Sunday, September 30, 2012

Upcycling Sunday

Upcycling def. the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

One of my major goals with living a simpler life, is to clear some of the 'stuff' out of our home. I don't think I have it in me to become a strict minimalist, but less clutter and more space in our snug little home would be a good thing.

I'd love to start a weekly feature tracking the items that I am able to 'upcycle' to a new home each week, whether it be through Freecyle, selling, gifting or donating.

If you are unfamiliar with Freecycle, check out my link ... I just love this organization, and they seem to be growing rapidly. I really find Craig's List to be another good place to either sell or give away items, as well as Diaper Swappers, for diapers, children and baby items and clothes, and some mama items (such as maternity wear and nursing items).

I gave away a stack of pre-fold diapers, through Diaper Swappers ...

 ... and a stack of covers,

 ... and this changing mat,

  ... and this cover! All of the above were gifted to me by someone through Freecycle, and I just wasn't using them. This was a great way to find them a new home where they'll get used!

Speaking of Freecycle, I found new homes for two lamps that weren't being used.

A good week!

And what about you? What were you able to Upcycle this week?

What are you Upcycling this week?

1. Please enter the direct link to your Upcycling Sunday blog post in the Linky tool below. If you don’t have a blog but still have something to share, feel free to add it to the comments.
2. Be sure to come back and read others’ links.
3. Check back next week to link up again!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Simple Moment

Sometimes it really is about the simple moments!

What have been the simple moments in your day to day life recently? I'd love to hear from you; I invite you to either post a link or just leave a comment, sharing your Simple Moment.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Goodnight Walk

On a recent evening, after our family meal, we loaded up the little ones into the stroller, and we headed out for a walk.

The evenings are starting to get a little cooler now, and it felt good to have the slightest of nips in the air. The Little Guy raced down the sidewalk ahead of us, stopping only to check out some mushrooms that have suddenly started growing in a neighbors yard. We all stopped to look at them, and wonder where they came from, and so suddenly too. None of us could remember seeing them yesterday, and yet there they were - well established mushrooms!

We decided that we would stop by a local playground, really not much more than a 'tot lot'; I offered five minutes for The Little Guy to play on the slide and climbing frame there, but he sighed, and negotiated for two minutes! I agreed, and still let him play for five!

Onward! There was a lovely bright half moon, and we all took turns to say "Hello Mr Moon!", and commented on how luminous it was, how close it seemed. The Little Guy and My Good Man trecked off on a mushroom hunt ("We're going on a mushroom hunt, a mushroom hunt, a mushroom hunt" they chanted), while I brought up the rear with the littles in the stroller.

"It's like we're on a goodnight walk" said The Little Guy. "Maybe we should walk alllll night!"  Two minutes later, his energy started to sag, and we looked for a little pathway we remembered that would lead us back in the direction of home.

Traipsing down pathways, cut through the landscaping behind neighborhood homes, we looked for rabbits and more mushrooms, but found neither.

By the time we got closer to home, The Little Guy had gone from alternating between walking and scampering on ahead, to asking to be carried the rest of the way. Nearly home, and we ran into a neighbor, someone we hadn't seen in well over a year; hugs and exclamations all round. Good news shared from all, and the Littles got cooed over.

The last stretch ... we stopped to look at the mushrooms int he neighbor's yard one last time. They were still there! And home; each of us were a little colder than we had prepared for. Into the house, door locked. Lamps and pajamas on.

A goodnight walk!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Saucing

A couple of weeks ago, we went apple picking with friends and picked what I thought was quite a conservative amount of apples.

Of course, it is always good to have a bowl of apples on hand for eating, but at this time of year, I always like to take advantage of the seasonal surplus of apples with crockpot apple sauce.

I'm not even sure where I got this recipe, but it is the very essence of simplicity, tastes good whatever type of apple is used, and makes the home smell absolutely divine!

3 lbs of apples, peeled, cored and diced (it usually comes out to 10 large apples if you are averse to getting out your kitchen scales, as I usually am)
1/2 cup of apple juice (although I have also used water in a pinch, and cherry cider too!)
1/4 cup of sugar, maple syrup, honey, sweetener of your choice (you can use more, or less, depending on how sweet you prefer your applesauce)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice

Just mix it all up in your crock pot and cook on low for about 8 hours. You will know it's ready when the sauce breaks up easily as it is stirred; and your home will smell amazing!

At this time of year I always like to keep a batch in the fridge for snacking or as a topping for oatmeal, but I also make sure that we put plenty in the freezer too. Yum!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On my pins

I've been somewhat neglectful of my knitting projects over the past couple of months ... I dug my knitting bag out a couple of weeks ago, and found three long-forgotten projects still on my needles.

One was a mobius cowl that was about half done. (I followed this lovely pattern from The Purl Bee.)

Then there was the door snake that I started knitting two winters ago; I initially started this one when I was first pregnant with my two littles ... in the winter of 2010! Nearly finished, it just needs to stuffed and tied off.

