Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sprouting Beans

Bean Sprouting. Never done it. But as my family is journeying towards adding more and varied nutritious, organic foods to our daily diet, it is time to try my hand at hand. And I have healthy prenatal eating to keep mind as well! What I eat, baby eats. Bean sprouts are extremely nutritious.Sprouts are a great source of vitamin C and protein. But how exactly do you do it? I used MaryJane's Idea Book, Cook Book, Life Book as my guide on this sprouting journey. According to the book, you can sprout just about anything: beans:  mung-beans, alfalfa, cannellini, garbanzo, etc.; grains: wheat and rye; legumes: lentils and lima beans; vegetables like corn, cabbage, radishes, or onions; nuts: almonds; seeds: clover, mustard, fennel, sesame, quinoa, sunflower. These are just to name a few!

DAY 1: Take a jar, bowel, or any food grade container, and add about ¼ cups of beans. I used chick peas, AKA Garbanzos, because I personally love them and figured they’d be a good place to start--my little guinea pigs. Once in the container, fill with water, and cover. Let the little guys soak overnight.

DAY 2: A) In the morning, rinse the beans under water in a colander. Put the beans back in the container with no water. Cover. B) Repeat their “rinse” in the evening, just as you did in the morning.

DAY 3: Repeat your rinse regimen both morning and night.

DAY 4: My sprouts were looking pretty good! In fact, I probably could have started eating my chick peas on day three. Your sprouts can take from 3-5 days to be ready. But to be ready, doesn't necessarily mean they have to have a tail on them. Even without a visible tail, their is still nutritional goodness going on on the inside of the seed. After the third day put the sprouts in the refrigerator, continuing to rinse them. They can last up to a week stored in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Quilt and a Badge

I finished sewing my baby quilt! I am pleased with how it turned out and I had a good time in the process of making it--which is half the fun. There is nothing like being in your crafting space (mine happens to be the basement), having a nice cup of tea, and creating. That’s my idea of a good time! While the quilt may not be perfect, it was sewn with tons of mama-made love : )

Not only did I get my baby quilt checked off my to-do list of things to get ready for my new baby, I earned a Merit Badge as a bonus! This project completed my requirements for the Beginners Quilting Badge.
Quilting Beginner Level
  • If you don’t know how to quilt, learn.
  • Pick a simple pattern like a doll-sized quiilt that will help you learn the basics, even just sewing squares together.
  • Learn how to add a backing and batting and do simple quilting stitches to hold everything in place.
  • Finish your quilt project. There is a three-hour minimum time investment required.
After some of my other holiday gifts and baby items are completed, I’ll be upping the ante and going for my Intermediate Quilting Badge. I’ll be attempting a cathedral window quilt (baby-sized mind you, they’re quite intricate and time consuming). When my great-grandmother passed away she left behind a couple of cathedral window patches, which came into my mother’s possession. Ever since I laid eyes upon that pattern I’ve wanted to make one. Of course I’ve been waiting for my sewing and quilting skills to mature to even attempt it. I think I’m ready to give it a try.

Monday, November 28, 2011

From the Collection of My Biggest Fan

My biggest art fan has always been my Aunt. She has collected my art since I was a child, encouraged my skill, and supported my art “services”. She saw the “artist” in me long before I did. So when I started collecting photos to put together a section for my blog, it was to her I went to assist me in finding examples of my work. I either never bothered documenting my work for a portfolio or I took digital pictures only to be lost on a crashed computer later on.

For my birthday she sent me a fun little gift: a collection of photos of my artwork going way back! I forgot about most of these. It was neat to see where some of my more current pieces unbeknownst to me were actually inspired from younger works.

Enjoy the show!

 My first attempt at a collage, age 11. Submitted for an elementary school art show, the topic I recall was something like "soaring" or "flying". I created a girl on an eagle. It won me third place!

A horse fanatic, I spent many hours studying
and drawing them. One of earlier pieces, age 11.

 Two shells I decorated using marker one summer, age 14.


Rose, age 15. I went through a big phase of drawing roses using oil pastels. My first attempts at drawing roses, back in an elementary school art class, resembled pink cabbages!

Sketch of a gigantic stuffed bear I received
that year for Christmas, age 14-15?

An etching I did in a middle school art class.

