Monday, May 31, 2010

Birds of a Feather

I started a new creative hobby this week. 
You know, with all my spare time and all.
My sweet friend, Allison, gave me this book for my birthday, and I haven't been able to put it down:

Al originally thought it was full of patterns to make items out of store-bought felt, like the little wallets that I have made for my nieces and other special ladies. Boy, was she wrong... and boy, am I so glad!  I "felt" in love with this new art the minute I opened the book.  

As I thumbed through the pages, making a list of tools and materials that I would need and that I was so sure Chris would be ecstatic for me to purchase and store in the house, my eyes fell to what I knew would be my first project: a sweet bird mobile for a new baby. Looked simple yet impressive enough that a novice like me couldn't mess up. I got myself to Joann's as hurriedly as I could and nearly fell out at how expensive a quarter of an ounce of roving was going to cost, and I needed a lot more than that. I was a bit discouraged that my new hobby was over before it began because I couldn't afford it. Sad day in the life of a stay-at-home-crafting-to-keep-sane-because-I-live-in-the-woods-and-camp-is-starting-mama. And now I wouldn't be able to make my mobile. Stink.

I pulled myself out of that close call with defeat and went home to do some more research online. Apparently, I am not the only one intrigued with this creative outlet as there were many, many websites and resources. And that's when I found these fine folks, Living Felt. I quickly and easily found what I wanted and needed to get started at extremely fair prices. I spent about $30 and got a lot of variety of wool and colors...where at J's it would have cost me almost three times that for the same amount. Not to mention my order was shipped that same day with a sweet hand-written note from the company. And then, just today, I got an email from them checking in to make sure I am enjoying my order and lending their assistance if I have any questions. They are good people, making sure they provide folks with the best product from humane practices. The only thing that could make them better is if they were local and I could support my community. I will definitely continue to order from them...

Let me back up a minute... for folks who may not know what "felting" is, because I honestly had no idea before seeing this new book, here's the rundown: It's taking raw wool called roving, dyed or natural in color, and forming it into shapes, three-dimensional or large sheets. 


There are two types: needle felting and wet felting, respectively.  I have only tried needle felting with my first project and I think I'm already attached, it may be a while before I try the wet felting. With the needle you are simply rearranging the wool fibers, interweaving them with themselves, into whatever shape you want them to be. It's repetitive and mindless once you get going, which makes it all the more wonderful.

In my first project, the chosen shape was a sweet little bird, with several spheres:


This little bluebird is a part of a bird family that is now living in my cousin Kristen's nursery for her sweet baby, Easton.  I wanted to do something unique and handmade for them and when she told me that they were doing the nursery in a "natural and earthy" theme, I knew this would be simply perfect:






I love how it turned out, especially for my first try at felting! 
Poor Noah, his mama got all domesticated after his nursery was done. And now I only have time to make things for other people. Maybe this summer, buddy...

If anyone is interested or in the market for a mobile for a baby gift or yourself, let me know. I would love to create one for you for a fair price. They are just that fun to make...

And for your viewing pleasure, a few photos of the photographer:

                           
                           

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fair Warning

Warning: I am about to try out my hippie crystal for the first time in the hot Florida sun. Now we will really put it to the test. It's worked so far in hot and sticky situations (literally) but it could meet it's match with the southern heat. Let's have faith and hope not.
I will conjur up the hippie spirits to be with me and my armpits this afternoon.

But just in case they aren't listening, I will go ahead and apologize in advance to any family or friends in my close proximity if it fails miserably.

Consider this your first and final warning.

Bring it, Florida.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sudsy

In the spirit of homemade and crafting, I just finished my first batch of chlorine and bleach-free laundry detergent. Mostly I thought it would be entertaining and something to fill my creative itch, but hello, affordable. I will explain cost-effectiveness in more detail in a moment, but the ten gallon yield of suds would cost around eighty dollars, conservatively, if using ready-made detergent.
Yes, sign me up please. Twice.
Ingredients: Borax, Washing Soda, Fels-Naptha Soap, Water
Top to right: Melting Fels-Naptha, Stirring in Borax & Washing Soda, Finished Product (thickens overnight)
Love it. And it works... even on poopy cloth diapers.
I will have to say that I am a little embarrassed about where I found the recipe... You know the family on TLC that has a bajillion children and counting? Yes, I admit, I swiped this recipe from their family website. Probably the only thing that I will "borrow" from their approach at life, but for the soap, I am thankful.

