DIY Sleep Sack

I lost a lot of sewing momentum after Christmas. I was sewing sewing knitting knitting knitting sewing so much that I needed a break. I’m starting to get back in the swing of things though and I finally have something to share with you today.
We bought little man a really warm and cozy sleep sack when we were in France last May/June. We were there during a cold spell and weren’t prepared. Luckily, just because it was June didn’t mean there were no warm sleep sacks available. The French have a thing about making sure their babies are warm. I mean REALLY warm. We’re talking bundled up in wool socks and a a heavy blanket while outside in 80 degree summer weather. It’s a bit over the top. But in this case, the sleep sack was well needed and appreciated. So much so that I decided he needed a second one, but these types of sleep sacks are no where to be found here. I’ve only been able to find fleece, which is fine, but less breathable than cotton with batting.
What I made is basically a quilted sleep sack. I used a stretchy main fabric, stretchy lining fabric, and cotton batting in the middle. For the neck and arm holes, I used strips of cotton ribbing that I folded into bias tape. The only difference between this sleep sack and the French one is that the zipper on mine opens downward and the French one opens upward. I tried to figure out how to do that, but I just didn’t have the right tools to make a zipper long enough for the sleep sack that opened upward. Oh well. I know sleep sacks have to be sold that way for safety reasons, but this is not being sold and I have deemed it safe enough for my level of comfort. I do still need to make a little fold that covers the zipper, but it’s pretty much ready.

Also, notice the very cool personalized label on the sleep sack. My sweet husband got them for me for Christmas this year. Such a thoughtful gift for a maker of handmake things. Thank you honey!

So there’s my latest creation. Hopefully I’ll get enough motivation together to work on some more projects to share with you soon.

Chicken Coop Progress

This post has been a looong time coming. I have really let you down, blog readers. I apologize for the lack of posting lately. Every year as the holidays approach I think about all the great holiday-related posts I could write. And every year, I fail. Maybe I should write my holiday-related posts in the summer in preparation, huh? 🙂
Anyway, hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. In the meantime, here’s a post I’ve owed you for a long time. Rockstar husband started building the coop back in October right after we got our chicks. He spent 3 or 4 weekends working all day on it. I helped with some small parts, but really this was his project. He designed the coop after spending many hours researching coops on He’s almost done with it now. There are a few last things to finish that haven’t happened because it was rained almost every single weekend since he last worked seriously on it. We plan on painting it and sealing the wood once it dries out completely in the spring. Ideally, that would have been finished BEFORE the rain started, but oh well.
Now for pictures!
Work station
Rocks that little man and I collected in the yard to backfill the trench. These are the make the run more “predator proof” because an animal trying to get in wont be able to dig through the rocks.
The footprint of the coop and run. Our goal was to make the run completely predator proof. That way, if we are away overnight, we can leave the coop door open and the chickens can let themselves out into the run in the morning. Without a predator-proof run, we’d have to make sure to be home everyday at nightfall to lock the chickens up. 
We borrowed a friend’s jackhammer to dig through some of the tougher parts of the dirt. Thank you friend! If you’re wondering why there’s a stump in the middle of what will be the run, it’s because we just cut down a tree that was there. We left the stump so that the chickens can perch on it. 
Framing out the run.
Rockstar husband demonstrating his jackhammering skills.
Lots of progress done at this point! It’s still missing a door for the coop, door for the run, nesting boxes, perching rack, welded wire on top of the run, and probably lots more. 
See that irrigation tube? We dug it up while digging the trench. Eventually we’d like to add a hose right by the coop to make filling water and cleaning easier. It’s not top priority but it’s on our list.
Here’s where the chickens will go in and out of the coop. And see how the coop is raised up, allowing extra run space under it? It’s perfect for rainy days and hot summer days so that the hens can get out of the elements but still be outside   if they want to be.
Adding paneling over the welded wire so that varmints can’t rip it off and get in. You can’t see it here, but we also ran the welded wire down into the trench before backfilling. This adds to the predator protection. 
Nesting boxes done. A feature that most nesting boxes don’t have that I LOVE is that it is designed to open UP instead of DOWN. Know why? So that little man can eventually open it up himself to collect the eggs. If it opened down, it would be hard for him to reach the eggs inside. I love that rockstar husband thought of a little detail like that. What a good papa! 
Almost done! The run has a door now, there’s a ramp in place for the chickens to get up and down from the coop, the chicken door for the coop is in place. You can’t really tell because the ladder is blocking it, but the coop door is on a pulley system so that we can just run out and open or close the coop door from the outside of the run without having to unlock the run on a cold winter morning.
Chickens exploring their new home. I think they like it!

