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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Handmade Nation & Perceived Value

I just checked out the book Handmade Nation by Faythe Levine & Courtney Heimerl from the library this weekend. It was an easy read as I had it read in one sitting plus interruptions. It is for the most part a history or the handmade uprising in this country (USA). I caught my attention at the library because I enjoy making things for myself and family. I hope someday that people will notice the things I make and be interested in purchasing them, but I don't know if that will ever happen. I was also interested in the book because handmade seems to be everywhere in the blogs I run across. More importantly thought it interests me because when I look at handmade items, I think why should I pay that much, "I can make that myself". I think I'd be more likely to take the handmade pledge if prices weren't so high. Here is an example of the thought process I have when I look at something handmade. I saw these really cute flip flops decorated with ribbon and lady bugs. I love lady bugs and thought they'd be cute for my daughter who has everything lady bug. They were selling for $25. The base was an old navy girls flip flop $3.50 regular price. 4 different ribbons used $1/spool =$4. 2 Wooden Ladybugs (guessing $0.50, I wouldn't pay more than that). Total cost $8, with ribbon left over for other projects. I have no idea how long it took that lady but it would only take me about 1/2 hour. In which case her hourly rate is $34/hour and even if it took her 1 hour she still made $17/hour. That seems like a lot to me in this economy where lots of us are struggling! What incentive do I have to buy from someone else when I can make it myself for way cheaper? That price didn't even include the cost of shipping and handling. This brings me to the next thing that annoys me! "Perceived Value"! When in the world did people start thinking that if something costs more it must be better? Whoever pulled the wool over on us as a country and started us thinking that way did a good job. No wonder inflation keeps going up, there's no reason to bring prices back down if everyone thinks that things that cost more are of better quality. Now even if I have a high quality product and am trying to help out folks who can't afford more by keeping my prices low, I'm at risk of not selling because of the "perceived value"! I think we really need to work to change this mindset in our country. Then maybe all us homemakers making handmade items for a little extra cash can afford the handmade items of the other homemakers out there. Think about it! Ignore "perceived value" try things out and decide for yourself!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Call to Mothers & Women Everywhere!

Whatever happened to the loyalty of girl friends? I don't know when or at what age the female competition starts but its the one thing that has really bothered me about being an adult woman. I've felt for a long time that our society is one in which every woman is in competition with all the rest. Single, married, divorced, widowed, homemaker, career woman, all races, all shapes and sizes. All have been sucked in. My hope is by posting the poem below, the readers will reach out and be friendly to other women and we can rebuild the sense of community that was in the olden days! It takes a village... as the saying goes. Let's recreate or restore village society. 

excerpt from Out Of The Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load
A (Fairly Lame) Ode to Mothers
An ode to the marvelous woman called “Mother”
Though not one of us is exactly like another.
From the second we’re born to the minute we die
Our preferences are as limitless as stars in the sky.

We might have been perfectly gracious before
But childbirth entered us in the Mommy War.
Rather than letting everyone else be
We criticize parenting that isn’t exactly like . . . me.

So once and for all let me put this to rest
None of us owns the title of “best.”
Natural childbirth does not make you a hippy
Epidurals are not just for women who want to feel trippy.

In a bathtub with a doula or in a hospital bed
We all got a baby with limbs and a head.
Nursing is great if nothing goes wrong
But some nipples turn inward and refuse to play along.

This is a choice for each mom–it’s her route
So it’s just A + B and everyone else can C their way out.
Schedules and timers do not make you cruel
Feeding on demand does not make you a fool.

In the nursery with a monitor or in the family bed
Every chick gets to pick where her baby lays his head.
If I see one more mom roll her eyes at “organic . . .”
“Partially hydrogenated” throws some of us into panic.

But neither judge Sonic burgers and fries
Some of us just want to enjoy food before we die.
Preschool, home school, public, or Montessori
Listen, my friends, and I’ll tell you a story:

Two moms differed on favorite school trends
Their kids turned out pretty much the same. The end.
If a girl gets the title of “mom” accidentally
The worst thing we can do is treat her judgmentally.

How about some love, some help, some advice?
She needs our love and we shouldn’t think twice.
Discipline through various methods will prevail
Look, we’re all just trying to keep our kids out of jail.

These things are just preferences, not right or wrong
What matters more is teaching our kids to get along–
To love and to share, to speak gently and kind,
To obey so that mom won’t go out of her mind.

Showing them Jesus is our common ground
Teaching them how he can always be found.
He’s present in public school and Waldorf (so trendy)
He’s over at Whole Foods but also at Wendy’s.