So here is the cost breakdown:
20 Mule Team Borax                                            $6.75
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda         $3.79
Fels-Naptha Soap                                                  $.99
5 Gallon Bucket w/ Lid                                          $4.00
Essential Oil (optional)                                          $7.00
Water                                                                     FREE
________________________________________________
10 Gallons of Laundry Suds                                $22.53

So when you compare that each gallon costs about $2.25 each of homemade suds versus most basic suds (conservatively) range anywhere from $6-14 for the same amount of soap. Also, it's natural and "free & clear" as far as chlorine and bleaches are concerned.  I win.  And the only thing that I will have to buy more of each time, for a while, is the Fels-Naptha soap. The other ingredients will last several batches...but it will take me a while to even go through the first batch, and we do a ton of laundry around here! I win again.

Chris questions why we use soap at all after listening to the folks on NPR tell us that it's unnecessary, it only makes your clothes smell good. If you don't mind the smell of water, suds are just bonus.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Face I Love to Live For

And live to love for.
Captain Noah Greenbeard.
He doesn't really like avocados, but he sure does make them look good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Down County Road 876

"As you come to Him, the living Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him-you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." -1 Peter 2:4-5

Good things are happening at Camp Living Stones. Other than the fact that my brother and dear friends live/work there and that's awesome enough, they have completed and now dedicated their brand spanking new chapel. And it is breathtaking. The Ford fam ventured out Saturday afternoon for the celebration with other friends and family of the camp.

You see, CLS has a unique mission and "style" of camping. First off, it is a family-owned and managed operation, dreamed up by the Smeltzer family several years ago. Their first summer with campers was in 1998 and I believe at that time there were three buildings total ( give or take a few, correct me if I am wrong).  Part of the deal is that the students who come with the church groups get to lend their hands and hard work at a mission project, usually involving construction or camp beautification. I was there in the summer of 2000 when they put the walls on the dining hall. When I got there it was just a concrete foundation...one week later the walls were in place. It is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I've ever been, and I've been to many camps. Many others pale in comparison, and to think, the majority of the work has been done by teenagers and their leaders. Amazing.  My parents have lent their skills as well - my dad on the chapel, library, cabins...my mom in the kitchen and other projects around camp. It's quite incredible to love, sweat, and tears that have been poured into this place. How many places can you go and say "I helped build that"... not many, right? Unless you are Bob the Builder or something...

I learned the other day from Mama Smeltzer that there is a man at their church who repeatedly reminds them, since they started, that they are crazy for doing what they do. And in most cases, it probably sounded like a pipe dream. But these people have heart, have hope, have faith in the promises of Jesus and his grace. They would be one shade shy of insanity if they were going at it alone, but their faith is so big it envelopes you when you share in conversation and laughter with them. You feel like you're at home, like your presence is appreciated, like you're part of the family. 

I am proud to be a part of their extended family and honored to share in their mighty blessings. Here's to you, Camp Living Stones, for twelve years of ministry and many more to come.

"Blessed are those who hunger 
and thirst for righteousness,  
because they will be filled."