Bourbon Butternut Squash Risotto

Bourbon Butternut Squash Risotto, huh? Isn’t risotto Italian? Isn’t Bourbon…deep south? Well, yes on both counts. But that doesn’t mean they cannot be amazing together. I thought of this combination when I decided that we were going to have Butternut Squash Risotto the other night. That much was certain. We grew butternut squash last summer and have been getting them weekly in our CSA. I try to keep up, but I think we have about 10 butternut squash in our garage right now. They must be used up! We also had arborio rice in the pantry that was just waiting to be made into risotto. And being the beginning of the year, I’m newly motivated to clean out our pantry, use up stuff that has been in there too long, etc.

As I gathered my ingredients I realized that we didn’t have ANY white wine in the house (not even a bottle of 2 buck chuck chardonnay). It was cold, rainy, 5pm. All factors to make me not want to leave the house with my toddler to buy a $2 bottle of wine. I wondered if risotto could be made with any other kind of alcohol and immediately thought bourbon would be pretty tasty with butternut squash. I did a quick google search and found out that I wasn’t the first to think of this (dangit…you mean this isn’t an original idea?!). Then I texted my foodie friend to make sure I wasn’t crazy. He approved of the experiment and off I went a-cookin’.

The end result was delicious. Probably the best risotto I’ve ever made. I highly suggest you try it if you have some extra butternut squash laying around. And if you don’t want to use bourbon, I’m sure it would be very delicious regular butternut squash risotto without (or with the more traditional white wine)…this was just a very fun twist.

1 Butternut squash
Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup bourbon (note: most risotto recipes call for 1 cup of white wine. I reduced it to 1/2 cup of bourbon…figured a cup of bourbon would be a bit much).
6 cups chicken broth (you might need more…keep an extra couple cups on hand)
Creme fraiche (about 1/4 cup…you can omit it, or substitute cream cheese. As much as it pains me to type that.)
A good handful of shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half. Remove the seeds. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil and place the butternut squash face down on the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until a sharp knife pierces and goes into the squash easily.
2. Heat a heavy-bottom pot over medium heat (I used my Le Creuset). Lightly coat bottom of pot with olive oil. Sautee onion until it begins to “melt.”
3. In a separate pot, pour all 6 cups of chicken broth. Heat broth until it begins to simmer. Then turn down so that it stays hot, but doesn’t boil.
4. Add butter to the onions and allow it to melt.
5. Add arborio rice and stir to coat the rice with butter. Stir continuously until the outside of rice grains start to become translucent. The inside will stay white.
6. Add bourbon. Stir until bourbon cooks down to about half. Start to slowly add hot broth, one ladle-full at a time. Make sure to stir fairly continuously, but especially right after each ladle of broth goes into the rice.
7. Continue until you have no more broth. If you’re not serving immediately, save one ladle of broth to add right at the end.
8. Scoop butternut squash out from skin and roughly chop. Mix into the risotto.
9. Mix in creme fraiche and parmesan cheese. If you’ve reserved a ladle-full of broth, add it now. Crush the dried thyme over the risotto with your fingers.

Serve and enjoy!


Scrap Wood Blocks Part 1

I did end up getting to most of my Christmas gift projects from my queue this year, but sometimes you need to admit defeat. I wanted to make little man a set of blocks from the scrap wood we had left over after building the chicken coop. I did pretty well. Cut out the pieces and sanded…oh about 8 of them. I managed to get some of them done while he and I were playing outside but the weather has been so rainy that there hasn’t been much outside playtime recently. So the blocks will have to wait for his birthday. Or maybe he’ll get to have them before his birthday if I finish them months ahead of time and don’t want to wait to give them to him (more likely scenario).

Here he was “helping” me trace out the shapes for his blocks on the larger pieces of wood.

There he is! Peek a boo!

Do you ever have to admit defeat on well-intentioned projects? Or at least postpone them for another time. I sure hope I’m not the only one!

Christmas Picture-Happy Post

What a sweet Christmas we had today. I hope it was just as sweet for you! Seeing little man wake up and find his gifts under the tree this morning made me so happy. Maybe happier than him?
Here’s a wrap up of our day in pictures. Warning…there are A LOT of them.
His barn and Santa hat were waiting for him on his new chair from his grandma and grandpa. I was so excited for him to find his new felt farm animals that were hidden inside!
He made a bee line for the barn. It had been hidden in another room for a few days. I think he was excited to see it again. I wonder what’s inside?
I see a pig!
What else is in there??
And the chicken and the puppy gave each other kisses too.
The boy and his new dump truck. Rocks were ready to be loaded in. He understood what to do right away.
Ooey gooey cinnamon rolls. 
Playing with his dump truck, and two wool balls that his mama made for him.
Time for a late lunch. Crab and Cauliflower Salad (didn’t get a picture before it was all gone!) and Chocolate and Pear Charlotte. So delicious!

