Monday, December 17, 2012

Handmade soap without the work!

I've shown you how to make your own soap and I know it looks kind of fun, and the end result would be oh, so lovely, but really, you just aren't sure about turning your kitchen into a science lab.  Right?

Well, I've branched out from making soap only for our family and made enough soap to bathe a daycare center, for a month.  I want to share our soap with others while helping provide for our family at the same time.

If you would be interested in trying handmade soap and experiencing all the ways it pampers your skin more than the beauty bars sold at the stores, please browse around my Etsy shop, Birch Creek Soaps.  I've included a "buy 5 and get free shipping" special to help everyone out a little bit.

Our family appreciates your interest.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Four kids is...

Ever want to peer in on a family with a lot of children to see what it's like?  Well, I'm going to give you a window, but, I hardly consider four kids a lot of children.  I do notice a difference though in the reaction when I tell strangers that I have four kids compared to when I used to tell them I had three.  The most comical one recently came from a girl, three years older than me whose getting married for the first time.  I was alone so when I said I had four kids her mouth dropped open and said "oh my gosh!" in a completely shocked manner.  I suspect it wasn't much of a compliment.  Whatever.  I should have told her we're expecting four more just for kicks.

2 parents (one who will consume a salad bar daily if it's in the fridge)
1 teenager
2 tweens
1 who eats like a bird and
2 who are boys = a trip for fresh produce about twice a week.

I've been keeping a running total starting Monday 4/23 to keep track of the produce coming into our house.

14 apples
4 oranges
1 lemon
20 bananas
1 head of iceberg lettuce
1 head of romaine lettuce
4 artisan lettuce heads
2 lbs asparagus
2 english cucumbers
6 tomatoes
3 peppers
3 bags baby carrots
3 lbs. strawberries
1/2 lb. blueberries
3 zucchini
1 1/2 lbs. red potatoes
1 1/4 lb. celery

When we woke up this morning, Monday 4/30 we had a completely empty fruit basket, 3 zucchini (one made it's way into bread today and the other two will be grilled tomorrow night) and half the celery was still waiting to be eaten.

We can drain a roadside produce stand, for sure.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

My handsome young son turns 10 today.
How can that be true?
It seems like just yesterday he was this small baby, 
with his barely-there hair and eyes so blue.

Matthew is our most sensitive child, by far.
His heart is one of pure gold.
And although he's now ten years old,
he still reaches for this mama's hand to hold.

Matthew has the cutest dimples,
the one on the right is is somewhat deeper.
I love when he flashes his small, sly smile
and everyone around thinks "he's a keeper!"

Matthew stole my heart from the moment I saw him and it's a joy to watch him develop into his own young man.  He's a sponge of information and often educates us and those around him with his little morsels of information.  Matthew has loved anything to do with Egypt or mummies since he was small but he also had a mad love for Legos and building.  Since he was young he has told us he wants to be either an architect or an archaeologist; both professions would fit him so very well.
Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

Teacher appreciation week is quickly approaching; it is usually celebrated during the first week of May.  This year I got a jump start on our easy, but thoughtful, gifts because Claire's teacher is leaving this week for her maternity leave and I wanted to make sure she got the goodies before leaving for the year.

I've made 5 small gifts, one for each day.  They aren't hard or expensive but they are very cute and I hope they bring a smile to my childrens' teachers.  Good teachers are invaluable so I want to make sure they know how much we appreciate them.

Day 1:
We need S'more teachers like you!
I followed this tutorial and she's included a free printable. I purchased the Jet Puff stacker marshmallows to fit in the bag a little better and they are made to stack on graham crackers, so I thought they would be perfect.

Day 2:

You deserve a HAND!
Trace your child's hand print and then attach it to a bottle or tube of hand lotion.

Day 3:

You are just WRITE for (child's name here).
Attach to a package of pens.

Day 4:

You were MINT to teach!
Fill a treat bag with minty things and attach a topper.  You could also attach this to a package of mint gum and skip the treat bag.

Day 5:

1. Best Teacher Bar None
Instructions and link to download template.
I worked for about 30 minutes to make my own folding box for the Hershey bar and then I realized it was worth it for me to pay the $3 to download the pre-made template.  All I had to do is put a piece of white card stock in the printer and hit print. Easy.  To simplify this, you could simply cut a piece of card stock the width of the bar and make a sleeve to slide the bar into.  You can decorate the sleeve as you choose.