Holy Cow: Part One

Ask and you shall receive, right?
Well, we received alright. A swift kick in the reality rear, delivered by:
Holy cow. 
If you haven't seen it, you need to. Not so you can jump on some radical activist bandwagon or become president of PETA, rather so you can be informed, for your health and your family's health. How do we, as a country on the whole, not know or care what we put in our bodies at least three times a day, every single day? Blows my mind. 
Here are a few things the film has me thinking about:
  • Did you know that there is ammonia in most of the beef you consume? Yes, a "meat filler" is doused in ammonia and then added to the beef to help reduce the risk of E.coli.  And why is there a rise (73,000 cases in 2007) in E.coli ? Because the cows are overcrowded into small confinements where they spend most of their time "knee deep" in their own waste, are corn-fed, not grass-fed, which increases the risk of the virus because their digestive systems aren't producing what it needs to fight off the bacteria. Nice.
  • Corn is in everything. EVERYTHING. Thirty percent of the land in the United States is used for mass corn production. Corn products include, but not limited to: ketchup, cheese, Twinkies, batteries, peanut butter, Cheez-Its, salad dressings, Coke, jelly, Sweet & Low, syrup, juice,
    Kool-Aid, charcoal, diapers, Motrin, meat and fast food.
    Even better.
  • Seventy percent of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient. There are approximately 47,000 products found in an American supermarket, most of which are made by a few companies. Awesome.
  • In the largest slaughter house in the country located in North Carolina, 32,000 pigs are sent to their death each day. EACH DAY. Most of the workers there are immigrants from Mexico that are bussed in daily from a 100-mile radius...and the company has an agreement with the government to turn them over for immigration violations, fifteen per day. This is the thanks they get for slinging bacteria-ridden pork for you and me to consume for the past fifteen years. Sweet.
  • And this one absolutely makes my skin crawl: In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted only 9,164. In 1998, the USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E.coli 0157h7 so that if a plant repeatedly failed these tests, the USDA could
    shut down the plant. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA no longer has that power. Yep, that's right. Keep on cranking out that bacteria, big meat companies, we can't stop you. Are you kidding me?
  • How are the farmers fairing these days, being "owned" by the big man? The average chicken farmer invests over $500,000 and makes only $18,000 a year, making it next to impossible to break free from the "man". And that's only if their contracts aren't terminated for things like refusing to build chicken houses where the birds literally never see the light of day. Then what? Farming, the backbone of our country's short history quickly dies to mass-production meat and produce factories. Heartbreaking.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, a glimpse into all that the film uncovers that I believe everyone needs and deserves to know about. Once you have the facts, you can decide for yourself what you want to do about it, if anything at all, but don't we at least have the right to know? The film mentions that we are actually buying the processed foods at a much higher cost than the price that is being sold to us: the cost of our health.

As the title of this post mentions, this is Part One. Keep checking back for what Chris and I plan to do to change our habits and routine. I will tell you this much, I have been all over the web this morning researching local beef and chicken farms. After we consume what's in our fridge, as to not be wasteful, we will no longer turn a blind eye to the source of our meat. It will cost more financially, but so worth it in the long run.

I may not be able to have Bessie in the backyard, but I will come as close as I can. I can maybe finagle a chicken or two for fresh eggs...
As anyone semi-local interested in going in on a local, grass-fed heifer? They run about $600 - 800 for a whole cow, approximately $4/lb...

These facts are all taken from the Press Materials for the Food, Inc Movie, directed by Robert Kenner.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Other Side of the Lens: Part 2

"Here, mama. Let me help you clean that thing you're always sticking in my face."
"No. Not those..."
"There. All better."
See. I told ya'll he likes to clean.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chore Time

Apparently we are raising up a good one.
He loves chores...at seven months old!
Okay, maybe he just loves the appliance itself. One can hope.
And I am going to continue to hope because...confession: I abhor cleaning, housework, chores, and anything that resembles them. I don't like it. I don't find pleasure in it. It doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Relief from the clutter- maybe - but not the warm and fuzzies.
Simply, I am not good at it. And I don't like doing things that I am not good at (check back later for a post all about mediocrity). In the words of a friend, "I am not good at things I am not good at". Can I get an amen?
Let's all keep our fingers crossed that he gets his cleanliness gene from the other side of the family... or that it skips a generation.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bedtime Stories

We have been trying to establish a simple bedtime routine for littleford for a few weeks now. Well, I should say that we have been discussing what a good routine would look like: book time, song time, prayer time, brush teeth time, etc...in what order and what combination. We have seen bedtime routines that last for days and we would like to try and avoid that. Not that it's a negative thing, but see, we like our sleep. And we want him to like his as well. Or at least like ours.
It seems as though Noah has beat us to the punch. He says "to heck" with the run-of-the-mill bedtime stuff...he would much rather do this:



Yes, this is what he has started doing each night before bed, no matter how tired he is. I think he's delirious, but either way it's pretty entertaining. And gives me sweet dreams...
His daddy might like it, too.
A little bit.

