos.

Mint is a very aggressive plant and will take over a growing area. In order to keep mint under control take clippings often and place them in a glass of water. In a couple of weeks the mint will start to grow roots in the glass. Kids love to see the roots grow so remember to use a clear glass. Once the roots are strong enough transfer the new plant into a nice pot with fresh soil.

Once in the new pot add a fork garden label and have a great homemade gift.



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