Crafting pizza, mail, and sachets out of felt!

I’m not usually a very crafty person. I would like to be, but I just haven’t gone there yet and figure I have enough things to occupy my time without adding crafts to the mix too. 😉

However, in the spirit of the No Plastic Holiday Challenge (which means no gifts with plastic, not refraining from buying using plastic i.e. your credit cards, although that’s a good idea too), I’m forcing myself to get crafty. I’ve come across more cute homemade kid present ideas on blogs lately than I can recall, but I’ve settled on a few that I want to give a try.

felt play pizzaThe first is this homemade play pizza set made out of felt. No sewing involved, which is a definite plus in my book. Even though I have my mom’s old sewing machine, I have no idea how to thread it. I want to make two of these – one for each kid.

Photo courtesy of: Pink and Green Mama

mail setThe next thing that I want to try making is this Jolly Little Postal Worker set. This one requires some sewing, but I think I could do it by hand pretty easily. Ava loves to play “mail,” so I think she’d get a kick out of this and I’m sure Julian would be happy to join in on the fun. It’s not made out of felt in the instructions, but I’m enjoying working with felt and think that’s probably what I will use. Photo courtesy of: Craft Pad

That’s all I have planned so far for the kids, but I’m extending my craftiness to include some family member gifts too. I got the idea to make sachets from my friend Julie (who has yet to blog about it or I’d link to her post *nudge, nudge*). Basically, I’m sewing (by hand) the homemade felt sachetperson’s first initial on one of two small pieces of felt, then taking two small squares of felt and sewing them together with yarn and putting a loop of ribbon at the top (in case the recipient wants to hang it instead of put it in a drawer). Then the sachets will be stuffed with wool (if I can find a local place to buy some) that is scented with essential oils. I chose to use lavender and sweet orange.

Ava is really big on sewing these days (thank you, Waldorf preschool) and will be able to do a little of the stitching (we use thicker needles so she’s less apt to poke herself), and I think Julian will get in on the stuffing part. I like that they can get involved in the gift making this way. I made a test sachet tonight for Ava – pictured at left – and stuffed it with cotton balls, because I was desperate and do not yet have any wool. It’s not perfect, but I thought it turned out pretty cute. The nice thing is it was quick and easy to make and if I can get the kids involved in the process, it will make the little gifts that much more meaningful to the recipient. And now as I sit here looking at this sachet, I’m thinking we might make some felt ornaments too. Same process, but we won’t have to scent the wool. Cool! 🙂

So those are my upcoming craft projects. Between the crafts and the leadership role I’ve taken on (with a few others) for the urban hen movement (we’re working on a petition and will be hosting a public educational urban hen meeting in a couple weeks), I’m going to have a very busy December.

How about you? Do you have any craft projects you are currently working on? Care to share links? I’m always amazed at the things other people come up with and I could seriously read craft blogs all day. Ya know, in my spare time. 😉

Happy 2nd birthday, baby

Me and Julian on his birth day 11/23/06 Me and Julian on his 2nd birthday 11/23/08

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since you tip-toed (quite literally since you were born feet first) into our lives. Having you as a part of our family is such a blessing, Julian. I love your kisses, “group hugs,” nose boops, and giggles so much.

It’s been incredible to watch your language explode over the past few months. It seems there’s nothing you can’t say these days, but my favorite words are, “I love you, Mommy,” followed closely by “cock-a-loo” (your name for chickens).

You show no fear and love to climb and swing on our tire swing. Sand and bugs are your friends.

You also love your sister Ava so much and enjoy being her shadow. I never tire of watching the two of you play together. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely have your squabbles, but the times when you lose yourselves in your imaginations together are the moments I want to make time stand still.

You are definitely exerting more of your independence over the past few months and some things we hear often from you these days are “uh-uh” and “don’t do dat.”

You still nurse on a semi-regular basis – before nap and bed and a few times throughout the day. I’m happy that you find both comfort and nourishment at the breast.

I love to watch you gallop across the room, whether you are riding a hobby horse or not. And nothing beats how cute you look when you run.

I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for you. I know you have many grand adventures ahead as you continue to explore your world. Try not to grow too quickly, my love. I want you to grow up to be happy and healthy, but I want you to take your time for both our sakes. Please remember you will always be my baby boy.