And lastly, a simple scarf, that honestly I've been working on and off with for as long as I can remember. (This was so boring, that I took the project off the needles, and used the yarn to make knitted string to hang art from. Much more exciting ;-)

Now, I love knitting ... curling up for an evening, or a few quiet moments throughout the day. But I realised at I looked at these three projects, that I wasn't working on them because they were ... well, they were boring!  There was no stitch counting, no challenge, nothing to break up the monotony, it was just knit knit knit ...

So - a challenge was in order!

I've been interested in more wool for my Little Ones for a while, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. A pair of woolen Longies was in order!

I found a sweet pattern online at Tiny Birds Organics and started just over a week ago. I'll admit that I was a little nervous at first (more like terrified!).  I was using a smaller needle than I was used to, and real wool yarn, and a real pattern that involved more instruction than the occasion purled line.

But so far these are knitting up like a dream. Can't wait for them to be finished!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Autumnal Tableau

For special occasions I like to set up little displays for the family to discover, or as my 4 year old son exclaims, "Look what the gnomes have been doing!"

For the Autumnal Equinox over the weekend, I made these wool felted acorns and Fall Gnomes. The gnomes were just so easy to make, I really think my four year old could make one - and don't they look sweet?! I found the directions for these over here at the Carrie Logic website - check them out :-)

The acorns were another sweet and easy project. I collected little acorn caps while we were out on our walks (honestly, I think I collected dozens and dozens of them ... and now I'm dreaming up all of the fun things we can do with the ones I have left over after this project!)

To make the little hanging acorns, I started out with a little tuft of wool roving. (This is carded wool; I get mine from Sage Dream Design). I measured out my tuft to be about as long as my pinky finger!

Wrap it around your pinky finger.

Then carefully slide it off, and begin to gentle prick it with your felting needle. (A felting needle is a super-duper sharp needle, with little barbed hooks. These tangle the wool when it is pricked, and make the wool more dense, and matted. Felting needles are SHARP ... please use carefully!)

Start gently pricking all over with your needle, while keeping your little ball in a somewhat spherical shape.

Keep pricking, as it becomes denser and tighter. See the difference between the picture above and the picture below?

I made five little wool roving balls. (There are five of us in the family, so I made five acorns!)

Then I matched up wool balls to acorn caps.

I used my (new) hot glue gun to glue the wool roving ball into the acorn cap (no action shots ... I'm still learning how to use a hot glue gun, and am not feeling comfortable enough to mutli task with it).

 I cut five shortish lengths of ribbon (about two inches), and glued them into a loop.

Finally, I glued a little ribbon loop onto the top of each acorn.

And there you go! So simple :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Nature Shelf! {week 4, September 2012}

I'm a little in love with the additions to this week's Nature Shelf!

For the forth week in the nature table monthly cycle, we're adding a human element ... which in our case usually means gnomes or pixies or fairies. Because that's just the way we roll around here!

The two little wooden figures made their way to the Nature Shelf a couple of days ago, but I made the little nut cap man last week and tucked him onto the shelf last night; he was just so wonderfully easy to make too! His body is a pipe cleaner, with a wooden bead head and then a simple little felt tunic and an acorn top hat ... and he's just the right size too! So sweet!

I think we'll be seeing more of these little pipecleaner bendy men in the future!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn, Good Morning!

I really love this time of year, the sudden slide from hot and lazy summer, to the bright coolness of Fall!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Living Simply

This blog used to be called Crunchy in the 'Burbs. When I first started writing this a couple of years ago, that was my main focus. It was really important for my family to live a 'crunchy' lifestyle (organic foods, to live with a light environmental step, as consciously as possible).

Which is wonderful ... but over the course of the past two years, life here in the CrunchyBurbs home has seen some significant changes, namely two new little ones, our twins Baby Girl and My Little Boy.

Life went from busy to just flat out crazed with occasional dips into merely hectic.

Our focus slowly, slowly went from living as organically as possible to just living.  And then, I found that for our little family, the key to our success was to live as Simply as possible.

For us that means letting go of stuff, both physical and emotional, slowing down, more love, less drama.

So, we turned off the television, gave away a lot of stuff (toys and clutter), we take more walks, and do more craft projects. We bake and cook more, and heat and eat less. We go to fewer kid's classes, but spend more time poking around in the garden.  We spend less time in the car, and more time just hanging out.

My days are still busy, but I'm more likely to be worn out from building playsilk forts than chasing little ones around the mall.

So here we are, Simply ... in the 'Burbs!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A little sunshine

Sometimes it really is that simple ... all we need is a little sunshine!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So much ...

If I had to list my roles I would have to start out with

1. mama, and
2. wife

Then there would be

3. work-at-home-mama
4. homemaker (cook, cleaner, bottle-washer!)

But, somewhere in my list of roles, I would have to add

8. Ridder-of-stuff

We live pretty frugally and I don't buy a lot of 'stuff'. Gone are the days when we would go to our local Target store just to see what was there, and invariably come home with bags of stuff that we never knew we needed!

