Violet filling in the empty space

Posted in musings on April 26, 2013 by askthesky

Mama’s got laryngitis, so baby has taken it upon herself to fill in the emptiness…

Just call me Maria von Trapp

Posted in crafting, musings on March 8, 2013 by askthesky

Or, if you’re old school, Heather vonCraft, like that one weather bunny once did on the news.  That was so funny.

I made some car trash receptacles on Wednesday, the “snow” day.  It did snow, for five or six minutes, and my big kids got to really play in it for the first time ever.  Up until now, I couldn’t afford yearly snow pants and boots, so when the hand-me-downs dried up, so did the snow play.  That, and also we haven’t gotten any decent snow in Baltimore since the blizzard.  So that was fun.

In the meantime, encouraged by my hubbyhubbers, I took over the kitchen table to do some sewing whilst he cared for the youngest babychild.  Who, by the way, gets cuter by the nanosecond.  Proof, you say?  Oh, alright.  I’ll include a poorly shot cell phone video of my baby doing almost nothing and yet cracking me up, sure.

So anyway!  I made these trash cans for the car out of some fabric.  Danny’s was made out of the bottoms of the curtains that hang in our living room and bedroom (hence the title of this here posty-poo).  I just lopped them off and re-hemmed them when I bought them (from Target), and saved the bottoms, which were medium-weight cotton.  Not quite canvas, but tough and thicker than broadcloth.

Danny’s is in his car, so maybe I’ll update the post with a photo of that one later.  But!  I couldn’t wait to show you mine!  I’m totally gonna marry it.  Before:


Oh, dear.  That was AWFUL.



Now, if I could just vacuum the floor, it might be presentable.  I used this tutorial for the pattern, although I made a couple of changes to this second one- Danny’s version, I followed the pattern exactly, except I sewed the lining to the outer bag after pinning it (I think the author of the tutorial might have forgotten that, or maybe I didn’t copy it into my own directions- probably the latter).  This one, I pieced the two fabrics for the front, because I only had quarter yards (skinny ones, not fat quarters), and I love them together so very much.  These were from Hobby Lobby- sidenote: Hobby Lobby has cute fabric!  Who knew?

I also changed the inner liner on both of them.  The tutorial calls for Pellon, which I didn’t have, so I used cardboard for Danny’s liner, and a manilla folder for my own.  I would have used the light cardboard for both, but we don’t really eat much food that comes in those cereal-box-weight-boxes (which, AWESOME, but no boxes like that lying about).  The folder worked great, though, I just stapled it:



IMG_4034Now, I have to make one for the back seat, since the kids have an awful bag-on-the-floor, too…

I do still make things…

Posted in crafting, super fun for little one with tags , , , on March 1, 2013 by askthesky

Here’s a little  sampling of baby things I’ve made since I went on bed rest in October.

031This is my version of the Puerperium- here’s the details.

Baby in the sweater (I also did this bonnet, but no pattern- I just crocheted a T shape to fit her head, then seamed the back and added a little picot border.  I need a better photo of it, then I’ll add it to Ravelry):

IMG_3942A teeny, sparkly hat (this one no longer fits, but it was the only one that did fit for about 2 months…):

IMG_3758No pattern link for that, I just measured her head and my gauge and winged it.  It’s handy to have the baby attached to you at all times for this method of hat (or any garment) making.

On to booties! Details here.



More recently, I’ve done this hat, from my own Mission Hat pattern.  It’s gotten loads of compliments, I just love this design.

IMG_3982I’m still using my old stash Mission Falls cotton for these, but I’m running out of color combos I enjoy… the company went out of business recently who made this yarn.  I’ve found blue sky alpacas organic cotton to be nice for these, but it’s definitely bigger, even though it’s technically worsted.  I had to adjust my needle size and change the pattern a little to get a similar result.  Still working on editing the pattern to include these changes.




Kindness instead of fairness

Posted in crafting, musings on February 27, 2013 by askthesky

This week in church, we’re reading the Parable of the Prodigal Son.  You’re probably somewhat familiar with it- the younger son asks for his inheritance early, the father grants this request, and the younger son bounds off and wastes it all on extravagant living.  The older son meanwhile, stays behind and works obediently for his father.  When the younger son returns, he’s greeted by a father overcome with joy, who then plans a huge feast in his honor.  You can almost see the older son sulking in a corner at this party, right?  He’s pissed, and rightfully so.  But I was reading on another site that what we don’t usually focus on is the issue of fairness vs. kindness (love).  The father would have treated the younger son differently if he was being fair, but clearly he was blinded by love.  Showering his son in a welcome that only a parent could give.

Then, this morning, I read this post by Abby Glassenberg about those idiots (sorry, patrons) who come to your booth at the craft fair and loudly proclaim to their friend, “Carrrrrol, you could TOTALLY make this for like ONE PENNY.  Can you believe they want $34 for this?!?!” as you quietly plot their deaths via random craft implements you’re holding.  Seriously, after a whole day of people like this, it can feel that extreme.  So, the post hit home with me.  The problem I’m having is that the would-be copycats don’t have any interest in actually DOING the thing I’m doing.  They will not go home and meticulously copy my design- they’ll likely never think of me or my product again.  So why confront them?  How would I do it with kindness and love rather than seeming like some sort of superhero of defensiveness?