I love you,
Mama

A return to normalcy

After a couple of wild days around here (blog traffic* that was through the roof and a newspaper interview), the Motrinmoms buzz is dying down and things are returning to normal – uh, whatever that means. I guess for me it means today I’m baking seeds from a butternut squash and two pie pumpkins and I’ve got an organic chicken in the crockpot for dinner. I need to make some pear-apple sauce too from several pears I have that are more than ripe at this point. I’ve been slacking off on my cooking lately. Ava is having her preschool Thanksgiving potluck lunch today at school and we took mashed potatoes (made with locally-grown potatoes). Julian is turning 2 on Sunday and I can hardly believe it. He’s already exerting his independence and seems to be as stubborn strong-willed as his big sister and mama. Oh, and my mom arrived into town and will be staying out here in Colorado for an extended visit. Jody and I are hoping to get some date nights (if we can remember how those work) since we’ll have a willing and able babysitter.

If you’d like to read the newspaper article it is here: Local blogger stops national ad – on the front page of today’s paper. And here’s the photo that accompanied it.

111808blogger-a.jpg

The caption: Local “mommy blogger” Amy Gates played a major role in an online protest of a Motrin ad that many moms found demeaning. The Motrin ad suggested some moms “wear their babies” as a fashion accessory and that it leaves moms sore, but it’s a “good kind of pain” because it’s for the baby. Gates posted a twitter feed about the ad Saturday that erupted into an online firestorm. Joshua Buck/Times-Call

* My blog racked in nearly 6,000 visits on Monday – that’s about 12 times the amount of traffic I usually get.

My video blogging (of sorts) debut

Earlier this week I was asked to be a part of a project by Purple States called 50/50/50 – where 50 bloggers, in 50 states respond to questions about the current economic crisis. A new video is added to the site (in alphabetical order by state) for 50 days. There is also an ongoing discussion about the economy and politics in general on the site.

I’ve never done any interviews or video blogging before so this was all new to me (and, I admit, a little nerve-racking at first). I took nearly 20 minutes total video of myself (some recorded between midnight and 1 in the morning(!), when the house was actually quiet LOL and I’m nursing Julian in one of the clips too – can you spot it? Ava even got to “man” the camera in part of it) answering various questions and showing off some of my every day life. It was all edited down to a 2 1/2 minute clip.

Previous projects by Purple States were featured on the Washington Post and New York Times sites, and this particular project has the potential to be picked up by sites like CNN.com, iReport.com and others. I’m excited to be a part of it and honored to have been chosen to represent Colorado.

You can check out my video and those from other states on Purplestates.tv or just watch my video below.

Our Barack Obama Rally Experience (pictures & videos)

On Saturday, Jody, the kids and I drove 2 1/2 hours to Pueblo, CO, to experience our first political rally where both Michelle and Barack Obama were scheduled to speak. According to the LA Times, there were over 15,000 people in attendance.

We were seriously lucky and got amazingly close to the stage thanks to a phone call my sister Carrie made on Friday. Jody and I had been debating whether or not it’d be a good idea to take the kids for the 2 1/2 hour drive, then make them wait for the rally to begin and sit through the rally before having to drive 2 1/2 hours back home. It seemed like a lot to ask of them. I had several questions like if I could wear Julian in my Ergo (baby carrier), if we could bring a blanket to put on the ground, and if we could bring in a bag with diapers, snacks, toys, etc. to entertain the kids. Carrie called the Colorado Springs Obama office for me and said we’d be coming with two small kids and asked my questions (yes on Ergo, no on blanket, yes on backpack with snacks, diapers, etc.). She then told Carrie that since we’d have little kids with us we could use the disabled persons’ entrance.

So we decided we would give it a go, try not to have any expectations and just enjoy being a part of the event. We dressed the kids in their “Kids for Obama” t-shirts, I donned my “Obama Mama” pin and, because it was warm enough for short-sleeves, even displayed my Obama temporary tattoo on my arm and we headed out on a beautiful day to Pueblo.

When we finally got to Pueblo, about 30 minutes before the rally was set to start, we parked a block from the disabled persons’ entrance and made our way there. A police officer outside of the line told us that we’d have to go to the main entrance – FIVE blocks away. I explained that we were told to go to the disabled entrance because of the kids and he was skeptical. He said we could try to get in, but they might just turn us away and direct us to the main entrance anyway. Unsure what to do, we started to walk down the street to the main entrance when I said, “Ya know what? No. We are going to try to get in back there.” So we headed back, told him we’d take our chances and waited in line for about 10 minutes while I formulated my story, even verifying on the phone with my sister the name of the person she talked to. (Carrie and her friend had got to the rally before us and were out in the crowd, about 2 blocks away from the stage.) When we got to the front, the security guards didn’t bat an eye, they just had us go through the metal detector like everyone else and we were in! We walked around some Port-O-Johns and a building and discovered that we were in the media area and about 30 feet from the podium where Obama would be speaking!! SCORE! 🙂

I took both my SLR and P&S cameras and am so glad I did. I got a few videos, some snaps, as well as some good pictures of Barack and Michelle. The only thing I didn’t get that I wished I had, was a picture of Barack and Michelle with their daughters. They all came out on the stage for about 30 seconds at the end, but by that time I was holding a tired and very much ready to leave Ava (Jody had been walking around with a tired, cranky Julian for the entire rally) and was unable to get a shot off. Despite that, I was very happy with the pictures I got.