These days we are a cozy family of five living in a pretty small house, and there are times that I feel we are just drowning in 'stuff'. Despite my best intentions, and the nearly constant flow of things leaving the house (whether it be through selling items, giving them away or freecycling), we just have so much 'stuff' left to live with.

I'm rather envious of friend's homes that are less cluttered than mine. Did they collect less? Give more away?

Or do they just have better storage than me?!

For now though, I'll just continue with my role, as the family's Ridder-of-stuff.

What are your favorite ways to find new homes for your no-longer-needed stuff?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Early morning

I've always been an early riser; I love the anticipation of a new day, the clean slate of looking at the day ahead.

Mug of tea at my elbow, I'm stealing a few minutes to knit, to prepare myself for the day ahead, to breath deeply, and look ahead with anticipation. Yes! - always anticipation!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Nature Shelf! (September 2012, week 3)

If this week's Nature Shelf had a theme, it would have to be 'preparation is key'.

Somehow the idea that I would have to do something to be ready for the new week, and adding an item representing the animal kingdom, totally escaped me, until I found myself scrambling at the last minute. Not good.

But I found a couple of sweet little birds that I had tucked away, and made a little nest out of some wool roving ... and there we have it; birds in a nest.  Which is really more spring-like, than representative of approaching Fall, but it's something at least!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Diggin' and Pickin'

One of my favorite harvest of the year was just a couple of weeks ago ... potatoes!

There is something so immensely satisfying about this harvest! It really does seem as though you are digging up an empty field; and then - "Look! Potatoes!!"

Despite our best intentions, we harvested enough to last a year (I may not be exaggerating!) Thank goodness we all like potatoes :-)

And somehow, despite all our years gardening and visiting self-pick farms, digging and growing and harvesting, we had never picked apples, a situation we have now remedied twice in just the past couple of weeks.

Sometimes it's hard to decide just which variety is your favorite, so it's good to try a couple!

Now to find new recipes for potatoes and apples ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Nature Shelf! {September 2012, week 2}

My little Nature Shelf is taking shape!

In the Waldorf tradition, your Nature Table should reflect the seasonal changes in your natural environment. For us here in Virginia, that means the first inklings of Fall are in the air.

The Nature Table is changed each month, with little additions made each week.

In week 1, along with your basics (home dyed playsilks and, for me, a gingerbread (gnome!) house we made a couple of months ago) you add items from the mineral world. I used some tumbled Crystals.

For week 2, you would add items to reflect the plant, and natural world. I added a blue playsilk and some pinecones and seed pods that we've collected on recent walks.

Next week, for week 3, I'll be adding a representative from the animal world.

And for the fourth week of the month, something from the human, or magical world (I like to add gnomes!)

But, really, my favorite part of the Nature Shelf is making the small changes and additions for the week, and then letting my four year old, The Little Guy, discover it. "Oh - look, Mama! Look what the gnomes did to the Nature Shelf!" Truly, it is the stuff that childhood dreams and flights of fancy are made of!

I'll be posting updates of our Nature Shelves ... I can't wait to see what the gnomes do next ;-)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Nature Shelf! {September 2012, week 1}

We have always known that we wanted to homeschool our little ones ... it may not be for family, but it has just felt right for us.

But, once the decision has been made to homeschool, the next question is ... 'what kind of homeschooling'?! From unschooling, to strict 'school' type learning, we've bounced around a little finding, what we hope, is the right homeschooling fit for us.

Now, I'll admit that when I first stumbled across Waldorf as a fledgling Montessori teacher it seemed ... odd! Now that I have my own little brood, it seems nothing less than perfect; just the perfect way to learn and be allowed to develop and explore.

One of the aspects of Waldorf that really appeals to me is the aspect of bringing a little bit of nature closer to every day life ... a Nature Table!

Now, we live in a small house, with five people, a cat and lots and lots of stuff (although we are minimizing our stuff-load significantly!), and two of the people living in our house are ten month old 'littles' who are still trying to eat everything!  A table seemed too risky, and too much investment in terms of such a precious commodity - space!

So rather than a Nature Table, we are fashioning a Nature Shelf!

There are lots and lots of great articles and books on Nature Tables in the Waldorf tradition, and it's easy to be overwhelmed by how much time, money, effort and skill is put into them. If you're like me, one can be easily deterred when seeing how perfectly someone else seems to bake/decorate/educate/parent (fill in the blank!)

So this is my attempt to show just how easily it can be done, with little effort, time, money or skills! Hopefully!!

 And just in case you thought I might have been misleading you when I said it was a Nature Shelf, here is the shelf of the bookcase we are using! Junk on the top shelf (hmm ... this photo is inspiring me to take care of that - pronto!), homeschooling books on the next, and three bottom shelves of toys and playsilks are sandwiching our Nature Shelf! Nothing fancy here folks; but it's beautiful, and we're loving it!