No, really, I’m asking.

Good things

Posted in musings with tags , , on February 25, 2013 by askthesky

So many good things, and today I choose to focus on them instead of how very, very much I would love to have more than 5 hours of sleep in one stretch.

  • Violet Ruth was baptized at our church (the one where we met, the one where I work), and I was unprepared for how much of a difference that would make.  I got choked up, Mark got a little choked up, and many members commented that they felt lucky to be a part of it.  Plus, she was super-adorbs:



I just love that photo of my nephew leaning in to kiss “his” baby.  😉


  • I recently spent some sweet Amazon gift cards on a Project Life kit (watch the video over there, it’s too cute).  I’m pretty jazzed about this concept, as a former scrapbooker who got burnt out and nearly went to the poorhouse.  I like the simplicity (and lower cost!) of this system.  I ordered my first round of prints from Costco, and as soon as they come, I’ll have Sage help me add them to the binder.  
  • Some crafty Baltimore friends of mine are opening a cool shop/studio space in Highlandtown called Baltimore Threadquarters.  If you support the fiber arts in this town, and have some pocket change to donate, you can visit the link to check out their Indiegogo site.
  • Along similar lines, my friend Chris has opened a new retail/studio space above the best yarn shop EVAH.  She’s got all sorts of lovely things, including many awesome buttons, which I stocked up on, but also fleece, roving, spinning supplies, finished knitted and crocheted work, and size OMG crochet hooks.  And take my word for it, they are ZOMG big.  Sage and I had a delightful time visiting on opening day this past Saturday.  Check it out next time you’re in Hampden.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Violet Ruth!

Posted in musings on February 14, 2013 by askthesky


Violet Ruth, 11-22-12, 4 pounds 12 ounces

Posted in life in general on February 11, 2013 by askthesky

IMG_3764 IMG_3749 IMG_3787 IMG_3830 IMG_3875

How can I eat Paleo/Primal on a budget?

Posted in gfcf diet, primal cooking with tags , , on June 10, 2012 by askthesky

This is the question that everyone I know has been asking me lately.  I get it, you guys. The kind of meat and veg we think is best to eat is more expensive than their conventional counterparts.  I have a family of four (soon to be five!), a part-time job at a non-profit, and my husband is a public school teacher.  We don’t have money coming out of our ears, at all.  But, I’ll begin with the phrase that has become a sort of mantra for me, when it comes to this issue:

If your health, and that of your family, is not important enough to spend your money on, what is?  Food is fuel for your body.  If you put crap (pesticides, additives, preservatives, grains, sugar) in your tank, you will get crap (illness, fatigue, skin conditions, headaches) as your output.  

So, assuming this fact as our guiding principle, let us begin.  I have some practical suggestions to help you, some of which relate directly to saving money, and some indirectly related.

Things you can do asap to make a difference in your wallet:

1.  Invest in a separate deep freezer.  This might not make sense right off the bat, but if you invest some hard-earned savings in a deep freezer, you will be able to buy your meat in bulk- as an example, the grassfed beef I buy from Hedgeapple costs $5.95 per pound.  When I buy the 21-pound box, though, the price per pound drops to about $4.25 per pound.  My other source for grassfed meats, US Wellness, also gives quantity discounts.  You can take full advantage of sales when you have somewhere to store all that meat.

The second advantage to having a deep freezer is that it allows you to be able to create your own “convenience” foods.  We all have busy schedules, at least at some point or another.  If you’ve got a place to put them, it’s easy to make double your dinner for foods that freeze well (meatloaf, meatballs, stews, soups) so that you’ve got something to pull out on a busy evening, rather than stopping somewhere for bun-less burgers or Chipotle.  You can also freeze your homegrown produce when you’ve got a deep freezer, everything from shredded zucchini to tomato sauce.  Save up and invest in a good one.

2.  Join a CSA.  Community Supported Agriculture is the best way to save money on organic produce, but it also accomplishes other awesome things- it forces you to flex your creative muscles in the kitchen (kohlrabi, anyone?), makes it easy to eat in season for your geographical location, and it supports local farmers.  You’ll definitely save money in the long run, but again, you’ll have to plan ahead, as you pay for the whole growing season at once (some big farms offer payment plans, though, and don’t be afraid to ask!  Farmers are such nice people!).  I also get my eggs from a local farmer, and although it’s not a csa setup (yet), it’s a friend of my mother’s who raises the eggs, and since I’ve been such a loyal and high-volume customer, she gives me a price break.  I pay only $2.50 per dozen for foraging, free-range, cage-free eggs.  At Trader Joe’s, which is the next cheapest I’ve found, similar eggs (which have likely sat around on a truck and in a warehouse for a lot longer) cost $4.50 per dozen.

To find a CSA near you, visit Local Harvest.  *See item number 3 for more info on how to make a CSA work for you.

