A simple sewing project- suck pads for a soft structure baby carrier

If we are friends in real life, it’s no secret to you that I have a bit of an obsession with baby carriers. I mostly use woven wraps these days, but I also love love love my Tulas (yes, I have several…mama’s gotta have options!). Similar in concept to the Ergo baby carrier, the Tula is a full buckle carrier. It has more padding than an Ergo, though, and the straps synch tighter to make it more adjustable. Basically, it’s more comfortable and comes in all sorts of fun fabrics. I’m not knocking the Ergo. It was a fabulous carrier until my first baby was about 18 months. At that point, we really needed something more supportive. I bought a toddler-sized Tula and was hooked. Now I’m a Tula girl through and through. Well…in addition to my wraps. Those are a whole different story. 

My newest Tula is called Eiko Quilt. The middle panel features this pretty fabric. 

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Seeing as my baby girl loves nothing more than to chew on her Tula straps, those bad boys needed protecting. And since I have barely touched my sewing machine since I found out I was pregnant with baby girl, I needed a simple project to wet my feet again. Suck pads were perfect for that. 

I picked up some Eiko Quilt fabric from Fabric Worm in addition to a coordinating fabric- Eiko Flower Dots. I made the suck pads about 10 x 6.5 inches, although 9 x 6.5 inches would have been fine too. I made them reversible using the two fabrics linked above and included a layer of flannel in the center to add a bit of absorbency. You know. For all that drool. Three coordinating snaps to close them up and they were done. They took about 45 minutes from start to finish, and that was while chatting with my dear blogger friend over at Born Ambitious. Born Imaginative. 

Here’s the finished product. Next time, I might add some ribbon for her to chew on!

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Starting over

Staring at this blank blog feels a bit overwhelming and at the same time freeing. I’m coming from a blog with years of history, readers, and time invested. It’s bittersweet to leave it but for privacy reasons I’ve decided to start from scratch. The internet is such a huge and open place. It may be naive of me to believe that I can have a presence here and yet remain somewhat private. But I’m going to try. Don’t be surprised if I transfer some relevant posts from the old blog. I’ve gotten used to referencing it as I cook, sew, garden. Over time, hopefully this place will start to feel like home in the same way.

I’m signing off for now, but excited to start sharing my adventures in gardening, sewing, slow food preparation, with a side of mommyhood very soon.

DIY Compost Sifter

Here is a project my dear husband and I made together back in June. It’s very very simple, but was my first “wood-working” project since wood shop in the 7th grade (which I believe only ever involved a scroll saw. Definitely not a circular saw or hand drill). My compost pile was pretty much finished and I decided I wanted nothing but the best compost for my front yard raised beds.
Enter: Sifted compost.
I looked at various design ideas on the interwebz and decided on something that would fit over my wheelbarrow so that compost could be sifted directly into it. I also wanted something with handles rather than a square or rectangle to make shaking the sifter over the wheelbarrow a bit easier.
So, we measured the width of our wheelbarrow to determine how long my pieces with handles would be. If I were going to make another sifter, I would extend the handles just a bit, especially on the far end, so that they’d be less likely to slip off the wheelbarrow when you’re shaking the sifter around. Live and learn.
Here’s what I bought to make the sifter:
2- 8 foot 1×4″ pieces of wood
1 roll 1/4-inch hardware cloth
1 package fence staples (like these). These are the kind you hammer in. I wanted something sturdier than a staple gun would provide.
We decided on the width of the sifter based on how much wood was left without having to buy an extra piece of wood.
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Here are the cuts I made. Hubs insisted that I be the one to use the circular saw. I’m glad he did because that was one piece of equipment that completely intimidated me and I’d never wanted to touch it before. Now it seems slightly less scary. Or maybe still scary but less foreign.
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Then I measured and predrilled holes using a countersink drill bit.
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Once everything was drilled together, we measured and cut the hardware cloth with wire cutters and then hammered it in place with fence staples. I told you this was a simple project.
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Beautiful black sifted compost! Ready to amend my soil.
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I threw the larger pieces back into my compost bin for further composting.
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And there you have it! An easy DIY garden project that will really help make your soil rich and beautiful.