Jesus never cared about these sorts of things
It’s our hearts that he wants and the worship we bring.
It’s time for us moms to declare a truce
Regardless if we buy Capri Sun or 100 percent juice.

My way is not your way, and your way isn’t mine
But both of our kids will turn out just fine.
Rather than judging and looking down our noses
Let’s enjoy the common ground motherhood poses.

As believers, we all love the same good Lord
We all have children who tell us “I’m bored.”
We all need more sleep than these tiny five hours
Most of us struggle to find time for a shower.

We haven’t been to the bathroom alone in an age
Our mothers have all told us, “Relax, this is just a stage.”
We all love our babies so much we could die
We’d take a bullet for each one without batting an eye.

Though we are different, we’re in the same tribe
Motherhood requires a similar vibe–
Love and affection, sacrifice and grace
Laughter, which keeps the whole mechanism in place.

Though different, by the grace of God, I suspect:
ALL our children will rise up and call us ... collect.

She looks well to how things go in her household. ... Her children rise up and call her blessed. Proverbs 31:27—28 AMP

Monday, June 27, 2011

Motivational Monday's: Cheerfulness!

"Cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with a steady and perpetual serenity." ~Joseph Addison

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spiritual Sunday's ~ Backwards Society!

We live in a very strange society. The Bible says that debt is a curse and children are a blessing, but we apply for a curse and reject blessings.  ~Doug Philips

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Check Out My Blogging Tutorials Page!

I'm compiling a list of resources for things I've done to my blog, like buttons and templates. I hope you'll find them as useful and easy to use as I did. I'll be updating anytime I find something worthy, so check back!

Blogging Tutorials Page

Friday, June 24, 2011

Homesteading: Great Videos!

Homestead Blessings by the West ladies is a great resource for homemakers and those interested in homesteading. I especially liked there bread making, garden and herb dvds as they can help you to get back to nature and make sure you diet and food is as wholesome and natural as can be. I learned something  from every dvd even one's that I thought I might be experience enough in, like sewing. I have 10 in all: The Art of: Bread Making, Candle Making, Canning, Cooking, Dairy Delights, Gardening, Herbs, Quilting, Sewing and Soap Making. I've read a lot of things about many of these topics and the West Ladies explanations are thorough and you can tell they've spent the time to figure out the best, most efficient way to do these things. I hope you take the time to check out their blog and website and order a dvd or two. Also be sure to check out the video on their site for the "Green beans in the Garden" song. I'ts super cute!

(Note: I purchased these dvds out of my own interests. I am in no way being compensated for this shout out!)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here's Your Chance to Push My Buttons!

I finally came across a tutorial on how to make a button. Check out How to Make a Button at Manic Mother. She does a great job of writing step by step instructions. Hope it helps you as much as it did me! :D

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Make Money by Blogging!

I just joined social spark! Set up was fast, easy, and freeeee! So if you'd like to earn income from your blog, you can join here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Did You Know About Habitat for Humanity's ReStore?

As I was searching the internet the other day, looking for scrap wood, someone suggested checking out Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. I had no idea there was such a thing. A quick google search, showed that there are two in my town. When I went to their site, I was expecting surplus building materials but they have all kinds of things from molding and plumbing supplies to lamps and furniture and appliances. All discounted and open to the public! So if you need something for you home and are on tight budget you just might find it there. Find a store near you at:!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Preserve Your Sewing Patterns

I would in no way consider myself an advanced sewer. I've been sewing for about a year now and the first time I used a pattern, I was making matching dresses for my friend and I. We are too different sizes and so since I'm bigger I made mine first and then her's actually cutting the pattern. But once I was done I was kind of irritated thinking that pattern's are a single use product especially if you want to make multiple sizes. Then some where along the line I learned about freezer paper. Yes, previously used to wrap meat before freezing, this stuff is great.

Here's what I do:

Take out my pattern, decide which pieces I need. Then I unroll my freezer paper and cut a piece big enough to fit the pattern piece(s). Then I lay the freezer paper on top of the pattern and trace with a pencil. Then I write notes on the freezer paper like the pattern name, piece and any other directions on it. Then I cut it out of the freezer paper with scissors. Now my pattern is still in perfect condition and even better is that when you iron the freezer paper to you fabric you don't need to pin it, it sticks! This is especially great if you're trying to make a lot of something. What are you going to make with your freezer paper pattern? I can't wait to see!

And don't worry if your hands unsteady and its not traced perfectly or cut perfectly, as long as its close the seams will still make it look nice and straight. I think sewing is very forgiving.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Intellectual Property Rights Irritate Me!