I remember doing this in 9th grade for a history class. We took a field trip to a museum of some sort and we had to choose one artifact to sketch. Once back at school we used the styrofoam used for meat packaging to make an etching for a print. I chose a little polar bear statue for my piece, age 16  

Pencil deer skull drawing, high school art class.

An unfinished sketch in ink I created for my Aunt of her dog during a visit to her house, age 17.

A little card I made my grandmother.

Kitty, colored pencil

One of very first portrait drawings, my grandfather. Despite passing away when I was middle school, he has been very prevalent in my art work. I have done several pictures over the year with him as my subject--he may be gone but not forgotten. This one was done in oil pastel.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Round One: Homemade Baby Wipes

This is my first attempt at homemade baby wipes. In the future when I’m making them, I think I might try a couple different recipes to see which I like best. So we'll call this 'Round One'.

Also, I’ve recently made the crossover to cloth diapers, so I’ll try some recipes for washable baby wipes as well. I’m already washing dirty diapers, it’s just as easy to throw in some washable wipes while I’m at it.

However, the pact I made with my husband when I was making the cloth switch was that I would not make him use them. They are not for everybody--I get that. And at this time in his life he’s not one of them. But he knew it was something I wanted to do and was willing to let me have a go--with the agreement I would keep a stash of disposable diapers on hand for when he was on baby duty. With that said I’ll have to keep a supply of both disposable and washable wipes on hand. But as I’m the one in charge 95% of the time, switching to cloth, for me, is still worth it--economically and environmentally. In a few months when we start diapering to tushies as once it will really pay off.

For this recipe we used water, baby wash, and baby oil.


  • Container of some sort: large coffee bucket, gallon ice cream bucket, etc.
  • Roll of STRONG paper towels: I used Brawny, Bounty is supposed to be good too--they have to be a durable brand or else they’ll fall apart in the solution.
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Baby Wash
  • 2 Tablespoons Baby Oil

  1. Cut the paper towel roll in half with a sharp knife. I found this a little tricky and messy. I’ll have to perfect my technique in the future. I’ve heard some ladies say an electric knife works well, only I don’t currently own one L So, each roll of paper towels will yield two containers of baby wipes. Remove the cardboard center.
  2. Make your solution in a separate bowl.
  3. Place half of the paper towel roll in your baby wipe container.
  4. Pour the solution over your towels.
Note: For my container lid, I carefully used a sharp knife to cut an X shape. This allows me to pull the baby wipes through one at a time--it makes for easy wipe grabbing!

Thoughts on Round One:
Overall, I like them. The solution works well at getting the mess clean. I  am very pleased with the lid dispenser. It makes it simple to yank out a baby wipe at a time when in action cleaning a dirty diaper and working one handed. Next time I buy paper towels, I’ll try the Bounty brand though. The Brawny paper towels aren’t holding up quite as well as I would like. Maybe I have them in sitting in too much water, I don’t know.
Notes to self for future rounds, either use less water or a different brand of towels.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Applesauce Ornaments

The Thanksgiving Holiday flew by. Despite the colds my children contracted somewhere this past week (I'm praying they don't share it with me; pregnant with a cold is never fun), it's time to turn my attention towards Christmas. Usually this time of year leaves me feeling like the Grinch. I don't want to think about Christmas until I absolutely have to. I procrastinate on shopping the busy, merchandised stocked stores. Decorating doesn’t happen until last minute. Radio stations playing holiday music get quickly changed. Baa hum bug! It’s all so commercialized and materialist-I can’t seem to get into that spirit.

This year is different. I can already feel anticipation for the season. This is a year of new traditions. We donated out old fake Christmas tree to a local needs-assistance organization a couple weeks ago. We are going as a family to a tree farm and getting a live a tree from here forward! Also, our traditions will start focusing more on making gifts and holiday crafting. So it’s not just the things themselves, but the fun in making them, the thought and effort behind them, and sharing activities as a family, hence making memories in the process. Sure we will still buy our children some thoughtful, tastefully picked toys. But Christmas will be family-centered, putting the emphasis back on the birth of Jesus then on the commercialized, materialistic holiday Christmas has evolved into. I have so many crafts, gifts, and baking plans lined up, I’m gitty just thinking about them! With that said, let me share with you one of our first crafts of the season . . .applesauce ornaments.