Julian looking sleepy in the Ergo – Excited Ava and Jody waiting in the security line – Before the rally began, Julian was ready for a nap
A tired Julian in the Ergo on my back as we walked to the rally 11/1/08 Ava and Jody waiting in the security line before the rally 11/1/08 Excitement mounts before the rally, but Julian is ready for some Zzzzzs 11/1/08
Cute baby for Obama – Our view of the media (which we were standing right beside) – SWAT team on the roof
Baby for Obama 11/1/08 We were in the media section 11/1/08 Members of the SWAT team 11/1/08
Michelle Obama spoke briefly before introducing Barack – Love that Obama was speaking on Union Ave. (since he’s all about unity)
Michelle Obama speaks at the rally 11/1/08 Michelle Obama introducing Barack 11/1/08 Barack Obama speaks on Union Ave. (nice) in Pueblo 11/1/08
Obama speaks to the crowd
Barack Obama addresses the crowd in Pueblo 11/1/08 A very small part of the crowd 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08
More of Obama
Obama speaks on Union Ave. in Pueblo 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08 Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08
Obama – Ava and me with Obama speaking behind us
Barack Obama in Pueblo 11/1/08 Me, Ava and Barack Obama 11/1/08 Pueblo, CO Another of Ava, me and Barack 11/1/08
The kids run off some energy after the rally ends
The kids running off some energy after the rally 11/1/08

The energy at the rally was incredible and it was amazing to be a part of it. Obama encouraged everyone to volunteer – make phone calls, go canvassing, etc. – in the last few days before the election. I’m hoping to do that again Monday evening. If you’ve already voted and are looking for something to do on Tuesday other than make last minute calls encouraging people to vote, please consider taking water or food to the people waiting in line to vote. Seriously, that’s what is needed (Edited to add: I learned today that you need to SIGN UP to be able to do this – don’t just show up at the polling place expecting to get to distribute food to voters. Call your local democratic office first. However, you CAN bring food to the people working at the polling place (according to someone who will be working) without signing up first.).

While the kids weren’t very excited to be at the rally (it was a long day for all of us, especially them), I am glad we went and that they got to see Barack Obama in person. Someday, I think they will be glad they were there too. (Oh, and Julian finally got that nap in – all the way home.)

If I’ve still got your attention and you want to see a couple of videos from the rally, here’s Michelle welcoming Barack onto the stage (they are so cute together) and a short one of Barack talking about unity.

Oh, and as for my choice for Best Shot Monday, this week I really can’t choose just one. I like the “Obama baby” and the one of Michelle smiling and then I’m also very partial to the ones of me and Ava with Barack behind us because they are priceless. 🙂 You can see more Best Shots over here.

I hope to post about my experience hearing Gloria Steinem talk (I saw her today at Borders) tomorrow. Stay tuned. 🙂

Brock Omama for pwesident – Wordless Wednesday

I haven’t written much about my political views here. It’s not because I don’t want to share them or that I’m afraid of turning off some readers (that’s not it at all). It’s due to lack of time, which I admit, with an election that is as important as this one, that’s a pretty lame excuse. I plan to write a bit more about my thoughts later this week, but for now I’ll leave you with two very cute Obama supporters.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

A look at where our food comes from

Last week on Oprah, Lisa Ling gave us a glimpse into some of America’s farms – factory farms as well as organic farms – to see just how some of the animals we eat live before they become dinner on our table. They showed what the living conditions look like for egg-laying chicken, Lisa Ling in a factory chicken farmpregnant pigs and veal calves. Oprah had replica cages and crates on the stage to demonstrate the cage/pen sizes of animals in factory farms. “In an egg-laying hen cage, five to six hens could be in a single cage. The typical crate for a young male calf being raised for veal has enough room for him to stick his head out. Pregnant pigs—which can weigh more than 500 pounds—are about 5 to 6 feet long, while the cages they live in are about 7 feet long.”