I am so blessed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fruit of the Vine

We just collected our first  harvest (of hopefully many) of herbs from our growing garden! (Not to be confused with Second Harvest which is a part of Feeding America that strives to provide low-income and impoverished families with a chance for meals and nourishment where they would potentially be absent, right here in our own backyards.)
Our herbs are growing out of control, specifically the cilantro. Chris snipped a few sprigs and brought it right in and made some simply amazing, fresh salsa. It doesn't get much fresher than from your porch to your kitchen... Of course our tomatoes, for now, are canned, but by the end of summer we should be able to produce this delish recipe from all of our own ingredients (minus the spices).
 From top left: tomato, cilantro with basil, mint & rosemary, big bertha tomatoes with bell peppers...

We also have another type of growth happening in our little garden...baby birds! They have yet to hatch but we have been watching the mama and papa birds diligently building and protecting their nest. It is right outside of our front window so we can see them throughout the day. From what I can see there are six eggs inside, blue with brown speckles. I am not sure what type of bird, so if those eggs sound familiar to you, let me know...
Nest & eggs, if you look closely...

I tried to get a close up of the eggs - no go - mama/papa bird rushed out of the nest at my face and I squealed like a three year old. Noah was none too pleased with my shriek.

And now for the deliciousness that is the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa (her pictures are much prettier, but I am sure the salsa rendition is just as tasty):
 Chris has found my weak spot...fresh-made salsa. Holy yum.

Come see us this summer and we just might make you some. And then send you home with some because the recipe, shown halved, makes a butt-ton (actually used this word for "Unit of Measurement" in Scattergories...it counted, thank you very much).
Try it. You will never go back...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Fever

No, not expecting.
Not expecting to expect.
Well, maybe a tinge...but that's for another day.

Anyway. I wanted to share some more of my craftery.
I think I just made that up. See, I am crafty.
Here are a few things that I made for Zane Baby and his mama:
  Owl onesie for the little hoot.
Cute little owl guy...Noah has a matching yellow one.
Roll-up changing pad with matching pouch for diapers and wipes

I am pretty proud of myself and they seem to like them... when I say "they" I mean Heather, I don't think Zane is too picky. Yet.

And I can't remember if I put these on here or not, so here are a couple more of the felt wallets that I love to make. These bring me much joy:
  Yellow Bird & Yellow Peacock

These two have been surprise gifted in the past few days...maybe you are the lucky one?
I've been thinking about Etsy or something similar... any thoughts?
I also have thought about just making things and sending them randomly to people I like. I like myself when I do such things...possibly more than potential money in my pocket.
Hmm. Things to ponder.
We shall see...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Breast Choice

I get a weekly email from Babyfit's Natural Mother that is full of helpful and useful information on topics I can relate to: composting, activities for baby, organic choices, diapering, baby food, etc. Like any other advice and information, I take it with a grain of salt and usually do further research if there is something that catches my attention. I was rifling through emails that I haven't had a chance to sit long enough to give a thought to this morning and came across an article about "self-weaning". Now, I have vowed to myself and Noah that I will breastfeed him for at least a year and will begin to wean him after his first birthday, given that he doesn't wean himself first. I am not opposed to going longer, however, I think that beyond a year is just bonus nutrition and often an emotional need for baby and mama. I love to spend this time with little dude, but I can also imagine the freedom that must be unleashed when the baby no longer wants the boob. I am sure I will miss the bonding time, but I also don't want to prolong the inevitable, potentially making it even more emotional and damaging the older he gets.

Disclaimer
: I am not seeking approval or criticism, simply stating the way I feel about the topic of breastfeeding. If you choose to take the advice of what I am about to share, more power to you. You are an amazing and dedicated mama. For me, I could not fathom it.