As I just mentioned, 'Tis the season for crafting and baking.  For filling your house with sweet aromas. Applesauce ornaments are the best of both worlds--baking and crafting--and make your house smell like cinnamon!  I have wanted to make applesauce ornaments for quite some time. We just never got around to it. It's a very easy project requiring only two ingredients--applesauce and cinnamon--you can't get much simpler than that! There are many recipes out there to choose from- some with more or less cinnamon vs. applesauce, others mix in Elmer's glue. I settled on the McCormick recipe to try.

3/4 cup applesauce
1 bottle (4.12 ounces) cinnamon (or 2 of the smaller bottles)

Preheat oven to 200°F. Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. Yes, I used generic brands for this project--money saver! Use your hands to incorporate all of the cinnamon.

Roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch thickness.

Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Make a hole at top of ornament using a skewer. Place ornaments on baking sheet.

Bake 2 1/2 hours. Cool ornaments on wire rack. (Or, to dry ornaments at room temperature, carefully place them on wire rack. Let stand 1 to 2 days or until thoroughly dry, turning occasionally.)

Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang. Decorate!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sew Wonderful Merit Badge

As a prerequisite to all the wonderful sewing projects I have planned for our newest baby, I thought earning the MaryJanesFarm Farmgirl Sisterhood Sew Wonderful  Beginner Level Badge  was a good place to start. This badge requires you to put together a beginner's sewing kit with a homemade pinkeeper. The sewing kit must include:
  • Several different colors of thread
  • Buttons
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pins

I found the cutest Mushroom House and Toadstool Cottage Pincushion Tutorial online. One would have been sufficient, but I had to have both of them. The directions were easy enough to follow. They are made of felt with embroidery floss accents. I used scraps we had around the house, hence the pink caps and not red!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More birthday gifts!

Sometimes a gift received from a loved one is what you need to make your birthday special. Even if it's not exactly what you've been wanting, it's the thought that counts. Other times being allowed to "gift" to yourself items you've had on your wish list is even better!  For me that item was fabric for my baby quilt. I've been planning this quilt for a few weeks now. And the time is about right to get started. All I needed was the fabric. 

Making a baby quilt is a little tradition that didn't start until I was pregnant with my fourth daughter, (O). In fact, it was my oldest daughter's Brownie troop that started it for me. As a group project they designed and made a friendship quilt for us. It was such a special gift, from the heart and homemade.

When I was pregnant with my fifth daughter we were homeschooling by that time and part of a homeschool group. My daughter (C) was in a Kindergarten Girls Group. Each month a different mother took a turn leading the group and doing a craft or activity. My month was up and I was racking my brain for ideas to do. Why not teach the class about quilting and design a friendship quilt for our newest expected baby? That's just what I did. I had never made a quilt before, so it was a learning process for me as well. Each girl got to design a nine square patch. I had pre-cut squares of fabric and a drew a "template" on a large sheet of paper. The girls each arranged their squares to their liking and pinned them to the paper. I then took the patches home, sewed them together exactly as the girls had laid them out, and embroidered their names on them.

This time around I do not have any groups to assit me in putting my quilt together. It will be entirely Mama-made.  Here are the quilt plans I have for baby #6. We don't know whether this little bundle of joy will be a girl or boy, so I wanted to keep the colors neutral. And I wanted to go outside the box from the usual pastel baby schemes. My color scheme was inspired by the colors of India and from nature. I am a Lay Missionary of Charity, and I have a monk friend who visited Calcutta. He shared his photo album with me. The beautiful colors awed me: the browns, with pops of yellow, oranges, reds. . . my greens and blues come from nature.

I spent over an hour in JoAnn Fabrics!  No kids, just me and my sketch, having a good time exploring the isles of fabric. That was a treat in itself. It was tough to narrow down my selections, there were so many wonderful colors and patterns. But money put a limit on how many I was allowed to come home with :) Here is what I  finally chose:

Let the quilting begin!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Birthday. . . to me!


I am officially launching my blog--a birthday gift to myself for my 30th birthday.
There is still much more to come as I piece it together. This baby is a labor of love that will only improve with time. Be patient and bare with me : )

Happy birthday to me!