Monday, October 24, 2011

Dirty Laundry

How do you wash your laundry?  I have found that this is a controversial topic for some.  We choose to go the non-scented, fewest additives possible route at our house.  No fabric softener here!  We also have special needs because we use cloth diapers.  I do keep bleach up high in a cabinet for those times you just need it, but we use it rarely.  Here is a run-down of my laundry essentials.

1. Stain Removal
I know some love their Oxyclean, etc., but we rely on the good old fashioned Fels-Naptha bar.  My Grandma has always kept this handy, as well as my mom.  Now I do!  I just get the stain wet and rub the bar directly on it, but sometimes you need an old toothbrush to really work it in there.  Then wash, and voila!  My friend Kristin uses Fels-Naptha to make her own laundry detergent, but I am too lazy to do that, haha!  Here is a tutorial if you want to try it.
2. Cloth Diapers
For cloth diapers, it is important to use a soap that will not irritate your baby's skin, will not leave residue in the cloth, will rinse out really well, will not react with urine, etc.  There are several options out there and I have tried a lot of them.  We LOVE Rockin' Green.  They offer three types- one for hard water, one for soft water, and one in between called "Classic Rock".  We use Classic Rock and occasionally their "Funk Rock" as a refresher for our diapers.  I have tried a ton of detergents for cloth diapers, and this is hands down the best.  No wonder they have a cult following!  It's also okay for regular laundry, but we just use it on our diapers.
3. Delicates- lingerie, wool, cashmere, etc.
For my delicate laundry, I use Charlie's Soap. This soap is also okay for cloth diapers.  I like it for hand washing and it doesn't leave a scent or anything.  It's an old fashioned recipe too!
4. Regular Laundry
For my regular laundry (including baby clothing) I use an environmentally friendly detergent from COSTCO!!! Yes, they carry an in-house brand that is basically the same as the Seventh Generation detergent.  I love it, it's unscented and perfect for baby laundry too.  I just wash all our laundry together and this makes everyone happy.
And that's it!  Enjoy doing your laundry today :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NFL themed baby outfit

I got a "commissioned" job recently- my dad's office manager needed something cute for a baby shower and asked me to make this Colts themed outfit for a baby boy.  She wanted his initials incorporated, so they are on one of the burp cloths and will be on the onesie I have yet to make.

It was all pretty easy but I did custom design the pants.  I used an old pair of LJ's 3-6 month pants as a guide to be sure the size was right, and they turned out great!  I lined them in a super soft flannel so they would be comfy and warm.  It's really easy- just make another identical pair of pants out of your lining, but turn them inside out.  Then attach at the waist and bottom hem and create the waistband and hem the pants as usual.  Voila, lined baby pants!

Here is the set so far:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tweed Toddler "suit"

I have been making up for lost time in my sewing room.  Must be the nice sewing chair my husband bought me for my birthday- it is so comfy!
LJ's 2 year old photo shoot is coming up, and I wanted her to have a really cute outfit.  So when I saw this tutorial I was inspired!  I wanted to make "The Audrey Cape" in a heavier fabric, but let LJ pick it out.  She picked out a really pretty tweed with some gold flecks in it. There is also a hint of red and mustard.
So here is her cape, fully lined in off-white so the wooly fabric isn't itchy.  Also so it looks more professional!  I made my collar a little tiny- maybe should have made it a bit larger but it looks cute as is.

So then to make it an outfit or "suit" if you will, I made her a skirt.  At first I was thinking pleated, but then I was like, that's a lot of tweed!  So I made an elastic waist A-line skirt and broke up the tweed with a bit of Fall-colors floral canvas I had.  The canvas part is important- you don't want to combine a lightweight cotton with a heavy fabric or it won't lay right.  I also lined the skirt.

For hemming the bottom and making the elastic casing, I used a pink hemming ribbon.  This helps with bulkier fabrics so that you don't have to roll it over twice to get rid of a raw edge.  You could use a serger if you want but I like the ribbon.
 And because LJ has not warmed up to modeling the outfit yet, I made David put it on (sadly, the skirt did not fit him)  He was trying to convince her but it was a warm day and she didn't want to wear a cape!  Little stinker.
So here is the outfit together.  Hopefully she will wear it for her photo shoot, otherwise she will be in a shirt and tights only, haha!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Easy-ish and Healthier Chicken and Dumplings!

I love Chicken and Dumplings.  My husband, who is from Tennessee, loves "Chicken and Dumplin's".  Trust me, there is a difference!  I grew up eating my Granny's version, with big round balls of the biscuit dough.  He grew up with the dough rolled out and cut up into strips (like the kind at Cracker Barrel).  Also, mine was a little more like a thick soup, wheras in the South is is always a thicker gravy type sauce.  The picture below is more like my type (I ate all of my recent batch before taking a picture, oops!)
So, here is my easy and healthier recipe- I use a big sized crock pot!

You will need:
3-4 organic chicken breasts (the non-organic ones are huge, so if using those probably 2)
2 large boxes of organic chicken stock
large onion
herbs de provence
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk (approx)
1 tsp baking powder

In crock pot on high, place chicken breasts, one box of stock, carrots, onion, and celery.  Stir in some herbes de provence and salt and pepper.  Let this cook on high for about 3 hours then shred chicken with two forks.
Add in the other box of stock and keep crock pot on high.  While this heats up, make your dumplings.

For dumplings:
Place flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl, and add in the COLD butter in tiny cubes.  Use a pastry blender or two forks to blend until the butter is rice-sized.  Then add milk a little at a time until it is a nice dough.  You might not need all that milk.  Knead the dough then tear it into little balls, roll in your hands, and drop in the crock pot.

Clean your chard well and tear into pieces.  Then drop this in the crock pot too.  The chard adds some good vitamins!
Allow to simmer on high in crock pot until dumplings are cooked, usually at least an hour.  Then serve!  YUM!!!
(If you want to make it pretty, you can garnish with parsley like in the picture)