There was also information presented about Proposition 2, the proposed Standards for Confining Farm Animals (specifically egg-laying chicken, pregnant pigs and veal calves) initiative statute that will be voted on in California’s general election this November. “The new regulations, which would go into effect in 2015, would require cages to be large enough to allow these animals to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and to be able to fully extend their limbs without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.” My friend Melissa (Nature Deva) has some information about Prop 2 on her blog and there’s more information from Cameron at The Thin Green Line. If you live in California, I encourage you to look into it before you head to the polls so that you can make an informed decision.

The point of Oprah’s show was not to scare anyone into vegetarianism or veganism, but to educate people so that they can make conscious choices when it comes to buying their eggs or meat.

In the past, I’ve bought cage-free eggs from Vitamin Cottage because I assumed that meant the chickens were treated better and able to go outside, but after looking more into it, I’m not sure that’s the case.

According to Health Castle:

  • Free-Run or Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have access to nesting boxes and perches. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Free-Range eggs are produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.

I recently discovered a local farm stand (thanks to Alison at Green Me) where they have free-range eggs every Wednesday, as well as locally-grown fruits and veggies available Wednesday through Saturday. We’ve been going there for the past few weeks for some produce, but I bought my first dozen eggs this past Wednesday. They open at 10 on Wednesdays, I got there at 10:30 and got the last dozen they had! Seems I need to be on the ball Wednesday mornings if I want to continue to get them each week because they sell out fast.

Free-range eggs from our local farm standAnyway, the eggs have been wonderful! Ava enjoyed carefully examining them all at home on the kitchen table (and I admit, so did I) because every egg looks different. There are slightly varied sizes, different colors, different shades of those colors, some with spots, etc. They aren’t cookie cutter eggs like you get from the grocery store and I think that definitely adds to their appeal.

On Saturday we went back to the farm stand and, because Julian wants to see the animals they have every time we stop in, we asked the owner if I was OK if we went back to look at the sheep and chickens and he was fine with that. That was cool to show the kids exactly where our eggs are coming from. I think most people want to believe that their chickens get to run around in a big open space like these chickens do, though in reality, they are generally packed 6 to a small cage for their entire lives.

Someday I’d love to have some chickens of our own, but that will probably need to wait until we move into a different house with a slightly larger yard. Ava already talks about how she will go out and collect the eggs every day. 🙂

Here are the kids and Jody observing the animals this weekend, and, at least with regard to the chickens’ eggs, seeing just where our food comes from:
Checking out the sheep - 10/18/08 Looking at the chickens 10/18/08
Thanks for the eggs, chickens! 10/18/08 “Come-ere sheep” 10/18/08

Pumpkin-y goodness

On Sunday we went to one of our favorite pumpkin patches from some pumpkin-hunting; corn maze walking; animal watching, feeding and petting, followed by pumpkin carving at home. A good time was had by all.

Julian checks a little pumpkin out 10/19/08 Ava takes a break from hauling her pumpkin around to smile for mommy 10/19/08 Finding their way out of the corn maze 10/19/08
Ava gets to work scooping out the pumpkin guts 10/19/08 So slimy 10/19/08 Julian gnaws on some raw pumpkin seeds 10/19/08
Jody and the kids during the pumpkin carving 10/19/08 Mommy sneaks in for a pic with her boy 10/19/08 And one more with both kiddos 10/19/08

And lastly, my choice – punkins holding pumpkins – for Best Shot Monday:
A couple of happy punkins 10/19/08

See what everyone else is up to for Best Shot Monday.

Back from the zoo

Call me crazy, but yesterday I took the two kiddos to the zoo – by myself. It was free admission and seemed like the perfect excuse to get my homebody butt out of the house and give the kids something fun to see. After hearing Ava’s reaction when I asked if she’d be interested in going to the zoo, there was no turning back.

I wasn’t sure how Julian would do with walking the whole time, but I didn’t want to cart a stroller around either since I knew I’d just have to hold him up to see the animals anyway, so I put him on my back in the Ergo for about the first 30 minutes and he was totally fine with that. After I took him down to change his diaper, I let him walk, and, surprisingly, he held hands with Ava and/or stayed by us most of the time. He only took off running once or twice and was easily corralled.

The only time there were tears during the outing was when I told Ava she could not have cotton candy (despite the fact that other kids were having it). We did, however, all share a couple of ice cream cones before we headed back home and that, she told me in the car, was her favorite part! Who needs exotic animals when you’ve got ice cream? ;oP She later told me that seeing all of the animals AND the ice cream were all her favorite parts. I guess she wanted to make sure there will be future visits to the zoo. 😉

A&J walking around at the zoo - 10/07/08 Posing with our elephant friend 10/7/08 J doing some animal watching 10/7/08 Feeding time for the penguins 10/7/08