The idea of intellectual property rights irritates me. And while I think certain situations warrant it I think its highly overused. Take blogs for example, there all copyrighted. I'm guilty too, but mainly because everyone else was doing it, an intellectual property violation in itself, really. The reason it bothers me is because ideas aren't all that new, aside from maybe technology, I'm sure someone has thought it before, thought it at the same time in a different location or may think of it in the future, without coming in contact with anything related. Lets take pattern and clothing design for example. I have an image in my head, maybe I've seen it before or maybe not. I get out my pencil and paper, draw it, make some notes, and set to work making the garment. Then I post it for sale on my blog or etsy  or ebay or wherever. (Disclaimer: Hypothetical Scenario) Then someone comes to me and says that I need to pay them some kind of license fee for using their pattern, but I'm not. So now my choices are to discontinue selling my product or hire a lawyer and try to prove that I'm not using anyone's pattern than my own. Seems like it would be rather hard to prove as anyone could just get rid of a pattern. It seems like it's too open ended to really be able to be regulated. What about the person who has an idea, starts looking for more information and then finds someone's already doing it, and then makes the item, are they potentially guilty of using someone else's design? I think it's going to make for big trouble down the line. Check out these two quotes:

"Imagine the time when men lived in caves. One bright guy—let's call him Galt-Magnon—decides to build a log cabin on an open field, near his crops. To be sure, this is a good idea, and others notice it. They naturally imitate Galt-Magnon, and they start building their own cabins. But the first man to invent a house, according to IP advocates, would have a right to prevent others from building houses on their own land, with their own logs, or to charge them a fee if they do build houses. It is plain that the innovator in these examples becomes a partial owner of the tangible property (e.g., land and logs) of others, due not to first occupation and use of that property (for it is already owned), but due to his coming up with an idea. Clearly, this rule flies in the face of the first-user homesteading rule, arbitrarily and groundlessly overriding the very homesteading rule that is at the foundation of all property rights." ~Stephan Kinsella

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." ~Thomas Jefferson  

Hoping I never really have to deal with this situation as it seems like it will be awfully difficult to prove what came first the chicken or the egg.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

~A Beautiful Quote: My Goal~

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony."  ~William Henry Channing~ 1810-1884

Monday, June 13, 2011

Check out My Weight Loss Journey Page!

Today I started posting about my weight loss journey on it's very own page. Check it out!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Black Bean Salad {Recipe}

3 (15oz.) cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 small package frozen corn, thawed, drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of cilanto, chopped
(You could probably add tomatoes or cucumbers too if you like or even celery but I didn't have that on hand.) Update: I tried adding tomatoes and cucumber and it wasn't that good. So you may not want to do that. (04/22/2013)

3/4 c olive oil
2T lemon juice
2 T white wine vinegar or apple cider
2 t onion salt
1/4 t celery salt
1/4 t garlic powder
2 T minced garlic
1 t pepper
Salt to taste
(If you like spicy you could add some cayenne powder to the dressing or jalapeƱo to the salad)

In a large bowl, and I mean large, mix beans, corn, bell peppers, cilantro. Set aside. In a blender or food processor add all ingredients for the dressing except, the olive oil. Turn blender on and pour olive oil through whole in the top while the blender is running. This helps all the ingredients to stay mixed together or in other words keeps the oil from separating from the seasonings. Add dressing to salad, mix well. Enjoy! I have no idea how many servings but its a lot.

Adapted from a recipe by Patrica Grosch (used with permission)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuna Salad {Recipe}

This recipe feeds about 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 children.

2 (7oz.) cans tuna, drained
2 Hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 T Dill Pickle Relish
2 t white wine vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion salt
1/2 t celery salt
1/2 t Italian seasoning
salt to taste

Place the drained tuna in a medium bowl, add vinegar and relish. Slice the egg and add to the bowl. Sprinkle in spices. Add mayo til moist, be careful with this too much mayo makes it too wet and hard to taste the other flavors. Sprinkle a little salt, taste. Repeat if necessary. Please don't leave out  the salt unless you have some medical reason you should. It really affects the flavor and make it so much better.

Recipe by Gabrielle Indelicato (used with permission, she's my bff)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Useful Item: Coffee Filters

I just received this in an email. No known author listed.

25 Ways to use a Coffee Filter

1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave to prevent splatter. Coffee filters make excellent covers.

2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome; coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.

3. Protect China by separating each dish with a coffee filter.

4. If you break the cork when opening a bottle of wine, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

5. Protect a cast-iron skillet by placing a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.

6. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter to apply shoe polish.

