Saturday, June 30, 2012

Too hot to think of something better to post!

Not much to post... The weather's hot enough for baby to play in just a diaper. She was just being cute, isn't that reason enough to make a video?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Make a Cloth Prefold

For my job, I spend a lot of time at the thrift store and often find great cloth diapers for my little one.  So, I don't *need* any new diapers for her.  Today, I found some super cute flannel receiving blankets, though and had to buy them, convincing myself I'd put them to good use :)  I decided to make a few cloth diapers for little ZB's diaper stash.  During the daytime, she uses fitted or prefold diapers in a waterproof velcro cover.  I've made many covers for her, since a friend gifted me a bunch of waterproof diaper fabric when I was pregnant.  Making prefolds is even easier, though, and so cheap.  Start off with some thin, absorbant cotton or hemp.  If you have a large yardage of it, you can make true prefolds by doing lots of folds in the fabric and sewing them down.  This method is better for using up smaller pieces of fabric amd is basically sewing a thick layer down the center.  I used the blankets and an old stained hand towel for the middle section.
Next, I lay a use an already-made diaper as a reference and cut the blankets the same length and about double the width. 
If you're lucky, you'll have a good *helper* to keep you on task!

Next,  I cut the towel in pieces the same size as the thick middle section of the prefold I was tracing.  I sewed that to the underside of one edge of the blanket.
Then, fold your fabric so that the towel is running down the center and sew it again vertically.  Then use a zig-zag stitch to sew up the short sides.
I used the leftover pieces of fabric to make cloth wipes by doing a zig-zag stitch all the way around the edge.
Voila- Cute diapers and new wipes!
I think someone else is begging for sewing lessons so she can help more next time :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Beneath the Surface

My favorite things to harvest from the garden are roots... potatoes, carrots and garlic.  The kids love it, too - it's always a fun surprise to see what pops up!  Potatoes grow in all sorts of funny shapes (of course they only select the uniformly round and smooth ones to sell at the stores), and carrots will sometimes emerge from the dirt looking like a pair of legs or even funnier, a pair of legs with an extra little ... ahem... appendage :)
We plant our garlic in the Fall, and it is ready to harvest at the end of Spring... which is now!  They don't come up in any fascinating shapes really, but some grown crazy big, others stay surprisingly small.  We'll save the bigger cloves for this Fall's seed garlic.  We grew 4 different kinds this year, about 150 plants, in all.  Two were hardneck varieties that grew beautiful and delicious flower stems, called scapes, on the top.  The other two were softneck varieties, easy to braid at harvest, and the type you would commonly find in the grocery store.  First we pull them all up.  Straight up, not from an angle, and good to have a trowel handy for ones in harder soil.
Next, I let them dry out in a shady spot for a day or two.  Then I brush off any dirt clumps and trim the hairy roots.  If I was going to sell these heads of garlic, I would clean them more with a dry scrub brush.  But these are just for us and a few to share with friends, so I don't mind them not being perfectly polished.  Next, I braid the heads together and hang them in our laundry room, right off the kitchen, ready to use!

Garlic is not the only treasure hiding beneath the surface this Spring.  As I was digging in the compost bin, my pitchfork became tangled in strings.  When pulled it out, I found this:
Since anything biodegradable can compost (turn back into soil), last Winter I tossed in a pair of Reed's pants that he had outgrown and were just too used to even donate to a thrift store.  These were cotton pants, and I haven't thought about it since.  The photo above is what remains after the compost bin has done it's work!  The only things intact were the elastic waistband, the pockets (which must have been synthetic fabric), the polyester threads, the zipper and waist buttons.