I found Microsoft Word to be the easiest way to make the bag toppers.  You don't even have to make a bag topper on the computer; you could simply cut a rectangle and then decorate it by hand.  If I had more patience, I would have let my kids decorate them.  But, I'm up against a deadline with plenty on my plate so I skipped the 'needing patience' step and did it myself while the kids were at school.  I'll try harder next year.

There are so many cute ideas out there on the interwebs; it was hard to pick just five of them.  Here is a good list of cute, easy and inexpensive ideas for appreciation gifts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Emily

It just seems impossible that she is 12. My memory is still quite vivid of willing this stubborn child out of my womb at a week overdue. How can it be that it was already 12 years ago?

Emily is stubborn
Emily is a fighter
Emily is an overachiever
Emily is a perfectionist
Emily will not take "no" as an answer

You might view those as negative personality traits and occasionally they do cause frustration in our house but, those personality traits will carry our girl far when she's a grown woman. Man, she is going to pick a career path and blaze a trail straight to it, there is no doubt in my mind. She will be stubborn in her studies, a fighter when she feels like she can't make it, an overachiever who will be set the bar high and achieve it with perfection, and I pity the person who stands in her way and tells her no.

Emily is kindhearted.
Emily is a cheerful giver.
Emily is sensitive.
Emily loves children.
Emily loves animals.
Emily loves the Lord.

And we LOVE her. We are so blessed to watch this young girl grow into a young lady and achieve the goals she sets for herself. She has seamlessly transitioned into middle school this year and followed in our band geek footsteps with her decision to play the clarinet.  (proud parent moment!)

Today is for Emily and celebrating her.

Friday, January 6, 2012

{DIY} Padded Crutches Tutorial

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Emily had surgery on her foot a week ago and has made her way around on crutches quite well so far.  But, after two days of using the crutches full time at school her arms were very sore, so I knew I needed to come up with a fix, quickly.

I scouted the web and found many options to buy padded covers for the crutches but that didn't suit me well.  I needed something now, not a few days from now, so I went on a search for some instructions for making a set of covers at home.  I didn't find much.  I could duct tape a towel around them but I knew that would not go over well with Emily so I brainstormed and came up with my own solution.  And now I'm going to share with you.  You're welcome.

Lay the crutch on a piece of paper and trace around the top of it.  Cut out your pattern.

You need to cut the fabric quite a bit larger than your pattern because you need to adjust for a seam allowance and more padding than what is there now.
My first pieces weren't cut wide enough on the bottom.  Thankfully I pinned the pieces and tried it before sewing them or even cutting another set.
The bottom of your cover needs to be at least the width of the top of your crutches or the cover will not fit over the top when finished.  In the end, the top of mine could have been quite a bit more narrow, so you don't need as much extra as I have here.

With right sides together, sew your pieces leaving the bottom open; then clip the corners so the cover will lay correctly once turned right side out.

Time to iron your bottom hem.  Turn up the bottom edge 1/4" and press, then turn up 1/4" again to create a finished edge, press.  Sew hem in place close to left edge.

Now to make these covers stay on your crutches.  Using a small width elastic, place it an equal distance from bottom edge.  Secure elastic in place with a few stitches and then pull it taught with one hand while you sew.  This will gather the material as the elastic relaxes.  Fold over your ending piece of elastic and stitch to prevent it from unraveling.

To make your crutches more comfortable you will need some sort of padding.  I used quilt batting here because I had some left over but I would have used old towels or t-shirts if I didn't have the batting on hand.
Cut two pieces of padding, one just slightly smaller than the width of the top and the second piece the width of the middle of the crutch.  Most of the weight bearing is on the middle of the crutch so I felt it needed the most padding there.
Wrap it around your crutch and secure.  I used painters tape because I wanted to be able to easily remove it.  The painters tape secured the batting very well.

Place one side of your crutch into the cover and then carefully stretch the cover over the other side.
You now have much more comfortable crutches, and they're cute too!

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This is post is part of Made By You Monday at Skip to My Lou.  Skip on over to see what others have made this Monday.