Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a Boy!

Or maybe a girl. I can't determine the gender of a butterfly. This is a gulf fritillary.

My husband found a chrysalis the other day. We brought it in and put it in a gallon jar, then put a coffee filter on top with a rubber band around it. He also found a caterpillar that had just started turning into a chrysalis, and one that looked like it was about to attach itself, so they went in the jar, too. We'll have 2 more butterflies this week!

Since we're homeschooling, I thought this would be a great experiment for Olivia. (Of course, any kid will enjoy watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.) We can cover a multitude of subjects. For example, I'm going to have her draw the life cycle of a butterfly (science and art). We can read about butterflies and passion vines (library skills, reading, and botany). We can also read about harvesting passion fruit (gardening and economics).

We took the new butterfly out of the jar.

Here you can see the upper sides of its wings.

It landed on my robe for a few seconds.

This is the gulf fritillary's caterpillar. Here you'll find some other pictures of the butterfly and caterpillar, as well as a passion flower.

The passion vine (or passion plant) is the only larval food plant for the gulf fritillary. This is a young shoot. The vines send runners underground and the plant spreads like a weed.

The passion vine produces passion fruit. I read that the fruit falls off when it's ripe.

Crunchy Bunch Closeout Sale

Crunchy Bunch is having our closeout sale! Everything is on sale AT COST!

Babywearing, Organic Clothing, Organic Toys and more.

From now until it's all gone, save in time for the holidays <3

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tote Bag Tutorial

Last week I mentioned some bags I made. They were so easy and quick I decided to write up a tutorial. You'll need 1 yard of 45" fabric. Your bag will be about 18"x19" when you're finished, depending on the width of your seams and how generous they cut your yard.

Cut a 4" strip from the short end (the 36" end) of your fabric. You will use this strip to make your handles.

Press the strip in half length-wise, wrong sides together.

Fold each edge in toward the crease (shown in photo), fold in half along the crease, and press.

Sew about 1/8" from each edge. Cut your strip in half and you've got 2 handles.

Fold your fabric in half along the 36" side, right sides together. (Your resulting rectangle will be about 36" by 20". Sew the 3 open edges, leaving enough space for turning your bag right side out, about 4-5". Turn your bag right side out. Stitch the opening closed. This will be the inside of your bag. Fold the "inside" down into the "outside."

Turn the top edge down 1" and press. (I turned my bag so the top edge was toward me, so I was turning it up. That's why my photo looks upside down.)

Insert handles under the edge and pin in place, leaving about 5-6" between the ends.

Stitch about 1/8" from the top edge to hold them in place.

Fold them up and pin. Stitch about 1/8" from the top edge all the way around your bag. Stitch about 3/8" from the top edge also.

This step can be omitted if you wish. Turn your bag wrong side out and stitch across each bottom corner. This will give your bag some width and help hold the lining in place. Turn your bag right side out.

Here's the bottom corner from the outside.

Here's another view of the same corner.

Ta da! You're done! You've got a new bag for yourself, or fill it with goodies for a gift.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Finding a New Purpose

One of my relatives sent me some quilting goodies a few weeks ago - books, patterns, fabric, rotary cutter, cutting rulers, etc. Among these items was a bag she made. In this bag were fabric and directions for making 3 more. Last week I finally hid out in my "sewing room" and played. Now I'm on a sewing kick.

I looked through my fabric stash to see what I might find. This stash includes a bag of clothes that my post-baby body will never fit in again that I kept because I liked the fabric. I have 2 wrap skirts begging to be reincarnated as quilts or bags. I found a skirt that I transformed into a purse (I had already altered it from a jumper to a skirt). I've got enough fabric left to make another purse.

I have plans to convert a denim maternity dress and red and white checked shirt into a dress for Olivia. I browsed the internet the other day in search of a pattern to make a dress I can just slip over her head. I didn't find what I had in mind, but I came across a great tutorial for making a toddler dress from an adult button-up shirt. I swung by Goodwill today and picked up a shirt just to try this because I thought it was so cute.