7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.

9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods. Works for hot dogs too!

10. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.

11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping by poking the stick through a coffee filter, it will catch any drips.

12. Use strips of coffee filters instead of expensive strips for waxing eyebrows.

13. Put a few on a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc. on them. It soaks up all the grease.

14. Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.

15. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.

17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in, to put in soups and stews.

18. Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.

19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and to clean up small counter spills.

20. Use to hold dry ingredients when baking or to absorb juices when cutting fruit or veggies. Saves on having extra bowls to wash.

21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.

22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when you've run out of cotton balls.

23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.

24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in a flower press or book.

25. Last but not least, use to keep coffee grounds out of your morning brew.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Living a Simple Life!

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to design & build my own home on a piece of land in which we could have a farm. Not a production farm but a family farm that would meet our family needs with a little extra to sell on our front porch stand. Along the way, I ended up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Probably about as far from country life as I could get. I grew up in an agricultural community, & my parents had enough land for chickens and a large garden plus fruit trees. I don't know what is its lately but the desire is getting stronger. In my search for information about making this a reality, I found this website, about an Urban Homesteading Family in Pasadena, California. They make due on a 1/5 of an acre. What they do is pretty amazing and you should check it out.

But, what I really like was this poster they displayed here, about what makes one a homesteader. It has inspired me to get started, because despite the fact that we live in an apartment we can still do quite a few things on that list.

* I could grow some food in containers. ~ Something is better than nothing! (Saves $)
* I could use alternative energy sources, such as oil lamps or candles instead of lights. (Saves $)
* I could practice waste reduction by recycling. (Plus make a little $)
* I could use alternative transportation, such as walking. We have quite a bit within walking distance. (Saves $)
* I could live simply, although I don't feel like I thoroughly know what that means or what it means to them.
* I could collect rain water, although we don't get much. But better than that I could collect the water that runs from the faucet while I'm waiting for it to heat up for shower's or whatever. I could wash dishes in a tub and reuse that water.
* I am a stay at home mom so technically I work at home but I could also make a product to sell for actual income.
* I think I am a good neighbor, although there is always room for improvement.
* I do most things myself. I'm currently improving my sewing and quilting skills. Learning new techniques for making bread, & dairy products like yogurt, candles, soap, canning and cooking from scratch.

I can or already do 9 out of the 10 things necessary to become a Homesteader. Little steps will help us to save money to put away for the purchase of our ultimate homestead, someday!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Homemaker Duties, Lessons in Joy & Contentment

Lately, I've been feeling the urge to do something fun and I have. I've been spending time with friends, out of the house, away from my family. I was expecting that these activities would help me to feel rejuvenated and inspired. But the opposite has happened, I feel guilty (like I spent too much time away) and I feel even more behind. I feel like I neglected my family. I am fortunate enough to be able to be a homemaker. In my home away from the crazy traffic of a commute, ungrateful employers, lazy coworkers, outrageous customers.

My Job Description includes but is not limited to:

Housekeeping: Dust, vacuum, make beds, change sheets, wash/dry/fold/put away/iron/mend laundry, sweep and mop floors, pick up an put away "stuff", wash dishes, clean appliances, wipe counter tops & tables, scrub sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, clean mirrors and windows, change towels, clean high chair and car-seat. Shop for clothing, and household items.

Meal Planner/Nutritionist: plan/shop/prepare/cook/serve meals.

Financial Planner: Pay bills, manage budget, banking, taxes, day to day expenses, and long term financial goal setting.

Childcare provider: Feed, bathe, dress, teach health and safety as well as life skills, insure proper medical/dental care is received, training and discipline.

Receptionist/Public Relations: Answer phone calls and take messages, accept deliveries, and maintain the family calendar.

Move coordinator, packer, loader, unloader, unpacker, and the one who's supposed to know where everyones toothbrushes are when you get there.

I am also the taxi driver, toy fixer, On-Call Nurse, party planner, party hostess, decorator, errand runner, and the one who takes the car to be serviced.

And despite this long list of duties, I've realized this week that I need to seek joy in my day to day life, enjoying the moments I have and resolving to be content, not always wanting more. I struggle with this!

One of the things that makes it very worth it, is my two and half year old daughter, who says things like: "I love you, favorite momma", or "Mommy, daddy snorky (snoring) scares me" or "It's mesty (messy) all over the place" or "I wake up to see you, mommy!"or last but not least, "biklcycle" (bicycle). I am very blessed and know that  when I focus on that fact and on trying to be content, that is when I will feel the peace and relaxation I was seeking outside of my home.