3.  Spend one afternoon (or several evenings) each week doing a big cook-up.  This one is indirect.  Once you’ve got all this lovely produce and meat, you’ve got to process it.  When you let things sit in the fridge, growing ever drier and browner by the second, you’re basically flushing that hard-earned money you spent down the drain.  Don’t do it!  Now, I’m lucky.  I know this.  I have two weekdays off a week, plus Saturdays.  It isn’t difficult (usually) to make time to cook.  But, going to back to our mantra, if you don’t think cooking healthy fuel is a good use of your time, then I’m not sure what is worth your time.  If you turn off the TV, shut the laptop, and just get in the kitchen, you’ll find that your time investment is well-rewarded.

The trick to making a three-hour cooking session work is having a plan, then working your plan.  I’m in the middle of a big cook-up as I’m writing this post.  I started at 12:30, it’s now 3:30.  In that time, I washed and cut four quarts of strawberries, pureed them, and made them into Strawberry Banana muffins (with coconut flour).  The rest of the puree went into the freezer, to be used later.  I also baked four pieces of lemon butter flounder in the oven.  Then, I washed and tore two huge bunches of kale.  Since I had the salad spinner out, I went ahead and washed and tore a head of green leaf lettuce and two bunches of spinach, then stored them wrapped in paper towels inside ziploc bags in the fridge.  Next, I seasoned two pounds of ground pork for italian sausage.  Half of that became patties that I sauteed for tonight’s dinner.  The rest went in to be browned for the kale.  The kale is bubbling away on the stove now, and I’m halfway through cutting up a bag of celery.  Next I’ll move to carrots (these are for lunch prep for the week).  Last, I think I’ll steam some broccoli to go with the fish.  I could have done more in the oven, like roasted some sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, but I already had some in the fridge, so I skipped that.  I hope you see my point, though- you can get SO MUCH DONE in the kitchen in three hours!  Let your kids and significant other help- they’ll be  much more likely to eat things that they helped make.

4.  Stick to this meal-making formula: Protein + Veg + Veg.  The best way to cook paleo, especially at the beginning, is to follow this formula.  When you try to duplicate a lot of old favorites, you usually end up baking too much.  Almond flour, while very nutritious, and certainly delicious, is exorbitantly expensive.   Save the treats for once or twice a month, rather than once or twice a week, and your pocketbook (and waistline) will thank you.  Cook up your main dishes ahead of time (see #3: cook-up, above), and prep your veggies so they’re ready to saute, steam, or roast right when you walk in the door from work.  If you’re a family who always ate dessert before, indulge in some beautiful, in-season fruit with coconut cream instead.  Which brings us to our last tip…

5.  Amazon’s Subscription program.  Just so you know, I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so I’m not making any money by telling you about this program.  I just am a happy user, and want to share.  Now, you can’t get organic produce and grassfed meat here, but you can get coconut oil, coconut cream, coconut flour, maple syrup, Larabars, and tons more.  The trick is, you have to know how much you use those things before you subscribe, but this can be figured out and written down, and then acted on later.  Every little bit you save is worth it!

6.  Break out of your comfort zone.  If you’ve gone to the trouble to buy a pastured, local chicken, why would you ever throw out the giblets?  That package of grassfed beef liver in the case at the farm that’s priced way cheaper than any other cut?  It might as well be solid gold, nutritionally.  Eating offal (organ meat) is the best bang for your buck, again, nutrition-wise.  One really easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet is to grind them together with other meats.  Then, you’re making that pound of ground beef go a little further, and getting all the great benefits the organ meat as well.  My favorite way to do this is with liver and beef, and make meatloaf with the mixture.  My family likes it, and it’s easier on the pocketbook.  Win-win!

I hope these tips help, happy cooking!


Yummiest. Burgers. Ever.

Posted in gfcf diet, life in general, primal cooking with tags , on May 29, 2012 by askthesky

No photo, sadly, due to the speed with which my family inhaled them.


1 pound pastured ground beef (locals, get some here, others, here)

1 pound happy life ground pork

3 TBS Penzey’s Greek seasoning

Mix it all up, form into patties, make a little indentation with your thumb in the center (keeps them from puffing up on the grill), and grill carefully until done.  I can’t say how long, since my grill a’int your grill.  Also, the carefully part is important here- the pork will drip more fat than a regular beef burger, and you don’t want to catch your deck on fire.  Start them on a low flame, get some color going, and then finish them on a sheet of foil placed over the grill rack to reduce flare-ups.

We ate ours sandwiched between romaine hearts “bread” with mayo.  Zander commented, “this is the best meal ever.”  So matter-of-fact, that one.


Mystery, solved.

Posted in life in general, musings with tags , , on May 18, 2012 by askthesky

So, remember all that stuff about my stomach being so out of whack, and putting my foot down about getting to the bottom of it all?

Yeah.  I got to the bottom of it, all right.  😉

Baby Ask The Sky, due Christmas Day, 2012.  If you’re inclined, please pray/light a candle/chat an incantation/send some good juju our way.  If you’re a long time reader, you know why.  Thanks in advance.