Coming out of a blogging fog

I haven’t blogged in a long time. Usually I’ve noticed my peaks and valleys of blogging correlate with the seasons. In the spring/summer I have more to say because I’m inspired by the ingredients on hand. This time, though, my absence was more related to an extended period of constant nausea, sleeping poorly and generally having a much less energy than usual.
What do all those things add up to? If all continues to go well, it means a new little person is going to be joining our family in early October! We’re thrilled! Even little man seems excited about it.
Meanwhile, you can see that I have my energy back. And with it came my crazy ideas, back with a vengeance. After watching a movie about lasagna-style gardening (Back to Eden, if you’re interested in watching), we decided to forego the idea of removing our sod before planting a vegetable garden. Instead, we laid newspaper, compost and wood chips directly over the grass. Here was the truckload of free wood chips from a tree trimming company. Thank goodness I said we only needed one truckload!
Memorial day weekend, with the help of many friends, we completed the project wheelbarrow-full by wheelbarrow-full. It was quite a weekend, but so far the veggies seem to be doing well. I will do a more in depth post about the process soon. For now, thank you thank you thank you to the friends who gave us their time and efforts to help us!!
Whew….having that first post after a long absence feels good. Now I can jump back in with everything going on at our crazy house. It’s feeling more and more like the urban homestead I’ve been dreaming of. I love it and can’t wait to share it with you!

NYT No Knead Bread Recipe with Photo Tutorial

I absolutely adore this bread recipe. It was featured in a NY Times article back in 2006, which has probably received billions of hits by now. I still go back to this recipe often and change very little. Occasionally, I’ll add a bit of chopped up fresh rosemary or thyme, but really it’s so so good on its own.
Last weekend, we celebrated the impending arrival of my dear friend’s new baby. I asked how I could participate in the shower preparations and she asked me to make what she always asks me to make. Pesto and this bread. I decided to make two loaves for this party of 30 people and took pictures along the way to share the process with my readers.
I suggest you read through the whole process before starting. It takes about 20 hours start to finish, so I usually start it around 2-3 pm the day before I need the bread to be finished. I promise, this is quite easy to pull off. It just takes a lot of time and a little planning.


First, the ingredients:
– 3 cups of flour (all-purpose or bread. I prefer to use bread flour, for higher gluten content)
– 1 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/4 tsp yeast
– 1 5/8 cup room temp water (the water doesn’t need to be as warm as it usually needs to be for bread, since this dough will sit for 18 hours on the counter).

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the water and mix it all up with a spatula or wooden spoon. I would usually use a kitchen aid for making bread, but not for this. It’s way too simple to justify washing the kitchen aid after. Just mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. It would be smooth. That’s fine, though. Now cover with plastic wrap and wait 18 hours. The original recipe says 12-18, but I really think 18 is best for full gluten development. After 18 hours, it looks like this. Kind of bubbly. No Knead Dough - 1

And here’s what it looks like when try to pull it off the sides of the bowl:

No knead dough - 2 2. Put some flour on your countertop and remove dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. I have to use a spatula to get the dough out of the bowl. It’s a sticky mess otherwise. Cover with the plastic wrap and allow to rest 10-15 minutes. No Knead Bread - 3 3. Now put plenty of flour (original recipe says cornmeal or flour. I prefer to use flour) on a clean kitchen towel and transfer the bread onto it. IMG_5237 Sprinkle more flour  on top of dough and cover with the kitchen towel. Let it rise for another 2 hours. IMG_5240 4. At least 30 minutes before the 2 hour rise is finished, put a cast iron dutch oven in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. The cast iron needs to be really hot to get a nice crust on your bread. When it’s time, carefully remove the dutch oven and gently flop the dough in. Quickly put the lid back on and put it back in the oven. (And don’t forget, the handle on the lid is very VERY hot!! I have made this mistake before and it wasn’t pretty. I suggest leaving your hot pad on the lid so you don’t forget). IMG_5241 IMG_5242 5. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, until the bread is nice and golden. Place on cooling racks and try to hold yourself back from cutting into it right away. Maybe go out and get yourself some nice cheese to eat with the bread. Or olive oil. Or pesto. Really, there are many good options here. Enjoy! IMG_5256

Double Bump Dishcloth

Sorry for disappearing on you guys again. I’m not promising regular updates in the very near future, but I do hope to come around more often than I have been. 

Here’s a quick project that I finished a little while ago and forgot to post. I found the pattern for this Double Bump Dishcloth on Ravelry and decided to give it a try. As a fairly novice knitter, I liked the idea of trying something new to me (the double bump), but still pretty simple. And I’m always a fan of making something utilitarian, so this fit the bill nicely. I finished it in a couple of hours, so for knitting this is as close to instant gratification as you’re going to get.

So there you have it! The double bump dishcloth, complete with a bar of my homemade soap. Unfortunately, I’ve confirmed that I’m really more of a sponge person, so this has been relegated to a bath/shower wash cloth. I prefer the idea of dishcloths, since you wash and reuse them, but I never feel like they get my dishes as clean. This is all in my head. I’m sure of it. But I like squeaky clean dishes so sponges it is. For now.