Another thing I'd like to do is sew a toddler dress from a pillowcase. That is, if I had an extra pillowcase that was pretty. My extra pillowcases are just plain white. But you can use some fabric cut the size of a pillowcase as a starting point.

So many things to do, so little time!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Strange Recipes

I'm trying a new recipe tonight. When I came across it I thought "It's got WHAT in it?!" Not to be intimidated, I decided to give it a try. It brought to mind a couple of other recipes that some people may find weird, so I decided to share them with you and see what you think. As soon as I finish typing these, I'm off to try "the recipe." Are you curious yet? I'll share the recipe at the end.

This first recipe isn't all that weird unless you ask my sister-in-law. She thinks it's gross because it combines fruit and meat, but I bet most people don't share her aversion. I think it's wonderful.

Apricot-Stuffed Pork Chops
10 dried apricot halves
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons molasses, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 pork chops with a pocket cut in each
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons flour

Chop and mix first 4 ingredients, 1 tablespoon molasses, salt, and pepper. Spoon into chops. Brush with remaining molasses. Place on rack in greased broiler pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove chops. Add 3/4 cup chicken broth to pan; place over medium-high heat. Stir together cream and flour. Stir into broth and cook 3 minutes or until thickened.

This next recipe is, in my opinion, a little strange. I would have never thought of putting tomato soup in cake, but it's pretty tasty. You can't taste the tomatoes. It just tastes spicy.

Tomato Soup Cake
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 10-oz can tomato soup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup raisins
1 3/4 cup flour

Combine all ingredients in the order they are given, blending well. Bake in a 13x9-inch greased and floured pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Ok, here's "the recipe." As I said before, I'm about to try this one. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Healthy Flourless Chocolate Cake
Makes a single 9" layer cake, which can be halved and stacked for the taller cake you see in the picture (follow the link).

1 15-oz can of unseasoned black beans OR 1 1/2 cup cooked beans, any color
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup erythritol plus 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract OR 1/4-1/3 cup honey plus 1 teaspoon stevia
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon water (omit if using honey)

Mint Chocolate variation:
2 teaspoons mint extract (in place of 2 teaspoons vanilla)

Spray a 9" cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly. Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia (if using) and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps! Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat butter with sweetener (erythritol or honey) until light and fluffy. Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done when the top is rounded and firm to the touch. After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again on to a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap or with cake dome. For BEST flavor, let cake sit over night. If you are stacking this cake, level the top with a long serrated knife, shaving off layers until it is flat and even. Frost immediately with healthy chocolate buttercream frosting before serving.

Healthy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to thickly cover one layer, or fill and frost a halved stacked layer.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter, softened, OR 7 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon erythritol, powdered, OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
5-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons half and half OR coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste

Optional addition for a glossy finish: 1 fresh organic egg yolk

Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy. Powder erythritol or xylitol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for a minute or two, until extremely fine in texture (reminiscent of powdered sugar). Let sweetener settle in grinder before opening the top. Stir powdered sweetener into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth. Slowly blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt. Beat in the half and half and egg yolk, if using. Add stevia, starting with 1/16 teaspoon. You'll probably use less than 1/4 teaspoon. Just keep tasting and adjust sweetness to your liking.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

3 years, 18 months and counting!

In relation to Rachel's post on Monday, (and to toot our own horn ;) ) as of yesterday Isabelle and I have been nursing for 3 full years! Beautiful Blissful Birthday, Belle! <3 And in 2 more days, it'll be 18 months of nursing for Sebastian =)

I have loved (almost!) every moment of our nursing relationship and I look forward to many more years with each of them. Tandem nursing, especially, has been one of my most enjoyable nursing experiences. I love how they look into each others eyes, hold each others hands, and, yes, bicker over whose side is whose or straying hands! :P Every moment is unique and absolutely adorable. As for the "almost" above, I'm still not a big fan of the night wakings, hehe ;) Both Belle and Sebastian get up on average once a night still for a few moments. :) has some cute little breastfeeding achievement buttons you can display on your blog, in a forum signature, etc. I use them and think they're super cute :)

3 full years of breastfeeding!18 months of breastfeeding!