As I mentioned, I received this article based on breastfeeding and self-weaning:


Self-Weaning

Self-weaning, or child-led weaning, describes the natural, gradual process that inevitably occurs when a child no longer has a nutritional or emotional need to nurse. Somewhere between the ages of two-and-a-half to four years, the child will begin to ask to nurse less and less often, gradually tapering off over a period of months until they are completely weaned.


Some people worry that, without a strong parental push to do so, their child will never wean. This worry is unfounded, however, for when children are allowed to follow their own weaning timetables, they all wean. According to Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, a professor of anthropology, "In societies where children are allowed to nurse ‘as long as they want', they usually self-wean, with no arguments or emotional trauma, between three and four years of age...The minimum predicted age for natural weaning is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7 years."


Holy cow. Literally.


I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around breastfeeding Noah for another two years beyond this, let alone until he's SEVEN! There is something about the thought of him getting off the bus from school and having mama's milk and cookies that doesn't quite sit right with me.
Crazy.

I will say that the "emotional trauma" of weaning is probably very tiring and terrifying for all parties involved, and I think there is truth to allowing the child to lead the way. I can assure you there will probably be many emotions spilled all over this blog about said subject in the future.But I also feel that there could be more psychological repercussions if a child nurses until he is in elementary school...I mean, he is old enough to have vivid memories and recollections by the age of four. Can you imagine the torment from other children if they knew? And what do you tell the kid...don't tell your friends that I nurse you to sleep at night? Then it potentially becomes a shameful occurrence, which launches into a whole separate ball of wax.

I hope to take an approach to mothering that is as natural and as non-traumatic as possible for Noah and potential other littlefords. I hope to try new things and be open-minded to new adventures. I hope to step outside of the box to show my family that I love them uniquely and immensely. I hope to tackle obstacles, big and small, as a team with Chris that will only grow and strengthen our relationship. I hope to teach my littleford(s) to make good choices and be individuals.


I hope and pray that Noah weans himself at a year or a little later.

I really hope and pray that he doesn't still "need" me in the above capacity until he's seven.

Lord, help us all if that's the case.

And for anyone who makes this choice, let me know how it works out for you.

And your little one.

And your little one fifteen years from now.




Like Father, Like Son?

Rubber ducky, you're the one.

But I think daddy makes bath time so much fun.
Sorry, little duck.
Maybe next time.

Footnote: Chris is clothed from the waist down in this photo, despite what your eyes may tell you. Summer isn't here yet, the white of the shorts matches that of his thighs.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Because I Love Him

This is what true love is made of, folks... pure entertainment in the privacy of your own bathroom.
Who needs dinner and a movie when you get to share your life with this guy?

video

Faces only a mama could love.
And me, too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Hidden Gem

Warning: If your knees weaken and stomach quivers at the topic of bodily functions and odors, please stop reading now.
You've been warned.

As I have mentioned before, Chris and I have been trying in the last couple of years to make good and healthy decisions for ourselves and our growing family. We are up for just about anything (if we can afford it) and will try most things at least once. For example: gardening, one-car family, cloth diapers, homemade baby food, etc... Well, when we lived in Carolina we became "regulars" at the Mast General Store downtown, specifically befriending the guy who works in the gear section. He's a nice guy - asks about Noah, where we are now, checks in on the latest adventure - super friendly.
Friendly enough to talk body odor and remedies. 
Time-before-last when we were there Chris started chatting with him about the new Burt's Bees line of deodorant that they had recently put out on display. Asking questions about if he's used it, what he thought of it, does it smell good... you know, the usual small talk with an almost stranger. Apparently he was not impressed with the deodorant, it didn't really work for him. So he starts on this mumbo jumbo about some magical crystal that you wet and rub under your arms... it lasts for a year with daily use and can be found at most grocery stores for around five bucks. I didn't really pay that much attention until he said how long it last for what it costs...because most of the time these sorts of things are a little more out there than I am willing to go. But when "saving money" is involved, my ears perk immediately.
So what did I do?
I went out and bought it.