Fortunately, this compost bin has help in making fast work of everything I put in!  I added a few handfuls of red wriggler worms a couple years ago (leftover from an indoor worm bin project).  These are not earthworms, they actually prefer hot compost, not cool garden soil.  I hear they're also great for fishing, though haven't tried that :)
They've multiplied so much that the kids have been able to dig them out and sell them to local gardeners!  They will eat nearly anything that's biodegradable - I even buy paper products when I need disposable dishes for parties, then it can all be composted afterwards!
Now we dig out shovelfuls of the finished compost (mostly highly beneficial worm castings at this point), and I mix a shovel full into each hole where a new plant will live.  Since the garlic is harvested, we're turning one of the garlic beds into Summer veggies.  I have been procrastinating getting the eggplants in, and I did rescue some chard seedlings from the hungry chickens, so I can plant them in this fenced in bed.
Hope everyone's having a great weekend, and Happy Father's Day to all the hard working dad's out there!    I'm always missing my own dad who the older kids only knew briefly, and little ZB unfortunately won't get to meet.  However, I'm ever grateful for the amazing papa we've got here at home - it is really a blessing to have such an amazing partner who works at home and loves spending time with us.
Much Love,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Garden Tour

We've had over a week now with the two boys gone to Memphis for their annual Summer stay at their Grandparents house.  They're coming home in just a couple days, and we're excited - it's been much too quiet around here!  I've mostly been trying to squeeze extra work hours in, but I've also been spending a good deal of time in the gardens.  It's been raining every few days, and the weather has been just beautiful - so there's no good reason not to be outside!

The annual clearance sale at Painter's Greenhouse is going on this month, which is always a good place to find amazing deals on plants if you live in Western North Carolina!  I ended up packing my cart so full, I literally couldn't squeeze even one more plant in there :)  It's a good place to stock up on things we forgot to plant or that didn't come up, or just didn't plant because maybe we only needed one or two - not enough to buy a whole pack of seeds.  There's still a little bit that hasn't been planted yet - but I'm getting through it all bit by bit...

The kitchen herb garden got lots of new plants from the sale - a few kinds of basil, thyme, sage, cilantro and parsley.
The medicine herb garden also got a few new plants, but mostly to make up for the loss of the swiss chard around the border...

Who knew chickens like swiss chard so much??
I did have a few new swiss chard starts that were going to go in this garden, but I think I'll wait until the garlic is harvested from the fenced garden and put the new chard plants in there, so the humans can eat them :)  Of course the chicken house borders on the fenced garden, so I guess it's just a little bit of torment for the little hennies!
Our two big pots of hops plants were needing some love.  They have been getting attacked by aphids and spider mites.  B read that this was due to nutrient deficiency in their soil, so first we killed the bugs with a tobacco tea wash.  Then we boosted the soil with fish emulsion and worm castings... hopefully it will do the trick - I'd sure like to brew some beer with our own hops this year!
ZB's been having an excellent spring eating up all the strawberries she can find!  She's also discovered the blueberry patch and doesn't seem to care if they're ripe or not - they're all fair game to her (which means we find lots of chewed up and spit out green berries around).  The strawberries have finished producing for the year and and starting to send off their many runners.  While the arctic kiwi that share the bed are just starting to climb the porch...

With all the new plants, I actually decided to make another little garden bed next to the front steps.  The other side of the steps has the figs trees and some fast-growing comfrey, with pumpkin vines spreading beneath.  So this new bed will be surrounding the lonely little daylily that was already there.  I will plants a forsythia that B rooted for me, and last night I put in an ever-bearing strawberry and some fun little zinnia flowers to fill the space this Summer.  I am sheet mulching it - it's an easy way to kill the grass naturally - just layer something solid (like newspaper, cardboard, etc.) on the ground, and then layer anything else that's biodegradable on top of that for several layers.  Right now it just has a sprinkling of compost to keep the paper from blowing away.  This afternoon I'll put on a layer of chicken poo and then some straw.  As those break down, you can replenish with grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, etc.
In the midst of all this working from me, B is getting lots more Papa/baby time with ZB.  He's really good at getting her to go down for naps, and lately since the weather's been so nice, they've been going for walks to take a nap.  This is the cuteness I came home to today:
Aw!  Alright - enough typing - I've got work to do!  See y'all later ~ Julie

Blog Archive