How was your Christmas? What was your kiddo’s favorite gift?

Felt Farm Animals

I’m finally declaring myself finished with my Christmas present queue. (At least until after Christmas, when I have a few that I need to retroactively complete).  I thought I was done last week, until yesterday when I decided that little man *had* to have some farm animals to go in his toy barn. He’s been playing with the barn for a while (I bought it at a garage sale and used it with my preschoolers when I was working), but with no farm animals to go inside, it was definitely lonely. One time, I got all the farm animal blocks in his Uncle Goose block set and put them inside, but it didn’t really feel right. it needed “real” animals. I had visions of putting his barn under the Christmas tree and having him discover new animals inside. But it was already December 22nd. I figured I should just give up the Christmas morning idea and make them later on. I even considered going out and buying some farm animals but I couldn’t do it. And I’m stubborn.

So I found some patterns for stuffed farm animals. The pig, hen and lamb come from Martha Stewart, and the horse I found through some mad google searching skills. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth (since all the patterns were free), but Martha’s directions were really terrible. I guess I’ve been spoiled by crafty bloggers who do awesome tutorials with step by step directions. Anyway, there were some frustrating moments, but if there’s one thing I’ve gotten better at through sewing and knitting, it’s patience. So I powered through, figured it out and finished. By the time I got to the horse (which has no directions at all), it was easy and I finished it in about 45 minutes. They’re not perfect, but I doubt he will care. I can’t wait for him to open his present!

The hen has a bean bag sewed to the bottom so that she doesn’t tip over. It also makes it very easy to have her peck a the ground. 
Here’s the gang. Soon I hope to add a black cat, a cow, a chick, a duck, a goose….*sigh*
There’s a pipe cleaner in Mr. Pig’s tail to keep it curled.
I couldn’t get him to stand straight up, so he’s a jumping horse.

So to those of you who celebrate Christmas, happy day before Christmas Eve! I don’t know if I’ll post again before the actual day so Merry Christmas!

Embroidered Handkerchiefs

*sigh*…I haven’t posted in an embarrassingly long time again. I assure you that it’s because I’m busy crafting, enjoying my family, recovering from the stomach flu (okay that one was not fun), enjoying my family some more. I have lots of posts queued up in my mind, but they wont write themselves. The pictures are taken. Heck, they’re even uploaded into blogger. I just need to sit down and write. I’m going easy on myself, though. No promises on new posts before the new year.

Here’s a little something that I made for my dad’s birthday gift this year. I wont tell you how old he turned, but it was one of the decade ones so it was extra special. My dad is one of those guys who isn’t easy to shop for. I usually end up buying him books because he is a big nerd (in a good way) and is constantly learning about lots of things all at the same time. Hmm…come to think of it, I’m like that too. Only I like to learn about things I can make with my hands, while he likes to learn about things like batteries, LEDs, and computational linguistics. Still, we’re both lifelong learners and I think that’s pretty cool. (Not to leave my mom out…she’s also an avid reader and lifelong learner).

Anyway, I wanted to make something special for my dad. He still uses cloth handkerchiefs so I initially thought about making him some handkerchiefs. Finding just the right fabric (soft linen, not too thick, but still crisp when you iron it) was overwhelming at best. Instead, I chose some really nice Irish linen handkerchiefs on Embroider This and decided I would embroider them for him.

Hubby and I brainstormed and he suggested writing post-sneeze sayings in different languages on the handkerchiefs. I loved the idea and started looking up the sayings I would use. When I wrote down “a tes souhaits” in French, I realized that French offered me the perfect trio of sayings (perfect in that I had three handkerchiefs). When someone sneezes in France you say “a tes souhaits” (to your wishes). If the same person sneezes again you say, “a tes amours” (to your loves), to which the sneezer is supposed to respond, “que les tiens durent toujours” (to yours lasting forever). It was settled. I printed the sayings in the font I wanted, used transfer paper to transfer them on the handkerchiefs, and set out to embroider. They were a hit and immediately got put to their intended use. I’m glad he’s not afraid to actually use them rather than keep them in a drawer.

Happy Birthday Dad! (Over a month later). I love you!