It is my new favorite thing. Ever.
I've been using it for about three months and so far, so good. No stink, no stick, no residue.
Now, we are about to get into the heat of the summer and I make no promises about the condition of my underarms, however, I am not sure I will care. You see, not only does it work but it is clearly better for you than other deodorants - no fragrances, no aluminum, basically nothing that will clog your pores (which some believe the aluminum can cause cancer, hence the pink ribbon on the bottle). And supposedly you can use it on your feet, too.
All I am going to say is don't knock it until you try it. Because it works.
And I apologize in advance if I stink, but it's just my armpits shouting joyfully at their freedom.

Look into my crystal ball...

Monday, May 3, 2010

There Are No Words

I love Pandora. A lot. It plays for a couple of hours in our house on most days. We have a variety of "stations" created including Dave Matthews, David Crowder Band, Old Crow, etc. One of my tried and true happens to be Jack Johnson, and today I find myself in a Jack kind of mood.
Well, as you other Pandora users know, the station plays that artist as well as similar artists...and usually I like them. On most days I find a new artist to check out and add to my list.
Today is not one of those days.
Today I stumbled upon this little jewel by ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra):

The Womb
Little baby inside the womb
I wanna go back to my womb
I'm crawling up the canal back to the womb
I wanna go back to my womb

Nobody can bother me when I'm in my womb

Transitions can be tough
When your heart is torn
Sometimes you need to go
To a place that's dark and warm

Nobody can bother me when I'm in my womb
I got my posters on the wall and my stereo up inside my womb…
Back, back, back…
I'm getting closer to my womb…

What??????
Your guess is as good as mine...
Weirdest. Song. Ever.

Find me something weirder, I dare you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seven

I can hardly believe as I sit here and type that our little guy is seven months old today. Yikes.
Questions going through my brain:
Really?
How can that be?

Is this some sort of a silly prank?

Did I sleep through it?

Sleep...what's that?

Why do I not look as hot and fabulous as those famous gals who have seven month old babies...That's for another time, this place.


So another month brings on a plethora of new and completely adorable "tricks" that Noah has learned or acquired. With much deliberation I am sticking to the plan, carefully selecting seven of our favorites:

1. He has a pooping stance. And face. Holy hilarious. He typically assumes the position a couple of times in the morning, taking after his daddy (the time, not the position...I'd be concerned if Chris was on all fours with his head tilted down, almost touching the floor.). His face turns red. His eyes get all watery. He turns up the side of his mouth with a look of concern. So funny. And a nice diaper warning to boot.

2. Cantaloupe. He can't get enough. He grabs ahold of a slice with his chubby little hands and chows down like it's going out of style. If you don't replace his typewriter-looking eaten piece, he hollers out a high pitched request for MORE! Warning: Prepare to be doused in juices if holding baby while eating melons.

3. Noah has figured out the "I drop it and you pick it up a thousand times" game. I am pretty sure the picker-upper is on the losing end of this game every time. Even still, his subtle amazement is intriguing to me. He is a very curious little guy.

4. Little dude has a burning and growing passion for all things electronic. Not the crazy silly toys that light up and sing that parents pay big bucks for them to entertain their kid for a whole two minutes...no, he'd rather the remote control. Or your cell phone and camera even. He's not picky.

5. Our human garbage disposal has learned how to pick small pieces of food out of our hands or off of his tray and put them in his mouth. So exciting... he's not yet impressed with his own speed and gets a little cranky if the puff sticks to the back of his hands, but it's progress. We clap for him and say "yayyyy" and he gets this sheepish grin on his face. Preshfest.

6. He climbs. On everything. Anytime. Any place. It's ridiculous. I bet he spends more time standing than crawling or sitting. Makes baby-proofing all the more interesting with tile floors in every inch of our house.

7. Embrace it. We are a family who lives in the woods, the country, the sticks. I may be able to curb his use of "you'uns" and try to steer him away from the snuff/tobacco and moonshine, but the boy must learn to be true to his raisin'. Without further ado, I present to you, his first ride on a John Deere:

And I know for a fact it won't be the last.

So there it is, another month has come and gone. See you later, seven.
Memories are abundant and will last a lifetime despite times fleeting efforts to pass way too fast. Hold on to your britches, folks, eight is coming mighty quick.